Science denialism

Discussions on the philosophical foundations, assumptions, and implications of science, including the natural sciences.

Re: Science denialism

Postby Positor on July 21st, 2020, 10:40 am 

Reg_Prescott » July 21st, 2020, 7:55 am wrote:There is no theory, that I'm aware of anyway, saying "atomism is the the theory that all compositions are composed".

Gosh, people would just laugh.

By contrast, there is a theory that say "Those better at surviving and reproducing do it better than those less better".

If the theory said that, then anyone denying the theory (religious fundamentalists, maverick scientists) would be denying a tautology. Can anyone seriously deny a tautology? I don't think so. What they are denying is that natural selection is instantiated on this planet, not that it is logically true.
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Re: Science denialism

Postby Reg_Prescott on July 21st, 2020, 10:43 am 

Positor » July 21st, 2020, 11:40 pm wrote:Can anyone seriously deny a tautology? I don't think so. What they are denying is that natural selection is instantiated on this planet, not that it is logically true.



Er, isn't that what I said?

You were the one claiming it has empirical content.
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Re: Science denialism

Postby charon on July 21st, 2020, 10:44 am 

I better say it again (last time).

Presumably the survival - i.e. continuity - of a species depends on its ability to withstand its environment and adapt to changes within that environment, thus promoting successful reproduction and therefore continuity.

If 'fitness' means the ability to withstand, adapt and reproduce successfully then survival presumably follows.

Thus 'survival of the fittest' is indeed a tautology since it means those most likely to survive will survive - i.e. continue.

But natural selection is not in itself fitness, it's the process by which fitness, through evolutionary change, is produced. Although I suspect that sometimes it is not produced.
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Re: Science denialism

Postby charon on July 21st, 2020, 10:46 am 

And the tautology is dependent on the meaning of fitness.
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Re: Science denialism

Postby Forest_Dump on July 21st, 2020, 10:47 am 

I am certainly grappling with some kind blowing thoughts coming from epigenetics. I had always rejected the idea that natural selection could be framed as a creative force in evolution and always poo-pooed Lamark and the idea of inheretence of acquired characteristics. However recently I read about how mice stressed by toxins could pass on this aversion perhaps by means of methylation. If studies like this could be confirmed, etc., Perhaps it would be fair to say that acquired characteristics can be passed on, Lamark was more right than we previously thought, natural selection might be creative (stress from near misses in the survival game can direct the appearance of variation,etc) and I should blush at some of the things I have said and taught in the past. We can learn.
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Re: Science denialism

Postby Positor on July 21st, 2020, 10:48 am 

Reg_Prescott » July 21st, 2020, 3:43 pm wrote:
Positor » July 21st, 2020, 11:40 pm wrote:Can anyone seriously deny a tautology? I don't think so. What they are denying is that natural selection is instantiated on this planet, not that it is logically true.

Er, isn't that what I said?

No.

You were the one claiming it has empirical content.

"Natural selection is instantiated on this planet" does have empirical content.
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Re: Science denialism

Postby charon on July 21st, 2020, 10:49 am 

I wouldn't say nature was 'creative'.
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Re: Science denialism

Postby Reg_Prescott on July 21st, 2020, 10:49 am 

charon » July 21st, 2020, 11:46 pm wrote:And the tautology is dependent on the meaning of fitness.

Ok, dude, define fitness for us.

Then give us a non-circular statement of the principle of natural selection.

Seems no one else can.
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Re: Science denialism

Postby Reg_Prescott on July 21st, 2020, 10:52 am 

Positor » July 21st, 2020, 11:48 pm wrote:"Natural selection is instantiated on this planet" does have empirical content.



That's exactly what I said.

And I also said the principle of natural selection is devoid of any empirical content.


Are we agreed now?
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Re: Science denialism

Postby Reg_Prescott on July 21st, 2020, 10:54 am 

Cf.

The proposition "Dogs are dogs" is instantiated on our planet. (i.e. our planet is one that has dogs)

And it has no empirical content.
Last edited by Reg_Prescott on July 21st, 2020, 10:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Science denialism

Postby charon on July 21st, 2020, 10:55 am 

Positor -

Since Reg has asked me for a definition of fitness although I've just done it three times, it's quite possible he's not paying proper attention to your stuff either.
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Re: Science denialism

Postby Reg_Prescott on July 21st, 2020, 11:08 am 

I got linked to Pornhub.

You sick pervert.

Ok, just kidding.

But this . . .

"But natural selection is not in itself fitness, it's the process by which fitness, through evolutionary change, is produced. Although I suspect that sometimes it is not produced." - Charon

Oh, ok. Sometimes we get fit and sometimes we don't?

I've seen better theories, dude.
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Re: Science denialism

Postby Reg_Prescott on July 21st, 2020, 11:15 am 

David, with the pretty face, when may I expect your non-circular characterization of the principle of natural selection?

Or, is the plan to thump the lectern more, wave your arms around a lot, and say things like "I destroyed your argument with my unimpeachable logic"?

Seems that's pretty much all you do.

And if you thump hard enough, perhaps 99% of the populace will believe it.
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Re: Science denialism

Postby Positor on July 21st, 2020, 11:16 am 

Reg_Prescott » July 21st, 2020, 3:52 pm wrote:
Positor » July 21st, 2020, 11:48 pm wrote:"Natural selection is instantiated on this planet" does have empirical content.

That's exactly what I said.

And I also said the principle of natural selection is devoid of any empirical content.

Are we agreed now?

The theory of evolution by natural selection holds that natural selection is instantiated on this planet (and explains how), not merely that it is true. So it has empirical content.
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Re: Science denialism

Postby Reg_Prescott on July 21st, 2020, 11:20 am 

Positor » July 22nd, 2020, 12:16 am wrote:The theory of evolution by natural selection holds that natural selection is instantiated on this planet (and explains how), not merely that it is true. So it has empirical content.



Which is exactly analogous to . . .

"My theory that dogs are dogs has empirical content. I saw one yesterday".

"Not every world has them, you know."
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Re: Science denialism

Postby Forest_Dump on July 21st, 2020, 12:05 pm 

By the way, I would say that initially, natural selection might have been an hypothesis because it wasn't intuitively obvious but we now recognize it as a force much like gravity. Reg calls it a tautology and claims it lacks explanatory value. But gravity too can be said to be a tautology - what is gravity? It is the thing that makes stuff fall down. How do we know gravity exists? Because things fall down. Except birds, planes and dandelion seeds. So nothing is explained except that some things fall down but not everything. No science there so science must all be bogus. And yes we do need a theory to explain gravity.
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Re: Science denialism

Postby TheVat on July 21st, 2020, 12:27 pm 

Yes. As I've said about a googolplex of times: mechanism.

If it were all tautological, then we could indeed sit in armchairs and give a complete explanation of how all living organism interact with their environments, how whales can evolve into cows, and which of the 30-plus forms of SARS-COVID-2 will become the predominant one.

MOD NOTE: I think we're all just circling again, back to the same points over and over. And I'm not sure we're still really on the OP topic. So, at this point, maybe read the OP, make closing statements, and then move on.
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Re: Science denialism

Postby davidm on July 21st, 2020, 12:32 pm 

Forest_Dump » July 21st, 2020, 8:47 am wrote:I am certainly grappling with some kind blowing thoughts coming from epigenetics. I had always rejected the idea that natural selection could be framed as a creative force in evolution and always poo-pooed Lamark and the idea of inheretence of acquired characteristics. However recently I read about how mice stressed by toxins could pass on this aversion perhaps by means of methylation. If studies like this could be confirmed, etc., Perhaps it would be fair to say that acquired characteristics can be passed on, Lamark was more right than we previously thought, natural selection might be creative (stress from near misses in the survival game can direct the appearance of variation,etc) and I should blush at some of the things I have said and taught in the past. We can learn.


The Magical World of Epigenetics.
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Re: Science denialism

Postby Reg_Prescott on July 21st, 2020, 12:49 pm 

[personal attacks deleted]
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Re: Science denialism

Postby davidm on July 21st, 2020, 12:52 pm 

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Re: Science denialism

Postby Reg_Prescott on July 21st, 2020, 12:54 pm 

What I really want to say, david, is you're [deleted by moderator]
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Re: Science denialism

Postby davidm on July 21st, 2020, 12:56 pm 

Sorry, Reg, I am skipping over your posts. I've no desire any longer even to attempt to engage with a
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Re: Science denialism

Postby Positor on July 22nd, 2020, 1:18 pm 

Reg_Prescott » July 21st, 2020, 4:20 pm wrote:
Positor » July 22nd, 2020, 12:16 am wrote:The theory of evolution by natural selection holds that natural selection is instantiated on this planet (and explains how), not merely that it is true. So it has empirical content.

Which is exactly analogous to . . .

"My theory that dogs are dogs has empirical content. I saw one yesterday".

"Not every world has them, you know."

It is not equivalent to "Dogs are dogs". It is equivalent to "There are dogs" or "Dogs exist".
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Re: Science denialism

Postby TheVat on July 28th, 2020, 9:20 am 

Digression regarding member's request for deletion has been moved to Feedback forum. Carry on.
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Re: Science denialism

Postby Forest_Dump on July 29th, 2020, 8:54 pm 

Davidm

Thanks for the links above. Finally had time to read and respond to them. As it happens, one was a review on a book I read about 6 months ago and think I even mentioned in a post on one oF these threads. Suffice to say I do not believe epigenetics brings about a return of Lamarkism and in fact it does not offer any form of challenge to what we call Darwinism evolutionary theory. It simply adds to the battery of things that result in variation that is then after upon by natural selection. But that being said (and obviously a lot more could be said) I fully expect the evolution deniers (creationists, IDers, etc) will howl that Darwin has bee over thrown, etc, etc. Which isn't a bad thing, of course. Science requires constant critique.
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Re: Science denialism

Postby Serpent on July 29th, 2020, 10:26 pm 

Forest_Dump » July 29th, 2020, 7:54 pm wrote:Davidm

Thanks for the links above. Finally had time to read and respond to them. As it happens, one was a review on a book I read about 6 months ago and think I even mentioned in a post on one oF these threads. Suffice to say I do not believe epigenetics brings about a return of Lamarkism and in fact it does not offer any form of challenge to what we call Darwinism evolutionary theory. It simply adds to the battery of things that result in variation that is then after upon by natural selection. But that being said (and obviously a lot more could be said) I fully expect the evolution deniers (creationists, IDers, etc) will howl that Darwin has bee over thrown, etc, etc. Which isn't a bad thing, of course. Science requires constant critique.

Critique, yes. Howling, no.
Two very different challenges are being presented to science here.
Questioning, suggestions of possible alternative interpretations, demands for rigour and accuracy in the reporting of data, back-checking on sources and credentials, discussion of competing theories, examination of weaknesses and lacunae - yes, science (like art or journalism) requires all of that in order to stay on track.
Being pelted with red herrings past their sell-by date, displaced by juju women in the twitterings of a president, name-calling, jeering and blatant misrepresentation - science does not require that. And that can very badly damage the people attempting to further science.
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Re: Science denialism

Postby Forest_Dump on July 29th, 2020, 11:26 pm 

While I am not a 100% can, I would think the creationist uproar of the 1970's did give us Dawkins and Dennett plus a fair number of other interesting advances. Personally it stimulated me to think and learn in a number of directions I probably wouldn't have otherwise. I fondly remember closely examining fossil casts in a university lab while comparing D Gish's book on creationism with Colbert's Evolution of the Vertibrates. I probably wouldn't have otherwise.
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Re: Science denialism

Postby Serpent on July 30th, 2020, 12:07 am 

Ah, what I'd give for a rerun of the not-nearly-so-toxic '70's!
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Re: Science denialism

Postby charon on July 30th, 2020, 7:30 am 

Reading this stuff is actually chilling.

https://edition.cnn.com/2020/07/30/poli ... index.html
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Re: Science denialism

Postby TheVat on July 30th, 2020, 9:59 am 

Though not without moments of comic relief, like Trump promoting the "demon sperm" and "alien DNA" doctor as a trustworthy medical authority. (Toucana put up a post on that, in Science News thread, "a brief history of science denial ")

Those sorts of extreme avatars of superstition could possibly even have a positive effect, triggering a counterreaction. You don't always win a culture war with total batshit crazy.

(that said, if Trump's mother had dream sex with a demonic incubus while carrying Donald, that could explain our present situation...)
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