RE: [asa] Atheist finds God thru Behe's books....

From: Alexanian, Moorad <>
Date: Thu Oct 15 2009 - 08:03:44 EDT

In the spirit of Bayesian logic, one needs data and prior information to make inferences. Of course, my conception of science is that the data can be obtained, in principle, by purely physical devices. Herein lies the objectivity of science. Of course, what prior information one uses to test hypothesis and develop theories is something else. Therein lies where much of the subjectivity may come in. At least in physics, we try very strongly to limit the prior information to what can lead to unadulterated science.

In the study of human beings, I suppose we can follow the same procedure. The difficulty comes in the prior information, which can be replete with subjectivity. That is all I am saying.

Thanks Gregory for your many interesting posts.


From: Gregory Arago []
Sent: Wednesday, October 14, 2009 12:27 PM
To: Alexanian, Moorad; Ted Davis; Randy Isaac; Rich Blinne; Cameron Wybrow
Cc: asa
Subject: Re: [asa] Atheist finds God thru Behe's books....

Moorad, Please see know that there is another way to look at this and that your views are filtered through a subjective lens, just as are those of human-social scientists. I've read papers by mathematicians and physicists who insist that 'natural-physical sciences' require a 'double hermeneutic' approach as well. They cannot be as 'purely scientific' or 'objective' (I forget your preferred language to describe this) as you and/or they would pretend.

Sociology of science (SoS), more clearly than any other field of study, recognizes this.

One way to speak of 'study of human beings' that might help you is to recognize that it inevitably involves a 'reflexive method,' which is a different 'kind' of 'science.' Insisting that it is 'simply *not* science,' as you seem stuck/intent on doing, doesn't help to move the conversation forward. But then again, some people prefer to conserve and entrench and not to go anywhere. That's 'the character of' some people in science and academia, but the 'conversation' (i.e. communication) involving scholarship from both 'inside' and 'outside' nevertheless still moves on.

- Gregory

From: "Alexanian, Moorad" <>
To: Ted Davis <>; Randy Isaac <>; Rich Blinne <>; Cameron Wybrow <>
Cc: asa <>
Sent: Wed, October 14, 2009 6:13:21 PM
Subject: RE: [asa] Atheist finds God thru Behe's books....

The main concern of scientific theories is objectivity. That is why the scientific study of human beings is considerably hindered by subjectivity.


-----Original Message-----
From:<> [<>] On Behalf Of Ted Davis
Sent: Wednesday, October 14, 2009 10:03 AM
To: Randy Isaac; Rich Blinne; Cameron Wybrow
Cc: asa
Subject: Re: [asa] Atheist finds God thru Behe's books....

>>> Rich Blinne <<>> 10/13/2009 10:59 PM >>> writes, among other things, this:

The reason why scientists insist on rigor is that it produces adequate
explanations while those whom try to "expand" the scientific method to get
around the rigorous requirements -- in part to explain why they don't end up
in peer-reviewed journals -- in the end produce less adequate explanations.
So called adequacy is a way to get the camel's nose in the tent. For
example, ID proponents want to use abduction rather than induction, cf.
Chapter 7 Signature in the Cell. The reason why induction is superior for
scientific study is that through the process of falsification errors in the
original "adequate" explanations can be removed or "inadequate" explanations
can be reconsidered. In general, MN is used because it's easier to produce
falsifiable propositions but as I will show MN is not necessary in order to
be in bounds of tightly-demarcated science. ID fails demarcation not because
it considers the natural effects of the supernatural but because it isn't
empirical and inductive.


Ted comments.

As you probably know, Rich, I am not numbered among the persuaded when it comes to standard arguments for ID. I might disagree with you here, however, on the significance and legitimacy of abduction as part of the process of drawing scientific inferences. I do not have a copy of Meyer's book, which I have not yet read, so I do not know the specific context that relates to your concern. Perhaps I would agree more if I did, but perhaps I would not. My belief about the importance of abduction in the history of science would not likely go away from seeing any specific instance of how it is being used.

Indeed, I would say, without abduction we probably would not have a lot of really important scientific theories, starting with heliocentrism. The problem with Aristotelian and Ptolemaic views was precisely too much induction and too little abduction: what you see is not what you get, not what really obtains in the universe. You have to go well beyond induction to get there. The hypothetico-deductive method gets a lot of its power from abduction--though (as I am sure you will point out) the hypotheses need to make testable predictions before they can be accepted (I'm told that part of Meyer's book is devoted to just this).

Furthermore, Rich, with regard to ID and abduction/induction, I'm struck by the emphasis that Mike Behe places on the latter, not the former, when he presents his case for ID to various audiences. He's well known for having a slide of a duck, as in "in-duck-tion," to help him make the case that the inference to design in nature is highly inductive: if it looks like a duck (and there's consensus that nature *looks* designed), then maybe we ought to call it one.


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Received on Thu Oct 15 08:04:19 2009

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