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Parted Ways: Religious v Scientific Knowledge

RuvDraba
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6/30/2016 5:16:57 AM
Posted: 5 months ago
This thread came at the suggestion and request of member Skyangel, in a Religion thread about Evolution [http://www.debate.org...], so thank you to Sky for the suggestion.

It's linked to a lot of issues that come up about evolution, but also more broadly: to how science can claim to know the history of things that humans have never directly, personally seen, using mechanisms almost impossible to directly observe. And it's linked to why at the same time, empiricists like myself may dismiss other ideas claimed by religion and traditional belief, which are also not directly, personally seen. It's linked to faith: whether faith in a process is the same as faith in a testimony. It's linked to what we call truth, and what we call proof, how those things have changed, and why they changed.

And it's linked to a problem I see in a lot of the Religion vs Science wars we see on this site: the problem that when people are arguing over truth, knowledge, proof and faith, they're often talking about very different meanings of those words unbeknown.

I should say from the outset that while I have no use for religion myself and am often critical of it, this is not meant to be an anti-religious thread. Religious thought is traditional thought: ordinary human thought, living your every day life thought. It's scientific thought that's weird. However, scientific thought is also the thought we now depend on in industry, commerce and civics, even though its paradigm is only a few centuries old. It can be found everywhere today: in medicine, engineering, accounting, journalism, law, policing, manufacturing, education, public policy. It has gotten so familiar, we don't notice we're using it. But as civilisations go, it's still very new: people are using it without fully understanding what it is they're using, it's actually at odds with the way we prefer to think, and that can produce some shocks and unpleasant surprises.

I should say that my interest in this topic is professional. My professional background is that I was trained as a scientist (my field was and is informatics: turning data into actionable information), and scientific research, education and administration were my first professions. After a while I left academe to consult to government and industry, and I've been working across theoretical and experimental information science and information engineering ever since. I get to observe people working with observation, data, information, knowledge and decisions first-hand, clients pay me to help them do that better, and I've been doing it for over thirty years. So I don't speak for all scientists, but I have a professional skill in understanding how empiricism turns observation into reliable knowledge, a professional interest in how humans came to do this, and what it costs, and how it benefits, and that's what I'll be drawing on here. (And that's not a claim to authority so much as a personal explanation of why it matters to me.)

But although I'm an advocate for scientific methods, my purpose in this thread isn't to defend science, or to sell it (although I happily will in other threads); it's not to shame or humiliate members for using ordinary subjective human thought (which I use myself); and as I said it's not to try to persuade you to abandon religion if you have one. It's to try and shed light on the shocks.

I'm going to begin by answering some questions Skyangel asked in the other thread, which with her indulgence I'll paraphrase. Members may recognise these as questions other members have asked too:

1) If science is about knowledge from observation, why does science pronounce so confidently on events people have never seen?
2) If scientific theories can be overturned by evidence, why does science nevertheless categorically rule out some ideas as false?
3) If science is full of ignorant conjectures that can never be absolutely proven, doesn't belief in science constitute just another religious faith?

I'll need more than one post to address these questions. Although I'm the sort of pedant who likes to order his thoughts, I'm happy to take questions, comments and criticism as they come and tuck my exposition in between. However, I may defer some responses to a later installment if that looks like being more efficient.

Also, because this is a largely unmoderated site, we have members who disrupt, troll and sell crank ideology simply because they can do so with impunity, and Religion sees more than its fair share. As a rule, whenever I've met a member whom I think trolls or cranks routinely I've told them I won't interact with them substantively. So I'm advising in advance that I may reject some members outright, and it won't come as a shock to any of them if I do. However, if I tell a trollish or crank member to go away, but you like a question they asked, please feel free to re-ask it. If it's relevant and asked by a member participating in good faith, I'll try to answer it.

Anyway, I hope this might be interesting -- or at least a change of pace.
RuvDraba
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6/30/2016 7:37:57 AM
Posted: 5 months ago
At 6/30/2016 5:16:57 AM, RuvDraba wrote:
1) If science is about knowledge from observation, why does science pronounce so confidently on events people have never seen?

1. Prediction, Meaning and the Crystal Ball
1a) Knowledge as Accurate Prediction
Suppose you had a crystal ball that made predictions, but the predictions were right only five percent of the time. Would you trust it with important decisions like whom to marry, what career to pick, or where to take a much-anticipated vacation?

Perhaps not. I certainly wouldn't.

But suppose the crystal ball specialised in finding lost pirate treasure. If it were right only five percent of the time, would you trust it?

A high chance of finding lost pirate treasure after only twenty goes? That seems like a much better proposition, doesn't it?

Now, suppose every time you consulted the crystal ball and it was wrong, it'd turn pink in shame, collect more information, review its methods and try to improve them, and gradually get its predictions right seven percent, ten percent, thirty percent, fifty percent, eighty percent, ninety-eight percent of the time. So the more you used it, the better it got.

That crystal ball is how science treats knowledge. To science, all knowledge is measured by precise, accurate prediction. It's not who says it, or how venerated the ideas are, or how white their lab-coat, or many humming machines with blinkenlights they have. It's simply this test: when you put them in a dark room with only raw observational data and no 'phone a friend', how much buried pirate treasure can they find -- in other words, how much specific, new, surprising information do they predict right?

Does it matter how they produced it?

In a practical sense, it doesn't. If the information is right, and it really did come from a dark room with raw data and no outside help, then it's right, no matter how you produced it.

You know something, you can demonstrate you know it, so how you know it is of secondary importance. So if you can predict where dinosaur bones will be found with (say) thirty percent more accuracy than random chance, then you know something about how dinosaurs lived and died, even though you never saw one in the wild. You might not know everything, and what you believe might be partly wrong, but you still know more than someone who hasn't a clue where to find dinosaur bones. Likewise, if you can accurately predict something new and surprising about what happens when the sun passes in front of a star in the middle of an eclipse, then you know something about light that nobody else knows. It might not be perfect, and you mightn't know all of it, but you know something -- it's knowledge.

The takeaway point here is this: In science, knowledge is accurate prediction. The only way to verify knowledge in science is to predict specific, significant new discoveries, and routinely get it more right than random chance. And the better you do that, the more you can claim to know -- as long as everything you claim is tested with prediction.

But in another sense, it does matter how you produced the prediction. Science needs to check that you didn't cheat, but also needs to understand why some predictions go wrong so it can improve them -- so your methods need to be fully transparent.

So the short answer: science pronounces confidently on events it hasn't seen when it can accurately predict an awful lot of specific, significant correlated information about those events. So it's not only accurately finding pirate treasure 98% of the time, it's accurately predicting the dates on the coins, the name of the ship, how it was built and what port it left from.

As for how it actually produces that information, it's done by a huge amount of studying what can be observed directly, and correlating it with what can be observed indirectly, then making and testing predictions from that. The big difference between this approach and ordinary subjective thought is just how pedantic it is, how many predictions you're forced to make, and how hard scientists will test to prove you wrong.

So why is this not the same as religious knowledge?

1b) Knowledge as Sense-Making
Earlier, I said that a scientific definition of knowledge is relatively new. Before Isaac Newton, science was called Natural Philosophy and it offered more conjectures than predictions. But after Newton predicted how fast apples would fall from trees, science began making a lot more predictions. Many were embarrassingly wrong, but like the five-percent crystal ball, they got better with use and after a while prediction got so accurate and widespread that it became the gold standard for measuring knowledge.

But before that -- in the time of Galileo, say -- there were only traditions, observations and philosophical conjectures. Conjectures were how you thought of new ideas to investigate, while traditions were how you made sense of what you found.

That sense-making -- interpreting new discoveries through accepted doctrine -- was what people called knowledge. It was the only definition of knowledge they really had, and Galileo got into big trouble for saying that an observations could overthrow traditional doctrine, because for most of human history, that had never happened. It seemed dangerous, anarchic to propose that, and the Church tried to bargain him down to saying his sense-making was only a conjecture, not a verified conclusion.

Nowadays, knowledge as accurate prediction is not just in science. it's also in industry, commerce, civics, politics. Industry predicts wokplace accident rates and product failure; commerce predicts profits; civics predict demography; politics predict budget surpluses and deficits. Scientific success has persuaded society to accept prediction as the gold standard of knowledge.

However, scientific thought also did something else: it distanced itself from knowledge as sense-making by adopting a principle from the philosopher Aristotle called tabula rasa: assume you know nothing. The Royal Society of the UK -- perhaps the oldest science society in the world -- adopted the motto Nullius in Verba -- take nobody's word for it. It means the same thing: abandon knowledge as sense-making and follow the observations instead.

However, human thought likes its subjectivity, and doesn't do that easily or happily. Our psychologies and societies are built on making sense of the world from our myths and traditions. For example, most societies believe themselves good. So whenever they are cruel or unjust, it's generally interpreted as a mistake from misinformation, or one bad apple -- it's seldom blamed on the beliefs of society itself. As a personal example, Mrs Draba and I have been married for 33 years, and are devoted to one another. You could show me pictures of her at dinner with some toy-boy, kissing him, or emerging from a hotel with him, and I still wouldn't believe she'd been unfaithful. That's not how I make sense of our relationship -- I'm a scientist, but on matters of passion, I'm subjective too.

So the principle of cherished beliefs as sense-making is still with us, and so is the tradition of calling such sense-making knowledge -- even though it's no longer the gold standard. And though science-trained pedants like myself insist that it shouldn't be called knowledge any more -- only cherished conviction, people still give it it's traditional name, and this dual meaning for one word causes a lot of confusion.

That's enough for one post. I hope it has sketched the difference between Religious and Scientific knowledge, where science's confidence comes from, and why religious traditions of knowledge have been downgraded by scientists like myself to the status of cherished beliefs.
RuvDraba
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6/30/2016 8:23:16 AM
Posted: 5 months ago
Interlude.

It's early evening here in Oz, but past bedtime for most of my US colleagues. I have more to write, but want to take a breath and see whether there's interest, whether there are questions, comments or criticisms, whether it's making sense, and whether members need references and links (which I omitted for space.)

I also have questions of my own:

1) How do you view knowledge? In your mind, what differentiates knowledge (if anything) from a belief or a cherished conviction?

2) Before this thread, were you aware that science views knowledge differently from social tradition (not just religion but pretty much all social traditions everywhere)?

3) Does the post above clarify anything for you?

4) Does it shed light on any of the hostilities we sometimes see in science/secularism vs religion debates?

5) If so, what if anything can we do about that to make such conversations more respectful and constructive?
FaustianJustice
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6/30/2016 11:35:04 AM
Posted: 5 months ago
At 6/30/2016 8:23:16 AM, RuvDraba wrote:
Interlude.

It's early evening here in Oz, but past bedtime for most of my US colleagues. I have more to write, but want to take a breath and see whether there's interest, whether there are questions, comments or criticisms, whether it's making sense, and whether members need references and links (which I omitted for space.)

I also have questions of my own:

1) How do you view knowledge? In your mind, what differentiates knowledge (if anything) from a belief or a cherished conviction?

2) Before this thread, were you aware that science views knowledge differently from social tradition (not just religion but pretty much all social traditions everywhere)?

3) Does the post above clarify anything for you?

4) Does it shed light on any of the hostilities we sometimes see in science/secularism vs religion debates?

5) If so, what if anything can we do about that to make such conversations more respectful and constructive?

How does one hedge out subjectivity? You mentioned matters of passion, however there are fine folks in the biz that engage what you do, passionately, and get good results. And what about personal investment in the subject matter? Chasing leads that one presumes could pan out, rather that what most likely will?
Here we have an advocate for Islamic arranged marriages demonstrating that children can consent to sex.
http://www.debate.org...
RuvDraba
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6/30/2016 6:54:22 PM
Posted: 5 months ago
At 6/30/2016 11:35:04 AM, FaustianJustice wrote:
How does one hedge out subjectivity?
Great question, FJ! Like scientific knowledge, scientific objectivity is misrepresented and misunderstood.

Firstly, let's look at what's wrong with subjectivity, then how it arises, and then what one can do about it.

Subjectivity isn't evil in itself, nor pointless either. If we imagine subjectivity as the product of an anxious mind trying to maintain integrity in the face of changing, unreliable and incomplete information, then it looks like a practical psychological tactic. We don't always have time to ponder the deeper significance of new information and overhaul our beliefs. Attempts to do so can confuse and paralyse us just when we most need to act. If we must overhaul our beliefs, ideally we should do so from a place of safety, comfort and with the luxury of time. Subjective sense-making offers a tactic to let us use new information immediately, even if it's incomplete and unreliable, even if it leaves our thought paraconsistent -- piecewise consistent, but inconsistent over-all. [https://en.wikipedia.org...]

Psychologically, our minds spend a lot of effort on subjective sense-making, and while I'm a scientist by training, I also produce fiction and music (in fact I came to DDO after moderating a fiction-writing site), and all art speaks to our subjectivity: our individual experiences, predispositions and personal apprehensions. You simply can't produce good original art without caring about subjective impacts.

But subjectivity doesn't meet the standard of repeatable accuracy anyone can use anywhere. It's biased, blind, ignorant, self-satisfied, vain, sloppy and paraconsistent, and because it's more tactical than strategic, it's happy to live with its own inadequacy. :)

So tactical, subjective thought is really the default kind of human and social thought. It's also the thought scientists had to try and systematically leave behind. As I mentioned two posts ago, tabula rasa -- abandoning personal preconceptions -- is the first step in doing that.

But by itself it's not enough. Even if you strive to 'blank out' hopes and expectations and assumed knowledge when observing, how can you be sure you've done so? And even supposing you manage it, your observations are still influenced by your choice of what to observe when -- so you may overlook important information. And when you dream of making your name with a great result, can how you set up observations and experiments be trusted to be impartial? And all observation itself has inaccuracies, so the way you keep and discard data itself may be informed by subjective biases. And if the gold standard of knowledge is accurate prediction, can one scientist alone be trusted to decide how accurate is accurate enough? Finally, our senses themselves may be subject to systematic biases we know nothing about.

So scientists don't claim objectivity so much as aspire to it. And they're in a constant battle against their physical and psychological selves, their instruments, standards and methods to produce more objectivity. So how do they know how well they're doing?

Whatever objective truth might be, it has to uphold certain properties,namely, it has to: persist, be consistent both with itself and with everything else predicted and observed, and yield the same measures, no matter who is observing, or the methods used to observe it. So key to detecting subjectivity are repetition, exhaustion and correlation: ensuring that what you observe is consistent and repeatable across multiple tools and methods, that you observe at every critical point in the mechanism, that it meets best expectation of accuracy, correlates with everything predicted and observed, and that there are no gaps or conflicts in observation that might indicate a hole in knowledge, a modelling error, or an untested assumption. These are all key methodological criteria.

But scientists spend most of their professional lives in lonely laboratories, working on intractable problems hardly anyone understands, and failing to make headway for years. That's the gig, and the harsh reality bites as soon as a young scientist begins doctoral research -- typically in their early 20s when their character and life-skills still haven't fully formed yet. Years of failing day after day can be stressful and frustrating, and we know from psychology that stressed, frustrated humans working alone cheat their lying faces off. :) So science needs psychosocial measures to keep scientists' chins up, keep them brave, resilient and mentally agile, keep them scrupulously honest, keep them from kidding themselves that they're making progress when they're not, and weed out the scientists who don't have the patience and resilience, and want to cut corners when nobody's looking.

As it happens, those measures are pretty much all built around hunter-gatherer tribal honour. :D The science culture is a Death before Dishonour culture, and you don't last long as a scientist if you don't want to live by the code. :)

We talk a lot about peer review in the Science forum, and that's certainly part of it: to claim a result, scientists have to publish in a peer-reviewed journal, where anonymous experts chosen by the editor get to review rationale, methods, data, results, and how it's communicated. If they have any objections, the paper is sent back to the author for corrections -- or sometimes rejected entirely. In respected journals, having a result published can take years, the rejection rate is high, and this is a key quality control. To a scientist, getting published in Nature is a bit like getting an Emmy nomination -- it's a big deal.

But psychosocial quality controls begin with candidate selection and training, which happens late in undergraduate degrees. Young scientists are trained by mentoring, the mentor's reputation is at stake, so you want students you can trust. So young scientists quickly learn that at every step, the tribe is watching and criticising you, and hiding information from the tribe is furtive and dishonourable. So nobody wants to be a guy the tribe gossips about or expels -- that's a fate worse than death.

there are fine folks in the biz that engage what you do, passionately, and get good results.
The passion is always there, FJ. Scientists get paid peanuts. Most are on fixed salaries without commissions, performance bonuses or stock options, and very few get royalties from patents. Having worked in both academe and industry I can attest that scientists forego hundreds of thousands of dollars or more in their working lives for the challenge, exhilaration and independence of discovering new stuff and finding out how it works. All scientists are geeks at core. :)

But the standards, methods and cultural practices of science itself help ensure that scientists are chasing honour among highly skilled peers rather than simply cash or reputation from a gullible public. And once you've mastered the standards, methods and protocols, you can afford to give vent to a bit of passion at times -- and science communication in particular demands that the passion show.

what about personal investment in the subject matter? Chasing leads that one presumes could pan out, rather that what most likely will?
The enterprise of science itself is intellectual entrepreneurialism, FJ. Choosing the right field at the right time is a better predictor of success than grades or IQ. Demand for students and supply of supervisors create the intellectual biodiversity, but I've always taught my students that field agility and career management are the most important professional skills they can develop.
PureX
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6/30/2016 8:58:21 PM
Posted: 5 months ago
I believe that the real rub between science and religion comes from the simple fact that science has rendered "truth", from our human perspective, relative. Every probable "truth" that science determines, is being determined relative to that which we have already determined to be relatively true. So much so that a foundational principal of science theory and practice is never to accept its own proposed truths, absolutely. The Theory of Evolution, for example, remains a theory, even though it has long been found predictive of a great many experimental outcomes and observations.

And this philosophy of eternal doubt and skepticism flies directly in the face of age-old religious precepts and practices that demand absolute trust in a singular 'divine truth'. The truth of reality as viewed by a scientist is a very different truth, indeed, from the truth of reality experienced by a religionist. Where the former sees limitless complexities and an endless variety of interrelated phenomena, the latter sees the unchanging absolutes of God's divine plan. Where the former sloshes around in turbulent a sea of questions and curiosity, the latter clings mightily to the rock of unquestioned faith.

These are two very different ways of being human. And it's inevitable that they will clash. This conceptual battle between absolutism and relativism is the battle of our time. Of this human era. It began with the invention of the printing press, and the practice of science, and it has been raging within us and among us, ever since. It's torn societies apart, and will continue to do so. Even as we 'speak'.

I have no idea how it will end.
RuvDraba
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7/1/2016 2:19:31 AM
Posted: 5 months ago
At 6/30/2016 8:58:21 PM, PureX wrote:
I believe that the real rub between science and religion comes from the simple fact that science has rendered "truth", from our human perspective, relative.
PureX, I've said that I won't criticise religion or defend or sell science and in this thread, I mean to keep to that.

However, do you believe religious claims of knowledge are objective or subjective?

I believe that doctrinal claims are subjective, and that is what I've argued in several of the posts above. I believe that whenever science has checked significant doctrinal claims that religion has held to be objective, the claims have failed those checks.

So unless you disagree, do you believe it is better to have claims of knowledge that are subjective but absolute, or objective but emergent (which you've called relative)? Why?

Do you believe they can co-exist amiably? If so, how? If not, how can the matter be resolved?
Willows
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7/1/2016 9:17:39 AM
Posted: 5 months ago
Well here we go again, getting caught up in defining words and concepts.
I think the obstacle for theists accepting science is that they typically have a predisposition to think in terms of concepts and feelings, hence the spiritualism.
Atheists on the other hand tend towards being materialistic and realistic, hence their non-acceptance of ethereal explanations.

The theory of evolution was avoided as a subject (and still is in some places) in schools until recently so the inground culture based on religious principals remains strong.
It takes time but I think that the culture needs to be changed in order for acceptance of complicated explanations no matter how right and accurate they may be.

We therefore need to think in terms of "interfacing" between the two types of thinking in order that society continues to develop. We have come a long way in overcoming superstitious beliefs , which virtually governed how we lived centuries ago (and still does in some countries) and it is only through bridging this gap that we can continue to become a better society.
RuvDraba
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7/1/2016 10:01:54 AM
Posted: 5 months ago
At 7/1/2016 9:17:39 AM, Willows wrote:
therefore need to think in terms of "interfacing" between the two types of thinking in order that society continues to develop.

Willows, I've said I won't criticise religion or defend science, but I'm curious about your thinking here. Are you aware that science was initiated and conducted by a majority of religious scientists for about three of its four centuries of modern activity?

It's arguable now that most scientists aren't very religious, but even through the 19th century that wasn't the case. So science didn't emerge from modern secular thought so much as modern secular thought emerged from science. So how do you believe it was that an approach to understanding the world initiated by people from strong religious traditions, which has been very successful, nevertheless moved its practitioners and society at large away from religion?

And given how it occurred (however you believe it did), is it reversable? Reconcilable? If so, how?

I have my own views on that, but what sense do you make of it?
Willows
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7/1/2016 1:17:41 PM
Posted: 5 months ago
At 7/1/2016 10:01:54 AM, RuvDraba wrote:
At 7/1/2016 9:17:39 AM, Willows wrote:
therefore need to think in terms of "interfacing" between the two types of thinking in order that society continues to develop.

Willows, I've said I won't criticise religion or defend science, but I'm curious about your thinking here. Are you aware that science was initiated and conducted by a majority of religious scientists for about three of its four centuries of modern activity?

It's arguable now that most scientists aren't very religious, but even through the 19th century that wasn't the case. So science didn't emerge from modern secular thought so much as modern secular thought emerged from science. So how do you believe it was that an approach to understanding the world initiated by people from strong religious traditions, which has been very successful, nevertheless moved its practitioners and society at large away from religion?

And given how it occurred (however you believe it did), is it reversable? Reconcilable? If so, how?

I have my own views on that, but what sense do you make of it?

There is no doubt that science has changed through time however it was Darwin's theory of evolution that turned science on its head. Also the industrial revolution saw a society starting to depend upon technology and the science necessary for it to develop.
Old habits and cultures die slowly and we still have a situation where many people in civilised society do not know or choose not to know the complex science that backs up the theory of evolution. Attitudes will change but for every step forward it seems we take half a step backwards in the process.
Refugees are converting from Islam to Christianity in their new countries, also Russia and China are experiencing a huge growth in the number churches being built to accommodate new found religion where it was once banned.
PureX
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7/1/2016 2:28:40 PM
Posted: 5 months ago
At 7/1/2016 2:19:31 AM, RuvDraba wrote:
At 6/30/2016 8:58:21 PM, PureX wrote:
I believe that the real rub between science and religion comes from the simple fact that science has rendered "truth", from our human perspective, relative.
PureX, I've said that I won't criticise religion or defend or sell science and in this thread, I mean to keep to that.

However, do you believe religious claims of knowledge are objective or subjective?

I believe that doctrinal claims are subjective, and that is what I've argued in several of the posts above. I believe that whenever science has checked significant doctrinal claims that religion has held to be objective, the claims have failed those checks.

So unless you disagree, do you believe it is better to have claims of knowledge that are subjective but absolute, or objective but emergent (which you've called relative)? Why?

Do you believe they can co-exist amiably? If so, how? If not, how can the matter be resolved?

All human "knowledge" is acquired subjectively. What maters is how we choose to arrange that knowledge into some conception of existential truth. Because it's that concept of existential truth that will define who we are in the world, and how we live in it. The relativist creates a concept of reality that is dynamic, extends far beyond his range of comprehension, and that requires that he always be skeptical of his own conclusions. While the absolutist creates a conception of reality that is static, defined by a few basic fundamentals, and requires his steadfast adherence to those fundamental truths.

Where the relativist swims in a turbulent sea of questions, curiosity, and exploration, the absolutist clings tooth and nail to the rocky shore of unassailable faith. These are two very different ways of being human, and it's inevitable that they will clash. To the absolutist, all that doubt and questioning by the relativists acts as a corrosive agent on the very foundations of their faith. So they see it as an 'enemy ideology'. And from their perspective, it is.

While from the relativist's perspective, all that absolutist clinging to the 'rocks of their faith' becomes an anchor, pulling everyone down to dark, stagnant bottom of that sea of being. And I don't know how this clash of existential truth paradigms can be resolved. Especially when the adherents on both sides perceive the others as a direct threat to their own ideology.

Maybe we humans are entering a new realm of existence wherein ideologies compete for dominion through their effect on their holders. If that is so, science may be in more trouble than it realizes. Because as the poet Charles Bukowsky said; "The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence."

And confidence, no matter how unconsidered, tends to inspire decisive action.
RuvDraba
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7/1/2016 5:19:37 PM
Posted: 5 months ago
At 7/1/2016 1:17:41 PM, Willows wrote:
At 7/1/2016 10:01:54 AM, RuvDraba wrote:
At 7/1/2016 9:17:39 AM, Willows wrote:
therefore need to think in terms of "interfacing" between the two types of thinking in order that society continues to develop.
I'm curious about your thinking here. Are you aware that science was initiated and conducted by a majority of religious scientists for about three of its four centuries of modern activity?
How do you believe it was that an approach to understanding the world initiated by people from strong religious traditions, which has been very successful, nevertheless moved its practitioners and society at large away from religion?
There is no doubt that science has changed through time however it was Darwin's theory of evolution that turned science on its head.

Thank you for your answer, Willows.

Science saw many upheavals in the late 19th and early 20th century, and I agree that evolution was one of the earlier ones. It's a remarkable piece of science, but to my mind isn't the biggest intellectual upheaval science has seen. I think the results that came out of early 20th century physics are bigger simply because of what they did to empirical notions of truth and prediction. I also think that 20th century cosmology has shattered complacence about the universe's viability for habitation too -- though I wonder how much lay-people know or care.

Regardless though, evolution is accepted as the best explanation for the origin of species by the Roman Catholic church, all mainline Protestant churches and most Judaism, along with Buddhism, Hinduism, and a large minority of Muslims though not most. Moderate churches have accepted evolution for more than 50 years. It's really only the historical Black Protestants, Evangelical Protestants, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses and conservative Muslims who reject it. [http://www.pewforum.org...]

So when the vast majority of world faiths accept a theory older than the US Civil War, how is it that a small minority of the world's most reactionary, conservative faiths have convinced ordinary people that evolution is a disaster for religion? Put another way, how did a 1/3 minority of America's Evangelicals and Black Protestants, Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses manage to convince a 2/3rd majority of America's mainline Protestants, Catholics Jews, Buddhists, Hindus and Religious Nones there was a problem? :)

Old habits and cultures die slowly and we still have a situation where many people in civilised society do not know or choose not to know the complex science that backs up the theory of evolution.
Except that most churches over-all don't have a problem. It's only a vocal minority that do, and that minority is only vocal in the US. Everywhere else, it's just a sliver. I live outside the US and have traveled extensively. Everywhere I've been, nobody in any numbers takes Biblical creationism seriously. It's an issue that died when grandma was in her prom dress.

Refugees are converting from Islam to Christianity in their new countries, also Russia and China are experiencing a huge growth in the number churches being built to accommodate new found religion where it was once banned.
Yes, post communist Russians have returned to Orthodox roots they had for centuries, while Chinese call themselves atheist but still practice traditional folklore unless they're Communist Party officials. :) I'm not sure what that tells us except the obvious: cultures like their traditions. :D
RuvDraba
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7/1/2016 5:44:33 PM
Posted: 5 months ago
At 7/1/2016 2:28:40 PM, PureX wrote:
At 7/1/2016 2:19:31 AM, RuvDraba wrote:
At 6/30/2016 8:58:21 PM, PureX wrote:
I believe that the real rub between science and religion comes from the simple fact that science has rendered "truth", from our human perspective, relative.
PureX, I've said that I won't criticise religion or defend or sell science and in this thread, I mean to keep to that.
However, do you believe religious claims of knowledge are objective or subjective?
I believe that doctrinal claims are subjective, and that is what I've argued in several of the posts above. I believe that whenever science has checked significant doctrinal claims that religion has held to be objective, the claims have failed those checks.
So unless you disagree, do you believe it is better to have claims of knowledge that are subjective but absolute, or objective but emergent (which you've called relative)? Why?
Do you believe they can co-exist amiably? If so, how? If not, how can the matter be resolved?

Pure, thank you for your response. Early on I had real troubles making sense of your thought. But then I substituted some terms on a conjecture and it began to make sense to me. So I'd like to explain the troubles I had, and what I did about them, and see whether it establishes common ground.

I had difficulty with this opening statement, for example:

All human "knowledge" is acquired subjectively.
I didn't know what to make of that. Are you saying that all knowledge is subjective, or all methods are? I feel I have a problem with it either way.

If all knowledge is subjective, isn't that statement subjective too? So how can it be absolute? And if all methods are subjective, how do subjective methods produce objective information, so doesn't that make all knowledge subjective also? And how does this statement account for the fact that we can predict accurately from information acquired by some methods, yet not others?

What matters is how we choose to arrange that knowledge into some conception of existential truth.
Is that truly all that matters? Doesn't it also and principally matter how well we can use the information we have to make effective decisions? For example, are you equally likely to go to an astrologer as a GP for a health problem? Would you rather a priest or a pilot fly your aircraft?

The relativist creates a concept of reality that is dynamic, extends far beyond his range of comprehension, and that requires that he always be skeptical of his own conclusions.
What is a relativist? If I changed that statement to empiricist, it'd make sense to me:

The empiricist creates a concept of reality that is dynamic, extends far beyond his range of comprehension, and that requires that he always be skeptical of his own conclusions.

Yes, that sounds like empiricism, and you could replace 'empiricist' with 'scientist' and it'd work equally well. But how is empiricism relativism? What makes it relative? As an empiricist, I'd agree that truth is only provisionally true, but false is false absolutely and forever. I never revisit false conjecture once evidence tells me it's false, even if new information is acquired. (Probably I need to move on to my main exposition about that.) So how is that relativism?

While the absolutist creates a conception of reality that is static, defined by a few basic fundamentals, and requires his steadfast adherence to those fundamental truths.

And here you've said absolutist where I'd have said dogmatist.

While the dogmatist creates a conception of reality that is static, defined by a few basic fundamentals, and requires his steadfast adherence to those fundamental truths.

Again, that makes sense to me, but it doesn't describe everyone of faith.

For example, I know many non-dogmatic Christians who believe in a kind God but can't say much about what their god is like. They believe in an inspirational Jesus, but can't say with certainty which words attested to him are authentic. They believe in the hope of heaven, but can't say who's going there. They're happy to let cosmologers work out the universe, biologists work out the origin of species, historians work out the authenticity of the Bible, and just generally believe in a benign universe and the virtue of living a kind and just life within it.

So to me the division you've described isn't a secular/religious division so much as a division of empirical and critical thought vs blind dogmatism. And as I mentioned to Willows in a post above, most world faith is very happy with empiricism. In the US, it's only a minority of churches -- historical Black Protestantism, Evangelical Protestantism, Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses, who oppose it.

Does that seem like a fair account?

When I feed those amended terms into your later exposition, it begins to make this sense to me...

Where the empiricist swims in a turbulent sea of questions, curiosity, and exploration, the dogmatist clings tooth and nail to the rocky shore of unassailable faith. From the empiricist's perspective, all that dogmatic clinging to the 'rocks of their faith' becomes an anchor, pulling everyone down to dark, stagnant bottom of that sea of being. And I don't know how this clash of existential truth paradigms can be resolved. Especially when the adherents on both sides perceive the others as a direct threat to their own ideology.

The way I'd say it is that empiricists are for whatever's demonstrably true, while dogmatists are against anything that challenges or disagrees with them -- including competing dogmatists. (See the Evangelical vs Islam acrimony, for example.)

Do you agree? Disagree?
PureX
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7/2/2016 3:34:02 AM
Posted: 5 months ago
At 7/1/2016 5:44:33 PM, RuvDraba wrote:
At 7/1/2016 2:28:40 PM, PureX wrote:

Pure, thank you for your response. Early on I had real troubles making sense of your thought. But then I substituted some terms on a conjecture and it began to make sense to me. So I'd like to explain the troubles I had, and what I did about them, and see whether it establishes common ground.

I had difficulty with this opening statement, for example:

All human "knowledge" is acquired subjectively.
I didn't know what to make of that. Are you saying that all knowledge is subjective, or all methods are? I feel I have a problem with it either way.

I presume that the term "knowledge" refers to that which we have had direct personal experience of. As apart from, say, presumption, which we can only infer from what we have come to "know". If I claimed; "I know Steve X", you would understand that I mean that I've had some sort of personal interaction with him. As opposed my saying that "I know OF Steve X", by which you would understand that I have heard tell of his existence, but have not met him personally.

This is why I wrote that all knowledge is subjective. Because it's subject to that which I have personal experience of. A lot of people know things I don't know because they have had some personal experience of it. While I know some things that few other people know, because I have had personal experience of them, that they have not. What we each 'know', is the result of what we have personally experienced.

If all knowledge is subjective, isn't that statement subjective too?

Yes, it is. Which only further exemplifies the point.

So how can it be absolute?

The statement is about what we know, not what is. What we know is relative, and subjective; what is, is simply what is, absolute or not.

And if all methods are subjective, how do subjective methods produce objective information, so doesn't that make all knowledge subjective also?

Not all methods of conceptualizing the knowledge that we derive from our life experiences are subjective. We can test some of this knowledge, objectively, to see if it's objectively valid. And if it passes our test, we label it "objective knowledge". But other kinds of acquired knowledge cannot be tested in this manner, and thus it remains "subjective knowledge". It's how we conceptualize and systematize all this knowledge that expresses and determines who we are as individuals, and how we understand and live in the world.

And how does this statement account for the fact that we can predict accurately from information acquired by some methods, yet not others?

Some acquired knowledge lends itself to that method of inquiry and verification while other acquired knowledge does not. That doesn't make the knowledge any less pertinent, however, as the effectiveness of what we know depends on the goal we want it to achieve. Not on it's objective derivation.

What matters is how we choose to arrange that knowledge into some conception of existential truth.
Is that truly all that matters? Doesn't it also and principally matter how well we can use the information we have to make effective decisions? For example, are you equally likely to go to an astrologer as a GP for a health problem? Would you rather a priest or a pilot fly your aircraft?

Again, this all depends on the goal one's seeking to achieve.

The relativist creates a concept of reality that is dynamic, extends far beyond his range of comprehension, and that requires that he always be skeptical of his own conclusions.
What is a relativist? If I changed that statement to empiricist, it'd make sense to me:

The empiricist creates a concept of reality that is dynamic, extends far beyond his range of comprehension, and that requires that he always be skeptical of his own conclusions.

Yes, that sounds like empiricism, and you could replace 'empiricist' with 'scientist' and it'd work equally well. But how is empiricism relativism? What makes it relative?

The nature of human cognition does. We only recognize and understand "this" relative to "that". It's how our brains function (compare and contrast). Existence is one huge infinitely complex event, taking place. But we humans can't comprehend it holistically. We can only comprehend "parts" of the whole. "Aspects" of our reality. And only those relative to other perceived parts and aspects.

Therefor, to we humans, the 'truth' of the whole is always relative to the limitations of the human perceiving it. "Relativists" are people who understand this.

As an empiricist, I'd agree that truth is only provisionally true, but false is false absolutely and forever.

There is no logical way for us to know that. To know that would require omniscience. Which we clearly don't possess.

While the absolutist creates a conception of reality that is static, defined by a few basic fundamentals, and requires his steadfast adherence to those fundamental truths.

And here you've said absolutist where I'd have said dogmatist.

While the dogmatist creates a conception of reality that is static, defined by a few basic fundamentals, and requires his steadfast adherence to those fundamental truths.

You say potato, I say potato.

Again, that makes sense to me, but it doesn't describe everyone of faith.

No, it doesn't. As lots of relativists also have faith. In fact, all humans have to have faith, to live. Because our knowledge is not enough. The difference is what we put that faith in. The absolutists puts it in his imagined knowledge of absolute truth. That's why absolutists tend to be so dogmatic. While the relativist puts his faith in his ability to learn, adapt, and grow. Which is why relativists tend to be so confused and indecisive.

So to me the division you've described isn't a secular/religious division so much as a division of empirical and critical thought vs blind dogmatism.

Your bias is showing a little, but yes. I believe that humanity is currently being split apart by these two fundamental conceptual memes: relativism vs absolutism. And the split is being manifested in humans of every endeavor: religion, politics, sociology, and right down to individual relationships. I have lost friends in the last several decades because they could not tolerate my relativist way of being. They didn't leave out of spite, they were literally confounded and frightened by the idea of truth being relative. For the absolutist, who's life is based on the conceptual bedrock of there being absolute truth, and of their being able to know what that truth is; relative truth is a 'toxic' concept. And the people who live by it are 'toxic' people for them to be around.

Where the empiricist swims in a turbulent sea of questions, curiosity, and exploration, " etc.

I didn't use the term "empiricists" because I am an artist. I know there are OTHER tools in our intellectual tool boxes besides empiricism and dogmatism. Intuition, imagination, and chance, for example. And, anyway, it's not the tools that define that meme, it's the way we conceive of truth, from a human perspective.

The way I'd say it is that empiricists are for whatever's demonstrably true, while dogmatists are against anything that challenges or disagrees with them -- including competing dogmatists. (See the Evangelical vs Islam acrimony, for example.)

Do you agree? Disagree?

Empiricists can become just as dogmatic when they ignore the other tools in the tool box. Happens all the time.
RuvDraba
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7/2/2016 4:58:59 PM
Posted: 5 months ago
At 7/2/2016 3:34:02 AM, PureX wrote:
At 7/1/2016 5:44:33 PM, RuvDraba wrote:
At 7/1/2016 2:28:40 PM, PureX wrote:
All human "knowledge" is acquired subjectively.
Are you saying that all knowledge is subjective, or all methods are? I feel I have a problem with it either way.
I presume that the term "knowledge" refers to that which we have had direct personal experience of.
That's not the way I or any scientist understands knowledge, PureX. I also don't think you'd find that use in journalism, policing, education, industry, engineering or law. Even a tradesman will say they know how to do a job they haven't directly and personally done before. Moreover, if you thought you knew your neighbour Steve as a friendly postman, and it turned out he were a career cat-burglar unbeknown to you, you might concude you didn't know Steve at all. So even in ordinary usage, direct experience is neither necessary nor sufficient for knowledge.

On the other hand, if you used that definition I would agree it produces a subjective apprehension of knowledge. I just don't know any sector of modern society using it.

I think knowledge is measured by specific, accurate prediction, which can come from direct personal experience but need not. For example, when the police charge someone with murder and say 'we know you did it', they mean that when considered together by an independent jury, witness testimony and forensic evidence will prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt -- that's what they're predicting. And 'knowing Steve' means being able to predict something of the things he does.

If all knowledge is subjective, isn't that statement subjective too?
Yes, it is. Which only further exemplifies the point.
I think it makes one unable to pronounce on things in general; only on what one has directly experienced.

Not all methods of conceptualizing the knowledge that we derive from our life experiences are subjective. We can test some of this knowledge, objectively, to see if it's objectively valid. And if it passes our test, we label it "objective knowledge". But other kinds of acquired knowledge cannot be tested in this manner, and thus it remains "subjective knowledge".

As an empiricist, I'd agree that truth is only provisionally true, but false is false absolutely and forever.
There is no logical way for us to know that. To know that would require omniscience. Which we clearly don't possess.
I'll return to this in part 2 -- my next formal installment.

Empiricists can become just as dogmatic when they ignore the other tools in the tool box.
I'm going to list some popular tools in peoples' toolboxes that, based on clinical studies, empiricists tend to reject as not meeting key claims in any significant way:

Applied kinesiology, aromatherapy, astrology, aura-cleansing, colonic hydrotherapy, color therapy, dowsing, dream-reading, ear candling, feng shui, homeopathy, levitation, magnetic therapy, numerology, prayer, psychokinesis, rebirthing, reflexology, reiki, rolfing, spirit-channeling, spiritualism, tarot-reading

With that list in mind, I have four questions for you, Pure.

1) Would you outlaw clinical trials of dangerous medicines, and extensive testing of aircraft, vehicles, electrical appliances and building materials?
2) Given your answer to 1), what additional information do you believe clinical trials can offer us about the claims above that direct personal experience cannot?
3) Which of the 'tools in the toolbox' I listed above are you confident are ineffective and why?
4) Does the number of useless tools in the toolbox listed above suggest something about the accuracy of subjective personal experience?
PureX
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7/2/2016 7:05:44 PM
Posted: 5 months ago
At 7/2/2016 4:58:59 PM, RuvDraba wrote:
At 7/2/2016 3:34:02 AM, PureX wrote:
At 7/1/2016 5:44:33 PM, RuvDraba wrote:
At 7/1/2016 2:28:40 PM, PureX wrote:
All human "knowledge" is acquired subjectively.
Are you saying that all knowledge is subjective, or all methods are? I feel I have a problem with it either way.
I presume that the term "knowledge" refers to that which we have had direct personal experience of.
That's not the way I or any scientist understands knowledge, PureX. I also don't think you'd find that use in journalism, policing, education, industry, engineering or law. Even a tradesman will say they know how to do a job they haven't directly and personally done before. Moreover, if you thought you knew your neighbour Steve as a friendly postman, and it turned out he were a career cat-burglar unbeknown to you, you might concude you didn't know Steve at all. So even in ordinary usage, direct experience is neither necessary nor sufficient for knowledge.

On the other hand, if you used that definition I would agree it produces a subjective apprehension of knowledge. I just don't know any sector of modern society using it.

Most humans "knew" that the Earth was a flattened disc. And yet all along it was not. This happened because they really only 'surmised' that it was a flattened disc, from what they actually did 'know' from their experience on the ground. And they confused what they surmised with what they actually knew. Thus, I am making the distinction between what we 'know', and what we 'surmise' from what we know. Because I believe this distinction is CRUCIAL to our maintaining an honest and accurate understanding of our own concept of 'reality' and of 'truth'.

I think knowledge is measured by specific, accurate prediction, which can come from direct personal experience but need not. For example, when the police charge someone with murder and say 'we know you did it', they mean that when considered together by an independent jury, witness testimony and forensic evidence will prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt -- that's what they're predicting. And 'knowing Steve' means being able to predict something of the things he does.

What we do with what we come to know is not the knowing, itself. You are talking about conceptualization. You are talking about placing what you have come to know in the context of reality and truth, in your mind. For example, when I read a book, I come to know, through personal experience, what the books says. That is knowledge. But I still have to determine how this knowledge fits into my concept of reality and truth. Thus is must "conceptualize" this newly acquired knowledge. I must 'surmise' it's relevance and meaning, according to my own understanding.

Granted, we tend to do this almost simultaneously, but I think it's crucial that we try and maintain an awareness of what we "know", from how we apply that knowledge to our concepts of reality and truth. Because it's how we apply that acquired knowledge, and the concepts of reality and truth that we generate, that determines who we are, and how we live in the world.

If all knowledge is subjective, isn't that statement subjective too?
Yes, it is. Which only further exemplifies the point.
I think it makes one unable to pronounce on things in general; only on what one has directly experienced.

We can "pronounce" all we want to. Obviously. But we would be fools to take those pronouncements as any sort of absolute truth (from a relativist's perspective, I mean). Because even what we've directly experienced is always going to be subject to profound misunderstanding.

Not all methods of conceptualizing the knowledge that we derive from our life experiences are subjective. We can test some of this knowledge, objectively, to see if it's objectively valid. And if it passes our test, we label it "objective knowledge". But other kinds of acquired knowledge cannot be tested in this manner, and thus it remains "subjective knowledge".

As an empiricist, I'd agree that truth is only provisionally true, but false is false absolutely and forever.
There is no logical way for us to know that. To know that would require omniscience. Which we clearly don't possess.
I'll return to this in part 2 -- my next formal installment.

Empiricists can become just as dogmatic when they ignore the other tools in the tool box.
I'm going to list some popular tools in peoples' toolboxes that, based on clinical studies, empiricists tend to reject as not meeting key claims in any significant way:

As an artist, of course, I'm not going to be especially impressed with what empiricists reject. Don't get me wrong, I have much respect for the empirical thought process, and I try to empty it, often. But I also have a lot of experience with using other methods of determining the 'truthfulness' of human thought and perception in relation to our experience of being, and have found them valuable, as well.

There are lots of different kinds of 'truth', besides 'objective truth'. And some of them are MORE valuable to us than objective truth. It's important that people who tend to favor empiricism, implicitly, understand this.

Applied kinesiology, aromatherapy, astrology, aura-cleansing, colonic hydrotherapy, color therapy, dowsing, dream-reading, ear candling, feng shui, homeopathy, levitation, magnetic therapy, numerology, prayer, psychokinesis, rebirthing, reflexology, reiki, rolfing, spirit-channeling, spiritualism, tarot-reading

With that list in mind, I have four questions for you, Pure.

1) Would you outlaw clinical trials of dangerous medicines, and extensive testing of aircraft, vehicles, electrical appliances and building materials?
2) Given your answer to 1), what additional information do you believe clinical trials can offer us about the claims above that direct personal experience cannot?
3) Which of the 'tools in the toolbox' I listed above are you confident are ineffective and why?
4) Does the number of useless tools in the toolbox listed above suggest something about the accuracy of subjective personal experience?

I would not consult the Bible for the wisdom necessary to repair my car. I would not consult my car's manual for help in overcoming some profound grief. The effectiveness of the 'tools' we use, physical or intellectual, depend on the goal to which we seek to employ them. Empiricism is a very effective tool for testing our presumptions about the nature of reality and truth. But it's not the only effective tool. And it's not effective at testing all of our presumptions about reality and truth. In fact, not all of our presumptions about reality and truth warrant testing before adopting them. Some of them are created as a part of the act of faith, and hope, and cannot be tested except by moving forward.
RuvDraba
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7/2/2016 10:25:35 PM
Posted: 5 months ago
At 7/2/2016 7:05:44 PM, PureX wrote:
Most humans "knew" that the Earth was a flattened disc. And yet all along it was not.
That's correct. What humans surmised to be knowledge was highly subjective because it derived from intuition, language and logic -- i.e. philosophy, and intuition and language are unreliable, and logic alone doesn't detect or correct that.

Humans have abandoned that definition because the subjectivity made it unreliable -- and worse, unable to detect or amend its own ignorance and error. Nobody now asks a philosopher whether a drug is safe for a pregnant mother to take: they consult empirical data compiled by people trained to remove subjectivity and conjecture from the process -- or else to identify it honestly and transparently.

I am making the distinction between what we 'know', and what we 'surmise' from what we know.
An empiricist says the distinction resides in what can be reliably observed. Conjecture is what is expected to occur. Fact is what can be observed to occur, and knowledge is what can be reliably predicted to occur.

I think knowledge is measured by specific, accurate prediction
when I read a book, I come to know, through personal experience, what the books says. That is knowledge.
Yes, and you can test it by handing the book to someone else, and accurately predicting what they'll read. If a book changed its words between one reading and another -- or you were incapable of recalling them faithfully -- then what you'd have would not be knowledge but merely a subjective personal experience that couldn't be reliably reproduced. And fellow readers would rightly say: you don't know what's in that book.

Empiricists can become just as dogmatic when they ignore the other tools in the tool box.
I'm going to list some popular tools in peoples' toolboxes that, based on clinical studies, empiricists tend to reject as not meeting key claims in any significant way:

As an artist, of course, I'm not going to be especially impressed with what empiricists reject.
I'm an artist too, Pure: I produce fiction and music. There's nothing in science that precludes art from having impact and being effective, but there's a great deal in science that shows art is not reliably predictive or always factually accurate -- only entertaining, inspirational and provocative.

There are lots of different kinds of 'truth', besides 'objective truth'.
There are lots of self-interested psychological and political excuses to blur distinct meanings by misappropriating words. But art can talk about authenticity or verisimilitude. It doesn't have to insist on claiming equivalent 'truth', or conflate the experience of acquiring experience with the process of acquiring knowledge.

Applied kinesiology, aromatherapy, astrology, aura-cleansing, colonic hydrotherapy, color therapy, dowsing, dream-reading, ear candling, feng shui, homeopathy, levitation, magnetic therapy, numerology, prayer, psychokinesis, rebirthing, reflexology, reiki, rolfing, spirit-channeling, spiritualism, tarot-reading

I have four questions for you, Pure.

1) Would you outlaw clinical trials of dangerous medicines, and extensive testing of aircraft, vehicles, electrical appliances and building materials?
2) Given your answer to 1), what additional information do you believe clinical trials can offer us about the claims above that direct personal experience cannot?
3) Which of the 'tools in the toolbox' I listed above are you confident are ineffective and why?
4) Does the number of useless tools in the toolbox listed above suggest something about the accuracy of subjective personal experience?

I would not consult the Bible for the wisdom necessary to repair my car. I would not consult my car's manual for help in overcoming some profound grief.
I understand that you evaded directly answering these questions, Pure, but instead sought to make other points. Would you like to answer them first before making the other points? If not, I shall take your evasion to be a concession on the importance of empiricism in compensating for the systematic vanity, ignorance and error of subjectivity when establishing truth and knowledge.

You could then argue the point you tried to skip to: that subjectivity remains valuable both psychologically and socially, and as an artist myself, I would agree, while stipulating that art has no claim to words like truth or knowledge that already have critical uses with respect to accuracy, transparency and public accountability and that therefore must not be confused and abused.

And I could then concede that art has every right to use other words for authenticity, verisimilitude, creative insight and inspirational or provocative conjecture, and opine that as long as these meanings are respected but separate, and not treated as equivalent or identical, all will be well. :)
Skyangel
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7/2/2016 11:44:43 PM
Posted: 5 months ago
At 6/30/2016 5:16:57 AM, RuvDraba wrote:

It's linked to a lot of issues that come up about evolution, but also more broadly: to how science can claim to know the history of things that humans have never directly, personally seen, using mechanisms almost impossible to directly observe. And it's linked to why at the same time, empiricists like myself may dismiss other ideas claimed by religion and traditional belief, which are also not directly, personally seen.

Hi Ruv,
Am I correct to presume that as an empiricist you believe that knowledge primarily comes from sensory experience?

It's linked to faith: whether faith in a process is the same as faith in a testimony.

Am I correct to presume that your definition of faith is about placing ones trust and confidence in something as opposed to questioning it and being skeptical about it?

It's linked to what we call truth, and what we call proof, how those things have changed, and why they changed.

How do you define 'Truth' and how do you decide what is true, when something that can appear to be true/correct to one observer might appear to be false/ incorrect to another?
Skyangel
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7/2/2016 11:47:25 PM
Posted: 5 months ago
At 6/30/2016 5:16:57 AM, RuvDraba wrote:

And it's linked to a problem I see in a lot of the Religion vs Science wars we see on this site: the problem that when people are arguing over truth, knowledge, proof and faith, they're often talking about very different meanings of those words unbeknown.

What in your perception are the different meanings?
Skyangel
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7/3/2016 12:14:16 AM
Posted: 5 months ago
At 6/30/2016 5:16:57 AM, RuvDraba wrote:

I should say from the outset that while I have no use for religion myself and am often critical of it, this is not meant to be an anti-religious thread. Religious thought is traditional thought: ordinary human thought, living your every day life thought.

By that definition of 'religious thought', you seem to be implying that atheists, as well as theists use religious thought in their everyday lives. Is that what you meant to convey or are you only referring to the every day thinking process of religious people?

It's scientific thought that's weird. However, scientific thought is also the thought we now depend on in industry, commerce and civics, even though its paradigm is only a few centuries old. It can be found everywhere today: in medicine, engineering, accounting, journalism, law, policing, manufacturing, education, public policy. It has gotten so familiar, we don't notice we're using it. But as civilisations go, it's still very new: people are using it without fully understanding what it is they're using, it's actually at odds with the way we prefer to think, and that can produce some shocks and unpleasant surprises.

Are you referring to the 'scientific method' as scientific thought?
Personally I don't think there is any point in describing human thoughts as religious or scientific or anything else. I think human thought is 'weird' or 'mysterious' due to being a very personal and subjective thing in which every individual filters what they experience through their individual logic, reasoning and inbuilt natural instincts.
It seems to me that professional people are trained to think in whatever way they do, especially in professions where they need to go through certain 'methods' of actions to arrive at a particular end result. Such 'methods' become second nature to people who go through the same 'steps' every day and they end up automatically going through the process without even thinking about their own thinking process.

I will use a cooking analogy, I compare thoughts to the ingredients and the thinking process to the "cooking method" . Food for thought is about taking the ingredients, ideas, concepts before you and going through the method of putting them together in a certain way to end up with a desired result. The end result depends entirely on what ingredients you mix together and what method you use in the "cooking process" As in cooking, you can easily end up with totally different things even when using the same ingredients.
Skyangel
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7/3/2016 12:54:09 AM
Posted: 5 months ago
At 6/30/2016 7:37:57 AM, RuvDraba wrote:
At 6/30/2016 5:16:57 AM, RuvDraba wrote:
1) If science is about knowledge from observation, why does science pronounce so confidently on events people have never seen?

1. Prediction, Meaning and the Crystal Ball
1a) Knowledge as Accurate Prediction

That crystal ball is how science treats knowledge. To science, all knowledge is measured by precise, accurate prediction. It's not who says it, or how venerated the ideas are, or how white their lab-coat, or many humming machines with blinkenlights they have. It's simply this test: when you put them in a dark room with only raw observational data and no 'phone a friend', how much buried pirate treasure can they find -- in other words, how much specific, new, surprising information do they predict right?

How do you know if the prediction is right or wrong in the first place if it is a prediction about MIGHT have happened billions of years ago? It's not like you can reproduce what MIGHT have happened to make it happen again?
I will use the food analogy again. You need certain ingredients to make a cake. With the right ingredients and right mixture you can make the same cake over and over and over again and know that those ingredients and a certain method is necessary for a certain outcome.
The universe is like 'the cake' but it seems that science has no clue what ingredients made 'the cake' and cannot reproduce another 'cake' using the same ingredients because all the ingredients are already in use in the 'original cake' and there are no ingredients left over due to ALL being in the universe which is defined as "all existing matter and space considered as a whole"

Does it matter how they produced it?

Only to people who wish to produce or reproduce the same thing. Not to anyone who doesn't care how something is produced manufactured or created.

In a practical sense, it doesn't. If the information is right, and it really did come from a dark room with raw data and no outside help, then it's right, no matter how you produced it.

How do you determine IF the information is right in the first place? All information from one person to another comes from human minds through human interaction. The information is what it is. It is neither right nor wrong until some person judges it as right or wrong. Right and wrong are a matter of subjective human perception.
Skyangel
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7/3/2016 1:51:21 AM
Posted: 5 months ago
At 6/30/2016 7:37:57 AM, RuvDraba wrote:

You know something, you can demonstrate you know it, so how you know it is of secondary importance.

We cannot always demonstrate that we know something. EG...I know I have a conscience but I have no clue how to demonstrate to anyone that I know I have a conscience. They either take my word for it or they don't. I cannot even prove I have a conscience because my personal conscience is abstract and invisible and I doubt anyone but me can experience my personal conscience.
I know I have one because of how it affects me and makes me feel. I can only presume others have one too but sometimes I question whether they do or not when I hear or see the way some people behave. It seems to me that even if all people do experience a conscience of some sort, not all have the same standards when it comes to what they perceive as right and wrong. What seems to make some people feel bad or guilty about some act does not seem to cause the same reaction in everyone.

So if you can predict where dinosaur bones will be found with (say) thirty percent more accuracy than random chance, then you know something about how dinosaurs lived and died, even though you never saw one in the wild. You might not know everything, and what you believe might be partly wrong, but you still know more than someone who hasn't a clue where to find dinosaur bones. Likewise, if you can accurately predict something new and surprising about what happens when the sun passes in front of a star in the middle of an eclipse, then you know something about light that nobody else knows. It might not be perfect, and you mightn't know all of it, but you know something -- it's knowledge.

Any human observation teaches us something, even if we are led astray by our own observations and don't even realise it till another time.

The takeaway point here is this: In science, knowledge is accurate prediction. The only way to verify knowledge in science is to predict specific, significant new discoveries, and routinely get it more right than random chance. And the better you do that, the more you can claim to know -- as long as everything you claim is tested with prediction.

But in another sense, it does matter how you produced the prediction. Science needs to check that you didn't cheat, but also needs to understand why some predictions go wrong so it can improve them -- so your methods need to be fully transparent.

Science cannot check that people do not cheat. Science is a study of nature. A study of nature is irrelevant to checking whether people cheat or not. A study of human nature would lead us to conclude that cheating and manipulation is part of human nature. People do it to try to benefit themselves. Humans tend to keep tabs on each other regarding honesty or cheating. They either believe each other or suspect each other of cheating if they lack trust in each other. If they have suspicions they will make accusations.
Not all people are as honest as they appear to be. Con artists join together in their cheating to cheat other people for their own benefit and profit. Not all people who are perceived to be con artists by others even realise they are perceived that way. Some see themselves as perfectly honest people and don't even seem to realise they are or could be deceiving themselves.

So the short answer: science pronounces confidently on events it hasn't seen when it can accurately predict an awful lot of specific, significant correlated information about those events. So it's not only accurately finding pirate treasure 98% of the time, it's accurately predicting the dates on the coins, the name of the ship, how it was built and what port it left from.

Dates on coins can be read. If the dates have worn off, you only need to know when that shape coin was produced and by what country to be able to predict the approx time it was in circulation. In that case the prediction is based on prior information which has been learned. The same with ship names etc. One needs to have learned the prior information to know what to look for. In that case I would not call their 'confident assertions' predictions but rather simply a conclusion based on prior knowledge and information.
However, if their prior knowledge and information is incorrect, their whole confident assertions would also be incorrect. They would only APPEAR to be correct because the prior information APPEARED to be correct.

As for how it actually produces that information, it's done by a huge amount of studying what can be observed directly, and correlating it with what can be observed indirectly, then making and testing predictions from that. The big difference between this approach and ordinary subjective thought is just how pedantic it is, how many predictions you're forced to make, and how hard scientists will test to prove you wrong.

So please explain to me how science ends up IMPLYING that once upon a time humans did not exist.
If we begin with the direct observation that humans come only from humans and logically every human has two human parents, whether there is any evidence of their parents or not as in the case of orphans and abandoned children. It seems only logical to believe every humans had human parents, even if no parents can ever be found.
Science seems to IMPLY that if no evidence of human parents can be found, then the human parents did not exist and the humans must have come from something which was not human.

Such reasoning is totally illogical to my mind and that is the kind of reasoning which is suggested in the theory of evolution which IMPLIES that all living things came from the same original source.
I simply can't see how that would be possible. Therefore I cannot believe it no matter how hard I try to believe such a thing. To me the concept of all life coming from the same single source will always be a fantasy regardless of whether it is the religious concept of all things coming from God or the scientific concept of all things arising from the same singularity.
Skyangel
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7/3/2016 2:29:03 AM
Posted: 5 months ago
At 6/30/2016 7:37:57 AM, RuvDraba wrote:

Nowadays, knowledge as accurate prediction is not just in science. it's also in industry, commerce, civics, politics. Industry predicts wokplace accident rates and product failure; commerce predicts profits; civics predict demography; politics predict budget surpluses and deficits. Scientific success has persuaded society to accept prediction as the gold standard of knowledge.

Gamblers also like to predict their winnings. However, most lose more than they win. The real winners are those who create the games and charge others to play them.
People take many risks through life and some gamble with their own lives, selling themselves out, or selling themselves short.

However, scientific thought also did something else: it distanced itself from knowledge as sense-making by adopting a principle from the philosopher Aristotle called tabula rasa: assume you know nothing. The Royal Society of the UK -- perhaps the oldest science society in the world -- adopted the motto Nullius in Verba -- take nobody's word for it. It means the same thing: abandon knowledge as sense-making and follow the observations instead.

No wonder people get lost. Abandoning one aspect of the mind and following another can be very misleading, especially when people are observing illusions and are unaware that they are illusions. The eyes can play tricks on the mind. The forces of nature and light can cause humans to see things like mirages, delusions, illusions, visions, etc.
I think it is foolish to abandon any aspect of the mind and what we learn, know and experience.
I think we need to embrace all aspects and learn about our own minds and how they work to create what we perceive and believe to be the reality in which we live.
I think we can question everything without abandoning anything.

However, human thought likes its subjectivity, and doesn't do that easily or happily. Our psychologies and societies are built on making sense of the world from our myths and traditions. For example, most societies believe themselves good. So whenever they are cruel or unjust, it's generally interpreted as a mistake from misinformation, or one bad apple -- it's seldom blamed on the beliefs of society itself.

Subjectivity is part of human nature. I doubt any of us can be totally objective about anything since everything we experience is subject to the personal interpretation of our individual minds. Good and bad, right and wrong, etc will always be subjective due to being subject to human perception and interpretation and preconceived beliefs which are taught to us by the cultures and traditions we are born into or which we choose to adopt.
What we believe and choose to believe about what is presented to us is subject to our relationship and preconceived ideas in relationship to whatever we face.
Skyangel
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7/3/2016 3:54:41 AM
Posted: 5 months ago
At 6/30/2016 8:23:16 AM, RuvDraba wrote:

1) How do you view knowledge? In your mind, what differentiates knowledge (if anything) from a belief or a cherished conviction?

I personally view knowledge as being a collection of facts which we have acquired through observation, experience, trial and error, and simply interacting with the nature and the world around us.
I think knowledge is different from belief or cherished conviction because knowing something is about understanding it and grasping how and why it works the way it does.

Belief or conviction can be an acceptance of a concept without really understanding or grasping what's behind the concept.

However, I don't think anyone can have any convictions or beliefs at all without some type of knowledge.
Even children who believe in mythical characters base their belief in the things which are taught to them by adults. Their belief is therefore based on the knowledge they have gained but is also a belief in a fantasy due to not knowing or understanding the difference between fantasy and reality.

I think belief or conviction can therefore be based on knowledge but people can be unaware that what they think is real is actually mythical.
It seems to me that people believe what they trust to be true and real till such a time as they are convinced it is not true or real.

2) Before this thread, were you aware that science views knowledge differently from social tradition (not just religion but pretty much all social traditions everywhere)?

I am aware that science has its own vocabulary and uses different meanings for words. If you don't know the 'lingo' you are as lost as an alien in a foreign country.

3) Does the post above clarify anything for you?

Only that you perceive people in different areas of expertise to have different ways of thinking and knowing. You also seem to think your way of thinking and knowing is the best but do you realise that all people think the same about their way of thinking?

4) Does it shed light on any of the hostilities we sometimes see in science/secularism vs religion debates?

The fact that all people think and perceive things differently in their own unique ways ought to shed a lot of light on human conflict due to misunderstanding each other or not understanding the way others think and perceive.

5) If so, what if anything can we do about that to make such conversations more respectful and constructive?

The knowledge that anything can be perceived in totally opposite ways by different people ought to help in understanding opposite perspectives. I think we should make an effort to embrace and understand opposite perspectives and comprehend why 'one mans trash is anothers treasure' or what seems good to one might seem bad or evil to someone else.
However, I doubt anything can be done about opposite perspectives and human perceptions. Opposites will always exist and respect is a matter of perception.

One person might believe that respect is about 'telling it like it is ' in their mind or 'calling a spade a spade' without whitewashing anything.
Another might not see that as respectful but prefer to have things whitewashed before they perceive it to be respectful.
It all depends on how you perceive respectfulness online when all you have to determine such an attitude are the words in front of you.
Readers can perceive different attitudes through written words than the writer is actually attempting to convey. It all depends on the readers state of mind at the time.
RuvDraba
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7/3/2016 4:05:07 AM
Posted: 5 months ago
At 7/2/2016 11:44:43 PM, Skyangel wrote:
At 6/30/2016 5:16:57 AM, RuvDraba wrote:
Hi Ruv,

Hi Sky. Welcome, and I'm glad you can participate! As you know we've accumulated many posts in this thread already, and I can see you've already responded to five of mine. I'll reply to this one first since it contains background information, but will then read all your posts together, and try to consolidate my responses.

Am I correct to presume that as an empiricist you believe that knowledge primarily comes from sensory experience?
Yes, but I think we need to be clear about knowledge first.

In knowledge I think we seek a name for the ability to predict events accurately. Predicting events accurately is key to making effective decisions, and key to why we want knowledge in the first place. So that's my definition of knowledge: knowledge is the ability to predict specific, significant events accurately. That hasn't always been the definition of knowledge we had, but it's the meaning we generally intend now.

So, assuming we agree that's what knowledge shall mean, I believe that accurate prediction of significant, specific events comes primarily from sensory experience.

That's not an assumption or blind faith: anyone is free to show a stream of significant, specific, accurate predictions reliably coming from information that could not possibly be experienced through any known sense. As long as they can be independently verified, I'm happy to either recant my position or else expand the range of senses I'll recognise.

It's linked to faith: whether faith in a process is the same as faith in a testimony.
Am I correct to presume that your definition of faith is about placing ones trust and confidence in something as opposed to questioning it and being skeptical about it?
Sort-of. Let's say that faith is measured by a belief you act on at risk to your interests. You may still be skeptical when you act, but when you're putting skin in the game anyway, you show faith that your belief is true.

It's linked to what we call truth, and what we call proof, how those things have changed, and why they changed.
How do you define 'Truth'
Since knowledge is meant to be reliable, but can be emergent, truth has to be accurate about knowledge, or else there's terrible confusion.

So let's say that truth is information accurate about its knowledge. That's a bit of a swap: people sometimes say knowledge comes from truth, but here I'm saying truth comes from knowledge. Let me give two examples.

A) "Jenny ate the last slice of cake" is true if "I saw Jenny eat the last slice of cake" is accurate. It is false if "I saw Harry eat the last slice of cake" is accurate. It is a conjecture if nobody saw who ate the last slice of cake: it might be true, or false, unknown or even unknowable.

B) 1 + 1 = 2 is true if it's true that "There is a well-defined procedure called + operating on the number strong>1, and it is competently observed that under this procedure, 1 + 1 consistently evaluates to 2"

So when I offer you information based on my knowledge, we'll call that information true if I can tell you how I know it, and if my knowledge itself is proven reliable through confirmed prediction. It's false if knowledge contradicting mine is reliable. It may be neither if there is no knowledge to verify my information.

how do you decide what is true, when something that can appear to be true/correct to one observer might appear to be false/ incorrect to another?
Our knowledge has to be compiled competently, diligently, accountably and transparently. When we observe Jenny eating the cake, we need to be sure beyond reasonable doubt that it really is Jenny, that what she's eating is cake, that it really is the last slice, and take note of when, where and how she ate it. And our relevant prediction is that nobody else ate the cake, and we can verify that by working out where everyone else was then, and what they were doing.

Now, if Jenny has an identical twin Jane, we might know that one of the twins ate the last slice of cake but not which one. Perhaps we think she wore Jenny's clothes and might therefore be Jenny, but we need to say that's still a conjecture until we do more diligence on the observation.

I hope that's a sound enough basis for understanding empiricism. More after I've read your other posts. :)
Skyangel
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7/3/2016 6:19:44 AM
Posted: 5 months ago
At 6/30/2016 6:54:22 PM, RuvDraba wrote:

But subjectivity doesn't meet the standard of repeatable accuracy anyone can use anywhere. It's biased, blind, ignorant, self-satisfied, vain, sloppy and paraconsistent, and because it's more tactical than strategic, it's happy to live with its own inadequacy. :)

So tactical, subjective thought is really the default kind of human and social thought. It's also the thought scientists had to try and systematically leave behind. As I mentioned two posts ago, tabula rasa -- abandoning personal preconceptions -- is the first step in doing that.

I very much doubt that any person can totally abandon personal preconceptions, especially when those preconceptions are part of the subconscious mind and cause people to perceive things the way they do as well as create subconscious biases in the first place.
As long as part of the human mind is subjective, humans will never be totally objective about themselves or anything else. We are all biased toward our own individual way of thinking, whether we trained ourselves that way or others trained us to think the way we do. Therefore our thinking is subject to our training and that makes it subjective.

But by itself it's not enough. Even if you strive to 'blank out' hopes and expectations and assumed knowledge when observing, how can you be sure you've done so? And even supposing you manage it, your observations are still influenced by your choice of what to observe when -- so you may overlook important information. And when you dream of making your name with a great result, can how you set up observations and experiments be trusted to be impartial? And all observation itself has inaccuracies, so the way you keep and discard data itself may be informed by subjective biases. And if the gold standard of knowledge is accurate prediction, can one scientist alone be trusted to decide how accurate is accurate enough? Finally, our senses themselves may be subject to systematic biases we know nothing about.

Exactly. People are generally unaware of their own subconscious motives and standards and what effect the subsconscious has on the conscious mind.

So scientists don't claim objectivity so much as aspire to it. And they're in a constant battle against their physical and psychological selves, their instruments, standards and methods to produce more objectivity. So how do they know how well they're doing?

I doubt any person can know how well they are doing when it comes to being objective since personal objectivity is a subjective human judgement. Human judgement is always subjective since it is subject to the human mind and its perceptions. It is impossible to measure objectivity since the measurement itself is relative to what you are comparing it to and therefore subject to that measuring device.

What people have done is invent measuring equipment and agreed that their standards of measurement are an objective measure by which to compare whatever they are measuring. However that makes all measurements subjective since they are subject to the instruments with which they are being measured.

People who understand they are subjective creatures have no need to battle against their subjectivity and try to overcome it. In my mind it is as foolish as trying to overcome your own humanity. You might as well be trying to be a Vulcan.
http://milkandcookiesblog.com...
Disregard human emotion and intuition and just become a programmed robot who uses only the method which he is programmed to use to compute any information because he cannot think in any other way than what has been programmed into it by some 'scientific method' which appears to be the 'bees knees' to those who are trained to think that way.
Skyangel
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7/3/2016 6:51:31 AM
Posted: 5 months ago
At 6/30/2016 6:54:22 PM, RuvDraba wrote:

Whatever objective truth might be, it has to uphold certain properties,namely, it has to: persist, be consistent both with itself and with everything else predicted and observed, and yield the same measures, no matter who is observing, or the methods used to observe it.

All things are consistent with themselves since they are what they are regardless of what humans observe, think, predict or conclude about them.

So key to detecting subjectivity are repetition, exhaustion and correlation: ensuring that what you observe is consistent and repeatable across multiple tools and methods, that you observe at every critical point in the mechanism, that it meets best expectation of accuracy, correlates with everything predicted and observed, and that there are no gaps or conflicts in observation that might indicate a hole in knowledge, a modelling error, or an untested assumption. These are all key methodological criteria.

I find it ironic and quite humorous that a subjective person goes to all that effort to detect subjectivity. Human observation is always subjective since it depends on how peoples minds interpret what goes through their senses of sight, sound, touch, etc.

But scientists spend most of their professional lives in lonely laboratories, working on intractable problems hardly anyone understands, and failing to make headway for years. That's the gig, and the harsh reality bites as soon as a young scientist begins doctoral research -- typically in their early 20s when their character and life-skills still haven't fully formed yet. Years of failing day after day can be stressful and frustrating, and we know from psychology that stressed, frustrated humans working alone cheat their lying faces off. :) So science needs psychosocial measures to keep scientists' chins up, keep them brave, resilient and mentally agile, keep them scrupulously honest, keep them from kidding themselves that they're making progress when they're not, and weed out the scientists who don't have the patience and resilience, and want to cut corners when nobody's looking.

As it happens, those measures are pretty much all built around hunter-gatherer tribal honour. :D The science culture is a Death before Dishonour culture, and you don't last long as a scientist if you don't want to live by the code. :)

Live by the scientific method or be rejected from the community. It sounds like exactly the same concept found in religion... Live by the principles of "X" religion or be rejected or disfellowshipped by "X" religion as a wicked unbeliever because you refuse to conform to the rules and set standards and ways of thinking.
It is basically "Conform or leave" It seems to apply to most birds of a feather which flock together as they reject any non conforming birds or the birds leave of their own accord due to not wanting to be tarred with the same brush as all the rest.

We talk a lot about peer review in the Science forum, and that's certainly part of it: to claim a result, scientists have to publish in a peer-reviewed journal, where anonymous experts chosen by the editor get to review rationale, methods, data, results, and how it's communicated. If they have any objections, the paper is sent back to the author for corrections -- or sometimes rejected entirely. In respected journals, having a result published can take years, the rejection rate is high, and this is a key quality control. To a scientist, getting published in Nature is a bit like getting an Emmy nomination -- it's a big deal.

But psychosocial quality controls begin with candidate selection and training, which happens late in undergraduate degrees. Young scientists are trained by mentoring, the mentor's reputation is at stake, so you want students you can trust. So young scientists quickly learn that at every step, the tribe is watching and criticising you, and hiding information from the tribe is furtive and dishonourable. So nobody wants to be a guy the tribe gossips about or expels -- that's a fate worse than death.

So in any flock, the trainees soon learn to obey the rules or get thrown out. The rules are ultimate authority no matter what the profession.
Skyangel
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7/3/2016 7:11:31 AM
Posted: 5 months ago
At 7/1/2016 2:28:40 PM, PureX wrote:

Maybe we humans are entering a new realm of existence wherein ideologies compete for dominion through their effect on their holders. If that is so, science may be in more trouble than it realizes. Because as the poet Charles Bukowsky said; "The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence."


That made me giggle since we just went through an election campaign where our Aussie leaders portray this air of confidence that they will win and never let on to the media that they have any doubts at all.

What happens when people are confident of their doubts and doubtful of their confidence?

Wisdom and foolishness are merely opposite aspects of the same human nature.
When we understand opposite sides are needed to make something whole, we don't attempt to get rid of one opposite in favour of the other.
Those who do that, tend to become unbalanced.
PureX
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7/3/2016 4:08:35 PM
Posted: 5 months ago
At 7/2/2016 10:25:35 PM, RuvDraba wrote:
At 7/2/2016 7:05:44 PM, PureX wrote:
Most humans "knew" that the Earth was a flattened disc. And yet all along it was not.
That's correct. What humans surmised to be knowledge was highly subjective because it derived from intuition, language and logic -- i.e. philosophy, and intuition and language are unreliable, and logic alone doesn't detect or correct that.

Reliability is not the only criteria for knowledge value, or for truthfulness.

Humans have abandoned that definition because the subjectivity made it unreliable -- and worse, unable to detect or amend its own ignorance and error. Nobody now asks a philosopher whether a drug is safe for a pregnant mother to take: they consult empirical data compiled by people trained to remove subjectivity and conjecture from the process -- or else to identify it honestly and transparently.

Yeah, nobody asks scientists to tell us when when something is beautiful, either. You keep applying apples to oranges and assuming that the failure of integration that results is supposed to mean something other than that you misapplied one to the other.

I am making the distinction between what we 'know', and what we 'surmise' from what we know.
An empiricist says the distinction resides in what can be reliably observed. Conjecture is what is expected to occur. Fact is what can be observed to occur, and knowledge is what can be reliably predicted to occur.

OK, but the empiricists don't get to define the human thought process for all humanity. Nor will al humanity follow their definition. So beyond themselves, I don't see the significance.

I think knowledge is measured by specific, accurate prediction
when I read a book, I come to know, through personal experience, what the books says. That is knowledge.
Yes, and you can test it by handing the book to someone else, and accurately predicting what they'll read. If a book changed its words between one reading and another -- or you were incapable of recalling them faithfully -- then what you'd have would not be knowledge but merely a subjective personal experience that couldn't be reliably reproduced. And fellow readers would rightly say: you don't know what's in that book.

That's nonsense, and you know it. :)

Empiricists can become just as dogmatic when they ignore the other tools in the tool box.
I'm going to list some popular tools in peoples' toolboxes that, based on clinical studies, empiricists tend to reject as not meeting key claims in any significant way:

As an artist, of course, I'm not going to be especially impressed with what empiricists reject.
I'm an artist too, Pure: I produce fiction and music. There's nothing in science that precludes art from having impact and being effective, but there's a great deal in science that shows art is not reliably predictive or always factually accurate -- only entertaining, inspirational and provocative.

No one cares that art is not "reliably predictive" because reliable prediction is not the be-all and end-all of human knowledge, wisdom, life, or truth.

There are lots of different kinds of 'truth', besides 'objective truth'.
There are lots of self-interested psychological and political excuses to blur distinct meanings by misappropriating words. But art can talk about authenticity or verisimilitude. It doesn't have to insist on claiming equivalent 'truth', or conflate the experience of acquiring experience with the process of acquiring knowledge.

We don't "acquire experiences". We acquire knowledge from our experiences. Then we assimilate that knowledge into our reality/truth paradigms by various methods; empiricism being one of them.

Applied kinesiology, aromatherapy, astrology, aura-cleansing, colonic hydrotherapy, color therapy, dowsing, dream-reading, ear candling, feng shui, homeopathy, levitation, magnetic therapy, numerology, prayer, psychokinesis, rebirthing, reflexology, reiki, rolfing, spirit-channeling, spiritualism, tarot-reading

I have four questions for you, Pure.

1) Would you outlaw clinical trials of dangerous medicines, and extensive testing of aircraft, vehicles, electrical appliances and building materials?
2) Given your answer to 1), what additional information do you believe clinical trials can offer us about the claims above that direct personal experience cannot?
3) Which of the 'tools in the toolbox' I listed above are you confident are ineffective and why?
4) Does the number of useless tools in the toolbox listed above suggest something about the accuracy of subjective personal experience?

I would not consult the Bible for the wisdom necessary to repair my car. I would not consult my car's manual for help in overcoming some profound grief.
I understand that you evaded directly answering these questions, Pure, but instead sought to make other points. Would you like to answer them first before making the other points? If not, I shall take your evasion to be a concession on the importance of empiricism in compensating for the systematic vanity, ignorance and error of subjectivity when establishing truth and knowledge.

I evaded the questions because you were once again applying apples to oranges. So instead, I explained why I don't apply apples to oranges. And the explanation stands. You can take it however you choose. Of course.

You could then argue the point you tried to skip to: that subjectivity remains valuable both psychologically and socially, and as an artist myself, I would agree, while stipulating that art has no claim to words like truth or knowledge that already have critical uses with respect to accuracy, transparency and public accountability and that therefore must not be confused and abused.

Art can express reality and truth apart from the constraints of predictability, and of logic, and of conventional expectations. That's what makes it so important to us, and so valuable.

And I could then concede that art has every right to use other words for authenticity, verisimilitude, creative insight and inspirational or provocative conjecture, and opine that as long as these meanings are respected but separate, and not treated as equivalent or identical, all will be well. :)

Just as you have to set your 'empiricism' aside to make and appreciate art, you should then be able to understand and appreciate that people may do the same in their practice of religion. Applying empiricism to religion is like applying it to art. It's "apples to oranges", again. This is the fatal mistake that nearly every atheist I've ever met, makes. And it's why almost no theist's paradigm has ever been changed by an atheist's empirical argument against it.
PureX
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7/3/2016 4:15:00 PM
Posted: 5 months ago
At 7/3/2016 7:11:31 AM, Skyangel wrote:
At 7/1/2016 2:28:40 PM, PureX wrote:

Maybe we humans are entering a new realm of existence wherein ideologies compete for dominion through their effect on their holders. If that is so, science may be in more trouble than it realizes. Because as the poet Charles Bukowsky said; "The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence."


That made me giggle since we just went through an election campaign where our Aussie leaders portray this air of confidence that they will win and never let on to the media that they have any doubts at all.

What happens when people are confident of their doubts and doubtful of their confidence?

Wisdom and foolishness are merely opposite aspects of the same human nature.
When we understand opposite sides are needed to make something whole, we don't attempt to get rid of one opposite in favour of the other.
Those who do that, tend to become unbalanced.

Unbalanced, yes, but unfortunately, often effective. While the wise man weighs the pros and cons, the fool just charges ahead. And unfortunately, he often catches the wise man unprepared.

This is why stupid people rule the world.