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The Superiority (Or Not) Of The Scientists

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Does the study of science and adherence to the classical scientific methods practiced today lead to a (justified or otherwise) sense of superiority regarding the thought processes of other humans?

Discuss.

(I'd be a devil setting essays if I was a teacher)

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Does the study of science and adherence to the classical scientific methods practiced today lead to a (justified or otherwise) sense of superiority regarding the thought processes of other humans?

Discuss.

(I'd be a devil setting essays if I was a teacher)

You need to watch 'The Pirates in an Adventure with Scientists'. Clears everything up.

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scientists can be as gullible as anybody else. their training offers no special protection against being duped, and may even work against them

eg. a small selection from the testimonials page on Uri Geller's website:

http://www.uri-geller.com/uri-biography/uribiog3.htm

"We feel that if similar tests are made later, enough instances of this kind will probably accumulate, so that there willbe no room for reasonable doubt that some new process is involved here, which cannot be accounted for or explained in terms of the present known laws of physics. Indeed, we already feel that we have gone some distance toward this point."

Prof. David Bohm and Prof. John Hasted (Professors of Physics, Birkbeck College, University of London, England)

"The evidence based on metallurgical analysis of fractured surfaces (produced by Geller) indicates that a paranormal influence must have been operative in the formation of the fractures."

Dr Wilbur Franklin (Physics Department, Kent State University - U.S.A.)

"We have observed certain phenomena with the subjects [including Geller] for which we have no scientific explanation. "

"As a result of Geller's success in this experimental period, we consider that he has demonstrated his paranormal, perceptual ability in a convincing and unambiguous manner."(The results of these experiments were published in the respected British journal Nature,Vol. 251, No. 5).

Dr Harold Puthoff and Russell Targ (Stanford Research Institute - California, U.S.A.)

"Based on preliminary investigations of Uri, I cannot establish fraud. The powers of this man are a phenomenon which theoretical physics cannot yet explain."

Dr Friedbert Karger (Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics, Munich, Germany)

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Does the study of science and adherence to the classical scientific methods practiced today lead to a (justified or otherwise) sense of superiority regarding the thought processes of other humans?

Discuss.

(I'd be a devil setting essays if I was a teacher)

My short answer is 'no, it doesn't inevitably lead to a sense of superiority'

Me, I'd phrase the question a little differently though. Something along the lines of

'Does the study of science and adherence to the classical scientific methods practiced today inhibit or nurture any innate need to feel superior on the part of the student?'

Personally, I suspect that the smugness you allude to is manifest by adherents of most ideologies or philosophical systems. I'm having trouble thinking of any time in recorded human history when the prevailing ideology didn't reckon that it had the answers to all the Big Questions pretty much sussed, at least in outline.

I saw a Richard Dawkins interview a few years back where he appeared to be claiming just that. Pretty much sussed, bar some details. I don't know if he was p1ssed at the time but I wasn't and my jaw dropped. So much for even a pretence of Socratic humility.

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I think the study of philosophy itself would be more likely to lead to feelings of superiority...at least in terms of thinking.

However, that may have no impact on the feelings of superiority of other groups such as 'scientists' (which is just another sub-category of philosophy as originally categorised by the Ancient Greeks.)

Thus: feelings of superiority can be derived from both ignorance and superior knowledge - which is quite unique if you think about it.

EDIT: http://en.wikipedia....7s_epistemology

People don't realise how ourt thinking is framed by categorisations made before the birth of Christ. How the very subject boundaries taught throughout our lives are set by such principles. Yet we must recognise they are arbitrary and may not necessarily be 'natural' as such.

Odd that, I have never been happy with subject boundaries, going right back to school days. And once I learned another language and realised that if you frame your thoughts in a different language you become a different person, well, after that I started to wonder about other more subtle effects of language related to the individual subset of language we all use in our daily lives.

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My short answer is 'no, it doesn't inevitably lead to a sense of superiority'

Me, I'd phrase the question a little differently though. Something along the lines of

'Does the study of science and adherence to the classical scientific methods practiced today inhibit or nurture any innate need to feel superior on the part of the student?'

Personally, I suspect that the smugness you allude to is manifest by adherents of most ideologies or philosophical systems. I'm having trouble thinking of any time in recorded human history when the prevailing ideology didn't reckon that it had the answers to all the Big Questions pretty much sussed, at least in outline.

I saw a Richard Dawkins interview a few years back where he appeared to be claiming just that. Pretty much sussed, bar some details. I don't know if he was p1ssed at the time but I wasn't and my jaw dropped. So much for even a pretence of Socratic humility.

A good answer, you'd get an A :P you also managed to highlight why I loathe richard Dawkins.

Why can't we get by without feeling we're better than at least someone? We're all guilty, if that's the right word.

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scientists can be as gullible as anybody else. their training offers no special protection against being duped, and may even work against them

eg. a small selection from the testimonials page on Uri Geller's website:

http://www.uri-geller.com/uri-biography/uribiog3.htm

"We feel that if similar tests are made later, enough instances of this kind will probably accumulate, so that there willbe no room for reasonable doubt that some new process is involved here, which cannot be accounted for or explained in terms of the present known laws of physics. Indeed, we already feel that we have gone some distance toward this point."

Prof. David Bohm and Prof. John Hasted (Professors of Physics, Birkbeck College, University of London, England)

"The evidence based on metallurgical analysis of fractured surfaces (produced by Geller) indicates that a paranormal influence must have been operative in the formation of the fractures."

Dr Wilbur Franklin (Physics Department, Kent State University - U.S.A.)

"We have observed certain phenomena with the subjects [including Geller] for which we have no scientific explanation. "

"As a result of Geller's success in this experimental period, we consider that he has demonstrated his paranormal, perceptual ability in a convincing and unambiguous manner."(The results of these experiments were published in the respected British journal Nature,Vol. 251, No. 5).

Dr Harold Puthoff and Russell Targ (Stanford Research Institute - California, U.S.A.)

"Based on preliminary investigations of Uri, I cannot establish fraud. The powers of this man are a phenomenon which theoretical physics cannot yet explain."

Dr Friedbert Karger (Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics, Munich, Germany)

I believe I'm correct in saying that focused scientific types are more easily duped than others by fraudsters, distraction works better with them. Might have been something the disturbing derren brown said.....

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Does the study of science and adherence to the classical scientific methods practiced today lead to a (justified or otherwise) sense of superiority regarding the thought processes of other humans?

Discuss.

(I'd be a devil setting essays if I was a teacher)

Personally I get the impression that the more academic Arts types tend to be most likely to think themselves intellectually superior to everybody else.

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Does the study of science and adherence to the classical scientific methods practiced today lead to a (justified or otherwise) sense of superiority regarding the thought processes of other humans?

Discuss.

(I'd be a devil setting essays if I was a teacher)

This question is remarkably poorly framed (especially in the context of comparing and contrasting the clarity/relative superiority of thought processes).

Does the study of science and adherence to the classical scientific methods practiced today lead to a (justified or otherwise) sense of superiority [presumably you mean to say “in the scientist’s mind/brain”?]

regarding the [can you say “sense of superiority regarding” something?] thought processes of other [non-scientific] humans?

Using my human skills of interpretation, which include non-scientific parsing heuristics :P , I think you are simply asking,

“Do scientists [always or generally] have a sense of superiority over non-scientists when considering the latter’s thought processes.”

Defining your terms will be problematic, in particular “scientist”, “generally”, “sense of superiority”, “non-scientists”, “regarding” and “thought processes”.

Assuming we can agree and define terms, a falsifiable hypothesis could be:

“Scientists always have a sense of superiority over non-scientists when they consider the latter’s thought processes”.

For this case, you only have to find one instance where this statement is not true for your hypothesis to be falsified. That’s science. But for as long as you cannot find a scientist who "does not always consider his thought processes superior to non-scientists", you can hold to your hypothesis as being the “state of the art” in science.

However, I think your hypothesis is not falsifiable as it is closer to:

“Scientists generally have a sense of superiority over non-scientists when they consider the latter’s thought processes”.

That’s not science. It’s something else - your experience to date, perhaps.

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This question is remarkably poorly framed (especially in the context of comparing and contrasting the clarity/relative superiority of thought processes).

Does the study of science and adherence to the classical scientific methods practiced today lead to a (justified or otherwise) sense of superiority [presumably you mean to say “in the scientist’s mind/brain”?]

regarding the [can you say “sense of superiority regarding” something?] thought processes of other [non-scientific] humans?

Using my human skills of interpretation, which include non-scientific parsing heuristics :P , I think you are simply asking,

“Do scientists [always or generally] have a sense of superiority over non-scientists when considering the latter’s thought processes.”

Defining your terms will be problematic, in particular “scientist”, “generally”, “sense of superiority”, “non-scientists”, “regarding” and “thought processes”.

Assuming we can agree and define terms, a falsifiable hypothesis could be:

“Scientists always have a sense of superiority over non-scientists when they consider the latter’s thought processes”.

For this case, you only have to find one instance where this statement is not true for your hypothesis to be falsified. That’s science. But for as long as you cannot find a scientist who "does not always consider his thought processes superior to non-scientists", you can hold to your hypothesis as being the “state of the art” in science.

However, I think your hypothesis is not falsifiable as it is closer to:

“Scientists generally have a sense of superiority over non-scientists when they consider the latter’s thought processes”.

That’s not science. It’s something else - your experience to date, perhaps.

:)

A good answer but rather unnecessarily pedantic.

See post 6.

And no, not entirely my experience to date, many scientists are wiser than that. I posted it on here because of the frequent sneering posts in many threads belittling the viewpoint of everyone without a phd in one of the recognised scientific disciplines.

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:)

A good answer but rather unnecessarily pedantic.

See post 6.

And no, not entirely my experience to date, many scientists are wiser than that. I posted it on here because of the frequent sneering posts in many threads belittling the viewpoint of everyone without a phd in one of the recognised scientific disciplines.

In a way the whole point of academia is to lay claim to a field of knowledge and then extract rent from it. To that end its vital to maintain the position that without the proper (bought and paid for) training and qualifications your views are useless.

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Does it? No.

Can it? Yes.

Why present the question as ill-defined, broad-strokes, humanities claptrap?

;)

I'll see if I can rewrite the post in a programming language later, they tend to eliminate semantics issues and the "humanities claptrap" you refer to. Doubt if I can do it though.

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In a way the whole point of academia is to lay claim to a field of knowledge and then extract rent from it. To that end its vital to maintain the position that without the proper (bought and paid for) training and qualifications your views are useless.

Not just academia.

I was talking to a practicing dentist, he's about to start a 4 year course in orthodontics, I pressed him regarding how much of that time was really necessary for someone with his experience and skills, he estimated 12 to 18 months.

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A lot of people cant even begin to think without involving their own situation.

Entitlement is a symptom of this.

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Most people don't do a whole lot of thinking, scientists included. I speak as a practicing research scientist.

In a way it's understandable as the reason thinking evolved was to allow humans to solve problems. If your life is comfortable then you don't need to think much.

Unfortunately this can become a habit, so when people suddenly find themselves in situations where it would be in their best interests to do a bit of thinking they won't necessarily be very good at it. Thinking is like anything other skill, everybody can get better with practice but some people are naturally more adept than others.

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A lot of people cant even begin to think without involving their own situation.

Entitlement is a symptom of this.

I would say all people.

But what is your point exactly in the context of this thread? (sorry too dumb to get it if it should be obvious)

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I would say all people.

But what is your point exactly in the context of this thread? (sorry too dumb to get it if it should be obvious)

what I am saying is that the process of thinking about a subject to which you are not connected is impossible for some people to even begin.

Some people dont have to think for endless hours.

Yet challenge them about their daily routine and they will say they are thinking all the time...they are, but not about much useful.

ask them if they are free to decide about things, and most will say yes...yet if they thought about the question for a while, they would find they are really trapped by the history of their actions, thought out or not.

Scientific method at least should start the process of asking questions in a persons view of the world.

String theory?...people even misunderstand what "dimensions" are....confused by what they have been told in the movies.

This is not their fault...but thinking is something that needs to be learned...and practiced.

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Not just academia.

I was talking to a practicing dentist, he's about to start a 4 year course in orthodontics, I pressed him regarding how much of that time was really necessary for someone with his experience and skills, he estimated 12 to 18 months.

Many years ago, late 70s or early 80s, I remember a surgeon saying that he could train a car mechanic to be a competent surgeon in a year.

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I believe I'm correct in saying that focused scientific types are more easily duped than others by fraudsters, distraction works better with them. Might have been something the disturbing derren brown said.....

Stage magicians love an audience of scientists, they are guaranteed to be focusing very hard on the misdirection.

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In a way the whole point of academia is to lay claim to a field of knowledge and then extract rent from it. To that end its vital to maintain the position that without the proper (bought and paid for) training and qualifications your views are useless.

Yes, because practicing academics are noted for sitting on huge piles of cash. And you do realize that if you read any scientific page on Wikipedia (many of which are written or edited by research scientists) without paying, a bunch of scientific heavies will turn up on your doorstep with a drill and extract the bit of brain tissue containing the knowledge..

The funny thing is, the assertion of base financial motives for every human action is down to the 'Superiority Complex' that Economists seem to have, allowing them to make pronouncements on entire fields of knowledge based on a few assertions of financial interest. But economics is most certainly not a science.

And it's not a case of 'your views are useless without a qualification'. The problem is that gaining competency in an area of science requires a basic amount of legwork; you don't have to gain a qualification to do this, but gaining such a qualification is a good way of doing it and a shortcut to demonstrating it. And generally, what the 'superiority' arguments come down to is when a person who hasn't done the basic legwork decides that Scientists are wrong about something, they tend to get dismissed or ignored, especially once it is noted that they don't know what they are talking about.

(Obvious examples.. Evolution deniers who don't understand statistics or genetics at any level; Global Warming Deniers who have no knowledge of basic paleoclimatology and physics; Anti-nuclear campaigners who don't understand the concept of relative risk; Alt-med quacks who really don't understand how to collect and use evidence..)

And, of course, it's always easier to claim victimhood (Nasty scientists all acting like they know more than me! Not Fair! I have teh googles!) than put in the time and effort to understand a subject, let alone admit ignorance.

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Quite. In fact, yesterday when writing my post I briefly settled upon: I wander what our world would look like if music were taught alongside maths.

How very old school...

wiki: Quadrivium

The quadrivium (plural: quadrivia[1]) are the four subjects, or arts, taught after teaching the trivium. The word is Latin, meaning "the four ways" (or a "place where four roads meet"),[2] and its use for the four subjects has been attributed to Boethius or Cassiodorus in the 6th century.[3][4] Together, the trivium and the quadrivium comprised the seven liberal arts (based on thinking skills),[5] as opposed to the practical arts (such as medicine and architecture).

The quadrivium consisted of arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy. These followed the preparatory work of the trivium made up of grammar, logic, and rhetoric.

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:)

A good answer but rather unnecessarily pedantic.

See post 6.

And no, not entirely my experience to date, many scientists are wiser than that. I posted it on here because of the frequent sneering posts in many threads belittling the viewpoint of everyone without a phd in one of the recognised scientific disciplines.

I was being a little tongue in cheek, while making a valid point I feel. Science is necessarily pedantic. I think that upsets some people!

And as it was my first post in over a year of abstinence I spent some time on it - glad to see it was appreciated.

Forums will attract posters who have expertise in some area and many will use the "appeal to authority" tactic to belittle someone else's argument or point of view. The scientific method is not often followed in forums, mostly people are talking at cross purposes. Hence we each assume what you mean in the OP.

But are you actually interested to find out whether scientists think their mode of thinking is superior or if it actually is objectively superior? And what mode of thinking is put up as the alternative?

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I was being a little tongue in cheek, while making a valid point I feel. Science is necessarily pedantic. I think that upsets some people!

And as it was my first post in over a year of abstinence I spent some time on it - glad to see it was appreciated.

Forums will attract posters who have expertise in some area and many will use the "appeal to authority" tactic to belittle someone else's argument or point of view. The scientific method is not often followed in forums, mostly people are talking at cross purposes. Hence we each assume what you mean in the OP.

But are you actually interested to find out whether scientists think their mode of thinking is superior or if it actually is objectively superior? And what mode of thinking is put up as the alternative?

Welcome back, I remember you, a good poster - has Durch been hiding in the same place?

I confess that my main aim was to stimulate debate while being mildly reproving of the previously mentioned sneering/belittling posts on other threads. I doubt if any firm conclusion can be reached!

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