A Conversation for Science as Religion

Comments

Post 1

Hoovooloo

I'm sure I'll have many comments on this entry as it develops, but for now I'll restrict myself to pointing out that yer man Eric, gyroscope proponent and linear induction motor inventor, was named Laithwaite, not Braithwaite. I had the privilege to meet him once. That's not relevant, I'm just showing off. smiley - winkeye

Other names you might wish to Google on for info are Martin Pons and Stanley Fleischmann (cold fusion) and Evgeny Podkletnov (gravity projectors).

Also check out A730531.

I shall be interested to see where this goes.

H.


Comments

Post 2

Gone again

<...yer man Eric ... was named Laithwaite, not Braithwaite>

So he was! smiley - blush Thanks for the tip! smiley - biggrin

I don't think A730531 is particularly relevant, except of course as another example of a perfectly valid theory that was dismissed by the scientific establishment. A731440 - "The Tension Between Science and Religion" - on the other hand, is quite interesting, even though it looks like I shall be challenging some of its assumptions. smiley - winkeye

Thanks for the early feedback. smiley - ok I'll try to keep going on this one, and maybe even present it for review. I doubt it'll become an edited entry, though. The Powers That Be are quite insistent on their strange requirement for 'objectivity' (whatever that is) in Edited Entries.

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Post 3

a girl called Ben

This is great. If you remove the first person, can I have it for the Project on Belief? It is EXACLTY the entry I hoped for!

B


Comments

Post 4

Gone again

Of course you can use it, Ben smiley - ok, but I'm a little unhappy about losing the first person. smiley - erm The entry is a personal perspective on science, and certainly not the *only* perspective one could adopt. I would like to keep it crystal clear that this is a personal view. Nevertheless, I understand that, if the first person presentation remains in place, it will be difficult if not impossible to get it past the editors! smiley - biggrin

How about a disclaimer, right at the beginning, that explains what I just said, justifying the personal approach? D'you think that could work?

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Post 5

a girl called Ben

A disclaimer is a good idea, and we may well have to add them to all the project entries anyway.

The worst case is that I corner Anna at the meet, ply her with apple juice and prevent her going to the loo until she agrees. smiley - winkeye

B


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Post 6

Gone again

I've added a disclaimer: is it OK, d'you think?

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Post 7

a girl called Ben

Looks good to me, I will mention the subject of disclaimers to Mina who is keeping an eye on the project. And to night I will add it to the project page.

Do you know, I am still livid with Toxxin? I will calm down. I always do.

Spiff posted a comment pointing out that the thread is aimed at producing a good entry, not at having a mutually masturbatory debate, (my thought, not Spiff's).

Hey ho. Off to lunch, blood sugar is low and blood pressure is high! smiley - winkeye

Thanks again, PC.

B


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Post 8

Gone again

I've made some minor changes to the text. As far as I can see, this entry is complete. If anyone disagrees, I'd welcome their observations....

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Post 9

Hoovooloo

Just checked this out again, and I've a couple of comments:

1. Laithwaite was "cast out" because his work on gyroscopes was wrong, as he later admitted. He was outspoken in support of it, but he was wrong. The scientific establishment is merciless towards the gullible - and Laithwaite is a good example of that. He was a famous scientist with a high public profile and the invention of the linear induction motor under his belt - but that reputation did not protect him when he started proposing things which could not be proven. Which, in the end, is as it should be.

2. The Aquatic Ape hypothesis has, I have learned, some serious problems. It *may* be a good example of suppression of disagreeing theories - or it may be a good example of a theory with little explanatory power (unlike the conventional theory) and little coherent evidence. Check out the threads at the bottom of the entry - there's an excellent link to a site which patiently deals with the problems in the theory.

Other than that, most interesting! smiley - cheers

H.


Comments

Post 10

Gone again

Fair comments, if true (which I'm sure they are - all I mean is that I'm not an expert). But isn't it fair to say that Laithwaite's (right or wrong) *was* treated as a heretic when he refused to toe the line? And isn't such treatment what one *might* expect from a religion?

those who are (or who prove to be) wrong? Surely much admirable science is about making the mistakes - and confirming that they *are* mistakes - on the way to the truth? Inasmuch as the scientific establishment is intolerant, it behaves in a similar manner to (some) religions.

Similarly, the Aquatic Ape theory may not be the best thing since sliced bread, but it does appear to have enough going for it that it ought to be given serious consideration before being discarded. It does appear as though it was discarded for 'political' reasons, before any reasonable evaluation was carried out. *This* is the point I am making, and which still stands, I think?

Are these fair responses, or am I ducking the issue(s)?

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Post 11

a girl called Ben

*kicks this up nearer the top of your postings list*

*disappears again, in a puff of blue smoke*

B


Comments

Post 12

Hoovooloo

"But isn't it fair to say that Laithwaite's (right or wrong) *was* treated as a heretic when he refused to toe the line? "

No, it isn't. Reason: "heretic" is a loaded word. I used "gullible" for a reason.

" those who are (or who prove to be) wrong?"

Hang on, hang on, you're misquoting me. I said the scientific establishment is merciless toward the GULLIBLE. If you are a bona fide researcher, and you conduct a well structured experiment which has a negative result, against your expectations and perhaps a cherished theory, and you accurately report that negative result in the literature, then there is no problem.

Indeed, one of the most famous experiments in physics, the Michelson-Morley experiment, is famous for failing. It proved ENORMOUSLY important that despite a carefully put-together experiment, M&M failed completely to measure any differences in the speed of light through "the ether", because it basically disproved the existence of the ether and paved the way for relativity.

If Michelson and Morley had done a badly-set up experiment, or faked positive results, it's likely that right now nobody would have heard of them. Instead, their accurate reporting of their failure ensured their immortality.

"Inasmuch as the scientific establishment is intolerant, it behaves in a similar manner to (some) religions."

No, I can't accept that. The scientific establishment is intolerant only of that which is not science. Huge edifices of academia are set up to ensure that what gets published in journals like "Nature" or "Physica A" or whatever represent properly done science. The reputation of the scientific establishment rests on its integritya and its objective adherence to the Method (and I don't mean Stanislavsky...). ANY deviation from that - whether for reasons of unprofessionalism, gullibility or undue influence of corporate sponsors, is rightly condemned, NOT simply because it goes against established orthodoxy (as might a religion), but because science is a progressive endeavour. It is vitally important that today's building blocks are firm and reliable, because the scientists of tomorrow must build on them. Allowing weak, improperly tested, irreproducible results to form part of published work would waste the time of others.

These are good, practical, no-nonsense reasons for making sure that when a scientist says something (i.e. publishes it) it is as accurate as possible. The diffidence this requirement produces in the scientific establishment, combined with a basic misunderstanding of the process, is probably responsible for the current public mistrust of scientists in general, and biologists in particular.

Re: Aquatic Ape - in the link given I have, unfortunately, seen such comprehensive rebuttal of this theory, and more importantly such a catalogue of poor science by its main proponent, Ms. Morgan, that I can't agree with you. When I wrote that entry, my meagre research indicated that it was a theory with legs, being proposed against the odds by a reputable person, backed up with properly researched facts, and was being ignored by the scientific establishment for no apparent reason. More recent investigations have turned up evidence that this is not the case - Ms. Morgan appears, in her books, to quote and requote "facts" she has had demonstrated are in error. If nothing else, this for me kills her credibility. And like it or not, the theory is strongly associated with her, and it is best known through her books. One would therefore expect her to be more scrupulous in her research.

This is not to condemn her personally, you understand. She sells books, and, it seems, quite successfully. So do Charles Berlitz and Erich von Daniken, and nobody should deny their right to do so. But one should certainly oppose their claim that what they are reporting is fact, rather than poorly supported supposition.

And that's all I have to say about that. Phew!

H.


Comments

Post 13

a girl called Ben

Damn!

And Elaine Morgan seemed to be the one popular anthropologist who wrote any sense. Can you let me have that link, Hoo?

a Ms called Ben


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Post 14

Hoovooloo

http://aquaticape.topcities.com

You're up late! Or are you back?

Either way, are you planning on responding to that rather... ah... how shall I say...?... "annoyed" email I sent you?

H.


Comments

Post 15

Hoovooloo

And what the heck has happened to your previously extensive personal space?

H.


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Post 16

a girl called Ben

Get yourself over onto MSN and I will tell you.

B


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Post 17

a girl called Ben

Oh, and yes, there is a connection between the two. Though I shoudl add for the benefit of lurkers, fellow hootooers, friends, romans and aliens, Hoovooloo has NOT annoyed me in any way, shape or colour.

B


Comments

Post 18

Gone again

Hoovooloo said <" those who are (or who prove to be) wrong?" - Hang on, hang on, you're misquoting me. I said the scientific establishment is merciless toward the GULLIBLE.>

No, I took the first half of your sentence, and added my own (suggested alternative) ending. I'm sorry if that wasn't clear. smiley - winkeye I still say that, on occasion, science is merciless toward those who prove to be wrong. I accept it is also merciless with the gullible.

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Post 19

a girl called Ben

Just a quickie -

As you both know I unsubscribed from the Writing Workshop thread about the Evolutionary Function of Belief, because a researcher who chose not to write entries was coming up with a wide range of criticisms about the entry, but was not coming up with any ways of making it better.

This is not an exactly parallel case, but is IS close enough for me to be having deja vu all over again, just like last time. smiley - winkeye

Don't forget, one of my objectives in the project is to have a variety of voices, opinions and perspectives on the subject, and I am hoping to get a couple of clearly marked opinion pieces in there too.

All the best to both of you.

B


Comments

Post 20

Gone again

PC: "But isn't it fair to say that Laithwaite's (right or wrong) *was* treated as a heretic when he refused to toe the line?"

HVL: No, it isn't. Reason: "heretic" is a loaded word. I used "gullible" for a reason.

Of course "heretic" is a 'loaded' word. smiley - ok It belongs in the context of religion, and I am commenting on those aspects of science which I find to be reminiscent of religion. I used "heretic" for a reason too. smiley - winkeye



Wow! smiley - yikes Do you really think that the reason for public mistrust is diffidence on the part of scientists? Scientists pronouncing (when they probably should not have done) and being wrong - sometimes spectacularly wrong - is surely a primary contributor? Diffidence: it's an interesting thought. To me at least this diffidence has not been obvious. I'll look out for it. smiley - winkeye

My own experience of published scientific material is that it *can* suffer from lack of work, lack of integrity and lack of time.... smiley - winkeye

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