Scientific Evidence Shouldn't Dictate Your Opinion

in #science7 years ago


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It has become all too common to base our opinions based on scientific evidence. The scientific method is undoubtedly the best tool we have to understand the world. The problem is that not all scientists follow the same practices. Scientists are human beings, much like any one of us. They can be biased, make errors, have wrong assumptions and most importantly, they can be manipulated either financially or ideologically. Another major issue is that scientific evidence cannot produce facts. Ever.

Bold statement, right? Allow me to explain myself. When we do a google search and we end up with a research paper that (of course) supports our argument, we are just witnessing the tip of the iceberg. We have no idea about the methodology, funding procedures, ideological frameworks or even whether all those references at the end of the paper belong to a never-ending peer-review circle jerk.

When an experiment is performed we test only a hypothesis. At best, it can demonstrate that in a specific time frame and under those controlled factors, something happens. The "fact" that occurs can only exist in that limited realm which we have allowed it to exist. If for example we examine the rate of accumulation of fat in rats that have been bred in a particular context and have been tested under a specific drug prepared from a lazy grad student then what we will get will be a 'fact' that can be associated only with those constituents.


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The reason we see so many drugs producing so many side effects is because each human possesses an entirely different physiology. A chemical compound will react different on them. A rat's DNA, although extremely close to the human genome, cannot by any means be compared. A follow-up human control trial is also dodgy. Most of the tests are produced on poor students that have turned self experimenting into a part time gig. Their physiology cannot be an objective standard.

We like to think of facts as irrefutable truths that most likely are produced from scientific endeavors. This perception though is only but a cultural meme. There are no facts about anything. Everything we know and experience exists under a narrow spectrum of factual relativism.

Scientists might collect evidence that supports or goes against their predictions. They can go on repeating similar processes over and over again in order to see whether or not the same thing occurs. Others can step in and do replication studies so that the findings can be upgraded into theories or laws. This is how we have things like gravity or evolution. At no point though anything has been proven.

Although science has helped us extend our lives with the art of medicine or the applications of engineering, none of those findings are facts. If history has taught as anything is that we are always wrong about what we assume as facts — at least to a degree. What we have have so far is that we make brush generalizations and when we add the human factor our predictions can be way off. Just 100 years ago smoking was considered healthy. Heck, doctors recommended it. Radiation was also considered healthy. 2000 years ago people still believed the earth was the center of everything and the sun went around it. All these past 'facts' used their own line of methods that rhymed in many ways with the one we use today.

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If our understanding about the world can always be improved then how we can possibly base our opinions on scientific facts? Why do we feel the necessity to do so? Are we performing the experiment? Are we present in the replication study? Why would anyone believe a random person that issues a paper based on the approval of another group? Isn't this how historically the Church and the State controlled information? How can we know if something applies or not when all the evidence in our disposal is nothing but hearsay?

We are so ignorant about some things that our findings are ever more confusing. For example, in regards to food and cancer, everything causes...and prevents cancer. Depends which study one examines. I know, ridiculous but this is as far as our methods can go up to today.


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Karl Popper introduced the idea of falsifiability — the equivalent of bullshit-control in science —in order to examine whether an idea can withhold its ground. Falsifiability is the idea that any of those claims can be refuted because there is always an inherent possibility that they could be wrong. Scientific evidence can be assumed as falsifiable if an observation can be made that negates the statement in question.

What we call today as "soft" sciences such as sociology and psychology are bullshit because there is no way to falsify them. Heck, there is no way one can even make proper replication studies. Remember the example with the rat experiment? Now imagine someone volunteering for an experiment in order to evaluate depression. First year he shows up in the morning. The day before he had a fight with his girlfriend and a month earlier his cat died. The same person shows up next year for a replication study. Heck, we can even assume that the same exact "major" events took place but before the experiment he looked at the red tapestry in his new apartment and melancholy took over because it reminded him of his grandma's house. When it comes to people's studies we can never have evidence for anything. Just extremely overgeneralized assumptions.


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Most of what we call science today is nothing but testing our own conclusions, aka, the opposite of the scientific method. Astrobiology, cosmology, economics and even weather science work much like delusions in plato's cave. We observe something, formulate an idea, and then try to construct an experiment around it so it can confirm our hypothesis. That's similar to finding a hole in the wall and working meticulously to set up a gun with the right diameter, bullets and fire power to replicate that hole effect — an event that could have been made from a drill or someone slowly carving it with erosive chemical compounds.


Do yourself a favor. Next time you are in an argument, try to use your own rational mind in order to speak about something. Unless you were the one making the experiment, anything you say is no different than blind belief in some "lab authority". Claiming "facts" is the equivalent of a spoiled brat that demands approval for no reason whatsoever. Not only they can be refuted with equally abstract evidence, but you end sounding like a cult member reciting from a holy book. Let us not turn science, one of the best tools in our disposal, into a meme of entitlement.







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God I love you for this right now Kyriacos. It's SOOO TRUE!!!! The concept of science is almost nearing cult like in-culpability! And so many of the people who are 'at the top' aren't practicing science at all, they're practicing rent seeking. The shit drives me absolute batty. I love what Richard Feynman has to say about it...

“The scientist has a lot of experience with ignorance and doubt and uncertainty, and this experience is of very great importance, I think. When a scientist doesn’t know the answer to a problem, he is ignorant. When he has a hunch as to what the result is, he is uncertain. And when he is pretty darn sure of what the result is going to be, he is in some doubt. We have found it of paramount importance that in order to progress we must recognize the ignorance and leave room for doubt. Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty — some most unsure, some nearly sure, none absolutely certain.”
— Richard Feynman

That's my kind of scientist! Nothing is certain!

Actually! I was just writing about this today

There's this theory by this scientist Gene McCarthy essentially that human beings are descended from some ancient hybrid between pigs and monkeys, and it's fucking wild. Like who the fuck really knows, but it's damned creepy how much adds up. (you can imagine the kinds of reactions he gets from some scientists, it's also pretty cool to see some really solid support him too)

Anyway, thankyou =) Fucking science as inquiry all the way!!

ps...Does anyone else see megaman in that Cancer plot, or is it just me?

Richard Feynman is the bomb.

ps...Does anyone else see megaman in that Cancer plot, or is it just me?

lol what? :D

Yeah...I don't know why, but he's just there. heh, maybe I've been on Steem too long!

Boom... Oh my God, you just said everything I've wanted to say in a hundred arguments all rolled into one. This is the best post I've read on Steemit so far, and you are now my favourite. Much love to you!

I know, right? I just tried to talk to someone in he steemit chats yesterday who believes human beings are biologically more inclined to group together by race and that there is something unnatural about "interbreeding". He cited evidence that seemed pretty fallible to me but it had some scientists names on it andserved him well in makin his arguments. I wish I had this article, I was trying to express a very similar sentiment but this was written better!

Oh dear. thank you. glad I reached out to you on that level.

You see? Another one. I'd told you yesterday. They're coming.

hahaha . :-) glad you enjoy them man.

It's still hope.So much intellectual power is coming on steemit. When all this knowledge come together and jump out some day in the future, impact will be huge. Maybe sooner than we thought. Not to mention financial side.

I think sooner than later. Look at that market cap man. i think Steemit will dwarf all other social platforms soon

Exactly. But right now we all focused on financial side of steemit. Which of course is good and necessary. Only few of us can see intellectual potential and consequences of all those fresh brains.

The great thing about it is, people on steemit are naturally 'alternative', and there's so much interesting discussion going on because of that. I stayed off social media ever since it arrived because Facebook and Twitter are full of zombies and sheep, wheras on steemit I can find what resonates with me, interact with it and get rewarded at the same time. :o

I think at the end, as people keep joining, the good content will rise above the rest

Sorry I'll elaborate a little - I do get so tired of people using science as a be all and end all, it has become a form of religion and it literally is blind faith with the majority of people. They never seem to even consider that science has business interests, and people with agendas funding it. Dogma coming from the top down has never been my thing. I really appreciate your post and am going to keep the link to it for future reference. Thanks so much.

Yeap, I understand where you are coming from. They basically believe in the myth of good vs evil. the dark force vs the jedi. The "bad religion" vs the "good science". the "bad private sector" vs "the good government".

pedantic thought process.

many folks trust external media sources more than their own intuition. more of us need to learn to listen within for the sound of truth.

Soft science is being used more often to support a belief or political agenda. I believe that climate change is one of those issues. It seam a phenomenal toll for the elite ruling order to spring board a global tax and government. It does not seam to be soundly based on fact but on emotional sentiment to do the 'right' thing and save our world. While real scientists are silenced on the issue and cannot speak out. SHAMEFUL

Yeap. Political agenda seems to be the thing that binds this clusterfuck together.

"It does not seam to be soundly based on fact but on emotional sentiment to do the 'right' thing and save our world. While real scientists are silenced on the issue and cannot speak out. SHAMEFUL"

Did you even try to read any of the numerous papers they publish?

Environmental science is performed across the world, with data collected by numerous nations. What the hell kind of sentiment is this? You just decided to believe that it's rubbish?

Great article.
I just heard a talk from a Sufi scholar a few days ago talking about falsifiability, and how it can be used in spiritual practices. Funny that I have been thinking about it for a few days and now here you are explaining its fallibility. If you haven't already, you should read The Magicians Twin by C.S. Lewis, where he shares his thoughts about Scientism and the almost religious devotion many scientists, especially extremely Atheistic ones have in regard to Science. .

Read it

I am so glad I find guys like you in here. A breath of fresh air.

Thank you. Me too. I am really looking forward to seeing more of your posts.

I think you have a very good point, from a theoretical and scientific point of view. What I find dangerous though, is a tendency of people in the last years to claim the existence of the so called 'alternate facts', in basically any discussion (not you). They also refuse to acknowledge the authority of people who are experts on certain subjects, by claiming that there is not one truth, but that everything is subjective. That might be the case, but if we follow that reasoning into every part of our lives, it will be a chaos.

Just a few examples: the surgeon general says vaccinations don't cause autism, but people deny that he knows what the talks about and refuse to vaccinate their children. Or somebody has cancer, and decides to try alternative medicine, because he doesn't trust doctors and read some study somewhere on the internet that says that alternative medicine can cure cancer. Or worse, there are still people today who claim the earth is flat. We could tell those people, well, it's highly likely that the earth is flat, but we are not sure. That would be a correct statement, but I think our society will benefit from a bit more belief in facts. Perhaps we have to introduce a new concept/word, a statement which is not 100% true, but in 99,999% of the cases.

First off, there is always chaos. Always has been. Order is relative to a certain perspective. Second, I don't dismiss scientific evidence. I just say not to take them at heart. Third, I am not a post-modernist. I am just skeptical about much of the scientific method. Simply, I cannot trust the current academic culture.

Forget about vaccinations (Scroll back in my blog and you will see I support most of them). People, in order to accept something they need evidence. It is hard to take something so complicated at face value. Why would anyone trust anybody because of their position? Should we trust politicians as well or famous people? How is merit really measured these days? These are the real questions.

A society where all people believe in facts delivered to them without researching themselves is doomed.

Should we trust politicians or famous people? Not because of their position, not at all no. Should we trust people that have studied years and years on a certain subject, who can be considered experts, and that for the great majority all agree on one issue? Yes, unless we have strong reasons not to. Many people doubt the opinion of experts without any good reason to do so. If that attitude (or lifestyle even) gets out of hand (and I am exaggerating slightly), schools and universities will be useless, because anytime a teacher tries to teach students any 'facts', students will not believe him because there are no facts.

You will find a nice example of what I mean in this scene of Thank You For Smoking (awesome movie), "Your mommy says you can't smoke? So is your mommy a doctor?"

I remember this one. :)

I do have strong reasons for not believing them at heart. There is too much lobbying in all scientific research nowdays. I know because I have been in academia.

This is true. There is a lot of advertising masked as science. Big Cannabis is a good example.

Authority does exist. You can argue "he says it, and he knows better than I do, so I think that's true". What's not correct is to say "he is an authority, so he cannot be wrong"; obviously authorities are wrong sometimes.

Thank you so much for this. I believe this is the true spirit of science expressed right here. People use science as a weapon to go on crusades for what they want to believe. It's so rare that you can find studies that are not somewhere contradicted and yes, these studies are done by imperfect humans and only represent certain specific circumstances. To ad to that, a lot of studies are funded by corporations that have something to gain or lose by certain findings. Not all good science is going to get attention and not all bad science will be recognized as such.

I believe that personal experience and intuition is equally important in deciding what's true and what's not. Of course there are dangers to just believing "what feels right" but when balanced out with a respect and openness to scientific findings and a kind of (almost agnostic) analytical focus, I think we can go much further in terms of our understanding based on this intuition.

Everyone has something to gain for sure. Many people need to learn to examine life by using their own intuition. relying too much on others is a huge problem.

This advice is downright dangerous. Our intuition does not often match reality anymore. There is a reason you have a frontal lobe - and it's not because intuition is everything.

The opposite is also problematic. Your point? Blind faith to the authority?

Very well said, i have often thought about this topic. This is one of the reasons i want to start posting content. Thank you for your words.

This always make me laugh my ass off

Science is a Liar...Sometimes

Allow me to upvote you fully because this is my favorite show of all time.

You're playing right into his hand. He wanted you to upvote him fully...because of the implication.

I spent all my tech budget on a device to read the mind of @kyriacos and reap full upvotes!

MWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

pinky and the brain episode

another favorite show. the good ones don't last long..even tho Sunny is still kicking

yeap. always fresh

well he didn't actually know beforehand that I fancied the show

I probably should have included this the first time:

Sunny - Implication.jpg

oh i think I remember this one

he should have went for the Latina version on this one

This is beautifully put. It reminds me of one of my favorite phrases:

"The ball is round. The game lasts 90 minutes. Everything else is pure theory".

Everything we know and experience exists under a narrow spectrum of factual relativism.

Exactly. Often, the fact is not that there are many different physical laws, but there are different applications for each law, depending on the scale on which it is measured. For example, electrons can diffract between two nickel atoms, but we cannot diffract between two doors. This is because our wavelength is unimaginably smaller than that of the doors. Sound waves, on the other hand, can easily diffract through doors.

Bear in mind that I will reference your article in several instances :)

Excellent parallelism with the diffraction models.
I will certainly be using yours so feel free to use mine. :)

On a nutshell you just hit the right string , science is a way to explain neutral processes all around us and its core methodology based on assumptions , detections, analysing and come to conclusions anf each step there are a room for errors .

more or less yes.

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