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Does the scientific establishment unwittingly suffer from paradigm bias? Does it assume incorrect axioms of existence?

In the light of Thomas Kuhn's "Paradigm Shift" theory, and inspired by the TED controversy of removing Rupert Sheldrake's talk, let us examine the current scientific establishment.

The scientific process is capable of historical meta-analysis to make sense of its own patterns and processes. As Kuhn points out, every generation of scientists tend to assume premises that are fundamentally false but define the paradigm in which they work, and all assumptions flow from those premises.

Two major examples to illustrate are the geocentric/religious paradigm overthrown by Copernicus, and the Newtonian absolute space-time paradigm overthrown by Einstein. Of course, we must look to the actual psyche's of the establishment itself in those contexts. Was Copernicus not considered a heretic? Did not pre-Einsteinian physicists literally just ASSUME absolute spacetime as an axiom when contemplating physics? They are only easily shown to be incorrect in 20/20 hindsight, although up to that point, all the textbooks of school and general consensus among very smart 'experts' propagated those fallacious foundations.

Scientists that are overly specialized, careerist, non-philosophical, and lacking in paradigm shattering intuition/creativity might be the 'gatekeepers' of today, propagating fallacious assumptions themselves, and dismissing all non-establishment positions as heretical.

Has science itself transcended all biases? Has it overcome all incorrect assumptions? Was Newtonian absolute spacetime the final barrier? If not, then we MUST give 'heretics' a shot, should we not? What if they are a paradigm shifter?

As a thought experiment- if we are to contemplate the hypothetical that there are indeed wrong assumptions, what might they be?

Could it be that matter emerges from mind, and not the other way around?
Can Cartesian dualism be solved?
Could it be that the paradigm of Empiricism is merely a subset of the superior Rationalism?

Was Leibniz right?

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    Mar 27 2013: I believe you are confounding science with scientists.

    Scientists will always be biased. That is why they use science as a tool to try to remove those biases - but it is practiced by imperfect, human, scientists.

    Always be prepared to discover that your current view of reality needs to be adjusted. But if that is the case, then there must be scientifically verifiable evidence.

    "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence," as Sagan was wont to say.
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    Mar 24 2013: (continued from my last post)

    This is incredibly different from the mind. There is no concept of neuroplasticity in computer mechanics. A computer's behavior is completely dependent on its physical mechanics. What's unfortunate is that we don't have much to distinguish the behavior of a computer from a person's behavior, from an objective standpoint that is. Not being able to see inside your mind, you could be completely mechanic and exhibit the same behaviors, and I wouldn't know the difference. But we see our own mind, so we have a notion of the subjective.

    This notion however is not at all measurable by science. But science doesn't have a place for things it can't measure, and the 20th century trend was to see science as the revealer of all truth. I believe we're a bit wiser today, but for the most part in science circles it holds. The mind doesn't fit into our explanations, because it can't. But do we all see this? We've seen more of a movement towards epiphenomenalism - consciousness is but an afterthought, our decisions the results of choices we only think we decided to make.

    This movement away from recognizing consciousness is partly fueled by our scientific revolution. Largely we reject religion (we almost have a sore spot) and with it we want to discredit all forms of conscious creation. The irony of this of course is that we consciously create things all the time. I believe when humanity gets over the God dilemma and gives consciousness more consideration, it'll find distributed consciousness to be driving more than it realizes.
    • Mar 25 2013: Thanks Fred, much enjoyed.
    • Mar 25 2013: Your own preconceptions limit you. You are one sided when there is no need, unless you just need some entity to blame when you have no answers, according to your own words.
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    Mar 27 2013: Re: "Does science assume incorrect axioms of existence?"

    Axioms are correct by definition. They are accepted as such without proof and serve as foundation for all theories that follow. It is conceivable to have a different set of axioms and build a different system of knowledge. But saying that axioms are incorrect does not make sense.

    Examples of systems built on different sets of postulates are Euclidean geometry vs. non-planar geometries or classical relativity vs. general relativity. Euclidean axioms are false from a practical perspective - there are no infinite lines or planes in nature and one can draw infinite number of lines or geodesics through 2 points on the surface of Earth (e.g. all meridians go through the two poles). But Euclidean geometry can be successfully used for many everyday purposes.

    One may show that some set of axioms leads to incorrect predictions in a certain context and propose a different set of axioms which is more practical in that context. But I don't see the point of inventing a multitude of geometries with no context or practical need. I think, science has worked quite well so far. It may be an interesting intellectual exercise to speculate what if science was founded on different postulates, but I don't see a practical need for such revision.

    Everyone should plow their own field. I see no good when scientists begin to teach philosophers or religious leaders express scientific opinions.
  • Mar 26 2013: "At core the "scientific method" is based on a philosophical perspective / belief system, which cannot be proven to anyone that did not "choose" to share that perspective / belief system."

    You're right, and I wholeheartedly don't disagree with you. However, now what? If someone has such a completely different view that you can't even present observable facts to them without them questioning the validity of the observations, then ... how can you possibly think that any philosophy you present will ever jive with theirs?

    After all, they have a completely bizarre, completely incomprehensible, nonsense, and crazy point of view from which they judge their world in the first place.

    Let me also add the following perspective to "philosophy":

    Ableism - Absolutism - Absurdism - Acquiescence - Activism - Actual Idealism - Actualism - Advaita Vedanta - Aesthetics - African philosophy - Agnosticism - Agnotology - Altruism - Amor fati - American philosophy - Anti-imperialism - Anti-psychiatry - Antinatalism - Anti-intellectualism - Anti-realism - Antireductionism - Analytic philosophy - Anarchism - Ancient philosophy - Anthropocentrism - Anomalous monism - Applied ethics - Aristotelianism - Asceticism - Atavism - Atheism - Authoritarianism - Autodidacticism - Averroism - Avicennism - Axiology

    That's just the A's.

    None of these are science, none of these aren't subject to individual experiences and filters. Everyone will chime in their own flavor of whatever philosophy suits their current needs & desires. With infinite diversity! Every single philosophy can easily be nuanced into dozens of sub-philosophies, with hundreds of different ways of applying them.

    If there is anything truly TIMELESS in this world, then it is science. I don't think that 5 million years from now that there will be shift away from Darwin and Newton? We will always, going forward, use the experimental method, even if it's just inside some kind of computer?

    Philosophy? Leave that junk in church.
    • Mar 26 2013: This response embodies the quintessence of the very psychological constructs and premise-assuming dogma I addressed. I didn't want to reply but this simply nauseated me.

      I specifically said something about Rationalism Vs. Empiricism. However, the debate between "non-philosophy" and philosophy is a false dichotomy. There is NO debate. The universe, and the human condition, is not a mechanistic algorithm void of free will and values. Psychology, history and yes, SCIENCE, without philosophy (the strict exercise of human reason) is devoid of meaning. No one said anything about whether or not philosophy has validity. The fact, not opinion, is that it does.

      The question, to reiterate, is Rationalism vs. Empricism, a classic debate going back centuries, embodied by the Newton-Leibniz rivalry. The question is not if one is valid or non valid in a mutually exclusive sense, but what the strengths and weaknesses of each are, and if one is a subset of the other.

      The empiricist model is always provisional, and mired in sensory input (which themselves are deluded by the many illusions of physicality and our finite senses. Rationalism asserts that certain deeper truths... the "big questions" are knowable through pure reason, or 'hyperrationality".

      Empiricist materialist science has strengths and practical applications. Rationalism can conclude factors that empiricism can't touch by definition, as instead of being mired in sensory input, it is mired in pure thought. The exercise of a thought experiment, or even (non-instrumentalist) mathematics is a form of rationalism.

      Pythagoras' outlook that all things are numbers in a statement of complete ontological mathematics is an example of something concluded rationally without experiments (although maybe corroborated by them).

      Does infinity exist? Does 'zero'? What about "i"?

      IF they exist mathematically, they are "code" of the universe. If you put "i" axes on a cartesian grid, you have scope for zero distance. Rationalism.
      • Mar 27 2013: "Scientists that are overly specialized, careerist, non-philosophical, and lacking in paradigm shattering intuition/creativity might be the 'gatekeepers' of today, propagating fallacious assumptions themselves, and dismissing all non-establishment positions as heretical."

        You did write this, right?

        Let me be more direct: I question whether or not you're eluding to some kind of creationist drivel without having the guts to actually spell it out. There is a definite metallic taste in your posts, and it is a complete 180 of what science is. It directly mirrors a lot of what creationists are teaching in their Sunday sermons of what they think science is or "ought to be", at least from their point of view, just before they mention Ice-asteroids and giant floods that wiped out dinosaurs with tiny nostrils in an O2 rich atmosphere (too big to fit on a boat) and froze wooly mammoths standing up.

        From a historic perspective, perhaps you're confusing "bias" with the various changes that have happened over time to the various scientific disciplines. They are not dogmatic changes, as you appear to elude. They were refinements, and furthered our understanding step by tiny step, sometimes in very deep, fundamental ways, but nevertheless usually with less bias, not more.

        (1) Are you confusing measurement error with "bias"? Given the wooden, handcrafted nature of many early instruments, is that really even a valid idea to hold onto?
        (2) Are you referring to the slow and painful withdrawal of religious and dogmatic belief systems from science as "bias"? Are you suggesting a return of that bias by now injecting philosophy?
        (3) Are you referring to non-peer review as "bias"? It could be argued the other way around?
        (4) Are you referring to philosophy as unbiased? Can you state some philosophies that have no bias, in the first place?

        My apologies if I hit a little below the belt, but honestly, look at your own posts. Are you not a creationist in philosophy clothing?
        • Mar 27 2013: Look at the difference between "valid" and "sound" syllogisms. "All dogs are unicorns. John is a dog, therefore John is a unicorn." That is a VALID statement, but not SOUND.
          So, "incorrect axioms" are essentially syllogisms that begin with objectively false statements assumed as true premises- the difference is that instead of a thought exercise, this process is actually done in the name of discerning the true nature of reality.
          Imagine an establishment scientist in the era of Copernicus. He has a high IQ, extremely well read, etc. From his schooling, he has learned the "axiom" that the earth is the center of the universe. In the course of "if-then" statements, the "if" has been defined. He then might have come up with elaborate cosmological explanations whose conclusions flow from that premise, and whose conclusions might have been reached to a valid point because he is intelligent. However, it was the HERETIC Copernicus who had the insight to question the PREMISE- Geocentrism. This hypothetical, smart establishment scientist would then have heard Copernicus' Heliocentric model and scoffed. So, if we know that smart establishment oriented scientists can fall for this psychological process, is it not ABSURD to think that isn't going on right now?
          There you go, PHILOSOPHY for you, to give the process of science and history MEANING.
          I am the opposite of a creationist, which is purely based on faith and not rationality, and yet you make a hearty attempt at attacking that straw man. The almost comical fallacious irony is that your attitude regarding materialism and anti-philosophy is literally the closest a scientifically-minded individual can get to religious dogma, while all I am trying to do is merely make sense of the process of science itself and infuse it with direction and meaning. By understanding this, we can creatively imagine 'out of the box' possibilities that the establishment automatically dismisses- such as matter emerging from mind.
        • Mar 31 2013: You used the phrase "creationist drivel". Are you asserting the idea that anyone who proposes the idea that intelligent design is responsible for the creation of the universe is promoting "drivel"? If so, then you should sharpen your pencil. The fact of the matter is that we currently have NO satisfactory explanation for the origin of the universe. Even if one were to accept the Big Bang, its origins remain unknown. There is no less reason to suppose that the universe was created by a supernatural force than by some unknown, natural force. The term, supernatural, in my mind, only describes processes that we don't yet understand. It may turn out that our particular universe arose as a result of some super advanced technology wielded by a society that is billions of years more advanced than ours. This theory which is not supported by any "evidence", is still as valid as any other explanation.
          To me it is obvious that many in mainstream science have become shackled by outdated modes of thinking that deny any evidence if it pertains to a certain set of topics that it deems "woo woo". These subjects include but are not limited to; psi phenomena or ESP of any sort, existence of consciousness in any form outside of the skull including an afterlife or "spirit", God or ID, UFOs as craft for inter dimensional or extraterrestrial beings, and anomalous archeology. Many of these perplexing ideas could easily be proven or disproved if our best scientists were to actually research and study them, yet they lack the will, courage, or resources, to do so. One particular phenomena I have personally studied, EVP, has been written off as CB radio interference or audio pareidolia in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. The paradigm IS shifting, thankfully, and no amount of derision, ridicule, and ad hominem attacks will stop the number of Sheldrake-like researchers from growing and flourishing. I know. Let the insults begin. (-:
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          Apr 3 2013: EVP = electronic voice phenomenon


          Baruss, Imants (2001). "Failure to Replicate Electronic Voice Phenomenon," Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol. 15, No. 3, pp. 355–367, 2001
      • Mar 27 2013: Phoenix,

        You mention Copernicus, as if he's the posterchild for philosophical science. From my perspective, he's the posterchild for non-philosophical science.

        He didn't prevail because he was a nice guy, had a great haircut, knew someone's sister -twice removed-, or wielded some kind of magical power of persuasion over the masses.

        He prevailed because others measured the same things he measured, saw the same things he saw, and calculated the same conclusions he calculated. DESPITE what certain "philosophies" (read: Religious dogma of his time) were saying.

        Just look at the title of what was used to try to undermine Copernicus' assertions: "On the Truth of Sacred Scripture", written by Giovanni Maria Tolosani.

        Again, please consider the "industrial methodology" of science versus the -necessarily self-inflicted- dogmatic approach of philosophy. If there is a better approach in science, it will be adopted. That's not a philosophy. It's a practical truth. Just like somewhere along the way there was a move away from throwing books onto pyres (alongside their writers) rather than today's approach where we just make fun of them on Amazon.com.

        I would also argue that "philosophy" has always followed from things that already took place. Nowhere in history has a philosophy created anything. If anything, existing processes, methods, and even thought processes gave rise to new NAMES of philosophies, perhaps. In a sense you could capture the essence of what philosophy is by saying that it "defines the underlying principles with important sounding words", but that's pretty much where it ends.

        I keep asking for the same thing, over and over - where/how would philosophy enhance science? And, one more step down the slippery slope - if you did manage to inject it, why stop there? Why not religion next? Or politics? Or ... whatever? Wouldn't they also serve to reduce "bias" on the same level? Do you see my problem with this now? I hope I made it clear.
        • Mar 29 2013: "I keep asking for the same thing, over and over - where/how would philosophy enhance science? "

          It's a feedback loop.
          It's not true that science is standing apart from philosophy, nothing is. The philosophy of modern science is Positivism, that states that there is valid knowledge (truth) only in scientific knowledge.
          Doesn't it enhance science ?
      • Mar 29 2013: Re : Rationalism vs. Empiricism, a classic debate going back centuries, embodied by the Newton-Leibniz rivalry.
        That's true, despite the fact that Émilie du Châtelet proved by experiment hence empirically, that Leibniz was right with his ' living force'/innate mass , but main stream science swallowed her proof without changing its attitude. And ' Leibniz vs Newton pattern was perpetuated.
        XVIII c. - ' Wallace vs Darwin' , XIX c.' Freud vs Jung' XX c. Bohm vs Copenhagen terpretation...and a lot in between.
        A main schism which separates the two participants in all these patterns pertains to the ' vis viva ' controversy. And now the local event - ' TED vs Shaedrake'. Is it local or global only future can tell and it's very near.

        Thank you for asking right question : " Was Leibniz right ? " It helps to connect the dots.

        Probably there are examples where Empiricism doesn't compete with Rationalism but complement each other as they should.
        "each portion of matter can be conceived as like a garden full of plants, or like a pond full of fish. But each branch of a plant, each organ of an animal, each drop of its bodily fluids is also a similar garden or a similar pond".
        This famous passage from Leibniz can serve as a soundtrack to Mandelbrot set visualization.
        Or is it my wild imagination ? :)
    • Mar 26 2013: "If there is anything truly TIMELESS in this world, then it is science. I don't think that 5 million years from now that there will be shift away from Darwin and Newton? We will always, going forward, use the experimental method, even if it's just inside some kind of computer?

      Philosophy? Leave that junk in church."

      Science is also a philosphical belief system - i.e Science is a Philosophy - so are you saying that "junk" should be left in the church of science....
      • Mar 27 2013: It's interesting how you use the word of "church" and science all in the same sentence. But here's a definition of PHILOSOPHY:


        1.The study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence, esp. when considered as an academic discipline.
        2.A set of views and theories of a particular philosopher concerning such study or an aspect of it.

        (copied from the "Almighty" fountain of knowledge, aka: "Google").

        Notice how philosophy is deliniated as an "academic discipline"?

        Pray tell, exactly how many courses in philosophy does one need to fully comprehend physics, math, and engineering? And, more to my point - WHICH ONES, EXACTLY?

        Are you going to argue that all our college curricula are in sore need of revision because philosophy isn't taught to science students?

        I *really* can't help but feel that some people are advocating a return to 18th century schooling, where the emphasis was on "reading-writing-arithmetic" and "philosophy-science". Where Geometry and Geography were taught in the same class. And where "classical philosophy" was a core requirement for graduation, right next to "hymn singing 101".

        Frankly - completely laughable. Start without "philosophy" and see how far you get. Start with pure math and science, and see "philosophy" in the rear view mirror.
        • Mar 27 2013: I'm sorry I can't help you. I did try. Good luck.
        • Mar 29 2013: Hi, Chis, happy to see you here!
          Would it be right to equate knowledge with wisdom ? What is not wise is not knowledge. Sounds a bit weired for some, but it'll make the notion " clever fool' redundant .
          Not that bad :)

          In the comment above you say :
          To insist the box simply 'evolved' by 'chance' flies in the face of reason.
          The question is : what is the reason for ' box' to evolve ?
          Thank you !
        • Mar 31 2013: Chris,
          'evolve itself from a 'box' to a 'present.'
          !!!! :)
          I don't have your verbal capacity and can't say it better. I would say :
          the reason for the box to evolve is to elaborate the tool for escaping from the box.
          Someone said that the difference between fiction and reality is that fiction must have sense :)
          But isn't it reasonable to presume that ' fall' suggests 'rise' ?

          Btw, sorry for ambiguity, by ' clever fool' ( it's the way we say it in Russian ) i meant ' book smart ' I guess, that the divorce of wisdom and knowledge is right in the eye of the storm.
          Thanks for responding !
          Harro, sorry for using your reply button :)
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      Mar 26 2013: All is philosophy for it is of the mind
      • Mar 27 2013: Substitute "philosophy" with "religion" and "mind" with "God".

        Seriously, you're stepping into metaphysics here. The only thing missing is a divining rod.

        Philosophy has the distinct property (perhaps shared with religion) that it is and end and a means unto itself. Philosophy doesn't create anything, doesnt' discover anything. If anything, it's "discovery" of the act of "discovery". Heck, why stop there? Why not "discover" ad infinitum, applying different layers of philosophy until it oozes into collapse?

        The original question was about scientific bias and a role that philosophy may play in reducing the bias. My assertion is that this is nonsense. Science, at its core, is a method by which to reduce bias in the first place. I think the inclusion of philosophy in scientific papers will NOT reduce bias in any way - quite the opposite.

        Just think, how many "schools" of philosophy are there? Which one should a scientist, engineer, or mathematician mention in his dissertation? Which one should they pick for Newtonian problems vs. subatomic ones? Which one should apply to global warming vs. oil discovery work?

        Again I ask, this time of you, Casey: Give examples how how philosophy would solve the problem of bias?
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          Mar 27 2013: Philosophy discovered science.

          Please read what the founding father of "science" called his greatest work

          Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica

          What bias problem would you like to solve? Existence?
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          Mar 27 2013: Oh and can you show me something that is outside of mind or interdependent of it
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          Mar 27 2013: And religion has been trying to use science to prove god. The first images after the big bang, just 15 seconds after is called the face of god.

          "Well I would trust that the Dean is educated enough to understand Einstein's point that any ray of light ( a straight line ) send out will eventually return to its origin and therefore he would understand that there are no "straight lines"" ~Ed Schulte
        • Mar 31 2013: Harro-said, "The original question was about scientific bias and a role that philosophy may play in reducing the bias. My assertion is that this is nonsense."
          Your position assumes that science, by its very nature, is without bias, a declaration I would counter is much more absurd than the idea that philosophy can reduce bias. OF COURSE science is biased! Are you saying that the many historical examples of scientific wrong thinking that led to persecutions, executions, and exile of scientists all over the world whose ideas were thought to be rubbish at the time, but later shown to be correct, are no evidence of bias? Or, are you saying that modern science has overcome it's prejudices; that it is completely open to new ideas, even those whose reality would create a major paradigm shift? Either proposition is preposterous. Sheldrake's work meets all the criteria for "real science", yet, Tedx pulled his video.
          Philosophy is exactly the right tool for determining whether or not there is bias in science. The idea of "laws' did not flow from science, but from philosophy. Science itself would not exist had not a thinking brain or consciousness pondered the idea that we needed a certain structure and methodology to properly examine the world around us. To put it another way, what experiment would you propose to determine if there were bias? It cannot be determined through experimentation, but rather by thoughtful consideration of issues that involve politics, money, egos, and careers; not things that are easily measured in the laboratory.
          The reluctance of science to investigate claims having to do with the esoteric is, in itself, a blatant example of scientific bias. To say that the study of possible different levels of existence is tied to religious dogma, does not consider the nature of reality and possible explanations provided by quantum physics. If so, then you must dismiss the likes of Strassman and Penrose/Hammerhoff. Lol, but Freud was a true scientist!
      • Mar 27 2013: Sorry, I don't see a reply button near your last posts, so I will reply "up here" under this post.

        Casey - science isn't about metaphysical stuff like "existence". It isn't about subjective things (at this point in time) like "mind".

        It IS about things like string theory, God particles, subatomics, uncertainty principles, etc. None of these are aided by "philosophy". The fact that light goes no more than "c" - that isn't a philosophy. It's a fact. Oberservable, measurable, repeatable fact. Regardless of whether I grew up in the 1980's, 2150, the US of A, or North Korea.

        Whether or not there are different levels of existence? Really? Do I really have to dissect how this is head-on falling/stumbling on top of religious dogma? How it's filled with so much cultural and individual bias and "made up stuff" that it has no place in science?

        It seems to me that you're trying to answer religious questions (existence, outside of the mind) with something akin to science. Psychology, perhaps?

        Also, not to start pointing fingers, but just because Newton gave his work a title with the word "principle" doesn't make it so. After all, I couldn't call the bible "The Science of the Afterlife" or refer to Newton's laws as "Newton's philosophies", right? It wouldn't change their state, their status, and meaning one bit.

        "outside of the mind" ... I can't help but think you're refering to math? Which now begs the question - exactly what philosophy of math are you refering to, specifically? You can probably attempt to sweep imaginary numbers, calculus, and geometry under the catch-all phrase of "philosophy", but that would be more disingenious than calling "philosophy" a science. After all, at no point are students taught philosophy to understand a math curriculum, are they? Is the absence of a thing going to now become proof of its necessity?

        Please, reread the original question posed, and in its context, reevaluate your own statements.
      • Mar 29 2013: What is not ?
      • Apr 5 2013: To James Clary:

        "OF COURSE science is biased! Are you saying that the many historical examples of scientific wrong thinking that led to persecutions, executions, and exile of scientists all over the world whose ideas were thought to be rubbish at the time, but later shown to be correct, are no evidence of bias?"

        You're making the mistake of turning history inside out. It was emergent science - REAL science, not dogmatic belief in religious junk - which was persecuted, not the other way around.

        How many astronomers were persecuted as heretics for publishing their observations?

        How many scientists were discredited for having the wrong race, religion, or family history?

        You, and others like you, seem to prefer to point to the obviously flawed times in human history when there was no science, when there was no scientific method, and erroneously assign it the label of "science". Let me be clear on the following: Dogmatic beliefs are not science. Even when they called themselves "scientists". The same is true today: Creationism isn't science either (clearly not, when it run by mostly imprisoned ex-school teachers and dentists, making demonstrable perverse claims about the nature of everything including gravity).

        Why was the earth ever considered flat? Did anyone actually measure this, or did they just stand in one spot and proclaim it so? Even in earliest antiquity, several mathematicians and astronomers (astrologers?) believed that the sun was at the center of the universe. It took us another 2,000 years of political and religious strife to be able to say this publicly without fear of a fiery death.

        Again (and again) I ask this: Please show how philosophy isn't biased, or that the scientific community is biased. I believe you're wrong on both counts, and have failed to show any bias in science.

        Lack of proof isn't proof. I keep saying this, time and again. Please make your case.
    • Mar 26 2013: very well said! you saved me a lot of time in pointing out all the inaccuracies and misunderstandings of the original question, as well as the assumptions riddled throughout - of particular note since those are exactly what the question claims to be against.
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      Mar 27 2013: Your remark about philosophy strikes with ignorance. One cannot understand scientific method without understanding philosophical discipline of epistemology. Without philosophy, you won't be able to tell how you know that you know anything.

      Check out this article by Sean Carroll, a physicist. I share his frustration about the attitude towards philosophy among some scientists. If people had more respect for philosophy, there would be far fewer useless debates that go in circles and lead to nothing but mutual insults because of mutual ignorance.

      • Mar 27 2013: Dear Mr. Grudzinsky:

        Please reread the original question posted by Mr. Goodman. Essentially he's trying to solve scientific bias with philosophy.

        Let me say that one more time: He is proposing, that scientific bias should be solved with philosophy.

        Please correct me if I'm wrong on this - although, between his rantings about metaphysical nonsense, I'm pretty sure I got that part right?!

        It deeply disturbs me, that anyone would make such an absurd statement in the first place. It directly undermines the whole idea of the scientific method?! The whole idea of having experiments, sharing data, peer review, publishing (for others to see & comment), etc. ALL of that is meant to reduce bias. All of that is what the scientific method is, and it is used in every facet of science - mathematics, the various science disciplines, medicine, etc.

        Imagine someone making a pill, running it through the scientific gauntlet of peer review, and then someone else along the way "sprinkled" it with some Roman Catholic "philosophy"? How is that NOT BIAS?

        You mentioned in one of your other replies a reference to "circular" thinking. I can't but help that you got that idea from some Creationist video. Honestly, I don't think there's any circular thinking in all of science, except the made up ones that Creationist seem to mention in every discussion (while completely ignoring their own "God's God" circular nonsense themselves). We could easily degenerate this discussion into a Creationist flame-war, but let me ask you this instead, just as I have others before:

        Name examples where philosophy is going to reduce bias in scientific endeavours? Injecting philosophical nonsense into the value of "0" and reducing the world into numbers isn't really a philosphy. It's basic kinematics. Even the leap into imaginary numbers isn't some philosophical acceptance of how nonexistent numbers create order? At best, it's an aberration that makes some parts of math work?!
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          Mar 27 2013: Harro,

          What's the fuss about? The question in this conversation is a valid philosophical question. Whether science is biased and whether it needs to be fixed is a philosophical question. If scientists decide to fix it, they will be acting as philosophers, because bias in science cannot be detected or solved by any scientific experiment or theory.

          Have you read Sean Carroll's article? I can only agree with him that philosophy is relevant to science in the same way as mycology is relevant to fungi. How dare philosophers to talk about improving science? How dare sociologists to talk about improving society? Isn't society capable of improving itself?

          You also comment about links that I post without even opening them. The link about evolution is, actually, anti-creationist and it's not a video.

          Re: "Name examples where philosophy is going to reduce bias in scientific endeavours?"

          I have answered this question in one of my comments which you choose to ignore. E.g. requirement for a scientific theory to be falsifiable came from philosophy. "Occam's razor" is a philosophical principle. Peer review is not based on any scientific data. You seem to have a very fuzzy understanding of what philosophy is. Like Sean Carroll, I see this as a source of the anxiety around these issues.
      • Mar 27 2013: Arkady,

        "Peer review is not based on any scientific data"? You couldn't be more dead wrong. What do you think review is? Just reading someone's paper before it gets published to make sure the spelling is right? Peer review is an iterative process, and it's not just in the same discipline. Take evolution for example, or the idea that the Earth is billions of years old. How many different scientists, in the past 150 years, in completely different disciplines ranging from molecular biology to geology and astronomy (and the 1,000 other disciplines in between) have validated the same & similar claims over and over? Using different data sets, different observations, different ways of measuring, and completely different methodologies - always with additional review within their own discipline even?

        "Bias in science cannot be detected or solved by any scientific experiment or theory." Come again? Uhmmm. I really don't know what to say to that. Other than...aparently your view of reality is at least a little different from mine. How do you propose to reduce bias then? Some magical philosophy tweaks here and there? Or ... peer review (see above)? Do you really want to set up a "philosophy review"?

        Personally, I definately have bias against philosophy and religion in general. There is no doubt about it. It oozes from my posts even. That doesn't mean that I'm wrong about philosophy in science.

        Science is no more a philosophy as a stamping press in a car factory is a philosophy. It is a method for "quality assurance" - making sure that the end product is free from obvious defects in data, conclusions, etc.

        Why do you think not a single Creationist "scientific" paper has ever been accepted? Could it be that they can't pass the first step (usually spelling - being harsh again)? Could it be that they OOZE philosophy first and science second? Could it be that their bias is so deep that even the most basic peer review points out the problems and fallacies?
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          Mar 29 2013: Re: ""Peer review is not based on any scientific data"? You couldn't be more dead wrong. What do you think review is?"

          Review does not add any data to the results. Review provides opinions. Opinions are not scientific data. And opinions can be biased. If a research contradicts to reviewer's opinion, it may receive a negative review despite being a valid scientific research with valid repeatable results. And if a research contradicts opinions that dominate the mainstream science, it can be turned down by scientific community despite being a valid research.

          I guess, this thread is about this kind of bias.

          Re: "Personally, I definately have bias against philosophy and religion in general."

          It's great that you acknowledge that. Bias is an emotional attachment to an opinion. It makes us blind to other points of view.
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      Mar 27 2013: Re: "None of these are science, none of these aren't subject to individual experiences and filters. "

      Exactly. Not everything is science. It does not mean that these things are useless. With that attitude, shall we throw out of the window art, morality, law, human rights, poetry and everything else that is not subject to experimental method?
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      Mar 27 2013: Harro, reading your post a second time, I think what you say can be said without the last attack on philosophy in general.

      I agree with you that we must accept certain things as foundation and build on them. We cannot question the foundation without risking the whole structure of science to crumble down. But the foundation cannot come from science. It comes from philosophy. One cannot build a rational system founded on itself. Circular reasoning is fundamentally flawed.

      Philosophical teachings do not agree with each other - so what? Whoever wants to build knowledge on those teachings is free to do so, but it will not be science. That's all.
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      Mar 27 2013: Recently, I was interested in a philosophical question whether evolution theory is falsifiable. I came across an interesting discussion of what science is.


      There is an interesting thought at the end:
      "Philosophers do conceptual tidying up, among other things, but scientists are the ones making all the sawdust in the workshop, and they need not be so tidy. And no cleaner should tell any professional (other than cleaners) how it ought to be done. Creationists who say, "evolution is not like what Popper said science should be, so it isn't science" are like the janitor who says that teachers don't keep their classrooms clean enough, so they aren't teachers."

      I agree with that. A philosopher may say that science is dogmatic or that scientific postulates are wrong, but that does seem like a janitor saying to a teacher than he is not a teacher because his desk isn't clean.
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    Mar 24 2013: I believe what hinders us the most is the perspective from which we experience reality. We experience the objective subjectively. We don't see the subjective objectively. I can't look into your mind, or the mind of another animal. I can see hints as to what it might be like (through your very objective actions) but I do not see or experience what you do.

    This cripples science. We can only study things objectively. Science is the study of observation and rigorous testing, to which the mental landscapes of the universe are (for the most part) out of reach. Our whole paradigm has been siphoned by this - we see the mind as the product of the things we can objectively study. I think this paradigm is driven further into our heads by computers we've created. We like to see our bodies as hardware and our minds as software. But I would argue that's incredibly inaccurate.

    The brain works nothing like a microprocessor. While the microprocessor drives the computer's logic, it is also the bottleneck. Processors have one set list of instructions, hardwired in the chip to process elaborate patterns of current in one very specific, mechanical way. From two different values elaborate patterns are created (by people) and decided on by consensus, and from the hard work of the community software is created from mechanic instructions, lifeless except for the user's input. One bit on the hard disk can't just shoot out and touch another, bits don't interact in any way. The processor takes these bits (using human input as to which ones) and mechanically passes them to the place they need to go, one at a time. What we've created is an incredible feat of science and mechanics, but completely lifeless and mechanical.

    (going to continue, they cut me short)
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    Mar 19 2013: I would say that there are anomalies which are not covered by the current paradigm. Consciousness is the latest "final frontier" and it's game-changing stuff.
  • Steve C

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    Mar 31 2013: Science should be seen as a verb moreso than a noun.
    I think there is too much politics and pandering to those who fund it ("farmaceutical" and otherwise), and giving them the answers they want. That seems like a huge paradigm flaw.
    • Apr 6 2013: Conflation of "science" with "scientists" and "scientific knowledge" is an enormous problem.
  • Mar 27 2013: Look to the East and we will find -- assuming an open mind -- that Western science is only now beginning to understand what the ancients understood long ago.

    Other ancient tradition as well offer us wisdom and knowledge, but much has been documented by traditions in India and China, among others.
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      Mar 27 2013: I think you are right, the ancients have stolen all our best ideas! :)
  • Mar 25 2013: It's like you're trying to wedge some kind of domino effect where there isn't one.

    For example: All of evolution isn't going to crumble just because we don't know the piece between rocks and living tissue.

    Another example: Math didn't wait for someone to discover how to use "0". They could still add, subtract, multiply and divide long before adding knowledge of "0" into the rules of math.

    Also, all of physics and chemistry aren't anxiously waiting around until we know everything there is to know about God particles. They're not taking a break from new discoveries and new applications. They're going on at 100% speed, just like they always did.

    Also, philosophy, no matter how much you would like it to, isn't a science. It's not testable at all, and there is no way to apply anything philosophy offers to any part of science or technology. In fact, I could probably argue for the opposite: Science has changed our view and understanding of philosophy.

    Until science came along with verifiable, testable, and repeatable data, philosophy was often the only way for us to explain things. Witness the fact that we didn't know where starlight came from until the late 1800's, for example. The hypothesis about starlight varied from religious to metaphysical, with a huge sprinkle of BS intertwined as well. A purely philosophical view would dance around the issue and ultimately conclude "we don't know what we don't know" or "we know what we don't know" depending on what school of philosophy one belonged to.

    Again, I ask: How is philosophy relevant in science? I don't see the connection, even after thinking about it for a couple of days now. Enlighten me - name a couple of examples?!
    • Mar 26 2013: @Harro Penk:

      This should help you - Quoting James Burns below: " .. science, like any other endevour, suffers from existing in it's own time, and will eventually be corrected in some ways by the next shift in thinking. We never know enough to judge the age we are living in"

      And from myself:

      At core the "scientific method" is based on a philosophical perspective / belief system, which cannot be proven to anyone that did not "choose" to share that perspective / belief system.

      Also, the "scientific method" is performed by people .. people are not perfect .. they bring their own "biases / belief systems / philosophies / fears" to the table .. and so every result is seen through that filter each person has and potentially affected / judged with that bias.

      That's two examples for you.

      If you need any more Enlightening examples then I might suggest you go do the leg work and find out for yourself.
      • Mar 26 2013: Sorry I need to add another reply here John, but look:

        Your examples aren't examples?!

        Instead of stating examples of how philosophy could possibly bridge the gaps, you showed examples of how gaps could exist in science. Although, I do need to correct you on your view of science a little.

        Science isn't:
        Someone writing up some paper, it gets published, and the world moves on.

        Science is:
        Someone writes a paper, it gets peer reviewed, published, debated, etc. Other studies that try to replicate the data or somehow/otherwise attempt to find the same data points or conclusions are created, written, peer reviewed, published, and debated.

        I think you have a "simplistic" view of science (I'm not trying to make fun of you, please). The scientific method isn't just about "hanging out in labs" and "wearing white coats". The core of the scientific method isn't the scientist. It's the peer review that takes place. Guess why that's done?

        To reduce error and bias. Every scientist has bias, and every measurement has error. That's a known thing. By having independent research verify data and conclusions, science tries to reduce or eliminate both.

        You don't have that in philosophy. You don't have anyone going around attempting to reduce bias and error. Heck, it's just like religion in that respect. Whatever statements are made, they stand on their own with - you pick your personal flavor of the month - whatever philosophy suits your argument.

        Being rich = good (capitalism)
        Being no richer than anyone else = good (communism)
        Being mostly equal = good (socialism)
        Being mostly poor = good (republican)

        Sorry, couldn't help myself on the last one.

        I hope this sheds some light one my assertions, John. As I said before, I was hoping for an example or two where your idea of philosophy had something to add to the conversation, but ... perhaps you mistook my request?
        • Mar 26 2013: Well you did ask:

          "How is philosophy relevant in science? I don't see the connection, even after thinking about it for a couple of days now. Enlighten me - name a couple of examples?!"

          And I took your question literally since I was trying not to add any bias (of course not entirely possible) and I gave what I believe to be relevant examples.

          I showed you that there were connections between science and philosophy.

          1. Science can be considered a philosophical belief system
          2. Science is performed by people who hold a myriad of other philosophical belief systems that clash.

          So, it should be pretty obvious to that philosophy is relevant.

          Now, you are saying you want a different type of connection well ... hehe .. sorry I'm fresh out of rabbits for the moment.

          Your description of the scientific method is reasonable, in a perfect world, where every scientist could put their ego aside but we don't have such a world and instead the method is corrupted and people being people and money being scarce old biased results are relied upon rather than re-investigated with fresh eyes.

          On here recently, you had a classic case in point, where an anonymous bunch of nobodies got to censor a couple of talks for what has so far seemed to be political/personal reasons.

          I say nobodies since we the viewers don't know their credentials and even if we did I'd still want to be able to make up my own mind.

          This then sparked a massive debate (fortunately) but I have friends who trusted (past tense) TED's reputation so much so that they initially automatically assumed that TEDs censorship decision was OK and perfectly acceptable for them even though they had not taken the time to look at the talks themselves.

          I think I'd be more interested to discover why you are choosing to find it impossible to see a connection/relevance.

          The existence of a relevance should not be so troubling to you.
        • Mar 26 2013: john your points:

          1. Science can be considered a philosophical belief system
          2. Science is performed by people who hold a myriad of other philosophical belief systems that clash.

          are both just plain incorrect. science can be considered the exact antithesis of philosophy, and scientists do not hold even 1 philosophical belief, much less a myriad of them.
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      Mar 27 2013: Re: "Again, I ask: How is philosophy relevant in science? I don't see the connection, even after thinking about it for a couple of days now. Enlighten me - name a couple of examples?!"

      I like Sean Carroll's quote from the article I quoted above:
      " the point of philosophy is not to be “useful” to science, any more than the point of mycology is to be “useful” to fungi. Philosophers of science aren’t trying to do science, they are trying to understand how science works, and how it should work, and to tease out the logic and standards underlying scientific argumentation, and to situate scientific knowledge within a broader epistemological context, and a bunch of other things that can be perfectly interesting without pretending to be science itself. And if you’re not interested, that’s fine. But trying to undermine the legitimacy of the field through a series of wisecracks is kind of lame, and ultimately anti-intellectual — it represents exactly the kind of unwillingness to engage respectfully with careful scholarship in another discipline that we so rightly deplore when people feel that way about science. It’s a shame when smart people who agree about most important things can’t disagree about some other things without throwing around insults. We should strive to be better than that."
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      Mar 27 2013: @ben jarvis Re: "john your points:
      1. Science can be considered a philosophical belief system
      2. Science is performed by people who hold a myriad of other philosophical belief systems that clash.

      are both just plain incorrect. science can be considered the exact antithesis of philosophy, and scientists do not hold even 1 philosophical belief, much less a myriad of them. "

      Are you speaking for all scientists?

      Do you believe that scientific theories must be, in principle, falsifiable by an experiment? If you hold such belief, I have a surprise for you: it is a philosophical belief formulated by philosopher of science Karl Popper. If you don't hold this belief, then you should agree that creationism is a scientific theory and the existence of a transcendent Creator is a scientific question.

      Do you believe that natural laws are uniform and work in the same way across the universe, worked the same way in the past and will work the same way in the future? Another surprise. It's a philosophical belief too. If you don't believe this, you cannot deny that the world was not created in 6 days.

      You might be also surprised that scientists not only have philosophical beliefs, but some were religious too. Big bang theory was created by a catholic priest, Geroges Lemaitre, genetics was founded by a monk, Gregor Mendel, Newton believed in God. The notion that science is incompatible with religion or philosophy or that scientists don' t hold philosophical or religious beliefs does not make any sense to me.

      Without philosophical beliefs, there is no solid understanding of what can be proved by scientific method and what cannot. It leads to enormous confusion - people attempt to prove all kinds of stuff and present all kinds of claims as "scientific".
      • Mar 27 2013: Arkady (a bit informal, but I think after a couple of back-and-forths we should grant each other such liberties?),

        Fundamentally, you are obfuscating science with all that bias that Mr. Goodman was talking about. In the same breadth, you are then making religious martyrs out of scientists, and turning philosophers into "fathers of science".

        I can assure you that the following were not discovered by Popper:
        Experimental method, critical thinking, mathematics, peer review, etc. Basically anything that had anything to do with science at all.

        At best, Popper, being a philosopher, gave a name to some processes that were already in place, or perhaps came up with a way to think about them.

        I still maintain one of my original assertions: Philosophy doesn't create anything. At best I may be able to add the following caveat: It creates a few terms and definitions for philosophy students to fret over.

        While your mention of several religious scholars is admirable (you've done your homework), it doesn't really point to a philosophical gap at all. If anything, if you want to be honest, you should look at the work they did and how they accomplished it. None of them just pointed to some philosophy or some religous dogma and said: "That's how it is 'cause it says so right here." No. They all did real science work - with all the sweat and tears and blood required, all the peer review, all the debates and tests and retests that must be done to pass the gauntlet of skepticism.

        I'm sorry Arkady, I still don't see the relevance that philosophy would play in science, as you seem to. Science is. It just is. Not because there's some dogma behind it, but precisely because there isn't. You see a rock - it's a rock. It has a certain composition, a certain mass. It's located here and not there, and it can be felt, touched, smelled, seen, etc. That's it.

        If anything, I could grant you this: Perhaps the philosophy of science is not to have a philosophy? Big circle, no?
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          Mar 27 2013: Arkady is my name. That's what I prefer to be called. "Mr. Grudzinsky" is how teachers call me when my kids are in trouble at school.

          Re: "I'm sorry Arkady, I still don't see the relevance that philosophy would play in science, as you seem to. Science is. It just is. Not because there's some dogma behind it, but precisely because there isn't. You see a rock - it's a rock. It has a certain composition, a certain mass. It's located here and not there, and it can be felt, touched, smelled, seen, etc. That's it."

          That's a philosophical statement. Won't you agree? And a circular one too: "a rock is a rock". It's not meaningful. Meaning is exclusion. To create meaning is to define what an object in contrast to what it is not. When mycology is studying fungi, it's important to define what constitutes fungi and how fungi are different from other types of organisms. When philosophy is studying science, it's important to understand what science is and how to distinguish scientific claims from non-scientific claims.

          But you are right. Definitions of science don't change what science is any more than definitions of light change the nature of light. They just add to our understanding. This spares scientists a lot of effort excluding a multitude of claims from the domain of science. If you read the article about evolution that I referred to, you might see the same thought there.

          Of course, Lemaitre and Mendel made their discoveries as scientists, not as clergymen. My comment was in context of Ben's remark that scientists don't hold philosophical beliefs. Misunderstanding the context is often the source of flamed discussions.

          Re: "If anything, I could grant you this: Perhaps the philosophy of science is not to have a philosophy? Big circle, no?"

          I can grant you this also. I have said long ago that circular reasoning is at the bottom of any reasoning. Once we realize the circularity, it's time to stop - we reached the bottom of it :-)
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    Mar 23 2013: I believe strongly in science and the scientific method. I also believe that no one has absolute knowlege. I can not tell you how many times I have seen the assured results of scientific investigation proven wrong by the next generation of scientific investigators. There are always those difficult questions, the ones that no one wants to deal with like: How did matter come into existense, and how did life come from non life? I think the creationists call it "uncaused emergence". I won't get into a religious or philosophical argument on the subject, but I will say that unless I missed the memo that modern science had solved all the problems, and answered all the questions, I will continue to think that science, like any other endevour, suffers from existing in it's own time, and will eventually be corrected in some ways by the next shift in thinking. We never know enough to judge the age we are living in.
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    Mar 19 2013: No. They do not suffer unwittingly from paradigm bias. The bias is not unwitting nor is it a source of suffering. It is an integral part of the Standard Model. A godless cosmogony and cosmology demand that data be "fitted" to prevent a reduction, or, even worse, an interruption, in government funding. Uncle Sam does not like conflicting data.
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    Mar 19 2013: Concepts of spirituality and materialism are like a spinning wheel. They rotate around each other. They only way to grasp them is by the axle. When we try to grab one or the other, the dynamics breaks down.
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      Gail . 50+

      • +1
      Mar 19 2013: Kind of like the double helix strand of DNA?
  • Apr 4 2013: Im very sorry but.....I believe what you have is .......how do i say this ..well, its paradigm paralysis ser. as hard as this may be all you have to do is open your mind . ....we have medication or twelve step programs that definitely help but the first thing u must do as a dogmatic addict is admit that you r powerless over this paradigm. that is the first step in recovery towards an open mind. we are paradigm paralysis anonymous. just for today.
  • Apr 4 2013: To James Clary:

    "Are you asserting the idea that anyone who proposes the idea that intelligent design is responsible for the creation of the universe is promoting "drivel"?"

    Yes, I am. There is exactly zero ("0") scientific evidence for any of the mythological beliefs you hold. To put your statements in further context, I could just as easily make up stories about our entire existence being a computer simulation, a dream, or perhaps we are captives of an alien race right now. I could then expand on this by calling 9-11 an instance of alien intervention, all of science a conspiracy, and our current government a puppet entity to alien influence.

    Using the same criteria as you have mentioned, all of these (and many, many more) scenarios are all equally true.

    Lack of evidence is not evidence. Pointing to science from more than 200 years ago, i.e. pre-darwinian science, and then calling religious dogma of that time which suppressed scientific understanding isn't science either.

    Your entire perspective is based on one fallacy after another, and it is deeply troubling that you don't seem to understand, or know, basic scientific methodology. The scientific method is a reduction of bias. It boils down to this one thing, nothing more or less. How can you, in the same breath as when you're trying to shove your religious dogma into this discussion, make the assertion that philosophy will reduce bias? You're clearly giving philosophy too much credit.

    The burden is on your shoulders to show how philosophy would go about this. Namely, the steps involved would be:
    (1) Show a philosophy that is not based on bias
    (2) Show how that philosophy can reduce bias in other biased systems
    (3) Show how the scientific method is biased
    (4) Prove that application of (2) onto (3) will reduce bias in (3)

    Until then, the entire concept of adding philosophical discussion into the scientific method is facetious.
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    Apr 2 2013: The scientific establishment has changed its paradigm many times, and will do so many times in the future. But more than that, it holds contradictory paradigms simultaneously (Theists vs Atheists).

    There is no real barrier to the paradigm that "matter emerges from mind" to becoming part of the scientific establishment, you just need to convince a critical mass of scientists that your paradigm is the best one.

    If you do it with evidence or ayahuasca is up to you, personally I would prefer evidence, but then, I'm not really part of the scientific establishment, so no need to waste your time with me ... :)
    • Apr 2 2013: The establishment doesn't exactly "change" the paradigm. The revolution is more or less rolling over them. They don't like it, usually. Some may embrace it early, bring it forward. Some may stay neutral, indifferent or prefer to wait and see. Many will resist the change as long as possible, as it tends to make their work harder and may even force them to learn again to keep being relevant. This is just the way things work, in evolution of any field. The fight between the old and the new is not some unfortunate accident, it is essential for progress.
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        Apr 2 2013: So we mostly agree. The "scientific establishment" is a morphing memeplex, just like the government of a country where yesterdays rebels/terrorists are tomorrows rulers/oppressors.

        I still think you are a bit narrow in accepting the existence of only one paradigm at any given time, I think many coexist at the same time, as many as persons are out there. All of them fighting for dominance like genes in a gene-pool.
        • Apr 2 2013: I am the rebel type. It makes things easier for me to assume there is only the evil empire against which I am up to.
        • Apr 3 2013: From A.N.Whitehead: Science and the Modern World

          "A great English statesman once advised his countrymen to use large-scale maps, as a preservative against alarms, panics, and general misunderstanding of the true relations between nations. In the same way in dealing with the clash between permanent elements of human nature, it is well to map our history on a large scale, and to disengage ourselves from our immediate absorption in the present conflicts. When we do this, we immediately discover two great facts. In the first place, there has always been a conflict between religion and science; and in the second place, both religion and science have always been in a state of continual development. In the early days of Christianity, there was a general belief among Christians that the world was coming to an end in the lifetime of people then living. We can make only indirect inferences as to how far this belief was authoritatively proclaimed; but it is certain that it was widely held, and that it formed an impressive part of the popular religious doctrine. The belief proved itself to be mistaken, and Christian doctrine adjusted itself to the change. .. Science is even more changeable than theology. No man of science could subscribe without qualification to Galileo's beliefs, or to Newton's beliefs, or to all his own scientific beliefs of ten years ago. In both regions of thought, additions, distinctions, and modifications have been introduced. So that now, even when the same assertion is made to-day as was made a thousand, or fifteen hundred years ago, it is made subject to limitations or expansions of meaning, which were not contemplated at the earlier epoch. We are told by logicians that a proposition must be either true or false, and that there is no middle term. But in practice, we may know that a proposition expresses an important truth, but that; it is subject to limitations and qualifications which at present remain undiscovered. ..."
        • Apr 3 2013: "..So far, my point has been this: that religion is the 'expression of one type of fundamental experiences of mankind: that religious thought develops into an increasing accuracy of expression, disengaged from adventitious imagery: that the interaction between religion and science is one great factor in promoting this development."


          Was Whitehead right?
    • Apr 5 2013: Jose:

      "The scientific establishment has changed its paradigm many times, and will do so many times in the future. But more than that, it holds contradictory paradigms simultaneously (Theists vs Atheists)."

      Can you name any scientific papers (outside of creationist junk science), which mentions any kind of deity as part of the objective statements made by the paper? Don't you think that any paper, during the process of review and publishing, would immediately be rejected for having religious connections of any kind?

      As far as I know, there is absolutely no scientific evidence for the presence of any deity, past, present, or future, including any ancient sun Gods, cults, or emergent deities, in all of human history. In fact, when "scientists" (I call them "unbelievers", as they often require a complete suspension of naturalistic beliefs, hence "unbelievable" acts of nature) try to find such proof, they *always* end up subverting even the most basic tenets of science (such as truth, repeatability, logic, etc).

      Please notice that I have emphasized "always". In all my travels I have never come across any writing, both by professionals and laymen, which passed even the most basic tests. And neither have I ever heard of anyone else, any of my colleagues, friends, etc, finding such work.

      Lastly, I would like to chime in on the comment for "paradigm change". Technology isn't a paradigm. Technology is emergent, and as it evolves (snicker) it will change our understanding and our interaction with our natural world. The scientific method is a reduction in bias. Philosophy is a concentration of bias. Science will not be enhanced by any injection, small or large, of philosophy, regardless if it is "pure" philosophy, religious dogma, or anything else.

      Science is an industrial methodology. It isn't basket weaving or painting.
  • Apr 2 2013: I wouldn't exactly call zero a 'number'.


    - There is a number of sheep on the hill.
    - How many?
    - Zero.

    This doesn't make sense as an answer.
    I think the Greeks were right in reserving this and we today abuse the notion of number in an awkward way.

    There is the borderline case of 'one'.
    • Apr 18 2013: Think of Zero not as a number, but as "not being there".

      Then "There is a number of sheep on the hill. - zero" does make sense.
      • Apr 18 2013: I think of Zero as the "no number number". It says that it itself is not there. Why not.
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    Mar 29 2013: I will say this much for Mr. Sheldrake though, he is bold enough to toss his ideas out in plain view of the scientific community where they are open for verification or falsification, if there are tools to measure them.
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    Mar 27 2013: I don't know everything, but I do know enough to know that I don't know enough to know that I can discount everything that doesn't fit neatly into my little box of ideas.

    Do we know enough to say with certainty for instance, that uniformity of natural causes can not be acted on by something that we do not yet understand? Could there yet be something that we have not discovered, something that we can not yet measure that could change our current outlook?

    Having said that, some of Mr. Sheldrake's theories do seem to stretch the fabric a bit.
  • Mar 26 2013: I'm jumping into the thread far into it. My apologies for the poor etiquette. I couldn't help myself on this one.

    I just wanted to say that I was a big fan of Kuhn's Structures of Scientific Revolutions and that one of the most persuasive parts of the story he weaves is the biographies of our most famous scientists. Discoveries are mostly made by people who are young and often by people who come from outside the establishment. Einstein's biography certainly should count as evidence that one of Sheldrake's introductory points in his talk has some merit: the current system of centralized education, training, and research funding deserves to be questioned.

    There's a great synergy I think between Sheldrake's emphasis on the nature of inquiry and Dan Pink's talk about motivation and our system of cultural incentives. His thesis is that highly intellectual tasks require intrinsic rather than extrinsic motivators to be successful. Extrinsic motivators narrow our focus to specific incentivized results and keep us from exploring and using our critical faculties.

    I'm not up on current scientific practices, but it seems to me that scientist are very driven by grants. Pink's talk on motivation would lead us to hypothesize that this means our current system inhibits intellectual processes and most inhibits the most highly intellectual processes, theoretical science.

    Also, everything I've read about scientific realism says that scientists have one of two opinions on the question of whether or not their assumptions/theories/laws are "true" of the "real" world. Most commonly, they think it's a stupid question because whether or not the assumptions are correct, they enable us to interact with our environment in predictable ways with a high level of consistency is complicated tasks. And if the assumptions are wrong, they can be changed when necessary. If you can get them to answer the question, they'll most likely say, "No. These are just hypotheses for now."
  • Mar 24 2013: We only know what we think we know now. All else will be disclosed in the future in a timely seemingly natural manner. Based on our brain capacity and comfort needs, popular science, philosophy, innovations etc., most reject new inputs due to faith in old measurement tools, myths and beliefs. New ideas produce scorn, challenge, resistance, provoke new measurement tools, new myths, beliefs and new innovators, followed once again by scorn, new measurement tools, and new innovation.

    It's not a big problem, it's the natural life and ability of the current, recent human brain dealing with new provocation....We will generate, degenerate or be hit by a meteor and likely once again be labeled as fossils. Let's make quality 'hay', harvest the good ideas, reject the bad, and deflect a meteor or two as there is 99% more to discover based on the statistical analysis of the last two hundred years of research, let alone the last twenty.
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    Mar 23 2013: "Does the scientific establishment unwittingly suffer from paradigm bias? Does it assume incorrect axioms of existence?" I think that if it didn't, a new paradigm would never be needed. If we were not limited by the perspective of the information and thinking of our own times, we would posses all knowledge now.
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    • Mar 22 2013: In what way is it 'indeed the case'?

      I'm not suggesting that you're "wrong", but I think it's absurd for you to suggest that you're "right". Such a binary approach will distort understanding.

      I see no way to know either way, and I'm happy to own that. Agnosticism in this case provides the most dynamic foundation for seeking understanding, whether the path taken is one of science or one of agnostic mysticism. I urge to you that mystics should treat mysteries as provisional in the same way that scientists treat facts as provisional. Two sides of the same coin.
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        • Mar 24 2013: I'm glad for you if you've found some source of strength or comfort in the knowledge you hold. However, I warn you that you're in over your head if you presume to believe that this gives you some edge over others, or if there's something inherently desirable in your angle. How would a gnostic know what it feels like to be agnostic?
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        • Mar 24 2013: " Do you not source strength or comfort from the "knowledge you hold", Lewis? "

          Of course, that was my point, and my gladness was genuine.

          I'm not interested in chasing your dodges. If I'm projecting on you, it's only as much as you are on me. None of your responses correlate to my actual position.
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    Gail . 50+

    • +1
    Mar 19 2013: Science has not transcended bias. In fact bias spurs science onward - as does lack of bias.

    Rationalism cannot be separated from empiricism. The two go hand-in-hand. I don't know that one would have to be a subset of the other. I can conceive of situations where either could be inspiration in that situation's context.

    I believe that matter emerges as a result of mind action, and not the other way around, and there are scientists who are exploring this as we speak. The question is not without its basis - in the form of evidence that allows it and even some that suggests it.

    Evenso, there is a paradigm shift in the field of quantum mechanics, so that now about 50% of quantum physicists are convinced that the old paradigm is invalid - even if it seems like each one presents his or her own theory of what "could" replace it.

    As to Leibniz? In my opinion he was not right because he rejected all evidence-based reason that denied the existence of "God". I don't think that is very rational for a rationalist. Which leads me to suggest a way to unify the two seemingly opposing positions of the mechanical v. organic views of "reality".


    I began studying my emotions, thoughts, and feelings some years ago. As a result, I learned that emotions (as opposed to feelings) are like a compass that point to mistaken assumptions/beliefs. Emotions interfere with rationalism AND empiricism because beliefs determine what we allow ourselves to perceive - just as Leibniz shut off his mind from what Spinoza had to say because his belief in God was threatened. (fear emotion)

    I spent several years examining my beliefs, and was surprised by how irrational my belief system was - to the point of calling something that isn't logic - logial. Why? Because I had been confusing thought with emotion - something that this fear-based culture does routinely. When my belief system was evidence based, it became rational and emotions no longer own me so that the 2 could cooperate beautifully.
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    Apr 18 2013: I completely agree, We need to literally forget what is mainstream understanding at times to further our collective understanding of new concepts. Since the facts we already have can easily direct us and sway us into other avenues we wouldn't normally be walking down in a purely conceptual thought process.

    I am not one to say what is wrong and what is right, in regards to what is known. But I can give you a 100 % definitive answer that we have some facts wrong about what we consider our knowledge base to be.

    Challenging them, finding them out and making them public is how you will better humanity and our goal to understand everything.
  • Apr 18 2013: "Can Cartesian dualism be solved?"

    With death of Cartesian mindset.
    Nothing lasts :)
    • Apr 18 2013: yes!!!
      and the initiator of this threat would have been closer to truth if he / she had have asked "Could it be that matter emerges from Mind," (using the capital "M" instead of the "mind" small "m" mind of 3 dimemsional -Carteisan-science.)All the "Huff" ( as in Huffington ;-0 ) around this web blip continues and is giving TED far more air time then it deserves ....

      example below

      • Apr 18 2013: "The TED Delusion" seems to be a bestseller these days.

        In fact, i don't believe in freedom of choice, we are much more embedded in the 'flow' than we think.
        " Leibniz and Newton had very different views of calculus in that Newton’s was based on limits and concrete reality, while Leibniz focused more on the infinite and the abstract "

        And now TED is to blame ? ! :)

        Hi, Ed !
  • Apr 17 2013: Equations can be irrelevant and logic and reasoning can be the only answers. The equations with only take you so far and then logical accusations made from those equations are all you will have to go on. Some answers will elude us.
  • Apr 9 2013: Science claims space is a vacuum, while science also claims its not!
    By Jim Ryan

    The speed of light test done in a vacuum over 20 miles is not what the test between the earth and moon show, because man can achieve
    a totally closed and complete vacuum, while space cannot. Space has trillions of tons of dust, if you believe in star nurseries, as science claims, coupled with billions of miles of gas clouds, trillions of tons of plasma, from the billions of suns and their ejections, trillions of tons of cosmic rays that all tend to divert and break up light, from as close as the moon, as science proves.

    There is no vacuum in space, the kind that man can bring about on earth, ENTIRELY DEVOID of matter, because that is the only way that test could show light traveling at 186,00 miles per Test/ speed of light theory
    If science really wanted to test speed of light theory, science could add a simple laser light to any of its probes and when the probe got say a million miles away from earth, it could send its laser light back to earth.

    The most recent earth to moon and back, light test, showed that only single photons made it back to the collectors. Do scientists really expect light to travel billions of light years through space and be more than just single photons?

    Trillions of tons of matter is all through out space, according to science.

    Science claims space is a vacuum.
    vacuum[ vak-yoom, -yoo-uh m, -yuh m ]
    1. a space entirely devoid of matter.
    2. an enclosed space from which matter, especially air, has been partially removed so that the matter or gas remaining in the space exerts less pressure than the atmosphere (plenum).
    3. the state or degree of exhaustion in such an enclosed space.
    To have star nurseries, --plural, as science claims and it takes dust beyond measure almost, to create a star, never mind many stars in many nurseries, as science claims, science contradicts itself terribly.
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    Apr 8 2013: The related discussion regarding the exTED West Hollywood event was closed down early, and many of the comments criticizing TED were censored by TED. But thankfully, the event will still be held... without censorship!

    And without TED!