I'm certainly not anti-Science - after all, I initially trained to be a scientist - but I am anti-Scientism (Science as a totalising / hegemonic construct).
And, certainly, Science / Hard Facts are a useful and important weapon in the war on Post-Truth / Trump-Putin-May.Prop / Climate Change Denial / etc, etc. That's a blade I wouldn't want to blunt.
But 'Science' can be a double-edged sword; it also takes corporate / lobbyist money, supports all sorts of dodgy, unpalatable & unethical practices, institutions, treatment of workers, minorities, blahblahblah while being held up as some sort of monolithic Unassailable Truth... because, well, to quote a billion unthinking auto-parroted geektweets, "Because Science."
It's something I've been thinking about, on and off, for a while now - and Godknows you could lose yrself down a decade-long philosophical reading-rabbithole just tracking the different lines of thought on this - buuut I reckon I get at least two conversations a month where someone (and usually it's someone whose opinions I otherwise respect) tells me that so-and-so is dubious / not-ever-gonna-be-true because "it's unscientific" or "pseudoscience" or.
Full Stop, end-of-discussion. "Because Science."
The problem, maybe, is that people have been 'taught' to conflate Science with The Truth.
They are two different things.
Science is, oh I don't know, a methodology - a means by which ideas are are tested and potentially incorporated into a body of knowledge. That's different to The Truth. Science as a Body-of-Interconnected-Knowledge is different to Science as a Body-of-Interconnected-Knowledge 50 years ago, which is VERY different to Science as a Body-of-Interconnected-Knowledge 100 years ago, et cetera. Some widely-held 'scientific' beliefs of Today will almost certainly be laughed at and ridiculed in 100 years time.
Because, well, "Because Science."
Anyway, it's late and I'm rambling, but it's worth from time to time just considering how much Science (ie published / peer-reviewed research) is actually, er, true. Maybe that's why this caught my eye:
"There has been an increasing concern in both the scientific and lay communities that most published medical findings are false. But what does it mean to be false? Here we describe the range of definitions of false discoveries in the scientific literature. We summarize the philosophical, statistical, and experimental evidence for each type of false discovery. We discuss common underpinning problems with the scientific and data analytic practices and point to tools and behaviors that can be implemented to reduce the problems with published scientific results."
Wow. That Justice League trailer is pretty fucking awful.
Though they'd have to go some to make a worse film than the Batman-Superman one.
My memory's a bit sketchy, but isn't that a Grant Morrison line - from (his concurrent 90's) runs on either The Invisibles or JLA?
(By his own admission, they were basically the same thing).
"Electronic interfaces have advanced from plugging things in, to keyboards, touchscreens, VR environments, and perhaps soon temporary tattoos. Led by Martin Weigel, researchers at Saarland University in Saarbrücken, Germany have come up with a way to turn your skin blemishes and wrinkles into touch-sensitive controls for devices like smartphones and computers.
"“SkinMarks” can be transferred onto the skin using water and last a couple of days before rubbing off. As seen in the video below, these e-tattoos can take the form of buttons, sliders and visual displays, and even sense when a joint is bent. For example, knuckles on a hand made into a fist could act as buttons and then become a slider when the fingers are straightened."
Astronomy moves into the Super-Huge Big Data Era. And all sorts of interstellar weirdness is starting to creep out of the datasets...
"The primary Kepler mission provided light curves for over 100,000 stars, and its continuation K2 is observing another 20,000 stars every three months. As we enter an era where these enormous photometric data sets become commonplace — Gaia will obtain photometry for millions of stars, and LSST billions — it’s crucial that we understand the different categories of variability observed in these stars.
"In these light curves, Stauffer and collaborators found a set of 23 very low-mass, mid-to-late-type M dwarfs with unusual variability in their light curves. The variability is consistent with the stars’ rotation period where measured — which suggests that whatever causes the dips in the light curve, it’s orbiting at the same rate as the star spins."
"In this post we'll outline new OpenAI research in which agents develop their own language.
"Our hypothesis is that true language understanding will come from agents that learn words in combination with how they affect the world, rather than spotting patterns in a huge corpus of text. As a first step, we wanted to see if cooperative agents could develop a simple language amongst themselves.
"We've just released initial results in which we teach AI agents to create language by dropping them into a set of simple worlds, giving them the ability to communicate, and then giving them goals that can be best achieved by communicating with other agents. If they achieve a goal, then they get rewarded. We train them using reinforcement learning and, due to careful experiment design, they develop a shared language to help them achieve their goals."
"Yet the most atypical obsession of those five decades may be that of veteran music publicist and longtime Velvets fan Mark Satlof, who collects original pressings of the album. He owns more than 800 of them – he's actually not sure exactly how many – which are neatly filed on shelves in his study. They account for an estimated 1 percent of all copies manufactured in the U.S. before March 1969. A first mono pressing, still in its shrink wrap? Check. Promo copies — both the version with the yellow label and the much rarer, white-label edition? Natch. The "Close Cut" 1972 edition with an alternate printing of the banana sticker, without the border? Over there. Original U.K., Canadian and New Zealand editions that don't that doesn't even have a banana on the cover? Yup."