Are Americans anti science

  • Thread starter wolram
  • Start date
  • #26
1,047
778
I think a lot of people are extrapolating beyond the data presented (which isn't a lot from Pew). We're talking about American lack of scientific education and a general science problem in the US when in reality we're presented with three topics: Climate Change, Evolution, and Vaccines. It may or may not be fair to say the US has a climate change problem, or vaccination problem, but science itself is big.
Ask them about homeopathy, acupuncture, GMO's, magnetic wristbands, Airborne, if the moon landing was real, and whether we've been visited by aliens. Do you think the results will be different?

-Dave K
 
  • #27
StatGuy2000
Education Advisor
1,801
906
I myself do not believe in any of the research presented by the soft "sciences" (psychologists - and it's many sub-fields like neuroscience, political science, sociologists, etc.) yet still believe that the climate is changing, GMO's are good, vaccines are great, and modern evolutionary theory is as close to truth as we may get.
Are you suggesting that all research presented in psychology or neuroscience are invalid? If you can point to poor methodology, poor analysis methods, or lack of replicability as a reason to be skeptical for some (if not many) of research in psychology or neuroscience. But don't believe in any? That is an anti-science position you are taking.

Plus, who believes polls anymore? ?:)
You've got a problem with statisticians, like me? :-p
 
  • Like
Likes Amrator, BillTre, gleem and 1 other person
  • #28
Stephen Tashi
Science Advisor
7,459
1,410
Americans may (or may not) be "anti-science" in the statistical sense, but shouldn't we say they are "pro-technology"?
 
  • #29
BillTre
Science Advisor
Gold Member
1,613
3,667
Depends on the technology:
GMO's
vaccines
moon landing
 
  • #30
gleem
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
1,727
1,071
As an interesting counterpoint to wolram's link on the American public's denial of science is the following Pew Research poll conducted in October 2016, which shows that Americans' trust in scientists are relatively high, with 84% saying they trust medical scientists a "great deal" or a "fair deal" and 76% saying the same for all other scientists. You can see more details in the link below.
People understand in general the benefits of science and technology. But there is no specific context which they can relate science to them in the polls. Even we "know" not all "facts" are true. Everybody is biased in some way. We also know that not all scientific or technological advances are always thoroughly thought through (say that three times)

I think a lot of people are extrapolating beyond the data presented (which isn't a lot from Pew). We're talking about American lack of scientific education and a general science problem in the US when in reality we're presented with three topics: Climate Change, Evolution, and Vaccines. It may or may not be fair to say the US has a climate change problem, or vaccination problem, but science itself is big.

The three topics are specific items that individuals recognize the impact on their lives. Science in general is good and most Americans believe it. The OP links have the answers and it is not more facts, more science education or teaching individuals to think like a scientist. These are dead end approaches. Those with good scientific skills will use those skills to defend their beliefs. As the links in the OP tell us scientific reasoning skills tend to polarize people even more. The rejection of certain scientific issues are psychosocial issues that must have psychosocial solutions.
 
  • #31
russ_watters
Mentor
19,945
6,425
If you reject any scientific results for unscientific reasons, I would say you are anti-science. "I don't like it, therefore I think it is wrong" is as anti-scientific as it can get.
You can ignore scientific results for scientific reasons - like poor analysis methods, a very low repetition rate in the given field, and so on. That is perfectly fine (as long as the reasons are justified).
Minor quibble/clarification: "ignoring" scientific results is not the same as saying they are wrong. A choice to ignore scientific evidence in favor of, for example, economic reality, might be ok too, and is largely a matter of personal values/opinions.
 
  • #32
34,959
11,146
Sure.

If a study concludes "X leads to Y (p<0.05), based on our test sample of 10 individuals without proper control group and with 20 tested possible relations", then I ignore it. I don't say the claimed effect is wrong. X might lead to Y. But the study does not help exploring that.
 
  • Like
Likes Bystander
  • #33
13,809
10,957
If a study concludes "X leads to Y (p<0.05), based on our test sample of 10 individuals without proper control group and with 20 tested possible relations", then I ignore it. I don't say the claimed effect is wrong. X might lead to Y. But the study does not help exploring that.
Better stay away from medical studies though.
 
  • Like
Likes gleem
  • #34
Student100
Education Advisor
Gold Member
1,649
416
If you reject any scientific results for unscientific reasons, I would say you are anti-science. "I don't like it, therefore I think it is wrong" is as anti-scientific as it can get.
I wouldn't go that far, I would say they're anti-whatever. There are some scientists who do good work in their field who're completely anti-evolution or anti-GMO's, even though the consensuses and evidence is overwhelming as far as I'm concerned.

Ask them about homeopathy, acupuncture, GMO's, magnetic wristbands, Airborne, if the moon landing was real, and whether we've been visited by aliens. Do you think the results will be different?

-Dave K
I would expect that if you gathered 100 people and ask them that some would believe the scientific consensus on A, B, and C, while rejecting D and E. While others would accept B, C, D, while rejecting A and E. So makes some accept climate change but believe in the benefits in homeopathy at the same time? Is it really a lack of science education at that point? Or is something else going on?

Are you suggesting that all research presented in psychology or neuroscience are invalid? If you can point to poor methodology, poor analysis methods, or lack of replicability as a reason to be skeptical for some (if not many) of research in psychology or neuroscience. But don't believe in any? That is an anti-science position you are taking.
I haven't seen any research that is reproducible, has predictive power, or useful. There is also a complete lack of agreement on the foundations from those fields. If you have such findings, please share.

You've got a problem with statisticians, like me? :-p
Haha, forgive me for playing devils advocate so we don't become EchoForums™.
 
  • #35
gleem
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
1,727
1,071
I haven't seen any research that is reproducible, has predictive power, or useful. There is also a complete lack of agreement on the foundations from those fields. If you have such findings, please share.
Just a point of clarification. Have you actively sought any psychosocial research for predictive power? Can you support your statement that there is a complete lack of agreement on the foundations from these fields?
 
  • #36
BillTre
Science Advisor
Gold Member
1,613
3,667
I myself do not believe in any of the research presented by the soft "sciences" (psychologists - and it's many sub-fields like neuroscience, political science, sociologists, etc.)
Are you suggesting that all research presented in psychology or neuroscience are invalid? If you can point to poor methodology, poor analysis methods, or lack of replicability as a reason to be skeptical for some (if not many) of research in psychology or neuroscience. But don't believe in any? That is an anti-science position you are taking.
I haven't seen any research that is reproducible, has predictive power, or useful. There is also a complete lack of agreement on the foundations from those fields. If you have such findings, please share.
I think you are completely off base with this.

I have worked in both Psychology labs and Neuroscience labs (both can be in Neuroscience Institutes, like one where I worked).

To begin with, most Neuroscience labs are just biology labs (anatomy, physiology, behavior, development, genetics). A few involve actual psychological variables (psychophysics, cognitive psych). They all have generated reproducible results and publish in peer reviewed journals.
I have published studies 20 or 30 years ago, which are being continuously repeated and reproduced as my reagents (monoclonal antibodies that label embryonic anatomy) are used in the analysis of new experiments.

As an undergrad, I worked in a Visual Psychophysics lab. They measure things like thresholds of human perceptual awareness (a psychological thing involving the consciousness) under different conditions and relate them to what is known of the underlying Neurobiology. A lot of highly reproducible numbers were generated there.

Cognitive and Perceptual Psychology has been very usefully paired with brain imaging techniques (of anatomy and activity) to show areas associated with particular tasks. These kinds of studies are relevant to medicine in that they enlighten issues of brain function.

WRT the Conceptual Foundations of Psychology and Neuroscience: (to me anyway) it is the biological processing of information (in the nervous system: sensory inputs, motor outputs, in between stuff, anatomy and physiology of the neural network, etc.) and (psychologically) how a behaving organism works from the inside.
How the individual human information processing system aware of external states, its internal states, and how it generates behavior.
Seems to me, this would cover most issues.
 
  • #37
34,959
11,146
I wouldn't go that far, I would say they're anti-whatever. There are some scientists who do good work in their field who're completely anti-evolution or anti-GMO's, even though the consensuses and evidence is overwhelming as far as I'm concerned.
Anti-evolution: Even a blind hen sometimes finds a grain of corn. They might have found some place where they can work, but I don't think they are good scientists if they think evolution does not exist.
What is "anti-GMO"? Questioning the existence of them? Questioning some claims about their safety?
 
  • Like
Likes rbelli1
  • #38
Student100
Education Advisor
Gold Member
1,649
416
Just a point of clarification. Have you actively sought any psychosocial research for predictive power? Can you support your statement that there is a complete lack of agreement on the foundations from these fields?
Sure, check out: http://science.sciencemag.org/content/349/6251/aac4716

Or just go to http://www.apa.org/ [Broken] and tool around on the research highlights section or check out some of the recommend publications. Read the publications, it isn't hard to find research published in the same journal that directly contradicts previous works. In fact, whatever your position on a psychology topic it isn't hard to find research published that directly supports it.

To begin with, most Neuroscience labs are just biology labs (anatomy, physiology, behavior, development, genetics). A few involve actual psychological variables (psychophysics, cognitive psych). They all have generated reproducible results and publish in peer reviewed journals.
I don't see how their labs being similar to biology labs matters, but okay, examples? What predictive power do they have when applied beyond the study group?


I have published studies 20 or 30 years ago, which are being continuously repeated and reproduced as my reagents (monoclonal antibodies that label embryonic anatomy) are used in the analysis of new experiments.
Okay, examples? Not sure what monoclonal antibodies have to do with psychology.

As an undergrad, I worked in a Visual Psychophysics lab. They measure things like thresholds of human perceptual awareness (a psychological thing involving the consciousness) under different conditions and relate them to what is known of the underlying Neurobiology. A lot of highly reproducible numbers were generated there.
Examples? What is human consciousness anyway?

Cognitive and Perceptual Psychology has been very usefully paired with brain imaging techniques (of anatomy and activity) to show areas associated with particular tasks. These kinds of studies are relevant to medicine in that they enlighten issues of brain function.
fMRI nonsense? Don't get me started. But examples?

WRT the Conceptual Foundations of Psychology and Neuroscience: (to me anyway) it is the biological processing of information (in the nervous system: sensory inputs, motor outputs, in between stuff, anatomy and physiology of the neural network, etc.) and (psychologically) how a behaving organism works from the inside.
How the individual human information processing system aware of external states, its internal states, and how it generates behavior.
Seems to me, this would cover most issues.
To you, maybe. To another it's something else entirely. How many schools of thought are there for modern psychology foundations? Ten? Is it possible to find research that supports a position, then turn around and find research that disagrees? Certainty in these fields, it's done here all the time.

Anyway, I said what I said to illustrate that science isn't some binary choice. You don't have to accept all of science to be science literate. Lets try to not to derail the thread too much.

Anti-evolution: Even a blind hen sometimes finds a grain of corn. They might have found some place where they can work, but I don't think they are good scientists if they think evolution does not exist.
What is "anti-GMO"? Questioning the existence of them? Questioning some claims about their safety?
Safety of GMO's, just like anti-vaccinationers believe in vaccines but question there safety.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #39
1,047
778
I would expect that if you gathered 100 people and ask them that some would believe the scientific consensus on A, B, and C, while rejecting D and E. While others would accept B, C, D, while rejecting A and E. So makes some accept climate change but believe in the benefits in homeopathy at the same time? Is it really a lack of science education at that point? Or is something else going on.
It's beyond just education, I think. Culturally, there's a complete lack of respect for, and even fear of science. It's a cynical view of scientists as non-humans in white coats in pristine labs dissecting live animals with sadistic pleasure. It's a view that scientists are just geeks with book smarts and no common sense to understand what is "obviously" true. It's an antipathy even towards intelligence. It's just not cool.

Americans literally brag about how stupid and lazy they are in order to appear more normal in front of other Americans They assume anybody who is doing science or math must have some freakish level of intelligence, because having passion about science and actually working hard at it doesn't make sense to them. It's just not normal and it's certainly not admirable.

-Dave K
 
  • Like
Likes Amrator and Student100
  • #40
Evo
Mentor
23,163
2,862
Thread closed.
 
Last edited:

Related Threads on Are Americans anti science

  • Poll
  • Last Post
Replies
16
Views
3K
Replies
36
Views
7K
Replies
120
Views
7K
  • Last Post
4
Replies
83
Views
10K
  • Last Post
3
Replies
70
Views
7K
Replies
13
Views
2K
  • Last Post
4
Replies
80
Views
9K
  • Last Post
2
Replies
37
Views
4K
Top