The modern world is developing very rapidly. New technologies rush in at the speed of sound, come into people’s lives and require changes from ourselves. Twenty years ago, no one had heard of a cell phone, but today no one on planet Earth can do without it. With the emergence of social networks, the whole world just exploded with technology. Everyone became crazy about it, which gave rise to the phenomenon of «psychology of technology,» at the origin of which is recognized as an international expert, research psychologist, and Professor Emeritus of the Psychology Department at California State University Dominguez Hills, Dr. Larry Rosen.
A special correspondent of our edition, «Digital World,» talked to the distinguished professor about the new phenomenon in the modern world, the dangers of new technologies, and how much our world has changed in the last 20 years.
— Hello, Dr. Rosen. Thank you very much for taking the time to talk about a topic that is so interesting and little known to the Russian-speaking world. You are one of the international experts in the world in the field of «psychology of technology,» and Eastern Europe does not even know about it. Today the world has truly become digital; the age of technology has arrived. At the same time, the concept of «psychology of technology» appeared relatively recently. What exactly is the «psychology of technology»? Maybe you have a definition you could give?
— Well, the concept of psychology of technology is really one I made up a decade and a half ago. So I’m not surprised. Cyberpsychology is probably one of the more common ones.
— So, could you please share your viewpoint and explain what exactly the psychology of technology is? Maybe you have the definition; how would you give this sentence?
— Well, the simple definition is “the psychology of technology is the psychological impact that technology has on people”. Having said that, it’s a lot more complex than that. I’ve been studying it since 1984, when we did not have smartphones, obviously, tablets, laptops, pretty much anything. We started out by studying what we call “computerphobia”, which was being afraid, literally a phobia towards computers. And there was a little bit of speculation about what was going on there, but nothing serious. As we started to study it, we started with computerphobia. After a while, it seemed people weren’t necessarily scared of their computers, but they were stressed by them or they were not stressed just by computers, but by everything technological.
It was the days that VCRs came out and you had to set the time which was flashing 12 o’clock, 12 o’clock, 12 o’clock all the time. My research group and I started studying what we called “technophobia”, going from only computers to all the new types of technology. And then we went from there to “Technostress” because it wasn’t really a phobia but the onslaught of computerized technology made many of us very stressed.
And in fact, I wrote a book in 1998 called “TechnoStress” («TechnoStress: Coping with Technology @Work @Home @Play»). What’s interesting is I just re-read that book. It is 26 years old now. And most of what we said in that book is now true, which was not surprising because the subtitle was “technostress at work, at home and at play”. And that’s exactly where we’re all feeling stress: at work, at home, and even when we take vacations, we’re feeling stressed by technology. Particularly now. The amount of technology has increased rapidly during the last decade or two and that is making many of us feel crazy.
So we’ve eventually evolved to where people were not scared, they were stressed. But we really wanted to study the broader field of technology and how fast it was coming into our world and how quickly it was requiring us to change. And so really about a dozen years ago, about when the smartphone came out, and when social media started to hit, we began to examine this stress across technologies, ages, etc.
And the whole world just took off with technology and everybody was getting crazy from it. Literally, everybody was being driven crazy because it was all new, you had to learn new things, you had to learn how to tap on something, which was not normal for people. People are much more used to typing than they were to tapping. And it was strange carrying a computer, a camera, a music player, a GPS, etc. in your pocket. And by carrying in your pocket it was always available.
You started to see people using more and more technology and more places that they shouldn’t have. For example, they would go out to a restaurant with their friends. Everybody would be on their phones. Now that’s true, still today, unfortunately. Even at play, when people were in the mall, shopping, you could see them all on their phones, all at the same time. And you see this escalating over and over again.
And we’ve been doing research over the past dozen years, trying to look at how this has changed our attitudes and behaviors over time. And it has a lot. And I’ll get into that with some of the other questions.
— You speak a lot in your books and your articles about addiction to social networks. If I spell it correctly, «addiction» because it’s mostly for the drugs. But sometimes, for people, it is like drugs because people — young and old — never seem to be able to last an hour without checking the mail or checking one of their many social networks. What do you think is the nature of this addiction? How did it start?
First of all, I make a big distinction between “addiction” and “obsession”. “Addiction” is often a term that is used to explain why you can start doing something and it feels good. But then, the next time you have to do it more to feel that good, and then more, and then more, and then more until eventually you kind of top out, and no more playing the game will make you feel better because you’re already doing it all the time. Video games are a great example of addiction. You play a new video game for the first time. Then next week you might come back and play it again. Yes, you feel good, but you don’t quite feel as good as you did the first time. And so you have to play it a little longer and a little longer. And that’s an addiction. That is a biochemical system actually that includes dopamine and serotonin called the dopaminergic network. It’s a whole network of pleasure centers basically that all come together to tell your body you feel good, you feel pleasure. And we all feel that in different ways.
“Obsession” is very different. Obsession is an anxiety-based disorder. We know that if you’ve ever seen somebody who has obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), what that means is they can’t stop doing what they’re doing. If they stop it makes them anxious. And at the very tail end, you see people who are very OCD, they will walk out of the house, turn the knob five times to make sure that it is locked, Other OCD symptoms include turn the lights on and off a specific number of times, making sure that your forks and knives are completely lined up in the way they need to so that you won’t feel stressed and anxious.
There was a movie in America where Jack Nicholson (he is a pretty famous actor here) plays somebody with OCD in “As Good As it Gets”. And the interesting visual is that he comes home and immediately goes into the bathroom to wash his hands. And he gets bar soap and turns the water as hot as you can get. He uses the soap and then throws the soap into the trash can, opens up the cabinet and there are all the soaps in there, and grabs another one. Hot, hot. And he can not stop, he keeps doing it.
We’re not at that point of being obsessive about technology, but it is about anxiety. And the anxiety I think is coming from expectations. What I mean by that is people have grown to expect things, like for example, if they text you, if they message you, they expect you to message back immediately because most people do. If you post something on a social media site, they expect you to post something. I don’t know what social media is like in your country but in our country, you can like something, you could follow somebody, you can give them a little heart — you can do all sorts of things. And the obsession comes in where you feel you have to do that.
So what happens, what we find, is that people are kind of mentally driven to check in with their sites. And in our country, typical teenagers and millennials have an active presence on a little over six of those sites. Meaning they “check-in” at least once a week with each site. So you can imagine they have a lot of people to please on those six sites because they’ve got to “like” people, “like” everything they post; they’ve got to comment back on everything they post. I call this a “social Obligation”.
— They post and wait when somebody starts to like or write comments
— Yes, exactly. And the only way they can reduce the anxiety is to do the action. But it’s all biochemical again. It’s all made up of chemicals that have to do with anxiety. The most well-known chemical is called “cortisol». And cortisol is an interesting chemical. In the morning when you wake up and you are getting ready to get up and maybe look at the blue sky, if it’s blue, blue light coming into your eyes stimulates cortisol. And in the morning your brain wants to wake up. So it just starts dripping cortisol into you so that you will awaken and be ready for the day. And it gets you awake. And that’s the good part of cortisol. In stronger doses of cortisol, you start to get anxious: your palms start to sweat, your heart starts to palpitate, your stomach is doing flip-flops — all the outward signs of being stressed and anxious. In larger quantities, it’s called “the flight or fight drug” because it’s like you’re either going to stand and fight because you’re so anxious about it, or you’re going to just run away.
What we see a lot is closer to the middle dosages. And the middle dosages are what make you anxious until you check-in which reduces the anxiety, but then it all starts again, as it’s kind of a circular thing. You have the anxiety chemicals, when you hit a certain level of anxiety, you check-in, checking in makes the anxiety chemicals disappear. And then it’s kind of this whole process going on and on and on.
And I think a lot of what people call “addiction” is really “obsession”.
— I understand. Because we speak about its nature, how do you think — when it started and why it started. Because we can see today that even suicide can be…
— The nature of the addiction is biochemical, all in your body and your head. Addiction is not anything where you necessarily are driven by anything other than chemicals. And so addiction — you’re driven to feel more pleasure. And there are all kinds of addiction, by the way: in the diagnostic manual, the manual that labels you, there’s sexual addiction, gaming addiction… There are all sorts of addictions. And if you look at what they are, there are addictions to things that give you pleasure. So you need to do more to get more pleasure. And if you’ve imagined somebody who’s say got into sexual addiction, they would start off, maybe with a little bit of sexual contact to feel better, and then they need more and more, and more. And then they often get crazy about it.
The other side of addiction — “the obsession”- is also biochemical. It’s different chemicals. Our brain basically works on chemistry and electric current. Those, the main two things it works on.
-Thank you. It’s really interesting because I never think that way.
— Thank you.
— Next question about that. Many people are addicted to social networks; what we now understand obviously about obsession also. They expect the “likes,” the comments. They are waiting for more people to support them. For example, somebody is sad and writes on social networks, “Oh, my boyfriend is leaving….” or something like this. But in the online world, there are other types of people — trolls or haters. And we have started seeing them a lot. And this problem becomes even more significant each year. Dr. Rosen, what do you think gave rise to these types of people? Why did they come to the internet?
— So I would include cyberbullies in there too because those are all people dispensing negative messages.
The reasons are actually very simple. When you look at a screen like I can look at my phone right here. When I look at my phone and it’s off, what I see is a reflection back of me. I don’t see the people out there. They’re faceless, they’re often nameless. And so with that in mind, people feel what I call “safety behind the screen.” Once they’re behind a screen, they feel like they’re anonymous, that nobody knows who they are, even though that might be their friends. It’s still kind of like “anonymity in their heart” that they can say anything they want. Well, that often leads to bullying, it leads to trolling, it leads to hate speech, leads to all sorts of things. And again, it’s because we feel safe sitting behind a screen, we feel like nobody can see us.
— And nobody even can touch you.
— That’s right. Nobody can’t touch us or hit us in the face because of what we said.
— They feel anonymous, and that’s why they can do what they want.
— And by the way, this is escalating quite a bit over time, partially because we have more and more people out there using technology more often. But also because people are realizing that you can get away with this. And it makes them feel good in some strange way to bully somebody else or to troll somebody else or to say negative things about them. And part of it, I would suggest, is that the tech companies aren’t doing a very good job of making sure that doesn’t happen.
—Yes, true. And now it’s much more work because last year most people started working from home, using the Internet because of pandemia. And the quantity of trolls also grows. They want to earn money, and they want to do much more work.
— It’s very interesting isn’t it? The more people spend time on the Internet, the more likely these things are going to happen.
— Dr. Rosen, we move to the next question. It’s about your article “Are we all becoming Pavlov’s dogs?” There you mentioned really literally…
— By the way, Pavlov was Russian!
— Yes, very famous Russian. In that article, you mentioned decision-making skills. May we speak a little about this? Has social media addiction (like how we said before) affected our decision-making skills? What do you think?
— I think that everything about technology has made a mess of our ability to think clearly. And there’s a very simple reason. Because of our devices. In the United States, everybody has a smartphone. Is that the same in Russia?
— Yes, too much! Sometimes they have two phones and an “ear” here, and the person can speak and listen at the same time…
— Here, it’s even a case when people who are very poor, can’t even afford food, you see them sometimes begging at the side of the road with a phone in their ear.
We’re willing to spend money on that. And the reason is that it’s really an important part of their life. It is our “everything” and more importantly, it is our main way of connecting.
Now, what has happened over the last 5-7 years and what we’ve been studying a lot, is why does this create problems for us? Why does this, for example, make it more difficult to make good decisions, smart decisions, instead of making snap decisions. Like “Boom! We just decide without taking time to understand what and why we are deciding.
I think most of the literature is coming out this way; the reason is that we are far too interruptible. In order to make a good decision, you have to think it through. I mean, think about it if you’re deciding to buy a flat or something. What kind of processes goes through your brain all at the same time? Well, you might be asking “Is it big enough for my family? Is it close to where we work? Is it…” And you have lots of questions and there are lots of comparisons to make when you are making this decision. And the problem is that we aren’t capable of focusing on anything for more than 3 to 5 minutes. And that’s pretty consistent across studies, that we can focus about 3 to 5 minutes. 15 minutes is not enough time to do an evaluation and make an informed decision.
So, for example, we watched students who were studying for a test for 15 minutes; that was it. Just 15 minutes. And we told each participant, “We are going to stand behind you and watch you study”. Each minute the observer recorded what the studier was doing. Each minute we were looking to see if they were exactly studying or if they weren’t, We also noted what they were doing. Well, out of the 15 minutes, even though it was a very important test they studied for about 10 minutes. And the rest of the time they were distracted. Distraction is really the key to making good decisions because a good decision means that you think through all the options, trying to think through what this would do, what this would do and 3 to 5 minutes is not enough to do that, at all.
— Thank you so much. We continue a little bit about decision-making skills. In my opinion, how we spoke before, people have shifted their decision-making to the Internet. It’s exactly about what you said — an example with the students and their study. They’re not making decisions by themselves. For instance, where food is better to buy, which guy is better to date — even like this. And they lose decision-making skills. What do you think about this?
— That’s a very, very interesting question! So it’s really two questions. One is “Why do they let the Internet decide for them?” That’s the first one. And that’s pretty easy to answer: because the Internet has all the answers. Now it may have different answers for any question, but you can certainly find many answers there easily, in 5 seconds probably.
The second part of the question is, “How has that affected our skill in making decisions?” And the answer is — greatly. Because we’re pawning off decision making to some external unit called the Internet, which means we’re not processing it through our brains. We’re not going deep with it, thinking about it. We’re just letting others pick.
And you see this by the way with products. I think it’s very interesting. Do you have Amazon there or an equivalent of Amazon?
— Okay. So on Amazon, when you go and look up a product, the first thing they do is list ads. People would pay for ads. The next thing they do is they put a stamp on it called “Amazon’s Recommendation.” So what happens is people look for that and they go “Okay, I’ll take that one. I don’t have to think about it. Amazon says it’s good.”
And the same thing, by the way, for finding a doctor, the same thing for finding… anything. And the problem is that you don’t really know who’s helping you make that decision!
— Yes. If it’s a person who really knows what he tells — it’s one thing, one side. But if it’s, for example, a 15-years old boy and he recommends and chooses things by «I like»/» I don’t like» — it’s really a big problem.
-What’s interesting for us, at least in America right now with the pandemic and with all of the major problems of climate change and hurricanes and all sorts of things here — people are going online more and more often to get their information, not knowing where they’re getting it from. Not knowing if it’s somebody’s website. Not knowing if it’s about medicine. Not knowing whether it’s the Mayo Clinic, which is a big clinic that does research, or any governmental health organization, which would be more preferable to just some guy sitting in his room, tapping out his opinions. This is why, by the way, we get into these troubles… It’s a funny one going around right now that somebody on our right-wing network on FOX has announced that one of the problems with the vaccines is somebody he knew somebody who knew somebody, who the vaccine made his testicles grow really large. And so now, of course, everybody reads that and they’re all freaked out about testicles growing large and all this. And the funny thing is that it’s not true. He made it up, and it just sort of spreads.
And that’s what the internet does by the way — it spreads things out. It makes things that may or may not be true — seem as if they are true.
What’s going on is particularly a problem, unless it’s the National Institute of Health, National Institute of Mental Health, the Mayo Clinic, WebMD is a fairly decent one. But other than that, I won’t read anything that doesn’t come from a reputable site. You don’t know the truth of it.
— But people believe everything. It’s the biggest problem.
The next question, it’s an unpleasant issue, but I ask anyway because it’s exciting to know your viewpoint about it. Why are people committing suicide more often nowadays — because of online? What I mean. Like if something online happened… For instance, a guy got his YouTube channel, and it was blocked. Also, I heard a story about the girl who had an Instagram account and around 100,000 followers, and it also was blocked. That guy from Youtube hanged himself. The girl also had some trouble. So why did this happen? How do you think?
— Well, one side of me says — it’s not happening very often. We hear about it very often. I mean, in the United States, for example, there are 310 million people who are of age above 16. There are lots more below 16, obviously. And with that many people using the Internet, a couple of suicides here or there are not unusual, not unusual at all.
And the interesting part of that, it means that there may very well be very few of these, but they’re publicized in the newspapers and the sensational journals, and on Fox News as though they are predominant, as though they go all the way through the Internet. And the real answer is there are not very many of them. It doesn’t happen very often. And the ones that you hear about are the few that get picked up. It can sound like every day somebody is committing suicide. But when you take the whole world’s population using the Internet, a couple of people, 10 people, 50 people, a 100 people is a small number compared to the massive number of people who use the Internet who do not commit suicide. That is not to belittle the stress and angst that many people feel online; there are suicides and there are people who are very hurt emotionally from something they saw or heard.
— But if we can look through the psychology of technology, what is the reason why it happened? Does it mean like the person fully recognizes himself as part of the Internet? What can it be in your viewpoint?
— I think it’s because you’re doing this behind a screen. People feel safe, saying what they want to. They can make up stories. Nobody’s stopping them. They can say anything they want, which is interesting because in the States we have a lot of websites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, sites like that where people comment and rate. So people rate them, rate things. They rate doctors, they rate foods, they rate restaurants — they read everything.
Now, if you look at those carefully, there’s usually a bunch of people who are at the bottom, and those are people, if you read them, they have a grudge against it. So they went to a restaurant and their potatoes weren’t cooked right. And so they go online and they say hours and hours… that their potatoes were not cooked right. And then they give the restaurant a terrible review. And it happens again because they’re behind that screen.
When I wrote my first book, which is called «The Mental Health Technology Bible», and really it was a small book to help psychologists and other people learn how to use the Internet, back in 1994. A long time ago. So I wrote the book. And about a couple of months later after it came out, I got an email from somebody in the UK, because you can tell from their email address which has “uk” at the end. He basically wrote a long iatribe on every page showing that everything that I said was wrong.
Now, what he didn’t understand is I was trying to couch it towards people who were not tech users and who needed it said in a kind of gentle language. Some of the information may not be exactly true, but at least it gives them an idea of what’s true.
So he wrote this long diatribe. I didn’t know who he was. I still don’t know who he is. He then made a website. And the website was titled “The mental health technology bible is a lemon.” And then he went and sent the website link to everybody at my campus. And I still didn’t know who he was. My problem, of course, is that I kept emailing back and forth and telling him he was wrong which just encouraged him to write more and more.
Until this day, I have no idea who it was, but I felt very bullied. Not suicidal bullied, but pretty upset for a long time!
-…Because he thought that he knew better and didn’t even understand the reason why you wrote this book, for who you wrote this book?
— Right. And he felt he knew better, and that he should tell everybody that it’s a piece of crap.
— I remember the first time I saw a computer in my life, and I know that I was shocked at what needs to be put here and how to understand everything and how it works. So that book at that time was excellent to help people who don’t know how to work on a computer.
-Psychologists were just starting to have to use computers in their practice for notes and for billing, and things like that. And so the book was really directed toward them. It included ideas on what you could do on the Internet and I couched things as analogies so that they would understand. And here is a guy that didn’t get it at all. And I have no idea… I mean, I know his name, which is as far as I got, Building the website was bad enough but sending it to everybody on my campus was pretty nasty.
— Dr. Rosen, I think if he wrote it to you, it means that the book was trendy, and he feels like the book can be dangerous for what he tried to tell somebody maybe, and this book tells the truth. So I think this way it’s better to say…
— The funniest part is that the book was not popular. I think it sold a total of 40 copies since it was just too early in the Internet era. But it was in his field. His area was technology that he used to help psychologists and other mental health providers, and doctors…
— I think it’s the first troll that you met on the internet.
— So it should be the way they came… Let’s move to another issue. Nowadays, a large part of human life is spent online. Everybody understands this. We order food from the Internet; we shop online. People even go on dates virtually. Now it’s famous also. So it turns out that we are attached with physiological functions… maybe not «function,» but psychological «needs» to the Internet.
— Well we’re actually saying their physiological functions also.
— When I tried to translate for you, I checked that maybe the term «needs» will be much more relevant for this sentence, but also «function.» Correct, because, for instance, if a person doesn’t have the internet, he cannot order the food, so he will be physically hungry.
— Right. All part of the fact that… Well, two things. One — the pandemic happened. People were afraid to go to the store, at least around here. I, again, don’t know about Russia’s response, but in the US people took it very seriously. Many people took it seriously. They wore masks. They didn’t go to stores. They had deliveries or my store that I go to, would pack the bag and I would drive up, pop my trunk and they would put the bag in the back of my trunk. I would never catch anything, never see anybody. So that’s how crazy it got, the people were making decisions and ordering online on the Internet.
We did a lot, my wife and I have immune problems, physical problems that make it difficult for both of us. And so in terms of what happens there then — if you’re starting to rely on the Internet, we have the same problem as we talked about before: How do you find out if something’s — data, impressions, opinions — are any good?
And if you want to go see a movie or watch a TV show, how do you know it’s good while you go to some site? And if you search what you get or the sites that may not be as accurate or as informed as others. Recently we were thinking about going to the movies. We haven’t been to a movie outside our house in forever. And we would go to film festivals all the time. So we would go to movies all the time, but nobody’s going into movie theaters now. But if you wanted to find out about a movie and how good it was, there were several places you could go where you felt that you could get a fair assessment. One of them is IMDB, which has an internet movie database, where you would have people give their opinion about the movie. But again, many of those people giving their opinion were just moviegoers. They weren’t experts, they weren’t professional reviewers. So there were other sites that would separate the reviewers from just basic people. We have one called “rotten tomatoes.” I don’t know if you have that there, but “rotten tomatoes” is where people go and write their opinion about a movie and they either give it a good tomato or a rotten tomato. So they might get something: a new movie might get 200 good tomatoes and 350 rotten tomatoes. BUT, professional reviewers would also rate the movie so you had both sides of peoples’ opinions — moviegoers and professional movie reviewers.
But again, you don’t know who is doing that. And you don’t even know, by the way, when you’re on Internet dating sites who you’re really talking to. You are probably not talking to who you think you are. The picture may be very cool, maybe it’s a beautiful girl but …
— It’s really an excellent subject, an issue about «who is really on the opposite side of the Internet:» if it’s a live person or not, like deepfake.
— A friend’s son was talking to this person, a girl, online for a long time, several months. And she invited him to come to visit her. And he went. She said the first day she would meet him tonight at such and such a location but she never showed up. And then, she said that she had too much to do but let’s meet for breakfast and again she never showed up. He never saw her because she wasn’t real. So he just came home.
That’s not unusual by the way. It’s really not.
— I have never heard a story like this. Interesting.
— It’s called “catfishing.”
— I understand, maybe because, in the US, the technology is growing much faster… So the question is about psychological function. Can we say this way — if I correct — that in this situation if a person is deprived of Internet technology, it will deprive a person of some physiological function?
— If you deprive somebody of Internet technology that they have used for a long time, and you take it away — it’s ruthless. They get very upset. They go find another friend’s phone so they can check on things. There are all sorts of things they can do to get around that. Because it’s so important in their lives.
We know that kids sleep with their phones under their pillows. They leave them on all night long. They wake up several times to check for messages and things like that.
It is very widespread. And it really is dangerous because what you’re talking about is a detox. Detoxes do not generally work. And particularly for drugs, they absolutely hardly ever work. But here we are talking about taking your phone away, taking your computer away, taking your tablet… I know a lot of parents as a punishment they’ll take the gaming system away, they’ll take everything away. And the kids just figure out a way to do it without their parents knowing. Because the detox doesn’t work. I mean, even a half-day detox where you just put it away in the morning and get it at nighttime — this is very upsetting for most people who are as sucked into the technology as they are.
— So, it’s true. Do they really feel like technology is already part of their physical body?
— I actually have often been quoted as saying “For these kids technology is like air.” We don’t think of air when we go outside, we breathe it, we just naturally open our lungs, close our lungs. They think the same way about technology. They don’t think about it as anything, but a part of them. And that’s interesting because that’s why they won’t let it go. I mean, it’s a part of them. It’s like their arm.
— Thank you for your honest answer. It’s essential. And we go to the last question, about your article «I’m a scientist.» I really liked the expression in the beginning, «And science doesn’t care what you «believe.» Am I correct in my understanding that any theory must necessarily be verified by practical research, on the one hand. On the other hand, science must question everything, even what was once proven.
— Right. And I have three t-shirts that say the same thing. And I wear them often, when I meet with people, because sometimes at least in the States again, what happens is that political beliefs or religious beliefs often get in the way of science. Scientists have been trying to convince the normal public of this, but, if you believe that it’s going to make somebody’s testicles really large, then the science says “No, never happened,” you’re still going to believe it.
— Can we say, for example, that research was done 50-60 years ago, and something was proven? But now, we can also recheck it because maybe it has changed at this point… If this is true, then we should not be sure that if something was 15 years ago, it should also work 100% now. We have to be sure to check the information and prove that this is the case, that everything has been preserved, or the opposite — that the situation has changed and the information on it is out of date. Or, let’s say, if one scientist proved something once, are we supposed to believe that this is the way it is and nothing else? I think not, and it is possible to verify it. Because such a scientist may not have considered or seen the other side of the issue, the results may differ from his original conclusions…
— Exactly! One scientist publishing one study — is not science. One scientist publishing a study and having it reviewed by peers and having it potentially tried by other people to see if they get the same results. That is science. Science is really based on lots of studies that hone in on an answer.
— And they have proven.
— And they’re consistent. Whereas one person with some crazy theory can put it out there. And then all of a sudden, all of that person’s followers believe it.
Our last president was somewhat of a disbeliever in science. And one day he said that he heard that bleach like — “Lysol” -might be a possible COVID19 cure. He said he’d heard somewhere or somebody told him that bleach could kill the virus, the coronavirus immediately. He turned to his scientists and said “Let’s get on that. Let’s test that one out.” Now, if you tested that out and there were a few people who followed him, people would die. Because you can’t drink bleach, and you can’t certainly inject it. So that’s a case of science just being misused.
And it’s misused all the time in the media. They take and inspire all sides of the media, by the way, it’s not the right or the left of the center or whatever. All sides take one study and then say “Well, this is the answer. This is the whole answer to the definitive answer. Done.” And then they’re stuck with that belief, even though then more studies come out and say “No, this is wrong.”
So I have a big problem with the way that works, with the way that systems science works. It’s also the case that I have T-shirts that say “Science is not alternative facts.” Because people come up with the idea that there are facts and then there are other facts. No, facts are facts. That’s what science tells you: the facts are facts.
It’s an interesting world we live in and it’s all due to this little smartphone that we carry with us all the time.
— I really appreciate this conversation.