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    1. #1
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      What is Science?

      Time to hash this shit out. Make an argument as to what Science is to you, or what the Scientific process entails, and if you like describe which ideas deserve scientific observation and which do not.

      I do not feel like doing your work for you so vague answers will mostly be ignored. If you post "The Scientific Method" for instance, actually describe the scientific method. Don't just link to wikipedia's page on Science or the Scientific Method.
      Last edited by Omnis Dei; 03-30-2012 at 05:42 AM.
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      That which is not supernatural.

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      Rational Spiritualist DrunkenArse's Avatar
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      Briefly, science consists of of using falsification to restrict the amount of possible falsifiable ideas which one can construct with the end goal that every idea which one admits as valid will correspond to phenomena with which one can interact in a manner described by that idea.

      Within this, it is desirable to understand how these ideas relate to each other and to find a minimal set of such ideas having the property that all other ideas one is interested in can be inferred from this set and that nothing which doesn't correspond to reality can be inferred from it.

      I hope this gets sharpened up a lot in debate
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      The attempt to make sense of everything and understand how and why and when and where about everything (and also the "who" and "what.").

      That's what science is to me.

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      Rational Spiritualist DrunkenArse's Avatar
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      Isn't that essentially the purpose of Religion too? What separates the two?

      Your answer and Marvo's answer to an excellent job of illustrating the fact that most people approach science as a religion.
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      If God were an actual entity that could be discovered, discovering "God" could be considered science. Religions are organizational systems primarily, which benefit a society as a whole. Science unlocks the secrets of the universe; think constants like "e" or the measure of an angle by the ratio of the arc length to the radius, or pi.

      Those are things that are the same anywhere in the universe, laws of nature. If God could be discovered, and an afterlife could be discovered, I'd consider it science, because we'd be using our 5 senses to "discover" those things.

      Religions do not function to go out and explore and discover and unlock the secrets of the universe. Therefore, they are not the same as science (to me, at least.)

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      Rational Spiritualist DrunkenArse's Avatar
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      So you're saying that religions do not attempt to "make sense of everything and understand how and why and when and where about everything (and also the "who" and "what.")"?

      Creationism isn't an attempt to do that?
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      Religion attempts to explain the unexplainable. Science attempts to explain the unexplained.

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      It's not religion that attempts to do that, it's people who ARE religious who attempt to do that, making the basis of their arguments the religion itself. There is no scientific process involved in their unsubstantiated claims. (And the primary purpose of religion, as I see it, is a social organization from a sociological standpoint.)

      Science has a method, and results. True scientific discoveries are the same everywhere and can be replicated anywhere. Religion doesn't typically involve itself with experimentation, explorations, etc. Religion GIVES explanations based on doctrine or scripture, and sometimes (not always) attempts to stifle any opposing claims (which come about as a result of scientific discovery.)

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      Quote Originally Posted by PhilosopherStoned View Post
      Briefly, science consists of of using falsification to restrict the amount of possible falsifiable ideas which one can construct with the end goal that every idea which one admits as valid will correspond to phenomena with which one can interact in a manner described by that idea.

      Within this, it is desirable to understand how these ideas relate to each other and to find a minimal set of such ideas having the property that all other ideas one is interested in can be inferred from this set and that nothing which doesn't correspond to reality can be inferred from it.

      I hope this gets sharpened up a lot in debate
      I pretty much concur with him, essentially what Karl Popper advocated. And so science never claims the ability to prove a theory with certainty, but only subject it to the test of time. Whilst on the contrary, these theories are only scientific if they have the properties allowing them to be potentially falsified, and thus can essentially be rejected with certainty with the relevant evidence (at least as far as the scientific paradigm allows).

      What does bug me, however, are ad-hoc, 'just so', inductive arguments: where the presence of a particular thing is explained by 'inventing a rational back story'. For instance, why do we men find breasts attractive? Someone, then, may invent a plausible story rooted in evolutionary terms; however, plausibility is not synonymous to correctness. For me, this is not science because it seems more like an 'educated guess'. And should hence be excluded from the domain.

      I guess, in a way, I'm a strict believer in cause-effect constituting science.

      I haven't slept, so if the above seems nonsensical, then I apologise.
      Last edited by Wolfwood; 04-05-2012 at 03:48 AM.

    11. #11
      Xei
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      I understand perfectly what you said. And welcome to this part of the forums by the way, you have been making some nice posts. In fact I believe Popper said that natural selection itself is essentially not science, for the same reason you mentioned. Do you agree?

      I'm not so sure. What we're essentially talking about is using implication to attain conclusions from other observations. Well... there's nothing wrong with implication. In fact it's basically as logically sound as anything can be. You don't need empirical evidence for the conclusion if you have empirical evidence for the assumptions and for the inferences. Natural selection is the logical implication of three common observations (variation, inheritance, competition and fitness), along with ubiquitous and simple methods of inference. Once you have the observations of the antecedents, the only work is in deducing the conclusion; you don't actually need to go out and test it. One could argue about the degree of natural selection, but then you could run quantitative simulations on a computer (again using observations of the antecedents, which in this case would include quantitative measures of variation, etc.) and get a quantitative answer... I don't see any reason why this isn't as epistemologically strong as other areas of science.

      Indeed it isn't even clear to me where the distinction lies. Isn't this process a necessary part of science? Science builds general models of things that we have never observed directly, but rather inferred from other observations. You could launch a probe into space with a novel trajectory; isn't the prediction of this trajectory exactly what science does? And yet it isn't based on an empirical confirmation of the hypothesis at hand, but rather inferred from other observations, and mathematical inferences. I don't see any difference at all between this and a sufficiently rigorous argument of evolutionary psychology, based entirely on established facts and valid inferences, for the attractiveness of breasts.

      As to the more general issue of positivism raised in you and Philosophers' posts: I don't know the ins and outs of it, but tell me if I have the right picture. Positivism is effectively a total misnomer because it is in fact a negative epistemological approach: one starts by allowing that any physical theory could be true, and then by making observations you rule more and more potential hypotheses out, continuously shrinking the space of potential answers. In this way science avoids making any positive claims whatsoever.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Xei View Post
      I understand perfectly what you said. And welcome to this part of the forums by the way, you have been making some nice posts. In fact I believe Popper said that natural selection itself is essentially not science, for the same reason you mentioned. Do you agree?

      I'm not so sure. What we're essentially talking about is using implication to attain conclusions from other observations. Well... there's nothing wrong with implication. In fact it's basically as logically sound as anything can be. You don't need empirical evidence for the conclusion if you have empirical evidence for the assumptions and for the inferences. Natural selection is the logical implication of three common observations (variation, inheritance, competition and fitness), along with ubiquitous and simple methods of inference. Once you have the observations of the antecedents, the only work is in deducing the conclusion; you don't actually need to go out and test it. One could argue about the degree of natural selection, but then you could run quantitative simulations on a computer (again using observations of the antecedents, which in this case would include quantitative measures of variation, etc.) and get a quantitative answer... I don't see any reason why this isn't as epistemologically strong as other areas of science.

      Indeed it isn't even clear to me where the distinction lies. Isn't this process a necessary part of science? Science builds general models of things that we have never observed directly, but rather inferred from other observations. You could launch a probe into space with a novel trajectory; isn't the prediction of this trajectory exactly what science does? And yet it isn't based on an empirical confirmation of the hypothesis at hand, but rather inferred from other observations, and mathematical inferences. I don't see any difference at all between this and a sufficiently rigorous argument of evolutionary psychology, based entirely on established facts and valid inferences, for the attractiveness of breasts.

      As to the more general issue of positivism raised in you and Philosophers' posts: I don't know the ins and outs of it, but tell me if I have the right picture. Positivism is effectively a total misnomer because it is in fact a negative epistemological approach: one starts by allowing that any physical theory could be true, and then by making observations you rule more and more potential hypotheses out, continuously shrinking the space of potential answers. In this way science avoids making any positive claims whatsoever.
      Glad I'm still somewhat functioning.

      C) Albino peacocks don't have anywhere near as much success with perpetuating their genes compared to their normally pigmented brothers.

      R1) Koinophilia

      R2) Easy prey for predators

      And, of course, there can be other reasons not shown. So, in describing this phenomenon, the cause for the albino peacock's weak perpetuation can be attributed to two or more variables. As you pointed out, the degree to which each variable is responsible is the problem here. That is so say, the same conclusion can be reached by inputting a multitude of different values for each variable. To really oversimplfify it, if C) was 10, then R1) could be 6, and R2) at 4 - though it's quite possible the inverse could be true too. Introduce more variables, and the possible combinations to reach the conclusion expands a lot.

      So whilst one could input the contributing variables into a computer simulation until the conclusion was found that correlated with the environment, without being able to correlate the magnitudes of the variables involved with the environment, it's seemingly a guess. Simply because there can be more than one answer that can then deductively lead to that conclusion. Though as I write this, I'm getting a strong feeling that I'm missing a statistical method to circumvent, or at least mitigate, this.

      I think observation of the antecedents in theory seems sound insofar as one would observe the same with chemical compounds. It seems logical. It's just that under application, it would seem to be an incredibly complex and hefty task. And sometimes not even possible due to unknown data of the past, or lack thereof to correlate with in the present. Almost like trying to predict someone's immediate behaviour based on their history, and the present environmental stimuli.

      Hmm, I'm still not sure with this.

      And if this one makes as much sense as the previous one, then I *sigh* in relief.
      Last edited by Wolfwood; 04-05-2012 at 05:53 AM.

    13. #13
      Rational Spiritualist DrunkenArse's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Marvo View Post
      Religion attempts to explain the unexplainable. Science attempts to explain the unexplained.
      So the diversity of life on Earth is unexplainable?
      Previously PhilosopherStoned

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      Rational Spiritualist DrunkenArse's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Xei View Post
      As to the more general issue of positivism raised in you and Philosophers' posts: I don't know the ins and outs of it, but tell me if I have the right picture. Positivism is effectively a total misnomer because it is in fact a negative epistemological approach: one starts by allowing that any physical theory could be true, and then by making observations you rule more and more potential hypotheses out, continuously shrinking the space of potential answers. In this way science avoids making any positive claims whatsoever.
      As I understand it, positivism says that it's impossible to say what's "real" and what's not. What we can do is demand that statements that we make conform to sensory experiences which we have. It's a lot like Buddhist metaphysics up to here. Beyond that, it adjoins the assumption that rational and mathematical descriptions of that sensory experience constitute knowledge as well.

      Also, while we we never say that evolution is caused exclusively by natural selection, our current model of the evolutionary "tree of life" as a whole is falsifiable, e.g. we could dig up a rabbit from Precambrian rocks to use a classic example. This would falsify that model because that model calls for rabbits to appear later.

      FWIW, I'm not a positivist so many of them
      Last edited by PhilosopherStoned; 04-06-2012 at 12:26 AM.
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      Quote Originally Posted by Marvo View Post
      That which is not supernatural.
      Exoteric science deals with observables, what can be recorded and replicated and validated by independent observers. However, a great deal of science is still esoteric in nature as the following account illustrates.

      A scientist named Dr. Baranowski, Professor of Physics at the University of Arizona and a specialist in Kirlian photography, travelled many times to India to observe the auras of 'holy' men. Kirlian photography, or 'biomagnetic field radiation photography', is done with a special camera which photographs the energy bands around living beings; different colors in the biomagnetic field correspond to different emotional qualities. To quote Baranowski, 'When a person is full of love the aura around him is blue and when the love is pronounced, it becomes pink.' Baranowski had scientifically trained himself to see auras, and with this trained vision was investigating the various holy men of India.

      Some years ago he gave a talk at the Prashanti Nilayam ashram on his experiences with a well know holy man, Sai Baba. Some excerpts of this talk are below:

      'I have met over a hundred holy men in India. Too many of these holy men are involved in their own personal egos. Their auras show mostly concern for themselves and their institutions. So their auras are only a foot broad or perhaps two feet.

      'I have come here as a scientist, to see this man Sai Baba. I saw him on Sunday, on the balcony giving darshan to the devotees singing below. The aura Baba projected was not that of a man. The white was more than twice the size of any man's, the blue was practically limitless, and there were gold and silver bands beyond even those, far behind this building right up to the horizon. There is no scientific explanation for this phenomenon.

      'His aura is so strong that it is affecting me standing by the chair on which He is sitting. I can feel the effect and I’ve to wipe my arm, off and on, as you must have noticed. It is very difficult for me to admit. I am a scientist. I have given over six thousand lectures in all parts of the world but for the first time, believe me, my knees are shaking. The aura that emanates from Baba shows his love for you. If ever I can use the phrase that I have seen 'love walking on two feet,' it is here.'

      At this point Dr. Baranowski concluded his talk, and Sai Baba then delivered a discourse. When Baba had finished, Baranowski asked for permission to address the audience again.

      'I have been watching Sai Baba, while He was addressing you. The pink aura that was manifesting was so vast and strong that it went even beyond the hall behind this chair. It filled this big hall, embracing all of you gathered here. I have watched him for a week now, as he walked among you, morning and evening. I have seen his aura, pink in colour, go into the person he is talking to, or touching and returning to him. His energy seems to be endless. In my estimation, he is exactly what he appears to be - love. That is what he is.'
      Last edited by mcwillis; 04-06-2012 at 02:12 AM.

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      Rational Spiritualist DrunkenArse's Avatar
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      mcwillis, if you're going to intrude upon people trying to have a rational conversation, could you at least put your pseudoscience in a spoiler or something so it's not so hard to scroll past? It's just basic compassion. What would Maitreya do?
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      Lucid Shaman mcwillis's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by PhilosopherStoned View Post
      mcwillis, if you're going to intrude upon people trying to have a rational conversation, could you at least put your pseudoscience in a spoiler or something so it's not so hard to scroll past?
      PhilosopherStoned if you want to get involved in a discussion then perhaps you should be a little more careful to read the opening post:

      Quote Originally Posted by Omnis Dei View Post
      Make an argument as to what Science is to you, or what the Scientific process entails, and if you like describe which ideas deserve scientific observation and which do not.
      Was not Galileo put under house arrest for twenty seven years until the end of his life for his pseudoscience, and in modern times been referred to as the 'father of physics'? It isn't my pseudoscisnce, it is an avenue of valid research by a professor of physics who himself has stated that he has given over 6,000 lectures around the world, suggesting he is a learned man; respected by the scientific community and of sound mind. I have been following this avenue of scientific study because I too have the ability to see auras and wished to point out to Marvo that his assumption that anything supernatural isn't valid of scientific enquiry is incorrect.

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      Quote Originally Posted by PhilosopherStoned View Post
      So the diversity of life on Earth is unexplainable?
      As science progresses, more and more parts of religion are invalidated. At the end of the day, science encounters things we can't quite explain, such as where the universe came from, and that's when religion steps in and tries to explain it, making it unscientific.

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      Lucid Shaman mcwillis's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Marvo View Post
      As science progresses, more and more parts of religion are invalidated. At the end of the day, science encounters things we can't quite explain, such as where the universe came from, and that's when religion steps in and tries to explain it, making it unscientific.
      I completely disagree with this. The mind as defined in the 'local mind' model used by science is considered to be just the result of the anatomy and physiology of the brain. It is fixed in space and localized in time. According to this model, local minds do not wander about; they stay fixed and at home in the present moment. It is an individual and isolated 'me'.

      The non-local model is none of that. It is not confined in space and time to the brain and body, although it may work through the brain and body. And it is not confined to the present moment. Infinite, and by inference immortal, eternal, omnipresent - all of these are consequences of anything that is non-local, not just mind. As a result, if mind is non-local, there is one mind, or Universal Mind.

      These are spiritual ideas and the evidence is overwhelming that mind behaves in a non-local way. If one honors the data, then one must conclude that the local model is incomplete. It is a matter of being a good scientist. If you honor the data, what kind of model must you make of the mind in order to account for what is happening? The non-local model is a good one. The concept is used in contemporary physics. Physicists have already had to make their peace with non-locality. Nick Herbert wrote a book, Quantum Reality, for lay people. In non-mathematical terms, Dr Herbert describes the world as essentially non-local. It may be hard to imagine, but physics experiments have clearly shown that non-locality is the characteristic of the world at the sub-atomic level. Irish physicist John Stewart Bell’s Theorem has proven it. He demonstrated mathematically that the speed at which information can travel from point A to point B is not, as Albert Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity stated, limited to the speed of light or less. Dr Nick Herbert also maintains that when A connects to B, non-locally, nothing crosses the intervening space, and that no matter how far A is from B, the connection is instantaneous.Non-locality is at home in physics and since physics is the most accurate science we’ve ever had, we are justified in using the term to describe a similar state of being at the level of mind.

      It’s time to quit beating around the bush, saying there is no purpose and goal-directedness in the universe. The common way that evolutionists, Darwinians talk about the world is that it just does what it does. Period. But there are studies, even in molecular biology and bacteriology, that show there is purpose, meaning, and goal-directedness in the universe. This is the most dramatic red flag one can wave at scientists these days. There is a series of experiments by John Cairns which demonstrate this 'purpose, meaning, goal-directedness'. He and his co-workers at Harvard University proved that, contrary to previous thought, genetic mutations are not always random, and that experience can educate the genetic packet of an individual cell. They exposed bacteria which were genetically incapable of metabolizing sugar lactose to an environment in which sugar lactose was their only food. Rather than starve, the bacteria mutated, thrived on the sugar lactose and passed the new characteristic on to their progeny.

      The Spindrift Prayer Studies show that there is an inherent tendency toward health, toward higher organization. When one prays in a non-directed way, then people just get healthier. That sure sounds like inherent goal-directedness to me. You must either throw away the data or, if the data is accurate, conclude that there is purpose. I go for purpose. If you are going to do science, you cannot throw out data to defend the model. You must honor that data and change the model to account for it. In the Spindrift Experiments, researchers documented the efficacy of prayer in increasing seed germination rates. Under a variety of controlled conditions, the prayed-for seeds germinated faster than control groups. In fact, the more the seeds were stressed, using salt water and extreme temperatures, the faster they germinated when prayed-for. Spindrift researchers found that non-directed prayer (as in ‘Thy Will Be Done’) was more effective than praying for a specific result. These studies demonstrate another non-local characteristic of mind - the ability to affect systems at a distance.

      The most important stage in the process of gapping the bridge between science and spirituality is to recognize that there are some domains in which science cannot go. All the esoteric traditions I know of say that the Absolute cannot be seen, described, and that once you begin to describe it you have in some sense missed it. There is a dimension where our religions cannot go and where science cannot go. The synthesis may be that science simply admits its limitations and stops claiming to be the arbiter of reality and dictating what all aspects of experience ought to be like.
      Last edited by mcwillis; 04-06-2012 at 04:21 AM.

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      Quote Originally Posted by PhilosopherStoned View Post
      As I understand it, positivism says that it's impossible to say what's "real" and what's not. What we can do is demand that statements that we make conform to sensory experiences which we have. It's a lot like Buddhist metaphysics up to here. Beyond that, it adjoins the assumption that rational and mathematical descriptions of that sensory experience constitute knowledge as well.

      Also, while we we never say that evolution is caused exclusively by natural selection, our current model of the evolutionary "tree of life" as a whole is falsifiable, e.g. we could dig up a rabbit from Precambrian rocks to use a classic example. This would falsify that model because that model calls for rabbits to appear later.

      FWIW, I'm not a positivist so many of them
      Yes. The model (one's belief at times), then changes in such a way to accommodate the new evidence. It's quite rare that a heavily substantiated model or theory has to be scrapped in its entirety due to contradicting evidence. This is scientific: to accommodate or alter one's model due to new evidence, Unscientific: To keep hold of your belief in its exact form irrespective of small or large contradictory pieces of evidence. Indeed, you might have tons of evidence FOR your model, and there might be only one small evidence AGAINST your model....and, if that evidence is reliable, you must alter your model. It is as simple as that.
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    21. #21
      Xei
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      Quote Originally Posted by mcwillis View Post
      Was not Galileo put under house arrest for twenty seven years until the end of his life for his pseudoscience, and in modern times been referred to as the 'father of physics'? It isn't my pseudoscisnce, it is an avenue of valid research by a professor of physics who himself has stated that he has given over 6,000 lectures around the world, suggesting he is a learned man; respected by the scientific community and of sound mind.
      1. That's a terrible example, Galileo was not dogmatically written off as 'pseudoscience' by rational people, or other scientists. He was told to shut up by a bunch of despots in the Catholic Church who didn't have any aspirations towards truth through rational argument.

      2. Even if you had chosen a competent example, your attempt to imply that historical cases of fringe ideas becoming mainstream proves that any stupid idea you have is legitimate is quite pathetic.

      Your idea stands on the evidence for the idea. Nothing else. Lots of people agreeing with your idea doesn't make your idea true, and lots of people saying your idea is baseless definitely doesn't make your idea true. Sorry, there's just no way of wriggling out of it. The only discussion pertinent to your claims is one in which you provide evidence for them; this Galileo crap is just a classic piece of strawmanning and misdirection.

      It's quite unbelievable to me that people like yourself still exist in the modern age; people who don't understand the basic tenets of rationality, like impartial, sound arguments, and the presentation of physical evidence.
      Last edited by Xei; 04-06-2012 at 03:31 PM.
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      Quote Originally Posted by mcwillis View Post
      The most important stage in the process of gapping the bridge between science and spirituality is to recognize that there are some domains in which science cannot go.
      No. Science covers everything in our world. Anything that cannot be investigated through science, cannot influence our universe in any way. It's as simple as that. Your "esoteric science", if it were to exist, it would simply be a subset of science.

      If you want a better understanding of science, think of the Danish word for it; "videnskab", it literally means "creation of knowledge".
      Last edited by Marvo; 04-06-2012 at 04:29 PM.

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      Quote Originally Posted by mcwillis View Post


      Was not Galileo put under house arrest for twenty seven years until the end of his life for his pseudoscience, and in modern times been referred to as the 'father of physics'? It isn't my pseudoscisnce, it is an avenue of valid research by a professor of physics who himself has stated that he has given over 6,000 lectures around the world, suggesting he is a learned man; respected by the scientific community and of sound mind.
      I'm not going to dismiss what you're saying as I've not much idea of what you're referring to; however, I just wanted to point out that you shouldn't base the credibility of these findings on the authority of the source. In science, authority means absolutely nothing; that is to say, the data should speak for itself. Ultimately, if the data presented has a logical and rational conclusion, then anyone with a rational mind reading the data will come to an almost similar conclusion, or at least one that follows rationally.

      Again, this is another factor that separates the scientific approach from the non-scientific. Authority = 0, Data = 100.

      I'm not suggesting that you do reason based on authority, but I'm putting it out there just in case.
      Last edited by Wolfwood; 04-06-2012 at 05:41 PM.

    24. #24
      Rational Spiritualist DrunkenArse's Avatar
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      It's not correct to put authority at zero and data at one hundred in terms of how science is actually practiced. That's the theory and it sounds good but in reality, people learning to practice science accept all sorts of things on authority and continue to do so throughout their lives. This seems to be basic human nature.

      Of course the ideal scientist doesn't accept authority and one striving , however quixotically, to be the ideal scientist will strive to identify and eliminate this aspect of their human nature but that's just not possible or practical. There's too much data. A good authority can look at a lot of it for you and let you know. That's a useful tool.
      Previously PhilosopherStoned

    25. #25
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      Yeah, I think I went a little overboard with the point.

      I have a habit at looking directly at the data when someone makes an extraordinary claim, but not with further logical elaborations of generally accepted science. So, to rephrase, if the idea is seemingly controversial, then one should do his/her utmost to investigate the idea's data, or at least have another who understands it (but is impartial to it) to have a look at it. I certainly wouldn't expect people to look directly at data which is a logical extension of surrounding evidence-based ideas.

      Still, in the scientific domain, the specific person making the claim shouldn't matter too much. One should focus on whether it's controversial, then decide what to do.

      There are a few quantum scientists that make controversial claims when attempting to meld the pinnacle of meditation or, say, the Tao with the 'unified field'. People accept it mostly based on the fact the guy is a quantum physicist and has qualifications to show for it....not good, not good.

      John Hagelin and Michio Kaku being the slightly dodgy ones. Admittedly, what they say is very interesting given it's an attempt combine metaphysics and physics, which is why it's a good hook. And how they present it follows through reasonable, 'logical' steps, it is just a matter of whether the premises are true.
      Last edited by Wolfwood; 04-06-2012 at 06:04 PM.

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