Author Topic: problems with skeptic podcasting!  (Read 12657 times)

Offline Daneel

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Re: problems with skeptic podcasting!
« Reply #30 on: July 21, 2012, 10:28:39 AM »
The kid analogy seems cool, so here's my spin.

Podcasting is a BIG world. There are lots of podcasts some are made by people who think kids have to learn the fundamentals and others think kids should play around. I'm of the mind that there are kids for both tactics and then can listen to the podcast they like he most.
So ultimately it comes to diversity, right? Some people enjoy the kind of science popularization that skeptics do, others enjoy the type scientists do. In the real world is always a mix, of course, but you get the picture. 


As for GR, I think we have different ideas of what is "truth". I mean, you can use GR to come to astonishing accurate predictions. In the end, that's what scientists care about. Of course, the fact that it fails in other realms does point to some problems and that it needs to be modified or even replaced by a future theory, but that's not big deal! As you said, we use classical mechanics to explain the movement of galaxies even though we know it's fundamentally wrong. We also use "flat earth theory" when building houses.
It's a case of "all models are wrong, but some are useful".

Offline bn

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Re: problems with skeptic podcasting!
« Reply #31 on: July 21, 2012, 10:53:47 AM »
So ultimately it comes to diversity, right? Some people enjoy the kind of science popularization that skeptics do, others enjoy the type scientists do. In the real world is always a mix, of course, but you get the picture. 
yes, diversity is almost a virtue unto itself, and personal tastes aside, I do sincerely hope that the skeptics podcasts keep doing their thing.
I just dream of a different sort of culture for science popularizing, and in order to test the boundaries of my dream, I need to go test its mettle by making it FIGHT all sorts of other ideas. there is virtue in sparring, i guess.

As for GR, I think we have different ideas of what is "truth". I mean, you can use GR to come to astonishing accurate predictions. In the end, that's what scientists care about. Of course, the fact that it fails in other realms does point to some problems and that it needs to be modified or even replaced by a future theory, but that's not big deal! As you said, we use classical mechanics to explain the movement of galaxies even though we know it's fundamentally wrong. We also use "flat earth theory" when building houses.
It's a case of "all models are wrong, but some are useful".

oh i agree entirely.
I just have a sense that the distinction between science and skepticism is maybe a different appreciation of the "truth". I believe that maybe... science cares more about practical, measurable truths? whereas skepticism cares more about a type of philosophical truth?

the difference between how the two communities appreciate ideas which are "not true, but effective". like, for instance, acupuncture?
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Offline Daneel

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Re: problems with skeptic podcasting!
« Reply #32 on: July 21, 2012, 11:12:37 AM »
Well. Acupuncture, in my reading of the literature, is actually neither true nor effective. It's just a fancy placebo. The problem with using placebo is twofold.
First, you are actually deceiving your patient and that's an ethical problem on itself. My humble opinion is that the patient-doctor relationship has to be based on trust and respect so lying to the patient is very problematic.

Second, the placebo effect is actually a misunderstood beast. It's not just about "the power of the mind", it's also about statistical artifacts, measuring problems and confounding factors. For example, if you have the flu and take antibiotics you will get better in about 7 days and become convinced that they worked. But the truth is that you would have gotten better in just 1 week regardless, that's a placebo effect and has no clinical benefit whatsoever.
Or maybe you suffer from some type of chronic pain. Every time it gets to painful you drink an herbal tea and, subsequently, the pain is reduced. Again, this is a placebo but with no practical applications. A simple regression to the mean could tell you that after a particularly painful day, it's more likely that you will feel better, just by chance.

In the end, it's hard to actually know if the placebo effect is actually working. One systematic review concluded that "outside the setting of clinical trials, there is no justification for the use of placebos".


I would not say that skepticism is about "philosophical truth" but you are onto something. Maybe a distinction between science and skepticism is that skepticism uses the tools of the scientific method but it has also an ethical component.

Offline bn

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Re: problems with skeptic podcasting!
« Reply #33 on: July 21, 2012, 11:15:34 AM »
hahaha
that's an interesting idea you have there!
i think that the nail might have just been hit on the head.
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Offline Lynx Cat

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Re: problems with skeptic podcasting!
« Reply #34 on: July 21, 2012, 11:29:38 AM »
Eh, I think truth is overrated anyway :P I'm a practical man, even more than a skeptic, so I usually care more about what gets me through daily life's hurdles. Discussions, to me, are largely a form of mental exercise, so when they start getting too stressful and too unproductive (which is often the case in skeptic-type discussions), I think they stop being worth the effort. Not to say people are already way too serious nowadays, so discussing things just for the thought experiment, without worrying too much about truth, is a great thing to do.
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Offline stephako

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Re: problems with skeptic podcasting!
« Reply #35 on: July 21, 2012, 03:02:30 PM »
hahaha
that's an interesting idea you have there!
i think that the nail might have just been hit on the head.

Could you clarify that? I am not sure where you have been hit now and I'd like to understand.

Quote from: LynxCat
Not to say people are already way too serious nowadays, so discussing things just for the thought experiment, without worrying too much about truth, is a great thing to do.

Yeah discussions, just for discussions sake are great. Especially for learning how to actually discuss things.  :)
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Offline bn

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Re: problems with skeptic podcasting!
« Reply #36 on: July 21, 2012, 04:46:05 PM »
I thought it was insightful to say that skeptics invoked an ethical component to rationalist scientific thought.

it would certainly explain why skeptics seem to have so much emotional investment in debunking bad ideas.

whereas scientists, i would characterize as wanting to find good ideas for their own sake, rather than investing them with any ethical mass. bad ideas are a waste of time, but not... ethically foul?

hence frankenstein.
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Offline Daneel

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Re: problems with skeptic podcasting!
« Reply #37 on: July 22, 2012, 01:59:01 PM »
They are so preoccupied with whether or not they can, they don't stop to think if they should.