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View Diary: Bill Nye (The Science Guy): Creationism is NOT appropriate for children. (203 comments)

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  •  Science is just a process. (2+ / 0-)
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    Sparhawk, democracy inaction

    The idea that "science might be limited" is an attempt to put that process on level with the idea of all-powerful magical beings.  It's a clash of the desire for there to be something total and perfect and the assumption that people who advocate for science over magical thinking are trying to make science be that perfect thing that those who turn to religion are looking for.

    •  Exactly, it's a process. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      zett
      The idea that "science might be limited" is an attempt to put that process on level with the idea of all-powerful magical beings.  
      I don't think so.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  I think it's an attempt to be realistic and humble.

      Yes, science is just a process.  Exactly.  I agree 100%.  And being a human-invented process -- a human-invented method -- it's going to have limits.  There are going to be certain things it can't do.  

      Science is very good at studying and exploring the kinds of things that science is good at studying and exploring.  But that doesn't necessarily mean that that is all there is.  Why should reality be confined to, and limited by, one human-invented process?  Again, that assertion -- that if the scientific process can't find something, it doesn't exist -- is based on, at foundation, a philosophical, metaphysical belief.  

      Given the vastness and mysteriousness of reality, I have to guess that there might be other methods and processes better suited to studying and exploring other parts of reality ... processes and methods that involve other parts of our minds and brains (i.e. the parts that aren't rational, verbal, categorical, labelistic, objective, etc.).  Other cultures, have, in fact, developed just such methods, quite sophisticated ones, with consistent, predictable, replicable results.

      •  Re (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        niemann, Olympia
        Science is very good at studying and exploring the kinds of things that science is good at studying and exploring.  But that doesn't necessarily mean that that is all there is.  Why should reality be confined to, and limited by, one human-invented process?  Again, that assertion -- that if the scientific process can't find something, it doesn't exist -- is based on, at foundation, a philosophical, metaphysical belief.  
        Some things may (and probably do) exist that current science cannot detect.

        The proper thing to say about those things is 'I don't know' and for any particular fanciful idea 'without evidence, I do not have any reason to believe it is true, so I'll behave as if it isn't.'

        Otherwise, you're constantly wandering around half-believing in all kinds of things.

        (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
        Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

        by Sparhawk on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 08:28:00 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, "I don't know" is a good position ... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sparhawk, Olympia

          ... for many things.

          However, for me, many examples of personal experience of really strange phenomena -- which matches the accounts of millions of other credible, normal people, and many of which include external validation (thus removing them from the "purely subjective" category)  -- count as evidence ... even if not strictly scientific.  

          Such repeated, consistent experience leads me to lean toward the, "I don't know what it is, but there definitely does seem to be something there that science isn't getting" position.

          Some things may (and probably do) exist that current science cannot detect.
          I definitely agree ... but even your phrasing strikes me as another subtle example of the ingrained "science isn't limited" position -- this repeated qualification that "current" science can't detect something "yet."  It is as if there is an unwillingness to face that possibility that there are some things that the scientific method will never be able to detect.

          I would posit even further:  that there are things that science will never be able to detect, simply because it's not the right method for detecting those things -- sort of like searching for plastic bottles with a metal detector.

          •  Re (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            niemann
            I definitely agree ... but even your phrasing strikes me as another subtle example of the ingrained "science isn't limited" position -- this repeated qualification that "current" science can't detect something "yet."  It is as if there is an unwillingness to face that possibility that there are some things that the scientific method will never be able to detect.
            You are exactly correct.

            Things that the scientific method cannot ever in principle detect are simply defined as non-existent by me and most people of a scientific bent.

            There may be things that are too small, big, far away, or foreign for scientific instruments (that are simply amplifications of human senses) to detect.

            However, if you could never even in principle build a device to detect something, it doesn't exist.

            (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
            Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

            by Sparhawk on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 09:06:35 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  And as long as people realize ... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Smoh
              Things that the scientific method cannot ever in principle detect are simply defined as non-existent by me and most people of a scientific bent.
              ... that this is a metaphysical preference and choice on their part, and not necessarily any definite, objective fact of reality -- and that it may be wrong -- I have no problem with it.
              However, if you could never even in principle build a device to detect something, it doesn't exist.
              What I wonder is:  What if the proper "device" to detect those subtle, slippery, foreign things is that other most subtle and slippery of things:  the "right-brained" (I use the term loosely), mostly subconscious aspects of consciousness and the mind that most people aren't even aware are going on inside of themselves 24/7, even though we definitely know that they are going on?  

              (I know that all this can start to seem very abstract and "pie in the sky" -- but I assure you, to me these things have become very real and relevant ... again because of a lifetime of undeniable, repeated personal experience.)

              •  Re (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                kdrivel, NonnyO
                What I wonder is:  What if the proper "device" to detect those subtle, slippery, foreign things is that other most subtle and slippery of things:  the "right-brained" (I use the term loosely), mostly subconscious aspects of consciousness and the mind that most people aren't even aware are going on inside of themselves 24/7, even though we definitely know that they are going on?  
                Science relies on a concept called falsifiability. Your hypothesis has to be testable and in theory can be found to be false.

                This 'detection' skill you are trying to identify has never, not once, been used to produce any information of genuine usefulness that can't be found through other methods.

                Your response is going to be, well, it's not scientific, but that begs the question. Some influence that affects human minds should be testable and falsifiable the same as any other phenomena. If it's not falsifiable, it's just a fantasy. "A fact is just a fantasy, unless it can be checked!" -They Might Be Giants.

                (I know that all this can start to seem very abstract and "pie in the sky" -- but I assure you, to me these things have become very real and relevant ... again because of a lifetime of undeniable, repeated personal experience.)
                Lots of people have personal experiences of things that aren't true. Visit a mental hospital any day of the week. Those people will swear to you up and down that their delusions are true when they plainly are not. Why are you not susceptible to the same influence?

                And how can you prove to yourself that your ideas are any more real than their delusions? Especially since those religious ideas don't help you accomplish anything in the real world, or give you any other indication that they are true other than what GE's on in your mind?

                In science we don't have this problem. We just go where the data takes us.

                (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                by Sparhawk on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 10:24:57 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Thoughts (0+ / 0-)
                  Lots of people have personal experiences of things that aren't true.
                  That's true ... but lots of people also have personal experiences that are true.  The fact that lots of people have personal experiences that aren't true doesn't necessarily mean that all the strange things that people report, which science doesn't have an explanation for, aren't true.
                  And how can you prove to yourself that your ideas are any more real than their delusions? Especially since those religious ideas don't [...] give you any other indication that they are true other than what GE's on in your mind?
                  First of all, I'll repeat that they are not just "ideas."  The positions I lean toward -- (and I always say "lean toward" because I don't claim to KNOW) -- are based on real-life experience.  Some of that experience is indeed fully subjective, and I'm fully willing to admit it might be nothing more than the quirks of my brain.  

                  As I mentioned earlier, though, many other experiences, have had very, very specific external corroboration -- things I didn't know at the time of my personal experience.  For me, that puts them in a whole different category  

                  One or two of them might indeed be just monumentally odd coincidence.  When they happen over and over and over -- (and when they begin to happen over and over after I start to practice the methods of consciousness-exploring of other cultures which predict that those very things will start to happen when you practice those methods) -- then I have to assume there really something going on beneath the obvious material level of reality.  To me, that is where the data takes me.

                  I like what one FBI investigator said:  "To say that coincidence after coincidence after coincidence after coincidence is just a coincidence ... that's just plain stupid."

                  (I would be perfectly willing to write about those many experiences in detail ... but I've already tried that here before, only to have the hours of effort I put into it be completely ignored, or dismissed in an insulting one-or-two sentence, "La la la, I don't want to hear it" sort of way.)

                  And to address someone else's claim that my experiences are "anecdotal" and thus don't count as "evidence" ...

                  Yes, they are anecdotal.  But when my anecdotes match the anecdotes of hundreds, thousands, millions of other people who independently tell  very similar-to-nearly identical anecdotes ... to me, that starts to carry some weight.  There are many kinds of evidence, not just the kind arrived at by strict scientific experimentation.  Otherwise we'd have to throw out huge amounts of human knowledge.  (Heck, we'd have to throw out all the polls on the front page of Daily Kos -- it's just a bunch of people anecdotally reporting their subjective feelings.  Where's the validity in that?)

                  Especially since those religious ideas don't help you accomplish anything in the real world, or give you any other indication that they are true other than what GE's on in your mind?
                  I've already addressed that some do indeed give me a pretty strong indication that they are true other than what's in my mind:  When there turns out to be very specific, repeated external corroboration -- (and in one case, when physical objects have actually started to defy the laws of physics, as witnessed by me and other people ... and when that impossible occurrence just coincidentally happened to relate very specifically to a powerful dream I had had the night before ... and when both my dream and that impossible occurance also related very specifically to a  recent strange experience of a friend if mine two states away -- who also just happened to have appeared in that dream -- which I didn't even know at the time) ...  That indicates to me it's not just in my mind.

                  But this one really grates on me:  

                  Especially since those religious ideas don't help you accomplish anything in the real world
                  How do you know they don't help me accomplish anything in the real world?  You know absolutely nothing about me and what I've done in the real world.  Making a huge unwarranted assumption based on your own belief system, are you?
                  This 'detection' skill you are trying to identify has never, not once, been used to produce any information of genuine usefulness that can't be found through other methods.
                  Um ... yes, it has.  I have used it as such.  And it's worked for me.  On multiple occasions.  

                  The methods and worldview I've learned from studying and practicing various types of Buddhism, and the Native American shamanistic worldview, have helped me on an enormous practical real-world level ... just as much -- or more -- than the scientific methods I learned in graduate school.

                  If you haven't personally practiced and studied the sophisticated, consciousness-focused methods of other cultures, in-depth, over time, then you have no right to express an opinion, yet alone declare a "fact" on the matter.

                  When I have lived according to those methods -- (which involve turning off rationality and thinking and analysis, and trusting the inner subjective intuitions and images that come) -- that has led to some of the greatest practical accomplishments in my life -- including things that have been enormously healing for other people.  

                  Those incidents include some with the external corroborations I mentioned.  When I've trusted those methods, the strange "coincidences" start to happen more and more, far more than the "one or two in a person's lifetime" that Carl Sagan alluded to.  If I had ignored those "illusory subjective" things, as rationalists would have had me do, some wonderful things wouldn't have been accomplished.

                  I hold these "ideas" because I've had numerous indications that it's not all in my head;  and because they seem to lead to practical results in real life.  If they didn't, I wouldn't bother.  What is the explanation for them?  I don't have a clue.  But I've found they work.

        •  "one answer fits all" is never a comfortable (0+ / 0-)

          position.  I don't know is indeed a reasonable response To things we don't know.  It is not the only response for all people.

          Cats are better than therapy, and I'm a therapist.

          by Smoh on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 07:28:44 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  asdf (0+ / 0-)
        Why should reality be confined to, and limited by, one human-invented process?
        Because there are no other processes that work as reliably.  I, for one, would be open to exploring other processes but we have yet to find any others that actually work.  Religion utterly fails this test.
        Other cultures, have, in fact, developed just such methods, quite sophisticated ones, with consistent, predictable, replicable results.
        Show your work, show us the evidence to support your claim.  Oh wait, never mind:
        Given the vastness and mysteriousness of reality, I have to guess that there might be other methods and processes better suited to studying and exploring other parts of reality ... processes and methods that involve other parts of our minds and brains (i.e. the parts that aren't rational, verbal, categorical, labelistic, objective, etc.).
        If you have to guess, then what you declare in the previous claim cannot be a "fact" as you assert.
        Again, that assertion -- that if the scientific process can't find something, it doesn't exist -- is based on, at foundation, a philosophical, metaphysical belief.
        Who is making that assertion?  That is a strawman.  Just because we can't find an answer to something today via the scientific process does not mean that a valid answer cannot be found via the scientific process at some point in the future as technology continues to progress.

        There is nothing at all wrong with saying that we don't know the answer today.  And just because we don't know the answer today, inserting a sky faery as the "answer" is not a valid conclusion.  It is, in fact, a lazy cop-out.  Because if a sky faery did it, what reason do we have to look further?

        I watched a program the other day on Mendeleev and the work he did to identify the foundation of the periodic table.  He knew that there were missing parts, that there were gaps that he could not explain with the knowledge he had of the elements at that time.  So he put in place holders for those gaps.  He didn't try to answer all the questions and explain all the gaps because he knew he couldn't at that time.  That, however, did not invalidate what he did know.  And we have, since then as technology has advanced, been able to explain and properly fill those gaps.  It was entirely valid for him to say at the time "I don't know" just as it is entirely valid for us to say the same today for the questions we cannot, at this point in time, answer via science.

        It would have been the height of scientific fraud for Mendeleev to declare at the time that since he didn't know the answers, that sky faeries must be involved.  Yet that's precisely what religious arguments - arguments that you are mimicking here - presuppose.

        Arrrr, the laws of science be a harsh mistress. -Bender B. Rodriguez

        by democracy inaction on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 06:36:32 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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