— Jules Verne, Journey to the Center of the Earth (via whats-out-there)
Neil deGrasse Tyson (via yayfeminism)
You can watch him deliver this lovely response here.
The question he was answering btw was, “What’s up with chicks in science?” Disgusting.
I read this before I realized who it was, and I am amazed that anyone would treat Neil DeGrasse Tyson this way. I realize that being famous doesn’t protect anyone from racism, but it just seems more bizarre when it’s someone who is noted for being awesome. (Like how LeVar Burton has to have a method of not getting killed or arrested by white cops.)
I’ve been seeing a lot of this in the news lately, so I just wanted to remind people that:
1. Correlation does not prove causation. Sure, there is a chance A causes B,but B could also be causing A, or C could be causing both A and B, or C could be causing A while Dis is causing B, or C and D could be causing A and B, etc.. Seriously, there are a whole lot of things that could be happening, but people who are ignorant or have an agenda often report a correlation as if it proves anything other than two particular things turn up together more than one would expect to happen at random.
2. In social sciences, it’s usually impossible to remove all the variables so studies are by nature flawed. You can’t do pure science because ethics and because people are complicated things. How flawed depends a whole lot on experimental design. It is a good idea to bring skepticism to findings that can’t possibly eliminate large numbers of variables. You can’t ethically toss live humans into a skinner box. You can’t absolutely be sure what is happening when they are at home or out in the world. If a whole lot of studies with solid experimental design from a whole lot of people with different backgrounds over a long period of time point to a particular result, it is more likely to be true than a single study funded by an institution with a particular axe to grind is.
3. Humans are flawed and they all make biases and assumptions. Sometimes it takes decades or even generations for people to spot assumptions and biases. Everybody (including me) has a hard time spotting unexamined biases and assumptions without outside help. Again, those biases can completely screw up studies bot only in fields like education and sociology, but has and likely always will, ruin studies in fields like biology in experiments involving observation. (What colour is that fish? How big is the interior of that skull?) Buyer beware, folks. Read the experimental design. (Did they match populations for things like income? Is the sample really random? What is the sample size? How exactly are they measuring whatever they are measuring?) Find out who paid for the study. Find out if the scientist(s) have a strong ideological axe to grind. (I’m looking at you white supremacist bell jar guy).