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Does "Science" need more spokesmen?

ShanadeusShanadeus Registered User
edited August 2011 in Debate and/or Discourse
Just something that this wonderful little clip made me think of:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wupToqz1e2g

When it comes to Astronomy, Astrophysics and the like, we've had some great people (Sagan, Tyson, Hawking) trying to condense the vast amount of information in these fields in order to provide the general public with a better insight into it - in the process hopefully making them understand the importance of continued scientific progress.

But where are the Sagans of other fields such as biology, mathematics and more?

I know that Dawkins have written some pretty inspiration stuff on the topic of evolution, but a lot of what he does gets tangled up in the greater atheist/science/religion debate he take part of. Then there's the fact that space is in itself even without people like Sagan telling us how awesome it is, people have always looked up in the nightsky and marvelled at it - these spokesmen just takes it so much further.

I guess that's the problem, how do you make people interested in mathematics when it's such an abstract field and not as "tangible" as space (as silly as that sounds)?
How do you draw them in as easily as Sagan does when it comes to space?

Maybe it's just a matter of there simply not having been any truly charismatic spokesmen for these unaccounted fields, or maybe the nature of these fields make them much harder to sell in to the average joe.

And this is just my opinion, but no one has really reached the height of Sagan so it's not as if it'd hurt if another Sagan popped up for Astronomy and Astrophysics .

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Posts

  • BethrynBethryn Registered User regular
    David Attenborough?

    There are a few other quite cool dudes in less 'pure' science fields. Ben Goldacre, Simon Singh, off the top of my head.

    I tend to feel there are actually quite a lot of good speakers on the sciences, but since most of the populace is scientifically illiterate ("Physics? Oh, haha, I was never very good at that"), there's little demand and so little coverage.

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  • ShadowfireShadowfire Registered User regular
    edited August 2011
    I like Attenborough a lot, and I'm always sad that the Discovery series' are redubbed with him removed, especially when Sigourney Weaver and Oprah Winfrey both did so terrible. Mike Rowe did well in the last series (Human Planet, I think), though, and I would listen to his narration in more shows (he did a space-sciencey show, too, as well as the always funny Dirty Jobs). I'd put this man forward, though:

    Through-the-Wormhole-S01-DVDRip-Xvi.jpg

    The issue is, how do we get people interested? I'm sure he'd do well teaching other subjects via documentary, but I really think that math, biology, and earth sciences lack the "wow" of astronomy, physics, and chemistry. If you aren't seeing awesome sights or watching shit blow up, why watch? (at least according to a good chunk of Americans)

    Shadowfire on
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  • [Tycho?][Tycho?] Registered User regular
    I don't see why fields like this need spokesmen.

    I didn't get interested in physics and science because of some guy narrating a documentry. My dad would point out stuff to me, and generally made sure that I thought about things. Beyond that it was my own interests. Really it was probably my love of star wars that got me into astronomy and physics stuff.

    The subjects are intrinsically interesting; if they wern't, we wouldn't have hundreds or thousands of years worth of people thinking about these subjects.

    If you want to talk about "issues" here then I'd look to ways to engage kids about education generally. School can be interesting, but often isn't. This is a problem. But so long as the kids are interested in something then you'll naturally get people filtering down into different fields, even the more obscure ones.

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  • DigitalDDigitalD Registered User
    Science needs more blowing shit up and cool stuff. Remember when nuclear science was cool and they handed out toys to kids that had radioactive junk in them, chemistry labs that could maul you, and electricity kits you could shock the hell out of yourself with? Nope, of course you don't, because people complained, people sued, the nanny state got involved and all that stuff got yanked off the shelves and removed.

    We need more of that and people will love science again! Toys you can use to zap the crap out of your mom when she tries to open the door and chemistry kits and model rockets that can takeout the neighbors dog.

  • DevoutlyApatheticDevoutlyApathetic I've Done Worse Registered User regular
    I like how you advocate handing out radioactive materials to children. You sound like a 1950's science report on the "Atomic Age!"

    As for the other stuff, I had all of them as a child and they didn't do much to steer me towards science. Shit, Isaac Asimov's Chronology and Science and Discovery did more than any of those to get me to like science. That actually talked about the process of science which is entirely different than being handed a set of chemicals or some wires and transistors.

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  • Skoal CatSkoal Cat Registered User
    Popular media tends to portray science as something one can have an opinion on.
    That is, by and large, the biggest problem here. Science is a method.

    ceres wrote: »
    Skoal Cat is correct.
  • ToxTox I kill threads Pharezon's human garbage heapRegistered User regular
    Nah, science doesn't need more spokesmen. It just needs people to listen to Neil deGrasse Tyson.

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  • VoodooVVoodooV Registered User regular
    Religion has decided that Science is a threat to it, so they have framed the narrative in a "Religion vs Science" way. They view it as another competing religion

    IMO, the first step is to break out of that narrative. Science is not the anti-Religion.

  • Mustachio JonesMustachio Jones Registered User regular
    edited August 2011
    Brian Cox usually does it for me: http://www.ted.com/talks/brian_cox_why_we_need_the_explorers.html

    And to be fair, science, in some cases, is a religion at this point.

    Mustachio Jones on
  • LawndartLawndart Registered User regular
    Shanadeus wrote:
    Maybe it's just a matter of there simply not having been any truly charismatic spokesmen for these unaccounted fields, or maybe the nature of these fields make them much harder to sell in to the average joe.
    Spoiler:

  • DigitalDDigitalD Registered User
    Lawndart wrote:
    Shanadeus wrote:
    Maybe it's just a matter of there simply not having been any truly charismatic spokesmen for these unaccounted fields, or maybe the nature of these fields make them much harder to sell in to the average joe.
    Spoiler:

    And I'll note that they, blow things up!

  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    Science really doesn't need spokesman. What it needs is better outcomes from the education system across the board.

  • Captain CarrotCaptain Carrot Harrisonburg, VARegistered User regular
    DigitalD wrote:
    Lawndart wrote:
    Shanadeus wrote:
    Maybe it's just a matter of there simply not having been any truly charismatic spokesmen for these unaccounted fields, or maybe the nature of these fields make them much harder to sell in to the average joe.
    Spoiler:

    And I'll note that they, blow things up!
    However, they don't endanger children in the process.

  • Evil MultifariousEvil Multifarious Registered User regular
    the mythbusters are more representatives of engineering and various mechanical fields than science

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  • gundam470gundam470 Registered User regular
    I saw Simon Singh's name mentioned; his books are fantastic.

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  • BobCescaBobCesca Registered User regular
    This is interesting, because I'd say that in the UK we have quite a few people doing this. The TV shows they make are usually on BBC4 which limits their audience somewhat, but they are there. Brian Cox is the obvious modern scientist, but there's also Marcus du Sautoy who does Maths things (like The Code, which was good). Non-TV there's Ben Goldacre who shouts about the fact that we have to look at what's reported about medicine with a critical eye and understand how research works rather than just going for the headlines, and Simon Singh is also very good on the science.

    Away from science, the UK also have a lot of programmes about history and archaeology which are nothing like the Discovery Channel 'Secrets of Egypt that The Man Doesn't Want You To Know' with people like Mary Beard, Neil Oliver, Bettany Hughes and others.

    Most of the presenters of these programmes are University academics who are highly respected in their fields, as are a lot of the print media science authors.

  • SyrdonSyrdon Registered User regular
    edited August 2011
    I don't think science needs people to explain it. Science needs people to make it cool. Well, maybe not cool, but interesting and directly useful or applicable in a given person's day. Science may be responsible for the internal combustion engine existing, but their car comes from some guy in a plant not a scientist (or an engineer). The Mythbusters pretty much have the core of the first portion of that. They seem to have a pretty solid mission to make asking the question "can we prove (or disprove) that" fun and interesting. Yes, sometimes that involves delving into the crass depths of explosive eye candy ... but lets face it, explosions are fun and if they get people to start thinking that science is fun I'm ok with using them as a gimmick.

    The biggest issue, I think, is that scientists are largely incapable of concisely explaining why their work is either cool or at least important and relevant when asked to talk about it. In fairness, if you don't have a quick path to your work being cool (say ... you're making a railgun) then you need to be able to conduct several years worth of classes in not more than 90 seconds, which is tough. I still think the right place to start is with the people who are talking to their family or friends or that random guy they met on the train about their work and to help them sell their work to a world that has a life to live and not enough time to do everything they need to (much less listen to some random guy go on about ... well, they're not really sure to be honest).

    edit: I think Attenborough is another guy that does a good job, although I think I should really be giving a lot of the credit to the guys that actually get the footage. Jane Goodall might be another name to throw out.

    Syrdon on
  • V1mV1m Registered User regular
    edited August 2011
    Shadowfire wrote:
    I like Attenborough a lot, and I'm always sad that the Discovery series' are redubbed with him removed, especially when Sigourney Weaver and Oprah Winfrey both did so terrible...

    Wait what?

    That's... that's.... desecration!

    Of course, you realise this means war?

    V1m on
  • Bobkins FlymoBobkins Flymo HAPPY WAALUWEEN Registered User, Super Moderator, Moderator mod
    VoodooV wrote:
    Religion has decided that Science is a threat to it, so they have framed the narrative in a "Religion vs Science" way. They view it as another competing religion

    IMO, the first step is to break out of that narrative. Science is not the anti-Religion.
    In many ways, it is.

    Not directly. But whenever a religion makes a claim, science will be there to test it. And that's the greatest threat to just about every religion out there. All you can do is hang onto nebulous concepts.

    So of course religious people will be framing things that way.

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  • [Tycho?][Tycho?] Registered User regular
    edited August 2011
    Lawndart wrote:
    Shanadeus wrote:
    Maybe it's just a matter of there simply not having been any truly charismatic spokesmen for these unaccounted fields, or maybe the nature of these fields make them much harder to sell in to the average joe.
    Spoiler:

    Now this, I actually view as a problem.

    I'm actually wearing a t-shirt that also illustrates it. It has a guy in a lab coat playing a guitar next to a giant robot, who is also playing a guitar. The caption is "Science!".

    This is completely disingenuous. I mean sure, its all for fun. But people get the impression that this is what science actually is. That there are lots of explosions and cool shit and yelling and excitement. When science is in fact all about extremely methodical work. Extreme attention to detail. Math skills, and lots of them. Reasoning. The impression of a scientist these days seems to be some super-hero like figure instead of the (much more accurate) stereotype of a quite guy putting in long hours at the lab, or studying for ages.

    Science, real science, is extremely hard work, and is usually pretty thankless outside the scientific community. There is nothing wrong with this though. Science as a method is unbelievably useful, and its study should be encouraged. But Myth Busters is not science, at all. It is really crappy science, and it paints a very poor picture of what science actually means as work. Sorry for the rant, but this is a pet peeve of mine. Those "Science!" shirts I wear, I only do so because they were gifts from people I really like. It actually bugs me quite a lot.

    [Tycho?] on
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  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    Syrdon wrote:
    I still think the right place to start is with the people who are talking to their family or friends or that random guy they met on the train about their work and to help them sell their work to a world that has a life to live and not enough time to do everything they need to (much less listen to some random guy go on about ... well, they're not really sure to be honest).

    This is still not useful. When you get right down to it there two types of science: the type which people don't want to hear about, and the type they don't care about.

    The second type is uncontroversial and represents the majority of what scientists. Everyone generally is happy for them to keep doing it and thinks it's important, but doesn't tend to care much for understanding it outside of "hey that's pretty neat". It doesn't require public justification, and it's just a happy coincidence when someone who's good at explaining it comes along.

    The first type is generally much more important, because it's about trying to tell us important things about the world with far reaching consequences. But, nobody wants to hear about it, and after your first sentence they will immediately jump on you and make it into something else entirely. Or, if you write it down, they will skim until they see something which sounds vaguely like that they want to hear, and then write a blog article with a 1 line quotation and no direct hyperlink.

    The current existence of the first type is the real problem, but it's not really related to how science is communicated - it's an education and political environment issue.

  • Bobkins FlymoBobkins Flymo HAPPY WAALUWEEN Registered User, Super Moderator, Moderator mod
    It doesn't help that the media is awful at reporting scientific finds. Either blowing finds out of proportion or acting as if early results are definite and accepted conclusions.

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  • kaz67kaz67 Registered User
    I have to more or less echo the arguments against the need for spokesmen in science. If you really want to promote careers in research or science related fields, I think you are better off trying to find creative ways of providing kids with hands on experience during primary and secondary education. Trying to reach people who are flat out uninterested in real science seems like a waste of time. However, I do think you can get some real gains by reaching kids who already have some predisposition and showing them it is something they can realistically do. The intimidation factor associated with perusing a career in science seems like more of an issue to me than the lack of flare or wow factor.

  • BobCescaBobCesca Registered User regular
    kaz67 wrote:
    I have to more or less echo the arguments against the need for spokesmen in science. If you really want to promote careers in research or science related fields, I think you are better off trying to find creative ways of providing kids with hands on experience during primary and secondary education. Trying to reach people who are flat out uninterested in real science seems like a waste of time. However, I do think you can get some real gains by reaching kids who already have some predisposition and showing them it is something they can realistically do. The intimidation factor associated with perusing a career in science seems like more of an issue to me than the lack of flare or wow factor.

    I don't think it's an either/or scenario. Publicising the importance of science and showing that anyone can understand some of it helps break down the 'them vs us' mentality. I also think that if adults realise that science is not as daunting or incomprehensible as they remember from school it helps them to encourage their children to pursue science further.

  • japanjapan Registered User regular
    Science really doesn't need spokesman. What it needs is better outcomes from the education system across the board.

    Basically this. Science and scientific advances are perceived as complex and difficult to understand because they generally require a degree of prior knowledge to really be explained in a concise way.

    Pitched against this you have people peddling simple, easy, but incorrect answers (especially in relation to medicine, nutrition, and anything organised religion feels compelled to weigh in on) and mangled science presented by the mainstream media (see: the CSI effect).

    Wrong but simple is almost always going to win out against correct but accurate in most people's minds, particularly if they aren't really all that interested in the first place. Anyone who has a scientific background has had a conversation with someone who has read a misleading headline, where they've said "Well, it's not quite as simple as that ..." and seen said person's eyes glaze over.

  • IncenjucarIncenjucar QA Tester -> Game Producer Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    I'd like to see a society where more people actively use their intellects for something other than manipulating each other. Everything else kind of follows.

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  • Bobkins FlymoBobkins Flymo HAPPY WAALUWEEN Registered User, Super Moderator, Moderator mod
    Incenjucar wrote:
    I'd like to see a society where more people actively use their intellects for something other than manipulating each other. Everything else kind of follows.
    But it's the path of least resistance. Using your intellect for anything else requires work.

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  • Styrofoam SammichStyrofoam Sammich WANT. Registered User regular
    DigitalD wrote:
    Science needs more blowing shit up and cool stuff. Remember when nuclear science was cool and they handed out toys to kids that had radioactive junk in them, chemistry labs that could maul you, and electricity kits you could shock the hell out of yourself with? Nope, of course you don't, because people complained, people sued, the nanny state got involved and all that stuff got yanked off the shelves and removed.

    We need more of that and people will love science again! Toys you can use to zap the crap out of your mom when she tries to open the door and chemistry kits and model rockets that can takeout the neighbors dog.

    Was this posted from an iphone by chance?

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  • Space CoyoteSpace Coyote Registered User regular
    Shanadeus wrote:
    I know that Dawkins have written some pretty inspiration stuff on the topic of evolution, but a lot of what he does gets tangled up in the greater atheist/science/religion debate he take part of.

    Inside Nature's Giants is a really interesting TV programme that Dawkins is involved in. It also involves an anatomist (Prof. Joy Reidenberg), an evolutionary biologist (Simon Watt) and a vet (Mark Evans) as well. The dissection aspect gives it a broad, visceral appeal.

  • SyrdonSyrdon Registered User regular
    Syrdon wrote:
    I still think the right place to start is with the people who are talking to their family or friends or that random guy they met on the train about their work and to help them sell their work to a world that has a life to live and not enough time to do everything they need to (much less listen to some random guy go on about ... well, they're not really sure to be honest).
    This is still not useful. When you get right down to it there two types of science: the type which people don't want to hear about, and the type they don't care about.
    If you can't keep someone's attention for 90 seconds, you're just doing it wrong. The next trick is learning to explain why they should care about your work within that time limit. The defeatism here is exactly why people don't care about science, no one is bothering to help them understand why it matters. These are the sorts of conversations you want people remembering when they start wondering why schools need science budgets or why the government should fund research.

    To put that another way: you need the other voters to agree with you before you're going to get the change you want in education. That means the fix can't be education.

  • JuliusJulius Registered User regular
    [Tycho?] wrote:
    This is completely disingenuous. I mean sure, its all for fun. But people get the impression that this is what science actually is. That there are lots of explosions and cool shit and yelling and excitement. When science is in fact all about extremely methodical work. Extreme attention to detail. Math skills, and lots of them. Reasoning. The impression of a scientist these days seems to be some super-hero like figure instead of the (much more accurate) stereotype of a quite guy putting in long hours at the lab, or studying for ages.

    Science, real science, is extremely hard work, and is usually pretty thankless outside the scientific community. There is nothing wrong with this though. Science as a method is unbelievably useful, and its study should be encouraged. But Myth Busters is not science, at all. It is really crappy science, and it paints a very poor picture of what science actually means as work. Sorry for the rant, but this is a pet peeve of mine. Those "Science!" shirts I wear, I only do so because they were gifts from people I really like. It actually bugs me quite a lot.

    Translation: Boring!


    For reals though, Mythbusters and stuff like that is not selling a job, it's selling an idea. It's about how science is really interesting and that we can do a lot of things with science. The actual sciencing can be left to those who like to spend their time doing complex math and stuff.

    kaz67 wrote:
    I have to more or less echo the arguments against the need for spokesmen in science. If you really want to promote careers in research or science related fields, I think you are better off trying to find creative ways of providing kids with hands on experience during primary and secondary education. Trying to reach people who are flat out uninterested in real science seems like a waste of time. However, I do think you can get some real gains by reaching kids who already have some predisposition and showing them it is something they can realistically do. The intimidation factor associated with perusing a career in science seems like more of an issue to me than the lack of flare or wow factor.

    It's not really about promoting careers in science. It's about promoting an interest and understanding of science to people who don't do science in their daily job. Because if you actually want to do something with your science sooner or later you're going to encounter someone who isn't a scientist.

  • kaz67kaz67 Registered User
    edited August 2011
    I don't entirely buy that point. When you talk about encountering people who aren't scientist, I assume you mean in regards to securing funding. The people in those positions are likely not going to be won over by efforts to make science cool, even if they aren't trained scientist.

    I don't have a problem with scientist or people representing scientist trying to win the public's favor, I just don't think it is completely necessary or does anyone much good. Perhaps you would have a point if open hostility towards the sciences was the norm, but by an large that isn't the case. The fact people simply don't find most science terribly exciting doesn't negatively impact scientist or their ability to conduct research in any meaningful way.

    That is not to say science is just for scientist or occurs in a vacuum. I have watched more than my fair share of David Attenborough documentaries and myth busters, but they aren't exactly filling some crucial role. The fact the majority doesn't find science exciting is just not that problematic in my view. Like I said before, I would be signing a different tune if there was real hostility in the public or efforts to suppress science were frequent and successful. However, such efforts seem few and far between and reasonable minds tend to win out; see the Dover trial if you want an example. At the end of the day, people seem to largely recognize the importance of research even if it isn't their cup of tea.

    kaz67 on
  • Skoal CatSkoal Cat Registered User
    kaz67 wrote:
    I have to more or less echo the arguments against the need for spokesmen in science. If you really want to promote careers in research or science related fields, I think you are better off trying to find creative ways of providing kids with hands on experience during primary and secondary education. Trying to reach people who are flat out uninterested in real science seems like a waste of time. However, I do think you can get some real gains by reaching kids who already have some predisposition and showing them it is something they can realistically do. The intimidation factor associated with perusing a career in science seems like more of an issue to me than the lack of flare or wow factor.

    This is a really damaging point of view to take. My entire career right now is focused on reaching out to people who don't know "science" an making them go, "you know, that was pretty cool/fun". Even adults who didn't graduate highschool can be turned onto science pretty easily, once you know how to speak to them.

    ceres wrote: »
    Skoal Cat is correct.
  • shrykeshryke Member of the Beast Registered User regular
    [Tycho?] wrote:
    Lawndart wrote:
    Shanadeus wrote:
    Maybe it's just a matter of there simply not having been any truly charismatic spokesmen for these unaccounted fields, or maybe the nature of these fields make them much harder to sell in to the average joe.
    Spoiler:

    Now this, I actually view as a problem.

    I'm actually wearing a t-shirt that also illustrates it. It has a guy in a lab coat playing a guitar next to a giant robot, who is also playing a guitar. The caption is "Science!".

    This is completely disingenuous. I mean sure, its all for fun. But people get the impression that this is what science actually is. That there are lots of explosions and cool shit and yelling and excitement. When science is in fact all about extremely methodical work. Extreme attention to detail. Math skills, and lots of them. Reasoning. The impression of a scientist these days seems to be some super-hero like figure instead of the (much more accurate) stereotype of a quite guy putting in long hours at the lab, or studying for ages.

    Science, real science, is extremely hard work, and is usually pretty thankless outside the scientific community. There is nothing wrong with this though. Science as a method is unbelievably useful, and its study should be encouraged. But Myth Busters is not science, at all. It is really crappy science, and it paints a very poor picture of what science actually means as work. Sorry for the rant, but this is a pet peeve of mine. Those "Science!" shirts I wear, I only do so because they were gifts from people I really like. It actually bugs me quite a lot.

    This is just silly. Mythbuster is the core of the concept of science. It may not be rigorous and it may not be how most science actually happens, but it's absolutely phenominal at getting the IDEA of Science across to people.

    What is the scientific method at it's core? Ask a question, devise an experiment to test the answer to that question, run experiment, check results, repeat process for new experiment if results are inconclusive.

    You know, exactly what the guys at Mythbusters do.

  • JuliusJulius Registered User regular
    kaz67 wrote:
    I don't entirely buy that point. When you talk about encountering people who aren't scientist, I assume you mean in regards to securing funding. The people in those positions are likely not going to be won over by efforts to make science cool, even if they aren't trained scientist.

    I don't have a problem with scientist or people representing scientist trying to win the public's favor, I just don't think it is completely necessary or does anyone much good. Perhaps you would have a point if open hostility towards the sciences was the norm, but by an large that isn't the case. The fact people simply don't find most science terribly exciting doesn't negatively impact scientist or their ability to conduct research in any meaningful way.

    That is not to say science is just for scientist or occurs in a vacuum. I have watched more than my fair share of David Attenborough documentaries and myth busters, but they aren't exactly filling some crucial role. The fact the majority doesn't find science exciting is just not that problematic in my view. Like I said before, I would be signing a different tune if there was real hostility in the public or efforts to suppress science were frequent and successful. However, such efforts seem few and far between and reasonable minds tend to win out; see the Dover trial if you want an example. At the end of the day, people seem to largely recognize the importance of research even if it isn't their cup of tea.

    Well naturally if you think there isn't an anti-science sentiment in the US because the US isn't yet a theocracy then my argument doesn't work.


    But that would be silly. The fact that the courts had to decide that ID is just dressed-up creationism and that this is not an isolated case is proof that the public's understanding of science is still lacking.

  • [Tycho?][Tycho?] Registered User regular
    edited August 2011
    shryke wrote:
    [Tycho?] wrote:
    Lawndart wrote:
    Shanadeus wrote:
    Maybe it's just a matter of there simply not having been any truly charismatic spokesmen for these unaccounted fields, or maybe the nature of these fields make them much harder to sell in to the average joe.
    Spoiler:

    Now this, I actually view as a problem.

    I'm actually wearing a t-shirt that also illustrates it. It has a guy in a lab coat playing a guitar next to a giant robot, who is also playing a guitar. The caption is "Science!".

    This is completely disingenuous. I mean sure, its all for fun. But people get the impression that this is what science actually is. That there are lots of explosions and cool shit and yelling and excitement. When science is in fact all about extremely methodical work. Extreme attention to detail. Math skills, and lots of them. Reasoning. The impression of a scientist these days seems to be some super-hero like figure instead of the (much more accurate) stereotype of a quite guy putting in long hours at the lab, or studying for ages.

    Science, real science, is extremely hard work, and is usually pretty thankless outside the scientific community. There is nothing wrong with this though. Science as a method is unbelievably useful, and its study should be encouraged. But Myth Busters is not science, at all. It is really crappy science, and it paints a very poor picture of what science actually means as work. Sorry for the rant, but this is a pet peeve of mine. Those "Science!" shirts I wear, I only do so because they were gifts from people I really like. It actually bugs me quite a lot.

    This is just silly. Mythbuster is the core of the concept of science. It may not be rigorous and it may not be how most science actually happens, but it's absolutely phenominal at getting the IDEA of Science across to people.

    What is the scientific method at it's core? Ask a question, devise an experiment to test the answer to that question, run experiment, check results, repeat process for new experiment if results are inconclusive.

    You know, exactly what the guys at Mythbusters do.

    I don't see it though. I know lots of people who watch and love the crap out of mythbusters. None of these people could even begin to explain the scientific method to me. They'd say, "well, its about doing experiments and finding stuff out" or something to that effect. They don't know about the idea of observation, forming a hypothesis, testing the hypothesis (aiming to disprove it), and finally forming an actual theory. Now the layperson doesn't need every little detail. But I don't think that mythbusters actually conveys scientific principals very well to laypeople. Especially since on mythbusters they'll often make wacky estimates, guesses, or come to conclusions based on really questionable observations. Yes, yes, I've read the xkcd comic. And I know these guys aren't publishing in a paper or anything, they don't need that much rigor. Yet rigor is at the core of science, as is the extreme skepticism of results.

    I had been interested in science throughout highschool. Yet it was only in my first year psychology course (oddly enough, since I was majoring in physics) that we took a whole unit to just talk about the scientific method. I really hadn't understood the core concepts of science before that, despite my huge interest in it.

    Basically, I'm saying that science is hard. And that attempts to "explain" it, or to promote it to a wider audience is going to be very difficult without missing a lot of very important details. And its these details that are the genuinely interesting, useful part of science. I think only education is going to be able to explain this to people. Entertainment (which Mythbusters is) just isn't enough to hack it.

    [Tycho?] on
    ragesig.jpg

  • kaz67kaz67 Registered User
    edited August 2011
    Skoal Cat wrote:
    kaz67 wrote:
    I have to more or less echo the arguments against the need for spokesmen in science. If you really want to promote careers in research or science related fields, I think you are better off trying to find creative ways of providing kids with hands on experience during primary and secondary education. Trying to reach people who are flat out uninterested in real science seems like a waste of time. However, I do think you can get some real gains by reaching kids who already have some predisposition and showing them it is something they can realistically do. The intimidation factor associated with perusing a career in science seems like more of an issue to me than the lack of flare or wow factor.

    This is a really damaging point of view to take. My entire career right now is focused on reaching out to people who don't know "science" an making them go, "you know, that was pretty cool/fun". Even adults who didn't graduate highschool can be turned onto science pretty easily, once you know how to speak to them.

    Don't get me wrong, I think such efforts are commendable. I also agree there are messaging issue when it comes to science education, but I don't think that has anything to do with the necessity of public figures promoting flashy insubstantial science to excite people.

    I also can't deny the public's understand is lacking, but I don't see any evidence of a growing anti-science trend or anything else along those lines. There is arguably an anti-science component to certain groups in the country, but they don't appear to be gaining any traction. I suppose you could argue this is due in part to the efforts of scientific spokesman, but I think it has more to do with the public being reasonable as a whole.

    The public's lack of understanding is certainly not a good thing and at times can even be a little depressing, but at the same time it doesn't seem particularly problematic. Trying to clear up misunderstandings and educating people through spokesmen is fine, but in the grand scheme of things its not that important. Like I said initially, I think the real importance and investments should be placed on finding ways to expose young people to science during formal education in meaningful ways.

    kaz67 on
  • shrykeshryke Member of the Beast Registered User regular
    edited August 2011
    [Tycho?] wrote:
    shryke wrote:
    [Tycho?] wrote:
    Lawndart wrote:
    Shanadeus wrote:
    Maybe it's just a matter of there simply not having been any truly charismatic spokesmen for these unaccounted fields, or maybe the nature of these fields make them much harder to sell in to the average joe.
    Spoiler:

    Now this, I actually view as a problem.

    I'm actually wearing a t-shirt that also illustrates it. It has a guy in a lab coat playing a guitar next to a giant robot, who is also playing a guitar. The caption is "Science!".

    This is completely disingenuous. I mean sure, its all for fun. But people get the impression that this is what science actually is. That there are lots of explosions and cool shit and yelling and excitement. When science is in fact all about extremely methodical work. Extreme attention to detail. Math skills, and lots of them. Reasoning. The impression of a scientist these days seems to be some super-hero like figure instead of the (much more accurate) stereotype of a quite guy putting in long hours at the lab, or studying for ages.

    Science, real science, is extremely hard work, and is usually pretty thankless outside the scientific community. There is nothing wrong with this though. Science as a method is unbelievably useful, and its study should be encouraged. But Myth Busters is not science, at all. It is really crappy science, and it paints a very poor picture of what science actually means as work. Sorry for the rant, but this is a pet peeve of mine. Those "Science!" shirts I wear, I only do so because they were gifts from people I really like. It actually bugs me quite a lot.

    This is just silly. Mythbuster is the core of the concept of science. It may not be rigorous and it may not be how most science actually happens, but it's absolutely phenominal at getting the IDEA of Science across to people.

    What is the scientific method at it's core? Ask a question, devise an experiment to test the answer to that question, run experiment, check results, repeat process for new experiment if results are inconclusive.

    You know, exactly what the guys at Mythbusters do.

    I don't see it though. I know lots of people who watch and love the crap out of mythbusters. None of these people could even begin to explain the scientific method to me. They'd say, "well, its about doing experiments and finding stuff out" or something to that effect. They don't know about the idea of observation, forming a hypothesis, testing the hypothesis (aiming to disprove it), and finally forming an actual theory. Now the layperson doesn't need every little detail. But I don't think that mythbusters actually conveys scientific principals very well to laypeople. Especially since on mythbusters they'll often make wacky estimates, guesses, or come to conclusions based on really questionable observations. Yes, yes, I've read the xkcd comic. And I know these guys aren't publishing in a paper or anything, they don't need that much rigor. Yet rigor is at the core of science, as is the extreme skepticism of results.

    I had been interested in science throughout highschool. Yet it was only in my first year psychology course (oddly enough, since I was majoring in physics) that we took a whole unit to just talk about the scientific method. I really hadn't understood the core concepts of science before that, despite my huge interest in it.

    Basically, I'm saying that science is hard. And that attempts to "explain" it, or to promote it to a wider audience is going to be very difficult without missing a lot of very important details. And its these details that are the genuinely interesting, useful part of science. I think only education is going to be able to explain this to people. Entertainment (which Mythbusters is) just isn't enough to hack it.

    Just because people can't articulate it in the words you want them to use doesn't mean the idea isn't getting across. Your comment about what they tell you isn't wrong, it's just not stated the way you apparently demand it be stated. That's the core of the scientific method right there.

    You don't take a whole course on the scientific method as a science student because the concept isn't that hard or that important on that level. You don't need to understand the philosophical foundations of it to use it. There's millions of people out there doing scientific experimentation for a living without needing a huge amount of study on the subject.

    Laypeople certainly don't need that kind of understanding to get the general idea. Science is hard, yes, but the details you harping on about aren't that important. Especially not to people who aren't going to be doing experimental science for the rest of their lives. Mythbusters conveys the parts of the scientific method that are important to the people who aren't going to be doing it: make guess, perform experiment to verify guess, redo till you get an answer.

    Rigor is not the core of science. Rigor is what makes science rigorous and thus extremely accurate. The core of science is repeatable experimentation to verify a hypothesis. And this concept is the core of Mythbusters.

    shryke on
  • AldoAldo Hippo Hooray the swamp, always the swampRegistered User regular
    Hey an excuse to link Vi Hart!

    Here, watch this (and every thing else she ever did) and think back about how boring maths was to you:

    Elendil wrote: »
    said Aldo hazily, before clop-clop-clopping out of the room
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