How to fight against metaphysics and pseudoscience?

  • #26
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Have you ever argued with an evolution denier? How about a 9-11 truther? Anti-vaccination crowd?

I don't think you have.

Many people are in the anti-vaccination crowd because they believe forcing someone to take a medication against their will is a violation of individual liberties.

This has nothing to do with science or pseudoscience.
 
  • #27
Some people cling so tightly to their unreasonable (irrational) beliefs, and are able to compartmentalize their thinking sufficiently that they never actually confront any contradictions.

Why would people do that? Maybe you are just pessimistic. That sort of behavior would be very strange.
 
  • #28
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Many people are in the anti-vaccination crowd because they believe forcing someone to take a medication against their will is a violation of individual liberties.

This has nothing to do with science or pseudoscience.

I don't know the fractions of people who are in that crowd for each reason, but everyone (in the anti-vax crowd) that I've ever discussed it with believed that vaccines are harmful. I will grant you that someone arguing against vaccinations for the reasons you listed does have nothing to do with pseudoscience.
 
  • #29
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Why would people do that? Maybe you are just pessimistic. That sort of behavior would be very strange.

I don't know that it's all that strange (unfortunately), but it is certainly irrational.

Edit: If you don't believe me, find your local Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses (or similar fundamentalist religious congregation), and try to convince them using logic and evidence that evolution occurs and has occurred.

Edit2: If you prefer to avoid religion, then try discussing the evidence for chiropractic, acupuncture, or homeopathic care with someone who believes they work (generally based on anecdotal evidence or personal experience).
 
  • #30
Physicist use quantum mechanics to analyse physical phenomena,
but quantum mechanics itself is not physics. that is a inductive metaphysics.
That is same to relativity. Svante Arrhenius said that relativity is a philosophical theory.

If you study quantum mechanics deeply, you will confront with metaphysics.
But if you want to study that problem,
you must depart from academic society and must go to the way of crank.
 
  • #32
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quantum mechanics itself is not physics. that is a inductive metaphysics.
That is same to relativity. Svante Arrhenius said that relativity is a philosophical theory.

Sorry, you and he are wrong.
 
  • #33
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Physicist use quantum mechanics to analyse physical phenomena,
but quantum mechanics itself is not physics. that is a inductive metaphysics.
That is same to relativity. Svante Arrhenius said that relativity is a philosophical theory.

If you study quantum mechanics deeply, you will confront with metaphysics.
But if you want to study that problem,
you must depart from academic society and must go to the way of crank.

Wait...what? Quantum mechanics is perhaps the most widely tested and verified of all scientific theories. If anything should be called "physics," it's quantum mechanics, which is the basis of many modern research areas in physics (condensed matter, nuclear/particle, etc.). Why would one refer to quantum mechanics as metaphysics? Quantum mechanics is not philosophy, it's science.
 
  • #34
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Wait...what? Quantum mechanics is perhaps the most widely tested and verified of all scientific theories. If anything should be called "physics," it's quantum mechanics, which is the basis of many modern research areas in physics (condensed matter, nuclear/particle, etc.). Why would one refer to quantum mechanics as metaphysics? Quantum mechanics is not philosophy, it's science.

Well, I am personally a determinist and don't believe that probabilities could be used to describe the physical world in any way.

That said, some people do believe that neither quantum mechanics nor string theory should be called physics, and if you would please respect that opinion.
 
  • #35
jambaugh
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OK Here's the thing...
Science is a philosophical endeavor. It is in particular an epistemological discipline. The epistemology of science is of course empirical observation. As such (and as is best exemplified in quantum theory) the nature of reality i.e. the metaphysics takes a back seat to the praxic operational description of what happens in nature. One may be the meta-physicist and speculate about the nature of the reality between actions in the lab,
"are Everett's many worlds real?, Are Bhomian pilot waves out there zipping around?"

And any good student of physics will at least play with these ideas but he has ceased acting as a physicist when he acts as a meta-physicist. As a physicist one sticks to operationally meaningful subjects like transition probabilities and particle masses. At best the physicist qua physicist adopts models, "metaphysical constructs", to help organize theorizing about empirical phenomena. When he takes the models more seriously he has stepped outside his role as a physicist.

Now if one wants to refine the definition of "metaphysics" from "the philosophical study of the nature of reality" to "the philosophical study of the actuality of nature" then metaphysics=physics. But that is not the current semantic meaning in common usage.
 
  • #36
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Well, I am personally a determinist and don't believe that probabilities could be used to describe the physical world in any way.
According to modern science, you are wrong.
That said, some people do believe that neither quantum mechanics nor string theory should be called physics, and if you would please respect that opinion.
I'll respect that opinion about as much as I respect the opinions of flat-earthers about the shape of our planet.
 
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  • #37
mgb_phys
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That said, some people do believe that neither quantum mechanics nor string theory should be called physics, and if you would please respect that opinion.
To be called physics (IMHO) it has to make testable predictions.
Quantum mechanics obviously makes experimentally testable claims (a lot of industry relies on them).
I'm not sure about string theory - have there been any testable predictions?
 
  • #38
Hurkyl
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Well, I am personally a determinist and don't believe that probabilities could be used to describe the physical world in any way.
(1) Consistence with your philosophical beliefs is not a pre-requesite for something to be called 'physics'.

(2) QM is consistent with determinism.


That said, some people do believe that neither quantum mechanics nor string theory should be called physics, and if you would please respect that opinion.
Only if you respect my opinion that you're a blithering idiot. :biggrin: (I'm teasing, of course)

I won't say whether or not such an opinion is deserving of respect (it's surprisingly hard to track down an actual definition of the phrase!). But respecting an opinion does not forbid one from explaining why the opinion is wrong.
 
  • #39
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But many people want to believe in the "incredible" and "mystical" because it's more exciting to them and easier for them to grasp than the scientific facts.

Sad, isn't it?
 
  • #40
Danger
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Well, I am personally a determinist and don't believe that probabilities could be used to describe the physical world in any way.
That's the beauty of science; what you do or do not believe is irrelevant.

some people do believe that neither quantum mechanics nor string theory should be called physics, and if you would please respect that opinion.

There isn't actually any reason to. Respect isn't a right; it has to be earned.
 
  • #41
Some people cling so tightly to their unreasonable (irrational) beliefs, and are able to compartmentalize their thinking sufficiently that they never actually confront any contradictions.

Precisely. Some. There are a whole lot of people out there who believe silly things. Your average person probably believes at least a few scientific myths. I would say that most people can be educated if someone actually takes the time to do it. If you have no patience for such an endevour then that's fine but you really oughtn't be putting others off with claims of the impossibility of the task.
 
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  • #42
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Precisely. Some[i/]. There are a whole lot of people out there who believe silly things. Your average person probably believes at least a few scientific myths.

Agree, scientific myths are not the same as pseudoscience though.
From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pseudoscience" [Broken]:
Wikipedia said:
Pseudoscience is defined as a body of knowledge, methodology, belief, or practice that is claimed to be scientific or made to appear scientific, but does not adhere to the scientific method, lacks supporting evidence or plausibility, or otherwise lacks scientific status.
I would say that most people can be educated if someone actually takes the time to do it.
Educated yes, de-educated of their misinformation, not so much. It is one thing to take someone who knows nothing about quantum physics, and teach them a little about it. It is another thing entirely to try to convince someone who has bought into nonsense like "What the bleep", etc. that they are wrong, quantum mechanics doesn't work that way.
If you have no patience for such an endevour then that's fine but you really oughtn't be putting others off with claims of the impossibility of the task.
I had no intention of putting anyone off of the task (sorry if it sounded that way), just of pointing out that fighting misinformation/pseudoscience is very different from, and far more difficult than educating people. The more people who fight against pseudoscience and misinformation the better.
 
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  • #43
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I'll respect that opinion about as much as I respect the opinions of flat-earthers about the shape of our planet.
Only if you respect my opinion that you're a blithering idiot. (I'm teasing, of course)

I won't say whether or not such an opinion is deserving of respect (it's surprisingly hard to track down an actual definition of the phrase!). But respecting an opinion does not forbid one from explaining why the opinion is wrong.
There isn't actually any reason to. Respect isn't a right; it has to be earned.
That's the beauty of science; what you do or do not believe is irrelevant.

I was actually kidding. I am ok with QM and its predictions and overtime I developed a solid and intuitive understanding of its concepts - and a solid respect. All I was trying to do is see how you people would actually respond to a post made by a "pseudosciencer" or h/e you call them. You guys totally made my day. Instead of trying to "educate" me about quantum mechanics, you just went straight into insults and saying I am wrong without any arguments except

Quantum mechanics obviously makes experimentally testable claims (a lot of industry relies on them).

Thanks to mgb_phys for at least trying to have respect and to make sense. The rest of you need to work on your temper and tolerance. If I would actually not believe in quantum mechanics, I would walk away with a warm solid feeling that none of you know what you are talking about or have any kind of solid ground behind your arguments.

Much laughs
~Tosser
 
  • #44
mgb_phys
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I'm not sure about string theory
Note I didn't mean I was unsure about if string theory is right or wrong - what I think is irrelevent.
I meant I wasn't upto date on if it had made any experimentally testable predictions yet and so made the jump from maths to physics.
 
  • #45
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All I was trying to do is see how you people would actually respond to a post made by a "pseudosciencer" or h/e you call them. You guys totally made my day. Instead of trying to "educate" me about quantum mechanics, you just went straight into insults and saying I am wrong without any arguments except
Because this is the forum or the thread for educating you about quantum mechanics? We have a whole separate forum dedicated to that. You post pretending to be an idiot, and then get a kick when people point out how ridiculous your statement is? I'd bet that if you made a thread aimed at discussing such things, you would get more people trying to educate you.
If I would actually not believe in quantum mechanics, I would walk away with a warm solid feeling that none of you know what you are talking about or have any kind of solid ground behind your arguments.
And you would still be wrong.
 
  • #46
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Because this is the forum or the thread for educating you about quantum mechanics? We have a whole separate forum dedicated to that. You post pretending to be an idiot, and then get a kick when people point out how ridiculous your statement is? I'd bet that if you made a thread aimed at discussing such things, you would get more people trying to educate you.

And you would still be wrong.

All right, now I am collapsing with laughter. As a t-shirt said "Nobody likes an angry asian man"

And your post proves my point even further.
Sorry, I didn't know this was a thread dedicated to showing how to "fight" pseudoscience by screaming at every person who talks about his/her doubts "you are a blithering idiot!!!!11!!1"
I sense that when you guys are gonna start "educating"... really gonna make a HUGE difference... xDxD

"But I am sure that quantum entanglement..."
"Shut UP you idiot, noob, you're WRONG"
"..."
"You wanna know what real science is? Go someplace else and ask people to educate you!"
"But what is your argu... Why... What... Why do you think am I wrong in the first place?"
"What I think is what every scientist thinks, so it must be right! You are just a little blithering idiot!"

I can sense all pseudoscience will be gone in a matter of weeks!
You people discussing how to educate people about physics and then pulling THIS off... I just can't stop laughing...
 
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  • #47
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Crazy Tosser,
Let me explain this as clearly as I can. If you were to create a thread, and actually express an interest in learning about a subject, myself and many others here would be willing to try to educate you about it. If you just say something like: "This is what I think and you have to respect that!" nobody is going to try to help you learn, because you haven't expressed an interest in learning.

Further, there is a difference between denial and pseudoscience (though they do often overlap). One can oppose pseudoscience, while being indifferent to denialism (as I usually am, I won't generally spend much time trying to educate a denialist, but have had many long and (occasionally) productive discussions about pseudoscience).
 
  • #48
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But many people want to believe in the "incredible" and "mystical" because it's more exciting to them and easier for them to grasp than the scientific facts.

Sad, isn't it?

I'm not so sure it is. Some people simply do not want to/lack the smarts to understand much of this stuff. Take the usual QM example. People will spout the uh...things...that you-know-which movies promote. But if someone really wants to know the subject in depth but doesn't know much on complex numbers for example (those that do are about 100 in your average university), too bad.

Does that make me sad for not appreciating Shakespeare's influence and beauty (so I hear) since I like to watch action movies which are more exciting and easier to grasp? Although yes, I do know what you mean - the nature of this forum is such that we do grasp these scientific facts, and love it, too - the thing is, I quite honestly don't care unless they try to mislead others/get in a position of power.
 
  • #49
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But many people want to believe in the "incredible" and "mystical" because it's more exciting to them and easier for them to grasp than the scientific facts.

The irony is that transfinite math or Godel's incompleteness proof are far more incredible and mystical than anything pseudoscience ever came up with.
 
  • #50
Hurkyl
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Conjecture: pseudomathematics is weirder than pseudoscience
 

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