A Simple Question: Should We Believe Scientists?

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Re: A Simple Question: Should We Believe Scientists?

Postby NoShips on May 12th, 2017, 8:50 am 

SciameriKen » May 12th, 2017, 9:33 pm wrote:
The article you posted makes very good point, but it misses something very important - ID is not science - it is agenda. It serves one purpose and that is to protect a strict interpretation of the Bible.

Well, Ken, this response strikes me as just more of the same bullying and hypocrisy. As Laudan correctly notes in the article I posted:

"Rather than taking on the creationists obliquely in wholesale fashion by suggesting that what they are doing is "unscientific" tout court (which is doubly silly because few authors can even agree on what makes an activity scientific), we should confront their claims directly and in piecemeal fashion by asking what evidence and arguments can be marshaled for and against each of them."

Now, if there was a universally agreed upon timeless and invariant "Method" of science (i.e. The Scientific Method of Nordic folklore), disputes like this one over who is, and who is not, doing science could be easily settled by appeal to this Method. People like you and I, and even these odious Creationists, would be able to determine for ourselves, in a fair and objective manner, whose activities pass scientific muster.

My own considered opinion on the matter is that there exists no such Method. If you've discovered it, Ken, be sure to share. As things stand for now, though, it's not the method that determines who's doing science, but rather simple, imperious dictatorial fiat: "We'll tell you who's doing science" - the folks with the right colored hats.

Nice to have a hat, eh?

As for "agenda", are you seriously gonna stand there with a straight face, one hand on your heart and the other raised, and solemnly swear so help you Dawkins, that scientists do not have their own "agendas"? -- that scientists are motivated by nothing other than a disinterested thirst for knowledge? A race of superbeings aloof from human baseness, cupidity and foibles who always leave the toilet seat down? The Stepford Scientists?

Sigh, times like these I miss that Pyongyang gulag, er, I mean re-education facility.

You do know Isaac Newton felt he was revealing God's laws, right? Should he get the boot from the Good Science Club too for being religiously motivated?
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Re: A Simple Question: Should We Believe Scientists?

Postby SciameriKen on May 12th, 2017, 11:00 am 

NoShips » Fri May 12, 2017 12:50 pm wrote:
SciameriKen » May 12th, 2017, 9:33 pm wrote:
The article you posted makes very good point, but it misses something very important - ID is not science - it is agenda. It serves one purpose and that is to protect a strict interpretation of the Bible.

Well, Ken, this response strikes me as just more of the same bullying and hypocrisy. As Laudan correctly notes in the article I posted:

"Rather than taking on the creationists obliquely in wholesale fashion by suggesting that what they are doing is "unscientific" tout court (which is doubly silly because few authors can even agree on what makes an activity scientific), we should confront their claims directly and in piecemeal fashion by asking what evidence and arguments can be marshaled for and against each of them."

Now, if there was a universally agreed upon timeless and invariant "Method" of science (i.e. The Scientific Method of Nordic folklore), disputes like this one over who is, and who is not, doing science could be easily settled by appeal to this Method. People like you and I, and even these odious Creationists, would be able to determine for ourselves, in a fair and objective manner, whose activities pass scientific muster.

My own considered opinion on the matter is that there exists no such Method. If you've discovered it, Ken, be sure to share. As things stand for now, though, it's not the method that determines who's doing science, but rather simple, imperious dictatorial fiat: "We'll tell you who's doing science" - the folks with the right colored hats.

Nice to have a hat, eh?

As for "agenda", are you seriously gonna stand there with a straight face, one hand on your heart and the other raised, and solemnly swear so help you Dawkins, that scientists do not have their own "agendas"? -- that scientists are motivated by nothing other than a disinterested thirst for knowledge? A race of superbeings aloof to human baseness, cupidity and foibles? The Stepford Scientists?

Sigh, times like these I miss that Pyongyang gulag.

You do know Isaac Newton felt he was revealing God's laws, right? Should he get the boot from the Good Science Club too for being religiously motivated?




Absolutely correct - The goal of science is to maximize our ability to describe reality. Anything that is not aligned to that goal is agenda driven. There is nothing wrong with what Isaac Newton did because he was not attempting to tie his scientific theories to what is not scientifically founded (i.e. the bible).

If you think those that established ID did so to maximize our ability to describe reality then I think I have a theory for why you are flat broke - how often are you taken by scammers? :D
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Re: A Simple Question: Should We Believe Scientists?

Postby dandelion on May 12th, 2017, 12:32 pm 

NoShips » May 8th, 2017, 6:35 am wrote:
dandelion » May 8th, 2017, 7:20 am wrote:
Also, sorry if I missed it, but, NoShips, do you have a view about sufficient grounds for any knowledge?


Er, not yet, just some kinda vague and epistemically pusillanimous scruples about preferring to err on the side of caution.

Stick around :-)

Hi. So, NoShips, in your view there are interactions? And for argument's sake, in your view, reason?
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Re: A Simple Question: Should We Believe Scientists?

Postby NoShips on May 12th, 2017, 7:27 pm 

SciameriKen » May 13th, 2017, 12:00 am wrote:
Absolutely correct - The goal of science is to maximize our ability to describe reality. Anything that is not aligned to that goal is agenda driven. There is nothing wrong with what Isaac Newton did because he was not attempting to tie his scientific theories to what is not scientifically founded (i.e. the bible).

If you think those that established ID did so to maximize our ability to describe reality then I think I have a theory for why you are flat broke - how often are you taken by scammers? :D



Science hereby thanks you for electing yourself spokesman and making it clear that scientists everywhere are a perfectly homogenous bunch, unanimous about what the goal and methods of science are, or ought to be -- not unlike mindless sheep or North Korean patriots, come to think of it.

Oh wait! That would be a very silly thing to say, not to mention more than a wee bit condescending. Ken, I can only assume you were picking your nose in class again when I wrote (on page 9):

"Every time you hear a scientist aver "Science is all about [...]", or "Science has nothing to do with [...]" I strongly suggest you take it with a pinch of sodium chloride. What you're hearing is an opinion, if that is not made explicit by the scientist herself, and bet yer Sinatra collection losers like myself with no life, given a little time, can scrape up a few quotes from noted scientists who aver the exact opposite."


But now, like a bull in a china shop (you must stop doing this, dude) you aver: "The goal of science is to maximize our ability to describe reality."

It was already adumbrated on page 4 that reality might be too lofty a goal in the view of some eminent scientists when I said:

"If it's examples (of bona fide scientists) you want, you'll find strong empiricist [i.e. anti-realist - me 5/13] tendencies in the writings of Mach, Duhem, Poincare, Bridgman, and the early Einstein, among others."


On the Wiki page for Ernst Mach, for example, we learn:

"Thus scientific laws while somewhat idealized have more to do with describing sensations than with reality as it exists beyond sensations."


And you were probably hunting Pokemon again (Tsk tsk!) when I wrote on page 8:

"Quantum physics may well constitute an exception to my claim [that realism is dominant in science - me 5/13]: QM, as these guys will tell you themselves, is weird, and thus seems to defy any common-sense realistic interpretation. As a calculating device, on the other hand, it works wonders by all accounts. "Shut up and calculate; never mind what it all means" as they say LOL"


The dictum "Shut up and calculate" is an expression of instrumentalism, viz., the view that the goal of science, in this case at least, is not to describe reality, as you insist, but rather to simply get the numbers right.

Ask your friends in the quantum physics department whether they believe QM theory describes reality (or aims to describe reality), as you adamantly assert. You might get a shock. Niels Bohr tells us, for instance:

"Physics is not about how the world is, it is about what we can say about the world"



These ID guys want the same thing you want, Ken. Although it's always far easier to simply dehumanize one's adversary than to put in the hard work of actually trying to understand a person. As Bertrand Russell said (in another context), it enjoys all the advantages of theft over hard toil.
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Re: A Simple Question: Should We Believe Scientists?

Postby NoShips on May 12th, 2017, 7:41 pm 

dandelion » May 13th, 2017, 1:32 am wrote:Hi. So, NoShips, in your view there are interactions? And for argument's sake, in your view, reason?


Sorry, Dandelion. I don't understand what you mean.
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Re: A Simple Question: Should We Believe Scientists?

Postby Braininvat on May 12th, 2017, 7:51 pm 

Never a dull moment, NS. I am experiencing a mild crisis of the epistemic variety, thanks to this thread, but crises usually give me a thrill. That, plus a small buzzing sensation 1.5 inches below my left eye, as if a cicada were lodged in a sinus cavity. I will try to get a better handle on what empirical adequacy might be and how to meter my skepticism when all the evidence trays are filled to overflowing and favor one interpretation strongly over another. Maybe I can circle back to your Bohm v Bohr example, if I get some free time in abundance. Thanks again.
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Re: A Simple Question: Should We Believe Scientists?

Postby NoShips on May 12th, 2017, 7:57 pm 

Braininvat » May 13th, 2017, 8:51 am wrote:Never a dull moment, NS. I am experiencing a mild crisis of the epistemic variety, thanks to this thread, but crises usually give me a thrill. That, plus a small buzzing sensation 1.5 inches below my left eye, as if a cicada were lodged in a sinus cavity. I will try to get a better handle on what empirical adequacy might be and how to meter my skepticism when all the evidence trays are filled to overflowing and favor one interpretation strongly over another. Maybe I can circle back to your Bohm v Bohr example, if I get some free time in abundance. Thanks again.


Ke-ke! :-)

I've been reading a lot about that lately, and there are a few terrific books on the topic of how Copenhagen achieved almost absolute hegemony despite the fact that Bohm's theory, by all accounts, is empirically indistinguishable.

Evidence and logic (blah blah) aside, it seems to have a lot to do with the pure rhetorical persuasiveness of Bohr, Heisenberg, et al, cowing all (or most) dissidents into servile submission.

And if you've read Feyerabend's "Against Method" you'll know he says very similar things about Galileo's promotion of the Copernican model -- by hook or by crook kinda thing. I do remember he uses the word "subterfuge". So much for Scientific Method. Tee hee!
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Re: A Simple Question: Should We Believe Scientists?

Postby Forest_Dump on May 12th, 2017, 8:20 pm 

Well I have to admit that I have a very analogous set of beliefs to your openness to the plausibility of ID. Its kind of embarassing because it comes from an area in physics where I am not all that educated in but a lot of the history and philosophy of science quotes and examples you have referred to could as easily be applied here. Let me explaon.

I used to be big on listening to music, especially classic rock, and spent a lot of money on concert tickets, albums and ultimately expensive stereo equipment including a very pricey turntable. And I quickly noticed that the "theory" held that a single tiny needle, delicately balanced but ultimately dragged through a single wiggly groove in a record produced all this great music. You could literally hear a singer, maybe backup vocals, multiple instruments, drums PLUS things like sometimes a hand squeaking on a guitar and sounds from an audience ranging from a stray cough or shout out to tons on clapping, cheering, etc. And different records would have different sounds and these sounds would come out of both left and right headphones or speakers seperately and/or blended to various degress (I won't go into some of the stuff crom a Pink Floyd album). But my point is that "science" tries to explain this as coming from ONE single crystal needle dragged through this groove so that this ONE single needle just vibrates and produces all these sounds (of course even more unbelievealbe when you consider records of symphanies, etc.) I mean I haven't heard one single scientist offer a viable explanation for that that I could believe and, of course, we know the relevant sciences like physics, etc., have gone through a lot of changes and franly the only people I have ever heard of talking about aything even close to this have worked for the related industries so I think we can be safe in assuming they just ant to protect their secrets.

So let me bounce some ideas out there. We know needles can have fantastic properties. Doctors use them to inject some kinds of fluids (but who ever gets to check to find out that isn't just some kind of water). And so do acupuncturists. And we know that crystals apparantly vibrate in weird and wild ways that New Age people use to change their moods without even dragging them through grooves to make them vibrate. So one hypothesis might be that the phonograph stylus doesn't actually produce sounds or music but simply produces a vibration that unlocks this music that is already in your head. Makes more sense to me than expecting people to believe that one needle can sound like Pink Floyd at one time and Led Zeppelin the next. Or maybe the sounds are out in the atmosphere as a kind of remnant energy and the vibrations merely drags specific strings of energy out of the air. Doesn't this sound a lot more scientific to you or at least as plausible?

I do have some other related ideas. One is about the well-known "fact" that no two snow flakes are ever identical but are amazingly complex (they obviously have to be to all be different given how many are around here some winters). Such complexity and variation all from molecules consisting entirely of two atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen clearly can't be accidental (statistics alone would imply that some snowflakes must be identical but I have never heard of anyone finding and documenting such a case). So I propose an intelligent freezer controlling all of this (who probably slips the odd copy but conveniently makes sure one goes to northern Canada and the copy to Scotland or Antartica, etc.). I call it the IFy for short but then again maybe there is one per snowflake so we are dealing with a lot of IFies.

Does this all sound like plausible science to you?
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Re: A Simple Question: Should We Believe Scientists?

Postby NoShips on May 12th, 2017, 8:50 pm 

Forest_Dump » May 13th, 2017, 9:20 am wrote:Well I have to admit that I have a very analogous set of beliefs to your openness to the plausibility of ID. Its kind of embarassing because it comes from an area in physics where I am not all that educated in but a lot of the history and philosophy of science quotes and examples you have referred to could as easily be applied here. Let me explaon.




Well, before going any further, you'll find I said on the previous page:

"Personally, I consider the western monotheistic account implausible in the extreme; the scientific account I see as more or less vacuous at its core."


and also (same post):

"My position is one of skepticism: in my opinion we are largely ignorant of how "all this" came about."

I do not find ID particularly plausible (whereas I find Darwinian type explanations simply vacuous).

Once you stop misrepresenting me, Forest, we can perhaps move ahead. Why do you persist in doing this?

Edit: Never mind. No need to answer that. I think I already know why.
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Re: A Simple Question: Should We Believe Scientists?

Postby SciameriKen on May 12th, 2017, 8:52 pm 

NoShips » Fri May 12, 2017 11:27 pm wrote:These ID guys want the same thing you want, Ken. Although it's always far easier to simply dehumanize one's adversary than to put in the hard work of actually trying to understand a person. As Bertrand Russell said (in another context), it enjoys all the advantages of theft over hard toil.



I call Bull on all this Shippy. ID guys do not give a crap about what future discoveries ID leads to. My only assumption at this point is that you argue from ignorance. You truly do not understand how the theory of evolution works - if you did then you would see that these two theories are not even in the same ballpark as far as what they are able to accomplish.

I will also stand by what i said before - The goal of science is to maximize our ability to describe reality. The important word in this sentence you breezed by is "maximize". We may not be able to describe reality - reality may not even exist - but by the development of reproducible experiments we can in some part maximize our ability. QM guys included.

No Ships - seeing as the thread is 300+ with no real progress on the horizon and the tone of your writing is edging on the side of offensive I'll give you the final word. Enjoy.
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Re: A Simple Question: Should We Believe Scientists?

Postby Forest_Dump on May 12th, 2017, 8:55 pm 

Well all I am saying is that, just as you find Darwinian theories vacuous and implausible, so too I find the vibrating crystal theory to be vacuous and implausible. So I just invented my own theories that I think are very bit as plausible as the out-of-date scientific explanaitions. Don't you agree?
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Re: A Simple Question: Should We Believe Scientists?

Postby NoShips on May 12th, 2017, 8:59 pm 

Forest_Dump » May 13th, 2017, 9:55 am wrote:Well all I am saying is that, just as you find Darwinian theories vacuous and implausible, so too I find the vibrating crystal theory to be vacuous and implausible. So I just invented my own theories that I think are very bit as plausible as the out-of-date scientific explanaitions. Don't you agree?


You continue to misrepresent me. Darwinian-based accounts, in my opinion, are vacuous precisely because they are trivially true. They're highly plausible in the same way that "all bachelors are unmarried men" is highly plausible.

In other words, they lack empirical content.

To establish whether the hypothesis "In a certain environment E, and all else being equal, yellow pythons will survive and reproduce more successfully than brown pythons" is true or false, empirical investigation is required. Its truth or falsity cannot be known a priori.

On the other hand, the truth of the hypothesis "All else being equal, those organisms with traits conducive to survival and reproduction in a given environment E will tend to survive and reproduce more successfully than those without" can be known from our armchairs. And that's the core of Darwinism.
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Re: A Simple Question: Should We Believe Scientists?

Postby Forest_Dump on May 12th, 2017, 9:18 pm 

NoShips wrote:You continue to misrepresent me. Darwinian-based accounts, in my opinion, are vacuous precisely because they are trivially true. They're highly plausible in the same way that "all bachelors are unmarried men" is highly plausible.

In other words, they lack empirical content.

To establish whether the hypothesis "In a certain environment E, and all else being equal, yellow pythons will survive and reproduce more successfully than brown pythons" is true or false, empirical investigation is required. Its truth or falsity cannot be known a priori.

On the other hand, the truth of the hypothesis "All else being equal, those organisms with traits conducive to survival and reproduction in a given environment E will tend to survive and reproduce more successfully than those without" can be known from our armchairs. And that's the core of Darwinism.


Wow. On that I will have to move to other things because you certainly don't know much about evolutionary theory. There is FAR too much to correct in that one little line for me to deal with now. Don't they even teach more and better in highschool now? Where are you from???
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Re: A Simple Question: Should We Believe Scientists?

Postby Braininvat on May 12th, 2017, 11:26 pm 

I have to say, Forest's diamond stylus theory of psychic crystal brain excitation was a pretty funny and clever way to make a point about theories and empirical adequacy. I plan to conduct an experiment in which I drag a diamond stylus across the surface of a blue suede shoe and see if I can pick up Elvis from the Akashic record. We must not be corseted by narrow interpretation!
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Re: A Simple Question: Should We Believe Scientists?

Postby dandelion on May 13th, 2017, 7:17 am 

NoShips » May 13th, 2017, 12:41 am wrote:
dandelion » May 13th, 2017, 1:32 am wrote:Hi. So, NoShips, in your view there are interactions? And for argument's sake, in your view, reason?


Sorry, Dandelion. I don't understand what you mean.


I wonder about the nature of the “kinda vague and epistemically pusillanimous scruples about preferring to err on the side of caution”. From what I’ve read, the writing here suggests some acceptance of empirical knowledge, and perhaps at least from the coherence of the arguments made, some acceptance of knowledge through reason. I also see now a mention of trivial truth, which might suggest some acceptance of variability of rational knowledge value. Does your view agree with these? Again, sorry if any of this has obviously been covered- I haven’t read all that has been written or linked to- and hope this is clearer. (Also, attempting to quote, I pressed a number of buttons, sorry about that too!)
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Re: A Simple Question: Should We Believe Scientists?

Postby Forest_Dump on May 13th, 2017, 9:16 am 

NoShips

I highlighted that one sentence because in many ways, to use a phrase you might be more familiar with, it is clear you are mispronouncing shibboleth.

Darwin did come up with the idea of natural selection (although there are those who give more credit to Wallace) which was indeed powerful in and of itself but more so because of the impacts of the idea in terms of how to go about doing research. However much of that didn't come about until the early to mid 20th century with the "New Synthesis" which many call Darwinism or Darwinian Evolutionary Theory in honour of Darwin. But it is a lot more than just Darwin's idea of Natural Selection. Certainly some like Dawkins (and Dennett) give a lot of attention and credit to Darwin and Natural Selection and they do make some excellent progress but IMHO it is also limited in many ways because of the kind of problems or questions it tackles which generally begin with individuals or even individual traits (i.e., specific genes).

However for many others, the focus in more on populations. Additionally, for some, increasingly attention is focused less on thinking about individuals and populations on the path to evolving into what we see now and more on understanding past populations in their own terms as subjects worthy of study all on their own. So we don't look at dinosaurs as simply on the way to becoming crocodiles of turkeys but as worth thinking about in their own terms. Similarly, we don't necessarily spend all our time wondering about the mechanisms for how Australopithecines or Neanderthals became modern people but try to figure out how they might have lived with each other, etc. There are subtle differences in how these kinds of historical sciences are conducted as well as different kinds of historiiographic interests in where how and why our interests have changed which brings in a lot of those questions about politics, etc., you like to dwell upon.

I have to admit that I was flummoxed by your critigue that evolutionary theory is flawed because it doesn't generate useful predictions (although I think it does when it comes to things like flu shots) because a big part of the back of my mind is the question of "who cares?" Not like I am going to be around in 50,000 years to see how these predictions will work out. Sure people like Dawkins seem to focus on how and why things are what they are today but I just happen to be one of those people who are far more interested in how and why thngs were as they were back then. Of course these different perspectives both inform each other but they definitely also have their different biases because they really do ask fundamentally different kinds of questions and require very different kinds of data and modes of interpretation. In some ways I would even go so far as to say they require and entail very different paradigms.

In the end, whether or not you are aware of it (and perhaps you are genuinely unaware of it - and if so then I apologize for some of my pokes above), I have no difficulty see influences and biases coming from the iD and creationist camps in what you are writing and thinking. I would suggest what you really need to do is consider what it is you really want to know about and why those kinds fo questions are of concern to you. Then maybe you can pull some of these questions and critiques back together into a more coherent package. Obviously there is something important to you in all of this or you wouldn't dwell on it so much.
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Re: A Simple Question: Should We Believe Scientists?

Postby wolfhnd on May 14th, 2017, 10:18 pm 

Contrary to popular opinion science is about close enough. If you are looking for "truth" chances are you are you are dreaming.
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Re: A Simple Question: Should We Believe Scientists?

Postby NoShips on May 14th, 2017, 11:47 pm 

wolfhnd » May 15th, 2017, 11:18 am wrote:Contrary to popular opinion science is about close enough. If you are looking for "truth" chances are you are you are dreaming.


Glad to hear your thoughts, Wolfhnd, although my initial concern on reading your post is that you're doing exactly what SciameriKen was doing earlier. See his post at the top of this page, and my response immediately below, most pertinently this passage:

"Every time you hear a scientist aver "Science is all about [...]", or "Science has nothing to do with [...]" I strongly suggest you take it with a pinch of sodium chloride. What you're hearing is an opinion, if that is not made explicit by the scientist herself, and bet yer Sinatra collection losers like myself with no life, given a little time, can scrape up a few quotes from noted scientists who aver the exact opposite."

To be more explicit, Wolf, what you're doing is making a blanket statement of the form "Science is all about [...]" or "Science has nothing to do with [...]" -- the kind I cautioned about in my reply to Ken -- which, if understood as simply a normative expression of one person's opinion about what science ought to be, is entirely innocuous. And it goes without saying, of course, that you're perfectly entitled to your opinion, like all the rest of us.

The problem is, though, at least as I see matters, is that statements of this kind without a qualifying "in my opinion", are read more naturally as an assertion of an undisputed fact. In other words, when Ken tells us "The goal of science is to maximize our ability to describe reality" and you subsequently tell us "science is about close enough [to truth]", rather than as a personal prescription, readers are more likely to take this as a description of science and its goals; a description that scientists and other thinkers in all times and places are unanimously agreed upon. And on this reading, I'd have to counter that the claim is simply false, as I did with Ken.

Scientists are neither mindless sheep nor North Korean patriots, as if this even needs to be said. They're a pretty heterogenous bunch, surely you'd agree, not easily quailed into uniformity of thought -- at least not the most outstanding specimens at any rate -- instantiating a veritable panoply of diverse views on what the goals and methods of science are, or ought to be.

I already demonstrated that Ken's assertion "The goal of science is to maximize our ability to describe reality" cannot be sustained, if understood as a description of scientists' own collective, unanimous views about the goal of science. No doubt many scientists do slip comfortably into Ken's one-size-fits-all pullover; nevertheless a significant subset of others does not.

The same could be said for your own grab-bag, Wolf. Highlights of the show so far have included having to listen to Neil deGrasse Tyson's (page 5) sacerdotal proclamation that "The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it"-- close enough, for prof Tyson, is apparently not good enough -- as well as my own bête noire Dawkins insisting much to my chagrin and now your chagrin too that "Gravity is not a version of the truth. It is the truth."

Remember what you said above: "If you are looking for "truth" chances are you are you are dreaming."? Someone had better pinch Tyson and Dawkins then. (And there's plenty more where they came from.)

If fortune deserts you, you may also hear him wax gaily, among other things, on the fact of evolution, with nary a hint, that this doubting Thomas can perceive anyway, of the "close enough" type epistemic modesty you purvey. Facts are, after all, by definition true.

Meanwhile, what do you say yourself, Wolf, to a claim such as "Gold is a chemical element with 79 protons in the nucleus"?

Close enough? Or exactly right? In cases like this, which could be multiplied indefinitely, do you say that science approximates truth, or that science attains truth?
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Re: A Simple Question: Should We Believe Scientists?

Postby NoShips on May 15th, 2017, 12:13 am 

"Yes, scientists, pfft, they're all the same" - anon

Well, I certainly didn't say it. Bet I'm the one that gets lynched again though :-)
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