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

From: D. F. Siemens, Jr. <>
Date: Fri Sep 09 2005 - 17:40:44 EDT

On Fri, 9 Sep 2005 15:20:28 -0500 (CDT) David C Campbell
<> writes:
> >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.
> Living entities unquestionably have physical properties that can be
> examined scientifically, regardless of their origins. Models for
> the
> physical origin of life exist; they do not provide exhaustive detail
> but they do show that it's worth trying to find scientific
> descriptions. It's possible, though IMO unlikely, that this effort
> will come across a clear break that can't be explained
> scientifically.
> However, this does not negate the physical descriptions of the
> remaining aspects.

I think an aspect of the situation is being overlooked. To be sure, the
only living things we can study are physical entities, from the
borderline viruses to advanced plants and animals. In most of these we
recognize the difference between the living and the nonliving, though the
latter may still evidence some of the physical and chemical activities
connected to being alive. In all these activities, there is emergence,
activities that go beyond simple and complex chemical and physical
actions. These require to be understood in different categories. This is
even seen in nonliving devices. It is one thing to view a computer as a
collection of interconnected chips with currents flowing, and quite
different to consider it as doing complicated calculations or processing
language. Fact is, we need both hardware and software, plus input, to get
results. Troubleshooting a problem is very different if a chip goes bad,
a file is corrupted, or a pinky missed an a. To try to reduce biology to
applied physical science is futile, as is trying to reduce psychology and
sociology to applied biology.

From time to time I run across reports of attempts to study spirit
scientifically. Every such attempt ultimately requires some sort of
evidence within the space-time material world. Even telepathy, the
claimed direct communication of mind to mind, requires as a minimum a
report from the sender on what was transmitted and one from the receiver
as to what was received. Even an oral report is physical. Can you imagine
a third party's report, "The sender and receiver communicated
telepathically to me that the test worked"?
Received on Fri, 9 Sep 2005 14:40:44 -0700

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