It isn't? I thought it was, actually. What do you think the argument is actually about?
Questions of this sort, in a rule-of-thumb approach, would be along the lines of "What makes a play great?", "How can I properly express love?", or "What is the best of all possible worlds?". I find speculative questions of this sort to be interesting and worthwhile to try and answer, even if science can't approach them. So, even if un-answerable, I would feel that I would be neglecting a part of my life if I didn't try to answer them. Therefore it follows that, as science can't address all questions, and I think it important to attempt answering questions even if they are unanswerable, that I should still look at other possible ways of answering questions. So, in some sense, I am sympathetic to the view -- if not because of religion as much, but because of the importance I attach to art.
I think it is about the different ways of approaching knowledge...I've been considering starting a thread on it actually, but haven't gotten my thoughts in order.
The stem cell research debate is an example of a science vs religion debate. The religious position is that is simply morally wrong to do stem cell research. But notice that the claim that it is ok to do stem cell research is not a scientific claim--it is argued for philosophically, when you get down to the bottom of it.
I'm not sure though, that you can't approach the question "what makes a play great?" analytically (scientifically implies in a laboratory, growing different kinds of plays in petri dishes, or something like that).
I think this is good critics do, and what the study of art does. One of the greek guys (possibly aristotle) spent some time talking about what made a play great--something about the three unities (time, place, and another one).
But clearly, when we watch a play, we can feel the greatness directly, without having to do any kind of reflective analysis. Simple intuition and experience tell us a lot. But they are flawed in systematic, predictable ways. Good thinking acknowledges that, and realizes that it takes hard work, poor thinking just sticks with intuition and says "I can't analyze this, so intuition is superior to analysis in this area".
And it's true that our ability to analyze often lags behind our intuition. But if we have a problem that doesn't have an intuitive answer, we can't "become more intuitive" and answer it. We have to analyze it. Much of religion, when faced with that problem, appeals to authority rather than trying to analyze it.
Why don't you ask jeeprs he's the one who insists that science is flawed.
But many do believe in myths. Can myths ascertain them for certain? Which ascertains them better?
No they don't. Why do you think that? That seems out of left field for me, sorry. If it was true, then you would be fully in favor of science because it could play the spiritual role of religion. But you often argue the opposite.
Whereas Krumple, and others, not only don't believe in them, but they also think they are meaningless.
I didn't say it was flawed, I said there are myths in science. I think I will try and elaborate in response to the questions below.
I have said in another thread that I don't believe in, and am not defending, conventional religion, or myths, per se. I don't believe in religious myths any more than I believe in Santa Claus. But I think they are meaningful. Whereas Krumple, and others, not only don't believe in them, but they also think they are meaningless.
Can you give me three examples of myths in science?
I don't think I ever said that these beliefs are meaningless. I acknowledge that some religious myths can exhibit a placebo effect on the individual. But also I think that a person can be handed lies as a way to motivate their behavior which I wouldn't find meaningless but instead morally wrong even if it is beneficial to the individual.
Isn't this what Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions is about?
Meanwhile, I really think SSR would be a great topic for the Philosophy of Science forum.
You are saying here, if I read you right, the religious belief is morally wrong, and I do think that is your view. You often express it.
Myths in science. Apart from the Dawkins one I referred to, I think that 'the universe is made of atoms' is a myth. In fact Paul Davies wrote a book with the very title of The Matter Myth, in 1986, about this very point.
But on a much smaller scale, and a lot less sensationalist, I think you could argue that all of science is myth-busting, and many of the myths it busts are its own. In other words, science will form an opinion that such-and-such works like this, or is like this, and then some discovery will come along, and we will realize that this previous view was wrong, and the old view then becomes 'mythical'.
Science is rarely dogmatic that it will refuse to accept new information in the form of an observable data set.
The Director asked us to stand facing each other; we were filmed with a hand-held camera. Richard began by saying that he thought we probably agreed about many things, "But what worries me about you is that you are prepared to believe almost anything. Science should be based on the minimum number of beliefs."
I agreed that we had a lot in common, "But what worries me about you is that you come across as dogmatic, giving people a bad impression of science."
He then said that in a romantic spirit he himself would like to believe in telepathy, but there just wasn't any evidence for it. He dismissed all research on the subject out of hand. He compared the lack of acceptance of telepathy by scientists such as himself with the way in which the echo-location system had been discovered in bats, followed by its rapid acceptance within the scientific community in the 1940s. In fact, as I later discovered, Lazzaro Spallanzani had shown in 1793 that bats rely on hearing to find their way around, but skeptical opponents dismissed his experiments as flawed, and helped set back research for well over a century. However, Richard recognized that telepathy posed a more radical challenge than echo-location. He said that if it really occurred, it would "turn the laws of physics upside down," and added, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."
"This depends on what you regard as extraordinary", I replied. "Most people say they have experienced telepathy, especially in connection with telephone calls. In that sense, telepathy is ordinary. The claim that most people are deluded about their own experience is extraordinary. Where is the extraordinary evidence for that?"
He produced no evidence at all, apart from generic arguments about the fallibility of human judgment. He assumed that people want to believe in "the paranormal" because of wishful thinking.
We then agreed that controlled experiments were necessary. I said that this was why I had actually been doing such experiments, including tests to find out if people really could tell who was calling them on the telephone when the caller was selected at random. The results were far above the chance level.
The previous week I had sent Richard copies of some of my papers, published in peer-reviewed journals, so that he could look at the data.
Richard seemed uneasy and said, "I don't want to discuss evidence". "Why not?" I asked. "There isn't time. It's too complicated. And that's not what this programme is about." The camera stopped.
The Director, Russell Barnes, confirmed that he too was not interested in evidence. The film he was making was another Dawkins polemic.
I said to Russell, "If you're treating telepathy as an irrational belief, surely evidence about whether it exists or not is essential for the discussion. If telepathy occurs, it's not irrational to believe in it. I thought that's what we were going to talk about. I made it clear from the outset that I wasn't interested in taking part in another low grade debunking exercise."
Richard said, "It's not a low grade debunking exercise; it's a high grade debunking exercise."
In that case, I replied, there had been a serious misunderstanding, because I had been led to believe that this was to be a balanced scientific discussion about evidence. Russell Barnes asked to see the emails I had received from his assistant. He read them with obvious dismay, and said the assurances she had given me were wrong. The team packed up and left.
Certain invitees to a workshop on the Foundations of Physics received from the organisers letters withdrawing their invitations. The letter to Brian Josephson asserted:
[INDENT]"It has come to my attention that one of your principal research interests is the paranormal ... in my view, it would not be appropriate for someone with such research interests to attend a scientific conference."
[/INDENT]while a similar letter to David Peat asserted:
[INDENT]"It has come to my attention that you are the author of books on Jungian synchronicity and quantum physics, and on connections between Native American Indian thought and modern physics ... in my view, it is not appropriate for an author of such books to attend a scientific conference."
[/INDENT]These letters illustrate well the defensive, paranoid attitudes of members of the scientific community such as those who pressed for this action to be taken; for such people, science equates to 'closed minded enquiry', in the light of which their action is in no way surprising.
Concerning the addressees, Brian Josephson is a Nobel Laureate in Physics, and has in the past year given invited special lectures on his work at Freiburg University's Institute of Advanced Studies (the Hermann Staudinger Lecture), and Loughborough University (the Sir Nevill Mott lecture). In neither talk was there more than casual reference to the paranormal.
David Peat has a Ph.D. in physics from Liverpool University. He has collaborated with David Bohm with whose work the workshop is concerned, and lectured on the subtleties of Bohm's ideas. He coauthored with Bohm the book Science, Order and Creativity.
update of April 23 2010: A correspondent notes that this kind of thing, the 'exclusion of undesirables', happens routinely, but usually covertly. One suspects that the organisers, under pressure, sent out these strangely worded emails precisely in order that this unfortunate practice might come out into the open. The above extracts, relating specifically to individuals as such rather than simply imposing conditions upon their attendance, demonstrate clearly that certain scientists regard themselves as members of an exclusive club, not open-minded seekers after truth.