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Is Spreading Science Justified By Reason?

 
Hippyhead
 
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Hippyhead
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22 May 2013 13:19
 

Hi all,

I was intrigued to join by the title for this site “Project Reason:  Spreading Science And Secular Values”.

I’m not sure what is meant by secular values yet, so I’ll leave that one alone for now.

The site title seems to start with a conclusion, so I’m wondering if that is really reason. 

Also, I’m wondering if the evidence points to science being something that should be spread.  It seems fairly easy to make a counter case, and I’m wondering to what degree science is open to challenge here.

If these questions interest you, would welcome and appreciate any comments you may wish to dive in to.  Thanks.

 
 
Nhoj Morley
 
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Nhoj Morley
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22 May 2013 13:39
 

Greetings, Mr. Head.

I’m not sure what is meant by secular values yet, so I’ll leave that one alone for now.

How about, an ethical system without a supernatural rationale?

Also, I’m wondering if the evidence points to science being something that should be spread.  It seems fairly easy to make a counter case, and I’m wondering to what degree science is open to challenge here.

Science makes everything open to challenge. Even itself. Have a go.
Let’s see how easily you can make a counter case.

 
 
nv
 
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nv
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22 May 2013 14:09
 
Hippyhead - 22 May 2013 11:19 AM

. . .

Also, I’m wondering if the evidence points to science being something that should be spread.  It seems fairly easy to make a counter case, . . .

Science gets defined in various ways. How would you define it, Hippyhead?

 
 
eudemonia
 
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eudemonia
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22 May 2013 14:15
 

Yes Science should be spread. Scientific inquiry should be publicized as much as any other endeavor and it is reasonable to do so.

Scientific illiteracy is a big problem especially in the US. Just look at the global warming issue alone.

 
 
Jefe
 
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Jefe
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22 May 2013 14:18
 

The benefits of spreading science are likely to outweigh the drawbacks.
Particularly when one considers science as a whole.

The value of disciplines like medicine, immunology, agriculture, animal husbandry, electricity, structural engineering, and climatology alone should not be underestimated for their beneficial impact to humanity as a whole.  And that handful of disciplines barely scratches the surface of the enormous body of knowledge contained within the simple descriptor “science”.

PS - don’t be afraid of the term secular values.
Many examples of them can be found all over the place, including in the common civic and federal laws of most first and second world countries.

[ Edited: 22 May 2013 14:21 by Jefe]
 
 
eudemonia
 
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eudemonia
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22 May 2013 14:30
 

Secular values as well. That is, empirical inquiry for knowledge, and not theological interpretation, especially when it comes to society and governance.

 
 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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22 May 2013 14:53
 
Hippyhead - 22 May 2013 11:19 AM

Also, I’m wondering if the evidence points to science being something that should be spread.  It seems fairly easy to make a counter case, and I’m wondering to what degree science is open to challenge here.

No, there’s no evidence to support the claim that science should be spread. Spreading science will help us achieve certain objectives; it won’t help us achieve others. Whether spreading science will or won’t help achieve any given objective can be shown with evidence. But first you have to tell us what your objective is.

 
 
GAD
 
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GAD
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22 May 2013 17:18
 

Lets just KISS this.

Which is the greater for the advancement of human knowledge and understanding, Science or ignorance, myth, magic and superstition? 

And that really what we are talking about here as the opposite of science is ignorance, myth, magic and superstition.

 
 
Hippyhead
 
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Hippyhead
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22 May 2013 21:30
 

Thank you all for your comments, appreciated.  To keep things tidy, I guess I should leave the secular values issues alone for now, and focus on the science question.

We have a cultural consensus that on balance science is a net positive.  This consensus is very understandable, given the significant benefits science has delivered to human welfare over the last 500 years or so.  Key to this consensus is the assumption that the progress we’ve seen so far will continue in to the future. 

What if that assumption is wrong?  What if future progress were to end, and most of the benefits science has delivered so far were wiped away?

As we all know, but rarely face in any serious way, most everything science has built could come crashing down in a single day, thanks to science itself. 

Now that we have nuclear weapons, one bad day is all it takes to erase most of what science has built.  Continuing science driven progress in to the future now depends on never having that one bad day, not even once. 

Would we still consider science to be wonderful if that one bad day should come? 

Before you declare that could never happen, please consider that there’s never been a time in human history when the great powers didn’t eventually go to war.  And of course, we’ve already came within a whisker of that one bad day in my lifetime, during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The idea that the one bad day can be avoided in the future, forever, would actually be a highly speculative statement with very little evidence to support it.  Such a faith would almost compare to religious belief.

And nuclear weapons are only the beginning.  As science accelerates, the assumption that progress will continue depends on our ability to successfully manage all the unprecedented powers that will jump out of pandora’s box, at an ever increasing rate.

Given that 1) we already have the nuclear pistol pointed at our own heads, and 2) that we don’t even seem to consider this a very pressing problem….

The evidence suggests that we are not close to being mature enough as a species to handle all the powers that science will be giving to us.

Ok, your turn, go for it!

 
 
LadyJane
 
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LadyJane
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22 May 2013 22:04
 

Hiroshima and Nagasaki DID have that day.  Welcome Hippy.

 
 
Jefe
 
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Jefe
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22 May 2013 23:19
 
Hippyhead - 22 May 2013 07:30 PM

The evidence suggests that we are not close to being mature enough as a species to handle all the powers that science will be giving to us.

Ok, your turn, go for it!

While that may be the case, without responsibility, maturity may never come.
Further, what are the consequences of attempting to stop the spread of science?  How do you propose to do that?

Finally, I think your comment that we don’t take nuclear proliferation seriously is assumptive at best.

 
 
GAD
 
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GAD
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22 May 2013 23:52
 
LadyJane - 22 May 2013 08:04 PM

Hiroshima and Nagasaki DID have that day.  Welcome Hippy.

The American Civil War had an estimated 1,000,000 casualties far more the Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined all with no nukes at all. Is that “sciences” fault? What about the Mongol conquests (1206-1324) 30,000,000–60,000,000, no “science” at all.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wars_by_death_toll

What about plague’s and disease that science fights against

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_epidemics
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pandemic

 
 
Hippyhead
 
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Hippyhead
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22 May 2013 23:57
 

Further, what are the consequences of attempting to stop the spread of science?  How do you propose to do that?

As a start, sites with names like Project Reason can use reason to examine the evidence about science in an objective manner, rather than starting with a conclusion that science should be expanded.

Finally, I think your comment that we don’t take nuclear proliferation seriously is assumptive at best.

We take nuclear proliferation seriously in regards to small countries who have few or no nukes. 

We rarely seem to discuss the real problem, the thousands of nukes held by the great powers.  Everybody seems content that the numbers of nukes have been reduced, even though there are still plenty of nukes left to bring civilization as we know it to an end.  In a single day.

Science has given us a pistol, we’ve pointed it at our own heads, largely forgotten the pistol is there, and now we’re excited about science giving us more and more power.

This is reason?

 
 
Jefe
 
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23 May 2013 00:05
 
Hippyhead - 22 May 2013 09:57 PM

Science has given us a pistol, we’ve pointed it at our own heads, largely forgotten the pistol is there, and now we’re excited about science giving us more and more power.

This is reason?

Nope.  That’s a straw-man built out of a slippery slope fallacy.

 
 
Hippyhead
 
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Hippyhead
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23 May 2013 00:11
 

The American Civil War had an estimated 1,000,000 casualties far more the Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined all with no nukes at all.

In previous wars, one area would be devastated, but could be rebuilt with resources from unaffected areas.  Humans didn’t have the ability to affect all areas at once.  Now we do.

It’s unlikely even nukes would directly kill every person, but the social and environmental chaos that would likely result worldwide would erase most of what we think of as civilization.  Nobody would be in a position to rebuild what had been destroyed.

Unless we can construct a convincing argument that demonstrates that we will never use science in this way, not even once, ever, then the advancement of science is reasonably questioned.

 
 
Jefe
 
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Jefe
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23 May 2013 00:13
 
Hippyhead - 22 May 2013 09:57 PM

Further, what are the consequences of attempting to stop the spread of science?  How do you propose to do that?

As a start, sites with names like Project Reason can use reason to examine the evidence about science in an objective manner, rather than starting with a conclusion that science should be expanded.

I’m curious about your use of the term objectivity.

If we do value objectivity, we should weigh the benefits against the pitfalls of science as a whole.

To toss out all potential scientific advancement because of fear that we might lose control and use nukes against ourselves - toppling civilization as you put it - seems extreme.  To date the number of people killed by the use of nuclear weaponry is dwarfed by the number of people killed by diseases that we can immunize against today because of science.

Don’t get me wrong.  I think you are wise to be concerned about the number of nukes out there, but to toss away all science because of them is sort of like tossing out the baby with the bathwater.

Perhaps you could provide some of this cost/benefit analysis for us?

 
 
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