Science and Religion

[From Rick Marken (2007.02.12.1600)]

Here’s kind of an intriguing article that I found while looking over the NY Times. It describes two or three creationists who have gotten PhDs for doing darn good scientific research in geology or paleontology. The article should be accessible here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/12/science/12geologist.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all&oref=slogin

But it you have problems I can e-mail it to you directly.

My question is : Why are they doing the science? Aren’t both religion and science approaches to finding “truth”? These people are interesting because they seem to be skillfully controlling for belief systems that provide mutually contradictory answers to basic questions about the nature of reality. Very weird but very interesting.

Best

Rick

···

Richard S. Marken
rsmarken@gmail.com
marken@mindreadings.com

[from Gary Cziko 2007.02.12 18:52 CST]

Rick, I think it is pretty clear from the article why the young-earth creationists want to obtain PhD degrees from reputable institutions–they want to be able to use their degree to lend legitimacy to their Christian fundamentalist beliefs and activities.

Indeed, it should be much easier for these types to do scientific research because to do so you “only” have to use evidence and rationality. It would be much harder for a real scientist to fake something like “creation science” because you’d have to read the Bible first and then try to shoehorn all your evidence and thinking into preconceived fundamentalist beliefs (concluding, for example that all of the different scientific methods used to date fossils are off by a factor of thousand or so).

Of course, real scientists have their own beliefs within which they interpret evidence, but everything is up for grabs in science and real paradigm shifts do occur, as from Ptolemy to Copernicus and from Skinner to Powers.

–Gary

···

On 2/12/07, Richard Marken rsmarken@gmail.com wrote:

[From Rick Marken (2007.02.12.1600)]

Here’s kind of an intriguing article that I found while looking over the NY Times. It describes two or three creationists who have gotten PhDs for doing darn good scientific research in geology or paleontology. The article should be accessible here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/12/science/12geologist.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all&oref=slogin

But it you have problems I can e-mail it to you directly.

My question is : Why are they doing the science? Aren’t both religion and science approaches to finding “truth”? These people are interesting because they seem to be skillfully controlling for belief systems that provide mutually contradictory answers to basic questions about the nature of reality. Very weird but very interesting.

Best

Rick

Richard S. Marken
rsmarken@gmail.com

marken@mindreadings.com

Gary Cziko
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[From Rick Marken (2007.02.12.2240)]

Gary Cziko (2007.02.12 18:52 CST)

Rick, I think it is pretty clear from the article why the young-earth creationists want to obtain PhD degrees from reputable institutions–they want to be able to use their degree to lend legitimacy to their Christian fundamentalist beliefs and activities.

I was going to disagree with you, because I couldn’t imagine that someone would be able to go through the work of doing a PhD thesis without actually wanting to understand something about the world. But then I realized that I personally knew someone who had done precisely this: me;-) I got a PhD mainly to please my parents, not to find out about the nature of human beings. That came by accident after I got my PhD, when I ran into that damn book, B:CP.

Of course, I wasn’t as bright as these guys who got their PhDs at places like Harvard in fields like geology. It’s still amazing to me that these guys could be bright enough to produce acceptable doctoral theses and, yet, be dumb enough to believe in creationism. At least I didn’t come into my PhD program in order to get some cachet for when I would go out to write a book on how people had come from here form outer space;-)

I think these guys are very impressive, and scary; Village of the Damned scary. You know what I mean? :wink:

Best

Rick

···


Richard S. Marken

rsmarken@gmail.com

marken@mindreadings.com

Similar phenomena such as that of creationists doing good science also occurs in other cultures – and labeling such behavior as “weird” or examples of people being"dumb enough to believe in creationism" reflects more on the thinking of CGS members than the creationist scientists being commented upon.

In Hindu India, examples of similar behavior have been mentioned, as I recall, in that some highly trained high caste Brahman physicists/chemists will not drink water given to them by low caste untouchables. The scientists consider the water to be ritually impure even though they know that the molecules are no different from that of water given by a person of the Brahman caste.

Perhaps context is important both in the USA, India, and elsewhere when a person’s apparently contradictory behavior results from the use of apparently contradictory different reference values. The context of the scientific laboratory and mind-sets related to it and the differing contexts of life-situations where religious views and related mind-sets predominate (such as being face-to-face with an “untouchable” or when in the presence of other creationists) may simply cause a particular reference value to predominate and affect one’s behavior in that context.

If such is the case, there is nothing “weird” about such behavior. The behavior is just a result of different reference values predominating in differing contexts.

Richard Pfau

[From Bryan Thalhammer (2007.02.13.1045 CST)]

Rick,

It is a thorny matter. I would find out who is sponsoring them, what church they
belong to, where they practice, and who reviews their work. And from the
article, BEHOLD, the answers are not happy.

While the work they do might be scientifically good, are they using it for good
or evil? That is, is the science a front for getting published so that when they
espouse creationist pap for science they will look better? We all know that
Fallwell and his ilk have a long-term goal of toppling the Renaissance... They
are also behind the wall of Liberty University, a private institution.

Cold fusion anyone? :frowning: Yuck.

--Bryan

[Rick Marken (2007.02.12.1600)]

Here's kind of an intriguing article that I found while looking over the NY
Times. It describes two or three creationists who have gotten PhDs for
doing darn good scientific research in geology or paleontology. The article
should be accessible here:

···

But it you have problems I can e-mail it to you directly.

My question is : Why are they doing the science? Aren't both religion and
science approaches to finding "truth"? These people are interesting because
they seem to be skillfully controlling for belief systems that provide
mutually contradictory answers to basic questions about the nature of
reality. Very weird but very interesting.

Best

Rick
---
Richard S. Marken
rsmarken@gmail.com
marken@mindreadings.com

[From Bill Powers (2007.02.13.1000 MST)]

Richard Pfau (11:14 AM 2/13/2007 -0500)]

>Similar phenomena such as that of creationists doing good science also occurs >in other cultures -- and labeling such behavior as "weird" or examples of >people being"dumb enough to believe in creationism" reflects more on the >thinking of CGS members than the creationist scientists being commented upon.

I agree that name-calling isn't very helpful. The argument with creationists should be taken up a level, so we're talking about the methods and the reasoning rather than the conclusions. At that level there are vast differences between faith-based and scientific explanations. A person basing conclusions on faith can't claim to be using scientific methods or to be doing science -- the only barely possible argument there is that faith gives us just as reliable information as science does -- not that it gives the same results.

For example, take a scientific approach to the theory that God created everything in 6 days. All right, this is a proposal of a fact, so how would we go about testing it? How would we go about deciding its merit relative to other theories about the same observations? We can be perfectly open-minded about it, being willing to accept any conclusion that can be supported. All we need to do is lay out what has been observed to be sure we're all talking bout the same things, and state our methods of reasoning so others can see if we are applying them correctly, and pick the conclusion that follows most clearly from the observations and the reasoning.

My own prediction is that a creationist, or a Hindu, or many others who allow faith to guide them would object to this whole process right from the start. There is a clear possibility that it might not turn out to support their positions, and of course their whole point is that faith, not facts and reasoning, is to be trusted above all. It would then become quite clear that they reject the basic methods and principles of science, and so can't claim to be consistent with science. At least that would put to rest the notion that a creationist or a believer in untouchability (or anything else like that) can claim to be a scientist at the same time. Alternating even and odd days of the month, maybe: simultaneously, never.

Best,

Bill P.

[From Rick Marken (2007.02.13.1140)]

Similar phenomena such as that of creationists doing good science also occurs in other cultures – and labeling such behavior as “weird” or examples of people being"dumb enough to believe in creationism" reflects more on the thinking of CGS members than the creationist scientists being commented upon.

I think it’s weird because I imagine that science is done in order to better understand (and, hence, appreciate and deal with) the world around us. I suppose it’s not politically correct to say scientists who believe in creationism are “dumb” but I couldn’t think of any other word. From a scientific perspective, creationism is dumb in every way: it is not a model and there is no evidence that can refute or confirm it. It’s just non-science. It’s not bad as a fairly tale, though. So maybe I should have said belief in creationism is scientifically dumb but artistically brilliant.

In Hindu India, examples of similar behavior have been mentioned, as I recall, in that some highly trained high caste Brahman physicists/chemists will not drink water given to them by low caste untouchables. The scientists consider the water to be ritually impure even though they know that the molecules are no different from that of water given by a person of the Brahman caste.

And you don’t consider that weird? I guess I expect more from my scientists. I think the nicest thing I could say about a scientist who acted this way is “weird”. A more accurate description would be “asshole”.

Perhaps context is important both in the USA, India, and elsewhere when a person’s apparently contradictory behavior results from the use of apparently contradictory different reference values. The context of the scientific laboratory and mind-sets related to it and the differing contexts of life-situations where religious views and related mind-sets predominate (such as being face-to-face with an “untouchable” or when in the presence of other creationists) may simply cause a particular reference value to predominate and affect one’s behavior in that context.

If such is the case, there is nothing “weird” about such behavior. The behavior is just a result of different reference values predominating in differing contexts.

I’m sorry. I just expect more from my scientists – and from science.

Best

Rick

···

On 2/13/07, Richard H. Pfau RichardPfau4153@aol.com wrote:

Richard S. Marken
rsmarken@gmail.com

marken@mindreadings.com

[From Bill Powers (2007.02.14.0840 MST)]

Rick Marken (2007.02.13.1140)--

And you don't consider that weird? I guess I expect more from my scientists. I think the _nicest_ thing I could say about a scientist who acted this way is "weird". A more accurate description would be "asshole".

I'm beginning to see a principle here. If someone is clearly in the wrong, like a person who feels justified in treating another person as untouchable, then it's all right to call that person an asshole, because even though using that kind of language reveals you as linguistically impoverished and seething with suppressed rage, you are still better than the person to whom you apply this term. I deduce that you would not call me an asshole for disagreeing with you, but would argue in a different manner. On the other hand, Hitler would be an asshole, and so would Osama bin Laden. What about females? I can't recall your having called any female who did something you consider despicable an asshole -- perhaps you use a different anatomical term from the vernacular.

Google informs me that it was Protagorus who originated the phrase often rendered as "The measure of all things is man." This sometimes get corrupted into "The measure of all things is ME."

Best,

Bill P.

In a message dated 2/13/2007 12:56:55 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, powers_w@FRONTIER.NET writes:

that would put to rest the notion that a
creationist or a believer in untouchability (or anything else like
that) can claim to be a scientist at the same time. Alternating even
and odd days of the month, maybe: simultaneously, never.

Bill,

Your last sentence above relates to the thrust of my message of 2/13/07 suggesting that a person can be both a creationist and a scientist – although, as you state, perhaps not expressing the behaviors related to each role at exactly the same time. Or, as I put it, the apparently contradictory behavior associated with each role being “a result of differing reference values predominating in differing contexts” (and, thus, as you suggest, at differing times).

The B:PCT issue to me is whether different neural nets within a person can represent different and (to an external observer such as you or me) apparently contradictory sets of reference values – such as those associated with being a “scientist” and a “creationist”. In other words, can two apparently contradictory roles, such as those of “scientist” and “creationist” be held and expressed by one person?

The answer seems to be yes. The University of Rhode Island decided so when it awarded the doctoral degree in geosciences to the creationist Marcus Ross. Marcus Ross believe so in that when he acts as a scientist he is guided by the paradigm (and reference values) of science and when he lives his life as a creationist he is guided by the paradigm and reference values of creationism.

The expression of such contradictory roles and related values, as seen by an external observer, are common. For example:

(a) the "law abiding citizen (such as a judge, lawyer, and perhaps yourself or myself) who routinely speeds on the highway and is thus a “criminal”/“law breaker” when doing so.

(b) the medical doctor dedicated to saving lives who lets a terminally ill patient who is in great pain (or a grossly deformed newborn infant) die, without administering life-saving treatment (or perhaps who even helps such a person to die).

(c) the minister who is an adulterer.

(d) the good Christian who tells a white lie to avoid offending or distressing another person, thereby violating the Commandment that “Thou shall not lie.”

In such cases, differing reference values seem to predominate in differing situations being faced (i.e., reference values that seem to be contradictory or incompatible to an external observer). That is, differing contexts result in differing reference values to predominate, values that in turn, as a result of error signals produced, result in behavior that seems incompatible/strange/ weird to an external observer. For example, the context of the highway perhaps along with perceptions of other speeding cars results in the “criminal”, “law-breaking” behavior of the judge, who is otherwise “law-abiding”.

In short, it seems as if a person can be both a creationist and a scientist or an Orthodox Hindu and a scientist (i.e., can simultaneously hold differing and apparently incompatible reference values for both roles within differing neural networks in his or her body) – but, perhaps (?), as you suggest, can not express those differing values and roles simultaneously, at the same time.

With Regards,

Richard Pfau

[From Rick Marken (2007.02.14.0910)]

Happy Valentine’s Day! Kiss Kiss, Hug Hug

Bill Powers (2007.02.14.0840 MST)

Rick Marken (2007.02.13.1140)–

And you don’t consider that weird? I guess I expect more from my
scientists. I think the nicest thing I could say about a scientist

who acted this way is “weird”. A more accurate description would be “asshole”.

I’m beginning to see a principle here. If someone is clearly in the
wrong, like a person who feels justified in treating another person

as untouchable, then it’s all right to call that person an asshole,
because even though using that kind of language reveals you as
linguistically impoverished and seething with suppressed rage, you
are still better than the person to whom you apply this term.

Well, I wouldn’t dignify my rants as being based on principle;-) But if you enjoy trying to detect principles in my behavior, that’s fine with me. If there is something as high level as a principle behind me calling people assholes, I would describe it a little differently than you do:

If someone is appears to me to be clearly wrong, like a chemist who feels that water has been tainted after it is touched by an “untouchable”, then it’s all right to call that person an asshole, because even though using that kind of language reveals me as an asshole myself becauseI want to keep perceiving the principle intact. In doing so, I feel that I am better (in at least one small, little way) than the person to whom I apply the term. (I don’t know that that last part is really part of the principle or just a consequence of controlling for it).

I deduce that you would not call me an asshole for disagreeing with you, but would argue in a different manner.

No. I’d call you that for other reasons;-)

What about females? I can’t recall your having called any female who did something you consider despicable an asshole – perhaps you use a different anatomical term from the vernacular.

Nope. Condi Rice is an asshole, as are a number of other women. “Asshole” works fine for both women and men, whites and blacks (OJ, for example, is an “asshole”).

Google informs me that it was Protagorus who originated the phrase
often rendered as “The measure of all things is man.” This sometimes
get corrupted into “The measure of all things is ME.”

Now that sounds like my principle!

Best

RIck

···


Richard S. Marken
rsmarken@gmail.com
marken@mindreadings.com

[From Bryan Thalhammer (2007.02.14.1125 CST)]

Folks,

I would greatly suspect anyone who would be both an affirmed creationist and a
scientist. But I distinguish that situation from, let's say, any religious
person whose beliefs and practices focus on a social action view and not any
cosmic view such as espoused by creationists. I don't want to get too picky
here, but I greatly distinguish christian action from creationist belief.

With regard to untouchability, as any humanist, I would disparage a person who
could not come into contact for social reasons with another human being for
racial or caste reasons. That would be equally unscientific and inhuman in my
belief, but so goes the world.

If I were a bible-believer I should not trust a teacher who used the scientific
method. As I am a scientist, I would never trust a teacher who both affirmed
creationism and practiced science.

Regarding what Pfau wrote, I think that is really a problem of intellectual
schizophrenia, but then I am not a doctor (I only play one...). Sure a person
can hold two conflicting views in abeyance of one another, but when s/he is
asked to perform, which one of those central guidelines will he use? And then if
s/he can successfully choose one in church or among churched people and the
other in the classroom, wouldn't that be rather a matter of a deep-seated
hypocricy? No way. For that reason, I would mock him, just as Jesus did the
pharisee at the front of the temple.

Best,

--Bryan

Quoting "Richard H. Pfau" <RichardPfau4153@AOL.COM>:

In a message dated 2/13/2007 12:56:55 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
powers_w@FRONTIER.NET writes:

that would put to rest the notion that a
creationist or a believer in untouchability (or anything else like
that) can claim to be a scientist at the same time. Alternating even
and odd days of the month, maybe: simultaneously, never.

...

···

In short, it seems as if a person can be both a creationist and a scientist
or an Orthodox Hindu and a scientist (i.e., can simultaneously hold differing
and apparently incompatible reference values for both roles within differing
neural networks in his or her body) -- but, perhaps (?), as you suggest, can
not express those differing values and roles simultaneously, at the same
time.

With Regards,
Richard Pfau

[From Bryan Thalhammer (2007.02.14.1146 CST)]

Hmmm. I said I would mock such a person. Let's say there is a such a person who
in one month presents a pro-creationist paper at one conference, and then is
seen to present a paleogeographic paper about the rivers found at the bottom of
the North Sea? Example, see
{http://www.arch-ant.bham.ac.uk/research/fieldwork_research_themes/projects/North_Sea_Palaeolandscapes/index.htm\}
and {http://postgrad.eee.bham.ac.uk/exc390/Northsea/index.html\}. This research
concerns prehistoric evidence of habitations along a river that ran down the
English Channel into the Atlantic about 10k -13k years ago (before 4004 B.C.,
got it?)

Now, how would you regard a creationist who might be on this project (there is
no such person, but just picture in your mind). Further, imagine that you have a
chance to meet with such a person, having seen both his creationist and his
paleogeographic work. Wouldn't you have to admit that you could not trust one or
the other of his work, for obvious conflict of interest?

And when pressed, if that person would maintain that he could hold both views
and not be conflicted (13,000 years ago vs. a limit of 4004 B.C.) you would
think he is kinda nuts, no? Or conflicted? Would you, if you were a grant
institution, not consider that he could flip flop and embarrass your institution
(or Church, haha)?

So, in this case, I would say that after several cross-examination, some panel
member might mumble, "what an asshole!" Therefore I think that Rick is doing the
same thing after running the scenario forward to see that this person would not
relinquish either research program and be forever on the fence.

Nawwww..... I would mock him too, but to the limit of my political
vulnerability, I might mitigate my public words. In a geology classroom, as a
student I might even utter "Bull-aachhhhoooo-t!!!"

Okay?

--Bryan

···

[Rick Marken (2007.02.14.0910)]

Happy Valentine's Day! Kiss Kiss, Hug Hug

Bill Powers (2007.02.14.0840 MST)
>
> Rick Marken (2007.02.13.1140)--
>
> >And you don't consider that weird? I guess I expect more from my
> >scientists. I think the _nicest_ thing I could say about a scientist
> >who acted this way is "weird". A more accurate description would be
> "asshole".
>
> I'm beginning to see a principle here. If someone is clearly in the
> wrong, like a person who feels justified in treating another person
> as untouchable, then it's all right to call that person an asshole,
> because even though using that kind of language reveals you as
> linguistically impoverished and seething with suppressed rage, you
> are still better than the person to whom you apply this term.

Well, I wouldn't dignify my rants as being based on principle;-) But if you
enjoy trying to detect principles in my behavior, that's fine with me. If
there is something as high level as a principle behind me calling people
assholes, I would describe it a little differently than you do:

If someone is appears to me to be clearly wrong, like a chemist who feels
that water has been tainted after it is touched by an "untouchable", then
it's all right to call that person an asshole, because even though using
that kind of language reveals me as an asshole myself becauseI want to keep
perceiving the principle intact. In doing so, I feel that I am better (in at
least one small, little way) than the person to whom I apply the term. (I
don't know that that last part is really part of the principle or just a
consequence of controlling for it).

I deduce that you would not call me an asshole for disagreeing with you, but
> would argue in a different manner.

No. I'd call you that for other reasons;-)

What about females? I can't recall your having called any female who did
> something you consider despicable an asshole -- perhaps you use a different
> anatomical term from the vernacular.

Nope. Condi Rice is an asshole, as are a number of other women. "Asshole"
works fine for both women and men, whites and blacks (OJ, for example, is an
"asshole").

Google informs me that it was Protagorus who originated the phrase
> often rendered as "The measure of all things is man." This sometimes
> get corrupted into "The measure of all things is ME."

Now that sounds like my principle!

Best

RIck
--
Richard S. Marken
rsmarken@gmail.com
marken@mindreadings.com

[Martin Taylor 2007.02.14.13.21]

[From Bryan Thalhammer (2007.02.14.1125 CST)]

Regarding what Pfau wrote, I think that is really a problem of intellectual
schizophrenia, but then I am not a doctor (I only play one...). Sure a person
can hold two conflicting views in abeyance of one another, but when s/he is
asked to perform, which one of those central guidelines will he use? And then if
s/he can successfully choose one in church or among churched people and the
other in the classroom, wouldn't that be rather a matter of a deep-seated
hypocricy? No way. For that reason, I would mock him, just as Jesus did the
pharisee at the front of the temple.

Remember that although big-S Science hopes to explain everything about the universe -- eventually--, at present all we have are little-s sciences, each of which functions, with different levels of precision, in its own small part of the universe of potentially knowable things. Even within hard-nosed physics, we have two most reputable theories (General Relativity and "The Standard Model" of quantum physics) that are incompatible, even though they both work extraordinarily well in their own domains. It's only when we look at something that seems as though it ought to belong in both domains that the incompatibility becomes a problem.

I see no intellectual problem when a Hindu physicist thinks of water offered by an untouchable to be impure. The concepts are in different realms. Neither General Relativity nor the Standard Model offer predictions about moral purity (though a complete Science of Everything would). If there is an intelelctual problem, it is in the mind of someone who thinks that knowledge of the chemistry of the water suffices to determine its moral purity.

As for creationism and standard geology, I don't see how the two could ever come into conflict intellectually. The creationist belief is that God made the world to seem as it is. For a person who seriously believes in that, I would imagine one intellectual issue might be why God made the world so that it seems to be 4.5 billion years old when it is really only six thousand years. But also, to such a person, it might be impolite or improper, or simply ineffectual, to enquire into the mind of God. To study just what God wrought, without considering why, could be quite enough. The geological study could never come into conflict with the creationist beliefs, if the creationist had enough faith.

In [From Bryan Thalhammer (2007.02.14.1146 CST)], Bryan says:

Let's say there is a such a person who in one month presents a pro-creationist paper at one conference, and then is seen to present a paleogeographic paper about the rivers found at the bottom of the North Sea? ... Wouldn't you have to admit that you could not trust one or the other of his work, for obvious conflict of interest?

And when pressed, if that person would maintain that he could hold both views and not be conflicted (13,000 years ago vs. a limit of 4004 B.C.) you would think he is kinda nuts, no?

No. I would not share his belief, but I would have no way to argue that he was wrong to claim that in 4004 BC God created circumstances that would look (perfectly, because this is God we are talking about) as though the river had flowed thousands of years earlier. We mortals make imperfect simulations. Why should not God make perfect ones? On the other hand, if at one time he adduced geological evidence to treat the river of 13,000 years ago in a normal scientific way, and on another occasion used data to make a _geological_ argument that it was less than 6000 years old, then I would not trust what he might say on other questions.

The "fact" that I "know" he is wrong (because I believe something different) is insufficient excuse for me to disparage a person. If I could prove, within his own structure of belief, that he must be wrong, then I might be tempted to mock, but only if he then refused to acknowledge or to correct the contradiction.

I don't disparage anyone who holds mutually contradictory beliefs. I think we all do it, and only when we get into a context in which two mutually inconsistent beliefs should both apply do we notice that there's a problem. When we do notice that there is a problem, we may not be able to construct a solution.

I think there is probably a theoretical link here with the problem of inherent conflicts in a finite set of control systems acting in a resource-limited finite environment.

Martin

[From Bryan Thalhammer (2007.02.14.1308 CST)]

No. I would kinda shut my mouth if it were a church member espousing some fool
notion of 4004 B.C. being something on the same level as data derived from a
significantly sufficient number of samples. But if it were a person doing
science, I would have to deny that person's sanity. You can't be taken seriously
when you both accept the data of river communities in the English Channel from
10-13k BCE and the geneology dating back to 4004 BC as being the same thing. One
of them must be a fanciful tale. :wink: However, if you regard the Biblical
accounts as relatively scientifically accounts of people trying to find the
larger truth... Ok, I am with you.

In the same way, if a Hindu demonstrates support caste and, let's say, also
supports a localized version of Habitat for Humanity, I would bitterly complain,
were this person to be up for an organizational award. Bitterly.

The creationist view, particularly as espoused by the current evil villians of
today, is more than a benign believe system. They would stop all research,
funding, and support for efforts to reverse human despoiling of this planet.
Unless you want the cockroaches to be climbing around your legacy, Martin, I
suggest that you re-examine the verity of the criticism that creationism is
indeed damaging. As far as a claim that all we see is an illusion, I don't think
that is scientifically tenable. I consider that we are in the real world, and
that the data applies both to our senses and our dreams.

Rent the film of 1984 to see what the world would be if creationism pushes us
over the edge. I can't bear to think what will happen if more of this kind of
denial about if such villians as creationists get their way.

Seriously!!!!

--Bryan

···

[Martin Taylor 2007.02.14.13.21]

>[From Bryan Thalhammer (2007.02.14.1125 CST)]
>
>Regarding what Pfau wrote, I think that is really a problem of intellectual
>schizophrenia, but then I am not a doctor (I only play one...). Sure a
person
>can hold two conflicting views in abeyance of one another, but when s/he is
>asked to perform, which one of those central guidelines will he use?
>And then if
>s/he can successfully choose one in church or among churched people and the
>other in the classroom, wouldn't that be rather a matter of a deep-seated
>hypocricy? No way. For that reason, I would mock him, just as Jesus did the
>pharisee at the front of the temple.

Remember that although big-S Science hopes to explain everything
about the universe -- eventually--, at present all we have are
little-s sciences, each of which functions, with different levels of
precision, in its own small part of the universe of potentially
knowable things. Even within hard-nosed physics, we have two most
reputable theories (General Relativity and "The Standard Model" of
quantum physics) that are incompatible, even though they both work
extraordinarily well in their own domains. It's only when we look at
something that seems as though it ought to belong in both domains
that the incompatibility becomes a problem.

I see no intellectual problem when a Hindu physicist thinks of water
offered by an untouchable to be impure. The concepts are in different
realms. Neither General Relativity nor the Standard Model offer
predictions about moral purity (though a complete Science of
Everything would). If there is an intelelctual problem, it is in the
mind of someone who thinks that knowledge of the chemistry of the
water suffices to determine its moral purity.

As for creationism and standard geology, I don't see how the two
could ever come into conflict intellectually. The creationist belief
is that God made the world to seem as it is. For a person who
seriously believes in that, I would imagine one intellectual issue
might be why God made the world so that it seems to be 4.5 billion
years old when it is really only six thousand years. But also, to
such a person, it might be impolite or improper, or simply
ineffectual, to enquire into the mind of God. To study just what God
wrought, without considering why, could be quite enough. The
geological study could never come into conflict with the creationist
beliefs, if the creationist had enough faith.

In [From Bryan Thalhammer (2007.02.14.1146 CST)], Bryan says:

>Let's say there is a such a person who in one month presents a
>pro-creationist paper at one conference, and then is seen to present
>a paleogeographic paper about the rivers found at the bottom of the
>North Sea? ... Wouldn't you have to admit that you could not trust
>one or the other of his work, for obvious conflict of interest?
>
>And when pressed, if that person would maintain that he could hold
>both views and not be conflicted (13,000 years ago vs. a limit of
>4004 B.C.) you would think he is kinda nuts, no?

No. I would not share his belief, but I would have no way to argue
that he was wrong to claim that in 4004 BC God created circumstances
that would look (perfectly, because this is God we are talking about)
as though the river had flowed thousands of years earlier. We mortals
make imperfect simulations. Why should not God make perfect ones? On
the other hand, if at one time he adduced geological evidence to
treat the river of 13,000 years ago in a normal scientific way, and
on another occasion used data to make a _geological_ argument that it
was less than 6000 years old, then I would not trust what he might
say on other questions.

The "fact" that I "know" he is wrong (because I believe something
different) is insufficient excuse for me to disparage a person. If I
could prove, within his own structure of belief, that he must be
wrong, then I might be tempted to mock, but only if he then refused
to acknowledge or to correct the contradiction.

I don't disparage anyone who holds mutually contradictory beliefs. I
think we all do it, and only when we get into a context in which two
mutually inconsistent beliefs should both apply do we notice that
there's a problem. When we do notice that there is a problem, we may
not be able to construct a solution.

I think there is probably a theoretical link here with the problem of
inherent conflicts in a finite set of control systems acting in a
resource-limited finite environment.

Martin

[From Bryan Thalhammer (2007.02.14.1320 CST)]

Martin Taylor wrote:

Even within hard-nosed physics, we have two most
reputable theories (General Relativity and "The Standard Model" of
quantum physics) that are incompatible, even though they both work
extraordinarily well in their own domains.

You can't compare those two with a comparison between a study of prehistory and
Bishop Ussher's nonsense.

Both General Relativity and the Standard Model are two similarly constructed
(from the same intent, using the same tools, with [I believe] the same notion of
including or trying to include a refutability clause, unlike string theory). The
paleogeographic study of the English Channel has the same premise, the study of
a phenom with samples and the making of theories. But the method of Ussher is
completely bolloxed with regard to a scientific assessment of dating those
alleged events, up to and including "let there be...."

I cannot afford letting some creationist be on the same level as a scientist.

Bottom line: There is too much on the line to allow that courtesy. We are
fighting for our planet.

--Bryan

[From Bill Powers (2007.02.14.1120 MST)]

Richard Pfau (11:55 AM 2/14/2007 -0500) --

The B:PCT issue to me is whether different neural nets within a person can represent different and (to an external observer such as you or me) apparently contradictory sets of reference values -- such as those associated with being a "scientist" and a "creationist". In other words, can two apparently contradictory roles, such as those of "scientist" and "creationist" be held and expressed by one person?

I see what you mean. Yes, I think it's clear that there can be more than one system concept (or set of principles) operating in one person, even conflicting ones. However, this would mean that the person would have to avoid all situations in which the actions needed to achieve one set of goals would cause errors relative to another set. That kind of conflict would prevent either side from working properly unless one side were disabled. The restrictions on one's freedom of action and association would be pretty severe.

The clearest situation in which this sort of thing occurs is in so-called (and probably actual) "multiple personalities". In extreme cases, the different personalities don't even know about each other -- they can suddenly find themselves in strange situations without knowing how they got there. They can be totally different personalities.

In the cases you speak of, the different "paradigms" are known at a higher level to the person using them, but the conflict is apparently severe enough that both paradigms can't be operative at the same time. So if you showed this person the skull of a Tyrannosaurus Rex and asked how old it was, the person would get two utterly different answers from the two paradigms, which obviously can't be correct at the same time. It would be necessary to choose one or the other paradigm and suppress the other, somehow, which implies losing the use of a rather large part of one's organization.

I wonder, too, if levels higher than logic and principles wouldn't suffer the effects of the conflict, too. It's possible that one can't really believe either paradigm without becoming the kind of person who believes that sort of thing. However common this might be, it's pathological.

Best,

Bill P.

[From Bryan Thalhammer (2007.02.14.1535 CST)]

Right, Bill, from a purely PCT or clinical assessment, the reason someone could
NOT have conflict would be as you say, that they don't even know it, cannot even
perceive their dichotomous actions. Putting my vitriol (self-ascribed!) aside
for those who would take us back to 13th Century Europe, I understand that it is
possible to tolerate a person in such a state.

I would wonder that there is some active denial, but that belongs to the
previous post. :wink:

--Bry

···

[Bill Powers (2007.02.14.1120 MST)]

Richard Pfau (11:55 AM 2/14/2007 -0500) --

>The B:PCT issue to me is whether different neural nets within a
>person can represent different and (to an external observer such as
>you or me) apparently contradictory sets of reference values -- such
>as those associated with being a "scientist" and a
>"creationist". In other words, can two apparently contradictory
>roles, such as those of "scientist" and "creationist" be held and
>expressed by one person?

I see what you mean. Yes, I think it's clear that there can be more
than one system concept (or set of principles) operating in one
person, even conflicting ones. However, this would mean that the
person would have to avoid all situations in which the actions needed
to achieve one set of goals would cause errors relative to another
set. That kind of conflict would prevent either side from working
properly unless one side were disabled. The restrictions on one's
freedom of action and association would be pretty severe.

The clearest situation in which this sort of thing occurs is in
so-called (and probably actual) "multiple personalities".....

However common this might be, it's
pathological.

Best,

Bill P.

[From Kenny Kitzke (2007.02.14)]

<Rick Marken (2007.02.13.1140)>

<I think the nicest thing I could say about a scientist who acted this way is “weird”. A more accurate description would be “asshole”.>

In high school, when some bully would call someone a name, like “you jerk,” I remember a typical response was, “It takes one to know one!”

I haven’t thought of that for a very long time. Thanks for reminding me Rick how one can respond to name callers…especially professed scientists on a “science” forum.

[From Rick Marken (2007.02.14.2050)]

Kenny Kitzke (2007.02.14)]

<Rick Marken (2007.02.13.1140)>

<I think the _nicest_ thing I could say about a scientist who acted this way
is "weird". A more accurate description would be "asshole".>

In high school, when some bully would call someone a name, like "you jerk,"
I remember a typical response was, "It takes one to know one!"

I haven't thought of that for a very long time. Thanks for reminding me
Rick how one can respond to name callers...especially professed scientists
on a "science" forum.

So I am a bully because I refer (on a science forum) to a scientist
who buys into the irrational and hurtful prejudice that is
"untouchability" as an "asshole"? You religious types sure have
inscrutable values;-)

Best

Rick

···

--
Richard S. Marken
rsmarken@gmail.com
marken@mindreadings.com

[Martin Taylor 2007.02.15]

[From Bryan Thalhammer (2007.02.14.1308 CST)]

I think you misunderstood my message. Have another look at it.

I would kinda shut my mouth if it were a church member espousing some fool
notion of 4004 B.C. being something on the same level as data derived from a
significantly sufficient number of samples. But if it were a person doing
science, I would have to deny that person's sanity. You can't be taken seriously
when you both accept the data of river communities in the English Channel from
10-13k BCE and the geneology dating back to 4004 BC as being the same thing.

These two claims use the same kind of evidence, and ought to be taken as mutually contradictory within the common context. They aren't in the spearate domains I suggested could not possibly be in conflict.

In the same way, if a Hindu demonstrates support caste and, let's say, also
supports a localized version of Habitat for Humanity, I would bitterly complain,
were this person to be up for an organizational award. Bitterly.

How about if an American plutocrat takes time to work for habitat for Humanity, but lives in a gated community and never goes to talk with the people in the ghetto? Would the plutocrat be a good guy for trying to help the poor, or a bad guy for not giving up his privileged position and for not wanting to deal face-to-fcae with the people he tries to help?

The creationist view, particularly as espoused by the current evil villians of
today, is more than a benign believe system. They would stop all research,
funding, and support for efforts to reverse human despoiling of this planet.

Now you are talking about their actions disturbing your controlled perceptions. Your actions disturb theirs. If they truly believe in the imminent Apocalypse they are doing the right thing by trying to hasten it. Its a conflict situation. They are wrong only because you are right.

Unless you want the cockroaches to be climbing around your legacy, Martin, I
suggest that you re-examine the verity of the criticism that creationism is
indeed damaging.

I believe it is, but only because the actions of those who believe it disturb my controlled perceptions. That's entirely irrelevant to my earlier comments that a belief in creationism cannot be contradicted by a serious study of paleontology or geology. Those domains don't overlap once you accept that the world is the way it is because God made it so, whether he did that yesterday evening or at some earlier time.

As far as a claim that all we see is an illusion, I don't think
that is scientifically tenable. I consider that we are in the real world, and
that the data applies both to our senses and our dreams.

You may believe it, but I'm with Bill in finding it hard to imagine a way you could prove it.

Rent the film of 1984 to see what the world would be if creationism pushes us
over the edge. I can't bear to think what will happen if more of this kind of
denial about if such villians as creationists get their way.

I've never seen the film, but I don't remember creationism having any play in the book.

There are lots of villains who want everyone to believe what they say we should believe, and some of them are more dangerous than creationists. In my view, creationists are dangerously misguided, but not villains. Neo-con politicians are an order of magnitude worse, in my view. But that's because I don't believe what they want me to believe, and I have pretty high-level references for wanting to live in a society in which I am allowed to believe what seems reasonable to me.

Seriously!!!!

Yes, seriously...separate the conflict problem among people from the issue of whether a given person can be a seriously religious scientist, or whether physics and chemistry can determine moral purity.

Martin