• Jake
    1.2k
    If this is how you think scientists think about science, you don't have much insight into scientific research.Christoffer

    As I said, you're confusing science itself with our relationship with science.

    Do you think that scientists don't tread carefully forward? That they don't have ethics? And do you think that all scientists in the world blindly follow science in the religious way you describe?Christoffer

    Which scientists have publicly declared in front of their peers that we should NOT learn X, Y or Z? And if they did, what then happened to their career?

    There are millions of scientists so I'm sure there are some rare exceptions, but generally speaking, yes, the scientific community has a simplistic, outdated and dangerous "more is better" relationship with knowledge, and thus, with power. It's not a religion, but is better described as being "religion-like", a non-questioning faith based belief built upon authority that holds that the more knowledge and power humans have the better.

    I say "faith based" because this "more is better" belief is in direct contradiction to readily available widely known and agreed upon evidence, thousands of hair trigger hydrogen bombs aimed down our own throats threatening to erase modern civilization at the push of a button at any moment without warning. That is, the "more is better" belief is not a product of reason, but instead bears a closer resemblance to the relationship we used to have with clergy and religion etc. Our modern relationship with science can be usefully compared to the relationship 12th century Catholics had with their Church.

    People and scientists trust science because of the facts it provides, because of the technology it develops and invents, because of the improvements for people's lives.Christoffer

    Yes, this relationship is very understandable given all the benefits science has delivered so far. What you're not getting is that there are limits to this process, just as there are limits to everything in all of reality. "More is better" was a reasonable paradigm when we knew very little, and were still riding horses and such. That era of knowledge scarcity has passed, it's over, and we're in a new era now characterized by an out of control knowledge explosion. You, and our culture at large, are trying to apply 19th century thinking to a very different 21st century reality.

    To say that science "smell lot like religion" is pure nonsense in my opinion and totally ignorant of what science actually is.Christoffer

    Again, please note, you are confusing science with our relationship with science. I agree that the scientific method is a largely objective, questioning, challenging, rational etc process. Our relationship with science is none of those things.

    I'm not against science. I don't hate scientists. I'm not selling any religion.

    I am instead arguing that there is a pressing need for us to update our relationship with science to match the era we are currently living in, and racing towards.
  • Jake
    1.2k
    Well first, you might want to acknowledge that science and technology are not applied for scientifically valid reasons. They're applied as dictated by religious/political/economic power structures - for power and profit, regardless of scientific advisability. Were we to correct that error - scientific truth would regulate the application of technology. There's your 'adult in the room' - missing from your approach.karl stone

    How do you suggest we sell this theory of yours to the scientific community, the politicians who fund them, and the public at large? I understand your theory to basically be saying, "if we were rational the problem is solved". How do you intend to make us rational?

    If you cannot recognize 70,000 nuclear weapons at the height of the Cold War as an ideologically driven, and irrational application of technology - as opposed to an application of technology responsible to scientific truth, then I'm done banging a brick wall against your head.karl stone

    Ok, "an irrational application of technology" seems accurate enough. But, neither you nor anybody else has any credible plan for how we make "application of technology responsible to scientific truth" thus it's a form of insanity to introduce ever more power at an ever faster pace in to the equation.

    The fact that these weapons exist, however that happened, is proof enough that we aren't ready for more and more power coming online at a faster and faster pace.

    It's the simplest thing Karl, once one escapes the group think. As example, do you believe that everyone should have access to any weapon they want? Or do you believe that such access should be limited in some manner or another? If you chose the later option, you already agree with me the power necessarily has to be limited.
  • Jake
    1.2k
    Isn't this what happened recently to James Watson?Evola

    Expand on what you're referring to here please. Thanks.
  • Echarmion
    191
    Which scientists have publicly declared in front of their peers that we should NOT learn X, Y or Z? And if they did, what then happened to their career?

    There are millions of scientists so I'm sure there are some rare exceptions, but generally speaking, yes, the scientific community has a simplistic, outdated and dangerous "more is better" relationship with knowledge, and thus, with power. It's not a religion, but is better described as being "religion-like", a non-questioning faith based belief built upon authority that holds that the more knowledge and power humans have the better.

    I say "faith based" because this "more is better" belief is in direct contradiction to readily available widely known and agreed upon evidence, thousands of hair trigger hydrogen bombs aimed down our own throats threatening to erase modern civilization at the push of a button at any moment without warning. That is, the "more is better" belief is not a product of reason, but instead bears a closer resemblance to the relationship we used to have with clergy and religion etc. Our modern relationship with science can be usefully compared to the relationship 12th century Catholics had with their Church.
    Jake

    I have significant issues with the equivocation of our relationship with science with the relationship a person living in 12th century Europe had with the Catholic church. To wit, I haven't heard of anyone denying climate change being forced to recant, or flat-earthers being executed for blasphemy.

    Be that as it may though, your argument for the out of control nature of science is flawed. Even granting your position that scientists have a duty to limit their inquiries in case additional knowledge is harmful, you are assuming that scientists, and the public at large must share this belief. Given the disagreement apparent on this forum alone, that doesn't appear warranted. If that position is not shared, then your argument that science is religion-like because it ignores this position doesn't follow.
  • Jake
    1.2k
    I have significant issues with the equivocation of our relationship with science with the relationship a person living in 12th century Europe had with the Catholic church.Echarmion

    The man in the street 12th century Catholic believed in his Church much in the same way the man in the street 21st century person believes in the "more is better" relationship with knowledge. There's unquestioning obedience to authority and the group think etc.

    Be that as it may though, your argument for the out of control nature of science is flawed.Echarmion

    Ok, so instead of just making that claim, please explain to us how exactly it is flawed. Here's what you're up against.

    Do you believe that the powers available to children should be limited? If yes, all I'm doing is applying this common sense principle to adults as well. Once you make that one tiny little step it immediately becomes obvious that a "more is better" relationship with knowledge is problematic.

    What's confusing you is that for thousands of years when we basically knew almost nothing, in that situation, a "more is better" relationship with knowledge was a reasonable position. We aren't in that situation any more.

    Even granting your position that scientists have a duty to limit their inquiries in case additional knowledge is harmful, you are assuming that scientists, and the public at large must share this belief.Echarmion

    I'm not following you here. What is it that I'm assuming?
  • Echarmion
    191
    The man in the street 12th century Catholic believed in his Church much in the same way the man in the street 21st century person believes in the "more is better" relationship with knowledge. There's unquestioning obedience to authority and the group think etc.Jake

    According to you. I don't see much unquestioning obedience to the idea that science must always progress. There is no shortage of media that warns of science unchecked, and I don't see much evidence the average citizen is all glassy-eyed about the singularity.

    Do you believe that the powers available to children should be limited? If yes, all I'm doing is applying this common sense principle to adults as well. Once you make that one tiny little step it immediately becomes obvious that a "more is better" relationship with knowledge is problematic.Jake

    Sure, I believe parents should set boundaries to children. I see no justification to erect similar boundaries with respect to adults. Adults should be bound by law, and guided by morality, not by what some authority considers best for them.

    I agree though that a scientist should optimally consider the possible harm a publication might do. But I don't see how we can put the genie back into the box without resorting to outright tyrannical measures.

    What's confusing you is that for thousands of years when we basically knew almost nothing, in that situation, a "more is better" relationship with knowledge was a reasonable position. We aren't in that situation any more.Jake

    People still die of "natural", which is to say preventable, causes. That is certainly a reason to strive for more knowledge. As are various other social and environmental problems. So how do you suggest we balance the risk of annihilation with the promise of incrementally better lifes?

    I'm not following you here. What is it that I'm assuming?Jake

    You're admonishing the followers of science for being "like a religion". Your argument is that they are missing the very obvious indications that they have crossed the line and should no longer pursue knowledge without restriction. The problem is, the indications are obvious to you. They are not necessarily obvious to anyone else. So for all you know, their behavior might habe nothing to do with religious adherence to the "more is better" approach.
  • Jake
    1.2k
    You're admonishing the followers of science for being "like a religion".Echarmion

    Note your use of the phrase "followers of science". Speaks for itself, I need say no more.

    The problem is, the indications are obvious to you. They are not necessarily obvious to anyone else.Echarmion

    Correct.

    So for all you know, their behavior might habe nothing to do with religious adherence to the "more is better" approach.Echarmion

    And yet you are fighting tooth and nail for the group consensus just as a 12th century Catholic would faithfully defend the Church.
  • Jake
    1.2k
    Echarmion, apologies, I had written a full reply to your post but the forum ate it. More later, after a nap.
  • karl stone
    430
    How do you suggest we sell this theory of yours to the scientific community, the politicians who fund them, and the public at large? I understand your theory to basically be saying, "if we were rational the problem is solved". How do you intend to make us rational?Jake

    My theory is not 'basically saying' that. It's not a basic theory. It's a very deep theory that's concerned with the nature of reality, the nature of life, and the nature of mind - as that applies to the philosophy, politics and economics of sustainability. My appeal is not to entirely rational motives. Take for instance, your masturbatory, I'm all right Jake disregard for the future of the species. I suspect that argument appeals to your ego.

    Ok, "an irrational application of technology" seems accurate enough. But, neither you nor anybody else has any credible plan for how we make "application of technology responsible to scientific truth" thus it's a form of insanity to introduce ever more power at an ever faster pace in to the equation. The fact that these weapons exist, however that happened, is proof enough that we aren't ready for more and more power coming online at a faster and faster pace.Jake

    You demand a referee - and yet dismiss the only qualified candidate; that is, recognition of the authority of scientific truth over and above primitive ideologies. You refuse to acknowledge that science as you see it - is science conducted, and technology applied in pursuit of ideological wealth and power. Who would you elect referee? The Amish? Billions would starve. There's no return to the rural idyll for the vast majority. Our only hope is responsibility to science as truth.

    It's the simplest thing Karl, once one escapes the group think. As example, do you believe that everyone should have access to any weapon they want? Or do you believe that such access should be limited in some manner or another? If you chose the later option, you already agree with me the power necessarily has to be limited.Jake

    You haven't escaped the groupthink. Your kind of anti-scientism is the prevailing paradigm, and exactly what I'm arguing against. It proceeds from the Church's response to Galileo, via Thomas Hobbes and others, and feeds straight into popular fiction via Mary Shelly. Every mad scientist dispatched by some God loving, flag waving hero follows in the course of this dynamic, and so do you.
  • karl stone
    430
    I'm trying to come up with an example of where an increase in knowledge causes harm, or more harm than good. Can you help?Evola

    Depends on how you define knowledge, I guess. It's more complex than it appears, particularly as it plays out in society and the world. An idea I've been batting around lately, is the idea of real internet ID - so everyone would have to be themselves online. It's an idea gaining ground in China for reasons I'm unaware of. I think it would create a more responsible virtual world, but there are potential implications for free speech and political organisation in the event of authoritarian government.

    We would know more about who people were, but the potential negative implications for free speech would have to be weighed against the drugs, porn, child abuse, visa theft, bullying, piracy, prostitution, and screeching political opinion online anonymity allows for.
  • Esunjiya
    2
    @Karl Stone: I have no idea what you've been on about this last three pages. What is this "very deep theory that's concerned with the nature of reality ... life ... the nature of mind"?
  • karl stone
    430
    Karl Stone: I have no idea what you've been on about this last three pages. What is this "very deep theory that's concerned with the nature of reality ... life ... the nature of mind"?Esunjiya

    It's something Jake and I have discussed at great length, that he is aware of - but which he mis-characterizes in order to attack. Basically, I argue that humankind made a potentially fatal mistake by failing to recognize the significance of scientific method, and so denying the authority of scientific knowledge, and that it's necessary - and possible to correct this mistake, in order to secure a sustainable future.
  • Jake
    1.2k
    I'm trying to come up with an example of where an increase in knowledge causes harm, or more harm than good.Evola

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  • Jake
    1.2k
    Basically, I argue that humankind made a potentially fatal mistake by failing to recognize the significance of scientific method, and so denying the authority of scientific knowledge, and that it's necessary - and possible to correct this mistake, in order to secure a sustainable future.karl stone

    In other words, a utopian vision with no basis in reality. But then me trying to address these topics on forums is the same thing.
  • Jake
    1.2k
    but nuclear technology continues to be one of the greatest benefits to mankind, and will continue to be so for eternity.Evola

    Won't matter a bit once the bombs start flying.

    Knowledge, and thus science, does produce very many benefits. In the past, that was good enough.

    Nuclear weapons do a good job of illustrating the revolutionary new era we now live it. If even a single power of that scale slips from our control and crashes civilization then none of the other very many benefits delivered by knowledge matter. A single power the scale of nuclear weapons going wrong a single time, game over.

    This isn't speculative futuristic alarmism. This is the reality of the world we've been living in since the 1950s.

    Everybody already knows this. And yet we keep racing as fast as we can to bring other vast powers on to the scene as quickly as possible.
  • karl stone
    430
    "It's something Jake and I have discussed at great length, that he is aware of - but which he mis-characterizes in order to attack. Basically, I argue that humankind made a potentially fatal mistake by failing to recognize the significance of scientific method, and so denying the authority of scientific knowledge, and that it's necessary - and possible to correct this mistake, in order to secure a sustainable future."
    — karl stone

    In other words, a utopian vision with no basis in reality. But then me trying to address these topics on forums is the same thing.Jake

    See! There he does again with the blatant mis-characterization.

    It's entirely based in reality. It begins with evolution, anthropology, religion, history, the occurrence - and suppression of science by religion, goes on to discuss the consequences of that mistake - and the potential benefits, and dangers of correcting it.

    Sustainability is not utopian. It's been the natural assumption of every generation before ours. It's the very least we should expect - and evidence something has gone very wrong if we can see the final horizon.

    As for discussing this topic here, I think it better to discuss such a difficult subject in a relatively quiet corner - from a low platform, and let it filter out. If I'm right, and I am - people will find it.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.2k
    I'm trying to come up with an example of where an increase in knowledge causes harm, or more harm than good. Can you help?Evola

    It's not the knowledge itself which causes benefit or harm, it is the way that the knowledge is used which is beneficial or harmful. So knowledge falls into the category of a potency, or power, which may be used for bad or good.
  • Echarmion
    191
    Note your use of the phrase "followers of science". Speaks for itself, I need say no more.Jake

    This thread really is a treasure trove for absurd responses. Yes my usage of your term proves your point. Well done.

    And yet you are fighting tooth and nail for the group consensus just as a 12th century Catholic would faithfully defend the Church.Jake

    More equivocation. I am arguing with you. If you cannot defend your point, and instead resort to ad hominem, I think we're done here.
  • Echarmion
    191
    I'm trying to come up with an example of where an increase in knowledge causes harm, or more harm than good. Can you help?Evola

    We can debate on whether knowledge in and if itself can ever do harm. This is why I was talking about consequences in general. It is possible that we might one day discover a doomsday device that is so easy to construct and so destructive that the risk of some lunatic setting it off is too high.

    Edit: if you want to be technical, there is the notion of a technology trap, a technology that looks incredibly useful and seems save, but nevertheless ends up wiping you out. This might be a case where knowledge itself does harm.
  • Jake
    1.2k
    More equivocation. I am arguing with you.Echarmion

    Yes, and it's clear this is the first time you've thought about our "more is better" relationship with knowledge, which is completely normal.

    If you cannot defend your point, and instead resort to ad hominem, I think we're done here.Echarmion

    Oh my, we're so very worried about our little baby egos, aren't we? I'm agreeable to being done if that's what you prefer because I know from years of discussing this topic that it's never going to go anywhere.

    If you wish to debunk me here's how to do it. For years I've been stubbornly attempting to apply reason to a subject that is beyond reason. On the surface my arguments are very logical, just common sense really, but I've failed to face and accept that logical arguments are never going to be the solution to this.

    The fundamental challenge presented by the knowledge explosion is like a force of nature. The notion that we are in charge and driving the process is mostly illusion. The knowledge explosion is like an algae bloom in a lake. The process will run out of control and crash the system, and over some long period of time a new equilibrium will be established. Example, the fall of the Roman Empire, followed by a thousand years of darkness, from which the green sprouts of the Enlightenment arose. This is another cycle like that.

    This is the first time human beings have attempted to create a global technological civilization, a very complex project. It's actually not very logical to assume (as I've been doing) that there is some formula by which we can get such an enormous thing right the first time.

    Years of discussing this have persuaded me that we're just going to have to ride this out. We'll continue to race blindly towards the cliff, we'll go over the cliff, today's modern civilization will collapse in to chaos, and after some period of time some new paradigm that those living today probably can't imagine will arise in it's place.

    I don't rule out that at some point far down the road we'll figure this out, but none of us will live to see what that looks like.

    The only rational thing for us to do is enjoy each day as it comes, and be ready to let go of everything on a moment's notice. If enjoying each day involves pretending we can reason our way out of this mess so as to inflate our self images with fantasy, ok, go for it, why not, that's no more silly than bowling and golf and a million other distractions.
  • Jake
    1.2k
    We can debate on whether knowledge in and if itself can ever do harm.Echarmion

    We typically seek knowledge for the power it provides us. In the past this wasn't a problem because we had so little knowledge and power that whatever we discovered was within our ability to manage, defined as avoiding civilization collapse. And so, if we are looking backwards instead of forwards, it seems reasonable to keep pursuing more and more knowledge and power.

    All one needs to see the problem of today is to use simple common sense. Children have a limited ability to manage power. Adults have more ability than children, but that ability is still limited. You know, adult human beings are not gods.

    Thus, any process which generates knowledge and power in a manner which is not limited will sooner or later exceed our management ability, which is limited. This sounds like futuristic speculation until we face the fact that we already have thousands of hydrogen bombs aimed down our own throat.

    Consider a simple graph. One graph charts the slow incremental rise of our maturity, the other graph charts the exponential emergence of knowledge, and thus power. As time progresses the two lines move away from each other at an ever accelerating rate.

    Nobody can predict when the moment of decision will come, but if we just use common sense we can see that sooner or later it will.

    We could hypothetically address this challenge by radically accelerating our maturity to match the pace of the knowledge explosion, except that we have no idea of how to do that. Or, we could slow the knowledge explosion to match the glacial pace of our maturity development, but we refuse to even consider that in any serious way.

    Say you're building a powerful machine with all the most modern features, but the logic board controlling the machine is from a 1977 Atari game console. Sooner or later the advanced features out strip the ability of the logic board, and the system crashes.

    Common sense. That's all that's needed. But that's a bridge too far for we philosophers, because simple common sense doesn't serve our real agenda, inflating our egos with fancy talk.
  • Jake
    1.2k
    Yes my usage of your term proves your point.Echarmion

    Please quote where I used the expression "followers of science". I may have, just don't remember where.
  • Jake
    1.2k
    See! There he does again with the blatant mis-characterization.karl stone

    What is your plan for persuading our culture to make the philosophical shift you deem to be necessary? Without such a plan, your ideas are just a utopian vision not based in reality.

    Basically, I argue that humankind made a potentially fatal mistake by failing to recognize the significance of scientific method, and so denying the authority of scientific knowledge, and that it's necessary - and possible to correct this mistake, in order to secure a sustainable future.karl stone

    How do you propose that you will get everyone to "recognize the significance of scientific method" and "accept the authority of scientific knowledge"?

    All you're saying is that if human beings were fully rational we wouldn't have these problems, which is true, agreed. But you've living in a fantasy of your own invention, because human beings are instead just barely rational, as it would seem our bored relationship with nuclear weapons should prove beyond any doubt.

    I'm not mischaracterizing your theory Karl, I'm just showing you the parts of it that you don't wish to see. And like I said, I'm in the same boat. I keep typing about this as if doing so would make the slightest bit of difference, when clearly that is just my own flavor of fantasy.
  • karl stone
    430
    What is your plan for persuading our culture to make the philosophical shift you deem to be necessary? Without such a plan, your ideas are just a utopian vision not based in reality.Jake

    I don't have a plan - how could I? It depends upon persuading other people of the rightness of my views. My plan is expressing those views. What would you have me do - go door to door? "Have you heard the good news about science?" Really?

    How do you propose that you will get everyone to "recognize the significance of scientific method" and "accept the authority of scientific knowledge"?Jake

    Do you?

    All you're saying is that if human beings were fully rational we wouldn't have these problems, which is true, agreed. But you've living in a fantasy of your own invention, because human beings are instead just barely rational, as it would seem our bored relationship with nuclear weapons should prove beyond any doubt.Jake

    That's not what I'm saying at all. Do you really imagine I'd propose an idea that requires human beings were like Spock from Star Trek - and that I spend all this time and energy weeping over the fact they're not? That kind of naivety would be literally insane. It doesn't require absolute logic to recognize that science is a profound truth, nor to recognize that the world is faced with dire challenges. Indeed, it's the very moral abhorrence of allowing a terrible fate to befall our planet - the love and fear people have for their children, I believe will necessitate action. My theory is concerned with what action is necessary, moral, possible, productive and stable.

    I'm not mischaracterizing your theory Karl, I'm just showing you the parts of it that you don't wish to see. And like I said, I'm in the same boat. I keep typing about this as if doing so would make the slightest bit of difference, when clearly that is just my own flavor of fantasy.Jake

    No, you're right. You understand as best you're able. It was mere flattery on my part to suggest a mischievous motive on your part. It's like when a dog thinks he's people - and you play along until it dumps on the living room carpet. Then it get's its nose rubbed in it!
  • Jake
    1.2k
    I don't have a plan - how could I?karl stone

    Right. You don't have a plan. Nobody does. Which is what makes your thesis unrealistic.

    Imagine I said that all these problems would be solved if human beings became gods. Ok, I suppose that would be true. But nobody has a clue how we might become gods. So it's a silly proposal. And repeating it in every thread wouldn't fix that.
  • karl stone
    430
    I don't have a plan - how could I?
    — karl stone

    Right. You don't have a plan. Nobody does. Which is what makes your thesis unrealistic.

    Imagine I said that all these problems would be solved if human beings became gods. Ok, I suppose that would be true. But nobody has a clue how we might become gods. So it's a silly proposal. And repeating it in every thread wouldn't fix that.
    Jake

    But it's not impossible, or even unlikely - that in years to come people will be looking for a means to systematically address the existential threats bearing down upon us. The way to do that is to accept a scientific understanding of reality in common, as a basis to apply technology. It's actually a very reasonable idea, but it would be unreasonable of me to seek to dictate how that might play out. I can't plan other people's thinking and behavior. I can only make the argument that accepting science as truth is a safe and reliable approach.

    The problem is, that science as truth has been suppressed for 400 years - and the countervailing arguments laid on pretty thick. Religion, philosophy, political ideology, right through to popular fiction - the mad scientist is defeated by the God loving, flag waving hero. People are afraid of science as truth, but they needn't be. If you look around at the technological miracles scientific thinking surrounds us with - accepting science as truth would allow us to claim that functionality for ourselves, and apply it to the way the world works.

    If we accept science as truth, we need not have less, eat lentils and sit in the cold and dark to tackle climate change, or regret our existence as overpopulation. If we accept science is true, and apply technology accordingly, we could make a paradise of this world - and all it requires is changing our minds.
  • Jeff Allyn
    2


    I read you as giving a reductio ad absurdum argument against scienticism, i.e., the view that science is the only source of knowledge. Here's how I reconstruct it:

    1. Suppose scientism is true (i.e., suppose the only source of knowledge is science).
    2. Science only analyzes pre-existing concepts. (assume)
    3. Pre-existing concepts that science analyzes are known prior to science. (assume)
    4. Therefore, the source of some knowledge (viz., knowledge of pre-existing concepts) is not science. (from 2, 3)
    5. Therefore, scientism is false. (from 1, 4)

    Would you say that's a faithful reconstruction?
  • Jake
    1.2k
    But it's not impossible, or even unlikely - that in years to come people will be looking for a means to systematically address the existential threats bearing down upon us.karl stone

    Yes, sooner or later the level of pain will reach a point where we'll get serious about such things.

    The way to do that is to accept a scientific understanding of reality in common, as a basis to apply technology.karl stone

    Ok, could you perhaps expand on "accepting a scientific understanding of reality" in some specific detail, given that this idea seems central to your thesis? If you are willing, please try to avoid typing the sentences you've already shared a number of times and try to explain it from some different angle, the more specific the better. Perhaps you could use some particular technology like AI or genetic engineering as an example?
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