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Becoming more critical?

  1. Nov 23, 2011 #1
    Yet another silly question but I am not sure if I told you folks but I come from a very narrow minded non science background and was introduced to math and physics by my wife and by watching Bing Bang Theory and Doctor Who. Strangely more often than not as I learn more about sciende and math I also find myself becoming very critical of what I would see as possibly hokum. Is that normal?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 23, 2011 #2
    I'd say it's normal. The more one knows about the world, the more critical one becomes.

    I'd also say that it's a very good thing to become critical. Being critical and doubting things is the very nature of science. One should ideally be critical about everything. You shouldn't believe anything until evidence is presented. This includes scientific statements as well. This is the scientific method.

  4. Nov 23, 2011 #3


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    Perfectly normal, and a necessary quality for a scientist or a scientifically minded person. :smile:
  5. Nov 23, 2011 #4
    Thanks for the replies. Good to know. I will watch the video when I get home from work.I have watched some of the Richard Feynman lecture's on YouTube
  6. Nov 23, 2011 #5
    I'd say that it is a necessary quality for every human being. But now I expect too much of people.
  7. Nov 23, 2011 #6
    I know what you mean. Sadly with the exception of one or two people I am usually very disappointed
  8. Nov 23, 2011 #7


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    I used to love stories about the paranormal when I was little. I didn't believe them, but found them entertaining.

    Now I know too much and can't even bear to watch or read them. Or more likely they have become so outrageously unbelievable only a complete fool can tolerate how outrageous the stories have become.

    Classics like the 1963 "The Haunting" are so well done as a pshycological thriller, they will always be watchable.
  9. Nov 23, 2011 #8
    I know what you mean. I used to be what most would call a self help junkie. Always looking for a quick fix. My wife hated how much money I would spend on stupid crap. It wasn't until we had our one and only arguement about "The Secret" in our coming up on six years of being married that I started to see what snake oil it all is. The irony is that all these self help folks as of late endlessly talk about how thoughts are things and that you attract things with you thoughts yet one of the so called gurus in The Secret was just sentenced to 9 years in prision.
  10. Nov 23, 2011 #9


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    All of the "self help" people are shysters and manipulators. The only help they are interested in is helping your money get into their bank.
  11. Nov 23, 2011 #10
    Indeed, they are scum!! Soooo, anybdoy interested in dolphin healing????
  12. Nov 23, 2011 #11
    is that code?
  13. Nov 23, 2011 #12


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    It's important to balance criticism or skepticism with an open mind. It is a somewhat paradoxical idea, but one needs to be open to ideas even if they fly in the face of conventional wisdom.

    You don't have to believe new ideas: I'm not saying that. All i'm saying is that you need to be aware of them in full before you criticize them and you have to criticize the message and not the messenger.

    In fact large portions of mathematics are based on this very principle. When we want to disprove something we assume that something is true and find a contradiction. We don't just say "it's wrong".

    Also i'm sure most mathematicians will tell you how much easier it is to disprove a general statement than to prove a general statement.
  14. Nov 23, 2011 #13


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    That Feynman video is awesome. Thanks micromass!
  15. Nov 23, 2011 #14


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    Nobody is brainwashing consumers into buying self help books (except Oprah). If people want to read a book that tells them how they might better their lives, it is not the vendors who should be judged.
  16. Nov 23, 2011 #15


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    Right, snake oil salesmen aren't to blame if gullible people buy it.
  17. Nov 23, 2011 #16
    Isn't that the same as gambling halls/casinos? No one is "forcing" you to play, but people get addict it to it and want to "win it all back"
  18. Nov 24, 2011 #17


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    [STRIKE]The fact that many of us don't feel we need somebody else's ideas about how to be well-adjusted does not mean that they're selling snake oil.

    I guess it really comes down to the fine line between fraudulent promises of medicinal miracles and merely advice on how to live well.

    The snake oils salesman says "It's science, just trust me", and the self-help advisor says "it's just a bunch of ideas. There's nothing here beyond your ability to comprehend. I can't make you do anything."[/STRIKE]

    Wait, wait. Are we talking The Secret and the Power of Attraction kind of self help?

    Oh. OK, then total snake oil. That stuff is trash.

    Last edited: Nov 24, 2011
  19. Nov 24, 2011 #18


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    The complications come when the snake oil salesman calls himself a self-help advisor and says exactly what you've said "I can't make you do anything" whilst manipulating the consumer with lies, logical fallacies and a myriad other tricks of advertising.
  20. Nov 24, 2011 #19

    yes that is exactly what I was refering to
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