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  Topic: Half the Facts You
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Half the Facts You
Know Are Probably Wrong

Reason Magazine, by Ronald Bailey

Original Article

Posted By:StormCnter, 12/25/2012 4:47:12 AM

Dinosaurs were cold-blooded. Increased K-12 spending and lower pupil/teacher ratios boost public school student outcomes. Most of the DNA in the human genome is junk. Saccharin causes cancer and a high fiber diet prevents it. Stars cannot be bigger than 150 solar masses. In the past half-century, all of the foregoing facts have turned out to be wrong. In the modern world facts change all of the time, according to Samuel Arbesman, author of the new book The Half-Life of Facts: Why Everything We Know Has an Expiration Date (Current). Fact-making is speeding up, writes Arbesman,

      


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Reply 1 - Posted by: Japanorama, 12/25/2012 4:51:12 AM     (No. 9082737)

Who needs facts?
Look at Obama.

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Reply 2 - Posted by: iamtinman, 12/25/2012 5:22:07 AM     (No. 9082751)

Mr Arbesmans book should be required reading for every high school student. We are raising a generation of children only too willing to believe anything they are told as long as it comes with a rock or movie star attached! Skepticism is a heqalthy trait and should be encouraged.

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R-G1
  
R-VAR_AD


 
Reply 3 - Posted by: iamtinman, 12/25/2012 5:23:57 AM     (No. 9082754)

Oops! "healthy"

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Reply 4 - Posted by: BcdErick, 12/25/2012 6:04:15 AM     (No. 9082764)

A very good essay/ Thanks for posting! But rather than say "half the things you know are wrong" why not just say as knowledge grows almost half of everything you studied or read, becomes more complicated? (yes, I acknowledge that some old beliefs are flat out wrong but nowhere near 50%). For instance, I was, indeed, taught that dinosaurs were "cold blooded". This was based on the assumption that dinosaurs were all reptiles and reptiles are cold blooded. But now even the claim that reptiles of today are cold blooded is under dispute. This is apparently because the consensus is evolving (sic). Now it is thought, by some at least, that the term “cold blooded” casts a deceptive picture of actual behavior and I have read of the term "Thermoegulation". This is all well and good. I enjoy reading about it. But sometimes it is hard for a non-specialist to tell how much substance is in the newer terms/descriptions vs. how much is changing fashion/nuance. Anyway, thanks again.

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Reply 5 - Posted by: chumley, 12/25/2012 6:29:53 AM     (No. 9082783)

Science is never "settled". What we can prove with a scientific certainty today will change tomorrow.
That doesn´t even take into account people with agendas.
Unless I have experienced something myself, I have to be skeptical.

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Reply 6 - Posted by: dragonlearner, 12/25/2012 6:51:47 AM     (No. 9082793)

It´s amazing the amount of medical "discoveries" that come out of subsidized research.

In fact, I would argue that when you subsidize medical research, you slow down progress. It´s human nature. People don´t work as hard when there is no profit motive.

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Reply 7 - Posted by: tren9, 12/25/2012 7:38:01 AM     (No. 9082814)

Mark Twain pointed out that it is NOT what we don´t know that gets us in trouble. It is what we don´t know that we don´t know.

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Reply 8 - Posted by: Midnight Rambler, 12/25/2012 8:34:40 AM     (No. 9082866)

Well, I for one can only believe about half that article.

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Reply 9 - Posted by: krause, 12/25/2012 8:57:28 AM     (No. 9082879)

Skepticism is sorely needed today.

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Reply 10 - Posted by: catfur27, 12/25/2012 9:46:18 AM     (No. 9082929)

...am I to now believe that all those govt dependent "global warming scientists" who are screaming that the world temp has never changed before...and that the "ideal" temp of the world was the one we ( the supremely important baby-boomers)grew up with in the 60´s and 70´s ...and that the cause of this catastrophic calamity is basically American,white, suburban, SUV drivers...and people who carelessly use electricity from coal fired power plants???...that those guys just MAY be wrong!!??....s/

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Reply 11 - Posted by: pindarjr, 12/25/2012 9:46:52 AM     (No. 9082931)

After a careful and honest review of all the things I know, I´ve come to the realization that 92% of what I know is completely false and that´s why I envy all of you who can call on facts, only half of which are incorrect. I think Freud called what I have "fact envy."

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Reply 12 - Posted by: John318, 12/25/2012 10:03:07 AM     (No. 9082946)

Here´s a fact: Truth is dead in America.

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Reply 13 - Posted by: raphaela, 12/25/2012 10:43:37 AM     (No. 9082975)

After a careful search I´ve determined that the Bible contains the only rock solid truth there is. Everything else is smudged beyond repair by mankind and his hubris. The only one we can trust is the Lord.

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Reply 14 - Posted by: RancherJack, 12/25/2012 11:05:29 AM     (No. 9082997)

I was regularly told to shush in elementary school because I asked "why?" all the time.

Turns out I was right.

Read the book.

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Reply 15 - Posted by: whyyeseyec, 12/25/2012 11:15:50 AM     (No. 9083009)

If there is one thing I know for a fact it is this: The less I know, the more free time I have.

/s

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Reply 16 - Posted by: M2, 12/25/2012 11:18:10 AM     (No. 9083011)

While I couldn´t agree more with Arbesman´s conclusions about the half-life of "facts", the premise itself is self-refuting, which necessitates that Arbesman´s statements of fact also cannot be trusted. They, too, have a short shelf-life, although somehow I doubt most of his conclusions will be proved false. But, using his own logic, some will.

Look how many so-called facts have been proved wrong. Remember Darwin´s "tree of life"? No proof for it whatsoever.
Remember the fetal development chart we learned as kids that was supposed to show that we "evolve" from fetus to adult the same way we evolved as a species? It was admitted to be false by its creators. Remember being told that the speed of light is constant? Recently shown to be wrong.

Remember oat bran? Coconut oil? Coffee? Wine? Low fat? High fiber? Low-carb? Organic? "Healthy whole grains"? All truth claims about them being good or bad for humans have bounced back and forth in my lifetime at least twice.

That said, it isn´t so much the "facts" being wrong that bother me. It is how naively people react to supposedly true statements which really aren´t true. The current climate in America is a good example: We have almost half or more of the country who believe false statements simmply because they choose to believe them, never once feeling it necessary to be skeptical, let alone fact-check them. That´s how we got Obama, in part.

As a nation, we have deliberately been robbed of two generations of people who can think critically and analyze properly. That is an immeasurable loss.

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Reply 17 - Posted by: Bobn.T, 12/25/2012 11:21:28 AM     (No. 9083015)

Facts:
The media is not biased.
0bama was born in the US.
Kerry is a war hero.
Clinton is not a rapist.
Sean Penn loves this country.
America is prospering.
The NEA is educating our children.
The Russians and Chinese are not threats.
Islam is a religion of love.


I could go on and on but you get the idea.

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R_DBL_B
  


 
Reply 18 - Posted by: jorgecito, 12/25/2012 11:25:54 AM     (No. 9083018)

More "facts" that aren´t really facts...

- statins and other cholesterol-reducing drugs help prevent heart attacks
- hormone replacement therapy for women helps prevent heart attacks and strokes
- mammograms should be performed yearly on all women over 50
- PSA levels are a reliable indicator of prostate cancer
- dietary salt increases blood pressure

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Reply 19 - Posted by: larryp, 12/25/2012 12:03:50 PM     (No. 9083064)

Then half of what Arbesman has written has expired.

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Reply 20 - Posted by: mossley, 12/25/2012 12:51:00 PM     (No. 9083110)

Saccharin causing cancer was never a fact. An initial study showed a link, and the media ran it to death. Following studies were unable to confirm the results of the first study. The original researchers looked into their study and eventually found that the lab had accidentally sent them rats with a genetic predisposition to develop cancer.

That´s what science is about - seeing if others can reproduce the results and if not finding out why. The media never ran any corrections on their scaremongering.

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Reply 21 - Posted by: Knarfski, 12/25/2012 1:27:41 PM     (No. 9083141)



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Reply 22 - Posted by: 4Justice, 12/25/2012 2:36:36 PM     (No. 9083198)

I could have told them that all that stuff was false. Thank goodness I had the mother I had who not only taught us about all kinds of subjects, and didn´t leave our education completely up to the government schools (even though they were still relatively good back then). But she also taught us critical thinking as well as using reason over emotion. We never had a problem accepting challenges to our belief system (unlike today´s lefties) because we could accept the idea that new facts could be brought forward. The only thing I will balk at, however, it the notion that Pluto is not a planet now. Lol! To me, that is just a matter of changing definitions.

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Reply 23 - Posted by: realrep, 12/25/2012 5:45:08 PM     (No. 9083368)

If I read it on the internet, it must be true./s

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Reply 24 - Posted by: ColonialAmerican1623, 12/25/2012 8:51:43 PM     (No. 9083509)

There are cold hard facts and then there is razzle dazzle.

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Reply 25 - Posted by: LC Chihuahua, 12/25/2012 8:53:15 PM     (No. 9083512)

Half of the people do not use logic and reason when making their choices any more. The 2012 election is proof.

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Reply 26 - Posted by: tlyons1, 12/25/2012 11:15:12 PM     (No. 9083623)

I remember hearing about the DDT scare...much later...after millions of deaths in Africa, it was said to be false..... Is this another example?

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Reply 27 - Posted by: beamer, 12/26/2012 5:25:51 AM     (No. 9083735)

As long as I have my Obamaphone I can check the facts. My brother knows. He told me so.

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