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NatureGround >> The Myths of Science

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5/1/07 9:22 PM
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Entreri
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Edited: 01-May-07
Member Since: 12/25/2005
Posts: 4541
Hmm. On IQ tests, scientist score very high, out of various groups they score the highest. Same cannot be said for religious zealots.
5/1/07 9:37 PM
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Fraser
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Edited: 01-May-07
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"Even if that were true at the very basic level, Fraser, that cannot account for the faiths in more complex science (which is really only "known" by very, very few people). Most people know about gravity and propulsion, but that doesn't mean they understand rocketry." No, but they understand the foundations that those things are built on. They understand the process of science on which the advanced applications were built. They understand that scientists exist, and that they have a deeper and more thorough explanation of what they themselves know superficially. In other words, they have a quantitative difference in the same kind of knowledge. And because they have some knowledge, and they understand that this type of knowledge is of a fact-based nature, it's not much of a stretch of faith to believe that the scientists are using science and that it is valid. Much less of a stretch of faith than it takes to, say, believe in God or in the miracle stories in the bible, things which don't have any objective empirical evidence to support them. A different type of faith, IMO.
5/1/07 9:42 PM
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Entreri
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Edited: 01-May-07 09:47 PM
Member Since: 12/25/2005
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"I recieved 5% on one exam and 90% on another exam" Lack of studying. As a society we have to keep this religious hogwash at a arms length, otherwise it may very well curtail human advancement (i.e. stem cell research).
5/1/07 11:56 PM
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Fraser
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Edited: 01-May-07
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"By silly stuff in the name of science i'm talking about stuff like memes, mindruses, thought contagion and other value-heavy pseudo-scientific cultural theories that those who posture in the name of science attempt to tack on to biology"

That stuff isn't science. Most of it I have never even heard of.

"I'm saying that science can and often does funtion as a religious surrogate for the anti-religious crowd so i guess i'm equating them."

Well, in that sense they are equal- at least in the same way that chewing gum and cigarettes are equal, because one can be a surrogate for the other.

The whole point of your post, it seemed to me, was that often when people start criticizing faith in religion they represent the most extreme examples as being standard, and applying to all religious people. When these same people talk about faith in science, they want the listener to think that everything calling itself science is infallible.

How can this be a general example of how these conversations go? Not only is there nothing like that on this thread, but I have never heard of anyone behaving that way anywhere, ever. I think it's perfectly likely that there are kooks out there who discuss the most crazy parts of religion as being standard, while embracing anything at all associated with science as being gospel, but I don't think those people are the rule. I think they must be the exception.

BTW, I am glad you like me.
5/2/07 11:37 AM
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jbc
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Edited: 02-May-07
Member Since: 01/01/2001
Posts: 221
Wow, this is still going. Hmmm - seems that Fraser and I are often on these posts... being the rational scientist geeks and trying to not resort to name-calling. Experimental science, in essence, asks whether a hypothesis (one variable) is true or false under a controlled set of conditions. That's it. The experimental design gets more elaborate the more advanced you get, but the essence remains the same. Hey, Superfrog is back. I like this quote "A lot of science is full of crap and a lot of scientists have no real practical intelligence. That's why thier called nerds and geeks." This quote is from the same person who claimed that reading one book can enable someone to 'own' Ph.D.'s. So, Superfrog, what defines real practical intelligence, and what books can I read to 'own' Ph.D.'s?
5/2/07 12:22 PM
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Rastus
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Edited: 02-May-07 12:26 PM
Member Since: 01/01/2001
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"Rastus, I understand everything you're saying except for one little point." *gets out magnifying glass* "When you say, ""Atoms" is a word, and they exist only in our minds.", what exacly do you mean?" That's exactly what I mean - "Atom" is a word, an idea that exists only in our mind, the implications of which the manifest universe will adhere to a limit of experimental observation. "Are you saying our model of an atom is incomplete, that there can be a great deal added before we really know what an atom is?" As I wrote above, what do you mean by "atom"? The term used to mean an indivisible unit, which it most certainly is not. Are you meaning a collection of neutrons, protons and electrons? Well, what about the quarks that compose the nuclear entities? Are you considering the electrons as filling orbitals? Eventually, you must settle on a model the universe most certainly is not. You settle on an idea. With that idea, you see to what extent the universe obeys the predictions of that idea. I mention this often, but we've discovered the rate at which the universe is expanding is INCREASING! Every single physicist worth his salt must have gone blanch, wide-eyed and had his jaw drop. NO ONE was expecting this result...but it happened. That observation has changed our concept of the universe.
5/2/07 12:49 PM
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hekster
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Edited: 02-May-07
Member Since: 01/01/2001
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"As I wrote above, what do you mean by "atom"? The term used to mean an indivisible unit, which it most certainly is not. Are you meaning a collection of neutrons, protons and electrons? Well, what about the quarks that compose the nuclear entities? Are you considering the electrons as filling orbitals? Eventually, you must settle on a model the universe most certainly is not. You settle on an idea. With that idea, you see to what extent the universe obeys the predictions of that idea." Welcome to Postmodernism Rastus.
5/2/07 12:53 PM
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jbc
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Edited: 02-May-07
Member Since: 01/01/2001
Posts: 227
Hi Superfrog: It's ironic that someone who talks about scientists being 'threatened' by people who offer up contrasting ideals defines scientists as "spazzes, nerds, and fags who are socialy autistic, philosophically retarded, lacking in common sense and never get laid." Normally, I'd say that no more needs to be said, but in this case, I'm curious. You know I have a Ph.D. and you know I work in the pharmaceutical industry. I manage a group of people. You might not have known that I have a wife, two kids and a dog. I also teach submission wrestling, and have been doing that for a few years now (brown belt in Japanese Jui Jitsu, green belt in Judo, and some kickboxing and boxing before that). I can cook you a pretty good dinner (maybe a fish that I caught), and would be able to pair it with an appropriate wine. Among my recreational pursuits, I've rebuilt and modified a number of cars and motorbikes, so I can use my hands too. Not bad for a socially autistic fag who never gets laid. Bill Gates one said "Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one." Your turn. What makes you 'normal'?
5/2/07 3:46 PM
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Rastus
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Edited: 02-May-07
Member Since: 01/01/2001
Posts: 28487
Did you see my response to you, KneeUppercut?
5/2/07 4:45 PM
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jbc
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Edited: 02-May-07
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As a synthetic chemist, I'm kind of with Knee Uppercut on this one. The model of an atom being comprised of a nucleus of protons and neutrons, with the electrons filling defined orbitals is sufficient to successfully predict the chemical behaviour of each element. In turn, the model of molecules being comprised of atoms is also sufficient to predict chemical behaviour. As I'm sure you're aware, we can 'see' atoms and molecules via electron microscopy and X-ray crystallography. Because we don't yet fully understand the subatomic nature, and if you want to extend the argument, the origin of the universe, it doesn't mean that the 'simple' model of atoms is invalid (within our limited existence on earth). By analogy, you can recognize an object as being made of wood, metal, or glass without understanding 'gluons' or 'charm'.
5/2/07 5:08 PM
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jbc
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Edited: 02-May-07
Member Since: 01/01/2001
Posts: 232
For any scientific topic (and most physical and theoretical topics) you're going to reach a limit, where our understanding is vague. As such, all our knowledge is necessarily based on models, which involve simplifications. I think we're arguing over the defintion of 'know', and the implications of saying an atom is a 'thing'. What I'm saying is that 'know' means consistency with a simplified model, and that the model need only to be suitable for the required application.
5/2/07 5:52 PM
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Rastus
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Edited: 02-May-07
Member Since: 01/01/2001
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KneeUppercut, jbc, We are really saying the same thing, but you are skipping over what I'm trying to illuminate. thirdleg wrote it well: "Yes, but I think the point is that this success is not equivalent to knowing the thing itself." The pragmatic scientist may consider such distinctions to be tedious, but they are not. They are critical to understanding our own predicaments with our entire interaction with the world, science included. The distinction is no better illustrated than when a major paradigm shift occurs. That shift is happening right now in physics with the failure of String Theory and the measurement of the increased acceleration of the expansion of the universe - something unpredictable with the Standard Model of science. So jbc, while I agree with you that treating atoms and molecules as if they were the model we create is all that's required for most practical science, conflating the two is insufficient to understand their inner nature. e.g. A lone neutron will decay into an electron, proton, antineutrino. That model is insufficient to predict that behavior, but the pragmatism of your particular field makes that insufficiency nugatory. And as I wrote before, just because a rocket scientist needs only consider Newton's Laws doesn't make them true. So with your work - it's sufficient to consider these ideas we call atoms and molecules for the purposes of your work. The fact is, however...and I do repeat, the FACT is that the model you use for your work represents a sufficient map to get you to the place you want to go for your limited purposes. As someone mentioned earlier, the map is not the land. btw, other than a molecule from fly saliva, which is particularly enormous, I'm not aware of any atom or molecule that's been directly seen. Indirect "pictures" have been taken, such as this photo of a Strontium crystal at the nanometer length.
5/2/07 6:10 PM
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Rastus
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Edited: 02-May-07 06:15 PM
Member Since: 01/01/2001
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Damn, this is kind of like pointing at your own finger. "While the model we have of an atom may not be perfect yet, atoms ARE real physical entities." Nature responds in predictable ways. We create language as a shorthand to note the behavior of nature. We make words like "apple", "table", "nose" to reference a physical object... Computer Science analogy: like a pointer in computer science. The word-pointer references an object, but it, itself, is not the object. Even worse, the pointer can only reference part of the object and has limited access to properties, methods and events, and often has data and behavior that's not a part of the object at all. So we have these ideas...these language pointers that reference physical phenomenon which have all the characteristics and consistency we've observed. The pointers, though, are not an all-inclusive reference, and in fact have limited scope as several of the examples above illustrate. [cleaned up the language a bit]
5/2/07 6:13 PM
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jbc
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Edited: 02-May-07
Member Since: 01/01/2001
Posts: 235
Ok, so we don't know the thing, we only know the simplified model of the thing... if we can call an atom a 'thing' at all. If that's the case, we're in agreement. STM, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), as well as SIDEC (2-D electron tomography) have all been used to 'see' atoms. Similarly, X-ray crystallography (a diffraction-based method) is often used to determine molecular structure.
5/2/07 6:17 PM
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Rastus
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Edited: 02-May-07
Member Since: 01/01/2001
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Yes, jbc, that's what I mean. We know our model, and that model usually is sufficient for the practical work we need to do with science. For a particular purpose, this distinction is not particularly meaningful. They are pragmatically equivalent, which I think is the difficulty in expressing the subject. But for a general appraisal of what the phenomenon is, the model is never the object itself. The collection of players in the model and their interaction is what I've called a modern Mythology. It is not "true"...it is merely consistent within a limited framework.
5/2/07 8:23 PM
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Rastus
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Edited: 02-May-07
Member Since: 01/01/2001
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oh...sure, entities exist in nature that we call "atoms". Damn, you must really have thought I was off the deep end if you thought I was doubting that!
5/2/07 8:49 PM
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hekster
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Edited: 02-May-07 08:59 PM
Member Since: 01/01/2001
Posts: 5769
good thread. I came to the conclusions Rastus is espousing here many yrs ago.

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