Suggestions for Knowledge Base

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Suggestions for Knowledge Base

Postby Flannel Jesus » Wed Apr 03, 2013 4:21 pm

I recently made a post about what I would recommend people know to achieve what I would consider to be 'scientific literacy'. I'd like feedback and suggestions here. I'd like to keep the content free.
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Re: Suggestions for Knowledge Base

Postby Moreno » Wed Apr 03, 2013 4:26 pm

I suppose my take on literacy would be what I would think is more ground up.
so NOT learning about what science has arrived at but rather a more hands on, how do we determine, task/epistemology based approach.
Get some problems and consider different ways of arriving at the solution. Even more children have some basic limit the variables, repeat and see what is the cause instincts. Guiding these and highlighting them towards getting the scientitic method at a concrete, this problem level seems more important to me than getting the facts.
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Re: Suggestions for Knowledge Base

Postby Flannel Jesus » Wed Apr 03, 2013 4:28 pm

Right, I think that's kind of what I meant when I said "More than that, though, I think that the Philosophy of Science and the History of Science are pretty relevant things to be moderately knowledgeable about" The 'that' that I was referring to when I said 'more than that' was the facts part of it. I agree completely that understanding how science works should be prioritized over understanding specific scientific facts. Certainly.
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Re: Suggestions for Knowledge Base

Postby anon » Thu Apr 04, 2013 12:44 am

Richard Lewontin's Triple Helix is indispensable.

http://www.amazon.com/Triple-Helix-Gene ... 0674006771
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Re: Suggestions for Knowledge Base

Postby Flannel Jesus » Thu Apr 04, 2013 6:27 am

Sorry, I should have specified that I'd like to focus on free materials. It sounds like a really interesting book though.
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Re: Suggestions for Knowledge Base

Postby anon » Thu Apr 04, 2013 11:51 am

Flannel Jesus wrote:Sorry, I should have specified that I'd like to focus on free materials. It sounds like a really interesting book though.

Ah, in that case...

http://www.stephenjaygould.org/library.html
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Re: Suggestions for Knowledge Base

Postby Flannel Jesus » Thu Apr 04, 2013 2:45 pm

I think I primer on evolution is a great idea.
I hope you don't take offense to this, but I'm not sure Gould is the one to read for that. I know he's seen as a bit of a popularizer for evolution, which is no small matter and deserves recognition, but he's apparently known for misrepresenting evolutionary theory as well, pretty drastically.

You did link to some Dawkins in there, and though I've not read his stuff on evolution myself, I've heard a lot of great and interesting things about it.

But yes, I do think that the knowledge base page could use a good primer on evolution. I'd like to find a better one than that (no offense, it truly has nothing to do with you, I had just happened to read that Gould article a few months ago and remembered it).
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Re: Suggestions for Knowledge Base

Postby turtle » Thu Apr 04, 2013 2:48 pm

Flannel Jesus wrote:I think I primer on evolution is a great idea.
I hope you don't take offense to this, but I'm not sure Gould is the one to read for that. I know he's seen as a bit of a popularizer for evolution, which is no small matter and deserves recognition, but he's apparently known for misrepresenting evolutionary theory as well, pretty drastically.

You did link to some Dawkins in there, and though I've not read his stuff on evolution myself, I've heard a lot of great and interesting things about it.

But yes, I do think that the knowledge base page could use a good primer on evolution. I'd like to find a better one than that (no offense, it truly has nothing to do with you, I had just happened to read that Gould article a few months ago and remembered it).


flannel----can you say specifically why gould is not appropriate...
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Re: Suggestions for Knowledge Base

Postby Flannel Jesus » Thu Apr 04, 2013 2:49 pm

There's a link in that post.
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Re: Suggestions for Knowledge Base

Postby turtle » Thu Apr 04, 2013 2:53 pm

Flannel Jesus wrote:There's a link in that post.


flannel---i realize there is a link....the link starts out by stating that goulds reputation is mud...sorry
that doesnt say much...i would like some specifics from you...not from that link..
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Re: Suggestions for Knowledge Base

Postby Flannel Jesus » Thu Apr 04, 2013 3:01 pm

It gives specifics in the link, turtle. Don't just read the first paragraph and give up buddy. It's not that long of an article. Just read it.
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Re: Suggestions for Knowledge Base

Postby phyllo » Thu Apr 04, 2013 3:07 pm

I don't think that a knowledge base is a good idea unless it's just a sticky thread where people can post interesting/useful links. Anything more will establish a dogma and limit discussion.
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Re: Suggestions for Knowledge Base

Postby turtle » Thu Apr 04, 2013 3:10 pm

Flannel Jesus wrote:It gives specifics in the link, turtle. Don't just read the first paragraph and give up buddy. It's not that long of an article. Just read it.

flannel would you tell me what you agree with and what you dont agree with in that link...
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Re: Suggestions for Knowledge Base

Postby Flannel Jesus » Thu Apr 04, 2013 4:30 pm

phyllo wrote:I don't think that a knowledge base is a good idea unless it's just a sticky thread where people can post interesting/useful links. Anything more will establish a dogma and limit discussion.

I don't think so. It's not required, it's optional, for those people who wish to become more science/math-literate. Discussion on the science/math subforum is already pretty scant as it is, I don't think a thread which suggests becoming more knowledgeable is going to limit discussion. It's not so much about 'agree with these things I'm linking', it's more about 'whether you disagree with these links or not, they will help you to communicate your points more clearly, and to understand the points of others more clearly'.

Eg if I link to an evolution introduction, I'm not saying 'Everyone, agree with evolution,' I'm saying 'If you want to talk about evolution or evolution-related fields, regardless of whether or not you disagree, you'll certainly put your mouth in your foot less often if you at least understand some basics of the current state of the field of study.'
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Re: Suggestions for Knowledge Base

Postby phyllo » Thu Apr 04, 2013 4:42 pm

You rejected Anon's suggestion of Gould as a legitimate source. So, you are establishing what is correct in regard to evolution and science in general.
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Re: Suggestions for Knowledge Base

Postby Flannel Jesus » Thu Apr 04, 2013 4:44 pm

I'm just establishing what I'm going to link to. I don't have the power to establish what is correct in general. That's not something I'm capable of.

There's one other problem with that link as well: it seems, at a glance, to be a list of scattered articles all grouped together. I'm looking for a sort of more cohesive introduction to the theory of evolution, as opposed to a bunch of random articles about evolution. Something that starts from the beginning and leaves the reader at a point where they have a solid footing on the topic, and preferably does so concisely.
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Re: Suggestions for Knowledge Base

Postby phyllo » Thu Apr 04, 2013 5:07 pm

The knowledge base thread will be open to anyone? And you won't delete/modify posts?
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Re: Suggestions for Knowledge Base

Postby Flannel Jesus » Thu Apr 04, 2013 5:15 pm

I knew this would be a bit contentious when I started it, which is why I'm trying to make this as clear as possible:

There's no requirement for agreement, there's no requirement for even looking at the stuff. There's no requirement whatsoever. All materials are up for debate, and in fact I should probably set up some system by which people of the community can somehow veto something up there that they don't think is representative of current scientific view, and so that something that is representative of the current scientific view and is a sort of requirement for basic science literacy can be put up, regardless of my own views. Not all sources are equal, and in science, not all views are equal, as 'dogmatic' as that may sound.

This isn't about agreeing with the current scientific stance, it's merely about understanding what it is. I don't think that that's dogmatic, I think it's essential for sensible conversation on matters of science. Everything is open for discussion, though, and hopefully this 'knowledge base' idea won't end up being limited by my own views. For the moment, it is, and I'd like to work on rectifying that soon.

[edit after seeing above post]

No, the knowledge base thread won't be open to anyone. I will try to set up a system by which it's not limited to my views only, but it will be an announcement that remains at the top of the Science forum, and whatever system I set up, I want to make sure that:
(a) the content is of the highest quality it can be
(b) the views represented are representative of the current state of science
(c) the material is freely available online

and there may be a few other standards I haven't thought of while making this post.

So, for perfect clarity: I agree that it shouldn't be down to my views only, but it should meet at least requirements A, B, and C, and as such it will not be open to everyone, but everyone is free to suggest things they'd like to see on it, argue for things they'd like to see on it, or take off it, and in the (hopefully near) future there will be a system by which I will not be the sole final arbiter of what goes on it. Leaving it open to everyone will trivialize it, and the standards a b and c will soon be lost. I don't want that.
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Re: Suggestions for Knowledge Base

Postby anon » Fri Apr 05, 2013 1:00 am

The Gould links meet your a, b, and c. LessWrong might not.
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Re: Suggestions for Knowledge Base

Postby Flannel Jesus » Fri Apr 05, 2013 6:13 am

Just to corroborate it -- I didn't want to dismiss it based on that alone as well -- I looked for outside confirmation.

John Tooby, for example, a pretty important figure in evolution, writes
But as Maynard Smith points out, more is at stake. Gould "is giving non-biologists a largely false picture of the state of evolutionary theory" -- or as Ernst Mayr says of Gould and his small group of allies -- they "quite conspicuously misrepresent the views of [biology's] leading spokesmen."[1] Indeed, although Gould characterizes his critics as "anonymous" and "a tiny coterie," nearly every major evolutionary biologist of our era has weighed in in a vain attempt to correct the tangle of confusions that the higher profile Gould has inundated the intellectual world with.[2] The point is not that Gould is the object of some criticism -- so properly are we all -- it is that his reputation as a credible and balanced authority about evolutionary biology is non-existent among those who are in a professional position to know.
...
For biologists, the central problem is that Gould's own exposition of evolutionary biology is so radically and extravagantly at variance with both the actual consensus state of the field and the plain meaning of the primary literature that there is no easy way to communicate the magnitude of the discrepancy in a way that could be believed by those who have not experienced the evidence for themselves.


But of course I won't be linking to Lesswrong in that post either, I agree.
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Re: Suggestions for Knowledge Base

Postby anon » Fri Apr 05, 2013 1:49 pm

You can do what you want, FJ, but your approach is puzzling to me. Gould was one of the leading exponents of evolutionary theory, and he was well known, for instance in The Mismeasure of Man (an excellent read), for separating good science from its hijacking by people with stupid social agendas. His views conflicted with the views of other scientists, which says nothing about which are correct. Dawkins talks some shit, and says things that are plainly anti-scientific, such as “it’s all in the genes”. But he’s also an excellent scientist, who should be read by scientifically literate people, and you’ll notice that Gould’s site includes many papers expressing a variety of opinions, many of which he openly disagreed with. The links are set up in groups, which provide an excellent introduction to various themes and a way to explore different approaches to those themes. I don’t know if Gould chose those links himself or not (he’s dead). I’ve spent some time exploring the “units of selection” grouping, for instance, and found what I learned there to be both introductory yet highly intelligent (and varied).

If you’re interested in a non-controversial introduction to science, you should just find yourself an actual textbook and figure out how to post it online without breaking any laws. *yawn*
"Distraction is the only thing that consoles us for our miseries, and yet it is itself the greatest of our miseries." - Blaise Pascal

"The bombs we plant in each other are ticking away." - Edward Yang

"To a fly that likes the smell of putrid / Meat the fragrance of sandalwood is foul. / Beings who discard Nirvana / Covet coarse Samsara's realm." - Saraha
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Re: Suggestions for Knowledge Base

Postby Flannel Jesus » Fri Apr 05, 2013 1:56 pm

I've added it tentatively to the page, anon. There does seem to be significant evidence that Gould misrepresented the view of evolutionary biologists of his time, and argued for various positions regarding evolution that experts pretty unanimously don't agree with. I hope to find an introductory source that is less contentious, more approachable, and also free in the future.

So, your suggestion is up for now, but is open to be trumped (as is anything that is on that page, of course).
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Re: Suggestions for Knowledge Base

Postby turtle » Fri Apr 05, 2013 1:57 pm

anon wrote:You can do what you want, FJ, but your approach is puzzling to me. Gould was one of the leading exponents of evolutionary theory, and he was well known, for instance in The Mismeasure of Man (an excellent read), for separating good science from its hijacking by people with stupid social agendas. His views conflicted with the views of other scientists, which says nothing about which are correct. Dawkins talks some shit, and says things that are plainly anti-scientific, such as “it’s all in the genes”. But he’s also an excellent scientist, who should be read by scientifically literate people, and you’ll notice that Gould’s site includes many papers expressing a variety of opinions, many of which he openly disagreed with. The links are set up in groups, which provide an excellent introduction to various themes and a way to explore different approaches to those themes. I don’t know if Gould chose those links himself or not (he’s dead). I’ve spent some time exploring the “units of selection” grouping, for instance, and found what I learned there to be both introductory yet highly intelligent (and varied).

If you’re interested in a non-controversial introduction to science, you should just find yourself an actual textbook and figure out how to post it online without breaking any laws. *yawn*


i agree with anon....flannel you are just causing yourself trouble...
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Re: Suggestions for Knowledge Base

Postby anon » Fri Apr 05, 2013 2:00 pm

I appreciate your reconsidering.
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"The bombs we plant in each other are ticking away." - Edward Yang

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Re: Suggestions for Knowledge Base

Postby Moreno » Mon Apr 08, 2013 5:04 am

Flannel Jesus wrote:Right, I think that's kind of what I meant when I said "More than that, though, I think that the Philosophy of Science and the History of Science are pretty relevant things to be moderately knowledgeable about" The 'that' that I was referring to when I said 'more than that' was the facts part of it. I agree completely that understanding how science works should be prioritized over understanding specific scientific facts. Certainly.
I did read what you quoted above, but even those topics can be treated as a series of facts. I now know that's not what you intended but if I read that other post it's focus comes off focused the way I took it.
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