Scientific American: What is “anti-science”?

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Source: Science

Being “anti-science” does not mean that denying the benefits of scientific research or the validity of scientific methods. We can’t do anything but feel helpless or ruined to see Trump’s government’s recent policy changes in science (e.g. cut of EPA and NASA budget, anti-vaccine stance, downplaying of climate change). People in United States started a March for Science movement to “call for science that upholds the common good and for policy makers to enact evidence based policies in the public interest.

In light of such sentiment, we can’t emphasis enough the importance of upholding the integrity and value of scientific research, especially when it comes to policy making process which affects the lives of millions. We need, however, to revisit the definition of “anti-science”.

As highlighted in a recent Scientific American article, the attitudes towards science cannot be divided clearly to two opposing sides “pro-” and “anti-science”. Human behaviour is more nuanced. It is more appropriate to address anti-science as denial of certain scientific issues. One that agrees with vaccination may deny the evidences of climate change. Psychologists call it motivated biased, which means we treat facts to reinforce our beliefs instead of convincing ourselves the otherwise is true. In short, we like to twist facts.

As the information is getting more accessible and easily retrieved and shared, people are likely susceptible to form “echo chamber”, be it on Facebook, Twitter or other social media. We seek out information that supports ourselves, and refuse or outright deny evidences that oppose to our beliefs. As called “motivated reasoning“, we are all tribal creatures.

Another interesting point brought up by the article is that people do not deny the scientific facts themselves, but the implication of solutions to the problems unsurfaced by the facts. Let’s say climate change. If the climate change is true, the implied solutions are to reduce the reliance on fossil fuel, to cut down the consumption of diary products and to invest in renewable energy industry. When confronted with a change of habit, human are very unlikely to change. It is called solution aversion.

So for us who wants to make a change, please keep an open mind. Understand the different backgrounds of the audience, and try to motivate them from the root cause.

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Spoon for a Doubloon

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So this is a thing now, professional cuddling offered to total strangers is getting popular in the states now. Such for-profit venture claims to help solve emotional problems more and more people face – lack of intimacy and touch.

On the surface, it seems familiar – some people do offer hugs to passers-by on the street for free, and it’s done out of goodwill. But what if money is involved? Do, or can we attach a price tag to a simple hug?

To me it’s somehow similar to massage services popular among us – that people touching us for a price is neither surprising or displeasing. Look at the number of people paying a visit to local or overseas massage parlours, we do love a touch here and there.

I do wonder if we put a survey on the acceptance of paid cuddling in Singapore, the number would be much lower than those willing to pay for a good kneading. Both claim medical benefits of  questionable nature, apply similar techniques and occur similar socio-economic phenomena (female practitioners and male clients are of majority). What is your opinion of paid cuddling? Would you like to see it locally?

Nonetheless, the various positions in professional cuddling are amusing:

Gummy Bear Mystery Flavor: This is the closest cuddling position you could possibly imagine. We’re squished together on our sides. I have my arm up above his, with my head wrapped around his head. My leg is over his hips.

Tarantino: (Named after Quentin Tarantino, who is an introvert with a foot fetish). The client is sitting up against the wall and I sit underneath his knees and put my feet on his chest. Note: we only do this position for people who don’t have a sexual fetish with feet.

Mama Bear: One person is in the fetal position up against the wall; the other lays his or her head on them. It’s like a giant human pillow.

Cloak: This is a position we use for our autistic clients. The client lies on his stomach with his legs out straight, then we lay directly on top of them, like two pancakes.

Well, it can get really awkward.