Friday, September 30, 2011

"A classic example of what we already knew."

Apparently CERN broke the speed of light, although it is contested. What was the response? Well, of course they broke the speed of light, it should be obvious from souls and cosmic healing and time travel!

This is an extreme example of what I wish to discuss. I am thinking more of "Cultural garbage our own fault" by Dylan Wilks in the Sept 21 2011 version of the Nexus. A new study has been done, Dylan reports, which shows that watching badly written TV shows is bad for children. Instead of explaining the study in detail so that others can have an opinion he quickly remarks "although the empirical evidence may be new, it's actually just a classic example of garbage in, garbage out." Now this could just be bad writing but it isn't only writing. I encounter it in speech as well. Whenever an interesting study comes out people remark 'but of course the Siberians have known that for centuries. Firstly, I'm not Siberian, secondly that isn't the point of testing a scientific hypothesis!

Science is not straight forward. We make big mistakes. We no longer lobotomise crazy people, but we used to. I think it is a darn good thing we realised it was a bad idea, even when people thought that it was. The trouble is this: Whenever a scientific study confirms an opinion of one of these people, they don't get excited and say 'look, now I have scientific justification for believing this, isn't that exciting?' instead they say, 'I already knew that so the scientists must be stupid.' But what about all those things that don't agree with their opinions? Those are just ignored, forgotten, or mocked as the 'evils of modern science.'

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