Stories about famous scientists' struggle rather than achievements, help students perform better

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by Plazma Inferno!, Jun 13, 2016.

  1. Plazma Inferno! Ding Ding Ding Ding Administrator

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    We know famous scientists, like Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, maybe Neil deGrasse Tyson, because of their famous achievements, their brilliance. And that is all true. But there is new social science research suggesting that students perform better in science where they read stories about how famous scientists struggled rather than when they read stories about what those scientists achieved.

    http://www.npr.org/2016/06/07/48105...-scientists-affect-kids-interest-in-the-field
     
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  3. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

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    In that vogue, can anyone really go past Marie and Pierre Curie?
    The gut busting work they undertook imo has no comparison.
     
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  5. Ultron Registered Senior Member

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    Good idea, but I think they could be more specific how the scientists have struggled.
     
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  7. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    I agree, though, to be fair, the interview does give 3 different examples of respects in which they struggled. In the case of the Curies it was the backbreaking effort to do the practical work, in the case of Einstein it was needing help with the mathematics to capture the insights of his theory and with Faraday it was the struggle of getting a position to do research, given the social class he came from.

    What is perhaps worth pointing out, however, is that none of these people encountered a struggle to get their ideas accepted. This is one of the most pernicious and enduring romantic myths about revolutionary scientific advance. There have been very few cases (I can't actually think of any) where a good idea was ridiculed by the scientific "establishment". Galileo was attacked, not by fellow scientists, but by the church. Same with Darwin, to some extent. Einstein initially got a job as a patent examiner (not clerk) after leaving university - but then we forget there were not many academic positions available in 1900 - and of course after his 1905 papers, he was hot property almost immediately.
     
  8. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

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    Halfway into your post, Charles Darwin certainly came to mind.
    I do though believe his theory and the ridicule and opposition extended beyond the church.
    [I could be wrong though]

    The Curies actually came to mind straight away as I have recently watched an old movie on their achievements. Exchemist has mentioned others that also fit the bill, and I dare say there are many more lesser giants also that are up there in effort and struggle.
     
  9. river Valued Senior Member

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    And their are scientists that are now ; while not famous ; do struggle against the paradigm of conventional thought .
     
  10. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    If you read the Wiki article on Darwin, there was some opposition from Owen initially but the idea of evolution basically was accepted by most of the science community within a decade, which is not bad going. The church took only a little longer.
     
  11. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    Plate tectonics. Asteroid impact mass extinction events. Immigrant aboriginal population of the Americas in the Pleistocene if not earlier. The transmissible agent or germ theory of disease, in particular as an explanation for puerperal fever (http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM200008243430819#t=article).
    Diagnosis and treatment of PTSD as a clinical or medical issue, in particular from childhood sexual abuse.

    There's a gray area in modern times from the remarkable increase in speed of discovery or investigation - in all fields, but especially those involving long journeys or great effort in data collection. Good ideas ridiculed overcome the ridicule via evidence, and evidence is often obtained much more quickly these days than in the past - a good idea will probably not be ridiculed for as long now, which asks the question of whether it is actually "ridiculed" - in the sense here - at all.

    The notion that there was a layer of crude oil underlying the surface rocks, pretty deep, all over the planet, would have been one of those good ideas ridiculed had it been shown good - but it was only ridiculed per se until the money and engineering capability to check it became available, after which it was set aside. That happens faster now, usually.
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2016
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  12. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    Yes quite right about Wegener and the asteroid at the KT boundary. I had not thought of them. The others I know less about.
     

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