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Pet peeves of a science geek

A few things that annoy me about the generally low scientific literacy of the public. In no particular order...

--Science only tells you how things happen. It doesn't tell you why. If you want that, turn to religion, philosophy, ethics, Monty Python. Science is just a system of testable predictions. There's more to human knowledge than science.

--People who are obsessed with poking holes in the validity of science research. By itself, this is a great thing. Science is meant to have holes poked in it. The entire point of the scientific method is that you can go out, do the same experiment, see how your results compare, then make adjustments to future predictions. But just because research has methodology flaws doesn't mean the result is invalid. It might be suspect. All science is in the end. Gravity is just a "theory." I wouldn't advise jumping off any buildings.


--People who expect a study to be wheeled out as evidence for or against something before action is taken. Do we really need a study on whether or not the sky is blue? There's only so much money and so many people doing research.

--That said, people love to complain (esp about tax money being spent) about weird, controversial, or obvious research. You might not like that we spent tax money finding all about pig manure. But someday pig manure may become very important to you...and you're going to complain if there wasn't a full study done. See previous pet peeve.

--Precise is NOT the same thing as accurate. Ideally, we want both accuracy AND precision.

--Logical fallacies. They are too numerous to name here. Really almost every one of my previous pet peeves could be lumped here. But things that frequently happen may not always happen. Probability is not affected by previous outcomes. When rolling dice or hitting a baseball, there is no such thing as "being due."


--All knowledge is provisional.

--Science doesn't answer to your politics. Sorry. Evolution is a thing. Climate change is a thing. If you don't like it, that's fine. But that doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

--Pluto should still be a planet. Ok, maybe it doesn't fit the definition. But this runs into the Brontosaurus vs. Apatosaurus naming issues and I'm of the opinion that science needs to give way to popular culture now and then. But, if we start calling Pluto a planet again, we technically have more than 9 planets. So either way, you need to update your solar system.

--If your local weather forecast says there is a 40% chance of rain, that doesn't mean YOUR chances of rain are 40%. That means 40% of the forecast area will see rain.