1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

The scientific method (and why I love it).

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by lucas vigor, Jan 11, 2012.

  1. lucas vigor

    lucas vigor Banned

    Sep 2, 2004
    Orange County, Ca,
    The scientific method (and why I love it).

    Skeptics often doubt scientists, usually thinking they have an “agenda”. In this article, we see a prime example of why that is not true…and why the scientific method differs so strongly from “other” viewpoints.

    If scientists had an agenda (like perhaps trying to convert everyone into being an atheist), then why would they be so open minded concerning their OWN research and ideas, as to say that yes, they have had a few radio “hits” from other planets, but that they turned out to be earth based.

    Seems to me that if scientists really had an agenda, they would not make that kind of a statement. Seems only natural that since they have an “agenda”, they would only release information that backs up their “theory”, and thus proves their point. But here you can see that it is quite the opposite. The don’t KNOW…and that is why they are researching.

    Non-scientific method is quite different. Typically, the non-scientist will already have an idea, then pick and choose whatever “scientific” evidence there is to back them up. They do this all the time.

    Until recently, astronomers searching for signals from intelligent aliens have had to scan the heavens blindly. But now that's starting to change, as scientists are targeting newly discovered exoplanets beyond the solar system for their search.
    Since the first alien planet was discovered in 1996, astronomers have found more than 700 worlds around other stars.
    A leading player in this search is NASA's Kepler Space Telescope, which has discovered 2,326 exoplanet candidates since its launch in March 2009. Follow-up observations from the ground over the coming years hope to confirm most of these as the genuine article.
    Now scientists involved in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) have analyzed their first data from radio telescope observations of Kepler planets. The researchers are searching for radio signals that aren't likely to be caused by natural phenomena, and thus could represent an extraterrestrial message.
    Such signals are likely to be narrow in frequency, as known astrophysical phenomena such as black holes and exploding stars tend to release radio waves across a wider range of frequencies.
    These signals will also probably show a gradual drift in frequency over time, which would be expected because of the Doppler effect caused by the relative motion between the planet broadcasting a signal and us here on Earth.
    So far, the scientists have already found a few signals that fit the bill — but don't get too excited just yet.
    "(O)ur analyses have generated a few 'hits,' but all are undoubtedly examples of terrestrial radio frequency interference" caused by radio signals broadcast here on Earth, the researchers wrote in a statement. The study is being led by the University of California, Berkeley, and involves scientists from the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif., and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Charlottesville, Va.
    The researchers can tell these signals were probably produced locally because they see the same pattern from two different alien planets.
    "If we see a signal coming from multiple positions on the sky, like the ones below, it is very likely to be interference," the researchers wrote.
  2. colcifer

    colcifer Esteemed Nitpicker Supporting Member

    Feb 10, 2010
    A Galaxy Far, Far Away
    Science is pretty darn awesome.

    Geeks, if you're on twitter, be sure to follow SciAm. They can be a bit fluffy when choosing links to tweet but still, it's SciAm.
  3. lucas vigor

    lucas vigor Banned

    Sep 2, 2004
    Orange County, Ca,
    I just love the open and honest approach that 99% of all scientists seem to have. They approach each subject of research with a humbling amount of innocence...leaving truth to be something backed up by real, measurable facts...even if those facts don't quite match their own personal beliefs. THAT is real intellectual honesty. There is no agenda other then the truth, and cold hard facts!
  4. PSPookie


    Aug 13, 2006
    Ocoee, TN
    Scientists DO have an agenda: The Truth.
  5. I was talking with some aliens the other day, and they told me that they are sending duplicate patterns from different worlds in an effort to confuse humans and remain undiscovered. While humans amuse them, they really don't want to be burdened with humanity's nonsense. Except bass players. They like us.
  6. The laws of physics are self-enforcing! That's pretty cool right there!
  7. Simo98


    Jun 18, 2009
    QLD, Australia
    It is somewhat naive to believe that all scientists, or even a vast majority of scientists have an open minded, unbiased objective approach to everything they do within the field.

    Scientists have an agenda; their next pay-cheque, food on the table, and like any human being a large percentage of them will do and say whatever they need to to keep it rolling in.

    Ideally, yes, working within the scientific method anything that comes out of it should be an un-biased reflection of the truth. However, you have people doing the research, and people writing the papers. And people don't follow the rules.

    Science is un-baised and factual. Scientists are human.
  8. Skitch it!

    Skitch it!

    Sep 6, 2010
    You'll find a lot of science is under attack if it affects certain parties for sure. They will launch multi-million dollar denial-ism campaigns even though they know the consequences of the truth. Part of a bigger problem.
  9. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    Absolutely. I've worked with research scientists at three universities for 32 years, and they are generally without a pre-arranged agenda. They have goals and interests, but they don't impose them on their research.

    The ability of people with personal, religious and political agendas to lie, deny the obvious truth, disregard reality and challenge any research finding that contradicts their personal agenda or completely unrealistic and unfounded beliefs is amazing.
  10. Bloodhammer

    Bloodhammer Twinkle Twinkle Black Star

    Jul 7, 2009
    Shreveport, Louisiana
  11. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

  12. MatticusMania

    MatticusMania LANA! HE REMEMBERS ME!

    Sep 10, 2008
    Pomona, SoCal
    Napolean would ride a T-rex.
  13. hbarcat

    hbarcat Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2006
    Rochelle, Illinois

    Good post
  14. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    I'm a post-positivist, so I don't necessarily agree that scientists are unbiased, but the scientific method is a very powerful epistemological tool (one that people can, but unfortuantely, don't apply to everyday life).
  15. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    Just to play devil's advocate, as a scientist of 26 years, I'll demonstrate my bias, not lack of bias:

    1. I assume every assumption is either invalid or insufficiently justified;
    2. I assume every conclusion is based on at least one observation that glosses over some level of uncertainty;
    3. I try my best to poke as many holes into a study as possible;
    4. My first thought is often "How are people going to take this information and either misinterpret it, or @#$% things up, or both?"

    So, I am very biased toward the concept that everything is wrong. Only when I can dissect and analyze information and conclusions may I eventually come to accept it as "valid within the parameters of what we currently understand."

    Remember, science does not necessarily describe absolute truth, but rather, only what we can glean of absolute truth within the limits of our current understanding.
  16. MatticusMania

    MatticusMania LANA! HE REMEMBERS ME!

    Sep 10, 2008
    Pomona, SoCal
    Best sentence in this thread.
  17. Here's an article with a slightly different viewpoint:
    PLoS Medicine: Why Most Published Research Findings Are False

    "There is increasing concern that most current published research findings are false. The probability that a research claim is true may depend on study power and bias, the number of other studies on the same question, and, importantly, the ratio of true to no relationships among the relationships probed in each scientific field. In this framework, a research finding is less likely to be true when the studies conducted in a field are smaller; when effect sizes are smaller; when there is a greater number and lesser preselection of tested relationships; where there is greater flexibility in designs, definitions, outcomes, and analytical modes; when there is greater financial and other interest and prejudice; and when more teams are involved in a scientific field in chase of statistical significance. Simulations show that for most study designs and settings, it is more likely for a research claim to be false than true. Moreover, for many current scientific fields, claimed research findings may often be simply accurate measures of the prevailing bias. In this essay, I discuss the implications of these problems for the conduct and interpretation of research."
  18. billjr


    Jul 25, 2006
    Darlington, SC
    The scientific Method is a wonderful outline, but it is just an outline. It makes no promises to the validity of the research and conclusions, no more than drafting an outline for your essay means your essay is 100% truthful.

    There have been numerous times (too many to count) when scientists have been caught conducting fraudulent/junk research, fudging numbers, etc., just to make their conclusion what they want it to be. The history books are full of these incidents.

    Even when the science has been conducted properly, scientists can still be completely wrong in their conclusions. Honest scientists can make mistakes and misread data. The bottom line is that scientists are human, and subject to all of the positives and negatives of the human condition just like everybody else.

    What works better than the scientific method at producing acurate, honest research is peer review. There is no substitute for having to put your research out in the real world and see if others come up with the same conclusions/results. Just look at the question that is now being asked about neutrenos traveling faster than the speed of light. They came up with results that refuted Einstein's theory, and are using peer review to check the validity of their work.
  19. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    True, and reading research studies is a skill in itself. I took a whole graduate class in interpreting research, and I was flat amazed at how many ways there are for an author to misinform, mis-state or simply omit information critical to the reader's ability to assess the process and results. In most cases it's due to the author either summarizing too much or being too close to the study to understand what information others need to interpret it. Editors often don't catch these errors.
  20. lucas vigor

    lucas vigor Banned

    Sep 2, 2004
    Orange County, Ca,
    I disagree. You make it sound like the scientific community is filled with many liars and crack-pots.

    It's only been a handful of cases where some scientist does something intellectually honest, and is caught and exposed. It's very rare, and not the norm at all. Actually, it is something you routinely find with the OTHER side....fudging the numbers, taking things out of context or absolutely making things up that cannot readily be proven or unproven.

    They have a whole museum in the south based on fake, pseudo-science. That painting of Napolean riding the T-Rex is probably hanging in their main lobby!

Share This Page