[ASC-list] Science in demand this year

Rob Morrison rob.morrison at flinders.edu.au
Thu Jan 19 07:17:50 UTC 2012

That is not a quick one to answer, but in short, science requires (among other things)

No dependence on the supernatural or mystical for explanation.
The ability (necessity) for material to be put in the form of a testable and potentially hypothesis.
The testing of that hypothesis experimentally, with proper experimental design (controls, isolating variables, double blind etc etc)
The abandoning of the hypothesis if experimental results show it not to hold.

Alternative therapies , like creationism, will never retreat from their dogma, and very few adherents like them to be tested by independent and qualified people. Like the "psychics" the practitioners dismiss experimental findings that show the treatments don't work. A scientific approach would be to dismiss the supposed treatments.

Pseudoscience also uses scientific terminology, often incorrectly, to gain the respectable trappings of science without following the necessary dictates of its practice. "Creation Science" is an example.

You will also find that most pseudoscientific alternatives end up relying on some mysterious force, usually an ill-defined "energy" of some unspecified kind, and quite a lot attribute their power to vague, ancient or distant civilisations.

We don't do attachments on the list, but I am happy to send you a brief "What is Science" offering of mine if it helps. It was placed on the AusSMC website wjhen we had to try to explain what was and was not science in the science media that we work on.


Dr Rob Morrison
rob.morrison at flinders.edu.au
Phone: (08) 8339 3790
Fax: (08)8339 6272

From: Renato Schibeci [R.Schibeci at murdoch.edu.au]
Sent: Thursday, 19 January 2012 4:31 PM
To: Phillip Arena; Rob Morrison; Niall Byrne; asc-list at lists.asc.asn.au
Subject: Re: [ASC-list] Science in demand this year

A really interesting discussion.
Who decides what ‘science’ is, and what criteria do they use in this decision?

Renato Schibeci
School of Education
Murdoch University

On 19/01/12 1:12 PM, "Phillip Arena" <P.Arena at murdoch.edu.au<https://red003.mail.apac.microsoftonline.com/owa/UrlBlockedError.aspx>> wrote:

I agree Rob. In the past, we've had the sprouting of courses such as Forensic Sciences (even extending back into the secondary sector) largely in response to the popularity of CSI on television (in a similar fashion to the correlation between Law enrolments with 'LA Law'). With regards to Forensic Science, there was little opportunity for students to get work in this field, certainly in Australia so I was left wondering why we were teaching it to such high numbers.

I'd be interested in a breakdown of what specific science programs are offered (and yes, I'm really holding back on my 'cynical' view - as I believe, regardless of what is happening with enrolments in science, there is still a bigger picture).



-----Original Message-----
From: asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au<https://red003.mail.apac.microsoftonline.com/owa/UrlBlockedError.aspx> on behalf of Rob Morrison
Sent: Thu 1/19/2012 12:17 PM
To: Niall Byrne; ASC list(asc-list at lists.asc.asn.au<https://red003.mail.apac.microsoftonline.com/owa/UrlBlockedError.aspx>)
Subject: Re: [ASC-list] Science in demand this year

No, not seeing the glass as half empty - I'd be delighted if these figures are truly reflecting increased enrolments in reputable science courses - but given how many Aussie universities (half) are now offering pseudoscience courses as science, it does warrant a bit of dissection of the figures to find out exactly what science is involved here. Science is, as we know, a broad field with increasing numbers of pseudoscience interlopers.


Dr Rob Morrison
rob.morrison at flinders.edu.au<https://red003.mail.apac.microsoftonline.com/owa/UrlBlockedError.aspx>
Phone: (08) 8339 3790
Fax: (08)8339 6272

From: asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au<https://red003.mail.apac.microsoftonline.com/owa/UrlBlockedError.aspx> [asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au<https://red003.mail.apac.microsoftonline.com/owa/UrlBlockedError.aspx>] On Behalf Of Niall Byrne [niall at scienceinpublic.com.au<https://red003.mail.apac.microsoftonline.com/owa/UrlBlockedError.aspx>]
Sent: Thursday, 19 January 2012 2:28 PM
To: ASC list (asc-list at lists.asc.asn.au<https://red003.mail.apac.microsoftonline.com/owa/UrlBlockedError.aspx>)
Subject: Re: [ASC-list] Science in demand this year

An interesting discussion. But are you all seeing the glass as half empty?

Science is the most popular course at UniMelb. Arts is second. Biomedical courses are third.

If these trends are being repeated at other Group of Eights (hopefully none of whom are teaching iridology) then there has to be at least a glimmer of good news.

BTW I should note that my numbers were sourced from VTAC and include everyone, not just first preferences.

Melbourne's first preference numbers are on the web here. http://newsroom.melbourne.edu/news/n-735

And I understand that they have not taken up the government offer for more places.



Niall Byrne

Creative Director
Science in Public

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