Author Topic: Science Blunders  (Read 20122 times)

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Offline filip

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Re: Science Blunders
« Reply #30 on: June 14, 2011, 11:33:54 PM »
How about the governments liberal use of DDT during and post world war 2?
Didn't the swiss guy who discovered it get a nobel prize?
Sure it did wonders against Malaria and Typhus but it seams it was used prematurely before a proper cost benefit analysis could take place.


Offline Stovetop32

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Re: Science Blunders
« Reply #31 on: June 18, 2011, 09:35:49 AM »
How about that famous cognitive dissonance work that turned out to be wrong because of the Monty Hall problem.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/08/science/08tier.html

Hah!  The dissonance researchers got a goat I guess...  ;D

Neat article though.   It's wonderful to see critical thinking shine a light on the shortcomings of experimental designs.  That's scientific progress, baby! 

Offline rissafett

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Re: Science Blunders
« Reply #32 on: June 19, 2011, 11:23:48 AM »
Would something like the Tuskegee Project count as a "blunder" or more just a blight on medical ethics?  ???

Offline Skeptic

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Re: Science Blunders
« Reply #33 on: June 23, 2011, 04:09:51 PM »
The Omega 3 fish oils trial in Durham UK.  Where they didn't account for a bunch of controls and now fish oil capsules are given out to kids in schools without evidence.  The people have now retratced the claim that it was a trial.


Offline azinyk

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Re: Science Blunders
« Reply #34 on: June 23, 2011, 05:05:43 PM »
Bad assumptions of pre-empirical classical thinkers: insects have 4 legs, heavier objects fall faster than light ones, women have fewer teeth than men, men have fewer ribs than women, spontaneous generation.

Bad intuition of physics: heavier-than-air flight is impossible, rocket propulsion in space is impossible, nuclear reactions will never produce enough energy to boil a cup of tea.

Worst decisions made based on mistakes:  acclimation societies (deliberately introducing foreign species to the New World), killing cats during the black plague (not that cats are especially good at killing rats), bloodletting, anti-hygiene mistakes.

Considering scientific possibility, ignoring human reality: people in the future will take food pills because they hate having to eat, people will live in modular aluminum houses because trailer parks are so desirable, people will live in domed cities because they hate fresh air and being able to see the sky.

Offline catwalker

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Re: Science Blunders
« Reply #35 on: July 16, 2011, 02:45:06 PM »
Probably too late now, but just for fun, what about:

1)  N-Rays (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N_ray), which was a serious case of analyzing noise.  A visiting scientist who was unconvinced of the claims removed a key piece of gear from the setup before a demo, but it still "worked."

and

2) Refueling blunder of Air Canada 143, known as the "Gimli Glider" (www.wadenelson.com/gimli.html, www.damninteresting.com/the-gimli-glider/).  Apparently, this occurred as a result of Air Canada switching from the Imperial system to the Metric System.  More amazing than the recent Hudson River landing, but probably unknown outside of Canada.   

Good luck.

Offline Unlimited

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Re: Science Blunders
« Reply #36 on: July 16, 2011, 07:32:51 PM »
Starfish Prime!
"As a rule, men worry more about what they can't see than about what they can." -Julius Caesar

Offline Kessdawg

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Re: Science Blunders
« Reply #37 on: July 16, 2011, 07:56:30 PM »
I think N-Rays might be the best pure science blunder yet.  The gimli glider is more of an engineering oops I think.
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Re: Science Blunders
« Reply #38 on: July 16, 2011, 08:32:17 PM »
For an article I am writing I need the biggest science blunders of all time. I would appreciate any suggestion.

These should be blunders where a huge mental mistake was made, hopefully with a lesson that can be learned.



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Offline Jon Moody

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Re: Science Blunders
« Reply #39 on: August 22, 2011, 09:37:15 AM »
The existence of parallel universes.  For instance is there a parallel universe where Neil Young knows he can't sing and doesn't?  If so, where is it and why am I here? ;D

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Re: Science Blunders
« Reply #40 on: August 22, 2011, 11:27:04 AM »
     Shut up.  ;D
It is difficult to believe that a man is telling the truth when you know that you would lie if you were in his place. - H.L. Mencken

 “That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons history has to teach.” - Aldous Huxley

Offline 4tune8chance

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Re: Science Blunders
« Reply #41 on: August 23, 2011, 06:21:48 AM »
The introduction of foreign species can b risky, e.g. cane toads into Australia.

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Re: Science Blunders
« Reply #42 on: August 23, 2011, 09:45:19 AM »
While not scientific, that behavior certainly is a huge blunder.
It is difficult to believe that a man is telling the truth when you know that you would lie if you were in his place. - H.L. Mencken

 “That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons history has to teach.” - Aldous Huxley

Offline AlanBustany

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Re: Science Blunders
« Reply #43 on: October 02, 2011, 08:16:29 PM »
All,

For an article I am writing I need the biggest science blunders of all time. I would appreciate any suggestion.

These should be blunders where a huge mental mistake was made, hopefully with a lesson that can be learned.

Euclid's Elements was SO fabulous that geometry leapt forward BUT froze for centuries.  Mathematicians got stuck for years trying to prove or disprove the fifth postulate.  It turned out to be independent.  I think the mental mistake, made by the masses not necessarily by Euclid, was to have some hidden assumptions or beliefs that could not be violated.  Maps on to many mistakes people continue to make...

Offline JurijD

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Re: Science Blunders
« Reply #44 on: October 31, 2011, 07:33:57 AM »
All,

For an article I am writing I need the biggest science blunders of all time. I would appreciate any suggestion.

These should be blunders where a huge mental mistake was made, hopefully with a lesson that can be learned.

Euclid's Elements was SO fabulous that geometry leapt forward BUT froze for centuries.  Mathematicians got stuck for years trying to prove or disprove the fifth postulate.  It turned out to be independent.  I think the mental mistake, made by the masses not necessarily by Euclid, was to have some hidden assumptions or beliefs that could not be violated.  Maps on to many mistakes people continue to make...

That is, indeed, an interesting example. I do think, however, that is could be linked more to a failure in scientific/critical thinking and an almost sacred reverence for the "sages of old". Take for example Aristotle's physics and his explanation of how objects fall when thrown (namely that they fly in a line at the angle they were thrown at and then "drop" straight down when they "loose" their... erm ... "impetus"). It was taught for centuries even though everyone who ever catapulted a rock towards a castle knew that you cannot hit a target directly behind the castle wall.

 

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