Science CONFIRMS what we have always known – again
Monday, April 11, 2016 14 Comments
Let’s Hear It for Confirmation?
WHY are Common Sense & “Anecdotal” Evidence SUSPECT
until scientists obtain funding to “verify” what we already know?
© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Modern Media Headline News?
I really must stop reading the paper!
Anger and frustration grow increasingly stronger, page after page, reading even the headlines. When there is absolutely nothing one can do about what one reads, they are such uncomfortable, unproductive emotions.
I have come to expect various negative emotions whenever I read what passes for political commentary and coverage. I’m never sure which makes me crazier: what most of the politicians say and do or what most of the “news” reporters write about what the politicians say and do.
No longer do I spend hours of my time exploring alternate reportage in a vain attempt at determining the truth beneath a story printed in whatever paper I happen to pick up first.
As cynical as it sounds, I have finally been forced to accept that any political reportage I might read would be little more than another permutation of party SPIN in service of the almighty dollar, crafted primarily to attract a greater readership share than the journalistic competition.
Yet it seems that I have not yet jettisoned my naivety entirely.
Naivety, Hope & Timing
I still believe that research scientists truly mean well and are working to save lives and improve its quality for the next generation.
Nonetheless, it makes me Grumpy to note their lack of urgency as they take careful steps to build their careers and reputations – almost as if their patience with the process indicates that they need to think about the lives of this generation as “acceptable casualties.”
But about those reporters . . .
Science reportage in the majority of articles in the popular press retains the full force of my disdain.
- “Don’t ANY of them read original sources?” I wail silently, frowning over whatever I’m eating or drinking as I read.
- “Or is it that they don’t have adequate long-term memories? What’s been around for decades is not NEWS.”
I had those thoughts again, just last night – as I enjoyed a margarita with a Cactus Pear specialty nacho salad during a solo evening dining out at the restaurant within walking distance of my apartment building.
To keep me company, I picked up one of their copies of the March 23 – 29 issue of Citibeat, Cincinnati’s alternative paper. Hoping to read something brief and not too upsetting so I could enjoy my dinner, I turned to Worst Week Ever! – one of their running features.
There – along with a blurb about the Pope’s brand new Instagram presence and a long paragraph about the GOP’s refusal to consider Obama’s Supreme Court Nominee “or anything else the man wants” – was some “news” about the intelligence of dogs: Scientists Believe Dogs Are More Intelligent Than We Give the Little Bastards Credit For (alternative paper, remember).
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Dogs aren’t dumb animals without feelings
WOW! Who knew?
The reportage began by noting that, as recently as ten years ago, scientists had not delved very deeply into the “dog psyche,” but that in the past decade scientists have taken a deeper look. Oh really!?
One of my favorite affective neuroscientists, Jaak Panksepp, has been beating this drum for many decades – conducting cruelty-free experiments exploring animal emotions (even though many to most of his colleagues steadfastly persisted in down playing his findings and assertions).
Since the majority of Panskepp’s research was conducted with rats (and there wasn’t a lot of grubby money attached to replicating his findings), the scientific community saw fit to discount his conclusions until relatively recently — or, at least, to assert that it couldn’t possibly apply to mammals in general – or even poor lab rats – since what he claimed was “inconsistent with the body of knowledge of the field.”
Related article (with applications for struggles with activation):
Guess what this “new”
research has uncovered?
Supposedly recent science officially “indicates” that dogs can “reportedly” learn hundreds of words, understand social cues, and even comprehend non-verbal cues as subtle as the significance of a gaze.
Ultimately, “researchers found that dogs can operate at the same mental level as two-and-a-half-year-old human babies.”
Pet owners shake their heads
Irrespective of rubber stamp “validation” from the scientific community, I’ll bet this “news” comes as no surprise to Cooper’s caretaker, whose Shih Tzu has learned to shape-sort and count in addition to “standard” tricks like lie down, sit, shake hands, and more.
Even among those dog owners whose pets do not perform the standard tricks, anyone who has ever lived closely with a dog will tell you that they have never doubted that dogs understand and possess emotions as well as intelligence well beyond the range that science will ever deign to “prove.”
- After all, as column voice Danny Cross squanders precious column space to remind us sarcastically, research of this sort proves “how little the world’s brightest researchers have to do these days.”
- Gosh yes, Mr. Cross, we wouldn’t want anyone spending time on trivial research that might lead to the “scientifically verified” conclusion that we share the planet with other species that deserve kindness and respectful treatment (much less that research on animal intelligence might have applications to human neurology!!!)
Journalistic, as well as Scientific confirmation bias borders on an arrogance that is the polar opposite of what either field claims is foundational.
Related article: Confirmation Bias & The Tragedy of Certainty
Not just Dog Research
Regardless of arena, it makes me unbelievably Grumpy any time I read popular press reportage of “new” scientific information that isn’t new at all — or whenever I hear scientists or science writers discount the cumulative experiences of many hundreds of individuals with first-hand experience as “merely anecdotal.”
Wouldn’t you think that scientific curiosity alone
might encourage them to take these assertions seriously,
if not respectfully?
I think what makes me especially Grumpy is that, while the scientific old guard deliberates about the legitimacy of Journal publication for ground-breaking research, science stands still – sometimes for decades (as with Merzenich‘s early work on neuroplasticity, and Taub‘s on stroke recovery).
Meanwhile, far too many people who might have been helped
die without relief from life-long health problems,
and/or spend decades struggling needlessly with limp-along lives
that could have been so much more.
It seems to me that, in pursuit of science and scientific validation, science has lost its essential humanity, overlooking the reality that the quality of people’s LIVES are at stake – and they matter. NOW.
Related article: Science and Sensibility – the illusion of proof
Let’s hear it from YOU
I invite you to dump YOUR Monday grumps and gripes
in the comment section below each of my own – related or NOT.
As long as you don’t make individual people wrong, and do your best to avoid the dreaded “should” word, I will approve all comers (link-spammers shot on sight, however).
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You might also be interested in some of the following articles
available right now – on this site and elsewhere.
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Related articles right here on ADDandSoMuchMore.com
(in case you missed them above or below)
- The Monday Grumpy Monday intro post
- Science and Sensibility – the illusion of proof
- Confirmation Bias & The Tragedy of Certainty
- Is activation “Seeking System” Dependent?
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LinkLists by Category (to articles in Series here on ADDandSoMuchMore.com)
- British researchers devise an IQ test for dogs to understand how intelligence affects health
- New research suggests dog and human intelligence could be measured in much the same way.
- Doggy Genius: Shih Tzu defies Scientists by learning to count
- BSP-91 Brain Science Podcast interview with Jaak Panskepp (Origins of Emotions)
- BI 51: Why Animal Emotions Matter with Jaak Panksepp
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