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ant's conversation with dumb-dumb co-worker and science worshiper 
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Post Re: ant's conversation with dumb-dumb co-worker and science worshiper
Interbane wrote:
I don't think it's ignorance, so much as it is tribalism or rationalization. Even the smartest man can ignore the things he knows and make great mistakes.
We have a small misunderstanding going here, because I am presuming the participation in the "Sapiens" discussion when I write about the role of "ignorance." I apologize for that unfair assumption. Harari's point, somewhat interesting, was that Westerners had discovered that things they were ignorant of could be learned about by investigation, and the results often systematically turned into money or other power. He argues, for example, that the Incas were completely ignorant of what had been done a few years before against the Aztecs, because it had never been worthwhile to send out investigators and learn about the news elsewhere, whereas the Spaniards were systematically following up leads about locations of gold mining, etc.

The discovery that things in the natural world of which we were ignorant could be highly valuable revolutionized the whole approach to knowledge, so you get Galileo rolling balls down inclined planes to systematically investigate momentum and lens-grinding being put to use for navigation, biology and astronomy. (It's a bit ironic that the granddaddy discovery that revolutionized our appreciation of what we did not know was a mistake caused by randomly bad calculation, namely Columbus' very faulty estimate of the time needed to sail West to Asia.)

My point is that in the last 100 years we have discovered that Inner Space is just as important, and our ignorance of it just as vast, as our knowledge of the material world was in 1500.

Interbane wrote:
There's no reason for scientific enlightenment and moral wisdom to be mutually exclusive. It's just that when they happen to be mutual exclusive at certain points in time with certain people, bigger weapons amplify the blunder.
Umm, while all of that is true, I don't think it captures the way human social systems have been in operation on the two issues. The absolute need to win changed into the impossibility of winning in a twinkling of an eye, and we were so bad at recognizing it that we literally survived by the skin of our teeth.

Interbane wrote:
Maybe if we had the collective wisdom to elect the Gandhis and Thoreaus and Tolstoys instead of the Trumps. But a large percentage of us are irrational and tribalistic, and I think that's a deep enough part of human nature that no removal of ignorance will fix it.
Well, I am not convinced. Ever the optimist. I think containment can be applied to the Lies of Trump and the Lies of Big Oil in the same way it was applied to the Lies of Stalin. But it will take more wisdom than our (adult) leaders are currently mustering. Already grown-ups have been reduced to hiding the poison from Dear Leader, who seems determined to use doctored video and blustery bullitude as if he leads a nation as narcissistic as himself. Very few "leaders" are taking seriously the issue of how best to contain his divisiveness.



Thu Nov 08, 2018 4:56 pm
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Post Re: ant's conversation with dumb-dumb co-worker and science worshiper
ant wrote:
No one said anyone was not doing science. The distinction between science and technology is important and one that you are talking past.
Well, I think I am talking past it because it isn't very important for the subject of what your co-worker was putting his trust in, or for the implications of limiting ourselves to that way of thinking about the world. In my mind it is basically a semantic issue, about the meaning of words only, for the purposes of those subjects.



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Thu Nov 08, 2018 5:01 pm
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Post Re: ant's conversation with dumb-dumb co-worker and science worshiper
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Science is the only thing we have that offers rational justification for belief
The co-worker's statement seems unremarkable and true, providing that "rational" is shaded toward "empirical." No argument then, right? It's a truism. Expand "rational" and the trouble starts. Many would say that belief in God is rational, while yet denying that science can have anything to say about it.



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Thu Nov 08, 2018 6:14 pm
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Post Re: ant's conversation with dumb-dumb co-worker and science worshiper
Harry wrote:
My point is that in the last 100 years we have discovered that Inner Space is just as important, and our ignorance of it just as vast, as our knowledge of the material world was in 1500.


How do you know what magnitude of ignorance we have of ourselves is? I think we're limited in every topic under the sun. That no matter the topic, we're always somewhat ignorant, because we aren't omniscient. I think we know quite a bit about human psychology and motivation. I also think that any knowledge or wisdom we acquire is only bequeathed to a small percentage, mostly due to personal capacity.

Define Inner Space. In exquisite detail please. It's borderline Deepak Chopra.

Quote:
Well, I am not convinced. Ever the optimist. I think containment can be applied to the Lies of Trump and the Lies of Big Oil in the same way it was applied to the Lies of Stalin. But it will take more wisdom than our (adult) leaders are currently mustering. Already grown-ups have been reduced to hiding the poison from Dear Leader, who seems determined to use doctored video and blustery bullitude as if he leads a nation as narcissistic as himself. Very few "leaders" are taking seriously the issue of how best to contain his divisiveness.


You pack so much knowledge into so few words. I'll digest this for a couple weeks.


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Thu Nov 08, 2018 9:36 pm
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Post Re: ant's conversation with dumb-dumb co-worker and science worshiper
Harry wrote:
My point is that in the last 100 years we have discovered that Inner Space is just as important, and our ignorance of it just as vast, as our knowledge of the material world was in 1500.


Interbane wrote:
How do you know what magnitude of ignorance we have of ourselves is?
Well, I don't, of course. Harnessing the potential represented by our ignorance has always been about launching out into the unknown to see what's there. The persistence of self-defeating behavior is a good indication that something complex is going on, but our institutions tend to reinforce the out-dated reasons for the self-defeating behavior rather than boldly mapping out an exploration of how to fix it.

Consider schools, in which one bold experiment, Charter Schools, has mainly been taken over by people who want their children indoctrinated in their worldview rather than better educated. This was widely foreseen - it surprised no one. But the reasons supposedly justifying the experiment were discarded quickly, no accountability built in, and the result has been a deterioration rather than an improvement in education. If an engineer had done such a bad job of mapping out a strategy of investigation, the lab would be turned over to someone else.

Interbane wrote:
I think we know quite a bit about human psychology and motivation. I also think that any knowledge or wisdom we acquire is only bequeathed to a small percentage, mostly due to personal capacity.
That's an example of how little we understand about human psychology. If you compare the knowledge and wisdom of a typical American today to that of 100 years ago, we are miles ahead. That wasn't because we bred better personal capacity. Our institutions have, partly by vision and design, evolved in a way that teaches people wisdom. Our higher standard of living has freed people from many of the fears that kept them in bondage then, but we see many of those fears creeping back in due to human weaknesses not addressed.

Much of this failure has to do with the different natures of the knowledge involved. Knowledge of material nature can be exploited easily by the one who gets there first, and in fact our largest and richest corporations are built on a patent system which reinforces that tendency, turning it into a vast coordinated enterprise. Yet at the same time these corporations employ as many workers seeking ways to avoid supporting the public hand that gives them their security. All-against-all works well for material exploitation and incorporation of physical method. Not so well for coordinating the efforts of people on behalf of overall system needs.

Knowledge of human nature must include understanding how to show people the goals we hold in common, and how to persuade them to do their part in pursuing those goals. Yet our approaches to such problems have barely improved from 100 years ago. We still rely mainly on the method of legal restraint - the use of force - command and control - even though our capacity for positive influence is enormously greater than when that approach evolved.

We have begun to apply lessons like Win-Win bargaining, the creation of buy-in, opt-out approaches rather than opt-in, and the like, but at the same time corporations are pursuing systematic strategies of exploiting consumer laziness and credulity while buying political power to avoid accountability. The fundamental problem that no one is accountable for a system of supporting public priorities has turned the unclear zone, in which different priorities are competing (for example, the cost of accountability vs. the benefit to a smoothly-running economy of accountability) into a battleground where perceptions are wielded as weapons to serve the interests of those who don't care about public priorities. We know nothing, Jon Snow.

Interbane wrote:
Define Inner Space. In exquisite detail please. It's borderline Deepak Chopra.
What I had in mind was the contrast between "psychology and wisdom" and the material world symbolized by outer space. But since you have challenged me to think about it further, it seems to me that what is in question is the whole realm of meaning - the process of attaching facts and understanding to emotions and motivation. The part represented by understanding of how nature works is very well developed. The part that interprets that knowledge in terms of how to make use of nature's ways to improve human life is still in chaos and darkness.

In fact one view, representing a thick slice of the population in terms of what they see when they peer into the mists of public choice problems, holds that chaos is the best approach. Markets will coordinate efforts naturally. As a first step in finding good motivations, that approach is far better than the domination systems and tribalism that gave us mercantilism. The Sears catalog was a huge blow to Jim Crow, just as Adam Smith unleashed the Industrial Revolution. But is that the best we can do? We have barely scratched the surface of investigating the question.

The old methods of exploiting nature are hard at work, mining our mountains of social media data to eke out small improvements in targeting of advertising, and all the while also finding ways to further divide us so that the public good will be seen as a subversive effort to take control of our lives. But there is no strategy, and no search for strategy, to find methods of aligning our interests and moving toward the huge potential for win-win living. A few spots in our map of meaning are visible because they are near the lampposts of the exploitation regime, but most of it remains in darkness because nobody sees personal gain to be had by mapping out the meaning landscape for pursuing the public good. And of course it should not be those who seek personal gain who explore it. But where is the alternative approach?



Fri Nov 09, 2018 5:07 am
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Post Re: ant's conversation with dumb-dumb co-worker and science worshiper
ant wrote:
Dumb-dumb science worshiper: Science is the only thing we have that offers rational justification for beliefAnt: Was it science that provided rational justification for that belief?Dumb-dumb science worshiper: yes.. err, I mean noAnt: Then that belief is unjustified Dumb-dumb science worshiper: But science proves science! Ant: A circular proof is not valid reasoning Dumb-dumb science worshiper: You are anti-science!!! Ant: Have a nice day

Ant, looking at the above exchange, it seems to me there is more than a pinch of haughtiness on your part here in naming your interlocutor ‘dumb-dumb science worshiper’. What are examples of rationally justified belief? Astronomy provides the paradigm, with exact predictions based on laws of physics. The ongoing inductive confirmation, as night follows day, can be seen as a circular self-justification of science by science, at least for ordinary thinking. Similarly in other hard sciences. You are asking for theological axioms, a philosophical question that strikes many people as pointless.


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Fri Nov 09, 2018 8:50 pm
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Post Re: ant's conversation with dumb-dumb co-worker and science worshiper
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Ant, looking at the above exchange, it seems to me there is more than a pinch of haughtiness on your part here in naming your interlocutor ‘dumb-dumb science worshiper’. What are examples of rationally justified belief? Astronomy provides the paradigm, with exact predictions based on laws of physics. The ongoing inductive confirmation, as night follows day, can be seen as a circular self-justification of science by science, at least for ordinary thinking. Similarly in other hard sciences. You are asking for theological axioms, a philosophical question that strikes many people as pointless.


I am not "anti-science" because I do not believe science is the only means of rational justification of belief.

Astronomy as a hard science works well when the desire for predictions of motion are needed.

I don't know about you, but I do not need to know the exact position of Pluto when I'm at work, at the gym, having dinner, or hanging out with loved ones.
Nor do I need astronomy to convince me whom to invest my time and love in, or who will get my vote in 2020. I will be able to rationalize and justify my decisions without the help of physics, mathematics, meteorology, astrology, biology, or even quantum mechanics.



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Sat Nov 10, 2018 12:58 pm
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Post Re: ant's conversation with dumb-dumb co-worker and science worshiper
.
.
"But the Solar System!" I protested.

"What the deuce is it to me?" he interrupted impatiently; "you say that we go round the sun. If we went round the moon it would not make a pennyworth of difference to me or to my work."
Sherlock Holmes
— Sir Arthur Conan Doyle


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Sat Nov 10, 2018 1:23 pm
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Post Re: ant's conversation with dumb-dumb co-worker and science worshiper
Litwitlou wrote:
.
.
"But the Solar System!" I protested.

"What the deuce is it to me?" he interrupted impatiently; "you say that we go round the sun. If we went round the moon it would not make a pennyworth of difference to me or to my work."
Sherlock Holmes
— Sir Arthur Conan Doyle



First Galileo, now this.

I truly belong among the giants.



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