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Are you in agreement with Science popularization?

  1. Aug 16, 2005 #1
    It is very difficult for a scientist to know about fields outside his specialized area of work.
    Nevertheless, there are a lot of books and magazines that popularize Science to make it accessible to men without a minimal scientific background.
    What do you think on the value of this popularization?
    On one hand, it would be useful to show a general view on the essentials knowledges of our age. Everyone would have the right of this basic knowledge. Furthermore, these lectures could induce to young men to initiate a scientific career.
    On the other hand, an "excessive" popularization can give a false idea of the objectives, methods and results of Science, with social consequences. For example, it is easy to admire technical advances Medicine. It is more difficult to appreciate changes in Physics or Paleontology. And budgets for investigation can be seriously influenced by these "popular" images.
    Wo would be the optimum?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 17, 2005 #2
    I saw a comment on a non-science oriented forum a year or two ago from someone who had been influenced to pursue science by the attention given to Carl Sagen. The individual pursued a science career to become an authority figure like Sagen. Someone who would provide definite answers like a religious figure does rather than someone more interested in discovering new knowledge.

    I would like to see science portrayed more as a continuing search for the answers to mysteries about physical reality rather than a field that already has all the answers.
  4. Aug 19, 2005 #3
    I am very worried by the way science has been popularized.

    I come at this from a unique perspective, one that I feel rather awkward mentioning in a physics/mathematics forum, but I have already mentioned it in other threads. I have been an independent dream researcher since I was very young, pursuing questions and experiments on the phenomenology of dreams rather than their ontology. There are very few people who do this and even fewer who consider it a science. So, when I look for "colleagues" online, (never have I physically met someone actively interested in lucid dreams) I tend to find people who are very spiritual and frankly very gullible. These very same people use the science they have read in a confounded way to support their beliefs - from extra dimensions to psychic time travel and whatever that can be imagined.

    Certainly, the authors cannot be responsible for the actions of their readers, but look at where this is going (and where it has already gone). Quantum physics has perforated every self-help book and seminar and is used by other authors to legitimize every fanciful New Age idea in existence. You cannot believe how bizarrely integrated QM and string theory are in fringe works on dreaming, like it is evidence that scientists are "catching up" to spirituality! I am in shock by the vast numbers of people who are convinced that they are using gravity waves to communicate with astral beings...

    Or the seemingly unending array of people who claim that watching "What the BLEEP do we know?" changed their lives?

    I think this is a huge problem, so much that I can't do it justice in just one little post. People somehow feel that science is beyond them, and that the only way to digest it is to have it dumbed down for them. And it has everything to do with the dumbing effects of our modern school system, stifling and warping the spirit for exploration...

    I'll stop now before I go into shock from fear. :uhh:
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2005
  5. Aug 20, 2005 #4


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    The mystagogues who produce these texts have always used the buzz words of the current science, whatever it was. Once it was "magnetism", then "The fourth dimension", and so on. There's nothing that can be done about it.

    Since as you say you are investigating the phenomenology of your dreams why not look for associates among the phenomenologists. There's an enormous literature of that, going back to Husserl.
  6. Aug 20, 2005 #5
    It doesn't seem like it's getting worse? The more certain questions are resolved by "big science," the less tangibility there is for people. It used to be that cutting edge scientific experiments could have been replicated by anyone with a little money and equipment. Now you need the finances and equipment of entire nations - but not the involvement of many of their people, which is convenient for economics but not for learning.

    Certainly, the amount of literature is ridiculous. There is so much that I could actually be disappointed by them ad infinitum.

    Please note I used the word "phenomenology" specifically for dreams and not for all experience. Once that distinction is made much of phenomenoligcal literature is moot. It's interesting because there is a minor but important rational ontology to lucid dreaming --> in order to recognize that one is dreaming, one deduces from certain unusual phenomena into a conclusion, "this is a dream." But further ontological questioning, like "what is a dream really? are you a spirit? am I out of body?" is aimless and verboten, as far I'm concerned. The entire experience is encapsulated by the questioning, releasing a torrent of confirmation bias, which is phenomenally difficult (pun intended), but not impossible, to overcome, leading to just incredible results. I wish I could be more specific, but I'd never stop writing.

    To date there is no developed "philosophy of dreaming," that are not completely dependent on something larger - psychology, religion, occultism, spiritualism, etc. Talking about dreams means inescapably forwarding a contentious philosophy. And that's unfortunate because it makes defining within philosophy of science extremely difficult. The intense and apparently natural subjectivism is what mostly stands in the way. There are many mysteries to study and questions to pursue and there must be a reliable framework through which that can be done.

    I actually feel bad for the systemic phenomenologists. They seem so close to procuring a great deal of wonderful experiences, and yet they never seem to escape theory. I recently read a book by a Japanese philosopher who had a sort of out-of-body experience during WWII and went on to expand on Husserl and Heiddeger into a reformulated monism. I already forgot his conclusions because they were so boring. For the rest of his life this man apparently never tried to replicate or experiment with similar experiences.

    Getting back to the issue of popularizing science, a similar story seemed to happen to the physicist Joachim Wolf who runs the website quantum-metaphysics.com... I won't even hot link to it because I find him and his awakened readers so regressive. I've corresponded with him and it's worth noting that he completely agrees with Wayne Dyer and Deepak Chopra, the two monoliths of modern New Age spirituality who rely on science for their many books and speeches.

    See, I keep editing this post and adding stuff to it... Deepak Chopra was just on that new channel owned partly by Al Gore, "Google Current." It looks like there is a daily meditation with him, complete with waterfalls and allusions to science. When it was over the twenty-something host said, "Wow, a spirituality with a basis in science, isn't that amazing" or something... the sentiment may be way more common than either of us think.
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2005
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