Tower of Babble

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Brian Koberlein

I am an astrophysicist and faculty at Rochester Institute of Technology. I write about astronomy, physics and the occasional other topic that strikes my fancy. Google+ | Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn

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4 Responses

  1. Brad says:

    Who else would combine Orwell and science : D Very relevant… ‘doubethink’ is everywhere, especially in this age when after a Google or Wikipedia search everyone thinks they’re an expert. Another fantastic piece of writing!

  2. hangingwall says:

    Great piece. The last section in particular reminded me of looking for a new iron and coming across one that used “ionic steam” to get the steam deep into the fabrics! I’m still at a loss as to what ionic steam is!

  3. pm says:

    Science is also vague on some terminology. Astronomers often say “gas” when they really mean “plasma”. They say “dark matter” when they don’t have a clue what it is (cold, hot, baryonic). They say “parallel universe” which seems to be completely meaningless. They say “pseudoscience” which ironically has no universally agreed meaning… so labelling something pseudoscience is in itself pseudoscience!

    • Actually, no. Within popular science writing terms can be used in vague ways (gas vs. plasma, for example), but within actual scientific literature terms are very precise. And the definition of pseudoscience is pretty clear. It is anything that claims to be scientific, but doesn’t adhere to scientific standards. The plasma universe, for example.

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