Free the facts


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Facts are an important element of any decision-making process. A fact asserts that something is the case. When we as a society make decisions that affect our future, facts, and conversation or argument about what they mean, is a critical part of those decisions.

But what is a fact, and how do we know that something is a fact? Is there a "keeper of the facts?"

This little thread is an exploration of facts: What they are, how they come to be, who has access to them and why. It's especially focused on the facts that make up the sum of our scientific knowledge.

If you enjoy this series you might also enjoy the thread where this conversation and inquiry began.


Published in: Education, Technology
  • the interesting aspect of this presentation cuts to the very heart of the latest trends with our good old buddy Big Data

    first off — we are not all scientists by our profession or even by our very nature — so the facts are not as important to those that might have some sort of political or business agenda mixed into the very motivations behind the research and work we do on a daily basis

    second off — if the definition of the word fact { according to the conversation in this wonderful presentation } is something like: a proposition that is tested and proven to be true as well as approved by peer review and published in an academic journal — and if the actual approved and proven-to-be-true facts are only available to the general public via monetary transaction — then the majority of the world operates almost entirely without basing any of its decisions on tried and true, actual facts

    third off — people seem to trust almost any amount of qualitative or quantitative data or information that can be observed or pulled from any natural or virtual system with actual facts all the time — and even then, the numbers and findings from the kind of research that typically gets included in pseudo-scientific reporting can oftentimes be twisted, wrangled, interpreted, converted and translated to tell numerous stories, sometimes directly conflicted stories at that, to supposedly prove this case or that and guide our daily decisions

    i've learned to examine the facts but to then rely on informed intuition and internal wisdom following any amount of research to lead me to the kinds of important human decisions I need to make as a professional experience design professional

    i don't think we know as much as we pretend we do — i don't think facts, proven and stamped as official by a peer review or not, are enough for us to base any serious work in entirely — we need to also conduct the experiments ourselves, actively, in our own selfmade life laboratories and see for ourselves through testing and hypothesis and validation in our own nearest-to-science kind of manner — and, at the end of the day, the facts, much-like any concept of 'The Truth,' are simply far too dangerous to blindly trust without rigorous, serious and deep considerations every step of the way

    facts are facts are facts — i'm not playing Trivial Pursuit here, i'm working, and facts are not enough, data is not enough, information without any real sense of context, story or application falls flat for me every time and i refuse to just salute the flag and obey the captain's orders for the sake of a little paper

    for every fact i am sure we can find an anti-fact — for all matter there is anti-matter — for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction — and every dataset has its day

    facts are extremely time-sensitive — factual evidence is a timestamped kinda thing, right? there's a statute of limitations at the scene of the crime that we call Science — and that carton of facts most definitely has a sell-by date AND a use-by date

    we need to constantly, constantly, constantly question the facts — especially when it comes to making extremely significant and meaningful decisions for the world — and it sounds like your premise with this presentation is to push to set the facts free, its a sort of call to action to get us all to email or call or write to 'tear down this wall,' in this case its a paywall or a subscription fee — but i say, keep your facts, please — they're just the approved bits and bytes behind the money barrier — no need to get too official as far as i'm concerned — facts are just another means of human faith and guidance — and i'm not a religious person, i personally examine almost all of what i do through the lens of human experience, cognitive science and personal perception, so i observe the natural world and even the unnatural world we enhance our experiences with and make my decisions in alignment with what i learn through my critical observations, research and reflection — but facts do not necessarily the humankind make — the world is far more mysterious than that — and that's a fact, peer reviewed and approved or not
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  • Open research in theory sounds like a wonderful idea, however I wonder what are the costs of providing such research. I would guess the that the peer-reviewed journals are paid for by advertising dollars and subscription costs. Many times the peers who review do so voluntarily (very open-source mentality). Publication (paper etc) and distribution (stamps) costs money, but this is eliminated by the Internet. So what's left? What are the obstacles (other than, of course, the vested interest of the journals to make money) to open access? Great presentation - sorry I'm two years late to the discussion.
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  • I love this!

    No fancy keynote or powerpoint, just clevr scribbles on index cards.
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  • tmorgan: Can't respond to your private message because you have set your slideshare settings not to accept messages!
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  • Hi-res (and much easier to read) version can be found here.
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