Friday, June 07, 2013

Mind, Body, Spirit Morons

In hippy disguise at the MBS Fest. Who would know it was an undercover atheist?


There are many sacrifices that I make for the godless and the most recent one was a trip to the Sydney Mind Body Spirit Festival (MBS Fest) at Sydney’s Darling Harbour.  The Melbourne version is on this weekend.  If these MBS Fests were to explode whilst full of the usual unvaccinated morons that attend these things, Australia’s intelligence would palpably rise.  The MBS Fest caters for the deluded, the gullible and the vulnerable. If you have half a brain, don’t go.
Why would the godless hate these nonsensical conclaves?  At the core of most godless people is not evil or cynicism.  Generally, the godless have a craving for proof.  We have a fondness for evidence based knowledge and shun beliefs and superstitions not informed by some intellectual process.  I make it sound pretentious and arrogant.  It is not that.  It is just sheer common sense and a need to feel that we are not having the wool pulled over our eyes.  The unbelievers I have encountered need evidence. We eschew the ridiculous assertion, the fairy tale and the unscientific quack.  This is important to us. 
Well if that is your predisposition stay well away from MBS Fest.  Every self tutored quack, charlatan or dope has gathered in one annoying congregation.  Every bozo with a silver bullet to enlightenment is there. 
There was “Gary the Clairvoyant Medium”. You could engage in “Equinox Astrology”.  There were many practitioners who promised that a solution, enlightenment or a cure that lies within all of us if we only just would consult them.  It was a place with a very individualistic feel about it where you can solve your own issues without a community around you.  Thus there were booths proclaiming “You Were Not Born to Suffer”, “What You Think, You Become” and “Your Wish is Your Command”.
What were some of the attributes common amongst this diverse gang of profiteers? First the profit motive masqueraded under a sense of pseudo concern for the punters. At least that is something that they picked up from Western medicine. 
Secondly, the selling technique of compliments is common. You might not believe this but I was called empathetic and sensitive at a talk on “Empaths and Highly Sensitive People.”  They got that wrong.  And there is a sense that we are all wise enough to be our own healers. “Be Your Own Psychic” was one seminar. I suppose it is simple to be something if delusion is the main (and only) skill offered.
There was a sense that simple, one line answers were proffered.  Each stall holder had a magic simple silver bullet solution to every ill.  Notwithstanding that the mind and the body are hugely complicated and different, the businesses offered one cure all be it tarot or psychic reading or astral plane travelling. Diagnosis was not necessary for everyone needed the same magic solution.
No one ever dies here. It is a world without decease for there are a variety of afterlives on offer from astral planes to spirit worlds to you name it.  It is vomit worthy.
Science was a dirty word. Folksy, natural, foreign or mysterious were the qualities of care offered.  Foreignness was especially esteemed from Japanese Reiki to Indian Yoga. Ancient pre scientific remedies are astonishingly lauded - hence the “Golden Age – The Ancient Crystal Skulls Prepare Us To Remember ‘Who We Are’ Seminar” or “Walking with the Gods and the Goddesses”.     
If ridiculous Reiki took your fancy you could attend an Empowerment Seminar the get divine healing energy in your hands (yes what a wanker).  Reiki has never been found to be efficacious for any condition by randomised clinical trials (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1742-1241.2008.01729.x/abstract;jsessionid=2F3B09C4253E388CBABD6C4A87F14B19.d01t04) but cancer suffers are known to seek any one promising a cure.   
Exploitation of the vulnerable is a major problem. Alternative medicine is rightly condemned for its abuse of the terminally ill.  Even the great Steve Jobs was sucked in thereby shortening his days on earth. The grieving are similarly prey to the psychics.  I went to the Psychic Reading Room and was astonished at the obvious crap peddled by these evil people and yet the crowds were baying for more.
This delusional stuff matters.  This repudiation of science is important. Perhaps it doesn’t matter if a few of these morons die earlier than they need to. In the long run, if enough of them prematurely expire it could be good for the world.  But the repudiation of evidenced based thinking threatens vaccination programs, climate change action, fair treatment of the ill, fair handling of the bereaved and any number of unpalatable or scientific truths that need to faced.  

Can you believe that such a room exists?
For the godless we need to not just condemn. We need to understand what it is about the human condition that makes us so vulnerable to these profiteers.  Why is it that the simple, mindless messages of the MBS Fest are so popular in this age of extraordinary scientific and academic achievement? Why do we look back, crave a simpler life or repudiate the achievements of scholarship.  Unlike the cures offered at the MBS Fest, these profound conundrums are complex. The malady that is the MBS Fest is easy to describe but less easy to treat.
What is your view?
·         Why do these simplistic misleading practitioners still exist?
·         Why is science now so on the nose some people believe it can be ignored on climate change, vaccination and other issues?
·         How do protect the vulnerable?
·         What is the secret of the MBS Fest? Can we atheists replicate that success?
Over to you guys...

254 comments:

  1. Dick, thank you for this. Be warned, I have much to say.(part 1)


    For a time after my son ended his life my mind was unhinged with grief. The mountain of guilt was insurmountable, the ache of loss and longing, indescribable.


    About 11 years ago we were living in Brisbane for a few years while Rod worked on a special project so I was also cut off, to a degree, from friends and family. The mind, body, spirit festival rolled into town. I decided to go. Rod, knowing this was so not me, asked if I was sure this was something I wanted to do. When I said yes he said he'd drop me off and pick me up, even though our apartment was in the city and just a ferry ride to the building where this pox on humanity was being held.


    First I had lunch, mainly because of the booze I wanted to buy. I slogged down a couple of beers with a valium, then off I went. I listened to a couple of speakers, then as the effect of the valium and alcohol kicked in I started going from booth to booth, telling my sad story. Pathetic, but true.


    The various ?psychics, of course, welcomed me with open arms, and for a fee (the average was $50) took me to their little curtained off area where they did their thing. I forked out hundreds of dollars that day. There were psychic pictures of my son living happily in some afterlife. In one he was an American Indian FFS. Others, again for a fee, bastards, told me how happy my son was. They even seemed to know things about him. (It wasn't until much later I realised they'd skilfully/slyly questioned me to garner this mystical information, that they then fed to desperate, broken me as proof of their psychic ability.)


    I acknowledge no one forced me to go, I made a choice. But I made that choice out of bereaved desperation, and each person I told my story to would have known that. As I write this now I find it hard to believe that I attended this crock, but I'm sure I'm only one of many bereaved people who have done something so stupid. And I'm not a stupid woman. I'm an intelligent woman who did a stupid thing.


    The most expensive part of the day was booking into a 3 day conference on the Gold Coast, which was to be presented by the charlatan, sorry, qualified psychologist, Doreen Virtue. Seriously, the woman holds a B.A., M.A, AND Ph.D in counselling psychology. I don't know where she got them from, but if it was a reputable University she should be doubly ashamed of herself.


    Rod again questioned me to make sure this was something I really wanted to do, then took time off work to drive me to the Gold Coast then return in 3 days to collect me. It turned out I needed him desperately on the return journey.


    I'll just give an overview as I think I may have made reference to this conference in the past. This woman swanned around in flowing robes, at times with a person each side of her to support her because 'talking with the angels took so much out of her'. I kid you not, these were her very words. Personally I think it was to stop people like me from taking a swing at her, but I digress.


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous7:38 AM

      Oh Tricia, thanks for this. It sears the soul and I haven't even made it to part 2. DICK

      Delete
    2. Anonymous9:23 PM

      DICK HERE AGAIN ON A FOREIGN COMPUTER. PLEASE TRICIA TRY TO PUBLISH THIS STORY IN A WIDER PUBLICATION. SEND IT TO FAIRFAX OR THE OZ AND LINK IT TO THE MBS FESTS THAT HAVE JUST FINISHED IN SYDNEY AND MELBOURNE. THE DAILIES NEED A LINK. DICK

      Delete
    3. Dick, I'm sorry, but I don't have the energy at present to do what would need to be done. I've no idea how to even begin to get my experience published in one of the papers. It's been yonks since I submitted anything for publication. Also it would need editing, you know my apostrophe issues etc. :)

      You're welcome to take my comments, edit and link them to the MBS festivals, but I suspect you are probably too busy.

      Delete
  2. part 2
    She would give a talk in the morning and the afternoon, after which there would be questions taken from the participants. Sometimes during the question phase she'd tilt her head to one side, listening for the 'angels to guide her answer'. There were many bereaved people there, and she would 'pass on messages' from those who had died. Well, I may have been mad with grief, but I wasn't certifiably insane. After one morning of this I was done.


    Also, Rod, had suggested I not take valium or drink alcohol during the conference. Wise man my husband. After the first morning I realised it was bullshit but decided I would stay the distance and challenge her. Not once would she take my questions. I don't think this was due to any psychic ability, more the total disbelief writ large on my face. If I tried to approach her outside of the auditorium, one of her minders would quickly step in, telling me Ms Virtue was too exhausted to converse.


    So I bided my time, attending short bursts of lectures until the barf factor hit the stratosphere then I'd return to my room and read some Shakespeare. My opportunity came on the final night. I was dining in the hotel's Japanese restaurant when I noticed Doreen's party behind a paper screen. I stepped behind the screen and said, Doreen, I just want you to know my impressions of your conference. I then proceeded in a quiet, dignified manner, to tell her I believed she was doing untold harm to innocent, broken people.


    I questioned her credentials. (By this time one of her minders had hold of my arm and was trying to remove me from the alcove. I told him if he didn't take his hand off me I'd ask the restaurant staff to call the police, that I'd payed to attend the conference and I was quietly and calmly expressing my opinion of the experience. I also explained the restaurant was a public place and I was in the midst of my own meal.)


    I can't remember everything I said but I ended with 'obviously your angels didn't warn you I'd be dining here tonight. Enjoy your meal.' I then returned to my table and ordered my first drink in 3 days. Best martini I ever tasted.


    When Rod picked me up the following morning we chatted for about 15 minutes about everyday things as we headed back to Brisbane, then he said 'Well, how was it?' I said you are now sitting beside a qualified psychic. I then started sobbing uncontrollably.


    Rod, stopped on the side of the road and just held me. After I'd cried myself free of the miasma of deception, I explained that over 700 people, many in various stages of brokenness, left the conference with certificates stating they were now qualified psychics, and could hang out their shingle and wreak havoc on the gullible and damaged. I made him drag out my case from which I removed my certificate, then proceeded to rip it into tiny pieces and scatter it into the undergrowth at the side of the road.


    Dick, I'm sorry to have gone on, but your words pushed a button and you know me, always the personal perspective. And yes, I know it was all my own doing, I had a choice. But the long winded point I'm trying to make is that when you are bereaved or damaged in some way, your choices are not always rational. Many left that conference believing all that BS because they needed to, others left knowing it was BS they could make money out of.


    Also, any who want to give me a serve for my stupidity, have at it. You couldn't tell me anything I don't already know.

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    1. Anonymous7:50 AM

      DICK HERE: Thanks again Tricia for your searing honesty. The exploited don't often describe their exploitation and never have the guts to confront the weasels. You are an inspiration. DICK
      PS I was motivated to highlight the exploitation of psychics as my daughter recently lost several kids in a freak accident and I understand that the psychics have got their claws into the bereaved. Some hope in an afterlife is defensible if unsupportable but exploitation is appalling. DICK (WHO IS ON A STRANGE COMPUTER HENCE THE ANON).

      Delete
  3. Dick I realise my response is already longer than your intial post however I didn't answer the questions and ....
    Why do these practitioners still exist? Because there are a lot of sad, desperate people in the world, looking for an easy fix where non exists.
    How to protect the vulnerable? Sadly, there is no easy answer to protecting people from themselves. I think the best we can do is what Rod, did. Be ready to give comfort and pick up the pieces when reality sets in (if it ever does).
    On your final point, I find it disturbing that you'd even contemplate using the MBS experience as a template for anything. No amount of popularity is worth that.
    The science question I leave to more able minds than mine.
    Tricia, now affectionately known as the resident Mind Body Spirit Moron. :)

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    1. Anonymous7:53 AM

      DICK HERE: Once again your contribution was far more powerful than mine. Thanks so much. It made me want to re title the blog from Mind Body Spirit Morons to Mind Body Spirit Fucking Bastards. DICK (WHO IS ON A STRANGE COMPUTER HENCE THE ANON).

      Delete
    2. Long John Silver10:09 PM

      I'm really pleased to see that your fence sitting is over!, Dick!

      Delete
  4. " Why do these simplistic misleading practitioners still exist?"

    You can fool some of the people all of the time.

    "Why is science now so on the nose some people believe it can be ignored on climate change, vaccination and other issues?"

    Science is always ignored if people don't like what it says. Just ask Ralph and Malcolm S.

    "How do protect the vulnerable?"

    Education.

    "What is the secret of the MBS Fest?"

    Hope and seeming sense of the world.

    "Can we atheists replicate that success?"

    Atheists are only those that don't believe in gods, plenty believe in alternative medicines or other 'spiritual' things.

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    1. MalcolmS3:12 AM

      Stranger: "Atheists are only those that don't believe in gods, plenty believe in alternative medicines or other 'spiritual' things"

      Including the sixth sense I presume?

      Delete
    2. 8x
      Including the sixth sense I presume?
      x8

      #6

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vestibular_system

      Yawwwn.
      At least TRY to keep up with the grown ups.

      Delete
    3. "Including the sixth sense I presume?"

      We have more than 6 senses. You really like showing how dumb you are don't you?

      Delete
    4. MalcolmS4:22 AM

      zedinhisbigflyingloonyhead, thanks for the link.

      Er... and it's in connection to... ?

      Delete
    5. MalcolmS4:26 AM

      Stranger aka AndrewR: "We have more than 6 senses"

      How many dopey? A couple of dozen??

      Would you care to name all the sense organs?[not that I'm doubting of course]

      Delete
    6. Malcolm obviously you are too stupid to look it up yourself so I doubt you'll understand even if I told you.

      Delete
    7. Long John Silver9:50 PM

      "How many dopey? A couple of dozen??"

      According to this site, we have "between 14 and 20 different senses".
      http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/question242.htm

      Of course counting more than 5 is tricky if you have to do it on one hand , so maybe you could take your other hand off it for a few minutes so you can get to the big numbers. Try taking your shoes off if you need to get up to 20. Or ask a grown up to help you.

      Delete
    8. Long John Silver10:11 PM

      Further proof that science has progressed beyond Aristotle (for most of us) -
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUn7zy8Ya20

      Delete
    9. MalcolmS2:31 AM

      No, Aristotle was correct - there are 5 senses.

      Hunger, thirst, etc, whilst involving interesting physiology, tell you nothing about the external world.

      Delete
    10. 8x
      Aristotle was correct
      x8

      No he wasnt.

      This conversation is now concluded

      Delete
    11. Long John Silver4:09 AM

      OK, so taking your hand off it for long enough to count higher than 5 was too difficult after all. Try not to fall of your chair, as your sense of balance is apparently nonexistent.

      Delete
    12. Long John Silver4:14 AM

      I assume that the reason why you reject the evidence for climate change is because your senses are incapable of detecting heat and cold?

      Delete
    13. Long John Silver5:44 AM

      "sense [sɛns] any of the faculties by which the mind receives information about the external world or about the state of the body. In addition to the five traditional faculties of sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell, the term includes the means by which bodily position, temperature, pain, balance, etc., are perceived." Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003

      "a. Any of the faculties by which stimuli from outside or inside the body are received and felt, as the faculties of hearing, sight, smell, touch, taste, and equilibrium.
      b. A perception or feeling produced by a stimulus; sensation: a sense of fatigue and hunger." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009.

      Delete
    14. MalcolmS10:57 AM

      Long John Silver: "Try not to fall of your chair, as your sense of balance is apparently nonexistent"

      I certainly have balance but it is not a *sense* since it does not perceive the external world. "Balance" is a physiological REFLEX of which we have many.

      "I assume that the reason why you reject the evidence for climate change is because your senses are incapable of detecting heat and cold?"

      Your assumption, as usual, is false.

      I do not reject "climate change." It happens all the time.

      What I reject is that it is "cataclysmic" and anthropogenic.

      Please try to remain in focus.

      Delete
    15. "No, Aristotle was correct - there are 5 senses."

      No he wasn't. I know it's hard for you to accept but scientific knowledge has moved on since his day.

      Delete
    16. Long John Silver5:26 AM

      My sense of balance is a critical part of how I establish my relationship to the external world. Do you deny that TEMPERATURE is an aspect of the external world? My body is able to sense heat and cold. I know when the climate changes because my body is able to detect changes in temperature. This is a distinct thing from my sense of touch (my awareness of pressure is distinct from my awareness of warmth).

      Delete
  5. Were there many people at the nobjectivists tent?

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  6. MalcolmS8:27 AM

    "This repudiation of science is important.... the repudiation of evidenced based thinking threatens vaccination programs, climate change action..."

    That's a nice little unscientific "package-deal" Dick!

    The brilliant life-saving discoveries in immunology are not in dispute and parents who dispute the efficacy of vaccination of their children don't have a leg to stand on.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smallpox

    However, that is not the case with the myth of alleged "man made CO2 cataclysmic global warming." There has been no warming of statistical significance for 16 years even though, with the industrialisation of India and China, there has never been such an increase of man made CO2. Unfortunately for the warming alarmists their models are in tatters.

    Even the "mystics" of the Uniting Church and the ABC have jumped on the band wagon.

    http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comments/a_global_warming_sermon_from_a_uniting_church_pulpit_amen_says_the_abc/

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    1. Martin C12:00 PM

      I see the deniers have moved on to "no warming in the last 16 years" so they can keep comparing to 1998 when there was a temperature spike. There HAS been a global temperature rise since 1997. And since 1999. But as long as they carefully compare only to 1998, they can keep denying reality. How anyone can look at that graph on Bolt's page you linked to and say "it's not rising" is beyond me. Then again, how anyone could think that linking to a blog from Andrew Bolt, King Of The Morons, can possibly help their case is an even bigger conundrum.

      Delete
    2. Why am I not surprised you are a climate change sceptic Malcolm? ignorance is not a good thing and is no excuse but you revel in it.

      Delete
    3. Stranger: Why am I not surprised you are a climate change sceptic Malcolm?

      You should know that calling Mal a sceptic is a great insult. He is not sceptical about your position on climate change. Rather he is certain about his position.

      Delete
    4. MalcolmS10:30 PM

      Martin C: "I see the deniers have moved on to "no warming in the last 16 years" so they can keep comparing to 1998 when there was a temperature spike"

      Actually, the quote was: "no warming *of statistical significance* for 16 years"[my emphasis]. Don't add a misquote to your dishonesty. Remember that time frame corresponds with the massive man made CO2 increases of the industrialisation of China and India. The effect was supposed to be "cataclysmic." What difference did it make? Diddly squat!

      What a crock! The theory of the warming pretenders was BS and their "models" are in tatters. Their conspiracy is consistent with any at the MBS Fest.

      Delete
    5. Martin C7:34 AM

      My point, which you've carefully avoided (while holding your hands over your ears and going 'NA NA NA NA" as loudly as possible), was not related to whether the global warming was 'of statistical significicance' or similar definitional trivia. It relates to the fact that the time period the denialists use invariably goes back to 1998, not before OR after. Why? Because 1998 was a statistical outlier, a very hot year, so the denialists can draw a line from it and misleadingly say: "See? not going up!"

      If the denialists were genuine they'd say something like: "temperatures have not gone up in the last twenty years" and they'd say that EVERY year. Instead, the X in " not gone up in last X years" is incremented by 1 every year so that they always compare to 1998. Look at the graph on your Bolt link and it is easy to see why. ANY other year you compare to DOES show the graph going up. You're not alone doing this, every "it's going down!" claim invariably features 1998 as the left end of the graph.

      I am not a climate change expert. If you think a carbon tax is not the best means to handle the problem, I can see arguments on both sides. If you want to claim temperature increases are not due to carbon dioxide, or are not man-made, the argument at least has to be nutted out. But when you take a graph showing a consistent increase like the Bolt one, and baldly claim it is not increasing at all because you compared the end point to one carefully chosen outlier and found no increase, I am perfectly comfortable in claiming that you're either dishonest, deluded, stupid or some combination of the three.

      Delete
    6. MalcolmS8:58 AM

      Martin C: "I am not a climate change expert"

      No you are not. There is no such thing - that's the point. Climate is always changing - one way or the other. The issue is that comparatively massive amounts of an alleged causal agent [CO2] have been released into the atmosphere with no obvious effects for 16 years - certainly no "cataclysmic" effects. What does that suggest? To me it suggests that CO2 is not a causal agent of any significance.

      At levels of 4 parts/million are you surprised? I'm not!

      If you want a real causal agent I suggest you try the sun! Or clouds. Or cosmic rays. Or the variation of axial movement.

      CO2 is a crock. It's the plaything of PC government employed scientists with a political agenda.

      Did you fall for the Y2000K bug as well?

      Delete
    7. " The issue is that comparatively massive amounts of an alleged causal agent [CO2] have been released into the atmosphere with no obvious effects for 16 years "

      Why do climate change sceptics have to resort to lying?

      Delete
    8. RalphH 10/065:40 PM

      "Why do climate change sceptics have to resort to lying?" (Stranger3:13 PM)

      I give up Stranger. Is it because their arguments don't stand up?

      Delete
    9. "I give up Stranger. Is it because their arguments don't stand up?"

      Yes Ralph, just like your arguments, which is why you have to resort to lying too.

      Delete
    10. MalcolmS8:03 PM

      "Yes Ralph, just like your arguments, which is why you have to resort to lying too"

      Instead of constantly accusing people of lying, Andrew, why don't you simply answer your opponents' positions?

      Is it because you really are the simpleton you appear?

      Delete
    11. "Instead of constantly accusing people of lying, Andrew, why don't you simply answer your opponents' positions?"

      Instead of constantly lying you and Ralph could show some backbone and accept reality.

      Delete
    12. RalphH 11/066:45 PM

      "Yes Ralph, just like your arguments, which is why you have to resort to lying too." (Stranger6:04 PM)

      It was a joke Stranger. I thought even you would get it but maybe Malcolm (8:03PM)is right and I overestimated you. Have you ever made an effort to understand my arguments. If you did I might get an argument in return instead of a mere knee-jerk.

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    13. "It was a joke Stranger"

      Yes I did know that Ralph, or at least that's what you meant, but the reasons are still the same.

      "Have you ever made an effort to understand my arguments."

      Yes, that's why I think they are rubbish. You on the other hand have never made any attempt to understand science.

      Delete
  7. Martin C12:27 PM

    Dick, I'm not convinced all these Mind/Body/Spirit practitioners are frauds. I suspect a sizeable chunk of them are just people deluding themselves as efficiently as they are deluding their clients. When people have no idea of the scientific method, or concepts of evidence, or double-blind testing, or falsifiability, they tend to look at science as being faith-based. And that leads them to assume that any similar faith-based thinking is equally valid. Then they do the old trick of finding trends in effectively random data.

    THe clients get what they want. People are looking for surety, and they are willing to pay a price to get it. That price all too often means giving up rational examination of whether a claim is actually true. Religion makes no bones about this: you have to have faith, they say, as though that were a positive. The same factor arises with Mind/Body/Spirit: a seance can be ruined by 'negative energies' (i.e. anyone pointing out glaringly obvious flaws ways for the psychic to cheat). Those advocating rational examination of claims are ostracized, and the true believers hunker down with their hands over their ears, feeling safe and warm in the illusory bunker of their shared faith, relying on each other's continued belief to be a combined shield wall against the doubters' rationality.

    There has been a growing trend in recent decades to view scientists as a conspiratorial elite, and to consider the opinions of the uneducated common man to be equally valid. Global warming is the main poster child for this Dunning-Kruger-powered Juggernaut of Stupid, but anti-vacc morons get some press too. Any old woo gets to benefit though: as long as dim people see science as a dark elitist illuminati with its own agenda, pseudo-science profits.

    The media can be blamed as well, I suppose: psychics make good television, but only if they look believable, so TV shows become complicit in the fraud. "Psychic Reveals Words From Beyond The Grave!" gets more eyeballs than "Psychic Makes Predictions Vague Enough To Apply To Almost Anybody". Clowns like Lord Monckton or Jenny McCarthy telling us "it's a conspiracy!" also rack up ratings far more than calm reasoned scientific analysis of the data.

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    1. MalcolmS7:26 AM

      Martin C: "There has been a growing trend in recent decades to view scientists as a conspiratorial elite, and to consider the opinions of the uneducated common man to be equally valid"

      Yes, and with good reason. The Scientific Revolution is well and truly over and scientists no longer have the respect that the likes of Galileo, Kepler, Newton and Darwin had. The methodology of such scientists was *inductive* - a process which proceded from sensory data to their generalisations[or laws]. With the rise of scepticism in the philosophy of science arbitrary hypothesis has become the starting point of science followed by *deduction* in order to try and *falsify* the original hypothesis. Causality is a myth in this view. There is only a stream of sensory data, and we are never aware of any necessary connection among such data. It follows that the process of inducing generalisations is invalid; we can only describe regularities in past data and hope that future data conform to these regularities.

      The primary "claim to fame" of sceptics in the philosophy of science such as Popper is the complete denial of any role for induction. In his view Hume's attack on induction is unanswerable. Thus all "justification" for scientific claims comes via testing of deductive consequences. But he goes much further in claiming that all that procedure secures is an ability to falsify a scientific hypothesis, not an ability to confirm it.

      On the other hand the so-called "uneducated common man," observing all this nonsense, still has the remnant of an Aristotelian past to call upon - his notion of "common sense." So why would he not regard himself as [at least] on a par with modern science which cannot arrive at conclusions?

      Delete
    2. Martin C8:00 AM

      Sorry, Malcolm, you've completely lost me here. I may have inadvertently used some terms that made you think I have read up on philosophy of science: I haven't.

      The only point I intended to make is that scientific analysis such as a double blind test of the efficacy of a particular drug should bear more weight than some guy on a street corner saying "My Aunty Mabel took it and got better", but that in recent years that distinction appears to have been lost.

      Delete
    3. "With the rise of scepticism in the philosophy of science arbitrary hypothesis has become the starting point of science"

      No it hasn't. Why do you keep making shit up about things you are clueless on?

      You do know that Newton was wrong about gravity don't you?

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    4. MalcolmS7:51 PM

      "You do know that Newton was wrong about gravity don't you?"

      You do know that those who claim Newton was wrong about gravity are wrong don't you??

      In fact, if you had a skerrick of intelligence, I'd tell you why.

      But you don't, so I won't!

      Delete
    5. "You do know that those who claim Newton was wrong about gravity are wrong don't you??"

      Newton was wrong about gravity.

      "In fact, if you had a skerrick of intelligence, I'd tell you why."

      If you had any form intelligence you'd not say that Newton was correct.

      Delete
    6. Mal:

      As Feynman said, philosophy of science is about as much use to scientists as ornithology is to birds. You can rant hysterically about induction and deduction all you like, but the only people listening are your undergraduate philosophy class mates.

      Delete
    7. MalcolmS8:44 PM

      Terry, I am well aware of the ramblings of Feynman - he is a mate of Popper.

      Good philosophy always underpins good science.

      Every great scientific generalisation/principle/law/discovery is the product of induction.

      If you disagree here's a little task for you: name one original scientific principle established by deduction. You'll find you can't do it.

      Delete
    8. "Good philosophy always underpins good science."

      No it doesn't.

      "Every great scientific generalisation/principle/law/discovery is the product of induction."

      No they aren't.

      Delete
    9. Terry wrote: "As Feynman said, philosophy of science is about as much use to scientists as ornithology is to birds"

      An unfortunate quote as someone pointed out, ornithology would be very useful to birds if only they could understand it.

      Actually there have been many scientists who contribute and have contributed to the philosophy of science and have found it very useful.

      In fact I can easily find a number of quotes from Feynman which are philosophical claims about science.

      I wonder how Feynman thinks that science got its start.

      Delete
    10. Stranger wrote "No they aren't."

      Can you give an example of a scientific law/principle/discovery which is not the result of induction?

      Delete
    11. 8x
      ...ornithology would be very useful to birds if only they could understand it.
      x8

      Dont you mean "birds would be very useful to ornithology if only we could understand them"? ;)

      Personally - were I a bird (especially an early bird) - Id be brushing up on my oligochaetology instead ;)

      Delete
    12. Henceforth we should abandon anthropology since it is of no use to us.

      Delete
    13. MalcolmS2:14 AM

      Robin asked Stranger:

      "Can you give an example of a scientific law/principle/discovery which is not the result of induction?"

      Waiting, waiting, waiting...

      Delete
    14. Long John Silver5:26 AM

      "Good philosophy always underpins good science."
      Does Robert Boyle count as a proper scientist, or is he too modern for you? In the 17th century he was complaining about the confusion between science and philosophy:
      "I am not a little pleased to find that you are resolved on this occasion to insist rather on Experiments than Syllogismes. For I, and no doubt You, have long observed, that those Dialectical subtleties, that the Schoolmen too often employ about Physiological Mysteries, are wont much more to declare the wit of him that uses them, then increase the knowledge or remove the doubts of sober lovers of truth. And such captious subtleties do indeed often puzzle and sometimes silence men, but rarely satisfy them. Being like the tricks of Jugglers, whereby men doubt not but they are cheated, though oftentimes they cannot declare by what flights they are imposed on." http://web.lemoyne.edu/~giunta/ea/BOYLEann.HTML
      Modern comment from the same website (different page):
      ". . . the authority attached to Aristotle nearly two millennia after his death was one of the main obstacles in the path of the scientific outlook as it emerged in the 17th century. The experimental method of putting hypothetical explanations to an empirical test was unknown to Aristotle and his contemporaries. Although he was not a bad observer in some instances, Aristotle's mode of explanation was rationalistic rather than empirical." http://web.lemoyne.edu/~giunta/ea/ARISTOTLEann.HTML

      Delete
    15. bigbird6:17 AM

      I have to agree with MalcolmS and Robin. How can it not be useful to think about the scientific process?

      Delete
    16. Yes, Boyle was a proper scientist, although he would likely have termed himself a Natural Philosopher.

      Boyle is clearly extolling the advantages of induction over deduction ("syllogisme") in this passage and is thus a statement of the philosophy of science.

      Aristotle was the one who pointed out that pure reason could not be the basis for knowledge about the world and that such knowledge must ultimately be based on an inductive process upon empirical data (Posterior Analytics Bk 2, Part 19).

      He did not invent the modern scientific method but he was an important foundation.

      Aristotle's authority in scientific circles was negligible in the 17th century, see Galileo's writing for example.

      Delete
    17. Malcolm S
      “…With the rise of scepticism in the philosophy of science arbitrary hypothesis has become the starting point of science followed by *deduction* in order to try and *falsify* the original hypothesis…”

      Not quite true. The hypotheses are not arbitrary. Rather the hypotheses that scientists test are usually arrived at through induction. Then they use deduction to test them. That is, through induction they conclude that X causes Y. To test this they create conditions consistent with X and see if Y follows. If it does they say that confirms their hypothesis if Y doesn’t follow they say that their hypothesis has been falsified.

      For example, Darwin’s inductive hypothesis on observing finches was that geographical isolation leads to new species being formed. Rather than just stopping there (as you seem to want scientists to do), this was tested deductively by seeing if new species arose when not geographically isolated and if geographically-isolated members of the same species didn’t form new species.

      I am not sure what your complaint about falsification is. You say we should try to confirm hypotheses rather than try to falsify them. But those are just two sides of the same coin. If your inductive hypothesis says “X causes Y” then if Y follows from X this confirms your hypothesis and if Y doesn’t follow from X then your hypothesis has been falsified. Popper’s argument is that if you say that your hypothesis is true regardless of whether or not Y follows from X then you can’t confirm your hypothesis.

      Generally, the more often that Y follows from X you can become more certain that X causes Y. However, science generally leaves some room open to say that there might be some conditions that we haven’t tested yet under which Y does not follow from X. Therefore, science can come to conclusions but they are always tentative in the sense that there might be some conditions under which they do not hold.

      Delete
    18. "For example, Darwin’s inductive hypothesis on observing finches was that geographical isolation leads to new species being formed. "

      I think Darwin deduced that based on his and others observations.

      Delete
    19. 8x
      I think Darwin deduced that based on his and others observations.
      x8

      Indeed

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johann_Wolfgang_von_Goethe#Scientific_work

      Induction and deduction aren't mutually exclusive. That is a false dichotomy.

      The reality is that they compliment each other

      I wonder how such a silly proposition came to be propagating itself on this blog anyway?
      -cough cough - malcolm - cough cough

      'scuse me

      Delete
    20. Stranger,

      Informally, people often describe ‘arriving at conclusions through reasoning’ as deduction. However, in a formal sense, induction is observing some phenomenon and then deriving a rule from that. Deduction is taking a rule and then testing that against observations.

      For example, I observe that every time I get up to go to the toilet my team scores a goal so I conclude through induction that “my getting up to go to the toilet causes my team to score a goal”. Then starting with the rule that “my getting up to go to the toilet causes my team to score a goal”, I conclude by deduction that if I get up to go to the toilet my team will score a goal.

      Malcolm is trying to claim that the first method is valid, while the second one is not. As Zed points out they complement each other. I can’t imagine that even the scientists that Malcolm praises did anything other than arrive at hypotheses through induction and then test them through deduction, even if they didn’t write it up so explicitly.

      Malcolm’s complaint that scientists today haven’t made breakthroughs like those of Newton, Galileo, and Darwin because of the scientific method seems pretty weird. It seems pretty obvious to me that scientists can only work out that the world is round once, after that they are just making refinements; scientists can only discover gravity once, after that they are just making refinements; scientists can only work out that the earth is not the centre of the universe once, after that they are just making refinements; scientists can only work out the theory of evolution once, after that they are just making refinements.

      That scientists making refinements to an already established theory aren’t making as big breakthroughs as the discovery of the theory itself seems far better explained by the asymptotic nature of knowledge rather than any fault in the scientific method.

      Delete
  8. 8x
    There has been a growing trend in recent decades to view scientists as a conspiratorial elite, and to consider the opinions of the uneducated common man to be equally valid.
    x8

    Why arent my opinions valid? Why should I put my wellbeing in the hands of people I dont know from a bar of soap?

    Politicians conspire - hedge fund managers conspire - the fielding team conspires against the batsmen - Conspiracy is part of the human condition.

    Why should I consider boffins to be any different?
    Perhaps the "uneducated common man" (I assume you dont consider yourself "common") has a point

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Richard;

      Did you perchance happen to do a demographic tally up during the "festival"?

      Were there many "uneducated common men" there?

      Delete
    2. Martin C7:47 AM

      zed: "Why should I put my wellbeing in the hands of people I dont know from a bar of soap?"

      You do it every day. When you fly in a plane you put your life in the hands of a person who is an acknowledged and qualified expert at plane-flying. Would you prefer an uneducated common man instead? When you see a doctor you are obtaining medical information from someone qualified and experienced in the field. Would you prefer such advice from a man in the street? When you get your car repaired, you place it in the hands of a qualified mechanic. Want to ask someone at random about it instead? In all three of the above situations, and thousands of others, you would be very foolish indeed to simply assume that the uneducated man knew as much about the situation as the educated one.

      "Conspiracy is part of the human condition."

      Conspiracy is rare and requires all participants to have an aim in common. It is extremely hard to see how that could apply to scientists as a group.

      Delete
    3. MalcolmS8:23 AM

      Martin C: "Conspiracy is rare and requires all participants to have an aim in common. It is extremely hard to see how that could apply to scientists as a group"

      It applies to one group of scientists.

      Government employed scientists looking for their next grant! Just mention climate change or some other PC project and the sky's the limit!

      Delete
    4. 8x
      You do it every day.
      x8

      False

      8x
      When you fly in a plane you put your life in the hands of a person who is an acknowledged and qualified expert at plane-flying.
      x8

      Analogy fail.
      I'm not going up with Orville and Wilbur on their first flight. I'm flying with a flight crew who have successfully flown many times before, with an airline whose planes dont crash often... And I have travel insurance just in case

      8x
      When you see a doctor you are obtaining medical information from someone qualified and experienced in the field.
      x8

      Analogy fail.
      I'm obtaining medical information from someone:
      1) Who hasnt been disbarred or sued for incompetence
      2) Whose competence has been tested in controlled conditions by a regulatory body
      3) Who (hopefully) I have good word of mouth on.


      8x
      When you get your car repaired, you place it in the hands of a qualified mechanic. Want to ask someone at random about it instead?
      x8

      Analogy fail.
      As an "uneducated common man", I've swapped out my share of engines and know when I'm being bullshitted. Perhaps you might ask one of our lady contributors how much they trust mechanics instead? I suggest getting to know a trustworthy mechanic. When you find one be sure and pay his bills on time

      eg: http://bigbuddy.info/baby-boomer-women-are-getting-ripped-off-by-auto-mechanics.html

      8x
      In all three of the above situations, and thousands of others, you would be very foolish indeed to simply assume that the uneducated man knew as much about the situation as the educated one.
      x8

      Prevaricating: I did not suggest or assume this at all. I suggested that other people will prioritise their own wellbeing and prosperity over mine - This is especially noticeable amongst those who believe they are dealing with "uneducated common men".

      8x
      Conspiracy is rare...
      x8

      No it isnt. See my original examples

      8x
      ... and requires all participants to have an aim in common
      x8

      No it doesnt.

      8x
      It is extremely hard to see how that could apply to scientists as a group
      x8

      Prevaricating again? Well it doesnt of course.

      I suggest you have a quick read of this:

      http://www.cracked.com/article_15974_7-insane-conspiracies-that-actually-happened.html

      or watch "The Departed". Top entertainment. ;)

      Delete
    5. "Government employed scientists looking for their next grant! Just mention climate change or some other PC project and the sky's the limit!"

      You do like making shit up, maybe you could sell some of your fictional stories.

      Delete
  9. Dick: Generally, the godless have a craving for proof. We have a fondness for evidence based knowledge and shun beliefs and superstitions not informed by some intellectual process.

    I’d like to agree with you, but I can’t accept that atheism is anything more than not believing in gods. Atheists are just as susceptible to irrational behaviour as everyone else. You’re kidding yourself if you think converting the world to atheism would put an end to the kind of stupidity you witnessed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous5:12 PM

      Dear Terry, You are correct to warn atheists not to feel smug or superior. However, at least most of the schools of atheism do try to adopt and learn from scientific method and do not rely for their "truths" from ancient documents. Thanks again, Dick

      Delete
  10. "Can you believe that such a room exists?"

    I'm having a hard time believing such a jumper as depicted exists.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. MalcolmS8:17 PM

      "I'm having a hard time believing such a jumper as depicted exists"

      Can't trust your senses Andrew?

      Are you a modern scientist/sceptic? :>}

      Delete
    2. Malcolm a picture is not necessarily real these days.

      Delete
    3. MalcolmS8:50 PM

      "Malcolm a picture is not necessarily real these days"

      Really?

      So, how do you know that if your senses are invalid?

      Delete
    4. "Really?"

      Yes really.

      "So, how do you know that if your senses are invalid?:"

      I'm a lot smarter than you.

      Delete
    5. MalcolmS9:07 PM

      "I'm a lot smarter than you"

      So where do your "smarts" come from if not based on your senses?

      Revelation? Your dysfunctional bowels?

      Delete
    6. "So where do your "smarts" come from if not based on your senses?"

      One can be intelligent and completely sensory deficient. But I don't expect you to be able to understand that

      Delete
    7. MalcolmS9:44 PM

      "One can be intelligent and completely sensory deficient"

      No, that's impossible and you are quite wrong.

      All knowledge *begins* with the senses.

      Even in extreme cases of sensory deprivation sensory imput is essential.

      http://www.wimp.com/helenkeller/

      Delete
    8. "No, that's impossible and you are quite wrong."

      It is possible and you are ignorant of so many things.

      "All knowledge *begins* with the senses.'

      No it doesn't, and I see you have now changed it to knowledge, which is not the same as intelligence.

      "Even in extreme cases of sensory deprivation sensory imput is essential."

      Except it isn't, Helen Keller was intelligent w/o sight or hearing.

      Delete
    9. MalcolmS11:15 PM

      "Helen Keller was intelligent w/o sight or hearing"

      Her intelligence was useless in gaining knowledge without her sense of touch.

      As the link demonstrated.

      "Intelligence" is useless in perceiving reality without the senses.

      Delete
    10. 8x
      "Intelligence" is useless in perceiving reality without the senses.
      x8

      But even flawed senses will do when there is some intelligence to compensate

      Is that the point thats trying to burble its way out your bubblehole there twerpy?

      Delete
    11. "Her intelligence was useless in gaining knowledge without her sense of touch."

      I wasn't talking about knowledge. How dumb are you?

      Delete
    12. MalcolmS12:06 AM

      "I wasn't talking about knowledge"

      There is no such thing as intelligence without knowledge or perception.

      Without the senses you cannot apply any part of your consciousness to reality.

      Without the sense of touch Keller had no way to deal with, or gain knowledge, of the world.

      Without the sense of touch her intelligence was irrelevant.

      Delete
    13. "There is no such thing as intelligence without knowledge or perception."

      Intelligent people know that intelligence is not the same as knowledge or perception.

      "Without the senses you cannot apply any part of your consciousness to reality."

      Which has got nothing to do with what I actually wrote.

      "Without the sense of touch Keller had no way to deal with, or gain knowledge, of the world."

      You are still stupidly confusing knowledge with intelligence.

      "Without the sense of touch her intelligence was irrelevant."

      She still had other senses. Are you so stupid you think humans only have 5 senses?

      Delete
    14. MalcolmS12:23 AM

      loonyhead: "even flawed senses will do when there is some intelligence to compensate"

      No, intelligence does not "compensate." Her sense of touch was not "flawed."

      Without the senses there is nothing for intelligence to deal with.

      The senses are the only contact intelligence has with reality.

      The senses are the *precondition* of intelligence.

      Delete
    15. MalcolmS12:28 AM

      "Are you so stupid you think humans only have 5 senses?"

      Go join the mystics Andrew. They will love the company of another village idiot. This conversation just finished.

      Delete
    16. 8x
      loonyhead
      x8

      who?

      8x
      No, intelligence does not "compensate." Her sense of touch was not "flawed."
      x8

      Her intelligence and sense of touch compensated for her FLAWED VISION AND HEARING ya dingus

      What an asinine chicken frotterer you are

      Delete
    17. ""Are you so stupid you think humans only have 5 senses?"

      Go join the mystics Andrew. They will love the company of another village idiot. This conversation just finished."

      So you really are that stupid.

      Delete
    18. "No, intelligence does not "compensate." Her sense of touch was not "flawed."

      Yes it does and yes it was.

      "The senses are the *precondition* of intelligence."

      No they aren't.

      Delete
    19. Long John Silver6:18 AM

      At least Helen Keller didn't have to look at that jumper.

      Delete
    20. MalcolmS8:33 AM

      What's wrong with the jumper?

      Obviously you're too young to have frolicked with hippies.

      Man you haven't lived :>}

      Delete
    21. Anonymous5:14 PM

      DICK HERE: The jumper was carefully deployed as a disguise to obtain entry without suspicion. I would never wear outlandish clothing generally. Dick

      And Pirate, harsh but fair. Dick

      Delete
    22. Long John Silver6:14 AM

      As Malcolm insists that there is no such thing as a sense of heat or cold, why would you need a jumper anyway?

      Delete
    23. " I would never wear outlandish clothing generally."

      We've seen the jacket....

      Delete
  11. "There has been a growing trend in recent decades to view scientists as a conspiratorial elite, and to consider the opinions of the uneducated common man equally valid."

    Martin, I do think the above sentence needs a rethink. By stringing the words 'uneducated common man' together, your comment, in my humble opinion, comes across as elitist, the very perception you seem to be concerned about in the first half of the sentence.

    There are people with multiple degrees who, once removed from the seas of their speciality, are like dying fish flapping and floundering on the sands of reality. Also education and wisdom do not always go hand in hand.

    The woman who performed my husband's autopsy was a highly qualified forensic pathologist and yet there were glaring errors in Rod's autopsy report. I have no knowledge of forensic medicine but I knew my husband did not have false teeth, no longer had his appendix, and had not had gall stones. I desperately wanted to understand why my husband went to bed laughing, woke up an hour later, collapsed on the way to the bathroom and died in my arms before the paramedics arrived.

    Everyone is capable of making a mistake, but intelligent people own their errors and do all in their power to learn from them. This woman treated me with distain, as if I was indeed an 'uneducated common man'. Refusing to admit her error, refusing to apologise until I threatened to go to the media, and then she only apologised 'for any inconvenience'. I won't go into all the details, but to this day I'm not 100 percent sure that my husbands revised autopsy report is correct. This woman was highly educated, but her education didn't prevent her from being ignorant in her dealings with the bereaved.

    In spite of my experience I don't view scientists as 'a conspiratorial elite', but I am left wondering - Where does one turn when science fails them?

    Dicks friend, David Webb, (see GG On Dave and Death) in his book on suicide wrote about his strongly held opinion that when researching causes and cures for suicide those who experience suicidal thoughts and behaviours should be consulted. Suicide policy should not be left entirely in the hands of academics, no matter how 'educated' they may be in the field.

    As is my way, I'm trying to show via my experience, that science is not always correct, and that while we live in a democracy, no matter what our education, we are entitled to have our opinion heard and considered. I also believe that life experience is valid when forming opinions. I have no wish to return to the days when one had to abide by the decisions of their 'betters'.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "As is my way, I'm trying to show via my experience, that science is not always correct"

      Tricia your problem was people, not science.

      Delete
    2. MalcolmS9:01 PM

      Tricia: "I'm trying to show via my experience, that science is not always correct"

      That's true but it applies to all human knowledge - not just science.

      Human beings are fallible and can err.

      They also have the capacity for truth and the means to correct error but not through mysticism, religion or scepticism.

      Delete
    3. Stranger
      'Tricia your problem was people, not science.'

      Stranger, I understand why you'd think that, as I only gave you half the information. My problem was both people, and bad science practice. Also I brought this issue up because of Martin C's comment regarding the validity of the opinion of 'the common man'. The point I'm trying to make is that scientists are not always right and non scientists are not always wrong, even in areas of science. My problem was never with science per se rather with the attitude of some scientists. A scientist's attitude, can have a bearing on the quality of his output. If a scientist refuses to question their findings, particularly in the face of obvious errors, then to my mind all their work becomes questionable.

      I would think that there are stringent rules for the collection of data for any scientific exercise, and that the manner in which the data is collected, stored and interpreted, has a bearing on the findings. A full autopsy is a combination of a detailed external examination, a collection of various specimens (pieces of internal organs, bloods, etc.) that are then scientifically examined as part of determining the cause of death, and a report is then issued on the findings.

      I was told the errors occurred because 2 autopsies were conducted at the one time. The Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine - VIFM, had been advised by the auditing body that this was bad practice as it was likely to lead to errors. Most at VIFM adhered to the best practice recommendation, some did not.

      During this long, drawn out process I met with, and had correspondence from, various members of VIFM, from the director down. Some were kind and helpful, others condescending and some just wanted me to go away. The then CEO of The Coroner's Court of Victoria, both encouraged and supported me in my battle with VIFM, as I was not the only person to have issues with VIFM, and it was often The Corner's Court who copped the flack, as many don't realise they are different, although linked, organisations.

      I'm neither a climate denier nor anti vac, and I've written at length on what a pox on humanity I think some of the MBS practitioners are. But I still say all scientific theories are not correct. How can they be when scientists give conflicting opinions? And that the 'common man' deserves to be heard with an open mind.

      Delete
    4. "Stranger, I understand why you'd think that, as I only gave you half the information. My problem was both people, and bad science practice."

      An autopsy is not 'practicing science' it is a medical procedure.

      " A scientist's attitude, can have a bearing on the quality of his output. If a scientist refuses to question their findings, particularly in the face of obvious errors, then to my mind all their work becomes questionable."

      Medicos are not scientists per se.

      "I would think that there are stringent rules for the collection of data for any scientific exercise, and that the manner in which the data is collected, stored and interpreted, has a bearing on the findings."

      There are but they aren't always followed.

      "But I still say all scientific theories are not correct. "

      There's no such thing as a 'correct theory', only supported (by evidence) ones.

      Delete
    5. Malcolm S
      "Tricia: "I'm trying to show via my experience, that science is not always correct"

      That's true but it applies to all human knowledge - not just science.

      Human beings are fallible and can err.

      They also have the capacity for truth and the means to correct error but not through mysticism, religion or scepticism."

      Malcolm,
      I never said or even implied that a lack of being correct only applied to science. I was using science because of Martin C's comment.

      Of course "human beings are fallible and can err", my issue was with those who don't acknowledge their fallibility.

      If you read my 'novella' at the start of this blog, and my comments on previous blogs, you'd realise I'm not a fan of "mysticism, religion, or scepticism". Also I've been described by a writing mentor as having a taste for truth, even when it doesn't show me in the best light. I believe this shows in my poetry.

      I fail to see the point of your comment.

      Delete
    6. MalcolmS2:34 AM

      "I fail to see the point of your comment"

      That's fine Tricia.

      The point was nothing more than stated.

      If it doesn't help, then, just ignore it.

      Delete
    7. Tricia:

      Ignore Mal. Like a talking doll, he’s programmed to vomit out objectivist ideology in response to certain key words. There’s little, if any, thought in what he says and no intention to try understand you. Your concerns about the accuracy of scientific claims are perfectly reasonable and worth discussing.

      It might surprise you to learn that there is way more scepticism about scientific claims within the scientific community than there is in the general public. The reason for this is that the people who report these claims to the public are not the scientists but the media. And the media, if they understand the science at all, are more interested in sensationalising it than explaining it.

      Things would be so much better if scientists reported their work directly to the public. But this doesn’t happen for two reasons. Firstly, with a few exceptions such as Dawkins and Sagan, scientists who can communicate well are rare. And, secondly, few scientists have either the time or the inclination to do it.

      What we are left with then is what you are advocating, which is the necessity of treating reported scientific claims with some scepticism. The only alternative is to delve into the science directly, and that unfortunately takes some effort.

      Delete
    8. MalcolmS8:35 PM

      OK, let's "ignore Mal" :)

      Terry, please list the original scientific discoveries of Dawkins and Sagan.

      Delete
    9. Mal: please list the original scientific discoveries of Dawkins and Sagan.

      Why do you need me to do that for you? It would take you seconds to do it yourself on the Net. Just type in their names followed by the word 'bibliography'.

      Geez, Mal, did you really need me to tell you that?

      Delete
    10. Stranger
      I realise not all medicos are scientists, but I did think that forensic pathologists were. Thanks to you I now realise this is not always the case.

      I'm sorry to harp, but I know that at least one of the people involved in the review of Rod's autopsy has a BA in medical science, along with his medical and a few other degrees. (I'm not sure about the woman who performed the initial autopsy.) His role was to re-examine the blood and tissue samples taken from Rod's body and the body of the man whose autopsy had been conducted at the same time by the same person.

      Rod had been cremated 10 months before they finally mailed me a copy of the original autopsy report. They kept fobbing me off because they were aware there was something wrong long before I read the report and realised it couldn't have been Rod's body. Also during the 'placating process', the word scientist was bandied about.

      I'm grateful for your comments on this issue, Stranger. I'm not doubting your word, just explaining why I thought an autopsy was a scientific process. I've googled quite a bit since your response, and aspects of a full autopsy are often performed by medical scientists, particularly if there may be court proceedings. This issue was heading in that direction, but my health was deteriorating and the doctor who performed the initial autopsy had a stroke.

      I know I've a stick up my butt where this issue is concerned so thanks for your patience.:)

      Delete
    11. "I realise not all medicos are scientists, but I did think that forensic pathologists were"

      It's a bit like my field. I'm not a computer scientist but I use the scientific method when diagnosing problems.

      "They kept fobbing me off because they were aware there was something wrong long before I read the report and realised it couldn't have been Rod's body."

      People hate being wrong I'm afraid , especially when it's a professional matter. Misconduct is the best way to describe what they have done, and a little ineptitude on the first ME.

      "I'm grateful for your comments on this issue, Stranger. I'm not doubting your word, just explaining why I thought an autopsy was a scientific process"

      It is, but the scientific method is not the reserve of scientists.

      " I've googled quite a bit since your response, and aspects of a full autopsy are often performed by medical scientists, particularly if there may be court proceedings."

      Quite, but any doctor can perform an autopsy. When there is doubt they call in the 'experts'.

      "I know I've a stick up my butt where this issue is concerned so thanks for your patience.:)"

      That's okay Tricia, it's what I've trained for all my life.

      Delete
    12. MalcolmS2:06 AM

      "That's okay Tricia, it's what I've trained for all my life"

      Oh, my goodness!

      Delete
    13. Mal: "please list the original scientific discoveries of Dawkins and Sagan."

      Terry: "Why do you need me to do that for you? It would take you seconds to do it yourself on the Net. Just type in their names followed by the word 'bibliography'.

      Geez, Mal, did you really need me to tell you that?"

      Here is one for Dawkins, a rather meagre publishing record on the academic side and nothing that would seem to qualify as an original discovery:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_publications_by_Richard_Dawkins

      Carl Sagan, on the other hand, appears to have a very respectable record indeed as a scientist.

      Delete
    14. bigbird4:02 PM

      The really amusing part about Dawkins' CV on Wikipedia is this entry:

      Dawkins, R. (2000). "W. D. Hamilton memorial". Nature 405 (6788): 733

      It is a 2 line notice of the time and place of Hamilton's memorial service.

      Delete
    15. Robin: Here is one for Dawkins, a rather meagre publishing record on the academic side and nothing that would seem to qualify as an original discovery.

      How would you know that none qualify as an original discovery? What if I told you that his extended phenotype hypothesis influenced a generation of ethologists, including me, and initiated research that continues to this day? How does that not count as an original discovery?

      Delete
    16. Hmm.. So Malcolm asks for an original discovery by Dawkins and you say that he can find this out by himself simply by typing the name on the net followed by bibliography.

      I follow your advice and you say that you cannot find out any original discoveries by Dawkins simply by typing his name followed by the word 'bibliography', contrary to your earlier advice.

      But I did manage to extract from you an answer to Malcolm's question that you could simply have provided in the first place in fewer words.

      Delete
    17. bigbird wrote: "The really amusing part about Dawkins' CV on Wikipedia is this entry:

      Dawkins, R. (2000). "W. D. Hamilton memorial". Nature 405 (6788): 733

      It is a 2 line notice of the time and place of Hamilton's memorial service."

      Thanks, I wouldn't have picked that one. I think they feel they have to flesh it out a bit. Calling "Viruses of the Mind" an academic work is also something of a stretch.

      Delete
    18. But, Terry, are you seriously telling me that no one thought of that idea before 1978?

      What did they think was happening in instances of symbiotic relationships, parasitism etc?

      Delete
    19. Terry wrote: "What if I told you that his extended phenotype hypothesis influenced a generation of ethologists, including me, and initiated research that continues to this day? "

      In addition, why hadn't Dawkins heard of this research in 2004 when he wrote:

      "But the part of the theory that is wholly my own, the extended phenotype itself, unfortunately cannot yet make the same claim. It lurks somewhere near the back of some biologists’ minds, but not in the lobes that plan research in the field. Twenty-one years ago, I said that nobody had done a genetic study using animal artefacts as the phenotype. I think that is still true. "

      Did it all start after 2004?

      Delete
    20. Robin: I follow your advice and you say that you cannot find out any original discoveries by Dawkins simply by typing his name followed by the word 'bibliography', contrary to your earlier advice.

      I did not say that to you. I asked you how you would know that none qualify as an original discovery. And I’m still waiting for an answer. I’m also still waiting for your answer to the question of whether or not the extended phenotype hypothesis counts as an original discovery.

      Robin: But, Terry, are you seriously telling me that no one thought of that idea before 1978? What did they think was happening in instances of symbiotic relationships, parasitism etc?

      You obviously know something that I don’t. If it wasn’t Dawkins who came up with the idea, who was it?

      As for what was happening in ‘instances of symbiotic relationships’, I have no idea what you’re talking about. Neither, I’m sure, do you.

      Delete
    21. MalcolmS9:49 PM

      Terry[to Robin]: "How would you know that none qualify as an original discovery? What if I told you that his extended phenotype hypothesis influenced a generation of ethologists, including me, and initiated research that continues to this day? How does that not count as an original discovery?"

      It doesn't count because it's false. Dawkins qua scientist is a non event. Dawkins qua atheist is a false argument. You should learn not to run with the mob. That good enough for you?

      Delete
    22. Terry wrote: "I asked you how you would know that none qualify as an original discovery. And I’m still waiting for an answer."

      Even Dawkins does not call it a discovery, he calls it a "conjecture" as late as 2004, so that is your answer.

      Delete
    23. Robin: ... why hadn't Dawkins heard of this research in 2004?

      I’ll explain when I’ve got the time. In the meantime, I’ll make this observation: You are trying very, very hard to hang on to the myth that he was not a proper scientist. You must dislike him intensely.

      Delete
    24. Robin: Even Dawkins does not call it a discovery, he calls it a "conjecture" as late as 2004, so that is your answer

      Then why in your quote does he refer to it as theory?

      Delete
    25. Terry wrote: "As for what was happening in ‘instances of symbiotic relationships’, I have no idea what you’re talking about. Neither, I’m sure, do you."

      'Instances of symbiotic relationships, parasitism etc'.

      Was Dawkins really the first person to realise that the behaviour of one organism could enhance the survival chances of another?

      Delete
    26. Terry wrote: "I’ll explain when I’ve got the time. In the meantime, I’ll make this observation: You are trying very, very hard to hang on to the myth that he was not a proper scientist. You must dislike him intensely."

      Where did I say he was not a proper scientist?

      I only said that his academic publishing record was somewhat meagre.

      I must say that you are trying very hard to hang on to your myth that I dislike Dawkins.

      I think that you might have missed that area which lies between hero worship and dislike.

      Delete
    27. Now I check I see the word is "speculation" not "conjecture".

      He calls it a speculation and also a hypothesis and - not a theory - but part of a theory.

      He also says that there has been no research done on it.

      I don't really think it qualifies as a new discovery.

      Delete
    28. Robin: I only said that his academic publishing record was somewhat meagre.

      That’s the second time you’ve lied. If that was the only thing you’d said we wouldn’t be arguing. But you added that nothing would seem to qualify as an original discovery. And that is what we are disagreeing about. You are doing your best to rubbish EP. And I’m trying to tell you that ethologists regard it as a valuable tool which they use often in their research.

      Robin: Was Dawkins really the first person to realise that the behaviour of one organism could enhance the survival chances of another?

      I don’t know. But what has this got to do with EP? Do you understand what EP means? Had you even hear of the concept before I mentioned it? I didn’t think so.

      Delete
    29. "It doesn't count because it's false."

      Why is it false?

      Delete
    30. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    31. Terry wrote: "That’s the second time you’ve lied."

      Nice bluster. You claim I said something I didn't say and when I pick you up on it you make a preposterous attempt to claim that I am the liar, not you.

      Again, where exactly did I say he was not a proper scientist???

      Terry wrote: "If that was the only thing you’d said we wouldn’t be arguing. But you added that nothing would seem to qualify as an original discovery."

      And that backs up your claim ... how exactly???

      If you had thought about it you would have realised that the comment was aimed at you, that you had fobbed Malcolm off with a non-answer.

      Terry wrote: "You are doing your best to rubbish EP."

      Where exactly have I done that? Is expressing scepticism that something can be classified as an original scientific discovery the same as rubbishing it???

      Terry wrote: "And I’m trying to tell you that ethologists regard it as a valuable tool which they use often in their research."

      And I am pointing out that this might be news to Dawkins. Perhaps you should write and tell him.

      Delete
    32. Terry wrote: "I don’t know. But what has this got to do with EP? Do you understand what EP means? Had you even hear of the concept before I mentioned it? I didn’t think so."

      I am not sure how anybody could avoid hearing of one of Dawkins' concepts.

      I may have misunderstood it. If you insist that the idea has nothing to do with the idea that an animal’s behaviour tends to maximize the survival of genes for that behaviour, whether or not those gense happen to be in the body of the particular animal performing the behaviour then I will take your word for it.

      I can go back to crediting my dad with the idea.

      Delete
    33. Robin: I may have misunderstood it.

      Which is no surprise given that the first time you even heard of EP was two days ago. But now that you do know about it you have no excuse for claiming ignorantly that Dawkins has not given anything original to science.

      Delete
  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Dick wrote: "Why is science now so on the nose some people believe it can be ignored on climate change, vaccination and other issues?"

    I think I can shed some light wrt the vaccination issue.

    Generally speaking people who don't want to vaccinate their kids don't disbelieve the efficacy of vaccinations but instead believe that there are unacceptable side effects.

    For example there are still many who think that there is link between the MMR vaccination and autism.

    In order to convince them otherwise it is important to understand why people think so.

    If parents have a healthy child who is meeting or even exceeding all the milestones and then suddenly, almost overnight they make a dramatic reversal, losing their speech, their social skills and even the ability to walk - parents naturally think that there is some event which caused this.

    If they meet with other parents in a similar situation and find that the common event which preceded this is the MMR vaccination then naturally they will suspect a link.

    Then the scientific community steps in and lends a hand - the prestigious medical journal The Lancet publishes a study which appears to confirm the worst fears of parents of autistic children.

    The same author follows up in other journals with studies that apparently confirm this finding. This is reported in the media and vaccination rates begin to fall and cases of the diseases they prevent start rising.

    Subsequently there are a number of studies which fail to show a link between MMR and autism.

    But to most people a failure to show a link does not show that there is no link, and we still have that apparent prima facie evidence of children who show no signs of developmental delay in the first year going dramatically downhill.

    This is, we can be almost certain, just an unfortunate coincidence of timing, but no one knows why autism presents this way.


    And it takes a fairly deep knowledge of statistics and study design to know why the failure to show a link can provide us, in this case, that there is no link.

    But unfortunately there are a large number of practicing health professionals who do not have this knowledge and a larger number who have no idea how to communicate this to parents.

    So the idea persists. And it is no use accusing those who continue to suspect a link of being morons or of ignoring the evidence.

    Any parents I have met who suspect this link have never been to an MBS festival or any interest in such subjects at all, so lumping them in with Gary the Medium or whoever is equally counter productive.

    You can only hope to change their minds is to understand and acknowledge their reasons for believing that there is a link and to explain the evidence without hiding any of the uncertainties or shortcomings of the process.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And I meant to mention that the originally study in the Lancet was shown to be seriously flawed to the point of malpractice and that one of the authors had a serious conflict of interest - yet the Lancet did not make a full retraction of the paper until 2010, twelve years after it was published.

      Delete
    2. MalcolmS8:47 PM

      There is more to this than just showing a "link."

      You must demonstrate *causality.*

      An issue which the modern "scientist" just doesn't get given the destruction of the Aristotelian base of his profession following the rise of scepticism in the philosophy of science.

      Delete
    3. Anonymous9:19 PM

      Dear Robin,
      DICK HERE NOT ON MY COMPUTER
      Thanks so much for your considered reply. I am a bit emotional about the vaccination issue for a family member refuses to immunise her children. She buys big fat books which support her position. As you observe, my conversations on this issue have been counter productive even when there was some criminal proceedings as you mentioned, with the original anti vaccination research. I accept your advice on this. Thanks again Robin, DICK

      Delete
    4. Who exactly must demonstrate causality?

      The only study that claimed a link has, in any case, been discredited.

      The studies I reference are failing to find a link and inferring from this that in all probability there is no link.

      This is a valid inference just as long as the design of the study and the analysis support it.

      Delete
    5. Hi Dick - good luck with convincing your family member. I know the sort of book he/she has gotten hold of and sometimes they look just like science.

      I think there should be a term "sciency", in a similar vein to Stephen Colbert's "truthy", to denote the sort of writing that has the look and feel of science but none of the content.

      It is very difficult indeed to counter this sort of stuff.

      Delete
    6. Anonymous10:06 PM

      DICK HERE: Yes the books are plausible and sciency without being science.

      Delete
    7. 8x
      An issue which the modern "scientist" just doesn't get given the destruction of the Aristotelian base of his profession following the rise of scepticism in the philosophy of science.
      x8

      If Aristootle was so shit-hot, how come he never invented pants?

      Hmmm?

      Delete
    8. Long John Silver11:26 PM

      Why would a cat care about pants? I'm guessing that Billy is one of those wicked modernists who thinks there might be more than four elements. Maybe the universe is comprised of Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Kitty Litter?

      Delete
    9. Pfft.

      Lay off the catnip dooode. Furthermore I suggest ...-!!-

      Hey!
      Thats a nice looking parrot...

      Delete
    10. MalcolmS2:02 AM

      Loonyhead, our resident "uneducated common man," asks:

      "If Aristootle was so shit-hot, how come he never invented pants?"

      Pants as a generic term, meaning a garment primarily worn by men which cover the legs to the ankles, can be found in the 6th century BC in Persia and so predates Aristotle. Although, as the world's first pantless embryologist, he was pretty handy on the incubation of chicken eggs! :)

      Hope that helps.

      Delete
    11. 8x
      Loonyhead
      x8

      Who?

      8x
      Pants as a generic term, meaning a garment primarily worn by men which cover the legs to the ankles, can be found in the 6th century BC in Persia and so predates Aristotle.
      x8

      "If Aristootle was so shit-hot, how come he never wore pants?"

      Delete
    12. bigbird6:25 AM

      When countries like the UK have government departments called the "Vaccine Damage Payments Unit", you can hardly blame parents for wondering why such a department is required.

      Delete
    13. What can happen when you 'do your research' and decide not to vaccinate your children.

      http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2013/06/06/3776327.htm

      On the other hand I have a friend whose first child, 4 month old son, Mitchell, was vaccinated in the morning, fed then put down for his afternoon nap. When they checked on him an hour or so later he was dead. The death certificate lists SIDS as the cause of death but my friend refused to have her subsequent children vaccinated. I believe in vaccination, however I understand why my friend couldn't bring herself to have her other children vaccinated.

      I googled 'vaccination link to SIDS' and came up with lots of stories of a similar nature. Often emotive, anecdotal evidence is presented as scientific fact.

      I admire the parents in the above link for coming forward with their story and having the courage to show disturbing photos of their son, in an effort to make people aware of the possible consequences of failing to vaccinate. The photo in the link is definitely emotive for pro vac, but the accompanying story is undeniable fact. The little boy almost died because he wasn't vaccinated.

      Delete
    14. MalcolmS8:51 AM

      Loonyhead, our resident "uneducated common man," asks:

      "If Aristootle was so shit-hot, how come he never wore pants?"

      Perhaps it was just easier for such a man of action in his daily affairs as he attended to his wives and slaves. After all, the sophists and Platonists didn't wear pants either. Nor did the gods. Even Alexander the Great, Aristotle's pupil and greatest military man of the age, didn't wear pants. How embarassing it would have been for the panted Persians to be defeated by the frocked up Greeks in the Greco-Persian Wars.
      Aristotle would have felt overdressed watching the nude athletes at the Olympics - especially the pole vaulters :)

      But, more likely, wearing pants was just more practical in the Persian highlands than in a Mediterranean climate.

      Hope that helps.

      Delete
    15. 8x
      Loonyhead
      x8

      Who?

      Sense # 7


      8x
      The hypothetical person lacking a sense of humour would likely find the behaviour induced by humour to be inexplicable, strange, or even irrational.
      x8

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humour

      Looks like you've been relegated to the status of hypothetical person mallypoos. The Helen Keller of cognition as it were.

      Frankly, I always suspected as much ;)

      Delete
    16. 8x
      I think there should be a term "sciency", in a similar vein to Stephen Colbert's "truthy", to denote the sort of writing that has the look and feel of science but none of the content.
      x8

      Similar to how "foolosophy" eloquently describes the brain farts emitted by those who power the furiously spinning hamster wheel of nobjectivism?

      Good idea

      Delete
    17. 8x
      "sciency",
      x8

      Lience perhaps?

      Delete
    18. "I think there should be a term "sciency"

      Robin there pretty much is, not formalised of course but I've seen it used in that context before.

      Delete
    19. Long John Silver5:38 AM

      "After all, the sophists and Platonists didn't wear pants either. Nor did the gods."
      Which gods? The Flying Spaghetti Monster appeared to me in a vision, and assured me that he has always worn pants (except when cavorting with the pirate wenches whom he occasionally lusts after).

      Delete
  14. bigbird4:21 AM

    "We have a fondness for evidence based knowledge and shun beliefs and superstitions not informed by some intellectual process. "

    Thanks Dick, that gave me a good chuckle tonight.



    ReplyDelete
  15. Long John Silver4:53 AM

    Too late to mention it in "So Lesbians Cannot Love their Children?", but I just found out that Melbourne Uni is doing a study into children being raised by same-sex parents. It turns out that gays can look after kids after all. Imagine that - the "Won't somebody think of the children?" mob were wrong (again). http://www.achess.org.au/ Meanwhile is getting remarried, despite the possibility that he may not father any children with his new wife and without any apparent concern for how the children from his first marriage might feel about it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Long John Silver4:58 AM

      Should have been "Meanwhile Fred Nile is getting remarried". I'd probably be better at proofreading if I'd been raised by gays.

      Delete
    2. MalcolmS8:06 AM

      Long John Silver: "I just found out that Melbourne Uni is doing a study into children being raised by same-sex parents. It turns out that gays can look after kids after all. Imagine that - the "Won't somebody think of the children?" mob were wrong (again)"

      You can't come to that conclusion from your link. You just made that up. From what groups were the controls selected? How is "health and wellbeing" defined? What about cognitive development? Wouldn't there be as much variation in same sex couples as hetero couples? What is the nature of the methodology used? None of those are mentioned in the link.

      "I'd probably be better at proofreading if I'd been raised by gays"

      How do you know you weren't raised by gays?

      Er... or did you mean you'd be better at poofreading if you were raised by gays?

      Delete
    3. Long John Silver5:27 PM

      You need to click on a couple of the links in that link to find details. All we have at this stage is an interim report. To answer some of your questions would require clicking on things like "An interim report highlighting early results is now available here" or "FAQs".

      My conclusion makes sense based on their summary:

      "These early findings suggest that Australian children with same-sex attracted parents are developing well. They are growing up in a range of contexts and score well on measures of health and wellbeing in the face of discrimination."

      "Wouldn't there be as much variation in same sex couples as hetero couples?"
      I would expect that to be likely, but that is what this kind of study is supposed to find out. If there is "as much variation" then there is no sensible reason to pretend that children of gay parents are in a worse situation than children with straight parents.

      "What is the nature of the methodology used?"

      Methods/design

      The Australian Study of Child Health in Same-Sex Families (ACHESS) is a national study that aims to determine the complete physical, mental and social wellbeing of Australian children under the age 18 years with at least one parent who self identifies as being same-sex attracted. There will be a particular focus on the impact that stigma and discrimination has on these families. Parent and child surveys will be used to collect data and will be available both online and in paper form. Measures have been chosen whenever possible that have sound conceptual underpinnings, robust psychometric properties and Australian normative data, and include the Child Health Questionnaire (CHQ), the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) and the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10).

      What about cognitive development?
      That would fit under the part about ". . . the complete physical, mental and social wellbeing . . ."

      I couldn't see anything about controls (it's only a short interim report, so of course they don't give every detail). I'm guessing that they can get statistics for the general population from census figures, information from schools etc, then compare the results from asking 500 children raised by gay kids with the results which are already known from the general population. There is an email for the researcher on the link - why not ask him?

      Delete
  16. MalcolmS10:38 AM

    Long John Silver: ""Good philosophy always underpins good science." Does Robert Boyle count as a proper scientist, or is he too modern for you? In the 17th century he was complaining about the confusion between science and philosophy"

    Boyle was an excellent scientist, one of the fathers of chemistry and atomic theory and the discoverer of Boyles Theory[derived experimentally and inductively :)]. I agree there was considerable confusion between science and philosophy in his day. So what? That does not contradict my statement that "good philosophy always underpins good science." What made you think it did?

    ". . . the authority attached to Aristotle nearly two millennia after his death was one of the main obstacles in the path of the scientific outlook as it emerged in the 17th century"

    The "obstacle" was not Aristotle but rather the *interpretation* of Aristotle by Aquinas and later Thomists. They had tried to integrate his works with the dogma of the Church and, not surprisingly, made a complete hash of him. That was not the fault of Aristotle. Aristotelianism was the main influence for the Renaissance and the Enlightenment.

    "The experimental method of putting hypothetical explanations to an empirical test was unknown to Aristotle and his contemporaries"

    That's true but so was the fact that before Greek philosophy there was only millennia of witch doctors. Aristotle discovered the *primacy of existence*[with help from Parmenides], was the father of reason in epistemology, the discoverer of the laws of logic and syllogism and was a great biologist. He is arguably the greatest thinker in the history of philosophy. Without Aristotle scientists such as Galileo, Newton or Darwin would not have been possible.

    "Although he was not a bad observer in some instances, Aristotle's mode of explanation was rationalistic rather than empirical"

    That's incorrect. In the history of philosophy almost all thinkers can be divided into rationalists or empiricists. Aristotle was the exception and this always confuses modern commentators. He insisted that man's only means of knowledge was *reason* but only if the rational processes are based on the evidence of the senses - thereby integrating his ideas with reality.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The "rationalist"/"empiricist terminology is misleading, implying that empiricists do not use rationality.

      I prefer the term Kant used "Noologist" to refer to someone who believes that true knowledge comes from pure reason and not from the senses.

      Kant identified these two strands as starting from Aristotle (empiricism) and Plato (Noology) and being most recently exemplified (in his time) by Hume for empricisim and Wolff for Noology.

      Kant saw it as his task to unite these strands so surely this division would not be true of Kant and Kantians.

      Delete
    2. bigbird4:09 PM

      Plato is also arguably the greatest thinker in the history of philosophy.

      “The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.” - Whitehead.

      Delete
    3. 8x
      In the history of philosophy almost all thinkers can be divided into rationalists or empiricists.
      x8

      False dichotomy.
      ======================
      True dichotomies

      In the history of philosophy almost all thinkers can be divided into tall and short.

      In the history of philosophy almost all thinkers can be divided into male and female.

      In the history of philosophy almost all thinkers can be divided into original and derivative.

      In the history of philosophy almost all thinkers can be divided into everybody else and nobjectivists.

      Hope that helps... ya pikelet

      Delete
    4. MalcolmS7:10 PM

      bigbird: "Plato is also arguably the greatest thinker in the history of philosophy"

      He doesn't rate with Aristotle.

      Plato certainly deserves credit for being the first to take the fragmented efforts of the pre-Socratics and to distinguish the subcategories we recognise today: metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, politics and aesthetics. He was the first to attempt a *systematic* approach to philosophy. Unfortunately he was wrong on the fundamentals of each branch. His student, Aristotle, remedied much of this but even some of the errors in Aristotle are Platonic carry overs.

      Aristotle was the main influence in the highpoints of ancient Athens, Rome, the Renaissance and the Enlightenment.

      Plato was the main influence in the Christian dark and middle ages - the Church founders were neoPlatonists. The rise of German philosophy in modern times, with Kant as the pinnacle via Hegel and Marx, culminated in communism, nazism and the slaughter of millions. Kant and Hegel were neoPlatonists.

      In the history of philosophy Aristotelianism resulted in the high points and Platonism the low points.

      Delete
    5. bigbird7:31 PM

      "Unfortunately he was wrong on the fundamentals of each branch"

      I don't recall epistemology changing much between the Theatetus and now. What errors do you see in Plato's formulation of the tripartite definition of knowledge?

      Delete
    6. MalcolmS8:55 PM

      Robin: "Kant saw it as his task to unite these strands so surely this division would not be true of Kant and Kantians"

      Actually Kant, as a neoPlatonist, was an arch-rationalist. In his "Critique of Pure Reason" he claimed that man could know nothing of the *noumenal world*[true reality] by reason. And he did so by the use of reason :) You could not endorse a bigger contradiction than that.

      Similarly, Hume argued for his extreme empiricism by using reason.

      No matter how hard they obfuscate they cannot enter the field of philosophy without reason.

      Delete
    7. MalcolmS8:59 PM

      Robin

      Rand in "For the New Intellectual"

      "[Philosophers came to be divided] into two camps: those who claimed that man obtains his knowledge of the world by deducing it exclusively from concepts, which come from inside his head and are not derived from the perception of physical facts (the Rationalists) - and those who claimed that man obtains his knowledge from experience, which was held to mean: by direct perception of immediate facts, with no recourse to concepts (the Empiricists). To put it more simply: those who joined the [mystics] by abandoning reality - and those who clung to reality, by abandoning their mind."

      Delete
    8. 8x
      MalcolmS8:55 PM
      x8

      8x
      MalcolmS8:59 PM
      x8

      -Eye roll- We already know that people are stupid twerplet.

      Even the "uneducated common man" can see that

      8x
      No matter how hard they obfuscate they cannot enter the field of philosophy without reason.
      x8

      Yawwwn. Tautology.

      Next...

      Delete
    9. MalcolmS10:34 PM

      uneducated common man: "We already know that people are stupid twerplet"

      Fallacy of non sequitur.

      People are stupid by choice - not by nature.

      Delete
    10. 8x
      Fallacy of non sequitur
      x8

      Rofl

      Fallacy of not knowing wtf youre talking about

      I'll just assume its not in your nature to choose your retorts wisely shall I?

      lol ;)

      Delete
    11. "People are stupid by choice - not by nature."

      Ah that explains your stupidity. Why don't you choose to be more intelligent then?

      Delete
    12. MalcolmS3:43 AM

      bigbird: "I don't recall epistemology changing much between the Theatetus and now"

      Man, you need to get out more.

      "What errors do you see in Plato's formulation of the tripartite definition of knowledge?"

      Plato's approach to knowledge, in general, was hopeless. He considered that true knowledge was possible only to the elite[the philosopher kings] after a long aesthetic study and that it consisted of knowledge of an otherworld of Forms. The stupid masses are doomed to permanent confusion[see Allegory of the Cave].

      With reference to the Theaetetus and the definition of knowledge as *justified true belief* I would say that "belief" may have a role in theology[Plato was the father of Western theology] but is redundant in any objective epistemology.

      Delete
    13. Long John Silver5:43 AM

      False dichotomy.
      ======================
      True dichotomies

      There are three kinds of philosophers. Those who can count and those who can't.

      Delete
    14. Long John Silver5:47 AM

      "The stupid masses are doomed to permanent confusion"
      Exhibit A: Malcolm's comments on this blog.

      Delete
    15. MalcolmS7:24 AM

      Exhibit B:

      Long John Silver: "My sense of balance is a critical part of how I establish my relationship to the external world"

      Balance is no more a sense than the maintenance of the correct pH levels of your stomach to avoid indigestion is a sense.

      "My body is able to sense heat and cold. I know when the climate changes because my body is able to detect changes in temperature. This is a distinct thing from my sense of touch"

      "Heat" and "cold" are NOT free floating entities in reality. They are *ATTRIBUTES OF ENTITIES* in reality. How do you sense heat and cold?? You.. er.. TOUCH the entity in reality. This is so whether it's an iceblock, a bowl of hot water or the wind on your face.

      Now, unscrew your wooden leg! Give it here!! Bend over...

      Delete

    16. 8x
      How do you sense heat and cold?? You.. er.. TOUCH the entity in reality
      x8

      =========================================================

      Interoffice memo - For the attention of: Norbert Twerpling - Head of Corporate Bullshit

      Dear Mr Twerpling,

      Recently it has come to my attention that certain false assertions about human sensory systems have been made by everyone on earth.
      Certain persons have been suggesting that - counter to orthodox nobjectivist propaganda - there is more than one sensory system.

      This is to cease immediately.

      All staff are to sign off their acceptance of the following foolosophical lientific troof that TOUCH IS THE ONLY VALID NOBJECTIVIST SENSORY SYSTEM.

      Vision - photons are directed to the retina of the eye - that is to say the eye will "TOUCH the entity in reality"

      Hearing - pressure waves jostle molecules which hit the eardrum - that is to say the ear will "TOUCH the entity in reality"

      smell - molecules are drawn into the nose and bind to the olfactory receptors - that is to say the nose will "TOUCH the entity in reality"

      taste - food is sampled with the taste buds - that is to say the tongue will "TOUCH the entity in reality"

      Any attempted reference to the vestibular system should simply be ignored

      Certain Aristootlean whackjobs may be confused by this troof. Screw 'em
      Also certain "uneducated commen men" have been known to laugh hysterically in the face of such banal and yet strangely idiotic hyper-anal propaganda.


      However since failure to adhere is a sacking offence, any objecting party should be assured in no uncertain terms that:
      1) I dont care
      2) I dont give a shit.

      Signed

      Herman the Honey Badger
      Chief Fire Warden and Keeper of the Great Randian Dildo

      ends

      Delete
    17. Where did that honey badger come from?

      Its like a bloody zoo around here

      Delete
    18. Another entity conjured out of nowhere?

      My guess is mallypoos has been reifying his mental concrete again

      STILL waiting for the phlogiston to arrive mallypoo

      Delete
    19. 8x
      The stupid masses are doomed to permanent confusion[see Allegory of the Cave].
      x8

      Pity theres no way to send your comments back in time for Plato to read there mallypoos.

      Just think: Right now we could have been discussing "The Allegory of the Gerbil" instead.

      Delete
    20. 8x
      With reference to the Theaetetus and the definition of knowledge as *justified true belief* I would say that "belief" may have a role in theology[Plato was the father of Western theology] but is redundant in any objective epistemology.
      x8

      Oxymoron

      Next...

      Delete
    21. Long John Silver6:18 PM

      "Balance is no more a sense than the maintenance of the correct pH levels of your stomach to avoid indigestion is a sense."

      Sorry Mal, but when checking the meaning of words, I trust the Collins English Dictionary and The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language more than I trust your personal definitions.

      Delete
    22. Long John Silver6:44 PM

      "How do you sense heat and cold??"

      Humans and other vertebrate animals use specialized sensory neurons to detect temperature, pressure, and other physical stimuli on the skin. These neurons are located in the spinal column and are connected to the skin and organs through long extensions known as axons.

      Read more at: http://phys.org/news191233207.html#jCp


      Sensory Neurons

      The nervous system has many types of sensory neurons. Nerve endings on one end of each neuron are encased in a special structure to sense a specific stimulus.

      Chemoreceptors sense chemicals. The olfactory bulb that monitors your sense of smell has chemoreceptors that sense odors (chemicals in the air). Taste buds have chemoreceptors to detect chemicals dissolved in liquids. Chemoreceptors in the brain also monitor the concentration of carbon dioxide in the blood and cerebrospinal fluid to help control your rate of breathing.
      Mechanoreceptors sense touch, pressure and distortion (stretch). Stretch receptors in your muscle tendons are the first link in the knee-jerk reflex.
      Photoreceptors, which sense light, are found in the retinas of your eyes.
      Thermoreceptors are free nerve endings that sense temperature, but we're not sure exactly how they do this. Changes in temperature could affect the movements of ions across the cell membrane and influence action potentials in that way.
      Nociceptors are free nerve endings that sense pain. They respond to a variety of stimuli (heat, pressure, chemicals) and sense tissue damage.
      Auditory receptors in the inner ear sense vibrations from sound waves.
      http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/human-biology/nerve6.htm

      Delete
    23. bigbird8:09 PM

      MalcolmS: "Plato's approach to knowledge, in general, was hopeless."

      Thank you for the amusing statement.

      MalcolmS: "He considered that true knowledge was possible only to the elite[the philosopher kings] after a long aesthetic study and that it consisted of knowledge of an other world of Forms. The stupid masses are doomed to permanent confusion[see Allegory of the Cave]."

      That depends on which interpretation of Plato you are taking. In *Meno*, was Plato's demonstration of the slave boy using recollection to obtain knowledge not knowledge at all?

      MalcolmS: "With reference to the Theaetetus and the definition of knowledge as *justified true belief* I would say that "belief" may have a role in theology[Plato was the father of Western theology] but is redundant in any objective epistemology."

      I think you must have meant "Objectivist epistemology". Because "justified true belief" as presented by Plato is still the cornerstone of epistemology texts today.

      Delete
    24. MalcolmS9:50 PM

      Long John Silver: "Sorry Mal, but when checking the meaning of words, I trust the Collins English Dictionary and The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language more than I trust your personal definitions"

      Yes, I have noticed you tend to go by faith :)

      Dictionaries are handy and I use them all the time but the final arbiter of truth is reality - don't forget that Pirate.

      Delete
    25. 8x
      Dictionaries are handy and I use them all the time
      x8

      Hey Mallypoos

      Just so you know: Standing on a couple of dictionaries only makes you "look" taller.

      Remember: the final arbiter of truth is reality

      rofl

      Delete
    26. Long John Silver10:23 PM

      "Dictionaries are handy and I use them all the time but the final arbiter of truth is reality - don't forget that Pirate"

      What about the reality that you quoted the dictionary definition of "glib" in a recent thread?

      REALITY? YOU CAN'T HANDLE REALITY!

      Delete
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  19. MalcolmS wrote: "Actually Kant, as a neoPlatonist, was an arch-rationalist. In his "Critique of Pure Reason" he claimed that man could know nothing of the *noumenal world*[true reality] by reason. And he did so by the use of reason :) You could not endorse a bigger contradiction than that.

    Similarly, Hume argued for his extreme empiricism by using reason."

    I certainly would not call Kant a neoPlatonist.

    But for the rest of it, yes - that appears to be a very common contradiction in philosophy and comments about philosophy or science generally.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. MalcolmS8:15 PM

      Robin: "I certainly would not call Kant a neoPlatonist"

      He is a neoPlatonist from his metaphysics up. Consider his advocacy of two worlds: the noumenal world[true reality] about which we can know nothing and the phenomenal world[appearances] which our mind creates. That's a fabrication modeled on Platonic dualism.

      Also, Kantian *duty* is essentially what the citizens of Plato's Republic live by - although Kant is more extreme. That the ideas of Kant[through Hegel and Marx] resulted in communism and nazism is no accident. Those regimes were constructed on Plato's Republic.

      Delete

    2. 8x
      Consider his advocacy of two worlds: the noumenal world[true reality] about which we can know nothing and the phenomenal world[appearances] which our

      mind creates. That's a fabrication modeled on Platonic dualism.
      x8


      The most incredible part of this sentence is how you have described yourself perfectly whilst completely failing to notice the fact.

      [true reality] which you consider so unreal that you refuse to even attempt to approach it with your senses (whether one, five or 24 of them), and the world of foolosophical jibber-jabber thats created entirely by you [in] your mind that you continually attempt to impose on reality



      But wait - Theres more!

      The funny part is when you then criticise yourself for being proto-totalitatian!

      ROFL - Frikin' amazing!

      So:

      sense #8 ;)


      http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=are-we-hardwired-with-a-sense

      Gotta say. Helen Keller just keeps lookin' better and better...

      Delete
    3. MalcolmS wrote: "He is a neoPlatonist from his metaphysics up. Consider his advocacy of two worlds: the noumenal world[true reality] about which we can know nothing and the phenomenal world[appearances] which our mind creates. That's a fabrication modeled on Platonic dualism."

      I think that this is a misunderstanding of what he said. His noumena/phenomena distinction was epistemic rather than ontological.

      That is not the same as the Platonic forms. For Kant a phenomenon was something perceived by the senses - a noumenon was something perceived by the understanding alone.

      The phrase "the thing in itself" does tend to muddy the waters and there is an inconsistent way of referring to this distinction between the Critique of Pure Reason and the Critique of Practical reason.

      Given this inconsistency I wouldn't insist that my interpretation is correct.

      Delete
    4. Malcolm9:58 PM

      Robin: "I think that this is a misunderstanding of what he said. His noumena/phenomena distinction was epistemic rather than ontological"

      In effect so was Plato's World of Forms. Remember that a "Form" is what we now call a concept or an idea which is decidedly epistemic.

      Delete
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    1. MalcolmS9:13 PM

      I shall return it when I'm good and ready - bloody stupid ape.

      Delete
    2. Move along - Nothing to see here

      Delete
  21. MalcolmS9:17 PM

    zedinhisbigflyingloonyhead

    "Vision - photons are directed to the retina of the eye - that is to say the eye will "TOUCH the entity in reality""

    False. The eye does not touch the entity.

    "Hearing - pressure waves jostle molecules which hit the eardrum - that is to say the ear will "TOUCH the entity in reality""

    False. The ear does not touch the entity.

    "smell - molecules are drawn into the nose and bind to the olfactory receptors - that is to say the nose will "TOUCH the entity in reality""

    False. The nose does not touch the entity.

    "taste - food is sampled with the taste buds - that is to say the tongue will "TOUCH the entity in reality""

    True. The tongue does touch the entity but taste is a vastly different experience to what is ususally referred to as touch. Observe, also, that the tongue can *touch* [as distinct from taste].

    The most important issue, however, is that in all your autistic ramblings and sliming attempts you have only served to concede the fact that man has five senses. You have committed the fallacy of the stolen concept.

    Thanks for that dopey - I am most grateful.

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    1. 8x
      zedinhisbigflyingloonyhead
      x8

      who?

      Oh dear ... rofl

      Where to begin

      Should it be:
      so you only perceive "entities" then? Explains your lumpy head I guess.

      or

      Observe, also, that the tongue can *touch* [as distinct from taste].

      poke yourself in the eye then

      Rofl .... absolutely twerp-elicious

      8x
      fallacy of the stolen concept.
      x8

      roflmao

      Delete
    2. MalcolmS9:34 PM

      "poke yourself in the eye then"

      Isn't that what you claim sight is??

      Delete
    3. Herman the Honey Badger9:40 PM

      Oh yes

      I regularly poke myself in the eye...... with photons

      roflmao

      Delete
    4. Long John Silver10:49 PM

      ". . . taste is a vastly different experience to what is usually referred to as touch"

      Yep. And heat is a vastly different experience to what is usually referred to as pressure. OR itchiness. OR pain. Aristotle had an excuse for not knowing this stuff, but for you it is wilful ignorance. Let me try to reduce all the fancy science talk to something that the average schoolkid could understand (maybe you can get your mum to help you with it). Your body has different bits to sense different things. You can prove this with an experiment. While blindfolded, put a torch in your mouth. You may feel the torch against your tongue, but you won't be able to tell whether the light is on because your tongue is not sensitive to light. Now smear vegemite on the torch. You will notice a difference, because your tongue is sensistive to taste. Next experiment - prepare a slice of vanilla cake covered in cream and a slice of chocolate cake covered in custard. The taste sensors on your tongue will enable you to sense the difference. Now place some of the vanilla cake in one ear and some of the chocolate cake in the other ear. You may be a trifle deaf, but you won't be able to taste the difference, because your ear doesn't have sensors for taste. Your skin has different kinds of sensors - it can detect heat, pressure, pain and it reacts to certain chemicals. These are all DIFFERENT (i.e. they can't be reduced to just "touch"), and there are DIFFERENT sensors in your skin that respond to them (not as obvious as the difference between a tongue and an ear, so it took modern scientists to notice what was not obvious to the ancient Greeks). Put you hand in various containers of water - one at room temperature, one which has been in the refrigerator for a while, one with gelatine added to increase viscosity, one with a quantity of acid. You will notice the difference between them (save the acid for last, as you may need to visit a doctor after testing your sense of pain). These differences are the result of SEVERAL senses.

      Delete
    5. 8x
      You may be a trifle deaf...
      x8

      mmmmmmm trifle... mmmmmmmmm ........?!?

      Oh sorry...you were saying? ;)

      ==========
      p.s

      lol
      catchpa: randbag shalt

      Delete
    6. 8x
      Your skin has different kinds of sensors - it can detect heat, pressure, pain...
      x8

      Wait a minute: Aristootle said that pain was caused by evil spirits entering the body.
      Nothing there about "sensors" old boy

      Nope sorry.

      Its back to school for you... 2400 years ago. Say hi to mallypoos for me.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_pain_theory#Early_theories

      Delete
    7. Long John Silver12:24 AM

      Which planet were these spirits from? Maybe we can find some common ground between Mal & Ralph.

      Delete
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