Is Science a value system?

Discussion in 'The Cesspool' started by Magical Realist, Jan 15, 2015.

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  1. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

    Here's a nice little video for you to offer some of your pretentious unimportant comment on MR

    and another narrated by our great educator, in regards to human arrogance, that astronomy/cosmology has helped in many ways to diminish......

    and another for you to have a pretentious giggle about MR.....

    Man in his arrogance - A Great Speech By Carl Sagan
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  3. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

    If you keep reading the post, that will be clear. Feel free to respond to it.
    No, the question was not about the difference between science and scientism, the question was "is science a value system?". You weren't making a distinction, you were improperly mixing them. That's why the thread is still going instead of just ending right away because everyone agreed with you.
    Today, as every day, we have to tolerate yours, least until your next ban. Should be any day now....

    Anyway, feel free to respond to the rest of that post: Since we all agree that scientism is bad, is the thread over or is that really not what this thread is about? I'm going to guess that your ignoring my question is answering yes to the previous: yes, you are trying to improperly mix science and scientism. Yes, this thread is your attempt to denigrate science.
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2015
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  5. danshawen Valued Senior Member

    Science shares one characteristic with the field of engineering and many other fields of human endeavor. It is hard work. Science is best served when care is taken to mitigate every confounding factor and to take every detail into account, and that is like engineering.

    Science is best served by double checking all results to make certain they are consistent with any previous known science, or if they are not, providing suggestions for why this might be the case. This is similar to checking all math like the occupations of accountant or actuary.

    Science is best served by applying a pervading skepticism in a consistent fashion without regard to dogged adherence to previous learning, particularly in those situations where the science being investigated is of a novel nature that has never been measured by new techniques of assessment or instrumentation. This is the part of science that seems to be most in conflict with precepts of religious dogma or scripture that assumes there can be only one answer and that that answer is already known and conclusions reached before any investigation is attempted.

    There are parts of science that seem to share predispositions as though science were a religion, and this is more often than not a serious mistake that impedes science more than promoting it. People with such dispositions would be better served by a career in either law or law enforcement than one involving research or new science. Forensics is another career possibility for such folk, but better not get caught tampering with evidence. For reasons I fail to understand, theoretical physics seems to have attracted a lot of such folk over the last 30 years. Those are the ones who seem to be smarmy and condescending about something as trivial as math. Math isn't a religion. It's only a language, like French. A language so exclusive that only one person can speak or understand it is basically the embodiment of the comedy of Irwin Corey, and more recently, Sheldon Cooper. No wonder Klingon is such an appealing second language to such folk.
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  7. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    Yes I agree. While Paddoboy is correct in his latin, what we call "science" today is really a contraction of what was once called "Natural Science", and before that "Natural Philosophy".

    But he would be right to say that science is knowledge of the physical world, or nature, and that it is a general presumption in the civilised world that knowledge is a good thing in itself. All academic research, on any subject, science, arts or humanities, justifies itself by this presumption.

    It very often happens that we cannot find an immediate application for academic knowledge. Nonetheless civilised societies do allow a certain amount of public money to be spent on pure research, subject to some scrutiny to ensure it is not frittered away on totally frivolous projects. And of course there are countless examples of such research turning out useful later.

    By the way, this all seems to concern a second strand of discussion on this thread, which seems to be about whether science is of value to society, which is a quite different matter from what we were previously talking about, which was whether science is a source of moral values for society.
  8. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    Truth and logical consistency.

    There's a more abstract realm that logic and mathematics address.

    There are aspects of human experience that the natural sciences don't directly speak to, such as aesthetic value, love and affairs of the heart, and spiritual values.

    And there's hermeneutical understanding of textual, psychological, anthropological and historical meaning. (What Dilthey and Weber called Verstehen.)

    There seems to be survival value in animals having accurate information about their surrounding environment. So evolution might have taken care of justifying the value of truth for us. Our valuing truth might be innate.

    But yeah, there does seem to be an almost religious element of faith embodied in the "modern" idea of progress inevitably delivering mankind to the promised Kingdom, the coming paradise at the end of history. (Two horrific world wars have made European intellectuals a lot less confident of that, hence the highly skeptical and corrosive post-war "post-modern" currents.)
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2015
  9. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    You mistake the creativity of men with some dubious value science has. You discount the perseverence of inventors and thinkers who use the information of science to innovate and create new technologies. The value comes from an ever creative human society that takes the value neutral information of science and applies it to its own problems. Science didn't tell us how invent the wheel, or the steam engine, or the light bulb, or the airplane, or the clapper, or how to cure tuberculosis, measles, or yellow fever. Creative humans did that with their own ingenuity. Once again, science is just information about the world. It doesn't tell us what should be, only what is.
  10. paddoboy Valued Senior Member


    I mistake nothing.
    Let me repeat......
    You have yet to comment on my scenario for you to take up?
    And of course important to note that science will continue on regardless, and you will be there in all your glory, grabbing what you can, that comes from the inevitable advances of science, while still presumably grovelling in your philosophical claptrap.

    One can then be thankful somewhat, that opinions like yours, are in the minority.
  11. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Alot of the funding for science projects has come from the government for military projects. The science of how to most effectively kill the greatest numbers was once a crucial guiding force in science. So without question societies do push research, but not just for its own sake. There is a preexistent criteria for what is relevant, depending on the political aims of that particular society. And lets not underestimate the effect of capitalistic drives for wealth determining what the science will be used for. Pharmaceuticals spend billions in research for new meds so they can increase their profits. Science properly done can make the entrepeneur and the corporation alot of money. I suppose one example of scientific research promoted for its own sake are these atom smashers like CERN, where there is no discernible benefit to society from discovering new subatomic particles. But who knows if the discoveries there will be to our benefit or to our demise? Time will tell.

    It hurt alot of people's feelings when I proposed that the vast majority of scientific information, like astronomy and theoretical physics, has no value in itself. At least not to humans living their everyday lives. This has resulted in a new crusade of posts proving the benefits of satellites, Xrays, and agriculture. So I tried to reconnect that discussion to the OP by showing how science doesn't recommend HOW its information or theories be used, if at all. It is still value-free, and all the good, as well as the bad, that has resulted from its knowledge was due to how humans applied that knowledge to real world situations. Eugenics and social engineering sprang out of genetics. That's not to say genetics spurred this value-driven program.The immorality was in the USE made of the science, not the science itself. The same is true of moral usage as well. Genetics is now being used to treat all kinds of diseases. But that is a value-driven endeavor that people make of it. There is no moral virtue is just knowing about genetics.
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2015
  12. paddoboy Valued Senior Member


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    That's pure crap! It hurts nobody's feelings because what you are claiming/saying is nothing more than a personal, rather pessimistic philosophy on life and an attempt to denigrate a discipline that has benefited mankind since he climbed down out of the trees, just for the sake of it.
    But once again, you ignore my scenario I put. Why?
    Let's restate it again.....
    Why do you not go find an Island somewhere, off the beaten track, away from all civilisation, without all mod cons, including cooking utensils etc and put your unsupported hypothesis to work.
    Science/knowledge [under many names] has been benefiting mankind since we climbed down out of the trees.

    Like I said, without science and all its benefits, you most probably would not be here.
    Let me reiterate, since you again raised the astronomical/cosmological sciences. For anyone to say they have not benefited mankind in a real fashion, is dumb. And to sit there and to continue to pontificate and postulate so pretentiously and fabricate obtuse reasons as to why they are of no value to mankind, is even dumber.

    Yep, science can also be applied to destroy mankind, just as the benefits of fire can be utilised to destroy rather than benefit.
    But overall, science has improved our lot, and that improvement will continue, despite bouts of incredibly inhuman activity like the religiously driven scenarios, we are now sometimes confronted with.

    Finally, we can all be thankful that opinions like yours are generally rare and in the minority.
  13. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    You don't really know how to argue do you? You just obnoxiously shout the same old assertions over and over, ad hom me as some horrible or stupid person, and ignore the points I've raised. That smacks of fundamentalism, the fanatical devotion to an ideology or worldview that seeks to elevate itself as some absolute truth or program of moral betterment. You are using science as a value system towards the cause of technological advancement. You even fallaciously equate science with all knowledge. Yet there are many more kinds of truth than that of science. Literature, math, art, history, and philosophy also derive truths about reality and the human condition. But you don't wanna hear that. Like every fundamentalist, it's all about your particular credo, the demonization of heretics, and the utopian paradise that you believe will come from following your "way". Once again, scientism but NOT science.
  14. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    I think you are perhaps a bit too trendily jaundiced

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    Most academic research has nothing to do with military applications. To say that how to kill the greatest numbers of people was once "a guiding force in science" strikes me as preposterous. What references do you have for such a claim?

    What you say about a lot of science not having value to "humans living their everyday lives" is obviously true, but isn't much of a criticism, in my opinion. How could it possibly? The aim is the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, after all. But what I have been saying is that wise societies recognise that they do benefit from such activity in time, maybe not now, maybe not for 50 years or more, but eventually.

    And I also think one has to consider benefits in a very broad sense, certainly far more broadly than mere economic advancement. For example, the work that has been done to show the interdependence of living organisms has profoundly affected how societies behave towards the natural world - for the better, most would say. This has no economic benefit, perhaps, but it gives humanity an extra perspective on itself and its place and responsibility in the world. That is a valuable thing, surely?
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  15. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

    Now you're purposely misusing the word "value" by using both definitions at the same time. Science not being a value system doesn't mean it doesn't have value. Those are, for all intents and purposes, two different words.

    Regarldess, no one discounts the human element. That's - again - you trying to pick a fight where none exists, as a proxy for an anti-science fight.
    Right, so in that case the knowlege gained has a clearly identifiable monetary value.
    It doesn't hurt anyone's feelings, it is just wrong. Certain fields are highly theoretical and don't provide spin-off invention value, but they are the vast minority, not the majority. The vast majority of scientific research is done specifically for the clearly identifiable financial value it has, such as in the case of the pharmaceutical research you mentioned. Heck, there's probably more money in pharma research alone than in astronomy and theoretical physics combined.
    Again, no one has made such a claim, so you are just arguing with yourself.

    I'll ask my question from above, again:
    Since we all agree that scientism is bad, is the thread over or is that really not what this thread is about? I'm going to guess that your ignoring my question is answering yes to the previous: yes, you are trying to improperly mix science and scientism. Yes, this thread is your attempt to denigrate science.
  16. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    "The United States spends nearly $80 billion annually on defense research and development (R&D) alone. This line item exceeds the total spending on defense – not just R&D – by Russia, China, and India combined. Every year, approximately the Pentagon provides $4 billion to support university research in the United States.

    There is growing recognition that defense spending at the current level of about $700 billion is no longer sustainable in view of the massive budget deficits. Several proposals are being made about how to reduce the defense budget. But none of them seriously questions the rationale for the spending on R&D, which exceeds amounts spent during the height of the Cold-War. For example, the highest R&D budget ever was less than $70 billion in constant 2010 dollars in the mid-1980s during Reagan’s Star Wars project.

    The U.S. R & D budget is divided into several categories: Basic Research, Applied Research, and Development. The R&D budget also includes about $18 billion in classified programs. About $2 billion is allocated for basic research and $5 billion for applied research. The rest of the money – about $73 billion – is spent on development.

    Basic Research: this principal source of Pentagon’s largesse to universities is intended for conducting “fundamental” scientific research that has ostensibly no connections to developing weapon systems.

    Applied Research: this supports more focused research, mostly at government laboratories and contractor facilities, and unlike basic research, the results are not widely reported.

    Development: this catch-all category for weapons development largely by defense contractors like Boeing, Lockheed, and Raytheon, ranges from advanced component to operational systems development.

    Most major universities depend heavily on the Pentagon to support their research in physical sciences and engineering and to train graduate students. It is the third largest sponsor of all academic research behind only the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). However, it has a monopoly in sponsorship of research in physical sciences and engineering disciplines as evident from the figures below.

    •Electrical Engineering 72%

    •Mechanical Engineering 75%

    •Metallurgy and Materials Science 35%

    •Mathematics and Computer Science 30%

    According to the National Science Foundation, Pentagon support totals $3 billion a year, about 12% of all university-sponsored R & D. The Pentagon also sponsors research at two Federally Funded Research and Development Centres (FFRDC): the MIT Lincoln Laboratory, which receives about $650 million, and the Software Engineering Institute at the Carnegie Mellon University at about $70. Apart from direct Pentagon support, many university professors through their consulting business receive funds from corporations, who in turn receive R&D funds from the Department of Defense, which are not reflected in the NSF figure. All told, Pentagon support for university research totals about $4 billion.

    The top recipients of Pentagon research funds in 2007 were Johns Hopkins University ($511 million), Pennsylvania State University ($172 million), Georgia Institute of Technology ($99 million), Utah State University ($62 million), University of Hawaii ($54 million) Washington ($58 million), and MIT ($53 million). MIT has a particularly strong connection to the Pentagon, which earned it the dubious distinction of being called “the Pentagon on the Charles” by students protesting the Vietnam War. Another example is the Johns Hopkins University and its Applied Physics Laboratory, which does mainly classified work on satellites."===
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2015
  17. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

    And I'll keep shouting the same old assertions over and over, to show what a whole pretentious load of philosophical claptrap that you so pessimistically present. Got it?
    Science most certainly is knowledge...On the other hand Philosophy as you present is unknown at best, and clap trap at worst.
    You don't like to be confronted with reality?
    Then why present such an obnoxious philosophical unsupported argument that you have? Test your non existing debating skills? Or maybe as is so obvious with so many other anti science trolls, you have the same agenda to push.

    Without Satellites and the science that went into their operations, GPS, meteorology, agriculture, and as a result hunger and famine maybe more wide spread. Without the knowledge gained from astronomy, and cosmology, we may all still be arrogant and delusional enough to believe we are the center of a geocentric flat earth Universe.
    Many, many, many other examples, but you insidiously write them all off with a jolly "LOL" and more continued philosophical clap trap.
    And even now, you still refuse to consider my scenario.
    Finally, and yes again, what you say, what you hypothesise, what you imagine, will not stop the science of the present and the future, and the many benefits that will inevitably result.
  18. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

    Since you are clearly capable of using google, why don't you compare that to how much is spent on pharmaceutical research? Or tech industry research?
  19. paddoboy Valued Senior Member


    That was plainly evident by the dumb statements made in the OP against astronomy, and has been in every post by MR since.
  20. exchemist Valued Senior Member

  21. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Global military expenditure stands at over $1.7 trillion in annual expenditure at current prices for 2012. It fell by around half a percent compared to 2011 — the first fall since 1998.

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    (1991 figures are unavailable. Chart uses 2011 constant prices for comparison.)

    Summarizing some key details from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)’s Year Book 2013 summary on military expenditure:

    • World military expenditure in 2012 is estimated to have reached $1.756 trillion;
    • This is a 0.4 per cent decrease in real terms than in 2011 — the first fall since 1998;
    • The total is still higher than in any year between the end of World War II and 2010;
    • This corresponds to 2.5 per cent of world gross domestic product (GDP), or approximately $249 for each person in the world
  22. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    16,786 billions are spent by big pharmaceutical corporations on R&D and drug trials? What does this say again about the USE that is made of scientific data?
    "For drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline, the 17-page article in the New England Journal of Medicine represented a coup.

    The 2006 report described a trial that compared three diabetes drugs and concluded that Avandia, the company’s new drug, performed best.

    “We now have clear evidence from a large international study that the initial use of [Avandia] is more effective than standard therapies,” a senior vice president of GlaxoSmithKline, Lawson Macartney, said in a news release.

    What only careful readers of the article would have gleaned is the extent of the financial connections between the drugmaker and the research. The trial had been funded by GlaxoSmithKline, and each of the 11 authors had received money from the company. Four were employees and held company stock. The other seven were academic experts who had received grants or consultant fees from the firm.

    Whether these ties altered the report on Avandia may be impossible for readers to know. But while sorting through the data from more than 4,000 patients, the investigators missed hints of a danger that, when fully realized four years later, would lead to Avandia’s virtual disappearance from the United States:

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    The drug raised the risk of heart attacks.

    “If you looked closely at the data that was out there, you could see warning signs,” said Steven E. Nissen, a Cleveland Clinic cardiologist who issued one of the earliest warnings about the drug. “But they were overlooked.”

    A Food and Drug Administration scientist later estimated that the drug had been associated with 83,000 heart attacks and deaths.

    Arguably the most prestigious medical journal in the world, the New England Journal of Medicine regularly features articles over which pharmaceutical companies and their employees can exert significant influence.

    Over a year-long period ending in August, NEJM published 73 articles on original studies of new drugs, encompassing drugs approved by the FDA since 2000 and experimental drugs, according to a review by The Washington Post.

    Of those articles, 60 were funded by a pharmaceutical company, 50 were co-written by drug company employees and 37 had a lead author, typically an academic, who had previously accepted outside compensation from the sponsoring drug company in the form of consultant pay, grants or speaker fees."===
  23. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

    And irrespective, as science progresses, more advantages and gains for the human race will be even more evident, in Health, medicine, agriculture, meteorology, robotics, nanotechnology.
    We are already living longer on average, we may even have a cure for Cancer, all types, travelling methodology, we will certainly know more of our insignificant place in the Universe, and possibly in the near future, evidence of other ETL,

    Without science, none would be possible. Science is knowledge...
    New scientific knowledge may lead to new applications.
    Science is a knowledge based on hypotheses, observations, and experiments. From its very beginning science has served the humanity and will continue to do so until the needs of human being are fulfilled. History is rich of many scientists who have contributed to different fields of science free of politics, religion, cast, and region. Every human being must have the right to use science and technology for beneficial purposes. Mutual coordination between academia and industries is extremely important for the growth of science. The spread of ideas is only possible with publication and distribution of information to all in the world. Unpublished new ideas will remain hidden. With no doubt, many of publications and products get the spirit from the very first ideas. It is necessary that all scientists share their ideas, opening new opportunities for others to work in the various aspects. We are of the view that, to find a solution to our problems or satisfy human needs, it is important to ponder new ways in science, generate new ideas and share with others, so the concept of “science for the benefits of all” remain alive forever.

    Science overrides philosophical dreaming and delusions, and the many futile attempts to deflate it.
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