I've worked in a lot of different sciences and what I've discovered is that each science is its own slightly bizarre alternate reality where the scientific method turned out differently.
People say you're entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts. But I need you to hear this: every science has its own facts. And I don't want to freak you out but they don't even agree on what a "fact" actually is.
The scientific method relies on the answers to questions like 'what is evidence'? Sciences are free to answer these questions in their own way and to define their own scientific method.
When we're confident that the other people in our intellectual community share our ways of knowing, it allows us to outsource learning about the world to those people.
If we define a "fact" as a claim that has been proven according to our community's standards of proof then it becomes obvious that each intellectual community can have its own facts.
For example, Statistics and Machine learning are focused on very similar subject matter but have different ways of knowing. This leads to each group having their own set of facts about the exact same topic. This is an extremely frustrating experience for both parties.
Values are also very important in sciences. Imagine how chaotic discussions in the health sciences would be if humans didn't all agree that being sick was bad. Compared to physicists, social scientists don't have strong agreement on what they're all doing.
If you and I aren't on the same page about what we're trying to do with our science then I might feel uncomfortable outsourcing the task of knowledge creation to you.
Collaboration between sciences is a popular idea but often the optimism ignores the philosophical differences between academic fields. What counts as "science" in one field might not count as science in another.
There are real philosophical, sociological and even psychological forces that act to push different intellectual communities apart.
For example, the three related fields of Data Science, Statistics and Machine Learning often collaborate with other fields. They also illustrate three different approaches to collaborating with intellectual communities with different ways of knowing. Assimilate, Ignore, Resist.
Sometimes a field, like Physics or Economics, will try to "educate" another field. This often doesn't go well. An intellectual community will have trouble trusting outsiders with different values and ways of knowing.
During the pandemic, I've seen people struggle with with the question of who is an expert. Even some scientists are unsure. I think the ideas in this thread explain why. There are no easy answers.
This kind of long-form content takes extra work so if you like it and want to show support, like and retweet the thread, and give me a follow! 🙂

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More from @kareem_carr

23 Feb
As a non-American living in America, during a pandemic, I'm both awed and horrified by this country's reverence for work.
When most people around the world talk about work-life balance, they mean *quality* of life vs hours of work. Here in America, the trade off seems to be about years off your actual life.
HALF A MILLION Americans are dead because of this pandemic and as far as I can tell a huge number of Americans are OK with this. They would rather talk about the weather.
Read 13 tweets
19 Feb
You may have heard "IQ is about 50% heritable". What you need to know is that by the same logic, "Experiencing Racism" is also heritable. A dark-skin man is likely to experience racism and his kids are likely to experience similar levels of racism to him.
If that man had children with someone white, their children's tendency to experience racism would be intermediate between both parents. Identical twins raised apart are likely to experience similar levels of racism.
Fraternal twins would be less likely to experience similar levels of racism than identical twins. Every pattern that we would normally look at to figure out if something is genetic would say "experiencing racism" is inherent and genetic.
Read 5 tweets
17 Feb
Some people follow me for my statistics insights. Other people like me for my social commentary. This thread explains how those things are related. 👇
A lot of people don't understand statistics. Statistics is critical thinking with numbers. In statistics, the goal isn't to use numbers for the sake of using numbers. It's to use numbers in service of revealing the truth.
As a statistician, I believe it is my duty to not blindly follow the numbers but it's also my duty to fairly consider what numbers can tell us about the truth of things. It falls on statisticians to sit in this in-between place and hold space.
Read 9 tweets
17 Feb
I now have 54k followers which is bigger than the population of my home country (The Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis). 🇰🇳

When you leave home, you dream of “making it big”. Well today I have exceeded the theoretical maximum fanbase size of my home country. 😂
FYI. St. Kitts-Nevis is in the Caribbean...
It's very beautiful...
Read 4 tweets
2 Feb
A bit of personal news. I got vaccinated for covid-19!
I feel more than a little embarrassment over this privilege but hopefully this will encourage people who are hesitant about the vaccine to feel a little more confident. I've been working in biotech for years and I felt taking the vaccine was the right decision for me.
I wasn't expecting to be vaccinated anywhere near this early but it happened because the lab I'm in at Harvard is part of an institution that sees patients.
Read 4 tweets
30 Jan
I've noticed a kind of tribal individualist that's common online. They move in mobs, make nearly identical objections, claim not be a group or believe in groups, and are extremely hostile to the identities of others.

They've also been REALLY BAD for online scientific discourse.
Many people believe in individualism so strongly that they seem incapable of perceiving anything to do with groups. They don't understand sociology as a category of knowledge or social problems as anything more than a collection of the unique challenges of individuals.
Many individualists don't believe in sociology. They see it as a false science. Since groups don't exist for them, only individuals, they don't think sociological can exist either. After all, how can one scientifically study groups when groups aren't real?
Read 11 tweets

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