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 postby Plasmatic » Sat Nov 30, 2013 12:58 am

Zen said:

Straw man. I'm not advocating embracing logical contradictions


I did not say you did. My point is that the below quote/issue is an aside from the equivocation I'm pointing at.

I'm advocating the realization that in the real world it is difficult to distinguish between logical contradiction and apparent contradiction – .


I agree that given most peoples epistemology it is a difficult skill.... There is something to what you are pointing at but the locus in my view is of the difficulty in regards to intentionality

The "apparent" "strawman" above, and this statement of mine:

to propagate the equivocation between the two completely different "senses" being differentiated here


Is an example. By "propagate" I meant no imputation of intention on your part.. :) Context keeping serves to make the issues relating to sense and reference much less of an issue.

Let me add a third rhetorical question to elucidate another nuance at play :

Can one quote others repudiating either/or thinking without realizing that it is an embrace of logical contradictions? Yes.

But I see this is an aside from the issue you want to point at and I think that the context of the relevant exchanges beyond the first page of this thread serves to illuminate this.

Edit: speaking of context... :) in fact Chris did use "apparent contradiction" after my initial question in the first page... Makes my last rhetorical more pointed.
"Logic is the art of non-contradictory identification"......" I am therefore Ill think"
Ayn Rand
"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."
Aristotle
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Re: Online scientific discourse is broken and it can be fixe

Unread postby pln2bz » Sat Nov 30, 2013 8:45 pm

I just wanted to apologize for not being able to post anything recently. I am firmly committed to finishing what I've started here -- and there is much more to come -- but I'm also having to tend to other pressing commitments at the moment.

I have been reading a constructivist book titled Cognitive Structure and Conceptual Change, by Leo HT West and A Leon Pines, over the break. There is an interesting chapter -- chapter 2 -- which is titled "Eliciting Student Views Using an Interview-About-Instances Technique".

The goal of this study was simple: To identify common patterns in the mistakes which students tend to make when they are attempting to identify the conceptual meanings which scientists would ascribe to a situation. In other words, when a student is in the position of having to explain forces on bodies, as an example, the responses will tend to involve a mixture of their intuitive and scientific meanings. What I find interesting -- and the reason that I am posting this -- is that there appears to be some vague correspondence between this transition from student intuition ("Aristotelian thinking") to Newtonian thinking, with the troubles associated with transitioning people from a gravitational to an electrical worldview. And not only that, but the researchers also apparently observed that there exists a tendency amongst students to anthropomorphize objects within their answers ...

Image

Image


Attempts to identify general patterns like this can turn out to be useful for re-formulating scientific discourse. We want to design our system of discourse as a response to the problems which tend to dominate students' attempts to think like a scientist. From what I can gather, there's really an extraordinary amount of literature dedicated to discussing such questions. But, we will want to check in with as many perspectives as possible in order to generate a system which can capture all of the most common mistakes. After all, there are clearly many different types of errors which people can make when discussing science -- argumentative and philosophical being two more general types.
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Re: Online scientific discourse is broken and it can be fixe

Unread postby pln2bz » Tue Dec 03, 2013 12:46 pm

As Pearsall, Skipper and Mintzes (1997) noted, "It appears that students who report employing 'active,' 'deep' information processing strategies tend to construct more elaborate, well-differentiated frameworks of knowledge" (p. 213). And the way in which knowledge is structured by an individual determines how it is used (Baxter & Elder, 1996; Chi, Feltovich, & Glaser, 1981; Zajchowski & Martin, 1993).
Assessing Science Understanding: A Human Constructivist View
Joel J Mintzes, James H Wandersee & Joseph D Novak, page 16


Simply put, scientific knowledge has a structure to it, and if we wish to actually do complex things with science (to use it as a tool for reasoning), then we must internalize this inherent structure into the way in which we discuss science.

During his scientific enculturation, the apprentice physicist or biologist learns not only how to explain phenomena within the scope of his science by applying its existing concepts; he learns also what is involved in criticizing those concepts and so improving its current content. Indeed, learning one without the other -- learning how to apply an existing repertory of concepts, without learning what would compel us to qualify or change them -- does nothing to make a man a "scientist" at all.
Human Understanding, Vol 1: The collective use and evolution of concepts
Stephen Toulmin (1972), page 165


The point of visualizing the structure of science will be to attempt to reduce the categorical confusion which naturally follows from unobservables. But, before we engage in any discussion of actually visualizing it, let's review the structure itself. I am amenable to modifying these definitions, and would like to actually encourage others to make suggestions on how to improve this list. But, changes to the definitions should not sacrifice comprehension. The value of this explanation is the fact that it can be easily understood by anybody, and my own focus here is foremost to accurately portray the structure of scientific knowledge.

The Inherent and Generally Ignored Structure of Science

"Concepts are perceived regularities in events or objects, or records of events or objects, designated by a label" (Novak).

There is no such thing as an isolated concept, because we define concepts according to their relationships with other concepts. These connections are called propositions.

When a proposition applies to more than a single instance -- when it is generalizable -- the proposition is called a principle.

Not all conceptual creations specify phenomenological events which we can see in the real world. For instance, nobody has actually observed a family with 2.7 children -- and yet, the average number of children is nevertheless a useful idea which exists between a concept and a principle. Constructs are conceptual placeholders which can connect sets of concepts, and their meaning can change over time.

"A theory is a set of interrelated principles that enables explanations or predictions of interactions among objects and events." (Novak)

A hypothesis is theory under construction. "The hypothesis is a statement of what one doesn't know and a strategy for how one is going to find it out" (Stuart Firestein). It is a scientist's "idea about how something works based on past data, perhaps some casual observations observations, and a lot of thinking typically ending in an insightful and potential new explanation for how something works. The best of these, in fact the legitimate ones, suggest experiments that could prove them to be true or false -- the false part of that equation being the most important. There are many experimental results that could be consistent with a hypothesis yet not prove it true. But it only has to be shown to be false once for it to be abandoned." (Stuart Feinstein)

Both theories and hypotheses can contain assumptions -- which are propositions that are not guided by experiment or observation.

The purpose of scientific research is to supply answers to key questions (Gowan). But, the first step to getting better answers is to frame better questions (Stuart Feinstein).

"Thoroughly conscious ignorance is the prelude to every real advance in science." (James Maxwell)

The purpose of focus questions is to sharpen and magnify a view by limiting the range of the view. But, since limiting the view can obstruct our perception of the whole, the selection of focus questions is incredibly important (Gowan).

"A question is interesting if it leads somewhere and is connected to other questions." (Stuart Firestein)

Focus questions must necessarily emerge from prior knowledge, interests and a complex host of other human factors.

Scientists are also guided in their choice of focus questions, as well as how to interpret their findings, by a set of views about the nature of knowledge and the structure of the universe. Although this set of views -- commonly referred to as a philosophy -- is rarely stated in the text of scientific papers, it nevertheless guides the focus questions -- and, hence, the entire intellectual enterprise (Gowan).

But, not all philosophies lead to focus questions. A worldview or paradigm is more of a philosophical statement of belief -- the "set of experiences, beliefs and values that affect the way an individual perceives reality." (Wikipedia: paradigm, social science perspective). Paradigms drive the elaboration of hypotheses, using experimentation and observation as a guide. It's important to realize that (contrary to Stuart Feinstein's definitive declaration to the contrary), if a hypothesis fails a particular test, the paradigm can supply alternative possibilities which can keep the paradigm alive.

Failure to Understand this Structure Leads to Predictable Confusion in Science

It stands to reason that if a person doesn't recognize what a worldview is in relation to the other constructs of science's structure, then this creates important predictable opportunities for confusion when it comes to talking about the validity of the scientific models discussed by professional scientists.

Traditional scientific training has tended to emphasize the passive recitation of problem-solving instances/examples over both conceptual structure and active formation of strategies for problem-solving/modeling. There are many consequences, but one which tends to dominate discussions of the Electric Universe online is an observable widespread confusion associated with the higher-level structure of science (that portion which layers onto the base of concepts, propositions and models). A case in point is Tom Bridgman's website, the links of which are commonly passed around as evidence that the Electric Universe is some sort of mistaken idea.

In a general sense, these critics appear to take advantage of this widespread confusion about the role of worldviews, paradigms and focus questions in science. Whether or not it is their intention, the practical effect of their efforts is to undermine support for the elaboration of models which reconsider the role of electricity & magnetism in the cosmos. My thesis is that people who possess more familiarity with the structure of science will be less susceptible to losing motivation to learn in light of such critiques. That's because it will become apparent that the Electric Universe is a paradigm which motivates attempts to create functional models, and which is based upon the asking of fundamental questions about the role of fundamental forces in the universe. Yes, we need to have very detailed discussions about the models at the levels of concepts, mathematics and even model algorithms -- and effective critics will turn out to be essential to that process -- but one need only interview the people who read Tom Bridgman's site to observe that they are internalizing the message that the Electric Universe is an ill-conceived bad idea -- a misconception or pseudoscience.

Once a person understands this higher-level structure of science, they will come to see that volition plays a key part in the formation of scientific theory. Scientists look, in part, to their worldviews to formulate focus questions and make inferences about observations. The effect of Tom Bridgman's website is to invite people to refuse to ask certain fundamental questions as a matter of practice. But, the fact remains that these are fundamental questions. So, why would we ever choose to ignore them? If a particular line of investigation refuses to pan out, paradigms can drive many other possibilities. A site which is dedicated to helping people to more effectively think like a scientist should generally devalue the treatment of paradigms based upon fundamental questions in science as if they are misconceptions or pseudoscience. An effective scientific social network would instead deploy specific strategies for encouraging people to ask better questions in science.

And as I will show a bit later, the net effect of this process of dialog will be determined largely by the mindset we have going into the process: Are we learning about this subject matter in order to simply confirm our pre-existing notions? Or, are we learning about the debate in order to personally grow as a thinker? Tom Bridgman's website in practice undermines the growth mindset, and I will show in due time why this makes him such a dangerous critic -- for both the EU and his readers. It turns out that the growth mindset is absolutely essential to learning and success in life, more generally.

Divergent worldviews are commonly mis-categorized as pseudoscience online since people have basically prioritized the learning of the conventional textbook content of science over patterns which actual scientists rely upon for questioning that content. Those patterns practiced by successful scientists and theorists are based upon a deep fluency in the parts of science's higher-level structure which exist beyond the lower levels of concepts, propositions and models. Much online scientific discourse fails to recognize that there are simply different levels at which we can talk about science, and that one very important level is that of worldviews. Simply put, many people make the mistake of thinking that there is only one worldview which we call science.

The way to resolve this problem, in my view, is to impose the structure of science -- the levels of discourse -- upon the dialog itself, in ways which do not generate new problems. This turns out to be a fascinating problem to think about which many people have already dedicated a lot of time and effort into. We can learn a lot by reviewing those former efforts. Along the way, I also hope to demonstrate that advances in computing power are opening doors which did not exist for those former thinkers. It's imperative that if the Electric Universe community wants to have a say in the future of scientific discourse, then these trends should be learned, followed and discussed.
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Re: Online scientific discourse is broken and it can be fixe

Unread postby Plasmatic » Tue Dec 03, 2013 6:20 pm

Chris said:

Categorical Confusion


Yes, lets discuss this.

I have mentioned this privately before, I see several category errors in the asserted differentiations you propose for many concepts. That is, you separate many species who fall under the same genus.( and arbitrarily-by mere assertion)

I would like to use Socratic questions to stimulate you to check your premises. Since these questions are based on Chris's own formulations they are intended for him to answer.

1). If conception is differentiated from perception, then how can a concept be "a perceived regularity"?

2). If propositions are defined by the "connections" between concepts, and a concept is defined "according to their relationships with other concepts", then doesn't both definition and proposition have the same meaning?

3). If concepts involve "regularities" between "events or objects", or "records" thereof, and a proposition (or definition :)) is composed of conceptual "connections", then dont all propositions refer to or contain a generality-more than a "single instance"?...... Or, propositions refer to a "single instance? of what?

4). If a tenet of Constructivism is that "the way in which knowledge is structured by an individual determines how it is used" and that knowledge is a "social construct", then what is the role of the individual?

5). If science has its own "inherent structure" that the individual must "internalize", then in what sense does the individual (or society) construct this "structure"?

6). If A scientist' philosophy guides "the entire intellectual enterprise" and "science education" is an intellectual category then how is science education a "more fundamental domain"?

7). If science has an "inherent structure", and there is more than "one worldview which we call science", and both are part of the intellectual enterprise,then how does one determine what philosophy identifies that structure correctly, in order to "impose" it, and facilitate "thinking like" an "actual scientist"?

8). If science has its own "inherent structure", then why don't philosophical models of science that don't contain this structure, qualify as a separate category/concept than science?("pseudoscience")?

9). If science is science, whether online or not, then wouldn't any tool used to do "actual" science/improve "scientific discourse", transcend the domain of online discussion? If not, what do you propose is the differentiating characteristic of online discourse ?

10). If the category of "The Inherent and Generally Ignored Structure of Science" contains concepts, propositions and models, then is the "higher-level structure of science (that portion which layers onto the base of concepts, propositions and models" a different category?

11). If world views and paradigms are "philosophical statements or beliefs" and philosophy "guides the entire intellectual enterprise" then are the "higher-level structure" both philosophical and non philosophical?

I have a few more for later.


This premise checking stimulus is intended to stimulate growth!

Edit:
Since this quote of yours is relevant to my questions, I thought I'd include it:

"Hampton found a number of cases in which an item was judged to be a member of the subset category but not the higher category — that is, examples of chairs that were not thought to be furniture. For instance, subjects judged that chairs were furniture and that a car seat was a chair; however, they usually denied that a car seat was furniture. But if a car seat has the defining features ofchairs , and chairs have the defining features of furniture, then car seat must have the defining features of furniture." (page 27)


Emphasis added.
"Logic is the art of non-contradictory identification"......" I am therefore Ill think"
Ayn Rand
"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."
Aristotle
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Re: Online scientific discourse is broken and it can be fixe

Unread postby pln2bz » Thu Dec 05, 2013 11:54 am

I'll do my best, but please note that I am not exactly a philosopher. What I know on these topics generally comes from reading science education reform books and papers.

I'd prefer to start out with these two points ...

4). If a tenet of Constructivism is that "the way in which knowledge is structured by an individual determines how it is used" and that knowledge is a "social construct", then what is the role of the individual?

5). If science has its own "inherent structure" that the individual must "internalize", then in what sense does the individual (or society) construct this "structure"?


The following is from chapter 3 of Cognitive Structure and Conceptual Change, titled "Describing the Cognitive Structures of Learners Following Instruction in Chemistry" (page 30), and based on what I've read, it seems fairly representative of the modern constructivist epistemology:

Learning and Knowledge

The nature of knowledge has interested philosophers for over 400 years and it is certainly not easy to separate the epistemological from psychological aspects of it. Nonetheless, we have found it useful to distinguish between public knowledge and private understandings, relating them (approximately) with knowledge and the result of learning, respectively. Science exists as public knowledge, in text books and in scientific papers. When individuals read (or are told) this public knowledge, they interpret and internalize it in their own way. We have all experienced this. We read a paper, and understand it. Then we read it again a while later and find we understood it much more. Our "understandings" between these two readings is different. So too are the "understanding" of other people who read the paper. In reading a paper (or in learning any public knowledge via any learning mode) we may miss some bits of the information or we may put the bits together in different ways from that presented or implied. Further, when we learn any bit of information, we relate it to our own previous knowledge and experience, so that the understanding of each of those bits of knowledge, the meanings that we give to them, are idiosyncratic to some extent. Thus, our private understanding is not fixed; it is not the same as that of other people; it is not the same as the public knowledge.

We should now turn this discussion on its head. Public knowledge is derived from the private understandings of individuals. Public knowledge exists because there is a substantial overlap between the private understandings of different individuals. Sutton (1981) explains it this way:

"Though a metal does not mean exactly the same thing to you as to me, there are many common features, upon which we can form an agreed definition -- a metal is conducting, formable, tending to be electropositive, etc. However, such public knowledge represents only a part (the denotative part) of the meaning that particular persons carry, and is to some extent an abstraction, not existing in any individual" (p. 3)

Public knowledge is defined and definable.

[…]

These things are knowledge, but they are not learning (see, for example, Popper, 1974, The Philosophy of Karl Popper, pp 147-148). Learning is giving personal meaning to public knowledge. It is developing one's own understanding of that public knowledge.


From what I can gather, this is generally the way that constructivists view the world. I'm admittedly less familiar with objectivism, so I can't say if there is anything there which might spark a debate. But, what I can gather is that constructivists treat science education as a mixture of both psychology and philosophy, and so what you end up with is perhaps neither one nor the other. In a general sense, this mixing of domains seems to upset a number of philosophers. But, it seems to me that there are good reasons why the constructivists do this -- as neither knowledge nor learning are more fundamental to our interests. They appear to play equal roles, so confusion can result due to the switching of perspectives between public and private.
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Re: Online scientific discourse is broken and it can be fixe

Unread postby Plasmatic » Thu Dec 05, 2013 2:40 pm

Chris said:

From what I can gather, this is generally the way that constructivists view the world. I'm admittedly less familiar with objectivism, so I can't say if there is anything there which might spark a debate


Progress.... My question was designed to point out something about Constructivism that you didn't seem aware of. This is mostly due to the general lack of knowledge of philosophic tenets/history one who primarily reads cognitive science works will have... A person who is familiar with philosophy will note quickly that constructivism is designed to oppose objective (small Letter o) epistemology.

Even the wiki on constructivist epistemology notes:


According to constructivists the world is independent of human minds, but knowledge of the world is always a human and social construction.[1] Constructivism opposes the philosophy of objectivism, which embraces the belief that a human can come to know the truth about the natural world not mediated by scientific approximations, with different degrees of validity and accuracy.


This is central to all Kants children including the post/anti positivist philosophers like Popper, Kuhn, Fayerabend, Lakatos, etc. Technically Descartes is largely responsible for what Kant finished.

The central issues surrounding the relationship of consciousness to reality, or conception to perception, are repeated throughout all the debates in metaphysics and epistemology in general and the hierarchally dependent topics of philosophy of science and philosophy of physics-ontology/dynamics.

Philosophy drives history. People do what they do because of what/how they think-believe. The science that answers these questions is the foundational science of metaphysics and epistemology. The only difference between this general science and the special ones is the subject matter.

In particular the view of these Kantians on perception is central. Representationalist will usually end up as skeptics. Presentationalist are usually realist. This pressuposes that the individual is using an integrative method, as opposed to an anti integration, or misintegrated method. (See The DIM Hypothesis by Leonard Peikoff)

All of the quotes you keep compiling on experiments/studies simply assume positions on the the basic epistemic debates. That is, they presuppose basic epistemological positions that an unwary reader not familiar with these debates will not recognize.

The candle experiment is a perfect example of how an unwary, philosophically naive person can be influenced by the framing of a experiment in language that presupposes premises on fundamental issues.

I will be demonstrating fundamental flaws in premises that are propped up by the naive acceptance of certain package deals employed in certain experiments that exploit the difference between "seeing" and "seeing that".

Its funny because as soon as I started reading your recent quote, I instantly started think of Popper and his three world theory....

Edit:
A question to stimulate thought:

Is consciousness the faculty of perceiving that which exist, or creating that which exist?
"Logic is the art of non-contradictory identification"......" I am therefore Ill think"
Ayn Rand
"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."
Aristotle
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Re: Online scientific discourse is broken and it can be fixe

Unread postby ZenMonkeyNZ » Thu Dec 05, 2013 6:43 pm

. . . constructivism is designed to oppose objective (small Letter o) epistemology.


Your position seems vague. Do you believe (epistemic) objectivism is possible, or are you simply aiming for clarification (semantic/definition issues), or something else?
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Re: Online scientific discourse is broken and it can be fixe

Unread postby Plasmatic » Thu Dec 05, 2013 8:09 pm

Zen said:

ZenMonkeyNZ wrote:
. . . constructivism is designed to oppose objective (small Letter o) epistemology.


Your position seems vague. Do you believe (epistemic) objectivism is possible, or are you simply aiming for clarification (semantic/definition issues), or something else?


I"m not sure whats vague? In the context you excerpted from I explained what my point is. I see the position that science has its own "intrinsic structure" that must be "internalized" ( a tenet of an objectivist epistemology) incompatible with the premise that the structure of knowledge is subjectively "constructed". Chris, upon consulting his current book, found quotes that demonstrated what amounts to Kantian notions of "intersubjectivity" in regards to constructivist notions of "structure" and knowledge in general. In the context of those two questions, my primary purpose was to stimulate Chris to observe the relationships between his statements, and to get him to dig deeper into the philosophical context that the premises he's trying out come from. (Integration)

The socratic form of the questions makes my own position on objectivity irrelevant in the above endeavor. That is, one can ask questions that highlight the relationships between different premises in another's position without arguing for ones own conclusions.

Edit:

Hand feeding someone else the implicit nature of their own premises, while much easier, doesn't serve to promote the skills missing from one who is ignorant of such a foundation.
"Logic is the art of non-contradictory identification"......" I am therefore Ill think"
Ayn Rand
"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."
Aristotle
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Re: Online scientific discourse is broken and it can be fixe

Unread postby pln2bz » Thu Dec 05, 2013 8:26 pm

I'm honestly eager to learn more about Ayn Rand's theory of concepts, but it does seem that much of the challenge is in describing objectivism in such a way that it can be understood by people who are not philosophers by trade. My larger goal is to engage a large community into the idea of redesigning the way we communicate about science. Philosophy turns out to be a central part of this effort, and so there is a need to understand ideas like objectivism, and how they might contrast with constructivism (etc). But, my concern is that once the discussion becomes dressed in thick jargon, then it acts as a sort of filter for the audience, and consensus can in some cases become threatened on what are possibly minor points within the much more broad context of building a website. We really need to find ways to characterize the contrast between these two worldviews without losing everybody who is not a philosopher; without losing our proximity to the real-world observable problems which tend to plague online scientific discourse; and without losing touch with how the philosophy should directly service the website's design. The site designer's role is necessarily halfway between that of a PhD and the MBA. Not only do we have to be in command of the research, but we also have to know how to turn that knowledge into action.

The appeal of constructivism for me personally is that it offers a relatively simple model which proves to be useful in naturally explaining the problems we see today in online scientific discourse. I see a strong correspondence between their analysis and what I've learned through talking with people online. The constructivists have attempted to transform education reform into an applied science through their use of the force concept inventory test. Both concept mapping and modeling instruction have, to my knowledge, demonstrated sizable improvements in conceptual comprehension in very large study sizes, based upon the force concept inventory tests. I am really trying to hold out on forming any judgment about the epistemological debate until I see objectivism explained in an understandable way, but it does seem to me that the constructivists at least have a lead on the objectivists in terms of implementing their model in actual classrooms. Of course, we know from the Electric Universe that models which are more elaborated are not necessarily more correct and that scientific results should always be looked at from multiple perspectives -- and this is why I try to go out of my way to be cautious and learn about this epistemological debate.

Does anybody know of a good introduction to Rand's theory of concepts?
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Re: Online scientific discourse is broken and it can be fixe

Unread postby Plasmatic » Thu Dec 05, 2013 9:58 pm

Chris said:

I'm honestly eager to learn more about Ayn Rand's theory of concepts, but it does seem that much of the challenge is in describing objectivism in such a way that it can be understood by people who are not philosophers by trade


Chris, lets be clear about something. None of my questions require any knowledge of Objectivism.( capital O) In fact, my non-socratic criticisms in this thread concern premises NOT originated by Rand. That is, the laws of logic are not Rands to claim, and my comments are self contained without any knowledge of Oism.

My response to zen:

The socratic form of the questions makes my own position on objectivity irrelevant in the above endeavor. That is, one can ask questions that highlight the relationships between different premises in another's position without arguing for ones own conclusions.


Should have made this clear.

Chris said:

My larger goal is to engage a large community into the idea of redesigning the way we communicate about science. Philosophy turns out to be a central part of this effort, and so there is a need to understand ideas like objectivism, and how they might contrast with constructivism (etc). But, my concern is that once the discussion becomes dressed in thick jargon, then it acts as a sort of filter for the audience, and consensus can in some cases become threatened on what are possibly minor points within the much more broad context of building a website.


Chris, my questions contained your own "jargon", not mine. This highlights my point. Anyone who actually read what you said should be asking the same type of questions. That is, given your statements, an active minded person would need to "contrast" your assertions with themselves and then those of constructivist. If the jargon in my questions were "thick", then it is something you need to address yourself. I submit to you, once you become aware of what you are actually saying, there is nothing minor about the points I'm making concerning your own statements and their relation to constructivism.

Chris said:

We really need to find ways to characterize the contrast between these two worldviews without losing everybody who is not a philosopher; without losing our proximity to the real-world observable problems which tend to plague online scientific discourse; and without losing touch with how the philosophy should directly service the website's design.
.

Well, for one, Im not a professional philosopher. Two, I haven't contrasted your assertions, or constructivism with Objectivism at all. Three, there is NOTHING more practical than a valid epistemology for dealing with "real world problems".

Incidentally, I don't know what you've read, but one of the number one criticisms of Rand by professional philosophers is that its "too simplistic".....In fact, sometimes the only positive thing said of Rand is "at least shes comprehensible and clear"....( shes as controversial as EU) But anyway this doesn't concern our goals in this thread.

Chris said:

The appeal of constructivism for me personally is that it offers a relatively simple model which proves to be useful in naturally explaining the problems we see today in online scientific discourse. I see a strong correspondence between their analysis and what I've learned through talking with people online. The constructivists have attempted to transform education reform into an applied science through their use of the force concept inventory test. Both concept mapping and modeling instruction have, to my knowledge, demonstrated sizable improvements in conceptual comprehension in very large study sizes, based upon the force concept inventory tests


Great place to make another point.

Just as the laws of logic are not exclusive to any philosophy that affirms them explicitly, neither concept maps, or the forced concept inventory, are exclusive to, or essential to the philosophically fundamental premises of Constructivism. The results of testing are usually compatible with many premises. Both Bohm and the Copenhagen interpretation use the same data set!

That being said, I wouldn't be talking with you If there wasn't any merit to your pursuit! That is to say, I do find value in promoting the discussion and resolution of the prevailing errors in the foundational premises of others as well as improving my own skill/knowledge base.

Chris said:

I am really trying to hold out on forming any judgment about the epistemological debate until I see objectivism explained in an understandable way, but it does seem to me that the constructivists at least have a lead on the objectivists in terms of implementing their model in actual classrooms. Of course, we know from the Electric Universe that models which are more elaborated are not necessarily more correct and that scientific results should always be looked at from multiple perspectives -- and this is why I try to go out of my way to be cautious and learn about this epistemological debate.


We can discuss Objectivism privately if you want, but I stress that I have not said anything exclusive to Oism in my criticisms- questions. The fact that cognitive scientist and constructivist are even talking about concepts is encouraging to me, so understand I am not against your general purpose! I see your interest in this topic as sincere and motivated by real, experiential problems that have frustrated and puzzled you. Look at my prodding as a call to more caution!

Edit: Since you asked, Rand's book "Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology" is, well, a good introduction.... Really has me curious what you have read if not this.
"Logic is the art of non-contradictory identification"......" I am therefore Ill think"
Ayn Rand
"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."
Aristotle
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Re: Online scientific discourse is broken and it can be fixe

Unread postby pln2bz » Fri Dec 06, 2013 1:46 pm

"Since you asked, Rand's book "Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology" is, well, a good introduction …."


Fantastic. I will check it out.

That said, I should note that I do believe there is an approach to solving this problem which permits the transformation of interactions between divergent thinkers into an inherently educational experience. But, the irony is that to get there, the site itself has been designed with a constructivist epistemology in mind. This may turn out to be completely irrelevant in the event that objectivism supports the same site design, but for differing reasons.

I'm assuming that we can perhaps easily agree on the need to re-introduce philosophy back into scientific discourse. But what's the best way to do this? My take is that we need to figure out a way to teach philosophy as much as possible through peer interaction (interaction between site users). Peer instruction is desirable because it is interactive (which means that it can respond to a person's pre-existing knowledge); it facilitates meta-cognitive thinking (thinkers size up their own comprehension through interactions with others); it encourages the process of learning new worldviews (which is the path towards the self-transformative mindset); and it still manages to be an efficient process (the educators transform into a role which more closely resembles site designers, researchers & moderators).

Part of the value of learning about constructivism is that peer instruction is a pre-existing trend amongst constructivists which I want to encourage people to carefully think about. What I'd like to suggest is that people contemplate the adaptation of Eric Mazur's peer instruction technique for creating conceptual comprehension to philosophy, because what we want to do is -- if possible -- create an infrastructure which encourages people to teach philosophy to each other simply through the site's communications infrastructure. The conversations should in some manner be guided by philosophy. I would propose that we place less priority on emphasizing a particular epistemology than in the goal of creating fluency in philosophy more generally. After all, a person could not meaningfully realize that they are an objectivist without first encountering other epistemologies.

So, the point of this is to say that my site design might not necessarily require much convergence on epistemology at all. We can possibly just agree to disagree on how to reason about knowledge, given that the system will help everybody to teach each other what each of the philosophies actually are.

I am still interested in learning about objectivism though, as there are likely other issues which will pop up. And it now seems that when I get a chance over the next few days, a next step is to review Eric Mazur's peer instruction technique.
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Re: Online scientific discourse is broken and it can be fixe

Unread postby Plasmatic » Fri Dec 06, 2013 4:10 pm

Chris said:

I do believe there is an approach to solving this problem which permits the transformation of interactions between divergent thinkers into an inherently educational experience. But, the irony is that to get there, the site itself has been designed with a constructivist epistemology in mind. This may turn out to be completely irrelevant in the event that objectivism supports the same site design, but for differing reasons.


I have some thoughts on this but I have to do some more homework to check my premises. I am working on a project that will accomplish the comprehensibility you mention on the broader topic of concept formation and its fundamental nature.

Chris said:

I'm assuming that we can perhaps easily agree on the need to re-introduce philosophy back into scientific discourse.


100%


But what's the best way to do this? My take is that we need to figure out a way to teach philosophy as much as possible through peer interaction (interaction between site users). Peer instruction is desirable because it is interactive (which means that it can respond to a person's pre-existing knowledge); it facilitates meta-cognitive thinking (thinkers size up their own comprehension through interactions with others); it encourages the process of learning new worldviews (which is the path towards the self-transformative mindset); and it still manages to be an efficient process (the educators transform into a role which more closely resembles site designers, researchers & moderators).



I encourage you to pursue your values. I'd quarrel with some of the underlying premises above but it relates to the home work I mentioned, so I'll refrain from comment until after my due diligence. I can say however, that, in the category of desired qualities of mindset , embracing contradictions-repudiating logic, is not ever going to be one of them....


Part of the value of learning about constructivism is that peer instruction is a pre-existing trend amongst constructivists which I want to encourage people to carefully think about. What I'd like to suggest is that people contemplate the adaptation of Eric Mazur's peer instruction technique for creating conceptual comprehension to philosophy, because what we want to do is -- if possible -- create an infrastructure which encourages people to teach philosophy to each other simply through the site's communications infrastructure.


The benefit of the cognitive division of labor is immense, but it starts with the individual. Before there could be teachers there was the individual learner. Cognition precedes communication. The irony is, I'm referring to the self in the "self transforming mindset". A valid epistemology will reflect this...

I will develop this more in a bit.
"Logic is the art of non-contradictory identification"......" I am therefore Ill think"
Ayn Rand
"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."
Aristotle
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Re: Online scientific discourse is broken and it can be fixe

Unread postby CharlesChandler » Fri Dec 06, 2013 5:27 pm

I just learned of this thread -- sorry to respond without first taking the time to read and fully digest all of it. But the topic is something that I, and some of my cohorts, have put a good deal of effort into, and I thought I'd give you the benefit of our labors. While much of this is deeply philosophical, there are some practical approaches that could really help improve the quality of online collaboration. As best as we can tell, the biggest problem with online collaboration is that decent ideas get lost in threads, due to the serialized nature of conversations. Threads are great for airing out ideas, and getting quick responses. And those directly involved in the conversation at the time get the benefit of the exchange. But what happens to the great ideas? With a few more pages of posts piled on, the previous material is effectively buried. It's hard to read a thread and give good consideration to a post, still wondering whether or not the points were later refined. And yet the later points are difficult to comprehend without having read all of the previous posts.

So in addition to threads, we also need accompanying master documents that show the state of the art in the discussions. In other words, there needs to be a summary of the conclusions developed in the discussion. Late-comers should be able to read the summary, and then join right in at the end, not unwittingly repeating things already said, or foolishly not acknowledging contrary points. We're finding that developing such summaries is labor-intensive. But so are the discussions themselves, and when we see people discussing things that have been discussed before, and people don't realize that all of the logic has already been worked out, that's just a big waste of a bunch of good minds. So a thread~summary framework starts out looking prohibitively labor-intensive, but in the long run, it will save a lot of labor, and enable participants to build on previous ideas, instead of just going around in circles.

To support this, I implemented some features on my site just to make the process less tedious. For example, you can just select some text in a thread, and click an "Add to Summary" option, which pops up a box where you enter a title if you want, and select the summary you're appending to, and it does the rest, including cross-linking the summary item and the post being summarized.

A related feature helps you follow the relationships between posts within the thread, by posting replies as footnotes to other people's posts. So you just select some text and click the "Post Reply" button. It quotes the text, and then you enter your reply, just like other software. But when you submit the reply, it adds a footnote marker to the original post. Then, when other people are reading along, they'll see that somebody responded to a particular statement in a long post, because they'll see the footnote marker. If they hover their mouses over the markers, they'll see the responses in a pop-up. So they won't have to read the entire rest of the thread to find out if somebody responded to a particular statement.

Another thing that we have been studying is outlining (a.k.a., document maps, logic trees, etc.). The issue is that any given statement might give rise to multiple arguments, for and against, and each of those arguments might have multiple arguments, for and against. And with that additional bit of complexity, we all tend to argue in circles, not remembering counterpoints, or even sometimes supportive points. And there's no way to serialize the logic, because that just isn't the right structure. Rather, any debate of any complexity at all naturally has a hierarchical structure, and debating software needs to represent that hierarchy. So we implemented an outline format, that allows people to create points and nested sub-points, which then can have nested sub-points, ad infinitum. Then, if you're going through an argument and you see something to which you can contribute, you add the point right where it belongs in the outline. The significance is that this sorts it all out, such that the next person who can contribute to the same line of reasoning doesn't have to start over from scratch -- he/she sees what's already been done, determines where his/her opinion departs from the existing state of the art, and enters a new item right at that place. So instead of people repeating the same things, over and over, because there was truly no way of knowing that all of the logic had already been worked out, people start building on what other people have already done.

Here's a sample outline that I'm working on, with various topics in astrophysics. If you register, you get features that make it a lot easier to navigate (i.e., all of the points in the outline are collapsible, like a directory structure). But even anonymous users can see the content, and click the links to see the sub-points.

http://qdl.scs-inc.us/?top=11420

Be sure to read the introduction.
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Re: Online scientific discourse is broken and it can be fixe

Unread postby Plasmatic » Fri Dec 06, 2013 6:57 pm

Charles said:

As best as we can tell, the biggest problem with online collaboration is that decent ideas get lost in threads, due to the serialized nature of conversations. Threads are great for airing out ideas, and getting quick responses. And those directly involved in the conversation at the time get the benefit of the exchange. But what happens to the great ideas? With a few more pages of posts piled on, the previous material is effectively buried. It's hard to read a thread and give good consideration to a post, still wondering whether or not the points were later refined. And yet the later points are difficult to comprehend without having read all of the previous posts


Yes, a forum that enabled context keeping in that way is an awesome idea.

So in addition to threads, we also need accompanying master documents that show the state of the art in the discussions. In other words, there needs to be a summary of the conclusions developed in the discussion. Late-comers should be able to read the summary, and then join right in at the end, not unwittingly repeating things already said, or foolishly not acknowledging contrary points. We're finding that developing such summaries is labor-intensive. But so are the discussions themselves, and when we see people discussing things that have been discussed before, and people don't realize that all of the logic has already been worked out, that's just a big waste of a bunch of good minds. So a thread~summary framework starts out looking prohibitively labor-intensive, but in the long run, it will save a lot of labor, and enable participants to build on previous ideas, instead of just going around in circles.


Indeed we Oist call what your pointing at "unit-economy" via "measurement omission."

Rather, any debate of any complexity at all naturally has a hierarchical structure, and debating software needs to represent that hierarchy.


Absolutely! I love the concept of "debating software"! I would add that hierarchy is inherent in knowledge itself. I have been working on something similar in regards to comparing different premises with an emphasis on the different logical hierarchy implicit in both premises....
"Logic is the art of non-contradictory identification"......" I am therefore Ill think"
Ayn Rand
"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."
Aristotle
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Re: Online scientific discourse is broken and it can be fixe

Unread postby Lloyd » Fri Dec 06, 2013 9:50 pm

I recently found info about Truth Mapping, which seems to work better for scientific papers than does Dialog Mapping.

Here's a video about Truth Mapping:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8XgPDs_pHc

The process restricts content to Conclusions, Premises, Critiques and Rebuttals, along with ratings, I think. The Premises can be supported by further Premises, making the earlier Premises Conclusions.

I started a scientific paper on Formation of the Sun here:
http://truthmapping.com/viewtopic.php?id=1327&newsince=0&crits=1#5
So far I only have 3 premises and 1 conclusion.

I'd appreciate if anyone would go to that link and add to the discussion, after registering. It may be a good means to try out ways to improve scientific method. I'm thinking that my topic could be expanded to include Formation and Composition of the Universe.

It would be nice if we could discuss the process at that link, but I don't know if there's a place to do that there, so we might have to discuss here or somewhere.

What do yous think?
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