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Are we amateurs playing scientists?

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posted on Apr, 6 2010 @ 09:05 AM
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There has from time to time on threads with a more scientific content been the suggestion that we (as ATSers) are not capable of making informed decisions because we are not scientists, that we are just amateurs playing at the subject; that unless it is peer reviewed documentation in an official journal it is not worth looking at.

What I wish to say is aimed at all of us who dabble, and as a rebuttal to those who sneer. May this be an encouragement to continue.

Peer review

First let me get the peer reviewed stuff out of the way.What ever is posted on a thread is very definitely peer reviewed, have no doubt about that. Where something appears to be wrong it is jumped on. Compare this to the scientific paper which as far as I can judge, is peer reviewed often on the basis that "oh Fred Jones wrote that, yes that must be OK". I look at articles and look at the bibliography and so many many times find that the article is just a rehash of all the others and effectively nothing new has been said. I may be being a but harsh about the peer review out in the scientific world, but equally peer review in here is harsh.

Innovation

In all walks of life there are the innovators/action persons, and the sheeple. Nothing is different with respect to the threads. I am not accusing anyone here of being a sheeple, on the contrary the fact that you are on ATS, is an indicator that you are definitely not one of the sheeple. Lots of good ideas come up here and lots of more way out 'Robinesque' ideas (an idea that seems very far fetched - Yellowstone), and this is good. Without new ideas and viewpoints you do not have a debate, and without a debate nothing can get determined and life becomes flat and the dumbing down has succeeded.

Keep up the ideas folks and always speak your mind. Yes you will be pounced upon by the odd troll (and some of them are very odd), but by and large your idea will be discussed, dissected and accepted or rejected or put on the back burner in some cases while further research is done. All of this is good. Good for you and good for us because it promotes....

Knowledge

Ah, yes. Knowledge is acquired in many ways. Some are the accepted ways, and lead to accepted qualifications, and others are not, and of course before anyone says it some are by our mistakes!. All acquisition of knowledge however is good. All through life there is a process of learning, and I believe that once you stop learning, stop trying to acquire knowledge, stop looking for answers, then you may as well be dead as you have ceased to function.

I am continually impressed on ATS generally, at the ability of participants to come up with links to information whether it be good or bad, right or wrong. A huge amount of time goes into topics by active participants, and it requires an ability to know if an article is relevant.

There are of course many different levels of ability and knowledge amongst the participants, but all input should be welcomed. Even the troll has a place if he/she makes us think about what has been said.

The process of acquiring knowledge is for the most part, as far as academic subjects are concerned, carried during ones education. A suitable level of academic achievement having been obtained you can then go on to university.

But let us take a look at Uni. People and employers increasingly pay homage to the degree, but is it really an indicator of better knowledge? Particularly of late more and more 'research' is done by students on the Internet, and less and less is disseminated in lectures. Indeed there are Universities where there are no lectures as such (Open University for example). So yes of course it indicates a better knowledge but....

Do you see a similarity between what the students do and what we do?

You could look at it from the angle that all research we carry out is part of undergraduate studies for a degree, or in some cases of a thesis for an MA or even a Doctorate. The latter achievement is almost always awarded on the basis of personal investigation into a subject, and is more often than not carrying a considerable weight of material by others referenced in the text. These are really no different from scientific papers. They are also no different in many respects to the higher levels of research put in by folks on this and other threads.

After a couple more years you could award yourselves a "Doctorate in ATSology"! Some have already achieved that level!

In my humble opinion the work put in on threads represents a considerable achievement by all involved and again in my humble opinion is often worthy of the award of a degree.

Please all keep up the good work. Your efforts are genuinely valuable and just as valid as many scientific opinions in some cases.

Never let anyone come on any thread and say you are just amateurs and should leave it to the scientists. They too were amateurs once, and you are becoming less and less of one (amateur) every day that you continue to assimilate knowledge on the subject of your choice.

I would like to offer my sincere thanks to my DB who sowed the seed of this post and who contributed outlines to it.




posted on Apr, 6 2010 @ 09:16 AM
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reply to post by PuterMan
 


Many great connective threads of science have come from so called amateurs observing at their leisure, against science often rushing projects through to only later amend or adjust accordingly via external input. This particularly so in medical fields.

Science rarely has any morals only goals, but the external observer often does relate from a moral stance, usually reminding science that, there are some things you can do, but it doesn't mean you should! Sometimes the so called experts actually listen!

All good points you raise, thank you!



posted on Apr, 6 2010 @ 09:19 AM
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Originally posted by Velvet1
reply to post by PuterMan
 


Many great connective threads of science have come from so called amateurs observing at their leisure, against science often rushing projects through to only later amend or adjust accordingly via external input. This particularly so in medical fields.

Science rarely has any morals only goals, but the external observer often does relate from a moral stance, usually reminding science that, there are some things you can do, but it doesn't mean you should! Sometimes the so called experts actually listen!

All good points you raise, thank you!



ps... I forgot to add to your Uni references...The western world is fast becoming occupied by people with degrees where metaphorically the majority know that 2+2=4 BUT they don't know 'why'?



posted on Apr, 6 2010 @ 09:26 AM
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reply to post by Velvet1
 


This is so true. As you say most know 2+2=4 but don't know why.

I sort of forgot to add in my original post the tale - I think in a Bill Bryson book - about the guy who left school at 13, got interested in science and managed to write papers. He was widely accepted and famous when they discovered that he did not have a degree.

He was awarded an honorary one as they could not knock his work since it was so widely admired.

[edit on 6/4/2010 by PuterMan]



posted on Apr, 6 2010 @ 09:30 AM
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Industrial espionage is big business.

Just look how ipad already has a clone in china.

Peoples always are stealing.



posted on Apr, 6 2010 @ 09:35 AM
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reply to post by PuterMan
 


Well that was a good OP. I believe that we at ATS can certainly weed out someof the more far-fetched revelations that appear from time to time. As an undergraduate I was told of the paper that was written by the wife of a well-respected professor of biology who was herself held a relevant doctorate Helminth parasitology. Her paper was on a new specis of parasite worm and duly published. Unfortunately what she had done was mis-identified the damaged tail of an existing specis of worm ( Diphylobothrium sp?) anyway we undergraduates started rushing to the library to see the mightys shadenfreuden only to be stoped in mid stamped and informed that such papers are rapidly removed from the journals.

[edit on 6-4-2010 by Tiger5]



posted on Apr, 6 2010 @ 09:52 AM
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Originally posted by PuterMan
There has from time to time on threads with a more scientific content been the suggestion that we (as ATSers) are not capable of making informed decisions because we are not scientists, that we are just amateurs playing at the subject; that unless it is peer reviewed documentation in an official journal it is not worth looking at.


Hmm, could you give us a specific example or two of this, considering it is a central point to your thread here? I really detest generalizations.

While the premise of the thread is noteworthy, let us not forget that those who are genuinely scientists have emerged as such due to a vast amount of study and application, and usually are able to see things from a particular perspective that only those with that study and knowledge can perceive.

And seeing as we both know earthquakes and Yellowstone for example:

The debate has raged on as to whether or not the YVO's position on Yellowstone not erupting any time soon, and lack of any kind of alerts on the park despite countless swarms and quakes, is a case in point.

While I am happy to entertain ideas about it, and used to even disagree with the YVO, making threads like "Yellowstone: What If They Are Wrong?"-
The bottom line is so far- THEY HAVE BEEN RIGHT. Yellowstone grumps and moans, but no eruption.

And there's a reason for that. First, they have not only the knowledge, but they also have the resources and tools behind the conclusions they draw. They therefore hold a certain value.

For anyone to contest that value, is a tall order to say the least, even when we are talking about a beast as unpredictable as Yellowstone. Who here has the kind of access to data, tools, experience, and knowledge that has been accumulated at the USGS/YVO?

But that said, I still wonder why for instance, the AVO just raised the alert level at Redoubt again, based upon repetitive micro quakes occurring, just on one station alone, RSO. And these on average are MUCH smaller than most of the quakes we see in the average Yellowstone swarm. It just makes me wonder whether the economic might that is Yellowstone Park annually is really playing a part here- and because of the huge amounts of money involved, as opposed to little for Redoubt, if they are taking a lot more risk. Not only with their own lives, but with those that visit the park.

But anyway- I am all about entertaining and keeping an open mind to new ideas- don't get me wrong. But I am also about seriously considering the extremely well backed conclusions made by real scientists. Discerning the fine line between politics and science, however, is where the experienced ATSer can wield additional insight.

[edit on Tue Apr 6th 2010 by TrueAmerican]



posted on Apr, 6 2010 @ 10:00 AM
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Originally posted by PuterMan
reply to post by Velvet1
 


This is so true. As you say most know 2+2=4 but don't know why.

I sort of forgot to add in my original post the tale - I think in a Bill Bryson book - about the guy who left school at 13, got interested in science and managed to write papers. He was widely accepted and famous when they discovered that he did not have a degree.

He was awarded an honorary one as they could not knock his work since it was so widely admired.

[edit on 6/4/2010 by PuterMan]



Entrepreneurs classically never have degrees, as structured formal learning interferes with creativity in most cases of natural genius. Spiritual leaders same. They are often given honorary degrees to make them 'officially' recognised in a world obsessed with pieces of paper that are often only good for wiping your arse on, against real intuitive and applied nature skills.

Some good examples of eXtraordinary and some not so extraordinary but still made it to top positions in their life. All people who have/had no real formal education, did poorly in college or rebelled and in essence tutored themselves!

Einstein - described education as Rote Learning which taught nothing to anyone except a parrot!

en.wikipedia.org...

Abraham Lincoln
Andrew Jackson
John Major
Richard Branson
Bill Gates
Alan Sugar

And the list could go on...only illustrating that without the so called, uneducated common man's influence, the world would not have much of what it takes for granted today!

Good quote: Brains are 2 a penny, genius is a rare commodity, usually found in back streets!



posted on Apr, 6 2010 @ 10:26 AM
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reply to post by TrueAmerican
 


Hi True Amercan. The way I read your response it seems you are asking for a specific example of persons denigrating the efforts of contributors to the threads. Am I reading this wrong? You surely cannot be asking that as you have responded yourself only recently to such a troll.


While the premise of the thread is noteworthy, let us not forget that those who are genuinely scientists have emerged as such due to a vast amount of study and application, and usually are able to see things from a particular perspective that only those with that study and knowledge can perceive.

and

And there's a reason for that. First, they have not only the knowledge, but they also have the resources and tools behind the conclusions they draw. They therefore hold a certain value.

For anyone to contest that value, is a tall order to say the least, even when we are talking about a beast as unpredictable as Yellowstone. Who here has the kind of access to data, tools, experience, and knowledge that has been accumulated at the USGS/YVO?


For the first part yes, this perspective is achieved through study - just exactly what some on ATS are doing. This is my point, that the process of learning is not just resident in the classroom. I would also add that the potential benefit of the external route to academia is that the viewpoint is NOT restricted by accepted science and thus has the opportunity to plumb new depths unfettered.

As to the second point, think how much more some here could do with full access to that set of resources. I am not saying under any circumstances that the scientists are wrong nor contesting their value, just that all learning contributes to knowledge and that knowledge obtained from less conventional routes can be just as valid. I refer you to the tale of man who got an honorary degree that I posted above. This does not deny the validity of the conventional routes.


But I am also about seriously considering the extremely well backed conclusions made by real scientists.


Yes so am I, until they are proven wrong either by other scientists or by experienced amateurs! (Flat Earth? Earth is the centre of the Universe? All global warming is caused by humans
)

This was not intended in any way to be an attack on scientist but rather an attack on trolls!



posted on Apr, 6 2010 @ 10:40 AM
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reply to post by PuterMan
 


I meant could you give us a specific example of "the suggestion that we (as ATSers) are not capable of making informed decisions because we are not scientists, that we are just amateurs playing at the subject; that unless it is peer reviewed documentation in an official journal it is not worth looking at."

Are you talking about someone such as Phage, for example? Or who? I just wanted to see an actual post where this occurs.



posted on Apr, 6 2010 @ 04:28 PM
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reply to post by PuterMan
 


Interesting subject. One I think about often esp. here on ATS.

I have a wide field of interest esp. in the sciences even formal education and a couple degrees in a specific area of biological science. What I've noticed often is that in my specific area of knowledge I have quite and advantage over lay people although they try long and hard, they don't get the overall picture. This may be somewhat like the guy was saying about the volcanologists, not sure.

I wish there was some way of seeing the qualifications of posters esp. on the technical subjects although that would take some of the fun out of it. As it is the only way to determine depth of knowledge and experience is to read and pass judgement.



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