Thursday, May 31, 2007

Evidentally, you have to have unwavering faith in science to be a good president

Charles Petzold knows a lot about Windows; he's a smart guy, no doubt. But he's also occasionally just plain out rude:

We still don't know if Sen. Brownback believes that humans and dinosaurs lived together, but now we do know that the Senator has a dogmatic disdain for science that precludes him from the job he's currently seeking[more].

Don't mistake me, I'm not a Creationist. The simple fact is that macro-evolutionary theory as the origin of life on Earth is untestable and calling it out as such is valid within the scientific method.

More importantly, declaring someone unfit to be president because they don't share your faith in the scientific method as THE way to describe something is smug and self-aggrandizing.

Of course, that's just my opinion.


Anonymous said...

I would say that to be the president, you have to be willing to listen to reason and accept facts.
Brownback has explicitely said (in the NYT) that he will accept all scientific facts *as long* as they are not incompatible with his faith...
Not exactly my kind of president.

IDisposable said...

I actually don't know anything about Brownback, I was addressing CP's attitude.

As for someone that accepts facts as long as they mesh with your faith, that's EXACTLY what everyone does. Some the faith is in some outside entity, some the faith is in an internal system of thought. Either way, it's faith.

Jason Bock said...

Saying you have "faith" in science makes no sense. It's just a methodology to understand the physical makeup of our universe. That's all. It has no requirement of believing in things or events that are supernatural.

IDisposable said...

The "faith" in science is three-fold.

One is the (untestable) idea that things happen consistently over the long term exactly as they do now. That's a nice idea, but you can't prove it... it has to be accepted as a "given".

Two is the (unreasonable) idea that we can understand the entire processes that drive the universe we are a tiny little part of. Arguing that you can know it all shows that you don't under the halting problem.

Three is the (unrealistic) idea that scientists in one area of expertise actually test the findings of other areas upon which thier own findings depend. So for example, in practice, a biochemist doesn't check the work of the paleontologist, who doesn't check the work of the geologist, who doesn't check the work of the chemist, who doesn't check the work of the atmospheric scientist and thus the fragile conclusion about the macro evolution process becomes accepted without the scientific method doing it's good. Eventually, people realize how circularly-defined this is and they reach out for other equally untestable possibilities. A perfect example of this is the brilliant paleontologist, evolutionary biologic and scientific historian Stephen Jay Gould suddenly jumping on the panspermia train.

Anonymous said...

Regarding your statement "As for someone that accepts facts as long as they mesh with your faith, that's EXACTLY what everyone does".

If you look at the history of science, this is simply not true.

Science would not be able to progress if everyone simply said: "Well, no matter how convincing the evidence, I choose not to accept this new theory, because I believe in something else (even if I haven't got the tiniest piece of evidence to back it up)".

But let's just end this discussion as I believe I am right. Therefore, according to your own logic, you will never, ever be able to convince me.

Jason Bock said...

I doubt that the majority of scientists believe that they "know it all."

Can you give examples to back up the claim you made in point #3 (the Gould example doesn't work IMO).

IDisposable said...

Everyone, especially science, where it is codified as the appropriate practice accepts only those facts that agree with the 'faith' precepts. In science, these are called laws and givens. If the faith, however, is proven wrong, and NEW faith is constructed. But the basic concept is that until you rewrite the laws, they are assumed to be true.

Your construction of "even if I haven't got the tinest piece of evidence" tips your hand quite nicely.

If you choose that to be your parting "contribution" to this blog post, that's fine... to bad it has NOTHING to do with my original point... that people that dismiss a person because they have faith in something are simply arrogant and rude.

IDisposable said...

RE Jason:

It's not my job to refute my statements... that's for you to do... show me a regular application of cross-domain checking by all scientists involved in the macro-evolution discussion.

As for discarding my example of Gould; pray tell, on what grounds do you get to make that call?

Jason Bock said...

So you get to make claims and not have to verify/stand behind them?


Good luck with that.

BTW if you want some information on macroevolution and the science behind it:

Please show me where this is bad science and where it's "faith-based".

To be more specific about the Gould issue: I don't understand why you're even using it in the first place. The two links you cited don't help (the Gould link doesn't mention anything about panspermia and vice versa).

Anonymous said...

The real reason that I do not want to continue this discussion is that I *believe* that you are in fact a robot sent from another universe to draw peoply into pointless discussions.
You can try to prove me wrong, but that will not succeed as nothing can really be proven or even made plausible.

IDisposable said...

At last... a reasonable reply :)