Why many scientists are so ignorant

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Magical Realist, Mar 10, 2016.

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  1. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    Bill Nye has come out with a new video explaining why philosophy is useless. I haven't watched it yet, much as I don't stop and gawk at car wrecks on the freeway. But I did read this response to that video. I think all science nerds should be given a course in philosophy early in their schooling. It would help them understand the role assumptions and beliefs play in scientific theorizing and practice.

    http://theweek.com/articles/610948/why-m...e-ignorant

    "The video, which made the entire U.S. philosophy community collectively choke on its morning espresso, is hard to watch, because most of Nye's statements are wrong. Not just kinda wrong, but deeply, ludicrously wrong. He merges together questions of consciousness and reality as though they're one and the same topic, and completely misconstrues Descartes' argument "I think, therefore I am" — to mention just two of many examples."-- [Quartz]

    Nye fell into the same trap that Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Stephen Hawking have been caught up in. Philosophy, these men of science opine, is largely useless, because it can't give us the sort of certain answers that science can, and amounts to little more than speculation...."

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  3. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

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    On science :
    There are in fact two things, science and opinion; the former begets knowledge, the latter ignorance.

    Hippocrates
    Science is organized knowledge.
    Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) English philosopher. Education.

    Science is simply common sense at its best that is, rigidly accurate in observation, and merciless to fallacy in logic.
    Thomas Henry Huxley


    Philosophy consists very largely of one philosopher arguing that all others are jackasses. He usually proves it, and I should add that he also usually proves that he is one himself.
    Henry Louis Mencken.



     
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  5. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    "Science, at bottom, is really anti-intellectual. It always distrusts pure reason, and demands the production of objective fact."---H. L. Mencken
     
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  7. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

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    Scientists are explorers. Philosophers are tourists.
    Richard Feynman

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  8. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    "The theorist who maintains that science is the be-all and end-all — that what is not in science books is not worth knowing — is an ideologist with a peculiar and distorted doctrine of his own. For him, science is no longer a sector of the cognitive enterprise but an all-inclusive world-view. This is the doctrine not of science but of scientism. To take this stance is not to celebrate science but to distort it by casting the mantle of its authority over issues it was never meant to address." -Nicholas Rescher
     
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  9. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    Announcing that something is "useless" is to express an opinion not only about what has and doesn't possess some kind of value, but also the view that the value in question has something to do with 'usefulness'. Those are philosophical opinions. If Nye ever tried to defend or justify his views, he would be drawn even deeper into philosophy.

    I agree that a solid introductory survey course in the philosophy of science should be part of most university science syllabi.

    Let's look at a few of the things that the philosophy of science addresses:

    1. Defining 'science'. What is science? What distinguishes it from everything else?

    2. Demarcating the boundaries of science and distinguishing it from things like pseudoscience.

    3. What is a scientific explanation? What are scientists doing when they explain something? Are explanations merely a matter of making accurate predictions or are they concerned with answering why questions as well?

    4. Problems of induction. What justifies scientists drawing universal conclusions (conclusions that apply to 'all' of something) from data sets that are limited and finite?

    5. What are scientific laws and how can human beings learn about them?

    6. Problems of abduction, or inference to the best explanation. What does 'best explanation' mean exactly?

    7. Discovery and heuristics. Where do new hypotheses come from? They obviuosly aren't being generated randomly. What is scientific intuition?

    8. What's the relationship between theory and observation?

    9. Scientific realism vs instrumentalism. Does science aim at discovering the truth, or does it merely aim at accurate predictions or perhaps at pragmatic usefulness?

    10. Are there any questions about physical reality that science can't answer?

    11. What is the role of values in scientific practice?

    12. Reduction. Trying to understand complex events in terms of concepts that are believed to be more fundamental, somehow. What kind of things can be reduced to what kind of things? Can we really proceed from history to sociology to psychology to physiology to chemistry to physics? Would attempting that kind of wholesale reduction result in crucial aspects of the 'higher' phenomena being lost? Would it really be informative?

    13. What is causation? What, if anything connects effect to cause, besides constant conjunction? Is there any distinction between causation and correlation? What role does necessity play in causation?

    14. Mathematics. What is it? How is it known? What is its relationship to physical reality?

    15. Similar questions can be asked about logic and general epistemological principles.

    16. How do experiment and confirmation work in real practice? (Keeping in mind the problems of induction.)

    17. Many obvious problems with interpreting quantum mechanics.

    18. Problems concerning physical determinism.

    19. What is life? It's a problem that is going to be very relevant if we ever end up visiting exoplanets.

    20. What are biological species? Evolutionary theory is very concerned with speciation.

    21. What makes a human being a human being? What importance should this have? It's obviously relevant in animal rights and the abortion controversy.

    22. What's up with teleological explanation in biology? Why do we have hearts? The answer is often something like - 'To pump blood'. What sense does teleology retain if we scrub it of its intelligent design overtones?

    23. Problems of the philosophy of mind and perception. Representationalism. Qualia. What is consciousness? How can 'consciousness' be described, let alone explained?

    24. Philosophy and language. What's happening when we refer to something? What does meaning mean?

    25. Scientific objectivity and theory ladenness.

    26. Does the age-old distinction between substances and properties hold up?

    27. What about form and matter?

    28. What is the nature of possibility and how should it be understood?

    29. And what's up with necessity? Is it purely a logical concept or does it have some physical reality as well?
     
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  10. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    Excellent post Yazata. You basically condensed 29 threads into one post!
     
  11. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    Just to provide some quotes I've heard in the past...

    "Science is what you know. Philosophy is what you don't know."
    - Bertrand Russell

    "There is no statement so absurd that no philosopher will make it."
    - Cicero

    "Philosophy of science is about as useful to scientists as ornithology is to birds."
    - Attributed to Richard Feynman

    "Philosophy, n. A route of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing."
    - Ambrose Bierce

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  12. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    ‘It is no more heretical to say the Universe displays purpose, as Hoyle has done, than to say that it is pointless, as Steven Weinberg has done. Both statements are metaphysical and outside science. Yet it seems that scientists are permitted by their own colleagues to say metaphysical things about lack of purpose and not the reverse. This suggests to me that science, in allowing this metaphysical notion, sees itself as religion and presumably as an atheistic religion (if you can have such a thing).’
    • Shallis, M., In the eye of a storm, New Scientist, 101(1393):42–43, 19 January 1984.
     
  13. Daecon Kiwi fruit Valued Senior Member

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    Everyone should be given one very specific course in Philosophy, repeated every single year.

    Critical Thinking.

    You would also benefit from learning it too, M.R.
     
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  14. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    It would be nice if you told us where Feynman said that and what the context was. My impression is that Feynman was expressing his annoyance at scientific methodologists trying to dictate how working physicists like him should conduct their work.

    Aren't you the big preacher about the "the scientific method" on this board?

    In actual fact, Feynman was something of a philosopher of science himself. It's especially evident in the series of lectures gathered together as his The Character of Physical Law, a philosophy of science book if there ever was one.

    If it was true that Feynman was blind to the philosophical questions raised by natural science or the philosophical views that are being assumed in the practice of science, then I'd have a lot less respect for him than I do.

    As long as we are on the subject of physicists opining about philosophy, here's the SEP's article on Einstein's philosophy of science.

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/einstein-philscience/
     
  15. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    Sounds like an unsolicited insult to me. Do you have some beef with me?
     
  16. Daecon Kiwi fruit Valued Senior Member

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    UFOs, ghosts, bigfoot. Pick any three.
     
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  17. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    Science luminaries often pass off their philosophies as science. It's a common ploy whereby values are pretentiously derived from science itself. As if what is can prescribe what should be. See Hume..
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2016
  18. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    That's about the only thing I am scientific about. The evidence ya know..
     
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  19. Daecon Kiwi fruit Valued Senior Member

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    Which is why you seriously need to learn some critical thinking.
     
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  20. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    Because I'm going by the evidence? No..that'd be your problem, denying the facts to justify your beliefs.
     
  21. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

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    [Thought you may be forced to contribute here

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    I'm sure if you really wanted to, you would find out for yourself.
    ?Not really, why? I mean isn't the science sections on this forum in essence bound by the tried and true scientific method?
    So, what are you whinging about?
    A few anti philosophical quotes and you [along with our favourite supernatural adherent MR] go and get your knickers all in a knot!

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    Sure he was, as are most: Obviously you miss the point. It's taking philosophy to the nth degree, that makes it akin to religious beliefs: It has its place, but can be encroaching on the sciences in many aspects when not needed or wanted.
    Let me add at this stage.....Science is what we know, or at least trying to know, via the scientific method: Philosophy is what we don't know: That's it, pure and simple.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2016
  22. PhysBang Valued Senior Member

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    paddoboy, why do you try so hard to be a jackass?
     
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  23. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

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    No, your problem as he has said: Taking second hand rumours, dodgy photographs, and general hear say and myth, to push your silly supernatural beliefs, over and above science.
    As I tell our science crank friends, what you preach and whatever mission you are trying to achieve, is confined on a sliver of cyber space, making no difference at all to true scientific knowledge and data.
     
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