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 CharlesChandler » Thu Dec 12, 2013 9:43 pm

@Lloyd: I'm trying to keep up with you -- I hate letting great ideas slip through the cracks... ;) But yes, there are two projects underway, 1) the development of a better process for scientific inquiry, and 2) the attempted application of that process to actual scientific topics, such as astrophysics. I'm trying to pull together all of the work that we've done over the last couple of years on the process into the first project, while also applying the methods that are emerging to the second one. I moved some of your process-related comments from the astrophysics project into the process project, to keep all of the suggestions about how we should go about doing this consolidated. Now I'm trying to address the issues that you raised. ;) These are excellent points that you're making!
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Re: Online scientific discourse is broken and it can be fixe

Unread postby Lloyd » Fri Dec 13, 2013 9:06 am

Charles, do you think you're about ready to do a test run on your site for collaboration and publishing a practice science paper there?
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Re: Online scientific discourse is broken and it can be fixe

Unread postby pln2bz » Fri Dec 13, 2013 11:00 am

Ironically as this thread is getting more "all over the map", my interests in contribution wanes.... That is, the more points get ignored, or buried, the less the analyses sides towards a benefit!


I am going to agree and disagree with you here, both at once. First, the agreement: I'd like to kindly request that we all strive to keep this thread information dense. Please do your best to do this, and perhaps one or two years from now, when we start to get a sense that we understand the bigger picture, we'll be thankful that we can go back through the thread without having to skim through huge chunks.

Now, the disagreement: My goal here is to help people to get a broad sense for all of the numerous topics which are involved with creating an effective scientific social network which is a direct response to the problems we observe in online discourse today. The reason we need to go broad is because this subject relates to an incredibly large number of subtopics, and a person's conception of the best solution will tend to be a function of the scope of the investigation.

For people who come at the problem with a belief that there is likely no graphical solution, your solution will simply reflect that belief (but how much effort went into validating that?). For people who prefer to discuss the epistemological aspects of the site, your solution will reflect that (but what will you have to show for this effort beyond a forum thread?). For people who tend to get stuck in the information-gathering phase, to the detriment of action (this has traditionally been my own tendency), the solution will ultimately be stuck at the point of trying to describe a website (why not just build it?). For people who prefer to think about the technical aspects of the problem, rather than thinking of a product which people will buy, a good case can be made that you've already decided the fate of your efforts.

The breadth of a person's attention is a function of the seriousness which that person takes the actual completion of the project. Is this a hobby -- something which we simply like to think about? Or, is it a website? Have we each individually tied the actual rollout of an effective solution to our own conception of success or failure? Because, if we have, then we cannot possibly settle for focusing upon any single aspect to the exclusion of the other 100 - 200 subtopics required to get a true grasp of the problem. The fact is that in order to do anything of any complexity, we are always going to have to learn things which do not especially interest us. Do you think that I really authentically care about the algorithms that Google uses to rank pages (aka the search engine optimization)? I'll tell you right now that I both don't care and yet also realize that I absolutely have to know that. I would personally prefer to talk about concepts and knowledge mapping all day long, to be honest, but I am also realistic that I could spend the rest of my life doing that, with nothing to show for it, if I let it happen.

The Adjacent Possible

What I'm trying to say here is that our comprehension of the larger system has a huge influence upon the solutions we conceive, as well as our perceptions of solutions offered by others. This is a general principle which we can see also applies to the Electric Universe and physics itself. Once we learn the search engine optimization, how to do product branding, how graphs work, what machine learning is, our ability to see solutions expands. That's because innovation is a process of the "adjacent possible".

In the year following the 2004 tsunami, the Indonesian city of Meulaboh received eight neonatal incubators from international relief organizations. Several years later, when an MIT fellow named Timothy Prestero visited the local hospital, all eight were out of order, the victim of power surges and tropical humidity, along with the hospital staff's inability to read the English repair manual.

Mr. Prestero and the organization he cofounded, Design That Matters, had been working for several years on a more reliable, and less expensive, incubator for the developing world. In 2008, they introduced a prototype called the NeoNurture. It looked like a streamlined modern incubator, but its guts were automotive. Sealed-beam headlights supplied the crucial warmth; dashboard fans provided filtered air circulation; door chimes sounded alarms. You could power the device with an adapted cigarette lighter or a standard-issue motorcycle battery. Building the NeoNurture out of car parts was doubly efficient, because it tapped both the local supply of parts and the local knowledge of automobile repair. You didn't have to be a trained medical technician to fix the NeoNurture; you just needed to know how to replace a broken headlight.

The NeoNurture incubator is a fitting metaphor for the way that good ideas usually come into the world. They are, inevitably, constrained by the parts and skills that surround them. We have a natural tendency to romanticize breakthrough innovations, imagining momentous ideas transcending their surroundings, a gifted mind somehow seeing over the detritus of old ideas and ossified tradition.

But ideas are works of bricolage. They are, almost inevitably, networks of other ideas. We take the ideas we've inherited or stumbled across, and we jigger them together into some new shape. We like to think of our ideas as a $40,000 incubator, shipped direct from the factory, but in reality they've been cobbled together with spare parts that happened to be sitting in the garage.

As a tribute to human ingenuity, the evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould maintained an odd collection of sandals made from recycled automobile tires, purchased during his travels through the developing world. But he also saw them as a metaphor for the patterns of innovation in the biological world. Nature's innovations, too, rely on spare parts.

Evolution advances by taking available resources and cobbling them together to create new uses. The evolutionary theorist Francois Jacob captured this in his concept of evolution as a "tinkerer," not an engineer; our bodies are also works of bricolage, old parts strung together to form something radically new. "The tires-to-sandals principle works at all scales and times," Mr. Gould wrote, "permitting odd and unpredictable initiatives at any moment—to make nature as inventive as the cleverest person who ever pondered the potential of a junkyard in Nairobi."

You can see this process at work in the primordial innovation of life itself. Before life emerged on Earth, the planet was dominated by a handful of basic molecules: ammonia, methane, water, carbon dioxide, a smattering of amino acids and other simple organic compounds. Each of these molecules was capable of a finite series of transformations and exchanges with other molecules in the primordial soup: methane and oxygen recombining to form formaldehyde and water, for instance.

Think of all those initial molecules, and then imagine all the potential new combinations that they could form spontaneously, simply by colliding with each other (or perhaps prodded along by the extra energy of a propitious lightning strike). If you could play God and trigger all those combinations, you would end up with most of the building blocks of life: the proteins that form the boundaries of cells; sugar molecules crucial to the nucleic acids of our DNA. But you would not be able to trigger chemical reactions that would build a mosquito, or a sunflower, or a human brain. Formaldehyde is a first-order combination: You can create it directly from the molecules in the primordial soup. Creating a sunflower, however, relies on a whole series of subsequent innovations: chloroplasts to capture the sun's energy, vascular tissues to circulate resources through the plant, DNA molecules to pass on instructions to the next generation.

The scientist Stuart Kauffman has a suggestive name for the set of all those first-order combinations: "the adjacent possible." The phrase captures both the limits and the creative potential of change and innovation. In the case of prebiotic chemistry, the adjacent possible defines all those molecular reactions that were directly achievable in the primordial soup. Sunflowers and mosquitoes and brains exist outside that circle of possibility. The adjacent possible is a kind of shadow future, hovering on the edges of the present state of things, a map of all the ways in which the present can reinvent itself.

The strange and beautiful truth about the adjacent possible is that its boundaries grow as you explore them. Each new combination opens up the possibility of other new combinations. Think of it as a house that magically expands with each door you open. You begin in a room with four doors, each leading to a new room that you haven't visited yet. Once you open one of those doors and stroll into that room, three new doors appear, each leading to a brand-new room that you couldn't have reached from your original starting point. Keep opening new doors and eventually you'll have built a palace.


The Growth Mindset

By constraining our scope, we constrain the adjacent possible. The debate mapping graveyard which Chandler and others have already witnessed is there because those people accepted that they could solve this huge problem by constraining their focus to that which they liked to think about. We'd be wise to learn from that fundamental mistake by making a conscious decision to expand our own adjacent possible to its furthest reaches. The only way to do that is to try to recognize the barriers we present to ourselves which obstruct our own successes. This is what separates the winners from the losers in the world: The self-transformative mindset is inherently a growth-oriented mindset which destroys barriers just as quickly as it recognizes them. And it is this growth mindset which largely determines the future success of students today:

Image


… Stanford professor Carold Dweck … discovered that some people see intelligence or abilities as fixed -- what is called a fixed mindset -- while other people see them … as qualities that can be developed -- a growth mindset. More important, Dr. Dweck discovered that these two different mindsets lead to very different behaviors and results. In a study she did with Dr. Lisa Blackwell, several hundred 7th graders were surveyed to determine which mindset each student had. And then they were tracked for two years. Results showed that the students with the growth mindset -- those who thought they could change their own intelligence -- increased their grades over time, while those with a fixed mindset did not.


Process matters. A lot.
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Re: Online scientific discourse is broken and it can be fixe

Unread postby CharlesChandler » Fri Dec 13, 2013 4:44 pm

The strange and beautiful truth about the adjacent possible is that its boundaries grow as you explore them. Each new combination opens up the possibility of other new combinations. Think of it as a house that magically expands with each door you open. You begin in a room with four doors, each leading to a new room that you haven't visited yet. Once you open one of those doors and stroll into that room, three new doors appear, each leading to a brand-new room that you couldn't have reached from your original starting point. Keep opening new doors and eventually you'll have built a palace.

I totally agree with this. But then you go on to say...

pln2bz wrote:By constraining our scope, we constrain the adjacent possible. The debate mapping graveyard which Chandler and others have already witnessed is there because those people accepted that they could solve this huge problem by constraining their focus to that which they liked to think about. We'd be wise to learn from that fundamental mistake by making a conscious decision to expand our own adjacent possible to its furthest reaches.

I "think" that your position is that we shouldn't go with any topic-based system, until we have arrived at the topic-based system, because we don't want to limit our options. But that's denying that the boundaries of the adjacent possible grow as you explore them. We can start using "a" topic-based system, and start getting the benefits, without sealing off the door to the topic-based system -- rather, it will open the next door for us. It's only a limiting decision if we commit to one technology and stop considering others. Whose suggesting that we do that??? :) I'm just saying that we should start outlining these ideas. This eliminates flooding (intentional or not), because each distinct idea occurs in only one place in an outline. If 10 people all have the same idea, you don't get 10 different threads, saying much the same thing. Rather, you get 1 thread that has been reviewed and tweaked by 9 other people, which is 10 times better. In no sense is this a limiting decision. ;) In refusing to go through the door right in front of you, you're not leaving yourself the option of going through the next door -- you're leaving yourself without a way of getting there! :)
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Re: Online scientific discourse is broken and it can be fixe

Unread postby Lloyd » Fri Dec 13, 2013 5:44 pm

Highfalutin vs Down-to-Earth. Isn't the "adjacent possible" just another nearby potential tool that may have been overlooked by the mainstream? And why consign debate graphs etc to the graveyard? I think they're part of the "adjacent possible". They're tools in the process of being developed.

I don't care for the evolution metaphors, since the main premises of evolution, i.e. millions or billions of years of adaptation, are highly unlikely. It's authoritarian arrogance, which proper scientific process needs to avoid.

I'm waiting for someone to agree to try some other online collaborative science tools with me or with anyone, besides just this forum, which all seem to agree has too many limitations so far.

By the way, I see that Google Docs has a good tool that can be used to make textboxes and put text in them and move the boxes around on the page, like what I was discussing with CC, saying it might be nice to be able to do that in sci collaboration. Here's the link to a page I started, which anyone can fool around with:
https://docs.google.com/drawings/d/19G3trSn86vb2G8fQXW3kXLL41_xxulsudK7fskII1Gg/edit
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Re: Online scientific discourse is broken and it can be fixe

Unread postby Plasmatic » Fri Dec 13, 2013 8:37 pm

Chris said:

For people who come at the problem with a belief that there is likely no graphical solution, your solution will simply reflect that belief (but how much effort went into validating that?). For people who prefer to discuss the epistemological aspects of the site, your solution will reflect that (but what will you have to show for this effort beyond a forum thread?). For people who tend to get stuck in the information-gathering phase, to the detriment of action (this has traditionally been my own tendency), the solution will ultimately be stuck at the point of trying to describe a website (why not just build it?). For people who prefer to think about the technical aspects of the problem, rather than thinking of a product which people will buy, a good case can be made that you've already decided the fate of your efforts.


Chris, before I respond, I need to know your intended referent of "your"above. Did you mean my particular method, or did you mean "your" in a general sense not implied by quoting me?
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Re: Online scientific discourse is broken and it can be fixe

Unread postby RayTomes » Fri Dec 13, 2013 10:07 pm

I haven't yet read everything in this thread, but want to congratulate pln2bz on a well presented set of arguments. Especially liked you quoting Fred Hoyle who was a genius who should have got two Nobel prizes.
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Re: Online scientific discourse is broken and it can be fixe

Unread postby pln2bz » Sat Dec 14, 2013 1:51 pm

The Debate Over Constructivism

Plasmatic quoted a thought-provoking critique of constructivism which may help us to identify a pattern of this debate:

They [social constructivists] propose to replace all considerations of logic, of what scientific theories are reasonable, with considerations of sociology, that is, of what interests theories serve. The real reason for their views is their conviction that since science is done by people, its explanation should be in the realm of causes acting on people, not the realm of abstract reasons. People, they think, can be acted on by their interests, or patronage, or the social milieu, but abstract facts like 2 + 2 = 4 do not act. So explanations of how people, including scientists, think ought to be sociological. This argument appears in various forms, mostly not very explicit ones. Thus, Bloor argues that observation `underdetermines’ theory – that is, that several theories are logically compatible with any given body of observations – and concludes immediately that it must be social factors that determine which theory is chosen.

[…]

This argument, the central plank of the social constructivist position, is a version of Stove’s `Worst Argument’ because it says: `We can know things only via causal (social) processes acting on the brains of real scientists, therefore, the content of our theories is explained without remainder by the social factors causing them; that is, we cannot know things as they are in themselves.’ This is why no amount of raging about relativism, scepticism and truth is found to make any impact on constructivists. They have a last line of defence in the argument: `Those entities in Platonic worlds, like truths and theories, cannot cause belief in themselves. Scientists are people, after all, and as such are responsive only to social or similar causes.’


The author's argument that we should be concerned seems to completely hinge on his usage of the phrases "all considerations of logic", "is explained without remainder" and "are responsive only to". It should be apparent to everybody here that reality is a but more nuanced than these extreme phrases suggest. The author seems to undermine himself by relying upon these extreme cases to make his point. He should probably attempt to reformulate the argument without them.

Why Do Climate Scientists Talk About Polar Bears?

Polar bears. An iconic photograph of a polar bear clinging to a chunk of melting Arctic ice has driven home the idea that polar bears are going extinct due to global warming. But the science doesn’t necessarily back this up. There are 19 subpopulations of polar bears and eight of them are in decline. Warmer temperatures and shorter-lived ice mean that fewer polar bears can be supported than in the recent past, but there are more than enough to ensure the survival of the species.

There are currently about 25,000 polar bears worldwide. In the 1970s the species numbered somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000; their recovery since then is owed in part to a 1975 treaty regulating the hunting of polar bears. The International Union for Conservation of Nature predicts that numbers will decrease by 30 percent or more by the year 2053, mostly due to climate change. That is a dramatic loss, but it will still put polar bear numbers ahead of where they were.


So, what is the actual point of discussing polar bears? Now, to somebody who likes to think about science, and who limits their focus to scientific and technical topics (imagine the stereotypical Slashdot audience), they'd probably never think to actually ask the question of why climate scientists are talking about polar bears.

But, for somebody who decides to consciously and intentionally expand the scope of their awareness to matters associated with the business world -- in particular, to this notion of branding -- the presence of the polar bear in our discourse about climate science is a red flag, given that the polar bears are doing just fine today.

Image


By learning what branding is, we learn to identify its influence upon us. Branding is a conditioning process where you use colors, symbols and phrases to create some sort of emotional response that creates engagement, and eventually causes people to interact and seek out that brand. So, for the brand of climate change, the polar bear is quite possibly there because it creates an emotion. It associates the fate of an animal that is incredibly cute, at least from a distance, with this notion of climate change.

So, one of the values that I propose should be associated with the propositional level of discourse is to teach people to more effectively use the discourse apparent at the worldview level to ask better focus questions. So, in this particular instance, a great focus question might be ...

FQ: Branding is today used to sell every single product and service we, as consumers, buy. Since branding has proven to be highly effective, should we not expect that branding is already being used to influence the funding of scientific topics? Is there reason to suspect that it's happening?

What I'd like to suggest is that people who prefer to talk about science as though emotion and values play no role in argumentation, belief and knowledge are basically ignoring the machinery of the mind when they do so. What constructivists do, it seems to me, is simply acknowledge that this stuff is already happening. Worldviews exist. They involve emotion, because learning involves emotion. And these worldviews play an important role in the formation of focus questions. Note that this is not at all the same thing as saying that social constructivists propose to replace all considerations of logic, or that the content of our theories is explained without remainder by the social factors causing them, or that scientists are responsive only to social or similar causes. Discussions which strive to compare and contrast models should be rooted at the worldview-level of discourse, and that level is simply one level that we can discuss science at.

By contrast, the process of elaborating models -- the model-level of discourse -- should arguably be kept completely clear of discussions about social and psychological influences. What I'm saying is that the role of the site designer is not to alter these fundamental pre-existing processes; it is simply to identify and emulate them in our social networking system as weakly-interacting systems of systems, and to put into place "levers" which permit the thinker to bring those levels of discourse in and out of focus, as they see fit.

I would suggest that people keep an eye out for this pattern in the critiques of constructivism. These arguments may indeed apply to some constructivist theorists (?), but the idea that I'm proposing here does not strive to refashion all scientific theory as merely social constructs.
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Re: Online scientific discourse is broken and it can be fixe

Unread postby Plasmatic » Sat Dec 14, 2013 3:34 pm

Lol.... :)

Chris said:

The author's argument that we should be concerned seems to completely hinge on his usage of the phrases "all considerations of logic", "is explained without remainder" and "are responsive only to". It should be apparent to everybody here that reality is a but more nuanced than these extreme phrases suggest. The author seems to undermine himself by relying upon these extreme cases to make his point. He should probably attempt to reformulate the argument without them.


Premise: extremes are bad, nothing is either this or that.... In other words, concerning the primary contention between Chris and I in this thread, it should be obvious that my question begging decleration is true, without argument!

Chris, the above does not even begin to address the premise contended for in that paper. You apparently read only the quoted portion and then chose to attempt an appeal to emotion yourself.(?) That portion was intended to get you motivated to read the rest of the paper and check your premises concerning what you think constructivism is, and what constructivist actually say. Like the questions I asked here :

viewtopic.php?f=8&t=14667&start=45#p90508

to which you have not been able to answer in spite of the fact that they are predicated of your own premises. My premise has been that you have contradicting premises with constructivism, and broader constructivism has inherent contradiction.

Chris said:

These arguments may indeed apply to some constructivist theorists (?), but the idea that I'm proposing here does not strive to refashion all scientific theory as merely social constructs.


Ignoring the fact that those "arguments" were not in fact the "worst argument in history" Franklin wrote the entire paper on, I reiterate what I stated before in this thread:

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......... 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)


Far from an alleged "pattern" (derived from selective quoting), my contentions have been the opposite of your attempted comparison.

Your assertions are indeed a patchwork of contradictory mis-integrations that I have simply tried to help you "grow" to see. I have assumed, not an explicit rejection of integration, but an ignorance of implicit premises inherent in what your trying to build on. I have contended explicitly that your position is "more nuanced than" the actual premises of Constructivism.....that you in fact don't fit the "brand"!

Your arbitrary dichotomies of worldview, model, proposition, conceptual, etc., are incoherent, ignore implicit hierarchy errors, (while extolling some as superordinate), and little attempt is made to give instances that would help others differentiate them. (Even upon explicit request in the form of questions)

If all the categories of knowledge are conceptually expressed, then how can the "higher levels" ( such as the alleged separate category of world views) not involve, consist of, and depend on, the validity of ones concepts?

I find your attempt at argument by association (a form of "branding") and appeal to emotion above, disappointing and beneath one who seeks an active minded, self aware dialogue in pursuit of knowledge.

Your statement:

What I'd like to suggest is that people who prefer to talk about science as though emotion and values play no role in argumentation, belief and knowledge are basically ignoring the machinery of the mind when they do so. What constructivists do, it seems to me, is simply acknowledge that this stuff is already happening. Worldviews exist. They involve emotion, because learning involves emotion. And these worldviews play an important role in the formation of focus questions.


Is an example of the bald assertions many of your misintegrations are supposed to rest on. No attempt is made at instantiation. How are emotions tools of cognition? Do emotions do more than indicate our value judgements at a lightning like speed? Can an emotion be a result of a misidentification? Can we have a certain emotional response that is the result of conceptions that are not factual? If so, does that tell us that emotion should be indicators of already held premises and values and not dictators of our premises and values? Does this conception of emotions really mean that one is rejecting emotions as a human means of experiencing our values through the "machinery of our mind"? Aren't all the preceding "focus questions"??? Hasn't the failure to address these type of questions limited an awareness of what Chris calls "the adjacent possible"?

The above questions are for the active minded to decide for themselves as the sole arbiters of their own mind, in charge of what premises they accept, and the validity of the identifications they choose to make!
Last edited by Plasmatic on Sat Dec 14, 2013 4:11 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Online scientific discourse is broken and it can be fixe

Unread postby Plasmatic » Sat Dec 14, 2013 3:53 pm

Lloyd, thank you for your kind effort on my behalf. I couldn't figure out how to post the image directly.You asked earlier about my name. I prefer to use plasmatic in public discussions. I don't remember if you interviewed me. Was it on my ionizer experiments?

Edit: probably should respond privately so as to not disrupt the thread.
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Re: Online scientific discourse is broken and it can be fixe

Unread postby Plasmatic » Sat Dec 14, 2013 4:35 pm

A timely and relevant article an the difference between open minded and active mindedness was posted here:

http://forum.objectivismonline.com/inde ... ntry318058
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Re: Online scientific discourse is broken and it can be fixe

Unread postby StefanR » Sun Dec 15, 2013 2:36 pm

Plasmatic wrote:A timely and relevant article an the difference between open minded and active mindedness was posted here:

http://forum.objectivismonline.com/inde ... ntry318058


Hi Plasmatic ,
Fun artcile in a way. Though it does seem to presuppose a lot of things. It seems to me that what the author is doing
is placing closed- and openmindedness in opposition to active mindedness. And thereby adding a certain passivity to openminded and I'm not sure if that is actually valid. Personally I thought the opposition of closed- and openmindedness
was more in the sense of if one is being ready to accept new or opposing evidence or arguments, that might invalidate ones previously held opinions. One who is activeminded, just like that, seems to me still able to be open - or closeminded. And even in an activeminded one, there is also the possibility of passivity, as an analytically active one is still not guaranteed to actually act upon his/her analysis. Perhaps i read it all wrong, and stand corrected if the author was intending it differently.

But what more struck me is, what is actually meant with this being "minded" in such or such way? And what is minding that mindedness? How does one judge ones mindedness? Etc.

These are totally irrelevant questions perhaps in relation to the OP, and in relation to that I would like to ask Chris
if he is going to post more in relation to his OP argumentation or is this thread already in motion? I still had the impression you were working towards something?

Thanks to all for all the purpose driven ideas, very interesting and food for thought!
The illusion from which we are seeking to extricate ourselves is not that constituted by the realm of space and time, but that which comes from failing to know that realm from the standpoint of a higher vision. -L.H.
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Re: Online scientific discourse is broken and it can be fixe

Unread postby Plasmatic » Sun Dec 15, 2013 4:07 pm

Stefan said:

Fun artcile in a way. Though it does seem to presuppose a lot of things. It seems to me that what the author is doing
is placing closed- and openmindedness in opposition to active mindedness. And thereby adding a certain passivity to openminded and I'm not sure if that is actually valid. Personally I thought the opposition of closed- and openmindedness
was more in the sense of if one is being ready to accept new or opposing evidence or arguments, that might invalidate ones previously held opinions. One who is activeminded, just like that, seems to me still able to be open - or closeminded. And even in an activeminded one, there is also the possibility of passivity, as an analytically active one is still not guaranteed to actually act upon his/her analysis. Perhaps i read it all wrong, and stand corrected if the author was intending it differently.


Well, folks definitely do mean different things by open minded. The type of open mindedness that is being addressed and what it thinks active mindedness is, in that article, is best explained by the "link within the link":

[There is a] dangerous little catch phrase which advises you to keep an “open mind.” This is a very ambiguous term—as demonstrated by a man who once accused a famous politician of having “a wide open mind.” That term is an anti-concept: it is usually taken to mean an objective, unbiased approach to ideas, but it is used as a call for perpetual skepticism, for holding no firm convictions and granting plausibility to anything. A “closed mind” is usually taken to mean the attitude of a man impervious to ideas, arguments, facts and logic, who clings stubbornly to some mixture of unwarranted assumptions, fashionable catch phrases, tribal prejudices—and emotions. But this is not a “closed” mind, it is a passive one. It is a mind that has dispensed with (or never acquired) the practice of thinking or judging, and feels threatened by any request to consider anything.

What objectivity and the study of philosophy require is not an “open mind,” but an active mind—a mind able and eagerly willing to examine ideas, but to examine them critically. An active mind does not grant equal status to truth and falsehood; it does not remain floating forever in a stagnant vacuum of neutrality and uncertainty; by assuming the responsibility of judgment, it reaches firm convictions and holds to them. Since it is able to prove its convictions, an active mind achieves an unassailable certainty in confrontations with assailants—a certainty untainted by spots of blind faith, approximation, evasion and fear.


Your question on mindedness would probably bring us a bit too astray but I have a simple response. In"ll send it privately.
"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 StefanR » Mon Dec 16, 2013 8:50 am

Plasmatic wrote:Well, folks definitely do mean different things by open minded. The type of open mindedness that is being addressed and what it thinks active mindedness is, in that article, is best explained by the "link within the link":


Yes, I can see there might be meant different things by folks, whoever they are, but I thought open-mindedness must have a proper definition or distinction. And personally I thought my description was not far of:

StefanR wrote:the opposition of closed- and openmindedness
was more in the sense of if one is being ready to accept new or opposing evidence or arguments, that might invalidate ones previously held opinions.


So it seems to centre on the readyness to accept or receptivity of one who has opinions which are held to be true, to be shown to be wrong and act accordingly to it. For the moment looking elesewhere:

Receptive to new and different ideas or the opinions of others.
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/open-mindedness
Receptive to new and different ideas or the opinions of others. having a mind receptive to new ideas, arguments, etc.; unprejudiced. 2. unprejudiced; unbigoted; impartial.
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/open-minded
1. Ready to accept on firm evidence that one's most cherished beliefs may be hogwash, but bearing in mind that extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence.
2. Politically correct synonym for "gullible" used by New Age quacks who want to sell you a bill of goods.
http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=open+minded
Synonyms
broad-minded, open, receptive

Antonyms
narrow-minded, unreceptive

Related Words
impartial, neutral, objective, unbiased, unprejudiced; easygoing, nonjudgmental, tolerant; calm, detached, dispassionate; amenable, compliant; impressionable, suggestible, susceptible; persuadable, persuasible

Near Antonyms
biased, narrow, one-sided, partial, partisan, prejudiced; bigoted, intolerant
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/open-minded


Apologies for the silly references, but it was just to show that there seems to be a general definition of open-mindedness that does seem to focus on the state of receptivity to correction of opinions one is found to hold erroneously. There seems to be this other state, gullibility/credulity, which seems to be made synonymous by the author with openmindedness. It is taking the receptiveness to an extreme and adding a further feature, the lack of critical thinking.
But let us see what kind of definitions the author then seems to entertain:

open-minded:
an objective, unbiased approach to ideas, but it is used as a call for perpetual skepticism, for holding no firm convictions and granting plausibility to anything.

closed-minded:
Plasmatic wrote:the attitude of a man impervious to ideas, arguments, facts and logic, who clings stubbornly to some mixture of unwarranted assumptions, fashionable catch phrases, tribal prejudices—and emotions.

passive-minded:
Plasmatic wrote:But this is not a “closed” mind, it is a passive one. It is a mind that has dispensed with (or never acquired) the practice of thinking or judging, and feels threatened by any request to consider anything.

active-minded:
Plasmatic wrote:-a mind able and eagerly willing to examine ideas, but to examine them critically
-does not grant equal status to truth and falsehood
-does not remain floating forever in a stagnant vacuum of neutrality and uncertainty
-assuming the responsibility of judgment, it reaches firm convictions and holds to them
-it is able to prove its convictions
-achieves an unassailable certainty in confrontations with assailants—a certainty untainted by spots of blind faith, approximation, evasion and fear.


So if I understand it correctly, is it the intention of the author to describe or define his active-mindedness by opposing it with an inproper definition of openmindedness? Is he really using an abuse/misuse of the idea of openmindedness by political rethoric or new age lingoism as the actual meaning of open-mindedness, and at the same time conflating it with gullibilty/credulity to hide the fact that he is adding critical thinking to his definition of active-mindedness and so set it apart from openmindedness? And by falsely associating the passivity of credulity/gullibility with openmindedness, opposing it to his added states of ability and eager willingness to examine ideas?
I agree that critical thinking is a valuable activity of the mind, but it is not a state of mind as is the being of openmindedness. And in a strange way and for some reason, the author is willing to taint the whole of the definition of openmindedness to express his activemindness. By taking a misuse of the concept to try to validate his argument, isn't he setting up a false dichotomy or something like a strawman?
Am I somehow vindicated in my opinion that even in the activeminded, according to the author's statements about the convictions and unassailable certainty, there can be the states of open- and closedmindedness? Aren't those statements of a mindedness that is quite orthodox, and actually perhaps closeminded, thinking oneself to be unfallible and all-knowing?
I suppose that the exercise/activity of critical thinking and the ability, and the development, of doing such exercise/activity are two things that most surely are indispencible with being openminded. Also the eager willingness to investigate, or in an other term curiousity, is quite likely an valuable asset to the scientific mindset. Yet it seems necessary to me to keep those terms seperated and put together when needed, so instead of making the strange conception of activemindedness, it seems to suffice to say critically openminded, as activemindedness does not imply not being closedminded.
Again there is some fun in that article as the last two sections of it asks to be questioning of fundamental political principles and not to be openminded, and thereby using a dishonest argument that was based on a dishonest use of a term by dishonest people in relation to a dishonest and deceitfull debat about a budgetdeception. ;)
The illusion from which we are seeking to extricate ourselves is not that constituted by the realm of space and time, but that which comes from failing to know that realm from the standpoint of a higher vision. -L.H.
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Re: Online scientific discourse is broken and it can be fixe

Unread postby Plasmatic » Mon Dec 16, 2013 10:58 am

Stephan said:

Yes, I can see there might be meant different things by folks, whoever they are, but I thought open-mindedness must have a proper definition or distinction. And personally I thought my description was not far of:



The whole or your assessment turns on this premise that a dictionary dictates usage. It does not, and there is no rational way to evade context and intentionality. Otherwise we play a semantic game that ignores the intended referent of the speaker. Concepts are not words, which are just symbols.

Your statement:

So it seems to centre on the readyness to accept or receptivity of one who has opinions which are held to be true, to be shown to be wrong and act accordingly to it. For the moment looking elesewhere:


That followed a quote of your own intended usage, cannot be used as a foil in opposition to the context of usage the article is intended to address, regardless of the dictionary definition. That is in fact a strawman.

Stephan said:

There seems to be this other state, gullibility/credulity, which seems to be made synonymous by the author with openmindedness. It is taking the receptiveness to an extreme and adding a further feature, the lack of critical thinking.


The author is addressing a context of usage that is not the authors but the usage of certain others who apply the concept of open minded as described. If you want to criticize the validity of that context of usage, you cannot do so by quoting a dictionary, or by declaring that is not how you intend to use it, because the context is neither.


So if I understand it correctly, is it the intention of the author to describe or define his active-mindedness by opposing it with an inproper definition of openmindedness? Is he really using an abuse/misuse of the idea of openmindedness by political rethoric or new age lingoism as the actual meaning of open-mindedness, and at the same time conflating it with gullibilty/credulity to hide the fact that he is adding critical thinking to his definition of active-mindedness and so set it apart from openmindedness? And by falsely associating the passivity of credulity/gullibility with openmindedness, opposing it to his added states of ability and eager willingness to examine ideas?


More of the same error, but with a new problem. The author, being the sole determinate of their own intention, can mean by active minded whatever they want, provided they establish the context, which the lexicon does. This makes the notion that some ad hoc addition of "critical thinking" to a definition, an instance of context dropping and or a strawman. Besides, the author was using a technical term created by a particular person.

If you want to validly criticize the article in its usage you would have to show that it does not have an application in the context it was intended for. I have personally experienced exactly the type of usage the author is pointing at, it is a pervasive tactic in todays intellectual climate.

In fact, ironically, your statement:

Am I somehow vindicated in my opinion that even in the activeminded, according to the author's statements about the convictions and unassailable certainty, there can be the states of open- and closedmindedness? Aren't those statements of a mindedness that is quite orthodox, and actually perhaps closeminded, thinking oneself to be unfallible and all-knowing?


Is an example of that exact packaging together of "perpetual skepticism " with open-mindedness and at the same time assuming that any sense of certainty means one must be "orthodox", "all-knowing" and "unfallible", i.e., closeminded. You just validated/instantiated the articles usage!

I suppose that the exercise/activity of critical thinking and the ability, and the development, of doing such exercise/activity are two things that most surely are indispencible with being openminded. Also the eager willingness to investigate, or in an other term curiousity, is quite likely an valuable asset to the scientific mindset. Yet it seems necessary to me to keep those terms seperated and put together when needed, so instead of making the strange conception of activemindedness, it seems to suffice to say critically openminded, as activemindedness does not imply not being closedminded.


You can mean/intend whatever you want by openminded, and when others address your usage, they will have to keep context and not create strawmen by attacking the usage of others you didn't intend. You would be wise to do the same.

Again there is some fun in that article as the last two sections of it asks to be questioning of fundamental political principles and not to be openminded, and thereby using a dishonest argument that was based on a dishonest use of a term by dishonest people in relation to a dishonest and deceitfull debat about a budgetdeception.


I have no idea what the above means, other than that it is a conclusion from strawmen.
"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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