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Desc:and why it's a hard question to answer when a layman asks
Category:Science & Technology
Tags:ICP, magnets, feynman, Fucking Magnets
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Comment count is 36
StanleyPain - 2010-11-05
You know, I'm not sure I would want to have a discussion with this man. It seems like he might be somewhat dishonest and perhaps not telling me the truth. It upsets me a little, frankly.
IrishWhiskey - 2010-11-05
I don't think his long winded and difficult to understand explanation is useful. The particular details of electromagnetic forces are not necessary to understand the fundamental driving forces behind nature that explain all matters. As an example, I was in San Fransisco when I observed unusual animal behavior from a bird, specifically an attempt to acquire and use advanced technology. I do not need to understand the physiology of the bird, the technology of the device, or anything of animal psychology, in order to have an understanding as to the event and why it occurred. The explanation behind these event can be observed, but not actually "seen", which is why this scientists attempts to distill the explanation into measurable parameters falls short.

Siebenstein - 2010-11-05
Those are for StanleyPain, because I saw what he did there.

baleen - 2010-11-05

Disagree. He takes a simple question and summarizes hermeneutics in under ten minutes, asking us to transcend causal interpretations and question experience itself. He moves from positivism (all the pieces of the puzzle and how they interact) to antipositivism (that the questioner himself cannot understand magnetism without being able to relate knowledge to concepts and experience).

IrishWhiskey, your experience of the bird using tools is not understanding, it is an experience of a bird using tools.

Hooker - 2010-11-05
Yeah, but I wish you hadn't pointed it out. Whiskey and baleen missing the point has been great.

IrishWhiskey - 2010-11-05
Apparently a Pelican eating a cellphone is far too subtle for people to detect I was continuing the joke.

FeeFiFoFoTheFifeFifeBrown - 2010-11-05
I appreciated the pelican reference, dammit.

Siebenstein - 2010-11-05
I'm sorry guys.

StanleyPain - 2010-11-05
Actually, I like the way this thread turned out.
In all seriousness, I loved his answer, which is why I dig Feynman despite the fact that all the math and physics and everything else go over my head for the most part.

StanleyPain - 2010-11-05
Oh, and also, I think this video is the ultimate "fuck you" to anti-science types, though they could never sit still long enough to watch it or absorb it, because ultimately the message of what's being said here is "complex science requires complex answers" and it gets old that so many people assume that if an ordinary layman person can't answer something, therefore it has been disproven. i.e. creationists who think that joe blow on the street being unable to answer a question about evolutionary science means all science everywhere is destroyed.

Adramelech - 2010-11-05
I don't think the problem with "anti-science types" is not understanding things. I've had a creationist tell me that science was useless because it can "only explain what happens" and not why it happens, "why" to this person obviously meaning God.

It doesn't really matter what information you can explain, because it all just fits under their framework of a supernatural world. "Miracles" was not exaggerating, some people really do see every single thing as irrefutable proof of God.

Hot lava, snow, rain and fog
Long neck giraffes, and pet cats and dogs

Urkel Forever - 2010-11-05
All things dull and ugly,
All creatures short and squat,
All things rude and nasty,
The Lord God made the lot.
Each little snake that poisons,
Each little wasp that stings,
He made their brutish venom.
He made their horrid wings.

All things sick and cancerous,
All evil great and small,
All things foul and dangerous,
The Lord God made them all.

Each nasty little hornet,
Each beastly little squid--
Who made the spikey urchin?
Who made the sharks? He did!

All things scabbed and ulcerous,
All pox both great and small,
Putrid, foul and gangrenous,
The Lord God made them all.


Goofy Gorilla - 2010-11-05
I agree Hooker. Every time people miss the point of that joke is a triumph for mankind. Every time they catch it is representative of its failure.

Old_Zircon - 2010-11-05
These are for Whiskey and Baleen.

fluffy - 2010-11-05
I really need to get around to listening to the whole song if I'm going to understand this thread, don't I.

Scrotum H. Vainglorious - 2010-11-05
I'm already gettin' pissed.
fatatty - 2010-11-05
Motherfucker is clearly lyin'

Hooker - 2010-11-05
His answer is, and I'm paraphrasing a bit here, "It's complicated."
asian hick - 2010-11-05
Feynman pinched the ass of my professor's girlfriend when the guy was an undergrad at CalTech.
dododge - 2010-11-06
We could try to explain the unstoppable attraction between Feynman's hands and women's bodies but it would just lead to a questions about hormones and chromosomes and neural connections and electrical forces which puts us right back at square one again. The only easy answer to *why* his hands grope is simply that they *do*.

Oscar Wildcat - 2010-11-05
Fucking quantum mechanical exchange force between electrons with parallel spins in ferromagnetism, how does that work?
Gamara II - 2010-11-05
Miracles probably

dancingshadow - 2010-11-05
Someone's in a pissy mood...

This is just 7 minute way of saying "if you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe."
memedumpster - 2010-11-05
"My scientific knowledge lacks a slack-jawed yokel equivalent, so your question is not answerable in you terms."

I love this man so much.
dancingshadow - 2010-11-05
I prefer Einstein's,
"It should be possible to explain the laws of physics to a barmaid."

memedumpster - 2010-11-05
I agree with that, actually. I would love to take a barmaid through time and have him or her explain to Einstein that we have this thing called the Large Hadron Collider which is gearing up to try and create its own big bang in a future where scientists are saying that they might be able to create another universe.

He would probably ignore all of that and stare at the time machine's tits.

Oscar Wildcat - 2010-11-05
Ask Dr. Science: He knows _more_ than you do.

Bisekrankas - 2010-11-05
I fucked a magnet once, it was complicated
Adramelech - 2010-11-05
Okay, but how does he explain everything chillin' underwater? Please.
OldScratch - 2010-11-05
1:57 - Feynman subtly grabs his wiener and re-adjusts his pants.
mamiebangs - 2010-11-05
He's such a horny old slut
glendower - 2010-11-06
Maybe I should watch this again, but my initial take on it is that he's being an elitist dick.

He seems to be saying: "Since you don't have a background in science, there is no way I can communicate to you what I really know."

If anything, this type of response is what causes the redneck/ICP hatred and distrust of science. This type of answer makes science appear to be some dogmatic and esoteric discourse available to a select group of people. If scientists want the public to appreciate what they do, they should at least attempt to translate their work into an accessible language for non-scientists. An informed public should be an end in and of itself, but it's also necessary to sustain government funding of important scientific research.

The claim that a 'why' question is invalid strikes me as completely disingenuous. Hume demonstrated more than 200 years ago that it's impossible to prove causality, but that never stopped scientists from asking 'why?' since the question nonetheless leads to new, if partial, knowledge.
kingofthenothing - 2010-11-06
the only 'accessable' language to science is math, and math, while being universal, is a language where the other side really has to go half-way, and that's something lazybrained illiterate fucktards are never going to do. Rednecks aren't even smarter than 5th graders, so trying to tell them there's a whole world of ideas that can only be explored with higher math is tantamount to looking at them crossways or devil worship or some form of being a Jew.

Wander - 2010-11-06
No, they mostly ask how and what. He's also not saying that science is for the elite only, he's saying that they way this questioner is attempting to gain knowledge is not the right way.

Xiphias - 2010-11-06
He's not being an elitist, he's saying that explaining the fundamental forces in plain language isn't really possible. There's a reason scientists use math.

glendower - 2010-11-07
At the risk of starting a flame war:

I agree that some meaning is lost in translating a complex mathematics/physics issue into layman's terms, but I think it's dangerous to claim that no meaning can be conveyed in this process.

Buying into that claim means no one but math and physics geniuses will understand anything about the latest advances in quantum theory. Last time I checked, one did not need to be a nuclear physicist to learn at least the basic issues underlining Heisenberg's uncertainty principle. If you are claiming math is the only way in, then most of the population, including most well-educated people, would be barred from any of Heisenberg's knowledge. Because efforts have indeed been made at translation, most educated people nowadays understand--on a non-technical level--that the universe is not the perfect clockwork Newton envisaged. I think that knowledge has value.

The elitist argument that "you're too dumb to understand this complex math stuff we do" is, in fact, part of the reason people--including savvy businesspeople--unquestioningly trusted mathematically complex derivatives and credit default swaps in finance. Had an attempt been made at "plain English" understanding, maybe someone--perhaps even the math gurus themselves--would have realized these things were pieces of shit.

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