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Thread: Scientific knowledge

  1. #1
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    Default Scientific knowledge

    This is a bit of a challenge, but in the hope that it will stimulate a decent discussion and some introspection.

    "Science" is very fashionable these days, and the vague implication is that it gave us the microwave oven, the motor car ("auto"), a whole bunch of settled historical knowledge, and the knowledge of evolution.

    I'm wondering how aware folks are of where their knowledge or beliefs actually come from, and how "scientific" it really is, in the sense that they mean when they say "science tells us X".

    What prompted this is a comment on another thread to the effect that "faith is comforting and that's why it flourished in the past." I happen to think that's not particularly true, but whether it's true or not it strikes me as the kind of thing people are completely convinced of, and yet have virtually no foundation for - and they're likely to think that historical science is responsible for their idea.

    Another example is evolution. For the record, so as to forestall the usual "You're a right-wing redneck racist troglodyte who hates science because a fictional sky-person dictates your irrational ideas" crap from the usual suspects, I'm a Catholic, and the Catholic Church has no issue whatsoever with evolutionary science, only with the illogical and unfounded claim that evolution somehow affects the question of whether God exists. So I have no religious objection to evolutionary theory, and do not read Creationist or intelligent design materials, and never have. I'm not interested. I'm also not convinced that evolution is anything more than a hypothesis with very slim evidence supporting it, and I think its popularity owes more to the desire for something that will make religion redundant than it does to rational, considered, analysis based upon hard evidence.

    As GK Chesterton wrote so many years ago:

    "Most modern histories of mankind begin with the word evolution, and with a rather wordy exposition of evolution, for much the same reason that operated in this case. There is something slow and soothing and gradual about the word and even about the idea. As a matter of fact, it is not, touching these primary things, a very practical word or a very profitable idea. Nobody can imagine how nothing could turn into something. Nobody can get an inch nearer to it by explaining how something could turn into something else. It is really far more logical to start by saying 'In the beginning God created heaven and earth' even if you only mean 'In the beginning some unthinkable power began some unthinkable process.' For God is by its nature a name of mystery, and nobody ever supposed that man could imagine how a world was created any more than he could create one. But evolution really is mistaken for explanation. It has the fatal quality of leaving on many minds the impression that they do understand it and everything else; just as many of them live under a sort of illusion that they have read the Origin of Species."

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    Default Re: Scientific knowledge

    ..."I'm also not convinced that evolution is anything more than a hypothesis with very little evidence supporting it..."

    Gobbledygook!

    Evolution is reality based on tons of evidence. Your ignorance of that fact indicates that you should simply keep your ignorance to yourself rather than trying to spread it around here.

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    Default Re: Scientific knowledge

    Quote Originally Posted by Aquinian View Post
    This is a bit of a challenge,
    I read through twice, it was.
    We don't know how lucky we are....

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    Default Re: Scientific knowledge

    Did you ever read such a convoluted mess, Sean?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Glen Longino View Post
    Did you ever read such a convoluted mess, Sean?
    More often than I like to think about.


    Anyway, I wish humans would hurry up and evolve again

    https://www.theguardian.com/science/...ution-universe
    We don't know how lucky we are....

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    Default Re: Scientific knowledge

    Uh…………….

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    Quote Originally Posted by skuthorp View Post
    Uh…………….
    didnt you like the hypothosis with slim evidence supporting it?
    We don't know how lucky we are....

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    Default Re: Scientific knowledge

    Quote Originally Posted by Glen Longino View Post
    ..."I'm also not convinced that evolution is anything more than a hypothesis with very little evidence supporting it..."

    Gobbledygook!

    Evolution is reality based on tons of evidence. Your ignorance of that fact indicates that you should simply keep your ignorance to yourself rather than trying to spread it around here.
    Glen, I don't mind if evolution is proved. Indeed, quite the contrary, I'd be glad, as I'm glad when any new discovery is demonstrated.

    But so far we've not seen any real evidence for the core notion that one species developed into another. All we get is hierarchies of complexity, and the constant refrain that the less complex turned into the more complex, with nary a missing link in sight to show the transition, and of course no experimental data at all which would finally prove the theory.

    It's like being shown pictures of little boats, middle-sized boats, and big boats, then told that the little ones transformed themselves into the big ones by stages. Well, they might have, but you'd want to see the evidence, wouldn't you?

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    Default Re: Scientific knowledge

    Aquinian - I take it you haven't read Dawkin's great work - "The Selfish Gene". It explains with complete clarity the way we can get ever bigger boats, even though we only see little, middle sized and big boats.

    If you need a less challenging read, then try E B Schumacher's "A guide to the Perplexed", the first section is a brilliant synopsis that allows one to see why you might find "faith" comforting, the second section shows a definite loopiness in that he converts to Catholicism.

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    Default Re: Scientific knowledge

    ^Another one talking bollocks from a rock solid foundation of ignorance.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: Scientific knowledge

    Hang on, so in one thread you're attacking someone (Dawkins) for criticising experts in another area (theology) in which he lacks expert knowledge.

    In the other thread, you're attacking experts in another area (evolution) in which you lack expert knowledge. That sounds like a bet each way if ever I've heard one.

    As far as the "missing link" goes, have a look at the problems of finding fossils and the effect on the probability of finding them; there is no surprise at all that not every stage in the chain has fossil evidence. The mechanism of evolution is really quite simple; in fact it would be much more complicated to see how things could NOT evolve in some ways.

    As far as why I have faith in science, it's because I read about how knowledge of things like physics evolved. I'm also married to someone working in neuroscience and I've been a lab rat for her; I've seen the downloaded data and have a pretty good idea that it fits together pretty damn well. I don't know home someone can hang out with scientists and read about the way it evolved and works.

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    Default Re: Scientific knowledge

    Nick, that isn't the evolution of a species into another, it's the development of resistance to a hostile agent by a single species.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris249 View Post
    Hang on, so in one thread you're attacking someone (Dawkins) for criticising experts in another area (theology) in which he lacks expert knowledge.

    In the other thread, you're attacking experts in another area (evolution) in which you lack expert knowledge.
    I'm not attacking anybody, I'm saying I haven't been shown the evidence.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Foster Price View Post
    Aquinian - I take it you haven't read Dawkin's great work - "The Selfish Gene". It explains with complete clarity the way we can get ever bigger boats, even though we only see little, middle sized and big boats.
    Giving reasons why something is plausible is not the same as giving evidence that it happened.

    Quote Originally Posted by Foster Price View Post
    If you need a less challenging read, then try E B Schumacher's "A guide to the Perplexed", the first section is a brilliant synopsis that allows one to see why you might find "faith" comforting, the second section shows a definite loopiness in that he converts to Catholicism.


    The psychology of the people who claim that faith grew because it's comforting is strange, to say the least. A man converts to Christianity because he's impressed by witnessing a martyrdom, and in turn he holds fast and is martyred himself, and we are to believe he did this because any other course in life seemed uncomfortable. Really? No, this is something virile, definite, and based upon concrete experience, and it ain't about feeling good about oneself, it's about realistic people being convinced by heroic example.

    I haven't read Schumacher, so this isn't a comment on him, it's a comment on Glen's assertion on the other thread, that I repeated above in the OP.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aquinian View Post
    I'm not attacking anybody, I'm saying I haven't been shown the evidence.
    The evolutionary scientists say there's enough evidence, you're saying they are wrong in their life's work. Sounds like an intellectual attack.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aquinian View Post
    Nick, that isn't the evolution of a species into another, it's the development of resistance to a hostile agent by a single species.
    What part of "Evolution of bacteria" did you fail to understand?
    Evolution is a process of mutations being filtered by their environment to effect a change that allows the genes to survive and be passed on.
    It is happening at human scales all of the time. Mosquitoes and DDT, superbugs and antibiotics, resistance to HIV in Africa.

    You want bigger changes, you just have to wait a lot longer.

    You really should read Dawkins books, then you would not come across as such an ignoramus.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: Scientific knowledge

    "Round up the usual suspects!"

    I haven't the energy or inclination this morning to engage in the sophistry(mine included) these arguments almost always devolve into. I will say that science in general, evolutionary science in particular, is full of interesting and useful theories. They are good in their utility, if not always in their consequences.

    My problem enters in when science(and the faith arguments) - when either side of the fence inevitably becomes dogmatic about ultimate origins and hence our reason for being here. Both sides need some work on that. We simply don't know, and when someone is vehemently sure they do is when I find a hair in my soup.

    "The universe is not only stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine." J.B.S. Haldane
    So many questions, so little time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris249 View Post
    The evolutionary scientists say there's enough evidence, you're saying they are wrong in their life's work. Sounds like an intellectual attack.
    The philosophers said that reason proves the existence of God. You don't buy that on authority, why would I buy what a sub-set of biologists say on authority?

    I'm not attacking anybody, I'm saying I haven't been shown the evidence. And the longer this thread goes, the more obvious it will become that you rely solely​ on authority for your belief, as I already think is the case. In other words, it's a type of faith, what theologians call "human faith".

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    Quote Originally Posted by Peerie Maa View Post
    What part of "Evolution of bacteria" did you fail to understand?
    I didn't understand how the use of a particular term could substitute for evidence.


    Quote Originally Posted by Peerie Maa View Post
    Evolution is a process of mutations being filtered by their environment to effect a change that allows the genes to survive and be passed on.
    It is happening at human scales all of the time. Mosquitoes and DDT, superbugs and antibiotics, resistance to HIV in Africa.

    You want bigger changes, you just have to wait a lot longer.
    Nick, the theory is that the big changes already happened. What's the evidence?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aquinian View Post
    I didn't understand how the use of a particular term could substitute for evidence.




    Nick, the theory is that the big changes already happened. What's the evidence?
    Well, you are here, unless you are A (not very) I

    Please read the books, then come back. There is soo much evidence that it would take me a week to find online sources and link to them, and that would not be all of them.

    Here is one we debated a few years ago
    http://scienceblogs.com/grrlscientis...ve-of-the-gir/
    Last edited by Peerie Maa; 09-08-2017 at 06:45 AM.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me with full
    hands;
    How could I answer the child?. . . .I do not know what it
    is any more than he.

    I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful
    green stuff woven.

    Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
    A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropped,
    Bearing the owner's name someway in the corners, that we
    may see and remark, and say Whose?

    Or I guess the grass is itself a child. . . .the produced babe
    of the vegetation.

    Walt Whitman
    So many questions, so little time.

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    There's ignorance, willful ignorance, and vanilla dishonesty.

    https://www.stir.ac.uk/news/2017/08/...t-in-shetland/

    Take your pick.
    Someday, I'm going to settle down and be a grumpy old man.

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    ^ I once had some god botheres come to the door. The spokesman pointed to the grass of my front yard and said is that not evidence for God. The obvious reply is in that case god's pinnacle of creation will be the rabbit. Rabbits do nothing but eat grass and fornicate, paradise.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    A good funny, Nick! I guess maybe rabbits are whacko suicide bombers of a different stripe!
    So many questions, so little time.

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    Default Re: Scientific knowledge



    The Roman Catholic Church holds no official position regarding evolution and the individual Roman Catholic is free to either accept the science or not.


    On the other hand, Roman Catholic schools and universities teach evolution as part of their science curriculum. They teach the fact that evolution occurs and that the modern evolutionary synthesis is the scientific theory that explains how evolution proceeds. This is the same evolution curriculum that secular schools teach.


    That fact must really stick in Aquinian's craw. The problem is not being a god botherer but rather being determinedly ignorant.

    Deja Moo: The feeling that you have heard this bull before.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Aquinian View Post
    The philosophers said that reason proves the existence of God. You don't buy that on authority, why would I buy what a sub-set of biologists say on authority?

    I'm not attacking anybody, I'm saying I haven't been shown the evidence. And the longer this thread goes, the more obvious it will become that you rely solely​ on authority for your belief, as I already think is the case. In other words, it's a type of faith, what theologians call "human faith".
    Philosophy is not provable in the way science is, so they are fundamentally different. And I actually agreed that Dawkins should be more familiar with the theologians he is attacking. You are attacking (to use the term loosely) science from the same point of weakness that Dawkins is attacking theology. And not all philosophers agree on the existence of god by a long shot.

    I have already pointed out that I am not relying on authority. I am relying on actually talking science with scientists regularly, and seeing them at work and being part of their experiments. I can feel the instruments on my body; see the wiring; see the results on a screen or a printout, and I know what they are testing for. That is hardly relying on authority.

    I am also part of a family that has had two recent professors of philosophy, one of them a well known Catholic. What they do is very different from what scientists do. Scientists test their theories in the lab or in the real world. They do things like measure brainwaves and the colour of light. Such things are physical and testable and repeatable. They do not merely talk about their book learning, deductions and other intellectual constructs; they can physically test them. Bombarding a neutron reveals things that thinking about life cannot.
    Last edited by Chris249; 09-08-2017 at 07:12 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by P.I. Stazzer-Newt View Post
    There's ignorance, willful ignorance, and vanilla dishonesty.

    https://www.stir.ac.uk/news/2017/08/...t-in-shetland/

    Take your pick.
    Consider the Galapagos Islands
    The oldest islands in the Galapagos are South Plaza of 4.2 million years (+/- 1.8)
    and consider the diversity that has evolved in that time.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: Scientific knowledge

    "I'm not attacking anybody, I'm saying I haven't been shown the evidence. And the longer this thread goes, the more obvious it will become that you rely solely​ on authority for your belief, as I already think is the case. In other words, it's a type of faith, what theologians call "human faith"."

    Bingo! It boils down to what I have said before, when it comes down to base there is no actual common ground for the discussion to continue on. There is belief in a deity, or there's not. And the bolded phrase applies to both sides.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Montgomery View Post


    The Roman Catholic Church holds no official position regarding evolution and the individual Roman Catholic is free to either accept the science or not.


    On the other hand, Roman Catholic schools and universities teach evolution as part of their science curriculum. They teach the fact that evolution occurs and that the modern evolutionary synthesis is the scientific theory that explains how evolution proceeds. This is the same evolution curriculum that secular schools teach.


    That fact must really stick in Aquinian's craw. The problem is not being a god botherer but rather being determinedly ignorant.
    What I don't get so far in this thread are the attacks on Aquinian. To question is to further scientific understanding. What we know now is not what we will know in the future. So much of science is hypothesis.... best explination as to out understanding at this point in time. Yes?
    How much do we really understand?
    'Parallel universes DO exist': Multiple versions of us are living in alternate worlds that interact with each other, theory claims



    • The parallel worlds constantly influence one another, researchers claim
    • This is because, instead of a collapse in which quantum particles 'choose' to occupy one state or another, they in fact occupy both, simultaneously
    • The theory could resolve some of the irregularities in quantum mechanics
    • It states some worlds are almost identical to ours, but most are different
    • Theory may even create possibility of one day testing for these worlds


    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencete...#ixzz4s5HxDPvV


    Imagine a world where dinosaurs hadn't become extinct, Germany had won World War II and you were born in an entirely different country.
    These worlds could exist today in parallel universes, which constantly interact with each other, according to a group of US and Australian researchers.
    It may sound like science fiction, but the new theory could resolve some of the irregularities in quantum mechanics that have baffled scientists for centuries.





    If war is the answer........... it must be a profoundly stupid question

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    Default Re: Scientific knowledge

    Questioning in the process of scientific inquiry does indeed advance scientific understanding. Debates in the WBF Bilge do nothing to further scientific understanding.

    When one speaks of "something from nothing" in his critique of the theory of evolution by natural selection one is simply displaying his ignorance. Abiogenesis is something entire and separate from the theory of evolution.

    FYI evolution by natural selection is not a hypothesis. It is a theory. As is General Relativity.

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    Default Re: Scientific knowledge

    The alternatives to scientific knowledge makes me wanna eat worms for breakfast.
    Study Peace

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    None of the science skeptics actually have the courage of their convictions. None of them hesitates to engage the services of an M.D. or a hospital when they feel ill. They merely question the science that underlies modern medicine. In the hope of advancing scientific knowledge and all. Not that any of them are actual scientists.

    Deja Moo: The feeling that you have heard this bull before.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Montgomery View Post
    Questioning in the process of scientific inquiry does indeed advance scientific understanding. Debates in the WBF Bilge do nothing to further scientific understanding.

    When one speaks of "something from nothing" in his critique of the theory of evolution by natural selection one is simply displaying his ignorance. Abiogenesis is something entire and separate from the theory of evolution.

    FYI evolution by natural selection is not a hypothesis. It is a theory. As is General Relativity.
    That is Theory, with an uppercase "T".

    There are (by now at least) three hypotheses for how self replicating molecules arose.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aquinian View Post
    I'm not interested. I'm also not convinced that evolution is anything more than a hypothesis with very slim evidence supporting it, and I think its popularity owes more to the desire for something that will make religion redundant than it does to rational, considered, analysis based upon hard evidence.
    Yup, the two grand existential questions: 1) "Is evolution real?", and 2) "Does God exist?"

    I think MY problem is that I can be intellectually lazy; I don't find much of ANY appeal in desperately searching for answers to questions which, owing to their nature, will never be answered. No amount of navel-gazing will produce a satisfactory result that I can label as 'the truth'.

    One observation I could make, however, has to do with the justifications of both the faithful, and the evolutionists. Here, in the quote above, Aquinan suggests that evolutionary theory is supported by those who have an antipathy towards religion.....

    ...but he doesn't suggest, as may ALSO be true, that the faithful have antipathy toward evolution, because THEY perceive it as attacking the foundations of their faith.

    Personally, I don't really care about someone's religion... faith is a very personal thing, so if it fulfills and satisfies someone's psyche/soul/whatever, good for them. As for evolution, it's theory backed by observation, and intrinsically un-provable, so no one NEEDS to 'believe' in the theory.

    I have faith in the observations... and I don't need to have faith in the theory. It's just science.
    "Fact is that which enough people believe. Truth is determined by how fervently they believe it."
    --- Charles Pierce







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    Quote Originally Posted by Aquinian
    I'm... not convinced that evolution is anything more than a hypothesis with very slim evidence supporting it....
    Now really folks. How can a WBF Bilge debate trump that statement? You are all wasting your time debating him on this.

    I recommend that Aquinian head to his nearest Catholic high school or university, sit in on the biology class, and correct the instructor. He'll accomplish just as much as he is attempting to accomplish here.

    Deja Moo: The feeling that you have heard this bull before.


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