Saturday, October 04, 2014

Common Misconception

I don't know why I never stumbled across this webpage before. After all, I often quoted Warren Siegel's "Are You A Quack" page to the many crackpots that tried to sell me their snake oils.

In any case, he has a rather interesting page on the many misconception about physics, and science in general, both in terms of the contest, the people, and how it is practiced. If you have followed this blog for any considerable period of time, you'll notice similar themes that I've written on here with what he has stated, such as:

Science includes concepts that have no description in common terms. Many of the fundamental ideas in science are those that must be explained in ways totally unrelated to everyday experience, even though they are sometimes simple. Pictures alone won't do. "Common sense" doesn't always apply. That means you must be open-minded, and willing to accept concepts that might be unappealing or counter-intuitive, simply because the real world has proven them to be true.

I mentioned something similar in my explanation on why QM is so difficult.

Science is not a spectator sport. You will never learn real science by watching TV, browsing the Web, or reading popularized accounts. You need to work through a textbook or take a course. If that sounds like too much work, you are looking for entertainment, not knowledge. 

I had mentioned this when I described why simply reading a book or listening to lectures can only give one a superficial understanding of physics. You really must sit down and work things out until it sinks in.

Science requires facts. In that way science is like law: You need proof (logical or mathematical) or evidence (experimental). Hearsay doesn't count. Ultimately it is the real world that determines the worth of a theory, not human tastes or habits or superstitions or morality. 

I see this all the time, that some people dislike this or that, not because they had evidence of it faultiness, but rather simply based on a matter of tastes or personal preferences. This is not how one challenges anything in science, and it shouldn't be how one challenges anything in life either!


1 comment:

Hamish said...

Can I add: "Science has moved on since you were an undergraduate". In other words, just because you weren't taught about dark energy at university doesn't mean it is part of a conspiracy to pervert the "correct" science that you were taught.