The Pseudoscience Problem

Discussion in 'SF Open Government' started by Neverfly, Nov 10, 2012.

  1. Neverfly Banned Banned

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    This thread is a tip of the hat to Wlminex, RealityCheck, Farsight and various other members that have complaints.
    Whether the complaints are valid or not, I'd like to see them examined. I believe some complaints have validity and merit. I believe some do not.

    Here is my opinion:
    General Science, Human science and every other sub-forum under the Forum heading: Science should all have threads on topics that are Science and not pseudoscience. To interject pseudoscience in those areas creates a distraction from the purpose.
    Many proponents of ATM (Against the mainstream) seem to feel the urge to promote unscientific views there, defiantly and unasked for.

    In the pseudoscience sub forum and any other sub-forum under On The Fringe Forum, members should not be ridiculed, abused or unevenly moderated for promoting their subjects under the proper heading, nor should on topic commentary from pseudo-scientific proponents be ridiculed or insulted in the Science Forum.
     
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  3. Balerion Banned Banned

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    Well, nobody should be insulted, but ideas should be open for ridicule regardless of where they are posted. If you don't want to have your words critiqued, don't post them.
     
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  5. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

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    Though I can agree with a small part of that, I strongly disagree with the rest. While it's OK for the crackpots to spew any sort of nonsense in the Pseudo and Fringe sections (I rarely visit those except for their amusement factor), any intrusions into the REAL science areas should be met with the strongest possible ridicule.

    People like the ones you've mentioned, and several others as well, should be confined to their little "land of stupidity" and anything they post elsewhere should be deleted at the earliest possible moment. They can easily MIS-instruct those who read those threads for the purpose of gaining real knowledge of the topic under discussion.
     
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  7. Neverfly Banned Banned

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    Ordinarily, I've agreed, in the past, with what you just said. But thinking about it, ridicule leads to conflict and gives the impression that rather than showing their claims lack merit, we don't show it and are just jackasses.
     
  8. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

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    I make every effort to show WHY their claims are misinformation. A recent example is where I jumped on the claim a fruitcake made about ASTROLOGY affecting our weather patterns in a thread about hurricane Sandy. Such nonsense can only serve to confuse young, impressionable readers who are trying to learn something - AND at it's worst, can cause them to accept LIES as actual FACT. Stuff like that should not be tolerated under any circumstances. That's why I said that such posters should be confined to their own little la-la land.
     
  9. Neverfly Banned Banned

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    Yes, I read that and added some ridicule of my own...

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    It's not so easy, is it?

    Ok- ridicule is the wrong word.

    Maybe what I meant to say is derogatory derision, insult and condescension.
     
  10. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

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    Yep, I saw your comment.

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    I suppose I can agree with your final sentence except I still intend to be HARSH on such occasions. Mostly because those nutters have had their garbage challenged before and treating them kindly has no effect at all. Harshness has little effect either EXCEPT it makes ME feel better! <huge grin>
     
  11. Neverfly Banned Banned

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    See, you sound a lot like me, there. But I've heard good arguments not to be.
    Maybe let the 'nutter's have a chance to voice...
     
  12. seagypsy Banned Banned

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    I wonder if some sort of reputation tag system could be put in place. Little tags that other people "award" you with according to your posts. Only members with 1000 posts or more can award tags. or even set the post number count higher, whatever pleases the masses. And those tags stick and are attached to your avatar to be seen at the side of every post you make, for a certain amount of time along with the number of times you have been awarded it. Kind of like social infractions that expire. that way people can redeem themselves over time if they stop with the horseshittery.

    Of course if they can barely manage the deluge of spam I seriously doubt it is feasible to implement reputation tags. aw well it was fun to dream for a moment.
     
  13. Neverfly Banned Banned

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    I think vBulletin does offer that as a feature that the Admin can turn on.
     
  14. Gustav Banned Banned

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    fuck the masses

    remove all community feature (groups/albums/friends/calender)
    delete avatars
    can the "Members who have read this thread:" garbage
    can tags and bookmarks

    hmm
    dump pm's
     
  15. seagypsy Banned Banned

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    damn, i would have given you the rock star tag....
     
  16. Neverfly Banned Banned

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    Fuck you, my avatar rocks.
     
  17. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    I agree with Neverfly. Perhaps the moderators need to take a harder line, moving some of the less conventionally scientific threads down to the 'fringe' section.

    A potential problem might be the (seeming) fact that most participants on Sciforums appear to have little formal education in science. Some people probably can't distinguish between science and pseudoscience. (That distinction is notoriously vague, even for specialists.)

    I've often wondered why that never-ending 'LENR' cold-fusion thread always seems to be on top of Sciforums. (Why isn't it down in 'alternative theories'?)

    While I'm complaining, I might as well make a motion to remove 'comparative religion' from the 'Science' hierarchy. The forum probably was well-intentioned, meant for more scholarly discussions of religion. The practical problem with that idea is that only a handful of the people who post here appear to have ever studied religion at the university level. So 'comparative religion' just ends up duplicating 'religion' and hosts exactly the same sort of threads. (The existing threads in 'comparative religion' shouldn't be deleted, but they could be combined with the threads in the 'religion' forum with no loss that I can see.)

    Maybe 'comparative religion' could be replaced with a 'history and philosophy of science' forum. That would be more in keeping with the purpose of the 'Science' hierarchy. That forum might address stuff like scientific realism, theory change, the analysis of causality and so on. (And yes, the science/pseudoscience distinction too.) Unfortunately the same difficulty would probably arise there, since few Sciforums participants appear to have much academic exposure to those topics either. So a new forum might turn out to be redundant, since many of the discussions in the ostensibly science forums seem to be more about the philosophy of those subjects than about the subjects' actual technical content.

    Right, I agree again. This doesn't mean that crank ideas should be immune from criticism when they are posted in the 'fringe' forums. But flaming and insults shouldn't be allowed. If somebody thinks that somebody else's ideas are dead wrong, then the critic needs to try to explain, intelligibly and persuasively, why he/she thinks so. The pseudoscience proponent shouldn't be flamed, insulted or personally attacked for trying to defend his or her seemingly outlandish idea, as long as that's done in a 'fringe' forum. The potential value and beauty of the 'fringe' forums is that they can end up hosting all kinds of free speculations that will probably turn out to be wrong, but might be interesting nevertheless. That might help promote creativity.
     
  18. Neverfly Banned Banned

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    Thanks, because I'm an offender. I'm trying...
    This is logical- a harder line by moving them to the appropriate area rather than infractions or banning for threads. This requires the ATM Proponents to not complain about a move. IT's OK to be in ATM. Thing is, some theories we accept today were pretty against the mainstream at the time they were first put out there. Let it be in ATM and show it's merit. If it has merit, a mod can move it back to science. Being in ATM does not automatically mean, "Wrong." I think a lot of ATM Proponents fear being labeled as "wrong" simply for being in the On The Fringe Heading.

    What about injections of pseudoscience into scientific threads? Honestly, I really believe the ATM proponents should know better and be grown up enough to keep them separate.
    Logical.
    It sets an attitude, if you will. If I stand up for Mazulu, for example when I believe he has made a good point, I might choose not to because of the ridicule I may come under. It's not a good example cuz I'd do it anyway... but that's just me.
    Part if that attitude also reenforces the "ATM is automatically wrong" idea. Some most likely is wrong. And it's likely that many proponents will never allow themselves to see that. But it's not to be assumed wrong without a fair chance.
    Sound criticism and testing of ideas is what science is all about. An idea must run the gauntlet and see how much a beating an idea can take. That doesn't mean the person should be tested for how much beating they can take, however.
     
  19. RealityCheck Banned Banned

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    Thankyou, Neverfly, for this brave foray into the problematic waters of mod-troll behaviour by some here.

    It's not so much the ridicule itself that causes the damage to the site's reputation, it is the lack of discrimination by the mod-troll combo as to who is a crank etc and who is a genuine questioner of the status quo. For instance I question and explore but am put into the crank category automatially because of mod-troll prejudices and personal agendas, even when I am merely putting an observation of the evidence to date (as in that CMB thread, which by the way, Neverfly, I was about to provide further evidence in support of my observations when I was banned...When I have time again to pursue the discussion properly, I will again post there and point to the latest discoveries/evidence/logics which give credence to my observations there).

    Anyhow, it is the 'skewing' (by indimidation, personal prejudice etc) and premature closure of a non-crank discussion by troll-mod behaviour that does the most damage. I have no objections to topics being moved to relevant sections, it is the mod-troll damage wherever it occurs that I object to. The most recent example is where milminex was answering my question on-topic and intelligibly, but prometheus apparently 'warned' him for it without any just cause since wilminex was responding to MY question and was not 'crank' or anything like it. That unwarranted intrusion into MY conversation with wilminex is intolerable under any circumstances. No amount of mod power and rules that can abuse at will can ever justify it. With power comes responsibility and great tolerance of others perspectives. It is not the mod/troll who runs scientific discourse, it is the members and contributors to that discourse. No 'jackbooted' ego-tripping mod/troll gangs can be allowed to make members afraid to speak honestly about ideas, for that way lay irrelevance for this site.

    Another recent example which got me banned etc was regarding my experiment as "Mars Rover" which proved my observations about the troll-mod pattern of behaviour, indiscriminate damage and prejudicial abuse of mod position/power for satisfying personal opinionated baggage preconclusions etc. The irony of that last ban etc was that after my I explained experiment and presented the results, a troll post disparaged me (by disparaging in insulting/unsubstantiated terms my answer to someone who had suggested I was being 'personal' in my complaints/experiment etc.) When I took umbrage and pointed out that the troll comment was out of order and unscientific etc, another mod (Kittamaru) actually bent over backwards in coming up with a rationalization trying to EXCUSE that troll post/poster, and then blamed ME for taking umbrage! At which point he banned me without right of reply, leaving that troll post as being somehow "mod-approved" while the victim of it was banned. To make it worse, such troll-mod 'connections/behaviour' encouraged others to think that this latest mod-troll travesty was OK and the victim is the one to blame (in this case rpenner took this latest troll-mod travesty as tacit encouragement to post a gloating remark, encouraged in the knowledge that the troll-mod 'pattern' (which was proven to exist by my "Mars Rover" experiment) was still going to go on like 'business as usual'.

    Anyhow, that is the main source of damage. Not the ridicule per se; the latter can be countered if the victim has equal right of reply. Which is denied one 'by the troll-mod process' of sabotage, close, ban without redress (and the PM route to complaint is still under the abuse of the mod-troll combos). How can an idea be followed to completion of discussion when this ever-present abuse of troll-mod combos is allowed to pervert scientific discourse of the genuine ideas as well as the spurious ones? How can the difference be allowed to emerge when both kinds of ideas/discourse are equally treated with disdain and sabotage by mod-troll abuse of process and power?

    It is the prejudicial and preconclusionary and personal prejudiced mod-troll behaviour/pattern that threatens the site's reputation, for members can easily judge for themselves who are the genuine posters/explorers and who are just cranks per se without substance.

    Anyhow, believe it or not, I have and bear no personal grudges, life is too short to waste on such things. However, I am an objective investigative scientist first and foremost, and must observe, question and experiment and report as science demands. Nothing personal at all; just efforts for the greater good of science and humanity. No more; no less.

    Cheers and good luck and good thinking!

    RealityCheck.
     
  20. seagypsy Banned Banned

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    What if sciforms took things a bit more seriously for certain forums or all subforums even. Make members provide evidence of their educational background and professional experience. Their credentials can be labeled on their profiles. Such as "Phd of Astrophysics" or "Student of visual arts" so that people can look at the member name to the left and see their credentials to determine how much weight can be given to someone's ideas. Granted there are obviously(sarcasm here)plenty of self taught arm chair geniuses amongst us at sciforums but it would only mean that those folks would have to provide some backing material in order for people to give credence to their opinions on particular things. Those who have proper credentials may be seen to have more valid opinions, though backing is still a good idea for them, especially if communication is not their area of expertise. Kind of like putting a nutrition label on food, or a disclaimer that the FDA has not verified the claims of homeopathic medicines.
     
  21. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

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    That does sound good - but there's one problem: people lie.

    For example, we've got one member here already who *claims* to have a Phd related to Earth Science yet he posts some of the nuttiest things we've seen.

    A better solution would be to simply require them provide proof of their claims when asked by linking to a reputable, reliable source to substantiate any claims they make. The cranks won't have such proof to offer and yet the "arm-chair" scientist will be more than happy to back up what he/she has said.

    And it should be taken a step farther: if the crank fails to do so when requested OR provides a link to some bogus crank site then they should be immediately removed from the forum immediately. The single exception to that rule is a question. For example, when some less-educated individual asks if some ridiculous claim/statement/myth/whatever is actually true, they should be given a correct answer that will help them understand and gain real knowledge.

    Please note that I'm *not* talking about the Pseudo or Fringe categories. Let the nuts, cranks, fruitcakes, woo-woos, etc. run wild there - Just keep them out of the REAL science areas of the forum.
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2012
  22. kwhilborn Banned Banned

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    If you wanted a VIP version of Sciforums then people could use real names and verify their education. Discussion groups already exist with these protocols.

    There are many areas of science (especially new science) that remain debatable. The double slit experiment relies on various Interpretations to describe what is going on, and no version is universally accepted. Einstein and Bohr were constantly arguing even though they were good friends. Does debatable science belong in pseudoscience?

    If you want to move all debatable science like the Double Slit Experiment Interpretations to pseudoscience then that would be an obvious error, as The Double Slit Experiment is real, but with no concrete explanation.

    Now controversy still exists with those interpretations. Not just controversy here, but worldwide. This is why there are several Interpretations.

    I don't need to go into detail to mention the Fred Wolf type views are less accepted here.

    Some feel simply banning people who don't subscribe to the Interpretation they hold as true is beneficial for all because they are obviously infallible.

    That is one way to impose your views though, so a few members think that (because they cannot comprehend maybe) some views should be immediately sent to the Cesspool/Alternative sections and perhaps ban the poster as well.

    We all know the drill.

    This is not new.
     
  23. seagypsy Banned Banned

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    I don't think people should be banned for being viewed as "wrong". I just think credentials should be on a person's avatar so that readers can determine for themselves who they could or should trust. I don't have a background in physics and by the discussions that take place in the physics forums I wouldn't have a clue who to trust. But If I saw verfied credential stamps next to people's avatar, I would know who had the VERIFIED background to validate their views. As it is, i could go into the physics forums and copy paste a bunch of fancy equations from some math site, make a bunch of claims about it and only someone who knows about physics would know that I didn't know wtf I was talking about. But to another person with the same background as me, it would be hard to tell who is who and who can be trusted.

    Identities and credentials can be verified by the staff. Facebook does it. Twitter even does it. All you have to do is require that a person submit(not publicly) a photo of themselves holding up a piece of paper with a specified code written on it. This way, the staff knows they are a real person and not a bot. Along side of that a copy of their photo id with address and numbers blocked out. Then a scanned copy of whatever diplomas and certificates they have earned. If they are merely laymen then only the photo evidence to prove identity would be necessary, and no badges/credential tags are added to the avatar. But imagine the incentive to have those badges. It would give your arguments in debates much more credibility if you are a verified expert in your field. If you don't like that, I can only imagine that you don't like the idea of anyone's credibility (earned through years of university level study and practice) should be promoted over your own. Of course all you ahve to do is prove your own credibility and get your own badges.

    I wouldn't have any badges, but then I don't go posting against people like read-only either. I have only ever posted against you when you tried to convince us all that psychic ability were real. Even laymen like me know crackpot claims at levels like that.

    The thing is Neverfly used to participate in the physics threads. To me, he seems knowledgable. He is my husband. I don't have any reason to assume he is lying. But I really wouldn't know if he did all the studying he says he has or not. I have never demanded his school records. I didn't marry him for his education. I married him because he makes me happy and is a source of strength for me. Does that mean he could nto possibly lie to em about his educational background? of course not. He may have been a flunky in high school for all I know. He may have been a drop out. He may have never picked up a calculus textbook accept to beat up a nerd with it. I will never know for sure. I can't tell because I do not know much about physics. people who come here to learn need some assurances as to who they can trust or this is nothing more than a gossip site. This site will gain credibility if it somehow verifies credibility of its members.
     

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