What limits science?

Let’s take a look at this video.  What does this say about the way that science is practiced?  What should we keep in mind as we listen to what science is doing? What about the potential to go down the wrong road over a period of time?

Now read this article.  Here are some questions to consider as you read through the article.

  1. Why do you think this article was so hard to publish?
  2. Have you heard any of the claim that 90 percent of the published medical information that doctors rely on is flawed? Is this a problem with science or with society?
  3. Think about the fact that so many medical claims are refuted in the context of the video that you saw, in what ways are they saying the same things, in what way are they saying different things?
  4. Have you ever thought of bias as problem in science? How do we normally perceive science?
  5. Are some of the problems listed in here unique to medical science?

Lastly take a look at this article.  Do you feel that we do enough of teaching students (and anybody for that matter) to decipher bad science? Why or why not?

Do we fear the truth?

To what extend did Truman fear the truth about the real world? Was the more outside rather than in the world he knew? Ultimately the truth is really hard to get at, what happens when people talk about something that is considered a taboo subject or something people don’t really want to talk about.

Bjorn Lomborg has gained a reputation as the ‘Skeptical Environmentalist’.  Listen to what he has to say about climate change. Many people disagree with what he is saying, others agree but seem to miss his point that something still needs to be done. What do you think of what he has to say?

  1. Is there sometimes a fear that we will hear or find out things that we don’t really want to know?
  2. How does that reflect on us?

Do our eyes always tell us the truth?

Yesterday we looked at the Truman Show and how it portrays the way one person is forced to re-imagine his world. For most of us the (and even for the creators of the movie) our eyes appear to be something that we almost always believe; but should we, are they really trustworthy? This really interesting article focuses on the importance of what we trust, but our seeming inability to accurately remember things that we see. Of course this can have profound implications for all of society.

On this page are five optical illusions, they are excellent and I highly recommend that you spend some time looking at them. Are our eyes being tricked? Or are they seeing what we want them to see.

When you’re done watching have a read through this article and reflect on it. To what extent have you come across things that you think would provide evidence to support the statements in the article?

Have you re-thought how much you trust your eyes?

Reflections on the Truman Show

Who's looking at whom?

Today you watched (although some of you watched at a separate time) the Truman Show, one of the most interesting movies that deals with the material important to our class. Truman lives in a world that is controlled to by the media world. His actions reflect how someone wants him to reflect, until one day, he begins to see things that don’t seem to match his preconceived notions of the way life should be. The questions for us to consider are:

  • To what extent is this true in our lives?
  • Are we blind to certain things, how important is it to understand that blindness to truly understand something?
  • To what extent are we limited by our own limited abilities to perceive things?
  • If we are able to only perceive a limited amount, metaphorically what Truman might have been able to see, what can we do uncover more details?

Truman stepping into a new reality

These are important questions to think about anytime we begin to examine or study something. Truman certainly found the answers to his questions wanting, do you think you might find the same thing?

 

Little Pig, Little Pig, tell me your story.

In the last post I talked about the inability of some people to perceive something which almost everyone else can perceive and asked you to think about how that disability can significantly alter our approach to something. This week I stumbled across this fantastic video which, I think, tackles a story that many of us are familiar, but with a very interesting twist. Watch it, and then think about why you believed the story the first time, in what other parts of our world have you been told ‘fables’ without really doubting or thinking about them from the other side.

What affects how we perceive?

I like to watch 60 Minutes, and last night I was enthralled by this two part segment on ‘Face-blindness’. An actual affliction that impacts a lot more people than I thought and I was fascinated by what this means for our ability to perceive things. Can a very small change in our brain function, brain chemistry or makeup totally change the way we can perceive something so simple? How do we as humans cover up for our own shortcomings? As a teacher I could not imagine having this problem, but yet they interview somebody who was a teacher and was afflicted by this disorder. I would imagine that the one thing that she had to do was to set up a seating plan for every class and stick to it. Still a very challenging disorder to have in, what can only be described as, a super social career. Without further ado here are the videos from last night’s episode. Hope you enjoy and find them troubling at the same time.

I also happen to be a fan of Dr. Oliver Sacks, as one of the most fascinating and interesting neurologists I have ever heard speak. I encourage you to check out his website and challenge your preconceived notions about how we perceive. It is so complex but yet so essential to what we are as human beings.

There’s even a test that you can do in this video here. I don’t know if all the people used in here will necessarily ‘click’ in your mind because they sure didn’t in mind. I attribute that more to ‘pop-culture blindness’ than anything.

‘Simple’ science

Quick – who first measured the circumference of the earth?

This is only seven minutes long, but in so many ways it encapsulates human potential, our ability, when provoked, to investigate and seek an answer. The video is really two simple stories of people’s investigations, but the results, considering many factors, are impressive.

Btw – it will answer the question asked at the beginning of this entry.

Something to ponder…

Just in the process of reading my blogs tonight I came across this nice, short and inspiring video about humans and knowledge. I encourage you to watch it, and ponder what it means for any of our knowledge, not just the knowledge of extra-terrestrial being.

  • Will we ever truly know?
  • Are we looking in the wrong places?
  • Is it ever possible to know too much about a particular subject?

Altruism – Do you believe in helping others?

Before beginning this exploration, think about the following questions and be prepared to discuss them.

  • How important is it to help others?
  • Do you think that most people think it is important to help others?
  • What value does our society place on helping others?

Watch this video which looks at the nature human altruism?

Please contribute to the conversation by answering the following questions.

  1. Did anything stand-out about the nature of human beings helping one another?
  2. Do  you agree with the main point of this video?
  3. What are some counter-claims that might be made to the position taken in the video?