How Do Scientists Know That?

Guest article written by Holly Vesco.

We’ve all heard the question, and perhaps even asked it ourselves, “Just how do scientists know that?” The question is innocent enough, but all too often it’s asked with a sense of distrust and even with a touch of condescension. Honestly, with or without the skepticism, it’s a question worth asking and answering.

It’s perfectly fine to ask how science knows what it knows and to have a desire to understand how the evidence supports the conclusions scientists come to. Those kind of questions are actually a large part of what peer-review does. The type of skepticism that I take issue with (the kind this article is addressing) is different, it doesn’t allow people to follow the facts, but to distort the them to fit their previously held beliefs. This way of thinking turns the question “how can they know that?” into a declaration of “they can’t know that!” That version of skepticism is not true skepticism, but instead it’s just a fancy way of saying, “I don’t like it, so it’s not true.”

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This Is Why We Need Better Science Education

Sometimes you come acros something that just makes you ask “is this for real?”

This time it was a letter sent to the Sydney Morning Herald that made me ask this question:

stick with facts, not sci-fiI do wish that the Herald editorial team would stop presenting Carl Sagan science fiction gibberish dressed up as if it were fact (‘‘The little spacecraft that could’’, September 14-15). It occurred over the weekend, when we were fed a far-fetched story about a space vehicle named Voyager and interstellar exploration.

This is the same type of pseudo scientific mumbo jumbo that exploiters of the public purse have been doing with climate change over many years. It is arrant nonsense and has to stop right here and now. The Herald does itself no favours by printing it, pretending that the sci-fi exaggerations are factual.

Bill Thomas, Cabramatta

As this letter mentions it is a response to the article “The little spacecraft that could“, which is an article telling readers that Voyager 1 has left our solar system. A very important moment in our history as it is a first for mankind.

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The Achilles’ Heel Of An Inconvenient Truth

Once every one or two months I do a little Google search to see where I, or anything I’m associated with, is mentioned on the internet. It’s a good way to find anything you haven’t noticed or wasn’t sent to you.

This time I stumbled on the slightly disjointed blog post “Science is not a Political Debate, The Science” where my video “Climate Changes, But Facts Don’t: Debunking Monckton” is mentioned. What drew my attention was the following passage:

When initially investigating the climate change debate I found myself extremely disappointed and unconvinced by the most touted popular work on the subject, Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. I felt his repeated use of emotional pleas (pathos) severely undermined his argument. Instead of sticking to the science he generally referenced it in passing between anecdotes. This blog post will be a review and analysis of the first part of the video Climate Changes, But Facts Don’t: Debunking Monckato (YouTube link) by Collin Maessen. I found it to be extremely compelling because in contrast to An Inconvenient Truth, Mr. Maessen immediately supports all his assertions with demonstrated evidence from scientific studies (and references those studies with quotations from them.) [sic]

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