Science for Snowflakes

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“…At least science is helping us make progress, right? Science is sold to us as an almost holy, objective pursuit: a pure endeavor, a way of pursuing truth and only truth. As a high school senior planning to study physics and astronomy in college, I was thoroughly convinced that solving quantum gravity would trickle down to improved human relations. Of course, I was adorably naïve about both the difficulty that quantum gravity presented us (we’ve made little progress in the 18 years since I started university) and about the relationship between science and humanity’s various imperfections….”  Chanda Prescod-Weinstein

The past few days I’ve been involved in a rather interesting Twitter discussion with a young woman who claims to be a Ph.D. candidate.  She also claims to be a scientist, but refuses to mention her field of study, which makes me wonder about her.  I gather, unless a person is a ‘real’ scientist, you are not qualified to have a discussion about science.  Unfortunately, after two days, I realized it was rather like dealing with one of the androids in the classic I Mudd.

She was like dealing with one of Mudd’s androids.  The poor thing, thinking herself well educated, was a typical product of STEM brainwashing.  Science has been sold to her as the ultimate truth.

Unfortunately, that is the current mantra.  Never mind that truth is something that is subjective, and science should be the logical and methodical.  Experimentation should be replicated.  The young woman (I assume she is a young woman) prattled on about the scientific method, as if it were this sacred path to the ultimate truth in life.  Those who took part in the liberal march for science look upon science as truth.

“…The idea that the same experiment will always produce the same result, no matter who performs it, is one of the cornerstones of science’s claim to truth. However, more than 70% of the researchers (pdf), who took part in a recent study published in Nature have tried and failed to replicate another scientist’s experiment. Another study found that at least 50% of life science research cannot be replicated. The same holds for 51% of economics papers (pdf).

The findings of these studies resonate with the gut feeling of many in contemporary academia – that a lot of published research findings may be false. Just like any other information source, academic journals may contain fake news….”

If that is what they want, then fine. But, someone needs to explain the facts of life to poorly educated Millennials who have been raised on a steady diet of STEM, ignoring the Humanities.  I don’t care what a person believes.  I do care what the current generation who will begin taking control of civilization in a few years has not been taught.  The young woman in question could rant and rave about Global Warming, Climate Change, Pollution, Greenhouse Gases, and a new ice age, caused not by Global Warming, but carbon, and so forth and so on.

The devil made me do it.  I told her I remember the very same argument being used by the anti-nuclear arms movement years ago – nuclear winter.

What was that?

I told her it was the same argument, old version, of Global Warming, the left is using today, to promote socialism.

Impossible.

I may have mentioned that, aside from a catastrophic nuclear war, once pollution is controlled, humanity can’t do all that much to effect the planet.  Nature does it for us.

Humans, not nature.

I gave her a list:  1883, 1816, 1610BC, Santorini, Krakatoa, Tambora, and then Chicxulub.  She never responded.  The following day, she Tweeted that she had no idea what I was doing.  Those who are not scientists should not be discussing science.  I had been telling her that we were just one major volcanic eruption away from another serious cooling period, even an ice age.  She could not grasp the concept.  Her mind had been so programmed to think that humans do all the damage, she could not conceptualize the fact that nature is a total bitch.

Just to be nasty, I told her that mathematics were art.  You can imagine her reaction. It was science.  I ask if she understood that original mathematics were created to calculate the phases of the moon, in order to know when to plant crops and breed animals.  The ancients worshiped various lunar deities.   If she had studied Humanities she would understand the link between mathematics, calculations and architecture, which is art.

I provided links.

“…The mathematician Jerry P. King describes mathematics as an art, stating that “the keys to mathematics are beauty and elegance and not dullness and technicality”, and that beauty is the motivating force for mathematical research. King cites the mathematician G. H. Hardy‘s 1940 essay A Mathematician’s Apology. In it, Hardy discusses why he finds two theorems of classical times as first rate, namely Euclid‘s proof there are infinitely many prime numbers, and the proof that the square root of 2 is irrational. King evaluates this last against Hardy’s criteria for mathematical elegance: “seriousness, depth, generality, unexpectedness, inevitability, and economy” (King’s italics), and describes the proof as “aesthetically pleasing”. The Hungarian mathematician Paul Erdős agreed that mathematics possessed beauty but considered the reasons beyond explanation: “Why are numbers beautiful? It’s like asking why is Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony beautiful. If you don’t see why, someone can’t tell you. I know numbers are beautiful.”...”

It was then I realized any possible discussion about classical Greek culture and philosophy was useless.  She did not grasp any of it.  Her mind was incapable of critical thinking.  She was ticked with me for trying to explain, in historical context, how climate science was a total crock.  All the poor thing could do was spout that science = truth.  The only way to arrive at truth was through science.

I tried to mention truth is subjective.  It is in the eye of the beholder.  I don’t want a discussion about truth – in any subject.  As a historian, I want provable facts.  There is a serious difference between truth and facts.  Science is not about truth, but fact.

Her mind, like Harry Mudd’s androids, sputtered.  She was unable to understand the connection between truth, fact, science, history, and the Humanities.  It was as though she had a meltdown, with her mind ceasing to function.

The Humanities teach us about art, literature, music, theater, opera, philosophy, Shakespeare, religion, and everything in between.  More and more colleges and universities are literally closing their Humanities departments in order to teach STEM studies.  It apparently isn’t doing our society a darn bit of good.  Instead, the world is turning out increasingly ignorant individuals to the point where, today, it was announced incoming theological students in the Anglican Church will be given a glossary to help them comprehend the words in the 17th Century Book of Common Prayer.  In other words, they are incapable of comprehending Shakespeare.

I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid, the hallmark of an educated person was the ability to understand and enjoy Shakespeare in the original language.   I gather the ability to text while driving is today’s version of culture and education. I suspect something has been lost in translation.

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