Do not believe or act as if you believe.....

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by wise acre, May 11, 2009.

  1. wise acre Registered Senior Member

    On the other hand did you get bowel cancer because of products that mainstream science over and over said were safe despite concerns of people with alternative positions that, perhaps, over time, have turned out to be correct.

    I understand that you are reacting to Sam's explanation of what science is, but this is a tangent in relation to my OP.

    The fact is one generally does not have to choose between science and alternative beliefs, unless one feels compelled to take a long complicated text like, say, the Bible as empirically correct.
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  3. wise acre Registered Senior Member

    Are you supporting not just the questioning of science but also, for example, Muslims exploring ideas and practices forbidden or discouraged within Islam?
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  5. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

    My general rule is that a BELIEF is just that, a belief, but a FACT can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
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  7. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

    As I stated, it depends upon the subject matter and in the instance of mercury fillings you are correct. Investigations led to the findings that showed everyone that mercury fillings were not a very good idea and since then they are not used.
  8. sniffy Banned Banned

    I may have bowel cancer because my ancestors before me carried a mutant gene which manifests as bowel cancer or I may have cancer because I have stuffed my face with things that scientist recommend that I didn't or I may have cancer because I am very old as cancer generally is an old person's disease. Whatever the causes of the cancer, the truth I would be expecting from science requires a simple yes or no to the question: 'Do I have cancer?'

    I may be the sort of person who suspecting that I have cancer might wonder what I have done to deserve it. I might scrutinise my life for signs of my misdemeaners. Where I might have displeased my god. What I might find is that cancer affects the faithfull as it does the faithless and is certainly no respecter of denomination. I might then start to wonder if my cancer is anything at all to do with god.

    Whenever anyone makes any scientifically based or other type of claim scutiny can be useful, especially if there is a call to action embeded in the claim. ie 'stop smoking'.

    One has to use one's judgement about the quality of what is claimed and what is presented as evidence. This is true of any claim scientific or otherwise. If what is claimed does not stand up to scrutiny then one rejects the claim unless some peruasive evidence in support of the claim is presented. If certain claims from certain sources continually fail to pass even the most rudimentary of tests or fail to present any evidence in support of their claims then after a while one ceases even to consider claims that come from certain sources.

    Of course one can decide to not give a toss about any claim from whatever source and just go about living your life as it suits you.

    BTW there is nothing long or complicated about the bible nor any other 'holy' book I've ever come across. Usually a list of behavioural rules and various stories designed to reinforce those rules.
  9. swarm Registered Senior Member

    Cause and effect doesn't imply agency.
  10. wise acre Registered Senior Member

    To me this makes it sounds like all claims can be effectively investigated by reading in the privacy of one's home. In my earlier example of meditation and its benefits this was not the case, say 50 years ago, before scientists started actually looking into meditation and did in fact find support for quite a few of the claims related to it.

    A person, at that time, hearing about meditation, could not have read some documents and drawn any conclusion, except perhaps intuitively. My point is that it was rational to explore, in this case, meditation, if one had the interest, despite lack of support in the scientific literature.

    One can learn by doing, to bring in Dewey sideways.

    This is also true when what one is drawn to explore (seems to) contradict current scientific knowledge, which can be shown from within the history of science itself where some scientists explored ideas that seemed ridiculous at the current levels of scientific knowledge and theory. Later when data started to back up these ideas controversy reigns for a while. After that, generally, it can be shown that, in fact, it did not contradict current science and the new position and the old position are integrated.

    So there is always the possibility of mere seeming related to these contradictions.

    It is good that people both within and outside the scientific community have explored ideas and practices that seemed to contradict current theory. Sometimes vindication has come long, long after they forays.

    Of course many forays are in error.

    But it would be bad if everyone decided not to do things after cursory or even deeper readings of current theory and attempts to determine coherency with a new idea.

    Of course everyone should be free to use this method, but it is not wrong to explore things that this method would urge one to cast in the trash.

    Well, this is a tangential topic, but I would find it very hard to know how to live my life if I based my ethics and behavior on the OT and the NT. I think that is an extremely, extremely complicated mish mash of rules and guidelines about ethics and human behavior. Then there are the myths and stories with all their contradictory implications about ontology - God's for example - and metaphysics in general.

    Shall we talk about the book of revelations....?

    Or the tensions between the post-4 gospel books of the NT and the 4 gospels.

    A Christian Bible seems to me to be at least three significantly different takes on morals, God and what a Christian mind should be like.

    If that thing is not complicated, I don't know what is.

    I have an easier time with organic chemisty. At least it is, for the most part, coherent.
  11. sniffy Banned Banned

    Very many claims may be examined by doing just that. If I want to see for myself what the benefits of meditation are I can always try it for myself. I may then become a proponent or a rejectionist. That is not to say that meditation may be of benefit for everyone or for no-one. Perchance meditation may benefit some and not others. See? The same goes for creationism as a fitting theory for the existence of life on earth. My doing a little investigation at home and even better by going out and having a serious look around at nature and geology I might well come to the conclusion that creationism doesn't quite do what it says on the tin.

    Or not; said the fully paid up member of the flat earth society. It's the methodology of science that should be used in pursuit of understanding; truth or untruth. One doesn't have to be a scientist to discover new things or to come to conclusions about old things.


    Yes, and?

    Give an example of something that would be cast into trash using the scientific method and then explain why trashing would be a bad thing? Is 'it just doesn't work for me' not reason enough to set something aside?

    Ha ha ha that's why you need the middlemen who shall be called priests imams and rabbis to interpret it all for you....

    What is there to talk about?

    Hang on. I'll just go and dig it out of the trash......

    I think you are confusing incoherence with complication.
    Incoherent and contradictory are probably the best words to use in this context.
  12. wise acre Registered Senior Member

    absolutely and I agree with everything you say here. In a sense what I am saying is that this approach is valid. It is one rational approach to learning. IOW to explore something that is not currently supported by the scientific literature can be rational. In fact it is probably good for society as a whole that some inviduals are not put off by issues of coherency. Even if what they are exploring seems to contradict current science.

    I notice in discussions the impression is that one should simply do some sort of coherency check and if there is little or no support, one should drop it.

    Right. In a sense early scientists did a lot of what I am suggestion in relation to the orthodox religious claims.


    Not by using the scientific method, but using current scientific theory. Rogue waves is a good example. Sailors reported lone waves that were 10 meters in height - or somethign like that. These waves were not part of series of waves and could even come on rather calm seas. The sailors were told that they were radically exaggerating the height of the waves due to emotional distortions. Fluid scientitists and oceanographers assured them and other that the reports were false.

    Then video cameras became common on the bridges of ships and damn if it didn't seems like rogue waves existed. Later satellite technology came along and, damn, you could see those damn things.

    Please read me carefully here: none of this shows a problem with the scientific method. It got there, eventually. But perhaps it might not have gotten there for hundreds of years. In fact this is the case since sailors had reported these going way back.

    If experiencers accepted their own experiences or, for example, ship builders did, precautions could have been taken in ship design - I mean even by Tahitians with their canoes.

    Or everyone could say 'well, we don't have empirical evidence', the current scientific literature says it doesn't make sense. So let's assume those people are wrong, period.

    It may be good for society as a whole to be conservative in relation to ideas - though this cuts a couple of ways, for example in relation to religion - but for individuals my argument is that it is good if they do not assume they must cast out ideas because they do not fit with current science. This includes both scientists and lay people.

    We may find as we did with meditation and here with Rogue waves that what seems probably useless or impossible
    may be useful (for some) and not just possible but existant.

    Another excellent example relates to brain plasticity. That brains were rigid and not at all flexible what the incredibly dominant idea until the last couple of decades.

    A number of laypeople and scientists ignored this AND OR explored ways of treating people - often close relatives - as if the brain was very plastic. These explorations, heavily scoffed at by the bulk of the scientific and medical community resulted in remarkable recoveries, recoveries that turned out NOT to be exceptions, but rather examples poniting to the rule that the brain is unbelievable plastic and people can relearn skills even after catastrophic brain damage.

    Here again: current theory says no, this is ignored out of curiosity or desperate hope, and it turns out that current theory was wrong. Sometimes current theory turns out to be wrong. Sometimes what seems contradictory really is not. In both instances it is a good thing when people move on despite lack of support or scant anecdotal support or even outright contradiction.

    It is probably good that not everyone does this, but if no one did, we would learn less. Further is has been rational to do this.
    I take it you're not a fan of string theory.
    Last edited: May 13, 2009
  13. lightgigantic Banned Banned


    sure it does

    you can even replace "church" with "area of scientific discipline" to make it easier.
    It happens all the time

    For instance the model of history drawn up by linguistics/anthropology is frequently not on par with the model of history drawn up by archeology ... namely because they have different authorities.

    but that is done through a specific (or a range of specific) disciplines.

    For instance geology has a distinct authority from chemistry. Science is not a uniform consensus. It is a myriad of disciplines related to working within empirical guidelines.
  14. wise acre Registered Senior Member

    It would have been worded better if I said 'should not apply to science', and there are people who have discovered things outside of or in a mixture of disciplines. And I want to be clear....I am not saying science is better. I was saying that Signal's objection did not apply to science. I do think there are assumptions within science - which have undergone changes over time, but are still present - that create limitations, but in general you can investigate pretty much anything by pretty much any method - sometimes unfortunately.

    I feel like you have shifted the focus. I think your points are well taken, but are other issues. Most people in most religions do not feel free to start invetigations that go against current authorities - iow people. This would be almost by definition immoral. While many scientists tow the line to authorities, they would not define, by definition, something as non-science simply because it was new or not supported by current theory. They might see it as wasted time and have other prejudices, but if the results were positive, would grudgingly allow for further investigation.

    A Catholic church is very likely not going to allow shamanic healing ceremonies.

    Glad to see you respond by the way. Hope you take up some of my other threads here in philosophy. I would enjoy your take.
  15. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    I'm not sure I understand.
    Science works out of a very specific paradigm. On top of that, it also has the political weight that comes to bear as any other institutionalized facility (for instance, now is certainly an unpopular time to challenge the claims of evolution). And to top it all off, it has very specific guidelines on what and how something can be investigated (as does any discipline of knowledge).

    That's an issue of institution and politics, something that is seen to crop in science also.
    There are comments by Carl Sagan that suggest reincarnation is treated precisely like that in contemporary science
    Its well documented that about half of science is about gathering evidence and the other half is about interpreting it. IOW there are frequent examples of evidence being shaped to support a theory, as opposed to theory being shaped to support evidence.
    Perhaps it will in a 1000 years.
    The only difference is that science operates on a higher metabolism (in terms of digestion, assimilation and rejection of narratives).
    This is not due to it being more "rational" or whatever, but due to the paradigm (empiricism) being more fluid and temporal and somewhat divorced from social expression (although things like stem cell research, etc which have direct social implications do tend to be a bit heavier to digest)
  16. wise acre Registered Senior Member

    It does not. There are all sorts of strange and unique kinds of scientific investigations going on out there. Yes, it would be an impopular time within the scientific community to challenge the claims of evolution. On the other hand if you had a specific study you could probably get funding through religious organizations and do those investigations.
    Like any human group scientific organizations are conservative and resistant to change. But it can come along.
    I don't see scientists as having less freedom to explore than followers of most of the major organized religions. How easy would it be for most Muslims to investigate if Mohammed was insane or if some of the moral laws in the Koran were counterproductive?
    There is no monolithic science and there are nooks and crannies within it to research just about anything?
    The same is true for religion in general, but not in the major religions.

    Sure. I am, again, not saying Science is better. I see tremendous resistence to change in both religion and science. However if I look back over the last 1,000 years I see more change in science than I do in the main organized religions. Other religious groups and individuals have changed much more radically than either.
    There are comments by Carl Sagan that suggest reincarnation is treated precisely like that in contemporary science


    Seems like it might be time to let us follow our own metabolisms.
  17. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    If its not empirical, its not getting investigated.
    And if its not peer reviewed through the standard channels (ie journals) it is perhaps too unique to be coined as "science"
    and the reception of those investigations would be as popular as a turd in a thermos due to the current political status quo of scientific authority.

    Probably about as easy as it is to introduce ideas of cyclic time (as opposed to linear time) in presentations of the history of the universe

    They have very specific scopes of investigation.

    For instance if you want to know how to cool an atom with a laser or fragment your hard drive, religion probably won't help you.

    Similarly if you want to touch on issues pertinent to the macro/microcosm, empiricism, or mesocosmic methodologies, won't be of much use.

    I am saying, in that regard, that they are remarkably similar
    thats because one moves at the speed of the senses (empiricism) and the other at the speed of normatives in society.

    It could also be helpful to look at one's diet too

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  18. wise acre Registered Senior Member

    Could you give me an example of an investigation that you think is being kept out of investigation by this limit. I find the 'it' rather ambiguous, but I think I know what you mean.

    Peer reviews happen even in rather fringe journals, including for example transpersonal psychology, shamanic practices, psychic abilities, ghosts, distance healing, religious experiences and so on.
    Well if the criterion is how popular it is in the science community as a whole, I guess I can see what you mean.

    How popular would a Jesus was gay or bi thesis be in the Christian community.

    Habits are human.

    There are physicists who are cosmologists who have presented such ideas. Big Bangs leading to Big Crunches leading to ....etc. As one version I know of.

    To me, as an outsider from both organized religions and science in the sense you are referring to it, I dislike the assumptions and limitations of both. I don't have to chose one or the other.

  19. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    Its more along the lines that a claim that isn't empirical is rejected.
    I'm sure you're no newcomer to the often claimed "there's no evidence for god".

    But it can also be expanded to other issues of the macro/microcosm (ideas of self, the universe, origins etc ..especially as applied to teleology) which are outside of mesocosmic means
    I think you have to be clearer on gauging what constitutes a valid/credible investigation (in either science or religion), since you can find investigations of the claim that jesus was gay etc
    they are both different tools for different circumstances.

    Perhaps there are instances where one might use a screw driver and a hand saw at the same time, but generally we chose one or the other according to whether we want to remove a screw or cut a piece of wood.
  20. wise acre Registered Senior Member

    Actually that is not true. Take a look at Feyerabends Against Method. He makes a solid case that many theories were taken seriously that followed methodologies other than empirical ones. Some ideas have been accepted, not by everyone, before they could be tested. Some of Einstein's for example.

    Sure, but can't you translate this into....Our group is not going to take you seriously unless you can give evidence our way. I don't really have a problem with that. You could even see it as their loss, which is probably true about any group that (thinks it) solely uses one methodology to arrive at truth.

    And I can find all sorts of wild science investigators also.

    But you don't need to convert them, and they cannot convert you.
  21. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    Feyeraband may have attempted to revolutionize empiricism but he certainly didn't operate outside of it. Its interesting to note that anything tangible credited to his influence or suggestion has empirical backing.
    thats why I often suggest that the prerequisite to calls of evidence is an examination of methodology and practitioner (IOW what you can expect a methodology and such a practitioner to accomplish)

    that's why I suggest there's a need to gauge what constitutes an "investigation"
    (I think the answer lies in the normative requirements of the discipline .... much to the horror of Feyeraband I guess)

    In a sense they do "convert" you.
    Of course a screw driver has no need to convert your value system, but it certainly "converts" your body to the requirement of the tool's use (perhaps if you were extremely dexterous you could clasp it with your feet)
  22. wise acre Registered Senior Member

    Last edited: May 15, 2009
  23. Roman Banned Banned

    It may seem tedious and silly, but that approach has produced better results than any other approach.

    All the evidence seems to support empiricism.

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