On Ideology. Between Secular & Secularism – what’s the similarity, difference or overlap?

Adding to that a 2nd question: If a person seeks ‘secularization’ (cf. laïcisation), i.e. ‘more secularity’ in their life and in the lives of those around them, in their hometown and in the nation in which they live, and even globally, does that qualify for the operational term ‘secularist’? In this sense, is ‘secularism’ the proper term for the ideology that such a person is promoting?

One might think it a polite necessity for certain voices to avoid all contact, and any proper and timely discussion of ideology, when addressing these two terms – secular & secularism – semantically, philosophically & especially ‘skeptically’. Some people of course just don’t make a priority focus on ideology, as Paul Nelson recently revealed here (re: ideological MNism, while avoiding ideological IDism), saying “‘Ideology’ is fine with me as a descriptive noun,” but is “[n]ot one of my lexical habits”. Even though Nelson is certainly not representative of TSZ voices, it might make a person wonder if there is a healthy skepticism at TSZ about conflating the terms ‘secular’ & ‘secularism’, since it has also proven difficult here to differentiate them, just as it has at Peaceful Science. For others, the notion that ‘secular’ is now broadly considered as a condition, while ‘secularism’ counts as an ideology, isn’t all that difficult to acknowledge and accept.

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Categorization and measurement

In a recent comment, BruceS suggested that I do an OP on categorization and measurement, so here it is. I’ll try to keep this short, but later extend it with posts in the thread. If my post in the thread begins with a bold title, then it is intended to extend the OP. And I may then add a link, if I can figure out this blocks editor.

I’ll start with a link to a paper by Stevan Harnad (this blocks editor is annoying).

Cognition is categorization

Harnad’s paper is not quite how I am looking at it, but it gives a good introduction to the idea.

Red, blue or green? That’s a question about categorizing by color. We also categorize by size. Measurement is just a mathematical way of categorizing by length or by voltage or by pressure — by whatever we are measuring.

We categorize as a way of getting information. Within science, information is often acquired by measuring, which is a type of categorizing. I can get information with a digital camera. The digital camera, in effect, categorizes the world into pixel sized chunks and provides data for each of those.

What is categorization?

Categorization just means dividing up into parts. We divide up in accordance with features. Harnad discusses this in an appendix near the end of the linked paper.

There’s an alternative view of categorization, suggested by Eleanor Rosch, where categorization amounts to grouping things in accordance with their similarity to some sort of prototype or family resemblance. Harnad looks at that in the appendix, and he does not agree with Rosch. I concur with Harnad on that.

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Newman vs. Locke on Assent

Greetings from Japan! For those who may have been wondering, super-typhoon Hagibis caused no damage to my home, and my family is safe and sound. Around Japan, however, over 430,000 households are currently without electricity, including 148,000 in my prefecture. But tomorrow is another day, and Japan is an amazingly resilient country. People who’d like to know more are welcome to check out this Website.

Today’s post relates to an excellent one-hour movie on John Henry Newman (1801-1890), the Catholic Church’s newest saint (his canonization ceremony is on Sunday, October 13). The movie was created by Catholic theologian and author Bishop Robert Barron, founder of the Catholic ministerial organization Word on Fire. The movie, titled St. John Henry Newman: The Convert, may be viewed online here, but only until October 31. It is very professionally put together: the brilliant cinematography, combined with the uplifting music and Bishop Barron’s erudite narration, makes for thoroughly enjoyable viewing. The first half-hour deals with Newman’s life. at 30:54, Bishop Barron discusses Newman’s classic work, The Development of Christian Doctrine, elucidating its insights with limpid clarity in a segment which is well worth watching. At 40:00, the discussion switches to another work of Newman’s: The Idea of a University.

It has been a long time since my last post on this site. One reason for that is that I’ve been proofreading a forthcoming book (not by me), about which I shall say no more for now. Another reason is that I’ve been planning a talk which I hope to put up on Youtube next year. This is something I’ve never done before, so any technical, logistical and promotional advice would be greatly appreciated.

But the most interesting part for visitors to The Skeptical Zone, begins at 47:15, and relates to Newman’s masterpiece, The Grammar of Assent. In this work, Newman criticized the fixation philosophers have with the idea of certitude. Certitude, he argued, is the wrong starting point; the right starting point is assent. Bishop Barron, in his commentary, carefully explains the distinction Newman drew between the notional assent we give to abstract propositions (the example Barron gives is the proposition that slavery is wrong), and the real assent we give to concrete things (for example, that the reality of slavery, which I see here before me, is evil). Real assent affects the way we act and behave. Newman maintained that the ground of real assent in matters of religion is conscience, which he defined as “a certain keen sensibility, pleasant or painful … attendant on certain of our actions, which in consequence we call right or wrong”. Newman was struck by the fact that conscience is often likened to a voice. Through it we know that we please or offend a Person by our acts – in Newman’s words, “a Judge, holy, just, powerful, all-seeing.” The next segment, starting at 51:32 and lasting about four minutes, is the subject of this post: it relates to the assent which we give to a proposition. From here on, I’ll quote Bishop Barron’s own words, which I have transcribed below.

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Circularity in Eric Holloway’s proof

In a recent thread, commenter Eric Holloway links to an article in which he claims to have proven that halting oracles are logically possible.

The one-page article can be found here:

The Logical Possibility of Halting Oracles

I’ve taken a look at the article, and the proof contains a blatant circularity. That is, it assumes that halting oracles are possible in order to demonstrate that they are possible.

Eric’s proof depends on the construction of an infinite table (which he calls an ‘index’, for some reason) containing an entry for every possible finite Turing machine. The entry includes a specification of the machine in question and a “halting status” that indicates whether the machine halts or runs forever.

Another machine (the “search machine”) is set up that can search through the infinite table to find any particular finite state machine. If it finds a match, it returns the associated halting status. The search machine together with the infinite table thus constitute a halting oracle, according to Eric.

The problem is simple: To populate the infinite table, you need to know the halting status of each finite machine, and to get the halting status, you need a halting oracle. Eric thus assumes the logical possibility of a halting oracle in order to prove the logic possibility of a halting oracle.

It’s plainly circular.

There are additional problems with the article that we can discuss in the comment thread.


Why this creationist flocking likes this 2019 evolution video!

on another blog called pandas Thumb Joe Felsenstein directed readers to the 2019 evolution videos. i canned them, watch numerous summeries, and a few whole programs.

Added by moderator: This appears to be the Panda’s Thumb post that is being referenced. The videos appear to be HERE.

The only one i gave thumbs up to was by a dude called Bowen. It was called adaptative radiations. What the flock is going on?

I really like this as a creationist. He talks about flocks of specification that turns up everywhere now in the sees. they find, like in the cichlid fishes of africa, clusters/flocking of dozens of species from a parent one.

This is not what evolutionists should expect and Bowen suggests there must be some NEW evolutionary rule guiding this. He finds it everywhere.

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Does Paul Nelson really teach both ‘design theory’ & ‘Intelligent Design’ theory?

He sure made it sound that way. I’m guessing he actually doesn’t. It may be just a bluff or a semantic game. And then, given Paul Nelson seems to be a man who enjoys good jokes, we’ll laugh together and return to the ‘other’ conversation that respectfully doesn’t accept double-talking between these terms.

Gladly and thankfully, I’m open and ready for Paul to prove me wrong and to show us (people on the internet) his great balancing act. I really don’t think he teaches what I’m talking about when he professes ‘Intelligent Design’ theory. I would willingly admit and concede to being wrong, if he were to outline more clearly his views showing how he teaches ‘design theory’, ‘design thinking’, ‘design thinkers’ & ‘design studies,’ and not actually just IDism (which he calls IDT), which is what I suspect.

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Is cancer a genetic or metabolic disease?

The prevailing paradigm is that cancer is a genetic disease caused by somatic mutations occurring in the course of cell division. However, it has been know for many years, ever since Otto Warburg’s effect has been discovered, that cancer cells favor a less efficient metabolism via glycolysis rather than the much more efficient oxidative phosphorylation pathway even in the presence of sufficient oxygen.

The alternative theory to somatic mutations as the culprit of cancer is that most cancers are metabolic diseases caused by dysfunctional mitochondria and mutations occurring in nucleus are the effect of metabolic instability of the cell. It follows that cell machineries in charge of normal cell growth suffer mutations leading to proliferation rather than the other way around.

The following experimental evidence points to conclusions that the many genetic mutations associated with cancers (over 11.000 mutations have been associated with colon cancer alone) have almost no effect on cancer as long as fully functional mitochondria (s) are present in the cell…

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S. Joshua Swamidass and Social Darwinism – a match made on Earth, not in Heaven

Over at Peaceful Science, Joshua Swamidass has made another strange and unsubstantiated claim. He has attempted to speak again on behalf of (all) ‘scientists,’ as is his linguistic tendency, yet in this case about ‘social Darwinism’:

Social Darwinism was a thing that is legitimately connected to the holocaust [sic]. However, scientists today reject Social Darwinism. Even atheists should thank God for this.” https://discourse.peacefulscience.org/t/darwinism-and-social-darwinism/6873/2

It’s a bit saucy, perhaps all well & good to suggest that atheists should thank God for something, anything. Yet one of the most active living and agitating ideological evolutionists and one of his co-authors are actually trying to get people to accept ‘Social Darwinism’. https://evolution-institute.org/truth-and-reconciliation-for-social-darwinism/ How does Joshua deal with this apparent blindspot in his approach?

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Evolution does not select for veridical perception

The title is from a blog post by Brian Leiter. Leiter links to an article in the LA Review of books: Imitation and Extinction: The Case Against Reality. The article is written by Donald Hoffman.

We have discussed the general topic before, in several threads. So maybe this is a good time to revisit the topic.

Hoffman asks: “I see a green pear. Does the shape and color that I experience match the true shape and color of the real pear?”

My take is that there is no such thing as the “true shape and color of the pear.”

It is a common presumption, that there is an external standard of truth. Here, I mean “external to humans”. Truth is presumed to come from somewhere else. And our perceptual systems evolved to present us with what is true.

As I see it, this is backwards. Yes, our perceptions are mostly true. But this is not because perception is based on truth. Rather, it is because our human ideas of truth are based on what we perceive.

Open for discussion.


Swamidass vs. Nelson – trying to find a “Common Narrative with ID on MN”?

I’ll intervene on this conversation started by S. Joshua Swamidass as my guess is he’s going to mangle terms & then claim mastery over them, as he has done in the past on the topic of ‘methodological naturalism’ (MN). Paul Nelson (of micro-/macro- distinction) has posted here in the past & has done a fine job of staying more neutral, scholarly and welcoming to discussion than most IDists at the DI. It would be welcome for Nelson to clarify, re-iterate or to add any points here that Swamidass might not wish to address at PS, or in case the naive scientism cum MN lobby grows too loud there.

This is one of those topics where in my view Swamidass scores quite low in credibility and coherency (much like I score in biology! = P). This makes sense because he has little training and doesn’t seem to have done much personal reading in philosophy, social sciences or humanities. Paul Nelson, on the other hand, did a PhD in the philosophy of biology. So if Swamidass starts to try to out-philosophize Nelson, things could get hilarious quickly, as they have in the past, e.g. with Jonathan Burke, who discovered predecessors to GA -> GAE that Swamidass missed & had to add at the last minute.

Let’s see if Swamidass is ready to learn if the term ‘methodological naturalism’ is really a sword he wants to fall on or not. So far, it has been. Nelson, as do I, rejects MNism, & not just as a misnomer.

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From reductionism to wholeness.

The methods of modern research involves dissecting and focusing in on finer and finer details. We would be forever blind to these finer details if it weren’t for instruments such as the microscope and the telescope. These tools allow specialists to focus in on the parts and gain a tremendous amount of knowledge in narrow fields.

But if researchers don’t look beyond these isolated islands of existence they will settle for a fragmented view of reality. And this causes problems for building theories about development and evolution of life. Researchers begin by looking at the parts to try to understand how they “build” bodies. Viewing things from this perspective it was expected that humans would have many more genes than turned out to be the case.. This is the type of error produced by this way of thinking Initially they did not understand the way in which the organism used its genes because they approached it from the wrong direction. Genes are in reality never isolated from the context of networks, cells and organisms.

Jaap van der Wal argues that we have become accustomed to thinking the human organism is made by a process of cells multiplication. But there is another more realistic way of thinking about it. From conception to adulthood a human being has always been a complete organism with a form and function suited to its environment. A machine is assembled from parts and it can only function as intended when all the parts are in place. Organisms are not like this. Where the organism is concerned the cell or cells of which it is composed serve the whole organism throughout its existence. It is not gradually built from parts. Machines are always built from the parts to the whole but organisms are never anything but complete wholes.

It is time to start paying more attention to how the whole determines the parts within it and luckily this view is becoming more prevalent.


Taking “ID is science” out of the ID/Creation argument

I have committed the unpardonable sin of promoting ID as theology and arguing ID is not science. ID is the lineal descendant of Paley’s natural theology (as in contrast to “revealed theology”). I’ve publicly disputed the use of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics as a general argument in favor of ID/Creation, and I’ve been mildly critical of the concept of specified complexity and its successors. I’ve suggested ID is most appropriately taught in college/seminary theology and philosophy departments. When I published a 2005 exchange between myself and Eugenie Scott of the NCSE regarding the appropriateness of ID being taught in college religion and philosophy departments, Eugenie was much kinder to me than some in the ID community who insist “ID is science.” See: Correspondence between Salvador Cordova and Dr. Eugenie Scott

To that end, in conjunction with university professors, deans of Christian and secular colleges (who are favorable to both Intelligent Design and belief in Special Creation), I’m helping build out the electronic component of courses that teach ID and concepts of Creationism for such venues.

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Algorithmic Specified Complexity in the Game of Life, revisited

In 2015, Winston Ewert, William Dembski and Robert Marks published a paper entitled Algorithmic Specified Complexity in the Game of Life.

The paper was a wreck. We examined it here at TSZ and found well over 20 substantive errors in it.

ID supporter Eric Holloway describes it as a “neat paper”. I describe it as an “abysmal mess”.

Eric has been touting the virtues of ASC here at TSZ, so now is a good time to reopen the discussion of this paper.


No cloning theorem: the double edge sword

Essentially, there are 2 types of cloning…

Biological cloning leading to clones such as identical twins who share exactly the same DNA.

Or artificial, genetically engineered cloning leading to such clones as plants whose DNA is also identical.

But there exists a more precise kind of cloning in physics that reaches all the way to the subatomic level of particles. Everything in the universe is made up of elementary quantum particles and the forces by which they interact, including DNA and us. This kind of cloning is more detailed because it involves the superposition of subatomic particles; their relative positions (particles can be in more than 1 position or state at the time), momenta and energy levels of every particle and all of their bonds and interactions are exactly the same in the copy (clone) as the original.

This kind of perfect cloning is impossible. It has been proven mathematically and formulated into the no cloning theorem, which states:

“In physics, the no-cloning theorem states that it is impossible to create an identical copy of an arbitrary unknown quantum state.”

How those two types of cloning apply to life systems, such as us, our DNA and so forth?

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A list of things for which CSI has been determined

Intelligent Design advocates are still talking about CSI and determining the value of it.

CSI measures whether an event X is best explained by a chance hypothesis C, or some specification S.

So I’d like this thread to be a list of biological entities and the value of CSI that has been determined for each.

If no entries are made then I believe that would demonstrate that CSI might measure X Y or Z but it never actually has done so.

Out of interest, what is the CSI of a bacterial flagellum?


Examples of “Pathological Idiocy” in Universities, Especially in Social Sciences and Related Disciplines

It is an embarrassment to be associated with the academy when pathological idiocy of this sort is published and cited in the same manner as genuine intellectual/scientific endeavor… What the hell is wrong with us? — Jordan Peterson, Tweet with link to paper

One can follow the hyperlink to see what Peterson was specifically talking about (I didn’t quote from the paper Peterson was criticizing since it was too vulgar). But more generally, in a recording (which might already be deleted from the net), Peterson praised the RealPeerReview twitter website that highlighted some of the publications of the academics which Peterson was likely also referring to when he used the phrase “pathological idiocy.”

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Genetic code is a programming language

Specifically, it looks like the genetic code is a LISP dialect.

Operon structure of genetic code:

LISP function structure:

Nested genes:

Nested LISP cons cells:


Science Uprising: Who wins the battle over mind?

The scientific evidence for immaterial mind defeats materialism – claims Dr. Egnor, a neurosurgeon affiliated with the Discovery Institute… Not so quickly – says Dr. Faizal Ali, a psychiatrist affiliated with CAMH and University of Toronto, who describes himself as an anti-creationist and a militant atheist. He believes that neural networks can be responsible for the emergence of the human mind, naturally…

Let’s look at their evidence…

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Echo Chambers & Epistemic Bubbles

This article might help some people make better sense of what goes on around here. https://aeon.co/essays/why-its-as-hard-to-escape-an-echo-chamber-as-it-is-to-flee-a-cult

Unarguably, young earth creationism (YECism) was & still is an echo chamber. It’s a shock to YECists when then get out of their common circles to hear statistically higher educated Christians than they are speaking about how compatible accepting limited biological evolutionary theories with their religious faith actually is. So when they get out of their echo chamber and realize that learning and research hasn’t stopped but rather continues, even among their fellow religious, that they didn’t know existed, it can have a chilling or liberating effect.

The Intelligent Design movement with its Intelligent Design theory/ideology (IDism) was & still is an echo chamber, based, governed & funded in Seattle, USA. I’d welcome an open conversation with Stephen C. Meyer & John G. West about this. Indoctrination going one way is all they’ve focused on, while indoctrination going the other way is an elephant in the room that IDists will eventually need to come around to address.

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