I have just watched this science doc about perceptions of science in the public/media, it's presented by a top scientist who highlights a problem:

 

Scientists seem to lack the clear communication skills that are present in other walks of life.  They have abjectly failed to get their message across, for example that evolution is theory and fact.

 

Is there a lack of clarity in science programming today?  Let's take the example of a friend of mine who watched a doc on cosmology where he latched on to phrases such as 'we don't know' and 'we speculate'.

Now he applied that line of thinking (wrongly of course) to all of science. So that now he thinks this is how scientists view evolution for example, (as some kind of speculation) do you see where I'm going here?

 

He failed to notice that just because scientists don't know one little thing, that doesn't falsify the big picture. But it should not be my job to painfully explain this to him, it should be the job of scientists who are presenting a show to the lay public.

 

Do you agree here? Your thoughts?

 

 

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"The suggestion that knowledge is meaningless unless accompanied by proscribed beliefs is a defense of holy texts from rational criticism. "

 

How did we get from evolution to holy texts? My point is; if people are ignorant of science (say the theory and fact of evolution) then what use is the knowledge that people are working on things independently? That's like putting the horse before the cart.

 

I've been without faith for a very long time and I'm glad that I've resisted the temptation to develop a faith in science.

 

Who has faith in science? Not me anyway. Science is a model for understanding the world, it's not a belief system.  Scientists are brutally honest, if a new piece of data contradicts a model, then the model is changed or revised. You can't really have faith in science, you either accept facts of you do not. Faith is believing epecially because of the lack of evidence. Science thrives on evidence, it is the polar opposite of faith.

 

It is the duty of those that are intelligent and have a clue to be patient

 

I am all for courtesy and throwing out little thought bubbles that encourage learning, but patience has its breaking point too.

 

 

Faith in science?  Isn't that like saying "faith in evidence?"

Science is knowledge of the world gained through reproducible and verifiable observation and experimentation.  It is dynamic and seeks to continually expand our understanding of nature- fundamental to science is the awareness that we may have to accept new ideas in light of new evidence.

Faith, by contrast, is having a conviction, typically static, that something is true, regardless of evidence, and typically involves a belief in God, the supernatural, or in the doctrines or teachings of a religion. 

(And I don't think this is a semantic game- I think the two are fundamentally different)

 

"I see no reason why someone should expect a theist to have faith in science when their uninformed questions are met only with responses of, "you're stupid," or, "you have no clue!  It is the duty of those that are intelligent and have a clue to be patient with such questions and welcome discussion, offering evidence to provide knowledge rather than simply expecting faith."

I will try to live up to this with respect to my areas of scientific expertise.

 

 

Oh, feel free to call them stupid when your patience runs out, just don't be surprised that it isn't a very persuasive technique.
From my view point is there is no simple angle to approach this. How do scientist break down their data that doesn't lose its meaning and get common folk to comprehend it. The mass seems to be intellectually lazy/complacent and does not want to learn anything new that challenges the way they look at life. When you have people out there who are making science and knowledge look bias and "evil" because it doesn't cater to their belief system.
I agree, Walter. I don't understand how anyone could say that science isn't clear or we need to dumb it down for the less learned people. Seems like some people think we should have the smarter people cater to the less educated people but some science is not that easy to dumb down. This seems to be a step backwards anyways. we want to improve knowledge by educating the public, not taking the more complicated topics of science and try making it easy for someone that hasn't reached the point that they can grasp it as it is. Raise the level of the public and we advance, lower the end products of science to a 9th grade level and we slip backwards. Besides the people on the front lines of science don't have time to advance and break everything they learn down so everyone else can get it. That's what schools are for. If you got through high school and don't have a basic grasp then you either didn't pay attention or you bought you grades. Hell if I don't understand something and I wanna know I study it. Google is great and books from the library work well too.

Besides the people on the front lines of science don't have time to advance and break everything they learn down so everyone else can get it.

 

Scientists in the lab don't, but popularisers of science do it all the time. Think Richard Dawkins and Carl Sagan. They use simple metaphors to explain certain concepts - more people like this are needed.

 

I don't understand why some people seem to be against simplifying things, so that people can clearly understand. It's not really 'dumbing down' but more like striving for clarity.

Most scientists may not have either the time or the inclination to do that.

Understanding even a very diluted, lay-man explanation of the work these scientists do would require prior understanding of certain concepts. Most people don't have that. After a certain level it can be really difficult & frustrating to make things more clearer.

While its good that many scientists are taking time & making an effort to popularize their field, its not that job to do it. Its the job of the education system.

Most scientists may not have either the time or the inclination to do that.

 

Most but not all.

 

While its good that many scientists are taking time & making an effort to popularize their field, its not that job to do it. Its the job of the education system.

 

My post is not about the education system, that could be for another discussion. It is about the responsibility of those popularisers of science to be as clear as possible. 

 

 

It is about the responsibility of those popularisers of science to be as clear as possible.

I couldn't watch your video because it has been removed, so can't comment on that, but I've never been dissatisfied by the explanations given by the scientists in such shows. Whenever I don't seem to grasp what they are explaining, its because I don't have the requisite background knowledge about the subject, but still I can get the gist of what they are trying to say.

They can't start explaining everything from the ground up can they?

They can't start explaining everything from the ground up can they?

 

Yes, why not?

 

Try this:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V89AeCLCtJQ

 

 

Not in every documentary, they can't. And there is no way to make sure that a person watching a documentary has watched the pre-requisite documentaries.

Someone just embedded a video here that I think adds a lot of food for thought to this discussion:

http://www.thinkatheist.com/video/from-universe-to-multiverse

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