Diversity of Opinion - Each person should have private information even if it's just an eccentric interpretation of the known facts.
Independence - People's opinions aren't determined by the opinions of those around them.
Decentralization - People are able to specialize and draw on local knowledge.
Aggregation - Some mechanism exists for turning private judgments into a collective decision.
In a famous 1973 study by the Stanford psychologist David Rosenhan, eight "pseudopatients" presented themselves at various hospitals across the country, saying that they "heard voices." All behaved normally otherwise, but were nonetheless determined to be (and treated as) schizophrenic (apart from one, who was given the diagnosis of "manic-depressive psychosis").
WHILE many people with schizophrenia do hear voices at certain times in their lives, the inverse is not true: most people who hear voices (as much as 10 percent of the population) are not mentally ill. For them, hearing voices is a normal mode of experience.And why shouldn't hallucinations be normal? After all, the eyes and ears really only serve as gateways to the outside world. Ultimately, we see and hear with our brains.
From the American Physical Society:
"Science is the systematic enterprise of gathering knowledge about the universe and organizing and condensing that knowledge into testable laws and theories."
From the UK Science Council:
"Science is the pursuit of knowledge and understanding of the natural and social world following a systematic methodology based on evidence."
From New Oxford American Dictionary:
"Science is the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment."
From Isaac Asimov:
"Science does not purvey absolute truth, science is a mechanism. It's a way of trying to improve your knowledge of nature, it's a system for testing your thoughts against the universe and seeing whether they match."
Despite the difference in diction, one commonality that endures throughout these four definitions is a reference to an underlying system. That system is the scientific method, and it's at the very heart of the entire enterprise. LiveScience sums it up nicely:
- Make an observation or observations.
- Ask questions about the observations and gather information.
- Form a hypothesis -- a tentative description of what's been observed, and make predictions based on that hypothesis.
- Test the hypothesis and predictions in an experiment that can be reproduced.
- Analyze the data and draw conclusions; accept or reject the hypothesis or modify the hypothesis if necessary.
- Reproduce the experiment until there are no discrepancies between observations and theory.
It's this method that truly defines science. Superficial, all-encompassing definitions constantly change, but the mechanics central to science do not. To understand science, know the scientific method.
Why It's So Important
The beauty of the scientific method is that it can be applied to both intricate problems of particle physics and straightforward conundrums that arise in everyday life. It's a simple, step-by-step process that can guide you to an answer on how much water your plants need to flourish, what kind of exercise program will deliver the best results, or even whether or not the contentious assertion you just heard during a political debate is grounded in evidence.
If one makes use of the scientific method, one will be equipped with a tool more useful than any material object, religious doctrine, or expert at answering questions about the physical universe. Moreover, that individual will be able to gain a layperson's understanding of far-reaching science projects at the forefront of human cognizance and discovery, and, in a way, become a scientist, too.
(Image: Scientific Method via Shutterstock)
Chapman admits that his plan may seem radical now, but he insists that it's no more radical that the current smoking laws and restrictions which are now commonplace.
He also acknowledges that a smoking license comes with a few potential concerns, including administration costs, smoker stigmatization, infringement of rights, and the potential to create a black market. But he believes that the benefits of the plan far outweigh the costs, especially when you consider that upwards of $96 billion is spent on smoking-related healthcare costs in the United States each year.
"The requirement for a license would send a powerful, symbolic message to all smokers and potential smokers that tobacco is no ordinary commodity, akin to grocery items, confectionary, or any product on unrestricted sale," Chapman asserts.
The Case Against
Jeff Collin, the director of the Global Public Health Unite at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland agrees that tobacco consumption needs to be reduced, but disagrees with the idea of a smoking license. He contends that such a law would "inevitably be widely perceived as demeaning, onerous, and punitive" against smokers.
Collin also cites legendary British philosopher John Stuart Mill, who said, "(t)he only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others." Under this reasoned definition, laws that ban smoking in public places are legitimate. But a smoking license merely restricts individual consumption, so it certainly oversteps Mill's boundary of responsible lawmaking.
The smoking license: a boon for public health and the economy, or a degradation of personal rights? What do you think?
The intensity and prevalence of viral infections are typically higher in males, whereas disease outcome can be worse for females. Females mount higher innate and adaptive immune responses than males, which can result in faster clearance of viruses, but also contributes to increased development of immunopathology. In response to viral vaccines, females mount higher antibody responses and experience more adverse reactions than males. The efficacy of antiviral drugs at reducing viral load differs between the sexes, and the adverse reactions to antiviral drugs are typically greater in females than males. Several variables should be considered when evaluating male/female differences in responses to viral infection and treatment: these include hormones, genes, and gender-specific factors related to access to, and compliance with, treatment. Knowledge that the sexes differ in their responses to viruses and to treatments for viral diseases should influence the recommended course of action differently for males and females. [Emphasis added.]It is simply not possible to blame immune differences on socially contrived gender roles. Indeed, from genetics to psychology, research shows that men and women are simply different. Rejecting this is denying biological reality.
"I don't really understand myself these days. I am supposed to be an average, reasonable, and intelligent young man. However, lately (I can't recall when it started) I have been a victim of many unusual and irrational thoughts. These thoughts constantly recur, and it requires tremendous mental effort to concentrate on useful and progressive tasks. In March... I consulted a Dr. Cochrum at the University Health Center and asked him to recommend someone that I could consult with about some psychiatric disorders I felt I had. I talked with a Doctor once for about two hours and tried to convey to him my fears that I felt some overwhelming violent impulses. After one session I never saw the Doctor again, and since then I have been fighting my mental turmoil alone, and seemingly to no avail. After my death I wish that an autopsy would be performed on me to see if there is an visible physical disorder."After Whitman's violent death, an autopsy was indeed performed, and what the examiner discovered was revealing. He found a malignant glioblastoma in the white matter above Whitman's brain stem. The nickel-sized tumor was impinging on the nearby amygdalae, which are involved in regulating fear and aggression.