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Scientific American-7 Most Misunderstood Word

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#46    cacoseraph

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 02:04 PM

View PostElfin, on 30 August 2013 - 12:23 PM, said:

What is it about science that induces so much insufferable arrogance in some of its advocates?

Centuries of being the most demonstrably correct game in town?  Yeah, probably that.


#47    Elfin

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 02:06 PM

View Postcacoseraph, on 30 August 2013 - 02:04 PM, said:

Centuries of being the most demonstrably correct game in town?  Yeah, probably that.

I rest my case.

Actually, I have no argument with science or its principles. But quite a lot of scientists annoy me almost as much as Christian preachers do.


#48    -M7

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 09:50 PM

I knew America's education system was really bad...I guess this just proves me right.


#49    Einsteinium

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Posted 03 September 2013 - 01:57 PM

View PostElfin, on 30 August 2013 - 01:04 PM, said:

You mean hardcore Christians and people like that? Presumably because they are just as elitist and exclusivist.

Its not like the scientific meaning of certain words is secret and unknowable. Instead of complaining about being called ignorant go out and actually learn the scientific definition of the words, then you will be able to speak the language of the scientists and understand what they are saying. It is not up to them to teach you the terminology they use. It is all out there, in books, online. You can learn it, if you want. I am an engineer and I am not going to dumb down results I obtain just so that people not educated in engineering can understand it. It is up to the person trying to understand it to learn the terminology. If you read a book that is written in a different time, where words might have had slightly different usages, do you demand that the book be re-written to help you understand it? Or do you just bite the bullet and take some time to learn what it is you need to know?

Stop whining about the 'arrogance' of scientists. Last I checked, the entire human race was corrupted with arrogance and ignorance. Not just scientists or religious nut-jobs. It is a human problem.


#50    Elfin

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Posted 03 September 2013 - 04:12 PM

View PostEinsteinium, on 03 September 2013 - 01:57 PM, said:

Its not like the scientific meaning of certain words is secret and unknowable. Instead of complaining about being called ignorant go out and actually learn the scientific definition of the words, then you will be able to speak the language of the scientists and understand what they are saying. It is not up to them to teach you the terminology they use. It is all out there, in books, online. You can learn it, if you want. I am an engineer and I am not going to dumb down results I obtain just so that people not educated in engineering can understand it. It is up to the person trying to understand it to learn the terminology. If you read a book that is written in a different time, where words might have had slightly different usages, do you demand that the book be re-written to help you understand it? Or do you just bite the bullet and take some time to learn what it is you need to know?

Stop whining about the 'arrogance' of scientists. Last I checked, the entire human race was corrupted with arrogance and ignorance. Not just scientists or religious nut-jobs. It is a human problem.

I've said before that I've no problem with special interest groups inventing their own jargon, it happens all the time. The problem comes when one particular group starts trying to tell us that the common definitions of words are "wrong".


#51    Einsteinium

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Posted 03 September 2013 - 06:00 PM

View PostElfin, on 03 September 2013 - 04:12 PM, said:

I've said before that I've no problem with special interest groups inventing their own jargon, it happens all the time. The problem comes when one particular group starts trying to tell us that the common definitions of words are "wrong".

They are not saying that the common definition is wrong. They are saying that people are using these words when referring to scientific things, where the scientific definition must be used, and applying the common definition to the word. Thus communicating entirely wrong ideas about science. Think of it as using the wrong definition of a known word like windy. I drove down the windy road and the weather was quite windy. Same word, two entirely different definitions. The problem with the science terminology is that the definitions are close enough to the common definitions that people are unable to use the correct definition when applying the words to science concepts. It is like people everywhere are using the wrong their, they're, or there in a sentence. You can see how frustrating this is to scientists who are battling the sad state of scientific ignorance in the majority of the population. Scientist: "UGH NO you need to use the word THEIR, not THERE!" Other person "You arrogant fool! I know what THERE means and now you are trying to change it to be something different!" Scientist- *facepalm....goes back to his fellow scientists, "I think we need to come up with new words that are different enough from existing words and meanings so that people stop using the wrong definition when applying the words to  science." Other person, "Those arrogant scientists are trying to steal our words!!!!"

*double facepalm* do you see how flawed your argument here is?


#52    Frank Merton

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Posted 03 September 2013 - 06:06 PM

Of course the real problem is the word "theory," which in common speech refers to an idea or a hypothesis but in scientific theory is a body of knowledge or a description of things.  Thus, you have "atomic theory," "genetic theory," "quantum theory," and, of course the theory of evolution ("evolutionary theory").

By the way, please, if your post is more than a few sentences, please break it into paragraphs.  It make what you post easier to read, less intimidating, and more likely to get read.


#53    ShadowSot

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Posted 06 September 2013 - 08:53 PM

View PostElfin, on 30 August 2013 - 06:53 AM, said:



The real problem is scientists redefining words, then telling the rest of us that the old definitions are wrong. If they just want to use their own jargon among themselves, that's fine. All groups do that, not only as a means to help communication between members but also to exclude others. But no other group, at least in modern times (the Church did it in the middle ages), try and impose their definitions on the rest of us.

An obvious solution would be to put the word "scientific" before a term, unless it was clearly obvious by the context (e.g. in a scientific paper). So, for example, whereas the original definition of "theory" is an idea that might explain something, and this is still how the word is used by almost everyone, if scientists want it to mean something completely different, they should always say "scientific theory". One does wonder, however, why they chose to redefine it in such a radical way. Seems quite perverse, almost asking for trouble.

Sorry, but here you are flat wrong.
What does passing mean? If you are colored, it means something different from if you are a student or if your are trans or if you are in quality control.

What does male to female mean? It means something different if you are trans or if you work with computer or if you are an engineer.

What they are sayig in the article, and which you seem to be not getting, is that when it comes to trying to communicate science to the public, certain words have a common usage that overrides the scientificc version of the words and only adds to the confusion. As has been pointed out multiple times, the religious right in the US and the conservatives have used the common meaning of the word "theory," even with the scientific label, to undermine scientific findings on evolution and climate change.

Now, you seem to be just focused on how those meany scientists are attempting to redefine words, when that is not the point of the article and seems to be entirely your own bias.

It was so much easier to blame it on Them. It was bleakly depressing to think that They were Us. If it was Them, then nothing was anyone's fault. If it was us, what did that make Me? After all, I'm one of Us. I must be. I've certainly never thought of myself as one of Them. No one ever thinks of themselves as one of Them. We're always one of Us. It's Them that do the bad things.
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#54    Mikko-kun

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Posted 18 December 2013 - 09:14 PM

View Postcacoseraph, on 30 August 2013 - 09:11 AM, said:

i kind of suspect some of the contributors to this thread don't possess any extraordinary knowledge about any given field?  common folk, lay people, just can not understand the lingo of a specialized field.  that is fine, to be expected, really.  but, to expect all specialized field workers to conform their parlance to that which an uneducated person could understand?  laughable!  i possess specialized knowledge in at least two fields. computer programming and invertebrate biology and taxonomy.  to accurately and concisely describe things and events in a useful manner our parlance basically requires that we separate from the lingo used by the bulk of humans in their average case.   if you can't understand that then i suspect that most scientific discourse is just going FLY over your head.  in specialized disciplines the accuracy and unambiguity of the text we use so far exceeds that of normal people in the normal course of their normal lives that at some point it splits off from normal language.  as far as i can tell, such a thing is unavoidable.

Well that's really good for you sir. I possess knowledge in astrology, metalworking both on a degree level. I know the high academics tend to look up their noses on such things more often, but at least there we strive to make things more understandable for common folk, for practical reasons but also much because of what an old teacher of mine said I think...

"the more you can put things to plain terms & your very own words, the more you tend to understand the actual things"... being able to do that is a merit, in my book it is. Anyone can spout out jargon after they've studied the jargon thing enough, but it takes brain use to translate it fluently.

Words... I'm a life artist. That's enough.
It all starts from awareness and presense.





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