Scientists Reveal What They Wish Society Would Better Understand[rebelmouse-image 18359569 is_animated_gif=
It's no secret that scientific literacy is on the decline in the United States, and this has resulted in many people failing to grasp some really basic concepts, like what peer reviewed studies are. Or how statistics work. Or that the Earth is round and goes around the Sun. We need to ramp up science education so we can have a brighter future. Our survival depends on it.
Submissions have been edited for clarity, context, and profanity.
Papers that are peer-reviewed are more credible than one-off reports.[rebelmouse-image 18359570 is_animated_gif=
Just because it's a paper it doesn't mean it's credible. The idea behind peer reviewed articles vs non. Along with small sample size studies are generally not a good representation of the entire population.
Anecdotes are not evidence of anything because personal experience can't be replicated.[rebelmouse-image 18359571 is_animated_gif=
Averages and Sample Size.
So we can get rid of anecdotal evidence, as often seen in the media.
This makes sense, which in science is not usually necessary.[rebelmouse-image 18359572 is_animated_gif=
99% of all accidents happen close to home. BECAUSE THAT'S WHERE YOU ARE MOST OF THE TIME.
We learned this in what, fourth grade?[rebelmouse-image 18359573 is_animated_gif=
Also the difference between mean, median and mode.
Read beyond the headlines, especially for science reported in the media.[rebelmouse-image 18359575 is_animated_gif=
When mainstream media reports something like "a new study shows that...." the conclusion is either exaggerated or taken out of context to make the news article more attractive.
Scientific discovery leading to understanding is not a quick process.[rebelmouse-image 18359576 is_animated_gif=
How long the scientific process actually takes and is accepted by our peers.
I dreamt it would rain, and it rained. Therefore it rained because I dreamt it. NO.[rebelmouse-image 18359577 is_animated_gif=
The difference between causation and correlation.
A scientific theory is supported by evidence and accepted as fact - like evolution, or gravity, and heliocentrism.[rebelmouse-image 18359578 is_animated_gif=
The word "theory". It doesn't mean the same thing colloquially as it does in science. A scientific theory has an overwhelming amount of evidence to support it.
This.[rebelmouse-image 18359579 is_animated_gif=
Antibiotics and antibiotic resistance. A lot of people are under the impression they're a magical pill that will cure a lot of symptoms or diseases, when they are only effective against a handful of bacterial infections. Which means your common cold or flu are not treatable with them. So demanding your doctor to give you unnecessary antibiotics when you're sick is unhelpful and possibly even dangerous, as it may lead to increases in antibiotic resistance. This could make the most basic drugs we have completely useless, and return to a Victorian era of common infections leading to death.
This ties into anecdote not counting as evidence for or against anything.[rebelmouse-image 18347126 is_animated_gif=
Sometimes changes are significant. Sometimes they're just random noise. Differentiating between the two is VERY important. See: "Global warming is a hoax cause it was cold yesterday"
Science is a diverse field and not all disciplines are interrelated.[rebelmouse-image 18359580 is_animated_gif=
One that bugs me is that science!=engineering. An astronomer does not build rockets. An aerospace engineer doesn't study expansion of the universe. Both are awesome but they are fundamentally different.
Inertia is real.[rebelmouse-image 18354333 is_animated_gif=
An object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.
So remember to wear your seatbelt and drive safely.
GMOs are safe. GMOs are safe. GMOs are safe.[rebelmouse-image 18352527 is_animated_gif=
Genetically modified foods, it is not what you think.
Darwinian evolution explains our physiology. Cultural evolution explains our psychology. Both are real and quantifiable.[rebelmouse-image 18359581 is_animated_gif=
I get a lot of heat when I say this here for some reason, but as an evolutionary biologist with a background in anthropology, I wish people understood that almost all of the behaviors we see in humans around us are due to cultural evolution and not biological evolution.
Cultural evolution is so much faster than biological evolution that these traits we see never had time to develop biologically or to be "hard wired" in. Also, people far too often think that what they see in their culture around them is a universal. One thing I learned as an anthropologist is that for everything we find desirable or natural, another culture finds repulsive or taboo (or vice versa). People are always saying things like, "we do XYZ because back when we were cave men you needed to do it to survive being eaten by a tiger/get more mates" or some such.
Physics explains the how, not the why. At least, for now.[rebelmouse-image 18359582 is_animated_gif=
Physics doesnt know why most things work, we just know that they do work, and we work backwards from what we observe.
Also just because we have small computers does not mean the rest of science is at Star Trek levels.
There is no absolute certainty in science.[rebelmouse-image 18359583 is_animated_gif=
Scientists are the type of person who do not like saying they're 100% certain of anything (we've been hurt too many times before). So if a scientist says "I'm 99.9% sure it will work," another scientist hears "this is worth betting on working, but we live in a universe where there's always a chance of failure." But a non-scientist hears "this isn't something that's absolutely proven and therefore isn't always true."
For example, there has never been a recorded instance of someone becoming infected with HIV while properly taking Truvada (to my knowledge). But still, any advertisement for it says that it has a 99.9% chance success rate.
Though the takeaway here isn't just to round up and consider a 99.9=100. The takeaway is to realize that it's very hard to be 100% certain about anything, and to understand that
It's been proven as fact, time and again, yet people still deny it. It's not even that hard to grasp.[rebelmouse-image 18359584 is_animated_gif=
Science is based on evidence, not opinion or belief.[rebelmouse-image 18359585 is_animated_gif=
Applied scientist here (engineer).
Science is NOT a belief system. Attempting to dismiss something studied and supported using science by saying "well, I just believe something different. How can you expect me to respect your beliefs if you won't respect mine?" isn't valid. Further, science should NEVER set out to prove something is true. It should only find out what is supported by evidence, even if it's contrary to your hypothesis (and possibly desires). Honestly, I wish more scientists respected this.
DNA is the most efficient data storage system known to science.[rebelmouse-image 18359586 is_animated_gif=
Speaking from my little corner of the scientific community, I wish people understood DNA evidence better.
DNA analysis is a fantastic tool! We can detect very minute amounts of DNA, so in some cases we could tell if you've even just touched something. In the past 20 years, the capabilities of analysis have just gotten better and better. You used to need enormous amounts of stain to produce a profile.
This of course has led to DNA evidence being collected for more than just murder. And that's fine -- we're here to catch the perpetrators. (Though it does mean crime labs suffer backlogs as more and more evidence gets sent to us to test.)
The proliferation of the technology and its recent entrenchment in popular culture, however, has led to a courtroom expectation that it will be present in every case, and that there's some sort of failure of legitimacy if it isn't there. They really do call this "the CSI effect," and while it affects the whole forensic community, nowhere is it worse than in DNA.
What DNA can tell you:
- a profile that can be compared to a known standard and a probability of a match can be assigned
What DNA can't tell you:
- how that DNA got there
- when that DNA got there
- whether it's probative to the crime (whether it really means anything)
- whether it means someone is guilty or not
You need more than DNA evidence to convict, and merely having DNA evidence is not indicative of guilt! It needs to be considered as a whole case, not just one piece of evidence.
Please, if you ever get placed on a jury, give your fellow man the proper consideration he's due, and listen to the impartial experts. (Yes, defense lawyers can hire experts to say whatever they want, too, so be careful!)
Listen up, paranoid parents.[rebelmouse-image 18359587 is_animated_gif=
Drugs are expensive so I'm not going to put them in your kids Halloween candy.
Being an emergency responder is a high-stress job.
It's a career with long, laborious hours.
There is always a hint of danger. And death is always around the corner.
So we as a society could try to help these people out and not put ourselves in unnecessary danger.
Redditor Diligent-Log6805wanted the rescue workers out there to tell us about the times they rescued people. They asked:
"Emergency responders of reddit, what are some dumb things that have lead to an emergency situation?"
These workers and the world already has enough trouble without my stupid.
"So... was she impressed?"Idiot Reaction GIFGiphy
"Kid driving his new truck down a residential street, wet from a recent rain, lost control and hit a parked car, overcorrected and rolled it once back onto its wheels up onto a lawn. He told the fire chief he had gunned it to impress his girlfriend and the chief just looked at him and asked 'So... was she impressed?'"
"I had a client once who was basically Ricky from Trailer Park Boys, loud, obnoxious, hilarious and every second word was some Maritime slang or a derivative of 'f**k.' He has been on daily eye drops for decades for dry eyes, sure ok cool. I hear screaming down the hall and run in and he's wedged against the wall and the bed just screaming 'I f**ked up boys, I dunno what the f**k is f**king happening but It's f**ked."
"Turns out he mistakenly put Jublia which is an antifungal ointment for toenails in his eye thinking it was his eye drops. The strangest part was the bottle has this miniature sponge at the end so you soak the sponge then paint it on like a gel...he painted this antifungal ointment onto his eye which immediately went red and angry then proceeded to do the other one."
"So he's at the eyewash station and I'm talking to poison control and they are pretty stunned because they have zero data on what happens to a human eyeball when it's painted in antifungal. I can hear the staff at the other end kind of snickering under her breath and she asks can you compare and contrast the eyes? Well... he put it in both eyes. The line goes silent because I can tell she is howling. Guy was totally fine but it was a standout for sure."
Will they show?
"Responded to a call of two minors being kidnapped and their parents being beaten in front of them and then taken someplace else. One was around three years and the other one was six. They were held captive in an apartment out of hundreds of residential apartments which not easy to locate, upon reaching there we found out that the boy six was just playin' with us to see if we would actually respond. Their parents were so embarrassed by all of that and vowed to not give them mobile until they are adults."
"When I was an EMT in NYC years ago we had a call for a man 'unresponsive.' We entered an upscale apartment that was a hoard: floor to ceiling newspapers and magazines, just a mess. The woman who called said her brother was in his bedroom sick."
"We entered his room and it was pretty obvious that he had already passed away. She had placed a bowl under his mouth because he had hemorrhaged which had coagulated the day before it was crazy. We asked her why she hadn’t called sooner and she said thought he’d get better?!"
"The joke around the house was 'if you have to put a bowl under a relative who is bleeding from the mouth, call 911. Don’t wait.' Never thought we’d have to advise anyone to do that. But there ya go. Also, it was Thanksgiving. Didn’t eat any cranberry sauce that year."
God Only KnowsMarried At First Sight Lol GIF by LifetimeGiphy
"Had a guy call because he had the cure to Covid and needed a ride to the local education hospital so he could share it. Dude was so high on meth He ended up having 4 or 5 binders worth of scientific looking notes. God only knows what was actually in them."
Wow, people really need to get a grip. Of their minds.
"Sparky"on fire GIFGiphy
"One of my old bosses once built a new shed in his back yard, to replace his old, worn-out one. He moved everything from the old one to the new one, then decided that the best way to remove the old one was by burning it down. He ended up with no sheds and the nickname 'Sparky.'"
Dead in the living room...
"Paramedic here. We responded to this 54 year old having chest pain. Man was having a heart attack. Dude didn't want to go to the hospital because it too early in the day. That's it. We tried to convince him to go. Got the ER doc to talk to him and he wouldn't budge. He signed a Refusal. Later that same night, his family found him. Dead in the living room. We got to him and started CPR, meds, everything. Dude didn't make it. When we advise you to go to the hospital, go."
"Got called to a shooting. A guy says he received a text message from an anonymous number saying his brother has been shot. He checks all the hospitals with no luck. He goes to his brother's apartment but gets no response at his door but sees his car and can hear the TV on. We get there, attempt to get an answer at the door."
"Eventually we kick the door in to make sure he wasn't dying in his apartment. We boot the door, announce police, and find him asleep in his bed. The guy tells us that he got a new phone number and decided to mess with his brother by texting him he had been shot. He then fell asleep and forgot about the text and was woken up by us. So many wasted resources on his idiotic prank."
"Got called to a priority job. The caller was kayaking in a lake and said that there was an unresponsive male in the water. So off we went, lights and sirens. We requested paramedics and fire to attend as well for the rescue operation. There were about 6 emergency vehicles attending including a rescue boat. We got there within minutes and met the caller who showed us where the guy was."
"He was just swimming, minding his own business. The caller said he was unresponsive, but really he was just ignoring her. Had a chat with the guy, he seemed alright, said he swims here every day and likes the quiet. No issues. Would have been nice if the caller told the operator that he was still conscious and swimming rather than 'unresponsive.'"
Chew SlowlySnl GIF by Saturday Night LiveGiphy
"Well, I was taking a lady home from dialysis and she decided to eat a snickers in the back of the ambulance, and she started choking. Had to do the heimlich, and tell her to finish her food at home."
If it's not a true emergency dial 311. Please.
I hated science classes.
As soon as I could I ran.
But it follows me.
Because science can be downright disturbing.
That's why I blocked out so many of the details.
Redditor Flimsy_Finger4291wanted to compare notes on all the frightening facts that are a definitive. They asked:
"What's the scariest thing that science has proven real?"
As if knowledge isn't scary enough, let's her more...
Hello Terrypaint surgery GIF by gifnewsGiphy
"Some tumors have teeth, hair and even eyes."
"My sister had one minus the eyes! It was cantaloupe sized on one of her ovaries before it was found. She named it Terry the Teratoma."
"My best friend and bunk mate from summer camp died from one of those when I was in 7th grade. Happened so quickly, we were a week into camp and he got really sick. They gave us all heavy meningitis shots because they didn’t know what it was and within a few days he was dead. Turned out to be a brain eating amoeba."
"Edit: strangely enough on the same day he started getting sick one of the lifeguards that was sitting out in a boat waiting for the next group of kids for what we called Trojans Vs. Spartans day had a seizure, fell off the boat and drowned. Only deaths they’d ever had in the 50+ years the camp had been open."
Far Far Away
"The size of our galaxy, how many other galaxies there are and how far away they are. When you can actually see something that incomprehensible.."
"The nearest star to us would take the Voyager 70,000 years to reach. The nearest galaxy to ours would take the Voyager 749,000,000 years. If we some how managed to take on the monstrous task of speed of light travel it would still take 25,000 years to reach the nearest galaxy. And it's even further apart after you read this. Wild stuff!"
"How the brain is literally rewired and chemically altered by childhood neglect and abuse."
"It's genuinely kinda freaky, playing a puzzle game, and noticing how quickly you're getting better at it. The kind of puzzles that were a real blocker in the beginning become baby-easy after like an hour of playing puzzles like it."
"My sister faced horrible abuse at the hands of our father, and she has been working through it with multiple therapists over the last 10 years and she is only now starting to get her life back. I feel like she was robbed at a fair chance at life because of our a**hole father."
AwakeBill Murray Im Here GIF by Groundhog DayGiphy
"Prions, horrific and totally unpredictable."
"Fatal familial insomnia is a prions disease where you can't sleep anymore, you just stay awake until your brain deteriorates and you die."
Now I can never UNKNOW about prions. Perfect.
Days gone by...Aging Matt Damon GIFGiphy
"Ageing. I'm content with death but the idea of my body growing old, frail and eventually falling apart before the end game gives me goosebumps."
"Gamma ray bursts. No warning, no escape, no defense, no survivors."
"If you're talking about supernovas if the star isn't too close the gamma burst would probably only destroy some part of our ozone layer. And gamma radiation is actually the least lethal out of all types of waves."
"Entropy. Time shall consume all things. Inevitable heat death of the universe."
"I personally want the 'Big Crunch' to be true. That instead of fizzling out it all gets sucked back into an infinitely small/dense particle and then another Big Bang happens. It’s my explanation for the multiverse. It’s all one timeline. Just infinitely long."
"More like a theory, the 'orangutan paradox,' when we film a documentary on orangutans, they can’t realize that we are observing them, yet they are the most intelligent species of their category, so aliens might be watching us and we are as oblivious as an orangutan."
Fade 2 SilentListen Scooby Doo GIF by MashedGiphy
"That hearing is the last sense to leave, when dying."
Well that is the antithesis of comfort. Life is so fun.
Ever since Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope opened on May 25, 1977, a devoted fanbase developed.
And that fanbase has opinions.
Lots and lots of opinions.
Redditor Ebo8000 wanted to know:
"What is your most controversial take on Star Wars?"
"LASERS LOCK DOORS. LASERS OPEN DOORS. LASERS KNOW WHAT YOU WANT THE DOOR TO DO."
"But if you get past the door and close it behind you and you don’t want anyone to follow you through it…"
"…you shoot the bloody door panel!"
"Also, f*cking hell, we're in the future (or in the past), whatever, and people have better technology."
"Why put the door control RIGHT NEXT to the door? Put the door control system in a breaker box."
"Build every door so in case of malfunction they all shut closed (after all, they're in space and you don't want to lose air in decompression, do you?)"
"Shoot the breaker box, now the whole floor is closed until someone can figure out what happened."
"Almost look like those doors just exist as dramatic elements..."
"I’d like a film about when the Republic was at its height. 1,000 generations is 25,000 years and we’ve had 9 movies about the last 60."
"Not sure if controversial but they need to take the franchise and yeet it 200 years in the future."
"I'm tired of the Empire era where they need to justify why more than 2 Jedi and 2 Sith exist at one moment alongside knowing everything is pointless until Luke leaves the farm."
Design Fail? No!
"The Death Stars weren't badly designed they were just badly managed."
"Yes, designing them assuming large scale assaults was stupid given the political state of the galaxy but the second Death Star wasn't even finished so that doesn't count, it's all Palpatine's fault. As for the first one that was finished, the Alliance made three runs on the exhaust port."
"The first was called off before they made it to the trench, the second failed and the third was carried out by space Jesus which isn't exactly fair."
"All in all it sounds like a fairly effective defence when you consider the design philosophy."
"The entire universe has a cool factor that outweighs the atrocious storytelling."
"Bro imagine the following movies, but if they were in Star Wars universe."
"Magnificent 7 - A Jedi, Bounty Hunter, Ex-Imperial, Pilot, Wookie, a Droid, and Lawman team up to defend a town against pirates"
"Dredd - Two Jedi climb up an apartment block to confront a new dark side user who has mental control of the entire apartment block"
"Supernatural (T.V. Show) - A Jedi and their apprentice go around and solve and defeat Dark Side Force spots—where the Force consolidates from emotions and creates foul creatures to fight"
"Top Gun - But it's you know, Wedge or something"
"Ford versus Ferrari - But it's podracing or swoop racing"
"Something about the ships in the original series always felt more like real ships than in any of the later movies, despite the objectively better effects of the later films."
"Some of this is probably the use of models (i.e. actual three dimensional objects), but I think there is some critical difference in the design that makes them feel more real (probably because they were designed to be things that would actually work as models)."
"Whatever it is, I LOVED the ships in the original series and never really liked any of the new ones."
"The original trilogy changed the world by showing a universe in space that was dirty and lived in. The special effects from the later movies did not recognize this."
"Boba Fett is an oddly overrated background character, and even after watching The Book of Boba Fett, I don’t really care about him."
"He was never a character. He was a cool helmet."
"He was a cool jetpack too."
Time for the weather...
"Han is actually older than Obi-Wan due to Time Dilation."
"Time dilation in a universe where every planet and moon has the same gravity and atmosphere?"
"And just 1 biome."
"That way they only need one Weather Channel per planet."
"And over to Klaatu for the Tatooine weather report. Klaatu?"
"It's still sunny."
These are the droids we're looking for.
"Star Wars is actually the life story of C-3PO—think about it."
"I disagree. I think its R2-D2's story. He had a much greater presence in Episode 1, 2 and 3, and got the same amount of screen time as C-3PO in 4, 5 and 6."
Fan is short for fanatic.
"Fans ruined the whole franchise."
So, did your controversial Star Wars opinion make the list?
Death is a subject many people shy away from because what they don't know beyond our realm of existence can be intimidating.
Hollywood hasn't helped, as movies and TV have typically portrayed death as something sinister and violent.
How could anyone be convinced death is a peaceful transition, and that what awaits on the other side is actually an unimaginable utopia?
Curious to hear strangers' thoughts about death, Redditor GoodNess2020 invoked a quote by an iconic literary figure and asked:
"Mark Twain once said, 'I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.' Why do you agree/disagree with his statement?"
People clarified what actually terrified them most about death
"I don't fear being dead. I fear dying."
"Yeah, that's usually the issue. It's why that quote doesn't mean much, to a lot of people."
"It's not a fear of eventually dying and not existing anymore. It's the act of dying itself. He didn't constantly die for all of time. He just wasn't alive."
Concept Of Loss
"To have not existed for billions of years is to have spent billions of years never knowing loss. To die is to know loss."
"If you look into a new bank account and see zero dollars, it’s nothing. If you look into a bank account that once had a million dollars and see there’s nothing in there, you’ll know it’s absence."
People provided an analogy to articulate what ceasing to exist must feel like.
It's About Time
"Time is only relevant to you when you are alive. He is right. Have you ever been sedated for surgery? You go under, and then instantly wake up and procedure is done.... or you died so no worries."
Consciousness Is Life
"You won’t be feeling anything in death though is the thing. That infinite/instant sensation was a living feeling, you just weren’t conscious for it - your body experienced it anyways. No body, no experience."
Like Being Under
"That is very true, but for me, that's the closest amalgamation of what it probably feels like."
"No one can tell you what actual death will be like. It's impossible for you to experience nothingness."
"Thinking about death can be paralysing sometimes, and when I remember that the closest thing i can link as an experience I had, being put under, was actually sort of pleasant. I then think maybe death will be like that, and honestly it doesn't seem that bad."
When In Deep Sleep
"Yeah in contrast to sleep where you can actually feel like time has passed when you wake up."
Think Line Between Death And Slumber
"As CGPGrey puts it, your bed might very well be a suicide machine."
"Given our lack of understanding for the fundamental processes of our sentience, it's entirely possible that when you fall asleep, your mind is functionally killed, disassembled, analyzed, sorted, tweaked, and adjusted by your biology, before being reassembled when you wake. Every night."
People opened up about their insecurities around the concept of death.
Fear Of What Comes Next
"I’m just paranoid that something does happen after death and it’s just based on one thing that you didn’t know about."
The Circle Of Death
"There’s nothing to fear in oblivion. Unless, of course, your consciousness survives death. If so, it would be reasonable to fear the sensation of consciousness without senses, suspended alone in the cosmos, with no one to hear you, and no way to make yourself known. No reference point for counting time – a count that does not matter anyway in a literal eternity."
"You might wish that you still had a corporeal form, only so that you could make your mouth move to express your terror, to make the universal form of a terrified scream – the form of a letter O."
"But you won’t be able to. You just won’t!"
"This has been the Children’s Fun Fact Science Corner. Brought to you by shame, loneliness, and the letter..."
When Faith Fails You
"what do you mean I'm going to hell?! I was a good person and attended church regularly!"
"Ah yes, but you failed to put a blue feather in your hat and then turn in circles the times praising God Almighty on the fifth Sunday after your twelfth birthday. To the pit with you!!!"
There is an poignant episode from the Twilight Zone that brought me a sense of peace surrounding the concept of death.
Death was embodied by a handsome police officer who had been shot–played by a young Robert Redford–and begs to be let into the home of an elderly woman who had been living in perpetual fear of meeting "Mr. Death."
As the episode continues, she discovers much to her dismay that she welcomed Death into her home, but he warmly reassures her there is nothing to fear.
The episode ends with her finally offering her hand to Death after much protest, and they peacefully walk out together, arm in arm, into the light.
It was sweet and beautifully done. The 1962 episode was titled, "Nothing in the Dark."
That's how I imagine it to be.
A dashing Prince of Darkness telling me it's time to join him in guiding me to the other side.