public misconceptions

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Re: public misconceptions

Postby TheChewanater » Thu May 20, 2010 9:58 pm UTC

I was about to suggest that all drugs are placebos. Have you ever actually seen, in person, proof that they work and it's not a psychological thing?
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Re: public misconceptions

Postby Shivahn » Thu May 20, 2010 10:02 pm UTC

No, but I lack similar proof of the existence of Lesotho. Perhaps cartographers have lied to me.

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Re: public misconceptions

Postby TheChewanater » Fri May 21, 2010 12:46 am UTC

Shivahn wrote:No, but I lack similar proof of the existence of Lesotho. Perhaps cartographers have lied to me.


IT'S A CONSPIRACY!!!
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Re: public misconceptions

Postby Shivahn » Fri May 21, 2010 1:50 am UTC

Though that does bring up a couple of misconceptions - both that scientists are entirely sure about what's going on always, or are just guessing. A theory is very well supported, but not infallible. People sometimes believe either that a given theory is the word of God or that scientists aren't really confident about anything, and that by saying "This is very likely the case" they mean "This could be the case." I tend to not use absolutes, but that doesn't necessarily mean I'm less sure of something than someone who does, just that I set the standard for "absolutely true" too high to reach.

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Re: public misconceptions

Postby The Scyphozoa » Fri May 21, 2010 2:31 am UTC

Shivahn wrote:No, but I lack similar proof of the existence of Lesotho. Perhaps cartographers have lied to me.

No, that's Idaho.
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Re: public misconceptions

Postby Idhan » Fri May 21, 2010 3:41 am UTC

Hit3k wrote:Another thing that is more of a pet peeve than anything is:
Them: "So what do you study at university?"
Me: "Physics and applied maths."
Them: "Why?"
biggest. annoyance. ever.


This is a 3-month old post, so I'm not sure if it's contributing anything to reply to it, but: perhaps there's something in their tone or the rest of the conversation that I'm not seeing, but I don't see what's so bad about that. There is an offensive interpretation -- "Why would you waste your time with that useless stuff?" -- but it could just as easily mean "what draws you to physics and applied math? Is it curiosity about how the world works? Is it enjoyment of the methodology and way of thinking that is used? Is it that you really liked a Feynman book that you once read as a teenager?"

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Re: public misconceptions

Postby Mot » Fri May 21, 2010 1:37 pm UTC

Shivahn wrote:No, but I lack similar proof of the existence of Lesotho. Perhaps cartographers have lied to me.


I've actually seen Lesotho and I can assure you it exists. So now either Lesotho exists or cartographers and a frog with a hat on have lied to you.
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Re: public misconceptions

Postby Mr_Rose » Fri May 21, 2010 2:08 pm UTC

Mot wrote:
Shivahn wrote:No, but I lack similar proof of the existence of Lesotho. Perhaps cartographers have lied to me.


I've actually seen Lesotho and I can assure you it exists. So now either Lesotho exists or cartographers and a frog with a hat on have lied to you.

But that's the best part about conspiracy theories; since you (the conspiracy theorist) know with the conviction of true faith that you are correct, anyone that tells you different can be easily and automatically assigned to either the "unwitting dupe" or "conspirator" groups and ignored or reviled as necessary.
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Re: public misconceptions

Postby kernelpanic » Fri May 21, 2010 2:34 pm UTC

The Scyphozoa wrote:
Shivahn wrote:No, but I lack similar proof of the existence of Lesotho. Perhaps cartographers have lied to me.

No, that's Idaho.

I'm assuming (read: hoping) that it's a joke. There aren't enough clues in the home page!
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Re: public misconceptions

Postby BlackSails » Fri May 21, 2010 2:42 pm UTC

TheChewanater wrote:I was about to suggest that all drugs are placebos. Have you ever actually seen, in person, proof that they work and it's not a psychological thing?


Yes. Ive worked in a molcular biology lab where we did testing of some drugs.

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Re: public misconceptions

Postby Shivahn » Fri May 21, 2010 5:09 pm UTC

Mot wrote:
Shivahn wrote:No, but I lack similar proof of the existence of Lesotho. Perhaps cartographers have lied to me.


I've actually seen Lesotho and I can assure you it exists. So now either Lesotho exists or cartographers and a frog with a hat on have lied to you.


Listen, my life is like the Truman Show, and you're clearly in on it.

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Re: public misconceptions

Postby JayAr » Fri May 21, 2010 6:40 pm UTC

A misconception I have seen is that electrons are little balls.

A list:

1.) After telling people that I like to study astronomy I get asked astrology questions.

2.) That hydrogen bombs aren't in any way nuclear bombs (oh yes they are)

3.) That at any moment something genetically engineered will rise up and kill you (cancer).

4.) That chemical and bio warfare are the same thing!

I hate these things
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Re: public misconceptions

Postby SlyReaper » Fri May 21, 2010 8:34 pm UTC

JayAr wrote:4.) That chemical and bio warfare are the same thing!

I hate these things


Well biological weapons are made out of chemicals. So are nuclear weapons and every other weapon ever invented, but never let inconvenient facts like that get in the way of a good misconception.
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Re: public misconceptions

Postby JayAr » Fri May 21, 2010 9:21 pm UTC

SlyReaper wrote:
JayAr wrote:4.) That chemical and bio warfare are the same thing!

I hate these things


Well biological weapons are made out of chemicals. So are nuclear weapons and every other weapon ever invented, but never let inconvenient facts like that get in the way of a good misconception.


Since when was uranium a chemical? I think it is a element.
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Re: public misconceptions

Postby SlyReaper » Fri May 21, 2010 9:38 pm UTC

JayAr wrote:
SlyReaper wrote:
JayAr wrote:4.) That chemical and bio warfare are the same thing!

I hate these things


Well biological weapons are made out of chemicals. So are nuclear weapons and every other weapon ever invented, but never let inconvenient facts like that get in the way of a good misconception.


Since when was uranium a chemical? I think it is a element.


Elements are chemicals. I think you're confusing "chemical" with "compound".
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Re: public misconceptions

Postby Nautilus » Fri May 21, 2010 9:40 pm UTC

Actually, I have very good evidence that uranium is secretly a cat.
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Re: public misconceptions

Postby Sizik » Fri May 21, 2010 10:05 pm UTC

Nautilus wrote:Actually, I have very good evidence that uranium is secretly a cat.

But is it alive or dead?
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Re: public misconceptions

Postby SlyReaper » Fri May 21, 2010 10:08 pm UTC

Sizik wrote:
Nautilus wrote:Actually, I have very good evidence that uranium is secretly a cat.

But is it alive or dead?

Both
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Re: public misconceptions

Postby Shivahn » Fri May 21, 2010 10:17 pm UTC

And chemicals are made out of atoms, which are made out of subatomic particles, but we don't call chemistry particle physics for some reason.

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Re: public misconceptions

Postby JayAr » Fri May 21, 2010 10:39 pm UTC

SlyReaper wrote:
Elements are chemicals. I think you're confusing "chemical" with "compound".


Misconception, all chemicals are compounds.
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Re: public misconceptions

Postby Shivahn » Fri May 21, 2010 11:01 pm UTC

You're right. Not all chemicals are compounds. Some are elements.

Like uranium.

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Re: public misconceptions

Postby The Scyphozoa » Fri May 21, 2010 11:54 pm UTC

kernelpanic wrote:
The Scyphozoa wrote:
Shivahn wrote:No, but I lack similar proof of the existence of Lesotho. Perhaps cartographers have lied to me.

No, that's Idaho.

I'm assuming (read: hoping) that it's a joke. There aren't enough clues in the home page!

Well you see, I couldn't remember what website I actually meant to show you, so I Googled "Idaho doesn't exist", and the result that looked like it couldn't actually be displayed on my computer, so I have no idea if that's what I meant to show you or not. But yes, it is a joke.
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Re: public misconceptions

Postby TheChewanater » Sat May 22, 2010 1:02 am UTC

BlackSails wrote:
TheChewanater wrote:I was about to suggest that all drugs are placebos. Have you ever actually seen, in person, proof that they work and it's not a psychological thing?


Yes. Ive worked in a molcular biology lab where we did testing of some drugs.


That makes you a conspirator too!
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Re: public misconceptions

Postby Idhan » Fri Jun 04, 2010 4:57 am UTC

A few. I'm not sure if these have been brought up before (I read quite a bit of this thread, but I don't recall every bit):

1) Evolution is a more-or-less monotonic process of organisms increasing in complexity and capability. Corollary: organisms moving toward greater simplicity and/or less capability is "reverse evolution" or "devolution," not just normal evolution.

2) (Sci-fi/fantasy trope -- not sure how much it counts as a "public misconception.") Hypothetical silicon based life forms tend to be be "rocky" or "crystalline" -- a supposition which appears to be based on approximately the logic that says that carbon-based life would be crystalline based on looking at a chunk of diamond. (Note: I realize that, in reality, silicon isn't a great substitute for carbon in biochemistry, and Si-based life may not be possible at all, but insofar as it is, the idea that it's going to be some sort of rock strikes me as both improbable and lazy on the of the sci-fi/fantasy authors in question.)

3) Science (and other varieties of naturalistic, empirical thought) is some sort of uniquely, or at least originally, Western creation, either because Westerners are culturally (or possibly racially) superior and uniquely capable of seeing beyond superstition and convention, or because Westerners are uniquely greedy, domineering, and evil and science is an imperialistic way of dominating the Other which more harmonious cultures don't need, or because it's just a contingent aspect of Western folkways -- some cultures eat bread, some eat noodles, some celebrate Hanukkah, some celebrate Diwali, and science is just some incidentally Western thing.

Edit: Added "of" between "sort" and "rock"
Last edited by Idhan on Fri Jun 04, 2010 3:25 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: public misconceptions

Postby You, sir, name? » Fri Jun 04, 2010 5:22 am UTC

Idhan wrote:1) Evolution is a more-or-less monotonic process of organisms increasing in complexity and capability. Corollary: organisms moving toward greater simplicity and/or less capability is "reverse evolution" or "devolution," not just normal evolution.


Corollary: Everything evolves towards being human-like. If you were a reptile at the dawn of life, you're gonna be a reptile-human now.
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Re: public misconceptions

Postby Interactive Civilian » Fri Jun 04, 2010 7:50 am UTC

You, sir, name? wrote:
Idhan wrote:1) Evolution is a more-or-less monotonic process of organisms increasing in complexity and capability. Corollary: organisms moving toward greater simplicity and/or less capability is "reverse evolution" or "devolution," not just normal evolution.


Corollary: Everything evolves towards being human-like. If you were a reptile at the dawn of life, you're gonna be a reptile-human now.

Arrrgggh.

Along the lines of these, here's one of my pet peeve misonceptions: Humans are more evolved than ________.
("less evolved" would be equally meaningless)

Unless you are being very specific, the phrase "more evolved" is meaningless, and when you are being specific, there are probably much better expressions to use. "More evolved" as a qualitative comparison of organisms just doesn't make any sense.
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Re: public misconceptions

Postby SlyReaper » Fri Jun 04, 2010 8:36 am UTC

You, sir, name? wrote:
Idhan wrote:1) Evolution is a more-or-less monotonic process of organisms increasing in complexity and capability. Corollary: organisms moving toward greater simplicity and/or less capability is "reverse evolution" or "devolution," not just normal evolution.


Corollary: Everything evolves towards being human-like. If you were a reptile at the dawn of life, you're gonna be a reptile-human now.


That seems to be another sci-fi trope. I don't think it's because the writers are in error, just that it's expensive to create a CGI alien when you can just have someone in a reptile suit.
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Re: public misconceptions

Postby Eternal Questionner » Fri Jun 04, 2010 9:20 am UTC

Idhan wrote:Evolution is a more-or-less monotonic process of organisms increasing in complexity and capability. Corollary: organisms moving toward greater simplicity and/or less capability is "reverse evolution" or "devolution," not just normal evolution.


A further misconception is that evolution can mean individual organisms (not species) "transforming" into something different over a period of time. As though the human species came from a couple of apes who suddenly realised they could walk upright and shave off all their hair.

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Re: public misconceptions

Postby Pez Dispens3r » Fri Jun 04, 2010 9:45 am UTC

SlyReaper wrote:
You, sir, name? wrote:Corollary: Everything evolves towards being human-like. If you were a reptile at the dawn of life, you're gonna be a reptile-human now.

That seems to be another sci-fi trope. I don't think it's because the writers are in error, just that it's expensive to create a CGI alien when you can just have someone in a reptile suit.
Yes, but sometimes this is just laziness, or lack of imagination, or some assumption that humans are inherently the pinnacle of evolution. SG:1, for example, retro'd that the Asgard once looked like humans, just for the fuck of it. Didn't save budget, or anything, just implied we'll one day be the Asgard.
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Re: public misconceptions

Postby PM 2Ring » Fri Jun 04, 2010 3:04 pm UTC

SlyReaper wrote:
You, sir, name? wrote:Corollary: Everything evolves towards being human-like. If you were a reptile at the dawn of life, you're gonna be a reptile-human now.

That seems to be another sci-fi trope. I don't think it's because the writers are in error, just that it's expensive to create a CGI alien when you can just have someone in a reptile suit.

Fair call. But I think "You, sir, name?"s point still stands. I see it as a manifestation of the common misconception that humans are the pinnacle of creation evolution.

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Re: public misconceptions

Postby The Scyphozoa » Fri Jun 04, 2010 3:26 pm UTC

Pez Dispens3r wrote:
SlyReaper wrote:
You, sir, name? wrote:Corollary: Everything evolves towards being human-like. If you were a reptile at the dawn of life, you're gonna be a reptile-human now.

That seems to be another sci-fi trope. I don't think it's because the writers are in error, just that it's expensive to create a CGI alien when you can just have someone in a reptile suit.
Yes, but sometimes this is just laziness, or lack of imagination, or some assumption that humans are inherently the pinnacle of evolution. SG:1, for example, retro'd that the Asgard once looked like humans, just for the fuck of it. Didn't save budget, or anything, just implied we'll one day be the Asgard.

Not necessarily. They just said we shared a common ancestor that looked a bit more human than asgard.
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Re: public misconceptions

Postby Omegaton » Fri Jun 04, 2010 4:18 pm UTC

You, sir, name? wrote:
Idhan wrote:1) Evolution is a more-or-less monotonic process of organisms increasing in complexity and capability. Corollary: organisms moving toward greater simplicity and/or less capability is "reverse evolution" or "devolution," not just normal evolution.


Corollary: Everything evolves towards being human-like. If you were a reptile at the dawn of life, you're gonna be a reptile-human now.

I think James Cameron said it best when commenting on the Na'vi having breasts.

Because this is a movie for human people.


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Re: public misconceptions

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Jun 04, 2010 4:48 pm UTC

Yeah, I'll forgive it in Avatar because 1) we were supposed to empathize not only with the Na'vi in general (which could happen even if they didn't look very human, as in District 9), but with the protagonists' romance in particular, which wouldn't have been as believable if they looked like giant cockroaches, and 2) Cameron did a pretty awesome job making the other life, at least, look pretty alien.
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Re: public misconceptions

Postby Pez Dispens3r » Sat Jun 05, 2010 12:03 am UTC

The Scyphozoa wrote:Not necessarily. They just said we shared a common ancestor that looked a bit more human than asgard.
It wasn't a common ancestor. It was the Asgard before excessive cloning degenerated their biology. It is never implied we came from the same ancestor.
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Re: public misconceptions

Postby Mr_Rose » Sat Jun 05, 2010 3:56 am UTC

Pez Dispens3r wrote:
The Scyphozoa wrote:Not necessarily. They just said we shared a common ancestor that looked a bit more human than asgard.
It wasn't a common ancestor. It was the Asgard before excessive cloning degenerated their biology. It is never implied we came from the same ancestor.

Also, it looked less like a human than a human-sized asgard, from what I remember. The idea being that they used to be bigger before they became 100% dependent on technology and started tinkering with their own genetics for he sake of "efficiency"...
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Re: public misconceptions

Postby Link » Sat Jun 05, 2010 7:56 am UTC

Misconceptions:
-Anything containing the word "nuclear" is inherently dangerous and bad.
-When something is irradiated, it becomes itself radioactive.
-Mutation always means horrible disfigurement.
-The sun is made of lava.
-Moonlight is actually emitted by the moon.
-Humans and dinosaurs shared a time period.
-"Rocket scientist" is synonymous with "genius".
-Scientists are either old and dull, or old and completely mad.
-Someone on Earth can have a real-time video conversation with someone on Mars.
-There is no gravity in orbit.
-All lasers can cut through steel.
-The greenhouse effect means we're all going to die.

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Re: public misconceptions

Postby eSOANEM » Sat Jun 05, 2010 9:15 am UTC

Link wrote:-Mutation always means horrible disfigurement.


This, and that mutation means that a single organism is going to start spouting extra limbs and tentacles.
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Re: public misconceptions

Postby gmalivuk » Sat Jun 05, 2010 1:03 pm UTC

Link wrote:-The greenhouse effect means we're all going to die.
Yeah, really it's just being alive that means we're all going to die.
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Re: public misconceptions

Postby iop » Sat Jun 05, 2010 1:07 pm UTC

Link wrote:-"Rocket scientist" is synonymous with "genius".

In the current usage of the english language, "Rocket Scientist" can be used as a synonym for "genius" (but not vice versa).

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Re: public misconceptions

Postby SlyReaper » Sat Jun 05, 2010 2:02 pm UTC

iop wrote:
Link wrote:-"Rocket scientist" is synonymous with "genius".

In the current usage of the english language, "Rocket Scientist" can be used as a synonym for "genius" (but not vice versa).

Yeah I'm surprised Link didn't know that. I mean, it's not exactly rocket science is it.
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