Noyau (1)

…the noyau, an animal society held together by mutual animosity rather than co-operation

Robert Ardrey, The Territorial Imperative.

2,559 thoughts on “Noyau (1)

  1. Neil Rickert: Good answer (IMO). However, it is unclear whether you implying that learning some philosophy could lead to invalid inferences, or not learning philosophy could lead to invalid inferences.

    A little learning…

  2. I do wish more neuroscientists would acquaint themselves with the philosophy of mind before weighing in on questions of free will or consciousness.

  3. keiths:
    I do wish more neuroscientists would acquaint themselves with the philosophy of mind before weighing in on questions of free will or consciousness.

    Hear, hear! Seconded!

    (And also, conversely!)

  4. keiths:
    walto,

    I largely agree, with one qualification: While the study of philosophy (as practiced by philosophers) isn’t essential to being a good chemist or physicist, scientists do need to understand and apply certain philosophical principles on which good science depends, such as

    1) nullius in verba,
    2) the value of experimentation,
    3) Occam’s Razor,
    4) the importance of reproducibility,

    …and so on.

    Right, they get in trouble when they try to do philosophy of science–as if the answers are obvious from learning their own discipline.

    Seems like they are unwilling to render unto Aristotle; while most philosophers are much more likely to render unto Newton, I think. And since what the scientists do –or try to do–is so crucial to everything in our lives, you’d think that’d be enough. But….no.

    ETA: There’s a legitimate concern among scientists, I suppose, that philosophy is enough like theology to be dangerous to scientific endeavors as well as that formerly bosom buddy. I don’t think that picture is right (if the philosophy is competently produced), but it’s a long, complicated story that I’m too lazy to get into, and it’s certainly true that not all philosophers (and pretenders) have been or are currently competent. So I kind of don’t blame the scientists in being a little snooty and defensive on this point.

  5. Alan Fox: I was unaware Ed Feser had any background in neuroscience (nor any science, come to that).

    You’ve never let your ignorance get in your way before.

  6. Mung thinks Feser is one of the better tailors available to the emperor. For an abject lesson in compressibility, check out his blog.

  7. walto: FWIW, I don’t think philosophy is important to the study of chemistry or physics.Neither are the studies of anthropology, sociology and economics. If scientists don’t want to learn any philosophy I don’t see why they have to; the only way it hurts them within their fields, IMHO, is that they might be more likely to make invalid inferences or get into areas that they wrongly think ARE within their expertise.

    But why call it philosophy when all you are talking about is reason and logic? As far as I can tell, all philosophy has offered is terminology to confuse the issue. We see it used at UD all the time. Argue the semantics rather than the content. If the wrong tense of a word is used, the argument must be false. Quote Plato, as if he had anything of value to say with respect to evolution.

    KairosLackofFocus writes what he thinks are philosophically sound arguments when, in fact, they are just verbal diarrhea; mental masturbation.

  8. And to all you Kalam lovers out there, remember that causes happen *in* universes, not necessarily “to” universes.

  9. Acartia:

    KairosLackofFocus writes what he thinks are philosophically sound arguments when, in fact, they are just verbal diarrhea; mental masturbation.

    That’s true (though more mean-spirited than I would be), but why judge philosophy based on KairosFocus? Is it perhaps that you simply have not read good philosophy?

  10. KN, to Acartia:

    That’s true (though more mean-spirited than I would be), but why judge philosophy based on KairosFocus?

    Indeed.

    KF’s scientific arguments are crappy too, but we don’t judge science on that basis. Why saddle philosophy with the blame for KF’s bad philosophical arguments?

  11. Science used to be called “Philosophy of Nature”, and science was a sub branch of theology.

    Formal logic and lots of math emerged from philosophical studies.

    Psychology used to be viewed as the “Philosophy of Man”.

    So the compartmentalization of Philosophy vs. Science in the present day wasn’t the way it used to be.

    Experimental science is driven by repeatability, but laws derived from repeatable experiments point to events that are not repeatable — like the birth of the universe and possibly the physical constants themselves and maybe even some laws of physics themselves.

    Lot’s of first rate scientists and mathematicians delved into philosophy. For example Einstein:

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/einstein-philscience/

    A mathematical logician and philosopher was
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gottlob_Frege

    One of my favorites was Bertrand Russell:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bertrand_Russell

    And Sir Isaac Newton was a theologian who wrote more supposedly on theology than he did on science and math!

    Personally it wouldn’t surprise me that a great mind would care about the great questions of the universe.

    There are, admittedly scientists who seem only concerned with the world of the laboratory. Most notably would be Frederick Sanger who won 2 Nobel Prizes. He said of himself (wiki):

    “As noted in his obituary, he had described himself as “just a chap who messed about in a lab”

  12. Acartia: But why call it philosophy when all you are talking about is reason and logic? As far as I can tell, all philosophy has offered is terminology to confuse the issue. We see it used at UD all the time. Argue the semantics rather than the content. If the wrong tense of a word is used, the argument must be false. Quote Plato, as if he had anything of value to say with respect to evolution.

    KairosLackofFocus writes what he thinks are philosophically sound arguments when, in fact, they are just verbal diarrhea; mental masturbation.

    Yeah, he’s not very good at philosophy.

    I don’t think philosophy is valuable only in the area of logic myself, but even if I did, I’d think it would be valuable. FWIW, I got my Ph.D. in philosophy (Brown, 1978) and had only three or four logic courses in college and grad school combined.

  13. stcordova:

    Personally it wouldn’t surprise me that a great mind would care about the great questions of the universe.

    No argument.

    I think what irks me is not the idea of philosophy, after all, we all partake in it on a routine basis whether we know it or not, but the practice by many to place philosophers on a pedestal and pull them out as a weapon in any discussion as if what they had said decades and centuries ago is always relevant to the subject being discussed. John Locke, Epicurus, Zeno of Citium, Avicenna, Thomas Aquinas, Confucius, Rene Descartes, Paul of Tarsus, Plato, Aristotle, Captain Kirk and Cliff from Cheers were still just men. If you can’t make your argument without invoking one of these people, maybe your argument isn’t as good as you think it is.

    OK, I had to Google “great philosophers” to get the list above.

  14. Acartia: I think what irks me is not the idea of philosophy, after all, we all partake in it on a routine basis whether we know it or not, but the practice by many to place philosophers on a pedestal and pull them out as a weapon in any discussion as if what they had said decades and centuries ago is always relevant to the subject being discussed. John Locke, Epicurus, Zeno of Citium, Avicenna, Thomas Aquinas, Confucius, Rene Descartes, Paul of Tarsus, Plato, Aristotle, Captain Kirk and Cliff from Cheers were still just men

    As Flannery O’Connor explained so beautifully, a good man is hard to find.

  15. walto: As Flannery O’Connor explained so beautifully, a good man is hard to find.

    And as Linda Lovelace said, a hard man is good to find.

  16. Acartia: And as Linda Lovelace said, a hard man is good to find.

    Most often attributed to Mae West.

    Judge: Miss West, are you trying to show contempt for this court?
    Mae West: On the contrary, your Honor, I was doin’ my best to conceal it.
    — Mae West, during a trial in which she was accused of indecency on stage

  17. Mung:
    Why do we admire wit? Does it help us leave more offspring?

    Geoffrey Miller’s answer would be “yes, due to sexual selection.” (See his book, “The Mating Mind.”)

  18. Mung:
    Why do we admire wit? Does it help us leave more offspring?

    Anecdotally, yes. I was at a holiday party when a couple walked in. She was over six feet tall in heels, legs up to her perfect derriere, smokin’ figure, long curly black hair, the face of a model . . . you get the idea. He was 5’7″ at most, balding, rotund, and not otherwise particularly prepossessing. From all outward appearances a nebbish. My assumption was that he was wealthy enough to afford the trophy wife.

    I happened to bump into him at the bar and he struck up a conversation. By the time he introduced me to his wife fifteen minutes later, I had to strongly refrain from explaining to her that there was no way she was good enough for this guy and she damn sure should treat him right. He was one of the funniest, most likable people I’ve ever met. She has excellent taste.

  19. I occasionally lower my ignore shield to see some of the troll comments. I saw this one by the troll Adapa:

    Does that education include any geology or genetics or human population growth that you’re patently ignoring on your other “Black Swan” thread?

    http://theskepticalzone.com/wp/conservation-and-function-of-long-noncoding-rnas/comment-page-2/#comment-110634

    It’s true I’m ignoring you most of the time with TSZ’s patented Ignore Button. 🙂

    I unignored you just long enough to confirm that I was doing the right thing by activating the Ignore Button against you in the first place. The Ignore Shield is now back up, so blast away troll, I can’t hear you no matter how hard you scream.

  20. stcordova:
    I occasionally lower my ignore shield to see some of the troll comments.I saw this one by the troll Adapa:

    It’s true I’m ignoring you most of the time with TSZ’s patented Ignore Button.

    I unignored you just long enough to confirm that I was doing the right thing by activating the Ignore Button against you in the first place.The Ignore Shield is now back up, so blast away troll, I can’t hear you no matter how hard you scream.

    What a handy, convenient way of tuning out viewpoints that disagree with you. Does this come naturally to creationists, or is it learned?

    In my world, most posts are not worth replying to, but ALL posts are worth reading.

  21. Flint,

    I have nothing against you for what you write. I read your comments because I think they are thoughtful even though I disagree.

    My current ignore list is 4 parts ID/theists, 2 parts evolutionists:

    Gregory
    Mung
    Phoodoo
    Frankie

    OMagain
    Adapa

  22. Flint,

    I listen to my critics if I think they have a track record of thoughtful responses. If think I’m wrong, I offer a correction. Here is an example:

    http://theskepticalzone.com/wp/kf-tackles-the-transfinite/#comment-110626

    But your accusation cuts both ways. I see a lot of you guys not willing to budge even after you’ve been humiliated in an exchange and shown to be clearly wrong. Like, eh… no need to rub it in. I’m trying not to ruffle any more feathers than I need to.

  23. stcordova:
    .I see a lot of you guys not willing to budge even after you’ve been humiliated in an exchange and shown to be clearly wrong.

    I suppose we all have our blinders on, and cannot see our errors even when clearly pointed out to us. Except perhaps in some minor ways, I can’t recall any examples of what you’re saying. I have yet to see you humiliate anyone, or recognize humiliation when it’s poured over you. But I do believe there are right answers to most of our questions, and most of those answers have been found and are posted.

  24. I can only see that Adapa just posted a comment somewhere.

    Blast away troll, I can’t hear you. TRY USING ALL CAPS IF YOU THINK THAT WILL HELP ENSURE I HEAR YOU. Hahaha!

  25. BTW, I’m still baffled, Sal. Jesus’ teachings are affected not one iota by scientific facts such as the age of the Earth and common descent instead of made-up stories such as the flood, and Adam and Eve. Making some arbitrary dogma an article of faith is a major driver of conflict between religion and science.

  26. I have to say that when Sal popped in with Fuck science, it’s a miracle, after presenting a pseudo-science argument for hundreds of posts, I was tempted to put him on ignore.

    Sal, you are not science literate, and appear not to care.

    We all know that when you are backed into a corner, you will spray your interlocutors with Fuck science, it’s a miracle.

  27. Alan Fox:
    BTW, I’m still baffled, Sal. Jesus’ teachings are affected not one iota by scientific facts such as the age of the Earth and common descent instead of made-up stories such as the flood, and Adam and Eve. Making some arbitrary dogma an article of faith is a major driver of conflict between religion and science.

    And on a related note, historians are increasingly coming to the suspicion that there never was any actual historical Jesus. Instead, Jesus was more like Uncle Remus, someone invented to embody the theological positions (not particularly compatible, but who’s counting?) of the politically ascendant factions which got to write (and select) the gospels suiting their positions.

    For many of us, the lessons on how we should behave toward one another don’t need any fictional hook to hang from, but for many this is helpful. Now, the need to take literally, tales so tall they dwarf Paul Bunyan, that I can’t understand at all.

  28. Sal:

    1) The baiting is beneath you
    2) We all suspect you still read the comments anyway

    You’re right Rich. Sorry.

    I logged out (and hence lowered the ignore shield) to read Adapa’s comment on the Long Non Coding RNA thread just in case there he might have something to say since I’m writing a review paper on the topic. He just threw in an insult that had nothing to do with the topic. We were just talking about RNA function. I usually ignore him, but I gave him a chance to maybe say something of value to Dave Carlson’s discussion.

    Any way, I will have to walk away a little, but not altogether. This place is fun. But I have to since evening classes are starting.

    FWIW, all these arguments over the years sparked my curiosity in these topics, so I figured I needed to get little formal training just so I can understand things better.

    Sorry Rich, we’re on opposites sides of the discussion. I’ll have sip of scotch in toast to you sometime soon Rich.

    Evening classes at the NIH graduate school are starting this evening. I’ll be studying:

    Non-Coding RNAs and MicroRNAs: Biology and Diseases

    This course will address the biology, function, and expression of non-coding RNAs, with an emphasis on microRNAs. It will also highlight the
    involvement of non-coding RNAs in human diseases. The objective of the course is to provide an overview and current scientific knowledge of this fast-
    emerging field. Classes will cover different aspects of non-coding RNAs and microRNAs, from the points of view of molecular bio
    logy, role in diseases and stem cells as well as current technologies and available databases.

    and

    Biological Importance of Modifications in DNA and Chromatin

    Chromatin modifications play important roles in many cellular processes including the regulation of gene expression, DNA repair, and the
    heterochromatin formation. This course will explore the various biological roles chromatin modifications play in eukaryotic cells. Topics that will be
    discussed include: histone and DNA modifications and the enzymes responsible for these modifications; mechanisms of chromatin re
    modeling and
    transcription regulation; the role of non-coding RNAs in chromatin structure and gene regulation; higher-order chromatin organization and the use of
    various chromosome capture conformation methods; and, chromatin structure and DNA damage repair. In addition, this course will introduce students to
    the genome-wide analysis of ChIP-seq and RNA-seq data using the Galaxy and UCSC web servers and other bioinformatics software tools.

    The NIH is evolutionary, but they are out-of-the-box enough to ruffle evolutionary feathers. It’s about as good a place to get secular training without feeling unwelcome. This is especially the case now that some Evolutionary biologists are actively trash talking the NIH sponsorship of ENCODE which my classes relate to.

    Alan:

    When I get irritated by someone on the internet, I find a walk in the fresh air helps.

    Well, I’ll still be here at TSZ, but I’ll try not to be so confrontational. I may post on my RNA and epigenetic stuff occasionally as I’m trying to get my review paper put together. It’s going to be 4th rate, not anything breakthrough, but something educational to engineers who have only a little biology background.

  29. petrushka,

    Also, invoking Miracles in this way is Rube Goldberg Miracles. You can make everyone disappear, or be better people. Why flood and kill everything then fire up Turbo evolution to repopulate? IT MAKES NO SENSE.

  30. Richardthughes:
    petrushka,

    Also, invoking Miracles in this way is Rube Goldberg Miracles. You can make everyone disappear, or be better people. Why flood and kill everything then fire up Turbo evolution to repopulate? IT MAKES NO SENSE.

    I would presume the goal was to take a common story, known across multiple cultures, lather on a healthy layer of the preferred god, and use it as a metaphorical illustration of the power of that god. I’d be surprised if those who re-crafted the story to fit their doctrine ever expected any moron to take it literally.

  31. petrushka, to Sal:

    We all know that when you are backed into a corner, you will spray your interlocutors with Fuck science, it’s a miracle.

    And I’m still wiping it off. Thanks a lot, Sal.

  32. Abrahamic religion was preceded by Zoroastrianism, which was probably preceded by other religions.

    There’s lots of post ice age floods to choose from. Lots of history before the Babylonians.

  33. stcordova,

    I think most here would agree evolutionary theory is not complete and there will be likely discoveries and revelations that improve and enhance it. But not over-turn it.

    I don’t think baiting the regulars helps anyone, though 😉

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