Re: Public perceptions of science: was Why Most Published Research Findings Are False

From: Robert Schneider <rjschn39@bellsouth.net>
Date: Fri Sep 09 2005 - 17:07:02 EDT

Moorad,

This good discussion that has arisen as a result of your initial stimulating
posting points up the fact that there is not one definition of "the subject
matter of science," as Chris Barden and others have noted. Certainly,
because the universe we perceive is physical, the physical aspect of the
universe must be part of the study of nature. The question is: what aspects
of nature are committed to specific study and how does one understand the
methodologies and parameters of each study? I think that different
disciplines have articulated their ways of study. We all learned a long
time ago that there is no such animal as "the scientific method," but
rather there are many different scientific methods, as there are different
sciences. I think there is an issue of integration implied in your position
that is certainly important to building a total world picture. Whether the
integration should be driven by one definition of science, such as the one
Rep. Holt puts forth, or not is a matter for further discussion.

Since I believe this is my fourth post, let me say to Chris that I
appreciate very much your comments on the social dimension of the current
debate and how one defines science in the public sphere. Given the
widespread ignorance on the part of the general public about what science is
and what scientists do, it would be a daunting task indeed to educate the
public on the epistemologies of "the scientific enterprise." We who are
aware of the importance of distinctions are at a disadvantage in seeking to
sway those who want simple and clear answers and are attracted to others who
announce that they can provide them.

Bob

----- Original Message -----
From: "Alexanian, Moorad" <alexanian@uncw.edu>
To: "Robert Schneider" <rjschn39@bellsouth.net>; "Michael Roberts"
<michael.andrea.r@ukonline.co.uk>
Cc: <asa@calvin.edu>
Sent: Friday, September 09, 2005 3:23 PM
Subject: RE: Public perceptions of science: was Why Most Published Research
Findings Are False

> Bob,
>
> If the subject matter of science is defined to be the physical aspect of
> the universe, as Rep. Holt stipulates, then biologists have to either
> consider life to be physical+, say an emergent property or feature, or
> else redefined what science is to include life. In the former case, they
> have to either indicate how life emerges from the purely physical or
> else admit that biologists cannot handle the question of the origin of
> life since they would suppose its prior existence.
>
> Moorad
>
> P.s. "Science, by definition, is a method of learning about the physical
> universe by asking questions in a way that they can be answered
> empirically and verifiably." These are Holt's words.
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Robert Schneider [mailto:rjschn39@bellsouth.net]
> Sent: Friday, September 09, 2005 2:54 PM
> To: Alexanian, Moorad; Michael Roberts
> Cc: asa@calvin.edu
> Subject: Re: Public perceptions of science: was Why Most Published
> Research Findings Are False
>
> Moorad,
>
> Thanks for the link to Rep. Rush Holt's article. I enjoyed reading it
> very
> much; it's an excellent refutation of ID from the understanding of what
> constitutes science. I think, however, that biologists and perhaps
> others
> may take issue with your statement that "it is
>> up to biologists to show that it is possible for science to describe
>> life, human rationality and consciousness by means of purely physical
>> terms, no mean task."
>
> First of all, this approach implies a purely reductionistic view of
> science,
> and ignores the emergent complexity of "higher" systems, which
> demonstrates
> that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. If we are to
> describe
> what a living organism with consciousness is merely by the operations
> resulting from the blueprint of its genetic code (chemistry & physics),
> then
> we might has well join Dawkins & Co.
>
> Secondly, I think that a biologist might respond by saying that it is
> not
> the province of physcists and chemists to tell biologists how to define
> what
> the life sciences are and are not qua science. He/she might say, "We
> biologists don't tell you physicsts and chemists how to define and do
> science, so don't tell us."
>
> Bob
>
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Alexanian, Moorad" <alexanian@uncw.edu>
> To: "Michael Roberts" <michael.andrea.r@ukonline.co.uk>
> Cc: <asa@calvin.edu>
> Sent: Friday, September 09, 2005 1:49 PM
> Subject: RE: Public perceptions of science: was Why Most Published
> Research
> Findings Are False
>
>
>> There is marked difference between geology and biology, the former
> deals
>> with inanimate matter whereas the latter also includes living
> organisms.
>> I consider the subject matter of science to be the physical aspect of
>> the universe. So does the member of Congress Rep. Rush Holt in his
>> article, "Intelligent Design: It's Not Even Wrong"
>> <http://houseoflabor.tpmcafe.com/author/rushholt> . Therefore, it is
>> up to biologists to show that it is possible for science to describe
>> life, human rationality and consciousness by means of purely physical
>> terms, no mean task.
>>
>> Moorad
>>
>>
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu [mailto:asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu]
> On
>> Behalf Of Michael Roberts
>> Sent: Friday, September 09, 2005 1:18 PM
>> To: chris.barden@gmail.com; George Murphy
>> Cc: asa@calvin.edu
>> Subject: Re: Public perceptions of science: was Why Most Published
>> Research Findings Are False
>>
>> An excellent comment Chris, there are too many who think that geology
>> and
>> biology are less scientific than physics and chemistry. This is
> fuelled
>> by
>> the origins science and operational science.
>>
>> I n geology it is totally precise to say one rock is older than
> another
>> especially when you can give no further details (yes I have been in
> that
>>
>> situation mapping in Precambrian). In fact a devotion with maths and
>> giving
>> things to n decimal places can be inaccurate, if we cannot measure
> with
>> precision. I noted this as mathematical ideas were applied to
> structural
>>
>> geology in the 60s. The maths was detailed but they overlooked the
>> geological features which were actually visible. I remember one such
> guy
>> who
>> argued that the strike of some Precambrian strata was 350degrees. He
> did
>> not
>> like it when I told him that it was 15 degrees and that this curved to
>> 340
>> deg as was clear when you flew overhead, looked at aerial photos or
> just
>>
>> measured dip and strike like a geologist in the 1820s.
>>
>> I have found that both YEC and ID suffer from this prejudice against
>> geology
>> and biology.
>>
>> Another major issue and this is why my friend described ID as devilish
>> is
>> that they fuel culture wars on and worse thrive on misrepresenting
>> "evolution" as do Johnson and Wells, and create mayhem with their
>> efforts on
>> education trying to "teach the controversy" etc. Another factor is the
>> lack
>> of concern for the environment and an unwillingness to see the issues,
>> which
>> is not surprising if one cant accept the vast age of the earth. If ID
>> was
>> purely an attempt to understand science I wouldn't be bothered,
>> especially
>> those who are trying to find a plausible mechanism for an OE view
>> without
>> evolution. It is their politicking which makes me see something more
>> sinister and dear Wells with Icons made be turn against ID
>>
>> Michael
>> ----- Original Message -----
>> From: "Chris Barden" <chris.barden@gmail.com>
>> To: "George Murphy" <gmurphy@raex.com>
>> Cc: <asa@calvin.edu>
>> Sent: Friday, September 09, 2005 3:52 PM
>> Subject: Re: Public perceptions of science: was Why Most Published
>> Research
>> Findings Are False
>>
>>
>>>I think it's also worth noting is that the "scientific wing" of ID is
>>> largely made up of physical scientists. There is a general prejudice
>>> in the physics and chemistry community, at least among younger
>>> scientists, that if biologists really wanted to "do science" they
>>> would have been one of us. I know that when I toyed with ID, I
>>> fancied most biologists to be willing to accept much less than
>>> "scientific proof" when they came up with their notions. I believe
> my
>>> comment at the time was something to the effect of "we can show our
>>> answers are right to five decimal places, how come they can't be that
>>> precise?" Couple this to the cursory background in evolution given
> to
>>> most chemists and physicists (myself included), and you have a cadre
>>> of ID proponents who are especially stubborn, because they believe
>>> their workaday way of doing science is superior and couldn't possibly
>>> be infused with anti-scientific philosophy.
>>>
>>> Chris
>>>
>>> On 9/9/05, George Murphy <gmurphy@raex.com> wrote:
>>>> I agree with what's been said here so far &, in particular, think
>> it's
>>>> important to realize that the ID movement is part of a larger
> culture
>>
>>>> wars
>>>> agenda. But there are other factors involved in the assault on good
>>>> science. Some of this started in the 60s as part of the romanticism
>>>> associated with the counter-culture, & the notion of some
>> post-modernists
>>>> that the scientific approach to understanding the physical world
>> isn't
>>>> any
>>>> more valid that any other way also plays into it.
>>>>
>>>> Shalom
>>>> George
>>>> http://web.raex.com/~gmurphy/
>>>> ----- Original Message -----
>>>> From: "Robert Schneider" <rjschn39@bellsouth.net>
>>>> To: "Don Nield" <d.nield@auckland.ac.nz>; "Michael Roberts"
>>>> <michael.andrea.r@ukonline.co.uk>
>>>> Cc: <asa@calvin.edu>
>>>> Sent: Thursday, September 08, 2005 10:51 PM
>>>> Subject: Re: Public perceptions of science: was Why Most Published
>>>> Research
>>>> Findings Are False
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> >I agree, Don, that evangelistic atheists like Dawkins & Co.
> shoulder
>>
>>>> >some
>>>> >responsibility for contributing to the distrust of science. They
>> speak
>>>> >to
>>>> >a largely educated audience, and Dawkins often does so in the kind
>> of
>>>> >inflated rhetoric that makes for good copy to a press that thrives
>> on
>>>> >conflict. But at the same time they add more ammunition to the
>> stores
>>>> >of
>>>> >the professional advocates of YEC and ID who use their words to
> make
>> a
>>>> >case
>>>> >against mainstream science by not making the distinction between
>> science
>>>> >and scientism that you and I understand.
>>>>
>>>>
>>>
>>
>>
>
>
>
Received on Fri Sep 9 17:06:59 2005

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