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Comment: Re:It's been politicized (Score 1) 856

I'm well aware of the problem.

Another indicator of public understanding of science focuses on understanding of how [scientists] generate and assess scientific evidence, rather than knowledge of particular facts. Past NSF surveys have used questions on three general topics—probability, experimental design, and the scientific method—to assess trends in Americans' understanding of the process of scientific inquiry.
Understanding of what it means to study something scientifically is considerably lower, at 18% in 2010. Correct responses on this question are lower, in part, because the task of expressing a concept in one's own words is more difficult than recognizing a correct response to a multiple-choice style close-ended survey question.

This is still much higher than I would expect based on occupation, since STEM [science, technology, engineering, and math] fields account for only 6% of the workforce. However, even though, as you say, "[m]ost people are not in a position to understand themselves and their own thinking", this is not insurmountable. Surveys similar to the NSF one I linked shows that over the past 25 years, the literacy rate has doubled (from 10% in 1988); clearly, the public can learn to understand rational, scientific methods.

Even if this conclusion is wrong, what do you think the proper method is to deal with the irrational nature of humans? Set up some sort of inner cabal of "great minds" to run the world (ignoring the fact they're just as human, therefore just as irrational, as anyone else)? Try to find some inhuman ("angelic") agent to run the world, and hope their goals remain humanly comprehensible? Or just give up and go back to the caves?

Comment: Re:It's been politicized (Score 1) 856

"Both sides" do deserve at least some consideration for one reason and one reason only: the strength of a scientific theory is not measured solely by how it explains current facts, but also in how well it withstands challenges. Whenever researchers or supporters of anthropogenic climate unilaterally silence critics, they are simultaneously weakening the process of science. Al Gore did so in stating that "There is no more debate among scientists" when talking up An Inconvenient Truth; however, the truly inconvenient fact is that the working process of science is just such debates. This idea was expressed very clearly in this description of the scientific method by Richard Feynman:

"Now you see, of course, that with this method we can disprove any definite theory. We have a real guess, with which we can compute consequences, which could be compared to experiments; and in principle we can get rid of any wrong theory. You can always prove any definite theory wrong. Notice, however, that we never prove it right. Suppose that you invent a good guess, calculate the consequences, and find that the consequences agree with experiment. The theory is then right?

"No; it is simply not proven wrong. Because, in the future, there could be a wider range of experiments or you could compute a wider range of consequences and you may discover that some of those are wrong. That's why laws like Newton's laws for the motion of planets last for such a long time; he guessed the law of gravitation and calculated all the kinds of consequences for the solar system and so on, compared them to experimental observation and it took several hundred years for the slight error in the motions of Mercury to develop. During all that time, the theory had been failed to be proven wrong and could be taken to be temporarily right. It can never be proved right, because tomorrow's experiment may succeed in proving what you thought was right, wrong."

The only way that global warming, as a scientific theory, will ever be permanently "settled" is if it is proven wrong. When the challengers are just repeating the same bullshit arguments over and over (as with the religious teleological arguments presented anew under the names of "creation science" and "intelligent design") winning the debate may be quick and painless, but nevertheless the proper working of the scientific method is the remorseless, unceasing challenge of the orthodoxy with new ideas and measurements.

Comment: Re:Discrimination of girls is bad and unethical (Score 1) 673

by Catiline (#46715601) Attached to: Google: Teach Girls Coding, Get $2,500; Teach Boys, Get $0
It's not really real discrimination; as everybody has heard thousands of times since being a small child: "Two wrongs make a right!" This is just Google stepping beyond their "Don't be evil" corporate motto and doing something right in the world!

(Do I really need to put my </sarcasm> tag here?)

Comment: I fear (Score 1) 451

by krray (#46423189) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Do I Change Tech Careers At 30?

I think I fear for our children's future... (and mine)

> I'm 30, and I am a technology teacher [and]
> I like Microsoft products and would head in that direction, probably.

Is that what you teach? I mean, I realize Microsoft is a HUGE company making billions and billions every year. Amazes me people STILL buy their crap. The software they produce has pretty much always been bloated, slow, buggy, and a complete waste of my time. Thus I don't use them anymore.

> Is it too late for me to think about this?

YES. Apparently so. Go learn UN*X. Try BSD, learn to love Linux. Understand UN*X compared to Windows. Once you do you'll laugh at Microsoft.

> What is the best way to get started on this path?

Go to -- click on everything. Download and install Ubuntu (just my choice :) -- then once you "understand" ... go buy a Mac.

Comment: Re:Good luck with all the coming ads (Score 1) 172

by Catiline (#46293547) Attached to: Google Fiber Pondering 9 New Metro Areas

That is because the rich are more dependent on government than the poor.

I guess that's why the wealthy elite exclusively send their kids to government schools, rely on police protection from rabid fans, and live on "government cheese", while the "poor, huddled masses" are scrimping so they can save enough to afford private tutors/ivy league colleges, bodyguard services, and 5-star chefs to cater in every meal?

Here's a hint: the elites have never needed "good" government--they can afford to pay twice (once for the public version, albeit not much with tax evasion, and once for the quality services). They want "good enough" -- as in, just good enough that the proles won't revolt or pursue alternatives.

Comment: The headline is fun to parse. (Score 1) 118

by Standfast (#46288109) Attached to: Fake Pub Studies Drinking Habits

Many headlines these days are poorly written, with word forms that can be hard to parse before you read the associated article.

Ok, I'll give it a shot. "Fake Pub Studies Drinking Habits"

What is the news here?

Fake studies about pubs are drinking all these habits.
The fake pub is studying how people drink habits.
I order you to fake some pub studies that drink habits.
This is about the drinking habits of fake pub studies.

And so on.

Add your own parsing, and for each one you add, enjoy another habitual fake drink in the studying pub.

+ - Owner: Vote, your choice: Get rid of Slashdot:Beta OR everyone goes elsewhere-> 1

Submitted by Ying Hu
Ying Hu (704950) writes "Slashdot Beta is not Slashdot:
What was loved about Slashdot does not appear in the new design — those creating the latter, please fire yourself and go work for a commercial consumer site (which we never read, and never will). OUR site should work without JavaScript, and JavaScript that IS used should to do something actually desired by a reader or commenter, not waste our bandwidth and CPU, and electricity, sending CRAP onto our computers. Improvements/ plugins,, won't be enough."

Link to Original Source

+ - Once Slashdot beta has been foisted upon me, what site should I use instead? 2

Submitted by somenickname
somenickname (1270442) writes "As a long time Slashdot reader, I'm wondering what website to transition to once the beta goes live. The new beta interface seems very well suited to tablets/phones but, it ignores the fact that the user base is, as one would expect, nerds sitting in front of very large LCD monitors and wasting their employers time. It's entirely possible that the browser ID information gathered by the site has indicated that they get far more hits on mobile devices where the new interface is reasonable but, I feel that no one has analyzed the browser ID (and screen resolution) against comments modded +5. I think you will find that most +5 comments are coming from devices (real fucking computers) that the new interface does not support well. Without an interface that invites the kind of users that post +5 comments, Slashdot is just a ho-hum news aggregation site that allows comments. So, my question is, once the beta is the default, where should Slashdot users go to?"

You can tell how far we have to go, when FORTRAN is the language of supercomputers. -- Steven Feiner