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Science Education is No Guarantee of Skepticism
Posted: 07 March 2012 07:40 AM   [ Ignore ]
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eSKEPTIC: Wednesday, March 7th, 2012 | ISSN 1556-5696

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“Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment.  Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions.”—Albert Einstein

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Posted: 07 March 2012 08:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Ha I just read that this morning. I took the science test they had and missed 2 (3 and 9) and voted 1 on all questions for the second part.

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Why is there Something instead of Nothing: No reason or ever knowable reason.

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The Way of the Mister, Vol. 1: Reparative Therapy

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Posted: 07 March 2012 09:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I missed 3 questions. the Same 2 as GAD (3 and 9) as well as 7 because who the hell knows how to measure chalk. I thought a lot of those were pretty dumb questions to be asking. A lot of them require specific lab experience that if you are not a laboratory scientist, you probably forgot years ago.

I agree with their assessment, but it seems fairly obvious. Whether you know what color litmus paper turns when you dunk HCl in it has no impact on what you believe. Well, DUH! Also, how well you do on Jeopardy has no impact on your religious beliefs. In other news, two unrelated things are unrelated. Science knowledge is not mere recognition of science facts.

Also, who the hell knows the answer to this question? My guess, is very few people who do not have medical degrees.

Which of the following situations might cause harm to an embryo? (A) The father is RH-positive; the mother, RH-negative, (B) The mother had German measles during the first trimester of pregnancy, (C) The father is RH-negative; the mother, RH-positive, (D) A and B only, (E) B and C only.

EDIT: After reading more about the problem in question, I suppose people that have children or women who want to become pregnant might know more about this particular problem than myself who is a 30ish white dude with no kids.

[ Edited: 07 March 2012 09:15 AM by b00ger ]
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Posted: 07 March 2012 10:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I would love to see how some people here would reply to some of the questions….

  A person’s personality can be easily predicted by their handwriting.

  A person can use their mind to see the future or read other people’s thoughts.

  A person’s astrological sign can predict a person’s personality and their future.

  An ape-like mammal, sometimes called Bigfoot, roams the forests of America.

  The body can be healed by placing magnets on to the skin near injured areas.

  Healing can be promoted by placing a wax candle in your ear and lighting it.

  A dinosaur, sometimes called the Loch Ness Monster, lives in a Scottish lake.

  Sending chain letters can bring you good luck.

  The government is hiding evidence of alien visitors at places such as Area 51.

  Voodoo curses are real and have been known to kill people.

  A broken mirror can bring you bad luck for many years.

  Houses can be haunted by the spirits of people who have died in tragic ways.

  Water can be accurately detected by people using “Y”-shaped tree branches.

  Animals, such as cats and dogs, are sensitive to the presence of ghosts.


I reckon it would raise a few eyebrows…of course the exception is the Loch Ness Monster which is real…. cheese

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All right, no one is to stone ANYONE until I blow this whistle! Even… and let me make this absolutely clear… even if they do say “Jehovah”!

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Posted: 07 March 2012 10:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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MARTIN UK - 07 March 2012 10:44 AM

I would love to see how some people here would reply to some of the questions….

  A person’s personality can be easily predicted by their handwriting.

  A person can use their mind to see the future or read other people’s thoughts.

  A person’s astrological sign can predict a person’s personality and their future.

  An ape-like mammal, sometimes called Bigfoot, roams the forests of America.

  The body can be healed by placing magnets on to the skin near injured areas.

  Healing can be promoted by placing a wax candle in your ear and lighting it.

  A dinosaur, sometimes called the Loch Ness Monster, lives in a Scottish lake.

  Sending chain letters can bring you good luck.

  The government is hiding evidence of alien visitors at places such as Area 51.

  Voodoo curses are real and have been known to kill people.

  A broken mirror can bring you bad luck for many years.

  Houses can be haunted by the spirits of people who have died in tragic ways.

  Water can be accurately detected by people using “Y”-shaped tree branches.

  Animals, such as cats and dogs, are sensitive to the presence of ghosts.


I reckon it would raise a few eyebrows…of course the exception is the Loch Ness Monster which is real…. cheese

Bullshit to all.

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Why is there Something instead of Nothing: No reason or ever knowable reason.

Kissing Hank’s Ass
The Way of the Mister, Vol. 1: Reparative Therapy

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Posted: 07 March 2012 10:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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b00ger - 07 March 2012 09:05 AM

I missed 3 questions. the Same 2 as GAD (3 and 9) as well as 7 because who the hell knows how to measure chalk. I thought a lot of those were pretty dumb questions to be asking. A lot of them require specific lab experience that if you are not a laboratory scientist, you probably forgot years ago.

I counted anything I’d have to blindly guess as a miss. I missed 3 and 9 as well, and I object to 10, because it presumes the Northern Hemisphere as the referent. The seasons are about how directly we face the Sun (the resolution/intensity of sunlight on the Earth’s surface where we are), not distance. The difference in the angle/intensity of sunlight can be dramatic (noon vs. dawn/dusk) while the difference in our distance from the sun at aphelion vs. perihelion is a tiny fraction. The question kinda completely failed to address any of that, which is the point ... I think (i.e. it’s meant a measure of knowledge rather than understanding).

Re: 7, the metric answers from which to choose are (randomized):
Kilometer, Meter, Decimeter, Liter, Gram.
The rough English analogs to those measures would be a half a mile, a yard, four inches, a quart, and a few hundredths of a dry ounce. I did have to look some of those up to get them that close, but even still, just recognizing that they would best be translated into miles, yards, quarts, inches (a few), and a small fraction of an ounce is enough. The two measures of volume don’t even apply to length, and the literal translations of the metric length terms are 1,000 meters, 1 meter, and 1/10th of a meter. So, bottom line, whether a piece of chalk is more appropriately measured/estimated in terms of inches, yards or miles isn’t exactly a mystery. It pretty much comes down to A) understanding the units of measure, and B) reading carefully enough. I’d be willing to bet the latter accounts for the vast majority of mistakes on that one.

 

b00ger - 07 March 2012 09:05 AM

I agree with their assessment, but it seems fairly obvious. Whether you know what color litmus paper turns when you dunk HCl in it has no impact on what you believe. Well, DUH! Also, how well you do on Jeopardy has no impact on your religious beliefs. In other news, two unrelated things are unrelated. Science knowledge is not mere recognition of science facts.

Agreed. But the test was about comparing the two surveys—the more you know about science the more likely you know that HCl turns litmus paper red (no guarantees). Whether or not you know HCl is salt and that salinity is acidic, and acids turn litmus paper red (now I do ... again) is a different matter.

Remember, the question these different little tests were used for is whether knowing science protects your mind from buying into nonsense, so more important than whether you know 13 answers in the knowledge survey (but not that litmus paper turns red when exposed to salt) is that if you got 12 right you aren’t significantly more likely to be a good skeptic/critical thinker. I’d like to see a third data set here on whether respondents understood the questions and their answers rather than just knowing the answers (or not), and how that relates to skepticism/critical thinking.

 

b00ger - 07 March 2012 09:05 AM

Also, who the hell knows the answer to this question? My guess, is very few people who do not have medical degrees.

Which of the following situations might cause harm to an embryo? (A) The father is RH-positive; the mother, RH-negative, (B) The mother had German measles during the first trimester of pregnancy, (C) The father is RH-negative; the mother, RH-positive, (D) A and B only, (E) B and C only.

EDIT: After reading more about the problem in question, I suppose people that have children or women who want to become pregnant might know more about this particular problem than myself who is a 30ish white dude with no kids.

Well, it’s kinda like the measurement question—genetics vs. illness vs. systemic compromise issues ... though to understate the matter a touch I’m not at all as solid on biology, which I’ve likely just demonstrated quite clearly to those who are (by, I expect, using less than appropriate terms and a rather vague attempt at an explanation there). As I said I got it wrong too, but I’m also well aware of why (i.e. just as I’m keenly aware that I probably just told anyone who knows biology very well at all that I don’t). Basically, if we had any real clue at all about the biology involved and read it with reasonable care, we shouldn’t have gotten it wrong.

[ Edited: 07 March 2012 11:28 AM by SkepticX ]
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Posted: 07 March 2012 11:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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GAD - 07 March 2012 10:52 AM

Bullshit to all.

...not even Big Foot?? Have you never seen the ...erm…proof?

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All right, no one is to stone ANYONE until I blow this whistle! Even… and let me make this absolutely clear… even if they do say “Jehovah”!

  shock

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Posted: 07 March 2012 11:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Thanks for the link SkepticX. I agree with what you’re saying in your last post. Like others here, I couldn’t remember whether an acid turned the paper red or blue (I picked blue).

The metric question was an easy one for me, being Canadian, and the one with harm to the embryo I only knew because my wife had to get tested when she was pregnant because of our respective blood types (everything was fine). She’s actually German but didnt have German measles in the first trimester, thank goodness.

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Posted: 07 March 2012 11:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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MARTIN UK - 07 March 2012 11:09 AM
GAD - 07 March 2012 10:52 AM

Bullshit to all.

...not even Big Foot?? Have you never seen the ...erm…proof?

Big Foot has 10x the proof of the resurrection but 10 x 0 is still zero…....

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Why is there Something instead of Nothing: No reason or ever knowable reason.

Kissing Hank’s Ass
The Way of the Mister, Vol. 1: Reparative Therapy

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Posted: 07 March 2012 11:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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GAD - 07 March 2012 11:17 AM
MARTIN UK - 07 March 2012 11:09 AM
GAD - 07 March 2012 10:52 AM

Bullshit to all.

...not even Big Foot?? Have you never seen the ...erm…proof?

Big Foot has 10x the proof of the resurrection but 10 x 0 is still zero…....

Yup…that’s good maths.

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All right, no one is to stone ANYONE until I blow this whistle! Even… and let me make this absolutely clear… even if they do say “Jehovah”!

  shock

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Posted: 07 March 2012 11:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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SkepticX - 07 March 2012 10:52 AM

  I’d like to see a third data set here on whether respondents understood the questions and their answers rather than just knowing the answers (or not), and how that relates to skepticism/critical thinking.

Maybe even a 4th data set, or follow-up survey that shows how many people actively sought to find out the answers they didn’t know, after-the-fact.

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“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” - Dr. Seuss
A+

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Posted: 07 March 2012 12:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Jefe - 07 March 2012 11:30 AM
SkepticX - 07 March 2012 10:52 AM

  I’d like to see a third data set here on whether respondents understood the questions and their answers rather than just knowing the answers (or not), and how that relates to skepticism/critical thinking.

Maybe even a 4th data set, or follow-up survey that shows how many people actively sought to find out the answers they didn’t know, after-the-fact.

Good call.

Made me smile, because that was my immediate response to anything and everything I wasn’t sure about (oh shit ... I don’t remember that, and I’m truly far too clueless about biology—particularly for someone who’s got some medical training, modest as it may be, and who’s married to a freakin’ doctor, and who freakin’ works every freakin’ weekday at a freakin’ major university’s freakin’ Science Library ... and such). Gotta get on the Interwebs, and I gotta break out my old Hazen and Trefil text (i.e. Science Matters) ... and I need to pick up the current edition ... maybe even look around this freakin’ library I’m in for eight hours every freakin’ weekday. My brain’s way under-trained right now.

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Posted: 07 March 2012 12:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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GAD - 07 March 2012 10:52 AM

Bullshit to all.

I’m inclined to give the benefit of doubt to placebos and nocebos though ... of course that means something like a 1.5 in this case, or maybe a 2. But I’m being technical—answering the actual questions as written rather than as pretty obviously intended. I tend to do that though, because it can discourage people from being too complacent (those of us who try to guard against such things usually consider “being technical” like that a favor).

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“Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment.  Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions.”—Albert Einstein

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Posted: 07 March 2012 12:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Jefe - 07 March 2012 11:30 AM
SkepticX - 07 March 2012 10:52 AM

  I’d like to see a third data set here on whether respondents understood the questions and their answers rather than just knowing the answers (or not), and how that relates to skepticism/critical thinking.

Maybe even a 4th data set, or follow-up survey that shows how many people actively sought to find out the answers they didn’t know, after-the-fact.

I’m going to second this idea along with SX (or is it thirds now). Like you two, I also immediatly looked up the answers I got wrong and learned more about them. I also looked up the answers that I guessed on but got right. My hypothesis is that you would see a much stronger correlation between this follow-up and the belief questions (which I would answer 1 on all). My guess is that inquisitiveness and the desire for knowledge are more linked to skepticism than the actual knowledge itself. That is, the desire for knowledge is more of a predictor than the knowledge itself. Maybe we should ask these people to do a follow-up.

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When I was a kid I used to pray every night for a new bicycle. Then I realised that the Lord doesn’t work that way so I stole one and asked Him to forgive me. - Emo Philips

Reality has a well-known liberal bias. - Stephen Colbert

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Posted: 07 March 2012 12:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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SkepticX - 07 March 2012 12:26 PM
GAD - 07 March 2012 10:52 AM

Bullshit to all.

I’m inclined to give the benefit of doubt to placebos and nocebos though ... of course that means something like a 1.5 in this case, or maybe a 2. But I’m being technical—answering the actual questions as written rather than as pretty obviously intended. I tend to do that though, because it can discourage people from being too complacent (those of us who try to guard against such things usually consider “being technical” like that a favor).

I thought the…

The government is hiding evidence of alien visitors at places such as Area 51.

..might have drawn the odd person to comment…

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All right, no one is to stone ANYONE until I blow this whistle! Even… and let me make this absolutely clear… even if they do say “Jehovah”!

  shock

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Posted: 13 March 2012 05:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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I believe (at level 4) in handwriting analysis. I can tell an engineer’s handwriting quite easily.  At least I think I can, as I have never tested myself.  I also can usually tell a male from a female. Pressure might reveal emotionalism.

Where are the answers to the science test?  I couldn’t find them.

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