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Ronald Bailey asks whether the more people know about science, the more they like it.

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    Not to thread-jack, but

    I'm quite surprised Reason hasn't commented on this ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals which basically allows law enforcement agencies to set up elaborate hoaxes including staged car-jackings in order to get access to a vehicle they want to search without a warrant.

    The ruling basically boils down to : As long as the government has a good reason to circumvent the 4th amendment it is allowed to.

  • ||

    The world is full of Luddites, whose chicken little cacklings will ebb into silence by the time the products hit the shelves. Nothing to see here.

    I notice you choose Bill Nye for the Home Page Pic. A true aficionado of television science mentors would have gone with Paul Zaloom

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    Go to hell, Warren, Mr. Wizard is all.

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    Russell Johnson, aka "The Professor"?

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    Screw Mr. Wizard, there's only one Professor!

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    Normally I'd defend Don Herbert (Mr. Wizard), but the letter I wrote to him a year ago asking why a yellow sun doesn't give white objects a yellow tint has gone unanswered. So yeah: screw Mister Wizard.

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    Pro Lib,
    Whoa, I don't diss the Wiz. Mr. Wizard broke the ground. He paved the trail for others to follow in. Props and love to Don Herbert.

    But you know, inviting the neighborhood kids into your home so you can "show them something". That might have played in the Leave It To Beaver world of the 1950s. But by the 90's you needed to throw in some jailbait, a furrie, and some serious psychedelics.

    Russell Johnson was to science what Natalie Schafer was to high society.

  • ||

    Yes, the Professor friggin' rules. He should've gotten ten Nobels for his work on the island alone.

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    Holy crap...I totally forgot that Mr. Wizard had ever existed.

    Also, how about Beakman? He was a'ight.

  • thoreau||

    I loved Mr. Wizard!

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    But by the 90's you needed to throw in some jailbait, a furrie, and some serious psychedelics.

    Agreed, but don't call 'em that! You'll get the 'for the children' crowd riled up.

    Go with 'a cute, but kooky assistant, a wisecracking lab rat, and visuals to stimulate young minds'.

  • ||

    Click my Paul Zaloom link, I got what you need

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    This same tendency of higher education leading to greater polarization was also found in a Pew study on people's views about global warming...

    There also are striking educational differences in partisans' views of global warming. Among Republicans, higher education is linked to greater skepticism about global warming -- fully 43% of Republicans with a college degree say that there is no evidence of global warming, compared with 24% of Republicans with less education.

    But among Democrats, the pattern is the reverse. Fully 75% of Democrats with college degrees say that there is solid evidence of global warming and that it is caused by human activities. This is far higher than among Democrats with less education among whom 52% say the same. Independents, regardless of education levels, fall in between these partisan extremes.

    Sweet, delicious Pierian Spring...

  • ||

    What seems to be happening is that individuals use information to affirm their pre-existing cultural identities rather than evaluate risks in purely instrumental terms.

    Sometimes, I feel like a total social reject, completely unable to relate to my fellow man. But then, I'll read (over and over again) about scientists who make the Amazing Discovery [TM] that people are fundamentally irrational, and realize there are people even more out of touch with reality than I am.

  • Warren\'s Analyst||

    Now Warren - we talked about this.

    You're not allowed to use the "click my link" line anymore. Remember the BART incident a few years ago? That's right.

    Now, go and apologize. Just like Ruprecht did.


  • LarryA||

    hierarchists, individualists, egalitarians and communitarians

    Another way to look at it is people who trust individuals trust science (what individuals do.) People who don't trust individuals, but rely on "society," don't trust science.

    Nevertheless, after being offered a bare bones two-sentence definition of nanotech
    In their poll they gave a subset of 350 respondents additional facts - about two paragraphs -- about nanotechnology

    I think the Cultural Cognition Project is off track. The truism they were investigating was The basic idea is that the more people know about science, the more they will love it. However, they in no way investigated their subjects' knowledge of "science." The information provided was about "nanotechnology."

    "Science" information would investigate how much the respondents knew about scientific research methodology, not about any particular field. There are many people who have no clue about how to investigate a scientific claim, or how scientists go about doing so.

    History clearly shows technological progress that has been absolutely essential to the creation of wealth and health in the West over the past two centuries has generally provoked resistance from egalitarians and communitarians.

    Of course. History is a science. People who lack any appreciation for the role of scientific investigation (if you keep doing the same thing, you're likely to get the same result) in making decisions don't appreciate historical arguments any more than they do the information about nanotechnology. They have the same disrespect for the recent historical lessons of history concerning the war on drugs and gun control.

  • grylliade||

    Normally I'd defend Don Herbert (Mr. Wizard), but the letter I wrote to him a year ago asking why a yellow sun doesn't give white objects a yellow tint has gone unanswered.

    Because the "yellow" sun is actually white-hot. As a first approximation, stars glow with only blackbody radiation, which means that the color of the light depends only on the temperature of the star. Something that glows yellow, like iron, is about 1600 K. The dimmest stars, "red" stars, have a surface temperature of about 2000 K - about the temperature of a light bulb, which appears to us as white light (which means that planets around a red star won't have a ruddy glow to their light, as often seen in much sci fi). The sun, by contrast, has a surface temperature of 5780 K, which puts it well into the "white" category. According to Wikipedia, the colors of stars were originally given relative to Vega (a white star), so the sun is only "yellow" relative to Vega. That answer your question? :-)

  • ||

    No, because when I look at the sun, it looks yellow. How can a light source that looks yellow actually be emitting white light?

    And another thing. While I understand that at it's core the sun is hot plasma undergoing fusion, the outside of the sun is ordinary gas, glowing incandescent because it's so hot. Now that gas presumably gets thinner and cooler as it gets farther from the core. So:

    Why does the sun have a distinct edge?

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    How can a light source that looks yellow actually be emitting white light?

    Because the rest of the sky is blue.

    No, really!

  • ||

    Why does the sun have a distinct edge?

    And I was curious enough about this question to go ask Wikipedia for an answer:

    The visible surface of the Sun, the photosphere, is the layer below which the Sun becomes opaque to visible light. Above the photosphere visible sunlight is free to propagate into space, and its energy escapes the Sun entirely. The change in opacity is due to the decreasing amount of H- ions, which absorb visible light easily. Conversely, the visible light we see is produced as electrons react with hydrogen atoms to produce H- ions.

  • Hayekian Dreamer||

    Holy Hell, Mr. Wizard died!

  • grylliade||

    No, because when I look at the sun, it looks yellow. How can a light source that looks yellow actually be emitting white light?

    If you're actually looking at the sun, it's low enough in the sky for its light to be significantly attenuated by the atmosphere. The dust and such that give the sun a red tint at sunset will give it a yellow tint if you can look at it. At noon, on a clear day, the sun looks basically white. Possibly yellowish-white, but most of the time white.

    Even if the sun looked yellow, though, the light it gives off is white. If it doesn't look white to you, your color vision is off, because sunlight is defined as white light. It's the light under which human vision evolved, so colors will look neutral under its light.

  • grylliade||

    Oh, and if you're looking at the sun in the middle of the day to determine its color, stop. :-)

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    Because the rest of the sky is blue.

    In more detail...

    The sun looks yellow -- or, rather, yellower, since as grylliade notes it really does look pretty bloody white in the middle of the day -- because the column of light between you and the sun has had the blue part of its spectrum preferentially scattered away to make the blue sky that everyone else sees when they look from the side at your column of direct sunlight.

    This reddening of the spectrum is perceived as giving the sun a yellow color. At sunrise and sunset the reddening is so pronounced due to the quantity of atmosphere the column traverses that the sun looks orange or red.

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    Mr. Wizard died the very day we were talking about him? I feel a sudden wave of guilt. You don't think he was reading Hit & Run or anything and had an apoplectic fit when he saw comparisons between him and Beakman. . . .

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    There are many people who have no clue about how to investigate a scientific claim, or how scientists go about doing so...History is a science.

    History is an empirical (based on observed fact) methodology, not a scientific (based on testing hypotheses).

    For history to be a science you'd have to have the ability to do things like change the ultimate outcome of the US presidential election of 2000 and see if 9/11 happened in that universe.

    science since one cannot test hypothe

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    Oops, ignore the last line of my previous posting. I clicked "submit" before I finished editing.

    Also, meant to write: "History is an empirical (based on observed fact) methodology, not a scientific (based on testing hypotheses) methodology."

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    Science Historian,

    By your definition, astronomy is not a science either.

    All science asks for is falsifiability of hypotheses. That falsifiability can happen either through experiment, as you suggest, or through observation.

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    Grylliade: damn niffty answer! But you didn't address if the white light sun enhances or diminishes Superman's powers

  • James Aach||

    Mr. Bailey's article on "More Information...." notes that "researchers found that people who were concerned about environmental risks such as global warming and nuclear power, were also concerned about nanotechnology. "

    In some ways my novel "Rad Decision" is a mediation on the risks versus rewards in nuclear power - both real and imagined. It also asks an important question relevant to all technological debates: What do you do when experts on all sides of an issue are far removed from it's daily reality? (I know the reality - I work in a nuclear plant. It's much different than either advocates or detractors portray.) Rad Decision is available online at no cost to readers at and is in paperback as well. It has been endorsed by Stewart Brand, noted futurist and founder of "The Whole Earth Catalog."

  • Mr. Smithers||


  • ||

    Your answer doesn't address the question. Think about the setting sun. It grows yellow, then orange and even red as it sinks below the horizon. But the colors of things you see, illuminated by the sun, don't change. The light gets dimmer and dimmer until you can't make out the colors (when there's enough light to stimulate rods and not enough for cones) but white still looks white, not yellow or orange.

    MikeP is on the right trail.

  • Ventifact||

    You have to admit that hearing some sentences over the phone is not an ideal situation to judge someone's ability to incorporate new facts into their overall perception of a topic. That requires rapid, decisive, and independent thinking, which is not reflective of real world conditions in which people have lots of time to hear about new technology, discuss it with friends, see someone else/another state/another country use it, etc., before giving it a final up or down vote (politically/consumeristically). Also, lots of people tend to assume that any particular snippet given to them right before their opinion is asked on the topic has been given in order to shape their opinion. (In the case of this study, that suspicion was quite correct.) So, people resist this manipulation by specifically not reshaping their view based on the selective info they've just been fed.


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