Science tells us things we may not want to hear, but we must heed anyway because Mother Nature might hurt us if we don't.
Science is a special kind of magic which let's us see things that our perceptions are ill suited to show us.
Science can help you directly...
if you're willing to work hard enough
to see its secrets.

Two of science's most powerful secrets are:

How to dodge self-deception
and deception by the sharks that swim with you
How to see Mother Nature's science secrets
"She Who Must Be Obeyed"
The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth

So, you've discovered something that suggests that one of your wondrous wishes has come true.

Don't stop there!!

You need to dodge becoming infected with
Herpes simpletonisus!
That's the singles.
A whole zoo of oversimplifications.
single purpose
single causes--causing single effects.
single parameter math
single-component measures
mono(single)-chromatic vision
single-person societies (egocentrisms)

From this vista, what might "human rights" mean?

Just because someone won the lottery doesn't even begin to indicate that your odds are above ZERO, to within eight significant figures.

The shortest route to disaster is to ignore the rest of the universe...once you've seen what you like.

You improve your odds of success in life by considering as much of the truth as you can.
Stop with the first glimmer of hope, and Mother Nature will eye you with her pruning shears in hand.

  First, note that if you can't see how to use some science you've learned, you probably didn't understand what you learned.

Second, note that your first glances lead you toward pseudoscience, and that second (and third and fourth and...) glances are needed before you see what the science really is.

Third, note that mere glances aren't good enough.  It's going to take some heavy mental weight lifting.

Fourth, note that the satisfaction of achieving science insight is worth the effort of the strenuous exercise...and that you might enjoy the exercise itself.  Also note that you have entered the world of "The Fourth Level of Abstraction" as Kieth Devlin, the Math Guy, calls it*.

(*Jean Piaget calls it "formal operations.")
The secrets of the Fourth are like the obvious facts of the First (perception).  When you see them you know they are true, and you know that if you try to deny them Mother Nature might come after you.  When you see that someone else doesn't see them, it can be obvious to you that they don't see them. (And you should try to help them...but how?)
blue cones - green cones - red cones
blue cones - green cones
Normal human vision sees this
Protanopic vision sees this

You improve your odds of success in life by seeing as much of the Fourth Level as you can.
It is these abstractions--these very real patterns in the real world--that have given you your computer, your telephone, your television, your electricity, your efficient engines, your modern medicine, your resistance to propaganda, your lethal weapons...
They have the power to vastly better your life.

Herpes simpletonisus
Puzzles and deception
Devlin's four levels of abstraction (plus one)
The dimensions of color vision

Sample the view from the higher level
Some examples of Fourth Level concepts
and their lower level predecessors

Words in pink are American Heritage Dictionary definitions.

often leads to goofups
perception - imagination - metaphor
broadly useful
usually leads to new vistas
mathematical - logical - fourth-level
  Energy:   Energy is simply a deep abstraction (Fourth-level)  which is conserved.  This isn't  Aristotle's concept. "We have no knowledge of what energy is,"  says Richard Feynman.  Feynman's wisdom is deep, important, and rarely recognized.
  Power:  The rate at which work is done,  (the first derivative of work with respect to time) This is the too rarely recognized distinction between kilowatts and kilowatt-hours.

Energy,  Power,  Work,  & Force
Work:The transfer of energy from one physical system to another by other than a temperature difference. (See heat.) The distinction between work and heat is central to understanding the statistical realities of entropy and thermodynamics.
These all mean some apsect of ability or capacity to act or perform effectively.  In colloquial use they get used interchangably. Force: A measure of influence of one body on another which produces an acceleration inversely proportional to the mass of the body accelerated. The equation, F=m is fundamental to most of physics, but is so thoroughly fourth-level that it is rarely understood usefully.

This one is not confused with the above four,

but it belongs with them.
Heat: A feelling from some sensors in our skin; elevated temperature. Heat: Energy transferred solely because of temperature difference.  "More heat than light"?  In the Fourth Level, light is seen to be a form of heat: radiation. 

From biology and other

more complex sciences

Intelligence: Information. Intelligence: Information processing skills--richly multidimensional, tensor-like.
 ...beyond simplemindedness
Parameter:  Perimeter. Parameter:  A mathematically defined variable or constant.
...beyond superficiality 
Rank:  Position in a line. Rank: Position in a multidimensional space.
...beyond hierarchy
Justice:  Retribution and revenge. Justice:  Mutually reciprocal fairness.
...beyond punitiveness
Human rights:  My rights. Human rights:  Everybody's rights.
...beyond egocentrism
Terrorism: Lethal attacks on America Terrorism: Lethal attacks on humanity
...beyond ethnocentrism



Before we advance beyond the third level, we must add dimensions to our "seeing."
Better solutions to problems lie in unsuspected dimensions.

Normal humanvision seesthis
Protanopic vision sees this
Blue-sensitive-cone-only vision sees this
How do people with different color visions communicate with each other about color?
What is seen if vision has four or more different kinds of cones?
How does anyone communicate about vision of other species?

Difficult problems?
Try advancing into new dimensions.
Seeing into those dimensions requires thinking in probably unfamiliar ways.

"Once you've seen it, you 
can never again not see it"
"You can find magic in places 
you never thought to look."

Look again

Try to understand
loud cracking sounds
at the Fourth Level.

might save a finger

a life

...or more.


Science Askew

for the side-splitting, humorous, subtle and deeply significant sides of science.
from Donald Simanek

February 9, 2003

These "Can science help you?"  pages are being reworked for greater clarity and cleaner appearance.

We are looking for ways to overcome the problem that the skeptics movement seems always to be "talking only to each other."

We are looking for ways to convince others that the tools of science really do empower, but require insights that may be hard to achieve.

We are looking for help--discussion, criticism, suggestions, argument, whatever...

email us