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Thread: What is going on out there ?

  1. #1 What is going on out there ? 
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    There have been several threads started by people asking questions on advanced topics that exhibit:

    1) No evidence whatever that the person asking the question has made a serious attempt to do the study and research that might lead to an answer.

    and

    2) An obvious lack of understanding of rudimentary physical principles that make the question moot, or just inane.

    The people in question appear to be sincere (we are not talking about crazies), but out of touch with either real science or with their own understanding of it.


    Apparently the person posting the question has had some reason to encounter a topic involving a deep aspect of some bit of physics. This suggests that the individual is either engaged in some class that is beyond the first few years of a typical undergraduate. On the other hand, the lack of understanding of the very basics of mathematics and physics suggests that something is badly amiss.

    So, either the offender fails to grasp his own lack of understanding and is working WAY over his head on his own initiative, or there is a problem with an educational system that has somehow failed to provide education in the fundamentals but nevertheless has passed the person along to ever more sophisticated topics that he cannot possibly understand. In the former case, it might be that the person has encountered the advanced topics by means of exploring the subject solely through the internet, mixing truth with trash indiscriminately.

    One wonders why anyone with a serious interest in some relatively deep question would go to an open internet forum without first (and primarily) looking into the issue using controlled sources such as text books written by known authorities. Of course, I recognize that in some cases a student would go to the internet merely as one form of cheating, but in the cases noted below I do not think that the questions arose in an academic setting.

    Is the problem the individual, the lack of rigor on the internet (and a failure of the individual to recognize the inadequacy of open internet sources), the state of the educational system, or some combination of all of these factors ?


    http://www.thephysicsforum.com/speci....html#post2050

    http://www.thephysicsforum.com/speci...-solution.html

    http://www.thephysicsforum.com/astro....html#post2021
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  2. #2  
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    Is the problem the individual, the lack of rigor on the internet (and a failure of the individual to recognize the inadequacy of open internet sources), the state of the educational system, or some combination of all of these factors ?
    I think it is a combination of all of these factors. Mostly though I think it is a reflection on our educational systems; I have two teenage kids just about to graduate from our local equivalent of "high school", and from what I can observe they are being served bits and pieces of information which their teachers deem likely to come up in the state exams on a silver platter. The result is a form of rote learning without any real understanding of the underlying concepts, and a complete lack of ability to do independent research. They are doing just fine so long as the material which the teachers drilled into them actually does come up in their exams, but anything deviating even slightly from that is met with wrinkled foreheads and miserable failure. Furthermore, they don't really seem to know how to look for unknown information themselves, since they have never been taught how to do that, and what to watch out for. Frankly, I am worried how they will fare in College and University - it will be a major shock to their systems.
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  3. #3  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Hanke View Post
    I think it is a combination of all of these factors. Mostly though I think it is a reflection on our educational systems; I have two teenage kids just about to graduate from our local equivalent of "high school", and from what I can observe they are being served bits and pieces of information which their teachers deem likely to come up in the state exams on a silver platter. The result is a form of rote learning without any real understanding of the underlying concepts, and a complete lack of ability to do independent research. They are doing just fine so long as the material which the teachers drilled into them actually does come up in their exams, but anything deviating even slightly from that is met with wrinkled foreheads and miserable failure. Furthermore, they don't really seem to know how to look for unknown information themselves, since they have never been taught how to do that, and what to watch out for. Frankly, I am worried how they will fare in College and University - it will be a major shock to their systems.
    I think that the major issue for us is not why so many people seem not to know what they are doing, but what our reaction will be. They can be met with an effort to understand their questions and their underlying misunderstandings, or they can be blasted away for their ignorance. If we do the former some of them may get interested in ideas and better learning, but if we publicly berate them for their misunderstandings they will more likely simply decide that it is not worth trying to learn anything. We can help compensate for the schools or we can finish off the damage. I think that, at the moment, we are doing too much of the latter.

    The existence of all this non-understanding is less new than people think. Decades ago I taught a very basic general science course for non-science majors in college. The students were incredibly ill-educated in the sciences, even though many were juniors and seniors. The first year I had one student who came to every lecture, sat on the second row on my right, and went to sleep. My job was to keep him asleep, because if he was awake no one else in the room was understanding a word I was saying.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrRocket View Post
    There have been several threads started by people ...
    ..that knows less about the subject than you. I do understand why you can got fed up/exhausted, but I don't think we could related it to the actual state of the "educational system". You are also witnessing the past here, they are mainly old stars mostly extinguished by now (whatever golden age one can think as coming from).

    Maybe my own shortcoming is to related everything to everything, so maybe I'll once again trigger you crackpot alert by saying the you should apply relativity to social interaction. But really it's just that. You are miles ahead in understanding physics, and this site is (unless I am mistaken <-- this is a constant) not reserved to grade +5 in physics. But you are not miles ahead in term of understanding other's understanding. You just know they are wrong.

    In my account, I like your style, even the personal attack like accusing people to be drunk, on first reply. Because I have humor, and it just prove you can be wrong on purpose, like everybody-else, and be proud of it (I like self assumed irony). The problem is that you cannot be wrong on physics, unlike 70 % of poster here.

    At least I have witnessed 0% of trolling there. I think Marcus is a good driver for a forum.

    I have taken the time to read "red shift dilemma" and has stopped at this point(#30). It was obvious, even for me, that Mr x (no name needed, but quite bold in his statement) was making the classic mistake of (thinking you can be) observing a clock moving at relativistic speed (since post #13). What strikes me is that you only address that at post #30.

    Why ? Because you both are doing your best, and for both of you it does not seam possible to misunderstanding physics so badly. It is how I reconcile point of view, there are ways to connect those events, even if you think you are in separated enlightenment cone.

    You are not, and there is a definite positive result in those kind of dialogue. I just hope you'll keep on posting because there are too few knowledgeable people like you on the forum. I do agree that repetition is kind of killing the good-will bandwidth , but internet or forums or both, is no more perfect than an educational system.

    It is just one more dysfunctional one, or is it ?

    EDIT : (after reading mvb post, and to go deeper in my wrong metaphorical analogy)
    I think one cannot treat "knowledge" as something that would not, like everything else in the universe, go to it lower state. It is a constant labor to make it take the longest past possible away from the cultural geodesic which is primal fear.
    I'll bet everything I have on "curiosity" which can bend any dark void of stubbornness to make room for knowledge.

    Now I go back on the second row at the right, I need some sleep
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    I believe most of the people who hold genuine interest yet lack deep understanding come from a certain background -- namely YouTube videos, popularizations, colorful TV documentaries, etc. Though these media may instill wonder and passion in an otherwise unmotivated audience, they somewhat give the impression that everything in science can be answered in such format.

    And the interesting stuff usually dives into advanced topics and theoretical frameworks, precisely because they are nontrivial and/or 'on the fringe'. You have to admit that high school physics seems quite stale in comparison to how topics in relativity, cosmology, and quantum theory are popularly portrayed. Ridiculously simplified explanations are used, taking place of the ridiculously deep mathematics and science one can find behind the scenes. Now we have a large group of individuals interested in difficult subjects, seeking help from sophisticated professionals, expecting accurate answers in layman form. All the while, they do not have the rigorously trained background to do so properly.

    I think this because it somewhat describes my situation, especially when I began posting on forums. I'm not saying we shouldn't ask questions or completely refrain from advanced subjects, but I'm just offering a reason for why these things happen in the first place. Really, the best thing to do is advise such individuals to embark on serious studies so that they can really understand and work with the cool stuff. Some things they may find dry at first, but if they were like me, they'll start gaining interest in things without the need for fancy videos and narrators.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mvb View Post
    I think that the major issue for us is not why so many people seem not to know what they are doing, but what our reaction will be. They can be met with an effort to understand their questions and their underlying misunderstandings, or they can be blasted away for their ignorance. If we do the former some of them may get interested in ideas and better learning, but if we publicly berate them for their misunderstandings they will more likely simply decide that it is not worth trying to learn anything. We can help compensate for the schools or we can finish off the damage. I think that, at the moment, we are doing too much of the latter.

    The existence of all this non-understanding is less new than people think. Decades ago I taught a very basic general science course for non-science majors in college. The students were incredibly ill-educated in the sciences, even though many were juniors and seniors. The first year I had one student who came to every lecture, sat on the second row on my right, and went to sleep. My job was to keep him asleep, because if he was awake no one else in the room was understanding a word I was saying.
    The issue that I see is not so much a lack of understanding of any specific subject matter, but the lack of any effort to develop understanding. That shows up very clearly when someone is asking questions regarding very advanced topics, but demonstrates a total lack of understanding of rudiments. But at the heart of the problem is a clear lack of the work and intellectual effort that are necessary to develop understanding -- so people post inane questions on the internet but refuse to crack a book or fire a single brain cell.

    If one is actually interested in any subject, then one must master the basics before tackling advanced material. To try to go to the cutting edge of research in any subject without first understanding the very basics of the foundations to me demonstrates a desire to be stylish rather than to actually understand.

    I guess that the real problem is a lack of understanding of the very "to understand". It seems to me that current fashion in education -- support for self-esteem at the the expense of hard work and true appreciation for a subject -- and the use of the internet as a substitute for thinking contribute significantly to this deficiency. It takes work to educate oneself. I see a lack of the requisite work being performed. If someone can be blasted into working then that will benefit them. If not even a blast will do the job then there is not a lot of hope.
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    I think the blame is dilettantism; for many that post on these boards education in the natural sciences is a desultory hobby. Although I don't think it is fair to blame those that don't want to learn all the background knowledge necessary to discuss a particular topic at a scholarly level, I do think the modern education system could do a better job in educating the youth of society in subjects like calculus or quantum mechanics in secondary school or equivalent.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ellatha View Post
    I think the blame is dilettantism; for many that post on these boards education in the natural sciences is a desultory hobby. Although I don't think it is fair to blame those that don't want to learn all the background knowledge necessary to discuss a particular topic at a scholarly level, I do think the modern education system could do a better job in educating the youth of society in subjects like calculus or quantum mechanics in secondary school or equivalent.
    I am in unqualified agreement with your first sentence.

    We are not talking about discussing anything at a "scholarly level", whatever that is. However, I do think that to discuss anything at any level, one ought to take the trouble to know a bit about the subject that one wishes to discuss. That requires that one invest a modicum of time and effort in learning the basics.

    I am not a fan of calculus at the secondary school level. While there are some good teachers of calculus at the high school level, they are rare. It think it better to learn calculus at a university, from someone who understands the subject in depth. It is possible to learn calculus as a symbol-pushing exercise in which one can become facile at doing calculations without understanding the meaning of those calculations. I have had this discussion with a (now emeritus) engineering professor at MIT, and he is of the same opinion (and MIT students tend to be rather good).

    I cannot imagine a course in quantum mechanics at the high school level that is anything other than a philosophical discussion, a high school version of "Physics for Poets". I would imagine that it would be even worse, much worse, than high school calculus.

    I would very much prefer to see high school students learn basic algebra and simple physics thoroughly than to see them exposed to misleading and over-simplified versions of complex mathematics and physics that they are really not prepared to study. Let them learn the fancy stuff from people who actually understand it.

    But there is no reason that high school students cannot learn how to learn for themselves. In part that means that before one starts engaging in "discussion" or asking questions, that one takes the time an trouble to first attempt to learn the basics and answer those questions for oneself. If one does not at least attempt to do this, then one is not likely to understand or appreciate and answer when it is handed out on a silver platter.

    I think that perhaps the real problem is that students now expect to be taught rather than to be helped to learn. There is a huge gap between the two.
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    I have taken both courses in quantum mechanics and calculus in highschool and I can assure you that the topics discussed (the quantum wave function, derivatives, integrals, limits, and the like) are essentially plug-and-chug problem-solving courses. I never really took physics and mathematics seriously in highschool; it was too easy and replaced an emphasis on comprehension with trivial problem-solving.

    I think a key question to ask ourselves is, as a society, how much scientific and mathematical knowledge do we want the average person to be possess? Of course, we can't expect the average American to understand Einsteinian Mechananics or Galois Theory in the near future, but at one point in time the best educated area in the United States (New England) had an illiteracy rate of 30%. The idea of having an illiteracy rate of 0.1% (as we do today) would have been fairy-tale like. I believe as a general trend more and more people will become knowledgeable on such subjects. However, a rising concern among politicians and sociologists is that the American culture system will ultimately lead to our demise; because studious students are seen as nerds and scorned at, we are not harvesting our brightest minds to the best of our abilities as other countries are successfully doing.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ellatha View Post
    I have taken both courses in quantum mechanics and calculus in highschool and I can assure you that the topics discussed (the quantum wave function, derivatives, integrals, limits, and the like) are essentially plug-and-chug problem-solving courses. I never really took physics and mathematics seriously in highschool; it was too easy and replaced an emphasis on comprehension with trivial problem-solving.

    I think a key question to ask ourselves is, as a society, how much scientific and mathematical knowledge do we want the average person to be possess? Of course, we can't expect the average American to understand Einsteinian Mechananics or Galois Theory in the near future, but at one point in time the best educated area in the United States (New England) had an illiteracy rate of 30%. The idea of having an illiteracy rate of 0.1% (as we do today) would have been fairy-tale like. I believe as a general trend more and more people will become knowledgeable on such subjects. However, a rising concern among politicians and sociologists is that the American culture system will ultimately lead to our demise; because studious students are seen as nerds and scorned at, we are not harvesting our brightest minds to the best of our abilities as other countries are successfully doing.
    I don't think scientific and mathematical knowledge is the issue. The issue is the ability, or lack thereof, to think logically, reason correctly and be able to learn that which one needs to learn for his particular situation. What I am seeing is either a lack of an ability to do that, or no inclination to engage in serious thought and self-education despite a capability to do so. Knowledge is an entirely different matter, and having knowledge, in and of itself, confers no ability to reason or to use that knowledge.

    This problem goes well beyon science, though it is perhaps easiest to identify in a setting in which one is dealing with scientific material.

    If New England is the best educated area in the United States, then we are in deep trouble. I spent some time teaching at a university in that area of the country, prior to the current spate of rampant grade inflation, and I was not impressed with the qualtiy of the students. They were about like those elsewhere, on average not very good, though with a few notable exceptions. What I do find in the New England area is a high population density, and consequently a high density of institutions of higher education and of faculty to staff those institutions. So, it is a bit easier to bump into a PhD mathematician or physicist at the corner drug store than it might be elsewhere. However, I have managed to do that in more sparsely populated areas of the country as well.

    Plug-and-chug problem solving exercises are probably a telling symptom of the real problem. While it is certainly good to be able to solve problems "plug-and-chug" very clearly describes a situation in which people push symbols around without understanding what they are doing, why they are doing or why anyone in their right mind would want to. One can train someone to do such exercises, but one has not educated the subject in the process, at least not anymore than a laboratory rat is "educated" to navigate a maze to reach the cheese.

    training education

    knowledge understanding

    You can sometimes get facts from the internet, but you cannot obtain understanding there. That requires actual thought.

    Some of the fact that you can get from the internet are actually true. But to determine which are true and which are not requires work.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrRocket View Post
    But there is no reason that high school students cannot learn how to learn for themselves.
    I think that perhaps the real problem is that students now expect to be taught rather than to be helped to learn.
    Yes, that is precisely what I was referring to in post #2, and what I see happening with my own kids. They expect everything to be served to them on a silver platter, simply because that is what their teachers have been doing for past 12 years or so. They have never been taught or shown how to do independent research; they never had any need for it, since our local system is very much focused on state exams, which are pretty formalized and predictable to a very high degree.

    When I grew up there was no Internet, and our teachers actually did give us assignments which required going to the local library and do research. Those days seem to have gone. Obviously there will be a price to pay for our kids once they make the transition to third level.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrRocket View Post
    training education

    knowledge understanding
    This is very true. Yet I don't think that there is really some fundamental changes in the educational system which is probably limited to do the first, hoping a few would reach the second.

    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Hanke View Post
    When I grew up there was no Internet, and our teachers actually did give us assignments which required going to the local library and do research. Those days seem to have gone. Obviously there will be a price to pay for our kids once they make the transition to third level.
    I beg to differ. That phrase looks too much like "it was better in my time". My nephew is in its second year in physics, and I don't see any difference of content or type of education. It is still very hard work, even if probably way too much on the training side for my taste. I don't see any silver plate handed to them, especially not a future were they will be able to make use of their understanding.
    Disregarding environment, social, economical, and only focusing on schooling is too short sighted.

    Quote Originally Posted by DrRocket View Post
    You can sometimes get facts from the internet, but you cannot obtain understanding there.
    I don't see any difference between internet and a book. And I won't trash Brian Cox books, nor forget all Susskind video, I have watched so far. I do have the impression to have gain some understanding.

    I also see a definite advantage of this kind of forum. It is more or less the kind of classroom that everybody would dream about: where everybody is free to fire up any questions (ok, even the silliest ones) without any fear of getting the teacher of track/program. That means developing curiosity, not taming it.

    And it is also not about obtaining knowledge (on a plate), but seeking it. At least people here make a conscious effort to get/seek some answers. I think it is the beginning of "having actual thought", and why the blasting of idiotic questions should be reduced a bit.

    Quote Originally Posted by DrRocket View Post
    Some of the fact that you can get from the internet are actually true. But to determine which are true and which are not requires work.
    Work that could produce some forces, because more knowledgeable people like you are confronted to less knowledgeable people like me.

    It is a sobering though that if everybody had the same understanding, science would be dead.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boing3000 View Post
    I beg to differ. That phrase looks too much like "it was better in my time". My nephew is in its second year in physics, and I don't see any difference of content or type of education. It is still very hard work, even if probably way too much on the training side for my taste. I don't see any silver plate handed to them, especially not a future were they will be able to make use of their understanding.
    Disregarding environment, social, economical, and only focusing on schooling is too short sighted.
    True enough, but I was specifically referring to second level ( high school ) - where I am they are definitely getting things handed to them on a silver platter, and because third level admission works on a point system here, everything is focused on exam success rather than on understanding. I should note that we are not located in the States. Once you hit third level then everything changes and you need to rely on doing your own research - which, as you can imagine, is a massive shock to the unsuspecting student.

    I myself went to school in three different countries with vastly different systems, but in all of them we were required to do our own research. That was long before the age of the Internet though.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Hanke View Post
    True enough, but I was specifically referring to second level ( high school ) - where I am they are definitely getting things handed to them on a silver platter, and because third level admission works on a point system here, everything is focused on exam success rather than on understanding. I should note that we are not located in the States. Once you hit third level then everything changes and you need to rely on doing your own research - which, as you can imagine, is a massive shock to the unsuspecting student.

    I myself went to school in three different countries with vastly different systems, but in all of them we were required to do our own research. That was long before the age of the Internet though.
    Somehow this results in people who think that they are competent to deal with advanced topics like general relativity and quantum mechanics even though they have essentially no understanding of Newton's three laws.

    The illusion of understanding and knowledge is a more serious condition than admitted ignorance. The latter is fairly easy to correct. The former is resistant to most attempts at correction.

    I suspect that much of this comes back to the earlier observation that students expect to be taught rather than to have their own efforts at learning facilitated. A good student should be able to learn in the absence of a teacher, though having someone with knowledge is helpful. But no one can open up someone else's head and pour in understanding, no matter how good a teacher they might be.
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    The illusion of understanding and knowledge is a more serious condition than admitted ignorance
    Yes, so Prof Hawking is telling us, and he is absolutely right !
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    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Hanke View Post
    Yes, so Prof Hawking is telling us, and he is absolutely right !
    Ho sweet irony ...
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    Im going to share some experiences here.
    When i came to my new school(i think its what you call college) suddenly my(and everyone else) physics grades changed from 10's to 7's .
    I think its because in my old school its like: its a fact. Learn it and shut up. If you have questions about why its that way,forget it,you dont need it.
    And in this school,your going a bit in-depth about it.

    An example:i learned g=9,8,learn it,dont ask why its that way and shut up. I actually believed it for that day that g=9,8 on every planet,till i went to search WHY g=9,8 and found it.

    Another example
    we got 2 methods to calculate x in economics
    1) sigma ((a/b)*c)=x were you have to calculate a lot of a/b while the b stays the same

    and

    2) (sigma(a*c))/b=x

    so i showed my teacher that they are essentially the same only is it divided by b in the last step in the second way and asked why we need the second way,as it only requires more calculations,and she was like"boy,if you ask me one more time WHY or point stupid things,you can go outside"
    they decourage students to think



    And with the new learning methods,that are easy as pie,newer and huger gaps come...
    This year is the first year that i get chemistry as a subject and the book was super easy. When i read it,i thought why i didnt get it 4 years ago. I asked the teacher to get an old chemistry book as the school would trow them away.its used since 1999 and the new book is used since 2011.well,i can tell you that the old book is much more difficult and i learned much more from it.
    For example,with the new method we will learn about mol in 2nd grade,while the old method we would have the test about mol the second semester of 1st grade.
    Its like the government wants dumber people in my country.


    The internet is a great source of info,it can help people with a lot of "why" questions and i dont see the difference between going to the library and using the internet.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrRocket View Post
    You have stated a lack of interest in learning, but only an interest in producing a high performing rocket, but any means.
    (quote from that thread)
    Let's not be lazy here, by throwing adjective around, without considering all the manifolds were this affirmation is just false. (read carefully, I don't state yours is wrong, just it is only in your frame of reference).

    Here is what I see: Someone that take the time with a few hint (particularly good ones from you) to build X prototype, all by himself. He had NOT gone to buy a book (rocket for dummies, and just apply the recipe like a parrot). He search from the internet, and just give you WHY he was not going to learn aerodynamics because he would do it correctly as part of his courses, and the time frame simply would NOT allow him.

    Quote Originally Posted by DrRocket View Post
    You will not even accept that you are being lazy. This conversation is over.
    How simple and effective such a statement is. A very lazy one.
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    The problem is much singular then that. It is knowledge by acclamation. First of most people are religious, they are told to believe things are true. These people alone have often not learned to critically check what they are told is true. They lack the capacity to value sources for their truthfulness.
    Hence they don't know how to look for good info, hence the above effect.
    A simple Wikipedia scout could answer most of the questions asked.

    Second, people think, or are made to believe they are dumb. And hence genuinely don't think they could find the answers to their question by themselves. Then follows the first, etc.
    I think that accounts for most people:
    1. Incapacity to question sources and information
    2. Indoctrinated stupidity by peers.
    In the age of information, ignorance is a choice.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kerling View Post
    The problem is much singular then that. It is knowledge by acclamation. First of most people are religious, they are told to believe things are true. These people alone have often not learned to critically check what they are told is true. They lack the capacity to value sources for their truthfulness.
    Hence they don't know how to look for good info, hence the above effect.
    A simple Wikipedia scout could answer most of the questions asked.

    Second, people think, or are made to believe they are dumb. And hence genuinely don't think they could find the answers to their question by themselves. Then follows the first, etc.
    I think that accounts for most people:
    1. Incapacity to question sources and information
    2. Indoctrinated stupidity by peers.
    While a "Wikipedia scout" could indeed answer most questions, I would caution most people against relying on Wikipedia. I have found glaring errors in wiki articles. The science and mathematics articles, in general, are reasonably accurate. Articles on the design of some hardware items I have found to be (charitably) inaccurate at times.

    I think that the most valuable aspect of wiki articles is the list of references that usually accompanies them which can provide access to original articles that is sometimes hard to find on one's one. They also provide a very useful localized explanation that I have found useful to provide in responses -- once I have satisfied myself that the article is correct.

    In contrast to Wikipedia, which is completely open with no constraints on authorship, Scholarpedia provides articles that are written only by invitation, with authors who are usuall world-renowned experts in the subject, and that are reviewed by knowledgeable people before they are published. The downside is that Scholarpedia does not nearly as broad a selection to topics as does Wikipedia (Wikipedia seems to know no bounds in what it will address).

    However, a Wikipedia article is a good place to start -- to be followed quickly by looking at the references that are provided if one is not already somewhat familiar with the subject. Ultimately there is no good substitute for standard text books and peer-reviewed journal articles. And finally one ought not believe that something in a peer-reviewed article is necessarily correct, only that it is of interest to the research community and not obviously wrong.
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    I'm not sure if what I have to say could be relevant to the discussion, but it's somewhat of a pattern I've noticed while around other students. I've noticed that the ' no attempt at critical thinking' behavior starts off at an early age (call it around 8 years old) and is nurtured and developed over academic life by a number of factors. One for example, is parenting (this will most likely be somewhat controversial), while the educational system does play a major role in development on this behavior of non-thinking, it is only reinforced by some parents. Think back to when you were young, who played a larger role in your life development, your temporary instructor or your permanent guardian? I see the students who had small issues early on, only have those issues grow larger over time because they were never address properly. EXAMPLE: When I was in kindergarten, I remember having a boy pick on me constantly, long story short he was later expelled from the district while in the seventh grade.

    Another factor of this would be the impact of social media and overall communication with peers. As stated in a previous post, students who choose to be studious and intellectual are often labeled as "nerds" or "geeks", this would obviously discourage anyone under social pressure to avoid such behavior. All it really takes is one bad apple to ruin the whole orchard. It could just be that these problems aren't recognized until they become a problem, or that they simply aren't viewed as problems. As with problems like this I've encountered in the past, the cause is most likely more than just one or two factors.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Catalyst View Post
    I've noticed that the ' no attempt at critical thinking' behavior starts off at an early age...
    Everything start at an early age. Don't go me wrong here, but I think it would be critical at this point to turn critics towards the real target. What I have witness, especially in the educational system, is educators gloating about 'critical thinking' while enforcing on a daily basis the none of it never got expressed. It is normal, they contract is to coerce people into outputting the same results for the same inputs (even more so, now that teacher aren't even responsible for the measurement, but are measured themselves in the same process (see Markus post #13))

    Back to OP. Critical thinking is a double edge sword, especially if you wield it toward a foe that is anything but yourself. That is why so many people are fast to critique GR or QM seemingly bizarre attributes, and getting DrRocket angry in the process. They use the critical thinking process inside out.

    But let's face it, it is somewhat unnatural, and even counter productive (past a certain point), to self-punish yourself by trying to prove yourself wrong constantly. It is a luxury, for most people, to dwell on how they could be less wrong. They prefer to be right, it is efficient, you go forward, even if in not particular direction.

    My notion of understanding is : when you realize that something is wrong. You have to build some other paths to get to a similar conclusion/observation, or just give up and keep using the old method. It is not only true for GR versus Newtonian Mechanics. It is also true for understanding versus parroting.

    As a thinking community, my opinion is that we would greatly improves but stopping to think we could be right and instead contend our-self trying to be less wrong.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boing3000 View Post
    As a thinking community, my opinion is that we would greatly improves but stopping to think we could be right and instead contend our-self trying to be less wrong.
    ALL of science is an attempt to be "less wrong". None of the existing theories are the "final theory", if indeed there will ever be any such thing. That is why scieentific theories are supported by evidence, not proof. Only mathematics relies on proof, and mathematics is not science.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrRocket View Post
    ALL of science is an attempt to be "less wrong". None of the existing theories are the "final theory", if indeed there will ever be any such thing. That is why scieentific theories are supported by evidence, not proof. Only mathematics relies on proof, and mathematics is not science.
    Absolutely, but my point was to extend that paradigm to broader "discipline" like education, this OP questioning, this forum rules...

    I cannot count the number of time I have made up new rules to be inserted in a software to try to reconcile point of views so some "moot" questions does not reach you and do not bugs you down (I may be wrong but I sense some negativity expressed in you OP, right ?).
    Those questions aren't moot for some posters, and somewhat must be addressed if the goals is also to embark them onto this marvelous and completely futile quest that is "never be right".

    The latest installment, software wise, is scoring of both question and answers. That is why wiki is as accurate as any other source, and how you could choose not to see posting from "craziest" people (or any other scoring dimension you'll add on top of the sub forum structure).

    It is the exact opposite of what a forum means. And I also think it just dumb down the whole process.

    And I am surprise by your OP surprise. Being less wrong has never been a more successful path to make a living than mining coals like a human mole. Not now, not yesterday, never. Some may even say that scientist(and their method) only exist because of the luxuries of the laziness they could spare at day dreaming about manifolds.

    The actual respect, understanding and open-mindedness needed to entertains this totally utopic model is never taught, barely recognized socially and, as far as I know, may be much greater in primitive tribes then in the current competitive model (scored based and all), we proudly use today.

    There is not mathematical proof that scientific method is "good". Experiments done with the scientific method, applied onto itself, may have trouble measuring "success" whatever criterion we may agree on.

    I don't know why I love this method, there is no rational, but then I'd like science to get a little more modest, to be able to reach a broader audience and especially not distorted by media, where it is use in its opposite sense (science(and experts) is/are right).
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boing3000 View Post
    Absolutely, but my point was to extend that paradigm to broader "discipline" like education, this OP questioning, this forum rules...

    I cannot count the number of time I have made up new rules to be inserted in a software to try to reconcile point of views so some "moot" questions does not reach you and do not bugs you down (I may be wrong but I sense some negativity expressed in you OP, right ?).
    Those questions aren't moot for some posters, and somewhat must be addressed if the goals is also to embark them onto this marvelous and completely futile quest that is "never be right".

    The latest installment, software wise, is scoring of both question and answers. That is why wiki is as accurate as any other source, and how you could choose not to see posting from "craziest" people (or any other scoring dimension you'll add on top of the sub forum structure).

    It is the exact opposite of what a forum means. And I also think it just dumb down the whole process.

    And I am surprise by your OP surprise. Being less wrong has never been a more successful path to make a living than mining coals like a human mole. Not now, not yesterday, never. Some may even say that scientist(and their method) only exist because of the luxuries of the laziness they could spare at day dreaming about manifolds.

    The actual respect, understanding and open-mindedness needed to entertains this totally utopic model is never taught, barely recognized socially and, as far as I know, may be much greater in primitive tribes then in the current competitive model (scored based and all), we proudly use today.

    There is not mathematical proof that scientific method is "good". Experiments done with the scientific method, applied onto itself, may have trouble measuring "success" whatever criterion we may agree on.

    I don't know why I love this method, there is no rational, but then I'd like science to get a little more modest, to be able to reach a broader audience and especially not distorted by media, where it is use in its opposite sense (science(and experts) is/are right).
    This makes no sense.
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    I suppose to truly understand the problem of ignorance, you must bring forth the behavior of said persons. DrRocket, you've told us about the slackers you've had, but did you ever have a student you thought to be passionate about the material you were teaching him?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Catalyst View Post
    I suppose to truly understand the problem of ignorance, you must bring forth the behavior of said persons. DrRocket, you've told us about the slackers you've had, but did you ever have a student you thought to be passionate about the material you were teaching him?
    I think that everybody has had such a student. But they are too small a minority. What does this have to do with ignorance and in particular willfull ignorance ? See Kerling's signature line to the effect that ignorance is a choice.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrRocket View Post
    If New England is the best educated area in the United States, then we are in deep trouble. I spent some time teaching at a university in that area of the country, prior to the current spate of rampant grade inflation, and I was not impressed with the qualtiy of the students. They were about like those elsewhere, on average not very good, though with a few notable exceptions. What I do find in the New England area is a high population density, and consequently a high density of institutions of higher education and of faculty to staff those institutions. So, it is a bit easier to bump into a PhD mathematician or physicist at the corner drug store than it might be elsewhere. However, I have managed to do that in more sparsely populated areas of the country as well.
    New England is the best educated area in the nation because of the influence brought on by the Puritans who first sailed there in 1630. You'll note that the Puritans founded the idea of having property taxes to fund education. The most important literature has historically emerged from New England (writers like Edgar Allen Poe, Mark Twain, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry Adams, William Bradford, and others). The highest concentration of Ph.D.s in the nation have emerged from New England. Harvard was founded as a divinity school to train ministers in 1636 by the Puritans, followed by Yale in Conneticut shortly thereafter. The best universities in the nation are located in New England (MIT, Princeton, and others previously mentioned), in addition to the best boarding schools; namely, schools like Choate, Groton, Andover Philips Academy, Exeter and others which have educated numerous presidents and other very significant figures such as academicians, politicians, businessmen, and et cetera. As a result, the literacy rate in New England dipped to the lowest in the nation.

    The Errand in The Wilderness by Harvard historian Perry Miller discusses this issue at length.

    Quote Originally Posted by DrRocket View Post
    But they are too small a minority
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ellatha View Post
    New England is the best educated area in the nation because of the influence brought on by the Puritans who first sailed there in 1630. You'll note that the Puritans founded the idea of having property taxes to fund education. The most important literature has historically emerged from New England (writers like Edgar Allen Poe, Mark Twain, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry Adams, William Bradford, and others). The highest concentration of Ph.D.s in the nation have emerged from New England. Harvard was founded as a divinity school to train ministers in 1636 by the Puritans, followed by Yale in Conneticut shortly thereafter. The best universities in the nation are located in New England (MIT, Princeton, and others previously mentioned), in addition to the best boarding schools; namely, schools like Choate, Groton, Andover Philips Academy, Exeter and others which have educated numerous presidents and other very significant figures such as academicians, politicians, businessmen, and et cetera. As a result, the literacy rate in New England dipped to the lowest in the nation.

    The Errand in The Wilderness by Harvard historian Perry Miller discusses this issue at length.



    This ia very parochial view. There are a lot of good schools and a lot of top scientists all over the country and indeed the world. New England has a high population density, and hence a high density of all sorts of people, including idiots.
    Last edited by DrRocket; 05-08-2013 at 10:59 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrRocket View Post
    This ia very parocial view. There are a lot of good schools and a lot of top scientists all over the country and indeed the world. New England has a high population density, and hence a high density of all sorts of people, including idiots.
    It's interesting to note that many of the finest educational institutions, at least historically were founded by religious groups, however. For example, Georgetown University by the Jesuits. A cousin of mine is the Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church and it's astonishing how well educatd they are in terms of linguistics (fluency in Greek, Latin, Hebrew, and some Aramaic) and church history. Nowadays many people believe that religious folks are often uneducated, bigoted hypocrites, although this is more or less a ramification of an ever increasing secular media.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ellatha View Post
    It's interesting to note that the majority of educational institutions, at least historically were founded by religious groups, however.
    Interesting in which regards ? The people that lead the tribe will always also be in charge of the education, so the tradition gets repeated. Is it a surprise ?
    It is what I would call a bigoted hypocrisy based system, whatever the trademark associated (probably Coca Cola company nowadays). Very successful, selection wise, and also very far from a modest self oriented curious and critical thinking process.

    It is time for a brainy quote
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boing3000 View Post
    It is time for a brainy quote
    "No man can deny the fact that Jesus existed, nor that his sayings are beautiful. Even if some them have been said before, no one has expressed them so divinely as he."

    --Albert Einstein
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ellatha View Post
    It's interesting to note that many of the finest educational institutions, at least historically were founded by religious groups, however. For example, Georgetown University by the Jesuits. A cousin of mine is the Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church and it's astonishing how well educatd they are in terms of linguistics (fluency in Greek, Latin, Hebrew, and some Aramaic) and church history. Nowadays many people believe that religious folks are often uneducated, bigoted hypocrites, although this is more or less a ramification of an ever increasing secular media.
    There is nothing surprising here. The American colonies were founded by religious groups, so it is only natural that some of the first universities in the U.S. were founded by religious groups. In Europe religious groups, especially the Roman Catholic Church were important elements of not only society but in fact of the ruling structure. The Catholic Church, particulary the Jesuit sect, has a strong tradition of learning and research. The Jewish faith also has a strong tradition of learning and there are many prominent scholars of Jewish descent.

    Why anyone would think that someone is either well-educated and erudite or ignorant and bigoted on the basis of the subject's religious views is beyond me. I know well educated people who are strongly religious and well educated people who are atheists. I know fools of the same persuasions.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrRocket View Post
    Why anyone would think that someone is either well-educated and erudite or ignorant and bigoted on the basis of the subject's religious views is beyond me. I know well educated people who are strongly religious and well educated people who are atheists. I know fools of the same persuasions.
    Many have argued that the reason Arabian societies tend to be less technologically advanced than Christian nations is because their religion is less open to scientific inquiry than Christianity, although some have said that the reason the Reinassance was able to occur was the Protestant reformation. What is your take on how a religion influences a peoples intelligentsia?
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrRocket View Post
    Why anyone would think that someone is either well-educated and erudite or ignorant and bigoted on the basis of the subject's religious views is beyond me. I know well educated people who are strongly religious and well educated people who are atheists. I know fools of the same persuasions.
    It's the same mindset that Adolf Hitler had during the second world war, believing that the Jews and "non-Aryans" were inferior races. It's fascinating what lengths people will go to blame others for their problems.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Catalyst View Post
    It's the same mindset that Adolf Hitler had during the second world war, believing that the Jews and "non-Aryans" were inferior races. It's fascinating what lengths people will go to blame others for their problems.
    An egalitarianism, communist society is every bit as dangerous an ideology as racial superiority in the Nazi regime. Furthermore, religion is a person's personal philosophy and has no bearing on genetics. Topics involving culture comparisons have a proclivity to elicit knee-jerk McCarthyism and require intellectual maturity to discuss meaningfully. Please do not jump to conclusions and assume we are trying to espouse some sort of malevolent eugenics theories; we are only discussing how a people's culture affects its academic achievements.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ellatha View Post
    An egalitarianism, communist society is every bit as dangerous an ideology as racial superiority in the Nazi regime.
    One can say that. If you find some physical instance of such a thing, I would be delighted to maturely discuss that on a meaningful basis. The closest thing that is to a egalitarian, communist society is called a family, whenever parent are somewhat relaxed about they superior status.
    Thanks to you, I realize why my siblinghood was so dangerous and deserve some radical treatment.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ellatha View Post
    Please do not jump to conclusions and assume we are trying to espouse some sort of malevolent eugenics theories; we are only discussing how a people's culture affects its academic achievements.
    Actually "we" are discussing how the achievement of academic institution influence culture affects. It is somewhat the anti-discussion of what you mean.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boing3000 View Post
    One can say that. If you find some physical instance of such a thing, I would be delighted to maturely discuss that on a meaningful basis. The closest thing that is to a egalitarian, communist society is called a family, whenever parent are somewhat relaxed about they superior status.
    Thanks to you, I realize why my siblinghood was so dangerous and deserve some radical treatment.
    A family would be among the farthest things from an egalitarian, communist society one can contemplate; it is usually a totalitarian group led by the parents. Besides that, the remainder of your post is impertinent.

    Quote Originally Posted by Boing3000 View Post
    Actually "we" are discussing how the achievement of academic institution influence culture affects. It is somewhat the anti-discussion of what you mean.
    Another impertinent (and fallacious) point. Since I asked the question, I know what we're "discussing." In fact, we aren't discussing either since you seem to have a predisposition to discuss mindless chatter.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ellatha View Post
    A family would be among the farthest things from an egalitarian, communist society one can contemplate.
    You mean could, certainly. But I have experimented something else. "We" we treated equally, could use use the common at will, and we even split the shores. We were a pretty standard family back then. There were notable exception, and what the other famillies were doing was sympathizing, and even some time aggregate to help, forming meta families, and all that for free. It was a standard catholic environment, something about love and care, if I remember correctly.

    it is usually a totalitarian group led by the parents.
    OK, so you were born in Moscow, I thought that they eat their babies there

    Besides that, the remainder of your post is impertinent.
    Probably, but I am trying hard not to alienate you, so you can make some progress, rationally wise. It is quite difficult, and challenging.

    In fact, we aren't discussing either since you seem to have a predisposition to discuss mindless chatter.
    No, in fact you are illustrating the problem of the OP. You are also illustrating my point at #24 that the level of education is irrelevant to the problem.

    Do you expect, that "we" would be lazy enough to let mindless bigoted and false claims pass unnoticed ?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boing3000 View Post
    You mean could, certainly. But I have experimented something else. "We" we treated equally, could use use the common at will, and we even split the shores. We were a pretty standard family back then. There were notable exception, and what the other famillies were doing was sympathizing, and even some time aggregate to help, forming meta families, and all that for free. It was a standard catholic environment, something about love and care, if I remember correctly.


    OK, so you were born in Moscow, I thought that they eat their babies there


    Probably, but I am trying hard not to alienate you, so you can make some progress, rationally wise. It is quite difficult, and challenging.


    No, in fact you are illustrating the problem of the OP. You are also illustrating my point at #24 that the level of education is irrelevant to the problem.

    Do you expect, that "we" would be lazy enough to let mindless bigoted and false claims pass unnoticed ?
    If you expect me to do anything, you will need to be able to articulate what you're saying effectively. Thus far all you've produced bombastic pseudo-rationalistic gobbledygook. Thankfully, that's when the ignore button comes in handy.
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