When is a person considered "Scientifically Literate?"

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When is a person considered "Scientifically Literate?"

Post by SMSkeptic » Sat Dec 03, 2011 5:02 pm

What does a person have to know in order to be considered scientifically literate? How "fluent" do they have to be? Is there a set criteria? If so what does that consist of?

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When is a person considered "Scientifically Literate?"

Post by fromthehills » Sat Dec 03, 2011 8:00 pm

I consider myself the bar. When someone knows as much as I do


they have a long way to go. I consider people that know more than I do, scientifically literate. However, I think the process is far more important. I'm not the brightest bulb on the tree ( seasonally festive ), but learning what I can, understanding it to my ability, and to be open minded enough to change my thoughts on it when new evidence comes to light is all I really care about.

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Re: When is a person considered "Scientifically Literate?"

Post by Monster » Sat Dec 03, 2011 8:02 pm

Actually, there is indeed a measurement of such a thing, but I couldn't tell you. Sorry. Google probably knows.
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Re: When is a person considered "Scientifically Literate?"

Post by Austin Harper » Sat Dec 03, 2011 10:17 pm

I don't think it's a binary function of yes or no. Some people are just more scientifically literate than others.
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Re: When is a person considered "Scientifically Literate?"

Post by Monster » Sat Dec 03, 2011 10:44 pm

Monster wrote:Actually, there is indeed a measurement of such a thing, but I couldn't tell you. Sorry. Google probably knows.

Oh SCIENTIFICALLY illiterate. Damn, I thought the thread title was just "illiterate". I'm really making myself look bad here. :(
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Re: When is a person considered "Scientifically Literate?"

Post by brauneyz » Sat Dec 03, 2011 11:00 pm

SMSkeptic wrote:What does a person have to know in order to be considered scientifically literate? How "fluent" do they have to be? Is there a set criteria? If so what does that consist of?


Who wants to know? Seriously, this is not set in stone. Among scientists, there is certainly a bar. Among academics, probably another. Among CongressCritters, even a third criteria (admittedly, that one's pretty low!) :P

Take out the word "scientifically" and just go with literate. I think we Americans have a standard of 8th grade (maybe?) reading comprehension to be considered literate. Join a book club and you'd be considered illiterate unless you'd read War and Peace, backwards, and in Latin.

Is this just a conversation starter or do you hope to pin this down and use it somehow? Education or career plans?

BTW, nice first post. Welcome aboard. :wave:
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Re: When is a person considered "Scientifically Literate?"

Post by Poodle » Sun Dec 04, 2011 12:09 am

There's a US definition here ...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_literacy

But, as brauneyz points out, I'd think that's one definition amongst many.

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Re: When is a person considered "Scientifically Literate?"

Post by Saoirse » Sun Dec 04, 2011 6:21 am

I wish I understood science topics better than I do. I struggled with Physical Science and Chemistry in school. I did better in Biology and Astronomy.
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Re: When is a person considered "Scientifically Literate?"

Post by SMSkeptic » Mon Dec 05, 2011 7:39 pm

Yay, responses!
Thanks everyone, great feedback. I generally approach topics from a philosophical slant. (professional bias)
The discussion on scientific literacy is an interesting one for me because the definition means different things to different people. (kind of like "I know it when I see it")
I have had discussions with people who consider themselves scientifically literate, but confuse a philosophical, or literary theory, with the criteria for a scientific theory. They don't understand falsification, peer review, or basic methodology. Are they literate, but not "fluent"?
I also know people who know, and practice, the methodology, but ignore conclusions that disagree with their preconceived notions. This makes me wonder if bias is a component of illiteracy, or rather functional illiteracy?

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Re: When is a person considered "Scientifically Literate?"

Post by OlegTheBatty » Mon Dec 05, 2011 10:59 pm

Bias is a component of human. Everyone has biases. One of the triumphs of science is the mitigation of bias through peer review and repeatability. These spread the biases over a lot more people, and tends to dilute it to inconsequential.
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Re: When is a person considered "Scientifically Literate?"

Post by Aztexan » Tue Dec 06, 2011 7:38 pm

I think some people have the ability to completely unbias themselves from any given situation and observe objectively. I'm not one of them. It takes real discipline. But I agree with fromthehills. My measuring stick is this place because the people in my real life are complete idiots or too closed-minded to even consider alternatives. So to be scientifically literate, IMHO, is not to master each field, but to at least try to know a little something about human nature and nature and many things in between. If you can do that, and try to see life in terms of just viewing life (not that there's anything wrong with viewing it with love and awe and wonder, etc.), then you will at least be on your way to being a little less scientifically illterate each day, and from there the journey begins...
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Re: When is a person considered "Scientifically Literate?"

Post by xouper » Tue Dec 06, 2011 7:52 pm

Imagine Jeff Foxworthy saying this:

"You might be scientifically literate, if you can make any sense of the following."
http://www.xoup.net/faq/watermolecules.php

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Re: When is a person considered "Scientifically Literate?"

Post by OlegTheBatty » Tue Dec 06, 2011 8:22 pm

ruben lopez wrote:. . . then you will at least be on your way to being a little less scientifically illterate each day, and from there the journey begins...

Thank you Ruben, for reminding us that literacy is a journey, not a place, or a destination. Your comments are just as valid for a genius as a schlemiel.
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Re: When is a person considered "Scientifically Literate?"

Post by fromthehills » Tue Dec 06, 2011 8:40 pm

xouper wrote:Imagine Jeff Foxworthy saying this:

"You might be scientifically literate, if you can make any sense of the following."
http://www.xoup.net/faq/watermolecules.php


You're wrong, Xouper, because I made sense of that. Thanks, anyway, that's pretty cool.

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Re: When is a person considered "Scientifically Literate?"

Post by Flash » Tue Dec 06, 2011 10:42 pm

Well, if you honestly believe that Eve was made from Adam's rib and the Earth complete with fossils and all was created ten thousand years ago than you are not only scientifically illiterate, you are really stupid and you deserve a guy like Santorum to be your president.
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Re: When is a person considered "Scientifically Literate?"

Post by justinrapper » Fri Mar 02, 2012 11:37 pm

A person is considered scientifically literate when he realizes a skeptic is not a qualifier and gets an education in the the sciences.

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Re: When is a person considered "Scientifically Literate?"

Post by Major Malfunction » Sat Mar 03, 2012 5:03 am

xouper wrote:"You might be scientifically literate, if you can make any sense of the following."
http://www.xoup.net/faq/watermolecules.php

That's highschool chemistry. To answer the OP, I'd say anyone that has passed a final year highschool class (or equivalent) in at least one of the core sciences. However...

fromthehills wrote:You're wrong, Xouper, because I made sense of that. Thanks, anyway, that's pretty cool.

justinrapper wrote:A person is considered scientifically literate when he realizes a skeptic is not a qualifier and gets an education in the the sciences.

...A formal education is not necessarily required. There's an alternative school called 'The School of Hard Knocks'. It's kind of like Open University. There are no campuses, no classes, no certificates or ceremonies, and there are no entry requirements except for an earnest desire to understand.

Despite the apparent lack of structure, The School of Hard Knocks produces some of the brightest graduates on the planet.

Even tho' I do have a formal qualification, it doesn't mean my education stopped there. Nor does it mean I look down upon knowledgeable people from The School of Hard Knocks. In fact, I find them so inspiring that I've taken up studies for a PhD at the same School!*

Unfortunately for Justin, I don't think he'd meet the stringent entry requirements.

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Re: When is a person considered "Scientifically Literate?"

Post by salomed » Sat Mar 03, 2012 8:40 pm

SMSkeptic wrote:What does a person have to know in order to be considered scientifically literate? How "fluent" do they have to be? Is there a set criteria? If so what does that consist of?


I would say that before they can be scientifically literate they would need to be considered "reason literate". As such, undemanding probabilities, contradictions and key critical principles, perhaps also understanding concepts like heuristics and holistics and emergence. Then I guess they would be ready to rock and roll with thje science in the most efficient and adaptable sense for each individual.

Then within science will be sub-domains, like being literate in biological or chemical, electronic, quantum etc systems.

Moreover, I think the Paretto principle (80 percent of the skill or knoweldge comes from 20% of the learning/practice) would make the core principles of any discipline accessible, including the scientific, methinks.
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Re: When is a person considered "Scientifically Literate?"

Post by Hex » Sat Mar 03, 2012 9:21 pm

xouper wrote:"You might be scientifically literate, if you can make any sense of the following."
http://www.xoup.net/faq/watermolecules.php

I understood it on the first pass and me and grade 12 amicably separated so I never graduated.

I love to read and even though I don't read educational text books, your mind gets filled with other stuff that helps you understand things like above.

There is also subconscious learning (No I don't mean the tape under the pillow.) When I was in Finland my friend brought a page that was in French. Now the last time I took French was in grade 6, but living in a bilingual country I amazed myself just how much I knew. I couldn't read the French paper word for word, but I certainly got the gist of what it was about. Kind'a in the same vein as speed reading.
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Re: When is a person considered "Scientifically Literate?"

Post by slapstick » Sat Mar 03, 2012 10:07 pm

My yardstick for measuring scientific literacy has much less to do with what a person knows, and far more to do with HOW they know it. This is something I deal with on a daily basis as one of my greatest pet peeves is people stating wild opinions without any real substance to justify them. I can consider you to be very intelligent, even if we don't agree, if I think that your opinion is based in at least some credible research. Conversely, I will often summarily dismiss a person who states an opinion and, when challenged, replies "... well, because!"

Fact memorization is far less important, because the above ability will steer a person to correct facts when the question comes up.
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Re: When is a person considered "Scientifically Literate?"

Post by justinrapper » Wed Oct 10, 2012 11:27 pm

slapstick wrote:My yardstick for measuring scientific literacy has much less to do with what a person knows, and far more to do with HOW they know it. This is something I deal with on a daily basis as one of my greatest pet peeves is people stating wild opinions without any real substance to justify them. I can consider you to be very intelligent, even if we don't agree, if I think that your opinion is based in at least some credible research. Conversely, I will often summarily dismiss a person who states an opinion and, when challenged, replies "... well, because!"

Fact memorization is far less important, because the above ability will steer a person to correct facts when the question comes up.
Very well said for a country that does not make their own planes, cars, computers, or missiles systems, scientific literacy and technology has to be very narrowly defined for lack of practical applicability. All that credible research has been invested in the ultimate waist buster "poutine". Is the dispute over science or political science that sets the country's agenda?

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Re: When is a person considered "Scientifically Literate?"

Post by Donnageddon » Wed Oct 10, 2012 11:44 pm

justinrapper wrote: Very well said for a country that does not make their own planes,...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombardier_Aerospace" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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Re: When is a person considered "Scientifically Literate?"

Post by Major Malfunction » Thu Oct 11, 2012 8:13 am

justinrapper wrote:Very well said for a country that does not make their own planes, cars, computers, or missiles systems, scientific literacy and technology has to be very narrowly defined for lack of practical applicability. All that credible research has been invested in the ultimate waist buster "poutine". Is the dispute over science or political science that sets the country's agenda?
What's your contribution?
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Re: When is a person considered "Scientifically Literate?"

Post by Gord » Thu Oct 11, 2012 9:20 am

Major Malfunction wrote:
justinrapper wrote:Very well said for a country that does not make their own planes, cars, computers, or missiles systems, scientific literacy and technology has to be very narrowly defined for lack of practical applicability. All that credible research has been invested in the ultimate waist buster "poutine". Is the dispute over science or political science that sets the country's agenda?
What's your contribution?
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Re: When is a person considered "Scientifically Literate?"

Post by Major Malfunction » Thu Oct 11, 2012 10:33 am

Oh, I'm sure.

He's the Tom to the Ron.
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Re: When is a person considered "Scientifically Literate?"

Post by justinrapper » Thu Oct 11, 2012 12:49 pm

Donnageddon wrote:
justinrapper wrote: Very well said for a country that does not make their own planes,...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombardier_Aerospace" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Thanks for the correction. I should have been more specific and said Canda does not make their own fighter jets (Avro) instead of using a generic term planes.

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Re: When is a person considered "Scientifically Literate?"

Post by Austin Harper » Thu Oct 11, 2012 2:48 pm

Nice back peddling, JR.

No true Scotsman, anyone?
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Re: When is a person considered "Scientifically Literate?"

Post by justinrapper » Thu Oct 11, 2012 3:11 pm

Austin Harper wrote:Nice back peddling, JR.

No true Scotsman, anyone?

I correct my mistakes. Fighter jets and commercial air crafts are both planes I used the generic term when I could have been more selective.

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Re: When is a person considered "Scientifically Literate?"

Post by Austin Harper » Thu Oct 11, 2012 3:18 pm

Ok, sure. Whatever you need to tell yourself.
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Re: When is a person considered "Scientifically Literate?"

Post by justinrapper » Thu Oct 11, 2012 3:34 pm

Austin Harper wrote:Ok, sure. Whatever you need to tell yourself.
You give up too easily.

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Re: When is a person considered "Scientifically Literate?"

Post by Donnageddon » Thu Oct 11, 2012 4:32 pm

justinrapper wrote:
Donnageddon wrote:
justinrapper wrote: Very well said for a country that does not make their own planes,...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombardier_Aerospace" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Thanks for the correction. I should have been more specific and said Canda does not make their own fighter jets (Avro) instead of using a generic term planes.
The next item on your list was "cars". Are you going to tell us that you meant "fighter cars"?

Disingenuous.
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Re: When is a person considered "Scientifically Literate?"

Post by justinrapper » Thu Oct 11, 2012 5:21 pm

Donnageddon wrote:
justinrapper wrote:
Donnageddon wrote:
justinrapper wrote: Very well said for a country that does not make their own planes,...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombardier_Aerospace" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Thanks for the correction. I should have been more specific and said Canda does not make their own fighter jets (Avro) instead of using a generic term planes.
The next item on your list was "cars". Are you going to tell us that you meant "fighter cars"?

Disingenuous.
Canada has all three American car manufactures and make certain models but there are no cars that are wholly Canadian designed. Canada cannot claim the same status as other countries that design and manufacture their own cars and promote them with national pride.

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Re: When is a person considered "Scientifically Literate?"

Post by Austin Harper » Thu Oct 11, 2012 5:28 pm

I wasn't aware car manufacturing was the measure of a nation's importance.
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Re: When is a person considered "Scientifically Literate?"

Post by justinrapper » Thu Oct 11, 2012 5:50 pm

Austin Harper wrote:I wasn't aware car manufacturing was the measure of a nation's importance.
I think I used the word pride not importance. You might be jumping the gun by trying to answer the question the tread asks. When is a person considered "Scientifically Literate?" You first have to get past literate.

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Re: When is a person considered "Scientifically Literate?"

Post by fromthehills » Thu Oct 11, 2012 6:24 pm

justintime wrote:
Austin Harper wrote:I wasn't aware car manufacturing was the measure of a nation's importance.
I think I used the word pride not importance. You might be jumping the gun by trying to answer the question the tread asks. When is a person considered "Scientifically Literate?" You first have to get past literate.
I know your goal is to get banned, like you do under other handles on other forums. I'm here to help. You should reply to this post with stronger insults of my character. It will be more amusing than your usual, boring and uninventive comments, and we can all have a laugh before you go away.

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Re: When is a person considered "Scientifically Literate?"

Post by justinrapper » Thu Oct 11, 2012 6:38 pm

Flash wrote:Well, if you honestly believe that Eve was made from Adam's rib and the Earth complete with fossils and all was created ten thousand years ago than you are not only scientifically illiterate, you are really stupid and you deserve a guy like Santorum to be your president.
It is not that far out to believe in an EVE. In fact human genetics is leading the charge with the Mitochondrial Eve.
Wiki: Mitochondrial Eve refers to the matrilineal most recent common ancestor (MRCA) of modern humans. In other words, she was the most recent woman from whom all living humans today descend, on their mother's side, and through the mothers of those mothers and so on,

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Re: When is a person considered "Scientifically Literate?"

Post by Donnageddon » Thu Oct 11, 2012 9:43 pm

Flash wrote:Well, if you honestly believe that Eve was made from Adam's rib and the Earth complete with fossils and all was created ten thousand years ago than you are not only scientifically illiterate, you are really stupid and you deserve a guy like Santorum to be your president.
Flash, only if you make that: "you (justinrapper) deserve a guy like Santorum to be your own 'personal' president."

The majority of the rest of us here in 'Canada's Mexico' do not deserve such a fate.
My name is not Donna.

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Re: When is a person considered "Scientifically Literate?"

Post by justinrapper » Thu Oct 11, 2012 10:23 pm

Donnageddon wrote:
Flash wrote:Well, if you honestly believe that Eve was made from Adam's rib and the Earth complete with fossils and all was created ten thousand years ago than you are not only scientifically illiterate, you are really stupid and you deserve a guy like Santorum to be your president.
Flash, only if you make that: "you (justinrapper) deserve a guy like Santorum to be your own 'personal' president."

The majority of the rest of us here in 'Canada's Mexico' do not deserve such a fate.
I cannot believe you Skeptics are turning your back on human genetics just so you can snub some creationist. Human DNA sequencing has open the door where modern science can now verify and offer insights to some of the most troubling questions unanswerable before.
Mitochondrial Eve is one such answer to common descent.

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Re: When is a person considered "Scientifically Literate?"

Post by fromthehills » Thu Oct 11, 2012 10:26 pm

justinrapper wrote:
Donnageddon wrote:
Flash wrote:Well, if you honestly believe that Eve was made from Adam's rib and the Earth complete with fossils and all was created ten thousand years ago than you are not only scientifically illiterate, you are really stupid and you deserve a guy like Santorum to be your president.
Flash, only if you make that: "you (justinrapper) deserve a guy like Santorum to be your own 'personal' president."

The majority of the rest of us here in 'Canada's Mexico' do not deserve such a fate.
I cannot believe you Skeptics are turning your back on human genetics just so you can snub some creationist. Human DNA sequencing has open the door where modern science can now verify and offer insights to some of the most troubling questions unanswerable before.
Mitochondrial Eve is one such answer to common descent.
So, you think this DNA leads back to a woman named Eve 10,000 years ago?

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Re: When is a person considered "Scientifically Literate?"

Post by justinrapper » Thu Oct 11, 2012 10:29 pm

fromthehills wrote:
justinrapper wrote:
Donnageddon wrote:
Flash wrote:Well, if you honestly believe that Eve was made from Adam's rib and the Earth complete with fossils and all was created ten thousand years ago than you are not only scientifically illiterate, you are really stupid and you deserve a guy like Santorum to be your president.
Flash, only if you make that: "you (justinrapper) deserve a guy like Santorum to be your own 'personal' president."

The majority of the rest of us here in 'Canada's Mexico' do not deserve such a fate.
I cannot believe you Skeptics are turning your back on human genetics just so you can snub some creationist. Human DNA sequencing has open the door where modern science can now verify and offer insights to some of the most troubling questions unanswerable before.
Mitochondrial Eve is one such answer to common descent.
So, you think this DNA leads back to a woman named Eve 10,000 years ago?
Mitochondrial Eve is estimated to have lived around 200,000 years ago, most likely in East Africa, wiki: