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Yesterday I had the audacity to publish a diary with some ideas about Alternative Medicine and as has happened in the past when I wrote about my field, Complexity Science, all kinds of predictable responses appeared as comments.  First of all I apologize if people find what I write offensive, there is no harm intended.  On the other hand I do not tolerate being berated because of assumptions that mostly boil down to the notion that anyone would write about such things must know nothing about science.  My diary title deliberately makes a metaphor between this category of responses to writings on scientific issues and the response one often gets from fundamentalists on religious issues.  Clearly, as in any metaphor, there is a limit to how similar the two are, but the comparison has some use.  read below the break and I'll try to explain what is going on in contemporary science with regard to this issue of "complexity" and "complex systems."

First of all, because it is bound to come up, I'll provide a short bio.  I have a BS in biology from the Illinois Institute of Technology, which in itself needs amplification to make the story complete.  I started out in engineering (IIT is an engineering school), but wanted to become a physician so I changed to premed biology (I was a regular NROTC scholar and could not officially do premed anyway).  However, I took all the more advanced math, physics and chemistry with the engineers, something most biology majors did not do.  After three years as a USMC officer on active duty I did my Ph. D. in physiology at the University of Chicago.  I really wanted to do it in Mathematical Biology in Rashevsky's program, but was now married with 2 kids and did not want to spend the extra time getting the required BS in Math that his program required at that time.  I did my postdoc at the Weizmann Institute in Israel mentored by the late Aharon Katchalsky who was introducing Non-equilibrium Thermodynamics to biology along with Ora Kedem.  I then went to the Biophysics Department at SUNY at Buffalo where as junior faculty member I became acting chairman in about a year.  My jobs took me through other places including the Biophysical Lab at Harvard Medical School.  From Chicago to Buffalo I was in contact with the man who developed the version of complexity theory many of us now practice.  It began in the late 1950s as part of an ongoing developing work by the late Robert Rosen who did do his PhD in Rashevsky's program.  

That is but a part of the story.  The preface to my book on Network Thermodynamics, which is on my web page, will tell you more.  A student of Bob Rosen, Aloisious Louie has a book coming out: More Than Life Itself: A Synthetic Continuation in Relational Biology which I will elaborate on in a future diary.

To get the ball rolling, lets look at an abstract to one of my published works that was attacked in a strange way in the previous diary:

The emergence of a new field of science called complexity theory has made an impact on the community of scientists as well as the general public. This brief tutorial takes a very special view of this. The thesis is that complexity science has grown out of a general lack of satisfaction with traditional scientific practices and their failure to find a way of capturing anything but a shadow of complex reality. In spite of the many impressive advances from science and technology, it is clear that the picture delivered of the world is that of a surrogate world populated by machines and mechanisms. The nature of the real world demands more than traditional science can deliver. Yet traditional science has constraints and bounds on its universe of discourse. Complexity science, as presented here, demands that the barriers and constraints be removed in order to gain a more complete view of nature. This tutorial presents a summary of what is entailed by this new methodology.

 Here's what someone had to say:

There are so many unsupported assertions here it is incredible.  Lines like this say more about the review process at the journal than about anything else:

 Here is that line:

The nature of the real world demands more than traditional science can deliver.

 First off had the author of the criticism been a non scientist, I could understand the very big mistake made here.  On the contrary, the person insisted that they were a qualified scientist and that I could not be.  Here's the problem with this particular exchange:  It is an Abstract folks and Abstracts are limited to just about the number of words you see there by the publisher.  It is clear the author of that comment had no way of knowing how I develop these ideas in the paper since he had no access to it last night.  Only the Abstract appears on line.

As in the case of religious fundamentalism, the commenter did not care.  You see, I could not possibly defend what I was saying.  It was contradicted by his scientific scripture.

The history of complexity science is replete with this kind of blind dismissal.  When the Santa Fe Institute first started, their funding had to come from sources mainly outside the mainstream.  That lasted a relatively short time.  Soon other Centers were forming after its model. For example, The New England Complex Systems Institute (NECSI).  This group in particular includes people from major institutions such as MIT and Harvard among many others.  Universities around the country have Centers within them as well.  My own affiliation is with theCenter for the Study of Biological Complexity  at Virginia Commonwealth University.  A quick Google might get you a reference to my role in that Center.

For about 20 years I taught a set of three undergraduate honors modules on the subject of complexity.  It was attended by all kinds of honors students.  We all quickly learned about scientific fundamentalism.  I did not lecture.  I got what I needed by asking provocative questions and letting the students iron things out.  It was a very popular set of modules and I never had trouble getting students.

A clear pattern evolved.  The science majors were usually withdrawn and uncomfortable because I refused to protect science for them.  They had to come to its defense while English and Music majors asked the relevant questions about their views.  

So what is happening here on this blog-site is no surprise to me.  It is the product of a clash of worldviews and a strange one at that.  My honors science students were temporarily disarmed when the teacher was not giving an authoritarian backup to the superior "objectivity" and "methodology" they so proudly voiced.  By the end of a module, most of them no longer felt like they needed that shelter.  A few left disillusioned and unhappy, not learning how to cope with uncertainty and existential issues that had penetrated the barriers their version of positivism had provided.  I could not really help them.  I will not reach many here who are already set in their ways and believe in their scientific scriptures(sorry).

This is not an esoteric and sophisticated issue.  It is a discussion with central relevance to the debate going on about health care reform and related issues.  It will take many more diaries to spell this out, but it definitely needs to be done.  I hope people will have the patience to see this developed carefully and systematically rater than scoff at it in Abstract form.

Originally posted to don mikulecky on Mon Jun 08, 2009 at 09:00 PM PDT.

Poll

Complexity science

3%2 votes
7%4 votes
9%5 votes
25%14 votes
51%28 votes
1%1 votes

| 54 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (17+ / 2-)

    An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

    by don mikulecky on Mon Jun 08, 2009 at 09:00:35 PM PDT

    •  Sorry, I had to HR the tip jar. (2+ / 1-)
      Recommended by:
      linkage, csquared
      Hidden by:
      G2geek

      The author is spewing a bunch of pseudo-scientific bullshit.

      He is essentially saying the equivalent of the following:

      It is not possible for quantum mechanics to make a point by point prediction about the location of photons in the two slit experiment. Therefore, QM cannot be falsified or verified.

      This Space For Rent

      by xynz on Tue Jun 09, 2009 at 01:39:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  What about the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle? (4+ / 0-)

        "And God separated the light from the dark, and did two loads of laundry"

        by Fiddlegirl on Tue Jun 09, 2009 at 04:53:32 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  HR abuse. (5+ / 0-)

        Disagreement is not equivalent to trolling.  

        You ought to know better.

        Plain donut, no powdered sugar.  

      •  xynz - sorry, I disagree (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        don mikulecky, Larsstephens

        The author is spewing a bunch of pseudo-scientific bullshit.

        The author, Don, is trying to bring to our attention a new paradigm. See:

        See The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

        The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962), by Thomas Kuhn, is an analysis of the history of science. Its publication was a landmark event in the sociology of knowledge, and popularized the terms paradigm and paradigm shift.

        Kuhn, is a starting place to help understand Dons ideas. Then read Lakoff's two great books:

        Philosophy in the flesh: the embodied mind and its challenge to Western thought‎ by George Lakoff and  Mark Johnson

        Where mathematics comes from: how the embodied mind brings mathematics into being By George Lakoff, Rafael Nunez, Rafael E. Núñez

        After reading and understanding these books, one is ready to start appricating Don's ideas that are baised, in part, on the work of Robert Rosen

        xynz, please remove TR, and help Don, by correcting any small slips in his presentation.

        "Upward, not Northward" - Flatland, by EA Abbott

        by linkage on Tue Jun 09, 2009 at 08:46:07 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm every well versed in Kuhn. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          linkage

          It would appear that I understand it much better than you, or the diarist.

          I wrote a paper combining Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions with Prigogine's Theory of Dissipative Structures. I presented that paper in the mid-1980s at a conference for the Rocky Mountain Region of Mathematical Association of America.

          Using the Dictyostelium discoidium example from Prigogine’s "Order Out of Chaos", I illustrated how the Theory of Dissipative Structures applies to Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions.  There is a very striking similarity between the aggregation behaviour of scientists around an anomalous empirical observation and the aggregation behaviour of slime mold ameoba Dictyostelium discoidium.  

          When the Dictyostelium discoidium population is in equilibrium with its environment, it is spread or diffused, throughout its the environment.  Then food begins to grow scarce.  The first amoeba to "detect" the absence of nutrients "publishes" its findings by emitting cyclic AMP. Other amoebae, encountering this "published information", aggregate around it and publish their own cAMP.  The system is moving to a state far from equilibrium.  Eventually, the entire population in the vicinity has aggregated and it then moves, as a unit, to a new location that is nutrient rich.

          Falsifiability is not only one of the central tenets of real science, it is the trigger for Kuhn's Scientific Revolutions.

          During ordinary science, scientific inquiry is in a diffuse state; in many different areas, the accepted paradigm is being elaborated.  At some point, an inconsistency between the accepted paradigm and an empirical observation is detected. This paradigm falsifying, empirical result is then published. Other scientists, encountering these published results, begin their own inquiries into the anomaly. These other scientists publish their results, getting the attention of even more scientists.  This process continues. Eventually, a large segment of the scientific community has "aggregated" around the falsification of the paradigm; science is now in the far from equilibrium state of extraordinary science.

          The old paradigm has been falsified, and the period of what Kuhn calls "extraordinary science" has begun. From the Prigoginian viewpoint, this is analogous to a thermodynamic system that has been driven far from equilibrium. The far from equilibrium behaviour of Dictyostelium discoidium in a food depleted environment and the far from equilibrium behaviour of scientists in a falsified paradigm are very similar to each other. This is not a coincidence; it demonstrates that the principals of nonlinear dynamics are universal. Eventually, the aggregated population of scientists will migrate to a new paradigm.

          In the case of Newtonian (Classical Mechanics), it was falsified by the Michelson-Morley Experiment and the Ultra-Violet Catastrophe.

          The Michelson-Morley Experiment led to the emergence of the Relativistic Physics paradigm; while the UV Catastrophe led to the emergence of the Quantum Mechanics paradigm.

          So, falsification is a fundamental component of science.

          When I encountered this diary, I suspected that the diarist was spouting unfalsifiable gobbledygook.   So, I wrote a comment to that effect:

          [xynz wrote]For "complexity science" to be "science", it has to have an empirical consequence. What measurement, observation or any other empirical event would force the abandonment of a complexity science model? In what respects would that differ from so called "fundamentalist" science?

          [the diarist responded:]
          We moved beyond this quite some time ago, independent of complexity theory. There is much writen on the fact that some things that we know are verifyable, some survive refutation and some are in neither category.

          The diarist's dismissal of falsifiability with respect to his "theory" was not accidental, there are several comments where he defends the lack of falsifiability.

          His dismissal of falsifiability demonstrates that the diarist's "theory" is not scientific; so his claims to the power and respectability of science are fraudulent and worthy of HR.

          This Space For Rent

          by xynz on Tue Jun 09, 2009 at 09:32:09 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  xynz ... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            don mikulecky

            thank you for your sincere and thorough reply. And, you added to my appreciation of Kuhn.

            Understand the author is passionate about these ideas, and has a very perfunctory blogside manner. I do not think the author is dismissing falsifiability. I do not think the issue is quite black & white as you present it.

            I removed the TR I gave you ... why don't you remove the TR you gave Don. And, help us popularise some of these ideas from science.

            I think the ideas of Kuhn are progressive. I'm doing a diary for Street Prophets where I normally hang out. Understand I'm coming at these idea more from the humanities side than the science side. So, I hope you do not mind if I quote some of your first hand experience with Dictyostelium discoidium.

            JON

            "Upward, not Northward" - Flatland, by EA Abbott

            by linkage on Tue Jun 09, 2009 at 10:35:39 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I will wear that TR with pride! (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              linkage

              It shows how uptight fundamentalists can get when the rock they are under is turned over.

              An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

              by don mikulecky on Wed Jun 10, 2009 at 09:53:37 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Somehow .... (0+ / 0-)

                we need to build a a voting coalition for the progressive movement. As an outsider viewing this disagreement I'm saddened by the lack of understanding demonstrated here.

                You guys can argue all you want over how many angels are dancing on a head of a pin, but please work together for the progressive cause.

                Big day at work for me, more later tonight.

                JON

                "Upward, not Northward" - Flatland, by EA Abbott

                by linkage on Thu Jun 11, 2009 at 09:17:16 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  My diaries here and my other work for Obama are (0+ / 0-)

                  doing just that.  My use of Lakoff's framing and Westins related ideas all are strengthened by an understanding of Rosen.  The framing issue is how Obama won.  This is NOT angels on pins.

                  An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

                  by don mikulecky on Fri Jun 12, 2009 at 02:11:39 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  Thank you for your gracious response. (0+ / 0-)

              Recall that an experiment is one of the fundamental steps in the scientific method.

              An experiment is a test of a hypothesis and a test must always imply the possibility of failure....otherwise, it's not a test.

              This requirement of a scientific theory is generalized to the concept of an empirical consequence....also known as falsifiability.

              To say that a scientific theory doesn't have to be falsifiable is literally like saying that the scientific method doesn't need the experimental step.

              While it may not (ever?) be possible to do a laboratory experiment to test a theory about black holes, it is possible to postulate and pursue a measurable consequence of that theory: building and launching a satellite probe to measure and test the theory's consequences with respect to the X-ray emissions from a cosmic singularity.

              While it may not be possible to do a laboratory experiment that tests the theory of Homo Sapiens' evolution, it can be falsified (in principle) by the empirical evidence of a human skull that is four billion years old.

              If it can't be falsified, then it's not science.

              It really is that black and white.

              This Space For Rent

              by xynz on Thu Jun 11, 2009 at 02:14:19 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Don and myself ... (0+ / 0-)

                are NOT rejecting falsifiability.  We are only observing that falsifiability has limits. And these limits are defined.

                Sorry, Black and White is only one model one can chose from. Later tonight I will try and supply a differing model.

                Please do not try and frame the conversation for an easy win. That is what uptight fundamentalists do. Please re-read Don's essay with a more open mind. I think you are bringing your own categories to the table, and missing what Don is trying to say.

                Sorry, I have to work away from the computer all day today. More later.

                JON

                "Upward, not Northward" - Flatland, by EA Abbott

                by linkage on Thu Jun 11, 2009 at 09:28:40 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  dude... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        linkage, don mikulecky, Larsstephens

        the author's record as a scientist is well known and open to public scrutiny; you can disagree with him all you want, but there is no need to act like a total twit.

      •  Don't play their game G2. They are so immature. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        linkage

        They don't realize that they took the bait hook, line and sinker.  We now have very real examples of the fundamentalists I was describing.

        An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

        by don mikulecky on Wed Jun 10, 2009 at 09:51:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Maybe I'm learing somthing ... (0+ / 0-)

          here about fundamentalists. Give me some time to think about all the discussion.

          For the moment I'm trying to play peacemaker. Maybe I'm a fool, but before I put down a fundamentalist I want to be certain their minds are closed.

          JON

          "Upward, not Northward" - Flatland, by EA Abbott

          by linkage on Thu Jun 11, 2009 at 09:33:51 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  There is a link to an interview with Rosen (0+ / 0-)

            in another comment.  It is enlightening.  Meanwhile, Judith Rosen, his non-scientist daughter has been invited to this year's Institutue for the Study of Systems Science annual meeting in Australia because they want to honor him.  She was the one who interviewed him on the link I mention.

            An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

            by don mikulecky on Fri Jun 12, 2009 at 02:07:52 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  You haven't adequately explained * what * (3+ / 0-)

      complexity science actually is.  This statement:

      The thesis is that complexity science has grown out of a general lack of satisfaction with traditional scientific practices and their failure to find a way of capturing anything but a shadow of complex reality.

      Tells me what complexity science isn't (traditional science), but it doesn't tell me what it is.
      Apparently you've written a manuscript which explains "complexity science":

      Complexity science, as presented here, demands that the barriers and constraints be removed in order to gain a more complete view of nature. This tutorial presents a summary of what is entailed by this new methodology.

      but this abstract tells me nothing.  There are a lot of scientists on this site, and we are justifiably skeptical.  What "barriers" and "constraints" need to be removed?

      Link to the paper itself, or write a diary explaining complexity science in detail.

      "I know this defies the law of gravity, but you see, I never studied law." -Bugs Bunny

      by KroneckerD on Tue Jun 09, 2009 at 07:18:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Your diary was not the audacious part. (17+ / 0-)

    The audacious part was when you decided that virtually everyone commenting in your diary was attacking you no matter what they said.

    (-8.00, -7.18) I have no sense of humor.

    by Arken on Mon Jun 08, 2009 at 09:02:23 PM PDT

  •  How is "complexity science" any different (13+ / 0-)

    from other anti-science dogmas that place boundaries around what science can and cannot explain, thereby setting up a straw man distinction that science cannot win?

    Perhaps your arguments would be more comprehensible with examples.  Right now it seems more like a recycled version of "The Tao of Physics" than anything else.      

    Randall Terry is an accomplice to murder.

    by dotalbon on Mon Jun 08, 2009 at 09:13:05 PM PDT

    •  It is different by being pro-science. (6+ / 0-)

      What complexity science does is to extend scientific methodology beyond the limits of Cartesian reductionism and the machine metaphor.  It exists as part of the science component in any university it is found.   The "Tao of Physics" is at best a crude attempt to patch some holes in the basic reductionist approach of physics.   Rosen's approach models aspects of systems using category theory and instead of focusing on the dynamics ala traditional physics focuses on the function and causal entailment physics can not handle.

      An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

      by don mikulecky on Mon Jun 08, 2009 at 09:21:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Wow, you've set quite a task for yourself here. (5+ / 0-)

        I'll be rooting for you (and rec'ing, should I be around to catch further diaries).

        Good work. Tough crowd.
        Best,
        H.D.
        ;-)

        God bless our tinfoil hearts.

        by aitchdee on Mon Jun 08, 2009 at 10:25:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  yo Don- I'm basically with you but there's a... (8+ / 0-)

        ...weak spot in your presentation: much of what's in this diary assumes that people know more about the subject than most around here appear to know.  Some folks read into that what they "expect" and are reacting to those expectations.   Links to introductory information would be helpful for those who have no idea what you're actually talking about.

        For example:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/...

        I don't know if the above article would pass your standards, but it was easy enough to find.  

        Strictly speaking, those who don't know what you're talking about should be willing to look it up before they shoot off their mouths, but humans being humans (monkeys being monkeys: tribal animals), very often they do the tribal thing instead of the objective* thing.  

        ---

        *Objective:  I believe in objectivity in a somewhat relative sense: that one can deliberately seek to know where one's biases are, and then take steps to offset for them.  For example if I have a bias in favor of a hypothesis, I can take extra care in operationalizing my research variables in such a manner as to be deliberately "strict."  

        •  Hey thanks much! I have used that link in past (5+ / 0-)

          diaries on the subject.  It is OK but not near complete.  The idea that objectivity is an ideal I strongly agree with.  To believe one is capable of achieving it is another story. Popper once discussed this in detail and related his preference in science writing.  You start by stating your bias as clearly as possible.  Then present the stuff as well as you can trying to not let it sway you.

          The famous stories about teachers who find reasons to discount evidence that certain students have mastery over the material because of prejudice, etc.

          That would be less possible if the bias were dealt with up front.  Popper tried to get physicists to write joiurnal articles this way and the reviewers killed them!

          An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

          by don mikulecky on Mon Jun 08, 2009 at 10:50:22 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  interesting about Popper and the reviewers. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            linkage, don mikulecky, Larsstephens

            I agree with you and Popper, that one should also state one's biases up front, and I even do this in my work life when advising clients.  

            One has to wonder if the reviewers were attempting to cover for their own biases in their personal history of approving or rejecting articles.  That is, if biases are stated clearly in papers, then over time it may become clear that a specific reviewer tends to approve papers with one viewpoint and disapprove those with another, thereby demonstrating bias by the reviewer.  

        •  Complexity theory is cutting edge ... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Larsstephens

          It is my opinion that George Lakoff's New Enlightenment Philosophy supports complexity theory as posited by Robert Rosen. It is the natural companion to understanding and creating new models.

          Robert Rosen

          George Lakoff

          JON

          "Upward, not Northward" - Flatland, by EA Abbott

          by linkage on Mon Jun 08, 2009 at 11:14:15 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  seems to me the machine metaphor is largely dead. (6+ / 0-)

        We might still use the term "mechanism" as a convention, for example, "what is the mechanism of infection for this disease?" but we understand that the term doesn't quite fit, like the 19th century "steam engine" metaphors for mind.  We might want to say "organism" instead of "mechanism," but that's awkward in that one feels obligated to insert a parenthetical explanation.

        So we use the word but we squirm just a bit, and wish for something better.  And the squirming proves the point that our understanding has evolved beyond the commonly-available language.  

        •  I wish you could see the NIH call for (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          G2geek, radarlady, linkage, Larsstephens

          grant applications to treat cancer with approaches from physics.  You would see it alive and well.

          An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

          by don mikulecky on Mon Jun 08, 2009 at 11:05:55 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  yes, you're right, and after I posted that... (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            linkage, don mikulecky, Larsstephens

            ...I thought about the "strong AI" crowd who tend to think that a mind is nothing more than software that can be transplanted between platforms or replicated algorithmically.

            Whereas to the best of our understanding, minds arise from the interaction of organic brains and information as-such, where it is also implied that information is a fundamental quantity.  In any case minds are not deterministic phenomena, hence not purely algorithmic, and the existence (and Darwinian utility) of free will proves that point well.

            The strong AI crowd are thinking in terms of mechanism; the cutting edge of cognitive science is thinking in terms of organism.  

            Among the people I run with, the cutting edge stuff in cog sci is our working paradigm.  

    •  dotalbon try this link ... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      radarlady, Larsstephens, Just Bob

      "Upward, not Northward" - Flatland, by EA Abbott

      by linkage on Mon Jun 08, 2009 at 10:42:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  what's anti-science dogma about... (4+ / 0-)

      ...combining systems theory with natural selection?

      Do tell.

      As for "what science cannot explain," if you can decribe a viable empirical test for the question of the existence or nonexistence of a deity as conventionally defined (omniscient and omnipotent), I'll email it to the Nobel committee.  

      The above paragraph is not intended to make any claim with regard to the question of the existence or otherwise of a deity, nor is it intended as a stalking horse for an invasion of science by religion, or any such nonsense.  It's simply pointing to an obvious (and frankly unremarkable) limit to the scope of empirical knowledge.  Another example is, what came "before" the Big Bang?, if the term "before" is even remotely useful in that context.

      For that matter, what if we determined that the data needed to conclusively demonstrate infinite expansion or a "big crunch", were dependent on measurement of objects outside of our local universe?  

      Toolmakers know that every tool has its limits.

      •  some just can't handle (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        G2geek, linkage, don mikulecky, Just Bob

        The full and rational
        scientific ramifications
        of the incompleteness theorem.

        Quantum mechanics must
        really frighten them.

        They remind me of the patent
        commissioner Charles Duell:

        "Everything that can be invented has been invented."-- Charles Duell, Commissioner of US Patent Office, 1899

        I see you have attracted
        the usual flame warriors,
        Don. I think it might be best
        to simply ignore their attempts
        at threadjacking.
        Keep up the good works.
        There will be progress
        and perhaps wisdom found in spite
        of their efforts.

        To those who disagree,
        refute the diarist with
        the same degree of rigor
        and source that he has provided.
        Instead of insult and ad hominem
        character and motive attacks.

        •  Incompleteness Theorem (5+ / 0-)

          If they can't handle that, they should go join plf515's Godel, Escher, Bach discussions.

          I can have sympathy for the diarist's science students. As a working researcher, I know the current state of the art in my fields doesn't explain all the phenomena we see (if it did, there'd be nothing more to research). But, from their perspective, many of them have probably come from Fundie households, and found the scientific method tremendously liberating (I know I did when I was in college). Now, their prof is telling them there's research beyond mechanistic science. I could see how that could be a problem.

          Radarlady

          •  i'd say that's a function of... (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            linkage, don mikulecky, Larsstephens

            ...abstract thinking vs. concrete thinking.

            Fundamentalisms of whatever kind (and they occur in science as well as in religion) are examples of highly concrete thinking.  

            New frontiers in the philosophy of science (and in other areas of philosophy, including as it were, theology and metaphysics) tend to be highly abstract.  It's no wonder that concrete thinkers have problems with difficult abstractions.  

            Agreed, the point at which a person discovers scientific method is liberating.  It's like getting the keys to the kingdom of the entire physical universe.  And of course the next step is to recognize the limits of the tools, lest one fall into hubris or make foolish mistakes.  

            •  Add the uncertainity principle...lol (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              G2geek, linkage

              I find myself questioning
              many of the hard and fast
              assumptions I once held as
              uncontestable truth. Perhaps
              this is one of the natural
              components of growth and maturity,
              as I seem to notice that it is
              many of the young who are so
              sure about everything, as I
              must readily admit I once was.

              It is not like all Newtonian
              law was relegated to myth status
              by advancements and developments
              in theoretical concepts.

              I am not even a trained scientist,
              per se, but even as a poorly educated
              layman, the implications of these concepts,
              and how they may cause many assumptions
              and theories to be questioned is plain to me.

      •  We go research something else. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        nota bene, G2geek, linkage

        what if we determined that the data needed to conclusively demonstrate infinite expansion or a "big crunch", were dependent on measurement of objects outside of our local universe?

        Then we'd have the best possible available answer to the question and move on to questions that could be answered.

        Matters beyond the scope of empirical knowledge are theology and metaphysics, not science.

        "Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow." -- Albert Einstein

        by ohwilleke on Tue Jun 09, 2009 at 12:35:29 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  good, so we agree.... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          linkage, don mikulecky, Larsstephens

          ...theology & metaphysics, both of which are legitimate areas of philosophical discourse, though of course are not science any more than a sculpture is a symphony.

          Each area of knowledge has its limits.  In science we move on to the next question and keep seeking the questions we can answer empirically.  

          The "new  methodologies" of which Don speaks, are not intended to refute this point, but to extend it.  In the same way, Charles Tart's paper on state-specific science (published in SciAm in the 70s) was not intended to surrender psychology to subjectivism, but to seek out new methods that could be tested.  

          The paradigm of "observe, hypothesize, test, refine, repeat" has not changed, and it reflects something inherent in nature much as do certain fundamental mathematical concepts.

  •  Complex systems are just amalgamations (7+ / 0-)

    of simpler systems following the fundamental laws of nature. For example, thermodynamics is just a way of statistically describing large numbers of particles which interact via basic physical laws. Using thermodynamical properties is much easier than keeping track of the dynamics each individual particle but there is nothing magical about it. Similar arguments can be made for studies of other complex systems like ecology. If one has a theory which cannot ultimately be reduced to fundamental laws of nature, I'd be very skeptical of it.

  •  Geologists have been dealing with complexity... (7+ / 0-)

    well...since they started studying the earth. Of course, it wasn't complexity science. It was a science that studied complex data, processes and problems.

    "It's the planet, stupid."

    by FishOutofWater on Mon Jun 08, 2009 at 09:22:10 PM PDT

  •  Congrats! You've (re-)discovered Scientism (12+ / 0-)

    Scientism is the worship of the 19th century scientific worldview in all its mechanistic and simplistic glory.

    Remember that western science grew out of the Christian medieval universities, with their dualistic insistence that truth was simple and black-or-white. After the French Revolution and the "Enlightenment," western scientists insisted that truth was simple and white-or-black, having kept the dualistic assumptions while merely switching all things spiritual to the "false" side of the dualism and all things material to the "true" side.

    You cannot defeat these people logically because they have closed logic systems that define you and your ideas as false from the beginning. And yes, it is very similar to religious fundamentalism, because it is rooted in the same philosophical assumptions.

    Isn't it nice to have a SMART President?

    by ibonewits on Mon Jun 08, 2009 at 09:30:27 PM PDT

    •  Thanks for that. You have tied it to some of (5+ / 0-)

      its origins.  Too many ties exist for this to be blow away as heresy.

      An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

      by don mikulecky on Mon Jun 08, 2009 at 09:33:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  dualisms plural. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      linkage, don mikulecky, Larsstephens

      One is the nature/God duality, one is the dualistic theory of mind that was handily disproven by the discoveries of LSD and REM sleep respectively.

      Another, as you said, is dichotomous thinking: black/white minus gray.  

      The latter seems to be endemic around here lately.  And here I was thinking that the culture had gotten past that stuff some time in the 1970s, when Western science started recognizing the clinical value in some of the practices of Chinese and Native medicine.

  •  I'm having a very hard time figuring out (5+ / 0-)

    what you mean by "complexity science".  It makes no sense to me and I do have a science background (chemistry).  
    Science is a methodology- a guide so that when we try to explain the world around us and how it functions, we're coming from the same spot and language. There is a tendency to look at the world and reduce it to simple chunks and call it "science". The real world does not work in a vacuum, much is interconnected and not studied very often. I do not call this "new complexity science". I call this sheer laziness.
    It is why I did not pursue higher than a BA. I see interconnectedness, a forest but higher ed forces one to stick to one single (boring) tree.
    If that's not what you mean, then I am not understanding the point of your diary beyond whining.

    -7.50/-7.90 Everyone knows I'm out in left field.

    by WiseFerret on Mon Jun 08, 2009 at 09:33:48 PM PDT

    •  Try looking at the links to the (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      aitchdee, G2geek, linkage, Larsstephens

      Santa Fe Institue and NECSI.  You don't have to just buy my version.  It is certainly not as you characterize it.  In fact the interconnectedness of the real world is why complexity science was born.  It is all too clear that isolating things by severing or ignoring connections creates simpler objects to study, but ones which often differ drasticly from what they are in context.

      An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

      by don mikulecky on Mon Jun 08, 2009 at 09:39:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Your version and the version from the Sante Fe (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        linkage, don mikulecky

        Institute and NECSI don't look very similar.

        "Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow." -- Albert Einstein

        by ohwilleke on Tue Jun 09, 2009 at 12:37:39 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  We have our differences. Rosen's is a rather (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          G2geek, linkage, Larsstephens

          unique approach.  They try not to talk about him since he has done things they can not.  I gave a three hour tutorial at the first NECSI meeting and there was a standing room only audience.  Clearly not even people within NECSI or SFI agree with each other and with people in the other place.

          What really worries them is that Rosen and Louie have shown that their kind of complexity is not computable.  That puts a damper on a lot of what the people in those groups claim is complexity research.  (AI and A Life, for example)This is a long involved story.

          An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

          by don mikulecky on Tue Jun 09, 2009 at 12:49:21 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I have had a little experience with complexity (6+ / 0-)

    as it applies to complex systems.  I worked for a major Wall St. firm nearly ten years ago.  During the year before I left, I worked in an IT R&D group.  In that group, there were some people who were truly in the "best and brightest" category.  My boss was collaborating with some people at Princeton and he set up a series of seminars with some authors who had written books on the subject.  Our goal was to try to apply the concepts in some proof of concept IT systems and hope we'd come up with something useful for the firm.

    Most of the experts we worked with were focused on applying the theory to either networks or the economy, or both.

    I really only scratched the surface, but found it to be pretty fascinating stuff.  I've not touched the subject in years but I still think about it at times.  It opened my mind in certain ways.

    "The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good." --Samuel Johnson

    by joanneleon on Mon Jun 08, 2009 at 10:00:17 PM PDT

    •  My latest work is a chapter on management theory (5+ / 0-)

      This is an example of how once we tear down the walls between disciplines the new science can be used in places it hadn't before.  Incidently, the reviews and editors were quite in agreement once they read my chapter.

      An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

      by don mikulecky on Mon Jun 08, 2009 at 10:04:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Voted "mumbo jumbo". (8+ / 0-)

    Complexity theory seems derived from a "something magical happens when lots of simple things combine to create something complicated" thought process. The scientist in me just can't reconcile that "something magical" as "something unknowable about the system" . If you zoom in to the tiniest portion and then slowly back out, everything should make logical sense .

    Alternative medicine is fine in my book if there's some basis for the medicine that can be established and tested. If this herb relieves migraines by increasing blood flow, then it's entirely possible that it's something worth investigating, analyzing in a measurable way and determining if there's a component (or mixture of components) that are having a positive effect.

    If you're telling me that acupuncture is aligning my chi... I don't have a chi-ometer to see what you're talking about and, quite honestly, I don't buy it. I need the logical progression of hypothesis and evidence beyond "oh, I feel much better now!"

    In order for it to be science ("complexity science", "creation science", "alternative science", whatever), you have to have a way to verify your claims and a way to test, challenge and potentially disprove them. If you've got that, then you're not really looking at complexity science, you're just looking at plain old science. And if you don't have those things, you should remove "science" from the end of the phrase, because it's not science.

    •  It is you who are using the words (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek, linkage, Larsstephens

      "magical" for unexpected (emergent properties) which happen in spite of our belief that they should not.  Much of complexity theory deals with the idea that we know less than we think we do.  Some forms of "emergence" are due to our lack of predictive power and some due to our errors.  Evolution itself is not predictable.  Were it possible too run the system many times there is no guarentee that it would turn out the same each time.

      By the way, Umberto Eco has written a nice essay on this,  He sees modern technology as our modern "magic".  All this stuff we use without understanding how it works.  Only the "magicians" do.

      So by your rigid definition is evolution science or magic?

      An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

      by don mikulecky on Mon Jun 08, 2009 at 11:01:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well... (4+ / 0-)

        Evolution itself is not predictable.  Were it possible too run the system many times there is no guarentee that it would turn out the same each time.

        That would be because there is a lot of randomness involved.  No mystical complexity required to explain that.

        •  Of course....but you need to be careful (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          G2geek, linkage, Larsstephens

          You may be confusing chaotic dynamics with randomness....another advance due to complexity theory

          An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

          by don mikulecky on Mon Jun 08, 2009 at 11:48:53 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  however, randomness doesn't get animal behavior (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          linkage, Larsstephens

          Prey animal evading predator:

          Random behavior by prey results in 50% success rate by predator.

          Deterministic behavior by prey results in greater success rate by predator, since predator can learn prey's algorithm and predict prey's behavior.

          Free will is the only way for prey to increase its own success rate against predator to consistently greater than 50%.  

          This in turn calls for predator to evolve free will to attempt to level the odds once more.  

          Free will requires thought.  And thought in turn requires only the simplest of brains as a platform.  

          BTW, your use of the term "mystical" is technically incorrect; it refers to the experience of direct encounter with deity or ground-of-being, unmediated by scripture or authority; and to philosophical systems arising therefrom.  The word you are looking for is "mystification," which means "making mysteries where none exist."  This is a fairly common mistake, akin to Fox Newz saying "Democrat party."

    •  Beginning scientific investigation (6+ / 0-)

      Alternative medicine is fine in my book if there's some basis for the medicine that can be established and tested. If this herb relieves migraines by increasing blood flow, then it's entirely possible that it's something worth investigating, analyzing in a measurable way and determining if there's a component (or mixture of components) that are having a positive effect.

      If you're telling me that acupuncture is aligning my chi... I don't have a chi-ometer to see what you're talking about and, quite honestly, I don't buy it. I need the logical progression of hypothesis and evidence beyond "oh, I feel much better now!"

      It seems to me that by asking for "...some basis for the [alternative] medicine that can be established and tested." you're asking for too much.  Alternative medicine is a raw material for scientific inquiry; it shouldn't be expected to come with explanations.  If "Four out of 5 shamans agree, use plant X to get rid of intestinal worms", that's an indication that plant X has antihelmentic properties.  Finding the anti-worm components, determining how they work, verifying toxicity levels, etc., are legitimate subjects for scientific investigation.  The shamans shouldn't be expected to explain how plant X kills worms.  
      Acupuncture has been shown to work for animals, so it's not just placebo effect.  If you don't have a chi-ometer, it may be because nobody has built one yet, not because it's not possible.  

      Renewable energy brings national security.

      by Calamity Jean on Tue Jun 09, 2009 at 06:10:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  yes, yes, and exactly. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        linkage, don mikulecky, Larsstephens

        Right with you 95% of the way there.

        Where I would differ:  Mice demonstrate conditioned immune responses, which overlap with the range of phenomena that are indicative of placebo reactions.  Also we know we can get fairly complex cognitive phenomena on even simple brains (free will in fruit flies: Maye et. al., in PLoS One).  

        So I'd turn up the skepticism level just a bit re. mouse studies, and attempt to factor out a possible placebo reaction.  If the mice are still reacting to the acupuncture, all the more interesting.   I suspect the answer will turn out to be Yes anyway, but it's always good to take the extra steps to be sure one way or the other.  

        Who would have thought that little mice were so complex themselves..?

    •  chi-ometers. (4+ / 0-)

      What we can do is map the Chinese "acupuncture meridians" onto whatever we know about anatomy & physiology to see if something matches.  If not, then we can start experimenting with treatment modalities that are "like" acupuncture but not identical with, or we can nudge the values of variables and see what works and what doesn't.  

      Treat it as a black box and start poking it.  Try toothpicks on the acupuncture points instead of needles (toothpicks work).  Try different points near the traditional ones to check the empirical validity of the Chinese map of meridians.  If point pressure works, what about point temperature, for example the application of hot or cold to those points selectively?  What about wetness: tiny droplets of water placed on otherwise dry skin at those points?  

      Interestingly, acupuncture also works on mice.  However, conditioned immune responses also work on mice, leading to a possible generalization that overlaps with the placebo effect.  So we can't rule out placebo-like effects of acupuncture on mice (contrary to what someone else suggests in another posting nearby).  Further interesting experiments suggest themselves.  

      That's what science does when faced with a claim that doesn't fit the current theory but appears to have empirical validity.   "Four out of five shamans agree that herb X cures migraines": great, let's start experimenting with that herb and see what happens.  And if we're really good at it, we retain our humility and respect for others, as Albert Hofmann did when offering his synthesized mushroom compound (psilocybin) to a Mexican shaman.  (Her response was a joyful one: "You've found the spirit of the mushroom and put it in a pink pill!"  One of those moments of a bridge between ancient and modern cultures.)

      Taboos are magical thinking.  Science is systematized curiosity without regard for silly taboos.  

  •  OK--I'm curious (7+ / 0-)

    but as I understand the term "science," it is nothing more than a method that consists of the following--

    1. Observe
    1. Hypothesize
    1. Experiment
    1. Analyze (and repeat)

    Saying that all of science is reductive--a philosophical term--seems to miss the point. Of course many scientists (especially in physics and math) are reductive; math in particular is to some extent a single unified body of knowledge and because the "details" are so rich to begin with they require huge amounts of man-hours to investigate.

    Obviously not all scientists are necessarily reductionist. What I would like to know more about--and perhaps this should be the subject of your next diary--is what does complexity theory actually do; this strikes me as vastly more interesting than its philosophical underpinnings as reductionism vs. holism which I feel like I have at least a passing familiarity with.

    I mean, re: Chinese medicine for example, it's my belief that people all over the world believe all sorts of crazy things and the duration of the belief system does not necessarily have any connection to its "truth". There may in fact be something to ancient Chinese medicine that is unknown elsewhere, but it may or may not be "true" for the reasons that its practitioners believe. It's my personal belief that the scientific method is the only way of ever being able to tell for certain, even if takes generations to acheive "certainty". (For example, Newton's mechanics were "true" for quite a while because, despite being incomplete, they made many very accurate predictions. It wasn't until centuries later, after observations finally began contradicting Newton, that Einstein found a more general version of Newton's laws. But even though f=ma was superseded, it still had predictive value in the situations being contemplated at the time it was introduced.)

    So it seems to me the utility of science has less to do with reductionism and more to do with the iterative nature of the application of the method. If some idea isn't working, another will take its place.

    Anyway, I'm familiar with the idea of emergence, and with Clarke's aphorism about any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. So what good is complexity theory?

    •  Yep, that's why don is dead wrong. (3+ / 0-)

      He's equating "traditional science" with reductionism.  Which is simply wrong.  Honestly, evolutionary theory should be enough of an example to make that clear, but for other examples, how about continental drift (established before any understanding of how it could possibly work), or indeed macroeconomics (the scientific parts of which have no clear linkage to microeconomics).

      -5.63, -8.10. Learn about Duverger's Law.

      by neroden on Mon Jun 08, 2009 at 11:47:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sorry if you think tracing reductionism to (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        linkage, Larsstephens

        Descartes is "equating"   I think I made my point about that clear.  please do not distort it and put words in my mouth.  It does the discussion no good.  The evidence that traditional science has its roots and origins in Cartesian reductionism, Cartesian dualism and the Cartesian Machine Metaphor is the subject of many, many, mamy, many books.  I think you need to do some reading.

        An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

        by don mikulecky on Tue Jun 09, 2009 at 12:01:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Science is not made out of one point of view. (3+ / 0-)

          The way your typical biologist or geologist does science is quite different from the way your typical chemist or physicist does science.

          Decartes is long dead, and while he certainly contributed to the philosophy of science, the notion that all science has its roots in this (when a great deal of science developed before Decartes was even born) is a gross overstatement.  Also, the fact that somebody wrote a book about something doesn't make it true.

          Moreover, your style of response to being challenged, by reference to unreferenced authority and your own alleged wisdom, is utter unscientific baloney.  If you have something to say, say it, don't claim that you know better because you've read a lot of books.  If you can't articulate what those books said, after having read them, you would have been better off having spent that time on the golf course or playing Donkey Kong.

          "Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow." -- Albert Einstein

          by ohwilleke on Tue Jun 09, 2009 at 12:24:56 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Thanks for your opinion. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            linkage, Larsstephens

            I simply disagree with your assertions about what I have done.

            An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

            by don mikulecky on Tue Jun 09, 2009 at 12:28:47 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  You weren't really thanking him for his opinion. (3+ / 0-)

              You dismiss other people and their assertions with phrases such as:

              I think you need to do some reading.

              But you don't say what books to read (in that particular message). And YOU are the one making assertions, such as this one:

              The evidence that traditional science has its roots and origins in Cartesian reductionism, Cartesian dualism and the Cartesian Machine Metaphor is the subject of many, many, mamy, many books.

              To me, you appear prima facie to be a self-proclaimed genius who dismisses or insults anyone who disagrees with you or even asks a question. You might as well be Korzybski with his "General Semantics" or L. Ron Hubbard with his "Scientology" or Nikolai Tesla or Buckminster Fuller or Ayn Rand. You think you have the answer and anyone who disagrees with you is obviously an idiot. You remind me of my absolutist grandfather (who was a preacher who didn't allow any disagreement).

              Your CV says you're a retired professor from VCU. And I'm willing to listen to your theories. They sound interesting. But, jeez louise, do you have to attack everyone who asks a question or questions your assumptions? Could we make this a civil discussion?

              Sure, understanding today's complex world of the future is a little like having bees live in your head. But, there they are.

              by Dbug on Tue Jun 09, 2009 at 02:57:00 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  I doubt many scientists today (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        linkage, don mikulecky

        would cop to being positivists. Godel's incompleteness and the centrality of the observer in quantum mechanics should speak to that, I would think--neither of these ideas are heterodox....

        •  That's what is so interesting about framing (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Larsstephens

          Even though they understand what you are talking about, their knee jerk approach to everything is to use the same old mind set.

          An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

          by don mikulecky on Tue Jun 09, 2009 at 12:06:16 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Godel's incompleteness therom ... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          don mikulecky, Larsstephens

          is wonderful ... because of the boundarys it sets on formal systems.

          I do not think the Copenhagen interpretation works well with complex causality, one the emergent properties of Complexity Science.  The Cramer Transactional interpretation is a better fit with Lakoff and Rosens work. (just my opinion)

          Copenhagen is to "new age" Cramer is just math.

          "Upward, not Northward" - Flatland, by EA Abbott

          by linkage on Tue Jun 09, 2009 at 12:20:18 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The implications of his theorem are what this (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            linkage, Larsstephens

            is all about.  There can be no "largest model" as physics tries to assert.  Rosen spends a lot of time in his books developing this.

            An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

            by don mikulecky on Tue Jun 09, 2009 at 12:35:57 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  No I think he is saying that ... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kalmoth, don mikulecky, Larsstephens

        reductionism was so successful that it blinded us to other models. Complexity Theory is a larger set of models and includes reductionism.

        "Upward, not Northward" - Flatland, by EA Abbott

        by linkage on Tue Jun 09, 2009 at 12:03:49 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Maybe you could be helped to understand (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      linkage, Larsstephens

      if you were to look into it a bit more.  The links in my diary to the Santa Fe Institute and NECSI are starters.  If you want to try the deeper stuff, Rosen's books are a good place to begin to become informed.

      An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

      by don mikulecky on Tue Jun 09, 2009 at 12:03:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  since you seem to know something about it (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TiaRachel, amRadioHed, don mikulecky

        I'd appreciate it if you could elaborate a bit, since you're taking the time to post replies right here on the blog. That's why I suggested it should be your next diary topic. I won't speak for anyone else, but I suspect I'm not alone in saying that I don't understand what you're getting at in this diary.

        Again, I am familiar with the reductionism vs. holism debate, and I don't really see what's so crucial to science going forward about that. It's not exactly a new debate, so I'm wondering what specifically is this modern study of complexity adding to human knowledge.

        •  The concept that a complex whole (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kalmoth, linkage, Larsstephens

          is more than the sum of its parts has practcal ramifications.  It means we destroy something when we reduce a system to its parts.  More often than not what we destroy is what we are really interested in the system for. This is a very big issue in biology and medicine for example where molecular biology has become a dominant approach commanding a large portion of our resources.  

          One of Robert Rosen's examples is the question posed by Schroedinger in his little book What is life?  Rosen points out that even Schroedinger knew that something was missing in his beloved physics.  Rosen then goes on to show that by using methods Schroedinger never would have dreamt of, he could repose the question and answer it defintively:  "Why are living organisms different from machines?"  He crates a universe of discourse in which there are disjoint categories...organisms and machines...he then shows how to rigorously distinguish them using category theory.

          This has bearing on all the useless attempts to define "life" including the political debates about abortion, evolution, etc.

          An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

          by don mikulecky on Tue Jun 09, 2009 at 12:27:15 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Emergent properties (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nota bene, linkage

    Try looking at the "Mandelbrot set"
    Check out the zooms.
    This is the archetypal (IMHO) example of something really complicated emerging from something perfectly simple.
    A simple recursive equation "draws" a figure who's details cannot be predicted without running the equation for every data point.
    (A parabola, for example, is fairly easily imagined before plotting)
    Completely deterministic, too. Nothing random.

    I dunno if it's really germane to your argument, just thought it was cool.

  •  If it's not falsifiable, it's not science. (7+ / 0-)

    For "complexity science" to be "science", it has to have an empirical consequence.

    What measurement, observation or any other empirical event would force the abandonment of a complexity science model? In what respects would that differ from so called "fundamentalist" science?

    This Space For Rent

    by xynz on Mon Jun 08, 2009 at 11:40:21 PM PDT

    •  We moved beyond this quite some time ago (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      linkage, Larsstephens

      independent of complexity theory.  There is much writen on the fact that some things that we know are verifyable, some survive refutation and some are in neither category.

      An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

      by don mikulecky on Tue Jun 09, 2009 at 12:08:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The stuff that is in neither category has a name. (3+ / 0-)

        It is irrelevant speculation.  There are things that are unknowable.  But, studying the unknowable is not science.

        "Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow." -- Albert Einstein

        by ohwilleke on Tue Jun 09, 2009 at 12:27:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Who is "we"? (2+ / 0-)

        What scientific models survived refutation?

        What scientific models were neither verifiable or refutable?

        This Space For Rent

        by xynz on Tue Jun 09, 2009 at 12:29:33 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  We is the collective we who use the scientific (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          linkage, Larsstephens

          method.  Chaos theory is neither refuteable nor verifiable by its very nature.  when non-linear dynamics leads to a chaotic solution to the equations of motion via period doubling (as in the logistic equation or Chua's lovely little circuit containing a single non-linear resistor) it is no longer possible to data fit to verify or refute the model.  It becomes a metaphor at best.  We are now talking about weather, evolution, and many, many other dynamic systems of interest including a large class of electrical circuits.

          An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

          by don mikulecky on Tue Jun 09, 2009 at 12:42:18 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Where did you get that idea? (4+ / 0-)

            The propositions of chaos theory is easily verifable and can be refuted.  It can be proven just as easily as one can prove that Newtonian gravity implies Kepler's laws.  It might take a good chunk of your afternoon, but it can be done.  I remember doing just that for months.

            Non-linear doesn't imply metaphorical, nor does chaotic.  You define observables, you predict them, and you measure them.  A chaotic system is, in rough terms, a deterministic system that is highly sensitive to initial conditions.  But, it is real, measurable, and acts in predictable ways, even if exact data points can not be predicted with an unknown initial condition.

            Hell, you can teach a computer to distinguish between chaotic and non-chaotic behavior from raw data, to distinguish between different varieties of chaotic behavior, and to characterize it numerically.  To use just one example of such a computer program, they have one that can be used to distinguish authentic from faked art from raw data.

            "Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow." -- Albert Einstein

            by ohwilleke on Tue Jun 09, 2009 at 12:59:06 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I understand what you are claiming. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Larsstephens

              I also understand that the distinction between chaotic dynamics and other things can be made using frequency spectra.  What can not be done is a point by point fit to the data.  This is discussed at great lenth with Chua's electrical circuit and the double scroll attractor.  The IEEE Journal made them admit to exactly what I said about metaphor as I recal.

              An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

              by don mikulecky on Tue Jun 09, 2009 at 01:04:37 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Ah....the STRAWMAN waves his hand: (2+ / 0-)

                What can not be done is a point by point fit to the data.

                Ok, thanks for playing. You can go now.

                This Space For Rent

                by xynz on Tue Jun 09, 2009 at 01:13:52 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  You seem to have missed something here. (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  IreGyre, Larsstephens

                  Try this reference:Chua, L. O. and R. N. Madan "Sights and Sounds of Chaos" in the the IEEE Circuits and Devices publication back in 1988.  They spell it out in detail there.  No it is not a straw man as you incorrectly imply.  It is a serious limitation when dealing with electronic systems.

                  An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

                  by don mikulecky on Tue Jun 09, 2009 at 01:20:04 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  You obviously do not understand what science is. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    ohwilleke

                    A limitation to the predictive power of theory does not mean the theory has no predictive power.

                    This Space For Rent

                    by xynz on Tue Jun 09, 2009 at 01:22:34 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  That is silly! A truism proves that I don't know (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Larsstephens

                      what science is?  What a strange way of behaving?  OK  I don't know what science is.  What does that do for you.  Read the statement at the bottom of this comment please.

                      An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

                      by don mikulecky on Tue Jun 09, 2009 at 01:32:19 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Yes, this truism does prove that you don't know.. (3+ / 0-)

                        ...what science is.

                        A scientific theory is a theory that has empirical consequences. It makes predictions that can be verified or falsified. If there are no empirical consequences, then the theory is not scientific.

                        You have claimed that chaos theory and non-linear dynamics are not subject to this standard, because they cannot be used to make a point by point fit with the data.

                        You have claimed that the limitations to the predictive power of chaos theory means the theory has no predictive power that can be verified or falsified.

                        This Space For Rent

                        by xynz on Tue Jun 09, 2009 at 01:46:14 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

          •  Uhhhh...no. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ohwilleke

            You are just another pseudo-scientific charlatan.

            Here is the classic case of a model and its empirical consequences. In this case, they are modeling the Chua circuit and they are making claims about its empirical behavior, based on their model.

            We present two generalizations of the equations governing Chua's circuit. In the type-I generalization of Chua's equations we use a 2-D autonomous flow as a component in a 3-D autonomous flow in such a way that the resulting equations will have double-scroll attractors similar to those observed experimentally in Chua's circuit. The value of this generalization is that (1) it provides a building block approach to the construction of chaotic circuits from simpler 2-D components that are not chaotic by themselves. In so doing, it provides an insight into how chaotic systems can be built up from simple nonchaotic parts; (2) it illustrates a precise relationship between 3-D flows and 1-D maps. In the type-II generalized Chua equations we show that attractors similar to the Lorenz and Rossler attractors can be produced in a building block approach using only piecewise linear vector fields. As a result we have a method of producing the Lorenz and Rossler dynamics in a circuit without the use of multipliers. These results suggest that the generalized Chua equations are in some sense fundamental in that the dynamics of the three most important autonomous 3-D differential equations producing chaos are seen as variations of a single class of equations whose nonlinearities are generalizations of the Chua diode

            Generalizations of the Chua equations

            This Space For Rent

            by xynz on Tue Jun 09, 2009 at 01:12:10 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  You have to be kidding! That is precisely what I (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              linkage, Larsstephens

              am talking about.  Yes we can recognize the dynamics...Chua, L. O. and R. N. Madan "Sights and Sounds of Chaos" in the the IEEE Circuits and Devices publication back in 1988...but there is nothing in what you quote that disagrees with what I said.  There is no posibility of a data fit.  

              You are just another pseudo-scientific charlatan.

              I don't know what brings you to slander?  Chua and I have done a lot of talking about this.  Chua and coworkers are the authors of the program SPICE that I converted to an all purpose biological simulator.  Chua's grad student John Wyatt did a post-doc with me before he went on to join the EE department at MIT.  I think he became chairman.  What is your purpose in that slander?  

              An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

              by don mikulecky on Tue Jun 09, 2009 at 01:28:48 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Your mistake was insulting "traditional science" (6+ / 0-)

    All the "goes beyond self-imposed limits traditional science cannot go beyond" is mumbo-jumbo which fails to understand the nature of science.

    There's nothing wrong with studying the emergent properties of complex systems, but you're being pretentious and silly about it.

    -5.63, -8.10. Learn about Duverger's Law.

    by neroden on Mon Jun 08, 2009 at 11:41:28 PM PDT

    •  there is scientific tradition... (4+ / 0-)

      but there is no traditional science.

      The diarist is several decades too late - some people pooh-poohed nonlinear this or that in the late '70s, then (in the '90s) the same cross-discipline areas became fashionable, now they are just mainstream...

    •  And of course you know the "true" nature of (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      linkage, Larsstephens

      science?  I guess what I have been doing for the past 45+ years has little to do with all this?  I can assure you that I am recognized around the world for my understanding of science.  That's why they pay me to work and teach in so many countries around the world including ours.

      However I am willing to learn more.  Please tell me what it is that I do not understand.

      An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

      by don mikulecky on Tue Jun 09, 2009 at 12:58:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  If it is true that (3+ / 0-)

        "An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits."

        Then, why should we give a damn what you've done in the past 45+ years.  Appeals to one's own authority don't cut it in the blogosphere.

        They pay poets to work and teach in countries around the world too.  And poets are worthwhile people.  They can even be fun to date.  But, that doesn't make them scientists.

        "Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow." -- Albert Einstein

        by ohwilleke on Tue Jun 09, 2009 at 01:17:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  lol.....my point too...You need to ask though why (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          linkage, Larsstephens

          others do care and in fact pay me for the knowledge I acquired and to teach it and all that.  Your hostility is not intellectual.  You have a problem that I can't help you with.  You seem to need to proove something by attempting to put others down  I find that sad.  Meanwhile I happen to be proud of what I have done to the point of arrogance.  Have you not noticed?  Want to compare?

          An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

          by don mikulecky on Tue Jun 09, 2009 at 01:37:59 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Defending science from being (2+ / 0-)

            abstracted out of existence has worth.  Bad science produces bad policy, and denying that science exists is just as bad as denying that history has happened.  

            Also, ideas do not in fact stand or fall on their own merits.  Poorly presented ideas die, or are corrupted.  Fractals spent a good 60+ years virtually unknown because they had bad P.R.  Bad ideas with good P.R., like bleeding people with leeches, can survive for centuries.

            Passing off worthwhile ideas like complexity and chaotic dynamics in the methods of a charlatan undermines those fields.

            Arrogance is not a virtue.  Its lazy.

            "Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow." -- Albert Einstein

            by ohwilleke on Tue Jun 09, 2009 at 01:50:16 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Question (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Larsstephens

    I remember an article in Scientific American about a cluster of cheap old personal computers running an program biased on the Darwin Machine. This system invented electronic circuits. Some have been novel and given patents. I will try and better document.

    Would a computer running a Darwin Machine fit the category of "complex."

    "Upward, not Northward" - Flatland, by EA Abbott

    by linkage on Mon Jun 08, 2009 at 11:53:12 PM PDT

  •  Not impressed. (5+ / 0-)

    There is good science being done under the rubric of studying complex phenomena, but it is not at all obvious from this post, or your previous post on alternative medicine, that you are doing any of it.

    While it makes sense to study Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture and herbal remedies, it also necessary, if you are going to do science and not philosophy or some other thing, to empirically test what they do and what impacts what they do.  Some remedies have the effects ascribed to them by tradition; others don't.  Acupuncture has effects; but exhaustive research has pretty well established that the Chinese qi theory used to explain why it works is wrong.

    The notion that there is no such thing as "scientific objectivity" vastly overstates the case.  There really are traditional remedies and alternative medical practices that do no have the effects ascribed to them or make people actively sick.  Certainly, mere subjective will is not enough to make wine out of water.

    The notion, for example, that molecular biology is an oxymoron because at the molecular level things aren't "alive" is far from obvious and more importantly denies the fact that molecular biologists are capable of using their training to reach conclusions that have the predicted medical effects.

    If you teach science classes that cause science majors to be withdrawn and uncomfortable, while making English and Music majors engage, it probably has something to do with you not actually teaching science at all.  I've seen complexity addressed scientifically and people who know what they are doing in the discipline don't go around spouting absurdities like molecular biology not existing.  You may be teaching something interesting.  But you have said nothing to indicate that you are teaching science in any meaningful sense of that word.

    Also, if a large share of your students are withdrawn and uncomfortable in your classes, you are a pretty poor teacher.  Period.  Good teachers don't leave a large chunk of their students behind.  Given the abrasive nature of the two diaries I've read, and the poor articulation of ideas (including of the ideas referenced, which I am familiar with), the fact that many students are being left behind is not surprising.

    Pure subjectivity isn't science either.  One can do a great deal of very good science without seriously engaging existential issues, and can waste a lot of time doing theory that is divorced from empirical data.

    "Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow." -- Albert Einstein

    by ohwilleke on Tue Jun 09, 2009 at 12:18:44 AM PDT

  •  I hate the name "complexity science". (5+ / 0-)

    No hard sciences have "science" in their name. Physics, medicine, biology, astronomy, and so on. Call it mathematical biology, call it nonlinear physics, call it nonequilibrium chemistry - be hard and specific rather than squishy and generic.

    Also, to protect groundbreaking multidisciplinary pursuits from doctrinaires, you arrived about thirty years late, methinks.

  •  Here's my problem (5+ / 0-)

    I understand a fair bit of science, math, and logic (including quantum mechanics, evolutionary models, neurobiology, AI, set theory, model theory, category theory, etc.).

    I understand a fair bit of complexity theory, and as far back as about 1970 developed models of the mind using multiple levels of emergent properties.

    I read your diary and learned NOTHING, except perhaps where to go to learn more about what you do, and that you are very quick to (IMHO) over-emphasize and over-personalize controversies among scientific camps, and are very quick to take offense.

    Given time, I could (and eventually may) follow your pointers, but the major burden of communication is on the author, not the reader.

    Rather than make broad proclamations and talk about the friction among various worldviews, your time would be much better spent to simply offer a short tutorial explaining in some detail a challenging problem that your approach solves particularly well-give people a reason to care about it.

    Any sophomore can state problems with traditional scientific approaches.  The key is to demonstrate the effectiveness of new approaches.  Assume we all understand Godel's incompleteness theorem, the halting problem, Bell's theorem, chaos theory, etc. and the limitations they pose.  Tell us about something new on a caliber with natural selection, Lagrangians, adjunctions, etc. that shows us how to organize information better.

    And please take this as (hopefully not too harsh) constructive criticism.  I think I agree with a lot of what you are saying, but I would like to see a better presentation.

  •  Tipped and rec'd for mentioning... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    G2geek, farmerchuck, linkage, Larsstephens

    ...that molecular biology is an oxymoron! I was a behavioural guy (field of drug addiction), and molecules don't behave. There is a great deal of value in molecular studies, but I don't think I'll ever see a molecule trying really, really hard to get cocaine.

    I met Avram Kachalsky - he was my cousin (and my family name was originally Kachalsky). (BTW - did you notice that Ephraim Katzir died recently?)

    "There are four boxes to be used in defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury, and ammo. Please use in that order." --- Ed Howdershelt (Author)

    by SciMathGuy on Tue Jun 09, 2009 at 04:58:25 AM PDT

  •  I must confess, that I am (4+ / 0-)

    no longer a "scientist", at least in the sense of vocation... But anyone that refuses to admit the existence of emergent systems, when the economy and climate, and their own bodies are there as perfect examples obviously has blinders on.

    I was once a treehouse, I lived in a cake, but I never saw the way the orange slayed the rake... The Llama Song.

    by farmerchuck on Tue Jun 09, 2009 at 05:32:53 AM PDT

  •  Yeah, yeah, fundamentalism. (3+ / 0-)

    Except in that diary you wrote:

    One of our members, a nurse, actually gave us some demonstration of Therapeutic Touch.

    And apparently you took it seriously. Except TT = "biofields" = tooth fairy. Perhaps you will brand the rejection of tooth fairy as fundamentalism too. Meh. Be my guest.

    So where's all the outrage against anti-atheist bigotry?

    by skeptiq on Tue Jun 09, 2009 at 05:56:58 AM PDT

    •  TT != nonsense & pooky-poo (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      linkage, don mikulecky, Larsstephens

      TT as a clinical modality need not assume any such nonsense.  And whether or not it is a beneficial adjuct to conventional medical care has exactly zero to do with the belief systems of the nurses who practice it.  

      As in:

      A doctor who is religious prays for the wellbeing of a patient who is atheistic.  The prayers do not interfere with the efficacy of the doctor's prescriptions for conventional medication whose mechanisms of action are well understood.

      IMHO it's magical thinking to assume that an incomplete or incorrect belief system (on the part of a nurse TT practitioner) is stronger than a physical interaction between the nurse and the patient (via the nurse's hands on the patient's body).  

      Viable skepticism parses these things and addresses them independently of one another.  

      As for "biofields," if someone can operationalize that, then the idea can be turned into a hypothesis and tested.  That's primarily what matters to me: is the subject matter testable and does it produce predictions that are falsifyable?  

      •  TT is wholly based on "biofields" nonsense. (0+ / 0-)

        There is no physical interaction between a nurse and a patient - in TT contact is absent. That's why it cannot do anything more than a placebo does.

        TT has been addressed in JAMA - nurses cannot really feel any "biofields". No TT practitioner has ever tried and succeeded in winning Randi's 1 million dollars prize. TT is pure hokum. One may be open-minded as long as she wishes, until one's brain falls out, but if it's somehow "fundamentalist" to state this simple fact, then yay for "scientific fundamentalism" (aka reason)!

        So where's all the outrage against anti-atheist bigotry?

        by skeptiq on Tue Jun 09, 2009 at 09:05:11 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  so far they have not been convincingly (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          G2geek, linkage, Larsstephens

          demonstrated...but the effects attributed to them have....placebo?   Who knows?

          An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

          by don mikulecky on Tue Jun 09, 2009 at 10:57:47 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  w/o physical contact, i'm going to bet on... (0+ / 0-)

            ...the placebo effect, and if someone wants to suggest it's more than that, they can design a properly controlled study to look for it.  

            BTW, for the record, James Randi is a stage magician, and no more an authority on medicine than Newt Gingrich.   His "prize" is a rhetorical flourish that's of no real consequence, because the judging is inherently biased, and scientists don't waste time jumping through booby-trapped hoops.  The gold standard is still peer review and independent confirmation, not PR stunts.  

            •  Stupid bullshit. (0+ / 0-)

              > BTW, for the record, James Randi is a stage magician, and no more an authority on medicine than Newt Gingrich.

              Nobody says Randi has any authority in medicine. That's silly strawman #1.

              And there is no judging involved at all in Randi's tests. That's silly strawman #2 (or a lie, or a display of ignorance, pick your option).

              The protocol is agreed to by the contestants beforehand and it is made in such a way that there is no ambiguity involved in the end (and certainly no "judgement"). So either it works or it does not.

              Sure, scientists don't need to jump through the hoops in their research, but there is no science involved in TT, and the whole "field" is at the very least controversial (which is an understatement of the century).

              So if you think that "I don't jump through the hoops, so I don't need a million dollars which I could donate to little needy ill children, but I won't since, I repeat, I don't jump through the hoops and I don't need a free million dollars, free publicity and instant recognition of my controversial field, which would help more people if it was finally accepted" is convincing, then you're beyond reach.

              So where's all the outrage against anti-atheist bigotry?

              by skeptiq on Tue Jun 09, 2009 at 11:15:53 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  get your buttons pushed much? (0+ / 0-)

                The emotionalism of the header of your posting speaks volumes about your degree of objectivity.  

                You didn't even notice that I said "...if someone wants to suggest it's more than that (placebo), they can design a properly controlled study to look for it" and "The gold standard is still peer review and independent confirmation, not PR stunts."

                This biz with The Amazing Randi and his prize, reminds me of a story I heard back in the days before the economy crashed.

                Young studly stockbroker walks up to an attractive woman in a bar and says, "You are drop-dead gorgeous.  Would you hop in the sack with me for a cool hundred thou?"

                She paused for a moment and thought about what she could do with six figures in her bank account.  "Yeah, sure."

                He looked her straight in the eyes and said, "How about five hundred bucks?"

                She put down her drink and stared him down,  "What do you think I am, a prostitute?"

                He smiled and replied, "We already know that; now we're just haggling over the price."

        •  if there's no physical contact... (0+ / 0-)

          ...then yes, we are probably seeing a pure placebo effect.

          But guess what:  placebo effects are real effects!  A fairly consistent number of people get measurable health benefits from placebos, and a larger number have psychological benefits such as lower stress while in the hospital.  

          So if we found an "active placebo" that made some peoples' stay in the hospital more tolerable, and produced measurable improvements in the physical conditions of a few, why not use it?  

          Or are we going to deny people stress relief and deny a few of them improved physical outcomes, because we don't like someone's belief system?

          •  So you don't even know what TT is? (0+ / 0-)

            "if there's no physical contact..."

            > why not use it?  

            Because placebo effect will dissipate if people don't believe in TT. So you're suggesting to lie?

            So where's all the outrage against anti-atheist bigotry?

            by skeptiq on Tue Jun 09, 2009 at 11:17:49 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  are you suggesting... (0+ / 0-)

              ...that doctors should tell families and patients that they should stop praying for successful outcomes because there is no empirical proof of the existence of a deity?

              After all, any time a doctor lets someone get away with praying in a hospital, they are in effect allowing the promulgation an unfounded belief that is by many considered a lie.

              I say work within the patient's belief system as far as possible while maintaining an empirically validated treatment regimen.  That means provide the drugs and surgery, and also, for those who believe in such things, the prayer and TT and whatever else makes them feel better even if it's complete nonsense by any reasonable standard.  

              The goal of medicine is to make the patient's condition improve, and that includes the patient's subjective state.  The goal of medicine is not to educate the patient about the philosophy of science.  Instead, the public schools should be teaching philosophy of science, and doing so with relentless ferocity.  

          •  There is no physical contact. The interaction is (0+ / 0-)

            postulated as occurring through "energy fields."  There could well be a placebo effect here.  The energy fields have some very dubious "experiments" trying to demonstrate their existence.  

            When we had our demonstration a volunteer among us had been bothered by a twitching eye muscle all day.  She "cured" him in front of us.  We could see the twitch before and it was gone after.

            No one, as far as I can remember was convinced by this.  No one would deny that it had happened.

            Placebos themselves need lots more study.  

            An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

            by don mikulecky on Wed Jun 10, 2009 at 09:47:22 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  We took what we all witnessed seriously...no more (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      linkage, Larsstephens

      You need a crutch you make one I guess.

      An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

      by don mikulecky on Tue Jun 09, 2009 at 10:56:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I don't know what "Complexity Science" is... (3+ / 0-)

    ...but it sounds suspiciously like something made up by people who failed at "Real Science".  

    Sort of like those people who, not having much Real Intelligence, tout "Emotional Intelligence" instead.  Or anybody who wants to take a "holistic" view of something, when we all know that a "holistic view" is a polite way to look at something that didn't work, or got screwed up, so can we please ignore the facts so they can have time to fix it...or at least get through another funding cycle...

    /snark off

    Seriously, why not give an explanation of what this thing is and (better) some case-by-case examples?

    Right now, all I see is a diary trashing established sciences like Quantum Mechanics and accusing those who disagree of being "fundamentalists".  There's got to be more to Complexity Science than this.  Throw us a bone, man!

    Since I don't have any facts, and because I'm a human being, I'm going apply all of my stereotypes and prejudices to it...and decide that it's probably Mumbo Jumbo.  The Diarist has obviously spent time thinking about this stuff...but after reading the Diary, I don't feel much smarter.  Try again.

    •  Only those who act like fundamentalists (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      linkage, Larsstephens

      there are far more who disagree who can enter into civil discourse...you can clearly see the difference here.  The fundamentalists took the bait hook line and sinker!

      An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

      by don mikulecky on Tue Jun 09, 2009 at 10:54:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Suprising poll results (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    linkage

    and 2 HR's as well.

    Don't go away and please continue to inform and educate at dkos.

    •  You can count on it. n/t (0+ / 0-)

      An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

      by don mikulecky on Wed Jun 10, 2009 at 09:48:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  If you were surprised, you clearly don't (0+ / 0-)

      understand the situation.  Read the interview with Robert Rosen on my webpage.  He talks about some of these fundamentalists in other ways.  The name calling and shouting matches at scientific meetings have been interesting too.  Rosen's work was funded by NSF and NIH by the way.  To much gnashing of teeth here,  Why are you so afraid?

      An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

      by don mikulecky on Wed Jun 10, 2009 at 09:57:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Perhaps a direct link is in order (0+ / 0-)

        for the interview as I'm having some trouble finding it.

        TIA.

        About 25 years ago computational physicists gained access to sufficiently powerful computers to model subatomic particles and present their interactions graphically. I saw a brief clip of a very enthusiastic physicist raving about the insights gained from being able to "see" the particles in motion. As a mildly abashed afterthought he added that they were dealing with at least 7 levels of abstraction, yet talked about "seeing" subatomic particles.

        I did some small amount of reading before I posted my first comment, since this is all new to me. I found and lost a quote from Feynman. I've found it again:
        http://www.keckfutures.org/...

        "It always bothers me that, according to the laws as we understand them today, it takes a computing machine an infinite number of logical operations to figure out what goes on in no matter how tiny a region of space, and no matter how tiny a region of time.  How can all that be going on in that tiny space? Why should it take an infinite amount of logic to figure out what one tiny piece of space/time is going to do? So I have often made the hypothesis that ultimately physics will not require a mathematical statement, that in the end the machinery will be revealed, and the laws will turn out to be simple, like the checkerboard with all its apparent complexities."
        Richard Feynman, The Character of Physical Law

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