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.

In the highlighted thread, we see Swamidass ask Nelson for clarification on a topic that Swamidass has obviously done a little bit of armchair talk with buddies about, but hasn’t actually got into the main course yet. Swamidass insists, “For the record, I think MN is legitimate, but that debate is a separate issue.”

Swamidass keeps repeating the same clumsy and imprecise language, then insisting there is nothing to debate about it. He continues to use a word duo (M+N) that he says he thinks is ‘wrong,’ yet without making any attempt to get beyond it. Why not? If he has to hear it 20 times before he understands it, then despite his proficiency in biology & computation, that might be what he needs in order to learn in other fields, such as philosophy. MN is not simply ‘legitimate’ or ‘illegitimate;’ it is rather an expression of ideology about the way (natural) science is done, i.e. its methods. That Swamidass doesn’t realise the inherent bias in the way he is framing the conversation explains much about why people communicating about ‘origins’ topics don’t understand each other.

The reasons Swamidass won’t debate are because, 1. He doesn’t have an original place to stand that was not already taken first by others who likely know the field better than he does, 2. Debate for Swamidass seems always to quickly turn into a kind of non-mainline Christian evangelical apologetics, similar to the BioLogos model, at least how he frames his ‘Empty Chair Confessional’ scenario, as if he were the Science Pope. And when you can’t evangelize evangelcalism to your opponent, or claim A&E as your own in front of them, then the game is up, and, 3. He’s trying to promote peace when there is no peace, using inciting arguments (re: MN) & doing so while flying the confessional banner of the very community that has been among the most protesting & agitating & stubborn & backward (consistent biblical literalistic bigotry & anti-science misunderstanding) in the conversation. And yet he hasn’t yet issued a word of apology for even the METHOD he is using, which comes right out of the same fundamentalist-creationist playbook that caused the problems in the first place and which in his own way, he exacerbates even while ‘scientifically’ preaching peace.

Mature catholic and orthodox Abrahamic monotheists have no need for the highly ideological, scientistic ‘peace’ that Swamidass would sell them on the way down the road to further separation of theology/worldview & human life.

“1. Using God as an explanation is disallowed by MN in scientific work.”

Technically speaking, that comes closer to ‘methodological anti-supernaturalism’ (ASN) than to promoting a naturalism-only approach to methods used in natural sciences. The latter would require a positive signification that Joshue doesn’t adequately provide, which is why the DI produces books like “The Nature of Nature.” It is difficult to figure why Joshua doesn’t understand that MASN does not = MN. Yet he keeps repeating it. One could write it down to a kind of narrow thinking required to ‘do biology’ that may make it difficult to explore other fields of thought respectfully and on their own terms, & thus to try to better understand than just dictating standard-fare (most often, but not always, atheism-driven) MN to philosophers.

Anti-supernaturalism is a different position from pro-naturalism. Methodological naturalism is still a type of naturalism. Swamidass can’t seem to come to grips with or allow his own English language to reflect this in his thoughts. So instead he might pause to ask why philosophers, not to mention social scientists and humanities scholars rather widely, reject the ideology that Swamidass thinks he is defending by simply calling it ‘good science’. We don’t want Swamidass’ naturalistic ideology hidden behind the term ‘methodological,’ yet Swamidass insists we must accept it or be negatively counted.

Sorry Swamidass, ideology is not just automatically ‘good science’ because a PhD in biological computation with a medical degree says it is & encourages others on a soapbox to echo him.

2. Wrong based on answer to 1.

“3. The idea was to discuss an intelligent designer rather than God, design rather than creation, and remove references to Scripture. In fact this was all an attempt to abide by MN.” – Swamidass

How can Swamidass get this so wrong? Is it because he is fixated on MN as a personal ideology he holds as a natural scientist? I have asked Joshua in the past to clearly articulate what a non-naturalist natural scientist looks like & he has avoided answering as if a plague were chasing him. In other words, in his ideological incoherence, he claims both to reject naturalism & accept naturalism at the same time. And now having been caught doing this, doesn’t wish for it to be pointed out. It would be better if Swamidass could learn his error openly & move forward with a clearer message. I believe Paul Nelson could help him do this.

First, it’s an Intelligent Designer, capitalized, if one has a proper sense of Divine Names. C’mon, Paul, don’t just peter out on this – take it head-on! Yes, the DI won’t talk about the Intelligent Designer as part of the ‘theory,’ which is rather minimalist in the end anyway, definitely not a ‘design revolution’. IDism in short: information, therefore mind & therefore a better chance of divine Creation than according to an atheist worldview. Apologetics. Yet Swamidass doesn’t seem to realize how using & promoting the ideology of MN, actually furthers the atheism he somewhat vaguely claims he is against. And the problem is that he can’t just up his science-talk in giving an answer to this because it is not a ‘strictly scientific’ observation or problem he is facing. Pushing harder the wrong way isn’t a good choice. So, when Swamidass gets off his high Science horse, we may actually be able to have a better conversation that takes the ideology of MN more seriously than Swamidass currently does, perhaps just because he can’t see the other side.

4. Facepalm.

“5. Consequently there has been a shift in ID. Rather than work within MN, more and more ID proponents want to get rid of MN in questions of origins.”

No, IDists have been consistently anti-MN since the beginning of the Movement. I’ve been following it since @2002. “In questions of origins,” one of the problems is the scientistic attitude Swamidass brings to the table in contrast with Nelson. Then Swamidass has the gall to ask: “How would you rewrite your narrative in a way that could be common to us?”

I realise the guy deserves some slack, but how about Swamidass making an attempt to rewrite his non-mainline ‘narrative’ in a way that doesn’t particularly privilege the ideology that he holds in the conversation? It would be more productive to instead open up the conversation even to people who patiently, consistently & faithfully reject the scientistic ideology of MN. If Swamidass is unwilling to even consider that it is he who might be misperceiving things, perhaps due to his philosophical immaturity & loose use of concepts & terms, progress with Nelson might indeed take place, which could be good for the future of ‘the conversation.’

One of Nelson’s flaws, of course, is his trust in the work of Stephen C. Meyer, whose definition of ‘history’ leaves more than a lot to be desired. I was quite surprised at what I discovered at Cambridge where Meyer wrote his dissertation & don’t think they appreciate being linked as Meyer & the DI likes to advertise. Let’s leave Meyer out of this & listen to what Nelson has to say.

I’d pick Nelson over Swamidass when it comes to MN. And of course Steve Fuller has gone perhaps even further than Steve Dilley, who Nelson recommended to Swamidass, in exposing MN. Whether or not Nelson can finally get through to Joshua on this topic is another issue. Sometimes more attempts is all it takes.

Nelson wrote that: “MN is the current dividing line because the ID community is united by the bare proposition that “intelligent design is empirically detectable in nature.” In order for design to be detectable, of course, it must have some observational or empirical content which does not reduce ultimately to physics. That’s intelligence as a distinct cause, issuing in distinct effects. MN forbids appeals to intelligence (i.e., as a basic or fundamental constituent of reality). There’s the conflict.”

Here’s where Nelson starts to go off the rails. 1) It’s Intelligent Design, not intelligent design’. The detectability of divine Intelligence, as Phillip Johnson & Charles Thaxton, along with Olsen & Bradley believed & believe. 2) Design is already ‘detectable’, but it is not the end goal simply to ‘detect’ some kind of thing (ontology). Rather, IDism is about implications, the implication of a Mind beyond matter. Good natural science and social science can & do already “appeal to intelligence”. I was speaking with a design theorist & reading a design thinking paper recently. But that’s not ‘Intelligent Design Theory’ and never will be. 3) Science is not a ‘forbidding’ field or discipline. Nelson himself couldn’t see a coherent, clear, valuable ‘Intelligent Design Theory’ even recently, in his own words. The IDists simply have provided no strictly scientific evidence of the instantiation of what they call ‘Intelligent Design’ and instead depend on probabilism & sciency apologetics, the latter much like the earlier ‘creationist’ movements.

So, in the end Swamidass is right about at least this: “The issue is divine intelligence, and the attempt to recognize design without considering the designer (neither approach works in science).” Biology differs considerably from theology & theological biology isn’t welcome; it’s intentionally schismatic. Yet Swamidass is otherwise wrong to suggest that ‘science’ is & only ever can be ‘naturalistic,’ so it’s a rather small & narrow view he is espousing, in the name of Science.

At least S. Joshua Swamidass might learn the difference between philosophy and ideology from Nelson in this conversation. He may then come to realize he’s been foisting a figment of his own imagination that needn’t have been constructed. Then again, he may just shrink back into typical disciplinary language that wreaks of natural scientism, ideological naturalism, biologism & reductionism again. Whatever he does, because I’m calling him out on it here and he doesn’t like being called out away from PS, Joshua will likely deny it all or just ignore it in public because he can’t seem to figure any other way out of the philosophical corner he’s pained himself into than to blame the messenger. Sad to see such an ethically-challenged scientist.

Properly understood, ‘methodological naturalism’ denotes ideology, not ‘good science.’ If Nelson would go further than he has in the past and acknowledge this, a different, likely better conversation would open up. The problem is that Swamidass hasn’t yet shown he’s ready to travel that road. Maybe Nelson will help him get there towards meeting next year with his former ‘hero’ (as Swamidass once briefly called) Behe.

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

  1. Gregory,

    “Ideology” is fine with me as a descriptive noun; I don’t ordinarily use it in my writing or speaking, however. Not one of my lexical habits.

    So I looked up “ideology” just now in my desk dictionary (Random House College), and, by its 1st definition, both “naturalism” and “methodological naturalism” could reasonably be named as ideologies:

    “The body of doctrine, myth, symbol, etc., of a social movement, institution, class, or large group.”

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  2. Petrushka,

    MN does not tell you that the A entities in your list do not exist (or the B through Z entities).

    An absence of testable evidence does. MN is just along for the ride, as a philosophical rule that actually tells us nothing about the observable world; it’s a rule about the inferences we can legitimately make.

    But MN would be a positive obstacle to finding out what is the case, if evidence for any of those entities genuinely turned up, while investigators had already decided that MN ruled them out. If philosophical dicta such as MN could do our science for us, there would be no need to observe or experiment.

    MN does nothing for science that science cannot do for itself.

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  3. Paul A Nelson:
    Phoodoo asked: “I wonder how they defined material?”

    “Material” in that sentence refers to instructional or curricular content.

    Is the OOL testable? Is Darwinian evolution testable?

    I should think not.

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  4. Paul A Nelson: But MN would be a positive obstacle to finding out what is the case, if evidence for any of those entities genuinely turned up, while investigators had already decided that MN ruled them out. If philosophical dicta such as MN could do our science for us, there would be no need to observe or experiment.

    The reason these entities are called mythological is that evidence hasn’t turned up. There are borderline phenomena, for which claims still get made. UFOs, Bigfoot, ESP. These have seriously been studied, without producing supporting observations. No one ignores evidence when it appears.

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  5. petrushka: No one ignores evidence when it appear

    Living organisms that possess self-consciousness without any material explanation as to how or why is EVIDENCE of designed organisms. So when you say there is no evidence, I am not sure what you mean. What other kind of evidence for designed life would there be that would be evidence you would accept?

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  6. phoodoo: Living organisms that possess self-consciousness without any material explanation as to how or why is EVIDENCE of designed organisms.

    Only on the assumption of methodological fallacism

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  7. Paul A Nelson,

    All you guys do is whine, kick and moan about MN. No one’s stopping you from showing the world how to do science with the supernatural. You guys at the DiscoTute could be spending the money you get from your gullible creationist donors in doing just that, but you’d much rather produce more of the same stupid propaganda in the form of youtube clips instead. A tad bit hypocritical, don’t you think?

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  8. dazz: All you guys do is whine, kick and moan about MN. No one’s stopping you from showing the world how to do science with the supernatural.

    Ok, so we have prejudice on display. You’re addressing what should be properly called methodological anti-supernaturalism (MASN), rather than what you seem to think is methodological naturalism (MN). IDism in this scenario, qualifies as a kind of ‘methodological supernaturalism’ (MSN), if I understand your charge against IDists. What’s unclear about the distinction between them that confuses you to “whine, kick & moan” in MNism’s defense, while quite obviously promoting MASN?

    Do you hold the conflating definition that MN actually just means “doing good science using natural scientific methods”? It’s hard to figure why you can’t just speak more clearly & call a spade a spade instead of asking everyone else to accept your naturalistic ideology first, before starting a conversation. Kinda unfair, even for an anti-religious ‘skeptic’, isn’t it?

    You’re still barely conversant on philosophical topics. Can you not learn any philosophy at all to raise the level of your communication on ideological concerns that others have in this ‘conversation’, even if it means including your own as part of the discussion? So flat & uninteresting compared to what more is possible.

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  9. dazz:
    Paul A Nelson,

    All you guys do is whine, kick and moan about MN.

    Go to comment 32 in this thread at Peaceful Science:

    https://discourse.peacefulscience.org/t/common-narrative-with-id-on-mn/7649/32

    which I posted a couple of days ago. The ID 3.0 initiative at Discovery Institute is pouring resources into ID-motivated bench research, including my group’s project, ORFanBase. I came here at Gregory’s invitation, to try to shed some light on a contentious topic (MN). Believe me, I am sick to death of complaining about MN, because no one who holds to MN changes their mind — ever. Naturalism (whether philosophical or methodological) is implacable and impossible to satisfy. No evidence is ever good enough. For a parallel, see Luke 16:27-31.

    So screw it, I quit this thread too. I’d much rather work on our orphans-detecting pipeline.

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  10. Gregory,

    LOL, it went right over your head. How in the world do you conclude from what I said that my position amounts to MASN when I actually said that no one is stopping IDists from applying the scientific with supernatural explanations? I have no idea how that would work, but they say it can be done. Talk the talk, walk the walk

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  11. Gregory: Ok, so we have prejudice on display. You’re addressing what should be properly called methodological anti-supernaturalism (MASN), rather than what you seem to think is methodological naturalism (MN). IDism in this scenario, qualifies as a kind of ‘methodological supernaturalism’ (MSN), if I understand your charge against IDists. What’s unclear about the distinction between them that confuses you to “whine, kick & moan” in MNism’s defense, while quite obviously promoting MASN?

    Do you hold the conflating definition that MN actually just means “doing good science using natural scientific methods”? It’s hard to figure why you can’t just speak more clearly & call a spade a spade instead of asking everyone else to accept your naturalistic ideology first, before starting a conversation. Kinda unfair, even for an anti-religious ‘skeptic’, isn’t it?

    You’re still barely conversant on philosophical topics. Can you not learn any philosophy at all to raise the level of your communication on ideological concerns that others have in this ‘conversation’, even if it means including your own as part of the discussion? So flat & uninteresting compared to what more is possible.

    Talk about pissing and whining! Here we have exhibit A. What is so deeply philosophical being completely missed by those doing science using the scientific method? Here’s some clear philosophy calling a spade a spade: The goal of science is to understand the world we live in. It has been very successful. It never has, and never will, need anything theological or supernatural. It never has, and never will, require the confection of referent-free terms like MN or MASN. And this is the case because the purported existence of anyone’s gods has been stubbornly irrelevant to science.

    Science is a process. It’s a method. It is NOT an ideology — that misconception is being projected onto science by those who were raised to believe in a nonsense ideology that they can’t outgrow. LACK of an ideology is NOT an ideology. Now, rather than blather on with your courtier’s reply that those who don’t accept your superstitions simply haven’t educated themselves in the full superstitional details, how about some actual science? You know, advance human knowledge in some way even those not sharing your delusions can appreciate.

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  12. Paul A Nelson: The ID 3.0 initiative at Discovery Institute is pouring resources into ID-motivated bench research, including my group’s project, ORFanBase

    Oh, BTW, I love the “ID 3.0” thing. It sounds so cutting edge!. LMFAO.
    What has changed from the alpha? just the version tag, of course. You guys are pathetic. I can already tell what your “research” will produce. Something like These orphan genes couldn’t have possibly come about by sheer dumb luck, therefore sweet loving baby jesus.

    Woohoo!

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  13. dazz: No one’s stopping you from showing the world how to do science with the supernatural.

    This is why you don’t actually need MN. Pragmatism is already sufficient.

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  14. Neil Rickert: This is why you don’t actually need MN.Pragmatism is already sufficient.

    That’s what the paper suggested by Bruce is about. But let’s be real. It must be the millionth time Nelson has heard about this objection. he seems incapable or unwilling to address it. Probably both

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  15. Gregory:

    ‘Happily agnostic’ & superficially comfortable, trying not to know … on purpose – sure, stay that way then if you must, BruceS. ; )

    Just based on your posts to non-religious people at TSZ, it seems to me that you do not have the type of personality needed to be a successful proselytizer.

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  16. Neil Rickert,

    I kinda remember MN being proposed to keep creationists from being defensive against science. To give them the feel that their religious beliefs were “protected” from scientific scrutiny. Like that thing about non-overlapping-magisteria.

    I might be misremembering though.

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  17. dazz,

    Pretty simple. Nobody claims to “apply the scientific with supernatural explanations,” except IDists with loose & ‘creation scientists’. Boudry applies atheist ideological dog whistles to his papers & pushes his brand of anti-theism. I recall reading the linked paper back when it came out.

    TSZ people often portray straw figures of reality for apologetic anti-religion purposes. It’s not as if ‘dazz’ has never met a person who’s life has been turned around & refreshed, renewed, revitalized, literally in the process & following their religious conversion to a theistic worldview, even with entirely the same physical embodiment of themselves the way it was before. Is he saying about his own experiences, that he’s never seen such an example?

    I expect only negativity, instead of anything positive is how dazz will respond. If he does, I’m done with him here. Skeptic negativity scars into postmodern chaos & disaster. No time to waste on that.

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  18. Entropy,

    That’s not far off, when reading between the lines. I do not know if the person who introduced ‘methodological naturalism’ (in natural sciences) is a ‘creationist’ or not. I do assume he believes in divine Creation, like many people, given that he works & worked at private evangelical Protestant Christian institutions that require a ‘faith statement’ in order to work at them.

    Paul de Vries. Administrator, ethics (philosophy); written while at Wheaton College.

    For a reminder:
    http://theskepticalzone.com/wp/why-methodological-naturalism-is-a-questionable-philosophy-of-science/

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  19. Gregory: apply the scientific with

    I meant “apply the scientific method using supernatural explanations”. Oops

    Gregory: Boudry applies atheist ideological dog whistles to his papers & pushes his brand of anti-theism.

    Jeez, another snake! They’re all over the place

    Gregory: It’s not as if ‘dazz’ has never met a person who’s life has been turned around & refreshed, renewed, revitalized, literally in the process & following their religious conversion to a theistic worldview, even with entirely the same physical embodiment of themselves the way it was before. Is he saying about his own experiences, that he’s never seen such an example?

    In fact, no, I haven’t. I felt that way about my own deconversion, and I’ve met a bunch of former religious persons who also share my feelings. My brother, for example, didn’t leave the faith until his late teens. It was a bit tougher for him, but once he made up his mind, he was massively relieved according to him. He’s doing great now, by the way

    Gregory: I expect only negativity, instead of anything positive is how dazz will respond. If he does, I’m done with him here. Skeptic negativity scars into postmodern chaos & disaster. No time to waste on that.

    Welp. I can lie to you if that will make you feel better, since you don’t seem to care about what’s true anyway.

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  20. Are you actually suggesting there is only a SINGLE ‘method’ used in natural-physical sciences?! Why should anyone trust or believe you after hearing you say that unless they wanted to think about ‘science’ the way they teach grade school children? I’m an adult, won’t you speak as an adult about ‘science’ here?

    Your story of deconversion (from what?) is what it is for you. It might not hurt you to eventually speak with a convert who went the other way. I’ve done that. Doesn’t hurt if you have the courage & know what you believe.

    Yes, that feeling of a ‘freedom wave’ or ‘party riot’ when you think you can get away with anything & can imagine you have no responsibility for your action. Doesn’t Doestoevsky have a ballad about that? It’s a devil’s temptation. What you said reminded me of the words of Charles Baudelaire facing such a ‘god is not great’ predicament: “What can an eternity of damnation matter to someone who has felt, if only for a second, the infinity of delight?”

    But those I know won’t bite on such a temptation. Sorry it sounds like you have.

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  21. Gregory: Are you actually suggesting there is only a SINGLE ‘method’ used in natural-physical sciences?! Why should anyone trust or believe you after hearing you say that unless they wanted to think about ‘science’ the way they teach grade school children? I’m an adult, won’t you speak as an adult about ‘science’ here?

    No, I wasn’t suggesting there’s only one method to do science. Not that I’m qualified to discuss philosophy of science, but what I meant is that I agree with Boudry et al. that there’s no need for an a-priori commitment to ontological naturalism to do good science.

    Gregory: Your story of deconversion (from what?)

    From Catholicism

    Gregory: It might not hurt you to eventually speak with a convert who went the other way. I’ve done that. Doesn’t hurt if you have the courage & know what you believe.

    I don’t know anyone like that, and I seriously doubt any of the atheists I know will ever convert. I’ve asked you a number of times for reasons to believe, but you refuse to provide any. I guess I’ll need to look elsewhere. Too bad.

    Gregory: Yes, that feeling of a ‘freedom wave’ or ‘party riot’ when you think you can get away with anything & can imagine you have no responsibility for your action.

    That’s pure, unadulterated bullshit.

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  22. dazz,

    Oh, because that’s what it sounded like when you just wrote: “I meant ‘apply the scientific method’…” I read that article ‘the’ as denoting singular. Silly me.

    So, then will you adjust this particular speech tick of yours now that it has been pointed out? “Apply scientific methods” sounds better/right.

    Ah yes, Maarten Boudry: super-flaneur poseur for philosophistry! LoL – he should be studied more often & known better at this place. He tops KN by a landslide.

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  23. BruceS: Just based on your posts to non-religious people at TSZ, it seems to me that you do not have the type of personality needed to be a successful proselytizer.

    Depends. His personality comes across as deeply contemptuous of those not willing to immerse themselves in delusion matching his. Someone who wraps themselves in pious ignorance while belittling us poor benighted victims of mere reality is a very persuasive illustration of what might be YOUR brain on religion, should you drink the Kool-Aid he drank.

    I continue to hypothesize that there is a window of development in childhood during which the tendency to rockbound religious convictions and Absolute Certainty of claptrap, either takes root or does not. After that age, only the most determined efforts, if then, can completely erase the neurological pathways that formed one way or another.

    For most of us, of any persuasion, it seems to stretch credulity that anyone can actually BELIEVE what they claim. True Believers tend to think atheists are posturing by denying a god they know exists. Atheists find it hard to accept that the True Believers are actually sincere and think there ARE gods (or alien abductors, ghosts, etc.). Dawkins wrote that “there is no sensible limit to what the human brain is capable of believing, against any amount of contrary evidence.” I suppose he’s right, with the caveat that our beliefs determine our evidence, not vice versa.

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  24. I tend to think evolution is a particularly difficult concept.

    Biologists accept it now, but it took 80 years after Darwin for the biology community to come aboard.

    Evolution is a generalizable behavior of dynamic systems. It was first described in economics. Gregory seems to be an example of someone who resists this generalization.

    One of the characteristics of evolved systems is stability. Designed objects, like 747s, are brittle, and have multiple points at which catastrophic failure can occur.

    This can happen in living populations. Hence extinction. But taken as a whole, life is not brittle.

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  25. Moved some comments to guano. Complaints should be made in the “moderation issues” thread

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  26. I’d like to go back to the very first comment, because I think Walter Kloover asked a very pertinent question that Gregory simply brushed aside. Here it is again:

    >I don’t see how science can not be naturalistic. Can you explain/give examples of what you mean?

    If there are “many” kinds of science, then it shouldn’t be very hard to offer an example one of these alternatives. May we have an example, please? More than one example would be nice, but that might be asking too much.

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  27. It’s not that I brushed it aside, it’s that I actually raised it already in the OP. And so it’s not like I’m going to do the work for everyone else, when I inquire for the purpose of listening. Let this not be a ‘skeptic’ hive with both lack of inspiration & laziness.

    In short, what does a non-naturalist natural scientist look like? To ask another way, how can a natural scientist not promote naturalistic ideology along with their natural science? More directly, how can a natural scientist take a stand & properly reject and oppose ideological naturalism, while remaining dedicated to their natural-physical science? Or another cruder way it is sometimes asked, isn’t natural science simply synonymous with MNism?

    One should of course be aware when asking here at TSZ that it is almost impossible for ‘skeptic’ (atheist/agnostic) anti-religious commentators to base their argumentation on anything other than ideological naturalism. Thus, one quite quickly sees the ‘true colours’ of the respondent, & can remove oneself it is obvious that respondent won’t think or listen.

    Walter Kloover is of course welcome to provide an answer to the problem that I am again highlighting with this thread on MNism at TSZ. He may or may not even accept the ‘reality’ of ideological MNism having wrought havoc since de Vries entered it into the lexicon. I’m unaware of or have forgotten his program; same with the recent poster questioning me demandingly on topics I’ve worked for years on & can easily explain. Some people simply cannot allow themselves to listen or won’t try. End of story. Move on. This is simply not the proper venue to speak that ‘other’ way.

    That’s likely the end of it for me here too. I can appreciate Paul’s sentiments above in departure. Hanging out with ‘skeptics,’ largely atheists & agnostics, who are not even seekers, but just close-minded, isn’t enjoyable.

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  28. Tomato Addict: If there are “many” kinds of science, then it shouldn’t be very hard to offer an example one of these alternatives.

    Apparently it’s too hard.

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  29. Tomato Addict:
    I’d like to go back to the very first comment, because I think Walter Kloover asked a very pertinent question that Gregory simply brushed aside. Here it is again:

    >I don’t see how science can not be naturalistic. Can you explain/give examples of what you mean?

    If there are “many” kinds of science, then it shouldn’t be very hard to offer an example one of these alternatives. May we have an example, please? More than one example would be nice, but that might be asking too much.

    I’m with petrushka here. Even providing one single example is asking too much. I’ve carefully combed through Gregory’s post claiming he didn’t brush the request aside, and I see plenty of brushing and not a single example. He spends an entire long paragraph rephrasing the question multiple ways, and ends up by saying Walter can just answer it himself!

    I’m reminded of Dembski, who was asked for something similar, dismissing requests for something trivial like mechanistic details. Like Gregory, Dembski is too open-minded and knowledgeable to provide, like, actual substance.

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  30. If you can’t/won’t answer the question, “what ‘sciences’ are there other than ‘natural sciences’?,” then there isn’t much of a conversation going on.

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  31. Flint: I’m reminded of Dembski, who was asked for something similar, dismissing requests for something trivial like mechanistic details. Like Gregory, Dembski is too open-minded and knowledgeable to provide, like, actual substance.

    Yes, those were the days! When ISCID was still a forum!

    But Paul Nelson was at least able to give a rational assessment in 2004:

    Easily the biggest challenge facing the ID community is to develop a full-fledged theory of biological design. We don’t have such a theory right now, and that’s a problem. Without a theory, it’s very hard to know where to direct your research focus. Right now, we’ve got a bag of powerful intuitions, and a handful of notions such as ‘irreducible complexity’ and ‘specified complexity’-but, as yet, no general theory of biological design. link

    What has changed since?

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  32. Gregory:
    If you can’t/won’t answer the question, “what ‘sciences’ are there other than ‘natural sciences’?,” then there isn’t much of a conversation going on.

    This question is not properly formed, leading you astray. Science is a method, which (in general) consists of examining available evidence, forming hypotheses to explain it, deriving some way to test those hypotheses, performing the tests and examining the resulting evidence, and either accepting or rejecting the hypothesis. The hard part is constructing testable hypotheses, especially when something is not well understood and theory is lacking or inadequate. Evidence produced by inappropriate tests can be misleading, but with a lot of minds coming up with lots of hypotheses, and with incremental improvements in testing methodology and instrumentation, progress happens in the sense that knowledge is expanded.

    The point here is that there is only one “kind” of science, the kind that follows the hypothesis-test-examine evidence kind. If you’re aware of some other “kind” of science (especially a kind that is not empirical), you need to explain it. If you can’t or won’t, then of course there’s not much of a conversation.

    Alan Fox: Right now, we’ve got a bag of powerful intuitions, and a handful of notions such as ‘irreducible complexity’ and ‘specified complexity’-but, as yet, no general theory of biological design. link

    What has changed since?

    I don’t think much has changed, except insofar as the DI hasn’t been able to translate powerful intuitions into operational definitions, to make testing possible. The closest anyone has come is when people like Axe claim evolution requires something it does not (and cannot), tests for it carefully, finds that it doesn’t exist or doesn’t work that way, and announces that this disproves evolution! I suspect this is because if Axe truly understood evolution, he wouldn’t be searching for ways to discredit it. As it is, he can only discredit rather silly misconceptions.

    2+
  33. Were you a participant at ISCID, Alan? I was. Not a good example for lumping me with Dembski. Please don’t do this. He’s nowhere near the top of my list, nor are there any strong similarities in our work that are not just figments of your conspiratorial imagination.

    Here, Flint: https://social-epistemology.com/2012/09/14/gregory-sandstrom-how-many-sciences-are-there/ Please stop your ‘science is…’ elementary critique. Come back to this thread, if you must, after reading about “what science is” & “how many sciences” there are. Many other people have written about this; I just presented these views at a basic high altitude, ‘public understanding of science’ level.

    What did I get wrong? Multiple methods, many disciplines, schools of thought, hot & cold fields, competing research programmes & hypotheses, etc. Your ‘science’ in contrast seems flat, lifeless & without purpose. The disdain you seem to hold for philosophy & theology, while leaving out how your own (agnostic/atheist) worldview impacts how you are approaching this topic, makes it difficult to take your position seriously or have a ‘real’ conversation.

    This question is formed exactly how I meant to ask it. Either address it as framed, please, or walk away. “What ‘sciences’ are there other than ‘natural sciences’?” There is an obvious ideological reading, of course, if you answer, ‘there are none.’ Likewise, if you start by volunteering another name or names, there are ideological consequences due to this reading of ‘science’ as well.

    0
  34. Gregory: Were you a participant at ISCID, Alan?

    For a while. I even exchanged a couple of comments with the great man himself.

    0
  35. Gregory: Please don’t do this. He’s nowhere near the top of my list, nor are there any strong similarities in our work that are not just figments of your conspiratorial imagination.

    I don’t understand. I was just reminiscing. It never occurred to me there might be any connection between you and Dembski and I can’t see how you might conclude that.

    0
  36. Gregory: Gosh, that’s a hard one & a super big ‘if’. ; P

    Ciao.

    Gregory, in this post you appear to be making fun of your own position, which AIUI involves there being multiple “sciences”. Walter Kloover and Tomato Addict asked what seem reasonable questions about what a non-naturalistic science might look like.

    If there are “many” kinds of science, then it shouldn’t be very hard to offer an example one of these alternatives.

    the response

    that’s a big ‘if’

    normally denotes a refusal to accept that the condition applies.

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  37. It is mildly interesting that the social sciences are both distinct from the natural sciences and are guided by methodological naturalism. It certainly isn’t the case that psychology and sociology reject methodological naturalism just because the social sciences have a hermeneutic dimension that the natural sciences are usually regarded as lacking.

    2+
  38. DNA_Jock,

    Sorry, champ, but I can’t force you to read, nor is there a way for you to simply (The Matrix-like) consume the last 40-50 yrs of literature in history, philosophy & sociology of science that would easily enable you to see the gap in your position. Keep held back in old PoS, if that’s your thing. We’re well beyond that now.

    This is a helpful response to Boudry et al. https://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/S/bo27128704.html

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  39. Kantian Naturalist,

    You & I must always start with semantics because you are so slippery with your multiple ideologies, including (neo-)Marxism.

    Re: claim about “psychology and sociology reject methodological naturalism”. Neither psychology nor sociology requires ideological naturalism (incl. methodological, philosophical & metaphysical). What they do require is ‘methodological humanism,’ in so far as it has or can be defined.

    It’s thus rather unique with KN here at TSZ, that he claims humanism as his own ideology, i.e. meaning secular humanism, yet shares with us his former-religious upbringing as a foil for his own position. Religious humanism, nevertheless, is a highly & widely accepted position to hold & promote, one that KN seems unwilling to involve in his philosophistic worldview conversation.

    This is written b/c if we don’t get our terms clearly out early, in almost every conversation I’ve had with him, KN will just mangle the conversation with loose, secularistic, anti-religious, self-admittedly disenchanting sophistry.

    0
  40. Gregory: This is written b/c if we don’t get our terms clearly out early, in almost every conversation I’ve had with him, KN will just mangle the conversation with loose, secularistic, anti-religious, self-admittedly disenchanting sophistry.

    Yup. In this case KN stated, “It is mildly interesting that the social sciences are both distinct from the natural sciences…” squarely refuting Flint’s kindergarten-level view of science, while having “mildly” there to dampen the effect.

    And KN added, “…and [social sciences] are guided by methodological naturalism” which is false, strictly speaking, but he must have it this way because he does not want to appear in too much of an agreement with any of the non- or anti-atheists here.

    0
  41. Gregory: You & I must always start with semantics because you are so slippery with your multiple ideologies, including (neo-)Marxism.

    (Gregory is replying to KN).

    That is like the banana peel calling the sandpaper slippery.

    2+
  42. Neil Rickert,

    That KN is like a banana skin pirouette & collapse with most of his philosophistry, I accept. Is it KN’s (neo-)Marxism or another of his ideologies that you consider ‘sandpaper,’ i.e. non-slippery? LOL.

    0
  43. Erik: Yup. In this case KN stated, “It is mildly interesting that the social sciences are both distinct from the natural sciences…” squarely refuting Flint’s kindergarten-level view of science, while having “mildly” there to dampen the effect.

    I guess I never quite developed past the notion that evidence matters. Somewhere in the last 50 years, apparently this stopped being the case in science. Or are you saying that by, say, 5th grade you had outgrown the need for evidence?

    Kantian Naturalist:
    It is mildly interesting that the social sciences are both distinct from the natural sciences and are guided by methodological naturalism. It certainly isn’t the case that psychology and sociology reject methodological naturalism just because the social sciences have a hermeneutic dimension that the natural sciences are usually regarded as lacking.

    I’m not quite sure how to parse this. I’m going to guess that what you call “natural” sciences allow for somewhat more direct and unambiguous observation, while science with a “hermeneutic dimension” generally refers to fields where there is a very large number of variables, not all (or often even most) can be eliminated or controlled for. So conclusions of studies in the social sciences tend to rest on statistical inference, within error bars.

    But then again, maybe philosophical issues have surmounted these methods. What I see is a lot of undefined terminology being used, along with the projection of “ideology” on the part of those who see ideology whatever they look at. Yes, there are multiple scientific fields, and yes, experimental methods have been developed appropriate to each. There have always been competing schools of thought.

    Simpleminded as I am, I suppose I take the position that there is one, single, non-paradoxical dynamic reality “out there”, which can be examined from far more viewpoints than the blind men examine the elephant. I find the advancement of human knowledge at least as exciting as the proliferation of philosophical terms to be used as clubs against the unbeliever. Perhaps some folks here don’t think human knowledge has actually advanced?

    0
  44. Gregory:
    Here, Flint: https://social-epistemology.com/2012/09/14/gregory-sandstrom-how-many-sciences-are-there/ Please stop your ‘science is…’ elementary critique. Come back to this thread, if you must, after reading about “what science is” & “how many sciences” there are. Many other people have written about this; I just presented these views at a basic high altitude, ‘public understanding of science’ level.

    What did I get wrong? Multiple methods, many disciplines, schools of thought, hot & cold fields, competing research programmes & hypotheses, etc. Your ‘science’ in contrast seems flat, lifeless & without purpose. The disdain you seem to hold for philosophy & theology, while leaving out how your own (agnostic/atheist) worldview impacts how you are approaching this topic, makes it difficult to take your position seriously or have a ‘real’ conversation.

    Yes, I read your paper. I guess we’re going to have to disagree. You spend that paper conflating FIELDS of science with KINDS of science. Like saying there are multiple “kinds” of observation – house observation, tree observation, rabbit observation, etc.

    Now, at the risk of sounding condescending, I suggest with Robert Louis Stevenson that “Life is so full of a number of things/I think we should all be as happy as kings.” Reality is endlessly multifaceted, endlessly dynamic. Getting any part of it to hold still enough to examine in detail is a challenge, and each part requires a different examination technique.

    I harbor doubts about the finality of the academic taxonomy you present – these departments are usefully subdivided, because all reality is too much to attack wholesale. But surely your philosophy can accept that biology is composed of chemistry, that optics play an important role in astronomy, that math is critically important in ecology, and so on and on until, ultimately..

    Again, each blind man used a different way to examine the elephant, each drew different conclusions, and the whole point of that fable is that there was only one elephant. Reality is like an infinitely complex elephant. Certainly I’m not saying that it’s inappropriate to use different techniques to examine and test different aspects of reality. And for each aspect, the most appropriate techniques are those that produce the most useful and durable results.

    But ALL of these techniques involve guessing what’s going on (forming a hypothesis), figuring out some way to test the guess (formulating operational definitions of what’s to be tested), performing some test (which might be simply looking for something in a different place because the hypothesis says it should be there), and using the test results to modify the guesses in endless iteration. People have always been curious; the breakthrough was when people realized that rather than sitting around philosophizing about it, they should go out and actually look.

    I confess I cannot imagine how you find the advance of knowledge to be lifeless or without purpose. I think the leading edge of knowledge in each field is exciting, because knowledge at that level is so dubious or uncertain. And as a result, you get plenty of competing views, conflicting hypotheses, research programs going in different directions. I find it more satisfying than lifeless that, as techniques and instrumentation and most especially theory are honed based in increasing knowledge, these competing views dovetail into a common understanding, because there is still only one elephant.

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