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Discussion in 'The Swarm Lounge' started by Greenjackets, Feb 29, 2016.

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  1. Animal02

    Animal02 Helluva Engineer

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    And yet for all that "research" they cannot replicate their claims, nor have their claims proven true. Saying there is not doubt is to accept the "research" as blind faith. Science is not democratic majority rules. One proof to the contrary refutes the claimed absolutes of 1,000,000.
     
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  2. takethepoints

    takethepoints Helluva Engineer

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    Well, yes and no. "One proof to the contrary" doesn't necessarily refute other research conclusions. Indeed, the first reaction that most scientists have to such findings is that there was something wrong with the research process or the data. If neither of those prove to be the source of the finding, then the theory is (or should be; sometimes it doesn't happen) revised, usually with new interpretations that conserve the main theoretical conclusions while accommodating the new findings. If enough anomalies accumulate, then major changes are called for and usually happen, though, as Koch said, after the old theory's supporters die off. It's a human enterprise.

    As to climate change, I didn't say this was settled science. The climatologists could be wrong, but the safe bet would be that such overwhelming evidence is probably correct. I agree that there are things that are in doubt, particularly the pace of climate change, but that the climate is changing and that humans are probably behind that isn't, imho. I also think that what we should do next that's the real problem and the real source of uncertainty. There, I agree we are on uncharted territory.
     
  3. takethepoints

    takethepoints Helluva Engineer

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    This is for AE 87.

    I got to thinking about our exchange here and I think I've done you an injustice. As I re-read your posts, I realized that you are probably a all-scientific-theories-are-tenative-and-unproven guy. Well, you're right. All scientific theories are "proven" in the sense that the evidence indicates that we can reject the null hypothesis concerning well established findings. But - and you are correct here - that doesn't mean that the theory is proven in the sense of a logical proposition.

    Take evolution, for instance. There's good evidence for the process here on Earth for all forms of life. Oth, there are plenty of exobiologists out there who really want to go to Mars. If there were (maybe) or are (yeah, right) life forms on Mars we would then have a second case to gage the theory. And the evidence found there would be of great use in settling questions about the theory and expanding it. And we'll never get to the end of that.

    I think that the evidence for evolution and, to a lesser extent, climate change is sound enough for us to accept the theories as conclusive for working purposes. If I read you right, you don't and you have your reasons. Fair enough; we won't ever get a final answer from science and all theories really are tentative. However, some are a lot more tentative then others. We differ on which ones those are.

    Hope this clears the air.
     
  4. AE 87

    AE 87 Helluva Engineer

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    Thanks for the reply.

    First of all I thought that I did respond to your points.
    1) In my previous post, I acknowledged that there are differences in types of authorities and that it is reasonable for people to accept things by faith in authorities. So, everything that you said about the impossibility of being an expert in everything and the need to trust experts I had already acknowledged. I also agree that trusting people you consider to be experts in the field in question is more reasonable than trusting people who are not. I have no problem with that approach to science and application of science in our lives, as I said.
    2) However, that doesn't change the fact that knowledge based on faith in an authority is the same regardless. If you have very good reason to trust someone's expertise, that doesn't make them infallible. Treating that knowledge as if your source were infallible is the move of fundamentalism.
    3) So, I responded to your discussion of trusting experts in the field by referring to my own knowledge of the field (and implicitly knowledge of the debate among experts). I know that the evidence doesn't demonstrate Darwinian or neo-Darwinian view of evolution. So, it's not a matter of asking an oceanographer about nuclear reactors. It's a matter of hearing how biologists and paleontologists etc discuss the relationship between their data/science and textbook evolutionary theory.

    So, I think that it is GREAT that you claim sufficient knowledge about evolutionary theory to have written scholarly papers on the subject. That's why I look forward to you starting a thread where you lay out the argument and overwhelming evidence in favor of evolution as a scientific theory and defend it.

    However, to be clear, my question about evolutionary theory is not whether scientists 150 years ago, or 100 years ago, or 75 or so years ago had good reason to believe in evolution as a scientific theory. I question whether there is sufficient evidence, today, to support the textbook theory of evolution with our current knowledge of DNA and cell biology.

    Now, I must admit that I still suspect you won’t start a thread on this topic. Unfortunately, I still suspect that you’re blowing smoke like liberal fundamentalists always do. You see, my experience has been that most liberal fundamentalists are really quite childish, never even admitting that their belief system is based on faith in a group of scientists they consider infallible. Thankfully, you have presented yourself as an adult above such childishness. So, I look forward to eating crow when you adult-up, start a thread, and prove me wrong.

    Of course, if you don’t, I’m sure that you realize that others will be justified in seeing you as just another fundamentalist, albeit a liberal one.
     
  5. AE 87

    AE 87 Helluva Engineer

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    Thanks. I wrote my last note before I read this.

    And yes, while this post is on the right track, it does not go far enough. I'm not just saying the evidence doesn't rise to a level of absolute proof. I'm saying that we know enough now to know that the modern synthesis has been falsified.

    So, asserting evolution as a scientific theory is speaking counter to the data, and not one interpretation of the data. Most advocates, in my experience, just take it for granted (faith) rather than acknowledging its problems. Sometimes you see paleontologists thinking the proof is in the biology and vice versa. To be clear, I'm not saying that there hasn't been some kind of change over time or that a future theory won't be developed to explain this change. I'm saying that until that happens people should be more humble in their attitudes toward those with differing opinions.

    Here we are on firmer ground than climate change, where my complaint is that we can't come to a conclusion because the data is not accessible. Those who speak of dangerous human contribution say we can't trust the satellite data, and the other side says we can't trust the data sets produced based on ground based sensors. I'm pretty strongly agnostic until that gets settled though I've seen more data to suggest that the "alarmists" are less trustworthy than the "deniers."
     
  6. takethepoints

    takethepoints Helluva Engineer

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    I think you have DeCarte before the horse here. I'm upholding the affirmative, to wit that the base theory for all the life and medical sciences is valid. I say that evolution is so widely confirmed that it is as close as any scientific theory gets to being a fact (i.e. something we can take for granted for most working purposes). And I have all the professions who work with it and the massive body of research they have done behind my conclusion.

    You, oth, are arguing the negative; that the theory is flawed. When you do that the burden of proof is on you, not me. If you have evidence that the theory is wrong, then it is incumbent on you, not me, to present the evidence you think proves it. The best way to do that would not be a recap of modern evolutionary theory - the best recent overview, Ernst Mayr's What Evolution Is (finished when he was 97!) is 336 pages long - but a series of posts from you that would tell us what you think the problems with the theory are. That would both shorten the file and bring what you think are the cogent objections forward for criticism.

    But, as you say above, I doubt you actually want to do that. But maybe I'm wrong. Be warned, however, I have P. Z. Meyer's URL handy. I'd check there first.
     
  7. takethepoints

    takethepoints Helluva Engineer

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    This doesn't compute. The data is accessible; that's why the anomalies can be noticed and controlled for. As I said above, the real question isn't whether the Earth is warming up or that this is the result of human activity. That ship has sailed. The uncertainty comes from what we should do about it and how soon. There the data is much less conclusive and it comes down to a bet about the future. If we move now, economic growth will be lower and we won't be as wealthy in the future. That could mean that we wouldn't have the resources to tackle the results of climate change. Oth, if we don't move soon, there's a real possibility that we could find ourselves in a catastrophic situation beyond the power of human beings to address.

    The evidence won't tell us that one way or the other at present, so you pay your money and take your choice. I'm with the pessimists and so is most of the rest of humanity. Except for the oil and coal companies. We'll see how that works out, but the science on the question is unlikely to give us an answer until it is too late.
     
  8. Northeast Stinger

    Northeast Stinger Helluva Engineer

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    Yes, that was the joke.
     
  9. AE 87

    AE 87 Helluva Engineer

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    @takethepoints
    Thanks for your two replies. I have to say I'm disappointed but not surprised. You are the liberal fundamentalist I feared.

    You claimed science and evidence but when pushed to back it up, you assert authorities you trust. That's faith, not science.
     
  10. Northeast Stinger

    Northeast Stinger Helluva Engineer

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    I will perhaps regret jumping in here but he made an interesting point that I am not sure I heard a reply to. If you replied and I missed it then I apologize ahead of time.

    Now, my words not his, but what about the idea that a scientific consensus begins to build around a theory which gains broader and broader acceptance, and this theory becomes a workable model that all future research has to take into consideration. Then there comes a position that has very little acceptance which claims to undercut the very foundation of what most accepted research engages in as a regular enterprise. Is it not incumbent upon this outlier scientific position to present overwhelming evidence to refute what is accepted mainstream science? If I heard his argument correctly it sounded like he was saying that the onus is not on him to prove the majority opinion but rather on you to disprove the majority opinion. You may be Copernicus, and if you are you will be right and everyone else wrong. But to be a good Copernicus you have to present overwhelming evidence to over turn the accepted position or the accepted position stands.

    Frankly, your argumentation would make it hard for me to prove to you that the world is round. I am not being snarky I am just admitting my rhetorical limitations if you are going to tell me I cannot appeal to authorities. All of my evidence for the world being round is secondary as well as relying (by faith, if you will) on what text books and authorities say.
     
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  11. takethepoints

    takethepoints Helluva Engineer

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    Yes, that's it exactly. Thanks.

    I think our friend is missing something about how science works. It is inherently conservative. Once a theory is well established, there has to be a compelling reason to abandon it. Usually, that compelling reason is straightforward empirical evidence that the theory is wrong (Gallileo sees moons around Jupiter) or a theory that subsumes the existing framework and explains some observed anomalies in the predictions of the theory (general and special relativity). I suspect that AE is one of those people who think that because they find descrepancies with some aspects of a theory at the boundaries of research work they have found grounds for disproving the theory. But you'd expect to find new ideas that the theory may have trouble covering when people are doing cutting edge research; that's why you do it. Unless the results are truly surprising, you'd simply see the theory developed to accommodate them. Like I say, science is conservative. Hide-bound, almost.
     
  12. AE 87

    AE 87 Helluva Engineer

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    Nice post. Thanks for the opportunity to clarify.

    I'll start with where you end, on the roundness of the earth. You seem to conflate two things in your last sentence which I'm holding as distinct: evidence (even if secondary) and testimony of authorities. You see, if you can talk, at all, about what you mean when you say round and what evidence you accept for believing in the roundness of the earth, then we can have a conversation about the strengths and limitations of that evidence. In other words, we can talk the science. However, if you are unable or unwilling to even clarify what you mean by round and to mention any evidence in support of the earth's roundness, then I would say that for you the earth's roundness for you is simply a matter of faith.

    Still, as I've said repeatedly, there is nothing wrong with accepting the word of authorities by faith. We all do it. Almost all education through 12 grades depends on it. However, we should also be aware of what knowledge we have simply by faith. Your faith can be correct, but it's still faith.

    So, now let's back up to your Copernicus reference to add further clarification. Copernicus first published his ideas of the sun-centered solar system in about 1514 and published his fuller treatment shortly before his death in 1543.

    Now, imagine the year is 1600, some 60 years later, and someone makes a post on the internet mocking people who deny the Aristotelian/Ptolemaic cosmology which has been the standard model for more than a thousand years. They then make the assertion that this is settled science on which ALL scientists and physicists agree. He further asserts that the overwhelming scientific evidence supports the earth-centered model.

    Now, on the one hand, this person in 1600 is correct about what has been the accepted science and about the majority opinion of scientists, and even that there is evidence which support it. Historically, heliocentrism wasn't generally accepted until the 2nd half/end of the 17th century (1600's). On the other hand, his comment also betrays an ignorance of the scientific data and the state of the question. Not only do his comments suggest that he's unaware of the proposal of Copernicus, he's also unaware of the problems that had been plaguing the Ptolemaic cosmology leading up to Copernicus' proposal. Let me say that again: Even cosmologists committed to the Ptolemaic, earth-centered model knew that there were problems with the model as more and bigger epicycles were being proposed and as its predictions were seen as insufficiently precise. So, any claim about overwhelming evidence in support of the Ptolemaic cosmology actually misrepresents the state of what was known in the year 1600. Someone who would've made such claims in 1600 was either ignorant of the science and just speaking from faith in textbook tradition or dissembling.

    I'm saying that this is what has been happening here. I have no problem with people saying that they accept the textbook tradition by faith. That's a reasonable thing to do. I do have a problem with people declaring that there is overwhelming support for the theory or that it's settled science when I know that this is not the case. In fact, the textbook theory of evolution (Neo-Darwinism, modern synthesis) is in worse shape with respect to the data than the Ptolemaic Cosmology was in 1600.

    However, it is pointless to argue science against a person's faith. As I've begged repeatedly, I am happy to engage in a conversation about the science if someone were to start a thread where they lay out theory and the evidence on which they rely. It is, of course, a waste of time to discuss data and evidence with someone who will respond, "But my Bible (PZ Myers, Jerry Coyne, Richard Dawkins, Ernst Myer) says, "..."
     
  13. AE 87

    AE 87 Helluva Engineer

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    LOL. I understand the nature of science and scientific communities just fine, thank you.

    Start the thread. Lay out the theory and the data in its support. Dare me to show you a compelling reason to abandon it. Adult up. If you want to make claims about what I understand and don't understand, back-it-up. Start a thread.

    Of course you won't. You won't even adult-up and admit that you've just accepted what you've been told by faith. I can't give you compelling reasons to abandon your faith since your faith isn't based on reasons. Unfortunately, liberal fundamentalists, like you apparently, are in a bind because they put your faith is ideas which they were told were the results of science.

    Again, you challenged me to prove the theory wrong, but you have refused to start a thread where you lay out what you believe the theory is. LOL

    smh, anti-intellectual liberal fundamentalists! smh
     
  14. AE 87

    AE 87 Helluva Engineer

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    Read some of the threads on climate change in this forum, and you may avoid making posts that reflect such ignorance.
     
  15. takethepoints

    takethepoints Helluva Engineer

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    Gosh, where to start?

    As I said above, the onus here isn't on me or any other supporter of the theory of evolution. It's on you and nobody else. Yet you won't make a move unless someone else does it first. I think I know why. What you are waiting for is the inevitable gaps that would appear in a post that tries to encapsulate a complex theory involving many different related strains of scientific research. Then you can attack aspects of the post with some disparate observations you think have actual force. But this is a well-known tactic and pure trolling, not actual scientific argument.

    If you have some doubts about the theory, let's hear them. No more dissembling, no more hiding behind endlessly repeated arguments, no more hiding behind rocks hoping you can get something to throw at. Until you decide to show a little intellectual courage, there's no sense in me or anyone else responding further.
     
  16. takethepoints

    takethepoints Helluva Engineer

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    Dude, if you think I'd take the statements of a bunch of Tech football fans as dispositive on climate change questions, then - to put it mildly - you've got another think coming.

    But, like I say above, quit trolling us and tell us what you think the problems are. Why are you afraid to do so?
     
  17. AE 87

    AE 87 Helluva Engineer

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    No. I've already explained my rationale. I don't want to get bogged down arguing against a faith position. You won't even lay-out the theory that you want me to disprove in broad strokes.

    LOL, look at this post:
    Those threads are full of reference to climate scientists, links to the writings of climate scientists, etc. LOL

    You are such a fundamentalist that you don't want to look and engage scientific data when it's offered. smh

    The sad thing is that you, at some level, have to know that you have no real idea what you are talking about. You have to know that you are arguing from a faith position, but you just aren't adult enough to admit it.

    Adult-up, rather than guessing at how I will respond start the thread. Or Adult-up and admit you are a fundamentalist.
     
  18. Northeast Stinger

    Northeast Stinger Helluva Engineer

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    Ugh.

    And this is usually where I bow out.

    Because what I am hearing is that everyone who accepts the prevailing scientific opinion is a liberal, a fundamentalist, dishonest or ignorant. I find that way of arguing unconvincing at best and, at worst, it makes me want to retreat because I feel like I am in the presence of an angry man who has something going on that eats on him on a daily basis.

    But let me try one more time, with a charitable tone, if I can. Apparently there is something in "all the text books" about evolution that is fundamentally wrong. So wrong that it undercuts the very word evolution. I would be curious as to what this is. Or, take your pick here, there is something fundamentally wrong with NOAA and NASA and dozens of other climate research organizations that they are all reading the data incorrectly. I will admit up front at this point that if anyone begins to suggest that there is some kind of big conspiracy being carried out by tens of thousands of people I will probably bow out again from this conversation.

    So my original analogy is still to the point. If you are Copernicus, then you are right. But Copernicus could lay out a highly plausible alternative theory with lots of supporting evidence. It was not just that he shot down a geocentric view of the universe, he laid out a whole new scheme that actually made sense. If I remember my history correctly, the delay in accepting his position had less to do with lack of compelling evidence but rather an orthodox view supported by the church that almost demanded that the earth be the center of things. In other words people had a compelling reason to believe something that was false.

    Going with that analogy, and without straining it too much, there is no over arching controlling institution like the church of Copernicus's day. The government is too weak and feeble, and the internet has opened up too many apertures for multiple opinions to flow through for there to be any kind of monolithic thought control to go on. Now let me grant this. It is possible for disciplines to get caught up in group think, the pressure of their own kind of orthodoxy as well as laziness of thinking. But if there was ever a time in history when it was easier than ever to overturn established thinking on a given subject that time is now.
     
  19. AE 87

    AE 87 Helluva Engineer

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    OK, let me try again.
    1) I'm not saying that everyone who accepts the prevailing scientific opinion is a liberal fundamentalist etc. I'm saying that anyone who asserts as settled science that the biological diversity arose through a blind evolutionary process or that the human contribution to climate change is dangerous--and especially anyone who mocks dissenters--is. I have not started these conversations. I have responded to those who have made assertions about what is settled science from a perspective of ignorance and called them out. I appreciate that people have been told that all scientists agree on certain things and that certain things are settled science. I appreciate that many people have believed these assertions to be true. If you want to accept these statements by faith, good for you, but just admit it. That's all I'm saying.

    2) You basically ignored my response on your Copernican analogy. Granted that there are sociological realities that result in people typically not abandoning one theory until another theory proves more persuasive. What you have failed to appreciate, it seems to me, is that this is not the same thing as saying that the prevailing theory is true or substantiated by overwhelming evidence until a new theory wins the day. Your suggestion that it is true until proven not true just seems like nonsense to me. Ptolemaic cosmology was not true for the 100 years it took for it lose its dominance to the Copernican theory. The overwhelming evidence didn't support it all that time. Claims that it had overwhelming support of evidence were false. With the advancements in telescopy, they could make more precise measurements in the late middle ages than they could make in the ancient world when the theory was first developed and model was first created. These advances led to greater realizations of the weakness of the model and its added complexities. You can know when a theory isn't working well before you propose a new theory. That's the point I've been making.

    3) Also, unfortunately, you don't understand the history correctly. The Copernican theory took so long to be accepted for two main reasons: (1) it did not immediately give rise to more precise predictions and (2) all the laws of physics, laws of motion etc, were dependent on the earth-centered model. It was not just a proposal of a new cosmology, it was asserting that the whole consensus western knowledge about the natural world from the 4th century BC was false. That's another part of why Newton's new physics along with his explanation of gravity and orbits, were so significant in helping establish heliocentrism at the end of the 17th century. Most of Northern Europe had already broken free of the Catholic Church by the middle of the 16th Century. A Lutheran publisher published Copernicus' book. The Roman Church was protective of Aristotle because it had tied some of its dogmas to Aristotle, but what @takethepoints said about science as a conservative discipline etc played a bigger role than the actual religious tradition.

    So, again, the reason that I don't start a thread where I lay-out an argument against the textbook theory of evolution is that it is a meaningless exercise if you are just accepting the textbook theory by faith. I presented significant data in various climate change threads that the IPCC had manipulated data and misrepresented their findings--using their data! Others cited the articles which showed that the claim of 97% consensus was cooked. Yet even though you participated in those threads, you still made assertions about the reliability of the data and the authority of the 97% consensus. In other words, it does me no good to give data and enter into a conversation about the science when you are holding on to your position from the perspective of faith. If I cite scientific sources that disagree with your faith, you will call them fringe or something. You've done it in the past.

    What you and @takethepoints don't seem to realize is that real science is about explaining empirical data. It's about developing theories that best explains the data. It's about recognizing when theories no longer can account for the data so that new theories can be considered. It's not about taking a vote among people you call scientists. That's why I'm saying that until you show yourself willing to talk about theory, data and evidence, then I'm not going to waste my time. What I find extremely disappointing is that you won't just admit that you are operating from a faith position.

    4) Finally, I don't think you understand how the academy works, so I'll only briefly comment on it:
    • On the one hand, you want to say that science is a conservative discipline that resists letting go of a theory until a new theory proves itself, but on the other hand you don't want to entertain the possibility that scientists are holding onto and continuing to promote a theory which the data no longer supports.
    • On the one hand, you want to say that scientists 4o0 years ago would shut down and discriminate against scientific ideas that challenged the tradition (apparently because they were Christian), but on the other hand you deny that scientists today would try and shut down or discriminate against ideas that challenged their tradition (because they are not?)
    Those kind of paradoxes do not arise from a position of reason but from a position of faith, imo.

    So, if you or anyone were willing to start a thread where you set-out your understanding of the scientific theory and display a willingness to discuss the evidence. I'll be happy to participate. If you don't, you should at least admit to yourself that you are a liberal fundamentalist.
     
  20. AE 87

    AE 87 Helluva Engineer

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    @takethepoints @Northeast Stinger @JacketFromUGA @OldJacketFan

    The too-long; didn't read summary of my last post and contributions on this topic, It's simple:
    • If you want to articulate an understanding of scientific theory and discuss the evidence which it explains etc, I'm open to having a conversation about the science.
    • If you want to assert that everyone who doesn't share your view on these scientific issues is denying the science even though you yourself are unwilling or unable to actually discuss the science, then you are a fundamentalist operating by faith. Again, there is no shame, imo, in trusting people you consider experts. The shame comes when you stand in the place of the expert by casting judgment on others who have different views even though you don't actually understand the issues yourself.
    So, in my opinion, y'all have a very simple choice:
    • Show that you are not a fundamentalist by starting a thread where you demonstrate your willingness to discuss the science
    • Adult-up and admit that you are a liberal fundamentalist who judges others for not sharing your faith commitments (though you tell yourself that it's science that someone understands)
    • or Prove that you are liberal fundamentalist by putting your fingers in your ears and continuing to assert that your faith is science and that there is no debate on these issues
     
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