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Author Topic: is it the Andy Warhole effect?  (Read 3504 times)

lyner

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is it the Andy Warhole effect?
« on: 25/08/2009 12:27:48 »
An earlier, lengthy, thread has been discussing the way we should answer questions on TNS forums. It contains many comments by posters who feel aggrieved when someone points out errors in scientific reasoning or fact. Many comments imply that it is wrong to discuss things at a 'high' level because it is showing off and belittling other people.

As one of an older generation, I was always used to being dumped on when I didn't get things right - which was frequent in my early School years. It happened from staff and other pupils and was taken as the norm, more or less. Hence, I seldom consider taking offense when someone points out my errors; I pick up my tools and start again.

Clearly, there are rude and not so rude ways of disagreeing with someone and rudeness is not acceptable.

Why are people so upset about criticism?
I think it is an extension of the Andy Warhole  idea that everyone can be famous for fifteen minutes. Only in this case, it's that anyone can have a valid Scientific Theory. We see on the TV that anyone can sing, dance, be a chef, be an apprentice and survive on a desert island and this is actually believed by the great British (and other) Public.
The mantra "You can be anything you want" is thoughlessly cruel, when chanted at the majority of humans. Kids get told it at School and they believe it. I have seen so many disappointed / disillusioned young people who didn't become vets, lawyers or pharmacists and have had to made do with less prestigious careers. They are very often surprised at their 'bad luck'.

In a similar vein, it is not correct or even fair to give the impression that you can have a valid scientific idea without it being firmly based. Is there a single example in history of this ever having been the case? Is there a single 'famous name' who got there without going through the mill?

The real message should be "If you want to do as well as possible then you have to put maximum effort into it".  Not very snappy and it doesn't sell votes but the people at the top of their individual piles have been working with it.

Science is a fascinating subject at all levels. You will always (thank God) find someone who knows more than you do and you will nearly always be wrong in your first impressions of any new topic. What's wrong with that?


 

Offline Nizzle

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is it the Andy Warhole effect?
« Reply #1 on: 25/08/2009 12:50:58 »
Some remarks:

1. People, especially today's youth, are indeed less able to deal with criticism (luckily I was brought up the hard way, thx mom & dad)
2. People, especially people with a more mature age, sometimes think too negative about today's young people. While they aren't faced with the problems the elder people were challenged with in their youth (WW2 and the recovery after it to give an example), they are faced with whole other problems (like fitting in, finding their own space in society)
3. Mutual respect from both sides can be improved quite a bit
4. Who is God?
 

Offline graham.d

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is it the Andy Warhole effect?
« Reply #2 on: 25/08/2009 13:43:33 »
I think the issue is one of simply being sensitive to other people. You are right to criticise barmy theories, but if the theory is from a keen 15 year old then I would tend to be kinder in the criticism than if it is one of the few eccentric, and obviously much older people, who have a new theory on a weekly basis about subjects they clearly no nothing about.

Also, if someone asks a question, it is best to try to assess their knowledge and ability to understand any answer and couch it in terms that they will understand. You should not be factually incorrect, but then it is no good to them to launch into complex explanations that demand knowledge they may not have. If it is a young person it is the sort of response that can put them off science. I am not in favour of being too simplistic because that would be an entirely false picture, but you would understand (as an ex-teacher??) that much science is a matter of understanding within a limited framework and that, although this framework hangs together quite well, it is only an approximation to reality often based on false premises. It would make no sense to launch into a space-time curvature explanation of why an apple falls from a tree unless it was clear the questioner had such an interest in that level of understanding. Newton's explanation is near enough, even if conceptually incorrect!

Whilst you are mostly right that the way to be successful is via a lot of hard work it is also important to let some momentum build through enjoyment. You sometimes have to give enough positive encouragement to get them from first base. (I say "mostly" because I know of quite a few exceptions because they either have been hyper-intelligent or simply lucky). This is particularly true of kids from less priveleged backgrounds who may start off lacking confidence.

The main thing is here that people are different and if you wish to interact with them, it is always two-way, even if you don't get a response back (that is a sort of response in itself).
 

Offline Variola

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« Reply #3 on: 25/08/2009 13:49:36 »
 ::)

I think I will just copy and paste from the other thread to restate points again...even though it has run it's course now.
 

Offline Mazurka

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« Reply #4 on: 25/08/2009 14:02:31 »
Isn't it Warhol? ;)

Doesn't this highlight the principal difficulty in discussing things on an internet forum?  Assumptions about others within the conversation are harder to make than they would be face to face - it is more difficult to know where to pitch your comment as you don't necessarily know whether you are talking to a someone at school, college or expert in their field.

I consequently live by the adage that "People who live in glass houses just need to know a good glazier"

Apologies for cross post w' gloves for foxes
 

Offline glovesforfoxes

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« Reply #5 on: 25/08/2009 14:03:54 »
one of the main problems is how hard it is to determine other people's sensitivity on a forum, and for the internet in general. although sentence structure, words and emoticons can convey some information about aspects of personality, it is nothing compared to actually talking to a person face to face. i always try to assume that people are emotionally detached from scientific prose, simply because it's healthier to do so in my opinion. especially on the internet.

(i deleted my post by accident, excuse the confusion over post times)
 

Offline graham.d

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« Reply #6 on: 25/08/2009 14:57:25 »
I disagree Mazurka. Etiquette exists for good reasons. Do you notice how some people when driving are quite happy to queue jump when it is something they would never do in their local post office? I rather think that good manners are worth preserving even if you do not get the immediate discouraging feedback that you would if you were rude to someone in conversation. If someone pisses me off enough I won't interact with them and have sufficient confidence to think that it is their loss. I do this for pleasure, not to get stressed. Surprisingly, I have found that it is the people in glass houses that more often do throw the stones too.
 

Offline Madidus_Scientia

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« Reply #7 on: 25/08/2009 15:12:09 »
The mantra "You can be anything you want" is thoughlessly cruel, when chanted at the majority of humans. Kids get told it at School and they believe it. I have seen so many disappointed / disillusioned young people who didn't become vets, lawyers or pharmacists and have had to made do with less prestigious careers. They are very often surprised at their 'bad luck'.

I agree it's an unrealistic thing to tell kids. There often seems to be sporting champions and the like saying "You can do it if you train hard enough!" of course they believe that because they trained hard and they happened to have won. But you don't hear the other people in the race saying it.
 

Offline Mazurka

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« Reply #8 on: 25/08/2009 15:30:12 »
I disagree Mazurka. Etiquette exists for good reasons. Do you notice how some people when driving are quite happy to queue jump when it is something they would never do in their local post office? I rather think that good manners are worth preserving even if you do not get the immediate discouraging feedback that you would if you were rude to someone in conversation. If someone pisses me off enough I won't interact with them and have sufficient confidence to think that it is their loss. I do this for pleasure, not to get stressed. Surprisingly, I have found that it is the people in glass houses that more often do throw the stones too.
In many ways I agree and indeed, endeavour to remain polite (if occasionally short) whether on here or on other fora.  In a certain respect, your comment underlines mine - there is an important element of communication lost in  (pseudo anonymous *) forum posts -
If I live in a glass internet house, and someone throws stones at it, rather than throwing them back I just need to fix the broken pane. (At least that is what I intended)
However, I am not perfect and there have been occasions when I have thrown stuff back too.


(*)pseudo anonymous as regular users will have a view about you and your reputation whether they know your real name or not
 

Offline graham.d

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« Reply #9 on: 25/08/2009 16:38:44 »
Actually, Mazurka, now I re-read what you said I can see that I misunderstood what you were saying. Apologies.
 

lyner

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is it the Andy Warhole effect?
« Reply #10 on: 25/08/2009 17:49:22 »
Some excellent point there - whilst I was away doing vital jobs.
1. God is a figure of speech.
2.Yes. It's Warhol. I didn't check.
3. Even the most unrealistic and keen lad accepts that he probably won't make it to the Premier League; a degree of realism which is surprising (and refreshing), bearing in mind that he may well expect to scratch a card and get 1k at the news agent's and to have two foreign holidays a year .
4. Young people do have it tough in some directions (but didn't they always?). It can't be their faults - it has to be the way that they have been exploited by advertisers, TV and politicians who have been tinkering too long and too much with education. Does it help them further to refrain from pointing out misconceptions on these Forums? Aamof, I find that many young people actually want to be told stuff rather than risk expressing a 'wrong' opinion about something. But, actually, it isn't just young people who take umbridge, is it?
5. Actually, this thread was not meant to be a continuation of the "how to answer Questions" thread. It was intended, more to explore the way that people want to approach Science rather than how they need to communicate with each other in a non contentious way. The two topics are clearly relate but the "questions" thread would apply to every forum on the net - matters of politeness and sensitivity being important everywhere (even on this thread).
I am interested to  know why people seem to think that Science, in particular,  can be approached with little or no preparation and that 'opinion' is what counts. Is it not accepted that to converse in French, for example, one needs a reasonable amount of vocabulary and some idea of grammar  and that one would not try to tell a French person how to do it? Likewise, there are very few people who would be offended if a tennis Pro told them that they should be making a shot in a certain way.
There are some aspects of Science which nearly everyone is in a position to appreciate and there are some aspects which are so damned difficult that no one does. I am not being at all elitist about this; I am being a realist because I am constantly banging my head against the glass ceiling. I just wonder why so many people do not appear to  acknowledge that the ceiling exists.
 

Offline Make it Lady

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« Reply #11 on: 25/08/2009 18:30:19 »
During my time teaching in secondary schools I have never come across anyone who could be classed as a wannabe scientist. All I found were young people interested in why things are how they are? Children love to ask WHY? from being tiny and their science exploration is an extension of this. I'm pretty old but my teachers never slapped me down, called me names for asking questions and neither did other pupils. My teachers were guides, in that they nudged me gently into finding the answers I required. Children that are constantly slapped down eventually stay down. I don't want to bring up children believing they are worthless. Realism is great but having no dreams at all is a tragedy.
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Offline rosy

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« Reply #12 on: 25/08/2009 18:58:50 »
There are an awful lot of different types of people asking questions and expressing opinions on the web and, more specifically on this forum. I don't have a particularly wide experience of forums (fora??) in general, but what I would disagree that the people most likely to take offence at being told they're just all out wrong are very rarely the young 'uns.

My experience (and I may be out of date on this, I haven't been keeping up to date on here lately) has tended to be that whilst the school kids make some pretty far out suggestions they rarely get particularly stroppy if told that they're just all-out wrong.
More often, I've found that some of the people who get most incensed at being contradicted are a bit older and have been mulling over a "pet theory" for a while and don't like being told that there is just no way that their explanation for a particular phenomenon is compatible with other known results.

Of course, one problem we do have is that some topics are particularly beloved of people with, erm, their own ideas about stuff, are also of general interest so people with a genuine question (as against the sort that they're planning to lead on to a discussion of their particular perpetual motion design) sometimes get snapped at for no good reason by impatient forum regulars.

MakeItLady, I would agree that beating kids down is bad, but I would contend that it is very important to let them find their limits... those most often aren't absolute limits, but any individual will be limited in how much physics they can understand if they don't yet have a grasp of the necessary maths, in terms of how much chemistry they can learn without having had the time and support to really get their head around the fundamentals of thermodynamics. That's just how it is. And to suggest that someone goes away to learn some more basics (because this site is many things but it's not a remedial maths class), is not to put them down. Unfortunately, people often take it like that.

One of the issues is of course one of people not knowing what they don't know.. there's a reason a glass ceiling is called a glass ceiling, it's because often you don't know it's there until the first time you unexpectedly bump your head on it. Of course, this happens in real "frontline" science too... you're a 19th century scientist, you're happily tidying up the edges on your grand unified theory when.. bloody hell, what's this... [long pause]... it's relativity, back to the drawing board folks.
 

Offline rosy

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« Reply #13 on: 25/08/2009 18:59:00 »
Also... I don't think "people" think that science can be approached without a lot of hard work in building up the basics, I think a small number of individuals believe that, and I think that this forum tends to collect them.
 

Offline Variola

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« Reply #14 on: 25/08/2009 19:29:05 »
In the greatest tradtion of TNS.... this topic has already been covered

http://www.thenakedscientists.com/forum/index.php?topic=25053.0

And done to death. Unless of course its one rule for forum posters and another rule for mods? (Rhet)


 

Offline JimBob

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« Reply #15 on: 25/08/2009 20:22:44 »
That is enough for this thread I think. As has been pointed out, this has been flogged to death.

I am going to lock this in the interest of keeping this a peaceful place.

Send all complaints to me.

 

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« Reply #15 on: 25/08/2009 20:22:44 »

 

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