[ExI] Let's stop lowering our IQs.
anders at aleph.se
Tue Feb 5 09:44:37 UTC 2013
On 03/02/2013 19:07, BillK wrote:
> On Sun, Feb 3, 2013 at 5:46 AM, spike wrote:
>> JR, don’t forget your assignment bud. You brought it on yourself with the
>> original question. Now enquiring minds want to know: have you been able to
>> find any references that look reliable or plausible that show fluoride in
>> the water is harmful?
> That is actually quite a difficult task if you don't already have a
> reasonable science / engineering education.
> What search terms do you use?
This is in my view the best response in this whole sorry thread. This
points at a real and big problem: how do we get information "the last
mile" to people who need it?
If I were to start on it, I would immediately go to PubMed, search for
"fluoridation metareview", "fluorine water review" or "fluoridation
epidemiology review", start checking the most recent papers, ignoring
the ones from minor journals, deliberately looking at a few dissenting
papers, maybe checking their references and so on. Of course I would
google for Cochrane reviews. Eventually I would form an opinion.
However, this is totally non-obvious! PubMed is not well known, that you
should look for reviews and metareviews is not obvious if you are not a
practicing academic, and Cochrane - who's that? And reading these papers
takes plenty of statistical and domain skills, besides normal critical
thinking. I am fairly certain I could get the relevant stuff out these
studies, but I know food epidemology studies just make my head spin.
No wonder people are fumbling around so much. Back in the fictional good
old days there were respected authorities you could trust, but 1) we no
longer trust them much, and 2) empirically most of the past respected
authorities were unreliable. Not always bad, but clearly wrong in a lot
of non-obvious ways. Snopes is partially a modern counterpart,
stabilized by the presence of multiple minds. But there should be a
better way of finding who the experts are within a domain. Imagine a
search engine that told you to look at Cochrane reviews if you wanted
Future of Humanity Institute
Philosophy Faculty of Oxford University
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