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Is Spreading Science Justified By Reason?

 
SkepticX
 
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SkepticX
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24 May 2013 10:21
 

If we can internalize the fundamental principles of science, principally intellectual humility and integrity, we’re on our best cognitive footing for dealing with reality.

Anything less is a compromise, but we’ve learned the value of science and we have at least internalized a significant degree of respect for the concept, so most such compromises are already somewhat minimized by Socialization’s default. Unfortunately relatively few really seem to appreciatescience in much depth (the label, not the principles/in form, not substance), so it’s often applied in an almost pseudo-religious sense for many world views—the flip side of reifying religion, which seems to be a damn near universal conceptual error.

So, as Jefe’s already covered ... yes. It’s easy to get mixed up in the pseudo-religiofied concept of science and to reify it, and to conflate the misuse, or even the politics enabled by engineering, with Science as if it were a Thing Unto Itself or an Entity of some sort that can be blamed for our behaviors.

 
 
Hippyhead
 
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24 May 2013 11:55
 

If we can internalize the fundamental principles of science, principally intellectual humility and integrity, we’re on our best cognitive footing for dealing with reality.

Ok, well said, I can vote for that. 

I’m hoping to apply the mindset you suggest to the challenge of understanding and managing what may be an emerging reality for human beings, a transition from incremental to more exponential rates of knowledge development.

Is it true that the more we know, the faster we can learn more? 

It’s easy to get mixed up in the pseudo-religiofied concept of science and to reify it, and to conflate the misuse, or even the politics enabled by engineering, with Science as if it were a Thing Unto Itself or an Entity of some sort that can be blamed for our behaviors.

Agreed again, science is just a tool.  It’s not evil or out to get us. 

And just as we would with any tool, we should understand our ability to manage that tool.  Like for starters, do we have the ability to turn the tool on and off?

 
 
saralynn
 
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saralynn
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24 May 2013 12:22
 

Science isn’t the problem.  Our moral development as a species is the problem.  Even if you were totally correct in your assumptions,Hippy, (which I don’t support), we wouldn’t have the moral maturity to even make THAT decision. 

Doesn’t seem that various religious traditions have worked very well in encouraging needed intellectual and emotional maturity.  I guess we’ll have to learn the hard way….by suffering the consequences.

 
LadyJane
 
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LadyJane
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24 May 2013 12:26
 

Is your issue specifically with Nukes?
Does the scenario involve forgoing tools like the Hubble Telescope or Hadron Collider used to investigate the mysteries of the Universe?
Even then…how do we cook our food?  That involves science.  Everything we do involves science.  Everything.

Anyway Hippy…you inspired me to revisit The Machine Stops by E.M Forster…so thanks for that.

 
 
Jefe
 
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24 May 2013 12:46
 
Hippyhead - 24 May 2013 06:54 AM

A chief obstacle to seeing this relationship….


I’d say another obstacle is the concepts and terms you use.
You’re treating science like one big monolithic endeavor in your postings - and I think this does not lend clarity to the position you are trying to pursue.

There’s Science with a capital ‘s’ and science with a lower case ‘s’.
There are different disciplines in science, some far less likely to produce the disaster your scare rhetoric is suggesting.

I don’t think you’ll find many here who object to taking responsibility for ourselves and cleaning up our messes.  But when you over-generalize a concept like science it not only muddies the message you’re trying to convey, but it also leaves room for similarly generalized responses.

 
 
Jefe
 
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24 May 2013 12:51
 
Hippyhead - 24 May 2013 06:54 AM

What I’ve shown in this thread is that we don’t currently have the will, maturity and seriousness to manage the powers we already have.

You’ve asserted it.  I don’t know that you’ve demonstrated it.

Objectively, our record with nuks has been fairly harmless on a comparative scale.

I do not mean to detract from the events at Hiroshima or Nagasaki in any way by this comment.  But with the number available in the world, our record on accidental detonations of nuclear weapons has been as close to zero as doesn’t matter.

I think you may also be overlooking or downplaying the deterrence factor when it comes to nuclear armaments.  It’s certainly may not be the best way to keep missiles in their silos, but it also doesn’t appear to be completely ineffective.

As for cimate issues, I would agree wholeheartedly with the desire to halt and reverse the damage done by humanity to date - but I wonder if you’re familiar enough with the cause of climate change, and I wonder if you’re asking yourself the hard questions surrounding changes required to reverse the trend.  (Which is not to say that I think it is impossible or undesirable….but I think if you’re going to be objective, you need to understand the science and know what the hard questions are - if not how you’ll answer them.)

Further:  Without ‘science’ we would be blissfully unaware that the the climate was changing.  How do you reconcile the conflict between wanting to halt science and needing science to understand one of the key issues of our time?

 
 
Hippyhead
 
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24 May 2013 13:51
 
LadyJane - 24 May 2013 10:26 AM

Is your issue specifically with Nukes?

No, nukes are just an example of what sometimes pops out of pandora’s box, and an example of our inability to even take a serious interest in the messes we have previously made.

If we could push a button and totally eliminate nukes and all knowledge of them, we still face the fundamental issue, an accelerating rate of knowledge development which may be becoming exponential, and our questionable ability to manage the process wisely.

Genetic engineering, nanotech, artificial intelligence and so on.  All these enterprises offer great promise, but grave risks too.  If we underestimate just one of the grave risks, it could be game over, and then none of the many benefits of science will matter.

We’re rolling the dice faster and faster, and given the powers of these coming technologies, we have to be right every time.

I’m challenging members to replace a simplistic “more is better” relationship with knowledge development with something more sophisticated. 

I’m arguing that while “more is better” may have been appropriate for an era of incremental change, it may be a very naive way to look at an era of exponential change.

Some readers think I want to go back to the past.  I see readers as clinging to a simpler past, and perhaps unwilling to face the more complex challenges that are coming.

 
 
saralynn
 
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24 May 2013 14:07
 
LadyJane - 24 May 2013 10:26 AM

Is your issue specifically with Nukes?
Does the scenario involve forgoing tools like the Hubble Telescope or Hadron Collider used to investigate the mysteries of the Universe?
Even then…how do we cook our food?  That involves science.  Everything we do involves science.  Everything.

Anyway Hippy…you inspired me to revisit The Machine Stops by E.M Forster…so thanks for that.

The sun!  Or was it,,,, The Light!  Maybe…the sky!

Darn.  It was a long time.  GREAT short story.  Should be read by everyone before people lose the ability to focus on a narrative for 20 minutes.  Very prescient.

 
sojourner
 
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24 May 2013 21:56
 
saralynn - 24 May 2013 10:22 AM

Doesn’t seem that various religious traditions have worked very well in encouraging needed intellectual and emotional maturity.  I guess we’ll have to learn the hard way….by suffering the consequences.


That’s a departure from your usual tone on religion. Just curious, anything in particular that put you in that frame of mind?

 
 
saralynn
 
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24 May 2013 23:38
 
NicLynn - 24 May 2013 07:56 PM
saralynn - 24 May 2013 10:22 AM

Doesn’t seem that various religious traditions have worked very well in encouraging needed intellectual and emotional maturity.  I guess we’ll have to learn the hard way….by suffering the consequences.


That’s a departure from your usual tone on religion. Just curious, anything in particular that put you in that frame of mind?

No.  I’m starry-eyed over the mystics, not traditional religions with their various doctrines & disputes. That being said, I think some devotees can use the doctrines as a means of self-transformation, so I’m much more tolerant of believers than most on this site.  I also feel that religion, at its best, can have a civilizing influence.  At its worst, it can create barbarism and dissension.  Historically, the best and the worst happen simultaneously…. but when politics gets embroiled in it, it simply becomes just another depressing sociological force among many.

 
cunjevoi
 
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25 May 2013 06:57
 
Hippyhead - 23 May 2013 08:45 PM

Can the spreading of science be justified by reason?

This is a strange question. Science IS reason. The forum’s rationale is worded differently, stating that the mission is to spread knowledge.

To address your position Hip:

Should we be thoughtful and cautious about how we utilise emergent technologies? Absolutely.
Should we ensure dangerous weapons don’t fall into the wrong hands? Of course.
Should we work smarter rather than harder? For sure.
Should we consider alternative worldviews invoking the supernatural? No f#$%in’ way.

Homo sapiens are defined by the history of science as we continue to explore and discover. Science is the guiding light that led people out of the dark ages when religion reigned supreme. Science is about understanding reality. Your position seems akin to saying that death is worrisome so let’s not live.

Curiosity did not kill the cat. It was ignorance and fear.

 
Hippyhead
 
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25 May 2013 08:57
 

This is a strange question. Science IS reason. The forum’s rationale is worded differently, stating that the mission is to spread knowledge.

Um, it says “spreading science” right at the top of every page, but that quibble aside, I agree, “spreading knowledge” works just as well.

Should we consider alternative worldviews invoking the supernatural? No f#$%in’ way.

I agree this is an interesting question, and I’m willing to address it elsewhere, but was hoping to sidestep that question in this thread.  Just my personal wish, that’s all.  Everybody is of course free to post whatever they want.

Homo sapiens are defined by the history of science as we continue to explore and discover.

Ok, so let’s continue to explore this new emerging environment we find ourselves entering. 

In the past, we had to get new knowledge one baby step at a time.  In such a limited knowledge environment, a philosophy of “more is better” made sense.

Now knowledge is exploding all around us, apparently at an ever increasing rate.  Some people (like Kurzweil) feel this acceleration is approaching an exponential rate of change.

I’m arguing that our previous “more is better” relationship with knowledge is a simplistic relic of the past, and that a new kind of relationship will be required as we go forward.

What that new kind of relationship might be is the topic of this thread.

 
 
bardoXV
 
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25 May 2013 11:39
 
Hippyhead - 25 May 2013 06:57 AM

This is a strange question. Science IS reason. The forum’s rationale is worded differently, stating that the mission is to spread knowledge.

Um, it says “spreading science” right at the top of every page, but that quibble aside, I agree, “spreading knowledge” works just as well.

Should we consider alternative worldviews invoking the supernatural? No f#$%in’ way.

I agree this is an interesting question, and I’m willing to address it elsewhere, but was hoping to sidestep that question in this thread.  Just my personal wish, that’s all.  Everybody is of course free to post whatever they want.

Homo sapiens are defined by the history of science as we continue to explore and discover.

Ok, so let’s continue to explore this new emerging environment we find ourselves entering. 

In the past, we had to get new knowledge one baby step at a time.  In such a limited knowledge environment, a philosophy of “more is better” made sense.

Now knowledge is exploding all around us, apparently at an ever increasing rate.  Some people (like Kurzweil) feel this acceleration is approaching an exponential rate of change.

I’m arguing that our previous “more is better” relationship with knowledge is a simplistic relic of the past, and that a new kind of relationship will be required as we go forward.

What that new kind of relationship might be is the topic of this thread.

There are 2 aspects in the quest for new knowledge, one is the result of research and is the acquiring of knowledge and to a point the development of new technology.  The problems start when that new knowledge and technology is applied to the world on a large scale.  Too often it is applied before all the consequences are known and by the time the are known it is too late to put it back in the box.  Continue the research and discover as much as possible but only apply those discoveries after the benifits and costs are better understood.

 
 
nv
 
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25 May 2013 11:51
 
Hippyhead - 25 May 2013 06:57 AM

. . .

In the past, we had to get new knowledge one baby step at a time.  In such a limited knowledge environment, a philosophy of “more is better” made sense.

Now knowledge is exploding all around us, apparently at an ever increasing rate.  Some people (like Kurzweil) feel this acceleration is approaching an exponential rate of change.

Keep in mind, Hh, that science and technology are not the same thing. Neither are science and engineering. You still haven’t defined science. It’s a term that gets defined in various ways. What’s yours?

 
 
Hippyhead
 
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25 May 2013 19:38
 

Keep in mind, Hh, that science and technology are not the same thing.

Not to quibble too much, but they kind of are, in the sense that anything science discovers that can be turned in to new technology, probably will be.

You still haven’t defined science. It’s a term that gets defined in various ways. What’s yours?

The development of knowledge seems to work.  And I’m for that. 

I’m for developing knowledge about how to manage what looks to be a coming explosion of knowledge.

 
 
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