The Patience Required to Deal With The Public


I agree with a lot of this. I grew very impatient and short with someone in a discussion on climate science. At some point I really had to ask myself why I let them make me that angry, and I really didn’t have a good answer. I took a step back and asked what got me interested in the topic to begin with, and what I found the most interesting. When I came back to the discussion I started from the position of “this is the basic science of the greenhouse effect, and this is why scientists think adding more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere will cause warming”. I didn’t get drug down into the inanities of conspiracy theories or political agendas. Instead, I just dug down into the physics. I think it made for a much better discussion.

I also think there is a large and relatively quiet crowd that really likes learning about science. If we focus on what excites us about science I think we would all be better off.

(Nathan H. Lents) #11

Yep, well said. See my last post on the evolution of the eye thread. Annoying people are annoying.

(Neil Rickert) #12

This is the Dunning Kruger effect. Unfortunately, it is quite common.

My personal approach is to mostly ignore people who do this. In particular, it is important to not take their bait.

(John Dalton) #13

It seems to me an important function of a forum like this is providing information to average people interested in these topics. Discussions with some individuals may be very unlikely to change their opinion, and seem pointless, but your arguments may well be convincing to anyone else reading. If the individuals in question don’t engage /aren’t engaged with, that opportunity doesn’t exist.

(Timothy Horton) #14

This should be sticked to the top page of the web site and be required reading for all new posters IMHO. There are always 2% who try their best to ruin discussion for everyone else.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #15

Already is @Timothy_Horton.

(Jordan Mantha) #16

I think the downside of being very passionate about an idea is that it can be easy for us to go from having a great discussion to feeling like we have to engage everyone everywhere. Sometimes this forum is like drinking from a firehose. I especially appreciate the high-quality discussion and debate that has occurred here between people truly trying to understand each other and the topic better. Quite often though, there is a significant amount of “noise”. Here’s what I’ve been doing , it may or may not be useful for other people:

  • constantly remind yourself that you don’t have to respond to every post, pick only the most valuable ones. Just because you don’t respond doesn’t mean they “won” or that you can’t come back to the subject later.
  • take a break (a couple days away from a forum like this can really help), but come back, the community at large needs its expert voices. The people that are most passionate about a topic and most able to give quality insight are often the ones that burnout first. It’s the professional trolls that can go on and on and on and on…
  • use the forum tools. I got a lot of help out of setting default for tracking/notification and then being very judicious in which threads I allow to capture my attention (via the forum notification/tracking features). This has been one of the biggest helps for me lately. I can take a look at a thread and if I decide there’s not enough signal/noise I set the tracking to Normal or Muted. Also using the categories and New and Unread lists at the top of the front-page are useful for taking the firehose down to something more manageable.
  • figure out your primary objective. For me at this point my objectives are 1) to see how people from various position make their case and interact. I’m in a pretty insular community so I want to see how other people approach these topics. 2) to sharpen my own thinking on these topics with smart people in the room, so to speak. So if I see a topic or thread that seems interesting I have a look, but if it feels like I’m just getting dragged into a debate I try to walk away when it’s not meeting my objectives.

Importantly, in my case, I don’t come here with any intention of changing anybody’s mind, that just leads to frustration too often in my experience. That is often best left to face-2-face conversations with people you can build trust with, in my experience.

Anyway, those are my thoughts, for whatever they’re worth.

(Nathan H. Lents) #17

With a goal as lofty as this, you make it hard to walk away from this forum. :slight_smile: Well done and well said.

(Nathan H. Lents) #18

@Jordan Your whole post is just DRIPPING with wisdom. Thank you for that. A couple reactions:


So true and a very important reminder.

Here’s where I have to admit that I never took the time to learn them. Doing that now.

They’re worth a lot and thank you for sharing them.

(Greg) #19

Im not trying to bring anyone into the mud. On the contrary, i just dont appreciate suggestions that eyes are an example of randomness and chance where the final product is incomplete and backward.
You may not think that i understand science. Untrue. I understand that i have a Maker who does not design mistakes and i am really sorry if this post is going to ruin your day sir. If a scientist is that enthusiastic about real results and believes nature can create stuff, then please show me real rationale about how selection of mutations which are generally neutral and many times detrimental is more likely to lead towards creation of eyeballs and not more likely to lead towards devolution so to speak and extinction. It seems that peaceful science is becomming, just the same as biologos, a club of likeminded evolutionists which are self deceivingly encouraging each other towards the same old same old godless mainstream materialism.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #20

Thank you for the apology @Greg.

(Nathan H. Lents) #21


(S. Joshua Swamidass) #22

He isn’t paying attention. I’m not sure how much longer we should allow his participation.

(Greg) #23

I am not sure that you understand…if one chooses to place his stake upon material “science” for real determinations of how life arrived on this planet, then he has already made his choice…his choice is that materialism holds the keys to the way. I was of the assumption that you were a “confessing scientist” in that you are questioning the philosophical position of many in the mainstream who were mistakenly placing too much faith in the material sciences (mans observations) and not enough upon God who creates and stands outside of mens capability to even determine our existence. But now, even when i share info from evolution news that puts a wrinkle in the material evolutionist view towards the fingerprints of God, you still seem to side with those who even suggest incorrectly that eyes are errant in their design suggesting that this is a sign of a misaligned evolutionary process. This makes me incredibly sad. I was incredibly disappointed with biologos especially considering that one of my favorite authors, Tim Keller had endorsed them. My disappointment continues. You may as well remove me from being able to input here and i will oblige as i did at Biologos. I agree with many creationists and proponents of ID- in time there will continue to be revelations, like the one recently as reported on evolution news, which debunk the type of evolutionism espoused and supported by you and the mainstream. The church suffers today with a faith that is more geared to behaviorism instead of treasuring God above all as the reason and desire to behave well in His honor. Creationist minustries have the perfect opportunity to bolster faith in God that supports this thinking. Then we have to confusingly deal with those claiming to be Christian who want to dismantle this attempt in whole. The Christian community consists of various giftedness and we are all supposed to do our part towards uplifting this God. I hope my prayers for you will be answered.

(Timothy Horton) #24

Sorry but Evolution News is not a science site. It’s an ID-Creationist propaganda site whose sole purpose is to spread anti-science falsehoods against evolutionary theory. Their end goal is to con scientifically unknowledgeable tyros like you into supporting their efforts at sneaking Biblical Creationism back into public school science classes.

As far as your rant against materialism goes, I’ll ask you the same question I ask every Creationist: how do you do science without relying 100% on materialism for trustworthy and repeatable results? How do you make allowances for unpredictable and undetectable fiddling by a supernatural entity?

I’ve seen hundreds of Creationist whine about materialism but not a single one has every offered a way to do science without it.

(Guy Coe) #25

Of course science studies things from a “materialistic” point of view, as is right. The problem is when some insist that that method is the only one by which sure knowledge can be gained, and that any other methods are fraught with unreliability.
In essence, that would limit a “scientist” to attributing a Lego robotic creation to inherent properties within the Lego blocks themselves. Such a view is scientism, a religion, and not even good science.

(Jacob) #26

When I hear creationists denounce “materialism,” I wonder if they have unknowingly borrowed from Gnosticism. It is as if they can accept that God might work upon nature but God is too pure and remote to work through nature. It is like studying the material realm is bad because the creationists have a Gnostic-like division between the physical and the spiritual.

(Neil Rickert) #27

I have a question for you, @Greg

When you are hungry in the morning, do you eat a material breakfast?

When you need to go to work, to you drive a material automobile?

When you post at Peaceful Science, do you use a material keyboard?

Haven’t you gone along with materialism just as completely as everybody else?

Personally, I do not consider myself a materialist. I think there’s more to life than the material. But I don’t go around decrying materialism, because we could not exist apart from the material.

(Dan Eastwood) #28

I’m watching this topic now, trying to decide if moderation is needed. Since @Greg is named in the OP, his opinion on dealing with the public is relevant, but some of his off-topic comments are not. I’m going to let the current comments remain because they have provided interesting replies.
If this wanders off into arguing with Greg I’m going to start moving comments.

IOW: Greg’s opinions on communicating science to the public are relevant, even if we think Greg is wrong about science. The question should be, how do we deal with such misperceptions.

(Dan Eastwood) split this topic #29

8 posts were split to a new topic: How Not to Deal with the Public