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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Should Comments Have Claimers/Dis-claimers?
      #5519713 - 11/14/12 03:33 PM

I have always been comfortable saying "I don't know."

Of course, [some] employers, do not like this attitude and practice which I have adopted. One of my jobs has been a phone advisor for one company specializing in technological apparatus. When a customer calls with a question about the device they have just purchased; if I don't know the answer, I have always been comfortable saying, "I do not know, but I will find out." I have discovered the company for which I worked greatly disliked me saying those words; something about creating a negative impression in the customer's mind.

When it comes to a hobby forum such as this, I am also comforable acknowledging I do not know; in which case, I ask questions. I have always felt a good question was as interesting as a clear answer.

Of course, this means, that when I ask a question about a matter, the mathematical and scientific background of which I am unaware or incapable (by fact, or by choice)...that then means I have to trust the respondent to the question; admiring her/him when she/he says "I don't know", and respecting her/him when she/he says "I am repeating what others have said," or when she/he claims/manifests the credentials needed to know the truth about the issue in question, or actually proceeds step by step to teach me the necessary math/science.

In this vein, I am wondering if it would be beneficial to have some type of Claiming/Dis-Claiming process, unofficial of course, which we would get into the habit of using. This Claiming/Disclaiming would use statements such as:

On the current issue being discussed:
- My response is based on my having done the math/science.
- Though I am able to do the math/science, I have not done so and am repeating what another/others has/have said/written.
- I do not know the math/science, and am repeating what another/others has/have said/written.

If you think this is a good idea, perhaps the method we could use is to add another set of check-boxes at the bottom of each post-composition, in which the three options could be listed and the one most appropriate could be checked.

What do you think?

Otto


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EJN
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 11/01/05

Loc: 53 miles west of Venus
Re: Should Comments Have Claimers/Dis-claimers? new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5519728 - 11/14/12 03:47 PM

Quote:

What do you think?




More cowbell


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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: Should Comments Have Claimers/Dis-claimers? new [Re: EJN]
      #5519735 - 11/14/12 03:56 PM

EJN,

I saw the post. I believe what you are saying is that the idea is not good. If that is not what you meant to say, though, please correct my impression.

Assuming you did intend to say it was not a good idea, why do you think it is not a good idea?

Otto


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EJN
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 11/01/05

Loc: 53 miles west of Venus
Re: Should Comments Have Claimers/Dis-claimers? new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5519927 - 11/14/12 06:35 PM

I have an alternate idea. Each post should contain this disclaimer:

________________________________________________________

This post approved by dancing bananaman

All opinions expressed are those of the author. May cause
cancer in the state of California. Patent pending. All
models over the age of 18. Do not fold, spindle, or
mutilate. Delivery not guaranteed. Do not inhale fumes.
Use with adequate ventilation. Read all instuctions
carefully. Some assembly required. Intended for mature
audiences only. Offer expires 12-31-2012. Do not use
below 50 degrees F. Do not remove this tag under penalty
of law. Slippery when wet. No deposit, no return. Do not
use this product with alcohol. May cause dizziness,
drowsiness, nausea, and headache. Contains dairy products.
May cause allergic reaction. Discontinue use if you
experience rash, hives, or difficulty swallowing.
Do not induce vomiting. For personal use only. Do
not make copies. Not for resale. Offer not valid in
the state of Connecticut. For entertainment purposes
only. Dispose of properly. Do not use without OSHA
certified eye protection. Any resemblance to living
or deceased individuals is purely coincidental.


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llanitedave
Humble Megalomaniac
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Reged: 09/26/05

Loc: Amargosa Valley, NV, USA
Re: Should Comments Have Claimers/Dis-claimers? new [Re: EJN]
      #5519988 - 11/14/12 07:02 PM

Trust me.

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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: Should Comments Have Claimers/Dis-claimers? new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5520094 - 11/14/12 08:21 PM

Modern science is based in significant part on the idea, articulated by Rene Descartes in his Discourse on Method and in his Meditations, that the skeptical attitude is the best path to knowledge acquisition (je doute donc je suis). Up to Descartes and Bacon, the predominant attitude had been that of Anselm and Augustine, that trust/loyalty/faith was the best path to knowledge acquisition (credo ut intelligam, fides quarens intellectum).

Modern science begins with the repudiation of trust and the appropriation of skepticism as its preferred modus operandum and raison d'etre. Trust is not a high value in modern science.

So, I ask, what can it hurt for persons making unsubstantiated statements-of-fact or using a specialized mathematical and scientific vocabulary with which few have familiarity, to state their own relation to the statements made and vocabulary used: (1) I did this myself, (2) I could do this, but did not and am repeating what another said, (3) I can't do this and am repeating what another says.


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Jarad
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 04/28/03

Loc: Atlanta, GA
Re: Should Comments Have Claimers/Dis-claimers? new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5520152 - 11/14/12 09:05 PM

In general, I think the members of this forum have done a pretty good job of this. Obviously, few of us are the discoverers of new science in astronomy, but many of us will support our answers with links to either web resources or peer-reviewed literature that has the original work. Most of us are comfortable saying "I don't know", and distinguishing between the personal "I don't know, but someone else might" vs. the general "we don't know the answer to this question yet".

So yes, that's good practice, but since this is a forum for general users, I don't think we need to require disclaimers. If the mods see a case where we think someone is being misleading, we will speak up (that is, if half a dozen normal members haven't already beaten us to it...).

We aren't quite to peer-review journal standards, but then our posts would get pretty tough to read and probably turn off the non-scientists, which we want to avoid.

Jarad


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Joad
Wordsmith
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Reged: 03/22/05

Re: Should Comments Have Claimers/Dis-claimers? new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5520166 - 11/14/12 09:11 PM

Otto, you are missing the point. This is an online forum, not a professional environment like an academic department (I have spent all my adult life working in academic departments). People come here to have fun, chat, relax. Some serious discussion does happen, but no one is, or should be, obligated to present or declare credentials while participating. I happen to note for myself that I am unable to "do the math" when I chime in on questions involving advanced mathematics, but, then again, I really don't have to say that because it should be pretty obvious.

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llanitedave
Humble Megalomaniac
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Reged: 09/26/05

Loc: Amargosa Valley, NV, USA
Re: Should Comments Have Claimers/Dis-claimers? new [Re: Joad]
      #5520206 - 11/14/12 09:41 PM

We're all friends here, and most of the participants in these discussions get a pretty good idea fairly quickly as to who has what expertise where, or imagination, or simple curiosity, and they tend to treat the posts accordingly.

For instance, as every regular member of this forum knows, I as Humble Megalomaniac, have the final and definitive authoritative word and law on every imaginable natural phenomenon. And I say that humbly.

Or maybe megalomaniacally.

So, naturally, no disclaimers are needed.


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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: Should Comments Have Claimers/Dis-claimers? new [Re: Joad]
      #5520317 - 11/14/12 11:09 PM

Joad's/your well stated comments lead me to ask the question in this way:

"What good would it do if we were more in the habit of disclosing the basis on which definitive statements are made here? What good would it do if it were acceptable here to ask and reasonably expect response to questions such as:

1. Is your conclusion based on science/math you have done?

2. Are you repeating what someone else has said but have not done the math/science yourself?

3. Are you confident your own scientific/mathematical knowledge would allow you to verify the conclusion your are repeating?"


The first possible good it might do regards actions a person might take or advise on important issues.

Suppose a statement was made here which was both interesting and important, but the factuality of which the interested person was incapable of verifying him/herself. In such a case, being able to ask and receive answers to questions such as those three would help her/him feel more confident in making decisions or advising decisions based on those statements.


The second possible good it might accomplish to to lessen the occurence of comments appearing here which are sarcastic, biting, engage in ironic diminuition, engage in ad hominem attack on persons not present or able to defend themselves, etc. Such comments are sometimes rooted in resentment and fears which can be eradicated by feeling comfortable asking the questions one wants to ask.


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Jarad
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 04/28/03

Loc: Atlanta, GA
Re: Should Comments Have Claimers/Dis-claimers? new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5520637 - 11/15/12 06:51 AM

Otto, what we are telling you is that the answers to all 3 of your questions are usually fairly easy to tell from the discussions here. They aren't explicitly listed or required, but requiring that would turn off most posters. If you are confused about one of them in reference to a specific post, you can ask the poster, but we don't see a need to require it for every post.

The question you didn't ask is "What harm would it do to require these disclaimers?" The answer is that it would intimidate many non-professional scientists from participating in the forum.

Jarad

Edited by Jarad (11/15/12 06:53 AM)


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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: Should Comments Have Claimers/Dis-claimers? new [Re: Jarad]
      #5521012 - 11/15/12 11:24 AM

I remember years ago on the maksutov yahoo site there was an ongoing debate between some guy whose name I cannot remember and Mike Palermiti about the reality and significance of using something called the image spot size as an indication of optical quality. Though I could understand most of the words they used; I could not follow the logic of their statements well enough to determine who was correct. Nor could I understand the math they used, at all. I found it helpful, in terms of deciding whose opinion to accept, when later I learned that one of them had a Ph.D in optics, had a career designing optical systems for the U.S. Navy, and sold high end amateur telescopes.

It happens here that diametrically opposing statements are made as to the fact of a scientific matter I find interesting and important. On occasion, the assertions take the form of definitive statements, the dogmatic tone of which would make a theologian blush, followed by a chorus of affirmations in subsequent posts. Sometimes the assertions use specialized mathematical vocabulary and scientific vocabulary which is beyond me.

At such times I would find it useful to ask and receive a response to questions such as "Have you done the math and science yourself to reach this conclusion?" or "Are you repeating what you have read elsewhere or heard another say?"

I do not think such questions, asked respectfully and with no hint or intention of rhetorical irony, receiving a direct and simple answer would be intimidating to most persons who desire to know but lack the ability or time or energy to do the math/science themselves.

I do not feel such assertions should be required, nor have I said they should be required.

Edited by Otto Piechowski (11/15/12 11:28 AM)


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EJN
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 11/01/05

Loc: 53 miles west of Venus
Re: Should Comments Have Claimers/Dis-claimers? new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5521146 - 11/15/12 12:34 PM

Quote:

Modern science is based in significant part on the idea, articulated by Rene Descartes in his Discourse on Method and in his Meditations, that the skeptical attitude is the best path to knowledge acquisition (je doute donc je suis). Up to Descartes and Bacon, the predominant attitude had been that of Anselm and Augustine, that trust/loyalty/faith was the best path to knowledge acquisition (credo ut intelligam, fides quarens intellectum).

Modern science begins with the repudiation of trust and the appropriation of skepticism as its preferred modus operandum and raison d'etre. Trust is not a high value in modern science.




What I find amusing is that you make posts like the one above, which if I might
be blunt come off as pompous and pretentious, and do not provide any translation
for the Latin, French, etc. phrases you sprinkle in there for those who might not
be familiar with Latin, French, etc., and yet complain you do not have enough
background in math/science to evaluate some posts made here, and want to add
a disclaimer.

My irony meter just went off-scale.


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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: Should Comments Have Claimers/Dis-claimers? new [Re: EJN]
      #5521417 - 11/15/12 03:20 PM

Hi EJN,

I believe you might have been the person who criticized me for this same fault in a previous post in a different topic. Whoever it might have been they asked me why I do it. I gave a number of reasons, one of which is exactly what you suggested...the fault of being pretentious.

Of course, pretention or pomposity doesn't help any conversation and should be avoided for that reason alone; as well as for many others.

So, with all sincerity, thank you for confronting me with this.

.....

On the other hand...I have noticed over the years of my professional life that many teachers in classrooms, in posters on their walls, and on websites a fortiori, often have ideologically reaffirmingly meaningful quotes attributed to persons...who never made the quote. One I think of was a teacher of moral theology who had a poster attributing to St. Thomas Aquinas the statement that there are no moral absolutes; that it is only the application and context which make the act right or wrong. This quote was displayed to accentuate a belief in moral relativism. Which is fine if one is into moral relativism. The only problem is, Thomas didn't write that.

I've seen/caught countless of these over the years. Thus, I got into the habit of citing my sources, quotes, and even quotes in the original so that the reader could decide for him/herself the best possible translation.

........

But I do have another thought on this topic...on occasion one sees in posts to these forums, the writer using specialized math/science vocabulary. Why is the use of specialized math/science vocabulary appropriate, but not the direct quotes of philosophers and scientists who have important things to say? Just a thought. Just a question.

....................

Nonetheless, thank you. It never hurts to be called to task. One of the Proverbs of the Old Testament says something about the wise men loves being corrected.


................

Back to your previous post where you directed readers to the SNL cow.... video. I believe you were saying that you don't think having persons declare if they did the science math to reach the conclusions they assert, or if they are just repeating the same. Why do you believe this to be a bad idea?

Otto


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Jarad
Postmaster
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Reged: 04/28/03

Loc: Atlanta, GA
Re: Should Comments Have Claimers/Dis-claimers? new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5521429 - 11/15/12 03:26 PM

Quote:

I found it helpful, in terms of deciding whose opinion to accept, when later I learned that one of them had a Ph.D in optics, had a career designing optical systems for the U.S. Navy, and sold high end amateur telescopes.

...


At such times I would find it useful to ask and receive a response to questions such as "Have you done the math and science yourself to reach this conclusion?" or "Are you repeating what you have read elsewhere or heard another say?"

I do not think such questions, asked respectfully and with no hint or intention of rhetorical irony, receiving a direct and simple answer would be intimidating to most persons who desire to know but lack the ability or time or energy to do the math/science themselves.




I would encourage you to go ahead and ask when you think it would be helpful.

I would also caution you against automatically assuming that the person with the more relevant degree is correct. That will probably be the case most of the time, but the exceptions can be important (see Albert Einstein, patent clerk...).

Jarad


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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: Should Comments Have Claimers/Dis-claimers? new [Re: Jarad]
      #5521451 - 11/15/12 03:41 PM

Your absolutely right about the alphabet soup not being a highly important criteria...important...but not excessively so....Aristotle's old line in the Analytics about the weakest for of argument being the argument based on authority.

I, as you, respect academic accomplishment and weigh it as a factor....just as I weigh into my estimation the fact that the person giving the opinion on which system is optically better...is also selling one of those systems...


Thank you for that suggestion Jarad... I think I will, as appropriately as possible to be sure...when the matter is important and interesting to me, ask if the assertor did the science herself/himself or is repeating what other's have said.

Otto


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ggiles
member


Reged: 09/07/10

Loc: Trenton Ontario Canada
Re: Should Comments Have Claimers/Dis-claimers? new [Re: Jarad]
      #5521464 - 11/15/12 03:49 PM

Just ask the person what their background is in relation to a posting they may make ... otherwise everyone will look like this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THNPmhBl-8I


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Andy Taylor
Twisted, but in a Good Way
*****

Reged: 09/24/08

Loc: Epsom - UK
Re: Should Comments Have Claimers/Dis-claimers? new [Re: ggiles]
      #5521585 - 11/15/12 05:08 PM

No. Everyone has their take on the cosmos and should be heard.

Useful ideas can be sparked off from the most unlikely directions.

It's called debate.

Who is right & who is wrong...?

OK then - prove it.


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gavinm
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 08/26/05

Loc: Auckland New Zealand
Re: Should Comments Have Claimers/Dis-claimers? new [Re: ggiles]
      #5521801 - 11/15/12 07:41 PM

Quote:

Just ask the person what their background is in relation to a posting they may make ... otherwise everyone will look like this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THNPmhBl-8I




I just laughed out loud in the office, and everyone wondered what I was up to...

Edited by gavinm (11/15/12 07:42 PM)


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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: Should Comments Have Claimers/Dis-claimers? new [Re: ggiles]
      #5521866 - 11/15/12 08:24 PM

That was funny!

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keithccr
member


Reged: 04/18/11

Re: Should Comments Have Claimers/Dis-claimers? new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5522349 - 11/16/12 07:21 AM

As an infrequent poster, but frequent reader of this fascinating forum, it seems to me that it is normally quite easy to judge the competence and perspective of any particular poster.

I have no illusions as to how I come across; a small boy pressed up against the glass window with eyes agape at the wonders within... I think that'll be me

Cheerio,

Keith.


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scopethis
Postmaster
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Re: Should Comments Have Claimers/Dis-claimers? new [Re: keithccr]
      #5522911 - 11/16/12 01:19 PM

footnotes and ibids now on sale

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Pess
(Title)
*****

Reged: 09/12/07

Loc: Toledo, Ohio
Re: Should Comments Have Claimers/Dis-claimers? new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5523334 - 11/16/12 07:13 PM

I just want to put it out there right now that I know all my multiplication tables up through eight's.

Long division has me stymied though unless I've had a good breakfast.

Pesse (I HAVE memorized Pi to 8 slices past the decimal point.) Mist


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JAT Observatory
NOT a Wimp
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Reged: 02/20/05

Loc: In the Primordial Soup
Re: Should Comments Have Claimers/Dis-claimers? new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5525711 - 11/18/12 08:55 AM



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Kobayashi
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 07/10/08

Re: Should Comments Have Claimers/Dis-claimers? new [Re: JAT Observatory]
      #5526306 - 11/18/12 03:04 PM

It's up to each user to back up his/her statements with citations (not necessarily direct cite to refereed journals, but those are most convincing). If they don't provide any citations, they have no right to complain if nobody believes what they're saying.

Even a statement saying "I'm a researcher in this field and this is based on my research" carries little weight, if you can't point to an article that says the same thing.


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