Re: [asa] Trust

From: Schwarzwald <schwarzwald@gmail.com>
Date: Mon Dec 14 2009 - 19:16:36 EST

Mike,

And this buttresses a point I've alluded to in the past on this list. While
I think much popular (religious and non) hostility towards some scientific
views is unwarranted - naturally, since I'm a variant of TE, I suppose -
there's been plenty of nonsense in the past billed as "science" or "the
scientific view/way", and endorsed by the mainstream rather than some lone
radical.

Which leads to an unfortunate but necessary conclusion: That some skepticism
of scientists, even mainstream scientific views, is justifiable. Maybe more
than many are willing to admit.

On Mon, Dec 14, 2009 at 7:05 PM, Nucacids <nucacids@wowway.com> wrote:

> Psychologists Paul Bloom and Deena Skolnick Weisberg once wrote about why
> people resist the counter-intuitive findings of science and concluded their
> essay with a plea for trust:
>
>
>
> “The community of scientists has a legitimate claim to trustworthiness that
> other social institutions, such as religions and political movements, lack.
> The structure of scientific inquiry involves procedures, such as experiments
> and open debate, that are strikingly successful at revealing truths about
> the world. All other things being equal, a rational person is wise to defer
> to a geologist about the age of the earth rather than to a priest or to a
> politician.
>
>
>
> Given the role of trust in social learning, it is particularly worrying
> that national surveys reflect a general decline in the extent to which
> people trust scientists. To end on a practical note, then, one way to combat
> resistance to science is to persuade children and adults that the institute
> of science is, for the most part, worthy of trust.”
>
>
>
> From: http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/bloom07/bloom07_index.html
>
>
>
> The whole trust issue is something I have been writing and warning about
> for years. It doesn't matter how smart and knowledgeable someone is if they
> don't have the trust of their target audience. Because without this trust,
> the average person will simply conclude the speaker is using his/her high
> intelligence and great knowledge to carefully and selectively "frame" the
> issue. But sometimes, the problem can be even more basic than this. To show
> this, let us use Paul Bloom himself as a case study.
>
>
>
> Since the blogosphere gave Bloom's argument some decent attention when it
> came out, I googled Bloom and found another essay, "Is God an Accident?" In
> this article, Bloom sets out to explain "why we are religious." Yet from the
> start, the trust issue raises its head. According to this article, Bloom is
> "a rationalist and a self-declared atheist" and "he rejects all notions of
> spirits, deities, and the afterlife." No problem. Except that why would a
> religious person be obligated to trust a self-declared atheist to come up
> with the true explanation for "why we are religious?" What's more, Bloom's
> colleagues appear to approach the question from the same metaphysical
> vantage. He says, "Right now, I live in this tiny academic enclave with
> people who think just like me. But when you look at polls, you'll see that
> the world is composed of a strong majority of believers."
>
>
>
> Since he is an atheist, *we already know the general outline of Bloom's
> explanation before a single experiment is done.* There will be some
> naturalistic/materialistic explanation for "why we are religious." This is,
> after all, what all atheists believe, even those who have never done any
> science. Furthermore, does it really help at this point to appeal to
> science? No. As countless critics of ID have argued over the years, the
> rules of science allow only naturalistic/materialistic causes and
> supernatural causes have no place in science. Thus, when we combine the
> beliefs of Bloom with the rules of science, we can be even more sure about
> the outline he will provide. The conclusion is merely in search of its
> support.
>
>
>
> It turns out Bloom takes it yet a step further. Not only do psychological
> (naturalistic) causes generate God-belief (surprise!), the belief itself is
> an "accident." Bloom makes this clear in several places in his essay:
>
>
>
> "Is God an Accident?….. Enthusiasm is building among scientists for a quite
> different view that religion emerged not to serve a purpose but by
> accident…But the universal themes of religion are not learned. They emerge
> as accidental by-products of our mental systems."
>
>
>
> Can it be a mere accident that an atheist psychologist just happens to be
> enthusiastic about the notion that religion is a Darwinian “accident?” I
> mean, why choose and use the word "accident?" If mountains are the
> by-products of continental drift, do geologists typically describe mountains
> as accidents? If rain is the by-product of air temperature and pressure, do
> meteorologists typically describe rain as an accident? When Bloom writes
> that "they emerge as accidental by-products of our mental systems," why not
> simply write, "they emerge as by-products of our mental systems?"
>
>
>
> If you ask me, the whole "accidental" angle is just raw metaphysics that
> has found a happy and unchallenged home in Bloom's science. So once again,
> why would a religious person be obligated to trust an atheist's "religion as
> accident" explanation for "why we are religious?" In fact, at this very
> point, something else from Bloom and Weisberg becomes quite relevant:
>
>
>
> “We should stress that this failure to defer to scientists in these domains
> does not necessarily reflect stupidity, ignorance, or malice. In fact, some
> skepticism toward scientific authority is clearly rational. Scientists have
> personal biases due to ego or ambition"”no reasonable person should ever
> believe all the claims made in a grant proposal. There are also political
> and moral biases, particularly in social science research dealing with
> contentious issues such as the long-term effects of being raised by gay
> parents or the explanation for gender differences in SAT scores. It would be
> naive to ignore all this, and someone who accepted all "scientific"
> information would be a patsy. The problem is exaggerated when scientists or
> scientific organizations try to use their authority to make proclamations
> about controversial social issues. People who disagree with what scientists
> have to say about these issues might reasonably infer that it is not safe to
> defer to them more generally.”
>
>
>
> And this is actually a very good point.
>
>
>
> -Mike
>
>
>
>
>

To unsubscribe, send a message to majordomo@calvin.edu with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Mon Dec 14 19:17:07 2009

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Mon Dec 14 2009 - 19:17:07 EST