Thursday, June 28, 2012

What's Wrong with Michael Ruse's View of Accommodationism?

Michael Ruse wrote a book called Science and Spirituality: Making Room for Faith in the Age of Science (2010). It's a defense of accommodationism—the position of atheists who maintain that science and religion are compatible because they are different ways of knowing. Ruse is one of the main proponents of Methodological Naturalism, which postulates that science is restricted, or limited, to investigations of the natural world. Since religion deals, by definition, with the supernatural world, it falls outside the domain of science and is, therefore, compatible with science. This leads Ruse to define several criteria of Christianity that are immune to scientific investigation [The Essence of Christianity].

This position used to be overwhelmingly accepted by the majority of scientists and philosophers, especially in America. It has become the standard view of most professional scientific organizations and of The National Center for Science Education (NCSE). It's a convenient way for atheist scientists and religious people who are mostly accepting of science to avoid conflict as they make common cause against the extreme creationists.

But that view is now being challenged and it's no longer acceptable to claim that it represents the only view of science. That's what the good guys did during the Dover trial a few years ago but it wouldn't work today because there are dozens of prominent philosophers of science who would argue against such a limitation of science.

One of them is Peter Slezak of the School of History and Philosophy, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. He recently wrote a review of Ruse's book: Michael Ruse: Science and Spiritutality: Making Room for Faith in the Age of Science (Slezak, 2011).

Much of the conflict depends on definitions and Slezak clearly endorses a much broader view of science than Ruse. Here's how Slezak challenges the view that science has limits.
This is a widely held and obviously appealing line to adopt for those, like Ruse, who are committed to the scientific enterprise and its claims. However, I will suggest that, despite its appearance of open-minded ecumenicalism, the posture faces insuperable intellectual difficulties. In wishing to leave room beyond ‘‘the allowable scope of science’’ (p. 235), Ruse is effectively endorsing a traditional demarcation between science and metaphysics in order to restore respectability to some claims in the latter category. However, this recidivist project does not properly address the hegemonic nature of the scientific enterprise. This conception is expressed in the final remarks of Bertrand Russell’s (1935) book Religion and Science. Aside from questions of value that lie outside the realm of truth and falsehood,

Russell says:
Whatever knowledge is attainable, must be attained by scientific methods; and what science cannot
discover, mankind cannot know (1935, p. 243).
The title of Freud’s (1927, 92) book The Future of an Illusion refers to religion and ends with the exactly the same sentiments: ‘‘an illusion it would be to suppose that what science cannot give us we can get elsewhere’’. These expressions of a positivist conception are less dogmatic than they appear because they may be understood as statements of the openmindedness of science rather than its opposite. That is, ‘‘science’’ doesn’t exclude anything simply because the honorific label is used for anything worth believing. That is, if there are any rational grounds for a proposition, it will become included within the domain of established science. Or, rather, perhaps we should say that it will be included on the spectrum of claims ranging across ‘good, bad and bogus’ to use the sub-title of Gardner’s (1981) book. The point is captured in Laudan’s (1983) account of the ‘‘Demise of the Demarcation Problem’’ since he shows that ‘‘the problem of demarcation … is spurious’’ and the heterogeneity of beliefs and activities means that there are no lines to be drawn (see Special Issue of Science & Education, 2011, volume 20, 5–6). In particular, this means that the claims of religion fall somewhere on the spectrum, arguably nearer the bogus end. However, this means that they are subject to the usual criteria for deciding what is worth believing, which is, in any case, clear enough from the nature of the claims as we will note presently.
Ruse and his allies believe that any attempt to step outside the limits of science constitute a venture into metaphysics and this is not science but something else. Peter Slezak rejects this argument ...
Plantinga (1991, 8) suggests that the question of the clash between faith and reason is ‘‘enormously difficult’’ requiring ‘‘penetrating grasp of the relevant theological and philosophical issues’’ as well as the complex science. However, this is sheer bluff since the arguments don’t depend on any such arcane knowledge. Thus, citing Plantinga, Ruse (p. 183) seeks room for claims alongside and independent of science on the grounds that there are alternative ‘‘world views’’ and, therefore, a choice between two ‘‘metaphysical’’ options— naturalism and theism. The air of reasonableness and even profundity in this stance produces a vacant illusion of explanation but disguises sophistry. First, even if we are to talk this fancy philosophical way with Plantinga, it remains obscure why the Christian theistic ‘‘metaphysics’’ is the only alternative to the ‘‘naturalistic’’ one. One could presumably find or invent many others that would have equal status as alternatives to naturalism by virtue of having nothing to recommend them. Does Plantinga think that Mexican metaphysics based on the theology of Quetzalcoatl deserves equal consideration with his Christian variety?

The very idea that we can transcend what Ruse calls the ‘‘limitations of a science based knowledge’’ (p. 10), or that we have a choice between alternative ‘‘metaphysics’’, is an illusion. There is no alternative to our best theories other than worse ones. Naturalism is just the picture provided by our current science and is, therefore, the best we’ve got. Pretentious philosophical talk of ‘‘metaphysical’’ options can’t change the fact that naturalism is the only game in town since it is simply the totality of our theories in physics, chemistry, biology, neuroscience, geology and so on. Does Christian metaphysics provide a better account of quantum physics, cosmology or the structure of DNA?
Slezak is going to be accused of scientism or, at the very least, naturalism. The accommodationists will claim that the leap to naturalism is overstepping the limits of what science can or cannot claim. That's not true. Science teaches us that the scientific approach works and that most things have a naturalistic explanation. It follows that any claim of a valid a non-naturalistic explanation must have at least as much to recommend it or else it is nothing more than hand-waving.


Slezak, P. (2011) Michael Ruse: Science and Spiritutality: Making Room for Faith in the Age of Science Sci & Educ 21:403-413. [DOI 10.1007/s11191-011-9373-0]

116 comments:

  1. I am totally opposed to any form of "accomodation" or "modus vivendi" between atheistic materialism and religious scientism.It is like saying that matter and anti-matter can co-exist. They can't.

    Methodological naturalism is, of course, the basis of scientific inquiry but our view of what is "natural" is liable to change as we learn more about the complexities of reality. For example, despite being unable to directly observe it, we now accept that most of our universe is made up of dark matter/energy.

    Basically, atheists believe that the universe is completely self-contained, self-governing, self-explantory and, ultimately, self-originating. That is a view which is proving untenable as science makes advances that challenge this dogmatic position.

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    1. > Basically, atheists believe

      Fail.

      Furthermore rational skeptics proportion their belief to the evidence (Hume). The scientific method works for any data, as proven by information theory (MDL) and the astounding success of science. Whether you call this data "metaphysical", "supernatural", "natural", or "ihcslklknves" makes no difference. Neither does wishful thinking or whatever else you chose to do, including any miserably disinformed reply you can make.

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    2. "It is like saying that matter and anti-matter can co-exist. They can't."

      Fer realsies? Someone needs to tell the physicists who design devices which accelerate both matter and anti-matter. One example is the Stanford Linear Accelerator.

      Perhaps you meant to say something more intelligent and informed, such as "matter and anti-matter will annihilate each other when brought into close proximity," but of course I can't read your mind, because it is too thick.

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  2. Slezak review is behind a paywall but can be viewed here:

    https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B-1A0LCI3U6XMGJiNmZmYWQtMjg1MS00OTk5LWIzNzYtMDIxNjhjZWE1MzJi/edit?hl=en_US

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  3. The fact that religion deals with the supernatural by definition, doesn't implies that religion works any better than science regarding the supernatural, nor implies that the supernatural world even exist. As far as we can tell, the field of application of religion is indistinguishable from a non-existent one.

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    1. And since non-existence is the simpler explanation yielding the same (1) or better results (2), non-existence it is.

      And by "it is" I mean that existence has become so unlikely that it is untenable.

      (1) For religions making exactly no predictions and offering no explanations (not even wrong).
      (2) For all other religions, including all the major religions.

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  4. I guess I am failing to understand the objection so the requirement of methodological naturalism. Suppose that requirement were dropped, indicating that supernatural explanations were open for discussion. The obvious problem with allowing supernatural explanations into science is that supernatural events almost invariably are one off or otherwise rare events. Thus, one immediately gets into trouble with the requirement of repeatability. If an apparently miraculous event, such as the Sun stopping in the sky for a day, which astrophysicist Rob Knop argues is a one off event, how can the observation or experiment be repeated. This issue always comes up when an experiment or an observation appears to show something weird.

    1. The recent brouhaha over what appeared to be faster then light neutrinos is a perfect example of the requirement of repeatability. Other observers repeated the experiment and came up with a null result. Eventually, the CERN experimenters found that their result was due to faulty wiring in their equipment.

    2. Several decades ago, Prof. Robert Dicke of Princeton, Un. claimed to have observed that the interior of the Sun was rotating 10 times as fast as the atmosphere. This apparent finding caused a brouhaha not unlike the faster then light neutrinos because, if true, it would imply that the Sun had a gravitational quadrupole moment sufficient to affect the motion of the planet Mercury and cast doubt on Einstein's General Theory of Relativity. Unfortunately, other groups that repeated Dicke's observations failed to find any evidence for such a finding.
    That's repeatability.

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    1. I am not convinced that Repeatability is necessary. There's no such thing as experimental repeatability in a lot of the so called historical sciences, like geology. Not all science occurs in a lab.

      My understanding is that 'methodological naturalism' isn't so much a requirement, as a finding, of science. Science can investigate whatever we like, including one-off events that can't be replicated in the lab, and whenever it does investigate, we find that naturalism alone is sufficient as an explanation.
      Also, consider that super-naturalism would mean that we can't find any connection between events, it'd be the old 'spooky action at a distance', or it'd be like having a set of mechanical gears used to like an object, calculating the machine efficiency, and then finding that the machine is like twice as efficient when used while praying.

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    2. Excuse me, I included observational repeatability, which would apply to historical sciences. For instance, the famous case of of the iridium layer which led to the asteroid theory of dinosaur extinction was based on numerous observations, not just one. It was the fact that iridium was was found at numerous locations at the K/T boundary that was definitive.

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    3. The obvious problem with allowing supernatural explanations into science is that supernatural events almost invariably are one off or otherwise rare events.

      Lot's of things were unique events, like the formation of our solar system or the history of life on Earth. That's not a problem for science.

      Thus, one immediately gets into trouble with the requirement of repeatability.

      Repeatability is not one of the requirement for the scientific way of knowing.

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    4. What are the criteria for knowing? I will wager you have not a clue what they are, nor will you try to find out.

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    5. Lot's of things were unique events, like the formation of our solar system or the history of life on Earth. That's not a problem for science.

      Actually, the formation of our Solar System is in no way, shape, form, or regard a unique event. The discovery of exo-planets demonstrates that this event probably took place trillions of times throughout the universe.

      The question as to whether the evolution of life on the Earth is a unique event is under intense debate at this time, with the experts disagreeing. One of Prof. Moran's least favorite physicists, Paul Davies, for instance, claims that the probability of life elsewhere in the universe could be very unlikely. Neil Tyson argues that, given the abundance of the building blocks of life, namely Carbon, Hydrogen, and Oxygen, that life surely exists elsewhere.

      As for repeatability, I presented two example of observations that other researchers were unable to duplicate. One could fill this entire blog with such examples.

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    6. I would also point out that repeatability will be very important in verifying the apparent discovery of the Higgs boson.

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  5. The obvious problem with allowing supernatural explanations into science is that supernatural events almost invariably are one off or otherwise rare events.

    The problem is even worse than that. Supernatural events -- if they are not able to be measured, seen, or otherwise detected by scientific methods -- are by definition events that cannot be measured, seen, detected. They are therefore things that by definition do not exist in any way that really makes any sense at all.

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  6. accommodationism—the position of atheists who maintain that science and religion are compatible because they are different ways of knowing

    That's not what most people who are called "accommdationists" think. In fact, most of the "accommdationists" criticized on this blog are incompatibilists; that is, most of the people that Larry labels "accommodationists" believe the exact opposite of the position that Larry attributes to them.

    It's very hard to have a conversation about "accommodationism" when persons who hold contradictory opinions about the compatibility of science and religion are both call "accommodationists".

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    1. Isn't this really the same thing? Accomodationists say that science need not be a threat to religion, because they have non-overlapping magisteria and are incompatible with each other, thus the one does not eliminate the other, where one ends the other begins. Call it incompatible or compatible and it's really just a difference of inflection or p-o-v.

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  7. "Slezak is going to be accused of scientism or, at the very least, naturalism."
    Well, of course. It's the only game in town: "Pretentious philosophical talk of ‘‘metaphysical’’ options can’t change the fact that naturalism is the only game in town since it is simply the totality of our theories in physics, chemistry, biology, neuroscience, geology and so on."

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  8. Whatever knowledge is attainable, must be attained by scientific methods; and what science cannot discover, mankind cannot know.
    Bertrand Russell: 1935

    As was pointed out decades ago, this statement is a good demonstration of the problem with scientism in that it is a statement that can't be verified by scientific methods. Scientism is a self-refuting idea. It's extraordinary that a logician and mathematician could make such an absurd statement, especially Russell, especially after c. 1932 when he would have had to know that the refutation of his idea had attained the status of mathematical proof.

    It is as incompetent and irrational (literally) an idea in 2012. The ephemeral fumbling of cog-sci and its allies can't undo what was done in the late 1920s and early 1930s to debunk the idea. Science is absolutely dependent on logic, it is absolutely dependent on mathematics, those are foundations of science and the source of its credibility. The foundations of logic and mathematics are not susceptible to scientific methods as Russell discovered, much to his horror, in the late 1920s and early 30s. He said as much as early as 1929 that his world view, that was expressed in the quote above, wasn't supported by science. I've understood a lot more about Russell's late career as a bitter denial of what he had to face in the years spanning the late 20s and early 30s.

    Scientism is a logical fallacy that contains its own refutation.

    That said, I'm not an accommodationist because science can only accommodate information that can be supported by legitimate scientific methods and practices. I'm entirely opposed to religious content being inserted into science (and the false accusation made against people who never proposed that) as well as other ideological content being inserted into science, as it continually is to no notice or objection. But other areas of life can accommodate scientific information which can be useful, to a greater or lesser extent. That extra-scientific accommodation is inevitable and if it was not practiced scientists would be among the loudest of those who legitimately objected to science being ignored.

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    1. Can you give an example of something that is knowable, as opposed to believed without proof or supposed, that scientific methodology cannot be applied to?

      The distinction is important not the least because children are dying because many people don't understand there is a difference between suspecting and knowing, such as, children being murdered because they are declared witches. The murderers of those children will state that they know the murdered children were witches but, that isn't knowledge it's lunacy. People need to learn what the difference is between knowing and supposing.

      Scientific methods are formalized verification. The quality is affected by the rigor with which scientific methods are or can be applied. Do you have a way of knowing without verifying?

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    2. That Hitler invaded Poland in 1939 is a fact that is not knowable by scientific methods and it is a more reliable fact which will not be overturned than much of what has been held to be known by science at that time or in the intervening period. The invasion of Poland and many other historical facts are far more certainly known than much of contemporary biological science and all of evolutionary psychology.

      What can be known through scientific method accounts for a relatively small part of useful human knowledge.

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    3. That Hitler invaded Poland in 1939 is a fact that is not knowable by scientific methods and it is a more reliable fact which will not be overturned than much of what has been held to be known by science at that time or in the intervening period.

      That's not the kind of "knowledge" we're talking about. Try and keep up.

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    4. My query was addressed to the method you use to arrive at what is known, not addressed to your ability to make an assertion of fact. How do you arrive at "is a fact" and at the same time have knowledge that it is true as opposed to supposition or opinion?

      If your assertion is indeed a fact and you show how you arrived at that conclusion I think I can show elements that are an application of scientific methodology. The quality of your assertion of fact will, I think, be in relationship to the rigor with which you have or can apply scientific methodology to your assertion. In what way do you differentiate your assertion of fact from the assertion of fact claimed by those who murder children, that they claim in fact are witches?

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    5. That's not the kind of "knowledge" we're talking about. Try and keep up. LM

      What was asked was: "Can you give an example of something that is knowable, as opposed to believed without proof or supposed, that scientific methodology cannot be applied to?"

      The fact that Hitler invaded Poland in 1939 is known, it is far more known than much of the stuff, to put it politely, that the atheist critique of religion, using science as the main weapon in its illogical, at times contrafactual attacks on religion.

      If you want to get into the nitty-gritty problem of just what it means to know something, I don't think you will like the results because, as one of my great heroes, Joseph Weizenbaum has pointed out, even scientific, even mathematical knowledge is, at bottom, a matter of persuasion. The essential analysis of knowledge vs. reason, leads away from absolute certainty instead of to it. As my comment about Russell's incredibly stupid statement of 1935 indicates. If you can't get there in mathematics and logic, you can't get there with science which is dependent on those two foundations. We choose to accept science because we are persuaded to believe they are valid in consultation with our experience. We choose to accept logic and mathematics for the same reason.

      The fact that Hitler invaded Poland will not be overturned, huge swaths of presently accepted science will be. That's just the nature of firmly founded historical fact and contingently held ideas in science. And a lot more people got killed in WWII than were ever killed because some psychopath accused them of being witches.

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    6. Also, the invasion of Poland is a fact about an actual event in history, of what really happened, what constituted reality and which has effects that are still with us. It was a major and serious attack that had the intention of wiping out a population of people for the advantage of another population, seen just in its most vulgar, material terms. It is exactly, exactly the kind of thing that the science of evolution studies and a good example that, when it's possible, actual, non-scientific documentation can, sometimes, produce far more reliable knowledge of an event than science can produce when that kind of documentation isn't available. You'd think that what that says would be interesting to people in this argument and to a science that deals with historical information that often leaves far skimpier evidence. What it tells you about the reliability and durability of knowledge in relationship to documentation, evidence, is kind of interesting.

      Of course, in wider reality, in human culture and history, in wider reality, it had far more meaning than science can possibly process. It would be a monumentally anti-intellectual act to deny that wider reality and its importance. That effort should discredit anyone who would attempt it.

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    7. The event, the question of whether it occurred or not, could be viewed as knowledge if you subscribe to a liberal definition of knowledge. However knowing of the event and knowing whether the event occurred or not are two separate types of knowledge. The latter can be determined- or deduced based information and on knowledge from other events.

      The particular type of knowledge you refer to is ill-suited for this argument. However this type of information is knowledge nonetheless.

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    8. And to the extent it can be claimed as knowledge, scientific methodology can be used to demonstrate its quality or lack of quality.

      The Thought Criminal seems to be afraid of proceeding with any clarity.

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    9. Thummin, I hate to tell you but it's you who are trying to change the meaning of "knowledge" far out of its actual meaning. Tell me a single thing within science that is as likely to stand as reliable knowledge about reality as that historical fact.

      These are word games in service to an ideological agenda, not anything to do with reality. I recently read something that compared the quest for an absolute foundation of mathematics as being about as important as elite level chess. I don't buy that for the failed quest for those foundations but I do for that kind of denotative shiftiness.

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    10. Tell me a single thing within science that is as likely to stand as reliable knowledge about reality as that historical fact.

      How 'bout...

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5C5_dOEyAfk

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    11. Tell me a single thing within science that is as likely to stand as reliable knowledge about reality as that historical fact.

      You misunderstood my point- it appears you did so out of your own ignorance. I am not distorting knowledge- I am clarifying, there many types of knowledge, but an event is not knowledge, knowing of the event is knowledge.

      Tell me a single thing within science that is as likely to stand as reliable knowledge about reality as that historical fact.

      This shows you know little about the philosophy of science and science in general. How can you compare the reliability between two different types of knowledge- this is a thesis question in an of itself- I doubt after a few minutes of googling you'll have the answer.

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    13. Thought Criminal,

      Maybe you just lack imagination:

      As was pointed out decades ago, this statement is a good demonstration of the problem with scientism in that it is a statement that can't be verified by scientific methods.

      Of course it can:
      Hypothesis: Whatever knowledge is attainable, must be attained by scientific methods; and what science cannot discover, mankind cannot know.
      Treatment: find all kinds of knowledge and figure out if they can be researched by scientific means. If some of that knowledge can be attained and demonstrated without scientific methods, then the hypothesis is falsified.

      So, maybe Russell was wrong. But the problem would not be that the statement can't be verified by science.

      Further, that historical fact. We can, for example, go to those horrifying places, test the grounds, gather physical evidence, test and retest such evidences and thus show that these horrors did indeed happen. All by scientific means.

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    14. NE, I should collect the wacky things blog atheists say and publish them. This would go under the heading "totally clueless"

      What does the phrase "find all kinds of knowledge" mean? How would you know when you had found "all kinds of knowledge"? How would you verify that using science, which you would have to do in order for the statement you were trying to discover to be "known". How do you know you don't know about another kind of knowledge that is possible, how do you know that all possible forms of knowledge which will ever be exists at the time you make your determination?

      Scientism is an endless pit of linguistic absurdity, finding, perhaps, its most absurd form in logical positivism of the kind that died in the pre-war period in all but the bad habits of materialists.

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    15. Clueless seems to be what you are. I did not say that Russell was right, I said that if he is wrong it is not for the reason you claimed (that his statement was not verifiable scientifically). Would you have a clue about the difference? Let this be my scientific experiment. If you notice the difference my hypothesis, that you will again deviate from the main point, might be falsified. So?

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  9. I like slezak's use of 'recidivist' here to describe scientists who are giving ground back up to theology/metaphysics. Perhaps scientists and people who think scientifically, who are trying to say that science can investigate metaphysics, are intellectual revanchists (via french for cf 'revenge', so, yes, scientists are mental Avengers! Hulk Smash with credible sources! http://i.imgur.com/KLlgo.jpg )

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  10. It's always a bit funny and sad (but mostly aggravating) to see scientists making philosophical statement and then pretending that philosophy has no bearing on what they say.

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    1. Even more funny when they don't understand that they've made a philosophical statement. But not as sad as seeing a great logician making such an absurd statement after he wrote "The Twilight of Science" in 1929...

      http://www.personal.kent.edu/~rmuhamma/Philosophy/RBwritings/twilightScience.htm

      ... as well as the writings of Godel and Wittgenstein.

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    2. It's also interesting that both Larry and Jerry Coyne appeal to Maarten Boudry to support their arguments about methodological naturalism in science. Boudry's arguments do not seem to follow from the scientific method, rather, as philosophers are wont to do, Boudry makes a philosophical argument about the kinds of methodological naturalism and their operation within science. Instead, since Boudry's arguments support Larry and Jerry's worldview, the fact that they are philosophical arguments about scientific epistemology and is not explicitly acknowledged, let alone addressed with an attempt at anything that approximates critical thinking.

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    3. It's also interesting that both Larry and Jerry Coyne appeal to Maarten Boudry to support their arguments about methodological naturalism in science.

      Jerry and I were advancing those arguments long before Maarten came on the scene. The reason why Maarten and the Guelph school are so important is that they are legitimate philosophers. In the past, the philosphers, like Michael Ruse, used to claim that all other philosophers agreed with them about the limitations of science. That's the claim they made at the Dover trial.

      Today, there are more and more philosophers who reject methodological naturalism. It just took them a bit of time to get their thoughts strait.

      ... the fact that they are philosophical arguments about scientific epistemology and is not explicitly acknowledged, let alone addressed with an attempt at anything that approximates critical thinking.

      As far as I'm concerned, Maartan and his colleagues are pursuing the scientific way of knowing. You may think they're not thinking critically but, strangely, I think that it's Michael Ruse and his colleagues who haven't been thinking critically.

      We could debate who is correct but the important point is that the limitation of science is a controversial topic within philosophy. It's no longer appropriate to claim that everyone supports methodological naturalism.

      From now on, anyone who does this is being disingenuous. That includes NCSE and major scientific organizations. If they want to claim that science and religion are different ways of knowing then they have to acknowledge that this is just their opinion—an opinion that is not shared by all philosophers or all scientists. It's also an opinion that is not supported by the evidence of how science has behaved over the past thousand years.

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    4. Yours is the first reference to Boudry on this page, which makes it difficult to ascertain the validity of your complaint, without context. Of course if you were thinking critically of your own comment while typing you would have noticed that, approximately.

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    5. And, if you were thinking critically, you would have checked the links Larry provided in his post. He didn't have to have mentioned Boudry explicitly for it to be clear that he was referring to him.

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    6. Anyone with knowledge of the philosophy of science should ignore this comment:

      The reason why Maarten and the Guelph school are so important is that they are legitimate philosophers. In the past, the philosphers, like Michael Ruse, used to claim that all other philosophers agreed with them about the limitations of science.

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    7. Anyone with knowledge of the philosophy of science should ignore this comment:
          The reason why Maarten and the Guelph school     are so important is that they are legitimate     philosophers. In the past, the philosphers, like     Michael Ruse, used to claim that all other     philosophers ;agreed with them about the     limitations of science.


      Ignore Ruse, Larry, or both?

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    8. --- Larry make a false claim about the agreement of the philosophers of science- show me the conference proceedings to support this statement.

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  11. If they want to claim that science and religion are different ways of knowing ... LM

    Having been accused of holding and expressing that idea for going on six years, even as I repeatedly, some would say exhaustively, expressed something quite different, I've got to conclude that unless it is said explicitly, it is a variant on the false alternative fallacy that I've come to see as among the major intellectual failures of the new atheism.

    Religion is an expression of belief, science is supposed to produce information reliable enough to pass as knowledge. They don't use the same methodology or act within the same restrictions, they are distinctly different kinds of intellectual activity, dealing with distinctly different ranges of ideas and issues. They don't produce the same kinds of results.

    It should be a rule that someone making the "different ways of knowing" charge against someone has to produce an actual quote to that effect because it's becoming just another of the last resorts of contemporary atheism in lieu of actually having a valid point of refutation.

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    1. Let's address your world view then, TC. Can the results of religion be expressed in any form, e.g. words? If they can, they constitute (Shannon) information. If not you cannot think them.

      Does that information explain or predict anything? If yes, we can apply the scientific method to it. If not, we can apply the scientific method to it - i.e. dismiss it as superfluous.

      The results of religion are therefore within the scope of science.

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    2. DR, you can have narrowed focus and greater accuracy or you can have wider focus and less accuracy. You can't have both in science.

      It is interesting to add this to my list of ways that atheists want to insert ideological content into science. I've come to the conclusion that atheists play a close second to commercial scientists on the make in the actual pollution of science. Keep it up and you might overtake them.

      In the mean time the rest of us can keep that kind of thing outside of science and in philosophy and other areas that can actually contain it.

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    3. science is supposed to produce information reliable enough to pass as knowledge

      Not exactly, many of the most foundational ideas in science are extremely unreliable. Science should be viewed as a way of forming representations of the world, and a way of intervening in the world. Whether these representations are considered knowledge is of no concern to science- as long as they can help with interventions. THIS IS NOT A DEFINITION- it is a clarification based on your statement.

      I will not provide a definition because I want to allow Dr Moron to read and form an opinion based on the available research.

      Religion is not and should not be free from scientific inquiry- however to portray science and religion as a dichotomy is a waste of time because it ignores what science is.

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    4. TC:
      > You can't have both in science.

      What's this, an appeal to common sense? Where is your proof for this assertion? Here's a counter-example kindly provided by Murray Gell-Mann:
      http://www.ted.com/talks/murray_gell_mann_on_beauty_and_truth_in_physics.html

      I'm specifically referring to how Maxwell's equations have been transformed step-wise into the generalized Yang-Mills equations. So we actually gained wider focus *and* greater accuracy (your terms, not mine).

      TC:
      > add this to my list of ways that atheists want to

      Note how you're not even trying to refute the arguments in my first comment. You're just acting as if that were somehow beneath you and as if you (and your alluded friends) were obviously right. I think you are deceiving yourself.

      Delete
    5. DR, How does what Gell-Mann talks about in that segment contradict what I said about the necessity of a narrowed focus in science being required to get more reliable information (about the physical universe, I should be understood as meaning)? I'd think what he says agrees with my point. Leaving aside that most of what he's talking about is not information but extreme speculation.

      Science should be viewed as a way of forming representations of the world, and a way of intervening in the world. ....

      If those representations don't constitute information about "the world" that is an accurate how do you expect your proposed intervention in "the world" to work well? That "science" which isn't an accurate representation of nature doesn't work well because it is not accurate, in other words IT IS NOT RELIABLE INFORMATION and it eventually fails to work.

      Religion is not and should not be free from scientific inquiry- however to portray science and religion as a dichotomy is a waste of time because it ignores what science is.

      I haven't portrayed science and religion as dichotomous, I've portrayed science as being far more limited in scope than religion, philosophy, history, etc. through mutual agreement and by design in order to achieve more reliable information about a rather radically narrowed focus and methodology. It is exactly when, in areas such as the social "sciences" evo-psy, etc., violate both the narrowed focus and methodology that was invented to study physical phenomena that enormous piles of unreliable information is created and called science. I'm always wondering why, more than a century into that continually replenishing pile of junk science, which is supposed to notice such things, hasn't seemed to notice it. I conclude that human minds and other such areas aren't susceptible to scientific methods because they aren't made of the kind of stuff for which science works.

      I think it's largely the professional interest of such so-called scientists and the faith of scientism that blinds so many sciency folk to that enormous pile of garbage that once did carry the name "science" and the junk that currently does carry it but which shouldn't.

      Science can certainly not contain religion, for those reasons but because religion explicitly deals with ideas that science doesn't work with. Galileo explicitly understood that. Religion managed to reconcile itself to his scientific understanding that it once had trouble with, atheism can't manage to reconcile itself to his understanding of the nature of science.

      Religion is not restricted from containing every single thing that science can accurately tell us about the universe. Science can't even deal with the first concept of morality, that some actions are right and some are wrong.

      Delete
    6. > how does what Gell-Mann talks about in that
      > segment contradict what I said

      Thummin also disliked that example (see below). Very quickly: Since the electro-magnetic force is strongly connected with other properties of the universe, e.g. uniform space (rotational symmetry), uniform spacetime (special relativity), and common force origin (Y-M generalization) you will gain both wider focus *and* greater accuracy (again, your terms, not mine).

      Furthermore "broader scope" and "greater detail" are both just categories we assign to greater explanatory power.

      > [Opinions about science, philosophy, scope, etc.]

      Evidently you seem more interested in writing an opinion piece than in addressing a logical argument. I've asked twice, it's time to give up. Have a nice life, Sir.

      Delete
    7. You are using the term "wider focus" in a way that I obviously didn't intend when talking about the kind of thing that science looks at. All of the things in your example are obviously within the focus of science, they are quantifiable aspects of the physical universe that can be successfully dealt with by methods of science, or, at least, are, perhaps, susceptible to those. You're saying pretty much that the agreed to focus of science contains different things. I was clearly talking about things outside of that, things which are not quantifiable aspects of the physical universe. Your point is true but in terms of the discussion, rather banal.

      Now, tell me how I'm supposed to view the things in your example in terms of who I should support for the U.S. Democratic nomination in 2016 in order to try to avoid ecological cataclysm. Put in the context of this discussion, your example doesn't provide much in the way of useful information, certainly not without inclusion of a great deal of extra-scientific information, including why I should care to avoid ecological cataclysm.

      I'd never propose addressing the things that Gell-Mann talked about with things necessary to make that political decision. Science can't successfully include that information. To propose limiting the moral considerations of that decision to what science can deal with is absurd on its face. That decision will have to be based on information that is far, far less reliable in its precision but, I'm sorry, that's the kind of information that is useful to that decision.

      You guys are always hot around the collar about the vast majority of the population that doesn't buy your unrealistic, irrational reductionism as the relevant guide to their wider lives. I'd like to see one of you limit your life, honestly and rigorously to your principles, rigorously adhered to and we'll see how that goes. Merely denying that you constantly violate your own stated principles rightly makes you seem arrogant and dishonest and, with all the attendant follies of the wider world, the widespread rejection of it gives me some of the few points of hope I manage to find.

      Delete
    8. If those representations don't constitute information about "the world" that is an accurate how do you expect your proposed intervention in "the world" to work well? That "science" which isn't an accurate representation of nature doesn't work well because it is not accurate, in other words IT IS NOT RELIABLE INFORMATION and it eventually fails to work.

      You have failed to make a good argument here, mainly because you have no knowledge of the representations I am talking about-yet you are happy with your misinterpretation. Representations are phenomena created using scientific methodology, they may be theories or models of how the world (or a tiny part of it works). IF the representations allow for interventions (experiments) to be made- we can make a statements about these entities, and we must consider them real. This information gathered from the phenomena whether reliable or not ( this is controversial if philosophy of science) is defined by some as scientific knowledge.

      To say Science isn't broad in comparison to other areas is problematic for two reasons: 1) there is no such criteria or measure to make such a comparison other than personal opinion and 2) you are subscribing to a definition of science that is incorrect.

      Furthermore- it is common knowledge that there is junk science out there- this is a problem with the institutions who do science rather than the philosophical foundations of science and the philosophical principles whereby scientists are supposed to conduct research- Simply put scientists do not know much about science.

      Galileo did not even understand the telescope he invented much less the intracies of the philosophy of science.

      Religion can be studied by science- I do not see a reason why it cannot- to say this again would be to adopt a wrong definition of science.

      Delete
    9. To say Science isn't broad in comparison to other areas is problematic for two reasons: 1) there is no such criteria or measure to make such a comparison other than personal opinion and 2) you are subscribing to a definition of science that is incorrect.

      Science requires logic in order to work, logic is also applicable to other parts of the world and human experience. Large parts of human experience can't be treated with science, I pointed out a rather cataclysmic historical event that science certainly couldn't contain, especially as understanding the invasion of Poland requires knowing many things that science couldn't possibly contain. I could go on for days giving examples of just academic studies that can accommodate science but which science can't accommodate because of the inability of science to meaningfully process those. That might not keep someone from presenting a series of really bad arguments by analogy, often reducing extremely complex phenomena and documentation into a meaningless distortion in order to plug them into a sciency looking form in order to publish, but the results are about as useful as an astrological chart if understanding reality is the goal. That's the way that "science can study religion", except in so far as there are claims within religion about things which science can actually study. But science can deal only with the physical aspects of those claims, it can't tell you about anything else in religion.

      So, where's the scientific demonstration that it is right to tell the truth and wrong to lie? I'm aware of a number of sciency claims lauding deception as providing a reproductive advantage, you should really deal with those in your answer. I wonder if scientists who get away with lying and enhance their professional standing might not gain a reproductive advantage through their lying. Some have managed to get away with it for quite a while. Though I'd never claim such a study of scientific deception would be scientific unless it rather rigorously followed the normal methods of science. I'd guess that many corners would be cut in such an attempt.

      Delete
  12. I'm specifically referring to how Maxwell's equations have been transformed step-wise into the generalized Yang-Mills equations. So we actually gained wider focus *and* greater accuracy (your terms, not mine

    This example is not a good one- but your point is good. The idea he is talking about is the importance of experimentation in building theory. Philosophically the speaker is in the past as a philosopher- his point has been stated by Cartwright, Grover-Maxwell, and Hacking before.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. > This example is bad and you should feel bad

      Any example where you look at a part strongly dependent on other parts will do. Then broadening the scope gives a more precise picture. Just from the top of my head: Coevolution, minimizing sample bias, data correlation, interference, etc.

      > has been stated by Cartwright, Grover-Maxwell, and Hacking

      Also, Isaac Newton. It's the basis of the scientific method.

      Anyhow the point I'm making is that science is more general than philosophy/religion. Just because religion/philosophy is trying to make statements regarding science doesn't make those statements true.

      Nice example from Eliezer Yudkowsky:
      http://lesswrong.com/lw/ph/can_you_prove_two_particles_are_identical/

      Delete
    2. Science can't be more general than logic, a part of philosophy. Science depends on logical treatment of evidence and logical speculations based on past findings in science. Logic can be applied outside of science, so it is obviously more general than science.

      Philosophy isn't restricted to treating science and the findings of science, it has a far, far wider scope than science can have. Science can't even explain itself, you have to resort to philosophy and its methods to explain science.

      As to religion and science, I recently wrote this:

      The obligation to tell the truth rests on an effective belief in metaphysical moral obligations. The concept of science as a human activity rests on that obligation, it lives or dies by a non-scientific, moral obligation. You can't even assert that telling the truth about science is essential and so assert that creationism as science is wrong without that.

      The moral value, that telling the truth is better than lying is an absolutely essential prerequisite for the possibility of science being invented or practiced. When lies are told about science, it doesn't work, not for long on a professional level and not at all if reliable information about reality is the goal.

      Delete
    3. > Science can't be more general than logic,
      > a part of philosophy.

      In other news, stars have been declared to be a part of constellations by the highly esteemed and thoroughly ancient Babylonians. Astrophysics are therefore but a sliver of Babylonian culture and stars have to be grouped according to mythical figures, regardless of metrical distance and orbit.

      > Lies corrupt science

      Indeed. Any communication becomes pointless when noise, or at higher meta-levels lies, exceed a certain limit. Therefore the need for truth is emergent and self-evident.

      Furthermore from game theory we know that the winning strategy for a repeated prisoner's dilemma is tit-for-tat with initial cooperation. I fully expect simple organisms to come up with that strategy in the course of evolution.

      Delete
    4. Reproducibility of results removes the necessity of "telling the truth". If I can't reproduce what you did, it effectively never happened.

      Delete
    5. The argument both TC and DR are engaged in is fruitless- there is no way of comparing the scope of one field to another- I know it doesn't exist because there is not even a way to evaluate a theory in comparison to another.

      Furthermore from game theory we know that the winning strategy for a repeated prisoner's dilemma is tit-for-tat with initial cooperation. I fully expect simple organisms to come up with that strategy in the course of evolution.

      -Game theory is not a theory, it is a model, and years of decision making and economic research flies in the face of this statement.

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    6. > I know it doesn't exist because there
      > is not even a way to evaluate a theory
      > in comparison to another.

      Bayesian model comparison. MDL estimation. Empirical testing.

      > Game theory is not a theory, it is a model,
      > and years of decision making and economic
      > research flies in the face of this statement.

      Arrogance doesn't go well with ignorance.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolutionary_game_theory#Prisoners_Dilemma

      Delete
    7. Bayesian model comparison doesn't evaluate one theory against another, it is a statistical comparison between models.

      Glad to see you use wikipedia for you info... it's not arrogance- it's confidence, and it's not ignorance- I just am a little more researched than you are.

      Cheers,

      Delete
    8. > Bayesian model comparison doesn't evaluate one
      > theory against another, it is a statistical
      > comparison between models.

      Write down the "model" with the predictions/explanations of the "theory". Voilà, we can test it, whether by BMC, MDL, or any other scientific tool.

      The argument by definition sucks. You're not saying anything useful by throwing definitions (or assertions) around. You're not sounding smart, and you're impairing your thinking.

      > Glad to see you use wikipedia for you info...
      > I just am a little more researched than you are.

      Every time I expose what you've said as false (see tit for tat) you ignore it and come up with the next bigoted assertion. You are even proud of it.

      Look, even if the conclusion you jumped to were correct (you linked to Wikipedia, therefore it must be your source of infomation) -- moreso even if I were a ravingly lunatic, unschooled 13 year old living in his parents' basement and getting all his infomation from crazy magazines -- you still would have to address the arguments.

      Finally Wikipedia is an amazing, awe-inspiring enterprise. Just look at the year to year improvement.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reliability_of_Wikipedia
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Modelling_Wikipedia%27s_growth

      Obviously since we're so sophisticated the articles are merely provided as link lists to the actual studies cited in the bottom. Also, this is my last comment in this blog post. It's not a bloody forum.

      Delete
    9. > Bayesian model comparison doesn't evaluate one
      > theory against another, it is a statistical
      > comparison between models.

      Write down the "model" with the predictions/explanations of the "theory". Voilà, we can test it, whether by BMC, MDL, or any other scientific tool.

      The argument by definition sucks. You're not saying anything useful by throwing definitions (or assertions) around. You're not sounding smart, and you're impairing your thinking.

      > Glad to see you use wikipedia for you info...
      > I just am a little more researched than you are.

      Every time I expose what you've said as false (see tit for tat) you ignore it and come up with the next bigoted assertion. You are even proud of it.

      Look, even if the conclusion you jumped to were correct (you linked to Wikipedia, therefore it must be your source of infomation) -- moreso even if I were a ravingly lunatic, unschooled 13 year old living in his parents' basement and getting all his infomation from crazy magazines -- you still would have to address the arguments.

      Finally Wikipedia is an amazing, awe-inspiring enterprise. Just look at the year to year improvement.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reliability_of_Wikipedia
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Modelling_Wikipedia%27s_growth

      Obviously since we're so sophisticated the articles are merely provided as link lists to the actual studies cited in the bottom. Also, this is my last comment in this blog post. It's not a bloody forum.

      Delete

    10. Write down the "model" with the predictions/explanations of the "theory". Voilà, we can test it, whether by BMC, MDL, or any other scientific tool.


      You cannot test one against the other using these "tools". The reason I throw definitions and assertions because I think it is important for you all to know about that which is the substance of your argument- if you want to argue without a clear definition be my guest.

      Every time I expose what you've said as false (see tit for tat) you ignore it and come up with the next bigoted assertion. You are even proud of it.

      Game theory is not a theory- I stand by this- there is no complete theory in the biological sciences except evolution.

      Delete
  13. Also, Isaac Newton. It's the basis of the scientific method.

    Anyhow the point I'm making is that science is more general than philosophy/religion. Just because religion/philosophy is trying to make statements regarding science doesn't make those statements true.


    - Newtonian views of science are false- there are no fundamental laws, no unifying method- this will not strengthen your case. Science can not be more general or specific than anything else- this would be inaccurate because there is no criteria for such a measure, and if this is what you all are arguing then your argument is a fool's one.

    Furthermore from game theory we know that the winning strategy for a repeated prisoner's dilemma is tit-for-tat with initial cooperation. I fully expect simple organisms to come up with that strategy in the course of evolution

    I believe years of economic and decision making research will counter this point.

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    Replies
    1. I'm amazed at your confidence in what the universe is and isn't, in what science can and cannot do.

      If I now start presenting arguments and theories to the contrary you'll just do the pidgeon playing chess all over again. No, thanks.

      Delete
    2. Pigeons do get check mates every once in a while...

      Delete
  14. Reproducibility of results removes the necessity of "telling the truth". If I can't reproduce what you did, it effectively never happened.

    Replication of an experiment is an act done by people, it is as dependent on the requirement that the people reproducing an experiment are being honest about it as the original. Without both the intent to tell the truth, to not misrepresent what was done and observed, and to actually do that conscientiously, science would never have been invented or continued. Science would cease to work without the observation of the moral requirement to tell the truth. It does, frequently, in the social sciences because they allow themselves to cut corners at just about every turn and, so, the stuff that "science" produces is overturned and/or just junked with impressive frequency. You might read Feynmann's famous speech "Cargo Cult Science" for more on that.

    The argument both TC and DR are engaged in is fruitless- there is no way of comparing the scope of one field to another- I know it doesn't exist because there is not even a way to evaluate a theory in comparison to another.

    Oh, then you'll want to point out that pretty much the entire new atheism industry is engaged in a fruitless argument because that's just about their entire routine.

    I think you might be mistakenly assuming something that I've explicitly rejected as a basis of this argument, that science is like other fields when its strengths come from its inventors setting its limits so it would be unlike other fields. Instead of the imaginary intersecting bubbles of Venn diagrams, the one surrounding science is radically exclusionary about what goes in but which doesn't exclude what goes out in any way. It's a one way door, allowing in only those things which can be successfully processed by the methods of science - ideally, that is, in practice that barrier is constantly violated, ever more so as the temptation of scientists to do that surpasses the ability of other scientists to review their work.

    I wish there was a serious, accurate study of the history of science that gets junked, the rate at which it gets junked, the reasons for that junking and the way that embarrassingly enormous pile of junk is dealt with both within and outside of science. I suspect that we're in the midst of the golden age of junk science just because there is so much stuff that gets published but which isn't really reviewed (Marc Hauser is the quintessential example) and there is so much stuff published. ID as science is the tip of an iceberg of pseudo-science that breaches that barrier talked about above, it is the visible part that gets all the attention even as the bulk of it isn't looked at for what it could reveal. As I said, the so-called sciences, pretty much everything involving behaviors and thought processes, build in fudging and violations of science because "it's hard", I'd say impossible, to study those things while retaining the requirements to call the results science. It always will be whenever self-reporting of experience is unavoidable, as Lewontin pointed out.
    It as a revelation, the day I realized how many of the new atheists were involved in some form of psy which relies on people telling about their experience, something that they brutally condemn and reject when the person reports it as religious experience but which, in their preferred context gets to pass off pretty much the same thing as science. Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris are quintessential examples of that. Dawkins is constantly trying to make words flesh, or, genes, at least.

    ReplyDelete
  15. In other news, stars have been declared to be a part of constellations by the highly esteemed and thoroughly ancient Babylonians. DR

    You think that any aspect of science can overcome the requirement that it be logically coherent? I hope that any scientist reading this is sufficiently disturbed.

    You should have left this kind of argument behind at about the age of 14.

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  16. Replication of an experiment is an act done by people, it is as dependent on the requirement that the people reproducing an experiment are being honest about it as the original. Without both the intent to tell the truth, to not misrepresent what was done and observed, and to actually do that conscientiously, science would never have been invented or continued. Science would cease to work without the observation of the moral requirement to tell the truth. It does, frequently, in the social sciences because they allow themselves to cut corners at just about every turn and, so, the stuff that "science" produces is overturned and/or just junked with impressive frequency. You might read Feynmann's famous speech "Cargo Cult Science" for more on that.

    -Read Faymann's speech, old news
    - You speak of both replication and reproduction- and use the words incorrectly with reference to scientific results:
    Replication- is the ability to create, again, the experimental effect
    Reproduction- is the ability to create the experimental effect using the same technology.

    Replication and reproduction are not requirements for scientific discovery- it simply increases confidence.

    --

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. old news

      Really. Some argument. Is the commutative property of addition old news?

      Again, the quibble about replication and reproduction is a rather banal point in the terms of this argument. If you have an argument, which you don't, it would be with whoever "Anonymous" from yesterday is.

      I'm rather enjoying seeing how the staunch defenders of science are now arguing against the necessity of scientists telling the truth about their results. You should go over to Retraction Watch blog and give them the benefit of your up to date view of that.

      In the fall of 2010 it was Hawking arguing against the necessity of physics dealing with physical law and even logic:

      It appears that the fundamental numbers, and even the form, of the apparent laws of nature are not demanded by logic or physical principle.

      now you guys are saying that even telling the truth about it is merely optional.

      I hope there are some other people old fashioned enough to find this as bizarre as I am. This goes into the "you'd never believe they actually said it unless you heard them say it" file.

      Delete
    2. Thought Criminal,

      You really murder thoughts.

      In the fall of 2010 it was Hawking arguing against the necessity of physics dealing with physical law and even logic:

      Did you read the book? Did you read that quote within context? Have you learned a tad of reading comprehension? read the quote from those guys first (it's not just Hawking):

      It appears that the fundamental numbers, and even the form, of the apparent laws of nature are not demanded by logic or physical principle.

      OK, when I read it I was surprised that in and of itself it does not say what you say it says. It clearly says that natural laws are not dictated a priory by principles either of logic of physics. Let me translate more. This means that there is neither principle of logic, nor principle of physics, that will lead us to the "fundamental numbers, and even the form, of the apparent laws of nature." This does not mean that physics should not deal with physical law and even logic at all.

      So, I thought you were quite wrong from the beginning, but I thought, maybe in context it means what TTC is saying. I searched, and no. It means what it means, that natural laws are not demanded by physical principles or by logic principles. In other words, follow those principles, and there is nothing in them demanding natural laws to be exactly what they are. OK, three or four translations with this one so far. Did you get it?

      You have learned such an apologist style of arguing that I would be surprised if you are able to notice and admit your mistake on this one. Will you disappoint?

      Delete
    3. Well, it seems I was quite modest in what I'd attributed to Hawking. I only said that he proposed absolving physics from the dealing with physical law and logic, it was all of science he was proposing be released from dealing with those. My first response to reading it was, what next, mathematics without proof? Since you go even farther than I did along the same line of argument, I don't see that I could have been accused of being mistaken by someone who understood the point on that line.

      And you wonder why the reputation of science isn't quite what it should be. If science didn't have such value in producing wealth through applications, the more detached theoreticians of the last forty years might have succeeded in destroying whatever repute it had amassed back when scientists understood its limits.

      As I've pointed out, elsewhere, Eddington was quite a bit more plausible in his discussion of physical law in relation to the universe and human reason back in the later 1930s.

      I understand flailing in the absence of an ability to go any farther and that's what Hawking's book looks like to me. I'm far from the only one who had that reaction to it. To me it looks ever more plausible that materialism is a failed ideology, as failed as positivism proved to be about eighty years ago.

      But, as you seem to think I'm the kind of person who can be cowed by a display of arrogance, I'd expect you to just continue in that vein.

      Delete
    4. So I explained thrice your misunderstanding and you still did not get it? Hawkins did not say that physics should renounce logic and physical law. He and his partner said that the principles of logic and physics do not seem to lead unequivocally to the numbers and such of natural law. If this is still not clear for the fourth time, then try and read the quote in its context. Can you really not see the difference and how that's not a problem whatsoever? May I ask that you restate what I said so that I would understand your answer? because as it stands it does not make sense. Please? Double and triple please? Quadruple please?

      Delete
    5. Just for clarification. I do not think you can be cowed by anything (I have seen enough of you to know this). I am just testing the hypothesis that you will never show understanding of a point, but will rather deviate attention from the point by concentrating on whatever you can twist. Example, semantics in an isolated sentence, taking sentences out of context and claiming them to mean something they were not written to mean, and so on. I bet you will not disappoint this time around either.

      Delete
    6. As I said, I wasn't the only one who was amazed at that passage, it has been discussed as, essentially, absolving physicists from the necessities of physics being physics by several scientists and at least one mathematician I'm aware of. I'd noticed it, I think, on first reading but it wasn't until I read more discussion of it, especially on Woit's blog, that it's bizarre radicalism really struck me. It was the connecting thread among several new "fields of science" obviously invented to give a simulation of evidentiary support of ideological materialism where none was available. Of course, as I mentioned above, that attempt reveals a basic flaw in that ideological struggle, no matter what science manages to LEGITIMATELY reveal in regard to real evidence of the universe, it would still be contained in the belief in a creator God. No matter what the universe contains, someone who believes that God created the universe would believe that was also created by God and the scientist has merely revealed how it was done.

      Hawking and Mlodinow did a lot to clarify some things that had puzzled me for decades, only those were about ideological materialism and the place it really holds in culture and its ability to distort science. I'd already been aware of its ability to distort politics.

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    7. That you are not the only one to misunderstand, or to criticize, the passage is not the point. The point is that you misunderstood the passage. Should you be able to take any advice your would check it in its context. If you did, you would know that the point made by Hawkins and his friend is not the one you insist it to be, but rather a point that creationists hold to with desperation (I will let you figure it out yourself, though I know for certain that you will not). Yet, in your haste to take any words to mean something in the line of materialism being forcefully introduced into science you just make it to mean whatever you want it to mean. Yet, you are unable to restate what I said. Of course I understand. Apologetics is not about reaching truth, but about debating techniques. Those demand doing anything to "win," which, among other things, means never admitting to a mistake. Let you be a prime example.

      I am done. My hypothesis is confirmed. You don't give a damn about understanding.

      Delete
  17. I'm rather enjoying seeing how the staunch defenders of science are now arguing against the necessity of scientists telling the truth about their results

    This is not my point- my point is your assessment of scientific truth is wrong. Replication and reproduction does not lead to truth in science.

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    Replies
    1. thummim,

      The Thought Crimlnal does not care about reading for comprehension. As any apologist, he will find something he can twist and concentrate on that no matter how much that takes him or her away from proper understanding. That's what apologists do. Just see how way off the mark his answers always are.

      Delete
    2. Ah, as it was thummim's misunderstanding that I had asserted something that Anonymous said:

      AnonymousMonday, July 02, 2012 6:20:00 PM
      Reproducibility of results removes the necessity of "telling the truth". If I can't reproduce what you did, it effectively never happened.


      a comment thummim answered, so one assumes, he read. Negative Entropy is either being ironic or mistaken.

      I'm aware that my comments don't bubble along in the usual new atheist habit of thought, they're more in line with the basic assumptions of performing science than with ideology. As those don't serve the purpose of ideological materialism, they and, more importantly, the logical exigencies they necessitate, don't serve that ideology, bringing them into this discussion is unwelcomed. They are, though, about as relevant as possible. Science can't accommodate ideology, though materialists have repeatedly squeezed their preferred ideology into science, much to the disadvantage of science and the truth.

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    3. I'm aware that my comments don't bubble along in the usual new atheist habit of thought

      Of course not. Our habits of thought include the assumption that the other party will read for understanding, will be logical and coherent, will follow the points made. We are not used to the apologist customary reading for incomprehension, and for deforming points as far from recognition as possible as long as they get to mean what the apologist wants them to mean.

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    4. N.E. I thought you said you gave up at 8:47:00 AM. How soon you seem to have forgotten.

      The new atheism is a form of fashionable bigotry consisting of a collection of phrases stolen from logical discourse, applied badly and dishonestly, a string of historical tales that distort the historical record, a bunch of wildly bizarre misrepresentations of science, .... all topped off with an amazing level of conceit and dishonesty in pursuit of winning over a majority of people by the proven strategy of insulting them. Proven to fail. It will go out of fashion. I will predict that within the decade it will be basically and widely seen as just another form of organized bigotry which has had a malignant effect on the world.

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    5. I think you either meant "religion" or "creationism" or "intelligent design" where you wrote "atheism" by mistake in this paragraph of yours. Quite accurate for those by the way.

      I said I was done with the experiment TTC, I did not say I would never speak to you again. You truly can't read for comprehension.

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    6. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    7. There are religions for which I'd say that of and have. I wouldn't say it about all atheists but just about all of the ones I encounter on the blogs fit that profile rather well. I used to get along fairly well with the atheists, a number of those have said that blog atheists don't represent them. I've never gotten along with positivists and other dishonest scientistic ideologues. I argued out a lot of these things when most of you boys weren't even speculations of your parents who probably still thought members of the opposite sex were icky.

      Scientism is so 19th century. And not the most progressive part of it. Logical positivism is even sillier.

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    8. This would look as if we would be able to hold a conversation, but my first point, which you would probably prefer to miss, would be that you don't seem too inclined to understanding what others try and explain to you. Thus, I can't say if your experience with "just about all of the ones" you "encounter on the blogs" fits what you said above, or if you've got that impression out of your customary deformations. I truly wonder if you deform on purpose, or if you got used to that because that's how you were trained in some debate team of sorts (apologetics maybe). I also wonder if in person I would be able to get something across to you. Example, get you to understand what that quote from Hawking and his friend actually means. Perhaps going word for word... But I digress, my experience has always been that of creationists (by any name) fitting that description you made. I think only one or two did not.

      Anyway, scientism, I have only heard about it from creationists, thus probably deformed, and thus I do not know what it is. logical positivism, never heard of it before. Anyway, I truly think we should have more courses on philosophy for students in the sciences.

      Ciao

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    9. Ciao

      I've heard it before.

      scientism, I have only heard about it from creationists

      If I'm not aware of something I generally figure that's my failing. Feyerabend is a famous critic of scientism who was hardly religious, there have been others. Quite a bit of the religious critique of scientism is quite sound, the rejecting of sound arguments due to its provenance is anti-intellectual.

      logical positivism, never heard of it before.

      I'd figured the ghost of the quite intellectually dead ideology of logical positivism that pervades the chatter of new atheists on the blogs was at least second hand. I had, it would appear too charitably, figured its name at least was known.

      I'm not going to apologize for having looked into the ideological program of Western atheism and seen its deficiencies. Just about all of it is available in the cheap paperbacks I read Ayer et al in. Really cheap, second hand. A lot of it is as close as an intelligent google search.

      I don't see any ways you can twist, "It appears that the fundamental numbers, and even the form, of the apparent laws of nature are not demanded by logic or physical principle," so they don't mean what I said it does. It might count as the most shocking statement by a physicist I've ever read. Even counting the incredible, massively historically unaware quote of Steve Weinberg - who could have failed to not be aware of the nuclear weapons programs that rests entirely on the work of physicists, a very large number of them, on all sides, announced atheists - that's a favorite of atheists.

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    10. Hey TTC,

      If I'm not aware of something I generally figure that's my failing.

      I recognize that me not being aware of scientism and of logical positivism is my failing. I said I did not know about the former but from creationism, since their description did not fit me, I did not care to go check. Logical positivism, I just heard it from you. I don't know if I should check it. You did not describe it, thus I do not know if it fits me or not, whether deformed or correctly interpreted. But agreed that it is my failing not to know.

      That sentence:
      It appears that the fundamental numbers, and even the form, of the apparent laws of nature are not demanded by logic or physical principle

      I notice that this sentence might be too advanced. Part of the difficulty for uneducated people is that the sentence is written in passive voice. Let's rephrase it in the active voice:

      Apparently, logic and physical principles do not demand the numbers and form of the apparent laws of nature.

      Let's also rephrase yours (arguing against the necessity of physics dealing with physical law and even logic in the original) and compare:

      Physics does not need to deal with physical law and even logic.

      Hum. Hard to make it look like Hawking''s. But let me try again:
      physical law and even logic are not necessary for physics

      OK, so now let's check a tad further. If they meant physical law at the beginning, they would be saying that physical laws do not demand something from natural law. But these guys are physicists. Thus, they would know that physical laws are natural laws. Thus the mistake must be yours and they did not mean "law" when they wrote "principle." Amended your interpretations would be (and compare to what they say):

      physical principles and even logic are not necessary for physics.

      It does not make sense either for phycists to say that physical principles are not necessary for physics. Thus, when they say "apparent laws of nature." That's what they mean. Also, they are not the object, but their "numbers and form." Thus, with this amend, your interpretation would now be.

      physical principles and even logic are not necessary for the numbers and form of natural laws.

      This is already far from what you said. Still, it does not make any sense. Thus, "do not demand" cannot mean "are not necessary for." So what could "do not demand" mean? My first interpretation was "do not lead to," which is very different to "are not necessary for." What would happen if I changed what you said this way:

      physical principles and even logic do not lead to the numbers and form of natural laws.

      That makes sense and can't be farther from your original interpretation. Now, you might complain that I arbitrarily changed the meaning of "do not demand," but I checked against the context, and within that context, it make perfect sense, while your original interpretation does not. Ignoring the context you might insist that if physical principles and logic do not lead to the numbers and form of natural law then they are not necessary for physics. Well, that I go by negative entropy is not demanded by logic and physical principles (logic and physical principles do not lead to my name) does not mean that naming schemes can be there without logic and physical principles. It just means I could be named anything as far as logic and physical principles are concerned. So, that the numbers and form of natural laws are not demanded by logic and physical principles, does not mean that natural laws can exist and be studied without them.

      Conclusion: there certainly was a way for you to twist the original sentence to mean something it did not mean.

      Ciao.

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    11. Negative Entropy:
      Ciao

      If you're going to continue to write several-hundred-word responses to Thought Criminal, stop acting as if you are ending your interaction.

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    12. N.E. you might not know the name of the tune but you can sure do the dance.

      You forget where Hawking and Mlodinow were taking that little idea, to the creation of universes that had no known existence with "physical laws" quite unlike those whose only verification comes from the act of holding them up to the physical universe to see how closely they match.

      You can pretend to analyze the phonemes and it still won't change the meaning of it.

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    14. Hi Michael,

      I was not aware that ciao meant "se ya never."

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    15. TTC,

      Not a surprise that you did not read the explanation. I know where H and M were taking that idea, and it was not where you say they were. Both semantics and context are important. But I know further explanation will be ignored. In that paragraph, H and M were giving background to make an argument that you creationist lunatics love.

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    16. that you creationist lunatics

      You guys always fall back on that dodge whenever you can't answer an honest critique of your faith. Scientism starts out by being self-negating, it continues in the dishonesty that originated it and it concludes in this kinds of stuff. I've explicitly condemned the attempt to insert religion into science as well as your ideology, above. What is so massively apparent is that what has you and your pals in a swivet is my rejection of your ideology being inserted into science in exactly the way you claim I want to insert a religious faith I don't happen to have. I was never brought up to believe the creation myth in Genesis was literally true, though I was brought up to believe that evolution was true. As it is.

      Why don't you get off your hobby horse and try to stand on your own feet. Clay, though those are.

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    17. TTC,

      You are so incredibly stupid. See what you are saying at all? What am I dodging if all I have done is trying to help you understand a sentence? Do you really mean to say that scientism is the philosophy of explaining reading comprehension to imbeciles such as yourself? How is it dishonest to explain the meaning of a sentence to you? Are you seriously saying that you have been trying hard not to allow inserting my ideology, proper reading comprehension, into science? What good could improper reading comprehension do to science?

      What difference does it make how you were raised? With your display of unsurmountable stupidity and incompetence at understanding simple points, it's no wonder that you are a creationist.

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    19. Negative Entropy, as you are the one who was unaware of the range of the literature criticizing scientism and of logical positivism, even as you aped the empty form of it, not to mention that you reflexively and illogically resort to calling me a creationist, leaving me to suspect you don't know what one of those is, either, I'm less than unworried about your opinion of my intelligence. Until you issued those comments, I'd assumed you were merely dishonest instead of quite ignorant.

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    20. What comments have I not "issued" TTC? our conversation was about your misunderstanding of a sentence (while the other one was about your lack of imagination about testing some claim scientifically). If you can't keep up with that I can't but assume that your intelligence is compromised (or you are willfully dishonest). If you mean to say that I did not go for your red-herrings, issued to avoid confronting your obvious misinterpretation of that sentence, well, I was not, and I am still not, interested in going for those. I do not care defending scientism, I do not care about defending logical positivism either. If I can't get you to understand one single sentence, how on Earth would I be able to get you to first understand whether and how I agree or disagree with what others said? With those philosophies? As for being a creationist, why are you pretending? If you call me an atheist, talk about scientism, materialism, and all those sorts of "-isms" favourites of creationists, then you are a creationist. If it looks like a duck, acts like a duck ...

      So, I would be very grateful if you explained to me how exactly explaining a sentence to you is "aping the empty form of logical positivism"? Are you serious to imply that logical positivism is about explaining basic grammar to some imbecile like yourself? If so, then you would be right for the wrong reason. Since it is an exercise of futility to explain basic grammar to an imbecile like yourself, then the philosophy would be indeed empty.

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    21. I think you've reached the stage where you're just saying any old thing to try to waste my time. You claimed to be done four days ago. I think it might have been the truest thing you've said here yet.

      You can throw all the insults in your vocabulary at me, go on, do your worst.

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    22. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, anything but acknowledging and addressing the main points. I don't need to do my worst. You do quite well yourself at insulting your own intellect. You were too easy to define and then play with. Still thanks for the exercise.

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  18. Replication and reproduction does not lead to truth in science.

    Well, you should pay more attention to who says what in the argument as that point was made by "Anonymous" on July 2nd.

    I would assume Anon. didn't care for my pointing out that science couldn't have gotten started or been sustained without the MORAL position that it was right to tell the truth and wrong to lie. Too religiousy, just like things like inherent rights, justice, equality, have sounded to other materialists I've argued with.

    Science depends, on its most basic level, on about as non-scientific an idea as it is possible to identify. There is no scientific demonstration of why someone should tell the truth as opposed to lying. It can't even tell you why it's not just a great idea to lie if you can get away with it, as so many in science have tried to do over the years and who knows how many are right as we discuss this. So many of those working for the extraction industry creating the current and dangerous denial of human caused global warming. Science, somehow, seems to have failed at producing morality among those scientists, as anyone who understands the limits of science would not have expected it to be able to do.

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    1. The Fleischmann–Pons fiasco seems to have been caught effectively. Piltdown man. The "Bacteria with arsenic in DNA" story. There is quite a long list. The cheats can get caught, if there data is interesting enough that anyone attempts to replicate it.

      So, replication does seem to work, even when there are those a bit more liberal with the truth...

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    2. You might want to look at the chronology of the Piltdown hoax, how long it went on and what effect it had on subsequent "science" even as other scientists were calling it a forgery.

      You know about the junk science that is exposed, there is an enormous amount of it. Check out the history of psychology. You don't know how much of the rest remains unexposed. What hardly ever gets investigated is how the review mechanisms that are supposed to catch this stuff are so variable in their effectiveness. Not to mention the variable quality of other mechanisms that are supposed to insure against mistakes, errors, and outright fraud. I'd like to know how those compare in effectiveness to other forms of review in other areas of life but doubt the math would mean much. Though that's seldom been a problem in some fields of "science".

      As indicated above, you might want to review the quite successful frauds of Marc Hauser and this other fraud in the news:

      The university's leading social psychologist and ex-dean Diederik Stapel has dragged down numerous unknowing researchers and PhD students with him, according to a report released by the University.

      As much as a fifth of Staepel's published research was based on entirely fictitious data. 30 studies, and it took years for the review process to catch up with him.

      http://universitypost.dk/article/penkowa-style-fraud-case-rocks-dutch-university

      It makes you wonder how many others scientists "popular both in the media and the social psychology research world" there are undiscovered. And how many have published smaller numbers of "studies" whose fraudulence, not to mention error, have not really been reviewed.

      No, there really isn't any substitute for a quite unscientific sense of honesty in researchers and reviewers. That's the first line of quality control in science. Without that review is always playing catch up to the frauds.

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    3. In your examples, Hauser and Stapel were both caught. This really does not refute my point.

      You have decided honesty is more important. This is just a belief, and the claim that "there must be more that are unknown" is basically a Russell's teapot. You have convinced yourself that they are out there, and it is up to everyone else to find them.

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    4. They weren't caught before they were caught, they successfully published in reviewed journals and were cited by grad students and other researchers, not to mention became "popular in the media".

      The problem is that the "review" regime that allowed both of those and many other frauds I didn't cite, not to mention papers containing serious, non-fraudulent, defects (see Retraction Watch blog for other examples) was in effect and still is. Given that they have not prevented long standing fraud which became embedded in further publication, that's a rather serious problem for the assertion that scientific review is a guarantee of the quality of science. Given the proud claim that review is one of the things that makes science the only valid source of knowledge, that's a pretty serious flaw in the faith of scientism. Since at least one of Hausers' "reviewers" pretty much admitted he'd taken him at his word about the validity of his observation which was one of the major problems in his fraud, and that other "reviewers" have said they didn't check at that level, that's a massive invitation for a repetition of this kind of scandal.

      Russell's teapot was that experienced logician slyly practicing the false alternative fallacy in support of his ideology of materialism- perhaps relying on his reputation as a logician to allow him to get away with it. It is now inserted into arguments, willie-nillie, whenever materialist ideologues are at a loss for a valid argument, though seldom as badly as you have here. It has absolutely nothing to do with what I argued.

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    5. Your reply is speaking only of the pre-publication peer review process. This has nothing to do with data replication as a means to catch dishonesty.

      And, are you serious?
      They weren't caught before they were caught, ...

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    6. The frauds went on for a number of years, over many publications. The "peer review" failed over and over again. In the reporting of the Hauser scandal it was mentioned that the professional position he gained very likely left him increasingly immune to review.

      And, as mentioned, there is no way to know how many others got away with what unless they are caught. You might want to see how many years it took for Kevin Macdonald's blatant antisemitism as "science" to catch up with him as that was in plain view, the very substance of his "science" and as people outside of science criticized it. It took WWII and the Holocaust for eugenics to be kicked out of science and it continued, in fact, in North America up into the 1970s and possibly into the 80s.

      If science can't do better than that it had better stop misrepresenting itself as the quintessence of reliable knowledge.

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    7. 1) No one said "in your lifetime".

      2) Every example you bring up shows that the system does self correct, even in the event serious fraud and misdirection.

      I'm really failing to see your point.

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  19. I'm really failing to see your point.

    Well, knock me over with a cement truck.

    Every example you bring up shows that the system does self correct, even in the event serious fraud and misdirection.

    As I suggested, go look at Retraction Watch and its excellent archive. The standards of so-called review are 1. obviously less than effective, 2. obviously uneven in quality, 3. not being rushed into reforms that would require actual review.

    The system is broken, it has allowed multiple frauds to enter into science and for those to become embedded. As the examples I gave prove.

    "Every example you bring up...," well, you see, it's ONLY the ones that are exposed that can be brought up. Which brings us back to your last sentence. I was quite clear that the reason I brought this up was to show that there is nothing in science that can substitute for an entirely unscientific sense of morality, to not lie, to be honest about your observations, measurements, analysis. Without those review never catches up with the frauds, not to mention the non-fraudulent errors.

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    1. Once again - you are confusing pre-publication peer review (Retraction Watch's specialty) with the process that, after publication, determines what data is reproducible and interpreted in an reasonable fashion. It is the second step that actually matters, and it can take time. But in the words of xkcd, http://xkcd.com/54/.

      There is a reason the text books are far behind the primary literature.

      well, you see, it's ONLY the ones that are exposed that can be brought up ... and by supposing a tip of the iceberg scenario you are just begging the question. There is no evidence that this is a massive problem, and many labs are able to replicate the studies of others. And when they do not, the old ideas are simply ignored. Self correction in action...

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  20. I'm talking about the entire review system, from pre-publication through the use of published research by other researchers and students who depend on that review being thorough, effective and reliable. That is, clearly, not what it's advertised to be. Call me naive but I was quite shocked at what I read the alleged reviewers in the Hauser scandal considered to be adequate review, the amount of trust based solely on professional position it included. It's anything but the myth of the young upstarts with better data challenging the grey beards.

    What percentage of unretracted studies in any given year would you want to guess contains either intentional fraud or serious unintentional error? Would you want to guess at the importance of any studies that did? One problem is that no one knows, though I'd bet that the farther you get into dealing with behaviors and thought processes, self-reported or dependent on researcher observation, the number of those would be far higher than for genuinely physical aspects of science.

    Retracted studies play a big role in the public skepticism of science, something that is used by the oil, gas and coal industry to distort public perception and the politics of environmental protection. So it is about as serious a problem as could be. The stupid Darwin wars pale in importance to that.

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    1. I should have said "dependent on self-reported or researcher interpreted observation". Of course, just about all research is dependent on researcher observation, though some of that is less open to ambiguous interpretation than other.

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    2. And I'm saying no. I guess there's no more need to waste the electrons on this.

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  21. xkcd

    Shortly after the Fukushima nukes started melting down, I got into a huge row on Eschaton blog with a self-appointed sci-defender who used one of xkcd's cartoons, trying to prove that nuclear energy was innocuous. Chris Tucker was the name he used online. I pointed out that the cartoon carried a disclaimer that said it shouldn't be mistaken as an authoritative source. It was a sadly cruel irony that Tucker was diagnosed with thyroid cancer shortly after that, he died a few weeks ago.

    Science works when it works, when it doesn't it doesn't. The self-appointed defenders of science are such true believers that when anyone is critical of the frauds, errors, ideological pollution and pretenses made in the name of science they freak out like William Donohue does when someone mentions the sins of the clerics.

    It's a CARTOON! For crying out loud. It's kind of a stupid one, at that.

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