7 thoughts on “Scientists”

    1. True, and this has been going on for months, plenty of opportunity to provide lots of details in short snippets that build upon previous reporting. It isn’t just that the media sucks at nuance or that they rely on short segments, they suck at building knowledge over time.

  1. I love it when the media goes with the phrase “the scientific consensus is…” Whenever you hear that phrase, head for the hills, because the only reason to *ever* use that phrase is when an idea in science is unproven or unfalsifiable which in the case of the latter by definition means the idea is unscientific. A proven idea in Science is a Law. An idea that has held up against most (but not necessarily all) experiment to date is called a Theory. An unproven idea is either a conjecture or hypothesis. Then the only role for consensus is when there are conjectures on the table. Which is simply an appeal to credentialed authority in the absence of knowledge. Opinion in Science and the consensuses built around them historically has not held up as true. (Like the Ether Theory of Light Propagation in a vacuum). We fail to teach our children these truths about the scientific process at our peril.

    1. If it’s settled, it isn’t science. Scientists are still trying to figure out gravity, ferchrissake — a universally observed and accepted phenomenon!

    2. “…the Ether Theory of Light Propagation in a vacuum…”

      Every time I read about that, it puts me to sleep.

  2. Why do we need scientists when we have Greta Thunberg? Anytime there’s a question on anything we can just ask CNN to ask Greta and she’ll tell us the answer!

  3. Not actual scientists, but writers for Scientific American.

    I was paging through a couple issues of Scientific American in a stack of old magazines.

    In a special issue on Sequencing the Human Genome dated to the turn-of-the-century, a reporter made a point that an unnamed US president addressed a group of scientists working on the problem (i.e. funded under the auspices of this president’s administration) pronounced the word as “gnome” instead of “gee-nome”, and there was hardly any reaction from the assembled group.

    I guess since members of this group were being funded on this, they weren’t going to snicker at the later-day Pontius Pilate with the middle initial “W”, stemming from his inability to pronounce the letter “r”?

    Another issue features theories regarding quasars on the cover and how their hypothesized super-massive black holes receive enough inflow to power them. The article is written by an astronomer, who mid article goes on a rant about how the optical defect in the Hubble telescope, as launched, stole from him several years of his “most productive” portion of this career and how this terrible outcome was the consequence of “incompetence.”

    Does the reader really need the inside story on how this astronomer had to turn in several years of sparse Annual Reports for his institution’s Merit Review process because his research plan was stalled waiting on the Hubble repair. Is charging incompetence on the part of the telescope maker a reasonable assessment, and had such scientist never submitted a paper for review where the reviewers never caught any typos?

    Did the editors of Scientific American regard including this aside on a particular scientist’s concerns with his standing with his colleagues inform reader about what is being discovered about quasars?

    Can you imagine Galileo whinging about a couple year delay getting a working telescope affecting his standing with his patrons?

    Actually, one can imagine J. S. Bach doing a similar thing. Peter Shickele has this side-splitting-funny piece, not about the fictitious PDQ Back but about the real J. S. Bach, in his tribute modeled after the Carl Sandburg tribute to the late John F Kennedy. “These are the words of ‘Jack” Bach, this is what he had to say’ followed by Schickele reading from a letter by Bach complaining of inadequate compensation for a work that centuries later became famous.

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