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Chapter 1: The most precious thing 
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Post Re: Chapter 1: The most precious thing
On page twenty of the first chapter, I think Sagan is rather explicit in his position that, his focus is on the extremes of what he calls pseudoscience and religion, that the extremes have to be controlled by their respective/ associated groups lest those extremes gain to strong an influence over the entirety of science and religion in general. I think that is as reasonable position as can be expected.



Fri Jan 16, 2015 7:53 am
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Post Re: Chapter 1: The most precious thing
Stahrwe wrote:
If, according to Interbane, as atheism increases BIG decreases but OIB increases so that TIS remains unchanged, what benefit does society derive from atheism?


That's a good question. It's a tough thing merely to define what we mean by rational, let alone quantifying such a thing. With only a couple of examples in mind, I think it's safe to say we have less extremely irrational beliefs. We might not believe ghosts are sabotaging out vehicle on the way to work, but some of us still believe seeing a yellow VW bug on the way means we'll have a productive day.

What I meant is a little different though. Even with science, our humanity hasn't changed. We are as prone to bias and irrationality as ever before. Not to say that can't be alleviated with education. Perhaps that's the case, and more educated people are more rational. But measuring that and quantifying it isn't plausible.


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Fri Jan 16, 2015 11:27 am
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Post Re: Chapter 1: The most precious thing
Oh, I loved the preface. A wonderful picture of a warm Jewish family. I fell in love with them and and rather sad that the book isn't going to continue in the same vein and tell us more about them.

In his list of things discovered.....it is page 10 in my copy. I felt it quite prophetic...in view of what has happened in the interim...1996 until now. data highways?, government evesdropping on the lives of its citizens (I'm thinking mobile phone hacking here). high resolution TV (common now), alleged hereditary antisocial predisposition (to violence?)...Is it just me.....or do you all think this list uncannily accurate. He was not using his psychic powers but his cognitive ability.....convincing this.

Now, couldn't you just guess, the bit that really got up my nose and made me shout 'booooh' and make everyone jump (everyone being the cat, and my long-suffering husband) was the footnote about bloomin Margaret Thatcher being a scientific Prime Minister. She was not any keystone in advocacy of banning CFCs, that was the result of parliamentary discussion. Mrs. Thatcher, closed down our coal mines and put our miners out of work and destroyed whole villages communities, because she could buy coal more cheaply from Eastern Europe. Rather than pay the miners a decent living wage. She sold off our oil fields to private enterprise. She worshipped 'The Economy'. Everything was done to produce produce profit for the shareholders. That is scientific, I suppose, but it is not humane.

Anyway, that is the end of that rant and it goes to show the validity of my opinion, that rationality and science needs to be tempered with ethics, morals and conscience.

Now, who could have predicted this drop in oil prices??? They say it is due to peoples' buying less oil as fuel.....I don't know that I believe that reason. They tell us anything......I don't believe them.......I am always questioning the motives of those in power.

I think I like science though, good steady hooks on which to hand my hat. I'm looking for evidence....LOL!!!


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Fri Jan 16, 2015 11:43 am
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Post Re: Chapter 1: The most precious thing
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Taylor wrote: I think Sagan is rather explicit in his position that, his focus is on the extremes of what he calls pseudoscience and religion, that the extremes have to be controlled by their respective/ associated groups lest those extremes gain to strong an influence over the entirety of science and religion in general. I think that is as reasonable position as can be expected.




The trouble is, whereas there can be thousands and thousands of liberal minded, free-thinking, tolerant people of both the scientific and religious persuasion, it only takes a very few lunatic fundamentalists to destroy the whole balance. In a nation of good well-meaning people it only takes a very few evil bastards to disrupt everything. Well, sometimes it can be good to rock the boat and unbalance the status quo.....I suppose....but at what cost?


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Fri Jan 16, 2015 12:06 pm
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Post Re: Chapter 1: The most precious thing
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Penelope wrote:
The trouble is, whereas there can be thousands and thousands of liberal minded, free-thinking, tolerant people of both the scientific and religious persuasion, it only takes a very few lunatic fundamentalists to destroy the whole balance. In a nation of good well-meaning people it only takes a very few evil bastards to disrupt everything.


I can see how easily a few "evil bastards" are capable of mass disruption and death, but we're still only talking about an extreme group, in the end its really only those liberal minded, free thinking, tolerant people from any group whom control any balance of power. If these non-extreme people are unwilling to exert proper influence I don't see what can be done. We except bad things as well as good. To me an obvious dilemma being who's in charge of and what is proper influence? science nor religion can have all the answers. The middle is tolerant and not only suffers for it but witnesses suffering as well. Sagan would not deny this and understood this dilemma better than I.



Fri Jan 16, 2015 12:50 pm
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Post Re: Chapter 1: The most precious thing
Sagan drops an Edward Gibbon quote here to support his claim that the "dark ages" were dark times for medical advancement. But Gibbon's comment (no context provided) is a very broad one:

"In the revolutions of the ten centuries, not a single discovery was made to exalt the dignity or promote the happiness of mankind"

What about the plough and printing press? That didnt make anyone happy?
Thats just two examples of what might have brought happiness to some people.

The foundations were laid for medical chemistry. The fact that plague ran rampant several times during this period, it's worth acknowledging to a reasonable degree how "scientific diagnosis" and medical quarantine began.

Or how about this:

"The Middle Ages brought a new way of thinking and a lessening on the taboo of dissection. Dissection for medical purposes became more prominent around 1299.[33]During this time the Italians were practicing anatomical dissection and the first record of an autopsy dates from 1286. Dissection was first introduced in the educational setting at the university of Bologna to study and teach anatomy. "

Wikipedia

Who is skeptical of skeptics?

It's grossly unfair to attack epochs and or judge them by modern standards.
Each historical period builds some foundation for future advancement.



Sat Jan 24, 2015 3:53 pm
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Post Re: Chapter 1: The most precious thing
wrt - Ant's post- re Gibbons on the Dark Ages

I thought they were called 'the dark ages' because they began when the Romans left Britain -


The Romans did not invent drainage, sewers, the alphabet or roads, but they did develop them. They did invent underfloor heating, concrete and the calendar that our modern calendar is based on. Concrete played an important part in Roman building, helping them construct structures like aqueducts that included arches.

The Romans were in Britain around AD43, and they left around 5BC, after introducing decent roads, sewers, aqueducts etc......When they left the country reverted to primitive living conditions.

However, the following seems to be the current mode of though:

The term "Dark Ages" was applied by 19th century antiquarians to the period between the Ancient world (classical Greeks and Romans, ending in the early 5th century AD ) and the start of the medieval period in the mid-11th century. This was because at that time it was thought to be without documented history, with very few obvious archaeological finds - hence "dark" in terms of lack of knowledge, just like "Darkest Africa" at the time.

With better understanding of the archaeology and the discovery of many written accounts from the period, new light has been cast on the darkness - no modern historian now uses the term Dark Ages, instead referring to the Saxon and Viking period.


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Sat Jan 24, 2015 4:41 pm
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Post Re: Chapter 1: The most precious thing
I have difficulty reading Sagan as his chatty style is overly full of his opinions and often radiate inaccuracies including his misapplication of (a form of) Gresham's Law.

The accepted dogma of secular science is that science was suppressed by the Church and made no progress during the Middle Ages. That is as untrue as the claim the Church taught the earth was flat.


Medieval Cosmology

The challenge to overturn these false beliefs is daunting as they are hardwired into our present culture to the point they have become reflexive.


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Sat Jan 24, 2015 4:42 pm
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Post Re: Chapter 1: The most precious thing
Here is Sagan speaking about "pseudoscience"

Please refer to your book for greater context:

"Pseudoscience is easier to contrive than science, because distracting confrontations with reality - where we cannot control the outcome of the comparison - are more readily avoided. The standards of argument, what passes for evidence, are much more relaxed. In part for these same reasons, it is much easier to present pseudoscience to the general public"

Here are my thoughts:

How easy has it been to present string theory to the public as science?
How relaxed has the evidentiary standards been for string theory, to date?
What separates string theory from psuedoscience to date?
Is it just the math that is the distinguishing factor and has that been consistent with evidence standards to date?



Sat Jan 24, 2015 5:08 pm
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Post Re: Chapter 1: The most precious thing
From Devils, Drugs, and Doctors By Howard W. Haggard pages 143-144

"In the late Middle Ages and in the Renaissance an occasional dissection, called "making an anatomy" was allowed by ecclesiastical authorities. The subjects for dissection was selected from among the prisoners, special rites were preformed over him, and spiritual indulgences were allowed for the indignities which were to be done to his body. When thus prepared spiritually the prisoner was strangled by the executioner and the body was turned over to the university. Invitations to the dissection were issued to the city officials and other prominent persons. In the presence of the assembled company the papal indulgence permitting the dissection was read and the corpse was then stamped with the seal of the university. Often as a preliminary to the dissection the subject's head was removed in accord with the prejudice against exposing the brain, which, according to the Christian conception, is the seat of the soul. After these formalities an introductory oration was read and the physicians sang a chorus. Then came the dissection, which was a perfunctory affair. The physician in charge did not touch the body. Instead, it was opened by a servant while the physician stood to one side and read aloud from Galen, pointing with a wand to the various structures as they were enumerated in the text. A celebration followed the dissection and there was a concert, banquet, or theatrical performance. The whole affair occupied the better part of two days and was concluded by ceremoniously burying the slightly mangled corpse".

Just thought the Haggard quote might have added to the currant variant of discussion.

Quote:
Ant wrote:
It's grossly unfair to attack epochs and or judge them by modern standards.
Each historical period builds some foundation for future advancement.


It sure is and they surely do.



Last edited by Taylor on Sat Jan 24, 2015 6:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Sat Jan 24, 2015 5:53 pm
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Post Re: Chapter 1: The most precious thing
Yes, all that does seem ghoulish and pedestrian, doesnt it?
But that doesnt invalidate my point, does it?



Sat Jan 24, 2015 6:06 pm
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Post Re: Chapter 1: The most precious thing
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Ant Wrote;
Yes, all that does seem ghoulish and pedestrian, doesnt it?


By todays standards it might be.

Quote:
But that doesnt invalidate my point, does it?


No invalidation was attempted by my post, It just really was coincidence that the page quoted was where I had a book mark, from when I set the book down a couple months ago, and hadn't read any of since. It was your middle ages quote that reminded me that I had been reading the Haggard book. I was thinking it would add to what was being posted. if it did, good, if it did not, it did not.



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Sat Jan 24, 2015 6:40 pm
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Post Re: Chapter 1: The most precious thing
Taylor wrote:
From Devils, Drugs, and Doctors By Howard W. Haggard pages 143-144


You were good enough to quote from the above work but your quote did not I Clyde a footnote. Does Haggard provide a primary source reference for the material? If so, please provide the reference.

Thank you.


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Sat Jan 24, 2015 8:15 pm
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Post Re: Chapter 1: The most precious thing
Quote:
Quote:
Taylor wrote:

From Devils, Drugs, and Doctors By Howard W. Haggard pages 143-144




Quote:
stahrwe wrote:
You were good enough to quote from the above work but your quote did not I Clyde a footnote. Does Haggard provide a primary source reference for the material? If so, please provide the reference.

Thank you.


There's multiple sources referenced, among them are, " Anatomy of Mundinus" written in 1316 published in Padua in 1487. also "Fabrica" by Andreas Vesalius published in 1543. unfortunately the Haggard book is not heavy on foot notes.



Last edited by Taylor on Sat Jan 24, 2015 10:04 pm, edited 2 times in total.



Sat Jan 24, 2015 9:25 pm
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Post Re: Chapter 1: The most precious thing
Quote:
"In the revolutions of the ten centuries, not a single discovery was made to exalt the dignity or promote the happiness of mankind."
Sagan quoting Gibbon

Ant asked What about the plough and printing press? That didnt make anyone happy? Thats just two examples of what might have brought happiness to some people.

The printing press was invented around 1440 and the first practical plow around 1800. I assume these are long after the ten centuries described by Gibbon, not sure.

Our family had a typical discussion about declining standards in education, then I read the quote from Plato on page 6 describing the same problems 2400 years ago. :lol:



Sun Jan 25, 2015 3:11 pm
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