Adonis Diaries

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Rationality Fraud: Can our leading minds pass Socrates’ dialogue test? (February 3, 2009)

This is a challenge to all the scientific and research communities. 

My contention is that over 75% of all scientists and researchers (in all natural sciences, all social sciences, all human sciences, and all engineering fields) lack the experimental mind. 

I propose this simple test:

1. Submit to the subjects three peer reviewed research articles from a field different from his research or professional discipline. 

2. Test the subject on his comprehension and interpretation for each research paper.  To be more specific: test his general knowledge on the experimental design, his correct discrimination among the various variables and factors (dependent, independent, control and confounding variables), his interpretations of the graphs and statistical results and what practical design suggestions he can extract from the paper. 

The objective of the investigation is not merely to guarantee valid results and accurate interpretations; it is to guarantee that the leading minds of our communities can pass Socrates’ dialogue test for sound rational societies and policy making. 

If what I said is still not clear then please read my article for new angles and the basis of my challenge.

An Experimental mind


I recall my advisor telling me once in frustration “At your age I was professor and had raised a family“. 

I didn’t need this reminder to comprehend my desperate situation: I am just plainly stubborn with no imaginations on earning money. 

These long years in a PhD program, the specialty of Human Factors in industrial engineering, at the age 35 to 41, should be considered a waste of time for any career-minded student, but they were valuable for my mind: I was exposed to the methods and vocabulary of five other disciplines in various departments. I think that I acquired an experimental mind, a mind that not many could claim to explicitly have. 

When someone asks “how” (the mechanical process or procedure),

1. it is usually tacitly understood that he comprehend the why and what of the subject matter or the system;

2. that he knows all the factors and variables that may affect the outcome of a system, including the human element within the system. 

Maybe a practicing or a professional knows his particular system (as engineers learn), but the fundamental question remains “has he acquired the generalized method and rationality to investigate systems outside his discipline?” 

I know what I am talking about, but the difficulty is to express and disseminate the problem. 

I have taught engineers who had no understanding for discriminating among variables such as dependent, independent, or controlling variables.

You think that they implicitly know how to differentiate among the variables; wrong, they don’t. Even after three sessions, coupled with examples they were still in the dark and still wondering what is all the fuss about.

You think that they can interpret graphs, extract wealth of information and comprehend pages of written materials from one meaningful graph, they generally cannot.  

I can testify that 30% of my engineer classes could not read; another 30% could not understand what they read.  It was a pleasure to educate a couple of good minds.  I have written several articles on that subject in my category “Professional articles” for further detailed clarification.

Worst, undergraduate engineers are almost never exposed to research papers.  Most Master’s graduates barely comprehend or interpret correctly research papers. 

Graduates join the “work force” of the rational minds practically illiterate. They cannot resume any continuation learning programs for a simple reason: they are illiterate in reading and comprehending research papers.

My contention is this.  If you acquired an experimental mind, you should be eligible to comprehend any field of study by reading the research papers in the field. 

The major contraption devised my professions to discriminate among one another is a flimsy mask targeted in changing the technical terms and vocabulary; a secret ritual inherited from ancient times to creating castes of literates.

Other than that, the experimental methodology is fundamentally the same.  When you acquire an experimental mind then all disciplines are one course away; you need to learn the slang, a new language that sound familiar, but with terms that have different meanings and connotations. 

The ultimate goal in teaching is for every university graduating mind to be trained to comprehend research papers of other disciplines.


The “eminent” minds of Athens needed the stamp of approval of Socrates’ rational mind; they submitted to his dialogue test; an interview on the investigative and coherent experimental methods of the proclaimed leaders of Athens; most failed the test.  Socrates was put to death because Socrates failed Athens’ Gods of ignorance.

Our scientific communities could be failing the dialogue test; our schools and universities are not graduating experimental minds.  No wonder war zones, famine, apartheid, and genocides are still the landmark of our modern times.




May 2023

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