Re: [asa] Can Science Test Supernatural Worldviews? by Yonatan I. Fishman

From: Nucacids <>
Date: Mon Apr 20 2009 - 23:42:14 EDT

Fishman's whole argument equates a Bayesian approach with science. Yet ironically, Fishman notes something early on in his article that completely undercuts this position:

  These considerations (to be discussed further below) are naturally captured within the framework of Bayesian confirmation theory, which is widely considered to be a good description of how scientists (and indeed ordinary people under mundane circumstances, such as in a court of law) update or revise their degree of confidence in a hypothesis, starting with a given prior probability, on the basis of new evidence. (emphasis added)

Clearly, the Bayesian approach can be and is used outside of science.

Thus, Fishman builds on a logical fallacy - just because science uses the Bayesian approach does not mean that any inquiry or analysis that uses the Bayesian approach is science.

- Mike

PS: Fishman never really defines "Science" (if I recall correctly).

Is he talking "Science" is some abstract, philosophical sense or a concrete, sociological sense?

  Okay, he's wrong. Was there something else?

  "While scientific evidence may ultimately support a naturalistic worldview,
  science does not presuppose Naturalism as an a priori commitment, and supernatural
  claims are amenable to scientific evaluation."

  Yours faithfully,

  Dick Fischer, author, lecturer

  Historical Genesis from Adam to Abraham

  I would be interested to know if anyone on the list has read the following article which is available as a pre-print at the webpage. The article will appear sometime this year in the journal Science & Education. I have a pdf copy if anyone would like to see the article but does not have access to SpringerLink. As I say, I'm curious as to how people on the list might respond to Fishman's arguments, especially those more philosophically trained than I am!
  grace & peace

  Can Science Test Supernatural Worldviews?
  Yonatan I. Fishman
  Abstract Several prominent scientists, philosophers, and scientific institutions have
  argued that science cannot test supernatural worldviews on the grounds that (1) science
  presupposes a naturalistic worldview (Naturalism) or that (2) claims involving supernatural
  phenomena are inherently beyond the scope of scientific investigation. The present paper
  argues that these assumptions are questionable and that indeed science can test supernatural
  claims. While scientific evidence may ultimately support a naturalistic worldview,
  science does not presuppose Naturalism as an a priori commitment, and supernatural
  claims are amenable to scientific evaluation. This conclusion challenges the rationale
  behind a recent judicial ruling in the United States concerning the teaching of ''Intelligent
  Design'' in public schools as an alternative to evolution and the official statements of two
  major scientific institutions that exert a substantial influence on science educational policies
  in the United States. Given that science does have implications concerning the
  probable truth of supernatural worldviews, claims should not be excluded a priori from
  science education simply because they might be characterized as supernatural, paranormal,
  or religious. Rather, claims should be excluded from science education when the evidence
  does not support them, regardless of whether they are designated as 'natural' or

  Dr. Bill Cobern, Director
  The George G. Mallinson Institute for Science Education
  University Distinguished Professor of Biological Sciences and Science Education
  College of Arts & Sciences
  Western Michigan University
  3225 Wood Hall
  Kalamazoo, MI 49008-5444
  Voice: +269.387.5407 FAX: +269.387.4998

  Yes, there really is a Kalamazoo!


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Received on Mon Apr 20 23:43:29 2009

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