The Complexity of Modern Science - Comments

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  • #51
anorlunda
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I'm happy to go along w/ that but that one is probably against forum rules so let's don't go there.
I was not being anti-religious, I was being facetious. and I guess that caused you to miss my point. "Fox News viewers" is just a euphemism for all people not Democrats. If the PF rules mean that we should be respectful of everyone, then we can't make exceptions. Everyone means everyone.
 
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  • #52
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I was not being anti-religious, I was being facetious. and I guess that caused you to miss my point. "Fox News viewers" is just a euphemism for all people not Democrats. If the PF rules mean that we should be respectful of everyone, then we can't make exceptions. Everyone means everyone.
I disagree with that characterization. I'm a Republican and a Christian. I have little respect for a news network that went to court to defend their right to lie to their viewers. Other networks hopefully try to get the correct information but fail due to the need to present complex information in a simple format. If Fox's successful legal argument is to be believed, they don't see a need to even try for the truth.

Of course now that the precedent has been set, no news network can really be trusted. It is sad.
 
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Let's bring this discussion back on topic please :smile:
 
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  • #54
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While the current conversation is off topic, I believe Fox News is very relevant to the current issue we are discussing. If we are talking about people being crackpots, take their complete disregard for science. This is what a little too much Fox News can do:
www.conservapedia.com/Counterexamples_to_Relativity
On the topic of educators not knowing "real science", what if the people who wrote that article were science teachers... Oh wait, they are. If people are taught to deny science, they will never accept it, and this is where a lot of the problems addressed in this insight and in its comments come from (in fact, similar tactics are used to disregard relativity in the article I linked as are used in the comic in the insight).
 
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Exxon Mobil is one the of the most powerful organizations in the world. It is in their financial interest to have the public disbelieve in science.
 
  • #56
phinds
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On the issue of a media outlet lying to the public, although I find it utterly disgusting that they want to do it, and DO do it (which causes some of the problems that this thread is addressing), I agree 100% that the law is on the right side of this issue. A free press is an incredibly important element of our democracy. It is one of the first things that goes when dictators take over a country.

It would not be in any of our interests to have laws that dictate that news be "truthful" because then you get into the issue of who's going to define "truthful". As has been pointed out in this thread, bias confirmation is human nature and I don't want a creationist, for example, to be be able to get a legislature to dictate that things about evolution should not be allowed in news because it is not truthful, according to them.

This extends to the right of the pop-science shows to put out the crap they put out that is a big part of the creation of the problems that caused this thread to be started in the first place.
 
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  • #57
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While the current conversation is off topic, I believe Fox News is very relevant to the current issue we are discussing. If we are talking about people being crackpots, take their complete disregard for science. This is what a little too much Fox News can do:
www.conservapedia.com/Counterexamples_to_Relativity
On the topic of educators not knowing "real science", what if the people who wrote that article were science teachers... Oh wait, they are. If people are taught to deny science, they will never accept it, and this is where a lot of the problems addressed in this insight and in its comments come from (in fact, similar tactics are used to disregard relativity in the article I linked as are used in the comic in the insight).
First, is this website put out by Fox News?

Second, some of those "counterexamples" look like open problems in physics to me. I may be out of date, but I don't recall the exact rest mass of a neutrino for example. Questioning science is what scientists are supposed to do. General relativity does have some conceptual inconsistencies with entanglement. Clearly our understanding of something is flawed. While the tone of the wiki article is a little too dismissive of a solid theory, it is not inherently wrong to point out flaws which should eventually be explained. I don't like their shotgun approach of throwing out "problems" when many of them seem objections to specific models rather than the theory as a whole, or otherwise poorly researched. (Predictions about number of black holes may use GR, but GR doesn't rely on them.) Perhaps a little more work should be put in the article by someone with more knowledge and less axe grinding.

Third, their equating GR with moral relativism is just wrong. It's wrong when they do it. It's wrong when their political opponents do it (if they do). Other than sharing "relative" in their names, I don't see what they have in common. Still, crazier things have happened.

Finally, not everyone on the internet tells the truth. This problem is far broader than science education. Caveat Emptor.
 
  • #58
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On the issue of a media outlet lying to the public, although I find it utterly disgusting that they want to do it, and DO do it (which causes some of the problems that this thread is addressing), I agree 100% that the law is on the right side of this issue. A free press is an incredibly important element of our democracy. It is one of the first things that goes when dictators take over a country.

It would not be in any of our interests to have laws that dictate that news be "truthful" because then you get into the issue of who's going to define "truthful". As has been pointed out in this thread, bias confirmation is human nature and I don't want a creationist, for example, to be be able to get a legislature to dictate that things about evolution should not be allowed in news because it is not truthful, according to them.

This extends to the right of the pop-science shows to put out the crap they put out that is a big part of the creation of the problems that caused this thread to be started in the first place.
The law not only dictates that networks can lie, it dictates that they must lie.

Corporations are required by law to provide maximum monetary return to their shareholders. So allowing them to lie legally almost forces them to lie in their shareholder's interests.

And yes, when the question arises between spending money to get the science right (which also tends to lower audience share) or telling a warm and fuzzy lie with glitzy eye candy, a network would be legally required to go with the lie.

A simple legal change would fix this. Alas, the truth has never been popular.
 
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  • #59
phinds
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A simple legal change would fix this.
And how would any "simple legal change" not be the first step in the destruction of a free press?
 
  • #60
Buzz Bloom
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It would not be in any of our interests to have laws that dictate that news be "truthful" because then you get into the issue of who's going to define "truthful".
Hi phinds:

Perhaps an improved model might be that with suitable legislation courts can be formed with juries and expert witnesses. If a jury finds that a public lie has been told, then the media organization telling that lie can be punished. I would not expect this to work perfectly, but perhaps it would provide for some improvement.

Regards,
Buzz
 
  • #61
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Hi phinds:

Perhaps an improved model might be that with suitable legislation courts can be formed with juries and expert witnesses. If a jury finds that a public lie has been told, then the media organization telling that lie can be punished. I would not expect this to work perfectly, but perhaps it would provide for some improvement.

Regards,
Buzz
I would hate the possibility of a jury to be able to decide whether evolution is a lie or not.
 
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  • #62
Choppy
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Corporations are required by law to provide maximum monetary return to their shareholders. So allowing them to lie legally almost forces them to lie in their shareholder's interests.
Can you point to the specific law that says this?
 
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Choppy
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Perhaps an improved model might be that with suitable legislation courts can be formed with juries and expert witnesses. If a jury finds that a public lie has been told, then the media organization telling that lie can be punished. I would not expect this to work perfectly, but perhaps it would provide for some improvement.
When a corporation is caught in a lie from which they have profited in any significant sense, that becomes grounds for a civil lawsuit. And when people are caught doing that they can be charged criminally with fraud.
 
  • #64
Buzz Bloom
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When a corporation is caught in a lie from which they have profited in any significant sense, that becomes grounds for a civil lawsuit.
Hi Choppy:

I am not sure about this, but I expect someone with better research skills than I (perhaps a lawyer) might be able to find some case law. I vaguely remember hearing about a Supreme Court ruling making it especially difficult to sue a media corporation regarding the content of what is published or broadcast - even libel. An individual who self publishes a book is much easier to sue for libel than a media corporation.

Since 1886 when a justice voiced a ground rule in a pre-argument statement re Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Clara_County_v._Southern_Pacific_Railroad_Co [Broken].​
corporations have had rights previously available only to people. This state of affairs in current times is often summarized as, "Corporations are people." From more recent decisions, one might possibly conclude that corporations have more rights than people, and many fewer responsibilities.

Regards,
Buzz
 
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Corporations are required by law to provide maximum monetary return to their shareholders. So allowing them to lie legally almost forces them to lie in their shareholder's interests.
Can you point to the specific law that says this?
I don't know of any such law. But there may be a shareholder lawsuit against a CEO who is failing to maximize income. If lying is profitable and legal, then it is his/her duty to the shareholders to do so and/or hire others to do so.
 
  • #66
phinds
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Hi phinds:

Perhaps an improved model might be that with suitable legislation courts can be formed with juries and expert witnesses. If a jury finds that a public lie has been told, then the media organization telling that lie can be punished. I would not expect this to work perfectly, but perhaps it would provide for some improvement.

Regards,
Buzz
That is a genuinely horrifying thought. I think you don't quite "get" what a free press really means or perhaps you live in some la-la land where there are no "experts" who would swear on a bible the creationism is truth and Evolution is a lie and where juries can't be intimidated and so forth and where "suitable" legislation is whatever the dictator of the day says it is. You might give some thought as to why the First Amendment to the Constitution is the FIRST amendment.
 
  • #67
Buzz Bloom
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That is a genuinely horrifying thought.
Hi phinds:

I think you may have misinterpreted my post, by exaggerating the limited remedy I suggested. The remedy I suggested was simply allowing some appropriate punishment decided by a judge with limitations set by legislation -- not censorship or shutting down any media corporation. Are you suggesting that any punishment of a media corporation for lying, no matter how mild, is too horrible to contemplate? I understand that in some cases juries may make wrong decisions, and sometime people become victims of these errors. Why is so horrible that this might sometime happen to a media corporation?

Regards,
Buzz
 
  • #68
phinds
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Hi phinds:

I think you may have misinterpreted my post, by exaggerating the limited remedy I suggested. The remedy I suggested was simply allowing some appropriate punishment decided by a judge with limitations set by legislation -- not censorship or shutting down any media corporation. Are you suggesting that any punishment of a media corporation for lying, no matter how mild, is too horrible to contemplate? I understand that in some cases juries may make wrong decisions, and sometime people become victims of these errors. Why is so horrible that this might sometime happen to a media corporation?

Regards,
Buzz
I stand by what I said.
 
  • #69
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I would hate the possibility of a jury to be able to decide whether evolution is a lie or not.
Dare I mention the Scopes trial?
 
  • #70
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First, is this website put out by Fox News?

Second, some of those "counterexamples" look like open problems in physics to me. I may be out of date, but I don't recall the exact rest mass of a neutrino for example. Questioning science is what scientists are supposed to do. General relativity does have some conceptual inconsistencies with entanglement. Clearly our understanding of something is flawed. While the tone of the wiki article is a little too dismissive of a solid theory, it is not inherently wrong to point out flaws which should eventually be explained. I don't like their shotgun approach of throwing out "problems" when many of them seem objections to specific models rather than the theory as a whole, or otherwise poorly researched. (Predictions about number of black holes may use GR, but GR doesn't rely on them.) Perhaps a little more work should be put in the article by someone with more knowledge and less axe grinding.

Third, their equating GR with moral relativism is just wrong. It's wrong when they do it. It's wrong when their political opponents do it (if they do). Other than sharing "relative" in their names, I don't see what they have in common. Still, crazier things have happened.

Finally, not everyone on the internet tells the truth. This problem is far broader than science education. Caveat Emptor.
I was completely referring to the parts where they use their moral values to contradict relativity. It is not put out by Fox News but these are from the same people that watch Fox News, and Fox News uses the same disregard to science. My point in that post was that the disregard of science can be in the context that this insight was written, just as bad or even worse than the misunderstanding of it, and does lead to crackpots.
 
  • #71
Buzz Bloom
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Dare I mention the Scopes trial?
Hi Hornbein:

As I remember the movie Inherit the Wind, the jury was not asked to decide whether evolution was truth or lies. Rather, the jury had to decide if Scopes broke the Laws of Tennessee when he taught about evolution in his classroom. I found a long discussion of the inaccuracies of the movie, but I have not yet had the opportunity to read it all through.
By only a quick look through of the article I did not find that the point I made above about the jury was an inaccuracy.

Regards,
Buzz
 
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Hi Hornbein:

As I remember the movie Inherit the Wind, the jury was not asked to decide whether evolution was truth or lies. Rather, the jury had to decide if Scopes broke the Laws of Tennessee when he taught about evolution in his classroom.
That is true.

Scopes was convicted and fined one dollar. This was considered a victory for Scopes. Essentially the jury found that he was guilty as charged but the law was silly. Presumably the jury did not believe that evolution was a lie originating with the Devil, as a current leading presidential candidate has stated.
 
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Can you point to the specific law that says this?
No. It is part of the laws which empower corporations to exist. These vary by jurisdiction. But it is black letter law.

Note that directors must promote shareholder value. However they are usually given broad authority to do so. Thus long term thinking is not disallowed including charity aimed at developing corporate goodwill.

Here's a discussion on the point including some case law.
 
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  • #74
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When a corporation is caught in a lie from which they have profited in any significant sense, that becomes grounds for a civil lawsuit. And when people are caught doing that they can be charged criminally with fraud.
Perhaps not. The type of lawsuit you seem to be referring to is a tort. In order to win a tort, the plaintiff must show the defendant failed in some duty. Since the courts ruled news networks do not have a duty to tell the truth, merely lying is not actionable (at least successfully).

One might speculate future rulings limiting these decisions, and such speculation might justify telling the truth at minor loss of revenue. But real science is simply not a popular form of entertainment.
 
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That is a genuinely horrifying thought. I think you don't quite "get" what a free press really means or perhaps you live in some la-la land where there are no "experts" who would swear on a bible the creationism is truth and Evolution is a lie and where juries can't be intimidated and so forth and where "suitable" legislation is whatever the dictator of the day says it is. You might give some thought as to why the First Amendment to the Constitution is the FIRST amendment.
The First Amendment has never been held to be absolute. Many forms of speech are and ought to be limited. One of the big limitations was lying. Thus there are laws against such things as slander.

While the SCOTUS has held against prior restraint (censorship before publication) it has never denied legitimate damages after the fact.

A law: "Mass media shows purporting to be news must make some minimal effort to avoid lies.", would likely be considered constitutional.

Wording one to support "good" science would be much harder I think. I don't know how to do it yet still encourage scientific inquiry. Still, some sort of standard could likely be applied in a "truth in advertising" sort of way.
 
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