[FoRK] Science Braces for Second Term

James Tauber jtauber at jtauber.com
Wed Nov 17 11:43:46 PST 2004

But I would put you and the majority of FoRKers in the "pretty damn small"
group, not the majority. You have a *much* better understanding of science
and its methods than the average person that accepts evolution.

I don't think the average person distinguishes at all between scientific
facts they've heard about and, say, what they've been told on FOX News or in
a Michael Moore documentary. For the most part, they've decided either on
the basis of a preconception about the messenger or based on whether it is
compatible with a viewpoint they already hold. In some cases their own
observations will sway them.

Still, I think you've made an excellent point that one's
views/understanding/trust of the mechanics of the trust system itself are a
big part of it.

One, for example, might trust Wikipedia more because of its wiki-nature (and
the kind of self-regulation that results) than the credibility of any
individual contributor.


On 18/11/04 2:22 AM, "Russell Turpin" <deafbox at hotmail.com> wrote:

> James Tauber:
>> Likewise, the majority of people who *do* believe  in evolution do so
>> because they have been told by someone else that it *is* true. The
>> proportion of people accepting evolution that actually have a decent grasp
>> of the science is probably pretty damn small. Instead, most people rely on
>> a web of trust.
> In a way. But it's important not to obscure a couple
> of important points. (1) I don't believe in evolution
> -- or in anything! -- the way Creationists and fundies
> believe. (2) That leads into what exactly constitutes
> this "web of trust." If I were to elucidate my beliefs
> about evolution, it would have to do with its history,
> the nature of scientific research, what I know about
> how that is pursued, how that relates to the tiny
> bits of biology of which I do have some first-hand
> experience, etc. It's not so much a "web of trust"
> -- in the sense of thinking that biologists, or some
> specific biologists seem like honest and trustworthy
> people -- as much as it is understanding of a
> particular aspect of our culture and how it works.
> Maybe if I were so deep into the topic that I were
> evaluating a specific researcher's work, it might
> partly have to do with trust. But really, I don't
> know any evolutionary biologists well enough to
> even form an opinion of their character. And that
> wouldn't have much to do with my view of evolution
> in any case.
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