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MicVR
2010-Sep-16, 02:55 PM
A very brief introduction:
I am a theoretical physicist, originally from the Netherlands, currently on a guest lecture in the USA.
I am married and have 3 (pretty much grown-up) children. Being a teacher myself and having raised kids I feel very passionate about education.

Over the last few months I have read many threads on this forum without actively participating and just a week or so ago I became an official member.

This forum says they are or want to be family and teacher oriented or friendly.
I would like to invite you to take a closer look at that.

Let me begin with my impressions on how discussions are conducted here.
I invite you to take a look into the ATM (Against The Mainstream) and CT (Conspiracy Theories) sections.

Not long ago there was a thread, called "ATM observations" http://www.bautforum.com/showthread.php/106544-ATM-Observations
where the starter of the thread stated that "ATM is a bloodbath".
I tend to agree with that assessment.

In the course of that thread BAUTians explained that this was the way science was done.

Well, let me tell you (as someone who has guided quite a few students to their PhD) that
a) yes, science is a tough test for one's ideas and it is supposed to be. I don't argue with that. Rigorous scrutiny is part of the scientific method.
b) It is the tone that makes the music. If I knew that one of my assistants or PhD students would treat other students in the way people are treated here, I would give him/her a piece of my mind and if I heard of such behavior again (s)he would most likely be fired.

The language here is kept clean here when it comes to profanity and swear words - the moderators see to that.
However, the general tone expressed by many (probably the majority of) BAUTians is very closed-minded, garnered with hostility, impoliteness and ridicule.
It is rather devoid of humor and has little to do with the spirit of science.

Also, you may notice that many thread starters have been banned. They are mostly supporters of ATM ideas.
I certainly don't argue with the fact that many people with ATM ideas are quite fixated on their ideas and not necessarily open to criticism.
I am sure quite a few bans are justified because they took criticism as personal insult and became aggressive.
On the other hand I have observed that the moderators here are sometimes biased and tend to rarely call established BAUTians to order and proper behavior. And they (the established BAUTians) are very often the ones who escalate the tone of the "debate" into ridicule and hostility and the ATM supporter (over)reacts in kind and gets banned. The ban itself can be justified by the official board rules
but that is only half the truth.
There are quite a few BAUTians who seem to have nothing else to do but scan the ATM and CT sections like vultures, waiting for prey they can ridicule and scare away. I do get that feeling quite often when reading through the threads...


The main point of my criticism and the main reason why I can not recommend this forum to play a role in childrens' education:
The distinct closed-mindedness of the BAUT community in general (with some exceptions).
It is almost legendary. Some of my students regularly make fun of the attitude of this forum. In fact, that is how BAUT was brought to my attention a few months ago and I went to see for myself what is going on.
I tend to agree with their observations.

You may find that many here try to declare their personal opinions on certain topics as science.
Scientists as human beings are of course fully entitled to their opinions on all kinds of subjects.
But speaking with authority AS Science is a serious matter, certainly when it comes to educating children.

You may find this declarative arrogance with all kinds of subjects.
For example string theory and white holes.
I know personally some who are involved in the development of string theory and the vast majority of those I know is very open to constructive criticism and they enjoy a controversial debate. They don't declare their theory as fact or proven.
However, many BAUTians tend to do just that with regard to their personal opinion about string theory.

Another example is the topic of white holes.
As a personal opinion I would agree that they seem unlikely but nobody can rule them out at this point.

They also show the same attitude when it comes to more controversial subjects like alien visitations (UFOs).
The fact of the matter is you will find established and renowned scientists on both sides of the debate.
Many BAUTians seem rather enamored with and emotionally attached to their personal opinions.
They feel the strong need to declare them as Science fact.
A good example is the recent thread about Michio Kaku (in the CT section).
Michio Kaku is a well-known theoretical physicist who said in a TV interview that he sees alien visitations
as a possible explanation for some phenomena but he also clearly stated that there was no smoking gun evidence.
For some reason I felt moved to participate in that thread at some point (and that is the reason I mention it here in more detail) and state that they correctly say that there is not enough (publicly available) evidence.
And that is really where it must end if you want to speak with declarative authority.
We simply don't know enough. All that is said is necessarily a personal opinion.
Most participants didn't seem to be able to hear that. They just kept on fighting as if I had said there was such evidence and giving me lectures about the scientific method. It felt rather fanatic I must say, blind to what I wrote.
But, please, read for yourself: http://www.bautforum.com/showthread.php/107111-Michio-Kaku

People feel the need to establish and defend their ideas with varying degrees of passion and aggression.
That is a fact of life. And by all means, BAUTians should be able to express themselves however they see fit.
It is one of the beauties of the internet to have that possibility.

If BAUT had a rule that controls this kind of arrogant behavior and if that rule was enforced by moderators with the same rigor as they enforce other rules this forum might qualify as adequate for education. But not as it is.

Why is that so important?
If you look at the history of science, especially physics, astronomy and cosmology (the main topics of this forum), we have experienced quite a few revolutionary changes, especially in the last hundred or so years.

Science is an evolutionary and sometimes revolutionary process. What is commonly accepted today may be turned upside down tomorrow. And what is ridiculed today may be commonly accepted tomorrow.

Wouldn't you think that this realization would lead to a deep humbleness?
In fact, does not a look at the night sky install that absolute awe and humbleness in anybody with their heart at the right place? The awe-inspiring realization how small we really are and how little we actually know. And hasn't Hubble shown us how beautiful and also seemingly violent this universe is?

I think we should encourage that realization in our children. They will be better people and better scientists.

However, many members here behave as if they know it all and if you dare to deviate from the establishment you are treated almost like an enemy.

There are some very knowledgeable people here at BAUT.
If you ask them questions well within the establishment you will get very good and sound answers.

But that does not necessarily make them good company in my opinion, not when it comes to children education.

A famous quote from Lord Kelvin:
"There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now. All that remains is more and more precise measurement."
Interestingly, he made that statement in 1900, shortly before Einstein revolutionized our understanding of the universe.
Lord Kelvin was an established and accomplished physicist. He made important contributions to physics, still valid today.

However, that statement shows how closed-minded he was. And it is that attitude that I am speaking out against here. From what I have seen it is that very attitude that is rather dominant in this forum.

If they had moderator enforced rules that control that attitude this forum might qualify as adequate for education.
As it is, I cannot recommend it.

EDG
2010-Sep-16, 04:03 PM
I agree with a lot of your observations. I have found a good number of BAUT members - who largely happen to be the ones who spend most of their time shooting down ATM/CT ideas - to have a very confrontational, demanding, hostile, rude, unpleasant tone and a very close-minded, negative outlook. I think that they bring that outlook and approach to conversations on other parts of the board and that it harms discussion rather than encourages it. And frankly, I have no interest in hearing that kind of tone - my ignore list is very long, and full of these people, because I do not want to endure that kind of tone.

This is not a pleasant place to be. As I said elsewhere, this place is good if you want a straightforward science question answered, but enter into an actual discussion and more often than not you just get a load of people who are full of themselves and dismissive of other ideas lecturing you about their own opinions (which they think are unassailable). A lot of people here IMO are hardened Skeptics - while skepticism (with a small s) is a part of scientific investigation, I think they take it too far and are too strict with it, to the point of being too hostile with any idea that doesn't agree with their own very strict view of what science should be.

I get that ATM/CT is supposed to be a 'furnace' where outlandish ideas must be defended. But that doesn't mean that people have to be rude about it. And it certainly doesn't mean that this attitude should apply elsewhere on the forum.

Paul Beardsley
2010-Sep-16, 04:09 PM
FWIW I am also a qualified teacher. And I would recommend BAUT without reservation.

MicVR, you appear to be taking the stance of judge here. Probably not a good idea. You have been taken to task for knowingly breaking forum rules, including name-calling. If that was all I knew about you, I would recommend that you not be allowed to teach. Realistically, I expect you have other qualities that compensate for this.

On several occasions, as I recall, you have apparently presented claims, only to say you have done no such thing. You have presented intuition as a powerful tool, then denied having done this.

You complain about ridicule. (I tend to see reductio ad absurdum where you see ridicule but there you go.) And yet you suggest that the writings of SF authors about alien visitations possibly indicates that something is up. Well, several of us on this board write SF - I've had at least three stories published about aliens on Earth. They are works of fiction. I like the idea; it doesn't mean I think it's true.

You repeatedly refer to us as closed-minded. Clearly this is intended as pejorative (albeit polite). Well I happen to think it's a good thing - as long as evidence will open the door. Lord Kelvin's outrageously wrong conclusion is often cited, and it is amusing, but let's be fair, that was how it appeared then, and the evidence that blew the old paradigm out of the water had yet to be presented. If Kelvin had said those words in 1930, then yes, he'd be deserving of ridicule.

You say there is no humour. Perhaps the many threads in Fun-and-Games and Off-topic-babbling are not to your taste but there's nothing to stop you adding something that is.

I don't think your criticisms are entirely off-beam. [Self-censored unflattering portraits of two regular posters.] But you'd probably be surprised at how many regular, popular posters have been slapped down by mods. I've seen people receive warnings for showing disrespect to banned posters who well-and-truly deserved banning.

Finally, I am genuinely curious as to what science discussion board is actually better than BAUT.

Gillianren
2010-Sep-16, 04:20 PM
I am floored at the thought of this place's being without humour. I really am.

The Backroad Astronomer
2010-Sep-16, 04:43 PM
most not of read any of Maks' posts.

CJSF
2010-Sep-16, 05:02 PM
Looks up, "You two are still here? If I thought you'd be hanging around all night, I'd have propped the door open with a book or something. My arm's getting tired."

Sorry, but this moaning is getting old. Go start your own boards.

CJSF

NEOWatcher
2010-Sep-16, 05:04 PM
Let me begin with my impressions on how discussions are conducted here.
I invite you to take a look into the ATM (Against The Mainstream) and CT (Conspiracy Theories) sections.
Is this what you are basing your opinion on?

Frankly; to condemn us all like that based on a special section of the board can be offensive.

What's your opinion about the Q&A? How does it compare to other boards?

Besides, this is an open forum on the internet. You're going to get those kinds of attitudes, especially when someone outright insults an entire history of science. It's quite difficult to control, and I think the mods are doing an exceptional job.

Do your students go in with the attitude that existing science is wrong, or do they go in with the idea that what they are proposing may be a better fit? I hope the latter, unfortunately ATM and CT is almost always the former.

captain swoop
2010-Sep-16, 06:18 PM
ATM and Conspiracy to my mind are allowed because they keep the other areas of the board 'clean' Without them the Mods would have a much harder time. For me they could be closed tomorrow but I know if they were my job would be a lot harder.
There is no rule that says you have to present any ATM or Conspiracy ideas. IF you do there are clearly laid out rules that you need to follow and extensive guide threads to how you should post there. That ATM and Conspiracy proponents don't follow the rules or guidelines and are usualy not ready to present their idea isn't the fault of the board.

If you see anything you see that is rude or impolite or breaks the board rules then report it.

Nereid
2010-Sep-16, 07:30 PM
MicVR and EDG: Can you recommend a science forum that you would say qualifies as adequate for education, of children?

I'm particularly interested to know of any that have a significant astronomy/astrophysics/space science/cosmology component.

Specifically, would Starship Asterisk* (http://bb.nightskylive.net/asterisk/index.php) so qualify?

EDG
2010-Sep-16, 08:38 PM
I don't know of any (doesn't mean that there aren't any though). I know I wouldn't recommend this one for children though - if anything, a science forum aimed at children should be specifically set up for that purpose, without other distractions.

Ideally I would really love to see ATM and CT moved to their own forum on a different site (most likely on the same server). I dislike the fact that this place is called "Bad Astronomy" when it is not specifically about that, and I think the ATM/CT parts are a harmful distraction to the Good Astronomy that is often provided on the Q&A board (which IMO has become better since the waffling diversions that some people insist on doing once the question is answered are now moved to the Astronomy or S&T board).

That Starship Asterisk looks interesting though, I'll have to take a look at that.

Van Rijn
2010-Sep-16, 09:20 PM
I don't know of any (doesn't mean that there aren't any though). I know I wouldn't recommend this one for children though - if anything, a science forum aimed at children should be specifically set up for that purpose, without other distractions.

Ideally I would really love to see ATM and CT moved to their own forum on a different site (most likely on the same server). I dislike the fact that this place is called "Bad Astronomy" when it is not specifically about that, and I think the ATM/CT parts are a harmful distraction to the Good Astronomy that is often provided on the Q&A board (which IMO has become better since the waffling diversions that some people insist on doing once the question is answered are now moved to the Astronomy or S&T board).


You joined in 2007. I joined the parent board BABB in 2004. ATM and CT have changed (and at BABB, there was no specific CT section, it was part of ATM), but a key reason I joined was that I had found a good discussion while looking for information for a friend that had watched the ridiculous Fox moon hoax special. Much of the discussion on the board was about "Bad astronomy" - bad space and astronomy related claims (moon hoax, Nibiru/Planet X the 2003 version, then later the 2012 version, and so on). I think this has been a very important part of the board, from an educational standpoint: Learning what to do and what not to do in conducting an argument, with lots of information brought up on the subjects (I've learned a great deal about Apollo that I never would have elsewhere, for example).

If it were up to me, I'd probably run CT and ATM a bit looser, like they used to be. It wouldn't be so much for the CT and ATM proponents as for the interesting information that comes up in response to the CT and ATM proponents.

Paul Beardsley
2010-Sep-16, 09:21 PM
Ideally I would really love to see ATM and CT moved to their own forum on a different site (most likely on the same server).

But do you not acknowledge the value of partitioning it off on the main site? Remove it altogether and ATM/CT will infect the regular threads.


I dislike the fact that this place is called "Bad Astronomy" when it is not specifically about that

Now that probably is a good point. Irony is fine, but children are not born with a sense of irony.

EDG
2010-Sep-16, 09:43 PM
But do you not acknowledge the value of partitioning it off on the main site? Remove it altogether and ATM/CT will infect the regular threads.

Why would partitioning it further into its own forum cause it to infect regular threads? And also, there are other science boards that don't seem to suffer from such "infection".



Now that probably is a good point. Irony is fine, but children are not born with a sense of irony.

This site really isn't aimed at kids at all though. Schoolkids aren't usually the ones proposing the crazy ATM schemes. If anything, kids may be asking some of the Q&A questions, but I doubt that many of the people there are teenagers.

R.A.F.
2010-Sep-16, 09:53 PM
...the general tone expressed by many (probably the majority of) BAUTians is very closed-minded, garnered with hostility, impoliteness and ridicule.

Closed-minded? I don't see that (nor the other things you mention) here at all, however if you think you do, there is a "remedy". Use the report button and inform the mods. Complaining on the open board is not considered "polite" here.

Gillianren
2010-Sep-16, 10:09 PM
Schoolkids aren't usually the ones proposing the crazy ATM schemes.

No, but the board isn't aimed at ATM supporters, either.

Strange
2010-Sep-16, 10:23 PM
And also, there are other science boards that don't seem to suffer from such "infection".

I suspect that may be because they have much stricter and more time-consuming moderation. And/or stricter rules. Physics Forums, for example, pretty much disallows any CT discussion at all (and, like BAUT, keeps alternative theories in their own forum - with far stricter rules than here).

inflector
2010-Sep-16, 10:49 PM
For what it's worth, my opinion having just spent a lot of time reading in ATM from a fresh perspective in preparation for a future post there myself, is that there is quite a bit of truth to MicVR's point. I just read the thread about aliens and UFOs and I did find his treatment there to be confrontational and bordering on hostile.

Some of the ATM threads can tend this way as well. Now, to me, that's just part of the territory. People are reading the posts there for a reason. Most serious people don't bother as they are filled with crap and posters who haven't bothered to learn anything about the science they claim to replace. So you'll tend to get people who enjoy tearing apart weak theories.

I think this attitude carries over into conversations with reasonable people at times. I'm not sure what you can do about this. I've certainly seen the moderators fairly actively curtail ad hominem hostility on a regular basis, and I didn't find this to be entirely one-sided. I can remember numerous instances where moderators told active forum members to back off when they stepped over the line of decency.

Nevertheless, I do find there to be a close-mindedness on the part of many forum members, but this is to be expected in a large group. I've managed lots of different people over the years, some are sticklers for exact precision and others are much more tolerant of loose discussions without precise definitions. You are going to get a full spectrum of people here.

So overall, I think it's a problem, but that the moderators are doing a decent job at a thankless task, and each one of them has a different personality and tolerance level for different types of poor behavior.

I haven't found the problem outside of ATM and CT so much. It tends to be a smaller group of posters who might perhaps feel that they have a role as defenders of science.

But after reading all the crap in ATM, I can't really blame some of them for being relatively intolerant, in some instances.

EDG
2010-Sep-16, 11:10 PM
No, but the board isn't aimed at ATM supporters, either.

Isn't it? The ATM board seems to attract them, don't you think?

Moose
2010-Sep-16, 11:21 PM
Isn't it?

No. It isn't.

Read the History of ATM sticky (in the ATM forum) if you want the basic rationale.


The ATM board seems to attract them, don't you think?

What attracts them (some of the more problematic ATMers we've seen, anyway) is some misguided perception of opportunity for easy legitimacy. Some few others come specifically to cause enough trouble to get booted, which (in their minds, seemingly) gives them some sort of street cred for having been "banned by the establishment".

Thankfully, we've seen somewhat less of this behavior over the past couple of years, with some notable exceptions.

MicVR
2010-Sep-16, 11:56 PM
FWIW I am also a qualified teacher. And I would recommend BAUT without reservation.

MicVR, you appear to be taking the stance of judge here. Probably not a good idea. You have been taken to task for knowingly breaking forum rules, including name-calling. If that was all I knew about you, I would recommend that you not be allowed to teach. Realistically, I expect you have other qualities that compensate for this.

On several occasions, as I recall, you have apparently presented claims, only to say you have done no such thing. You have presented intuition as a powerful tool, then denied having done this.

You complain about ridicule. (I tend to see reductio ad absurdum where you see ridicule but there you go.) And yet you suggest that the writings of SF authors about alien visitations possibly indicates that something is up. Well, several of us on this board write SF - I've had at least three stories published about aliens on Earth. They are works of fiction. I like the idea; it doesn't mean I think it's true.

You repeatedly refer to us as closed-minded. Clearly this is intended as pejorative (albeit polite). Well I happen to think it's a good thing - as long as evidence will open the door. Lord Kelvin's outrageously wrong conclusion is often cited, and it is amusing, but let's be fair, that was how it appeared then, and the evidence that blew the old paradigm out of the water had yet to be presented. If Kelvin had said those words in 1930, then yes, he'd be deserving of ridicule.

You say there is no humour. Perhaps the many threads in Fun-and-Games and Off-topic-babbling are not to your taste but there's nothing to stop you adding something that is.

I don't think your criticisms are entirely off-beam. [Self-censored unflattering portraits of two regular posters.] But you'd probably be surprised at how many regular, popular posters have been slapped down by mods. I've seen people receive warnings for showing disrespect to banned posters who well-and-truly deserved banning.

Finally, I am genuinely curious as to what science discussion board is actually better than BAUT.


Well, this post to some extend demonstrates some of my points.
It starts out with an ad hominem and proceeds with very distorting half-truths.

What you and some others here label "name-calling" was me characterizing some as "pseudo-skeptics".
Personally, I would certainly not consider this name calling. The behavior I saw - as confirmed by others - certainly fit the definition of pseudo-skecptics.
I leave it up the reader to decide if this was name-calling or not.
I got an "infraction" and I did not complain about it.
However, I was called a fanatic and my intelligence was seriously questioned in the Michio Kaku thread.
If that was not ad hominem and name-calling then what is your definition of it?
In fact, if I remember correctly, it was you, Paul Beardsley, who questioned my intelligence. I wonder if you, or whoever it was, received an "infraction" for that?

Also, I repeated many times that I did specifically not make any scientific claims that need defending. I simply voiced my opinion, as everybody else did, even if they didn't know it.
It seems you still have not heard what I actually said.

I mentioned intuition as a valuable tool to get a first impression or assessment of a situation - and I stand by that! - but that statement was turned in my mouth as having said that intuition was part or even a substitute for the scientific method. That is absurd and I said no such thing, of course. Not even remotely.
Again, I invite the readers to see for themselves and follow the course of the discussion. I think I entered it somewhere around the middle and left at page 8 or 9.

As far as the humor issue is concerned, since others mentioned that as well:
I thought it was clear that I meant it in the context of the sections I was specifically mentioning, but I guess I should have worded that more clearly.
There are many intelligent people on BAUT and I am sure there is plenty of humor around here (since they often go hand in hand) but I have indeed hardly spent any time at all in the "Off-Topic" section.
And, before folks go on a rant about that, I of course realize that humor is not an integral part of the scientific method, but it can be a powerful tool in human communication in general.

As far as other internet fora are concerned (Nereid mentioned that as well):
I usually do not have the time nor the inclination to participate in or even just scan them.
I only went to have a look at BAUT since some of my students mentioned it. After they mentioned it repeatedly I just decided to have a look and see what the fuzz was all about.

I don't know the other forum that was mentioned and I have no intention to check it out, really.
I felt I spent enough time reading at BAUT to get a good impression of it and I felt moved to respond to the "family-friendly" label and throw in my 2 cents as I feel passionate about the importance of a good science education.

MicVR
2010-Sep-17, 12:23 AM
...Frankly; to condemn us all like that based on a special section of the board can be offensive.

What's your opinion about the Q&A? How does it compare to other boards?

Besides, this is an open forum on the internet. You're going to get those kinds of attitudes, especially when someone outright insults an entire history of science. It's quite difficult to control, and I think the mods are doing an exceptional job.

Do your students go in with the attitude that existing science is wrong, or do they go in with the idea that what they are proposing may be a better fit? I hope the latter, unfortunately ATM and CT is almost always the former.

"Condemn" is a rather harsh word and I would not want to use it.
I assessed BAUT specifically under the aspect of children education and I stated my conclusion and how I arrived at it.

My opinion about the Q&A section?
I see many knowledgeable people there giving good and solid science feedback to questions. I see some of the closed-mindedness there as well but not as dominant as in other sections.
But you have to realize the ATM/CT sections attract a lot of people. At any given time have a look at how many viewers each section attracts and ATM/CT are usually in the top 3.
And schoolkids will do the same. They are of course also interested in string theory or UFOs and they usually do not have the intellectual training and human experience to correctly assess the statements being made.
They not only have no or little sense for irony, they also have little experience with posturing and science in general to put the statements into perspective.

Again: I do not question the competence of the scientists here. There are two longtime BAUT members I find especially commendable with regard to their knowledge but also their general attitude and openness.
I thought I made it clear in my opening statement what my focus and basis for my assessment was.
And I mentioned Lord Kelvin as an example for a very respectable physicist who despite of his qualities as a scientist I would consider "bad company" for educating children.

I realize that the declarative arrogance I was addressing is hard to control in an internet forum. I have not thought about how to do that and I don't consider it my task.
But I doubt that here at BAUT there is sufficient awareness of it to even be recognized as an issue and get addressed.

MicVR
2010-Sep-17, 12:33 AM
I've certainly seen the moderators fairly actively curtail ad hominem hostility on a regular basis, and I didn't find this to be entirely one-sided. I can remember numerous instances where moderators told active forum members to back off when they stepped over the line of decency.

Yes, I agree. It is not entirely one-sided. I have seen the same thing but I have also observed clear bias on many occasions.
In fact, I have experienced it myself but let's just leave it at that and not go into details.
I believe interested readers will find examples themselves.
Moderator behavior is not the focus of my attention here and I realize they have a tough job and that they do it entirely voluntarily.

Van Rijn
2010-Sep-17, 12:51 AM
What you and some others here label "name-calling" was me characterizing some as "pseudo-skeptics".
Personally, I would certainly not consider this name calling. The behavior I saw - as confirmed by others - certainly fit the definition of pseudo-skecptics.


As I recall, you claimed the majority of BAUT members were pseudo-skeptics in one of your early (perhaps first?) posts. In another thread, I pointed out that, to an honest skeptic, who has gone to some difficulty researching a subject using an evidence based approach, a dismisal of their position as "pseudo-skepticism" certainly can be insulting. At the very least, such claims deserve explanation, which you did not provide.

R.A.F.
2010-Sep-17, 01:53 AM
What you and some others here label "name-calling" was me characterizing some as "pseudo-skeptics".
Personally, I would certainly not consider this name calling.

So even though it has been clearly explained to you that this term is considered an insult on this board, you intend to continue using it?

Do you understand why that might not be that good of an idea?

Gillianren
2010-Sep-17, 02:17 AM
Isn't it? The ATM board seems to attract them, don't you think?

The homemade sarsaparilla stand at faire isn't aimed at wasps, either.

EDG
2010-Sep-17, 02:18 AM
It's funny how criticism of BAUT seems to be taken as a personal attack by its defenders. It's never really discussed, it always turns into one side slagging the other off. Which essentially is the whole problem, I think.

Jim
2010-Sep-17, 03:07 AM
It's funny how criticism of BAUT seems to be taken as a personal attack by its defenders. It's never really discussed, it always turns into one side slagging the other off. Which essentially is the whole problem, I think.

From the OP:

... the starter of the thread stated that "ATM is a bloodbath".
I tend to agree with that assessment.

... If I knew that one of my assistants or PhD students would treat other students in the way people are treated here, I would give him/her a piece of my mind and if I heard of such behavior again (s)he would most likely be fired.

The language here is kept clean here when it comes to profanity and swear words - the moderators see to that.
However, the general tone ... is very closed-minded, garnered with hostility, impoliteness and ridicule.
It is rather devoid of humor and has little to do with the spirit of science.

I am sure quite a few bans are justified ...
... I have observed that the moderators here are sometimes biased ... The ban itself can be justified by the official board rules but that is only half the truth.
There are quite a few BAUTians who seem to have nothing else to do but scan the ATM and CT sections like vultures, waiting for prey they can ridicule and scare away. ...

The main point of my criticism ...
The distinct closed-mindedness of the BAUT community in general (with some exceptions).
It is almost legendary. Some of my students regularly make fun of the attitude of this forum. ...

You may find this declarative arrogance with all kinds of subjects.
... Many BAUTians seem rather enamored with and emotionally attached to their personal opinions. ...
... this forum might qualify as adequate for education. But not as it is.

... many members here behave as if they know it all and if you dare to deviate from the establishment you are treated almost like an enemy.

There are some very knowledgeable people here at BAUT.
If you ask them questions well within the establishment you will get very good and sound answers.

But that does not necessarily make them good company in my opinion, not when it comes to children education.

... that statement shows how closed-minded (Kelvin) was. And it is that attitude that I am speaking out against here. From what I have seen it is that very attitude that is rather dominant in this forum.

If they had moderator enforced rules that control that attitude this forum might qualify as adequate for education.
As it is, I cannot recommend it.

Yeah, no personal attacks there. Heck, he even said some flattering things (in bold), even if he qualified that flattery.

Tensor
2010-Sep-17, 03:14 AM
In the course of that thread BAUTians explained that this was the way science was done. Well, let me tell you (as someone who has guided quite a few students to their PhD) that
a) yes, science is a tough test for one's ideas and it is supposed to be. I don't argue with that. Rigorous scrutiny is part of the scientific method.
b) It is the tone that makes the music. If I knew that one of my assistants or PhD students would treat other students in the way people are treated here, I would give him/her a piece of my mind and if I heard of such behavior again (s)he would most likely be fired.

I find your assertion here interesting. As we've had, and still have numerous people here who have been through the wringer for their PhD and are teachers, instructors and professors. In general, they are more straight forward and vocal (and that's putting it politely) about the lack of knowledge, the vacuousness of the ideas, and the attitude of of most of the ATM posters. I'm not saying you're wrong, just that we've had other here who disagree with you.

As for your student's making fun of this place for what they perceive to be close mindedness. That appears to me that their minds are too open to silly ideas. But those who believe this place is close minded usually are too open to silly ideas. But, hey, that's my opinion, just like their opinion of BAUT is one of close mindedness. Again, who decides?

Someone once complained about the intellectual lynching that supposedly occurs here. One of those that has gone through it put it this was:
"By the way, I have gone through a real 'intellectual lynching'. What we do here is an 'intellectual knuckle rap".

I'd be interested to know if would you still fire them if someone calls you telling you that one of your students has been impolite to them? Because, as it turns out, this is the callers 20th call and the caller can't understand why your student keeps bringing up QED as support for relativity, when the caller's fantastic new theory shows relativity to be wrong because c can't be a local limit. Or would you just tell everyone not to answer the phone when the theory's author called?


I know personally some who are involved in the development of string theory and the vast majority of those I know is very open to constructive criticism and they enjoy a controversial debate. They don't declare their theory as fact or proven. However, many BAUTians tend to do just that with regard to their personal opinion about string theory.

You have a couple of examples?


Another example is the topic of white holes. As a personal opinion I would agree that they seem unlikely but nobody can rule them out at this point.

As someone who is involved in this discussion, I would like to know exactly where anyone has flat out ruled them out. I think, if I remember correctly, that I said they were extremely unstable. And that you need some serious special conditions for them. All this is quite well know from the math of GR. That the conditions under which the poster was proposing them wasn't allowed by the math of GR and we didn't have any quantum gravity equations they allowed them. But, could they provide their math. But I don't remember anyone saying you can't have them.

MicVR
2010-Sep-17, 03:15 AM
It's funny how criticism of BAUT seems to be taken as a personal attack by its defenders. It's never really discussed, it always turns into one side slagging the other off. Which essentially is the whole problem, I think.

Indeed.
So far, I haven't seen many responding to my opening statement.
Whether or not "pseudo-skeptic" is name-calling is a rather unimportant side issue, is it not?

There have been some in this thread who have confirmed my observation of a closed-minded attitude here.
My students told me the same.
And I am not the first one who has brought it up.
As you can see by the very low number of my posts I am not a disgruntled member trying to lash out at BAUT. I have no beef with any members here in particular.
It is a real issue. My students told me that BAUT has a real reputation "out there" and it is not a positive one. I cannot really comment on that. I can only say that what I have seen confirms that assessment.

Maybe the silence is a sign that some are actually thinking about it?

Tensor
2010-Sep-17, 03:30 AM
Indeed.
So far, I haven't seen many responding to my opening statement.
Whether or not "pseudo-skeptic" is name-calling is a rather unimportant side issue, is it not?

Well, as one who seemed to be upset that others are impolite and rude (which is where name calling would fall under), why is it unimportant when you do it?


There have been some in this thread who have confirmed my observation of a closed-minded attitude here.
My students told me the same.
And I am not the first one who has brought it up.
As you can see by the very low number of my posts I am not a disgruntled member trying to lash out at BAUT. I have no beef with any members here in particular.

Why does number of posts and whether you are disgruntled have anything to do with each other? For all we know, you are a previous poster who was banned and has created a sockpuppet to complain about how ATM is run. Not saying you are, but it has happened quite a number of times.


It is a real issue. My students told me that BAUT has a real reputation "out there" and it is not a positive one. I cannot really comment on that. I can only say that what I have seen confirms that assessment.

And others have come here with just the opposite assessment. Two local astronomy clubs and the three elementary teachers I've shown the site to think very well of this site. I won't say the site it perfect, but I can't think of a better one for astronomy.


Maybe the silence is a sign that some are actually thinking about it?

It is possible that others may have lives that don't permit them to answer right away. Or the majority just think the OP is a case of "not another one complaining about how ATM is run".

EDG
2010-Sep-17, 03:30 AM
Yeah, no personal attacks there. Heck, he even said some flattering things (in bold), even if he qualified that flattery.

I don't know if you were being sarcastic, but there aren't any personal attacks in there at all - he's not attacking any specific people. He's making general comments about the place, and while people may be (wilfully?) interpreting them to be about themselves - most likely to avoid discussion of the topics actually being raised by the OP - nobody specific has been mentioned at all. How can you have a personal attack without attacking a specific person?

Jens
2010-Sep-17, 03:34 AM
I don't really intend to argue about BAUT's reputation. What I have to say, though, is that we really have to remember that the regular posters on BAUT are not employees, and the administrators don't provide any training or income for what posters do. I think this is probably true for most forums, unless they are run by a hospital or something like that. This is just a group of (self-selected) people who enjoy discussing these issues, so the fact that some or even many are argumentative and confrontational seems to go a bit with the territory. I suppose somebody could argue that the main posters should be employees, who can be instructed to behave a certain way, but it would seem to require a lot of resources. I just can't see getting there. To me, it seems that the criticisms by MicVR may be a problem of the media rather than BAUT specifically. To be honest, the same kind of problem seems to plague most Internet communities that I've seen, except of course for those where the experts are employees.

Jim
2010-Sep-17, 03:51 AM
I don't know if you were being sarcastic, but there aren't any personal attacks in there at all - he's not attacking any specific people. He's making general comments about the place...

He says "most BAUTians" or "BAUTians." That is a personal attack against the Members, even if specific names are not mentioned. And when he mentions the moderators as a group, should I not take that personally?

What if I said that people from (EDG's hometown) are rude and crude? Would you not consider that personal?

Jens
2010-Sep-17, 03:55 AM
After making my post, I realized that an obvious response might well be, "OK, that's probably true, but then BAUT shouldn't be saying that it's family friendly." I guess it's a valid point, because I can see ways to remove profanity, but short of moderating all posts, there just doesn't seem any realistic way to me to make sure that the people all act like proper educators. A few people are teachers, but I think many of us have received no training in pedagogy or psychology and aren't really qualified to work as accredited educators anyway. But then it really comes down to what one's standards are. What is required for it to be family friendly? It is enough to remove profanities, or would it have to entail something more than that.

Gillianren
2010-Sep-17, 04:02 AM
I know at least one of the mods is actually a professional teacher--but not here and not, I believe, in astronomy. I'd imagine she would have said, at least to the other mods, if she thought there were a problem with BAUT as an educational resource.

Jim
2010-Sep-17, 04:04 AM
Whether or not "pseudo-skeptic" is name-calling is a rather unimportant side issue, is it not?

You have been told repeatedly that many here consider "pseudo-skeptic" an insult, yet you continue to drag it into the conversation. Did you take lessons in tact from Dr. Laura?


Maybe the silence is a sign that some are actually thinking about it?

Your opening post contained nothing but criticisms of BAUT and its Members. The three - count 'em, three - favorable remarks you made were all immediately qualified by further criticism. To me, that comes across as a rant rather than an attempt to start a serious discussion.

MicVR
2010-Sep-17, 04:07 AM
Well, as one who seemed to be upset that others are impolite and rude (which is where name calling would fall under), why is it unimportant when you do it?

In my book, labeling someone a pseudo-skeptic is not name-calling. I do realize that others may perceive it differently and that is fine of course.
And even if I fart and burp at the dinner table or if I was a firm believer in the ministry of silly walks, what does that have to do with anything I have said?


And others have come here with just the opposite assessment. Two local astronomy clubs and the three elementary teachers I've shown the site to think very well of this site. I won't say the site it perfect, but I can't think of a better one for astronomy.

Sure. And there will probably be more who come to the same conclusion. BAUT, I'm sure, will probably even grow in numbers and that is all good and well.
Human nature manifests in many ways and why would I even try to change that? It's inevitable.
All I am trying to do is save like-minded people who stumble upon BAUT some time in finding out how things are around here. As I said, they will be like-minded people and they will understand. And most of them will probably want to check out for themselves anyways.

I am quite aware that there is still a majority of scientists who share your attitude. But I take joy in observing that there is a growing number of scientists who understand that they may need to access more than just their minds in order to make sense of our cosmological understandings of the last 100 or so years, including quantum physics and relativity.
The majority here calls that "woo-woo" or something like that and so be it. But others understand...


Or the majority just think the OP is a case of "not another one complaining about how ATM is run".
I am sure that is the case and I did not expect anything else.

MicVR
2010-Sep-17, 04:23 AM
After making my post, I realized that an obvious response might well be, "OK, that's probably true, but then BAUT shouldn't be saying that it's family friendly." I guess it's a valid point, because I can see ways to remove profanity, but short of moderating all posts, there just doesn't seem any realistic way to me to make sure that the people all act like proper educators. A few people are teachers, but I think many of us have received no training in pedagogy or psychology and aren't really qualified to work as accredited educators anyway. But then it really comes down to what one's standards are. What is required for it to be family friendly? It is enough to remove profanities, or would it have to entail something more than that.

I wasn't really talking about profanity in particular. All I said was that profanity is pretty much kept out of the posts.
Really, I am talking about basic human tolerance.
It is not easy, I know. Believe me.
I am sure some here will try to turn this into me saying that science meant that we should all be hugging each other and simply tolerate our different views and turn them into accepted knowledge.
That is how things are sometimes done here. I have seen it many times.
But somehow I still hope that a lot of people can understand what I am actually saying.

John Jaksich
2010-Sep-17, 04:34 AM
In my book, labeling someone a pseudo-skeptic is not name-calling. I do realize that others may perceive it differently and that is fine of course.
And even if I fart and burp at the dinner table or if I was a firm believer in the ministry of silly walks, what does that have to do with anything I have said?



Sure. And there will probably be more who come to the same conclusion. BAUT, I'm sure, will probably even grow in numbers and that is all good and well.
Human nature manifests in many ways and why would I even try to change that? It's inevitable.
All I am trying to do is save like-minded people who stumble upon BAUT some time in finding out how things are around here. As I said, they will be like-minded people and they will understand. And most of them will probably want to check out for themselves anyways.

I am quite aware that there is still a majority of scientists who share your attitude. But I take joy in observing that there is a growing number of scientists who understand that they may need to access more than just their minds in order to make sense of our cosmological understandings of the last 100 or so years, including quantum physics and relativity.
The majority here calls that "woo-woo" or something like that and so be it. But others understand...


I am sure that is the case and I did not expect anything else.


Dear MicVR,


I believe I understand your point--but we are (I believe) speaking of an on-going "experiment" of the Internet----I came to understand the (?) nature of the Internet in 1998--long after its inception. And even then--in formal coursework on the subject---the students were warned about the traps of Internet technology---the Internet will resemble a "wild west cowboy" atmosphere--(pardon the colloquialism). To my estimation---this forum is well-behaved--even if there are times when someone may come across as rude, ill-informed, angry, or literally asks for removal. Is this not reality? . . . I am not attempting to label anyone---but at some point---children may have to learn some that sometimes there are things that are not (immediately) suited for them---is that not the role of a good parent?

pzkpfw
2010-Sep-17, 04:49 AM
...


... It starts out with an ad hominem ...

Which specific part of the post by Paul Beardsley were you referencing?

MicVR
2010-Sep-17, 05:04 AM
Which specific part of the post by Paul Beardsley were you referencing?

"If that was all I knew about you, I would recommend that you not be allowed to teach. Realistically, I expect you have other qualities that compensate for this."
What has my perceived ability or disability to teach to do with what I said? It is irrelevant and an attempt to discredit the person and not the argument.

peterf
2010-Sep-17, 05:11 AM
i agree with most micvr said. he makes very good points and explains them well.
i definitely agree with his assessment that most baut members are very closed-minded.
it is sad but true.

it is very characteristic that they get hung up on the "pseudo-skeptic" remark and ignore the essence of what he is saying.
it seems all of a sudden everybody is hurt by this (in my opinion rather innocent) remark, while many here dish out far worse remarks on a daily basis.

but as micvr said, that is not the issue.

i don't have any hopes that a fruitful discussion will ensue and i will probably not participate further.
i just wanted to express my support for micvr and let visitors know that he is not alone with his assessment.

EDG
2010-Sep-17, 05:33 AM
What if I said that people from (EDG's hometown) are rude and crude? Would you not consider that personal?

Not really. I'd just say "actually I'm not". I wouldn't get offended on their behalf.

If someone said *I* was rude and crude, then I'd get offended.

Also, as a separate point, I am perplexed at how saying that someone is a "pseudo-skeptic" is an "insult". Or even why it's relevant to anything that MicVR is saying here.

EDG
2010-Sep-17, 05:36 AM
I know at least one of the mods is actually a professional teacher--but not here and not, I believe, in astronomy. I'd imagine she would have said, at least to the other mods, if she thought there were a problem with BAUT as an educational resource.

There was a pretty huge argument here recently about how unsuitable some peoples' "teaching methods" were, and at least one mod who is a teacher (I think it was Moose?) did agree that some peoples' methods of imparting information could be significantly improved.

John Jaksich
2010-Sep-17, 05:45 AM
i agree with most micvr said. he makes very good points and explains them well.
i definitely agree with his assessment that most baut members are very closed-minded.
it is sad but true.

it is very characteristic that they get hung up on the "pseudo-skeptic" remark and ignore the essence of what he is saying.
it seems all of a sudden everybody is hurt by this (in my opinion rather innocent) remark, while many here dish out far worse remarks on a daily basis.

but as micvr said, that is not the issue.

i don't have any hopes that a fruitful discussion will ensue and i will probably not participate further.
i just wanted to express my support for micvr and let visitors know that he is not alone with his assessment.



In my very humble opinion---your post leans toward the ad hom with which you take issue--the role of a good "teacher"---is for the most part to lead by example.


Please pardon my bluntness----but if you know of a better way then why not do it?

To quote the late Dr. Julian Schwinger:

"If you can join them---beat them . . ."


My observations of human nature seem to indicate that---it is usually that those who persist in their efforts will get the result they seek--

Van Rijn
2010-Sep-17, 05:50 AM
Also, as a separate point, I am perplexed at how saying that someone is a "pseudo-skeptic" is an "insult". Or even why it's relevant to anything that MicVR is saying here.

So, let's say we were discussing evolution, or AGW, and I dismissed your position as close-minded pseudo-skepticism. You wouldn't have any issue with that, then? Would you agree that these are just matters of personal opinion . . . after all, you can find scientists on both sides of the debate, right?

grapes
2010-Sep-17, 06:10 AM
How can you have a personal attack without attacking a specific person?If the argument doesn't address the issue, but instead derides or labels the opponent(s), then it can reasonably be called a personal attack. As opposed to an attack.

But I am now officially a curmudgeon. You all can use that against me all you want.

Gillianren
2010-Sep-17, 06:17 AM
The fact is, if the mods tell you using any given term is an insult, stop using it. You may disagree, but that's not the point. The point is, the mods have spoken. You can report the post and argue the point with them, and much luck may you have. However, it doesn't matter what the term is. It could be that "goldfish" has suddenly developed hugely rude connotations somehow, and while you didn't know that, you've been told now. Once you are told a term is inappropriate, "But I don't think it is" is no longer a valid excuse.

MicVR
2010-Sep-17, 06:26 AM
...but at some point---children may have to learn some that sometimes there are things that are not (immediately) suited for them---is that not the role of a good parent?

Certainly. Life is what it is. We cannot and should not attempt to shield children from the simple facts of life (depending on the facts, of course, and the age of the children).
With the internet as it is (and I believe should be) much information is easily accessible.
That raises questions as to how to protect children from content that may be inappropriate for their age.

Probably no easy and one-size-fits-all-answers but a good start would be active parent or teacher supervision.
My post tries to provide some information/opinion on BAUT that teachers/parents may or may not find useful.

grapes
2010-Sep-17, 06:27 AM
We have had more than one moderator discussion that started with, "Well, you guys may not think so, but it's an insult where I live..."

pzkpfw
2010-Sep-17, 06:36 AM
We have had more than one moderator discussion that started with, "Well, you guys may not think so, but it's an insult where I live..."

Yep. One (sort of) example is the term for female dog. Because it is a valid word in that usage, one argument was that it should be an acceptable word on BAUT. But there were two issues: one is context - if we are discussing dogs, fine, but that's not the way that word was sometimes being used. The second is lack of context: a simple net-nanny type filter at a school or otherwise (which doesn't "know" the context in which the word is used), may see that word and start blocking BAUT because of it (especially relevant given the title of this thread).

"Pseudo skeptic" may not be so bad in itself - but it is often the context of it's usage (including in this thread) that is offensive to the average BAUT member.

EDG
2010-Sep-17, 07:14 AM
If the argument doesn't address the issue, but instead derides or labels the opponent(s), then it can reasonably be called a personal attack. As opposed to an attack.

But the issue is the tone and attitude that some people use here. That's what is being discussed in the OP. If you're saying that commenting about that is a "personal attack" then the issue will never be addressed.
(that said, when specific examples have been raised in the past, the people in question deny that their tone is an issue and make out that the person raising the issue is wrong, and everything continues as before).

EDG
2010-Sep-17, 07:15 AM
"Pseudo skeptic" may not be so bad in itself - but it is often the context of it's usage (including in this thread) that is offensive to the average BAUT member.

I don't even see how it can be construed to be offensive to anyone though.

John Jaksich
2010-Sep-17, 07:15 AM
We have had more than one moderator discussion that started with, "Well, you guys may not think so, but it's an insult where I live..."


Precisely. . .

@MicVR---

I am unsure of what is customary of where you live (?) ---back in the EU (?)----but a major controversy in U.S. schooling is the level of parenting that the "average teacher" must perform in lieu of good parenting (in the students' home).

And as I stated in prior post in this thread---"lead by example"----if you have a methodology that is superior to most---then it may stand to reason that for those searching for a viable alternative----nothing succeeds like success . . .

Van Rijn
2010-Sep-17, 07:23 AM
I don't even see how it can be construed to be offensive to anyone though.

Care to answer my question?

http://www.bautforum.com/showthread.php/107751-BAUT-Review-for-Parents-and-Teachers?p=1791868#post1791868

MicVR
2010-Sep-17, 07:46 AM
This entire offensive phrase discussion could be regarded as "off-topic".

EDG
2010-Sep-17, 07:49 AM
So, let's say we were discussing evolution, or AGW, and I dismissed your position as close-minded pseudo-skepticism. You wouldn't have any issue with that, then?

I have no idea what "pseudo-skepticism" could even mean. "false skepticism"? "pretending to be a skeptic"? How is that an insult? How does one pretend to be skeptical? I just don't get it.

But yeah, it's off topic. So never mind.

MicVR
2010-Sep-17, 07:56 AM
Just FYI:
When I used it I provided this link: http://www.wikisynergy.com/~wikisyne/w/index.php?title=Pseudoskepticism
It is there summarized as

pseudoskeptics take "the negative rather than an agnostic position but still call themselves 'skeptics'"

Van Rijn
2010-Sep-17, 08:09 AM
I have no idea what "pseudo-skepticism" could even mean. "false skepticism"? "pretending to be a skeptic"? How is that an insult? How does one pretend to be skeptical? I just don't get it.


The definition, according to the link that MicVR provided is:


Pseudoskepticism (also spelled pseudoscepticism or hyphenated as pseudo-skepticism) is defined as thinking that claims to be Skeptical but is actually faith-based disbelief.

So, you would not mind having your position on evolution or AGW described as closed minded pseudo-skepticism?

Van Rijn
2010-Sep-17, 08:29 AM
This entire offensive phrase discussion could be regarded as "off-topic".

Actually, it seems to me to be very much on topic. In the case of climate change, AGW is the mainstream position because it has the most supporting evidence. If one is skeptical of AGW alternatives, this is not because of "close-minded skepticism" but because of the great body of evidence. Nor does it mean that one is making an absolute declaration when pointing out the position best supported by the evidence.

Similarly, in the case of UFOs, there is a great deal of evidence supporting mundane causes, but the support for the ETH argument is lacking. You can certainly present evidence (if you have it) for ETH claims, but it is unreasonable to dismiss the evidence based position as a faith-based argument.

The point on this board, for education, is a science based approach following the evidence. There is speculation, and I think you'd find that most here love novel ideas and new physics, as long as it can be tested and is noted as speculative until established by good evidence.

MicVR
2010-Sep-17, 08:37 AM
The standard attitude of a scientist should be that of a skeptic. Which means that for as long as no conclusion can be reached one way or the other the scientist must remain agnostic, whatever his/her personal beliefs may be.
The definition in the link I provided is very clear and concise, certainly operable enough in the fuzzy arena of human communication.

Are you suggesting that at BAUT there is not a strong tendency to disregard the requirement of remaining agnostic? Many here state their personal opinion of the topic in question and declare this the only stance science can take and discredit other personal opinions to be "nonsense", "hogwash" or "woo-woo" and any number of revealing characterizations.

Of course, this goes both ways. Blind belief is just as inappropriate as informed disbelief.

MicVR
2010-Sep-17, 08:43 AM
The point on this board, for education, is a science based approach following the evidence. There is speculation, and I think you'd find that most here love novel ideas and new physics, as long as it can be tested and is noted as speculative until established by good evidence.

If hat were true then you would have to state that as far as alien visitation is concerned the evidence is inconclusive. That is where the evidence leads you. There simply isn't enough. And that is the only (agnostic) position a scientist can take if (s)he wants to speak with any scientific authority. We simply don't know. End of story. The rest is personal opinion.

Paul Beardsley
2010-Sep-17, 08:50 AM
Which specific part of the post by Paul Beardsley were you referencing?


"If that was all I knew about you, I would recommend that you not be allowed to teach. Realistically, I expect you have other qualities that compensate for this."
What has my perceived ability or disability to teach to do with what I said? It is irrelevant and an attempt to discredit the person and not the argument.

I'm sure MicVR meant to include the context:

"MicVR, you appear to be taking the stance of judge here. Probably not a good idea. You have been taken to task for knowingly breaking forum rules, including name-calling. If that was all I knew about you, I would recommend that you not be allowed to teach. Realistically, I expect you have other qualities that compensate for this."

I think my comment was appropriate, given that I was responding to a post that was condemning regular BAUTers on the basis of their behaviour:


If I knew that one of my assistants or PhD students would treat other students in the way people are treated here, I would give him/her a piece of my mind and if I heard of such behavior again (s)he would most likely be fired.

Then we have:


Well, this post to some extend demonstrates some of my points.
It starts out with an ad hominem and proceeds with very distorting half-truths.

I've addressed the supposed ad hom. As far as I know I have told no "half-truths". (Or outright lies either.)


What you and some others here label "name-calling" was me characterizing some as "pseudo-skeptics".

This is really tiresome. If "characterizing" someone as a pseudo-skeptic is not name-calling, what is it? How is it different from "characterizing" someone as a gullible fool, or a jerk, or whatever?

I recall you were also taken to task for casting doubt on Jay's credentials.


However, I was called a fanatic and my intelligence was seriously questioned in the Michio Kaku thread.
If that was not ad hominem and name-calling then what is your definition of it?
In fact, if I remember correctly, it was you, Paul Beardsley, who questioned my intelligence. I wonder if you, or whoever it was, received an "infraction" for that?

You are probably referring to when you wrote:


To me, alien visitation is like the current belief in dark energy.
It is a hypothesis to make sense of what is being observed.
I have not heard of a hypothesis that to me makes more sense with regard to the so-called UFO observations.
To me the hypothesis offered by the pseudo-skeptics seems a lot more ridiculous.
Venus, meteors, human error in observation, etc to explain all of them? No. Does not make sense to me.
They may explain a majority of the observations but - IMHO - certainly not all of them.

My response to the post was:


This has me holding my head in my hands in despair at the death of human intellect. It's like saying, "I can believe he assembled most of the cupboards with his tool set, but all of them? Ridiculous!"

If you want to report it now, go ahead. I stand by my firm opinion that it was a stupid thing to say, but I am not characterising you as stupid.


Also, I repeated many times that I did specifically not make any scientific claims that need defending. I simply voiced my opinion, as everybody else did, even if they didn't know it.
It seems you still have not heard what I actually said.

Yes, we know you kept saying that. As I saw it, you expressed opinions that were rightly challenged, you kept saying, "I'm not claiming anything!" then went on to express more opinions that were rightly challenged. It seems you still have not heard what we actually said.

The rest is, I think, addressed. And unless I am called upon to do so by a moderator, I shall not continue with the I said/you said approach.

Moose
2010-Sep-17, 08:50 AM
If hat were true then you would have to state that as far as alien visitation is concerned the evidence is inconclusive.

No. You really don't. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. If an idea is proposed as a bald assertion, one that is implausible on its face, then it's perfectly valid to decline to consider it until evidence for that idea is presented.

Let me ask you this: are you agnostic on the position of the existence of the Easter Bunny? No evidence has been provided either way, after all.

Jens
2010-Sep-17, 08:55 AM
If hat were true then you would have to state that as far as alien visitation is concerned the evidence is inconclusive. That is where the evidence leads you. There simply isn't enough. And that is the only (agnostic) position a scientist can take if (s)he wants to speak with any scientific authority. We simply don't know. End of story. The rest is personal opinion.

I don't think I've ever really heard anybody state otherwise. Of course I would agree it's inconclusive. I've never seen anything that seemed like alien visitation, and I've never seen any evidence that seemed strong enough to warrant believing it's true. The same goes for dragons or unicorns. I've never seen one, never known someone who had seen one, but I can't state conclusively that they don't exist. The best I can say is that the evidence doesn't seem to show their existence, so I will presume they don't. I don't really see people taking the position that they can't exist.

Jens
2010-Sep-17, 08:58 AM
Let me ask you this: are you agnostic on the position of the existence of the Easter Bunny? No evidence has been provided either way, after all.

I was going to use that, or actually the guy with the beard and the red suit (I worry about family friendliness!). Physically it turns out to be impossible to do what he is supposed to do, i.e. you would need to have a faster-than-light sleigh with tremendous acceleration. Aliens, like dragons or unicorns, could very well exist. Aliens probably exist somewhere, but just the chance that they've actually visited our planet seems quite low to me, and is not supported by any evidence that I can see.

Moose
2010-Sep-17, 09:04 AM
The plausibility of discovering a species of large (horned) ruminant at this point in our history is pretty low. About the only way this might be possible is if such a species were to reside deep within an unexplored part of the Amazon rain forest. The plausibility of a "dragon" along classical lines, a man-sized or larger flying reptile, remaining undiscovered is even lower.

Strange
2010-Sep-17, 09:07 AM
There simply isn't enough.

Perhaps I will be branded closed minded and dogmatic (if I haven't been already) but I think you meant "there simply isn't any".

I am quite happy to accept the idea of alien visitations (in fact, it would be fantastically exciting). But sadly, I see absolutely nothing to make me consider even the possibility it might have happened. (Other than the obvious "but you can't prove it hasn't happened", which is no evidence at all.)

It seems to me that an absence of evidence is only "inconclusive" if you have an a priori believe in something which has, as a result of the absence of evidence, not been disproved.

You are quite free to have the "personal opinion" that there are alien visitations, but you shouldn't expect anyone else to share that opinion in the absence of evidence. They wouldn't be displaying an appropriate level of skepticism if they did. And I don't think that refusing to accept someone's personal opinion (in the absence of evidence) can really be described as pseudo-skepticism.

MicVR
2010-Sep-17, 09:08 AM
Let me ask you this: are you agnostic on the position of the existence of the Easter Bunny? No evidence has been provided either way, after all.

Of course I am! I have to be. No matter how nonsensical the idea of an Easter Bunny may seem to me (and it does!), if I want speak with any scientific authority I must say we do not know. That is the agnostic position.
Why did you bring it up? Have you heard of any Easter Bunny reports lately?

UFOs and Easter Bunny are quite incomparable if you look at it. There are plenty of reports for UFOs and probably significantly less (if any) for EB

Strange
2010-Sep-17, 09:14 AM
There are plenty of reports for UFOs and probably significantly less (if any) for EB

Desk meet head...

Of course there are reports of UFOs. However there is no evidence that any of these unidentified objects are related to extraterrestrials. Or the Easter Bunny. Feel free to carry on believing in either of those though.

Moose
2010-Sep-17, 09:15 AM
Every year, I hear reports of evidence of its passing, from a large number of observers reporting, outside of their field of expertise, a massive number of anecdotal testamonials (without scientific controls). Far more than I hear of UFOs. The "evidence" is even roughly of the same quality.

MicVR
2010-Sep-17, 09:20 AM
Desk meet head...

Of course there are reports of UFOs. However there is no evidence that any of these unidentified objects are related to extraterrestrials. Or the Easter Bunny. Feel free to carry on believing in either of those though.

See how it works here? My words are turned in my mouth as having said that I believed in Easter Bunny - only then does the phrase "carry on" makes sense.
While I clearly stated that I personally would regard EB as nonsense. This is just tiresome...

Paul Beardsley
2010-Sep-17, 09:37 AM
See how it works here? My words are turned in my mouth as having said that I believed in Easter Bunny - only then does the phrase "carry on" makes sense.
While I clearly stated that I personally would regard EB as nonsense. This is just tiresome...

Yes, I see how it works. Strange uses satire in order to give vent to his exasperation. MicVR (deliberately?) misinterprets the satirical aside, focusing only on that, and ignores the substance of the post. Yes, it is tiresome.

Jens
2010-Sep-17, 09:42 AM
See how it works here? My words are turned in my mouth as having said that I believed in Easter Bunny - only then does the phrase "carry on" makes sense.
While I clearly stated that I personally would regard EB as nonsense. This is just tiresome...

OK, this is where I need to go back to the problem I mentioned. Let us assume for a moment that Strange did something unfair to you. In that case, it is not how "it works here." I never said such a thing. You are complaining about Strange. But Strange is a different person from me, and I don't see why I have to be included in the complaint that you have toward him. I have no power to hire or fire him. Or you for that matter. We are all for the most part a self-selected group.

Strange
2010-Sep-17, 09:50 AM
See how it works here? My words are turned in my mouth as having said that I believed in Easter Bunny - only then does the phrase "carry on" makes sense.
While I clearly stated that I personally would regard EB as nonsense. This is just tiresome...

Sigh. Once again, my words are turned in my mouth as having said you believed in the Easter Bunny. I said no such thing.

Did you miss the word "either"? The point is you are free to believe whatever you wish. Just don't expect others to agree if there is no evidence.

ETA: Just to be clear, if I had said "carry on believing anything you want"; would you have interpreted that as meaning "MicVR believes everything"? Because that seems to be the same logic.

I would also like to say that when I hurriedly wrote "However there is no evidence that any of these unidentified objects are related to extraterrestrials", I should of course have said "there appears to be no evidence..."

pzkpfw
2010-Sep-17, 10:11 AM
Oh goodness, does this thread boil down to the old "you can't prove 100% that it isn't, so you have to admit it might be, or else you must be closed minded" argument?

Van Rijn
2010-Sep-17, 10:44 AM
While I clearly stated that I personally would regard EB as nonsense. This is just tiresome...

Are you calling the EB hypothesis nonsense? You sound like someone with a closed mind!

Or you could simply be skeptical of those things lacking in evidence.

ineluki
2010-Sep-17, 01:15 PM
Closed-minded.

I think I'm developing an allergy against that word :-)
By now I pretty much associate it with "you don't believe my stupid nonsense".

R.A.F.
2010-Sep-17, 01:39 PM
Was it necessary to quote me to make your point?

Tensor
2010-Sep-17, 01:43 PM
Was it necessary to quote me to make your point?

Of course, everyone knows your the one that does close minded for everyone. Oh.... humor here. Kidding a long time fellow member. Just pointing out the humor.

R.A.F.
2010-Sep-17, 01:53 PM
:)

HenrikOlsen
2010-Sep-17, 03:05 PM
I don't even see how it can be construed to be offensive to anyone though.
And that inability of yours is trumped by it actually offending someone.

HenrikOlsen
2010-Sep-17, 03:24 PM
The standard attitude of a scientist should be that of a skeptic. Which means that for as long as no conclusion can be reached one way or the other the scientist must remain agnostic, whatever his/her personal beliefs may be.
The definition in the link I provided is very clear and concise, certainly operable enough in the fuzzy arena of human communication.

Are you suggesting that at BAUT there is not a strong tendency to disregard the requirement of remaining agnostic? Many here state their personal opinion of the topic in question and declare this the only stance science can take and discredit other personal opinions to be "nonsense", "hogwash" or "woo-woo" and any number of revealing characterizations.

Of course, this goes both ways. Blind belief is just as inappropriate as informed disbelief.
I would rather say that there is a strong tendency to presume the null hypothesis, which is the falsifiable hypothesis needing the fewest assumptions and isn't already falsified by evidence.
In the case of UFO's the null hypothesis is that aliens are not involved, since that can be disproved by actually finding one.
It isn't that "UFO's might be aliens", because that is a hypothesis that can never be falsified, hence using that is bad science, ridiculed here because it's scientific value as a hypothesis is exactly equivalent to that of the hypothesis that "UFO's might be elves".

It is not disbelief or disbelief, but rather a matter of picking a null hypothesis that is actually testable rather than refusing to look at the question at all, which the "we don't know, so everything's possible" is really saying.

grant hutchison
2010-Sep-17, 04:14 PM
The standard attitude of a scientist should be that of a skeptic. Which means that for as long as no conclusion can be reached one way or the other the scientist must remain agnostic, whatever his/her personal beliefs may be.But of course all science is provisional: only as good as the results of the last experiment. There is no conclusive evidence for anything. Are good scientists therefore trapped in a constant state of complete agnosia? Of course not, because we're able to assign various levels of confidence to particular claims about our models of the world: we use induction, we use Occam's Razor, we use falsifiability, we use other stuff. Our agnosticism is tempered by confidence limits: I'm pretty sure the sun will rise tomorrow; I'm not sure string theory will deliver a testable hypothesis; I'm utterly unpersuaded by the ETH.
All scientific discussion, no matter how robust or polite, is about how much evidence we have to support a particular model of reality. When an appropriately agnostic scientist says "nonsense" or "hogwash" or "woo-woo" in response to your argument, she's saying she thinks your argument does not remotely stand up to the ordinary standards a scientist uses to assign reasonable confidence to a model of reality. You're proliferating entities unnecessarily, or making unfalsifiable claims, or doing something else unscientific.

It's a really serious misunderstanding of science to think that "remaining agnostic" means "anything should be entertained with equal willingness"; it's a really serious misunderstanding of scientists to think that a brisk dismissal of a poor argument indicates a lack of openness to good arguments.

As to children and BAUT: there's some behaviour here that I think might be distressing and confusing for some children; BAUT shares that property with most of the rest of the world. I doubt if it's possible to have a site in which vigorous adult disagreements can take place which is also completely child friendly. If you want your child to be exposed to information that is appropriately framed for their age and understanding, then buying them a book or logging them on to a child-specific site would seem to be better options than BAUT.

Grant Hutchison

Luckmeister
2010-Sep-17, 04:18 PM
Henrik and Grant:
That was a pair of very good posts.

MicVR:
I take pride in wearing the title "skeptic." To me it's a synonym for "critical thinker" and I find it very sad that many educators today are not adequately emphasizing the importance of that skill with their students.

Tell me honestly, would it offend you if someone called you a "pseudoteacher?"

Mike

CJSF
2010-Sep-17, 04:18 PM
I can't decide if I am amused or apalled that a scientist is having to be told what science is and does.

CJSF

grant hutchison
2010-Sep-17, 04:34 PM
Tell me honestly, would it offend you if someone called you a "pseudoteacher?"Yes, as a general rule of thumb, calling anyone a "pseudo-[something]" is likely to give offence, and I'm a little surprised that some native English speakers don't seem to see how that works: it implies that your co-discussant is trying but failing to be [something], is pretending to be [something], or is mistaken in his belief that he is [something]. These are rarely welcome characterizations.
But I suspect that whole pseudo-debate has had enough airing. :)

Grant Hutchison

R.A.F.
2010-Sep-17, 05:01 PM
One would think that simply stating "Don't use that term to describe others as it isn't considered polite on this board" would be sufficient particularly on a board where the #1 rule is "be polite".

Daggerstab
2010-Sep-17, 05:19 PM
Oh goodness, does this thread boil down to the old "you can't prove 100% that it isn't, so you have to admit it might be, or else you must be closed minded" argument?

Yes. It's also one of the main points of WikiSynergy, the site cited by MicVR in his first post. You can look at their Moon hoax (http://www.wikisynergy.com/wiki/Moon_hoax) article for a laugh.

PetersCreek
2010-Sep-17, 05:26 PM
Yes. It's also one of the main points of WikiSynergy, the site cited by MicVR in his first post. You can look at their Moon hoax (http://www.wikisynergy.com/wiki/Moon_hoax) article for a laugh.

Interestingly enough, that article includes a poll that defines "sceptics" not as people with an agnostic view but as "people who doubt or deny that men walked on the Moon."

R.A.F.
2010-Sep-17, 05:34 PM
"Moon sceptics", what a laugh.

Daggerstab
2010-Sep-17, 05:40 PM
Interestingly enough, that article includes a poll that defines "sceptics" not as people with an agnostic view but as "people who doubt or deny that men walked on the Moon."

I really shouldn't have called it "their" article - it's pretty much the "walled garden" of a single user (AFAIK, banned from Wikipedia). But WikiSynergy's policies makes it a place where people can dump their pet "fringe" or "frontier" idea without any editorial oversight or collaboration with other users (which is strange, because collaboration with other users is what wikis are about).

Sorry for the diversion, I hope it dies with this.

Gillianren
2010-Sep-17, 05:52 PM
Was it necessary to quote me to make your point?

Hey, at least you used it correctly. It's "closed-minded," as you wrote it. "Close-minded" would be, I don't know, a mind that was near something?

captain swoop
2010-Sep-17, 08:47 PM
Oh goodness, does this thread boil down to the old "you can't prove 100% that it isn't, so you have to admit it might be, or else you must be closed minded" argument?

Erm... (peers round) yup.

Moose
2010-Sep-17, 09:02 PM
*sigh* Hoo yeah.

Paul Beardsley
2010-Sep-17, 09:41 PM
I've just checked out the infamous Kelvin quote and it appears he didn't say it - it was someone else but nobody seems very clear about who it was.

But whoever it was, what was he supposed to say? "Well everything seems solved, but hey, I'm open-minded! I reckon we'll have new mysteries to solve in, oh, five years from now, probably involving curved space and time dilation. I have no evidence to support this view, but hey, I'm open-minded!"

Cougar
2010-Sep-18, 03:03 AM
A very brief introduction: I am a theoretical physicist... I feel very passionate about education...

And I think this is a very educational site. It has many forums for different specific purposes. I don't visit ATM much anymore. Is it a little overly harsh? You think the regulars could tone it down a bit? That doesn't seem too outrageous a suggestion.


Well, let me tell you (as someone who has guided quite a few students to their PhD) that
a) yes, science is a tough test for one's ideas and it is supposed to be. I don't argue with that. Rigorous scrutiny is part of the scientific method....

I think anyone who has graduated numerous PhD students deserves considerable respect.


However, the general tone expressed by many (probably the majority of) BAUTians is very closed-minded, garnered with hostility, impoliteness and ridicule.
It is rather devoid of humor and has little to do with the spirit of science.

I think you've just been wandering in the dark valleys of the BAUT landscape. This is the internet. You've probably still got to do some filtering. I'm sure we'd be amazed how much filtering the moderators have already done. But after all, a forum is a forum.

MicVR
2010-Sep-19, 04:58 AM
In case you have made it this far into this thread (and who could blame you if you were repulsed and gave up before this point?) you may find that some of my points were clearly demonstrated in this very thread by the majority of BAUT members, including moderators.

I believe you have seen the intellectual prowess and attitude that is so representative of BAUT in general.

Hardly anybody discussed the points I raised. People got (deliberately?) side-tracked into a fruitless discussion on whether the term "pseudo-skeptic" was name-calling or not. What does that have to do with the points I have raised?

In the last part of this thread you had to witness the primitive and uninformed kindergarten reasoning so often found around here.
Clearly, anybody who is stupid enough to even consider alien visitation must therefore also be stupid enough to assume unicorns and the easter bunny as real. And not only as real, of course, but as science fact.
Obviously (as far as BAUT members are concerned), there is no other possible conclusion.
If that is the level of "debate" you are looking for then you will probably have a blast in this forum.

I for one am out of here. I am too old and my time is too valuable for the level of kindergarten debate that is so dominant around here. Besides, the points I have raised in my opening statement have been confirmed by other members and clearly demonstrated by the behavior of BAUT members in this thread.

It would seem that what the average BAUT member (including a good number of the moderators) lacks in humbleness and basic human tolerance they make more than up with aggression, ignorance and a generally mean spirit.

Is that what you want to expose your children and pupils to?

Gillianren
2010-Sep-19, 05:28 AM
Hardly anybody discussed the points I raised. People got (deliberately?) side-tracked into a fruitless discussion on whether the term "pseudo-skeptic" was name-calling or not. What does that have to do with the points I have raised?

Well, if you're arguing about manners, hadn't you ought to admit when you've violated the "be nice" rule yourself? You complained about being persecuted unfairly for use of the term; it's only unfairly if the term was appropriate. Therefore, it's only sense to work that out.


Clearly, anybody who is stupid enough to even consider alien visitation must therefore also be stupid enough to assume unicorns and the easter bunny as real. And not only as real, of course, but as science fact.

Oh, how I love this misunderstanding. It isn't that we think you believe it, or even that you're stupid if you do. It's that they have the exact same level of evidence. You don't necessarily believe in both. No one has ever said you did. What we are saying is that you have no more reason to, and I'm really getting tired of the claim that we're saying anything else.


It would seem that what the average BAUT member (including a good number of the moderators) lacks in humbleness and basic human tolerance they make more than up with aggression, ignorance and a generally mean spirit.

Humility.


Is that what you want to expose your children and pupils to?

I would be extraordinarily happy were my daughter to become a member. There are several reasons for this, but the main one I'm going to discuss here is that I would like her to develop a spirit of inquiry and an understanding of and appreciation for the scientific method. I want her to know that you don't give everything the same probability just because you don't know for sure what it is. I want her to read some of the beautiful writing we get from several of our major posters. I want her to see those selfsame posters freely and willingly admit when they're wrong. She turns thirteen in about six weeks. Just about old enough to contemplate membership. I would be honoured to have her here.

MicVR
2010-Sep-19, 05:36 AM
It would seem that what the average BAUT member (including a good number of the moderators) lacks in humbleness and basic human tolerance they make more than up with aggression, ignorance and a generally mean spirit.

While I stand by that statement as it is, accuracy demands that I mention that, of course!, not all BAUT members fit that description. Also, those who regularly exhibit such behavior have their good and their bad hair-days. Nevertheless, it is an overall and somewhat dominant (dependent on the subsections and the participants) general tone that is easily observed. As yuo may recall, my observations are confirmed by other members in this thread who spoke about their experiences.

MicVR
2010-Sep-19, 06:00 AM
It isn't that we think you believe it, or even that you're stupid if you do. It's that they have the exact same level of evidence. You don't necessarily believe in both. No one has ever said you did. What we are saying is that you have no more reason to, and I'm really getting tired of the claim that we're saying anything else.

I am not saying anything else. As I said many times: without evidence we have to remain agnostic when it comes to official declarations as a scientist.
And yes, that means when asked about unicorns or fairies or other things where we lack any evidence, we (as scientist in any somewhat "official" position) have to assume the same agnostic and neutral position.
Simple human tolerance and science ethics demand that.
Whatever the scientist's personal beliefs may be, "officially" (s)he has to remain agnostic and open.

And that is just the essential point of my criticism of this forum. It is that agnostic and tolerant attitude that is lacking in this forum.
You have to go where the evidence leads you. And in the absence of evidence a scientist must remain agnostic.

I realize, of course, that this is an ideal that is very difficult to reach and to maintain, but BAUT is so far off that I would not recommend it for science education of young people.
It is not just that scientific honesty (i.e. remain agnostic with lack of evidence) is missing in this forum.
Above that, scientific dishonesty is paired with aggression and general human intolerance.
And, of course, it is only with aggression that such a position could be maintained for any significant period of time.

Van Rijn
2010-Sep-19, 06:41 AM
Hardly anybody discussed the points I raised.


I disagree. Points you raised have been discussed here.



People got (deliberately?) side-tracked into a fruitless discussion on whether the term "pseudo-skeptic" was name-calling or not. What does that have to do with the points I have raised?


It's part of a pattern of misrepresentation and name calling. For example:



In the last part of this thread you had to witness the primitive and uninformed kindergarten reasoning so often found around here.


From your statements, it doesn't appear to me that you understand what it means to take an evidence-based, skeptical approach to arguments. For instance:


Clearly, anybody who is stupid enough to even consider alien visitation must therefore also be stupid enough to assume unicorns and the easter bunny as real.


Is an astonishing misunderstanding if you've been reading posts on this site. If you find anyone saying someone is stupid for considering alien visitation, please report them. I've considered alien visitations. Based on their posts, most posters on the board have considered alien visitation. The issue, of course, is: What evidence is there to support alien visitation claims? If you have evidence, by all means, present it (but not in this part of the board, of course).


It would seem that what the average BAUT member (including a good number of the moderators) lacks in humbleness and basic human tolerance they make more than up with aggression, ignorance and a generally mean spirit.

That's surprising, as I think there are few boards that would give as much tolerance as have been given to your posts, which certainly do appear to be aggressive and mean-spirited.

As for ignorance, if you see someone make an incorrect statement per the evidence, please do correct them. It's done all the time here.

Paul Beardsley
2010-Sep-19, 07:00 AM
A few points, MicVR:

1. The name-calling thing would have been dropped and we would have moved on if you had admitted you were guilty of it and apologised. Instead you tried to deny that your name-calling counted as name-calling, and then tried to claim it was a side-issue in a thread that was largely concerned about manners.

2. As has been pointed out several times, nobody has accused you of believing in the Easter Bunny or elves or unicorns. What they have done is use humorous (!) examples of the null hypothesis to illustrate the flaw in your reasoning. It is astonishing that someone in your position could fail to realise this.

3. When I learnt to be a teacher, one of the first things I was taught was to be reflective. This meant looking critically at a lesson I'd just delivered and considering honestly what went well and what went badly. To do this, I had to take into account the response of the students, even if their responses were not presented in a particularly pleasant way.

What's happening here is that several posters (including myself) are putting some effort into giving you a considered (and polite!) response. You are dismissing this effort and claiming it just confirms your opinion.

4. Where is the agnostic angle in this? (I added the bold and underline for emphasis.)


To me, alien visitation is like the current belief in dark energy.
It is a hypothesis to make sense of what is being observed.
I have not heard of a hypothesis that to me makes more sense with regard to the so-called UFO observations.
To me the hypothesis offered by the pseudo-skeptics seems a lot more ridiculous.
Venus, meteors, human error in observation, etc to explain all of them? No. Does not make sense to me.
They may explain a majority of the observations but - IMHO - certainly not all of them.

5. I don't think there is any point you have raised that has not been discussed. If I am wrong about this, please let us know what we've missed.

Van Rijn
2010-Sep-19, 09:14 AM
IAnd yes, that means when asked about unicorns or fairies or other things where we lack any evidence, we (as scientist in any somewhat "official" position) have to assume the same agnostic and neutral position.
Simple human tolerance and science ethics demand that.
Whatever the scientist's personal beliefs may be, "officially" (s)he has to remain agnostic and open.


Open to new evidence, certainly, but "agnostic and neutral" for claims unsupported by evidence does not seem reasonable. What about somebody who is asking for "donations" for their anti-gravity/free-energy machine claim? Should one remain neutral on that? It is even potentially dangerous. Should one remain neutral to homeopathy? Psychic surgery? Unsupported cancer cure claims?



You have to go where the evidence leads you. And in the absence of evidence a scientist must remain agnostic.


I agree with the first part, but I would replace "agnostic" with "skeptical."



I realize, of course, that this is an ideal that is very difficult to reach and to maintain, but BAUT is so far off that I would not recommend it for science education of young people.


I, on the other hand, would not want to send young people somewhere that didn't emphasize critical thinking skills.

Paul Beardsley
2010-Sep-19, 10:06 AM
What Van Rijn said.

R.A.F.
2010-Sep-19, 02:30 PM
Hardly anybody discussed the points I raised. People got (deliberately?) side-tracked into a fruitless discussion on whether the term "pseudo-skeptic" was name-calling or not. What does that have to do with the points I have raised?

Sometimes the direction a thread takes isn't under the "control" of the poster who(m) starts it. That's a fact of life on any discussion forum...get over it.


In the last part of this thread you had to witness the primitive and uninformed kindergarten reasoning so often found around here.
Clearly, anybody who is stupid enough to even consider alien visitation must therefore also be stupid enough...

Is this how you would "teach" children, buy hurling insults?


Obviously (as far as BAUT members are concerned), there is no other possible conclusion.

I see...it is impossible for you to be wrong... :)


I for one am out of here.

Why is it every time I read something like this, I just know that it isn't the last post from that poster??? :)

Meanwhile....2 posts later...


I am not saying anything else.

So should we believe you before when you said you were leaving, or now.

If this is truly your "last word", then please, do not answer.

Swift
2010-Sep-19, 04:55 PM
I am not saying anything else. As I said many times: without evidence we have to remain agnostic when it comes to official declarations as a scientist.
And yes, that means when asked about unicorns or fairies or other things where we lack any evidence, we (as scientist in any somewhat "official" position) have to assume the same agnostic and neutral position.
Simple human tolerance and science ethics demand that.
Whatever the scientist's personal beliefs may be, "officially" (s)he has to remain agnostic and open.

Actually, I have to disagree (and for the record, as a PhD chemist, I think I can call myself a scientist).

Being open to various explanations of a phenomenon doesn't mean that all explanations are of equal probability or value. Yes, an unknown light in the sky might be an alien spacecraft. But that is an extraordinary claim, and it is a general principle of science that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. A more likely explanation is that it is something ordinary, like an aircraft. So given a lack of additional evidence, the most probably explanation is that it is not something extraordinary. Sure, I am open to change that hypothesis, given further evidence. That is what is meant by an open mind. But until that further evidence comes along, my working hypothesis is that the light was something ordinary. That's science.

I would not use the term "agnostic" to describe the scientific attitude you describe. Agnosticism describes a belief, and beliefs should not be part of a scientific discussion.

As to your other points, polite behavior and tolerance does not enter into that discussion. Whether one is a skeptical scientist or an absolute true believer, polite behavior is always the required behavior around here for either of those. My job as a moderator is to see that this is followed. Now, there is a range of what many people consider "polite behavior". I will admit that I see times that I think members are being impolite, that they say things in a manner that I personally feel was overtly rude or aggressive, but not to the point of rules violations. It is a delicate balance among allowing an open discussion and tolerance for the range of acceptable behavior, across multiple cultures. As humans, we don't always get it right, but we try very hard to do so.

I hope, that young people (and everyone else) would find BAUT to be a good (if imperfect) example of how to do this.

Jim
2010-Sep-19, 06:16 PM
MicVR has been suspended for three days due to accumulated infraction points. The most recent - and triggering - infraction is for continued rude and insulting behaviour toward the Members of this forum, specifically evidenced in this post:
http://www.bautforum.com/showthread.php/107751-BAUT-Review-for-Parents-and-Teachers?p=1792576#post1792576

Gillianren
2010-Sep-19, 06:23 PM
Sometimes the direction a thread takes isn't under the "control" of the poster who(m) starts it. That's a fact of life on any discussion forum...get over it.

You do mean who.

I really despair for anyone who is taught by someone who believes all hypotheses have equal weight until one is conclusively proven or disproven. Let's try to avoid all notably silly answers and stick with a practical one, because obviously, the silly ones aren't having the desired effect.

To expand on Van Rijn's excellent example of homeopathy, let's look at that. At one point, there were no true scientific studies of it. Honestly, there are very few good ones now. This is largely because most of the studies are done by its supporters, who don't recognize that "look, it does at least as well as a placebo!" is not necessarily a good thing. But even going in, do we have to take homeopathy seriously? Or do we get to assume it's a placebo? Remember, it has no reasonable mechanism. There are several fine examples of its lack of connection with, you know, reality. Yes, it's best to do proper scientific testing on it. We've been surprised before. But does "it does at least as well as a placebo!" then mean that the homeopathy is having an actual effect, or can we agree that what it probably has is the placebo effect?

Remember, some people taking homeopathic "remedies" get better. These line up with the "unexplained" UFO reports in this analogy--it is possible that the "remedy" actually healed/cured the person. However, we have a perfectly mundane explanation which fits the data equally well. We can't really prove it was the passage of time or the placebo effect, but it is more reasonable to consider them as possibilities than to attribute a cure to a "remedy" with no clear mechanism. Similarly, it is more reasonable to assume that the unexplained UFO reports are simply more of the same than to suggest that there might be aliens doing random flybys.

I had a coworker, once, who claimed that all probabilities were fifty/fifty. Either something happened or it didn't. He couldn't be made to understand how probability really works. In short, he couldn't be made to understand that the odds of one thing's happening weren't greater or less than the odds of the same thing's happening in a similar situation. When we crossed the street, the odds were far, far less than fifty/fifty that we would be hit by a bus, especially since we seldom crossed that street near the time the bus would have gotten there. Similarly, the odds that a seen but unexplained light in the sky is a bolide are far, far greater than that it's an alien spacecraft.

orionjim
2010-Sep-19, 06:44 PM
MicVR has been suspended for three days due to accumulated infraction points. The most recent - and triggering - infraction is for continued rude and insulting behaviour toward the Members of this forum, specifically evidenced in this post:
http://www.bautforum.com/showthread.php/107751-BAUT-Review-for-Parents-and-Teachers?p=1792576#post1792576

As an observer - I think you have just proved his point. :think:

Jim
2010-Sep-19, 06:45 PM
...

:clap:

CJSF
2010-Sep-19, 07:12 PM
As an observer - I think you have just proved his point. :think:

If you ask me, and you haven't, I think that's what he was hoping for. It's too bad it's beyond an acceptible line, because I was wanting to ask him for some proof of his claim to be a PhD in theoretical physics. Do theoretical physics have a tendency to have views that seem otherwise unscientific? Is that because of dealing with speculation moreso than other scientific fields?

CJSF

NickW
2010-Sep-19, 07:25 PM
I would be dismayed if... "Teacher Science, do unicorns exist?"

"Well we have no evidences that they don't exist, so therefore, there is a possibility of them existing."

grant hutchison
2010-Sep-19, 07:44 PM
As an observer - I think you have just proved his point. :think:You reckon?
There was plenty of material here he could have entered into discussion about: our critique of his view of how science works, for instance. And elsewhere, I've spent a couple of days waiting for any kind of acknowledgement of my response to MicVR's rather dismissive comments about (rather than to) me in this thread (http://www.bautforum.com/showthread.php/107060-The-past-could-be-changed). (Admittedly I was very slow off the mark in responding, but MicVR has contributed to very few threads so far, so presumably wasn't snowed under monitoring for responses.)
MicVR made a choice about the nature of his response, and fell foul of the rules.

Grant Hutchison

Paul Beardsley
2010-Sep-19, 08:07 PM
As an observer - I think you have just proved his point. :think:

Well, given that my post number 3 in this thread - a serious and considered attempt to address his points - was dismissed as "proving his point", then I'm really not going to lose any sleep over something that might really have proved his point.

This thread is based on a stale premise. I find myself struggling to remember what he's moaning about.

Van Rijn
2010-Sep-19, 08:12 PM
If you ask me, and you haven't, I think that's what he was hoping for. It's too bad it's beyond an acceptible line, because I was wanting to ask him for some proof of his claim to be a PhD in theoretical physics.


Well, it was only a three day suspension according to this post:

http://www.bautforum.com/showthread.php/107751-BAUT-Review-for-Parents-and-Teachers?p=1792714#post1792714

So if he wants to post more, he just needs to wait a little while. Of course, before the suspension, he had already claimed he had made his last post, so it might not matter. Then again, as RAF pointed out, posters often change their minds about "last post" declarations.

orionjim
2010-Sep-19, 08:20 PM
You reckon?
There was plenty of material here he could have entered into discussion about: our critique of his view of how science works, for instance. And elsewhere, I've spent a couple of days waiting for any kind of acknowledgement of my response to MicVR's rather dismissive comments about (rather than to) me in this thread (http://www.bautforum.com/showthread.php/107060-The-past-could-be-changed). (Admittedly I was very slow off the mark in responding, but MicVR has contributed to very few threads so far, so presumably wasn't snowed under monitoring for responses.)
MicVR made a choice about the nature of his response, and fell foul of the rules.

Grant Hutchison

Again as an observer I couldn’t see what his/her point was. They seemed to be trying to push buttons of members to bring out certain behaviors.

When I saw your post #86 I thought “this is going to be interesting” because if they were looking for a rational discussion here was their chance. When they didn’t reply I began to think this person was just stirring the pot.

I tend to agree with CJSF that being penalized was what they were looking for. Whatever their reason was they were cutting a fine line seemly to bring out certain behaviors in the members here. And they pretty much succeeded.

Jim

Paul Beardsley
2010-Sep-19, 09:23 PM
Whatever their reason was they were cutting a fine line seemly to bring out certain behaviors in the members here. And they pretty much succeeded.

It's hardly an achievement, though, is it? On BAUT we tend to conform to "certain behaviours" which include politeness, giving newcomers the benefit of the doubt, asking for evidence when a claim is made, pointing out logical flaws in people's arguments if there are any, and being quite tough on ludicrous statements.

For all I know, there might be some people who are lacking in entertainment in their lives who say to friends, "Hey, I bet I can get a BAUTer to ask for evidence!" They then sign up to BAUT, and post a message such as, "Aliens are visiting us on a regular basis because they want to feed on our emotions, particularly our appreciation of antique furniture."

And sure enough, one of us will say, "Evidence, please." Because that's polite, it's not instantly dismissive, it's not "closed minded" while at the same time it's not gullible. Even though we are used to hearing numerous extraordinary claims and a total absence of extraordinary evidence, we are prepared to listen when someone does produce the extraordinary evidence that overturns our world.

So if somebody is finding it life-affirming to push our buttons in this way, then god bless them.

BTW what's with the "as an observer" stance? We're all observers here.

R.A.F.
2010-Sep-19, 10:48 PM
As an observer - I think you have just proved his point...snip...they were cutting a fine line seemly to bring out certain behaviors in the members here. And they pretty much succeeded.

So you agree that tolerance is lacking in this forum, or what?? What do you think his point was???

orionjim
2010-Sep-20, 12:47 AM
It's hardly an achievement, though, is it? On BAUT we tend to conform to "certain behaviours" which include politeness, giving newcomers the benefit of the doubt, asking for evidence when a claim is made, pointing out logical flaws in people's arguments if there are any, and being quite tough on ludicrous statements.

For all I know, there might be some people who are lacking in entertainment in their lives who say to friends, "Hey, I bet I can get a BAUTer to ask for evidence!" They then sign up to BAUT, and post a message such as, "Aliens are visiting us on a regular basis because they want to feed on our emotions, particularly our appreciation of antique furniture."

And sure enough, one of us will say, "Evidence, please." Because that's polite, it's not instantly dismissive, it's not "closed minded" while at the same time it's not gullible. Even though we are used to hearing numerous extraordinary claims and a total absence of extraordinary evidence, we are prepared to listen when someone does produce the extraordinary evidence that overturns our world.

So if somebody is finding it life-affirming to push our buttons in this way, then god bless them.

BTW what's with the "as an observer" stance? We're all observers here.

I have no idea what this person’s intent is/was. But reading their post it didn’t seem like they were really taking a strong stance on anything. If I remember the strongest stance was they agreed with Michio Kaku about the possibility of alien visitors. They spent some time giving possible answers to questions you posed but strongly stated there was no evidence and that they were skeptical.

From there it seemed to get blown out of proportion.

The reason I have used the word observer is that I have followed the two threads but I have no opinions or feelings on the subject of alien visitation. The only reason I followed the thread in the beginning was I could never understand why Michio Kaku made some of the comments he did.

Jim

Cougar
2010-Sep-20, 01:07 AM
If I remember the strongest stance was they agreed with Michio Kaku about the possibility of alien visitors.

Maybe he was Michio Kaku and he was trying to do a little damage control, only to meet with a batch of BAUTian skepticism, so he had to discredit the site.

Well, he never claimed BAUTians were unimaginative, did he?

EDG
2010-Sep-20, 01:28 AM
If there's one thing I wouldn't call BAUT, it's "polite". Politeness applies to everyone, not just to people who share your worldview, and the regular BAUTians are extremely impolite to people who do not share their worldview.

If someone voices an opinion about BAUT here, it's immediately jumped on as if it was an ATM thread. But more than that, people often twist words that the OP says, wilfully miss the point, mock them, make direct personal attacks against them (not these imaginary ones that don't actually attack individuals), or dish out wholly unnecessary snide and snarky comments. I'm wholly sick of that attitude myself, and it's only been getting worse as time goes on especially as egos grow and the people doing it become even more insufferable - people here are twisting science and the scientific mindset into something entirely unpleasant and nothing like what it actually is, and I don't want to be associated with this charade anymore. Of course you'll protest that there's nothing wrong with your attitudes, that's what you always do, and why things never change for the better around here.

When I come to a board and spend more time being disgusted at peoples' behaviour than getting anything useful out of it, that's a good cue to leave. To the few of you who have been helpful (grant hutchison, stupendous man, george... um, that's pretty much it), thanks. Next time I want to have any science questions answered, I think I'll just find an expert to ask directly rather than ask on this board. And if anyone asks me, I would recommend that others do that as well.

CJSF
2010-Sep-20, 01:35 AM
I feel like there's been some strange science fiction rift universe. I think sometimes impersonal or precise language can come across as rude or impolite, but honesly, the only really impolite person I can remember recently was Neverfly - and I miss him a lot. It seems that quite a few people can not separate attacks on their idea with personal attacks. That makes sense when we identify ourselves with our ideas. Seriously, EDG, why are you still here? There are ALWAYS going to be a few people or a few instances where people are less than polite. The board is run so well, it's almost sick. I mean, have you VISITED the wider 'Net at all lately?

CJSF

orionjim
2010-Sep-20, 01:51 AM
Maybe he was Michio Kaku and he was trying to do a little damage control, only to meet with a batch of BAUTian skepticism, so he had to discredit the site.

Well, he never claimed BAUTians were unimaginative, did he?

Now that's funny! That thought actually went through my mind several times while I was reading the CT thread.

Jim

Grashtel
2010-Sep-20, 02:06 AM
If there's one thing I wouldn't call BAUT, it's "polite". Politeness applies to everyone, not just to people who share your worldview, and the regular BAUTians are extremely impolite to people who do not share their worldview.
Could you provide pointers to some examples of such? It may be that I've not been in the right places but I do not recall seeing such behaviour on a regular basis here.

grant hutchison
2010-Sep-20, 02:09 AM
I feel like there's been some strange science fiction rift universe.Likewise. Is BAUT actually Bizarro World? Are people on all those other Internet fora actually behaving politely?

Grant Hutchison

Paul Beardsley
2010-Sep-20, 07:53 AM
If there's one thing I wouldn't call BAUT, it's "polite". Politeness applies to everyone, not just to people who share your worldview, and the regular BAUTians are extremely impolite to people who do not share their worldview.

EDG, the first time you ever replied to something I'd said, you were so impolite that I nearly put you on my ignore list. (In the end I kept to my resolve to keep the list empty.) In the past few months, all your posts seem to be complaining about how everybody else is impolite and how you don't see any point in staying around any more. Let's just say it comes across as a little bit rich!

Please, sort yourself out one way or another. Maybe you just need a break from here. Go away for a while, do something entirely different, and come back refreshed, if that's what you want to do.


direct personal attacks against them (not these imaginary ones that don't actually attack individuals)

Note well: you might not be offended by that kind of thing, but most people are, and rightly so. You are trying to impose your perspective on others. It will not work.


Of course you'll protest that there's nothing wrong with your attitudes, that's what you always do

And what if there isn't? So far, all I'm hearing is a lot of ranting, and no specific examples, such as, "When you said X to the poster, you belittled him; if you'd said Y you could have made the same point and got him on your side."


and why things never change for the better around here.

And for many it's fine as it is.

Strange
2010-Sep-20, 10:10 AM
I feel like there's been some strange science fiction rift universe.

Indeed. My thought on reading the OP (as is often the case with similar threads) was that perhaps there is an alternative, parallel universe BAUT that I was not aware of.

I have seen hardly any examples of impoliteness. Things do seem to get heated occasionally when certain topics come up. But I have seen very few personal attacks. There was (apparently) one spectacular example quite a while ago involving Big Don and geocentrists. He got suspended (I guess he might have been banned if he weren't such a nice guy :)) and the post was deleted (which is almost unheard of).

There have also been some very heated "discussions" on different interpretations of GR which have required a lot of moderator intervention. But the people on both sides of these have been the sort of BAUT regulars that MicVR is criticizing - so it isn't BAUTians attacking The Outsiders.

To be honest I haven't even seen impolitness in the discussions with MicVR - maybe that is because I am biased because I am on the "wrong" side. I don't even consider his use of "pseudo-skeptic" particularly offensive; I am more annoyed by the fact he is misusing it than that he is throwing accusations around.

I do see a certain amount of hypersensitivity, though and misinterpretations or misrepresentations of what someone has said.

Which brings me to...


In the last part of this thread you had to witness the primitive and uninformed kindergarten reasoning so often found around here.
Clearly, anybody who is stupid enough to even consider alien visitation must therefore also be stupid enough to assume unicorns and the easter bunny as real. And not only as real, of course, but as science fact.
Obviously (as far as BAUT members are concerned), there is no other possible conclusion.
If that is the level of "debate" you are looking for then you will probably have a blast in this forum.

Other people have answered this better than I can. But as one of the people who made this argument I need to point out that I never said, implied or even thought anyone was stupid for having any particular beliefs.

I also never said, implied or thought that MicVR believed in the Easter Bunny.

I did say that there is just as much basis for a belief in alien visitors as there is for belief in the Easter Bunny. They both have a substantial body of anecdote and folklore associated with them (ditto Yeti, unicorns, etc). They both suffer from a lack of compelling evidence. We have good reason to believe that aliens of some form are quite likely to exist somewhere in the universe (it is a big place) and we know bunnies of some form exist. (Does that make the Easter Bunny more plausible than alien visitors? I'm not sure.) Is that impolite or offensive? Is it "kindergarten reasoning"?

It is not even a dogmatic claim that aliens don't exist (the other accusation that has been made).

I don't think anyone is stupid for believing in aliens, Easter Bunny, God, whatever. I don't even think the beliefs themselves are stupid. Some of the more outre ones might be bizarre or eccentric but they often seem to be held by people who are otherwise highly intelligent. And I am always fascinated by why people believe the things they do.

I am, however, curious as to whether MicVR genuinely didn't understand the point I was making (I seem to remember [s]he may have said that English was not his|her first language) or was misrepresenting it to make a point. When I made the same argument in another thread (the Michio Kaku one, I think) I got a similar response: I was criticized for making a completely different point.

I also wonder why MicVR did not address the substantial aspect of this: why is a belief in aliens any more reasonable than a belief in any other mythical or religious figure?

Swift
2010-Sep-20, 03:05 PM
A friendly reminder to everyone, particularly appropriate given the topic, to not make the debate personal. For example, please do not bring up such points as to whether a pariticular member is or is not on your Ignore list. Thanks to all.

R.A.F.
2010-Sep-20, 03:35 PM
If there's one thing I wouldn't call BAUT, it's "polite". Politeness applies to everyone, not just to people who share your worldview, and the regular BAUTians are extremely impolite to people who do not share their worldview.

You really need to demonstrate this "impoliteness" with evidence...because I ( and others here) just don't see it.

Jeff Root
2010-Sep-20, 06:56 PM
I would have to read this entire thread again more carefully, plus
other threads that have been referenced, before I could comment
on the questions and problems raised. However, there is one big
thing I can say from what I've seen so far: A great deal of the
significance of MicVR's comments depends on his perspective as
a professor "who has guided quite a few students to their PhD".
If he really is who he claims to be, I would put considerable
weight on his perspective. If he is not, then I would be more
comfortable in letting this contoversy slide. Since there is a
real question of whether he is who he claims to be, I think it
is important to determine that. If he returns, and is willing, it
should not be difficult to verify his identity. I don't know how
to do it, but that should be an easy puzzle for people here to
solve.

MicVR, please post again, and please make it possible to
verify your identity.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

grant hutchison
2010-Sep-20, 07:07 PM
I would have to read this entire thread again more carefully, plus
other threads that have been referenced, before I could comment
on the questions and problems raised. However, there is one big
thing I can say from what I've seen so far: A great deal of the
significance of MicVR's comments depends on his perspective as
a professor "who has guided quite a few students to their PhD".
If he really is who he claims to be, I would put considerable
weight on his perspective. If he is not, then I would be more
comfortable in letting this contoversy slide. Since there is a
real question of whether he is who he claims to be, I think it
is important to determine that. If he returns, and is willing, it
should not be difficult to verify his identity. I don't know how
to do it, but that should be an easy puzzle for people here to
solve.

MicVR, please post again, and please make it possible to
verify your identity.

-- Jeff, in MinneapolisI couldn't disagree more. :)
It's frankly offensive to require MicVR to provide academic credentials before we decide whether to consider his/her comments seriously.
The points raised stand or fall on their own merit, and would garner no additional plausibility by "argument from authority".

Grant Hutchison

pzkpfw
2010-Sep-20, 07:19 PM
I couldn't disagree more.
It's frankly offensive to require MicVR to provide academic credentials before we decide whether to consider his/her comments seriously.
The points raised stand or fall on their own merit, and would garner no additional plausibility by "argument from authority".

Grant Hutchison

I agree with your basic point, and it applies to us all, but - from his own writing - he's claiming that authority.

Why isn't that offensive?

Swift
2010-Sep-20, 07:34 PM
I couldn't disagree more. :)
It's frankly offensive to require MicVR to provide academic credentials before we decide whether to consider his/her comments seriously.
The points raised stand or fall on their own merit, and would garner no additional plausibility by "argument from authority".

Grant Hutchison
I wouldn't go as far as saying it is "offensive", but I'm unconvinced it adds any merit to the discussion. I have know some professors who were wonderful human beings and treated their students and others with kindness, politeness and respect. I've also known professors who were the exact opposite. I have seen a similar range in just about ever other profession.

As far as what I think matters here is how you behave on BAUT.

Jeff Root
2010-Sep-20, 09:16 PM
It matters to me how BAUT feels and looks. MicVR says that he
is an experienced college professor, and in his view, and those of his
students, there are significant problems with how people are treated
on BAUT, compared to how they are treated in the environment he
works in. I take that as a professional opinion. I cannot dismiss it,
because I do not have the expertise he claims to have. So I depend
on his opinion, and I depend on that opinion being professional. So
I believe that it is important for understanding and dealing with the
possible problems to determine one way or another whether he has
the expertise he claims to have.

Some remarks by MicVR above seem out of character for who he
claims to be, which raise the question. But I have not yet read the
thread carefully enough to put those remarks into context. So for
the moment all I am commenting on is the form of the argument,
not the content.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

grant hutchison
2010-Sep-20, 09:17 PM
I agree with your basic point, and it applies to us all, but - from his own writing - he's claiming that authority.

Why isn't that offensive?I didn't say it wasn't offensive.
I think it's fine to let us know if you're a teacher and feel passionate, but I honestly don't see the relevance of PhD supervision to an argument about common courtesy and the philosophy of science. I feel patronized by the suggestion that such information should weigh in my consideration of the subjects under discussion in this thread. Now, I don't know what MicVR's motives were in providing that information: perhaps the intention was just a bit of personal anecdote to illustrate the strength of feeling involved. (I could respond with personal anecdote about PhD supervisors of my acquaintance, but anecdote is rather poor evidence.) So I'm not going to get too vexed about something that may well have lacked any ulterior motive. But Jeff has been very careful to set out what his motives are in requesting evidence of professorial status and/or PhD supervision from MicVR: he wants this information in order to lend weight to MicVR's expressed opinions. I am offended by that, I want nothing to do with it, and I'm saying so. :)

Edit: I note Jeff posted while I was composing. But I believe I've said my piece and should stop there.

Grant Hutchison

pzkpfw
2010-Sep-20, 09:32 PM
I didn't say it wasn't offensive.

...

I am offended by that, I want nothing to do with it, and I'm saying so. :)

...

Well, it's interesting then, which "offenses" you chose to post about and which you didn't.

grant hutchison
2010-Sep-20, 09:39 PM
Well, it's interesting then, which "offenses" you chose to post about and which you don't.Thanks. I find it interesting, too. :)
You'll see I set out my reasons above:
Now, I don't know what MicVR's motives were in providing that information ... So I'm not going to get too vexed about something that may well have lacked any ulterior motive. But Jeff has been very careful to set out what his motives are ... Grant Hutchison

Paul Beardsley
2010-Sep-20, 10:01 PM
I'm a bit confused at what is/isn't/should be/shouldn't be offensive in the most recent posts, but I tend to agree with Grant.

MicVR claims to be a theoretical physicist, but as his posts have not been about theoretical physics, I don't see how his credentials are especially relevant. His apparent unfamiliarity with the null hypothesis is bewildering - as if an historian of British pop music had never heard of The Beatles - but this (and much else) might be nothing more sinister than a lapse in communication.

Strange
2010-Sep-20, 10:19 PM
It matters to me how BAUT feels and looks. MicVR says that he
is an experienced college professor, and in his view, and those of his
students, there are significant problems with how people are treated
on BAUT, compared to how they are treated in the environment he
works in.

I got the impression (it wasn't realy clear) that his students were more interested in discussions in the ATM and CT forums. They may well have been surprised/disconcerted/amused/whatever by the fact that, unlike some Internet forums, people posting about Nibiru or UFOS are not met with an uncritical "wow! cool..." but instead are asked for evidence for their opinions.

Sounds like a great opportunity to introduce them to critical thinking skills and the scientific method, to me. But MicVR doesn't seem to think that asking for evidence is appropriate. <shrug>

Paul Beardsley
2010-Sep-20, 10:41 PM
I got the impression (it wasn't realy clear) that his students were more interested in discussions in the ATM and CT forums. They may well have been surprised/disconcerted/amused/whatever by the fact that, unlike some Internet forums, people posting about Nibiru or UFOS are not met with an uncritical "wow! cool..." but instead are asked for evidence for their opinions.

Sounds like a great opportunity to introduce them to critical thinking skills and the scientific method, to me. But MicVR doesn't seem to think that asking for evidence is appropriate. <shrug>

Yes, and again the adjective "bewildering" comes to mind.

I'm very curious about what these students look at when they are not laughing at BAUT. Do they visit GLP and nod their heads wisely saying, "Yes, this is how it should be done"?

I'm not making any accusations here, but I'm starting to find the whole thing unbelievable. Call me a pseudoskeptic if you must, but I think there's less to MicVR's posts than meet the eye.

slang
2010-Sep-20, 11:24 PM
I'm not making any accusations here, but I'm starting to find the whole thing unbelievable. Call me a pseudoskeptic if you must, but I think there's less to MicVR's posts than meet the eye.

I'll just say that from a well studied, well educated person, I expect a more concise, less ranting style of writing than is evident. But I'll be the first to admit that when tempers flare, style suffers.

AdamL
2010-Sep-21, 12:15 AM
I have no idea what this person’s intent is/was. But reading their post it didn’t seem like they were really taking a strong stance on anything. If I remember the strongest stance was they agreed with Michio Kaku about the possibility of alien visitors. They spent some time giving possible answers to questions you posed but strongly stated there was no evidence and that they were skeptical.

From there it seemed to get blown out of proportion.

I very much agree with Jim on this observations. I have read the Michio Kaku thread very carefully and I find the positions MicVR took there very considered, well-worded and polite. "Pseudo-Skeptic" is certainly not name-calling where I come from, which is The Netherlands and before this becomes an issue let me state that as far as I know I have never met MicVR and I am not connected to him in any way (as far as I know). I don't even agree with his opinion on alien visitation but I do very much agree on the points he has raised regarding scientific honesty here on BAUT.
I became an active member today (in order to participate in this thread) but I have browsed this forum and read a good amount of threads over the last months.
My observations largely met what MicVR reported in his first statement.
I find it really interesting how this thread developed.
It got mostly stuck on the "pseudo-skeptic" thing, which in my opinion got completely blown out of proportion and distracted from the many good points MicVR and others (especially also EDG) raised.
Did anybody take notice that he was not the only one reporting the same issues? EDG, inflector, peterf and orionjim (some of them longterm members with several hundred posts) confirmed at least some of his observation, especially the closed-mindedness (i think only orionjim did not mention that term) of this forum and the general tone. And I agree with that assessment as well.

The most common response was how tired BAUT members are of this term and that it - from their perspective - simply meant that someone does not agree with them.
Nobody seems to even consider that maybe there is a lot more to it than that, since it seems to be a common characterization of BAUT members.
Then MicVR got suspended. I agree with orionjim when he said that that pretty much proved the points MicVR was making.
I did not find ANYTHING in the post that led to his suspension offensive. Maybe it was the term "kindergarten reasoning"? I think it was a VERY polite term, given the onslaught of ridicule and intentional misrepresentation of his statements.

I think MicVR's suspension but even more so the general behavior and ridicule he and others who dared to agree with him had to endure in this thread (and others) VERY MUCH proves the points of the opening statement.

NickW
2010-Sep-21, 12:59 AM
Did anybody take notice that he was not the only one reporting the same issues? EDG, inflector, peterf and orionjim (some of them longterm members with several hundred posts) confirmed at least some of his observation, especially the closed-mindedness (i think only orionjim did not mention that term) of this forum and the general tone. And I agree with that assessment as well.

So, let me get this straight. A majority of the people think BAUT is fine with how things are run, and the overall tone isn't as MicVR et al says it is. The some very small minority of people agree with MicVR and therefore BAUT is a bad place because we don't pander to the few?


Maybe it was the term "kindergarten reasoning"? I think it was a VERY polite term, given the onslaught of ridicule and intentional misrepresentation of his statements.

Yeah, I really like my thought process to be compared to a child. I don't think that would be rude or impolite at all......


... especially the closed-mindedness (i think only orionjim did not mention that term) of this forum and the general tone. And I agree with that assessment as well.

And when did asking for evidence become close-minded?

Gillianren
2010-Sep-21, 01:24 AM
And that's the issue. We are essentially never called closed-minded by people who don't resent evidence-based reasoning. We're just supposed to stay open to all possibilities. On the face of it, that's fine. It is possible that some percentage of UFO reports are actually caused by alien spacecraft. However, it's still less probable than that there simply isn't enough information present to make an identification of the exact sort of thing the other reports turn out to be. If someone can't accept that, who's being closed-minded?

AdamL
2010-Sep-21, 01:51 AM
We are essentially never called closed-minded by people who don't resent evidence-based reasoning.

How do you know that? I am calling the average BAUT member closed-minded. DO you know what my stance is on evidence-based reasoning? Or EDG's? Or of any other who spoke out in favor of the closed-mindedness of BAUT?


It is possible that some percentage of UFO reports are actually caused by alien spacecraft. However, it's still less probable than that there simply isn't enough information present to make an identification of the exact sort of thing the other reports turn out to be. If someone can't accept that, who's being closed-minded?
What is the assessment that that is "less probable" based on?
That is a personal opinion (one that I happen to agree with by the way) but nothing more.
Here at BAUT that personal opinion is usually not stated as such. It is declared as a fact of science. On that I agree with MicVR: that is not scientifically honest. It is a very misleading statement, especially for young kids.

Jens
2010-Sep-21, 02:00 AM
Did anybody take notice that he was not the only one reporting the same issues? EDG, inflector, peterf and orionjim (some of them longterm members with several hundred posts) confirmed at least some of his observation, especially the closed-mindedness (i think only orionjim did not mention that term) of this forum and the general tone. And I agree with that assessment as well.

There is something I find odd about this statement. To me, it seems like the people who talk about are also setting the tone here. I think that even for you, deciding to participate means that you also take some responsibility for the tone that is set. Same for me, of course. I've occasionally run across people (I'm not accusing you of this, just pointing out that this happens) who had a sort of attitude like, "you people are all. . ." or "the members of BAUT are. . ." when in fact that person was a member of BAUT and also was part of the tone-setting process.

I really can't agree with the position that there is a bad tone, but that doesn't mean I can agree with the position that there is nothing wrong. There are posters here who can be rude at times, and there are disagreements of position that become (in my opinion) too heated. But I really think that's just part of what an Internet forum is like. As I've said before in this thread, the "regular posters" (including EDG, in my opinion) are a self-selected group, and nobody is paying us and so there are real limits as to how far we can be disciplined.

AdamL
2010-Sep-21, 02:22 AM
...To me, it seems like the people who talk about are also setting the tone here...

As far as I am concerned it is not so much the tone that is the issue. The issue for me is the intellectual dishonesty I see here.
I can't speak for MicVR but he stressed that point as well.

For me, it is the arrogance with which BAUT members try to sell their personal opinions as a fact of science, especially in the so-called fringe areas of science.
MicVR called that "declarative arrogance" or "declarative authority". I like these terms.

And, please, even though I am still a student I understand the scientific method quite well. I don't need a lecture.
In my field (mathematics) it may be a bit easier because it is often possible to prove that a certain statement must be false.
In most other fields that is very often not that easy and therefor you utilize the "null hypothesis". That makes sense and I didn't see anybody here argue against that approach.
But - and that is a big but, carefully overlooked in such discussions - that null hypothesis is not a science fact! To declare it as such is common practice here at BAUT and that is the intellectual dishonesty I am talking about.

Swift
2010-Sep-21, 02:33 AM
<snip>
For me, it is the arrogance with which BAUT members try to sell their personal opinions as a fact of science, especially in the so-called fringe areas of science.
MicVR called that "declarative arrogance" or "declarative authority". I like these terms.

And, please, even though I am still a student I understand the scientific method quite well. I don't need a lecture.
In my field (mathematics) it may be a bit easier because it is often possible to prove that a certain statement must be false.
In most other fields that is very often not that easy and therefor you utilize the "null hypothesis". That makes sense and I didn't see anybody here argue against that approach.
But - and that is a big but, carefully overlooked in such discussions - that null hypothesis is not a science fact! To declare it as such is common practice here at BAUT and that is the intellectual dishonesty I am talking about.
AdamL,

May I ask you a couple of questions? You are under no obligation to answer them, but I am curious.

First, have you read my post here (http://www.bautforum.com/showthread.php/107751-BAUT-Review-for-Parents-and-Teachers?p=1792695#post1792695) and if so, what are your thoughts about it? How do think questions such as "was that light I saw last night in the sky an alien spaceship" supposed to be answered by the scientific method? Are all possible answers to that question just opinion and of equal probability and value?

Jens
2010-Sep-21, 03:03 AM
For me, it is the arrogance with which BAUT members try to sell their personal opinions as a fact of science, especially in the so-called fringe areas of science.
MicVR called that "declarative arrogance" or "declarative authority". I like these terms.


Yes, I have no doubt that this is true. But you are a student, and I think I'm correct in guessing that you have been in discussion-type classes where people have said things that contained some arrogance. There are lots of members here, and people sometimes speak in an arrogant way. I don't see how anybody could deny that. So the question is, what do you think should be done about it? Would you like to see the moderators moderate all posts? Would you like the moderators to be stricter? It's not OK to say, "the moderators should be objective," because then you need to explain what would be "objective" to you. I suppose one thing you might try is reading through the discussions, and sending private notes to people who you think are behaving arrogantly. Sure, that would be troublesome, but you are asking for something that I think is quite troublesome, IMO.

Jens
2010-Sep-21, 03:07 AM
But - and that is a big but, carefully overlooked in such discussions - that null hypothesis is not a science fact! To declare it as such is common practice here at BAUT and that is the intellectual dishonesty I am talking about.

You know, if you know how to use the poll function, you could try to set up a poll and ask a question like, "do you think the absence of evidence if proof of non-existence." I doubt that anybody would reply in the affirmative. Now, people might give the impression that they are taking that position, by making fun of statements that are not proven false but which seem fairly hard to believe, but I don't think anybody really believes that a null hypothesis is a fact in general terms.

I certainly don't.

AdamL
2010-Sep-21, 03:08 AM
First, have you read my post here (http://www.bautforum.com/showthread.php/107751-BAUT-Review-for-Parents-and-Teachers?p=1792695#post1792695) and if so, what are your thoughts about it?

Yes. You use the terms "more likely explanation" or "most probable explanation" (corrected "probably" in last quote) but what are they based on?
Can you show mathematically what the probability of those explanations are? If not, then they must necessarily be personal opinions.


How do think questions such as "was that light I saw last night in the sky an alien spaceship" supposed to be answered by the scientific method? Are all possible answers to that question just opinion and of equal probability and value?

With honesty. And in the absence of evidence either way, all you can say (as a scientist in any official capacity) is: "We don't know."
The same goes for questions about ghosts, fairies and, heck, even the easter bunny!
Whatever your personal opinions may be (and how many other people share that opinion is irrelevant) and however ludicrous the idea of ghosts for example may appear to you, as a scientist really all you can say is, again: "We don't know."

Gillianren
2010-Sep-21, 03:15 AM
How do you know that? I am calling the average BAUT member closed-minded. DO you know what my stance is on evidence-based reasoning? Or EDG's? Or of any other who spoke out in favor of the closed-mindedness of BAUT?

Long personal experience? We have had numerous people tell us that they resent being asked for evidence to support their stances and then call us closed-minded for insisting on such. In point of fact, that's what we're asking for here. Evidence.


What is the assessment that that is "less probable" based on?
That is a personal opinion (one that I happen to agree with by the way) but nothing more.

This is the kind of thing I'm talking about. We have evidence that all sorts of natural phenomena exist. We have evidence that other, non-natural things in the sky exist. We have evidence that both are continually misinterpreted as alien spacecraft. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that, in cases where something is unidentifiable, there's a chance that it's just more of the same but without enough information available to make a firm determination. On the other hand, no one knows enough about any possible alien spacecraft to make any kind of determination of what pattern of behaviour they'd follow. Since we do not and cannot know that, we also cannot say something is likely to be that thing without any known characteristics.


Here at BAUT that personal opinion is usually not stated as such. It is declared as a fact of science. On that I agree with MicVR: that is not scientifically honest. It is a very misleading statement, especially for young kids.

No, it isn't. It's integral to how science works. We know the simple explanations are often the correct ones. It happens all the time. Ergo, it's not unreasonable to assume that it's happening again. How do you go about determining what the odds are that it's alien spacecraft if you have no evidence of what alien spacecraft are actually like?

Van Rijn
2010-Sep-21, 03:23 AM
You know, if you know how to use the poll function, you could try to set up a poll and ask a question like, "do you think the absence of evidence if proof of non-existence." I doubt that anybody would reply in the affirmative. Now, people might give the impression that they are taking that position, by making fun of statements that are not proven false but which seem fairly hard to believe, but I don't think anybody really believes that a null hypothesis is a fact in general terms.

I certainly don't.

I was thinking of a poll as well. Most folks aren't going to include in every post, "lack of evidence doesn't prove non-existence" or when discussing mainstream arguments, say "this is what is best supported by theory and observation, but of course there are other possibilities." These are implied. They are also said, on occasion, but not regularly posting them does not indicate someone intends their post to be read as an absolute declaration of truth.

That isn't how science works.

AdamL
2010-Sep-21, 04:06 AM
How do you go about determining what the odds are that it's alien spacecraft if you have no evidence of what alien spacecraft are actually like?

My point exactly. You can not determine the odds! And that's where it must end. The rest is personal speculation (on both sides).

As Ludwig Wittgenstein said: "Worüber man nicht reden kann, darüber muss man schweigen."
I couldn't find an English translation right now, so here goes my flawed attempt: "That of which you cannot speak, (about that) you have to remain silent", and in extension: when asked, you can only say: "We do not know.".

NickW
2010-Sep-21, 04:43 AM
Maybe I have been hanging around here to much, but how is it that people who come here, stating they have a background in science (teachers, professors, students) seem to have a lack of understanding that science works through evidence. I have no science training at all, unless you count the general science, biology, and chemistry they taught in high school in the 90's training (I think not), but I still think I have a grasp on science enough to know that feelings and lack of evidence stand in the way of science, not push it forward.

Jens
2010-Sep-21, 04:47 AM
Maybe I have been hanging around here to much, but how is it that people who come here, stating they have a background in science (teachers, professors, students) seem to have a lack of understanding that science works through evidence. I have no science training at all, unless you count the general science, biology, and chemistry they taught in high school in the 90's training (I think not), but I still think I have a grasp on science enough to know that feelings and lack of evidence stand in the way of science, not push it forward.

I don't know, isn't part of the problem the simple fact that scientists are human beings and have feelings that sometimes get in the way of science? I don't know if this is a really appropriate example, but Einstein apparently was reluctant to accept quantum mechanics because it went against his intuition of how the world should be. So it's not necessarily true that the people you are talking about don't know. It may be that other things get in the way.

NickW
2010-Sep-21, 05:10 AM
So it's not necessarily true that the people you are talking about don't know. It may be that other things get in the way.

I will concede that point. To make more sense of my comment though, the people that I am talking about are trained, or are being trained in science. That means they should know when they are instilling bias into what they are saying. I do understand that we are all humans, but my post was more to point out how can some call "asking for evidence", close-minded. It really makes no sense to me.

NickW
2010-Sep-21, 05:17 AM
Also to add:

I think the "bad attitude" comments from proponents in the CT/ATM fora are mostly because they are not used to being for evidence. They talk to their friends about it, throw out some techo-babble, sound all smart and their acquaintances believe what they are saying. There is a lack of criticism there that those people get here, and it is probably completely unexpected.

AdamL
2010-Sep-21, 05:36 AM
... my post was more to point out how can some call "asking for evidence", close-minded. It really makes no sense to me.

Who in this thread did call anybody simply asking for evidence closed-minded?
Maybe it is my limited understanding of the English language, but I did not see that anywhere in this thread.

What has been called closed-minded (and as far as I am concerned, rightly so) is to discard a possibility, lacking any evidence one way or the other. That is closed-minded!
And the often cited probability that some assign to certain statements is nothing but a personal opinion, unless it is a mathematically deduced probability, which in almost all cases it is not because we just don't know enough.
You may think that scientists have better ways of determining the probability of certain events, but upon closer examination not enough facts are known to base any probability on!

Not too long ago, before the discovery of extremophiles, almost all scientists would have given you all kinds of very low (if not zero) probabilities of the likelihood of finding life on Europa (Jupiter's moon) for example.
Today, after we have learned a lot more about life on Earth and how resilient it can be, those probabilities look very different.

Have we really not learned that lesson?? Have we really not learned to be much more cautious when downright discarding possibilities because they don't fit into our limited view of the world?
And I ask with MicVR and others: Where is the humility that inevitably must result from that realization? It seems to be almost completely absent here at BAUT, and that absence can rightly be called "closed-minded".

Tensor
2010-Sep-21, 05:48 AM
I very much agree with Jim on this observations.

I agree with him also, but I don't really think you do. From his post #117:


Again as an observer I couldn’t see what his/her point was. They seemed to be trying to push buttons of members to bring out certain behaviors.

When I saw your post #86 I thought “this is going to be interesting” because if they were looking for a rational discussion here was their chance. When they didn’t reply I began to think this person was just stirring the pot.

I tend to agree with CJSF that being penalized was what they were looking for. Whatever their reason was they were cutting a fine line seemly to bring out certain behaviors in the members here. And they pretty much succeeded.

You still agree with orionjim's observations, or only those that you think agree with your position?


I have read the Michio Kaku thread very carefully and I find the positions MicVR took there very considered, well-worded and polite. "Pseudo-Skeptic" is certainly not name-calling where I come from,

Well, think of what is considered name calling in your area of the world. If someone called you that name and you told them please don't use it, but they continued to call you that. Would you consider it impolite?


I became an active member today (in order to participate in this thread) but I have browsed this forum and read a good amount of threads over the last months. My observations largely met what MicVR reported in his first statement.

MicVR was asked for specific examples and didn't provide any. Perhaps you can point them out.


Did anybody take notice that he was not the only one reporting the same issues? EDG, inflector, peterf and orionjim (some of them longterm members with several hundred posts) confirmed at least some of his observation,

Did you actually read all of orionjim's posts? Did you happen to notice that peterf was banned because he didn't follow the rules and did personal attacks. Go to forum feedback, it has plenty of threads started by ATM proponents who don't like the fact that the rules require them to answer questions.


especially the closed-mindedness (i think only orionjim did not mention that term) of this forum and the general tone. And I agree with that assessment as well.

Again, anything specific?


The most common response was how tired BAUT members are of this term and that it - from their perspective - simply meant that someone does not agree with them.

No, usually it means someone doesn't want to provide us the evidence we've asked for. There have been, IIRC, two ATM threads where the person was fully prepared to discuss their idea, answer questions and provide the math. We couldn't shoot those down and parted friends, without being called closed-minded. There was several threads in ATM that lead to someone writing papers that ended up in peer reviewed journals. Is BAUT perfect? No. Is it better than anything else out there on the web? About the only thing on par is Physics Forums.


Nobody seems to even consider that maybe there is a lot more to it than that, since it seems to be a common characterization of BAUT members.

Usually by those who's work has been shown to be completely wrong. They resent having to provide the evidence (usually the math). That is what they usually mean by closed-minded. As someone who doing work in math, I suggest you look over some of the threads in ATM and actually look at the proposals put forward by some of the posters there.


Then MicVR got suspended. I agree with orionjim when he said that that pretty much proved the points MicVR was making.

Do you also agree with orionjim that he was looking to get suspended?


I did not find ANYTHING in the post that led to his suspension offensive. Maybe it was the term "kindergarten reasoning"?

From MicVR post:


In the last part of this thread you had to witness the primitive and uninformed kindergarten reasoning so often found around here

It would seem that what the average BAUT member (including a good number of the moderators) lacks in humbleness and basic human tolerance they make more than up with aggression, ignorance and a generally mean spirit.

So, you wouldn't mind being called primitive, uninformed, ignorant, and mean spirited? Well, I do, even in your context, since you didn't identify what you mean by average. I could find a few more examples for you if you want.


I think it was a VERY polite term, given the onslaught of ridicule and intentional misrepresentation of his statements.

Specific examples of which are....?


I think MicVR's suspension but even more so the general behavior and ridicule he and others who dared to agree with him had to endure in this thread (and others) VERY MUCH proves the points of the opening statement.

Again, specific examples?

captain swoop
2010-Sep-21, 06:14 AM
AdamL. Welcome to BAUT. Please take some time to read the Rules for Posting to the Board. They are linked at the bottom of this post.
Thank You

Strange
2010-Sep-21, 06:54 AM
Maybe it was the term "kindergarten reasoning"? I think it was a VERY polite term, given the onslaught of ridicule and intentional misrepresentation of his statements.

Being "closed-minded" (and the person accused of "kindergaten reasoning") I am going to have to ask for some evidence. Can you show (quote) where I (or anyone else) ridiculed or misrepresented his statements? If anything, MicVR is the one who misrepresented my argument and then got upset about being accused of something completely different. This has happened a couple of times but I am still willing to assume it was not a deliberate way of avoiding answering the question and ineventing a slight.

BTW I am not offended or upset by this sort of accusation or misrepresentation of my views by an unknown person on the Internet. I am, however, slightly frustrated by MicVR's refusal to answer my question by (deliberately?) misunderstading it and then being offended by his own misinterpretation....

Gillianren
2010-Sep-21, 07:36 AM
My point exactly. You can not determine the odds! And that's where it must end. The rest is personal speculation (on both sides).

Have you heard of Occam's Razor?


As Ludwig Wittgenstein said: "Worüber man nicht reden kann, darüber muss man schweigen."
I couldn't find an English translation right now, so here goes my flawed attempt: "That of which you cannot speak, (about that) you have to remain silent", and in extension: when asked, you can only say: "We do not know.".

No; you may say, "We don't know, but here's what we do." And here, in this case, is what we do--we know that the unidentified has been shown, using the statistics provided, to be something mundane 95% of the time. That means that the mundane is common. We have no evidence which suggests that the extreme suggestion is even possible; indeed, we have strong evidence which suggests it isn't. Therefore, given what has been shown to be the case, it is far more likely to be the mundane than the extraordinary. To put it in medical parlance, when you see hoofprints, look for horses, not unicorns.

Van Rijn
2010-Sep-21, 09:01 AM
Who in this thread did call anybody simply asking for evidence closed-minded?


See the opening post of the thread:


The language here is kept clean here when it comes to profanity and swear words - the moderators see to that.
However, the general tone expressed by many (probably the majority of) BAUTians is very closed-minded, garnered with hostility, impoliteness and ridicule.

(emphasis added). If you had been following the board (as MicVR claims to have done), you would see that asking for evidence is a very common thing here.



Maybe it is my limited understanding of the English language, but I did not see that anywhere in this thread.


I was also wondering if there might be a language issue. It's possible that you and MicVR have different concepts in mind when using some words, which might result in different perceptions of these discussions.


What has been called closed-minded (and as far as I am concerned, rightly so) is to discard a possibility, lacking any evidence one way or the other. That is closed-minded!
[snip]
Have we really not learned that lesson?? Have we really not learned to be much more cautious when downright discarding possibilities because they don't fit into our limited view of the world?
And I ask with MicVR and others: Where is the humility that inevitably must result from that realization? It seems to be almost completely absent here at BAUT, and that absence can rightly be called "closed-minded".

I've followed this board for a long time. My experience is that very few here will discard a possibility out of hand. Rather, most will ask for supporting evidence, as previously noted. So, I'm not sure what the issue is.

Moose
2010-Sep-21, 10:18 AM
I'll point out, briefly, that my Easter Bunny example was chosen specifically because I was confident MicVR didn't believe in it. I chose it specifically because it demonstrates the contrast between the defense of a cherished belief and someone else's belief for which the evidence for either share characteristics.

MicVR doesn't buy the Easter Bunny because the claim is implausible on its face (mammals don't lay eggs, let alone chocolate ones), and there's no reliable evidence to challenge that implausibility. I don't buy his UFOs because the claim is implausible on its face (mostly on engineering/physics grounds), and there's no reliable evidence to challenge that implausibility.

Canis Lupus
2010-Sep-21, 10:30 AM
I'll point out, briefly, that my Easter Bunny example was chosen specifically because I was confident MicVR didn't believe in it. I chose it specifically because it demonstrates the contrast between the defense of a cherished belief and someone else's belief for which the evidence for either share characteristics.

MicVR doesn't buy the Easter Bunny because the claim is implausible on its face (mammals don't lay eggs, let alone chocolate ones), and there's no reliable evidence to challenge that implausibility. I don't buy his UFOs because the claim is implausible on its face (mostly on engineering/physics grounds), and there's no reliable evidence to challenge that implausibility.

But were you thinking of the children with your Easter Bunny example? :surprised

HenrikOlsen
2010-Sep-21, 12:51 PM
Yes. You use the terms "more likely explanation" or "most probable explanation" (corrected "probably" in last quote) but what are they based on?
Can you show mathematically what the probability of those explanations are? If not, then they must necessarily be personal opinions.
Every single case where there was enough evidence to make a determination has been shown to have mundane explanations, that's 100% of the cases where the result is known, out of tens if not hundreds of thousands of cases.
2-15% of the cases (depending on who you ask and how you define "cases") do not have enough evidence to determine the explanation.
The complete absence of any case showing non-mundane explanations actually give a strong confidence that a mundane explanation is also true for the remaining cases where there isn't enough evidence to determine which it is.
Try reading up on Bayesian inference (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayesian_inference).

grant hutchison
2010-Sep-21, 02:31 PM
Not too long ago, before the discovery of extremophiles, almost all scientists would have given you all kinds of very low (if not zero) probabilities of the likelihood of finding life on Europa (Jupiter's moon) for example.
Today, after we have learned a lot more about life on Earth and how resilient it can be, those probabilities look very different.

Have we really not learned that lesson?? Have we really not learned to be much more cautious when downright discarding possibilities because they don't fit into our limited view of the world?

And I ask with MicVR and others: Where is the humility that inevitably must result from that realization? It seems to be almost completely absent here at BAUT, and that absence can rightly be called &quot;closed-minded&quot;.But science isn't about hedging your current bets so that, whatever happens in the long run, you can claim to have not been wrong. It's about building useful models of the world according to our current understanding. Can a particular hypothesis be used to make useful and testable predictions about how the Universe will behave? If that hypothesis requires a large number of proliferated entities, or if it can't make testable predictions, it's hogwash, in strictly scientific terms. It may turn out to be correct in the light of new evidence, but it still was hogwash when originally proposed on insufficient grounds.
I don't really buy your example of Europa, but one could point to the original theory of Continental Drift. That turned out to be true (in the modified form of plate tectonics), but it was a useless hypothesis when first proposed, because it lacked a clear mechanism. It could make no testable predictions, and required some ill-defined new entity to allow continents to move. It provided no guidance on where to look for evidence or mechanism. It wasn't science. It became science once evidence and mechanism turned up in the course of other endeavours: and it was then adopted in the blink of an eye.
Forgive me, but the "open minded" attitude you share with MicVR simply reflects a profound misunderstanding of what science is and does.

Grant Hutchison

Nereid
2010-Sep-21, 02:45 PM
I'll point out, briefly, that my Easter Bunny example was chosen specifically because I was confident MicVR didn't believe in it. I chose it specifically because it demonstrates the contrast between the defense of a cherished belief and someone else's belief for which the evidence for either share characteristics.

MicVR doesn't buy the Easter Bunny because the claim is implausible on its face (mammals don't lay eggs, let alone chocolate ones), and there's no reliable evidence to challenge that implausibility. I don't buy his UFOs because the claim is implausible on its face (mostly on engineering/physics grounds), and there's no reliable evidence to challenge that implausibility.
mammals don't lay eggs, let alone chocolate ones

The echidna (spiny ant-eater) and platypus are mammals, and they lay eggs (albeit not chocolate ones).

There are, no doubt, many extinct species of mammal which laid eggs, though again not chocolate ones.

Question for MicVR, EDG, and AdamL: in what way, if any, is my comment relevant to this thread?

Nereid
2010-Sep-21, 03:03 PM
There's an aspect of the claim that scientists must always be agnostic* which has not, AFACS, been mentioned yet, one that goes to the heart of science.

Will the Sun rise tomorrow? Will it shine in a minute's time from now? Will cadmium sulphide be highly insoluble (in water, at 20C, and 1 atm) tomorrow? Will it be highly insoluble in a minute's time from now? Will my gold coin turn into a hassium one tomorrow? In a minute's time from now? Will the Moon turn into billions of bowls of petunias tomorrow? Will the president of the EU find himself on the surface of Charon one second from now?

And so on.

One of the foundations of modern science - since the ~time of Newton - is the principle of induction.

The principle of perpetual agnosticism, as advocated by some*, in this thread, seems to be in direct contradiction to the principle of induction, and so is not within the domain of science.

Comments?

I'm particularly interested to hear from MicVR, EDG, or AdamL on this.

* apologies if I have misstated the claim; clarifications welcome

Paul Beardsley
2010-Sep-21, 03:03 PM
In the last post (169) Grant does an excellent job of spelling out the position, but I find it incredible that there is a need for this.

As a teacher, I am very aware of the unfortunate necessity for some teachers to "teach to the exam". I wonder if this is happening in an extreme way in... certain parts of the world. Students are urged to study a particular topic because it's likely to be in the exam, but fundamental ideas - such as the importance of evidence - are being missed out altogether.

I have an image in my mind of a flying saucer from a distant star landing in my local park. Hundreds of scientists, including some from BAUT, flock to get a closer look; all have looks of delight on their faces.

And a bunch of UFOlogists will be looking at the scientists in disgust, saying, "It's all very well you accepting the existence of visitors from outer space now; but it's a bit hypocritical given that you didn't believe before."

Numerous BAUTers (and others) will reply, "But we have evidence now. If you recall, we asked you time and time again to present some evidence, and you never did."

The UFOlogists will ignore this, and look smug because they, unlike Doubting Thomas, believed before there was any evidence.

Anyway, I've spent enough time trying to communicate with people who equate a demand for evidence with closed-mindedness. Life is too short.

Nereid
2010-Sep-21, 03:11 PM
MicVR has said he's a theoretical physicist, and AdamL a mathematician (or studying to become one).

Perhaps the views they have expressed, in relation to science, reflect an approach somewhat limited to these fields?

I mean, astronomers (and biologists, geologists, etc) who observe, and physicists (and chemists, and biologists, etc) who experiment need to decide what to observe (and how, and how often, etc), or what experiment to design, run, etc. Are they agnostic to all possibilities when they go about making these sorts of decisions? I don't think so; as has been noted, several times, their work is often framed in terms of testable hypotheses, with essential no consideration given to, um, way out ideas.

At the practical level of actually doing science - at least in these fields - does the principle of perpetual agnosticism have any relevance?

Paul Beardsley
2010-Sep-21, 03:13 PM
There's an aspect of the claim that scientists must always be agnostic* which has not, AFACS, been mentioned yet, one that goes to the heart of science.

Prior to this thread (or perhaps the Michio Kaku one) I'd never seen the term "agnostic" used in this way. My feeling is that it's useless at best; I picture a court room where no verdict can be reached on a murder charge because you can never rule out the possibility that the murder weapon was beamed into the accused's bedroom by advanced aliens, who also used a remote neuron controller which made him confess in front of a hundred witnesses.

No, there is such a thing as "reasonable doubt", and there is also the term "presume" which means to chose a sensible default assumption which you keep to unless fresh information gives you good cause to revise it.

So yes, we presume the sun will rise tomorrow unless we have good reason to think it will change its behaviour for some reason (or the Earth stops turning - and again, we can presume it won't).

Swift
2010-Sep-21, 04:48 PM
Prior to this thread (or perhaps the Michio Kaku one) I'd never seen the term "agnostic" used in this way. My feeling is that it's useless at best; I picture a court room where no verdict can be reached on a murder charge because you can never rule out the possibility that the murder weapon was beamed into the accused's bedroom by advanced aliens, who also used a remote neuron controller which made him confess in front of a hundred witnesses.

As I commented already in this term, I dislike using the term "agnostic" in this context. Agnosticism is a belief system, just as atheism or any particular religious belief. I think the point that many of us are trying to make is that science is not a belief system, it is based on evidence. I think using the term "agnostic" is confusing, perhaps, deliberately so.

Paul Beardsley
2010-Sep-21, 05:07 PM
As I commented already in this term, I dislike using the term "agnostic" in this context. Agnosticism is a belief system, just as atheism or any particular religious belief. I think the point that many of us are trying to make is that science is not a belief system, it is based on evidence. I think using the term "agnostic" is confusing, perhaps, deliberately so.

I don't want to get sidetracked - particularly onto THAT topic - but atheism is not a belief system, it's rejection of belief.

Otherwise I agree with your post.

Moose
2010-Sep-21, 05:13 PM
mammals don't lay eggs, let alone chocolate ones

The echidna (spiny ant-eater) and platypus are mammals, and they lay eggs (albeit not chocolate ones).


Fair enough.

Nereid
2010-Sep-21, 05:23 PM
If we focus on the concept, and downplay the word(s) used to describe it ... MicVR posited* that it is a key, if not central, feature of science all possibilities are always open, whether it be dark energy is a generalised Chaplygin gas, cadmium sulphide will become as soluble as sodium chloride (in water, etc) at noon tomorrow, some UFOs are alien visitations, or the Moon will turn into a billion bowls of tulips within the next 10 seconds (etc).

Further, MicVR asserted* that those who do not consider all such possibilities open are "closed minded"^.

One of the points I have made is that there is an inconsistency, a contradiction between this claim and a very long-established principle at the heart of science (the principle of induction).

If so, then all scientists must, almost by definition, be closed-minded; indeed, I find it difficult to understand how MicVR can, logically, claim to be a scientist and also hold this view of the nature of science.

I am curious to hear from MicVR (and EDG and AdamL) concerning this.

* and I think EDG and AdamL agreed with this, though I may be mistaken (clarification welcome).
^ I think; I may have re-stated the assertion somewhat incorrectly (clarification welcome).

Grey
2010-Sep-21, 05:28 PM
The echidna (spiny ant-eater) and platypus are mammals, and they lay eggs (albeit not chocolate ones).Hmm. Maybe we should change our traditions and have an Easter Platypus instead. Actually, I think my kids might like that. :)

Kaptain K
2010-Sep-21, 05:44 PM
AFAIK, The Easter bunny was not said to lay eggs, just deliver them!

Gillianren
2010-Sep-21, 06:10 PM
AFAIK, The Easter bunny was not said to lay eggs, just deliver them!

Depends on which version of the Easter Bunny you've heard.

Strange
2010-Sep-21, 06:31 PM
My point exactly. You can not determine the odds! And that's where it must end. The rest is personal speculation (on both sides).

That is simply extraordinary. There was a discussion recently (not sure if it was on BAUT or elsewhere) about why people who "sign up" for one conspiracy or fringe science theory almost always seem to believe in several (or all) of them. This would seem to be a clue.

So AdamL, as you consider all hyopthesis equally valid and equally probable, can you explain why believing in the Easter Bunny or Invisible Pink Unicorn isn't exactly equivalent to believing in alien visitors? (Or you can follow MicVR's lead and claim that this question is an insult of some sort.)

Strange
2010-Sep-21, 06:33 PM
But science isn't about hedging your current bets so that, whatever happens in the long run, you can claim to have not been wrong. It's about building useful models of the world according to our current understanding.

(I just thought that was worth repeating; a refreshing blast of ice-cold common sense)

Nereid
2010-Sep-21, 06:49 PM
My point exactly. You can not determine the odds! And that's where it must end. The rest is personal speculation (on both sides).That is simply extraordinary. There was a discussion recently (not sure if it was on BAUT or elsewhere) about why people who "sign up" for one conspiracy or fringe science theory almost always seem to believe in several (or all) of them. This would seem to be a clue.

So AdamL, as you consider all hyopthesis equally valid and equally probable, can you explain why believing that inthe Easter Bunny or Invisible Pink Unicorns isn't exactly equivalent to believing in alien visitors? (Or you can follow MicVR's lead and claim that this question is an insult of some sort.)
An example of where this "you can not determine the odds!" might have some, um, limits is "odds" to do with things personal to the proponents themselves.

For example, is X (a person making this "you can not determine the odds!") OK with not determining them when the proposition is that X was born of a mating between an Alien and a Predator, during the height of the last Ice Age, on an island deep in the Southern Ocean, now beneath the waves; that X's native language is, in fact, one of the extinct ones used by Homo neandathalis in what is today Finland; and that X actually actually beat Sohn Kee-chung in the marathon at the 1936 Berlin Olympics but was not given the gold medal because X was ... (you get the idea)?

IOW, when examined in some detail, "you can not determine the odds!" is less all-encompassing than it is claimed to be.

pzkpfw
2010-Sep-21, 07:46 PM
Some great points above (and learnings about eggs, too).

I was also wondering (hope it's not been covered before and I missed it) just what use the "perpetual agnosticism" is, anyway - in a "sciencey way". I certainly see the point of an "open mind" and not ruling out possibilities before they've actually been disproven, but in the real World, we do need to make some judgement calls. (The N.Z. Skeptics Society web site has always had the saying: "If you hear hoofbeats in the night, think first of Horses, not Zebras". (Note that this saying does accept that Zebras are a possibility - but Unicorns are out.))

Say we've identified the cause of 95% of UFO sightings, and they have mundane explanations. Most of us say that the other 5% would be expected to have mundane explanations too (given the lack of evidence of extra terestrial visitations, and given the explanations of the first 95%). Others seem to say "that's closed minded, and just an opinion anyway - because you can't prove the other 5% were not caused by extra terrestrial visitors you should be 'agnostic' and accept that they might be".

(This is just a summary of the views, they are not meant to be exact quotes of any particular actual post; it's just to set up a scenario for...)

So anyway, what I was wondering is what use that view is? Does it lead to sitting back, saying "it might be aliens or it might be swamp gas" and leaving it at that? Or does it lead to an attempt by science to detect these "possible aliens"? (A kind of "local" SETI) Do the holders of this view think our science budgets (how much?) should cover study into how aliens might be detected? How would this detection be based on anything other than informed speculaton?

---

I also imagine a day when 100% of known UFO sightings were unexplained. I imagine some people said "it might be Venus, or it might be aliens". Then 5% of the sightings were explained. Those people then said "well, the remaining 95% might be swamp gas or might be aliens". Then another 5% were explained and those people said "well, the remaining 90% might be weather balloons or might be aliens". And so on. Eventually 95% percent of sightings have been explained and those people are saying "well, the last 5% might be aliens, you can't prove they are not".

Nereid brought up the excellant relevance of induction. I think a related aspect is the ability to spot trends.

Canis Lupus
2010-Sep-21, 09:38 PM
AFAIK, The Easter bunny was not said to lay eggs, just deliver them!

Joining or reading BAUT would be justified by this post alone. :razz:

HenrikOlsen
2010-Sep-21, 10:04 PM
AFAIK, The Easter bunny was not said to lay eggs, just deliver them!
Joining or reading BAUT would be justified by this post alone. :razz:


AFAIK, The Easter bunny was not said to lay eggs, just deliver them!Depends on which version of the Easter Bunny you've heard.
And then there's the BAUT-typical "extra information is available that makes a throw-away comment an interesting subject in itself" follow-up.

And yes, some versions of the Easter Bunny folklore has it actually laying the eggs.

Strange
2010-Sep-21, 10:08 PM
You know, I'm kind of coming round to this whole Easter Bunny Hypothesis as I learn more about it...

captain swoop
2010-Sep-21, 10:32 PM
Easter Bunny is just a corruption of the Hare (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moon_gazing_hare) . Sacred to Eostre.

Moose
2010-Sep-21, 10:36 PM
You know, I'm kind of coming round to this whole Easter Bunny Hypothesis as I learn more about it...

So am I.

slang
2010-Sep-21, 11:21 PM
You know, I'm kind of coming round to this whole Easter Bunny Hypothesis as I learn more about it...

I'm still more attracted to the Half Easter Bunny Hypothesis. Bunny/Chicken crossbreed. Or something. Or maybe squirrel/ostridge. Big eggs, and routinely hidden.

pzkpfw
2010-Sep-22, 12:05 AM
Let's get back to topic now, eh?

inflector
2010-Sep-22, 10:24 PM
So AdamL, as you consider all hyopthesis equally valid and equally probable, can you explain why believing in the Easter Bunny or Invisible Pink Unicorn isn't exactly equivalent to believing in alien visitors?

One needs to distinguish between believing in alien visitors and allowing for their possibility.

We have certainly seen evidence that:

1) Life can evolve from non-life - we are here after all.

2) There at least tens of sextillions of stars and depending on whose assumptions you use somewhere between thousands, millions, billions or trillions of planets where life may be possible.

3) The scientific consensus has proclaimed limits on what was possible in the past that have been eventually proven wrong. Many thought powered flight was impossible.

4) Some physicists believe that it is theoretically possible to "bend space" and travel at superluminal speeds thereby somehow finding a loophole past lightspeed. No one knows how this could be done at the moment beyond handwaving and Star-Trek-level postulations but there is some theoretical wiggle room for a potential new theory in the future.

5) If humans ever attain the level of technology sufficient to achieve superluminal travel we will likely want to visit other planets with life, even those that are at early 21st century technology levels.

6) If we did visit some planets in any such scenario, it seems conceivable that we might want to keep our visit a secret so as not to panic the locals.

Combining the first two points leads me to believe that it is likely that there is life on many other planets and that it is likely that we are not the only intelligent life in the galaxy. I understand that others may make different assumptions.

From points 3 through 6, I also believe that it is possible that aliens could exist with the technology to visit and escape our detection. Nevertheless, I believe it is far far more likely that people are making up stories of alien interaction (or have fallen prey to mental illness or suggestion) than that actual interactions occurred. But I concede the possibility that there could be some actual alien interactions.

I see no proof of this, no evidence of it, but I concede the possibility.

The difference in probability mostly depends, to my way of thinking, on the very guessy assumptions that determine the probable number of intelligent planets in our galaxy and whether or not there is a way to achieve faster-than-light travel. Lots of smart scientists differ by many many orders of magnitude in their assessment of the raw numbers of potential intelligent civilizations as well as possibility of faster-than-light travel using some unknown technology. Some find the Drake Equation to be compelling evidence and others find it to be hogwash. Your particular perspective will color your belief in the possibility that aliens may have visited Earth. There are no obviously right answers since everyone is guessing on the assumptions. Famous scientists disagree on these points, how can we not expect forum members to do the same.

The Easter Bunny cannot exist under any conceivable interpretation of reality and assumptions of scientific theory. I do not concede the possibility of its existence.

There is a big difference between the possible (but unlikely) and pure fantasy.

IMHO, MicVR was merely conceding the possibility that aliens could possibly have visited but he was treated like he was proposing that Easter Bunnies had built chocolate condos in Dubai while he vacationed there.

Canis Lupus
2010-Sep-22, 10:47 PM
One needs to distinguish between believing in alien visitors and allowing for their possibility.

We have certainly seen evidence that:

1) Life can evolve from non-life - we are here after all...

I'm not sure if your post is on topic but it does mention the "Easter Bunny", so I'm assuming it's at least vaguely in the ball park.

Equally, I'm not sure whether there is any evidence for the above statement. Despite the idea's popularity, and much hoped for success in one day being proven, I can't find one chocolate egg of evidence to support it, not even one of those little tiny ones with the soft centres.

There does, on the other rabbit's paw, seem to be an overwhelming amount of evidence to the contrary ie. life comes from life. Correct me if I'm wrong, but generally speaking shouldn't we be going with the weight of evidence, or seeking extraordinary evidence for extraordinary claims, Occam's razor and all that?

R.A.F.
2010-Sep-22, 11:26 PM
...If we did visit some planets in any such scenario, it seems conceivable that we might want to keep our visit a secret so as not to panic the locals.

Really?...and of course if we did that, we could assume that visiting aliens would do that too??? Other than a "excuse" for irrational alien behavior, just why would you think that??


MicVR was merely conceding the possibility that aliens could possibly have visited...

Even though there is absolutely no credible evidence that they have...

Nereid
2010-Sep-22, 11:36 PM
[...]

IMHO, MicVR was merely conceding the possibility that aliens could possibly have visited but he was treated like he was proposing that Easter Bunnies had built chocolate condos in Dubai while he vacationed there.
I have a rather different HO.

As far as I could see - and I could well be wrong - MicVR's expressed views, in this thread, on scientific agnosticism/closed-mindedness/etc were not limited to UFOs/alien visitation/etc; rather, they were (and still are?) very general, encompassing just about the whole of science and rational enquiry.

In particular, he made no distinction at all between "the possibility that aliens could possibly have visited" and "proposing that Easter Bunnies had built chocolate condos in Dubai while he vacationed there" (of course, I may be wrong).

And because he did not make any such distinction, it is entirely reasonable - IMHO - to be "treated like he was proposing that Easter Bunnies had built chocolate condos in Dubai while he vacationed there."

Of course, I may be wrong ... and I would welcome being shown to be wrong, by presentation of material taken directly - and only - from this thread.

Jeff Root
2010-Sep-22, 11:45 PM
I make distinctions between speculation and fiction.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

caveman1917
2010-Sep-23, 12:24 AM
3) The scientific consensus has proclaimed limits on what was possible in the past that have been eventually proven wrong. Many thought powered flight was impossible.

And thus people ask for evidence.


I see no proof of this [alien visitation], no evidence of it, but I concede the possibility.

I don't think anyone here is actually postulating it is impossible, just improbable - there's a difference.


The Easter Bunny cannot exist under any conceivable interpretation of reality and assumptions of scientific theory.

The fact that your warp drive thing fares the same doesn't bother you? At least concerning the scientific theory part, "conceivable" is fairly subjective.


There is a big difference between the possible (but unlikely) and pure fantasy.

Probably, but it is subjective. Think evidence..

pzkpfw
2010-Sep-23, 12:29 AM
Equally, I'm not sure whether there is any evidence for the above statement. Despite the idea's popularity, and much hoped for success in one day being proven, I can't find one chocolate egg of evidence to support it, not even one of those little tiny ones with the soft centres.

There does, on the other rabbit's paw, seem to be an overwhelming amount of evidence to the contrary ie. life comes from life. Correct me if I'm wrong, but generally speaking shouldn't we be going with the weight of evidence, or seeking extraordinary evidence for extraordinary claims, Occam's razor and all that.

Abiogenesis is mainstream science, and claims to the contrary should perhaps be kept to the ATM sub-forum (e.g. see current BAUT rules on panspermia). If you wish to dispute this advice, use a P.M. or a report.

Tensor
2010-Sep-23, 12:49 AM
There is a big difference between the possible (but unlikely) and pure fantasy.

The problem here is that, following currently known physics, the ETH explanation is pure fantasy. I know, people have stated that our level of technology can build multi generational starships or possibly get to 20-30% of the speed of light. The problem with that is we still can't duplicate the so call 'turn on a dime" or zoom off faster than anything I've seen before type things.
Could a advanced technology with advanced physics do it? Sure. And I'll be among the first to change my mind, when I see it. Until then, it's still fantasy by our current physical rules.

IMHO, MicVR was merely conceding the possibility that aliens could possibly have visited but he was treated like he was proposing that Easter Bunnies had built chocolate condos in Dubai while he vacationed there.

Really? From Moose in post #66:

MicVR doesn't buy the Easter Bunny because the claim is implausible on its face (mammals don't lay eggs, let alone chocolate ones), and there's no reliable evidence to challenge that implausibility. I don't buy his UFOs because the claim is implausible on its face (mostly on engineering/physics grounds), and there's no reliable evidence to challenge that implausibility.

That one chooses to dismiss one example based on fantasy characteristics and the other dismisses it based on their interpretation of physics and engineering doesn't change the fact that the actual physical evidence for the Easter Bunny and ETH explanation for UFOs is the same, zero.

Part of MicVR's problem, IMHO, was his stance mentioned here:
And that is just the essential point of my criticism of this forum. It is that agnostic and tolerant attitude that is lacking in this forum.
You have to go where the evidence leads you. And in the absence of evidence a scientist must remain agnostic.

Part of the problem I have with that stance is it is well known in science that theories are the best description we have, until proven otherwise. Is it my opinion if I state that c is the fastest any signal can travel? After all, I don't have any physical evidence that can't. Just a lot of experiments that haven't traveled faster and some math that suggests that c is a limit. From your other posts here, I'd be willing to state that you would say that c is a limit for signals also, based on our current explanations and experiments. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

It's a built in assumption, with a theory, that a theory could be wrong, and that a scientist who talks about the theory is agnostic about the theory. It's a change from the "laws" pre 1900. Scientists (and people here for the most part) are quite aware that a theory could be wrong and there could be other explanations. But until something else better comes along, they are going to explain a theory as if it's fact, without putting conditions on it. If that is not agnostic, then so be it.

Now, this does not apply to speculative items. I will routinely state that white holes, for example, while allowed by GR, are highly unstable. Which means they are highly unlikely to actually exist, by current theories. Is this non-agnostic and close-minded? If it is, again, so be it. But that is what our current theories tell us. You want to change my mind? Show me the GR equations that show a white hole is not highly unstable. Or, failing that, show me a new theory of gravity that will show white holes are not highly unstable. Is that closed minded an non-agnostic? I don't think so, but I'm willing to see evidence to the contrary.

As for UFO being intelligent being from another planet. We have zero evidence UFO's are that. I would love to be proven wrong. But, until then, without evidence, there is no more reason to believe there are intelligent beings in UFOs than in (take your pick of any mythological god).

AdamL
2010-Sep-23, 06:14 AM
I agree with everything inflector said in post #193 and personally, I come to very similar conclusions.

He (or she) was also right about the blatant misrepresentations MicVR had to endure in this thread.
The same is now happening to me. Well, my friends who know BAUT, predicted that that would happen. I guess I am naive in assuming that people here would value truth and intellectual honesty.
My friends were right (and I believe EDG said it as well): this is mostly a club of hardened and very closed-minded "skeptics". Arguments that reveal those traits are distorted to a degree that has nothing to do with what was originally said. My friends were right...

To BAUT members:
I am sure most of you are decent and friendly human beings and we might have fun sharing a beer and just have a human conversation.
Intellectually, however, we do not see eye to eye. The dominant climate of closed-mindedness at BAUT is saddening. I hope your eyes will some day be opened.
And I agree with MicVR: you are (and should be) free to share and indulge in your personal opinions all you want here at BAUT. But this forum is certainly not suitable for a scientific education of young and impressionable people.


To other readers:
Just read the first few posts of the Michio Kaku thread here: http://www.bautforum.com/showthread.php/107111-Michio-Kaku
They illustrate the intolerance against the personal opinion of a respectable scientists and the closed-mindedness of this forum (which was one of the main topics of this thread here) perfectly.

The Michio Kaku thread and this thread speak for themselves. Nothing more needs to be said.

Strange
2010-Sep-23, 07:12 AM
One needs to distinguish between believing in alien visitors and allowing for their possibility.

Quite. I accept the possibility. I just see no evidence it has happened.


There is a big difference between the possible (but unlikely) and pure fantasy.

As your "possible" case consisted in part of fantasy, I don't see the difference as that great.

But you are missing the point: which is there more evidence for?


IMHO, MicVR was merely conceding the possibility that aliens could possibly have visited but he was treated like he was proposing that Easter Bunnies had built chocolate condos in Dubai while he vacationed there.

Except that isn't what he was doing. He repeatedly stated that he believed (some) UFOS were aliens. He agreed that there was no evidence but thought others were closed minded for not agreeing with him.

That seems to me to be equivalent to me calling you closed minded for not believing the chocolate condos in Dubai thing. (Which I am obviously not going to do, because it is a daft idea :))

Strange
2010-Sep-23, 07:28 AM
He (or she) was also right about the blatant misrepresentations MicVR had to endure in this thread.

Could you point to one example? Just one. Because I can point to several where MicVR has misrepresented me.


The same is now happening to me.

Really? Really?? Could you point to one example? Just one.

It seems like all you and MicVR are willing to do is make accusations, rather than discuss or explain anything.


And I agree with MicVR: you are (and should be) free to share and indulge in your personal opinions all you want here at BAUT. But this forum is certainly not suitable for a scientific education of young and impressionable people.

You and MicVR are free to have and post whatever opinions you want. And even discuss them. But it seems totally unreasonable to dismiss everyone who disagrees (because there is no evidence) as closed minded pseudo-skeptics. And I think that would be a good lesson to learn.

If you want young people to grow up with no respect for the value of evidence, and to think that dismissing other points of view as "closed-minded" makes a good argument then, sure, keep them away from BAUT.

Tog
2010-Sep-23, 07:47 AM
I've written this out about three times so far, but never actually posted it.

A US quarter is 15/16 of an inch in diameter and 1/16 of an inch thick. If one were to measure the perimeter of a cross-section is would equal 2 inches. Given a flat, level surface, I can stand a quarter on edge most of the time, with relative ease. Given that he edge makes up 6.25% of the total perimeter, and the idea that all things that could possibly happen should be given equal weight, I'm curious about why the only options for calling a flipped quarter are Heads or Tails.

If all possible outcomes should be considered equally, then the odds of a quarter landing on edge is 33%.
If we break it down by width of surface, the odds fall to 6.25%, which is low, but still double the odds of any given number coming up on a US roulette wheel (we have the 0 and double 0), yet I've personally had my numbers come up often enough that my lifetime average is still a positive gain.

So which is it on the coin landing on edge? 33.33% or 6.25%

Or is there a third option that takes more factors into consideration? Speed of rotation. The bounce on impact. The draft from the air conditioner. Certainly, I've never actually seen a coin land on edge and stay there, but it's possible.

And, there is far more direct, observable and repeatable evidence that a quarter can stand on edge than there is that any UFO ever reported is an ETV. So why isn't landing on edge a valid option in a coin toss? Any physics people want to work up the actual math for the real odds of it happening?

That's all that's being said here. Things can be possible, while still being so improbable that they cannot rightfully be considered an option until we have actual evidence that it can happen. Personally, I have no issues with intelligent life existing on other planets. But, there is a HUGE gap between the possibility of it and saying that that thing I saw in the sky was one.

I have no issues with the possibility of humans possessing psychic abilities either, but if someone tells they're they are psychic, I'm not taking it on face value. I want to see some sort of evidence.

Finally, wouldn't Chocolate condos in Dubai need so much paraffin in them to stop them from melting that might better described as chocolate scented candles?

grant hutchison
2010-Sep-23, 09:12 AM
The Michio Kaku thread and this thread speak for themselves. Nothing more needs to be said.I'm certainly comfortable with that.

Grant Hutchison

Strange
2010-Sep-23, 10:16 AM
I thought it might be worth revisiting the original post as we have had some interesting examples in ATM recently (and to get away from pointless discussions about people's beliefs). We have had a couple full of the usual wordy waffling with no real content and we have had a few where people have some observational and mathematical detail.

Just focusing on the latter group, within a few days these started to go two different ways. In one subset the questions, answers and ensuing discussions remained friendly and in one case resulted in one of the BAUT regulars almost providing assistance to the ATM proponent (which could be taken to be against the rules). That thread has been closed temporarily while the ATM proponent works out some more details. Another was closed when the ATM proponent realised they argument wouldn't currently hold water.

In one thread there has been nothing but some polite requests for clarification and some polite suggestions for ways to improve the presentation.

However, another one has already started to go a different way, arguably becoming more hostile as characterized by MicVR:


However, the general tone expressed by many (probably the majority of) BAUTians is very closed-minded, garnered with hostility, impoliteness and ridicule.

The reason for the difference appears (to me) to be due to the ATM proponent rather than the questioner. Especially as the questioner was also involved in at least one of the other threads that ended "happily".

The questions asked have been terse and to the point. No introductory waffle along the lines of "that is an interesting idea but how would you account for..." Just a straightforward "How do you account for..."

I can't see anything particularly wrong with that. I suppose it could be cosnidered impolite or hostile, but that seems a bit extreme. In the "happy" threads that are now closed, the ATM proponent generally responded propmptly with an equally terse (and to the point) answer and things moved along quite smoothly.

In the "unhappy" thread, the ATM proponent has started trying to avoid answering questions and complaining about the "attitude" of the questioner. I suppose if you are feeling negative about BAUT you will see that as direct result of the style of questioning. And if you feel that BAUT generally does a good job, you will think it is the ATMer's fault for being defensive and over-sensitive. Perhaps the truth lies somewhere in between.... Sometimes people rub each other up the wrong way and sometimes they hit it off.

The only thing that could be considered "closed minded" in any of these is that people have asked for more mathematical detail or for an explanation about why the ATM theory is contradicted by observation.

In none of the recent threads did I see any sign of ridicule (not even in the waffly content-free ones which might deserve it:)).

Tensor
2010-Sep-23, 12:38 PM
To other readers:
Just read the first few posts of the Michio Kaku thread here: http://www.bautforum.com/showthread.php/107111-Michio-Kaku
They illustrate the intolerance against the personal opinion of a respectable scientists and the closed-mindedness of this forum (which was one of the main topics of this thread here) perfectly.

The Michio Kaku thread and this thread speak for themselves. Nothing more needs to be said.

No, I think a few more things need pointing out. I would note how MicVR has avoided answering questions in Michio Kaku thread and here. For instance, JayUtah wanted to clarify the position of the Null hypothesis (among other questions by Jay and others that MicVR left open). I've asked you several questions in this thread and in this (http://www.bautforum.com/showthread.php/107928-What-do-alien-conspiracy-theorists-have-to-gain-from-their-claims) thread which have been left unanswered. The same pattern as MicVR. Why is it those who brand us close minded psuedo-skeptics, when given the chance to change our minds with some evidence, instead of answering questions honestly, either ignore those questions or start trying to push the buttons of the members here?

Spoons
2010-Sep-23, 01:11 PM
Language is complex. Misunderstandings are commonplace.

Is it not more sensible, if one believes they have been insulted, to engage the other party in clarification of their intent rather than to assume one of a negative nature?

e.g. Gillian (not to single her out) and I have misunderstood each other on several occasions, and I for one am very glad that we've given each other ther opportunity to clarify our intents, as I may otherwise have made a false assessment of her character, stopped paying attention to her posts (I refuse to use the ignore function) and missed some incredibly insightful comments. If we all practised this, and I believe we mostly do, I don't think this thread would have arisen.

The only other way this sort of thing arises is either if someone is intentionally being rude, in which case we are regularly reminded of the report function, or if someone wants to feel slighted.

This thread itself is littered with what appear to be misunderstandings or intentional misrepresentations, and in a number of cases people asked for and received clarifications which cleared things up immediately. For example, orionjim's comments. Communication can be your best friend or worst enemy. The choice is yours. I believe you will find the people here, as I have, extremely reasonable and accommodating.

Jeff Root
2010-Sep-23, 03:59 PM
Everything Spoons said!

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

R.A.F.
2010-Sep-23, 04:28 PM
Language is complex. Misunderstandings are commonplace.

Do you really think that this is all about "misunderstandings"?...I certainly don't.

There have been NUMEROUS polite requests for evidence that have been completely ignored. I think that says more about these claims than the actual claims themselves.

inflector
2010-Sep-23, 04:53 PM
Of course, I may be wrong ... and I would welcome being shown to be wrong, by presentation of material taken directly - and only - from this thread.

I wasn't referring to this thread. I was referring to what I read in the original CT thread:

http://www.bautforum.com/showthread.php/107111-Michio-Kaku

Personally, I think he was jumped on fairly aggressively. I can also understand why others feel differently. I also understand why there is a range of beliefs about the point of the Michio-Kaku thread. I think reasonable people exhibit a continuum of responses ranging from "it's pure fiction" to "I believe it probably happened, though I admit there is no proof whatsoever." Most scientists probably lean much closer to the "fiction" end of the spectrum for reasons that have been outlined to sufficient degree here.

This site started as a skeptic site (the BA part anyway) so I personally expect to find a high-percentage of skeptics posting here. That's why it doesn't offend me personally to encounter skepticism here. I also happen to believe that skepticism is healthy.

So I would have handled the situation differently, had I been MicVR. It wouldn't have bothered me that others did not share my perspective (i.e. MicVR's perspective) and I would not have felt compelled to start a new thread here to "raise" the issue with forum management.

Nevertheless, I think that it would be helpful to the forum in general if everyone just chilled a bit more and didn't get so riled up so easily. It happens to all of us on occasion, but we all do better when we let our calmer side prevail in these circumstances.

inflector
2010-Sep-23, 05:04 PM
This thread itself is littered with what appear to be misunderstandings or intentional misrepresentations, and in a number of cases people asked for and received clarifications which cleared things up immediately. For example, orionjim's comments. Communication can be your best friend or worst enemy. The choice is yours. I believe you will find the people here, as I have, extremely reasonable and accommodating.

Wise words.

I find people tend to behave as you expect them to. If you take offense where none was intended then you will find yourself soon creating behavior in others that warrants your original opinion because you'll alienate and offend the other person by expressing your offense.

If you assume people are reasonable they usually end up fulfilling those expectations too.

It also helps to understand the context of your environment. When you post in a section filled with people believing in all sorts of strange things, you will encounter people who are used to dealing with whackos, kooks, and loonies. So one shouldn't be surprised when you are assumed to be guilty by association.

Swift
2010-Sep-23, 05:08 PM
Do you really think that this is all about "misunderstandings"?...I certainly don't.

There have been NUMEROUS polite requests for evidence that have been completely ignored. I think that says more about these claims than the actual claims themselves.

I wasn't referring to this thread. I was referring to what I read in the original CT thread:

http://www.bautforum.com/showthread.php/107111-Michio-Kaku

Personally, I think he was jumped on fairly aggressively.
This is not a criticism or warning to anyone, particularly the two individuals I quoted. Rather, it is a point of clarification.

The BAUT rules requiring evidence of claims applies formally only to the ATM and CT forums. That is why the requests for evidence in the Michio-Kaku thread, for claims by MicVR (or anyone else) are not only allowed, but the expected behavior.

For other parts of BAUT, it is perfectly acceptable to ask for evidence, and it is certainly the expected behavior, that one would show some evidence for your claims. But it is not a formal requirement that can be enforced. In those cases, we leave it to the reader to make their own judgments as to the validity or not of the claims, based on the evidence (or lack there of).

Nereid
2010-Sep-23, 05:19 PM
I wasn't referring to this thread. I was referring to what I read in the original CT thread:

http://www.bautforum.com/showthread.php/107111-Michio-Kaku

Thanks for the clarification.

If I may make a suggestion? In your first post, in this thread, it was not at all clear - to me at least - that that (CT) was the thread you were solely referring to, leading me to assume that this (FI&F) was it. Perhaps you could consider that not all your readers would have even glanced at the CT thread, so making your scope clear from the start would help at least them.


Personally, I think he was jumped on fairly aggressively. I can also understand why others feel differently. I also understand why there is a range of beliefs about the point of the Michio-Kaku thread. I think reasonable people exhibit a continuum of responses ranging from "it's pure fiction" to "I believe it probably happened, though I admit there is no proof whatsoever." Most scientists probably lean much closer to the "fiction" end of the spectrum for reasons that have been outlined to sufficient degree here.

But was he "jumped on fairly aggressively" in this thread?

FWIW, it's only this thread that interests me ... and MicVR made some, um, pretty extreme statements/claims in this very thread. Why not discuss that?



This site started as a skeptic site (the BA part anyway) so I personally expect to find a high-percentage of skeptics posting here. That's why it doesn't offend me personally to encounter skepticism here. I also happen to believe that skepticism is healthy.

So I would have handled the situation differently, had I been MicVR. It wouldn't have bothered me that others did not share my perspective (i.e. MicVR's perspective) and I would not have felt compelled to start a new thread here to "raise" the issue with forum management.

Nevertheless, I think that it would be helpful to the forum in general if everyone just chilled a bit more and didn't get so riled up so easily. It happens to all of us on occasion, but we all do better when we let our calmer side prevail in these circumstances.
Do these comments apply to what you read in this thread too?

R.A.F.
2010-Sep-23, 05:39 PM
For other parts of BAUT, it is perfectly acceptable to ask for evidence, and it is certainly the expected behavior, that one would show some evidence for your claims. But it is not a formal requirement that can be enforced. In those cases, we leave it to the reader to make their own judgments as to the validity or not of the claims, based on the evidence (or lack there of).

I hope I didn't give the impression that I expected a mod to "force" anyone in this thread into providing evidence...that wasn't my intention...

Although questions do arise..."if you're so sure of your claim, then why can't you provide any evidence for it"? being a reasonable question in my opinion.

It should also be noted that having differing opinions is most certainly not against the rules of this board, however being intentionally insulting, is.

Swift
2010-Sep-23, 06:37 PM
I've addressed R.A.F.'s concerns through other communications. I don't wish to see further debate on this in this thread. Let's all get back to the topic at hand. Thank you.

Gillianren
2010-Sep-23, 07:02 PM
Nevertheless, I think that it would be helpful to the forum in general if everyone just chilled a bit more and didn't get so riled up so easily. It happens to all of us on occasion, but we all do better when we let our calmer side prevail in these circumstances.

I can't speak for anyone else, but I wouldn't describe myself as "riled up" by any of this. Frustrated? Oh, yes. Irritated? You bet! However, my frustration and irritation are directly tied to the fact that I write out long, thoughtful, reasoned posts--or anyway I think I do--and get, at best, a single sentence taken out of context and misrepresented while my broader point goes ignored.

Spoons
2010-Sep-23, 09:43 PM
Do you really think that this is all about "misunderstandings"?...I certainly don't.

There have been NUMEROUS polite requests for evidence that have been completely ignored. I think that says more about these claims than the actual claims themselves.

I suspect my second last paragraph is the catch all which covers what you're referring to, although I cannot be certain of others' motives, and I think it's generally better not to try to define others. You're right though, it may be quite telling.


I... speak for anyone
Sorry, couldn't help the opportunity. ;) It can be frustrating though, what you refer to. (Lest anyone think think otherwise, I'm making a contextual joke. Felt I ought to point it out given the thread topic.)

Strange
2010-Sep-23, 09:54 PM
I can't speak for anyone else, but I wouldn't describe myself as "riled up" by any of this. Frustrated? Oh, yes. Irritated? You bet! However, my frustration and irritation are directly tied to the fact that I write out long, thoughtful, reasoned posts--or anyway I think I do--and get, at best, a single sentence taken out of context and misrepresented while my broader point goes ignored.

That's odd. That is almost word-for-word what I was thinking of writing! (Although, I don't think I am even irritated; by turns frustrated and amused perhaps.)

MarkB
2010-Sep-23, 10:13 PM
I have been a member here for quite a while and a lurker even longer. I don't post much, mainly because I can't be bothered with the grammar nazis and the pedants.
When I first came across this site I couldn't wait for my kids to grow up a bit so I could show them this place, now that they are older I tried once and they couldn't see the attraction. For myself I love the people here like Doug Ellison, who keeps it real when it comes pie in the sky rhetoric and Glom, who at times I know he just want's to make a joke but doesn't because of the likely fallout (Glom/fallout/geddit?) People have said that for fun and laughs look to off topic babbling etc, this is a science site is there no fun to be had in science? is laughter banned from the lecture halls and only now allowed in the caffetteria?
Anyhooo the biggest kicker of them all is that the mighty BA himself can't even be bothered with this place anymore.

Spoons
2010-Sep-23, 10:16 PM
I respect the BA and all, but his participation in something is not my yardstick of goodness. I never see him at the markets up the road and they have the best starfruit.

pzkpfw
2010-Sep-23, 10:24 PM
... grammar nazis and the pedants. ...

I suspect you are using a very small sample of the posts here, to judge the whole site with.

MarkB
2010-Sep-23, 10:24 PM
I'm going out on a limb here but I don't think he created the market up your road. Otherwise spot on analogy.

MarkB
2010-Sep-23, 10:27 PM
I suspect you are using a very small sample of the posts here, to judge the whole site with.

No, I browse the site often and have done so for many years. My opinions don't need second guessing.

R.A.F.
2010-Sep-23, 10:28 PM
...the biggest kicker of them all is that the mighty BA himself can't even be bothered with this place anymore.

While not be a participant here, I certainly feel his presence in just how the admin. and Mods "run" this board.

If you feel it "necessary" to have Phil as a participant, there is always his blog linked at the top of each page.

Spoons
2010-Sep-23, 10:33 PM
I'm going out on a limb here but I don't think he created the market up your road. Otherwise spot on analogy.

Did my analogy just get picked apart? It feels like someone has just corrected my grammar or something.

slang
2010-Sep-23, 10:34 PM
I have been a member here for quite a while and a lurker even longer. I don't post much, mainly because I can't be bothered with the grammar nazis and the pedants.

Are you sure you meant to post this on this forum?


[...] at times I know he just want's to make a joke but doesn't because of the likely fallout (Glom/fallout/geddit?) People have said that for fun and laughs look to off topic babbling etc, this is a science site is there no fun to be had in science? is laughter banned from the lecture halls and only now allowed in the caffetteria?

Huh!? Again, are you sure you meant to post this on this forum? Joke posts in serious threads are very common, and it's very rare to see anyone admonished or infracted for it. It's just a matter of having a sense of apropriateness. A single joke in a page of serious answers usually doesn't disrupt the discussion. If the joke starts a life of its own and the thread is disrupted, a gentle reminder by moderators to stay on topic is usually enough to stop it.


Anyhooo the biggest kicker of them all is that the mighty BA himself can't even be bothered with this place anymore.

Keeping up with threads in a forum like this takes a lot of time. If BA has different priorities for his time, I can certainly understand that. If his absence was caused by any disagreements with how the forum is run, don't you think that by now he'd have requested to no longer be associated with it?


I respect the BA and all, but his participation in something is not my yardstick of goodness. I never see him at the markets up the road and they have the best starfruit.

Excellent move back to space&astronomy there!

MarkB
2010-Sep-23, 10:38 PM
Well we only have a small sample but I think I can offer an opinion of sorts. This type of thread pops up now and again and rarely is it said "you know what?, maybe we do need to shake things up" the assumption is always made that nothing is wrong and your sampling of the number of posts is incorrect.

Spoons
2010-Sep-23, 10:42 PM
The reason for that, I suspect, is that the general consensus is that few particularly good points were made, and the point that was made (basically, that it would be nice if this place was a perfect playground for schoolchildren to learn within) came with no useful suggestion on how to implement it, that I saw anyway.

Still, nobody has the right to tell you your opinion is wrong, just that they disagree. Can't please everyone. Shouldn't even try.

R.A.F.
2010-Sep-23, 10:42 PM
...the assumption is always made that nothing is wrong and your sampling of the number of posts is incorrect.

So something is wrong with this board, because Phil no longer participates??...not trying to put words in your mouth, just asking a question.

Spoons
2010-Sep-23, 10:44 PM
I think he's saying that's a symptom, not a cause.

R.A.F.
2010-Sep-23, 10:50 PM
I think he's saying that's a symptom, not a cause.

I'd really like to hear what he thinks.

MarkB
2010-Sep-23, 10:51 PM
Of course people have the right to tell me my opinion is wrong! arrrrrgh! IRL I am a laid back and jovial guy. I post on many forums but here I am a member since 2005 (and lurking since about 2001) and 44 posts to my name.
I have just deleted a whole raft of comment that I was going to post because you know what? it won't change a thing. I'm logging off for another year or six.

R.A.F.
2010-Sep-23, 10:56 PM
Of course people have the right to tell me my opinion is wrong! arrrrrgh! IRL I am a laid back and jovial guy. I post on many forums but here I am a member since 2005 (and lurking since about 2001) and 44 posts to my name.
I have just deleted a whole raft of comment that I was going to post because you know what? it won't change a thing. I'm logging off for another year or six.

Interesting rebuttal...

pzkpfw
2010-Sep-23, 11:09 PM
No, I browse the site often and have done so for many years. My opinions don't need second guessing.

Does my opinion (that "grammar nazism" is not an issue at BAUT) need second guessing?

Ken G
2010-Sep-23, 11:27 PM
This thread is expanding rapidly and I'm not sure if MicVR's initial points have been evolved beyond or not, but in case this wasn't said earlier and if MicVR is still reading the thread, I'd like to make sure the initial OP points have been properly addressed. I apologize if I'm out of date.
"Condemn" is a rather harsh word and I would not want to use it.
I assessed BAUT specifically under the aspect of children education and I stated my conclusion and how I arrived at it.
Personally I don't spend much time on either ATM and CT, because they do tend to be argumentative and unconstructive. I wouldn't level the blame at either "side", the whole thing seems set up to produce a type of confrontation between creative people who know little or no physics with dogmatic people who know a lot of physics but aren't terribly interested in creativity. Not everyone who posts there falls in either category, to be sure, but it seems to tend to produce that kind of interaction an awful lot. In fact, it is kind of a dumping ground for those interactions, expressly because we don't want them anyplace else. I would say that if you don't find that worth your time to look at, then stick to other areas, which is what I do.

In other words, I don't really think that anyone looking to recommend educational resources for children or families should consider the ATM or CT sections as an appropriate place to go, but that isn't a problem in need of fixing, it's just how it is. Instead, send them to Q&A or a science section, and encourage them to ask their question and peruse the very interesting and constructive threads that abound there. Note that you can ask a question about an ATM idea on Q&A, and get the mainstream answer to whether or not the ATM claim is bunk (which it generally is, of course, and that's not closed-minded it is simply fact-- closed-minded is the claim that ATM ideas are always bunk, and I agree we don't want to fall into the Lord Kelvin mode there). Posts in ATM are not for questions about ATM ideas, they are for proponents of the ATM idea. It's no place for kids or families, never has been-- it would be like reading a thread claiming that 2+2=5 as a way to introduce kids and families to what mathematics is.



But you have to realize the ATM/CT sections attract a lot of people. At any given time have a look at how many viewers each section attracts and ATM/CT are usually in the top 3.That is certainly true, but we all know why-- it is for the entertainment value, not the educational value. It's sort of like the BAUT version of the colosseum-- and we know how popular that was to the Romans! But would you take your kids there?

They are of course also interested in string theory or UFOs and they usually do not have the intellectual training and human experience to correctly assess the statements being made.Again, if kids want to know about UFOs, let them ask a question in the Q&A-- they shouldn't be going to ATM to find out about UFOs, they'll get a huge helping of misinformation there. Mainstream science has excellent answers to these issues, and to get those answers, you don't need someone who knows essentially no science who is trying to argue some point about UFOs, you need a balanced, intelligent, and informed discussion by mainstream elements of knowledgeable scientific establishments-- like yourself. Why did your students come to you for their PhD, and not to an alternative type of educational facility? Would you recommend they first check out what Richard Hoaglund thinks about the topic of their dissertation before they consult you about it?

I'm not disagreeing with your points of fact, I'm questioning whether the right way to get a child or family to benefit from BAUT is to recommend them to the ATM or CT sections. Tell them to ask what they are curious about in Q&A-- people bring up ATM questions there all the time, the board simply asks that responses be restricted to mainstream knowledge on the topic. That can sound like a way to stifle creativity and encourage dogmatism, but it's just up to the mainstream answerers to walk that line carefully. You can imagine what happens if you don't have that restriction!

CJSF
2010-Sep-23, 11:58 PM
Grammar Nazi also implies that poor grammar will disallow participation in the board, and this is not true. At times one or another of us will point out certain grammatical errors, because we feel the meaning could be clearer or that proper grammer facilities the more precise understanding a science board might require.

CJSF

captain swoop
2010-Sep-24, 12:06 AM
I always ignore grammer corrections.

R.A.F.
2010-Sep-24, 12:14 AM
Ya know...8 year old...10 year old...or 15 year old, we really haven't defined what we mean by "children", age wise.

Anywho...


...I don't really think that anyone looking to recommend educational resources for children or families should consider the ATM or CT sections as an appropriate place to go, but that isn't a problem in need of fixing, it's just how it is.

Completely agree...there are 3 "kinds" of posters (I'm sure there are more divisions) who frequent the ATM/CT forums...those who have a "theory" to present (and supposedly support with evidence), those who "hold their feet to the fire", by asking for evidence before belief, and those (as Ken said) who are entertained by the whole thing.

...and I just don't see children falling into any of those 3 categories.

Jim
2010-Sep-24, 12:51 AM
I always ignore grammer corrections.

Now that's where we differ. Any time my grammer corrected me, I paid attention.

Gillianren
2010-Sep-24, 02:34 AM
Does my opinion (that "grammar nazism" is not an issue at BAUT) need second guessing?

I have been accused, in the past, of correcting people's grammar all the time. And spelling. I think we can agree, however, that I'd have even more posts than I do if that accusation were true. I am also probably far more likely to correct spelling and grammar than most other members.

Spoons
2010-Sep-24, 02:52 AM
Some people who make such accusations (or observations) may wish to keep in mind that some folk welcome such corrections. Some may even have requested they be pointed out. Learning can be a good thing.

Strange
2010-Sep-24, 06:26 AM
Some people who make such accusations (or observations) may wish to keep in mind that some folk welcome such corrections. Some may even have requested they be pointed out. Learning can be a good thing.

The last time (perhaps only time, I'm not sure) I did this was when Henrik was pointing out the benefit for a non-native English speaker of having people around who would (politely) correct any mistakes.

Gillianren
2010-Sep-24, 06:34 AM
Henrik has, yes, asked to be corrected. I have frequently told him that, when he makes mistakes in spelling or grammar, I will.

Strange
2010-Sep-24, 11:23 AM
In other words, I don't really think that anyone looking to recommend educational resources for children or families should consider the ATM or CT sections as an appropriate place to go, but that isn't a problem in need of fixing, it's just how it is. Instead, send them to Q&A or a science section, and encourage them to ask their question and peruse the very interesting and constructive threads that abound there. Note that you can ask a question about an ATM idea on Q&A, and get the mainstream answer to whether or not the ATM claim is bunk (which it generally is, of course, and that's not closed-minded it is simply fact-- closed-minded is the claim that ATM ideas are always bunk, and I agree we don't want to fall into the Lord Kelvin mode there). Posts in ATM are not for questions about ATM ideas, they are for proponents of the ATM idea. It's no place for kids or families, never has been-- it would be like reading a thread claiming that 2+2=5 as a way to introduce kids and families to what mathematics is.

That is a very good, and rather obvious, point that I don't think has been made (explcitly) before.

In the Q&A and other science forums, there have been some excellent discussions of the more speculative end of science (and philosophy) which demonstrate the very open-minded approach that MicVR and others advocate. Quite reasonably, these discussions must take place within the bounds of mainstream science (as it is understood today). So it is not permitted to come along and say "the big bang theory is obviously rot" but it is quite permissable (and has frequently happened) to say "here is an interesting paper that presents an alternative model". Or even "is it possible that <insert wacky ATM concept here>?"

These discussions involve much sharing of information and opinions. They are usually polite but do occasionally get heated (they would be rather dry otherwise) and there are sometimes humorous diversions. So it seems to me that all the things that the critics want are present on BAUT, they just seem to be looking in the wrong place.

caveman1917
2010-Sep-24, 02:00 PM
Some people who make such accusations (or observations) may wish to keep in mind that some folk welcome such corrections. Some may even have requested they be pointed out. Learning can be a good thing.

That's how i look at it. Nothing better than being corrected (wether grammar-wise or science-wise) - then you can learn something.

Strange
2010-Sep-24, 02:06 PM
That's how i look at it. Nothing better than being corrected (wether grammar-wise or science-wise) - then you can learn something.

I suppose the implication of the Godwinesque turn of phrase was that rather than just correcting, people were saying things like "your argument is worth nothing because you can't spell whether".

Hornblower
2010-Sep-24, 02:44 PM
I never fuss about spelling and nitpicking points of grammar as long as the meaning is clear from context, but if the writing style makes it hard to understand, I think it is reasonable to say so and ask for a clarification.

inflector
2010-Sep-24, 02:53 PM
Thanks for the clarification.

If I may make a suggestion? In your first post, in this thread, it was not at all clear - to me at least - that that (CT) was the thread you were solely referring to, leading me to assume that this (FI&F) was it. Perhaps you could consider that not all your readers would have even glanced at the CT thread, so making your scope clear from the start would help at least them.

Fair enough, I didn't realize that people didn't read the thread since it seemed fairly germane to MicVR's complaints, but it was just a link after all.



But was he "jumped on fairly aggressively" in this thread?

I wouldn't characterize it that way, no.


FWIW, it's only this thread that interests me ... and MicVR made some, um, pretty extreme statements/claims in this very thread. Why not discuss that?

It's clear he is already upset. I thought it might be best to see if the reason behind his being upset was valid. What a man/woman says when they are upset can sometimes go over the top.



Do these comments apply to what you read in this thread too?

No.

inflector
2010-Sep-24, 02:57 PM
Some people who make such accusations (or observations) may wish to keep in mind that some folk welcome such corrections. Some may even have requested they be pointed out. Learning can be a good thing.

I suspect this is especially true for those for whom English is not their first language. I am lucky and learned English by growing up in the U.S.A. but I speak Spanish fluently and welcome corrections to my grammar from my friends and others when I make mistakes while speaking Spanish (or the other languages I am learning where I make even more basic mistakes). It sometimes makes me feel uncomfortable for a few seconds but I am always happy to know the correct way to speak.