Om vetenskapligt konsensus

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Nemesis
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Om vetenskapligt konsensus

Post by Nemesis » Sun 24 Jul 2022, 19:23

Denna bloggpost från Steven Novella förklarar på ett bra sätt varför man som vetenskaplig skeptiker och lekman som en första approximation bör gå på vad vetenskapligt konsensus säger. Vi har diskuterat detta lite av och till forumet. Det vore intressant att läsa vad de som inte håller med om detta tycker att vi ska göra istället.
Steven Novella wrote:Overconfidence and Opposition to Scientific Consensus

There has been a lot of research exploring the phenomenon of rejection of established science, even to the point of people believing demonstrably absurd things. This is a complex phenomenon, involving conspiracy thinking, scientific illiteracy, group identity, polarization, cognitive styles, and media ecosystems, but the research has made significant progress unpacking these various contributing factors. A recent study adds to the list, focusing on the rejection of scientific consensus.

For most people, unless you are an expert in a relevant field, a good first approximation of what is most likely to be true is to understand and follow the consensus of expert scientific opinion. This is just probability – people who have an understanding of a topic that is orders of magnitude beyond yours are simply more likely to have an accurate opinion on that topic than you do. This does not mean experts are always right, or that there is no role for minority opinions. It mostly means that non-experts need to have an appropriate level of humility, and at least a basic understanding of the depth of knowledge that exists. I always invite people to consider the topic they know the best, and consider the level of knowledge of the average non-expert. Well, you are that non-expert on every other topic.

This is also why humility is the cornerstone of good scientific skepticism and critical thinking. We are all struggling to be just a little less wrong. As a science enthusiast we are trying to understanding a topic at a generally superficial technical level. This can still be a very meaningful and generally accurate understanding – just not technically deep or rigorous. It’s one thing to say – yeah, I get the basic concept of quantum computers, how they work, and why they can be so powerful. It’s another to be able to read and understand the technical literature, let alone contribute to it. Often people get into trouble when they confuse their lay understanding of a topic for a deep expert understanding, usually resulting in them becoming cranks.

https://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/overconfidence-and-opposition-to-scientific-consensus/
"If someone is able to show me that what I think or do is not right, I will happily change, for I seek the truth, by which no one was ever truly harmed." - Marcus Aurelius

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Vitnir
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Re: Om vetenskapligt konsensus

Post by Vitnir » Thu 28 Jul 2022, 08:18

Problemet för vanligt folk är att det inte alltid är så enkelt att avgöra vad som är vetenskaplig konsensus. Vanliga journalister kan vara rätt kassa på att presentera detta i en form som är enkelt att ta till sig. Det blir lätt att enskilda forskare förs fram som säger motstridiga saker och man får intrycket att forskare ändrar sig hela tiden och att det inte går att lita på något.
There is no spoon.

dann
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Re: Om vetenskapligt konsensus

Post by dann » Thu 28 Jul 2022, 09:49

Which is why resorting to references to scientific consensus doesn't really work. Everybody should be provided with at least some level of science literacy. Not that this is any guarantee against the most common errors of scientific illiterates. Even researchers can make those when they decide to draw conclusions based only on, for example, their own anecdotal evidence. https://forum.vof.se/viewtopic.php?p=749191#p749191

Nemesis
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Re: Om vetenskapligt konsensus

Post by Nemesis » Tue 16 Aug 2022, 20:13

Vitnir wrote:
Thu 28 Jul 2022, 08:18
Problemet för vanligt folk är att det inte alltid är så enkelt att avgöra vad som är vetenskaplig konsensus. Vanliga journalister kan vara rätt kassa på att presentera detta i en form som är enkelt att ta till sig. Det blir lätt att enskilda forskare förs fram som säger motstridiga saker och man får intrycket att forskare ändrar sig hela tiden och att det inte går att lita på något.
Detta är helt korrekt. Att identifiera vilka källor som är pålitliga och inte kan nästan vara som en vetenskap i sig.
"If someone is able to show me that what I think or do is not right, I will happily change, for I seek the truth, by which no one was ever truly harmed." - Marcus Aurelius

Nemesis
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Re: Om vetenskapligt konsensus

Post by Nemesis » Tue 16 Aug 2022, 20:15

dann wrote:
Thu 28 Jul 2022, 09:49
Which is why resorting to references to scientific consensus doesn't really work. Everybody should be provided with at least some level of science literacy. Not that this is any guarantee against the most common errors of scientific illiterates. Even researchers can make those when they decide to draw conclusions based only on, for example, their own anecdotal evidence. https://forum.vof.se/viewtopic.php?p=749191#p749191
Problemet är att det är omöjligt att vara expert inom varje område. På varje område där vi inte är experter, eller åtminstone har en väldigt hög kunskapsnivå, så är vi beroende av dem som är experter inom området.
"If someone is able to show me that what I think or do is not right, I will happily change, for I seek the truth, by which no one was ever truly harmed." - Marcus Aurelius

dann
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Re: Om vetenskapligt konsensus

Post by dann » Mon 22 Aug 2022, 09:43

Yes, we depend on the experts, but we also depend on their ability to explain to people why they are right and their opponents aren't. To understand those explanations requires some degree of science literacy because you can't rely on the majority of scientists, i.e. the scientific consensus, being right: https://forum.vof.se/viewtopic.php?p=749340#p749340

dann
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Re: Om vetenskapligt konsensus

Post by dann » Mon 22 Aug 2022, 11:22

ETA: I understand how we know that light, contrary to our everyday experience, has a velocity, i.e. that it isn't instantaneous but only appears to us to be so unless we begin to look at astronomical distances or minute measurements of time, which are beyond the everyday experiences of most people. In the same context, I understand phenomena like redshift and blueshift and how they show if stars or galaxies are moving away from us or towards us. I haven't felt the need to measure those things for myself, but I know approximately how I could do it if I had to, but I don't. We have much better clocks nowadays than in 1676, so I might even be able to make a better measurement of the speed of light than Ole Rømer.

I don't understand how and why time slows down when the velocity of a body increases, approaching but never reaching 0, as it approaches the speed of light. It would require math skills that I don't have, but I know that I would probably be able to acquire those skills if I cared enough to try. So I resort to assuming that Einstein was right about this. The people who contradicted him have been proven wrong again and again, the same way that his predictions have been proven right, for instance by clocks on satellites deviating from time measured on Earth.

However, when we are talking about physics, there are no strong economic interests in claiming that light doesen't have a velocity or that its wavelength doesn't appear to change depending on its speed away from or towards us. But that is not the case when we look at many other fields of science. A biologist, for instance, can make a career out of being a contrarian and oppose the science of evolution. Intelligent design is a career opportunity for a very small minority of biologists. The very small scale of this minority is due to the small size of the potential financial stimulus. The interest in intelligent design is mainly religious, not financial. A few rich eccentrics may pay a biologist to reject Darwinian evolution, but they don't expect it to help their business interests.

It gets worse if we look at the more contentious questions: anthropogenic global warming, the current pandemic, nutrition and smoking, to name a few.
Climate change:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_change_denial#Denial_networks
SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Institute_for_Economic_Research#Funding
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Barrington_Declaration
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeffrey_Tucker#COVID-19_pandemic_and_Brownstone_Institute
Nutrition:
https://www.vox.com/2016/9/12/12864442/jama-sugar-industry-distort-science
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trans_fat#Sweden
Tobacco:
https://news.stanford.edu/pr/2007/pr-proctor-021407.html

In the case of tobacco, it has become apparent to most people what the scientific consensus is. Ordinary people depend on the media to inform them. But the problem is that it is pretty easy for industry or other financial interests to confuse the impression that people get through the media. If you have the money, you can pay for advertising, articles and scientific studies. And it requires an effort at the level of what some of us have put into finding out the truth about the pandemic to even understand what the consensus is.
In the case of climate change, it is now almost as obvious as in the case of tobacco what the scientific consensus is, but in the case of the pandemic it is not nearly as clear unless you invest a lot of time trying to find out, which makes the suggestion to resort to the scientific consensus pretty useless. The impression that people all over the Western world get from the media is that the pandemic is more or less over and nothing that we need to worry about unless we are in our 80s or 90s, and even then we shouldn't worry about it because we'll dead in a couple of weeks anyway with or without (or of) Covid-19.

In this context, it is also worth noticing how little even the opinions of scientists are influenced by facts. I can recommend this recent interview:
The Elephant in the Room: Why Facts Don’t Change Minds, and What to Do About It (Center for Inquiry, Aug 19, 2022)
Have you ever tried this? You go out in the world, armed with facts, and expect to change other people’s minds.
How’d it work out for you?
Minds, it turns out, are strangely resistant to changing.
Why is that? How do humans make decisions, and why do facts seem to be so maddeningly unpersuasive? The answers to those questions give us a handle on the polarization that seems to affect every controversial issue going (and even some of the non-controversial ones), and are the key to having better conversations with people we disagree with.
Tamar Haspel writes the James Beard Award-winning Washington Post column Unearthed, which looks at how our diet affects us and our planet. She’s also written for Discover, Vox, Slate, Fortune, Eater, and Edible Cape Cod.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uUsuxOZbdpA
Some of the issues mentioned (along with statistics) in the interview are global warming, GMO and evolution.

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