Day 310 – Scientific Method

56 – 100 Greatest Discoveries

Science is hard.

And I don’t just mean as a discipline, but communicating about science is possibly even harder and a task scientists are sadly rarely well-equipped for. It is great having the likes of Neil deGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye available as standard-bearers, because we need all the clear communicators we can get.

What is particularly insidious is the way modern politics and the media interact with each other, and the resulting “fair-and-balanced” rhetoric that requires that for every argument on one side, someone has to be given an opportunity to speak for the other side.

Some things are just not balanced.
Sometimes when you put the sum-total of all the facts on the scales, one side tips further. Much further.

The most dramatically distorted discussion of modern times is the one surrounding climate change. We have a broad consensus in the scientific community that the climate is changing. We have a statistical almost-certainty that it is man-made. And finding a few scientists that disagree doesn’t mean all the other scientific research and evidence has been thrown into doubt or been dis-proven.

By that logic we would have to accept that perpetual-motion is possible, lord Xenu isn’t just a children’s story, and because I have a degree in Computing Science anything I disagree with in that field is also automatically no longer unequivocal.

I believe P = NP.
There.
Sorted.
Chaos!

Luckily that’s not how science works. It’s okay to disagree, but until you have research and facts to support your viewpoint, nobody in the scientific community will take you too seriously. There is no “fair-and-balanced” when facts are involved. Something is either true or false; there isn’t “a different perspective” that is equally valid.

I especially enjoyed Jon Oliver’s piece involving Bill Nye:

And for some outright comedy àpropos of nothing, Lord Monckton, the Sasha Baron Cohen character:

Now I need to go stuff some more cotton in my ears to keep out the stupid.