No, we’re just not supposed to question science. We can question everyone else…but not science.
oh, I see your point. IMHO, we have to probably give the scientists some benefit of the doubt, because after all we are able to fly across the continent because of progress in science. As long as the scientist in cause is not some sort of Dr Strangelove supporting a hidden agenda, I think we can generally trust them. (and of course we can question all we want).
Here’s what bugs me though: is the environmental issue really not that believable?
Why is that it APPEARS that most liberals choose to believe those warning signs by rather solid scientists, while it APPEARS that most conservative minded folks would rather (by default) differentiate themselves from the above-mentioned group by automatically discarding the signs as alarmist liberal-media hype?
Why is that we choose to believe rather shady evidence over WMD in Iraq while we cannot believe scientists?
Aren’t we (as individuals) just victims of political manipulation?
That is a very apt and interesting observation considering that science is built upon the premise that everything can be questioned. At its core, science is an almost continual questioning of the data and methods of produced by scientists, and others. For instance, in physics the goodness of fit measure of a model to some data must be better than 3 confidence intervals (99.9 % sure that the model fits), or there is a 50-50 shot at the model being incorrect, just because of the level of scrutiny and repitition by the community. Since published science must undergo such scrutiny, I believe that, at least in popular culture, science is viewed as unimpeachable. As a scientist, I don’t view science that way, but I’m more inclined to believe the word of a scientist in a field I’m not familiar with about that field than someone off the street, especially if the scientist has been working in that field for a while, i.e. published and peer reviewed. The general public, though, sees scientists as these smart people doing very difficult and demanding work, so any conclusions that they spout off must be correct. Even though, a good scientist will be the first to tell you that they could be wrong. Good scientists differentiate themselves from bad scientists very easily. A good scientist, will tell you about the flaws they know of in their analyses and provide you with, if not the data itself, the means (through detailed procedures) of reproducing what they did.
So, my advice: question science. If someone quotes a number at you, find out where it came from. If that remains unsatisfying, get their data, and re-run the analysis, or design an analysis scheme yourself. If you can’t do the math required, find someone who can. Ultimately, you could perform the experiment for yourselves. In this way, our knowledge is advanced, and you may discover something interesting.
(Sorry, didn’t mean for that to become a rant.)
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