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Chapter 14: Antiscience 
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 Chapter 14: Antiscience
Chapter 14: Antiscience

Please use this thread to talk about Chapter 14: Antiscience. :thanks2:



Tue Jan 13, 2015 5:43 pm
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Post Re: Chapter 14: Antiscience
His chapter header was really outrageous and not worthy of Sagan. I mean, we could all pick out psychobabble and mumbo jumbo to pour scorn on so called New Age Beliefs.

Yes, some scientists of all nationalities have been very brave in speaking out against the establishment and putting their careers in jeopardy. Not least those spiritualists of the 1920's:-

The days are past, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle maintains, when the considered opinions of such men as Crookes, Wallace, Flammarion, Lodge, Barrett, Generals Drayson and Turner, Sergeant Ballantine, W. T. Stead, Judge Edmonds, Vice-Admiral Usborne Moore, the late Archdeacon Wilberforce and a cloud of other witnesses, can be dismissed as negligible. The time has come when "further proof is superfluous and the weight of disproof lies upon those who deny." If, "to take one of a thousand examples," the only evidence for unknown intelligent forces lay in the experiments of Dr. Crawford recorded in Light, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle does not see how it could be shaken. He continues:

"We should now be at the close of the stage of investigation and beginning the period of religious construction.


If you want to read more:

http://www.sshf.com/encyclopedia/index. ... iritualism

Sagan's advocation of natural medicine was interesting too. How did the ancients discover the efficacy of Quinine and Aspirin etc...He says they must have tried every tree and plant....but I contend that they may not have.

His mention of scientists working for nasty regimes as in Natzi Germany - only emphasizes my point that Science is truth and reason but grace and compassion belong to another discipline. It isn't just scientists who are not all sweetness and light. We should all think about what we do for a living. Some people make/create instruments of torture - well, somebody must do it. If we all insisted that our method of earning a living must be ethical, it would surely be a better world.

Talking of antiscience - which is the title of this chapter - I must tell you that I have frequent posts on my Facebook page from IFLS and I am often thrilled by the items showing recent scientific discoveries, or archeological riddles and I used to often share the posts with my Facebook friends who are all over the world. Some of them are quite devout - one a Christian in India and his young son and one a Muslim in Finland with whom I play Scrabble. To my horror one day recently I discovered that IFLS stands for 'I Fucking Love Science'. I wish they would change their name, because I can't bring myself to share their stuff now. :blush:


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Rafael Sabatini


Fri Feb 06, 2015 1:09 pm
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Post Re: Chapter 14: Antiscience
I'm not reading the book, Penelope (how are you, by the way?). What I see is dislike of certain findings of science, and belief in things that science hasn't supported, but I don't know of anyone who is antiscience in some broad sense. Almost anyone who thinks about what science has made possible would acknowledge that they "like" it. So is Sagan claiming there is rampant antiscience being a bit hyperbolic?



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Fri Feb 06, 2015 5:39 pm
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Post Re: Chapter 14: Antiscience
Sagan opens up the chapter by explaining the necessary mathematical foundations needed to understand (or attempt an understanding) of the counter intuitive nature of quantum mechanics.
But our understanding of counter intuitive aspects of quantum mechanics enables the ability to make impressive predictions - which any good theory does. Its strength is based on the power of its ability to predict (my words).

If gravitational waves (as predicted by Einsteinian theory) continue to avoid detection, what are the implications for the foundation of the theory its based on?
Or do we keep searching forever in the belief that we will discover them?
Or would a new paradigm be necessary?

Maybe Landroid might say we should search the entire cosmos forever just like we are willing to search it for alien intelligence that might be attempting contact with us?
Why? Because someone in some lab predicted aliens are trying to contact humans.

Landroid?



Last edited by ant on Sat Feb 07, 2015 12:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Post Re: Chapter 14: Antiscience
ant wrote:
Because someone in some lab predicted aliens are trying to contact humans.


Is that how it works?


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Sat Feb 07, 2015 1:28 pm
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Post Re: Chapter 14: Antiscience
Quote:
DWill wrote:
I'm not reading the book, Penelope (how are you, by the way?).


I am very well thankyou DWill. Have moved 300 yards up the road into a more modern house - It's bliss. Are you well, and how is Saffron? Do you remember a couple of years ago when we celebrated cyber Burns Night? We've just had Burns Night this year and we celebrated with my son......but no bagpipes. Boooh - Still,I was thinking about you and Saffron.


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He was born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world is mad....

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Post Re: Chapter 14: Antiscience
Penelope wrote:
Quote:
DWill wrote:
I'm not reading the book, Penelope (how are you, by the way?).


I am very well thankyou DWill. Have moved 300 yards up the road into a more modern house - It's bliss. Are you well, and how is Saffron? Do you remember a couple of years ago when we celebrated cyber Burns Night? We've just had Burns Night this year and we celebrated with my son......but no bagpipes. Boooh - Still,I was thinking about you and Saffron.

Did you have haggis, though? Well at least you still get to claim Burns as a UK poet. Saffron is fine and I'll tell her you asked. I always find powerful the lines in the Wordsworth poem that recall Burns as a poor farmer just barely making a living, with the huge talent he had:

I thought of Chatterton, the marvellous Boy,
The sleepless Soul that perished in his pride;
Of Him who walked in glory and in joy
Following his plough, along the mountain-side:
By our own spirits are we deified:
We Poets in our youth begin in gladness;
But thereof come in the end despondency and madness.

After the time of these English Romantics, I begin to have trouble understanding poetry.

I'm glad you're enjoying your upgrade. After a while, keeping an old place in repair isn't Romantic!



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Post Re: Chapter 14: Antiscience
Interbane wrote:
ant wrote:
Because someone in some lab predicted aliens are trying to contact humans.


Is that how it works?


what's the basis for a quasi prediction that intelligent alien civilization would or should attempt contact in a binary format?

Mind you that its just a question. Sagan, so far doesn't talk much about the scientific justification for SETI. Nor have I yet to read his deep thoughts on SETI.
That's why I want to read Paul Davies book.

Remember - Im all for SETI. But i also am willing to think more about the question of demarcation.
I'm not going to simply shake my head up and down whenever The Prophet of Scientism speaketh.



Sat Feb 07, 2015 4:36 pm
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Post Re: Chapter 14: Antiscience
Quote:
dWill

Did you have haggis, though?


Oh yes, we had haggis, bashed neeps and tatties. When I opened the haggis I poured in a dram of malt whiskey before serving it. It was delicious.

Do you know the work of John Clare - He was the son of a Farm Labourer, with real humble origins:

All nature has a feeling

All nature has a feeling: woods, fields, brooks
Are life eternal: and in silence they
Speak happiness beyond the reach of books;
There's nothing mortal in them; their decay
Is the green life of change; to pass away
And come again in blooms revivified.
Its birth was heaven, eternal is its stay,
And with the sun and moon shall still abide
Beneath their day and night and heaven wide.


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He was born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world is mad....

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Post Re: Chapter 14: Antiscience
ant wrote:
Interbane wrote:
ant wrote:
Because someone in some lab predicted aliens are trying to contact humans.


Is that how it works?


what's the basis for a quasi prediction that intelligent alien civilization would or should attempt contact in a binary format?

Mind you that its just a question. Sagan, so far doesn't talk much about the scientific justification for SETI. Nor have I yet to read his deep thoughts on SETI.
That's why I want to read Paul Davies book.

Remember - Im all for SETI. But i also am willing to think more about the question of demarcation.
I'm not going to simply shake my head up and down whenever The Prophet of Scientism speaketh.


Do you need "scientific justification" to look for something that might exist? It sounds like you’re criticizing Sagan for the crime of intellectual curiosity. A curiosity which, by the way, he was always willing to put to the test.

The SETI project is based on the simple proposition that there might be intelligent life and that that life might be emitting some kind of signal that we can detect with a radio telescope. Has Sagan or anyone else ever claimed it was more than that? What extraordinary claims have ever been made with respect to SETI? I’m really curious because I really don’t understand the nature of your protest.

Observation is how we explore the world. There are many human activities that happen to overlap with science. If you have problems with the lines of demarcation, the problem probably lies with your lines of demarcation.


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Post Re: Chapter 14: Antiscience
"Do you need "scientific justification" to look for something that might exist? "

Yes.
You know, like, for a teapot in orbit.



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Post Re: Chapter 14: Antiscience
From the chapter:

"Certain kinds of folk knowledge are valid and priceless. Others are at best metaphors and codifiers. Ethnomedicine, yes; astrophysics, no." - Sagan.

Okay, fine. I can understand Sagan's folk knowledge point. But is he saying science does not engage in SIMILAR expressional behavior?

The history of science shows us that our conceptions of nature change dramatically over the years and that our metaphoric models of nature are not the same. Some were even drastically wrong.

Our models of the atom (atomic structure) have changed considerably.
How different will they be a hundred, two hundred, or a thousand years from now?

How terribly wrong science was about phlogiston.

What about caloric theory?


Implicit in Sagan's language seems to be triumphalist pronouncements that science is not metaphor. It is precise Knowledge (capital "K").

Wrong, Sagan.



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Post Re: Chapter 14: Antiscience
Quote:
How terribly wrong science was about phlogiston.


Quote:
The phlogiston theory is an obsolete scientific theory that postulated a fire-like element called phlogiston, contained within combustible bodies and released during combustion.


isn't it great that as scientific knowledge increased the phlogiston theory gave way to better theories and with so little bloodshed.

unlike some religious dogmas that are still causing no end of bloodshed and bitter tears to this very day.

at least with science you can say i don't support this theory and here are my reasons, with religious dogma, well once it gets in it's a bugger to get out.



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Post Re: Chapter 14: Antiscience
ant wrote:
"Do you need "scientific justification" to look for something that might exist? "

Yes.
You know, like, for a teapot in orbit.


So if a scientist suspects a theoretical property of neutrinos based on nothing more than his own gut feeling, he's not allowed to look for evidence of it? Because it doesn't meet Ant's qualifying criteria for science? You are seriously grasping at straws here.

You are also not getting the point of Russel's Teapot mind experiment. If someone made claims of a teapot in orbit around Saturn, its theoretical existence would always require confirmation by evidence. (God is not held up to the same standard, which is Russell's point). Belief in the teapot's existence is unwarranted without evidence. The whole point of SETI is to find evidence for extraterrestrial life, so it's not at all the same, is it?

I'm sure Sagan was wrong about a lot of things. For example, his prognostications of a nuclear winter (A PATH WHERE NO MAN THOUGHT) were probably more speculation than science and based on fears of a nuclear exchange. But as for SETI, I don't think you can find a single unreasonable claim that was ever made. It was always based on the simple proposition: there might be extraterrestrial intelligence out there; and it's worth looking for a signature of that intelligence using the most sophisticated instruments we can devise.


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Post Re: Chapter 14: Antiscience
Ant wrote:
If gravitational waves (as predicted by Einsteinian theory) continue to avoid detection, what are the implications for the foundation of the theory its based on? Or do we keep searching forever in the belief that we will discover them? Or would a new paradigm be necessary?

Maybe Landroid might say we should search the entire cosmos forever just like we are willing to search it for alien intelligence that might be attempting contact with us? Why? Because someone in some lab predicted aliens are trying to contact humans.
Landroid?

You agree there might be ET aliens and that it is worthwhile searching for them, but you keep raising these questions, not sure what you're trying to get at. I suspect you're wondering why we find SETI reasonable. The answer is not that "someone in some lab predicted aliens are trying to contact humans" or that scientists "believe" ET exists. I think the answer comes down to probablility: given the unimaginable vastness of both time and space, what is the probability that Earth is the only planet that harbors life and humans are the only species that has reached this level of intelligence and technology. Gut feel says the probability that we're totally alone is small.

The Drake Equation attempts to put some numbers behind these probabilities. Since some of those variables are "scientific wild-ass guesses", there's a lot of room to argue, but again the probability that we're alone seems very low. Recent scientific discoveries have increased the probability of ET life forms. One is the well known Hubble deep field photograph, which greatly increased the number of galaxies in the visible universe to around 100 billion. Super-computer simulations raise that number to potentially 500 billion galaxies. Similarly in 2013 the Kepler Space Telescope collected data indicating "22 percent of Sun-like stars harbor Earth-size planets orbiting in their habitable zones". That amounts to about 20 billion potentially inhabitable planets just in the Milky Way galaxy, a few for every human being on our planet. Multiply that by 500 billion galaxies and we arrive at "possibly 1,000 trillion Earth-like planets" in the visible universe.

Life on Earth is another indicator. The study of extremophiles is relatively new and indicates life is much hardier than we knew 50 years ago. Life is found virtually everywhere we look on Earth, including around super-hot hydrothermal ocean vents and bacteria thousands of feet below the Earth's surface. Just a few weeks ago researchers found fish and other aquatic animals in a lake below several thousand feet of ice in Antarctica.

So again although you agree with the project, I hope that helps explain why we're doing it.

Another question that seems to nag you (even though the project is worthwhile) is how long should we search for ET? Interbaned allowed 1K years. Who knows at this point? Evidently you do not think we should stop now. The search has been extremely low key, something like sampling a cup of water out of the ocean. We spend a tiny amount money on SETI compared to military spending or the CERN LHC, so I'd say keep going until we complete a serious search of our neighborhood in the galaxy. If nothing is found at that point, human interest will probably dry up...

C'mon and join the fun!
http://setiathome.berkeley.edu/



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