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Published on : Jan 08, 2015
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Slide 1 - Voodoo Science: The Road from Foolishness to Fraud By Robert L. Park
Slide 2 - About the Author: Robert Park Born in Kansas City, MO in 1931 Obtained BA and MA at University of Texas Austin Received Ph.D. in Physics from Brown University Professor of Physics at the University of Maryland, College Park Former Director of the American Physical Society Intended Audience: We can infer that it’s for non-scholars, though he doesn’t explicitly say that in the preface. “I had no interest in writing a scholarly book to be read only by other scholars…” (p. ix)
Slide 3 - Why did Park write this book? Decrease in public support of science after the Vietnam War Few of the major societal problems can be addressed without input from science People tend to judge science according to whether or not it agrees with what they already believe
Slide 4 - Categories of Voodoo Science Junk science Deliberately designed to fool nonscientists, specifically juries Pathological science Results from scientists fooling themselves Pseudoscience Practitioners truly believe it; often fills in uncertainties with political/religious convictions Fraudulent science Intends to deceive; knowingly deceives, but rarely starts out as fraud
Slide 5 - Science and the Media Crucial because media is often our first exposure to an idea Beware of the “Talking Heads” Narrative v. Numbers Information informs beliefs or beliefs inform information?
Slide 6 - What we already believe Forcing the outcome “The most common of all follies is to believe passionately in the palpably untrue.” –Mencken Worldview matters The Climate Debate: full of gaps that are filled with religious and political views Where beliefs begin We make connections prematurely
Slide 7 - Vitamin O…About $33 per 4oz. bottle
Slide 8 - From homeopathic treatment to outer space People want to believe that natural medicine and science will converge People want to keep the dream of a space station alive, regardless of what’s practical Politicians v. Scientists Scientists: advances slowly most if the time and designed to take advantage of what has just been learned Politicians: want to agree on a future and establish policies that will get us there
Slide 9 - When things go to Congress We put money on the impossible “Pascal’s Wager” The politicians win with rhetoric
Slide 10 - Joe Newman and the Energy Machine “Scientists and inventors rarely set out to commit fraud”
Slide 11 - Some things to take away We should not accept ideas uncritically or prematurely We should assume that our worldview might conflict with our results to avoid “filling the gaps” of science We should not mistake correlation with causation We should seek advances, not miracles