The massive impact of science on our collective and individual lives has decreased the willingness of many to accept the pronouncements of scientists unless they can verify the strength of the underlying evidence for themselves. […] It is vital that science is not seen to hide behind closed laboratory doors, but engages seriously with the public.
Open your minds and share your results, says Geoffry Boulton, asking that scientists make data available to the public and to other researchers, because “Science’s capacity for self-correction comes from this openness to scrutiny and challenge”.
Science as an open enterprise is a report from the Royal Society that highlights 6 main changes needed to improve the openess of science:
- “a shift away from a research culture where data is viewed as a private preserve;
- expanding the criteria used to evaluate research to give credit for useful data communication and novel ways of collaborating;
- the development of common standards for communicating data;
- mandating intelligent openness for data relevant to published scientific papers;
- strengthening the cohort of data scientists needed to manage and support the use of digital data;
- the development and use of new software tools to automate and simplify the creation and exploitation of datasets.”
[…] people are not blank slates, eager to assimilate the latest experiments into their world view. Rather, we come equipped with all sorts of naïve intuitions about the world, many of which are untrue […]
This means that science education is not simply a matter of learning new theories. Rather, it also requires that students unlearn their instincts, shedding false beliefs the way a snake sheds its old skin.
Why we don’t believe in science
46% of American adults believe that: “God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years." and only 15% agree with the notion of evolution without divine guidance. Also, these percentages have remained almost unchanged at least for the last 30 years.
The article explores a couple of studies about how our brains store intuitions that contrast with scientific facts: for instance people pause before agreeing that air is composed of matter, or that the earth revolves around the sun. The delay shows that something in those statements push against our instincts.
That’s true, but let’s just not blame our brain, again. The problem here is education.
Rubber Chicken in Space
A group of high school students from California launched an helium balloon sending “Camilla”, a rubber chicken, to an altitude of 36.5 kilometers. The mission of Camilla is part of an astrobiology project, that aims to find out if microbes can live at the edge of space. Camilla was launched right into a solar storm to be exposed to high-energy solar protons and she was equipped with a pair of radiation badges to measure the radiation, a ship full of instruments (four cameras, a cryogenic thermometer, GPS trackers, seven insects and 24 sunflower seeds), and a knitted space-suit.
Camilla flew twice: on March 3 and on March 10. The second launch coincided with one of the strongest proton storms of the year, with satellites reporting solar proton counts at about 30000 times normal.
Eventually Camilla returned back to Earth. […]
Science is the elegant truth in the messy stramash of history. Folklore and bias are all reflected in the science of each culture. How science is applied tells us about our mores and priorities. Every year, in groups of twenty, my students pick apart the fabric of their living world and discover that they are critical cogs in a wonderful ecological machine. Over and over, I get to see my students marvel at the tiny workings of their cells and be horrified by the biological bombs that are exotic species. I accept their dissonance and skepticism, and I repay them with evidence and data.
Physicists Seek To Lose The Lecture As Teaching Tool
[…] lecturing has never been an effective teaching technique and now that information is everywhere, some say it’s a waste of time. Indeed, physicists have the data to prove it.
I’m glad physicists now realize (or, as the article says, they now have the “hard data”, except that these data are not that hard, neither are the techniques used to collect those data) of something that psychologists and educators have known for a long time.
Harvard Academic Starts Initiative to Boost Accuracy of Wikipedia's Psychology Articles
With more than 18 million articles and 365 million visitors every month, Wikipedia is the king of online references. Academics have long been critical of its accuracy, but, other than a few isolated efforts, scholars haven’t been too involved in improving article quality. But, thanks to Harvard University psychology professor Mahzarin R. Banaji, that might just change for the site’s psychology content. Banaji’s created the APS Wikipedia Initiative, an effort to get the 25,000 members of the Association for Psychological Science to take responsibility for representing the discipline “as fully and as accurately as possible and thereby to promote the free teaching of psychology worldwide.” […]
[…] Banaji’s goal through the initiative is to improve the 5,500 psychology articles currently on the site by ensuring they’re accurate, up-to-date, complete, and are written so that everyday people can understand them. Articles also need to represent controversial topics in a neutral manner and be based on reliable sources. […]
no one would deny that Dawkins is one of the great communicators of our day. He’s got his books, they are best sellers and all the like, but I’d rather unpack the word communicator and split it into two categories. One of them is, are you effective at what you do? That’s kind of what communication means. It means you have a message and someone receives it. There are two ends to that line segment. That’s different from are you articulate? He’s articulate. That man, Dawkins, he’s got a level of articulation of his deliver that would make any American jealous. It’s why we all wish we had some kind of fraction of the literary education that goes on in the United Kingdom, over here. So he’ll make his point, and he’ll say exactly what he means and he’ll mean exactly what he says and he’ll say it with brilliant juxtaposition of words. Words that we hardly ever hear much over here but are brilliantly put together in a sentence. Yes, he’s articulate. Is the message working? If it’s not working, why not? Because being articulate is not the same thing as communicating. Communicating is understanding the mind of who you are talking to. Much as how great your communication, let people come to it, and paw at it and study it. Are you speaking straight to the soul of the person you are communicating with? And I don’t think he is. Because there are people who are not as articulate as he is who are actually put off by the weight of his expertise of oration. And I’m not trying to say that he should, what am I trying to say? I’m trying to say that if he took more time studying the mind of his listeners and wanted to have an effect on that mind, he would not speak in the ways that he does. Because there’s a sharpness to it, there’s a wit to it. It’s so sharp and so witty that it’s almost aggressive and it can turn people off. It does turn people off.