February 22, 2019 at 12:29 pm #297735
‘Science’ can also mean anything ‘science’ has ever thought. And as you gave this thread the title ‘Truth’: grosso modo, one can say that established science presents truths. But everything a scientist says certainly doesn’t.
Responding to this and generally some of the other statements. When I say “science” or “scientific method”, I’m not trying to bring in some specific claim or historical definition, rather just a few principles that can help everyday conversation. We all expect some level of evidence from others. If someone says it’s raining, we don’t run out and fact check them, but we know we could, so we don’t have to. In the same sense, someone argued the other day that my graph of GDP over the last couple decades was manipulated by mainstream media. I pointed out how easy it would be for anyone to find a graph from 10 years ago and compare the numbers, so that just didn’t make sense. They challenged me to go find the old graph.
That’s an extreme example, but less extremes happen all the time. People use the term “common sense”. I usually say that “sense” is not that common. Sometimes it is, but often it is used to mean a sense that something needs to fit their preconceived and flawed worldview or it’s false/fake/a lie. As in Trump must be the victim of a deep state conspiracy because all these indictments just don’t fit with their view of him as a good and loyal man. Or, one more straw won’t hurt anything because I’ve been using straws all my life and there are still sea turtles. It’s a failure to apply the principle of allowing your assumptions to be questioned if new data is presented.April 1, 2019 at 11:20 am #298449
Not necessarily resurrecting this old thread, but here’s a general statement on truth and how to engage others in discussions thereof. Sort of relevant to some other threads.
“Neither acquiescence in skepticism nor acquiescence in dogma is what education should produce. What it should produce is a belief that knowledge is attainable in a measure, though with difficulty; that much of what passes for knowledge at any given time is likely to be more or less mistaken, but that the mistakes can be rectified by care and industry. In acting upon our beliefs, we should be very cautious where a small error would mean disaster; nevertheless it is upon our beliefs that we must act. This state of mind is rather difficult: it requires a high degree of intellectual culture without emotional atrophy. But though difficult, it is not impossible; it is in fact the scientific temper. Knowledge, like other good things, is difficult, but not impossible; the dogmatist forgets the difficulty, the skeptic denies the possibility. Both are mistaken, and their errors, when widespread, produce social disaster.” — Bertrand Russell
I love the bottom line. By denying possibility, skeptics cut off the speculative nature of someone’s point. Sometimes, you have to do that, if their point is wacko as a faked moon landing or as dangerous as white supremacy. But at some point, those ideas must be engaged, in some way, or you end up with people driving their cars into groups of people because they are mad about not being heard.April 1, 2019 at 12:42 pm #298451
I agree. That quote would make a good t-shirt or bumper sticker if it wasn’t so long.
The tough part is knowing if the other party is dealing in good faith or is simply stringing you along with no intention of considering your points and reasoning.April 1, 2019 at 5:39 pm #298466
I am a big time advocate of the rational and a big time denouncer of all things supernatural, when it comes to seeking truth. But I sense that I am not a typical skeptic, because I have always been excited about data that doesn’t seem to fit with established orthodoxy, and by possibly new discoveries and innovations. So I think that I am not as quick as the typical skeptic, to refute what, at first glance, seems to fly in the face of established understanding.
That being said, I hate dogma. However, improper skepticism can itself be dogmatic. But, at least, it tends to be amenable to the scientific method. So other dogma tends to be MUCH worse. So I suspect that any ensuing social disasters of mistakes in reality have to do much more with the purely dogmatic than with the purely skeptical.
Btw, I really hate false equivalencies, Bertrand. So here’s a bumper sticker:
F#CK FALSE EQUIVALENCIESApril 3, 2019 at 2:17 pm #298577
When questions about cutting-edge-science or silly “what if’s” are tossed around for fun, then you can reign in your skepticism and let your imagination take the lead. But questions on here are often asked in a serious manner, so I think we should answer in the same way.
I don’t think any of us are denying the validity of valid questions. Only when repeated asking of the same debunked question happens, do we realize the other side never intended to have open communication, so we shut the door.
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