Online scientific discourse is broken and it can be fixed

Has science taken a wrong turn? If so, what corrections are needed? Chronicles of scientific misbehavior. The role of heretic-pioneers and forbidden questions in the sciences. Is peer review working? The perverse "consensus of leading scientists." Good public relations versus good science.

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Re: Online scientific discourse is broken and it can be fixe

Unread post by Zyxzevn » Sat Dec 28, 2013 7:05 pm

Seems like the people that are protesting are not open enough for the new information, and are using
their mind to block the validity of the new information. In my own view they their intelligent
blocks and they become less intelligent. That makes them unable to grasp anything
outside their scope of thinking.
And I think we should treat them as such. Have simple primitive school-like examples that
show clear results on how it works. They must be funny too. Most people need to
be re-schooled, and that starts with the lowest classes. They can be funny if you use the myth-buster
technique: have 2 possible theories and test them until one fails (dramatically).

There will be protests, and make fun of that too.
Some lessons can use the counterarguments skeptics use, and present them so simple as
if you are talking to a child. Soon they will stop protesting.
People want to be intelligent. Especially "scientists" :geek:

Unknown or complex stuff like the real nature of gravity can be presented as advanced material like quantum-physics. If people want to understand gravity as a result of the wave-function, they need to know that there is a wave function and that it reaches over many light-years. Don't forget the more complex string-theory as an
alternative to have it side by side in a myth-buster contest.
(The end: Oh, just forget it. Nobody actually understands this.. )

If skeptics protest, just mention the Occam thing.
Use the techniques that skeptics use against them, but in a subtle way. Like: "Oh if the big-bang started
with a lot of energy, then there must be a god! And God said: There was light. I will write BIG BANG with
capitals from now on... Oh, just joking".

Other more open and intelligent people will see these things too, but skip to the
point and get the message. They may also see the school-lessons, and
will appreciate the other simpler way of thinking about
the universe. They will make up their mind. And when they follow, the "lesser intelligent" will follow too.

Also: if something is much simpler than the current astrophysics theories, it will be easier adapted by most
people. The simpler solution stays in the mind.

Electric Universe: Simpler & Better
(and actually testable)
More ** from zyxzevn at: Paradigm change and C@

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Re: Online scientific discourse is broken and it can be fixe

Unread post by pln2bz » Sun Dec 29, 2013 4:35 pm

Seems like the people that are protesting are not open enough for the new information, and are using their mind to block the validity of the new information. In my own view they their intelligent blocks and they become less intelligent. That makes them unable to grasp anything outside their scope of thinking ... Most people need to be re-schooled, and that starts with the lowest classes.
Notice how Leif's attempts to describe science offer us an insight into how Leif thinks which we can see from Jeff Schmidt's description of the archetypal professional scientist is probably part of a larger culture. It seems that even if people talk about science as a way of better understanding the universe which surrounds them, it is perhaps culturally under appreciated that the challenge of thinking about wicked problems creates opportunities for us to learn quite a bit about how we think ourselves.

As you noticed, Leif is clearly being selective about what to focus his rational and symbolic faculties on. If the rational mind is like our secret weapon, in a general sense, people nevertheless treat it as though our ammunition is limited.

An interesting direction worth considering for a scientific social network might be to create tools which help the user to monitor and reflect upon the nature of their thought processes. When I read critiques of market research methodologies, based upon social psychology research, I see patterns which seem to mimic the way in which people select scientific theories. The processes which guide us through buying products and selecting models seem to reflect the way in which we deal with information overload and complex problem-solving within the context of incomplete information.

To make my point, try skimming through Consumer.ology: The Market Research Myth, the Truth about Consumers and the Psychology of Shopping, by Philip Graves, and switch out consumer product with scientific model, as you do so:
The human brain operates on a system of “short cuts” and “rules of thumb.” Without these corner-cutting decision-making tools we’d never get anything done in life. And because of the same neural wiring, we often get ourselves in a heap of trouble doing some incredibly foolish things.


While many of us are happy to mock the more extreme superstitions of others – donning the team shirt at the last possible moment, putting on shoes in a particular order, using the same tennis ball after serving an ace – they reveal a human willingness to stick with what we believe has helped us in the past.2 As Derren Brown points out in his book Tricks of the Mind, we find ways of making our actions appear to have a bearing on events even when they not only have no reasonable basis for doing so, but also with a disregard for the numerous occurrences when, despite applying them, we have not achieved our desired outcome.3

So it is with market research. On the occasions when a research report’s findings coincide with a positive outcome, it is taken as proof that the process was worthwhile and contributed positively to the course that was taken. Since we’re certain that everyone can accurately report what they’ve done, what they think, and what they will do, any instance when a research-informed outcome is wide of the mark is swiftly dismissed as an aberration or the result of the corruption of an otherwise legitimate process. This capacity to believe that conscious will drives our actions is a fundamental part of the human condition. It is both the reason that asking people questions isn’t likely to lead to genuine insights and the reason people are convinced that it will.

The fundamental tenet of market research is that you can ask people questions and that what they tell you in response will be true. And yet, as you will see, this is a largely baseless belief. In fact, it turns out that the opposite is far closer to the truth. When we ask people a question we make it very unlikely that they will tell us the truth; inviting a “discussion” fares no better. The conscious mind finds it almost impossible to resist putting its spin on events. From the moment we do anything it introduces distortions; when the mind considers the future it does so with an idealism that is both optimistic and simultaneously devoid of any objective assessment of the past.


There is a way to obtain a deeper understanding of consumers and make better-informed decisions. When the philosopher Mark Rowlands reflected on his years living with a wolf, he concluded that humans had virtually lost the ability to appreciate the present, so wrapped up are we in dwelling on the past and wondering about the future. The problem he sees this causing is that we both want our lives to have meaning and are unable to understand how they can do so. In our quest for significance, we miss the moment of now.4 When it comes to market research I believe the same situation exists: what drives us into questioning the why and what will be gets in the way of us fully appreciating the right now. It is in the moment of consumer behavior that we have the best opportunity to understand what is taking place. It is in this moment that we can understand how the environment and presence of other people change what we do


The market research industry has been slow to embrace the nature of human consciousness.


Nevertheless, the belief remains: “Of course you can find out what people think by asking them, you just have to ask them the right questions in the right way.” The market research industry has gone on unabashed; companies still believe that reassurance can be found in the exchange of corporate question for consumer answer and politicians that public opinion can be gauged from a poll or focus group. No verifiable alternative has emerged for product development, because the crux of the matter is far more challenging to a business world and research industry that rely heavily on the reassurance that market research provides: consumer behavior is a by-product of the unconscious mind, whereas research is inherently a conscious process.


Most organizations don’t understand consumer behavior or how and why their marketing works (or doesn’t work). The unconscious mind is the real driver of consumer behavior. Understanding consumers is largely a matter of understanding how the unconscious mind operates; the first obstacle to this is recognizing how we frequently react without conscious awareness. As long as we protect the illusion that we ourselves are primarily conscious agents, we pander to the belief that we can ask people what they think and trust what we hear in response. After all, we like to tell ourselves we know why we do what we do, so everyone else must be capable of doing the same, mustn’t they?


Most people can identify with that moment of driving a car when they realize that, for some indiscernible amount of time, they have been driving without conscious awareness. The section of journey has been uneventful, they have progressed without incident or harm, but they have no recollection of what has occurred or for how long they have been consciously absent from the driving process. Contrast this experience with the first time you sat in a car and attempted to coordinate the actions of steering, depressing the clutch, balancing the clutch and accelerator, selecting a gear, timing the release of the handbrake, and so on. I can still recall bouncing my driving instructor away from the traffic lights on my third lesson as I struggled to combine raising the clutch and depressing the accelerator simultaneously. An extraordinarily complicated array of actions is learned and assimilated, to the extent that we can do them without conscious thought.


So what is happening in those moments when we don’t consciously know what we’re doing? How are we making decisions? How accurately can we be expected to self-analyze and report on our behavior?

What would it mean if this phenomenon were not unique to matters of transportation? What if we often do things without being aware that we are doing them? What if that is often the case when we are choosing or consuming products? How useful would it be to ask consumers what they think about a brand, product, or service if the unconscious mind plays a part in their consumption?

We are surrounded by examples of how the unconscious mind and conscious mind behave very differently, examples that show the contributions that each makes to the way we behave. One function of the unconscious mind is its ability to screen out information, enabling us to focus on one area more effectively. A 2 year old who has yet to develop these powers will find a shop far more distracting (as any parent in a hurry will testify).


We all experience moments when we can t quite grasp some thing we feel sure we know. This is because our mind doesn't store the information we reference from our memory in an absolute way. In his infamous known knowns speech, former US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld forgot to mention that there are things we know that we can t recall at that moment, what he might have called unknown knowns if he'd remembered them. Researchers have used fMRI scans to explore this phenomenon. Asking participants to remember unusual word pairings such as alligator and chair by putting them into a sentence, they tested their recall of individual words from a list containing a mixture of individual words they had been shown and others they had not, while scanning which regions of the brain were active. Only when the second word was provided as a cue did one area, the hippocampus, become involved, at which point participants were able to recall their sentence with much greater detail.3

Our unconscious minds have vast amounts of data that we regularly rely on to make decisions, but we have no direct, conscious access to those processes. And that's a problem if a business is expecting customers to respond accurately in research. Asking someone to taste a sample of a product seems an entirely reasonable thing to do, as does asking them what they think of what they've tasted. On the other hand, the normal purchase process involves neither of these elements, but does involve referencing a different set of mental associations to do with factors such as temperature, thirst, previous experiences of the product, and the context in which you find yourself. When taste-test results are considered in this context, any result they produce seems far less compelling.


When an electrical retailer asked me to investigate its ticket design for washing machines, I found more evidence of the gap that can exist between what people would like to believe they will do as consumers and what actually happens. I asked people prior to buying such an appliance how they would make the decision and they provided a rational set of criteria, generally relating to price and one or two specific product attributes (such as spin speed and load capacity). Each person expected the purchase process to be straightforward; after all, they had owned and used a washing machine for years and were comfortable with the product. However, as I watched shoppers in a store it was apparent that a rational purchase decision, even of a major product such as this, was virtually impossible.

There were 40 white boxes that either were washing machines or looked like them from a distance (washer-dryers being virtually indistinguishable from more than a few feet away). Each product had an information label with up to 20 technical specifications for the product, and further information such as product dimensions, accessories, and extended warranty options. Any customer had at least 800 data points to compare. Assuming that they could consolidate their choice by two variables, say spin speed and price, this would still represent 80 data points to weigh up!

Arguably, a logical response to this would be to grab a pen and paper and start writing things down, design a spreadsheet to compare them, or at the very least seek independent advice from someone who might have had the capacity to make such a comparison. However, the very real need for a washing machine and the prior belief that such a purchase should have been simple must compete with the unexpected complexity and confusion that the actual task of buying one has introduced. Often this cognitive dissonance isn't manifested as a rational awareness that buying a washing machine is harder than had been anticipated; it arrives as feeling of awkwardness, as though the unconscious mind throws out a generic error message.

So what happens? Either the unconscious screens out options at a very general level and defaults to something familiar, or the customer lets someone else (the salesperson) make the decision for them, or they walk away, making up a reason why they haven't got a product they really do need. The resulting rationale for their actions can be extremely tenuous. One woman I interviewed justified her selection by saying: I decided to get this brand because my mother had one that lasted for years, although I know they don t make these as well as they used to. I had watched her spend several minutes comparing, or at least attempting to compare, machines from several manufacturers at a similar price point and hypothesized that the process had become overwhelming. When I discussed her experience in the context of the confusion that I suspected she'd experienced, she said she had wanted to look at a wider range and make an informed choice, but had been overcome by the number of alternatives.4

When I put just two tickets in front of her and asked her which appliance she thought would better suit her requirements, she changed her decision from the Hotpoint she had selected to buy to a Whirlpool model. It confirmed my theory that her chosen purchase had far more to do with the psychological discomfort of making a choice from so many options and far less to do with her rationalized washing machine ideals.

This example highlights another conflict between the conscious and unconscious mind. When you ask them, most people say they want choice; often it will be a conscious consideration when selecting a retail outlet for a purchase – I'll go to X because they have the biggest range. Choice is a good thing, isn t it? Social psychologists Iyengar and Lepper carried out an experiment that illustrated how, in practice, more choice isn t necessarily beneficial.5 They evaluated reactions to two tasting tables at a supermarket; on one they laid out 24 different jams and on the other just 6. While more people elected to stop for the wider selection (60% vs 40%), a dramatically higher proportion purchased from the selection of six jams, whereas only 3% did so from the larger choice. Put another way, less than 2% of people will buy from a display of 24 jams, but 12% will if you give them a choice of just six.

This simple but elegant study illustrates the point perfectly: what someone thinks they want, and will say they want because it seems sensible and reasonable, may conflict with what really matters to their unconscious mind when the moment in question arises. At that point it will be the unconscious mind that determines what happens next.


Ultimately, the reasons that are consciously hypothesized for consumers choices ... end up being a reflection of the desire to see ourselves as fundamentally conscious creatures.


Social psychologists are continually exploring the ways in which we are unaware of what really shapes our behavior, and the extent to which it is at odds with our self-perception.

Recent research has shown that smells that are too faint to be consciously detected can influence how we act. Our senses are constantly filtering information and in doing so they process much more than they bother to bring to our (conscious) attention. Dr. Wen Li and colleagues at Northwestern University asked people to sniff bottles containing one of three scents at such low concentrations that most participants were not aware of having smelled anything.8 They were then shown an image of a face with a neutral expression and asked to evaluate its likability. The researchers found that the type of smell influenced the reaction to the face, but only when the smell had not been consciously noticed. Our unconscious mind is great at collecting data, but it doesn t let our conscious mind in on what it's collected or how important it has deemed it to be, nor how it has influenced what we ve gone on to do.


The same is true of our visual sense: how people respond can be influenced by things their eyes have seen that they haven t consciously registered.9 Bargh and Pietromonaco conducted one such study where participants were asked to take part in an exercise on a computer screen, during which half were exposed to words flashed on the screen at a speed too quick for conscious awareness.10 The words were associated with antagonism (such as hostile, insult, and unkind. In a subsequent, and ostensibly unrelated, experiment, the same people were asked to make a judgment about someone based on an ambivalent description about him: A salesman knocked at the door, but Donald refused to let him enter. Those who had seen the flashes of hostile words judged the person to be more hostile and unfriendly than the group who had not seen these words.


we don t need our conscious processes to act effectively ... when our conscious faculties are working properly, we're adept at creating a justification that works for us.

Our selective attention is continually screening out a huge amount of information but, as I have explained, that doesn t mean that this information isn't being processed. Quite the opposite: in order to screen it out we must first receive it. Studies such as those by Bargh and Pietromonaco show that, while we are not consciously processing it, our unconscious mind can be changed by what passes through it, leaving us with no realization that such a change has taken place and certainly no ability to report it accurately after the event.

The unconscious mind appears to operate as a first-stage pattern checker, the first, and sometimes only, stage in the processing and reacting chain. However, since people have no direct access to the references it's using, consumer research respondents are unlikely to report accurately its role in their decision making. Consequently, the information provided by research that is responded to at a conscious level has bypassed a critical stage of mental processing that may well prevent the person ever acknowledging its existence.


Practical examples of these unconscious filtering processes and their impact abound with internet retailers. Their capacity to make small changes and observe their impact using split tests that randomly assign visitors to different versions of a website have found dramatic differences in response, and sales can be achieved with alternations that appear incidental and certainly reflect elements of design that we would never consider influential in shaping our own behavior: changing a headline, shifting the position of a message, or using a different color on a page can transform how people react to what is ostensibly the same message.


Numerous studies reveal that the unconscious mind works in terms of associations.


You may well think at this point: Well, if someone can consciously choose to override the desire not to press the red button, surely what matters is what they consciously think. But in most circumstances, and certainly in most consumer scenarios, people aren't challenging themselves (or being challenged) to act against their instinctive response. Instead, their feelings will be triggered by the unconscious associations they process and, just like Moll's hypnotized subject, they will look for reasons to justify that feeling.


The idea of getting something new is, for most people, exciting and appealing. A casual glance at the pace of progress in the developed world and the rate at which people assimilate new products is a powerful illustration of our collective thirst for innovation. However, what appears to be a taste for novelty, even to the extent that we believe it's something we consciously desire, masks the fact that our first instinct tends to be much more cautious. The thorny problem of a discrepancy between our conscious view of ourselves and the role our unconscious takes in protecting us can all too easily prevent us from selecting something new or different.

This propensity to be risk averse can be challenging to accept. After all, you have all the positive mental associations from new things that you have bought or, even better, been given: the ceremony of unwrapping boxes, the anticipation of the first experience, the thrill of the first time you use whatever it is. But these belie the reality that, on a daily basis, you frequently make an unconscious decision not to do something new: to put your shoes on in the same order, to buy the same newspaper every day, to watch an episode of a television series even though you've seen it several times before.


While people might like the idea that they are open to new ideas and willing to take a chance on something, there is no personal risk in telling a market researcher that you would buy the product being shown to you in the focus group. When it comes down to a real purchase decision, however, the unconscious mind's desire to avoid risks can often make the choice of something new feel far less appealing.

It's easy to illustrate this type of loss aversion with children in a different way. Ask them which toys they like and you will get a list. Then tell them you are going to get rid of several that they haven t mentioned, are way too young for them, and they no longer play with, and they will forcefully state that they want to keep them.

For some reason, presumably of evolutionary benefit, people feel loss far more powerfully than they feel gain.


It is intriguing to speculate about why we should be so sensitive to potential loss. One theory is that the unconscious mind is preoccupied with safety, checking the environment rapidly and evaluating what is a potential threat, conducting a first pass of the data to protect us from potential dangers.


The extent to which people will go to minimize the risk of feeling bad in the future is considerable. In the project I undertook watching people buying washing machines, I saw one woman wander around the display of appliances for 30 seconds without actually looking at any appliance in a way that suggested she was seriously considering it. Eventually, she stopped by a particular appliance and waited for a salesperson to come over to her. While pretending to be testing the robustness of the hinge on a tumble dryer, I listened in to the conversation that took place. The woman declined the offer of help and advice, stating that she wanted the washing machine in front of her. When the salesperson asked if she had purchased the brand before, she said that her last three machines had been made by the same company; she also expressed the hope that this one wouldn't damage her clothes like the previous two had. Logically, rationally, and (above all) consciously, her choice made little sense. However, viewed as a response to the confusing variety of products on offer, and a fear that a brand of which she had no empirical experience might be worse, the devil you know policy makes a sort of sense.


Being mindful that people are primarily focused on not making a bad choice – in other words making a safe choice, rather than necessarily making the best choice – can provide a powerful insight into why they do what they do, and the lengths to which it may be necessary to go if you are to encourage them to do something different. Unless the environment is such that they are already in a risk-taking mindset (for example at a theme park or perhaps in a night club), or they are making an extremely deliberate and conscious decision, they will require a significant level of persuasion to break with what feels unconsciously safe.

Why do new products often start out with a trial price? Because most marketers realize that a financial discount can not only help get the product noticed on the shelf, but also offset the unconscious risk associated with deviating from the usual choice. While there has been some debate whether what drives this is a fear of risk (loss aversion) or a preference for the status quo over change, the effective result remains the same: people are often very resistant to trying or doing something new, however logically compelling that alternative is.

The conscious mind is far more receptive to new concepts than is the unconscious. New things arouse our curiosity. Knowing which type of thinking is more involved at each stage of a consumer decision is crucial to understanding the likely accuracy of any research methodology.


Another factor that can help explain why people do things, which again runs counter to our preferred view of ourselves as independent-thinking entities, is our striking propensity for copying what other people do. This capacity has become a topic of great philosophical and psychological interest in recent years under the topic of memes


When people see others doing something, at the very least they tend to form a view about it, and in many cases will go ahead and copy it.


the fact that we acquire language at all and that we talk so much, all reflect our love of copying and having ourselves (and our ideas) copied.


It's almost impossible to overestimate the importance of what people encounter first for what they go on to think. Much as we may all like to pretend that we re objective, well-balanced, and rational judges of what we encounter, research shows that we're primed by our first experiences and, from there, go about seeking evidence that will fit with what we've decided is right.


In my own work I've found that not only is there a tendency for people to select a middle option of three or one of the middle two options of four choices, but also that they will make an effort to construct a situation where they give themselves a small number of alternatives from a much wider selection to make this possible.


It can be particularly important to know what people look at first when they are buying. In Chapter 2 I pointed out how susceptible we are to priming, attaching greater significance to what we see or hear first. Where customers glance first is of major importance because it can prime the way in which they perceive everything thereafter.

While knowing where people look provides no guarantee of knowing what they are mentally processing, it can be a useful reference point, especially when the amount of time is also considered. A fleeting glance is indicative of the unconscious mind reflexively scanning what it encounters; hypothesizing what associations it might have instantaneously connected to what it sees can be revealing. A longer look either means that more of the area has been reflexively scanned – an indication that they are searching for something that either is or feels familiar – or that one aspect (at least) of what they're studying is being referenced consciously in some way.


When you are sufficiently familiar with behavior in a given context, you can infer a surprising amount from how long someone spends looking at something.


As we get older we learn to be more sophisticated about what we see and how we see it. We are taught not to stare at other people. We project the values, prejudices, and insecurities we've acquired through the years onto what we see to reassure ourselves that we're right. The models that our unconscious mind has learned serve our basic needs, such as for parental approval (essential to life when young) or personal empowerment. As a result, we lose the child's ability to see things as they really are; the social level of a situation conceals the real agenda of the person or people involved.


[S]ocial psychologists have shown that asking someone to talk about something can change their opinion about the subject matter. Janis and King found that rather than their being fixed, beliefs can be created through behavior. Participants who made a speech playing the role of someone who believed in a particular issue were found to have become believers in the issue itself afterwards.32 In other words, the act of making the speech formed the belief, rather than a prior belief being constant throughout the forced experience.


[T]he researchers discovered that strong brands were processed with less effort and activated areas of the brain involved in emotional processing and associated with self-identification and rewards.36


[P]eople who have gone to the trouble of purchasing something tend to value it more highly than people who haven't … This phenomenon, known as the endowment effect, was first identified by Richard Thaler in 1980 ... it only takes a few moments of ownership for people to value something significantly more highly.


Despite what we might like to tell ourselves about our pioneering and independent nature, most of our behavior comprises doing much the same as the people around us. The chances are that we'll be one of the thousands of people buying the book about an explorer that we've seen on the bestseller list, not the intrepid soul who did the actual exploring in the Amazon rainforest. The evidence shows that we can't help but care what other people think and will go to great lengths to conform.

In 1935 the pioneering social psychologist Mazafer Sherif invited people to take part in an experiment using the autokinetic effect. Participants looked at a point of light in a darkened room and were asked to report whether they thought the light was static or moving, a recreation of a natural phenomenon first observed by astronomers who thought that stars were moving. When participants were asked individually opinion was equally divided; however, when they were put into groups people tended to agree with the majority, even if this meant contradicting what they'd said originally. Later, when asked individually, they continued to subscribe to the group view. In other words, when placed in the context of a group, people will devalue their own opinion in the interest of developing an arbitrary position that is acceptable to the group.


The neuroscience of how group influence affects behavior is still in its infancy. One recent study explored the mechanisms that cause people to tend to like what their friends like. Neurologists conducted fMRI scans of teenagers brains while they were listening to unfamiliar music spanning several genres. Each participant was played a number of songs and asked to rate how much they liked them. Then they were shown how popular the song was among a large reference group. To make sure that people weren't contrary for the sake of it, participants knew that they would receive a CD containing their favorite tracks at the end of the study.

As they expected, the researchers found that people did adjust their ratings to conform to the popular opinion of the tracks. However, what they discovered from brain activity throughout this process was what was so fascinating. From the areas of the brain involved (the left and right anterior insula was active in those who changed their preference), it seems that people switched their preference because they were anxious that their opinion didn't match up with those of other people. This neural activity is distinct from activity for reward and utility; in this case it seems that the music became more appealing not because it was liked or appreciated for its own sake, but because not liking it was worrying.4


Research suggests that people enter a group discussion with a misconception of the position of the other participants; they tend to assume that they will have a stronger view than the group, and to have an ideal position that is more extreme than the one they're prepared to voice. When the arguments raised in the group discussion support the initial position, people feel a need to shift their declared position in that direction.

In other words, we like to perceive ourselves as more in the socially preferred direction than the people we compare ourselves with. It seems that we run a constant mental scorecard assessing what the social average is, to make sure that we position ourselves just above it.

Interestingly, reading or listening to arguments generally produces less effect than actual participation in the discussion. It has been suggested that it's the mental process of actively rehearsing or reformulating an argument that brings about the shift in position; through the process of expressing it to others, we convince our selves of our own argument.10 Building influence by instigating debate around a subject or brand is what makes viral marketing and political blogging so effective. When the topic is skillfully released or the fuse of debate lit in the right way, the resulting impact can be dramatic.

The challenge for focus groups is compounded by the frequently humdrum subject matter on which they focus. It is one thing to feel that you will stand your ground in a debate with strangers about the death penalty or a solution to the problems in the Middle East, but the packaging of a breakfast cereal or your reaction to a new biscuit is not something most people are likely to feel passionate about. Research analyzing discussion content has shown that the largest shifts in attitudes occur where the subject matter is mundane and the argument put forward novel. Many focus groups will create the attitudes they report, rather than reflect views that are representative of people who haven't taken part in the discussions facilitated for the research process.11


When a group of people make decisions jointly or work together to reach a conclusion about something, there is a risk of groupthink, a phenomenon first explained in detail by American psychologist Irving Janis back in the 1970s. He realized that groups making decisions had the capacity to reach those decisions with insufficient critical analysis and with too much deference to the prevailing point of view.
The book itself is meant to introduce social psychology issues to market researchers, but it seems to me that there is value to repurposing this research as food for thought on how we might help people to think better about science. The cost of eye-tracking has been steadily going down for some time now, and it's just starting to become an affordable technology. This raises some interesting possibilities, which are perhaps best hinted at with the following video, which doesn't stop at eye-tracking technology.
If computers can be trained to translate the data sets generated by these technologies into information about when our subconscious mind is directing us, then here's a question: Can we design systems with this technology which work in concert with a scientific social network to train people to be better scientific thinkers?

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Re: Online scientific discourse is broken and it can be fixe

Unread post by Zyxzevn » Sun Dec 29, 2013 7:04 pm

That is a good book.
here's a question: Can we design systems with this technology which work in concert with a scientific social network to train people to be better scientific thinkers?
My answer is no.
And I am also not considered pro-science, because from my stand of view science misses
the big points on many phenomena. (see my web-link below).

But that is not the point here I believe.

Let me rephrase the problem:
We want people, that have strong opinions about something,
because they have been in science for a long time,
to change their minds about certain theories.
The environment where they live in is filled with their vision and
they all have peers that can punish them if they do not conform.

We have several things that block their minds or remind them of their way of thinking.
1) Peers
2) News-channels
3) Job / papers / research
4) Students
5) Very complex formulas.

But that is not all. A believe-system is something that is very hard to change, especially if
there is much involved (like job / papers). They are all cooperating like an army, so
we have to fight them all at once, which is practically impossible.
From your book-quotes I don't see a solution either.

But I do have a solution:
I am a person that also works with energy. In China it is called Chi.
Let me show a Tao approach to the problem. Like in the "art of war".

The opponents are like trees that have rooted deep into the sand.
If we attack them, like the wind. (=thinking)
They will resist us as much as we push them.
But we can create a source of water and let it flow. (=inspiration/humor)
Water flows and keeps flowing around them.
They keep standing, but the sand will go away,
and they will have nothing left to stand on.

Now practical again:
How do we get inspiration?
Have simple examples that inspire like the numberphile series.

How do we get near to their roots?
Have their theories busted versus the EU alternatives.
They can also be "busted" by comparing the money needed to proof them.
(It will be another discussion how we make that possible.)

Then we only need to wait until their grip crumbles.
Likely students will protest first, but some people that are more open will react too.
They will try to protest, and put it to the test themselves trying to disprove the EU.
And this will go on and on until they have no theory left standing.

At least the EU is something physical and mathematical.
My position with "chi" as a part of my reality is
much harder to prove in science. But it can be put very simple:
"There is you, there is life, and there is chi."

But back to the EU.
(I have not studied it enough to be accurate though.)
The Electric Universe needs some very simple phrases:
"Electric and magnetic forces are part of the universe,
but are still discarded in established theories.
Everyone knows that these forces are real,
and we think and observe that these forces have
a much greater influence in the universe than accepted".

Or a clear sentence:
Electric Universe: bringing the Observed Universe out of the theories and back into reality!

(I find it fun to make such sentences! We could have T-Shirts with those)

Let me make a few more:
Big-Bang said: "There was light"
Electric Universe says: "There IS electricity".
<picture of the hand of god>

Dark Matter - Nowhere to find
Electric Universe - Everywhere

Big Bang Theory
Electric Universe Reality

Expansion is Dark Energy is Free Energy
(just read on reddit that scientists actually believe that)
Electric Universe is Observable Energy

Super-strings = complex
Electric Universe = simple
<picture of a razor>

Electric Universe brings strings back in the sun. (for the nerds under us)
<picture of a beach>

Electric Universe:
Hot and sparkling (for girls?)
<heart with spark>

Just had a new one:
Electric Universe: No holes in the theory (no black holes needed)
<book with hole?>

These things are to inspire students, not all the scientists. The skeptics will have
to face the mythbuster part if they want to oppose it.
But most may just laugh about the jokes and remember them!

(Want more?)
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Re: Online scientific discourse is broken and it can be fixe

Unread post by pln2bz » Mon Dec 30, 2013 1:30 am

Let me rephrase the problem:
We want people, that have strong opinions about something,
because they have been in science for a long time,
to change their minds about certain theories.
The environment where they live in is filled with their vision and
they all have peers that can punish them if they do not conform.

We have several things that block their minds or remind them of their way of thinking.
1) Peers
2) News-channels
3) Job / papers / research
4) Students
5) Very complex formulas.

But that is not all. A believe-system is something that is very hard to change, especially if
there is much involved (like job / papers). They are all cooperating like an army, so
we have to fight them all at once, which is practically impossible.
From your book-quotes I don't see a solution either.
Possible Solutions

We've yet to talk much about possible solutions. We're still mostly describing the problem. I don't want to impose my own design ideas upon other people before they've had a chance to think about the problem on their own, so I've arranged the topics. But, there are some interesting technologies to consider now that you guys understand the nature of the problem …
  • Concept Mapping
  • Knowledge & Debate Cartography
  • The Long Tail, Niche disruption
  • Topic Modeling
  • Deep Zoom
If professional scientists seem impossible, then a way to react to that belief would be to focus more upon grad students.

Or, reframe it to the public: Rather than changing the views of professionals, increase the comprehension of the public. If the public could better understand the theories, then they'll also tend to ask better questions, and then act as a better check upon the society of professionals.

The information I provided on branding, I think, reveals that the way to disrupt is to provide a better vision for the future. Is censorship really a vision for the future of scientific dicourse? No, but notice that nobody spoke up on that, so it's a missed opportunity because silence sounds like agreement. Reddit talks about censorship like it's an American value. It's weak. That was a chance to differentiate.

Wikipedia has gone so far out of its way to align itself with facts that they risk appearing robotic. People can be made to see that the world is more complicated than this.

Wikipedia has decided to make debate as complicated as possible. Is this the future?

All of the sites you go to, in order to get your science news today, are basically trying to figure out what you will click on. And they sell these numbers of clicks as value to the advertisers … "See, they clicked it. Pay us."

Clicks don't mean sh*t. What is a click? That is a finger pressing down. Doesn't even guarantee that they read the article. Did somebody learn something? Not clear, actually. These things matter. Think about the brand. What does the site stand for? Clicks? This is very shallow. Will we solve the most complex questions man has ever asked with this approach? Shouldn't we try harder to create interactions between public and personal knowledge?

Isn't citation analysis just another way to express our desire for accuracy? Amazing discovery! Scientists have figured out a way to turn "success" into a number, but notice that the idealized metric then changes the nature of "success" … I am not at all against metrics. In fact, I really like metrics, but shouldn't they be created to service our actual values?

What if we created tools which help people to understand complex scientific papers? What's happening right now seems to me to generate vast stretches of scientific knowledge which remain inaccessible to laypeople today. And scientists seem to me overly-unconcerned about generating knowledge which people actually understand. I think that society should more generally value comprehension in science. Values matter in science because science should be in service to the things which humans care about. It's supposed to be a tool, and when it's not clear that it is, we have to ask if IT is using US?

I don't think that this is an unsolvable problem, and people will accept a solution that is "good enough" (satisficing) which gets better over time. There are likely a number of solutions that are better than what is happening today, each tailored for the types of people who might be interested in talking about science.

We've only begun talking about it.

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Re: Online scientific discourse is broken and it can be fixe

Unread post by Zyxzevn » Mon Dec 30, 2013 7:16 am

The information I provided on branding, I think, reveals that the way to disrupt is to provide a better vision for the future.
That is right.
What if we created tools which help people to understand complex scientific papers?
I think that every complex scientific theory is actually wrong. Things become complex when the model
they use is a bit off. Complex theories and interactions need to be introduced to compensate for the
error in the model.

The complex system of Quantum mechanics can be regarded in a different way.
It is very complex: What does a Hamilton operator do exactly? What does probability mean?
If we look at the formulas we can't get much of a model from it.

But we can look at it a different way.
We can see that a particle has a super-position state in which it follows the quantum-laws.
In this super-position state it resonates with itself (its energy).
It gets out of this state when it moves from one environment to the other.
It is called: "when it gets observed". But it is actually when an electron or photon
reaches an instrument and becomes part of the atom-structure of that instrument.
There is no observer here. It is only a transition from one environment to the other, and
in both environments the "same" electron is in a super-position state.
My model is very simple indeed. And I am still following the exact formulas.

But again it has some implications:
There is no observer, and everything is in an almost continuous super-position state.
What separates those super-positions? Or is it quantum-tunneling?
Is there a separate dimension or space in which this superposition is active?
Are there more of such spaces, which might be related to quarks and other
sub-atomic particles? Do these spaces behave differently?

These questions seem to get away from reality, because science usually stops long before them.
But actually the questions are valid.
We can learn about the nature of reality, if we know what is going on exactly.
They are simple results of our model. If our model has implications they may
give more interesting results.

But mainstream-science has had enough of implications. They are pushing away
all this stuff, because they wanted to separate themselves from religion and philosophy.
But actually by doings so, they are separating themselves from reality.

So I would like to suggest the Electric Universe distinguishes itself by presenting a
clear and simple base-model.
It can be presented in a Numberphile style.
Just show the basics simple and clear.
Mainstream theories can be shown a bit, but mainly in comparison
to show the simplicity and practically of the EU.
The EU can be presented as the next evolutionary step.

(Observation / competitive)
Then we have the observable consequences and differences with mainstream
science. They can be put side by side, and with a simple mythbuster
test the mainstream science version can be swept of or hold on.
"Big Myth Busters."
Don't get too serious, but keep it funny.
"After spending 3 billion dollars there is still a large gap between observation
and theory. Yet with 40 dollars EU closes that gap."
It may cause some enemies in the mainstream science camps, but they
were already opposed. It is not for them anyway.
Who we will get is everyone else around them.

(Depth / Future)
Then we have the implications of the EU. Some may be esoteric or
biological. Is electromagnetism behind everything?
Is there something behind electromagnetism?
The thunderbolts part.
It is a separate but valid question, but it will attract more the
philosophical scientists. I found the EU through this way.


Electric Universe stands for:



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Re: Online scientific discourse is broken and it can be fixe

Unread post by pln2bz » Mon Dec 30, 2013 10:30 am

"It may cause some enemies in the mainstream science camps, but they were already opposed. It is not for them anyway."
What is the vision and target audience which this idea is a part of? How does it help that target audience to do something which they are already doing, better?

What about the force concept inventory results? Don't we still have a comprehension problem in science education that needs to be worked on?

What about philosophy and history of science? Don't we still need to figure out a way to get people to use them as guides for reasoning?

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Re: Online scientific discourse is broken and it can be fixe

Unread post by Zyxzevn » Mon Dec 30, 2013 8:23 pm

pln2bz wrote:What is the vision and target audience which this idea is a part of?
It is my idea only.
How does it help that target audience to do something which they are already doing, better?
My experience is that people can not be reached if they have locked themselves from new ideas.
And they can get out only if they choose to. :(
But on the other hand. They may be doing a good job where they are.
I had a teacher that I had to explain how to do Electromagnetic fields, because I did it in
my own way. He was not really open for new approaches, but he was good at his job
teaching students stepwise approaches to the problems.
Those people will follow only if most are already following another direction, and they will still
hold on to the old direction in bits.
What about the force concept inventory results? Don't we still have a comprehension problem in science education that needs to be worked on?
I assume that you mean the science of EU?
The science around it is already available on wikipedia, but biased towards a different view.
It will be a lot of work to make a good education of the EU.

I could help, but I need to completely educate myself in the EU first.
What about philosophy and history of science? Don't we still need to figure out a way to get
people to use them as guides for reasoning?
My experience is that people misuse such guides very quickly.
But with the EU it may be possible to educate in small steps how it works.
The approach might be numberphile like as I mentioned before.
But I have also see other approaches with life scientific experiments before the classes.
People learn better visually. And they need small sentences that they can remember.
(and a t-shirt with a beach on it)

On the web I am trying to educate people into an open form of science,
and prepare them for the reality of Chi.
but it is hard because most people have been taught dogma's
and base their logic on that. They receive education
on a daily basis of totally wrong assumptions. In books, at work/study, in the news and on the net.
If you point out that something is wrong you have to reprogram their
whole system of thinking before they agree.
There I start with the basis:
1) the scientific method science is wrong (see other thread),
2) the models of science are wrong (not the math, but the models)
3) the assumptions about reality are wrong.
4) if people are not open in their thinking they have a problem
And that is just the start.. to get them open for chi ;-)
Luckily the EU's problem is a lot smaller.

One of the steps might be to show that the scientific method is not open for
fundamental changes, and that the theories grow out of time (and out of the observed reality).
Then we might educate that the scientific community is a corrupt system that shows more
resemblance to the catholic church of the middle-ages than a institute that promotes
new inventions.

Or maybe not ;-)
But we need humorous examples to illustrate a bit of the fallacies of the scientific institute.

I try some, but they are more depressing than funny.
"Did you know the highest people in science are there not because they are the smartest?
They are there because they were selected by the other highest people in science.
It is like the Vatican, except no smoke is coming from the chimney."
"Do you know that the highest payed people in science are also deciding how the
money is spend on research? Guess who's research that will be."
"Did you know you can get a university degree without being intelligent?
You just need to know the stuff that is already researched before.
And if you are a genius that can see errors in their research?
They don't give you a university degree."
The catholic church in the middle-ages was not funny either I guess.
Maybe we need monty-python humor for this problem?
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Re: Online scientific discourse is broken and it can be fixe

Unread post by Sparky » Tue Dec 31, 2013 7:42 am

Maybe we need monty-python humor for this problem?
;) Cow bell, we need more cow bell! :D
"It is dangerous to be right in matters where established men are wrong."
"Doubt is not an agreeable condition, but certainty is an absurd one."
"Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities." Voltaire

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Re: Online scientific discourse is broken and it can be fixe

Unread post by pln2bz » Tue Dec 31, 2013 11:24 am

This is not meant as an attack upon the value of your idea, but part of what I'm advocating is that people try to move away from this notion that tactics can replace strategies. From Strategy vs Tactic,
A strategy is a larger, over all plan that can comprise several tactics, which are smaller, focused, less impactful plans that are part of the over all plan … Strategy refers to a plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal.
You suggest ...
My experience is that people can not be reached if they have locked themselves from new ideas. And they can get out only if they choose to.
Okay, so you've essentially ruled out any notion of actually changing the way that people view the world. A scientific social network offers many opportunities to elicit change in peoples' worldviews, by engaging the rational mind. There are numerous clues embedded in the materials that I've been posting on possible ways to do it. It saddens me to see that you're deciding that none of that is relevant. I think we need to try harder to come up with innovative solutions which actually engage the details of the problem. People definitely do sometimes change their minds about things, and it should be self-evident, for if it weren't the case, you and I would not be here talking to one another.

I've tried to show in the numerous topics that I've covered thus far in this thread that there are many ways to contemplate this notion of changing peoples' thoughts.
  • We can approach the problem in terms of facilitating higher-order subject-object perspectives (aka immunity-to-change research);
  • by helping people to identify when their body is giving off irrational decision-making cues at the moment they are contemplating some extraordinarily complex decision which the subconscious cannot possibly help us with (using tools like eye tracking);
  • by coming up with a vision for the future of scientific discourse which is superior to the one which is currently offered by conventional thinkers (censorship! and the fixed mindset mentality, which can be shown to lead to a failure to learn more broadly!);
  • by studying how paradigm changes have occurred in the past, which many philosophers have already done;
  • by studying what leads people to contemplate the EU;
  • by using force concept inventory (FCI) scores to measure which teaching techniques lead to conceptual changes;
  • by focusing upon increasing comprehension on fundamental concepts and philosophy of science issues
  • by providing tools that help laypeople to read complex scientific papers, and understand how the knowledge in those papers fits into the larger theoretical structure;
  • by providing tools to help people to understand mathematical formulae

We have plenty of approaches to engage the problem on, and there are many, many more besides this list which we've yet to cover. It's okay if you've decided for yourself that you're not going to think about the problem, but that's probably not a very constructive mindset for this thread. If a group decides to lower the bar to just those people who already agree with them, then many aspects of that project are already pre-determined.

I really think that a lot of progress could be made on this idea of vision. I honestly don't see any appealing vision for the future of scientific discourse which has been put forward by anybody, anywhere. A vision should involve the creation of some new idea for the future which gets people excited enough to want to participate, give their money, whatever. For instance …

I reject the notion that people are incapable of understanding complex scientific models. We now have evidence that science has been taught so poorly, and with so few metrics for the educators' own success at instruction, that once we actually start sincerely addressing and measuring these problems -- which is only just now starting to happen in our educational institutions -- we can in due time expect that non-professional thinkers will come to act as a valuable check upon the scientific models suggested by professional scientists.

Or, here's another one …

Science is too important to just assume that our universities are managing the endeavor properly. We need processes and decisions which are publicly visible -- not secret meetings amongst professors dressed up as selecting the "best" PhD candidates, but which are truthfully meant to protect existing lines of research. I'm angry that some of our most brilliant PhD candidates are being thrown away in service to old ideas which should have died a natural death long ago.

I know that you guys think these things. You're just not capturing your emotions into a vision statement.

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Re: Online scientific discourse is broken and it can be fixe

Unread post by pln2bz » Tue Dec 31, 2013 3:39 pm

Here's another one …

Mankind's reaction to complexity and information overload can determine the difference between an intelligent, rational future and a dystopian version marked by inequality and a widespread lack of meaning in the world. Studies of consumer behavior by social psychologists suggest that people respond to complexity and information overload by switching from rational to overly-simple subconscious thought patterns which predictably steer us towards safe options. We've noticed that people make the same set of mistakes when it comes to picking scientific models, which suggests to us that the future of scientific discourse is to help people to become better scientific thinkers.

Or …

University physicists have spent the past two decades trying their hardest to ignore the findings of their fellow physics education researchers (PER). Such research has revealed without any doubt that most people arrive at their first physics class as a pre-Newtonian, Aristotelian thinker. Large-scale testing based upon the force concept inventory now reveals that most traditional physics courses fail to fix the problem. Our entire culture has learned science based upon techniques which physics education researchers suggest do not actually change peoples' preconceptions, so it is our belief that we must now start the difficult work of fixing the mess which modern science educators have created. And it's become clear that the solution cannot involve asking the same institutions which created the problem to now fix it.

These are all a bit longer than I think a real vision statement would be, because the point should be that you just get a few seconds of somebody's attention to demonstrate that you understand them. But, I'm going to put another out there regardless as a work-in-progress ...

Science journalism has become increasingly fascinated with casting the professional scientist as a hero who we can trust to think for us about society's longstanding problems. And to this theme, scientific discourse sites like reddit and Popular Science now suggest that the best way to service science is to censor those who might disagree with certain scientists' conclusions. We, by contrast, perceive that the threat which is difficult to witness -- dogma -- is more dangerous than the ones that everybody already sees -- pseudoscience and religion -- in part because dogma is embedded within the ideas explained by these experts who we are presumably trusting to solve our problems. Thus, while the irrational mind might bias us, the science journalists and our professional scientists towards focusing exclusively upon the threat we can see, we prefer to side with the rational mind's realization that there is no sense to focusing upon pseudoscience to the detriment of dogma.

The steps that people seem to think they can just skip over pertain to creating the vision and running it by the target audience which a person wishes to engage. The vision is how you avoid becoming a one-hit-wonder, and different segments of the population will identify with different vision statements to different degrees. I believe that one promising way to convince people like professional scientists to change their minds about the Electric Universe is to bridge them to the EU through a vision which can be determined to appeal to them.

Do you see why? The point is that the site establishes a common ground with the professional through the vision statement. And you offer something to the professional scientist that he wants -- like some knowledge about how to do his own work better than he already does -- in exchange for his learning something about the EU. But, the point of the site would not be to directly teach the EU, or any other idea. The site services the vision.

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Re: Online scientific discourse is broken and it can be fixe

Unread post by pln2bz » Wed Jan 01, 2014 3:38 pm

The vision seems to me incredibly important for the scientific social network effort, for its effect is to coordinate the mindsets of large numbers of people away from weak visions for the future. Having effective vision statement(s) which appeal to some group of people permits that group to then coordinate their reactions in a strategic, real-time manner, across hundreds or even thousands of people, to emergent issues which relate to scientific discourse. When these thousands of voices come across numerous channels and appear to agree on fundamental perspectives about what is happening, the ability to influence can be turned into a strategic process that has actual long-term objectives in mind.

And I'm trying to take care not to suggest here that everybody has to exactly agree upon one single vision. In fact, I think there's possibly more intrinsic value to encouraging the pursuit of a number of visions. What I've tried to show is that there are actually a large number of vision statements which this subject lends itself to.

Here's an example (below) of people using vision (with some branding, actually) in an attempt to provide clarity on the global warming debate. The elements of pitching to people are basically the same whether you're trying to convince somebody to buy a particular brand of shampoo, or trying to convince them to read your report on global warming. In any properly-defined pitch, there is always a unique selling proposition (what unique thing is being sold or suggested) and one or more reasons to believe it. Product packaging strives to get this information across within 3-5 seconds, so what I would suggest is that -- in a general sense -- peoples' expectations are that they want to basically know these things very quickly, and that there are some orderings for the information which are inherently better than others, for helping people to process the information. I've hinted at this already, but there are likely very important lessons to be learned from product packaging which can translate to visualizing scientific debate -- lessons that critics of conventional science are likely ignoring en masse.

(bold is my own emphasis) ...
The Right Climate
There are competing points of view regarding the causes of climate change in our current environment. One group has concluded that human activities in the burning of fossil fuels have increased the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere which has caused a recent acceleration of a 300 year trend of global warming. This point of view is usually called "Anthropogenic (man-made) Global Warming" (AGW.) The most prevalent alternative point of view is that natural variations account for most, if not all, of changes in climate. The professional conflict between the advocates of these two hypotheses generally comes down to a debate between AGW advocates attempting to predict future climate change through unproven computer models, and the AGW skeptics point of view based on observed data and effects of CO2 on temperature changes in Earth’s present and past climates. In addition, there is often disagreement about how the existing climate data is interpreted, and the conclusions drawn from these interpretations.

We are gathering together a group of highly educated and experienced scientists & engineers from various disciplines to take on the challenge of evaluating the narratives of both the advocates of AGW and also the skeptics of AGW. A great effort will be made to understand and objectively reconcile the differences by detailed discussions of the conflicting elements of the narratives. We are being successful in our attempt to include members of the study group from both sides of the AGW argument, and we believe this is important to study all appropriate inputs and viewpoints.

Because the United States and some other nations have prematurely accepted the AGW advocates points of view and conclusions as correct, a large amount of manpower and money is being spent on an attempt to ameliorate the supposed rise in global temperature. And, also because of the colossal impact on national economies needed to make significant climate changes (if this were possible,) we believe it is critical to be certain of the reality of the conclusions on this subject. During the course of the study, reports will be provided for peer review as well as for information to the general public. When we have preliminary reports that are used for studies within the group, these will be password protected until they have reached a mature state.

This study is very difficult because of the extremely complex nature of the physical and chemical interactions between the sun and earth that effect our climate. However, we are encouraged because a number of the members of the study group were successful in using scientific discipline to resolve unusual problems involved in the national effort of early manned spaceflight to achieve the goals of the Apollo Lunar Exploration Program. The motto of the Mission Flight Controllers:

“Achievement through Excellence”

And the motto of the Mission Evaluation Room engineers who supported Flight Operations:

“In God we trust, all others bring data”

These were not words that guided us during Apollo, but more importantly, words that defined how we did our work. This is what made us proud to be called “Astronauts,” and “Rocket Scientists.” We will attempt to adhere to these attitudes in order to achieve the goals of this study group.

E-mail comments to me, please: Jim Peacock, Webmaster
(NASA retired aerospace engineer, USAF R & D, Apollo, Sky Lab, & Space Shuttle)
When I read that, even though it takes a while to get there, I feel like I truly have my bearings on who these people are, what they believe in, and what they are trying to actually do. It's not that I think that this is easy, but understanding that there is a process and a system for getting people to collectively act is a useful bit of information.

Notice that they go out of their way to cite the complexity of of scientific models. What I worry about, that they seem not to (?), is whether or not the systems we currently use to communicate about this complexity are in fact sufficient to support the complexity of the conversation? When I read long lists of mistakes within the "narrative" of the debate -- like here -- I quickly begin to feel lost within the structure of the model itself. It also seems to me that, based upon the way in which the mind tries to anchor new ideas to older ones, the structure of the debate itself is more like a tree which branches off of the model's structure than this sequential prose suggests. Essays could be written from differing worldviews, grounded to each claim being made here. When we refuse to model our system for visualizing the debate on how our minds actually represent the information, we create a lot of extra work for the mind. Many people will simply fail to pull it off, and many debates will be launched simply because people have built different knowledge structures from the same exact prose.

And I honestly cringe each time that climate skeptics talk about conspiracies, as some of these pages here do. Marketers are not conspirators. They are simply marketers. And, for me, this is the better language to use -- that the models are being marketed to the public -- because the word "conspiracy" is intended, at this point, to lead to a particular conclusion: the ridiculing of skeptics of conventional theory as wearing tin foil hats.

But, pointing to the marketing of scientific models is not at all like invoking a conspiracy. Every single product you buy is already being marketed to you. And so, those who would suggest that it is incomprehensible that any scientific model would ever be marketed, must first confront the tendency of science-dominated cultures to ignore marketing as best they can. This leads to the natural question: Is it that marketing really does not exist in science at all, even as it is associated with every product we all buy? Or, is it that people who like to think and talk about science have simply decided not to pay any attention to what marketing and branding are -- and when they happen to see them, they tend to simply misidentify what they're seeing?

I would propose that once people who are familiar with science actually engage the subject of marketing sufficient to understand what it is and why it's done, they will eventually start to ask -- on their own -- whether or not scientific models are being marketed.

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Re: Online scientific discourse is broken and it can be fixe

Unread post by pln2bz » Thu Jan 02, 2014 2:58 pm

The Visualization Problem Has Already Mostly Been Solved;
Our First Job is to Find These Pre-Existing Solutions

I want to revisit this premise that creating a scientific social network need not involve making stuff up. My suspicion is that most of the various aspects of this problem have already been solved, and even uncontroversially so -- just for other domains and other endeavors which we are not always likely to encounter by following our natural science-related interests. For instance, there's probably not a whole lot of sense to trying to formulate an answer from scratch on how to best visualize the concepts of science in a format which permits people to rapidly digest large, complex scientific models.

There is a good case to be made that, even if some sort of tweaks are necessary, we should base the visualization of scientific concepts upon the system that product designers already use to market consumer products. And one reason we should do that is because much research has already been done to fine-tune that system in order to adapt to our innate human desire to formulate an opinion of something foreign, in light of incomplete information about it, as quickly as possible. And as I've already pointed out, there seem to be parallels in human behavior between the decision to buy and the decision to read.

It seems that many of these consumer packaging books break their problem space down into chapters based upon the different categories of products. What we are interested in is the process and fundamental principles of packaging design -- and in particular, how design supports sales.

As you read this, swap out the problem space of consumer products with that of scientific concepts and models …
Here's the table of contents. Not all of these chapters interest us …
Notice how they start out ...
1 Get the Brief Right

The design brief helps the designer understand his client's marketing and sales requirements, as well as manage the relationship. The client brief should cover brand, manufacturing, and audience perception concerns.
In our case, if we are talking about a knowledge mapping website, audience perception concerns would break down by model and target audiences into what sorts of things obstruct a wider acceptance of each particular model.
It should define all brand issues such as category competition, design standards, and the audience factors that dictate a specific design treatment or direction. It must explain how the package's progress will be managed through the manufacturing, warehousing, distribution, and shelving process in the most cost-effective manner.
For our problem, we might consider category competition in terms of what scientific models this one is in competition with? And for design standards, we'd ask what philosophy or methodology concerns does this group hold to as important?
Finally, the design brief must articulate how the packaging will present the product's most saleable features and how it will attract consumers in the most convincing way.
I would argue that theorists should perhaps do much the same in trying to convince people to read their work. In a very general sense, this is about taking what your audience already understands, and explaining this new idea in relation to that pre-existing knowledge -- and, of course, striving to do so in such a way that they will be convinced to actually read it.

2 Design for the Customer, Not for Yourself

Ideally, a package design contributes to a positive interaction between a product and its consumer. To facilitate this interaction, the successful package designer will understand the audience's personality, values, attitudes, interests, and lifestyle-in other words, the psychographics. Psychographies help designers visualize and empathize with the consumers they are designing for so that they can create an emotional connection between the product and the buyer.

Designers must also understand the demographics of their audience, which provide information on race, age, income, disabilities, mobility, educational attainment, home ownership, employment status, and even geographic location. Demographic information guides designers' decisions on packaging size, cost, functionality, information, and creative direction.


3 Organizing a Product Range

A well-designed product line appeals to a broad range of audience segments while preserving the brand character. The product line is extended by varying the brand theme but staying true to commonalities within the brand's core attributes.
This ties into what I've been trying to say: A scientific social network does not have to be designed in service to just one vision. It could alternatively be designed to accommodate multiple visions in much the same way that a line of products is in service to one single brand. This is worth thinking about.

Design devices to be utilized in the extension of a product line include the following:
  • Color: This is the first design element consumers observe. It makes the strongest impact. Color changes should be reserved for only the highest level of differentiation.
  • Shape: This is a powerful brand identifier. Package shape should not vary dramatically.
  • Graphic elements: Things such as logos and illustrations anchor the brand in the audience's mind. Minimal variation
    can occur here, as long as commonality is retained.
  • Numbers: These are an effective way to differentiate the brand. For example, many car brands have successfully extended their product line with a numbered series such as 200, 300, and 400.
  • Words: These are the least powerful communicative devices. Words are what a consumer looks to last to understand a brand. The designer should not rely on words alone to delineate a branded product line.
Now, the point here is not to suggest that theorists don't already do these things. The larger point is to create a system of navigating through scientific models which is more like going to the grocery story. As is, navigating models is very laborious, insofar as all of this information requires investigation just to track down the basic facts of the situation. A person can spend literally years sizing up each individual line of argumentation. We can see from consumer market research that when the complexity of a problem increases, the mind tends to defer to simplistic, oftentimes subconscious (aka "irrational") decision-making processes which favor "safe" choices.

Imagine going to your grocery story, and all of the product labels were littered with irrelevant information, arguments between people who haven't even read the theory, and so on. What is normally a very simple task would suddenly become needlessly complex. This will predictably lead people to artificially constrain the options. They will sense an artificial need to constrain the options through some non-rational, non-scientific process. And this feeling will be predictably present even in the absence of any actual pressing scientific need to pick a particular model.

Standardizing the visualization in such a way won't necessarily solve all of our needs, but it gives us a lead for further investigation. We really want to engage the rational mind at all moments in the model-picking process (where "picking" is choosing to read …), to the extent that this is possible. So, we might choose to pick some facets of product packaging while minimizing others in our own design, in order to suit our need in science to found all decisions in rational thought -- which, just to be clear, is at odds with marketers' desire to suit our subconscious desires. So, we need to keep this in mind as we compare the two endeavors.

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Re: Online scientific discourse is broken and it can be fixe

Unread post by Zyxzevn » Thu Jan 02, 2014 7:32 pm

You do good work to show it as a marketing problem, and pointing out
strategies and methods to make it work better.

But as I see it, the problem is much bigger than a common marketing problem.

But let's assume the EU is a product we are marketing:
1) We have a new product that people don't know.
The Electric Universe: simpler, better, and does confirm with observations.
2) We have opposition and competition
Other scientists try to promote their product instead of others.
They have immense amounts of money available.
3) The opinion of the customers is lead by the competition itself.
The scientists that promote their product in almost all available media.
4) The competition control what is taught on schools.
The scientists teach their theory on schools, not the others.
The web is also full with their ideas, and they have a lot of
other people adding more media and teachings every day of their theory.
5) We have people that are opposed to our product. They call themselves skeptics.
They are not just common people, they are scientists that have become
"religiously" against other products. Often they had failed at reaching higher scientific levels,
but they have collected immense amounts of knowledge.
They place it next to all other alternatives that are trying to get a new vision into science.
These activists are in media, and have a large budget.
They will do public demonstrations of how bad other theories are versus their
divine theory. Often they just state how stupid it is, and have not thought
properly about it, with some made-up or biased examples.
These opponents also control what is taught on schools and is released to
official media in the public. If something gets through, they will organize something
to make it go away again. Sometimes they make up an event, publish it as if it is
conform the competing theory, and then soon after that state that they all made
it up. Just to make the competing theories seem bad to the public and the scientists
that read only bits of the other theories.

Bringing that together, it does appear to me that this is not a normal marketing situation.
It looks more like a preparation for war, in which propaganda and misinformation is used
to influence the public. The techniques they use are very similar to brain-washing and

These techniques were used in ancient Egypt, in ancient Rome, in the Catholic Church,
in the wars, by nazi's and communism, in the cold war and are now more
and more applied by the institute of science.

The good thing is that we know that all older totalitarian systems have fallen.
Most have fallen by destruction or by a few person that were leaders in the
system and decided to go a different direction.
Like Paulus (first pope in rome) and Gorbachev (changed communism).
If we want to change the system, it may be interesting to look at that.

I have read somewhere that Charles Dickinson had changed the public opinion on
child-labor of orphan children, by writing books about it in a comical way.
Because they became popular the people became more aware of the bad situation
of the children, and started to care about them.
Martin Luther King changed the way Americans felt about black people and their
rights, but only after he was shot, and I don't think we should go that direction. :mrgreen:
And there is one more problem with all this science stuff. Most people don't care..

Still I think there is a solution, and that is humor and small bits of education that
all people can understand. And if people understand, they will care more.
Here we can indeed learn from the marketing techniques you have shown.
More ** from zyxzevn at: Paradigm change and C@

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Re: Online scientific discourse is broken and it can be fixe

Unread post by bdw000 » Thu Jan 02, 2014 11:01 pm

I am no expert. And I've read some, though not most of this thread. What follows is PURE opinion. Any reader please ignore if this appears to be nonsense to you.

My intent is not to rain on this parade, though I must say that, there is no way around the harsh reality of this world. Ignoring reality will never get you anywhere.

My 2 cents is that your intentions are good. But that you are, like so many, ignoring the fundamental fact of this society: we live in an authoritarian, top-down society. The educational system, despite some appearances (of little consequence), is, more than anything else, a tool for propagandizing the population.

Science is resistant to new ideas, not primarily because of strange, sociological reasons, but because those at the top intentionally put out the word to suppress certain ideas.

For centuries religion was the primary tool to control the minds of most of the population. Once those at the top saw that science was equated with "what is true," they quickly added science to religion as the main propaganda tools to be used on society. No longer do scientists have to PROVE what they say. All that is necessary now is for the media to say "science says (fill in the blank)," and the majority of the population just assumes that "fill in the blank" MUST be true, because that is what "the scientists say." The effectiveness of this system is breathtaking.

Since modern academia is designed primarily to suppress (the really important) information, no amount of reform will ever make a difference. My guess is that a website like Thunderbolts is probably as good as anyone will ever get at trying to fight the academic/scientific propaganda machine. Those who are truly interested in "what actually is," will be persuaded. Those who are only concerned with being labeled "right" by those in authority, will continue to parrot the standard propaganda line to continue to receive the praise of their superiors (whose goal, remember, is to suppress important new ideas). Those of the general public who've been trained to accept what the "authorities" say as true and to reject anyone not labeled as an "authority" will never be persuaded by any new paradigm like EU. And most here are aware of the fact that physicists cannot work in academia if they take a stand on certain positions, such as opposing Einstein's relativity. Simply put: you either tow the party line, or get fired. Most people need their jobs to survive . . .

As just one example that should be obvious to all, after world war II (and the atom bomb), physics became the domain of the military. Physics (the really good physics, at least) became, simply put, one giant military secret. Any physics with any military significance simply becomes classified, automatically. And if some physicists out in the wild (academia) start poking around in some classified areas, do you think that "the system" is going to trumpet their discoveries? No way! Not going to happen. My own personal guess is that a very large amount of academic physics is left in place to make sure that the academics keep their noses out of the classified areas.

Targeting the general population (which includes academia) is mostly a waste of time when that population has been trained to accept only what comes from officially designated "authorities." Packaging is irrelevant. If you are not labeled an authority by the mainstream media, nothing you say will ever be acknowledged. If the argument is between "you" and "the acknowledged authorities," you lose, automatically. It is a no contest situation. Can you say, "resistance is futile"? :shock:

Call me a pessimist if you want. But I actually think I'm quite the optimist :)

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Re: Online scientific discourse is broken and it can be fixe

Unread post by pln2bz » Fri Jan 03, 2014 12:56 am

I hear what you're saying. In fact, what you're suggesting is incredibly rational.
Science is resistant to new ideas, not primarily because of strange, sociological reasons, but because those at the top intentionally put out the word to suppress certain ideas.
But, why do people defer to experts at all? The very reason that people believe in science is due to its rational component: Anybody can follow along for themselves. So, why is it that people rarely actually do so in practice? It's because people just don't have the time to question everything around them.

Think carefully about what is happening here: We do not have a grocery store for ideas where we can today go to use our rational minds to pick models to consider. We have an infrastructure which naturally, without any interference actually necessary, on its own leads to confusion. And it is within this existing context that people tend to react in the same way. I'm actually going to go so far as to say that nobody actually ever reaches the point where their rational minds get a chance at making choices between a broad selection of competing scientific models. Not a single person … Because in the current system, that would actually take more than a single lifetime to do.

What is actually happening in practice -- if we were to study the cognitive processes happening amongst people who are looking at the EU for the first time, for instance -- is that people see the general aura of messaging chaos which reigns online with regards to all of these questionable models being talked about by all of these questionable people. And, within this context, the rational part of the mind perceives the incredible complexity associated with evaluating the claims, and basically shuts down. I'll be honest here: I don't actually need to see the EEG's or the eye tracking to know that this is what's happening for most people. Although the point might be lost on others without any attempt to actually demonstrate it, I've received enough clues from my interactions online to see what is happening here: Most people today are not using their rational minds to navigate this sea of models.

But, this is where we run into issues of imagination. What I'm trying to suggest is that fixing this problem can predictably open up a door into many things which were not formerly possible. If somebody succeeds at turning the existing chaos into an organized system which is actually useful to our rational minds, then many more people will be willing and able to engage these topics. It would actually be so different from what's happening today that it is difficult to imagine.

I've presented a number of leads here which can be used to deconstruct the weak vision which has been put forward by conventional science:
  • The bit about design thinking, as an example, offers incredible disruptive potential. It should be possible to demonstrate to the public that modern science has no system for innovation which anybody who designs products would ever recognize;
  • Modern science furthermore has no backup plan in place for what happens if their hugely expensive and speculative lines of investigation happen to dead-end (this is the behavior of an addicted gambler doubling down every chance he gets).
  • And they demonstrably have little interest in pursuing conceptual comprehension metrics in science education which will predictably reveal that most of their students are failing to assimilate the concepts of science -- which, truth be told, is a ticking time bomb for them, as these metrics can be instituted by websites without the universities' assistance!
Guys, these are not minor, perhipheral points. And further, scientists do not even control where people get their news, nor where people decide to interact online. The sites which are today being used to deliver science to people are fundamentally designed to service peoples' inherent biases. They are not designed to actually make their readers better scientific thinkers.

I am happy to see that you're engaging the topic, but I think you're still not quite getting the importance of vision in its ability to inspire belief and action. Vision is so powerful that it fills the ranks of armies with people who are willing to die for it. New brands disrupt older ones by providing a superior vision. Part of this disruption process is to alter the metric of success upon which the status quo is constructed. The FCI is an awesome example in this regard: It's very existence spells trouble for university physics, because it will cast light upon an immense facade of learning that is happening right now within our university system.

Think deeply about what happens if a website was to pop up that offered FCI's to students on a large scale: Parents could do their own in-house testing on whether or not their kids are actually learning from those courses where FCI's were available. Try to imagine the implications of that …

When you have an insight about something, it's a window into a possible future. But it's up to you to imagine that future. That's part of the reason why it's so important to become fluent in all of this background: So that we can do a better job at imagining where things could go. But, I can't imagine for you.


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