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On the trusting of Scientists
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On the trusting of Scientists:

 1 Oscredwin, Tue, 6th Dec '11 6:53:36 AM from The Frozen East
Cold.
Some people on this board have expressed a distrust of scientists doing whatever they want. It's been suggested that they need detailed supervision to keep them from wrecking the world. Nuclear weapons have been brought up as an example.

Nuclear weapons weren't the result of scientists acting without supervision, but of scientists collected by the army in order to do this thing. I doubt any evidence exists that scientists are especially untrustworthy or especially dangerous. Things developed by scientists can cause problems, but science experiments gone wrong are much less likely and much less harmful than political experiments gone wrong.
Sex, Drugs, and Rationality
We're Having All The Fun
So what's there to discuss in this thread? Yes, trusting scientists absolutely is a recipe for disaster and mistrusting them is a recipe for disaster as well. Same with any person or organization. They need regulation to stop them from doing balls-to-the-walls stuff, but not too much so that it prevents them from doing important stuff. It does not seem like you have given a subject to discuss, so much as you have made some declarative statements which the majority (should) agree on.
All I do, is sit down at the computer, and start hittin' the keys. Getting them in the right order, that's the trick.
 3 Oscredwin, Tue, 6th Dec '11 7:02:17 AM from The Frozen East
Cold.
USAF has argued in other threads that scientists need to be watched over by the military and threatened with nuclear weapons.

I've noticed that scientists don't really need outside regulation, when they noticed they did crazy shit (M Ilgram experiments, etc) suddenly ethics boards popped up and you can't get any money to do research or get your results published if you don't go through an ethics board. These weren't imposed by governments, over the objections of scientists, after seeing bad experiments but put forward by the scientific community and then enshrined in the legal system. This is a clear case of self regulation working.
Sex, Drugs, and Rationality
We're Having All The Fun
Who cares where the regulation is from so long as it is effective in preventing things like unethical experiments without being a detriment to useful and ethical science? Does it matter if it is self-regulated, military regulated, government regulated or regulated by the divine gospel of Chris Corner? So long as it does its job and remains impartial, where's the problem?

All I do, is sit down at the computer, and start hittin' the keys. Getting them in the right order, that's the trick.
 5 Oscredwin, Tue, 6th Dec '11 7:08:09 AM from The Frozen East
Cold.
In principle it doesn't matter. I find, however, that when people who don't understand something deeply try to regulate it, they end up missing things they wanted to restrict and restricting things that don't do harm.
Sex, Drugs, and Rationality
We're Having All The Fun
Sure, but when you have groups self-regulating, you can end up with insular system which is built on Nepotism and promotion of things that the industry is supporting of. Every system of regulation has its problems, but provided the result is good, who cares about the method?
All I do, is sit down at the computer, and start hittin' the keys. Getting them in the right order, that's the trick.
Is that cake frosting?
Well, as the craziest stuff that scientists ever did (project MKULTRA, that experiment on syphilis, and so on) was in government-controlled programs, I rather doubt that more governmental control is a desirable choice here.

edited 6th Dec '11 7:16:32 AM by Carciofus

But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas.

 8 Ailedhoo, Tue, 6th Dec '11 7:29:29 AM from an unknown location
I sense a massive problem in persuming that scientists are ammoral; why should our reaserchers advance to the next people if society decides to outcast them as villains? That would be recipe for a Dark Age.

I suggest that regulation must be in ballance; give them enough freedom to delph into feilds of intrest without fear of being watched by authorterians, while ensuring the structure to ensure that the discoveries are shared throughout the scientific community and ensuring that any ethical mishaps are delt with. Simple; the problem comes if you place the wrong kind of regulation; the "science is evil" type hinders progress, the forcing into a area may cause slow results and keeping things profit focus may lead to science being of a fashion as oppose to the research for the next era.
 9 Ace of Spades, Tue, 6th Dec '11 7:34:50 AM from The Wild Blue Yonder Relationship Status: I wanna know about these strangers like me
Well, clearly scientists need ethics boards and the like supervising them. But I tend to think what a scientist will do is fostered by the cultural environment; Would Mengele have done what he did if he had grown up in an environment that hadn't been marginalizing the Jews for years?

Basically, most scientists are fairly moral people, but the morals of the people overseeing them matter as well. As for trusting them with facts, given that the process of science is constant fact checking I'll trust them to know what they're talking about in most cases. After all, they make a career out of researching their subject of choice quite obsessively.
Well, I got into science myself out of a desire to help my fellow human beings, and because its so goddamn beautiful to see the "music of the spheres" in action.

Some go into the sciences out of desire for wealth (mostly folks hoping to be doctors, of all things), but it seems to me that that is a rare case.

I think that distrust of science exists mostly out of "distrust of people with power over me", which is reasonable up to a point. I mean really, if you are that afraid of science that you think they should be treated like prisoners, maybe you could alleviate some of those fears by becoming one yourself. For example, taking one course on genetics at a local community college would probably make certain people stop going on about how genetic engineering will destroy us all. Are there concerns? Certainly, but scientists aren't stupid people and they have addressed many of those concerns. For example, could a genetically engineered crop plant ruin an ecosystem by breeding out of control? It could, if it weren't for the fact that all genetically engineered plants are designed to produce infertile hybrids when they attempt to breed outside of the seed-production sites. just saying, taking the time to actually do the research instead of just fearing something that you don't understand is a much better way to go through life.
 
 11 USAF713, Tue, 6th Dec '11 2:41:58 PM from the United States
I changed accounts.
Military-grade (optional: nuclear) self-destruct bunkers are only good for stupid shit, like bioweapons research.

I'm... content... with ethics boards for most of it, assuming such bodies continue to include non-scientists.
I am now known as Flyboy.
Is that cake frosting?
Most scientists do not work with especially destructive or dangerous stuff. And those who do have security protocols, and they are generally available to the public and to the relevant authorities.

A friend of mine works in neurology, and you would not believe how many permissions you have to ask for before slashing some rat brains. I have no idea how things work in, I dunno, toxicology or nuclear physics or the like, but I am pretty sure that it's not a matter of people coming up with an interesting experiment and doing it.
But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas.

Yea. Take for example the center for disease control. I bet there is some archived military plan to destroy it with fire should anything go wrong.

I will always cherish the chance of a new beggining.
 14 USAF713, Tue, 6th Dec '11 6:14:16 PM from the United States
I changed accounts.
~shrug~

So long as the ethics boards are lawfully enforced—i.e. the scientists can't up and decide one day to stop voluntarily policing themselves—I'm less worried about it and more passive-aggressive towards anything overly daring, which doesn't happen terribly often, I'll admit...
I am now known as Flyboy.
knowledge is never the problem. it's what people do with the knowledge that's the problem.

keep all those CE Os, politicians, and extremists locked up in the self-destructing bunker instead.
Adel: Low EARTH orbit! Quistis: FIRE Cavern! Selphie: AIR head! Edea: ICE spear! Rinoa: HEART illy! Ultimecia: By powers COMPRESSED
> USAF has argued in other threads that scientists need to be watched over by the military and threatened with nuclear weapons.

USAF > I'm... content... with ethics boards for most of it, assuming such bodies continue to include non-scientists.

Ailedhoo > I sense a massive problem in persuming that scientists are ammoral; why should our reaserchers advance to the next people if society decides to outcast them as villains? That would be recipe for a Dark Age. [awesome]

Agree with Ailedhoo, scientist is no more moral or amoral than random people. Assuming scientist is amoral is non-sense. Other have pointed out that Military and CIA also frequently conduct amoral project, having them watching scientist will not increased morality in science project.

 17 De Marquis, Tue, 6th Dec '11 7:39:07 PM from Hell, USA Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
I have more of a problem with psychologists and social scientists claiming to know more than they actually know. There are a ton of childraising models that have little more than anecdotal evidence supporting them, for example, but many parents feel they have little choice but to trust the experts. There are other examples as well.
“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
 18 USAF713, Tue, 6th Dec '11 7:41:04 PM from the United States
I changed accounts.
Saying that scientists are "more" immoral than the rest of society—or, as I would put it, more selfish than the rest of society—is absurd.

They are simply in positions where their selfishness could cause quite a bit of damage...
I am now known as Flyboy.
 19 Oscredwin, Tue, 6th Dec '11 9:57:22 PM from The Frozen East
Cold.
[up]What, exactly, does a selfish scientist who does a lot of harm look like? Real world examples are preferred.
Sex, Drugs, and Rationality
 20 USAF713, Tue, 6th Dec '11 10:05:21 PM from the United States
I changed accounts.
Any number of scientists who used their position in the early 1900s to push their prejudices in the form of eugenics.

Of course, today we would hardly call such monstrous bastards "scientists, " and they are in fact a disgrace to the job description. At the time, however, they were legitimate scholars of their field—which itself was treated as something to see as plausible, rather than hateful garbage to be stamped out and burned.
I am now known as Flyboy.
 21 Oscredwin, Tue, 6th Dec '11 10:09:20 PM from The Frozen East
Cold.
I think you're using the word selfish as a synonym for bad. Failing to conduct rigorous studies and seeing what you expect to see is bad science, and in this case harmful. But how is it selfish? It doesn't help the scientist much. It sets his race above the other races, but it also helps all his friends, countrymen, and political enemies (oposite party, rival nation).
Sex, Drugs, and Rationality
 22 The Earth Sheep, Tue, 6th Dec '11 10:14:43 PM from a Pasture hexagon
Christmas Sheep
It's not selfish, but I can think of a few quacks who just said stuff and people accepted that stuff as scientific fact for decades, if not centuries, setting back scientific progress, for example Aristotle's whole "Elements" business, which basically stopped science for 1500 years single-handedly, or Freud, who was just a creepy, old crack addict, yet remains the most well-known "psychologist" ever.

Anyway, that's what happens when you implicitly trust things that random people say as fact. That's where Christianity has gone wrong for like 1800 years.
Still Sheepin'
Is that cake frosting?
for example Aristotle's whole "Elements" business, which basically stopped science for 1500 years single-handedly
That was not Aristotle, it was Empedocles (although Aristotle certainly contributed to these elements becoming popular).

The theory was not bad for the time: Democritus' atomism was much more unsubstantiated, and bore no more than a passing resemblance to modern atomic theory. And you cannot fault Aristotle for some later thinkers taking his works as Word of God. He never claimed that he was infallible.

And about science having been "stopped" for 1500 years... yeah, that actually never happened. The classical era, and the medieval one even more so, saw a number of technological and scientific innovations. In the fourteenth century, the Oxford Calculators could pull off mathematics that far surpassed what could be done in the classical era. Late medieval metallurgy and architecture were far superior to those of the classical period. And so on.

The whole "dark age of ignorance" idea comes from some Renaissance authors, who had their own reasons for depicting the Middle Ages as a period of ignorance and slavish adherence to Aristotle and for pushing Neoplatonism as an alternative.*

edited 6th Dec '11 10:32:01 PM by Carciofus

But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas.

 24 The Earth Sheep, Tue, 6th Dec '11 10:29:57 PM from a Pasture hexagon
Christmas Sheep
[up] I know, I was exaggerating. Sorry, I tend to do that. But actual physical science was held up by the element theory, I mean, can you imagine where we'd be right now if we'd gone with Atom theory in the first place? That's potentially 1500 more years of progress!
Still Sheepin'
 25 USAF713, Tue, 6th Dec '11 10:30:42 PM from the United States
I changed accounts.
Selfishness is not limited to individuals. Groups can be selfish as well; look at the conflict between the developed and undeveloped world.

Also, I agree, while the vast majority of scientists are generally good people out to help society, we still shouldn't just take what they say on face value. That is part of the problem with the position of the scientist: they have social authority.

We take what they say as truth and take that for granted, because they're scientists, of course, and must know what they're saying. This position of privilege shields them, in some cases, from criticism, and it doesn't make for good science to not have any criticism of ideas.

Not that all criticism of scientific theory is valid, though. See: the creationism-evolution debate, the global warming debate, etc.
I am now known as Flyboy.
Total posts: 35
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