Wednesday, September 24, 2014

540: Do we believe ins science ?

Since the beginning of our search into the Philosophy of Science, we already ran into a number of issues: science as the winner or cause of the clash of cultures,

science as knowledge of the structure of the cosmos or as the result of human communication and social interaction, a controversy between hard science and soft science.

Then the worst of accusations… one being accused of scientism: the point of view that science is the only kind of human knowledge, which eventually will answer all our questions.

Yesterday I was invited to participate in a discussion among a group of friends. Consciousness was their subject and all kinds of aspects of it.

At some point subjects like telepathy, precognition, special visions and the like came up and some of the participants told about examples, which they had experienced personally.

There is no way to check the truth value of such stories, no observations or experiments. We only have their words and often such stories end with the question “You don’t believe me?”

In such cases, where people claim to KNOW something and you have no further test than that claim, you only then can believe, that there is talk of genuine knowledge about our reality. But the problem remains, that it yet is private knowledge.

What about science? The world is full of scientists who claim to know this or that. They too say, that we should take serious what they say, in other words, believe what they say.

Do we have to BELIEVE in science? Let’s just check out what science is said to be:

Science (from Latin scientia, meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe.

In an older and closely related meaning, "science" also refers to a body of knowledge itself, of the type that can be rationally explained and reliably applied. [ WIKIPEDIA ]

Not a bad definition at all. Main term is KNOWLEDGE, not private knowledge, but knowledge as the product of testable explanations and predictions.

Kevin Padian, (born 1951), professor of Integrative Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, wrote an open-access article about science and evolution, entitled “Correcting some common misrepresentations of evolution in textbooks and the media.” 

He states:
“Saying that scientists ‘believe’ their results suggests, falsely, that their acceptance is not based on evidence, but is based somehow on faith.”

Padian continues:
“…it is about the quality of the evidence: scientists accept their results as the best explanation of the problem that we have at present, but we recognize that our findings are subject to reevaluation as new evidence comes to light.”

This puts us in a very special relation to science. Does this mean, that science is only possible in so far as we ACCEPT the evidence like the scientist does?

How do we do that? On what should that acceptance be based? The answer here could be: philosophy and in particular logic, epistemology and philosophy of science, 

which give arguments for why we, among other things, need 
testable explanations and predictions to assure our acceptance. Then there will be no debate about scientific facts.

Great, but then “Why Do People Believe Scientifically Untrue Things?”, the title of an article by Ronald Bailey. He is the award-winning science correspondent for Reason magazine and, where he writes a weekly science and technology column.

He writes, and this is just one of his many examples:
The majority of climate scientists believe that human activity is causing the earth’s temperatures to increase. A recent Pew Research poll (2012) found that two-thirds of Americans also believe that the earth is warming. 

But a deep partisan divide yawns between conservatives and liberals on the cause of the warming: Only 16 percent of conservative Republicans believe that human activity is responsible, 

whereas 77 percent of liberal Democrats do. Moderate Republicans and Democrats accept human responsibility by 38 and 51 percent, respectively. -end quote -

Or this piece of science: In 2012 Gallup Poll that found that 46 percent of Americans are young Earth creationists—that is, believe that God created humans beings in their present form within the past 10,000 years.

The Pew Research poll reported that 87 percent of scientists believe that humans evolved through entirely natural processes, whereas only 8 percent thought that God guided the process.

A nice example of what guides the acceptance of science and its evidence, testable explanations and predictions. I guess we need some more lectures on the subject to unravel this complex situation.

I do not believe in science. It isn’t the believing what makes science true, it is the evidence that supports it.

Thank you… ^_^

The Discussion

[13:23] argus Portal: Thank you
[13:23] Ciska Riverstone: thank you herman
[13:23] Bejiita Imako:
[13:23] Loo Zeta: ty
[13:23] Roger Amdahl: /claps
[13:23] Beertje Beaumont: pfew
[13:23] Lizzy Pleides: thank you, brilliant!
[13:23] herman Bergson: Thank you...
[13:23] Bejiita Imako: hmm its complex indeed this for sure
[13:24] Huntress Selenium: yes, ty, herman
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: science vs religion and similar
[13:24] Rocky Mensing: thank you Herman
[13:24] Ciska Riverstone: It stands and falls with the definition of "what is an evidence" I guess
[13:24] herman Bergson: Yes they always say science this science that....but as you is not that clear cut
[13:24] Loo Zeta: Has since become the 'new religion'?
[13:25] Ciska Riverstone: In some ways yes Loo- at least i would say so
[13:25] herman Bergson: Yes Ciska...the concept of evidence is the basic philosophical issue here
[13:25] argus Portal: [13:22] herman Bergson: I do not believe in science. It isn’t the believing what makes science true, it is the evidence that supports it.

I agree, if that refers to science as a discipline. But scientists can fool people. So it is important, at the beginning to be in doubt.
[13:25] Ciska Riverstone: look at economic "science" and what it does
[13:25] Loo Zeta: Scientific probability is relient on 0.05% probability
[13:25] Huntress Selenium: Evidence is determined, in large measure, by the dominant theory and research agenda of the time; facts that don't fit it are rejected, at least until there's a more comprehensive theory than can explain them.  The radiation that lead to the discovery of star nurseries of the existence of ball lightening being classic examples
[13:26] herman Bergson: That is the problem Loo
[13:26] Loo Zeta: but lies damn lies and statistics
[13:26] Loo Zeta: Oh my typos sorry
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: yes science is actual observing while religion is belief from someone that claims he have seen god even he has probably must dreamt or something
[13:26] Roger Amdahl: If religion was a fill for things one don't understand, then science become the new religion as almost everything can be explained without the need for a God
[13:26] herman Bergson: Yes Huntress anomalies aren't a pleasure for scientists :-)
[13:26] Ciska Riverstone: thats not completely true Bejiita - as science is done by people...
[13:26] Loo Zeta: 9gag did a brilliant spoof... will get the link so you may see
[13:27] Huntress Selenium: That's why herman used 'scientism,' I thin,, Roger.  'Sientism,' first coined by Hayek, is a belief in science that is dogmatic
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: take ghosts for example, many say they have seen them but no one have scientifically been able to prove that they are real
[13:27] Lizzy Pleides: every new scientific insight begins with an unproved theory, so what we believe is also part of science
[13:27] Ciska Riverstone: yes Lizzy
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: a scientific proof means its 100% true and observed
[13:27] Huntress Selenium: The part I found most intriguing about your lecture, herman, were the examples of how political views influences are beliefs in science
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: no doubt
[13:27] herman Bergson: It begins with a testable theory, Lizzy...
[13:28] herman Bergson: That means the hypothesis is assumed to be true.....
[13:28] Lizzy Pleides: but still unproved
[13:28] herman Bergson: what is to discover is its falsification
[13:28] Huntress Selenium: A lot of times it begins with a computer model, though; string theory has yet to be tested, and people even disagree as to what would count as a test for it or the holographic universe.
[13:28] herman Bergson: yes
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:29] herman Bergson: Computer models are the intellectual horro of today is my opinion
[13:29] Huntress Selenium: Agreed, herman.
[13:29] argus Portal: Why is it horror ?
[13:29] Roger Amdahl: depends on what those models are for
[13:29] herman Bergson: It ruined the banking system lately for instance...
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: thats true
[13:29] herman Bergson: Well Roger it is because..
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: was a real mess
[13:30] argus Portal: ok, thats true
[13:30] Huntress Selenium: But then there is the problem of what counts as "testing."  String theory, the holographic universe has their problems, and then we have borderline science at best, parapsychology, with it's own notions of testing--eVP's, for instance
[13:30] herman Bergson: as soon as the model is created they are inclined to take the model as reality
[13:30] herman Bergson: Just take the weather forcast...
[13:30] Huntress Selenium: you mean models aren't reality, herman?  lol
[13:30] herman Bergson: No..they are creations of the brain
[13:31] herman Bergson: which try to correlate with reality
[13:31] Loo Zeta: <---- a="" and="" complimentary="" dodgy="" embrace="" font="" having="" just="" load="" of="" rl="" taken="" theories="" therapies="" to="" up="">
[13:31] Roger Amdahl: String Theory is a mathematical model that is very elegant, and exists only by formula's.
[13:31] Loo Zeta: My brain is whoa!!!
[13:31] Roger Amdahl: but help science...proof them wrong !
[13:31] Huntress Selenium: Well, 'correlate with reality,' is a problem too; the correspondence theory is frought with problems, and, back to the idea of dominant theories, 'correlation' becomes consistency with everything else you believe
[13:31] Loo Zeta: Roger meet you in another dimension
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: depends on, someone create the computer program doing the simulation and if there is some miscalculation there
[13:32] Roger Amdahl: :)
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: poof goes that theory
[13:32] Huntress Selenium: Which may explain people's attitudes toward global warming or the short-Earth theory; people think those are consistent with all their other beliefs
[13:32] herman Bergson: They did tests with reptiles I recently heard....
[13:33] herman Bergson: moving them from a cold into a worm environment.....
[13:33] herman Bergson: the model predicted their extiction....
[13:33] herman Bergson: but they adapted rapidly and survived
[13:33] Ciska Riverstone: (unlike the dinosaurs)
[13:33] Huntress Selenium: They all became birds, right? lol
[13:33] herman Bergson: Something like that :-))
[13:34] argus Portal: :-)
[13:34] Bejiita Imako:
[13:34] herman Bergson: Anyway.....we have to face a number of issues here....
[13:34] herman Bergson: especially the issue of 'evidence'....
[13:35] herman Bergson: in fact we have to return to basic epistemology here, I guess
[13:35] herman Bergson: WHAT is knowledge....
[13:35] Roger Amdahl: when you have to calculate the chance of survival for a species, you deal with huge amount of uncertainties.. so even when put in computer, the prediction might be off by miles
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:35] Loo Zeta:
[13:35] herman Bergson: Yes Roger...that is why models are a horro tome....
[13:35] Lizzy Pleides: the evidence depends of our level of knowledge
[13:36] Ciska Riverstone: yes Lizzy and that develops
[13:36] herman Bergson: the arrogance to believe that we can grasp all variables of reality
[13:36] Ciska Riverstone: how can u catch a running stream? you only get moment pictures no the whole thing
[13:36] Huntress Selenium: Yes, evidentiary-statements are only take as true, or at least not false, if they are consistent with all other statements taken as evidentiary.  And that is determined by history, dominant theories, and research agendas
[13:36] Lizzy Pleides waves @ Ciska
[13:36] herman Bergson: panta rei....
[13:36] Huntress Selenium: Ciska, yes, very good point.
[13:36] Ciska Riverstone:
[13:36] Roger Amdahl: it is just a field of science where computer models are highly unpredictable... in other field they work fine
[13:37] Loo Zeta: well you can make a 3D virtual running stream....
[13:37] Huntress Selenium: Well, computer models suffer from GIGO more than actual field work.
[13:37] Loo Zeta: yes
[13:37] herman Bergson: What is GIGO, Huntress?
[13:37] Huntress Selenium: Garbage In; Garbage Out
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: hahaha
[13:37] herman Bergson: Oh yes....a classic
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: now thats true
[13:38] Loo Zeta: when will augmented reality be so involved in RL we do not see the difference
[13:38] Huntress Selenium: Loo, that happened in 1999, but we didn't notice it.
[13:38] Loo Zeta: lol
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: like MAtrix?
[13:38] Ciska Riverstone: (so calvin & Hobbes are right after all: scientific process is going boink)
[13:38] Huntress Selenium: Yeah, why I picked 1999
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: i could have guessed that
[13:39] Bejiita Imako:
[13:39] Huntress Selenium: But another problem is you can make statements consistent with one another by interpretation, and there are an infinite number of interpretations.
[13:39] herman Bergson: The Matrix was a nice fantasy....
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:39] Ciska Riverstone: yes Selene
[13:39] Loo Zeta: It is where my child says she is uploading me in my dotage!!!
[13:40] Huntress Selenium: Yeah, it broke down, even in its own terms.  Neo found the "desert of the real."  which was necessary for the Matrix to work
[13:40] herman Bergson: There we go Postmodernist....everything is just an interpretation :-))
[13:40] Loo Zeta: whoops sorry
[13:40] Huntress Selenium: No, not saying that, herman; but we do have to make decision when we are doing anything in science
[13:41] herman Bergson: yes we have....
[13:41] Huntress Selenium: Do we accept the results, or save the hypothesis?  The radiation that led to star nurseries was first observed and dismissed as NASA's instruments being broken.  All of them?  yes.
[13:41] herman Bergson: That is the problem with computermodels.....we make the decisions first...
[13:41] Huntress Selenium: Then they figure out how to make the findings consistent with what else they held as true, and all better.
[13:42] Loo Zeta: They are still slaves to our reality until they become sensient
[13:42] herman Bergson: Yes As I read today about folds in space which showed to be just dust....
[13:42] Loo Zeta: I spelt that wrong
[13:42] Huntress Selenium: That's ok, Loo, we all speak typonese.
[13:42] Bejiita Imako: there is a case i saw before though when an undiscovered fluid phenomena called the trench effect was discovered by a computer by combining already known lud statements
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: the phenomenon led do a disastrous flash fore in the london subway killing lot of people but no one could see how it could happened
[13:43] Huntress Selenium: Yeah, computer models can be very helpful; we just need to be aware of their limits.
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: when testing it for real it proved to be true
[13:43] Bejiita Imako:
[13:43] Loo Zeta: *scentient... still looks wrong
[13:43] Huntress Selenium: That's a key, "testing it for real."  But alas in astrophysics or economics, or global warming, we often can't do that.
[13:44] Huntress Selenium: 'sentient.'
[13:44] Loo Zeta: ahh
[13:44] herman Bergson: Well this is a lot of issues...:-)
[13:44] Lizzy Pleides: computers can only calculate with the data we feed them
[13:44] Huntress Selenium: Lizzy, yes, GIGO
[13:44] Loo Zeta: Ohhh bother Vidz was involved in that fire at King's Cross
[13:44] herman Bergson: So the computer is a GIGOlo :-)
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: aaaa ok
[13:45] Huntress SeleniumHuntress Selenium laughs
[13:45] Ciska Riverstone: eheheh herman
[13:45] Loo Zeta: He was on his way back from Uni :(
[13:45] argus Portal: hehe
[13:45] Huntress Selenium: Yes, very fickle, goes with *any* operator.
[13:45] herman Bergson smiles
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: did he got killed but that blaze?
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: by
[13:45] Loo Zeta: No
[13:45] Loo Zeta: He is very much alice RL and SL
[13:46] Lizzy Pleides: thank god Loo!
[13:46] Loo Zeta: *alive
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: ok
[13:46] Huntress Selenium: Who is this person?  Sorry to be an insular Yank.
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: that’s good
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: was a nasty event
[13:46] Loo Zeta: But it was 12 hours of angst for me
[13:46] herman Bergson: Sorry Loo..lost track of what you are discussing
[13:46] Loo Zeta: he was held up in a tunnel on the Northern Line
[13:46] Loo Zeta: ahh the link
[13:46] herman Bergson: Does’t sound good..that is what I understand
[13:47] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:47] Bejiita Imako: its about a computer simulation discovering somehing new
[13:47] Loo Zeta: and I had a flash back sorry
[13:47] Bejiita Imako: but it did it probably because both the coanda effect ( that make airplanes lift) and flashover are already well known phenomena and proven
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: they did just combine in an unexpected way
[13:48] Huntress Selenium: Can anyone tell me the difference between a computer simulation and a thought experiment?  The latter has a time honored role in and out of science, so no problem, if that's really what it is.
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: with disaster as result
[13:48] herman Bergson: I have my questions about thought experiments too Huntress....
[13:48] Ciska Riverstone: huntress - the computer simulation has no additional ideas
[13:48] herman Bergson: Modern philosophers seem to be fond of them now and then..
[13:48] Huntress Selenium: Oh, so it's like a dumb thought experiment.  lol
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: no, it can only make use of already known facts
[13:49] Huntress Selenium: yes, Rawls, in particular.
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: sort of
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:49] Ciska Riverstone: it has more data then a human selene
[13:49] Ciska Riverstone: but thats it
[13:49] Rocky Mensing: I think the power of a computer simulation is that a computer can calculate faster then a human ever can
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:49] Huntress Selenium: A dumber but faster thought experiment
[13:49] herman Bergson: And it is not emotionally involved and biased
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: thats why computers was invented in first place and because it doesnt make mistakes if correctly programmmed
[13:49] Ciska Riverstone: yes and it cannot check back with reality - only if a human gives it the data for it
[13:49] Huntress Selenium: herman,'s programmer could be.
[13:49] Ciska Riverstone: there we are faster usually
[13:50] herman Bergson: maybe yes....
[13:50] Lizzy Pleides: Computers are stupid, aren't they?
[13:50] herman Bergson: I guess it might be time to cool your brains again....:-)
[13:50] Loo Zeta: ermmm no
[13:50] Huntress Selenium: Well, let's be nice, and say 'unimaginative.'
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: they are just machines
[13:51] Loo Zeta: Ever talked to Siri?
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: a box if silicon and wires
[13:51] herman Bergson: Only programmers can be stupid :-))
[13:51] Ciska Riverstone: heheh i had some funny conversations with siri - yes
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: without electricity its as dead as any other machine
[13:51] Lizzy Pleides: lol herman
[13:51] Loo Zeta: It learns
[13:51] Huntress Selenium: Well, w/o electricity so are most of us.
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: well sort of
[13:51] Loo Zeta: yep
[13:51] argus Portal: without oxygen a human as well, Bejiita ;-)
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: and computers can learn sort f but it cant experience things
[13:51] Loo Zeta: we are biochemical computers
[13:52] Huntress Selenium: argus, yeah, but don't rust--that's one advantage over machines
[13:52] argus Portal: yes :-)
[13:52] Lizzy Pleides: but computers have to serve us, we are the masters
[13:52] herman Bergson: Ok...since we have reached near death now it might be a good moment to thank you all for your participation
[13:52] Loo Zeta: lol
[13:52] Loo Zeta: ty
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: to understand speech the computer have to convert that into a string of 1 and 0 and distinguish it from others despite noise ect
[13:52] Huntress Selenium: Thank you for doing this, herman
[13:52] Ciska Riverstone: thank you herman- thanx everyone
[13:52] argus Portal: Thank you, Herman
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: thats why its so hard make a computer understand speech , it cant understand it directly like we can
[13:52] herman Bergson: It was a pleasure to share my time with you again....
[13:52] Beertje Beaumont: thank you again Herman:)
[13:53] Bejiita Imako: great herman
[13:53] Bejiita Imako: )
[13:53] Lizzy Pleides: thank you herman!
[13:53] Bejiita Imako: cu soon
[13:53] Huntress Selenium: bye, everyone
[13:53] herman Bergson: Thank you all and till next time...Thursday
[13:53] Bejiita Imako: Hoooo!
[13:53] Bejiita Imako: Hooo!!!
[13:53] Roger Amdahl: thanks herman
[13:53] argus Portal: Goodnight all
[13:53] Ciska Riverstone: enjoy everyone
[13:53] Rocky Mensing: thanks all...good night
[13:53] herman Bergson: Class dismissed ..^_^

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