Scientism Denied by Person who Thinks There Are No Sources of Knowledge Other than Science

Why are the people who deny the existence of scientism the best examples of scientism?

word-cloud-scientism

On another blog here at Patheos last week, a poster objected to the notion of scientism and closed his response by demanding the following:

And please describe another method of gaining knowledge than science.

So let’s get this straight: you object to the implication that people believe science is the sole source of valid knowledge about the world, but then you make it seem like it’s freakish to believe there are other methods of gaining knowledge?

Being Uncritical About Science

Scientism is generally defined as the bias that privileges scientific knowledge above all other forms of knowledge and asserts that only science describes how reality is. People afflicted with this bias feel that all facets of human endeavor should be approached scientifically, and that forms of inquiry have to be judged against science for validity. Pointing out the bias of scientism isn’t saying that science doesn’t give us valid knowledge about the world; it’s acknowledging that there are other sources of knowledge.

In response to the poster above, I said that most of what we know about the world derives from sense experience and a vaguely coherent process of reasoning. I mentioned that I “know” Roy Moore lost his Senate bid, but that this knowledge was gained just by seeing many media outlets report the story, and assuming that it’s more likely the reports are true than that there’s a worldwide media conspiracy to make people believe a complete fiction. It’s not like I conducted rounds of formalized empirical testing or anything.

Furthermore, the arts and literature are valid sources of knowledge about civilizations, social attitudes, and the cultural meaning of historical events. These are different from scientific analyses of history or culture, even though they may be included in such analyses.

I’m not trying to say that we can study black holes or ancient glaciation events strictly through individual perception and reasoning. I’m not saying that ancient poetry is a true and complete description of historical events. That’s measuring the worth of a source of knowledge by how well it fulfills the function of science.

Nonsense and Non-Science

My correspondent assessed my responses as follows:

The work of artists in a particular society can help to inform later generations in describing that zeitgeist, but can not be taken by themselves to be accurate representations of that society. However, even if you’re using historical art for that purpose, the art didn’t generate any knowledge of the society, it was only a vehicle used to convey what was already established at the time.

What I think is that we have knowledge, and we have belief. From time to time, we confuse the latter for the former. We all do it and there’s no way to escape it. We can only critically evaluate the things we think we know, and there is only one reliable way to separate the wheat from the chaff.

First off, art and literature aren’t intended to be “accurate representations,” but the information they convey about meaning, ethics and values is not what we can produce through science. Aside from that, saying that there’s “only one reliable way” to generate valid knowledge is the dictionary definition of scientism. It’s assuming that objective facts about phenomena are the only things that are real, and that matters that deal with culturally-constructed facets of human endeavor, and issues of value and meaning, are somehow irrelevant or imaginary.

Culturally constructed truths are valid knowledge too. If you live in Hartford, Connecticut, but I tell people you live in Massachusetts, I’m wrong. Objectively wrong. We can’t scientifically detect the Connecticut-ness of the territory, but it’s not like the borders between states don’t exist simply because they’re products of human endeavor. The play Hamlet is a product of human imagination and effort too; however, if I say that my cousin Keith wrote it, that there’s a rap break in Act 2, or that the lead character is a lizard, I’m wrong. Objectively wrong.

The poster continued by asserting that personal consciousness is not valid knowledge because, once again, it’s not science:

The way that one person sees the world, while interesting, doesn’t necessarily impart any knowledge about the world.

However, it does indeed impart knowledge. It tells us what that person experiences and the meaning they attribute to it. That knowledge won’t put a human being on Mars, but it’s valid knowledge about its object domain.

Science is Better Than Religion, and What Isn’t?

Lastly, the poster dismissed the entire idea of scientism as some sort of fundie lawyertrick:

The word scientism is a load of bullshit thought up by religionists to try to defend religion from attacks brought against it from a scientific perspective. And for some reason, some members of the athiest community have glommed on to the concept because…well I’m not really certain why, to tell you the truth.  The only reason I can come up with is that they don’t have any hard data on their positions.

The first problem here is that there’s nothing religious in my argument, or in the arguments of writers like Massimo Pigliucci and John Allen Paulos who have described the phenomenon of scientism. However, the more significant problem is that we amateurs don’t, indeed, have hard data for the things we believe. We’re relying on the expertise of scientists when they tell us, for instance, that light can be both a wave and a particle, or that the universe just prior to the Big Bang was an infinitely dense singularity; we can only understand these concepts on an anecdotal level, and we probably wouldn’t be able to understand the hard data even if we were privy to it. This reliance may be extremely prudent and realistic, but it still can’t be gainsaid that it’s different from having hard data to back up our confidence.

People are reluctant to admit the extent to which we idealize science and turn it into the Answer for Everything, another comforting myth that true skeptics or freethinkers should examine with a critical eye.

What do you say? Is science our only source of valid knowledge? Is scientism a legitimate bias, or is it just self-evidently true?

 

 

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  • 精神 omda

    What do you say?
    Is science our only source of valid knowledge? Absolutly not, what is science without the people who connect on social and emotional levels behind the data.
    Our Science has outpaced our collective capacity for humanity. Science, as we come to understand, is impossible without math and measurement. Math has no dependency on science.
    Knowledge comes from all directions, wisdom to those who keep it.

    Is scientism a legitimate bias, or is it just self-evidently true?

    self-evidently, prone to groupthink among other sociological effects among agents in ideological groups and additional connections
    will reinforce ideas into beliefs. If “we” solely invented math its confirmation bias.
    Discovery means no current idea is the only “real” way, only what have understood thus far.

    They have to provide answers to those questions in which all people could agree 100% to be a Legitimate basis.

  • I’m glad you mentioned mathematics. Like science, it’s a for-us-by-us construct that definitely provides valid knowledge. However, it’s different from science.

  • 精神 omda

    As we are aware, I make the case you can not conceive most of how we build and test to precision without mathematics. it is independent of quantitative science. Science such as physics requires measurable results and dependent upon it, not the other way around.

    Math is different from science, science in many branches with dramatic impacts fall apart without math. Reduced to observation with no quantitative results and no machines to conduct experiments. It turns into cause and effect found in the natural world and unaided observation of the phenomenon seeable by the human eye, No electron microscopes.

    So how can scientism or science alone create a strong basis if that foundation falls apart under these conditions.
    It’s not self-contained and falls prey to the logic of Gödel’s theorem. It can’t answer all questions or be the ultimate source of knowledge.

  • Science is suffused with assumptions that can never be verified scientifically. The epistemology of radical positivism, as a result, abrogates science itself. Take, for instance, the concept of induction. It just cannot be scientifically defended. Attempting to render a conclusive inductive line of reasoning for radical positivism is ridiculous as this begs the question by presupposing the legitimacy of inductive reasoning, to begin with!

  • This philosophy of Radical Positivism is self-refuting. At its heart, this pernicious conviction declares that we must not accept any belief that cannot be scientifically verified. What about that very supposition? It cannot per se be scientifically tested out much less corroborated. As a result, we ought not to believe it. Radical Positivism, as a result, asphyxiates itself.

  • As Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem made evident, ‘Whatsoever may be bounded cannot explicate itself without referring to that which is without itself – some postulate whose certainty is unobtainable.’

    This is just what famed Physicist and Mathematician James Clerk Maxwell alluded to when he came to the conclusion, “Science is incompetent to reason upon the creation of matter itself out of nothing. We have reached the utmost limit of our thinking faculties when we have admitted that because matter cannot be eternal and self-existent, it must have been created.”

  • “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” -Maslow

  • On this opinion, there is certainly absolutely nothing good or evil, right or wrong, exquisite or hideous. Even so, can it be tenable to believe that experimental truth is the one and only truth that exists? That simply no aesthetic, moral, metaphysical or otherwise putative facts obtain?

    Abiding by this view, for starters, anyone who rapes a little kid to death ( or engages in this: http://bit.ly/1bu2CrY ) is doing absolutely nothing wrong. Exactly why ought we agree to such a conclusion resulting merely from an epistemological limit?

  • John Pieret

    The problem with “scientism” lies in the definition of “knowledge.” Those over-enamored with science have a definition that is both too narrow and too broad. As Hume (perhaps the first philosopher of “science” as we mean the term today and arguably the greatest) pointed out, all human knowledge is identical to “experience.” And all experience is, ultimately, personal experience, given we are all isolated from each others’ experiences. To think we have knowledge of the world separate from our experience within our own skulls is to make the definition too broad, while to discount as knowledge what we experience within our own skulls makes it too narrow.

    Art and literature, quite apart from what it may tell us about the people who created it and the times they lived in, gives us knowledge of what moves us, what motivates us, what makes us better or worse by our own lights and how we judge which is better and which is worse.

    On the other hand, it is impossible to live without a knowledge that there is a world outside the experience within our minds that is, in some sense at least, “objective” and not just a disconnected construct of the experience within our minds. Since, by experience, we know we cannot experience everything in that outside world, we needs must develop a heuristic by which we can judge more reliable reports of what we haven’t experienced from less reliable reports. That heuristic is, broadly speaking, what we call “science.” It works well … in my experience, better than any other. But it is not the only heuristic and it does not encompass all experience nor, therefore, all knowledge.

  • aedgeworth

    There are many things that can be discovered through the use of the scientific method of falsification. However, there is a difference between scientific discovery, and an interpretation of evidence based on one’s philosophical worldview. Some argue as long as it is a naturalistic interpretation, and does not include the possibility of the supernatural in any way, then it is science. But, what part does reality play in all of this?

    If a supernatural deity spoke this world into existence out of a state of nothingness, would that make a supernatural interpretation of the evidence more scientific than a naturalistic interpretation of the same evidence? I suspect the defender of scientism (who also denies its existence at the same time) is motivated purely by his or her personal philosophical worldview.

    The word “science” means “to know.” It doesn’t mean “happened naturally.” That is the real source of much conflict over the importance of “science.” I suspect that many who argue over the importance of science, do so because of their commitment to scientific naturalism. Could it be a veiled attempt at denying the existence of the supernatural? We each should have an unbiased passion for truth, no matter where our search may lead us. But we humans tend to put much stock in our chosen philosophical belief system, and knowledge often tends to take a backseat to philosophical interpretations.

  • Great observations.

    In The View from Nowhere, Thomas Nagel examined the way data points from individual perspectives get arranged and integrated into the third-person perspective that we use when dealing with scientific or historical phenomena. Removing the mind from phenomena is what has made the scientific program so successful. But the pitfall is that we forget the artificiality of this perspective and start to think of it as the only relevant way to see things.

  • Jim Jones

    > Is science our only source of valid knowledge?

    Science is not a source of knowledge. It is a process to check the verity of claims.

    > Is scientism a legitimate bias, or is it just self-evidently true?

    There is no such thing as ‘scientism’.

  • Science is not a source of knowledge. It is a process to check the verity of claims.

    So scientific research produces no knowledge?

    There is no such thing as ‘scientism’.

    So the person I describe in the OP who not only believes that science is a source of knowledge but also that it’s our only source thereof isn’t suffering from a bias that privileges science above all other forms of inquiry?

  • avelworldcreator

    Science is just a system of developing knowledge about our world. It practice it tends to branch into the “hard” and “soft” sciences. In origin it began in philosophy. Arts, literature, and history are the realms of the sciences of anthropology, psychology, zoology, and sociology – soft sciences – which are not focused on the world we live in but rather those who actually live in it. The “hard” sciences focus on the natural world in a mechanical way. The soft sciences do often get critical information from the hard sciences but they have their own mechanisms of discovery as well. The purpose of science is to develop that knowledge and to share it. For that reason it has be objective as humanly possible. Science is just a tool. If you define “scientism” as a form of worshipping knowledge then you have a valid complaint and also if someone declares that it is the only way to gain world knowledge. Beyond that there is no complaint.

  • Jim Jones

    > So scientific research produces no knowledge?

    You have to specify the field of research: Geology, chemistry, physics etc. You can’t study ‘science’ as a research field although people use it as a short cut.

  • You have to specify the field of research: Geology, chemistry, physics etc. You can’t study ‘science’ as a research field although people use the word as a short cut.

    So fields of research like geology, chemistry, and physics can produce knowledge, but not science? Now you’re making no sense.

  • Jim Jones

    You don’t science.

  • Jon

    Science is the only way to examine and know the material world. Intuition, hunches, and what have you are just intuition and hunches that must be confirmed through observation and experimentation. Religion is guesswork and always has been. It has not moved the ball down the field at all. Religion is no closer to understanding the problem of evil or the hiddeness of god than it was 3000 years ago. Religion is no closer to proving god than it was 3000 years ago. Science has done more to advance knowledge in the last 50 years than religion has in 3000 years. At a minimum, it’s time to move away from the Abrahamic religions since all three have been completely debunked by science, archaeology, biology, mathematics, zoology, geology, physics, cosmology, and astrophysics (to name just a few). Let’s give science the funding and the time we’ve given christianity and we’ll regroup in, let’s say, 1500 years and see where we are. The hebrew bible, the new testament, and the Koran will be exhibits in a museum.

  • Well, that clarifies everything.

  • No one here is pushing religion. The fact that science is better at being science than religion is, quite frankly, isn’t saying much.

    Like I said in the OP, science is a valid source of knowledge about the world, but not the only one.

  • Jim Jones

    I always do.

  • Ruth1940

    Recognizing the failures of human perceptions, the so-called “hard sciences” have always tried to rely on impartial machines to measure results whenever possible, and accept results as scientific knowledge only when the results have been duplicated by others. But what is accepted is always understood as conditional, expecting conclusions to change as more data (often using improved tools) is collected. This is entirely different from the way those in other fields operate and when scientific results conflict with conclusions reached with other means, the evidence-based ones are better. The word scientism (which I never heard as a math major, physics minor at Iowa State Teachers College 1947-1961 or as the wife of an astronomer at the USNO) is usually used by those who haven’t studied science to put down those who have. http://www.skepdic.com/scientism.html It reminds me of the education establishment which loves talking about teaching “critical thinking” but my experience is that they have no idea what it is (and certainly don’t value the “critical” part). Jennifer Eberhardt’s research can lead lay people into understanding how bad our perceptions are for determining what is factual. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhDB5Z8rWh4

  • Ruth1940

    Even though everyone’s observations (perceptions) are different from everyone else’s, it seems to me that there would be factual reality even if there were nobody to observe it.

  • Even in your link, they say scientism can be defined as follows:

    Scientism, in the strong sense, is the self-annihilating view that only scientific claims are meaningful, which is not a scientific claim and hence, if true, not meaningful. Thus, scientism is either false or meaningless.

    That seems to be what the person in the OP was saying: only science provides us with valid knowledge.

  • Ruth1940

    But even in the nineteenth century, he also said, “Thoroughly conscious ignorance is the prelude to every real advance in science.” Please consider what someone trained in 21st century science says. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/7976594/Stephen-Hawking-God-was-not-needed-to-create-the-Universe.html

  • Ruth1940

    Scientists talk about probability based on the data, and change the conclusions as more evidence unfolds. It’s the METHOD that is superior to those who rely on flawed human perceptions (and the human difficulty to change one’s mind, even if the conclusion was based on no evidence).

  • Jon

    My bad. The religious assault on “evidence-based” and “science-based” knowledge just gets my goat.

  • John Pieret

    Yes, I agree, but it is, philosophically speaking, impossible to demonstrate that.

  • Was the Scientific Method invented just this century?

  • How does any of that change the fact that attempting to render a conclusive inductive line of reasoning for radical positivism is ridiculous as this begs the question by presupposing the legitimacy of inductive reasoning, to begin with?

  • GKWilly

    Yes. Math differs from science. Math doesna rely on observation, inference, or assumption. Science, despite its silly etymology, yields no knowledge. Natheless, it be useful.

  • GKWilly

    What? Science is grounded on flawed human perception. And topped with assumption and inference! The miracle of science is that eventually some of it is useful.

  • GKWilly

    Yes. Science produces no knowledge. It is the fruit of observation, assumption, and inference. Yet it can be useful. So what.

  • GKWilly

    The particular field of science is irrelevant. All science is a human story to explain and predict phenomena. And it is either more or less accurate. And even if it were perfectly accurate, it could never knowingly be so. It’s just an inference. Not a mere inference by hacks. Still, it’s at best probably correct with σ=6. Or some such scenario.

  • GKWilly

    No. Literature is not science. Philosophy is not science. Criminy! Philosophy and maths help give an illusion of foundation to science. Science floats on its own, though. Nothing can ground inference, observation, and assumption.

  • GKWilly

    Religion is guesswork? What does that mean? What ball is or isn’t moving down what field? And you know enough about all religions to condemn them all? JFC! I canna believe it! Religion can never be debunked by science. Firstly, science is a manmade story that attempts to describe observation and allow predictions. Does it represent knowledge? No. At best it is very, very likely correct. It may even be completely accurate, but can never be knowingly right.
    Secondly, observation and inference of the natural world speaks nowt of the praeternatural. I’m not talking about supernatural. Science is useful for sciencey things. What’s that rapping at my door? ‘Tis science, nothing more.

  • avelworldcreator

    I made no such claims that they are science. I pointed out that science BEGAN as a branch of philosopy. That doesn’t mean it remained that way. I also did not claim literature itself is science (but I would most certainly argue that scientific literature – which includes research papers – most definitely qualifies as such) but that it represents a data set for a specific areas of science (also arts and literature). Science generally has no dependencies either on philosophy or mathematics. It is grounded in the scientific method and objective proof.
    One list of those steps:
    • Make an observation.
    • Ask a question.
    • Form a hypothesis, or testable explanation.
    • Make a prediction based on the hypothesis.
    • Test the prediction.
    • Iterate: use the results to make new hypotheses or predictions.

    An alternate list:
    • Ask a Question.
    • Do Background Research.
    • Construct a Hypothesis.
    • Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment.
    • Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion.
    • Communicate Your Results.

    And I use the term “alternate” loosely as they are all parts of the method.

    So let’s join them and fill in more details:
    • Make an observation.
    • Ask a question.
    • Do background research.
    • Form a hypothesis, or testable explanation.
    • Make a prediction based on the hypothesis.
    •Test the prediction by experiment.
    • Analyze the results and draw a conclusion logically consistent with those results.
    •Submit your results for peer review
    •If those results are accepted then publish them and use those results to make further hypothesis or predictions.
    •If those results are rejected then make a new hypothesis taking in consideration the reasons your previous were rejected.
    •Iterate the process.

  • Ruth1940

    Supposing that you mean the nervous system, etc. by removing the mind, scientist disconnect insofar as possible because the minds vary so much, depending on experiences, etc. proving they should NOT be relied on to give accurate conclusions!

  • Ruth1940

    It seems to me it’s more that the question is wrong than that science is. If knowledge means facts with absolute certainty, then of course science doesn’t even pretend to produce that, since even if an answer were the absolute correct one, there would be no way to know that. That’s why it’s always conditional. But they also know that no other method even comes close! “Scientism” is usually used as a pejorative by people who falsely believe absolute truth can found without the critical thinking involved in the scientific method, even though the answers vastly disagree, causing conflict between those with strong beliefs.

  • Ruth1940

    So what are the other sources of knowledge about the world that you trust is as good as science? When the conclusions using another method disagree the evidence-based scientific method, which will you accept?

  • Jon

    None.

  • Ruth1940

    There is more than one definition of science, and the definitions have changed a great deal through the centuries, but scientific conclusions are based on what the evidence shows, not speculation. Just accept that there are many things not known. Certainly there is a lot that has been shown to be so that is not intuitive, and the nature of “nothing” may be just that sort of thing. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cArHB59o3xs

  • Ruth1940

    No, but a lot of information has been discovered in the last half century. Watch some of Lawrence Krauss’ videos.

  • Jon

    Let me expand the argument a bit and say that science has debunked metaphysics, and/or the supernatural, religion especially. There is nothing but what is. And what is is material. Yes, we have emotions and I feel love and empathy, am moved by great literature, art, music, looking at the night sky. Those are feelings. People in this discussion thread are, in my opinion, referring to their feelings when they ask “how do we know?” People ought to be uncertain about their feelings.

  • Ruth1940

    I think you started with a mistaken premise. http://www.livescience.com/21569-deduction-vs-induction.html

  • I definitely use scientism as a pejorative, but only in the sense that I mentioned in the OP: I consider the belief that only science provides valid knowledge a strange and pervasive bias.

    But I don’t define knowledge as facts with absolute certainty either. Our knowledge, as you say, is always provisional. It evolves with our culture. The knowledge we derive from scientific inquiry is useful and fascinating, whether or not it’s the last word on the matter.

  • So what are the other sources of knowledge about the world that you trust is as good as science? When the conclusions using another method disagree the evidence-based scientific method, which will you accept?

    I made the point in the OP that our personal consciousness, the way we perceive things as subjects, is the source of most of what we know about the world. And art and literature are sources of knowledge too.

    However, I never said that any source is “as good as science,” particularly in understanding things that our senses can’t perceive directly like black holes and ancient glaciation events. Our consciousness isn’t enough to generate knowledge about these things; but let’s be honest, scientific inquiry wouldn’t work without our individual consciousness either.

  • None?

    How do you “know” Roy Moore lost his Senate bid? Did you perform rounds of formalized empirical testing and submit the results to peer review?

    And how do you “know” our universe was once an infinitely dense singularity? Did you replicate the observations and equations of the physicists who established the theory? Or do you just figure, like the rest of us, that scientists oughta know?

  • GKWilly

    “Arts, literature, and history are the realms of the sciences…”. Isn’t that what you wrote? And isn’t the verb are in the present tense? I’m sorry if I misunderstood.

    The scientific method itself may not depend on math, but it leans on logic and reason. Most science utilises mathematical equations. And no scientific claim can be made without a heaping of statistical inference.

  • GKWilly

    Science has debunked metaphysics? When? Where can I read about this?
    /met·a·phys·ics
    the branch of philosophy that deals with the first principles of things, including abstract concepts such as being, knowing, substance, cause, identity, time, and space./

    Are you high, or is English not your first language?

  • Ruth1940

    Certainly people get information from art, literature, etc. and base conclusions on them, but they are much more apt to be flawed conclusions, and once people “believe” things, it’s really hard for them to even see the evidence against those conclusions. For example, a great many Americans, even liberals, “know” the nation of Israel are good, moral, etc. based directly or indirectly on the movie, “Exodus,” but that was based on a novel! How many know that most Americans after WWII were surprised that President Truman supported the nation of israel (who started the horrific war and declared independence instead of waiting for the UN committee to report about how to achieve a peaceful solution)? How many people know that highly respected Jewish Albert Einstein warned against support of that country? https://archive.org/details/AlbertEinsteinLetterToTheNewYorkTimes.December41948

  • Ruth1940

    The difficulty of unlearning after learning something wrong was demonstrated to me when I taught beginning piano (1961-1966) to children without pianos at home who lived near me in Arlington, Virginia. (They came to my apartment for a 15-minute “practice/lesson” each day, Monday through Friday.) I was amazed at how fast they learned in that environment, then realized that because the teacher was right there all the time, they didn’t practice anything wrong. When they played something wrong, right away it was corrected and that part repeated correctly, then put with the rest of the song, whereas if it had been assigned in a once-a-week lesson and practiced wrong at home, it had to be unlearned first, which takes longer than learning it right in the first place. And this wasn’t even a subject full of emotion!

  • Ruth1940

    Some of the disagreement may stem from definitions. Oxford English Dictionary give two definitions of scientism, with historic examples:

    1. A mode of thought which considers things from a scientific viewpoint.
    1870 New Englander July 514 That facts should be valued mainly for the principles they reveal, modern scientism could hardly understand, much less believe.
    1895 Daily News 14 Nov. 6/5 By scientism he meant to express that change which had come over the thought of the world in consequence of the wonderful additions to the common stock of knowledge.
    1903 Contemp. Rev. May 727 What modern Scientism knows as the Supersensuous Consciousness.
    1941 D. C. ALLEN Star Crossed Renaissance iv. 185 They insist on facts and common sense..they are the ancestors of the masters of modern scientism.
    2010 T. P. MILLER Evol. College Eng. iii. 101 This movement was facilitated by the practical appeal of the methods of scientism.

    2. Chiefly depreciative. The belief that only knowledge obtained from scientific research is valid, and that notions or beliefs deriving from other sources, such as religion, should be discounted; extreme or excessive faith in science or scientists. Also: the view that the methodology used in the natural and physical sciences can be applied to other disciplines, such as philosophy and the social sciences. Cf. POSITIVISM n. 2.
    1871 Amer. Presbyterian Rev. Apr. 333 If, in the face of the increasingly triumphant exultations of modern scientism, in the face of its sneering sarcasms and insolent taunts.., any of the friends of Christian philosophy, morality and religion, are dismayed and despondent, let them be reassured.
    1882 J. A. SEISS Apocalypse (new ed.) II. xxxiiii. 439 We are forewarned of a certain boastful and blatant scientism and naturalism which does not hesitate dogmatically to negative the doctrines of faith.
    1921 G. B. SHAW Back to Methuselah p. lxxviii The iconography and hagiology of Scientism are as copious as they are mostly squalid.
    1938 G. REAVEY tr. N. A. Berdyaev Solitude & Society i. 12 Science has not only progressively reduced the competence of philosophy, but it has also attempted to suppress it altogether and to replace it by its own claim to universality. This process is generally known as ‘scientism’.
    1956 E. H. HUTTEN Lang. Mod. Physics vi. 273 This belief in the omnipotence of science is..making a mockery of science: for this scientism represents the same, superstitious, attitude which, in previous times, ascribed such power to a supernatural agency.
    1977 A. SHERIDAN tr. J. Lacan Écrits iii. 76 The early development of psychoanalysis..expresses..nothing less than the re-creation of human meaning in an arid period of scientism.
    2008 Church Times 16 May 26/5 While it would be wrong to say Lewis believed in astrology, it held a lifelong fascination for him. He loathed the scientism he saw disenchanting the modern world.

  • Ruth1940

    So does what seems true to individuals based on their genes, hormones, and experiences count as “knowledge” to you even if it conflicts with reality?

  • Once again, I’m not saying that these methods are foolproof, or that they should make us reject evidence. What I’m saying is that they can be sources of valid knowledge about the world. What it’s like to be human has a lot of non-scientific facets to it.

  • Ruth1940

    There is a difference between knowing something and “accepting” what has been reported by sources previously perceived to be reliable. But that information should be accepted as conditional. I’m 77 years old, (a math major, physics minor who was taught to pay attention) and realize that sometimes such reports are mistaken!

    http://wcfcourier.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/stromberg-meyer-separated-by-votes-in-house-district/article_b470839e-1b18-5f9c-90b7-ce21c63729f7.html

    http://wcfcourier.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/meyer-ready-to-work-in-house-district-contest-after-belated/article_5c2a6025-08a9-528a-8873-7767a1c1984a.html

  • Isn’t what people experience part of reality? Is scientific inquiry the only valid way to determine what’s real?

  • Ruth1940

    It’s different with information that is right or wrong by definition. After learning the multiplication tables in grade school, I had acquired that knowledge. Other than things like that, it’s a good idea to be a little skeptical about all information. One would think that Americans would wonder about the results of the SC race after the way the media cooperated (gladly because they didn’t object to the high ratings from running entire Trump speeches free of charge) with the rigged Democratic primary, during which the DNC’s rules were broken from the beginning. http://observer.com/2016/10/wikileaks-reveals-dnc-elevated-trump-to-help-clinton

  • Ruth1940

    Mathematics is an invented tool. To pretend that science is invalid without its tools seems silly to me, since using invented tools is the reason it is successful.

  • Prove it.

  • How does any of this change the fact that the universe exists contingently otherwise it would not be 13.70 billion years old? This fact means, perforce, that the efficient cause for its existence must be a transcendent, beginningless, spaceless, immaterial, timeless, unchanging, omnipotent good personal being and this is why. <==== This is a hyperlink

  • Ruth1940

    Reality is interpreted by us with our brains trying to make sense of the electrical impulses imported from our senses, but what we perceive to be real is not the same thing. The lenses of our eyes turn the images upside down, but we don’t perceive the world upside down. Newborn babies can distinguish many more different sounds that a five-year-old because the connections not used are weeded out so as to make sense of the meaningful ones, but that doesn’t mean those sounds aren’t still part of reality. We evolved to perceive what was necessary for survival. Other species evolved different abilities based on their survival. Dogs have a much more keen sense of smell, birds better vision, etc. Just because we miss so much of reality doesn’t mean it isn’t there! That’s why some of the theoretical physics is so interesting, even to those of us who don’t understand it. The nature of nothingness may even be unstable (not intuitive, therefore people make up supernatural beings and believe they created it). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-EilZ4VY5Vs

  • Ruth1940

    The theoretical physicists don’t pretend to have all the answers, just more than the rest of us. Perhaps there are multiple universes. Some fields of science (neuroscience) are in their infancy, but have discovered a lot that is not intuitive (and people who were taught something else strongly object). Open your mind!

  • Reality is interpreted by us with our brains trying to make sense of the electrical impulses imported from our senses, but what we perceive to be real is not the same thing.

    Again, no one’s saying science doesn’t produce valid knowledge. But you’re saying that science is the only thing that produces valid knowledge. So how is that not scientism?

  • GKWilly

    “You don’t know what real hunger is!” At least that’s what I’ve been told. What is meant is that I’ve not experienced sustained period of insufficient sustinence. To these people I’ve said that if hunger takes on this definition, then what word should I use to indicate discomfort from not eating for 8 hours?

    Anyway, if you use the word knowledge to mean something that you’re only pretty sure about, or perhaps something that a quorum of learned persons agree is true, then what word can we use to indicate certainty?

  • 精神 omda

    https://science.howstuffworks.com/math-concepts/math4.htm

    That is one position. It is not decided for all, by any means.

  • 2. Chiefly depreciative. The belief that only knowledge obtained from scientific research is valid, and that notions or beliefs deriving from other sources, such as religion, should be discounted; extreme or excessive faith in science or scientists. Also: the view that the methodology used in the natural and physical sciences can be applied to other disciplines, such as philosophy and the social sciences. Cf. POSITIVISM n. 2.

    That more or less sums up the way I approach the idea of scientism. With the exception of the reference to religion, that’s scientism to me.

    You keep banging the drum about our unreliable perceptions, and you don’t seem at all interested in acknowledging what I’m saying here. I’m not claiming that there are sources of knowledge that will replace science altogether. What I’m saying is that we have an idealized view of scientific inquiry, and we end up judging all other ways of seeing and knowing the world according to whether they function like science.

  • avelworldcreator

    I should have said “…are in the realms…”. It was slightly ambiguous without the preposition I agree.

    When I listed the steps of the method I specifically mentioned “proof” which is most definitely based on logic and reason. But the so called “hard” sciences are heavy on the math; not so much the “soft” sciences. In fact some of the latter have had work criticized specifically because of the lack of mathematical or statistical content. Your last statement is not accurate. Consider archeology or anthropology. Most of the math in those areas largely consists of counting and simple measurement used to describe something i.e. “The mayor’s house has three rooms over an area of fifty square meters”. It’s a common error that people when they hear the word “science” tend to only think of the hard sciences, i.e. physics or chemistry. My studies have been in general cognitive science which is a combination of both classes of science. People who do general work there have to have (as a rule of thumb) studies in: anthropology (soft), psychology (soft), neurobiology (hard), information science (hard). They also need a heavy math background for some modeling. Most students in the field also tend to pick up on a lot of other subjects. I do: theology, philosophy, the arts (I also do a lot of graphics design work), law and jurisprudence (I have a peer-reviewed paper used in teaching), and probably more that I’m simply forgetting. It’s true that years ago those in the hard sciences were more skilled in literature and the arts but as the fields have become more complicated and specialized the researchers have had to narrow their focus and have not had the time or inclination to think outside their work. But a wonderful example of the older practices would be Charles Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species”. The only math is simple counting. It’s purely descriptive and, if I recall right, loaded with sketches and drawings by the author (some of them very good).

  • Ruth1940

    The problem is that people DO rely too much on intuition and those unreliable perceptions (and it seems to me that you are saying that it’s a good thing to do), then fail to even perceive, let alone understand later evidence when it proves them mistaken. In the late 1970s I heard some University of Northern Iowa professors at a boy scout dinner comment that scientists had been urging the education system to teach critical thinking, but the students didn’t have it. In the early 2000s in ed tech classes at the University of Northern Iowa, I heard the term “critical thinking” thrown around a lot, but realized they didn’t even understand that critical thinking requires always questioning one’s own conclusions.

    “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself—and you are the easiest person to fool. So you have to be very careful about that. After you’ve not fooled yourself, it’s easy not to fool other scientists. You just have to be honest in a conventional way after that.” — Physicist Richard Feynman in a 1974 Caltech commencement address

  • The problem is that people DO rely too much on intuition and those unreliable perceptions (and it seems to me that you are saying that it’s a good thing to do)

    Um, no, I even said I’m not saying that these methods are foolproof, or that they should make us reject evidence. You’re demolishing claims that no one here has ever made, and ignoring the claims that are being made.

    If you’re adamant that scientific inquiry is the only source of valid knowledge, then congratulations, you’re demonstrating the bias of scientism.

  • Ruth1940

    Robert Lamb is a science and fiction writer rather than a scientist of historian. A number of years ago in a speech at the University of Northern Iowa, a famous linguist told about languages that don’t even include numbers past one and two, just things like many and few, because living close to the equator didn’t require trade in order to feed themselves. Even the concept of zero is not intuitive. Roman numerals didn’t have it, let alone negative numbers. Try doing science research using that!

  • Ruth1940
  • Ruth1940

    It seems to me it’s just science! From 1957 to 1961 I majored in math and minored in physics, then taught high school chemistry along with math, and was married for more than 16 years to an astronomer at the USNO, but had never heard of scientism until 2008, when John Haught, Senior Fellow in Science and Religion, Georgetown University, spoke at a couple of events in this area (and he used it pejoratively). When I explained during the Q&A that the scientists I’ve known and met were not like that, he replied that he was talking about science rather than scientists! Go figure! (His main theme was that the churches had better accept evolution because the of the evidence or they’ll lose credibility on everything else.) When he came again in 2013 and spoke against the new atheism, during the Q&A I pointed out that there was a serious conflict between science and religion or Galileo wouldn’t have been put under house arrest and Darwin wouldn’t have delayed publishing his discoveries.

    Again, if perceptions conflict with scientific evidence, which will be deemed more likely to be closer to the truth?

  • science has debunked metaphysics

    Technically, since it purports to tell us how reality is, science is a metaphysical research program too, one that simply deals with empirically verifiable factors.

  • Again, if perceptions conflict with scientific evidence, which will be deemed more likely to be closer to the truth?

    And once again, you keep accusing me of claiming that we should ignore scientific evidence, even though I’ve twice now said the exact opposite: I’m not saying that these methods are foolproof, or that they should make us reject evidence. And no one here is pushing religion, or saying that religion is a source of knowledge in any sense.

    I’m starting to think that fair-minded dialogue isn’t your strong suit.

  • Ruth1940

    I didn’t say that you would intend to reject evidence, just that the evidence shows that often people simply can’t see evidence that conflicts with what we believe to be true, so I don’t consider those beliefs/perceptions to be knowledge. Did you watch the Jennifer Eberhardt video about our brainwashed perceptions regarding race?

  • Ruth1940

    How could knowledge be valid if the methods to obtain it are flawed? The scientific research indicates that we can’t help but tend to not only reject evidence that conflicts with what we believe. but can’t even see perceive that evidence!

  • Are biases just things other people have? Are our views on things like science and progress completely value-neutral, just because we use the word evidence a lot?

  • Oh please! Quoting atheists on theoretical physics is not productive!

  • Most of the knowledge we have about how the everyday world works derives from personal experience, and it’s valid enough to get us safely across streets and to help us communicate with others in society. Are you saying nothing we learn through perception can conceivably be valid?

    That seems less like skepticism and more like denial.

  • Ruth1940

    The more I read about research in neuroscience, the more I’m amazed at how much people agree, given the methods we use to reach conclusions. The involuntary parts of our brains decide much, if not all, before the voluntary parts decide to decide, so free will and consciousness may be illusions. The input to our central nervous systems appear to be things like genes, hormones, and experiences, not things we control ourselves! (I like optical illusions, and all our senses are capable of being fooled similarly.) Scientific methods are self-correcting, although flawed, and nothing like that!

  • Scientific methods are self-correcting

    Magical thinking is so adorable!

  • Stick to the topic here. This isn’t a forum for debating religion.

  • Ruth1940

    Everyone has biases, but scientists recognize it and try to work around it by using tools that are unbiased and accepting the results only when others (with their own biases, but likely different ones) get the same results. Science used to mean things like physics (and chemistry which is really just a part of physics) but when areas of study such as sociology and psychology became more popular, they were called “soft sciences” because they lacked tools to help weed out personal biases. Jennifer Eberhardt’s research impresses me because it uses tools to do that, tools not available decades ago. Perhaps you question your own perceptions more than you let on.

  • Ruth1940

    What are you referring to as magical thinking?

  • Ruth1940

    I think the sort of information you describe as knowledge is like what other animals do to survive, and who knows, neuroscience may someday show that everything else is an illusion, that somehow we evolved to survive better by counting to ten before acting, even though our brains had already decided for us.

  • Ruth1940

    What you posted was taken out of context to give a false impression of what the physicists had actually said and wrote. It’s immoral.
    http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/all-scientists-should-be-militant-atheists

  • Thinking that science is “self-correcting” is part and parcel of the idealized view of science that prevails today, thanks to science cheerleaders like Dawkins and Krauss. You may as well say that, since Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey are gone, Hollywood is “self-correcting” because eventually it weeds out some sexual predators. This simplistic view of science is what we teach schoolchildren; adults should realize that things are a lot more complicated.

    But you couldn’t even articulate what my approach to science is, because you’ve just been attacking straw men here. No one is trying to get rid of science, we just want people to put science in its proper perspective.

  • Prove it.

  • Jon

    Oh, you might start with David Hume or Friedrich Nietzsche. Take Nietzsche, for example. If he were alive today and if someone were to give him a 5-minute lesson on modern science, he’d be on such a tear against metaphysics that he’d make Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens look like theists. Hume would be right there with him. Causality is of no moment.

  • Take Nietzsche, for example. If he were alive today and if someone were to give him a 5-minute lesson on modern science, he’d be on such a tear against metaphysics that he’d make Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens look like theists.

    Nietzsche was already pretty anti-metaphysics. Plus he lived in the 19th century, when modern science had already been developed, and took a very dim view of the science-is-truth mentality that was already developing.

  • Agree. Self-correcting presumes some teleos, that there is some fundamental, unchanging ‘correct’ to achieve. If you consider the comment I’ve heard regarding science, “The more you know, the more you understand how much you don’t know” sort of puts this into perspective.

    Regarding the article itself, first: it’s a good read; second, I think the question “can everything be known/described by science?—in some perfect world” is different to “Are humans able to know/describe everything through science—or will cognitive biases and self-interest leading to defensive escalating commitment ensure this never happens?” This is where I feel the Dunning–Kruger effect is not limited to persons with lower intelligence quotients.

  • Prove it.

  • GKWilly

    I don’t understand how a quick lesson on modern science (modern methodology or modern stories?) would set FN against metaphysics. What about the science of his time? I’m really unconcerned with Higgens’ theology. Or your speculation on the response of dead people to this or that. Your dropping of a couple names and hyperbole about others’ religious transformation does not put forth a rational argument nor furthur discourse.

  • Richard Sanderson

    I remember when William Lane Craig and other Christian apologists would bang on about “scientism”.

    Now, as per usual, the regressive left are repeating their “other ways of knowing” claptrap.

  • GKWilly

    Are Hume & Nietzsche scientists? Did they employ the scientific method to debunk metaphysics? “Observe the apple falling coincident with the synchronously dropped cannonball. We can therefore conclude that God doesn’t exist and metaphysics be debunked evermore. QED.” Yes. I see your fantasy now.

  • GKWilly

    “There is nothing but what is.” How about a little tautology, scarecrow?

    “And what is is material.” There also be unseen energy. And maybe even unseen material and extra-unseen dark energy. And this is supposed to debunk the thoughtful consideration of the first principles of things?

    “People ought to be uncertain about their feelings”. How did you arrive at this self-evident proclamation?

  • Matt Cavanaugh

    It might help if you provided your definition of “knowledge.”

    Also, are you declaring non-overlapping magisteria, with certain questions beyond the reach of science? If so, which ones?

    Or are you saying there are multiple ways of arriving at the ‘truth’ to the same question? If so, what would be some examples where science and ‘other ways of knowing’ arrive at differing, but equality valid, answers?

  • Matt Cavanaugh

    Teleos is not required — self-correction is built into the scientific method, and occurs when people use the method properly. (Just as checks and balances are built into the US government.)

    Observations lead to hypothesis, which directs experiment or study, which yield further observations, which are used to refine the hypothesis, with ever-increasing accuracy. Other ‘methods of knowledge production’ do not have such self-correction.

    The Dunning-Kruger effect refers not to those of low intelligence, but rather specifically to those who are either bad at something or ignorant on a subject, yet falsely believe themselves to be good at it or well-informed.

  • Matt Cavanaugh

    Define “real”.

  • Matt Cavanaugh

    Give a few examples of ‘valid knowledge’ produced by methods other than the scientific method.

  • 精神 omda

    The Mayans counted using base 20 and used math. my ancestors the Anishinaabeg have numbers beyond twenty.

    A brief example.
    1 – bezhik
    10 – mdaaswi
    11 – mdaaswi shaa bezhik
    Concepts related to math are easily translated with the use of foreign language, ours describes actions. Numbers are very important in many native languages of the Americas. Many of which are very, very old some 3000+ years by western understanding. Many people see the center of intellectual growth along the Mediterranean as the only source of original knowledge. this is not the case. And our views are scarcely understood, nor approached with the same level of respect.

    Our tribe had trade routes. We beaded this required counting and understanding patterns.

    Just sharing.

    OMDA

  • Don’t we gain enough valid knowledge of the everyday world through perception and reasoning to make it across the street and communicate with others? I’m not saying these methods are foolproof, or that they’re going to replace the scientific method. But the fact remains that we gain knowledge through them. There’s no formalized process of empirical testing involved.

  • The point is that there are certain questions that science can answer and certain ones it can’t. If we’re talking about organs of the body, ancient glaciation events, or black holes, those things are what we use science for. If we’re talking about what a just society is, what we should do about terrorism, or the ethics of certain economic practices, those aren’t questions that science alone is going to answer.

  • Nobody here is pushing religion or parroting Craig’s hokey rhetoric. And studies show that every time you use the term “regressive,” you lose three thousand brain cells. Just thought you should know.

  • Matt Cavanaugh

    How I myself gained the knowledge of the AL special election results, vs. how those results were determined, are two different things. It’s either sophistry or genuine bemusement on your part to conflate them.

  • Matt Cavanaugh

    And what methods should we use to resolve questions of justice, national security policy, or ethics?

  • In fact I didn’t conflate them, as any fair-minded observer could see. But the election process itself differs in significant ways from scientific inquiry, so in neither case can it be said that the knowledge is the result of scientific research.

  • How would you, Matt? Is there a scientific way to solve these problems?

  • self-correction is built into the scientific method

    Posing Montesquieu’s governmental checks and balances as a point of reference is perfect, as they are as poor a mechanism.

    refine the hypothesis, with ever-increasing accuracy

    You walk the party line well.

    falsely believe themselves to be good at it

    We agree, and this is the shadow of Scientism.

  • Richard Sanderson

    And studies show that every time you use the term “regressive,” you lose three thousand brain cells. Just thought you should know.

    I bet you actually believe that. Along with, “other ways of knowing”. You postmodernist cranks are in the same sack as religious apologists.

  • What a scintillating sense of humor you have!

    I can’t be too postmodern if I claim it’s a “fact” that not all our knowledge derives from scientific inquiry, can I? Most of the practical knowledge we have about how the everyday world works, the stuff that gets us across streets and lets us communicate with other people in real life, is just based on personal experience, custom, and reasoning.

  • Richard Sanderson

    So, are you claiming “scientism” is just the denial of practical knowledge derived from personal experience, custom, and reasoning?

    As per usual, the bogus shout of “scientism”, once the preserve of “sophisticated theologians” but now popular with the regressive, post-modernists, is a complete strawman.

  • Well, judging by the amount of people who have incredulously demanded to know what valid knowledge could conceivably derive from a source other than science, or made it seem like science shows us “reality” while all other sources are mere delusion, I’d say there’s a tendency toward scientism hereabouts:

    Jon: Science is the only way to examine and know the material world.

    Ruth1940: So does what seems true to individuals based on their genes, hormones, and experiences count as “knowledge” to you even if it conflicts with reality?

    Matt Cavanaugh: Give a few examples of ‘valid knowledge’ produced by methods other than the scientific method.

    I’m not saying that science is useless as a source of knowledge; many subjects, indeed, can only be studied through scientific methods. But saying that it’s the only source of valid knowledge is flat-out wrong. But that nutty belief, far from being a “bogus shout” as you claim, seems very common in the com-box.

  • Matt Cavanaugh

    I’m not the one who proposed (unidentified) alternate means.

  • So are these problems solvable through scientific means?

  • Matt Cavanaugh

    I asked you a straight-forward question, and you evade answering it by asking questions of me.

  • I’m asking for your input, that’s all. By asking me what other methods could conceivably be brought to bear on these issues, you appeared to imply that scientific methods were best equipped to respond to them.

    So can these problems be solved through scientific means or not?

  • Bruce Gorton

    Personal experience is just science broadly construed. It is basically the same as observation, hypothesis formation, testing, observation.

    The real kicker isn’t the stuff people know through personal experience, but the stuff people get through cultural osmosis. The biases we’re socially taught, which then reaffirm themselves through further confirmation bias.

    The real problem with your war on Scientism however isn’t that there aren’t other mechanisms for knowledge to be acquired, although the knowledge is generally that which isn’t scientific in its nature, it is that you appear to be arguing that when these other mechanisms conflict with science the two are equally valid.

    Thus for example art may say that X is possible, science may say it is not. One may say that one could just empirically test X, but that would be science – so that one’s out if you’re trying to ascertain which method is in fact best for describing reality.

    This is why I challenged you on climate denialism – if one rejects the scientific consensus on the basis of another way of knowing, how can one validly argue against that if other ways of knowing are in fact equally valid? You always end up circling back to science.

  • bobbyb

    this article seems to be much ado about nothing……

  • Why do you say that? Are biases okay as long as they’re the ones we have?

  • The real problem with your war on Scientism however isn’t that there aren’t other mechanisms for knowledge to be acquired, although the knowledge is generally that which isn’t scientific in its nature, it is that you appear to be arguing that when these other mechanisms conflict with science the two are equally valid.

    Well, is our way of experiencing everyday reality, the world of walls and furniture and cars, valid even though we can’t see down to the molecular or atomic level? Scientifically speaking, these constructs are illusions.

    Indeed, you’re one of the people who make it sound like affirming the existence of other ways of seeing than science essentially makes someone a climate denier. So that shows what a fair-minded guy you are.

  • DogGone

    If you are talking about the nature of knowledge, which is what this boils down to, you have entered the realm of philosophy. Science is a branch of philosophy. That is why scientists receive doctor of philosophy degrees. Here’s a great article in Scientific American that talks about the relationship of scientific inquiry to other kinds of thought. https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/doing-good-science/what-is-philosophy-of-science-and-should-scientists-care/

  • DogGone

    Only science provides a method to approach increasingly more valid explanations for the workings of the natural world. There are other questions which are best addressed by ethics. law, aesthetics, and other philosophical disciplines. Religion is not a method or a way of thinking. It is a hierarchical system antithetical to thought. It depends on “faith”–unquestioning acceptance of traditional authority.

  • DogGone

    There is an entire branch of philosophy that studies the nature of knowledge. It is a shame that we are trashing the humanities. It means we will forever waste time reinventing the wheel. See the following introduction and the references at the end: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epistemology.

  • DogGone

    “good” and “moral” are qualitative judgements, not “knowledge.” They are opinions. Certainly, history is relevant to drawing such conclusions, but history is complex and is written by the victors of conflicts to support their own economic and political ends. Certainly written accounts of WWII, for example, vary from nation to nation. What is “knowledge”? What are “facts”? Among a body of historically recorded events, which are selected? It depends, as you have demonstrated, which position on current affairs you wish to advocate. This is a question, it is true, that is not amenable to science. It is, however, amenable to logic and could profit from intelligent, researched and reasoned debate.

  • DogGone

    You “do” science. It is a way of thinking–a discipline.

  • DogGone

    It’s the only valid source of knowledge (in the broad sense–not personal) about the workings of the natural world. Religious explanations about the origins of the universe and of life are not “knowledge.” Literary and artistic explorations of those subjects are not “knowledge.” The humanities do explore different kinds of knowledge. They answer questions human beings ask about the meaning of their lives and their relationships with others. These questions include ethics/law, as well as beauty/universality.

  • DogGone

    Science, since its ideas must be tested by others, provides checks for the limitations of individual consciousness. That’s the reason, despite missteps over the centuries, it has provided steady progress in our understanding of the natural world. Applying science to ethics, law, politics, art, history, and literature can be interesting, but problematic. I think that’s where the term “scientism” fits. When it comes to the natural world, though, science is the best approach.

  • DogGone

    I think most of us here know exactly what you mean. It’s unbelievable. This is the 21st century, not the 15th!

  • DogGone

    Religion is not guesswork. As you point out, there are many religions. Some have no god. Some have many gods. Some try to explain events in the natural world. Others try to see the unity of all things. Most have hierarchies of authority and followers who are expected to “believe” and “follow.” Questioning is not usually encouraged. Answers are usually provided. “Faith” is usually a good quality. Religion is a social structure that supports tradition and associated culture. Science is a way to approach explanations of the natural world. Many religions also attempt this, but when they do this, it is not the best use of their platform. Logic and ethics (morality) are not their strengths either. Scientific method has proven itself as the best way to explore and explicate events and conditions in the natural world.

  • Bruce Gorton

    Well, is our way of experiencing everyday reality, the world of walls and furniture and cars, valid even though we can’t see down to the molecular or atomic level?

    Of course it is. Without the ability to at least somewhat rely upon our senses to observe things science is impossible.

    Scientifically speaking, these constructs are illusions.

    Eh? No actually, they are emergent properties founded on the behaviour of quantum mechanics. The furniture and all of that is still real, the nature of reality is just different to what we’d expect.

    Indeed, you’re one of the people who make it sound like affirming the existence of other ways of seeing than science essentially makes someone a climate denier.

    No Shem, it makes you someone unable to argue with a climate denier. You’re in one breath saying “Here is what science says” and in the next saying “Well if you think science is the best way to know things, then you’re engaging in scientism and that’s bad.”

    You undercut your own arguments because whatever data you bring to show that this is reality can be dismissed as “Well that’s what the scientists say.”

    We can all recognise there are things which we know non-scientifically, we can all agree that not everything can be subject to scientific scrutiny – we have limited time, and there are some things which just aren’t objective enough for such analysis, the problem arises when we’re dealing with conflicts between different epistemological approaches.

    We use folklore, imagination and intuition as shortcuts because we just don’t have the time to observe everything, and for the most part they work well enough. The trouble is when they come into conflict with scientific knowledge.

    I’m South African, under Thabo Mbeki my country had a policy of promoting “African solutions to African problems”. This resulted on the deaths of hundreds of thousands, as “Other ways of knowing” trumped scientific study.

    Part of the AIDS problem was the traditional healer industry – which pushed quack cures revealed by the ancestors. Another part was evangelical Christianity, which pushed faith healing.

    A third was Western quackery that convince Mbeki that ARVs were poison, and that AIDS was caused by poverty.

    In the midst of this we had a post-modernist president who sneered at what the Western scientists were telling him – and hundreds of thousands died.

    You go into any small South African town and the biggest business is – funerals. Everyday on my way to work, I pass people whose parents could still have been with them if our country had listened to scientists rather than quacks, if it had rolled out ARVs when the WHO recommended it without having the roll-out delayed by years of court battles.

    If Mbeki’s regime had supported rather than undermined our local medical science – rather than try to promote the value of traditional medicine.

    Yes there are other ways of knowing, but how do you deal with it when those ways come into conflict with science? Do you go with the science, or do you go with the other ways? If you go with science, is that not saying that science is the best way of knowing things we’ve got available right now?

  • Yes there are other ways of knowing, but how do you deal with it when those ways come into conflict with science? Do you go with the science, or do you go with the other ways? If you go with science, is that not saying that science is the best way of knowing things we’ve got available right now?

    Like I keep saying, there are certain phenomena that we can only approach through scientific inquiry: black holes and climate change aren’t things our senses alone will suffice to understand.

    My point is that when it comes to things like a just society or what it means to be human, is science the best way of understanding them? Scientifically speaking, so we’re told, we’re just gene machines, bags of biochemicals, irrelevant life forms on an insignificant planet in the vastness of space. So should we accept that that’s the final word on human worth? If I think my life has meaning, is that “rejecting science”?

  • Bruce Gorton

    What does value have to do with knowledge?

    Scientifically speaking, so we’re told, we’re just gene machines, bags of biochemicals, irrelevant life forms on an insignificant planet in the vastness of space.

    So what? The bare bones facts around what we are don’t particularly conflict with our ability to value ourselves, or other species, or anything else.

    Understanding how a cake is made does not make it any less delicious, so why would the bare facts of life make it any less valuable?

    What I’m talking about is when there is an actual conflict between what science tells us, and what other ways of knowing tell us.

    When you have tradition saying that a disease is caused by your ancestors cursing you, and science saying it is a virus – which do you go with?

    How do you arbitrate between science and those other ways of knowing to get the right answer in this sort of situation?

  • So what? The bare bones facts around what we are don’t particularly conflict with our ability to value ourselves, or other species, or anything else.

    Tell that to people who declare that the meaning of life is just sentimental nonsense, because science tells us we’re nothing but biochemical machines.

    What I’m talking about is when there is an actual conflict between what science tells us, and what other ways of knowing tell us.

    But you just handwaved away the actual conflicts I’ve raised.

    When you have tradition saying that a disease is caused by your ancestors cursing you, and science saying it is a virus – which do you go with?

    Once again, you’re completely ignoring what I’m saying, just so you can accuse me of being a science denier. I just explained the distinction between scientific matters and personal and cultural issues. The cause of disease is a scientific matter, and so we approach it using scientific inquiry.

    The fact that you continue to imply that I think science isn’t the best approach to scientific matters is as tiresome as it is disingenuous.

  • GKWilly

    I thought faith meant something more like ‘firm belief in something for which there is no proof’. And this is what belief in science requires.

  • Bruce Gorton

    Tell that to people who declare that the meaning of life is just sentimental nonsense, because science tells us we’re nothing but biochemical machines.

    What does life having a specific, arbitrary meaning have to do with it having value? I would propose that assigning such a meaning to life actually heavily devalues it, rendering its value relative to that meaning rather than something it has in and of itself.

    I just explained the distinction between scientific matters and personal and cultural issues. The cause of disease is a scientific matter, and so we approach it using scientific inquiry.

    Yet from a traditionalist approach, the cause of disease is a spiritual matter, and so should be approached using a spiritual metric.

    This is the major problem with criticisms of scientism – the points at which it is even relevant are points at which science clearly wins.

    It very clearly does beat out other ways of knowing, at least in the situations where there is a conflict with those other ways.

  • This is the major problem with criticisms of scientism – the points at which it is even relevant are points at which science clearly wins.

    Only because you refuse to approach the matter of scientism in the way it’s really defined, and prefer to redefine it in the because-Bruce-says-so way that allows you to dismiss it as freakishly ignorant and anti-science.

    Any time you want to have a civil discussion about the matter where you pay attention to what I’m truly saying instead of demolishing a straw man over and over, just let me know.

  • Bruce Gorton

    Shem, the definition you supplied:

    Scientism is generally defined as the bias that privileges scientific knowledge above all other forms of knowledge and asserts that only science describes how reality is.
    Read more at http://www.patheos.com/blogs/driventoabstraction/2017/12/scientism-denied-knowledge-science/#EqcXcXcvUm5ihQXO.99

    I know, I know you don’t like me quoting you directly but here is goes:

    What does it mean to privilege science above other forms of knowledge?

    It means when science says one thing, and another form of knowledge says another, we go with science.

    If politics , which is another way of knowing, says climate change is not happening, but climate scientists report that it is – we privilege science.

    Now as to reality – that is a scope limitation. More generally it is taken as hard reality – that which remains real even if nobody believes in it.

    Borders require a belief in those borders on a societal level in order for them to exist. They are not generally included in the statement as it is generally understood. The same goes for cultural mores and customs.

    This is what you’re ending up criticising. You’re saying there are these other ways of knowing things, and sure science is still a valid way of knowing but there are other ways and they’re valid too.

    The issue isn’t whether there are other ways of knowing, the issue is whether they have equal or greater validity to science.

    In other words, if they conflict with science, which way should we go?

    And to test that we look at where they conflict – such as with my AIDS example, we’ve seen the consequences of privileging other ways of knowing. People die.

    Scientism is a more than reasonable attitude to have, depending of course on how you define reality.

  • Ruth1940

    Please provide examples in which you think science was applied inappropriately, or it was attempted, as I can’t think of a single example.

  • The issue isn’t whether there are other ways of knowing, the issue is whether they have equal or greater validity to science.

    Nope. I explicitly asked in the OP: Is science our only source of valid knowledge? In no way was I comparing the validity of various sources.

    Feel free to engage with what I’m truly saying, rather than changing the issue to suit your needs.

  • Please provide examples in which you think science was applied inappropriately, or it was attempted, as I can’t think of a single example.

    Well, Neil deGrasse Tyson fantasized about a land called “Rationalia,” where public policy would be based on facts and evidence, just like a science experiment. And Sam Harris wrote a book where he purported to be able to determine human values through science.

    If that isn’t misusing scientific methodology, what is?

  • DogGone

    Ruth. I am not religious at all. I believe science is the one and only way to approach questions related to the workings of the natural world. I am sure we agree about everything. I am not your enemy. That said, I need your personal definition of “knowledge” before I can approach your question.

  • Ruth1940

    Tyson’s “Rationalia” was new to me. (After retiring, I’ve tried to concentrate my energy on a couple of issues that might improve the world if they were corrected, and there’s not time for everything that’s interesting.) But are you describing it fairly? “Note that I never said Rationalia was based on science, I said it was based on evidence.” http://www.facebook.com/notes/neil-degrasse-tyson/reflections-on-rationalia/10154399608556613

    If you are referring to Sam Harris’ “Moral Landscape,” what do you find wrong about thinking about morality in terms of human and animal well-being, viewing the experiences of conscious creatures as peaks and valleys on a “moral landscape?” http://www.samharris.org/the-moral-landscape

    If you meant something else Harris said/wrote, please explain. (BTW, I don’t agree with Harris on everything.)

  • But are you describing it fairly? “Note that I never said Rationalia was based on science, I said it was based on evidence.”

    Sounds like a distinction without a difference to me. A science cheerleader like Tyson makes his living convincing people that science is all about following the evidence, so I don’t think there’s anything outrageously unfair about the way I described it. Society isn’t a science experiment.

    If you are referring to Sam Harris’ “Moral Landscape,” what do you find wrong about thinking about morality in terms of human and animal well-being, viewing the experiences of conscious creatures as peaks and valleys on a “moral landscape?”

    Did I say I found anything wrong about that? The book’s subtitle proclaims, How Science Can Determine Human Values, but Harris didn’t demonstrate that such a thing is even possible.

    Do you believe science can determine human values?

  • Ruth1940

    Did you read what Tyson wrote at the link I sent? He did not propose what was argued against. Of course he makes his living trying to convince people that science is all about following the evidence, but that’s beating down a straw man.

    So the subtitle of Sam Harris’ book doesn’t suit you, but you don’t have a problem with the book’s content? Book titles are designed to draw attention, an effort to get people to read and buy them, sometimes even coined by the publisher when the author preferred something else. Surely that doesn’t justify your conclusion!

    Why not start a campaign to take HOLY off the titles of bibles, since they’re full of horrible stories? (I’ve suggested that they were printed in tiny print to discourage children from reading them!) http://www.amazon.com/God-Most-Unpleasant-Character-Fiction/dp/1454918322

  • Do you believe science can determine human values?

  • Ruth1940

    I’m not sure exactly what you mean be determining human values, but it seems to me that using evidence and reason, although imperfect, is the best we have. Science has shown that most of what we think we have decided was actually done with the involuntary parts of our central nervous system. Religions incorporate what works in society and pretend they have a monopoly on it. https://i2.wp.com/kidworldcitizen.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/52014Golden_Rule_Poster.jpg?resize=750%2C991 What has been considered to be good varies with cultures and over time, causing violence, so it seems to me that what’s been used in the past is worse!

  • I’m not sure exactly what you mean be determining human values, but it seems to me that using evidence and reason, although imperfect, is the best we have.

    Whereas I think it’s ludicrous to believe that we can just reason our way to moral truth and social justice, with no regard whatsoever for concepts of meaning and value. The reason-and-evidence line was the one taken by Ayn Rand in her atrocious excuse for philosophy, but how her “objectivist” nonsense and yours differ is unclear to me.

    No one on this channel has ever, or will ever, push religious or “spiritual” answers for social problems. If you think that anyone who shows skepticism to science has to be some sort of religious crackpot, maybe you’re not as fair-minded as you should be.

  • DogGone

    Science is one branch of philosophy. There are others. Ethics is one example..It is an entire field of study. Different branches of philosophy share some methods, but because of differing objects of attention, have developed specialized approaches Philosophy majors, lawyers, help me here.

  • Sophotroph

    So Shem, rather than lying about the poster’s beliefs, care to answer the question?

  • How am I lying about what the poster is saying? Does he or she mean something completely different from what I’ve described?

    And why should I jump through hoops for you, when I answered the question in the OP? If you missed where I brought up examples of valid knowledge derived from something other than the scientific method, is that my fault?

  • Sophotroph

    “as any fair-minded observer could see”

    How eager you are to rally imaginary people to your defense!

    Seriously, man, you do this kind of thing constantly, and you wonder why people don’t respect you or your arguments.

  • I don’t see where I conflated the actual election process and how you, Matt I learned about the election results.

    Try to engage a little more with what I’m saying instead of tossing puerile insults around. Consider this a suggestion.

  • Sophotroph

    You’re conflating “worth” and “meaning”. Why does it bother you so much that meaning is a human construct? We are bags of biochemicals, and there is no detectable or likely ultimate meaning. That doesn’t mean there’s no proximate human meaning. Being bags of biochemicals doesn’t preclude us from also being other things, writers, poets, singers etc.

    Your personal crusade is based on a misunderstanding. I advise you again to read Taking Joy in the Merely Real at lesswrong. A flower is no less beautiful once you understand how it works at the molecular level, but you do realize that it isn’t full of fairies.

    http://lesswrong.com/lw/or/joy_in_the_merely_real/

  • I just think there’s something dehumanizing about being called a gene machine or a bag of biochemicals. And it says a lot that you don’t consider meaning real unless it’s “detectable,” once again showing that we’re not allowed to consider something real unless it can be accessed through scientific inquiry.

    I happen to agree with Feynman’s flower analogy, but the point is that it’s the beauty that matters. The idea that we don’t understand a flower until we’ve declared it a biological machine whose workings can only be described at the molecular level is scientism, pure and simple. Machine fantasies are no less silly than religious ones.

  • Sophotroph

    You go out of your way to avoid answering questions you don’t like, you willfully mischaracterize the positions of others, and you have the temerity to act indignant when people call you on it.

    Learn to argue in good faith. Or don’t.

  • Again, you’re merely in a pissy mood for some reason, and throwing around accusations that you can’t back up when challenged. Next time you think I deserve to be criticized about how I argue on my blog, feel free to think again.

  • Sophotroph

    If you think it’s dehumanizing, that’s on you. You might want to ask yourself why you feel that way.

    I did not say that I don’t consider meaning real if it is not detectable. Please go back and read what I did say.

    Your last paragraph is similarly nonsensical. You’re objecting to things I have not said.

    Once again, you’ve taken a post, picked out the bits you think can be usefully attacked, mischaracterized them in your favor (at a level I have a hard time believing is not intentional), and ignored everything else that was said.

    Especially the questions.

    You demand that people answer your questions, but you rarely answer theirs.

    It gets tiring attempting to engage with you, over issues that deserve discussion, knowing I’ll just be defusing your deflections all day and never get my own questions answered.

    People point this out to you, and you attack them. There’s really only one pattern that fits. That of an ideologue who is looking to make converts.

    Although I suspect it’s an effort to drive up your hit count. Bad on me for indulging you in that case, but well done if so.

  • I might feel more inclined to spend time answering your questions if you treated me with a modicum of civility. Accusing me of intellectual dishonesty, insulting me, and then demanding I “answer the question” without actually asking a question, isn’t the best way to inspire civil dialogue.

    Ask me a question in anything resembling a polite fashion, and I’ll answer it.

  • Sophotroph

    Again, only you are allowed to be offended. The way you treat others and the complaints you receive for it are either ignored or deflected.

    You abandoned civil dialogue a long time ago. Your behavior needs to be answered for first. If I’m impolite, it’s only because I’ve lost my patience at how you treat people and the decided absence of any self-criticality about it.

    Look to your own house for once.

  • I didn’t ask for more petty insults and shit-flinging. I wanted to know whether you had a question about the topic at hand you want me to answer.

    I guess the answer’s no.

  • DogGone

    The religion part is what Ruth1940 and many others are reacting to. Most people who use that term (scientism) believe the world was created 6000 years ago by fiat and women are incubators on the hoof. I agree with her that this is absurd and astonishing at this point in our development as a civilization. I agree with you that there are other ways of knowing. That’s why universities have so many departments. The humanities study our own culture. Certainly, science can study cultures as it studies bugs, clouds, and stars, but that is not the same as experiencing the continuity of human experience through one’s own traditions.

  • DogGone

    They are self-correcting over time because observations must be repeatable. That’s what separates their conclusions from the easy, unchanging sureties of primitive religious explications of natural phenomena. Unlike you, however, I do not dismiss the value of tradition, culture, and history (as sources of interest, comfort, and pleasure, not information about the workings of nature.).

  • DogGone

    But they are, Shem. That’s what makes scientific method what it is. Everything is constantly reevaluated. Certainly, things like plate tectonics were mocked for a long time, but later were accepted when new evidence was discovered. Religion, on the other hand, never changes no matter what. That’s important because most people who use the term scientism are religious and they are talking about evolution, the age of the earth, and personhood at conception. That’s why Ruth is so defensive, and I don’t blame her, especially when these fools are in charge of our government.

  • Whether religion changes or not, or whether we’re currently governed by morons, is neither here nor there. I’m not pushing religion or Trumpism, and I’m critical of the GOP’s chicanery (LINK) whether or not it’s “anti-science”.

    I dispute that “everything is constantly re-evaluated” in scientific inquiry. In fact, biases and bad thinking are usually encoded and perpetuated in science by the uncritical attitude that equates science with reality and characterizes anyone who professes honest skepticism about science as a crackpot or a religious nut.

  • DogGone

    You weren’t paying attention in third grade when you were taught that science was not a set of conclusions, but rather a disciplined way of thinking, which is why it is so closely linked with mathematics.

  • DogGone

    The question is not whether everything will be known by science, but rather how much more we can understand through science. Each observation opens more questions. To intelligent people, that is exciting, not discouraging. There is always more to learn. Religious people who want to control others through hocus pocus and blind belief do not welcome thought and, I am sorry to say, do not value intelligence.

  • My apologies that the way I conceptualize scientific inquiry is more sophisticated than what we teach to third graders.

  • DogGone

    No, she is reacting to a set of beliefs that usually accompanies the use of the term. I would agree with you if you said that we should not be abandoning humanities in our universities in favor of an exclusive STEM curriculum (assuming that science is all that is necessary for a functional education). I believe that the humanities (history, literature, the arts. languages, and other branches of philosophy apart from science) are essential to education because we are human beings living in a culture–a social continuum–and understanding that culture is vital to its success, and thus our own. After all, our culture supports science, not the other way around.

  • @disqus_Iykkt5azHa:disqus You know this, and I know this, but some defend where we are at the moment as some scientific truth…even if tomorrow the facts change and they as vehemently adopt the new truth…even if this might be countered the day after.

    One day you believe in flat earths; the next spheres.
    One day you are geocentric; the next heliocentric
    One day you believe that stress causes ulcers; the next, it’s h. pylori.
    One day you believe that science can measure ‘human nature’. Some people still believe this.

  • DogGone

    Yes, meaning is a human construct. We are human beings. We live in a culture. Science can study cultures, but that is not the same as experiencing them. Though cultures (including history, the arts. and unfortunately, religions) are flawed, they are real and part of us all. They are not the Star Trek pollution of our perfectness. They are what ties us to the past and future. What we learn through them is largely subconscious. The more conscious we become, the more we can put all of our different sorts of knowledge into perspective. That’s what the various disciplines of the humanities are for.

  • DogGone

    Here we do have an interesting failure of our educational system. Unfortunately, in Western culture at this time, individuals attain high levels of power and influence through rudeness. Though I do not completely agree with your point, because I am not too sure what it is, I do agree that debate would be more productive if it were more civil, and not just here.

  • DogGone

    Okay, you have put your finger on the problem here. Certainly, disease is a part of the natural world and is best approached by science. As you say, value has nothing to do with science. HOWEVER, value has everything to do with our lives as human beings. AND value is not the sole province of religion. The humanities all consider the question of value.

  • Sophotroph

    Your origal post said “Was there a question?”

    I guess you’d have to read my posts to find out.

    Maybe you could try doing that.

  • I’m just dying to jump through hoops for a civil, reasonable person like you, S-man.

    Was there a question?

  • Sophotroph

    My questions are in my posts further up. Either you read them, and already know what they are, or you did not, and won’t read them this time here.

    The point is to get you to accept responsibility for your behavior. You still don’t understand that you’re the one being unreasonable, and you don’t want to.

    The last time I tried to get you to answer any questions, I repeated them three times, and all I got out of you was “I’m not trying to not answer your questions”, and then you again just barrelled on with your argument as if I hadn’t asked any.

    The level of dishonesty and deflection you have consistently displayed in the comments section of your own blog is something I have never experienced before from an editor at Patheos.

    The decision to give you a voice here was a mistake, and I hope they eventually realize it.

  • My questions are in my posts further up.

    Hey, you’re the one being evasive. You swooped in by saying, So Shem, rather than lying about the poster’s beliefs, care to answer the question? The poster made a request (not actually a question) which I answered as described in the OP. If you’d just ask a question, we’d probably be done by now and the best of friends.

    However, since you’ve been doing nothing but whining about my tone, calling me a liar, and accusing me of not responding to your question when you refuse to even clarify what the question is, tell me how I’m supposed to think I’m at fault here.

  • Sophotroph

    And you are doing it again. Do you think you’re having this conversation with nobody watching?

    Go back and read, or don’t waste my time.

  • Rest assured, you’ll be wasting no more time here.

  • DogGone

    But there are so many other ways of knowing and being in the world than becoming Dr. Spocks. Rejecting religion as a source of knowledge about the natural world (or about anything besides itself–a cultural artifact) does not mean science is the one and only essential source of knowledge. Science is very important. (By the way, technology, upon which we all depend, is not the same thing, though we would not have contemporary technology without it.) Let’s take medical ethics as just one example. Remember the book Coma? On that same thought train, how about organ harvesting in China? How about use of promising but untested drugs on desperate and thus vulnerable people? Remember Thalidomide? How about prolonging life without hope of recovery (often for profit, I might add)? How about eugenics? How about animal experimentation? How about gene manipulation? I could go on, but a medical ethicist would do better. Since these are questions which concern everyone, but not everyone is directly involved, novels can be the best way to present them. Novels are not science and novelists are not scientists. (Religious novels are about religion, but most novels are certainly not religion.) In addition to arts, such as literature, there are other disciplines that inform our lives in society in addition to science. Philosophy, history, law, ethics, are a few. Consult any good university’s course catalog for others.

  • DogGone

    Wait, I need you to define ‘valid knowledge”. Are you talking about the natural world? (as opposed to human society–no supernatural whatevers)

  • DogGone

    Hmm, well, actually there sort of is. When you watch an infant acquire skills, the process is pretty much experimentation, observation, testing, and readjustment. My argument is a little different. Since we as human beings are herd/social creatures there are things we must learn and consider about our social environments including history, the arts, and the various branches of philosophy.

  • When you watch an infant acquire skills, the process is pretty much experimentation, observation, testing, and readjustment.

    True. But the formalization and professional review is crucial to science. Otherwise literally anything we do with our eyes open constitutes science, and that makes the concept meaningless.

  • Ruth1940

    It seems to me that the natural world is all there is. Anything else is speculation/perception. Since the speculations/perceptions, etc. vary so from person to person and culture to culture, it’s very doubtful that any of them are accurate, and if it were right, there would be no way to know it.

  • Ruth1940

    What method do you think works to solve those problems, if not evidence-based? Don’t all other methods lead to contradictory answers?

  • Ruth1940

    Apparently you are unable to come up with a single example of “valid knowledge” gained from any source other than evidence.

  • Ruth1940

    I mentioned before that math was different because it was invented, so correct by definition. It gives us helpful tools to evaluate and predict, but no assumptions? Did you not take Euclidean geometry? Euclid’s method consists in assuming a small set of intuitively appealing axioms, and deducing many other propositions (theorems) from these. smh

  • Ruth1940

    I didn’t see a valid example in the OP of knowledge gained in ways other than via evidence. I gave examples where my local newspaper printed election results that had to be corrected later. Surely your “knowing” that Roy Moore won was conditional. If contradictory evidence came forward, it would be clear that what you thought was knowledge wasn’t. In reading your OP again, you see to err by equating perceptions and knowledge. Accusations of scientism seem to be a way to try to devalue evidence-based conclusions, much as inaccurate accusations of antisemitism are intended to stop valid criticism of Israel. http://www.democracynow.org/2002/8/14/israels_first_lady_of_human_rights

  • Ruth1940

    I don’t think you understand science well enough. You likely use evidence to adjust/tweak the conclusions that you claim didn’t come from scientific reason. Richard Feynman explained it well: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYPapE-3FRw

  • I don’t think you understand science well enough.

    Right back atcha, Ruthie. The only thing you’ve ever done here is launch irrelevant attacks on the things I’ve said, so I really think you’re attacking straw men. Feel free to tell me how I’ve misunderstood science, aside from not idealizing it as breathlessly as you do.

  • I don’t think you understand science well enough.

    Right back atcha, Ruthie. The only thing you’ve ever done here is launch irrelevant attacks on the things I’ve said, so I really think you’re attacking straw men. Feel free to tell me how I’ve misunderstood science, aside from not idealizing it as breathlessly as you do.

  • I don’t think you understand science well enough.

    Right back atcha, Ruthie. The only thing you’ve ever done here is launch irrelevant attacks on the things I’ve said, so I really think you’re attacking straw men. Feel free to tell me how I’ve misunderstood science, aside from not idealizing it as breathlessly as you do.

  • DogGone

    I am talking about civilization–relationships among human beings, the evolution of our various cultures through time and how these cultures interact. (The very cultures, by the way, which sponsored and continue to sponsor the work of scientists as they support the work of artists, because science, like art, is done for its own sake. As I said, applied science–technology–is not the same.) You have also pooh poohed every human or narrative science as “soft” and thus not really science. So you think all any of us needs to know are the dense equations of physics and chemistry? I have known many physicists and chemists. I love them dearly, but many definitely need help from people with more practical social knowledge. What they know is very important, but they need other people with other kinds of knowledge. I hope you are not one of these people calling for the abolition of humanities in our universities. If you are, I am afraid I have given you too much benefit of the doubt and will no longer defend you.

  • DogGone

    Okay, but there is more formalization and review in the process of acquiring basic skills than most people think. Do parents and other adults correct kids’ misperceptions? I know scientists would not like to think of their work in this way, but think of the rate at which kids learn and the interesting directions their talents take, even at very early ages. Science for older children and adults certainly formalizes this early process, and not everything is science. Science is not a finality or a body of answers to every question. It is a disciplined way of thinking about certain kinds of questions–especially nature. Questions of meaning belong to other branches of philosophy. Questions of rights belong to law and ethics. Questions about the human past belong to history. Questions about beauty belong to the arts. There are more.

  • DogGone

    Some of these questions have only contradictory answers. When science is applied, “studies” are often funded by parties with stakes in the results. Studies with negative findings are not published as often as studies with positive findings. Not all experimental design is equal. If you are a scientist, you know what I am talking about. Unfortunately, decisions must be made on the basis of inconclusive data. Somebody has to make these decisions, and it is usually somebody with experience within messy human communities, not science or scientists.

  • DogGone

    You have to be more specific. This is not a religious site. We are not religious (except for the occasional troll). Are you saying the humanities should be dropped from university curriculums?

  • DogGone

    Modernists believed in human culture (and its advancement) in many ways, not just science.

  • DogGone

    There are other kinds of evidence besides science. Now I think you need to define “science.” Forget dictionaries. I need to know where your personal arguments are coming from.

  • DogGone

    Okay, now this is what Ruth and the others on this thread are going after, and I agree. Most of us here in Nonreligious do not (or no longer) accept “the supernatural.” I personally find the attempt to include supernatural “explanations” of natural phenomena in school curriculum appalling. Those who believe that sort of thing, believe that sort of thing, but it belongs in (declining) churches.

  • DogGone

    You mean like the world ants, bees, birds, or dogs perceive? Which is “factual”? A question, apart from science, is what matters to us as human beings and why does it matter? Which realities do we share as part of the group we live in, and which do we share with all humans? Why does that matter and how will that affect the decisions we make as individuals, communities, and nations? What is the place of our current culture in the continuum of human time and what is our place within our culture? You say you want to make the world better. It is possible to change the world. The results of every change, however, as you probably know as a scientist, are inevitably mixed. Ask Nobel. Some things get better. Others get worse, sometimes much worse. (I know–that’s not scientific. It’s a value judgment, but human beings have real problems.)

  • DogGone

    That’s why science is about a process, not conclusions.

  • DogGone
  • DogGone

    You would think so, but historians (you know, those folks from the humanities buildings) offer this: https://www.metrum.org/measures/measurements.htm

  • DogGone

    Just finished watching a wonderful class on the Maya from Great Courses. Amazing!

  • DogGone

    How was the election science? Certainly, there is an abundance of evidence. Do you consider all results of observation and record science? I don’t. I define science as the use of scientific method. There are other methods of thinking. For example, law uses legal thinking. Logic uses logical thinking. etc.

  • DogGone

    Your argument got a bit muddled in the middle and I’m not sure what you mean. Are you saying that when a man goes to culinary school and learns to make a souffle, that isn’t knowledge? Or when a painter like Picasso works for years to develop a style and create works of art, that isn’t knowledge? Both certainly involve science (indirectly), but neither is science.

  • Neko

    Depending on how elastic your notion of evidence may be, one obvious example would be LGBTQ people. AFAIK, science has yet to arrive at a conclusive genetic explanation for sexual orientation or identity. Studies suggest trans people may have distinctive brains, but these studies are invariably described as “tentative.” We may be confident science will one day succeed in isolating the factors that determine sexuality. Meanwhile bigots accuse LGBTQs of “choosing” a “lifestyle” that is “sinful.”

    An LGBTQ says “I know I am this way.” How does one “know”? The evidence is an attraction or some persistent conviction about oneself, but it isn’t vetted through science.

  • Neko
  • Neko

    You wrote:

    The word scientism (which I never heard as a math major, physics minor at Iowa State Teachers College 1947-1961 or as the wife of an astronomer at the USNO) is usually used by those who haven’t studied science to put down those who have.

    No, it isn’t. It’s usually used to describe people, many of whom know beans about science, who fetishize science to the exclusion of other epistemologies and even cultural expressions. Shem is hardly being controversial.

    You seem to put quite a premium on the fact you never heard the word “scientism” at Iowa State Teachers College well over half a century ago, or “as the wife of an astronomer.” Anecdotal.

  • What I’m asking is this: Can these problems be solved with the scientific method? It seems like you have to take into account politics, values, and vested interests, not just evidence.

  • DogGone

    Speak for your state. It was in ours.

  • DogGone

    Certainly that sort of thing has happened in the past, and is happening now in some areas of science, however, over time these cul de sacs of thought are cleared and new understandings are reached because scientific method does demand reevaluation.. Most people who use the term scientism are religious (casting science as a competing religion, which it is not). Religions do not change their explanations ever (well, hardly ever–they finally admitted Earth circles the sun–rolls eyes)

  • DogGone

    Really? I guess I don’t understand your conceptualization. Over the course of the comments, it has meandered a bit. Also, an abstract idea such as a method of thought or a philosophical discipline is very sophisticated.

  • DogGone

    Science is a discipline. It is a method of thought. It is not a set of conclusions.

  • DogGone

    Thank you! Amen.

  • DogGone

    Thank you!!!

  • DogGone

    This is the Nonreligious section of the site (AKA atheist). If you want people who trust your untrustworthy sources, you will find them elsewhere.

  • DogGone

    Actually, it sort of is though, because most of the people who use the term “scientism” see science as a competing religion (set of conclusions subject to belief), which it is not. It is a disciplined method of thought.

  • DogGone

    Yes, Ruth, that is the important thing. It isn’t a set of conclusions. It is a method.

  • DogGone

    Her point is that through scientific method, many minds can check one another over time to provide advances in understandings of nature. I think that’s why she keeps bringing up perceptual limitations. Science is not about conclusions. It is about disciplined observation, recording, thinking, testing, sharing, (and repeated testing by others, over time, coupled with repeated observation using improved technology by new generations). Science is disciplined curiosity Religion is submission (e.g. your fetus is a child because I say so, so there, raspberry)..

  • Neko

    Bernie admits the process wasn’t rigged. What do you know that he doesn’t know?

  • I’ll admit I think science has become a surrogate religion for a lot of people, and it amuses me to hear them talk about science with the same uncritical adoration that we rightly deplore in religious belief.

    You can’t just trade Sky Boyfriend for Science Boyfriend.

  • Ruth1940
  • DogGone

    I participated in our state. I know who won and what happened.

  • DogGone

    Also, subjects like literary analysis, law, ethics, and philosophy use evidence, but they do not use scientific method. They are not science, at least not by the definition I was taught.

  • Neko

    What happened?

  • DogGone

    I don’t want to reveal details about where I live.

  • Neko

    I understand.

  • Annerdr

    I know I’m late, but that never stopped me.
    It may help to define “science”. It seems you are using it as the body of knowledge of STEM fields and Jim Jones is using it as the scientific method.

  • Bruce Gorton

    With art and cooking there is a mix of different methods of knowledge involved. because there is a mix of different kinds of knowledge going into it.

    The basic stuff like how to mix your paints, or the basic recipes and methods to get your soufle to rise – that’s all pretty much science. Its stuff that people learnt through experimentation, and then found worked on repeated attempts.

    The thing is with art and cooking – there is more to it than that. There is stuff that isn’t reality based so much as conceptually based. Cultural symbolism for example, isn’t strictly speaking real in the way that gravity is – but it is an important part of making art work.

    All of this stuff that isn’t strictly speaking about reality is still worth knowing, it is still real knowledge, but it is not necessarily talking about the same things as what someone means when they say that “science is the only way of knowing reality. “

  • There is stuff that isn’t reality based so much as conceptually based. Cultural symbolism for example, isn’t strictly speaking real in the way that gravity is – but it is an important part of making art work.

    But concepts exist in reality, don’t they? They don’t exist in the same frame of relevance that rocks and microbes exist, granted. But in that case, are you saying that nothing is real unless it has physical mass?

    All of this stuff that isn’t strictly speaking about reality is still worth knowing, it is still real knowledge, but it is not necessarily talking about the same things as what someone means when they say that “science is the only way of knowing reality. “

    How is the knowledge gained by studying art or cooking not “about reality”? It sounds like you’re presupposing that only the knowledge gained through scientific inquiry is valid knowledge, and then dismissing any other sort of knowledge simply because it isn’t the sort of knowledge science produces.

    See the fallacy here?

  • Bruce Gorton

    But concepts exist in reality, don’t they? They don’t exist in the same frame of relevance that rocks and microbes exist, granted. But in that case, are you saying that nothing is real unless it has physical mass

    In a sense, though it doesn’t require physical mass. It is more these things are only real so long as people exist to believe in them. They’re more social constructs than hard and fast stuff.

    It sounds like you’re presupposing that only the knowledge gained through scientific inquiry is valid knowledge,

    No.

    It is the only way of gaining valid knowledge about specific topics – about things which have a solid existence. There is a lot more to know than that, and science is far less suited to these other fields of knowledge.

    This is why philosophy is still of massive value, why we have academic study of things like law and economics, why academics exist outside of the sciences.

    To restrict ourselves to hard reality, and not study subjects outside of it, is just blindness – and those subjects outside of hard reality can be informed by science, and maybe one day a sort of science will evolve for their study, but as of now?

    The fields that specialise in those subjects are the fields that are most valid for those subjects.

  • But in that case, are you saying that nothing is real unless it has physical mass?

    In a sense, though it doesn’t require physical mass. It is more these things are only real so long as people exist to believe in them. They’re more social constructs than hard and fast stuff.

    And the point is that not only “hard and fast stuff” is real. If there weren’t people around to conduct science, science wouldn’t exist either. Yet science is real, isn’t it?

    It is the only way of gaining valid knowledge about specific topics – about things which have a solid existence.

    Specific topics like black holes and ancient natural history, sure. But I have knowledge of plenty of things that have a solid existence, just by physically observing and interacting with them. That’s a rudimentary form of inquiry, but it isn’t science by a long shot. I may not understand the molecular makeup of an object, but I understand it in an immediate physical sense. That’s what knowledge is.

  • Bruce Gorton

    Science I don’t think is real, in the sense that the stuff we use it to examine is real. It’s a concept, it certainly has demonstrated its use and validity as a concept, but to paraphrase Death’s Speech, if you grind down the universe to its smallest parts, you’re not going to find an atom of science.

    In a way what I’m driving at is Stephen Jay Gould’s concept of non-overlapping magisteria, though I think there is at least some overlap where science is king. You can’t legislate away gravity for example, but you also can’t really scientifically define justice.

    I disagree with the idea that religion gets a magisteria, the Catholic paedophile scandal I think demonstrates that it certainly doesn’t get morality, but the overall concept is valid I think, and probably the most honest way we have of looking at these things.

  • John Cochran

    To say that science is not at the heart of most every source of knowledge is incredulous. The author goes out on a limb by assuming that thought and reason are not the essential core of all scientific explorations. They might not have been established by algorithms or the order of a statistically valid research project, but without them no research can be taken. They were manifested by some, if not most, areas in the scientific fields. The author is obviously a qualitative person instead of a quantitative researcher. Qualitative followers forever try to fashion their soft science on par with the quantitative approach. As such he and others of the same ilk have “physics envy” and try to deride hardcore science at every turn. Rarely, if ever do they succeed.

  • DogGone

    Certainly, scientists question one another’s work all the time. The general public doesn’t see this. The problem is, in today’s climate, if you question scientific method, the whackadoodles are going to jump in and say, ah hah, we told you the Good Bishop Usher was right. Some things, like the evolution of life are well established. New findings continue to affirm previous hypotheses, and we can certainly be sure a god didn’t whip out a magic wand and make it all happen. (rolls eyes)

  • Where did I imply that “thought and reason are not the essential core of all scientific explorations”?

    All I’m saying is that scientific inquiry is the source of of our knowledge about a lot of things, and certainly the sole source of knowledge about things like black holes. Observation and reasoning aren’t in themselves science, yet they form the basis of most of what we know about how the world works. That knowledge is enough to get us across the street safely.

  • al kimeea

    I assume someone counted the votes and found Moore lacking. Vaguely scientific. I prefer paper ballots, counted by reps from each party for verification. None of this chad BS.

    Well, having stared at the stars from a young age, I soon learned to trust the astronomers, not the astrologers, and the info they bring to the table, such as new planets around distant suns. Also read a book by Michio Kaku – Hyperspace, among others. Scientists know because they use their methodology for accuracy. And it appears everything is speeding away, accelerating away.

    The authorities on a Channel Island(?) had a freshwater shortage from usage and seawater was leaching inland. So they hired dowsers and drilled in $everal u$ele$$ location$ before bringing in a pro. So, there’s some utility to applying a skeptical mindset to public office.

    The phrase “other ways of knowing” is a dodge used by those peddling any kind of nonsense that fails under critical analysis. Sadly, it works.

  • GKWilly

    If science isn’t about conclusions, then why do it? Its utility *is* its conclusions. The process might be intellectually stimulating or otherwise enjoyable by its practitioners, but its value to mankind lies in its ability to guide us in accomplishing things that we couldn’t otherwise.
    Why do you assert religion is submission?

    And science says a fetus is a child. It’s what people look like at that age, apparently.

  • GKWilly

    Math is an invented tool? Isn’t that like saying ‘made with real milk’? I have no idea whose geometry I studied. Didn’t really like it, anyway. No angle side side, indeed!

    Yes math has axioms, but science relies on assumptions at every step. I was trying to distinguish mathematics from the unabashed storytelling guesswork called science.

  • GKWilly

    So the multitude of science journals are for scientists to publish new methods of thought? The ones I’ve seen have new alleged observations and conclusions, or in the case of meta analyses, just new conclusions.

  • Ruth1940

    Although I got A’s in it, I wasn’t crazy about Euclidean geometry in high school either, as I could see no connection with algebra, which is an excellent tool for solving problems. I preferred the analytic geometry where the same theorems are solved using algebraic equations (with the plane figures plotted on graphs) which I studied in college (and which I also taught while student teaching in 10th grade geometry class at Iowa State Teachers College’s Malcolm Price Laboratory School- spring 1960). I studied spherical geometry when my husband was taking it via correspondence. Of course math is invented. Roman numerals didn’t even have zero or negative numbers, and some isolated cultures near the equator don’t even have words for numbers (some just words like many and few) because they don’t depend on trade to survive. But math is what it is because it was defined that way (and was defined that way because some very smart people had gradually developed what worked to describe the world). Science conclusions are what’s most probable based on the evidence available – often very useful conclusions, but always subject to change when and if more evidence surfaces (which it often does based on new and better detection and measurement tools).

  • Ruth1940

    I’m reminded on Churchill’s famous dictum: “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” (from a House of Commons speech on Nov. 11, 1947). Science is not a perfect way to determine truth about the world, but beats all the other methods that have been tried. Science is self-correcting over time.

  • GKWilly

    I hear you. Science is probably correct (or correct enough) and in theory has proved useful.

  • Ruth1940

    Please explain why you say proved useful only in theory.

  • GKWilly

    I suppose it’s only been useful. But some might say toward bad uses at times. ‘‘Tis not a fault of science, but a consequence.

  • Scientific progress has indeed been useful; it’s also had a host of unfortunate consequences for the environment, our civil liberties, and society in general. Science is conducted in specific social-institutional, economic, and political contexts, and can’t just conveniently be separated from them so we can keep idealizing it in the face of evidence that it has a very real downside.

  • Ruth1940

    Have scientific discoveries been used badly as much as misinformation from non-evidence-based sources? Surely the hate generated by beliefs that diseases are caused from displeasing gods is far worse, while the germ theory has led to saving countless lives, and time after time, beliefs without evidence caused delays in research and acceptance of the evidence found. For instance, leprosy:

    http://www.gotquestions.org/Bible-leprosy.html

    https://web.stanford.edu/group/parasites/ParaSites2005/Leprosy/history.htm timeline – good

    www2.kenyon.edu/projects/margin/lepers.htm

    https://christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/42947/what-evidence-is-there-that-the-jews-thought-leprosy-was-due-to-sin

    http://www.badnewsaboutchristianity.com/gam_sick.htm

  • Hereabouts, saying science is better than religion isn’t saying much.

  • Ruth1940

    http://www.britannica.com/biography/Charles-Darwin/Evolution-by-natural-selection-the-London-years-1836-42

    He rarely mentioned his secret. When he did, notably to the Kew Gardens botanist Joseph Dalton Hooker, Darwin said that believing in evolution was “like confessing a murder.” The analogy with that capital offense was not so strange: seditious atheists were using evolution as part of their weaponry against Anglican oppression and were being jailed for blasphemy.

  • Ruth1940

    Oh come on! The leaked emails proved it, causing the accusations of Russia hacking (STILL no proof) to distract from the damning content of the emails. The media had a vested interest in having anybody but Bernie win, as they reap huge revenues for expensive ads in ever longer campaigns. The DNC bylaws require the party to stay neutral during the primary, but they worked with the Clinton campaign to elevate the worst Republican candidates even before the process started. (Elizabeth Warren could accomplish nothing in the Senate if she alienates the Democratic establishment too much, same with Bernie, thus he campaigned for Hillary after the national convention, in spite of the DNC timing and limiting debates to favor Hillary, and sending his campaign wrong lists, then withholding his own supporter list which was against their contract. He had to file a lawsuit to get it back. It very well changed the outcome of the Iowa caucuses.) There’s tons more. Send me an email at ruthdbwalker@yahoo.com and I’ll share the documentation. (I’m on my county central committee and was on the Iowa Democratic Platform Committee at county, district, and state.) I think the rules need to be followed.

  • And social Darwinists were using evolution to validate the prevailing social order by showing that the white races were “more evolved” than their colonial subjects, and were being hailed for their objectivity and scientific precision.

  • Ruth1940

    Send me an email at ruthdbwalker@yahoo.com as this is a conversation that needs to happen. I’ll share my documentation and you critique it. I followed the process from the beginning. If I’m wrong, you’ll convince me with evidence and I’ll share it widely. But what I’ve heard from Hillary fans since Trump won is that 2016 is past (when I want to talk evidence) but then they keep spreading false reasons for Hillary’s loss! Just last Saturday I heard a strong Democrat (whose wife was in the Iowa legislature years ago) say that the Bernie supporters were/are the problem.

  • Ruth1940

    Of course that wasn’t related to Darwin’s discoveries and theory. It’s hardly the fault of scientists if those with bad ideas not based on valid evidence cop the language.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Darwinism

    Social Darwinism has many definitions, and some of them are incompatible with each other. As such, social Darwinism has been criticized for being an inconsistent philosophy, which does not lead to any clear political conclusions. For example, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Politics states:

    Part of the difficulty in establishing sensible and consistent usage is that commitment to the biology of natural selection and to ‘survival of the fittest’ entailed nothing uniform either for sociological method or for political doctrine. A ‘social Darwinist’ could just as well be a defender of laissez-faire as a defender of state socialism, just as much an imperialist as a domestic eugenist.[15]

  • Well, you were posting questionable historical factoids that don’t relate to the topic in any way, and it looked like so much fun I thought I’d join in.

  • Neko

    HAha. We’re in the middle of a crisis of democracy and you want to flog your Bernie conspiracy theory over email? My favorite part is about how Russiagate was designed “to distract from the damning content of the emails.” You’re aware the FBI first contacted the DNC about a breach in 2015? Sure, the whole trajectory that resulted in the (Republican) Mueller investigation was a false flag to give Hillary cover because her peeps said mean things about Bernie in email. Occam’s Razor!

    I don’t give fuckall about the DNC. The Clintons bailed out the cash-strapped and mismanaged DNC so they demanded some control over staffing, and yeah, the DNC backed Hillary despite protestations of neutrality. Shocker. Bernie is an Independent who never did jack for the party. You’re aware the debate schedules are planned long in advance? How much impact does the DNC have on the vote? And who’s president now? Happy?

  • Ruth1940

    The protestations were backed by evidence – proven by the emails released by Wikileaks. Those of you who insist on ignoring evidence will be the downfall of our nation. If I’m wrong, provide valid reasons. Hillary’s record and platform were contrary to a couple of planks in the Iowa Democratic Platform that are extremely important.

    How much responsibility for Trump’s election should go to the DNC collusion with the Clinton campaign, which was against the DNC bylaws?

    https://wikileaks.org/podesta-emails/emailid/1120 See attachment

    http://observer.com/2017/05/dnc-lawsuit-presidential-primaries-bernie-sanders-supporters

    The DNC screwup might have caused Bernie to lose the Iowa caucuses. Read the lawsuit linked from: http://www.cnn.com/2015/12/18/politics/bernie-sanders-campaign-dnc-suspension
    http://www.snopes.com/bernie-sanders-campaign-data-breach-controversy
    As a result of NGP VAN’s “dropped firewall” and the data access controversy, the New York Timesreported that the “Democratic National Committee [DNC] acted swiftly to deny the Sanders campaign future access to the party’s 50-state voter file, which contains information about millions of Democrats and is invaluable to campaigns on a daily basis.” Uretsky maintained that the DNC’s immediate sanctions effectively paralyzed key functions of the Sanders campaign at a critical juncture:

    It makes it very difficult for the campaign to conduct its daily activities. The campaign routinely relies on these lists and data.

    While the media’s vested interest in having anybody but Bernie win was clear (as they thrive on expensive ads with long campaigns), their spreading false stories of violence at the Nevada convention (where Bernie supporters understandably were upset and noisy when the chair closed the convention rather than follow the rules), ought to have been condemned by all Americans. How did that not give credence to Trump’s claims that the media lie?
    http://www.snopes.com/did-sanders-supporters-throw-chairs-at-nevada-democratic-convention

    How did this not support the Trump campaign chants of “Lyin’ Hillary?” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RoqQw1gHYt4
    http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/jan/14/chelsea-clinton/chelsea-clinton-mischaracterizes-bernie-sanders-he

    Don’t most Democrats care about following rules?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6ebMME6TNk

    Don’t most Democrats value our constitutional right to economic protest?

    http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2158218-hillary-clintons-letter-to-haim-saban-against-bds.html

    Has any Russian collusion been proven? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64m9cy6nqMU I don’t think there’s a bit of evidence that Trump expected to win, and he’s always promoted himself. When he was thinking of running on the Reform Party years ago, he told a reporter that the publicity was good for the Trump brand.

    Didn’t the whole Russian thing start with accusations that Russia had hacked the DNC and stolen the emails? The timing seemed to be an effort to distract from the damning content of them, which has never been denied. I’ve followed information from Ray McGovern, former CIA analyst and specialist on Russia (who returned his medals of commendation after learning of the CIA torture in Iraq) and other members of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) starting with his post on July 28, 2016:

    http://raymcgovern.com/2016/07/28/theater-of-the-absurd-with-wikileaks-publishing-emails-showing-how-the-clinton-clique-sabotaged-bernie-sanderss-campaign-the-corporate-media-has-displayed-oddly-misdirected-outrage

  • Neko

    You link to Jared Kushner’s Observer for a story about how Crooked Hillary done Bernie wrong? At least you have a sense of humor.

  • GKWilly

    Is this a cat vs. dog thing? I prefer Itchy vs. Scratchy.

    How would you even assess such a ‘which is more horrible competition’? And if you had a result from this comparison, what use would it serve?

    I don’t want to touch this Pandora’s box!

  • GKWilly

    And all evil done in the name of religion may be washed of religion, since it was obviously done by those who copped the language and misunderstood true meaning. Phew! I dodged that implied accusation. I don’t know where that idea came from.

    Anyway, I’m glad I don’t have to deal with a childish we’re all good and you’re all bad mentality. That’d be tiresome!

  • Ruth1940

    Try building up a little courage and examine the primary references in the links from that article, then engage in honest discussion. (Demonizing a source is sometimes refeered to as the genetic fallacy.) Can you find a single instance when the DNC or Hillary’s campaign objected to CNN running entire Trump speeches free? A single time the media asked Trump hard questions during the primary season? Yet you’d expect them to provide information showing their assistance in Trump’s nomination? Quit demonizing the source and examine the evidence! Of course name-calling is easier and likely more comfortable.

  • Neko

    What was that name I called you again?

  • Ruth1940

    You described me as spreading conspiracy theories while you waste valuable time that could be spent examining the facts and engaging in honest discussion of the issues. In her book, Hillary complained about her media coverage, but she got more positive press than any other candidate. See figure 7 at https://shorensteincenter.org/pre-primary-news-coverage-2016-trump-clinton-sanders/#_ftnref22. The media could hardly avoid reporting about the investigations. Did you even read the report from the State Department? http://www.washingtonpost.com/apps/g/page/politics/state-department-report-on-clintons-email-practices/2039 Her fans continued to believe that others had done the same thing and that the FBI report had shown she was innocent (because she said that over and over) even after the reports clearly said she’d screwed up, but intent couldn’t be proven. http://www.fbi.gov/news/pressrel/press-releases/fbi-releases-documents-in-hillary-clinton-e-mail-investigation

  • Neko

    You wrote:

    In her book, Hillary complained about her media coverage, but she got more positive press than any other candidate.

    Your Shorenstein source offers:

    For her part, Hillary Clinton had by far the most negative coverage of any candidate.

    I’m not going down this rabbit hole. Sorry.

  • DogGone

    they are published so other scientists can duplicate the research or disprove it

  • Ruth1940

    You have a constitutional right to continue to keep your head in the sand, but that attitude contributes to the downfall of the Democratic Party (and likely our nation). The negative press (except for Fox News, which also regurgitated the old tired crap the Republicans have spewed for decades) was regarding her emails and private servers while Secretary of State. I provided the links to the reports. What about careless don’t you understand? To consider oneself above the rules and guidelines, jeopardizing national security, is serious. It’s doubtful that any other candidate would have survived after the FBI investigation started. Why should HRC be immune to critique and valid criticism?

  • Neko

    How about the fact your source flatly contradicts your assertion about Hillary’s press coverage? Got anything to say about that?

    Who says Hillary should be immune to criticism? That’s an absurd strawman.

  • GKWilly

    But is it research on new methods of thought to improve science? No. It’s conclusions based on alleged evidence. Scientists use methods to arrive at reasonable conclusions. And they publish to satisfy contracts or further personal gain…not for duplication efforts that’ll never happen.

  • al kimeea

    all should use critical thinking – I was told by a lawyer there is no evidence supporting Einstein’s ideas.”None.” The Japanese would disagree.

  • DogGone

    You gave good examples of the way scientific thought is self-correcting over time and evolves. By the way, we do understand more about human psychology than we did even a generation ago, and yes, scientific method is still working on various questions related to “human nature.” Do we have all the answers? Of course not, but we are no longer tethered to Freud.

  • DogGone

    What I’ve been saying all along is that we are talking not about science, but about philosophy. We have arrived at the same place now: what is “reality?” (That one goes back before Socrates.)

  • DogGone

    Concepts shape our reality (as does our language). If different levels of energy determine what is a “thing” and what is not, is reality nothing but different levels of energy defined by concepts we generate based on our limited senses? After all, even in our own homes, our pets live in an entirely different “reality” because their senses are different, to say nothing of the “reality” of the bugs in our gardens.

  • DogGone

    Ah, well why didn’t you say this in the first place? This is the real question, and it is a philosophical one: Why am I here? What is the meaning of my life? Certainly, many people turn to religion for the answer. It is comfortable, has a long history, and is widely accepted. It is also easy. There are other ways to seek the answers. That’s why stories, back as far as Gilgamesh, follow The Hero’s Journey. Each of us must determine that answer for ourselves, because it is not exactly the same for any two of us. Nobody else and no system of thought can answer that question for you. Many will try. They will say, if you let them, “That’s easy. Your life’s purpose is to serve me.” That is the song of the sirens. Science is a method of understanding the natural world. Philosophy and literature explore the kinds of questions you have raised.

  • DogGone

    Okay, not that I agree with Penman (I don’t), but I get defensive around physics snobs, so there’s this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Observer_effect_(physics)

  • Hey Mate, it sounds like you might be interested in Steven Pinker’s book, Enlightenment Now!. Thankfully, we are no longer tethered to Freud…except we are because we retain his pseudoscientific concept of the unconscious, as some metaphysical mystery hiding information accessible only to skilled divinators. Sure, it may not be about the Mother, but it is still nonsensical.

    By the way, I like Steven Pinker. I’ve read at least 3 of his books and am reading the one I linked, but he is a bit of a Pollyanna optimist, more of a king of wishful thinking than anything.

  • DogGone

    True, we have not completely dumped Freud, but we are working on it.

  • LOL. You are. I am. Some are. All too many are not. This, like many anachronistic ideas.

  • It’s not like I’m a huge Freud fan or anything, but let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. If we’re talking about anachronistic ideas, let’s dump the ones that say that we’re all totally rational agents and that only the literal meaning of statements is relevant.

  • Deal!