the Incredulous Nuh-Uh

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the Incredulous Nuh-Uh

Postby hyksos on September 13th, 2018, 11:27 pm 

davidm » August 31st, 2018, 6:45 pm wrote:
those who deny evolution almost always do not understand what the theory actually says, or else if they do, they deliberately misrepresent it — probably for the purpose of erecting a straw man of evolution that is easier to knock down.

I have noticed this same phenomenon with relativity theory deniers. They either misunderstand or deliberately mischaracterize the theory. And both relativity and evolution deniers and very vehement in their denials, their passion rising to the point where one must conclude that there is more here than a simple scientific or philosophical disagreement.

I concur with Mitchell that there is no necessary conflict between theism and evolution — only with certain types of theism, such as the belief that 
God created the universe in six days six thousand years ago. Of course that is ruled out by evolutionary theory, but so too a young earth and quick creation is ruled out by pretty much all of science. So an attack on evolution on this ground is really an attack on all of science, and on rationality itself.

I think, at bottom, the attacks on relativity theory and evolution theory have a religious motivation, which is usually clear in the context of evolution but somewhat puzzling with respect to relativity. Possibly a lot of relativity deniers are just offended that the theory insults their “common sense,” which evidently they hold so dear. But I have noticed that some people misapply “relativity” to a broader context that is not warranted, in the same way evolution deniers may, equally without warrant, maintain that evolution implies or even entails social Darwinism. They may think, wrongly, that relativity implies that everything is relative, including moral arrangements, and so the theory must be battled to forestall a “relativistic world.” This is complete BS, it (almost) goes without saying. Ironically enough, Einstein thought that his theory should have been called the theory of invariance.


The forum here is currently 'recovering' from the banning of an ( apparent ) young-earth creationist (Brent696) , two locked threads dominated by Reg_Prescott, and another locked thread that was ronjanec's 18-page train wreck.

We can try to look back over the history of the internet itself and perhaps, when sifting through those 28 years of archives, place our recent tribulations in context. Before the explosion of the internet in the late 1990s, there were forums like this that were text-based and called Newsgroups or NNTP (in contrast to HTTP). Chat rooms actually developed out of something called TELNET, and were superseded by IRC. IRC has recently been superseded by discord. I have used all of these things "in my day". I also used something called stickam, and that had a huge impact on my philosophy.

The politics of Nuh-uh
NNTP was the first and original sounding board for trolls. Internet trolling became so advanced there, that people discussed things like "The Art of Trolling" --- and it must be admitted that the tactics, while evil, were brilliant in some ways. On a mathematics section of Newsgroups there was a local there who would post long tracts about set theory and logic... and 95% of his post would be correct. However, he would throw in one clerical or conceptual error somewhere in the middle of it. People would try to correct that "misconception" and he would respond with a new wall of text, which would pseudo-address the point, but lead the reader into yet another misconception. These threads would drag on for 30 replies, before the poor newb realized he had been trolled. This was done to me. It was equal parts aggravating and brilliantly executed. Really, the troll had an artistic zest.

Trolling became more vicious and "advanced" on IRC chat rooms. The more grizzled warriors there became very cynical. One veteran spoke of to set up a chat room dedicated to philosophy -- and then to just have someone there who denies everything everyone says constantly and endlessly. The chat room was "wildly popular" , he joked, in his cynicism.

In other words, anytime someone declares some fact about reality (global warming, gun ownership related to crime rates, abortion, evolution, special relativity, ) they are met with endless Nuh-uhs.

Consider how any scientific theory would fair in such a toxic atmosphere. Say there is a scientific theory, T and a person on a forum/chatroom/message board/etc is trying to promote it as a positive aspect of the world. The theory is met with incredulity by the spouters of Nuh-uh. The basic modus operandi of what happen goes :

  • Theory T is presented, and the trolls deny its veracity.
  • Evidence supporting T are listed, each item is denied in turn.
  • Actual data from the evidence is presented, and that data is questioned.
  • Justifications for T are listed, the troll denies all the justifications.
  • Justifications of the justifications are enumerated. These are met with Nuh-uhs.

The incredulity dissolves and erodes all communication. The incredulous Nuh-uh spouter leads the poster from one rabbit hole into another rabbit hole in a downward spiral of doubt.

We can ask at this point a more general question. Can any scientific theory ever prevail on the internet, when met with an impenetrable wall of Nuh-uhs?

marginally: do we have people here at this forum engaging in this behavior ?

Your thoughts?
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Re: the Incredulous Nuh-Uh

Postby Braininvat on September 14th, 2018, 9:58 am 

In other words, anytime someone declares some fact about reality (global warming, gun ownership related to crime rates, abortion, evolution, special relativity, ) they are met with endless Nuh-uhs.



My favorite form of Nuh-Uh is the "those are just YOUR facts... " It's the troller's attempt to subvert the basic meaning of "fact." Facts are, by definition, those propositions that no one has ownership of.
The solution to all of this nonsense is to reform our educational system, so that critical thinking skills are mastered and allow the student to differentiate between fact and opinion. Also, ahem... promoting moderated message boards, where trolling can be identified and stopped.

My definition of a science skeptic would be: someone who doubts all facts... until they require medical treatment.
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Re: the Incredulous Nuh-Uh

Postby SciameriKen on September 14th, 2018, 2:46 pm 

Nuh-uh will continue until there are actual consequences - even then it probably depends on the severity.
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Re: the Incredulous Nuh-Uh

Postby Serpent on September 14th, 2018, 3:46 pm 

Nuh-Uh's also make a big to-do about their dignity and take every slight as a deadly insult. That Brent persona was a good example of making every contradiction of his wisdoms into an attack on himself. They generally love the phrase 'ad hominem' but retaliate with accusation usually stronger than they received.
Making it personal, in fact, is an almost universal tactic of deniers.

PS He didn't say ronjenac is a train-wreck; he referred only to a thread that [I assume] you started.
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Re: the Incredulous Nuh-Uh

Postby ronjanec on September 14th, 2018, 4:02 pm 

Serpent » Fri Sep 14, 2018 1:46 pm wrote:Nuh-Uh's also make a big to-do about their dignity and take every slight as a deadly insult. That Brent persona was a good example of making every contradiction of his wisdoms into an attack on himself. They generally love the phrase 'ad hominem' but retaliate with accusation usually stronger than they received.
Making it personal, in fact, is an almost universal tactic of deniers.

PS He didn't say ronjenac is a train-wreck; he referred only to a thread that [I assume] you started.


I really appreciate your insight here Serpent...
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Re: the Incredulous Nuh-Uh

Postby davidm on September 14th, 2018, 4:30 pm 

I think there is a difference between trolls and true believers/deniers, though there is overlap. An artistic troll doesn’t necessarily believe in what he is saying, or in anything at all. He gets off on getting a rise out of people. I know of an anti-evolution troll at one board who was so good at what he did that he actually got gobbledygook papers arguing against evolution published in peer-reviewed science journals! Everyone was astounded. His papers were larded with math and verbiage and complex citations and he used an incredibly pompous-sounding fake name as the author. It was like the Sokol hoax. So he trolled not just the board but science journals too.

True believers/deniers really believe in what they are saying, or what they are denying, like evolution or relativity, but when presented with knock-down evidence and arguments against what they are saying, they retreat to trollish behavior to avoid confronting reality: moving the goalposts, attacking straw men, ignoring the points put to them, raising irrelevant asides, and of course, getting personally offended and indignant, or pretending to do so. I prefer the trolls — they can be very ingenious, funny, and often successful, like the guy who got his nonsense published in science journals. That he was able to do that is bad, of course, but you have to admire the combination of sheer chutzpah and perverse artistry.
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Re: the Incredulous Nuh-Uh

Postby Serpent on September 14th, 2018, 5:51 pm 

davidm » September 14th, 2018, 3:30 pm wrote: I prefer the trolls — they can be very ingenious, funny, and often successful, like the guy who got his nonsense published in science journals.

But - Why? What's the payoff?

The true believers, I sort of understand. They have turf to defend: they have been told on what they take as authority, that their values are under attack. They have been convinced that progressive and scientific ideas are incompatible with their world-view and that we want to take something precious away from them. (That's half true: we want to take the power to oppress away from the authority that guides/dominates them.) I have sympathy for the rearguard - of anything, however wrong. I have none for destructiveness-for-its-own-sake.
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Re: the Incredulous Nuh-Uh

Postby ronjanec on September 14th, 2018, 6:03 pm 

davidm » Fri Sep 14, 2018 2:30 pm wrote:I think there is a difference between trolls and true believers/deniers, though there is overlap. An artistic troll doesn’t necessarily believe in what he is saying, or in anything at all. He gets off on getting a rise out of people. I know of an anti-evolution troll at one board who was so good at what he did that he actually got gobbledygook papers arguing against evolution published in peer-reviewed science journals! Everyone was astounded. His papers were larded with math and verbiage and complex citations and he used an incredibly pompous-sounding fake name as the author. It was like the Sokol hoax. So he trolled not just the board but science journals too.

True believers/deniers really believe in what they are saying, or what they are denying, like evolution or relativity, but when presented with knock-down evidence and arguments against what they are saying, they retreat to trollish behavior to avoid confronting reality: moving the goalposts, attacking straw men, ignoring the points put to them, raising irrelevant asides, and of course, getting personally offended and indignant, or pretending to do so. I prefer the trolls — they can be very ingenious, funny, and often successful, like the guy who got his nonsense published in science journals. That he was able to do that is bad, of course, but you have to admire the combination of sheer chutzpah and perverse artistry.


Another way to look at this davidm: Sometimes others who appear to be guilty of what you are criticizing here, are not actually guilty of the things that you are saying here, but it may appear that way to some poor soul doing the criticizing: and that is (sometimes) because the content of the accused’s posts (sometimes) go way over the other poor soul’s head, and that really pisses them off!

Even more interesting, sometimes the ones doing the criticizing of others are in fact actually doing the exact same things themselves that they criticize others for(!)
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Re: the Incredulous Nuh-Uh

Postby Serpent on September 14th, 2018, 6:19 pm 

Yeah: scientists are way too dumb to understand sophisticated woo.
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Re: the Incredulous Nuh-Uh

Postby ronjanec on September 14th, 2018, 6:48 pm 

Serpent » Fri Sep 14, 2018 4:19 pm wrote:Yeah: scientists are way too dumb to understand sophisticated woo.


“Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth”(Albert Einstein)

Sometimes scientists are really wrong about something Serpent(actually, many many times if you are familiar with the history of science), that does not make them dumb. They just put too much faith in the authorities that taught them when they were young(with very little personal questioning of the truth) and even today, with the famous authorities in their particular field.
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Re: the Incredulous Nuh-Uh

Postby DragonFly on September 14th, 2018, 7:06 pm 

Science is self-correcting; if warm fusion can't be recreated, then it can't fly.

The trollers and the religious, along with others who want what they want, such as Behe, have a true and actual condition, which I again leave to cognitive scientists to delve into, but note that we can ever expect it from the like, thus making it not so incredulous at all.

There is an obvious pattern that betrays their exchanges, such as anger and insults, which, again, they can't much help, even though it exposes them. With little to push forward with, especially concerning hard facts or invisible realms that are constrained to act just a Nature does, there's not much left to do but to push against—in a bad way. And then they get bypassed or banned.
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Re: the Incredulous Nuh-Uh

Postby Serpent on September 14th, 2018, 7:49 pm 

ronjanec » September 14th, 2018, 5:48 pm wrote:“Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth”(Albert Einstein)

Last I heard, he was a scientist. And an authority.

They just put too much faith in the authorities that taught them when they were young(with very little personal questioning of the truth) and even today, with the famous authorities in their particular field.

You know this from experience, I suppose.
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Re: the Incredulous Nuh-Uh

Postby ronjanec on September 14th, 2018, 8:02 pm 

He definitely was no authority in the beginning Serpent. Many scientists/authorities thought his T.O.R was a bunch of nonsense because it went against the conventional wisdom at the time.

(Enough of the back and forth Serpent. Let’s move on to better things)
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Re: the Incredulous Nuh-Uh

Postby ronjanec on September 14th, 2018, 8:15 pm 

DragonFly » Fri Sep 14, 2018 5:06 pm wrote:Science is self-correcting; if warm fusion can't be recreated, then it can't fly.

The trollers and the religious, along with others who want what they want, such as Behe, have a true and actual condition, which I again leave to cognitive scientists to delve into, but note that we can ever expect it from the like, thus making it not so incredulous at all.

There is an obvious pattern that betrays their exchanges, such as anger and insults, which, again, they can't much help, even though it exposes them. With little to push forward with, especially concerning hard facts or invisible realms that are constrained to act just a Nature does, there's not much left to do but to push against—in a bad way. And then they get bypassed or banned.


Yes DF, science is (usually) self-correcting: But not always in a scientist’s lifetime;

And this is probably a good thing. Can you just imagine a scientist wasteing almost their entire life believing in a completely wrong scientific principle/or theory, and then finding out at the end of his life that it was all complete bull$hit!
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Re: the Incredulous Nuh-Uh

Postby DragonFly on September 14th, 2018, 8:26 pm 

ronjanec » September 14th, 2018, 7:15 pm wrote:Can you just imagine a scientist wasteing almost their entire life believing in a completely wrong scientific principle/or theory, and then finding out at the end of his life that it was all complete bull$hit!


I was going to suggest String Theory as something vaporous and not being able to shown anything.
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Re: the Incredulous Nuh-Uh

Postby ronjanec on September 14th, 2018, 8:39 pm 

DragonFly » Fri Sep 14, 2018 6:26 pm wrote:
ronjanec » September 14th, 2018, 7:15 pm wrote:Can you just imagine a scientist wasteing almost their entire life believing in a completely wrong scientific principle/or theory, and then finding out at the end of his life that it was all complete bull$hit!


I was going to suggest String Theory as something vaporous and not being able to shown anything.


Interesting. I remember 5 or 10 years ago, that was a very popular and dry well known scientific theory, that there was even a number of tv programs on about the same.
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Re: the Incredulous Nuh-Uh

Postby Serpent on September 14th, 2018, 9:47 pm 

ronjanec » September 14th, 2018, 7:02 pm wrote:He definitely was no authority in the beginning Serpent. Many scientists/authorities thought his T.O.R was a bunch of nonsense because it went against the conventional wisdom at the time.

And then what happened? What always happens in science: they reviewed the papers, followed the logic, tested the math, discussed the implications, came around and built on the new theories.
This is exactly what does not happen in conservative politics and religion.

When a long-held convention in science is successfully challenged, it is done by someone who understands it thoroughly and goes beyond it, on to a new level of understanding - not by someone who who has an idea that maybe he's found some little chink through which to pull down the whole edifice and replace it with his own impenetrable mythology.

Thing about the Nuh-Uh contingent is, they get hold of the notion that science is just like religion: that once a faction or theory get established, all the scientists are convinced that they know the ultimate answer and don't have to do anything more, except keep teaching it to the next generation and taking their teachers' word for it without question. That the entire scientific community is on the same page, and would get stuck there, if some outsider didn't come along with a brand new insight that will shake everything up.

Yes, science has its fads and incorrect ideas and incomplete solutions. Yes, a whole generation may even hold the same idea in any one particular field, until it's proven unworkable in the light of fresh evidence, better instruments, new experimental data, a theory that accounts for more of the observed phenomena.
What doesn't happen is that the scientists all sit around, twiddling their thumbs and repeating their mantras, until an idea comes along that's crazy enough. There is always an idea that's exactly crazy enough to get their attention - it's just that most of those ideas have to be discarded when it turns out they don't work.
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Re: the Incredulous Nuh-Uh

Postby -1- on October 18th, 2018, 5:29 pm 

I beg you a thousand pardons if I messed up the quoting system and attributed quotes to those who had not uttered them. I am new at this.

hyksos » September 13th, 2018, 11:27 pm wrote:
davidm » August 31st, 2018, 6:45 pm wrote:
Consider how any scientific theory would fair in such a toxic atmosphere. Say there is a scientific theory, T and a person on a forum/chatroom/message board/etc is trying to promote it as a positive aspect of the world. The theory is met with incredulity by the spouters of Nuh-uh. The basic modus operandi of what happen goes :

  • Theory T is presented, and the trolls deny its veracity.
  • Evidence supporting T are listed, each item is denied in turn.
  • Actual data from the evidence is presented, and that data is questioned.
  • Justifications for T are listed, the troll denies all the justifications.
  • Justifications of the justifications are enumerated. These are met with Nuh-uhs.

The incredulity dissolves and erodes all communication. The incredulous Nuh-uh spouter leads the poster from one rabbit hole into another rabbit hole in a downward spiral of doubt.

We can ask at this point a more general question. Can any scientific theory ever prevail on the internet, when met with an impenetrable wall of Nuh-uhs?

marginally: do we have people here at this forum engaging in this behavior ?

Your thoughts?


I believe (and I say this at the risk of becoming branded as a Nuh-uh since I aim to disverify your claim!!) that the trolls and the vampires and gargoyles of the Internet are not influencing many people. They influence their debate opponents by irritating the opponents to no end. But trolls and trolling behaviour will not stop the progress of science, and they will not stop the dissemination of science facts and theories on the media, including the World Wide Web.

There are trolls that can't be reasoned with. True. But that does not mean that reason does not exist, and it does not mean that reason won't convince the non-trolls.

Incredulity erodes all communication, but only between the troll and his or her opposing debate partner(s). The communication outside this debating relationship is not destroyed.
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Re: Uh-huh. (Yeah, it's true.)

Postby Faradave on October 19th, 2018, 11:35 am 

On the other hand, …

… it can be the case that a new, yet irrefutable, interpretation is offered and it is the "reputable" establishment (and minions) which stubbornly issue the "Nuh-uh".

For example, my simple declaration that in spacetime, zero interval separation means direct physical contact, the same as with classical zero separation. The unavoidable consequence, that photons don't exist,* is simply too much to allow. This, in spite of the fact that the particle aspect of light (e.g. photelectric effect) is fully satisfied by direct contact.

Of course, it's much easier to pretend not to understand, characterize the offeror an unqualified crank or the post an unwelcome distraction, than to face its reality.

"And yet it moves." Go figure.

*A photon's interval path is defined as "null", having magnitude zero.
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