Belief and what drives it

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by arfa brane, Apr 25, 2015.

  1. arfa brane call me arf Valued Senior Member

    That Helsinki is the capital of Finland is easily verified (so that knowing this fact involves little emotion--you don't hate the fact, but maybe you like knowing it, you aren't "religious" about knowing it etc), what about your belief in the existence or nonexistence of a God (how do you know it's true, or verify it)?
    Or your belief in doing the "right" kinds of things, or in a communal good (say, the existence of hospitals, schools, a police force etc)? How do you verify in that context what you believe is true for you?

    Verification that a Higgs field exists (the theory is correct) is available at various levels of "confidence", up to being able to read and understand published scientific papers, hence it's not easy for the average person who generally accepts what news channels say. With perhaps the same confidence they would give to a report about the Hubble telescope, or a Mars probe.

    "Important" scientific discoveries or space missions get headlines, and most people believe in science; most people believed in steam technology in the 19th century.
    But then, there are a lot of people who choose not to believe in certain kinds of science, like evolution, climate change, tectonic drift and the geological age of the earth etc.

    This isn't a a small matter, it affects education, it polarises societies, look at American politics--what is the rest of the world supposed to believe about what looks like something rather childish? Why is it like that and why are politicians prepared to entertain "dangerous" tactics? Is it the thrill, the sense of being right? Is it because liberal ideas are just, well, revolting, they stink?
    Last edited: May 19, 2015
    danshawen likes this.
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  3. danshawen Valued Senior Member

    Willful ignorance / intolerance of whole other cultures including and especially science definitely stinks. Teaching this attitude to your children is criminal, because it prepares them only for the misery of a life that derives of an impoverished mindset that can only fear what it doesn't understand. Show us the shining citizen that is a counter example. Hermits as a rule aren't as literate or functional as someone like Thoreau or Emerson, and autodidacts generally make fools of themselves. Regularly. William F Buckley Jr is only one example (taught only politics and a distorted view of history by his mother). Chris Langan is another (taught himself philosophy, author of CTMU). Getting an education about science from a religious source is just as bad, and for the same reasons.

    Ignorance has a function in intelligence, if only to provide some measure of sales resistance to someone who is peddling ignorance or intolerance, for example. Sensory and cultural deprivation does not have a function in intelligence, or anything else, other than to a truly obsessed and misguided idiot with a determination to remain ignorant. THAT, not liberalism, or science, is what really reeks. And you can actually smell their fear. For miles. Only knowledge can replace such fear. Of course, the obsessively ignorant would fear that idea as well.
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2015
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  5. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Quantum mysticism is mostly an attempt to cloak some dubious ideas with an aura of scientific legitimacy. People generally respect science, even if they don't understand it. So, if they believe in something like ESP, then it's good to be able to claim that quantum physics allows it through its "spooky action at a distance", or something similar - even if that's not really what quantum physics says at all.

    Climate change is a scientific thesis, but unfortunately it has been loaded down with politics and vested interests. One can ignore the bullshit and ask questions like: is the average temperature of the Earth rising, falling or staying approximately constant? That question has a simple, scientific answer. The question of whether we should do something about it and, if so, what, is where the politics and the grand social movements start.

    I'm not sure whether you're trying to make the claim that climate change is entirely a political question; I hope not. There is a factual answer to the question of whether the world is warming or not. If you believe it isn't when all the data says that it is, then you're in error. If, when presented with the data and the argument, you insist that warming is not occurring (without appropriate justification), then you are in denial.

    As for the end-times, we need to think carefully about what climate change will mean. It won't be end-times for the Earth as a whole, or even all human beings.But it could well mean the avoidable death of millions in the long-term if we do nothing about it.

    The "God particle" thing is part of that quantum mysticism stuff again. Physicists don't generally refer to the Higgs boson that way. In fact, the origin of the "god particle" label was a bit of a joke. I believe it was originally dubbed the "goddamn particle", for example.

    The same could be said of practically any specialised field of intellectual inquiry over the past century. Lay people can't really gain a good intuitive understanding of topics such as medicine, engineering, economics, or computer languages either, except at a fairly superficial level, unless they are willing to devote some time and effort into learning something about the particular speciality. Reading a news story about how medical scientists have just found a new treatment for disease X is similar to reading a story about how physicists have just found a new subatomic particle. If you don't know enough to dig into the detail, both stories are little more than "gee whiz!"

    It's the physical and mathematical model that describes all the known fundamental particles that exist and how they interact with one another.

    And if a doctor tells you to take drug X because it will help you with health problem Y, then in most cases you're in a similar position. Or if an investment advisor tells you to buy stock Z because he expects the market to perform in a particular way, again you're most likely in a position of faith, unless you have some degree of knowledge of the relevant subject yourself. We all rely on experts all the time, and we have no real choice but to trust them - unless and until they prove to be untrustworthy.


    That's true to some extent, although part of being a scientist (indeed, any kind of intellectual) is usually the ability to keep multiple hypothetical balls in the air at once, knowing that some of them are mutually incompatible.

    Somebody said that big revolutions in science don't usually happen because scientists are universally convinced to change their minds. Rather, they happen when the old guard dies out and is replaced by a new breed who regards the new way of thinking as accepted knowledge.
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  7. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

    I think it is in a large part political. About 90%.

    The first political point is that it is not simply an increase in temperature, but a man-made increase. This thesis, even if it is formally a factual one, is essentially an ideological one, anti-humanistic, green ideology: What human are doing is harming the Nature.

    The second point which shows its political nature is that all what appears in the media are negative consequences of global warming. In fact, it is far away from clear if the positive consequences are not greater than the negative ones - I would guess that a global cooling would be much more dangerous and problematic.

    First of all, what humans do - to increase CO_2 - is positive for plant growth, for quite obvious reasons. AFAIK, this effect is especially important in regions where plant growth is critical, because of aridity. Then, there are enough large regions on Earth where live is very difficult simply because it is too cold there.

    Another point is the nature of what is influenced by humans. It is CO_2. The effect is a logarithmical one - every doubling of CO_2 give a fixed rise of temperature. What has happened up to now was in no way catastrophical. I don't know the exact factor of increase of CO_2 by humans up to now, but, given that this factor has not lead to serious harm, we can yet multiply CO_2 again with the same factor without having to expect serious harm.

    Of course, anyway peak oil is close, so there will be no more great increases of fossil burning by mankind, and people will increasingly use things like solar energy anyway. One does not need any artificial government support for this, this will happen in the long run anyway.

    This is what the media hystery suggests. But I see no reason at all for this. There are much more serious threats for the mankind, the main is the danger of nuclear WW III started by the US against Russia to become the unquestioned world ruler.
  8. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

    Not at all. Hitler was clearly a revolutionary. His movement was named Nationalsozialismus, thus a combination of nationalism - a revolutionary movement starting with the French Revolution - and socialism, which was even more revolutionary. If he would have been a reactionary, he would have tried to revive monarchy. He didn't even try.

    And the military strategy - Blitzkrieg based on strong mobile tank forces - was also quite revolutionary.
  9. arfa brane call me arf Valued Senior Member

    Sure, but was he liberal or conservative?
    Revolutionary doesn't mean liberal. I think the consensus is that Hitler was sure the war would be won by infantry along with the artillery, he viewed the German air force and navy as playing a secondary role. This isn't a conservative military strategy?

    If Hitler had been more liberal he might have had a much larger air force and conquered Britain in a few weeks; he might have spent more on the submarine fleet and made Atlantic shipping impossible rather than risky, cutting America off and starving the British into surrender. He was a conservative military thinker instead. He blew it.
  10. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Physical facts are not "essentially" ideological. They don't go away if you change ideologies.

    How does that make the physical facts go away?
    Disaster is overwhelmingly likely - what kinds of odds would a sane person accept?
    The hypothetical bad consequences of a similarly sharp global cooling that has not been happening have nothing to do with the matter at hand.

    None of this will be helped by a too rapid increase in the temperature regime of the planet, accompanied by an acidification of the ocean water and a sharp rise in sea level, and feeding into major shifts in weather patterns and intensities.

    1) The train hasn't hit us yet, so it's safe to just park here on the tracks.
    2) The guy blowing the whistle has an alarmist political agenda, so there is no train.
    3) Trains have a lot of beneficial effects, so it's safe to park on the tracks.
    4) Trains have been through here before without hitting anything, so we're safe parked here on the tracks.
    5) Observers keep changing their estimate of the speed of the train, so its safe to park here on the tracks.
    6) It's expensive and dangerous to start and drive a car on the road - so we should stay parked here on these tracks.

    and so forth.
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2015
  11. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

    Yep. But do they remain relevant if the ideology changes?

    No, the physical facts can remain completely unchanged. If one looks at them from another ideological perspective, the situation does not look like a disaster. The feeling that there comes a disaster is media-made, without much base in facts.
    And, of course, it will not prevent the coming of the Antichrist. Sorry, whenever the media give such a consistent picture that a disaster is coming, you can bet - its all a lie.

    If you want a real picture, the only way is to become a climate scientist yourself - ok, not without own research, but reading professional articles yourself, with sufficient detail to be able to distinguish nonsense from reasonable articles. There are no other possibilities. To believe these political climate reports is clearly not sufficient, because the political bias is too obvious.
    Of course. If the media tell us that these are tracks, with trains coming, this is probably a very safe and nice place for a picknick. Sorry, but I know that the media are notorious liars - whenever I have been able to check the facts, they have lied. And whenever they all present the same picture, one can be almost certain that it is a lie. (Of course, this is polemical exaggeration, if some famous artist dies, they probably will not lie about the date. But whenever something is politically important, its a lie.)
  12. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

    In the american meaning (democrat vs. republican) or in the european? Anyway, an incorrect question. The american two big parties are anyway only fractions of the same party of the military-industrial complex, which present a show to make it look like if there are some differences. In Europe, its the same, the parties of, say, Germany, are all social-democratic fractions, to identify differences is a really hard job. Not completely sure if Le Pen in France is a little bit different than the fractions of the established social-democratic party, but, AFAIU, the differences are not really important.

    In comparison to all these social democrats, Hitler was a real revolutionary who has despised social democrats as well as classical liberals and conservatives. His fight with the communists was hard - but this was a fight between brothers in nature.
  13. arfa brane call me arf Valued Senior Member

    Hitler wasn't very revolutionary with his air and naval forces. How do you explain that? How also do you explain the several times the German armies were told to halt or return from the battlefront when they were winning or had the Allied powers on the run? Hitler made a lot of tactical errors, which if he hadn't would most likely have changed the outcome. He was far too preoccupied with what he believed was the supremacy of land based armies, he just didn't see a bigger picture.

    If he was a revolutionary, why did he have supreme command? What do you suppose he thought was revolutionary about dictatorship?

    His conservative military outlook wasn't the only reason the Allies won, but it sure helped.
  14. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

    I don't, because I think it is wrong, at least for air forces. Of course, the V2 was revolutionary.
    I cannot explain fact I don't even know about.
    Certainly not. Hitler did not have a chance. He could have won against Churchill, but who cares about England? Against Stalin he had no chance. At least if we follow Suvorov's infos about Stalins military power and plans, he has found the ideal date to start his attack, and reaching an immense initial success, but nonetheless lost the war. Against Russia and America his chance was simply zero.

    Which bigger picture? The war has been won by a land based army, the russian one. They had superior tanks, but their greatest advantage was artillery. And of course they had quite a lot of infantry.
    A meaningless question. Revolutions lead to dictatorships, this is always so. May be, some time after the revolution this changes, but a revolution establishes, first, a dictatorship. Ok, you could object that there have been these peaceful revolutions which have led to the end of communism. But this was more of a collapse of the regime than a revolution.
  15. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    Let me guess. You're American. Unfortunately, as I said, the issue has been deliberately politicised in the US, in particular. There are many powerful vested interests and lobbyists who spend large amounts of money trying to sow the seeds of doubt about climate change and to paint the issue as entirely political. You should be careful of buying into that propaganda.

    The question of whether the increase in temperature is due primarily to human activity is, first and foremost, a factual one that can be settled by looking at the evidence. There's very little doubt now that the warming is due to human activity.

    The beliefs that nature is there for the plundering by human beings, and that human beings can have no effect on nature on a global scale are both beliefs that are maintained by many people for ideological reasons. Those people don't want to change the way they live. It's easier to hold the position that change and action is unnecessary.

    Your use of the term "anti-humanistic" is interesting. I would say that from a humanist perspective, taking climate change seriously is the best way to prevent harm to many human beings, while ignoring the issue is "anti-humanistic".

    Experts agree that the negative effects are likely to outweigh the positives.

    I'm not sure how you think global warming will help with the problem of aridity. It will result, in many areas, in increased desertification. Without water, plants will not grow, regardless of how much CO2 there is. Also, many plants don't like too much heat - again, regardless of how much CO2 they are getting.

    Sure, some currently-cold areas will become more temperate. At the same time, deserts elsewhere will expand elsewhere and/or become hotter.

    Got a reference for that?

    And this?

    Experts say that 80% of current fossil fuel reserves must remain in the ground if we are to limit the temperature rise to 4 degrees.

    I don't know why people so often want to argue that we're incompetent at doing more than one thing at a time. Couldn't we address global warming and the danger of nuclear war? Why must it be one or the other?
  16. arfa brane call me arf Valued Senior Member

    I agree that Hitler didn't have a chance of defeating Russia, or America.
    That doesn't mean, again, that the outcome would not have been different if say, Hitler had not declared war on America when he did.

    I maintain my view that Hitler was, basically, a conservative thinker. He failed to see the advantage of a large air force or of the U2 fleets and continued to believe standing armies were the superior option. The special projects that German scientists worked on, one of which was the V1 and V2, in the hope of developing a super weapon, were all failures too. The rocket attacks failed to achieve the objective of subjugating the British people, instead it had the opposite effect.

    And I have to ask, have you not heard of the Dunkirk evacuation? You don't know quite a lot about what actually happened?
  17. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member


    There are also very powerful interests on the other side. The climate change is an extremely useful ideological weapon in favour of a world governement.

    If it would be a first and foremost factual one, I would not doubt. But, however factual, it is an ideologically important one, with suuficiently strong state-based interest behind. The consequence is, unfortunately, that one cannot trust official science about this.
    And there is the other group with strong ideology, which wants the world government. They want change, namely a revolution which creates a single new worldwide imperium based on the american imperium.
    There are some extremists among the green movement who think that the best way to solve the environmental problem is reduce mankind to some quite small percentage of the actual one.

    The problem with ideological science is that its "experts" are not people one can simply believe. If you are an optimist, you may believe their claims are not outright lies. But scientists are not heros, and scientists without permanent position, who have to hope for their next grant, are the opposite of brave warriors for truth. (With a few exceptions, which, after two years, are no longer scientists and even less "experts".) The typical reaction of scientists to political pressure is (1) to switch into another domain of research without such pressure, (2) not to study questions where the outcome predictably contradicts the political dogma, (3) Hide the results which contradict the political dogma behind professional language.
    You can be sure only about one thing: Whatever question is considered in the media is an example with horrible negative consequences of warming. So, of course, it can result only in increased desertification. Even if it also leads to increased rainfalls (but only rainfalls of the catastrophic sort, tornados or so, will increase).

    I have not collected references - I have made some personal tests to check some claims for myself. This is, for me, only an adverse example of a political science. Completely independent of what the truth is, one thing is obvious - what the media write is a lie.

    Again, if you want to find the truth, you have to become an expert yourself. I have decided that this is too much effort for me, thus I'm not an expert. All I have done is to check a few questions - how is, in the simplest model, the relation between increase in CO2 and increase in temperature, what about CO2 as being good for plant growth, and what about the increasing number of hurricans - with reading what both sides say, and deciding for myself which side has the better arguments.

    And this is what you have to do yourself, if you don't want to get fooled by the media.
    I would say the problem is not our (my/your) incompetence. It is a dangerous, criminal and insane political elite.
  18. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

    Not at all. He was unable to create an airforce more powerful than the anglo-american one, but not because Hitler did not want to have one. V1 and V2 have been, of course, failures, but not because they have not been revolutionary - they there the first military uses of a technique which is, today, the base of the nuclear arsenal of the superpowers. If you can accuse him for not being sufficiently revolutionary on some domain of military, then for the failure to develop atomic weapons.

    Heard, of course, but never cared about the details.
  19. arfa brane call me arf Valued Senior Member

    It seems Schmelzer is an example of a person who believes things if that belief is convenient.

    Someone who believes climate science can only be ideological, it will be used by governments to make themselves redundant since they're all keen to have a world government, is someone who probably isn't worth debating anything with. I bet Schmelzer is disgusted by climate scientists and what he believes they're trying to do.

    Yes, China, Russia, the US will all surrender their sovereignty to the new world order, as will every other country and the climate scientists will have won!

    What does revolutionary thinking have to do with conservative, or liberal thinking? Not a whole lot it seems.

    I'm gone.
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2015
  20. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

    Not at all. Its not climate scientists who are doing the wrong thing - its the media and the politicians.
    Of course, the situation is a little bit different, the US does not want to surrender their souvereignity at all, but want become the world ruler.

    I would say nothing at all.
  21. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    I don't see much progress being made towards a world government. Obviously the climate change thing isn't working too well, if that is the aim.

    Is this an organised group you're referring to, or a rag-tag collection of many individuals, all striving for the same result?

    This sounds like a conspiracy theory to me.

    The best way to do that would be to maintain the status quo, then, don't you think? And that's not what the green movement wants.

    Are you an expert on scientists' typical reactions to political pressure? Interesting. What studies have been done on this?

    As I said before, rainfall in some areas will increase, no doubt. Whether that's a good or a bad thing is something we could debate. I think that saying "More rain and CO2 is good for (all) plants" is a dangerous oversimplification at best and just untrue at worst.

    Why does the media write lies? Are they controlled by the conspiracy?

    Well, I have some training in some relevant sciences, as it happens.

    So I should read, but not read "the media"? What should I read? Not scientific journals, since you say I can't trust the scientific experts. Then what?

    I think you're unfairly stereotyping the "political elite", overestimating their power and influence, and failing to realise that the political elite is elected from people just like you (at least in the large democracies).
  22. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

    The problem with the project "world government" is that Russia and China don't want the US as the world governeur, also named "US empire" or unipolar world, but, instead, prefer a multipolar world order.

    The US and its vasalles are, certainly, a sufficiently strong organized group. You disagree?

    Who cares? I don't. To use "conspiracy theory" as an insult against a theory, instead of simply a description that it contains some group of people which are organized in a hidden way to reach something, is, by the way, a CIA invention used to discredit all those who did not believe the official version of the JFK murder. One can consider this as a sort of self-defense, because among the lists of suspects for JFK murder among those who did not believe the official version, the CIA played a prominent role. So no wonder they tried hard to fight such theories.

    If you want the US as the ruler of the world, the natural way would be to distribute ideologies which suggest that a world government is necessary. Because there is, actually, no other way toward world governement than to accept the US as the world leader. To maintain the status quo, instead, destroys the US leadership, at least if the tendencies of the last 20 years or so continue.

    Not an expert, but I have made my own observations. Russian science during the USSR time was a nice example. String theory is not about political pressure, but about a strong enough group of scientists and what they can reach given their control over grant distributions. An example of open political pressure on science was an 1998 congress resolution which condemned a scientific study. There was de facto no open protest against this among the scientists. What is also a sort of response, but one which, by its nature, remains unknown for the public, is that the study condemned by the Congress has become a standard reference which is regularly cited.
    Fine. Full agreement. So, my main point is that what the media write about climate change is, for the same reason, certainly a dangerous oversimplification and IMHO not just untrue at worst, but quite obviously untrue.

    Inform yourself about the degree of concentration in the domain of mass media. After this, you can ask yourself if you need any conspiracy to reach that all the media write the same lies.
    If you don't believe that all the mainstream Western media can lie consistently, compare what the Western media have written during the last year about Ukraine, with what russian and novorussian sources have written, and with what after some time become more or less acknowledged even by Western media. Start with the maps of the frontline, because this gives a nice optical impression about this.

    Scientific journals. The media simply distribute lies. Scientific journals distort the presentation under political pressure, but rarely lie openly. So, what distortions you have to expect? First of all, it will be much easier to publish a politically correct study than a politically incorrect one. Then, the politically incorrect parts of the studies will be hidden inside - title, abstracts, and conclusions tend to be much more politically correct than the other parts of the paper.

    But, at a first level, to identify the direction of political pressure it is sufficient to compare what the media write (these lies are so penetrant and so often repeated that you know them even if you don't read them) with what the abstracts of scientific articles write. Then you can expect that the content is a further shift in the same direction, and truth is yet another big shift in the same direction.
    Please don't use defamations. One part of the elite are the superrich - and these superrich have that status of being superrich because of the misuse of state power in their own interest. For some newcomers, this may be initially different, but these are exceptions, not the rule. So, this part of the elite has no moral inhibitions which prevent them from stealing taxpayer's money. The other part, democratic politicians, are even worse. To become elected, it is necessary to lie. Without lying you cannot win democratic elections. So, to become a successful democratic politician requires some negative character traits. Democratic elections are elections of the worst. Chosing essentially average people as leaders would be much more reasonable.

    The method of electing the Dalai Lama is useful: There is some quite arbitrary set of tests - one can reasonably expect that these tests implicitly test intelligence - which is applied to babies at very young age, with the purpose to identify among them the next reincarnation of the Dalai Lama. Then the elected baby receives the education necessary for a leader, and, very important, does not have to care about fighting for the power, the power is guaranteed by its status as the reincarnation. They know that in a fight for power the winner will be the worst one among the candidates.
  23. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Depends. In this case we are dealing with the physical fact of humans boosting the CO2 concentration of the earth's atmosphere quickly and dramatically - by something like 50% in about a hundred years, and continuing to rise. This will trap significantly more of the energy contained in the solar flux within the biosphere, with large scale and varied consequences of great significance to human life. None of these consequences depend on the ideology of the affected people.

    Of course. There are ideologies out there that would welcome even the more extreme of the reasonably possible consequences of AGW, such as the extermination of a third of the population of China and India and the collapse of Western civilization. But this perspective should be explicit - and of course no ideological perspective that rests on denial of AGW itself yields a valid assessment of anything.
    Not mine. Mine came from an accumulation of physical facts whose collective implications began to frighten me. I think the key factoid that set the hook of foreboding in me was the discovery that the official and media reassurances regarding feedback-accelerated methane hydrate sublimation rested on an assumption that the only significant heat supply to the deep ocean buried or deep permafrost buried hydrates was by diffusion. That and discovering what percentage of wet rice farming was done on river deltas.
    I'm not sure what you are talking about when you say "the media". You appear to mean all sources of information available to me.
    Now I know that exact expression of sentiment to be a canard of the wingnut right in the US - it started a few years ago when the pile of lies they'd had shoveled unto them by their particular talk radio and TV stations fell over and rotted to the point they could no longer ignore the stench. It's a variation of the "both sides" propaganda effort through which American rightwing Republican pundits are now attempting to hide their past punditry from view and revise the recent history of the US. Like a squid spewing ink.

    Let's pin this down. You appear to be claiming : 1) it's a lie that the sea level is rising and will rise as the ocean warms; It's a lie that the oceans are absorbing some of the CO2 and becoming more acidic; it's a lie that the global temperature increase in the lower atmosphere has been rapid; and its a lie that these changes will influence the weather patterns significantly.
    2) It's a lie that these effects of the CO2 boost are likely to add up to disaster or disasters of various kinds and sizes.

    So none of that is physical fact, but rather media assertions. And since all the media - or at least all the media I'm willing to take information from - are consistently handing me those assertions, they are lies.

    Is that what you intended to claim?
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2015

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