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Old 04-26-2017, 05:21 AM
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Default The March for Science rejected these "suggestions".

Taken from Ophelia Benson's site. (I know, she's got some issues, but I still read her.) A Facebook Group, Women of Color Speak Out, posted this open letter in regards to the Seattle March for Science:

https://www.facebook.com/wocspeakout...56894964538985

The list of "suggestions" - demands, really - were rejected by the March for Science organizers. I felt like commenting on some of them.

Quote:
4. In their values they say "Science is the BEST method for understanding the world". This will greatly offend Indigenous communities, POC, and faith communities. This divisive messaging should be muted to "Science is an EXCELLENT method to understand the world".
Nope. In fact, the whole point of the march is that science is really the best tool we have for determining the truth and understanding the world. Offending the "faith community" happens because the "faith community" thinks it has some sort of monopoly on the truth, even when their truth is denied by the evidence.

Quote:
6. There must be Indigenous women who are grassroots activists on the march steering committee, as well as WOC and other POC such as Queer and Trans POC.
7. Their paid organizer for the March must be a POC from the grassroots racial justice community, NOT a white person or a colonized POC who is trained to obey the system.
8. For the March they must include invitations to all communities, including Queer and Trans communities, POC communities, Faith communities, Labor communities, Young people and Children.
I don't really see a problem with these demands, although I don't know why Labor is in there.

Is "colonized POC" a real concept? It's used more than once here.

Quote:
9. They must include messaging that exposes Animal Agriculture's destructive effects on the environment and the climate and advocates plant-based organic food for ALL.
Don't get your food woo mixed up with science.

Quote:
15. They must demand investment into research on types of healing and healthcare that are NOT based on pharmaceutical drugs.
If that's where the evidence leads, otherwise, this is just the naturalistic fallacy.

Quote:
17. NO nuclear power. This is non-negotiable.
18. No GMOs. This is non-negotiable. They must demand massive investment in organic, non-GMO food forests, permaculture, and urban farming.
These are political opinions, not necessarily evidence based.

I don't blame the March for Science organizers for basically rejecting this. There's too much anti-science in this letter to be taken seriously.

I also wonder if this open letter represents a small group of people who happened to post this on Facebook. Is it worth even the attention I've given it?
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  #2  
Old 04-26-2017, 11:06 AM
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Default Re: The March for Science rejected these "suggestions".

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4. In their values they say "Science is the BEST method for understanding the world". This will greatly offend Indigenous communities, POC, and faith communities. This divisive messaging should be muted to "Science is an EXCELLENT method to understand the world".
As a generally privileged non-woman of non-colour, I obviously don't get it. Why on earth would indigenous communities and POC even be offended at all by the statement, let alone greatly offended?

Are they conflating "science is the best method" with "science carried out by white European males is the best method and others should keep out of it"?
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Old 04-26-2017, 02:09 PM
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Default Re: The March for Science rejected these "suggestions".

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Originally Posted by JoeP View Post
Quote:
4. In their values they say "Science is the BEST method for understanding the world". This will greatly offend Indigenous communities, POC, and faith communities. This divisive messaging should be muted to "Science is an EXCELLENT method to understand the world".
As a generally privileged non-woman of non-colour, I obviously don't get it. Why on earth would indigenous communities and POC even be offended at all by the statement, let alone greatly offended?

Are they conflating "science is the best method" with "science carried out by white European males is the best method and others should keep out of it"?
If I wanted to be generous, I could interpret it as such: As a cultural institution, the scientific community usually rejects input from other cultures. That's a valid criticism. I'm sure there are ideas and concepts that are unique and valid coming from other cultures, which science has ignored.

I'm less inclined to be generous, and I think this is just an appeal to, "There are other ways of knowing." or special pleading for their own closely held beliefs.
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Old 04-26-2017, 02:10 PM
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Default Re: The March for Science rejected these "suggestions".

Women of Color Speak out appears to be a group of 5 POC Women activists. Given their mini bios I almost guarantee this was created via committee with everyone's pet crusades being added to the mix.
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Old 04-26-2017, 05:19 PM
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Default Re: The March for Science rejected these "suggestions".

Oh, wow. That is a pretty aggressive position and I am against it as a whole, but I'm going to see if I can't kind of defend one part.

Quote:
4. In their values they say "Science is the BEST method for understanding the world". This will greatly offend Indigenous communities, POC, and faith communities. This divisive messaging should be muted to "Science is an EXCELLENT method to understand the world".
Take out the second sentence. Something being offensive doesn't mean it's wrong, and this explanation unfairly pits those communities against 'science.' You can object to the position based on the fact that it's wrong, and it is in itself unscientific. Scientific method doesn't speak in absolutes, no matter what the bumpersticker pop science community might tell you.

Science is not a concrete field of study. It is a methodology used to study concrete topics. 'Science' is the best available methodology for us right now to understand certain concrete subjects. There may be something better out there that we don't know yet. And we already kind of know, based on the dichotomy that we've created between "Science" and other broad subject areas such as arts and humanities, sociology, psychology, etc., that scientific method is often insufficient for understanding certain topics, at least based on the resources we currently have available to us. We need some room for uncertainty and for speculation, because many topics have too many variables and not-currently-tangibles and other complicating factors for scientific method to really work.

And unfortunately, there's a superficial, simplistic, and very very popular notion out there that science is a lot more definitive than it is or than it really can be. People take scientific studies and then just sort of interject their interpretations and their speculations as though it's part of the "Science!" The most obvious example would be things like evolutionary psychology, which is like 99% woolgathering passed off as "Science!" Just about any time you see a "because" tacked onto a result, the part that follows is just straight made up.

So go read pretty much any mainstream news story about "science!" and find the lies. Here are two of the top stories in Google News' science category right now:

Baby humpback whales 'whisper' to mums to avoid predators - BBC News

That's a good guess, and there are a lot more qualifiers in the article than in the headline, but all that happened in this story is that researchers recorded some types of whale vocalizations they hadn't heard before, and they have some guesses as to what they are for.

Where did your dog come from? New tree of breeds may hold the answer | Science | AAAS

Again, a bunch of confident assumptions at the beginning of the article, like so:

Quote:
After dogs were initially domesticated—likely between 15,000 and 30,000 years ago—people picked the best hunters, house guards, and herding animals to be their best friends, depending on their needs. There were dogs for war and for cuddling, for fur and meat, and for being good companions.
only lightly qualified a little further in:

Quote:
The grouping of different breeds that share particular jobs suggests that ancient breeders likely bred dogs for specific purposes, choosing to care for those that were best at guarding or herding.
I am not going to read either of the sources right now, but it might be interesting to pick out the parts that aren't in there at all.

So science is the best tool we currently have available for understanding specific types of information, but its applications are pretty narrow, and overapplying it only weakens it. Calling it "the best method for understanding the world" dilutes the importance of real science, which works best in concert with other methods, including narrative and speculation and social context, as illustrated by both of those examples.
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  #6  
Old 04-27-2017, 04:48 AM
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Default Re: The March for Science rejected these "suggestions".

Is there a link to this letter that exists outside of Facebook? I consider that site malicious due to Facebook's privacy invasion policies and will avoid the site under all circumstances.

I do want to comment on one issue that was quoted from the letter. That is the issue of nuclear power. I think the absolutist attitude to never employ the use of nuclear energy is shortsighted. While I do agree that uranium based power plants are potentially dangerous, there is a safer option in the form of molten salt reactors powered by thorium. At the very least, the technology should be explored, even if it ultimately isn't adopted.
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Old 04-27-2017, 04:56 AM
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Default Re: The March for Science rejected these "suggestions".

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Originally Posted by MonCapitan2002 View Post
Is there a link to this letter that exists outside of Facebook? I consider that site malicious due to Facebook's privacy invasion policies and will avoid the site under all circumstances.

I do want to comment on one issue that was quoted from the letter. That is the issue of nuclear power. I think the absolutist attitude to never employ the use of nuclear energy is shortsighted. While I do agree that uranium based power plants are potentially dangerous, there is a safer option in the form of molten salt reactors powered by thorium. At the very least, the technology should be explored, even if it ultimately isn't adopted.

They have a webpage, but it seems to be mostly broken links and no open letter, sorry.
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Old 04-29-2017, 01:41 AM
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Default Re: The March for Science rejected these "suggestions".

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Originally Posted by lisarea View Post
Oh, wow. That is a pretty aggressive position and I am against it as a whole, but I'm going to see if I can't kind of defend one part.

Quote:
4. In their values they say "Science is the BEST method for understanding the world". This will greatly offend Indigenous communities, POC, and faith communities. This divisive messaging should be muted to "Science is an EXCELLENT method to understand the world".
Take out the second sentence. Something being offensive doesn't mean it's wrong, and this explanation unfairly pits those communities against 'science.' You can object to the position based on the fact that it's wrong, and it is in itself unscientific. Scientific method doesn't speak in absolutes, no matter what the bumpersticker pop science community might tell you.

Science is not a concrete field of study. It is a methodology used to study concrete topics. 'Science' is the best available methodology for us right now to understand certain concrete subjects. There may be something better out there that we don't know yet. And we already kind of know, based on the dichotomy that we've created between "Science" and other broad subject areas such as arts and humanities, sociology, psychology, etc., that scientific method is often insufficient for understanding certain topics, at least based on the resources we currently have available to us. We need some room for uncertainty and for speculation, because many topics have too many variables and not-currently-tangibles and other complicating factors for scientific method to really work.
Something new that causes complications is... do we count machine learning as science or not?

Our Machines Now Have Knowledge We'll Never Understand

Machine learning methods can give you better predictions than other methods... but it doesn't necessarily help you understand why the predictions are correct.

I'd also wonder whether history counts as science.

On the other hand, you could still say science is the best method for understanding the world - with the caveat that it's not the only valid method for understanding the world, nor is it the best method in every situation.

Of course, their statement kinda suggests they view faith as a good method of understanding the world which well... can't imagine they'd have much success taking that message to the science march crowd.
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Old 04-29-2017, 03:37 AM
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Default Re: The March for Science rejected these "suggestions".

I don't think I can disagree with lisarea or erimir.
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Old 04-29-2017, 05:31 AM
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Default Re: The March for Science rejected these "suggestions".

Don't be a quitter. Try harder.
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Old 04-29-2017, 08:33 AM
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Default Re: The March for Science rejected these "suggestions".

I guess that is kind of why that statement by that activist group is kind of misplaced. The statement is not meant to be a thorough description.

"Science is the best available method we have for creating models that allow us to make reliable predictions about the material world, but is still limited by our ability to interpret and select the data we use to test those models, and our ability to conceptualize the models themselves" is kinda hard to fit on a sign.
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Old 04-29-2017, 10:12 AM
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Default Re: The March for Science rejected these "suggestions".

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Old 05-03-2017, 03:32 AM
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Default Re: The March for Science rejected these "suggestions".

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Old 05-03-2017, 04:08 AM
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Default Re: The March for Science rejected these "suggestions".

I like the overthinking loop.
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Old 05-03-2017, 11:45 PM
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Default Re: The March for Science rejected these "suggestions".

Agreed. It's very amusing.
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