• Banno
    14.5k
    Humans have changed little, physically, in the last hundred thousand years. For all that time there was little change in human culture. But over the last three or four hundred years - much less than one percent of the time we have been around - change has been extraordinary. Our every day mundane activities would be magical to the vast majority of the human race. Light and heat at the flick of a switch; clean water at the turn of a tap; instant communication with folk across the world; traveling at incredible speed just to got o the local shop; injections that prevent disease.

    What it was that made this difference might be an interesting topic; A TED talk I saw yesterday put it down to the types of explanations that we accept, arguing that it is down to the rejection of explanations that are too easily reinforced by ad hoc additions. I'd suggest it has to do with the introduction of self-checking conversations, the notion that we check what we say against the way things are.

    But regardless of how it happened, the advent of science has had an extraordinarily, overwhelmingly positive impact on how we live.

    This thread is a fishing expedition. I'm seeking out those who disagree with this proposition: Science is a good thing, to see what their arguments are.
  • Apollodorus
    2.6k
    I'm seeking out those who disagree with this proposition: Science is a good thing, to see what their arguments are.Banno

    Science may well be good but it's got bad elements too. Wasn't science used to exterminate millions of people?
  • Shawn
    11.7k
    This thread is a fishing expedition. I'm seeking out those who disagree with this proposition: Science is a good thing, to see what their arguments are.Banno

    What you fishing for?

    I tend to lean on pragmatism, is that an interesting fish?
  • Wayfarer
    13.8k
    Here's someone who agrees with you.

    enlightenment-now.jpg
  • Banno
    14.5k
    :wink: But not I with him... at least on issues of language.

    I've used his TED talk with teenage kids, who have responded with astonishment; they hadn't thought of, or been exposed to, the simple facts that make science so important. Their diet has been one critical of the scientific view, the emphasis on negative consequences of scientific work. It was interesting to see their faces change as they realised there was some hope.
  • Wayfarer
    13.8k
    The same kids who think that cotton comes from sheep and meat grows in plastic packets probably.

    I like Pinker, and also science, democracy, and progress. But it has shadow side. Anecdotally, rates of suicide, substance addiction and sexual disease transmission are extremely high in many developed nations. I see that as a consequence of Durkheim's anomie, a sense of disconnection from those around you. The undergirding ties of kinship and culture are disssolved in the universal acid of consumerism. Life has no connection to nature and to cosmos. (I have to log out for the day, duty calls.)
  • frank
    8.7k
    I just did this continuing education class that covered the history of vaccines. The change in human life created by that little scientific biscuit is huge.

    But it helped increase the size of the human population with devastating effects on the environment.

    Good for whom?
  • Banno
    14.5k
    Good for whom?frank

    Well, it's good for me. I'd be dead several times without the medical benefits of science.

    For you, you choose.
  • Shawn
    11.7k
    What happened to pragmatism?
  • frank
    8.7k
    Well, it's good for me.Banno

    Is it good for coral reefs? No, they'll be totally gone in a few thousand years, because of the same change you noted in the OP.

    Are you more important than coral?
  • Banno
    14.5k
    Is it good for coral reefs?frank

    Tell me, how is it that you know about the reefs?
  • frank
    8.7k
    Tell me, how is it that you know about the reefs?Banno

    I scuba dived around them in the Florida keys?
  • Tom Storm
    2.2k
    This is going to be fascinating...
  • Banno
    14.5k
    But then you could only know about a few of them. The problem is world-wide, and related to climate change. We know this because...?
  • Banno
    14.5k
    The anti-science responses so far have been trivial; middle class whinging. Hopefully something more will appear.
  • frank
    8.7k

    Climate science.
  • Banno
    14.5k
    The above-mentioned TED talk:



    Deutsch proposes a variation on the detail of falsificationism. I'm not convinced. I rather think it's down to recursion, checking one's explanations.
  • T Clark
    6.6k
    For all that time there was little change in human culture. But over the last three or four hundred years - much less than one percent of the time we have been around - change has been extraordinary.Banno

    Civilization and agriculture started 7,000ish years ago. That started an exponential increase in human population, which is now slowing and expected to slow more. Writing started 3,500ish years ago, which also started history. Historically, advances in human well-being are primarily due to improvements in nutrition.

    None of that contradicts the value of science, but I think it indicates that giving science the credit for improvements is over-simplification. Seems to me that science is one of the things that comes along with population growth and population density growth. That traces back to agriculture.
  • T Clark
    6.6k
    Science is a good thing,Banno

    We are in a period when technology has approached the capability to cause the extermination of all humans life. Possible self-inflicted technological mechanisms of our destruction have increased and continue to increase. They include nuclear weapons, environmental decay, genetic manipulations, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, using computers to write down the 9 billion names of God, and, of course, Facebook. I think there is a significant possibility that humanity will end within the next 100 years. I have no way to quantify that likelihood.

    So, if it turns out that humans are exterminated by our own technological inventiveness, I think that will definitively answer to your question "no."
  • RogueAI
    763
    Science is great at improving the dream we're all having.
  • Pfhorrest
    4.6k
    Science is the best!

    Now we should apply a similar method to questions of why to do things as we've done with these questions of how to do things.
  • Possibility
    2.4k
    I can’t say I agree with such a blanket approval of what is known as ‘science’, but I do agree that the process of checking explanations is a good thing. It is the entire scientific method - not the narrow section in the middle that those who call themselves ‘scientists’ today primarily concern themselves with - that has contributed most to our positive progress. Without continually bringing it back to this broader context, ‘science’ quickly loses its way.
  • fishfry
    2.6k
    I'm seeking out those who disagree with this proposition:Banno

    I'll take up that challenge for just about any proposition you could name!

    Science is a good thing, tBanno

    Science yes. But "science," or scientism, no. We've been told for a year to "believe the science" when in fact legitimate, distinguished professional scientists have been marginalized, deplatformed, cancelled, and fired for expressing opinions that the mainstream didn't like. For a year Fauci has been regarded as a saint; now it turns out that there's some evidence showing that he was the one who directed funding (indirectly, through shell organizations of course, for deniability) into the very gain-of-function research that may (I say may, no proof either way yet) have leaked out of a Chinese bioweapons lab.

    In fact just to suggest that covid came out of a lab has been grounds for firing, deplatforming, cancelling, and marginalizing. Suddenly it's acceptable to express those thoughts.

    So science, hell yes. I'm a big fan. But "science" as in a weapon to suppress legitimate dissenting opinion? That's bad. And lately we are seeing way too much of "science" and not nearly enough science.

    See for example https://www.npr.org/2021/03/31/983156340/theory-that-covid-came-from-a-chinese-lab-takes-on-new-life-in-wake-of-who-repor . A year ago even a hint of a suggestion of this idea got reputable scientists fired. When science is politicized, it's not a good thing. It's a bad thing. And where exactly does one find non-politicized science these days when everything is politicized? Fauci says wear two masks, Rand Paul says it's just theater, two weeks later Fauci admits his own mask wearing is for "optics," proving Rand Paul correct. Then Fauci walks back his own statement again.

    Rachel Walinsky, another politicized piece of work. A few weeks ago she gave tearful testimony about how "frightened" she was. Yesterday she's all, "You can take off your masks now." What changed? The science? Or is it that with an ongoing border crisis, a gas crisis, a brandy new war in the Middle East, and exploding inflation, the Biden administration just needed to change the subject? "Asking for a friend."

    Politicized science is bad science and bad, period. And lately that's the only science we've got. I for one am tired of hearing, "Follow the science" whenever someone wants to shut someone else up.
  • baker
    2.8k
    The anti-science responses so far have been trivial; middle class whinging.Banno
    Well, sure, you can dismiss all of them that way. Just put on your Trump hat.


    Garbage-river.jpg

    But hey, it's their life, their choice, right. Besides, pollution is fun for children, innit!
  • fishfry
    2.6k
    Well, sure, you can dismiss all of them that way. Just put on your Trump hat.baker

    Well you know it's a funny thing about that. Last year when reputable scientists suggested that covid might have escaped from a lab, they were marginalized and called Trump-lovers. Now that Trump's gone, it's suddenly ok to follow the actual evidence and consider the very real possibility that covid escaped from a lab. So the anti-Trump feelings of many people prevented them from doing actual science.

    For example:

    Stories published by The Washington Post ("conspiracy theory that was already debunked"), New York Times ("fringe theory"), HuffPost ("debunked fringe theory"), and The Daily Beast ("conspiracy theory") aggressively disputed Cotton's hypothesis.

    But New York Magazine and other outlets have given the theory increasing attention in 2021. If anything, the official account of animal spillover is no longer blindly accepted.

    https://www.foxnews.com/media/ex-new-york-times-health-reporter-lab-leak-coronavirus-theory-looking-stronger

    So if people's Trump hatred caused them to overlook serious scientific information, who are the anti-science ones?

    And if you don't like the Fox News link, here's a similar story from the NYT. Something for everyone. Myself, I read everything, from the right wing whackos to the left wing whackos. If you only read one side, you miss a lot.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/13/science/virus-origins-lab-leak-scientists.html
  • baker
    2.8k
    Last year when reputable scientists suggested that covid might have escaped from a lab, they were marginalized and called Trump-lovers.fishfry
    I don't recall seeing any of that in Europe.
    But there are distinct China haters who've been promoting the idea that the Chinese made the virus and let it out.
    China hater = Trump lover?
  • Wayfarer
    13.8k
    This thread is a fishing expedition.Banno

    You caught a boot.
  • counterpunch
    1.6k
    "By contrast, according to Popper, the intellectual enemies of the open society are those who claim to possess knowledge of a common good. This knowledge is both factual-scientific and normative-moral: it is moral knowledge about the highest good together with technocratic knowledge about how to steer people’s lives in order to achieve this good. Therefore, this knowledge stands above the freedom of individual people, namely above their own judgement about how they want to shape their lives.

    These enemies of the open society have lost their credibility as a result of the mass murders that proved inevitable on the way to accomplish the alleged good. Not only were human dignity and fundamental rights eliminated, but at the same time a bad result was achieved in relation to the alleged good. Under communist regimes, on the way to a classless, exploitation-free society, more severe economic exploitation occurred than ever seen in a capitalist society. Under National Socialism, the path to the goal of a pure-blooded Volksgemeinschaft led these very people to the brink of ruin.

    Nonetheless, today, we face new enemies of the open society from within our own societies. Again, they make knowledge claims that are both cognitive and moral. The difference is that they don’t operate with the mirage of an absolute good, but with deliberately stoked fear of threats, such as the spread of the coronavirus or climate change. These are undoubtedly serious challenges. But they are employed to set certain values absolute, such as health protection or climate protection.

    An alliance of some scientists, politicians and business leaders claims to have the knowledge of how to steer society down to family and individual life in order to safeguard these values. Again, the issue is about a higher social good – health protection, living conditions of future generations – that is posed as overriding individual human dignity and basic rights."


    https://www.aier.org/article/the-new-enemies-of-the-open-society/#:~:text=By%20contrast%2C%20according%20to%20Popper%2C%20the%20intellectual%20enemies,people%E2%80%99s%20lives%20in%20order%20to%20achieve%20this%20good.
  • frank
    8.7k
    YepBanno

    Well I see you aren't going to bother defending science against accusations of climate change and nuclear weapons.

    T-clark gave the right answer. Science didn't cause the changes in human life that have taken place over the last few centuries. Science itself is an effect of those changes

    Science is just a tool. It's not good or bad.
  • counterpunch
    1.6k
    Science is just a tool.frank

    No. It's not. And that's why Popper is wrong.
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