Posts by BenWilson

Last ←Newer Page 1 2 3 4 5 Older→ First

  • Hard News: Miracles just rate better, okay?,

    I wish that too 81st. I'm tiring of it now, and it would have been good to hear some criticism by someone who had read Feyerabend. Like I said from the outset, I find his position interesting, rather than thinking it necessarily true. There are other problems with it than what Steve is talking about. He's been doing a good job of providing the groundwork, posing the usual possibilities for the concept of scientific method, that tend to first occur in these kind of debates, and he seems to be a modernist so there's a guarantee of argumentative clash. I'm getting rather tired of acting like I'm not a modernist, just so that Feyerabend doesn't get misunderstood. There are people here who are far more postmodern than I, who might be able to shed a lot more light, if only they would speak up.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8592 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Miracles just rate better, okay?,

    > This seems to be your approach to many issues, from my experience here. If things have “serious” flaws you throw out the baby with the bathwater. You have an odd “things need to be clear” approach, for someone who claims to appreciate nuance

    Your stylistic comments are noted.

    I think this bears further comment, but wanted to think about it some more. Ironically, I was bathing both of my children whilst doing this thinking, and both of them survived, although the elder does insist that I at least act like I might throw him out with the bathwater, giggling hysterically as I dangle him upside down over the vortex of water disappearing down the plughole.

    I'm guessing this comment comes from my suggestion in the On Morals thread that I find ethical non-cognitivism hard to put down? The baby would in this case be 'ethical statements'? And in this thread the baby is 'scientific method'?

    It was off-the-cuff for me to suggest you are making a stylistic comment here, rather than anything with real meat. But it was also on the money, I think. You seem to think that in failing to be convinced about the primal importance of these purely human constructs, that I therefore must lack all ethics, and disavow science. I do not. I simply think that these kinds of beliefs are 'heuristic'. We don't have much else to go on, so we have to use 'rules of thumb' all the time.

    When I act, I follow ethics that were mostly trained into me. I don't need to have a grand ethical theory to function - as rules of thumb ethics are useful. I just don't make the intellectual mistake of equating them with the truth - I think such a practice is dangerous and can be foolish.

    Similarly, I was trained in science like most kids, and I studied it at university (although some philosophers would like to deny that, along with a massive host of subjects taught in science faculties). I know how to go about the business of my particular science - mostly I'm in the business of discovering algorithms. This is done via a plethora of methods, rules, tricks, experience, luck and research. I just don't make the mistake of thinking I have any grand theory on science because I am involved in one corner of it, and practically my entire existence is based on scientific work. On the contrary, I'm generally mystified by it, and amazed at how damned unpredictable it is. I'm open to any path that could lead to discoveries and new truths.

    So when you say I'm chucking out the bathwater, I think this is wholly unfair. Quite the opposite, I think insisting on a grand theory is chucking out the bathwater, because all the other theories could be true. I stick to the position that the existence of serious flaws in an idea are a good enough reason to be skeptical about them, and I remain skeptical about both ethics and science.

    This is a stylistic choice. You could opt to mentally commit to various views, despite their flaws, so as to see where they lead. I was very much fond of doing this as a younger man. I was a Rule Utilitarian, Tarskyist, Socialist, Atheist, Popperian, Social Contractarian, who believed P=NP and robots would pass the Turing Test in my lifetime. Now I'm not. I lean toward some of these positions, but recognize their faults. That's what I mean by holding a nuanced view.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8592 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Miracles just rate better, okay?,

    It was a facetious comment. I didn’t think an emoticon or exclamation mark would be necessary for you - I’ll adjust my posting style.

    Nah, it's cool man. You haven't worked out my style is "deadpan" yet. Stick to your way, it works.

    I’m not sure what you point is here.

    I'm asking you to give some kind of indication of what you could even accept as evidence. Since the position Feyerabed is taking is that orthodox opinions on scientific method are wrong, you're unlikely to find
    'creditable', 'mainstream', opinions to support Feyerabend, now are you? But all around the fringes of mainstream science are studies which claim to be scientific - we already have discussed chiropraction in this thread a lot. If chiropractors claim to be scientific, and have a slightly different take on the scientific method, then you can either:
    1. Call them unscientific, because of that
    2. Widen your definition of science.

    Feyerabend opts for the latter. You opt for the former.

    No one who claims it is the most superior thought developed by man. But I suspect what he means is that it is impossible to examine those limits, not that people have not tried.

    No one who claims science is of a different level to voodoo or magic in giving us knowledge about the world. Your second sentence is completely baseless.

    I thought this would come up, the tedious reparsing of a cherry picked, out of context piece of something quoted from Wikipedia. It's a sign to me that it's time to exit this debate, before it goes all Kiwiblog. The full quote you made was:

    “science is much closer to myth than a scientific philosophy is prepared to admit. It is one of the many forms of thought that have been developed by man, and not necessarily the best. It is conspicuous, noisy, and impudent, but it is inherently superior only for those who have already decided in favour of a certain ideology, or who have accepted it without ever having examined its advantages and its limits”

    From which you deduced:

    Check out that assumption: no one else who disagrees with his conclusion could possibly have examined science’s advantages and limits!

    The conclusion in this case is that 'science is not inherently superior to all other forms of thought'. So I stand by my guess that his reason would be for starters because a systematic examination of all forms of thought has not been conducted, and never could be.

    People treat ideologies as true, too, so nothing is achieved by “contrasting” it with ideology.

    Not all people do. I don't treat Christianity as true, for instance. So there is a lot to be gained by treating Christianity as an ideology, rather than just a truth, and the same goes for science. It means ideas like "the freedom of religion" could be analogously applied to science, and people could be free to choose the scientific ideology they believe in, without persecution, perhaps even without systematized disadvantage.

    The scientific method is true in the sense that it works.

    Christianity "works" too, man. That's a very weak justification.

    you can like something without thinking it is a method.

    Obviously - where did I say otherwise?

    When you said:

    If he doesn’t at least provide an alternative way of saying what science is, it is untenable to claim he wasn’t against science.

    It's even quoted conveniently just above the piece you are asking about. You are suggesting that unless he proposes a method, he is against science. That is plain wrong.

    Heh... if you restate the point I know you hold, it will be magically more convincing. Perhaps by voodoo? Feel free to use that in your arguments, by the way.

    Actually, I'm getting the feeling that by the end of this your opinion will resemble mine almost entirely, you just won't be able to admit it, out of pride. You said there's no hard and fast rules in Rule Number One of your supposed method. Which makes it a No-Method Method. It's the method of working out what science is from anecdotes, and then trying to claim that's systematic.

    How did we come to accept Einstein’s theories, again? Would we have accepted them if they hadn’t been able to predict the phenomena they said they would? What will replace this?

    You're avoiding the question. Your Rule Number One says start with observation, then frame your hypothesis. Did Einstein do this? No. Did anyone else? No, because Einstein already framed the hypothesis. So this method is not science, the way it happened that time.

    This seems to be your approach to many issues, from my experience here. If things have “serious” flaws you throw out the baby with the bathwater. You have an odd “things need to be clear” approach, for someone who claims to appreciate nuance

    Your stylistic comments are noted.

    the world abounds with portrayals of science as dramatic, noisy, bold, unfathomable, and frankly a bit crazy.

    Unlike your portrayal, which is of something that can be clearly understood from one Google search on the matter, and anything else anyone thinks is patently false by virtue of not agreeing with some dictionary definitions and encyclopedia entries on the subject. You don't seem to be able to acknowledge that the subject is incredibly controversial. You've bought into the mythology so thoroughly, that basically, you can't get it. You refuse to.

    This idea of geniuses doing these miraculous things no one else can even explain is not any better for science or humanity than the overly-restrictive, methodological approach you are concerned about.

    It might be true though. Perhaps the mythology you want everyone to buy into is useful, but ultimately false, like Christianity could be. Which is only ever useful for a short period of time.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8592 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Right This Time?,

    sometimes you gotta bite the hand that feeds ya especially if they arent feeding you enough or often enough or just feeding you the wrong food.

    Animals that do that are usually not fed again, rather than pampered and forgiven. Nothing tames an animal like starvation, and if they go completely feral, a bullet.

    Yes, we all admire the animal that bites man, and lives by it's own rules in the jungle. But Hone is not this animal. He is tame, he just doesn't realize it, because for some reason his masters have so far indulged him. Starvation is just on the other side of one bite too many.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8592 posts Report Reply

  • Southerly: Seventy per cent Monteith's,…,

    Actually, if you listen to 'River vs Sea' through headphones (and listen carefully), you can hear Blair's neighbour idling his engine. The neighbour wanted song-writing credit and we had to get our lawyers to sort him out.

    I must be deaf, I thought it sounded crystal clear. Perhaps the idling did add something after all, an ambient rumble that harmonized at a deep inner westie level for me.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8592 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: It was 20 years ago tomorrow ...,

    Yup, fees were first, and means tested. I seem to recall that means (of the parents) testing was also brought in for allowances around then too. Goff was the Minister responsible, IIRC. That opened the door. Are you sure about 1993? I remember 1992 as the first year of loans.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8592 posts Report Reply

  • Southerly: Seventy per cent Monteith's,…,

    Russell wrote on this too, should the threads merge? Nice piece, btw, and an interesting philosophy behind it. Does it mean if some cretinous bogan does a huge burnout nearby, that this is an integral part of the piece?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8592 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: It was 20 years ago tomorrow ...,

    </clink>

    Very nice.

    The idea that '89 was great for Europe, not so great for NZ, resonates for me. But student loans and other barbarities aside, it is still a time I remember fondly.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8592 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Miracles just rate better, okay?,

    I believe the French consider History a science, and therefore it gets well funded.

    Australians seem to have the same approach to sport.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8592 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Miracles just rate better, okay?,

    Well, Wikipedia says so.

    Well, that must be true then.

    Seriously dude, how far do you think I have to look to find people making claims about being scientists and what their methods are? Every hair brained crackpot who does some experiments can, and frequently does make such a claim.

    Where’s your evidence that that’s how it is commonly portrayed?

    What could you even accept as evidence of such a claim? A hundred people saying that? A thousand? So far this thread abounds with claims of the type. Have a read through it.

    Check out that assumption: no one else who disagrees with his conclusion could possibly have examined science’s advantages and limits!

    No one who claims it is the most superior thought developed by man. But I suspect what he means is that it is impossible to examine those limits, not that people have not tried.

    What happened to contrasting it with treating it as a method?

    A method that is treated as the source of truth. I don't quite get what you're asking.

    But he wasn’t writing a critique of voodoo. He was criticising the orthodox view of science as a methodological approach. If he doesn’t at least provide an alternative way of saying what science is, it is untenable to claim he wasn’t against science.

    I don't agree - you can like something without thinking it is a method. I don't think poetry is particularly methodical, for instance, but I like, it, I'm all for it, and I think it contains a lot of truth. I particularly dislike authors who try to claim that something is or is not poetry. In doing so, they merely show the limits of their imagination.

    There are no hard and fast rules about how “Observation and description of a phenomenon or group of phenomena”, goes.

    Dude, there are no hard and fast rules anywhere in science. Everything could be overthrown. In this example, that particular rule, Rule Number One in your methodology that you claim has a broad consensus, was not followed at all by one of the most famous modern scientists, when he made his most famous discovery, and shattered modern understandings of the universe.

    The achievements of scientists don’t exclusively come down to methodology, but the methodology is essential.

    In Einstein's case, rule Number One was not only not essential, it was not possible.

    It’s a methodological approach – how else would you describe it? Oh, that’s right: you don’t know.

    I've already answered this question. You just don't like the answer because it isn't "A methodology". I said that I find Lakatos to have the best characterization of how science progresses, in research programmes that each have their own methodologies. There was no 'uber methodology' at all, although he described some conditions by which a program could be called 'progressive' or 'degenerating'. The corollary of this, which Feyerabend rightly saw, is that there is no clear demarcation of what constitutes a scientific research program at all . Voodoo could be called a research program, although Lakatos would no doubt call it 'degenerate'. He is very careful to do this, because of Kuhn's famous case study that showed that if the demarcation criteria suggested by Popper (and seconded and thirded etc by all of your links - although Popper is at least wise enough not to insist on Rule Number One), then the Copernican revolution would never have got off the ground. It would have been shown to be false very early on, by virtue of a number of things:

    1. Copernicus was not more accurate in predictions of the motion of heavenly bodies, as was observed at the time. This failure to improve spanned decades.
    2. Parallax was not observed, and could not be. This suggested the earth could not possibly be in motion.
    3. Any number of ideas about motion were violated by the idea - the fact that things don't fly off the face of the earth from centrifugal force, the fact that objects fall down rather than sideways, the fact that we can't feel the motion of the earth. It took centuries for these issues to be satisfactorily reconciled.
    4. The established pool of scientists disagreed with it.

    It is just as well, according to Kuhn, that no such dogma on what was scientific and what was not existed at that time. There was only the Church, which foolishly insisted on religious dogma, a far less insidious kind, because it is so easily seen.

    Having said all of that, I still think Popper is extremely profound, at least as concerns the theory of the growth of knowledge. And the words of Newton and every other scientist talking about their own sciences can't be ignored. I just don't think they can speak for all science, for all time. In short (LOL), I have a nuanced and open view of what science is. I don't claim to know the pan-methodology because every attempt to describe it that I've ever seen has serious flaws.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8592 posts Report Reply

Last ←Newer Page 1 624 625 626 627 628 859 Older→ First