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John Adams Blog

The blog of The Antient and Honourable John Adams Society, Minnesota's Conservative Debating Society www.johnadamssociety.org

Thursday, March 16, 2006


In the opening speech last night, Noumenon argued againsts "scientism" and told us that philosophers of science have essentially agreed that there is no such thing as the "scientific method" and that humans discover scientific truths in exactly the same ways we discover any other truths.

The arguments for this may sound all well and good. But it's like arguing that the hand in front of my face really isn't there. Even if somehow you can give me a logical argument that I can't find fault with that my hand isn't there, I can still see my hand. All I've learned is to discount logical arguments since if I have to choose between some fancy philosophy of science argument, which tells me my hand isn't there, and my eyes, which tells me it is, I will go with my eyes.

Look around. We have airplanes and nuclear reactors and computers and life saving drugs. I can look at a satellite picture of my house on the internet. We've landed robots on freakin Mars! Meanwhile, philosophers, theologians, and Bill Clinton are still arguing what the meaning of "is" is.

I have no use for a logical argument that the scientific method is no different than philosophy or theology. I see the differrence as plain as the hand in front of my face.

Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

I can see seven miles in front of me, and it's flat. The earth is flat, man. (Actually, I see a neighbor who needs to paint his trim. But if that neighbor were not there, 1) that would be a good thing, and 2) I could see seven miles in front of me, or at least Lake Minnetonka, which would still be a good thing.)

5:16 PM, March 16, 2006  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

How do you know that the beast isn't deceiving you into believing that your hand is there? Maybe you don't have a hand... heh heh heh heh

8:47 PM, March 16, 2006  
Blogger festivus said...

Scribbler, all you've done is proven that the earth, at least for that 7 miles or .1 degree of arc, is basically flat within the tolerance of your measurement instrument (your eyes). You can generally trust your eyes (but not all the time, as this shows), but you can't make assumptions about things you cannot see by simply extrapolating out from what you can.

10:02 PM, March 16, 2006  
Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

I believe the world is round, despite the fact that it certainly looks flat to me in my daily experience. If someone were to give me a purely logical argument, with no new facts, that the world must be round, I'm not sure I could be convinced. It was data that convinced me.

Take a look at Hume's argument (said to be an attempt by him to show what to much navel gazing can do) that induction (the belief that the sun will come up tomorrow because it always has in the past) is invalid. Hume's argument is the following: the only justification for believing in induction is that it has always worked in the past. But you can't prove a hypothesis by relying on that very hypothesis. Induction can't be used to prove the validity of induction. Thus we have no basis for believing induction.

Hume's point (and mine) is that this sounds all well and good, but I will still go on believing in induction, thank you very much.

11:56 AM, March 17, 2006  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

What I should actually assume, were I to only trust my eyes, is that the earth is not only flat, but just shy of 154 square miles (or Pi*49).

As to your hand, Pencil, were you blind (and there is at least one JAS FC who would contend that is the case), would you then believe in your hand?

Festivus, you're right, of course. I am merely pointing out the shortcomings of Pencil's argument. Cool illusions there.

1:14 PM, March 17, 2006  
Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

Noumenon can't find his password, so this is from him, not me.

Harsh pencil makes no pretentious distinction between technology and science. He leaves this to the "scientists".

Good for him.

But is the bicycle a product of science, or just common engineering sense? Is morality "unscientific" even though it obviously works?

Does science have to have different tests for truth (besides the only two that are logically possible) because it leads to technology? All I have to do is change linguistic culture to get talk started about "moral technology" and "religious technology" based on our ability to reasonably predict the results of being moral and religious. Isn't pscychoanalysis technical? Is it really science?

So even technology is not necessarily an exclusively scientific progeny. In fact, ethics is more predictable than economics -- our favorite, dismal, social science.

In any event, if there are two pounds on one side of the scale, and one pound on the other, the theory of mass will tell me that the 2 pound side will win. It's confirmed by experience. The theory offers practical predictions. If I make sure that my window is so weighted I have derived technology from the same old test for truth, the same test I use when I predict the tasteless behavior of the unchurched -- idoliters of science like Harsh Pencil.

Applied science says nothing about the logical structure of the underlying theory. It simply exploits the predictions!

I predict that Harsh Pencil will not agree.

By the way, women exhibit prediction and control skills par excellence, while rarely being accused of science.

8:41 PM, March 20, 2006  

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