Skepticism and Trust in ScienceOct 6, 2020
Why do so many people believe in conspiracy theories? Do we need to evaluate the evidence for ourselves, or should we just trust the experts? This week on Philosophy Talk, we’re discussing science and skepticism, and the role that trust plays in deciding what's true.
Friday, October 9, 2020 -- 9:19 AMI was going to ask for help
I was going to ask for help in connecting with a program, but I have connected.
I will comment: I really had no question. It was not clear to me that if I did not ask a question I could not get connected.
Harold G. Neuman
Thursday, March 4, 2021 -- 12:24 PMSkepticism is a healthy
Skepticism is a healthy stance, under some circumstances. Among those I count beliefs; opinions; and ideologies: such schemas are constructs of groups of humans who espouse particular ways of regarding persons, places and/or things. In many, if not most cases, science has little to do with those persons, places, etc. It serves no such agenda or motivation, working towards a betterment of the human condition, not a tunnel-vision view of ideological blather...something politics, for example, holds in reverence.
In another post, you asked about overreach in matters of science. I remarked on the question. That
remark was, I hope, essentially consistent with these.. Stephen J. Gould's notion of NOMA---
non-overlapping magisteria, though found faulty, seems apropos here, if only for comparison.
No. I am not a scientist. Nor would I bite the hands that help me and those I love stay alive.
Saw my oldest step-son today. Asked him if he would get vaccinated for Covid . He said he was not sure. I hope he makes up his mind. Soon...
Monday, January 9, 2023 -- 11:13 AMSometimes science is
Sometimes science is conflated with thinking.
Thinking is not desirable to many people now. I'm not sure why.
"Yon Cassius has a lean and hungry look. He thinks too much. Such men are dangerous."
Is there a clue in that sentiment? When I was young, my mom used to accuse me of analyzing too much.
I suspected there were some things she didn't want me to know about. Family secrets.
One of my favorite uncles used to fill me in, anyway.
Sunday, February 12, 2023 -- 10:41 AMSo all science is a product
Given up for my part is any effort to impede the appearance of impertinence in picking up a few nuts and berries from the forum-field, the digested result of which might not be primarily classified as a waste-product, but rather as one of nutritional value, if nevertheless in eructated form.
Participant Dwells has offered above a powerful argument for a skeptical view of the traditional claim of how science is related to thinking, which deserves critical analysis. It consists by my reading of three premises, the first of which is the assumption on logical grounds that one can have thinking without science, but not science without thinking. The second consists of the more controversial claim that science can remain even where thinking disappears; and the third applies this principle to special institutional knowledge where thinking precedes its internally undesirable discovery.
Notes thereon as follows:
(P1) While written in the form of an empirical observation, this expresses an assumption which by deductive closure must be true if the argument form is valid.
(P2) That thinking can decline while science remains in tact implies the latter doesn't need the former in order to continue or survive, indicating that science is describable as a collection of facts already arrived at, while thinking is a variety of activity which can not be ostensibly verified but only observed to occur.
(P3) The third premise draws an inference from the combination of (P1) with (P2) in the case study of institutional authority and the thinking of its members in the nuclear family. Thinking is discouraged where approaching discovery of information which is desired to be kept hidden by prevailing institutional authority. This puts (P1), the radical distinction between fact-collections and the activity which produces them, together with (P2), which states that a loss of interest in thinking does not entail a loss of interest in science, which in turn implies that science can exist where thought doesn't. This third premise states then that in the cited case, membership-thinking is excluded where it approaches internal institutional knowledge constituted to be non-sharable amongst the members, (as a collection of not commonly known facts, and as a fact-collection not incorrectly called scientific, or at least one with regards to which a science is possible), in spite of the occasional crack in the outer shell of the inner circle, (cf. the smaller set of favorite uncles).
Sketched in schematic form, and limiting premise-expression to the two elements of science (S) and thinking (T), one obtains:
(P1): If S then T, and not if T then S.
(P2): If S then T or not T.
(P3): If T then not S.
Here the third premise clearly contradicts the first, indicating one or the other must be false. The favorite uncle exception to (P3) is not sufficient, since that would alter the identity of S by violating the secrecy requirement. Perhaps T should be modified as a special case, written as T', so that it reads "if T' then not S". If read in this way, participant Dwell's argument concludes that at least one science or group of facts, namely as empirically observed to be predicated by secrecy, is destroyed by thinking, but does not escape contradiction of the assumption. The third premise must then be false, so that the stated relation is between thinking and something other than science. Expanded to consideration of the traditional view, then, the argument recommends a skepticism for any scientific claim where one's own thinking, either as discovery or verification, has no connection to it. Does that seem accurate? What alternate readings are possible?
Friday, February 17, 2023 -- 10:33 PMAm I picking up the hint of a
Am I picking up the hint of a family secret here?
Is it possible to reconcile the conflicting premises by interpreting the first premise as a normative statement of how scientific development and thought should be conducted and the third premise as a descriptive claim about the inherent ethical challenges of science as technology? Any casual reader would do this. You, Daniel, are not casual, and unfortunately, a bit of forest is lost here examining the tree.
Can you simplify your argument if you find fault with Dwells' post? It might help you see a problem in your thinking. I'll have to ask my uncle to be sure.
Saturday, February 18, 2023 -- 11:40 AMThere's no fault in the post.
There's no fault in the post. That's a serious misinterpretation. There's some ambiguity in the argument, for me anyway, which I have attempted to examine. Your inquiry into whether the ambiguity can be cleared up by changing the premises is non-sensical. Thought-problems borne by particular mental states however are not, --at least not entirely. What kind of help with them do you propose?
Sunday, February 19, 2023 -- 10:51 PMHey Daniel,
I understand that you don't see any fault in your reply to Dwells and that you find some ambiguity in the argument. It's good that you're examining it and trying to make sense of it. As for my suggestion to change the premises to clear up the ambiguity, I understand that you see it as non-sensical, and that's okay. There are other ways to approach the problem.
Regarding your question about what kind of help I propose, it depends on the situation. Sometimes, talking to someone with experience in the field can help clarify things. Alternatively, a change in perspective or a different way of thinking can be helpful. It depends on the individual and the problem they are facing.
You will only see if you look, however. If denial is the first step, you are on your way.
The good news is, I just got off the phone with my uncle, and there is indeed fault in your post and a little family secret that I would like to share with you.
I asked you to simplify your argument, not change your faulty premises, to consider a possible problem in your thinking. I'm not talking about your post there. I'm talking about your thinking. Let me start the assignment with just your first paragraph.
"Given up for my part is any effort to impede the appearance of impertinence in picking up a few nuts and berries from the forum-field, the digested result of which might not be primarily classified as a waste-product, but rather as one of nutritional value, if nevertheless in eructated form."
Here is a simplified summary of your first paragraph.
"I don't give a metaphorical crap about Dwells, this blog, or being cordial. Despite that, I'd like to offer my thoughts that I find insightful but that others won't; in fact, they are likely to be put off – as if I were to belch in response to their sincere thought. I don't care."
I know you can do better. If that seems off-color, it is how I at least read your post, and I don't need to make an argument for that to be true. Why even allow me the possibility of misconstruing you? Why?
It would help if you addressed the concerns raised by Dwells from there, directly as a reply, or started a separate thread if not. Instead, you replied, and you create an argument where there is none, rather than attempting to engage in a broader discussion or provide constructive feedback.
The philosophical family secret is to: not insult people, don't refer to crap or burps unless that is the topic, and finally, don't make deductive arguments without vetting your premises. Deductive logic puts all the work on the premises rather than the logic, and here you elide that work and misstep.
Dwells' post is esoteric and highly tailored to Harold's point of view, and they have been posting for quite a long time. Some of what she refers to here may be intractable, but she makes an argument different from what you attribute to her, or extend.
If I am wrong about any of this, please don't take offense, but don't ignore the suggestion that you might be mistaken or, at a very minimum, out of order.
Monday, February 20, 2023 -- 1:04 PMIt's interesting that you don
It's interesting that you don't respond with an argument of your own. What you've done instead is express an adverse feeling which you have and tried to inform its perceived source how not to produce any more of it. It's very kind of you however to offer some advice on appropriate propriety for a philosophical forum. And as you're aware, my claim of post non-faultiness refers to that to which I responded, not the response itself. This latter I compared to digestion, which is an analogy which you apparently find offensive. Some value though might be found in your advice on how to proceed from here (third paragraph from end), where a recommendation is made that for any argument, one ought to determine the truth of its premises prior to determining the validity of their connection. I find nothing to disagree with in that assessment, but it remains unclear which of participant Dwell's premises you've got a problem with, the connection-validity of which was examined with regards to the post in question. Because your knowledge in this area is obviously very detailed and thoroughly settled, could you enlighten your readers as to which of the three premises' truth causes an issue in your thinking?
Thursday, February 23, 2023 -- 12:24 AMDaniel,
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and concerns regarding my approach to this exchange. Your feedback is appreciated and respected. People have different perspectives and approaches to problem-solving.
My response here comprehends that feelings and emotions are essential in shaping our thoughts and actions. Research indicates that emotions are integral to decision-making, problem-solving, and creativity, and I'm not skeptical of that, at least.
While it may seem unconventional, focusing on tone and feelings is grounded in a holistic approach that considers logical reasoning and emotional intelligence as crucial to the success of any project. In this case, that project is to get at Dwells' prompt and thought. By recognizing and addressing the emotions and relationships she touches, we can better understand the needs and concerns of all later responses, even if they wander from the topic. But there is more to her post than emotion. She has an argument, for sure, and it has little to do with yours.
Can we agree to break with Dwells' post?
Thursday, February 23, 2023 -- 12:33 PMAnd leave behind the most
And leave behind the most fundamental analysis of the relation between scientific truth-claims and motive grounds of intentional preference in concentrated cognition? Perish the thought! The striking thing is the implication from the second premise that one can have science without any thought at all, as in an hypothetical case where a machine can do the "thinking" instead of a thinker, as well as the provocative notion that too many thinkers thinking about objects in an especially esoteric science could actually wipe it out so that no one could think about it at all. To review the argument, it can be re-expressed as
1) Science is a special product of thinking amongst many others which are not science(-s).
2) Science can continue while thinking declines, as observable in current circumstances.
3) Because the situation is possible therefore where true science is kept secret while those who trust in its claims don't know anything about it, it is also possible that this could constitute the current situation prevailing in actuality, making science a kind of religion insofar as the laity is concerned. The consequence of such an arrangement is a deep mistrust of intellectuals not properly prepared according to traditional ritual indoctrination, --bearing the "lean and hungry look" referenced in the third premise.
Is this last point where you're getting the allusion to emotion? The term "sentiment" is indeed mentioned, but as furnishing a "clue", that is, a key explanatory element, in how thinking can disappear while leaving the grand facade of scientific claims untouched. You've imported emotional contents to an argument that doesn't have them, and then claim that the argument that accompanies them is not the one which has been analyzed. Please enlighten your readers, then, since you apparently possess full knowledge of it, and tell us what that argument is.
Thursday, February 23, 2023 -- 4:55 PMDaniel,
No worries, you have your ideas here, and I don't see the connection to Dwells' post. I will have to think harder, perhaps.
Dwells proposes several productive lines of discussion, and I will defer to others, if not the author herself, to clarify her comment. Such is the way sometimes.
Saturday, February 25, 2023 -- 12:55 PMOn what then do you base the
On what then do you base the claim in the second to last line that the author's argument in the post of 1/9/23 above has nothing to do with my interpretation of it? You must have in mind something in particular, in order to make the judgment of unrelatedness. Or is it the case that the expression of the absence of optical stimulus generable by respective connection-presence constitutes a mere exit-permit from requisite individual efforts to look for them? If so, the reflective effacement of the apologetic deprecation that "harder thinking" can be suggested as remedy for the acute flight from responsibility to think at all, can with some reluctance not uncandidly be characterized as duplicitous. What's it supposed to mean that something might be there but you don't see it so maybe you should think it? Are you trying to say that the only connections possible in this case are ones which can be artificially fabricated? Then where does that leave the interlocutor who exudes private platform of epistolary station appropriate only if two correspondents exclusivise a private exchange? Would that interlocutor not be fabricating a relationship that isn't there, for purposes of implied paternalism of post-patronage? That's a question you seem especially qualified to answer, the failure of which would indicate accuracy of my diagnosis.
Harold G. Neuman
Tuesday, February 14, 2023 -- 7:37 AMI understand there is a new
I understand there is a new book on the origins of science. Horizons. Sounds worthwhile.
Tuesday, February 14, 2023 -- 2:24 PMIs there a reason for that
Is there a reason for that you'd care to share? How does the distinction between linear and lateral reasoning, for example, inform that of linear and interactive narratives? Are interactive ones underrepresented in traditional histories of science? Where would that leave the Manhattan Project? Did cross-cultural interchange between nations lead to its success?
Friday, February 17, 2023 -- 10:43 PMThanks Harold. I didn't know
Thanks Harold. I didn't know about this book. I might pick it up. I'm slogging my way through Ed Yong's 'An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us'. Maybe there is a parallel there between cultures and animals. Science certainly allows us to see the hidden realms.
Harold G. Neuman
Friday, February 17, 2023 -- 1:36 PMNo. My comment begs no
No. My comment begs no reasoning or justification. It is neither argument or debate. Are you human or an AI surrogate? Whichever the case, you are annoying, aren't you? And that, in this case, is the point, isn't it? How many more cases, over the course of your participation here?
Friday, February 17, 2023 -- 10:51 PMKeep it between the
Keep it between the guidelines Harold. :-)
But in all seriousness, having spent the last little bit playing with these AI bots, they are anything but annoying. Alarming perhaps, but not annoying, at least not yet. I see a future where that might not be true however, and that is a sad world.
Best to you.
Saturday, February 18, 2023 -- 12:07 PMQualification to answer that
Qualification to answer that question lay primarily with the one who asked it, not with the one to whom it is asked. If annoyance precedes constructive discussion on topics of importance, then I suppose it can be viewed as an acceptable cost, where kept within bounds of common civility. But no particular interest is had on my part to furnish such a discussion-stimulus, even if in this case it seems to have produced the desired result, considered in the most general of terms.
The reason for this is that it arises from your question about whether the source of this stimulus is a human or a machine. That's interesting because there's no real way to answer that to the satisfaction of any doubt about it. A machine could be programed to say it's human; and a human has no independently verifiable way to determine whether or not she/he is just a very well put together machine. Indeed, the same could be asked about you, for which no answer could be sufficient.
Harold G. Neuman
Sunday, February 19, 2023 -- 8:59 AMFYI, Tim: my comment on
FYI, Tim: my comment on annoyance was not directed to or about you. I hope you know that. Have run into irritants elsewhere in blog experience, but not as consistently as herein. I'll try not to let it bother me. Some folks just seem to get a charge out of flinging fallacies.
Yours Truly, HGN.
Sunday, February 19, 2023 -- 12:00 PMDo you find that variety of
Do you find that variety of enjoyment difficult to comprehend? Fallacies however are not as flingable as valid arguments, because they rarely hit their target. One can fling insults too, --name-calling and the like, as you have done here with the term "fallacy-flinger". These can hit their target but, unlike a valid argument, not alter its position. If your goal therefore is to effect a failure of fallacy-flinging finally for fun-forestallment for the fallacy-fabricator, then you've chosen the wrong tactic. Argument would be more serviceable to your apparent aim. Do you have one?
Sunday, February 19, 2023 -- 8:41 PMDo you...?
Monday, February 20, 2023 -- 3:11 PMYes! Thanks for asking.
Yes! Thanks for asking. Would you like one? If so, please let me know which topic you prefer, and I will with pleasure endeavor to fulfill the request.
Wednesday, February 22, 2023 -- 2:08 PMParticularly attractive and
In the absence of any requests from the readership, granted permission is sought for submission of the original post of 2/14/23 7:37 am to some degree of analysis. This consists of three premises, the contents of which are
1) an observation of an addition to the perceptible world regarding a set of reproduceable units of printed matter tied together at the center.
2) Two properties of the set's members are reported to involve a topic-theme and a title.
3) Judgement of worthiness on unstated grounds is deployed.
The three judgements consist then in an existential report, certain specifics of an empirical observation, and a speculation of worthiness.
Broken into logical components, the equation could be written as
p1) There is some x.
P2) There is some x which bears predicates C and T.
P3) x in (P1) = x in (P2).
(P4) All y which bears C and T is worthy.
(P5) Some y is x.
(P6) Therefore, some x is worthy.
Important to note here is that it is left undetermined whether or not x at (P6) = x at (P1), but rather only establishes that it could be. The conclusion is therefore a speculative judgement, which can be changed into a descriptive one if expressed as
Some x is CT.
All y is W.
CT is W or not W.
Therefore, some x is y or not y.
Here the connection between the third and the fourth premises is a non-sequitur, since two subjects can share identical predicates without being the same thing. As a descriptive judgement then the statement is deployed on logically illicit grounds. Only by deleting the final premise is the statement informative, namely, as describing reference to a model of science-history which is non-linear and multi-servile. Could a second request therefore be submitted for clarification of the speculative judgement? In what specifically does the anticipated worthiness reside?
Thursday, February 23, 2023 -- 12:40 AMDaniel,
Thank you for analyzing Harold's statement that he thought a book was worth reading. I did pick it up, and it is, in fact, worthwhile.
While your breakdown of the logical structure of the statement is interesting, it does not appear to engage directly with the arguments made in the book, 'Horizons: The Global Origins of Modern Science' by James Poskett.
As the book challenges the traditional Eurocentric narrative of scientific progress and explores the global origins of modern science, I would like to hear your thoughts on how these ideas may impact our understanding of science and its history. Do the book's arguments have implications for how science is practiced or taught today, or to be clear, whether we should be skeptical of science or not?
Thursday, February 23, 2023 -- 1:05 PMScience is international in
Science is international in character and demands that the intersubjectivity of the content of scientific claims can not by definition be limited by cultural context or national history. If an author however wants to say that modern science is not a product of the European mind, I would disagree. This is because it arises from a combination of two tendencies: a formalistic tendency for subordinate classification originating in ancient Greece, and a material-experimental tendency which appears in Bacon and follows upon earlier alchemical analysis. The purpose however of my original response was to inquire as to the reason for the book's recommendation, and made no pretense of familiarity with it. Such a pretense by contrast is clearly conveyed in your remarks above. Is it too much to ask for your own account of the contents about which you ask?
Thursday, February 23, 2023 -- 4:35 PMDaniel,
Thanks for this response re: 'Horizons: The Global Origins of Modern Science' by James Poskett. While I appreciate your perspective on the origins of modern science, Poskett's book offers a more nuanced and inclusive understanding of the history of science - much of which was novel to my understanding. Here are some of the key points that I took away from the book:
-The traditional Eurocentric narrative of scientific progress is inaccurate. For example, modern science is not solely a product of the European mind but has global origins involving non-European cultures' contributions.
-Diverse cultural and historical contexts shape scientific knowledge. An example given is the varied and crucial mathematical ideas from India and the Islamic world that were fundamental to the development of calculus in Europe.
-Science has always been a collaborative, international endeavor. For example, Chinese astronomers exchanged astronomical knowledge with their counterparts in the Islamic world and Europe.
-The globalization of science has deep roots in the past—for example, the use of medicinal plants from the Americas in European medicine during the 16th century.
-Exchanges of knowledge, power, and ideas characterize the history of science. An excellent example is the transfer of mathematical and astronomical knowledge from the Islamic world to Europe during the Middle Ages.
Overall, Poskett's book challenges us to think critically about science's history and move beyond a Eurocentric perspective. By recognizing the global origins of modern science, we can better appreciate scientific knowledge's diversity and the scientific inquiry's collaborative nature. Does any of this give you pause or change of heart? If it did, there might be another cause for skepticism here in the face of science were we to agree on Poskett's thesis.
Saturday, February 25, 2023 -- 11:15 AMYou're talking about input.
You're talking about input. External components can be imported into a given organization without that organization ceasing to retain its original sources. The same holds true for knowledge-export and cross-fertilization. No one aquanted with the matter doubts the irreplaceable importance of non-Western elements and their coalescence with Western ones in determination of what's called "modern science", but I argue that they arise from different historical sources along different trajectories and to some extent have retained their independence as different sciences altogether. While Aryuvedic Yoga developed on the Indian sub-continent has made important contributions to Western medicine, for example, the transcendental grounds of its theoretical core remain alien to contemporary biology.
One defect of Western thinking with respect to modern science is that if something is to be understood, it has to explode. The "big-bang" for theoretical physics, the K2-event for evolutionary biology, and the Manhattan project for practical physical application, are examples. The discovery and development of gunpowder occurred in China but was used in fireworks and not weaponry. The fact that it was borrowed by Western science for the production of capability to produce sudden necrosis in biological systems by means of ballistic trauma does not therefore imply that this variety of use began in China. Its practical use changes what kind of knowledge it is. The "Western mind" has, after all, arguably generated the two most far-reaching results of scientific work which expand beyond satisfactory sufficiency of management capacity: too hot of a planet (arising from use of internal combustion) and too destructive of a weapon (emerging in direct relation to internal European conflict).
My opinion therefore has undergone no essential change on this matter. Because knowledge implies anticipated outcomes, the Western variety remains unique even in cases where direct cross-cultural collaboration is taken into account, as in the Nagaoka/Rutherford case regarding nuclear physics. In another relation, what's the "cause for skepticism" based on in your last line above? The stated relation to thesis-agreement is inscrutable.