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. BruceS: I did not get much out of the PNelson thread at PS, but I did find the “scholars” exchange on gpuccio’s ideas to be very informative, functionally and otherwise.
    https://discourse.peacefulscience.org/t/gpuccio-functional-information-methodology/7549/210

    I love how gpuccio claims that his method produces no false positives, 500 bits of FI is always because of design. Another creationist there went as far as to say that gpuccio’s crap should be considered a scientific law, very much like the 2nd law of thermodynamics (yeah, right) which gpuccio quoted approvingly … but gpuccio also claims that design is detected by ruling out chance and necessity. And he can’t see the obvious contradiction? Unbelievable

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  2. Just for fun, here is an interesting explanation of terms:

    http://chem.tufts.edu/AnswersInScience/MethodologicalNaturalism.htm

    It is standard intelligent design creationist jargon to deliberatly confuse and misuse the terms ontological (philosophical) naturalism and methodological naturalism. The former is the view that nothing supernatural exists – a point which may engender heated debate among theologians and philosophers but is irrelevant to the pursuit of science.
    Methodological naturalism is not a “doctrine” but an essential aspect of the methodology of science, the study of the natural universe.

    And here’s a bit from Wikipedia:

    Methodological naturalism concerns itself with methods of learning what nature is. These methods are useful in the evaluation of claims about existence and knowledge and in identifying causal mechanisms responsible for the emergence of physical phenomena. It attempts to explain and test scientific endeavors, hypotheses, and events with reference to natural causes and events. This second sense of the term “naturalism” seeks to provide a framework within which to conduct the scientific study of the laws of nature. Methodological naturalism is a way of acquiring knowledge. It is a distinct system of thought concerned with a cognitive approach to reality, and is thus a philosophy of knowledge. Studies by sociologist Elaine Ecklund suggest that religious scientists in practice apply methodological naturalism. They report that their religious beliefs affect the way they think about the implications – often moral – of their work, but not the way they practice science.[29]
    Steven Schafersman states that methodological naturalism is “the adoption or assumption of philosophical naturalism within the scientific method with or without fully accepting or believing it … science is not metaphysical and does not depend on the ultimate truth of any metaphysics for its success, but methodological naturalism must be adopted as a strategy or working hypothesis for science to succeed. We may therefore be agnostic about the ultimate truth of naturalism, but must nevertheless adopt it and investigate nature as if nature is all that there is.”
    In a series of articles and books from 1996 onward, Robert T. Pennock wrote using the term “methodological naturalism” to clarify that the scientific method confines itself to natural explanations without assuming the existence or non-existence of the supernatural, and is not based on dogmatic metaphysical naturalism. Pennock’s testimony as an expert witness[30] at the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District trial was cited by the Judge in his Memorandum Opinion concluding that “Methodological naturalism is a ‘ground rule’ of science today”:

    Now, these presentations seem consistent and reasonable to me. I wonder if they are describing Gregory’s methodological naturalism. I can’t tell.

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  3. Flint: Now, these presentations seem consistent and reasonable to me. I wonder if they are describing Gregory’s methodological naturalism. I can’t tell.

    My sense is that Gregory is overly concerned with what people believe theologically. By extension, he believes that theological and philosophical beliefs shape morals, ethics and politics.

    Although this site is nominally concerned with scientific consensus, I see it wandering into discussions of how people should behave — personally and politically. This tendency is apparent on all sides of the evolution divide.

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  4. Flint: 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?

    Had you said only “evidence matters”, everything would have been okay. But you have an elaborate false philosophy of science. To the question, “What ‘sciences’ are there other than ‘natural sciences’?” you answered “This question is not properly formed, leading you astray.” and yadda yadda about method, betraying your delusion that basically only experimental physics qualifies as science.

    FYI, the correct answer to the question “What ‘sciences’ are there other than ‘natural sciences’?” is, “Social sciences and humanities.” If you think those are not sciences, then your notion of science has not evolved past kindergarten. Or past 5th grade, if you like that better.

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  5. Flint: These methods are useful in the evaluation of claims about existence and knowledge and in identifying causal mechanisms responsible for the emergence of physical phenomena.

    And what happens when we can’t find any physical mechanisms for such emergence. Do we then get to assume its supernatural?

    Or instead, as you materialists like to do, just say, well one day, one day one day….forever? Isn’t that just a rationalization to bail you out?

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  6. Flint: 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.

    What I had in mind was rather that in the social sciences and the humanities, the research being undertaken implicates how the researcher understands himself or herself.

    For example, if a White social psychologist discovers that most White people have an implicit bias against non-White people, that will have implications for how that psychologist understands herself. Likewise for other social sciences.

    By contrast, a particle physicist’s understanding of himself does not get challenged and revised when he discovers a new kind of exotic short-lived particle.

    And most scientific disciplines lie on the spectrum between physics and psychology, especially the different sub-fields of biology. Primate ethology and cognitive neuroscience, sure; molecular biology, not so much (or at least less obviously).

    One issue I’d like to understand better is why this term “methodological naturalism” emerged. It seems to me that it’s supposed to do the same work as verificationism — though understood in strictly epistemic terms rather than semantic ones (as the Vienna Circle conflated them).

    Epistemic verificationism could be understood as the claim that empirical hypotheses — subjunctive claims about states of affairs that are contingent and actual — must be testable. Testability in turn requires the causal closure of the physical world: no laws of fundamental physics are violated.

    It seems pretty clear to me why literary studies, history, psychology and sociology must conform to this (extremely modest) requirement just as much as biology and chemistry must.

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  7. phoodoo: And what happens when we can’t find any physical mechanisms for such emergence.Do we then get to assume its supernatural?

    Sure phoodoo if you want to relegate the awesome power of the supernatural to making water wet. Moving birds into formations. Making clouds look like elephants.

    Or instead, as you materialists like to do, just say, well one day, one day one day….forever?Isn’t that just a rationalization to bail you out?

    Unless you have a better way, care to propose one?

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  8. Kantian Naturalist: What I had in mind was rather that in the social sciences and the humanities, the research being undertaken implicates how the researcher understands himself or herself

    As far as scientific methodology for the sciences studying humans, I think it is the other way around. That is, scientists in those domains limit methodology to conform to the aspects of humanity that the scientific paradigm dictates as open to scientific study. For example in psychology:
    – behaviourism in the first half of the 20th century

    – the limited computational models of the early cognitive view in the second half

    – the current extension of that limited version of computationalism with embodied approaches

    Another dimension would be how the first person perspective enters into scientific methodology, which I think is generally as a source of data but not explanation, at least in psychology.

    That is not to say the the scientific understanding is not one of several important perspective for understanding the human condition. Only to say that such thinking is philosophical, not scientific.

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  9. BruceS,

    Thank you for that helpful correction.

    You’re certainly right to stress the need for operationalized concepts and verifiability conditions in the history of 20th century psychology, esp. beginning with behaviorism’s rejection of introspectionism (or more precisely, retaining the associationism stressed by Locke and Hume without their commitment to introspectionism). The cognitive turn, aided and abetted by computer science, effectively operationalized the concept of “mental states”.

    However that’s not to say that the first-person and second-person perspectives can be (let alone should be) eliminated from psychology, if one considers social psychology or developmental psychology. Cultural anthropology is another area where the first and second person perspectives are indispensable.

    Generally speaking in the social sciences one can see a vigorous debate between those who insist on operationalized concept and verifiability conditions and those who insist that some crucial aspect of how we conceptualize and interpret the world (including ourselves) is neglected by doing so. (One can see a version of this today in the distinction between quantitative and qualitative research methods in sociology.)

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  10. Kantian Naturalist: However that’s not to say that the first-person and second-person perspectives

    This seems fine to me.

    I’d add that it is a good post for Flint to consider to start to understand the points (I think) Erik and Greg are making.

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  11. Alan Fox: Skinner has a lot to answer for.

    True, though if one looks at American psychology before the rise of behaviorism, much of it was so confused that it was indistinguishable from philosophy!

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  12. To resume my previous line of thought: if methodological naturalism involves only the idea that the causal closure of the universe is a pragmatic presupposition of the demand that generalizing and simplifying models of causal regularities be testable through measurements over spatio-temporal intervals, then why does ID reject it?

    The answer, it seems to me, is that ID wants to reject the very idea that hypotheses must be testable in order to count as bona fide scientific hypotheses. Thus IDists defend the positing of a Designer as an inference to the best explanation or abductive inference and therefore as a scientific theory on epistemic par with evolutionary theory (except those dastardly corrupt Darwinists prevent their dogma from being challenged, the pernicious bastards!).

    That the abductive inference is not only necessary but also sufficient for ID to count as an empirical science is a nice entailment of rejecting the requirement that models be tested. And that’s what rejecting methodological naturalism does: it rejects the need for testability.

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  13. “One issue I’d like to understand better is why this term ‘methodological naturalism’ emerged.”

    ‘Emerged’ or ‘coined’? I’ll go with coined, since we have an actual record to consult.

    Have you not read Paul de Vries’ paper in which he (according to Ron Numbers) coined MNism? If not, then frankly I question your sincerity since you’ve had lots of time to consider it already. It was published in 1986 & has been discussed for quite a few years thoroughly. Why the sudden interest now? [I am speaking this way because KN has let it be known here that he holds a PhD & teaches philosophy at a university currently, so there is little excuse for such a person who surely has access to the primary text to not actually have read it.]

    de Vries’ explains quite clearly that he was limiting himself to ‘natural sciences’, such that ‘other’ sciences (negative, because most people in N. America have been trained to think this way) are excluded from that ‘methodology’. That de Vries was an administrator, not a full-time faculty at the time says a lot. That he was a ‘philosopher’ at a private USAmerican Christian university, an evangelical Protestant one, also says a lot. TSZ is not the right place to say more about it.

    This provides enough that is needed for KN to understand better.
    https://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/2007/PSCF9-07Poe.pdf
    https://helda.helsinki.fi//bitstream/handle/10138/225741/Methodological_naturalism_and_the_truth_seeking_objection_Kojonen.pdf?sequence=1

    This is who Swamidass gets his thinking from on this topic: https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/b87f/6aa76e8021aa34e6db1045cb71074f05015f.pdf

    Since he is currently an atheist/agnostic apostate, I’m not sure it is theoretically possible for KN to understand this properly, since he would have to put on ‘religious’ glasses in order to do it. He would have to literally force himself to change his understanding. I suspect he’ll revert to philosophistry instead.

    Swamidass is new to the topic & treats it extremely superficially. Anyone looking to him as an authority on this topic should check their standards & immediately start asking around for a better interpreter. He seems not yet to have even entered a learning curve on the topic, still insisting MNism is required in order to do natural science.

    It comes across as either sad or just plain hilarious (if not also potentially dangerous) when natural scientists themselves don’t recognize the ideologies they are using in their communication. Swamidass is quickly becoming an archetypal example of scientists’ ignorance of non-scientific topics, yet he hasn’t lost any ‘confidence’ along the way.

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  14. Gregory: Since he is currently an atheist/agnostic apostate, I’m not sure it is theoretically possible for KN to understand this properly, since he would have to put on ‘religious’ glasses in order to do it. He would have to literally force himself to change his understanding. I suspect he’ll revert to philosophistry instead.

    Do you subject your own understanding to the same standard, that it may not be theoretically possible for you to take off your religious/ emotional glasses to accurately pass judgement on others? You may be projecting on others your own limitations/ inclinations . Just curious if you turn your insights toward your own positions. But since you caused me to follow your links ,a like.

    Oops, a inadvertent like.

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  15. So as to avoid any controversy about his position, de Vries states on his website that he believes he coined the term (concept duo) ‘methodological naturalism’:

    “He is properly credited for inventing (1982) the term ‘methodological naturalism,’ a concept that clarifies a central issue in the philosophy of science and in the continuing evolution debates.” http://www.pauldevries.com/ (front page)

    Well, let’s just say I’m not quite as fond of the MNisms as de Vries is.

    The ideology expressed in this concept duo has been a disaster. Clarifies? No, it explodes a bomb of ambiguity & divisiveness, starting from de Vries’ paper itself.

    The paper does, however, make a few good points, even while ‘inventing’ an ideology that de Vries obviously hadn’t fully considered in it’s meaning or thought through in its outcome. It has become one of the most widespread weapons of abuse than just about any other concept in the conversation.

    What we know now is that ‘anti-supernaturalism’ should not be equated with ‘pro-naturalism’ (of whatever variety). Yet that argument is still being beaten till it’s gone by too many voices in this conversation.

    Over at PS, Swamidass, still only gives a negative meaning in his own definition of MNism. It seems becoming a ‘Science pastor’ is really what it’s all about to him, once the ‘peaceful scientism’ niceties are stripped away.

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  16. Alan Fox: Skinner has a lot to answer for.

    Skinner warned, for example, that unless people understood how manipulation works, and how to recognize it, they will be manipulated to their disadvantage.

    Since it is to the advantage of casino operators and social media purveyors, nothing about the techniques are ever discussed.

    But I have never witnessed such a successful operation as the one that has provided free internet services incrementally, and reached a point where no one can live without them.

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  17. newton,

    Yes, do you mean ‘reflexivity’? Regularly. ; )

    How might de Vries’ reflexivity be found in his paper? First, can you say if you have read it, Newton? You’ll find the reflexivity starting in the 2nd paragraph. Can’t really miss it, unless you want to.

    Standards? The paper by de Vries was published in an evangelical Christian venue (someone here will call it ‘sectarian’, so I’ll save them from that), the Christian Scholars Review. Was it the right venue for the publication of such a ‘great concept’ as Swamidass & some other natural scientist-ideologues seem to think?

    Swamidass’ interpretation of ‘methodological naturalism’ comes from within a similar religious milieux as does de Vries; Protestant evangelicalism, the former in the non-mainline variety. Is this the main reason why he accepts de Vries’ ‘philosophy of science’? Otherwise, more mature approaches than de Vries’ don’t use what Swamidass calls the ‘wrong’ term, yet continues to use nonetheless.

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  18. Erik: Had you said only “evidence matters”, everything would have been okay. But you have an elaborate false philosophy of science. To the question, “What ‘sciences’ are there other than ‘natural sciences’?” you answered “This question is not properly formed, leading you astray.” and yadda yadda about method, betraying your delusion that basically only experimental physics qualifies as science.

    FYI, the correct answer to the question “What ‘sciences’ are there other than ‘natural sciences’?” is, “Social sciences and humanities.” If you think those are not sciences, then your notion of science has not evolved past kindergarten. Or past 5th grade, if you like that better.

    Of course social sciences are science. In college I took a number of courses in clinical psychology, along with the necessary associated courses in inferential statistics. And what we did in those courses was collect appropriate evidence. Not in physics labs, of course. We used polls, questionnaires, direct experiments, interviews, even games. We had questions we wanted to address, along the lines of “Why do people behave the way they do?” and “How do people react to certain circumstances and conditions?” and “How can we explain human variation in (fill in the blank). I certainly didn’t mean to suggest to you that these fields of investigation are not science, or that these techniques are not scientific.

    And I definitely don’t think people or the actions, behaviors or beliefs of people are “unnatural”. Maybe I have been using the wrong terminology. If “natural science” MEANS physics, and doesn’t include perfectly natural people, then I apologize.

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  19. BruceS: This seems fine to me.

    I’d add that it is a good post for Flint to consider to start to understand the points (I think) Erik and Greg are making.

    I’m not sure I do understand the points Erika and Greg are making, though what KN writes makes sense to me. When he writes about attempting to eliminate the need for testability, he’s addressing science as I understand it.

    What I see when trying to disentangle and interpret Erik and Gregory, is an overriding need to resolve an irresolvable problem. As a hypothesis, even as an IDEA, “the supernatural” is simply outside science even when science is considered broadly enough to encompass all we can observe.

    So here we have what seems a painful conflict between the urgent individual need to find their god(s) in the world, and science blithely and resoundingly successfully! examining and explaining the world. The rules of the Believer are that their god(s) MUST play a critical role in something as successful and pervasive as science. They CANNOT be irrelevant! The supernatural, whatever that is, MUST get stuck in there somehow.

    And my reading is that the resolution of this conflict lies in doing philosophical contortions a pretzel would envy. “Methodological naturalism”, even as an idea, would not exist or need to exist outside this religious (or theological?) framework. “Supernatural” is bandied about without any direct definition, certainly no examples and certainly not even a suggestion of a framework for investigation. It’s defined indirectly as what “isn’t natural”. And so onward we go into “philosophical naturalism”, the position that everything that exists in the universe is matter and energy. I suppose things like ideologies, ideas, theories, understandings, predictions, political consequences, etc. somehow exist, and trying to decide if these are matter or energy shows the hollowness of this concept. These things, even if they are neither matter nor energy, can certainly be investigated with “methodological naturalism”.

    These sorts of conflicts do not seem to exist where science is practiced outside of Abrahamic religious cultures. I do wonder if Chinese or Indian scientists concern themselves with the distinction between methodological naturalism and methodological anti-supernaturalism. I wonder if it would even make sense to them. I doubt the lack of such concerns impedes the quality of their science.

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  20. “Of course social sciences are science.”

    Presumably based on ‘methodological humanism,’ rather than ‘methodological naturalism’?

    Why base a social science on ‘methodological naturalism’ if 1) the ideology that the methodology qualifies doesn’t suit the subject/object being studied, & 2) if ‘humanism’ is a more appropriate term than ‘naturalism’ for what scholars & ‘scientists’ in the social sciences, and at all times humanities, actually focus their time, attention & interest on?

    The problem for KN in responding is that humanism has a long established tradition. The main split between secular humanism & religious humanism has not been resolved. And frankly, I don’t like his side’s chances. But hey, this is TSZ, so of course the secularizing, naturalizing, skepticizing pathway is preferred by many.

    Sooner or later, an appropriate term needs to be made to address the ‘methodologism’ of this crazy evangelical-philosophical mess from de Vries. A much healthier conversation between science, philosophy & theology/worldview is possible once one moves beyond de Vries’ philosophy of science caprice with love-your-enemy MNism + MNism mangling of English-language coherency.

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  21. Flint: I suppose things like ideologies, ideas, theories, understandings, predictions, political consequences, etc. somehow exist, and trying to decide if these are matter or energy shows the hollowness of this concept. These things, even if they are neither matter nor energy, can certainly be investigated with “methodological naturalism”.

    These sorts of conflicts do not seem to exist where science is practiced outside of Abrahamic religious cultures. I do wonder if Chinese or Indian scientists concern themselves with the distinction between methodological naturalism and methodological anti-supernaturalism. I wonder if it would even make sense to them. I doubt the lack of such concerns impedes the quality of their science.

    End of first paragraph, did you mean ‘without’?

    I think it is important that you highlight “Abrahamic religious cultures,” which is still the bedrock of western civilization & much of the world. I have more experience with Indian scientists (& engineers, having visited there multiple times) than with Chinese, though some with the latter as well. With Indians, there is usually little concern at all about MNism vs. PNism (or MNism#2). In India, spirituality is a given, a taken for granted, an un-eraseable, even with a much smaller secularized urban elite. At top National Science Institutions, no problem speaking openly about religion, theology, philosophy & science; this is simply not taboo & I have witnessed it even in ‘secular’ circumstances. ASN wouldn’t get off the ground there. It just hasn’t been hyper-rationalized like ‘the west’ has. So, no, they’re not talking about it or thinking with that concept in mind. Funny that Swamidass’ family has Indian roots, though he seems to have been born in the USA from his California accent & become scientized (not just scientific) by vocation.

    MNism is purely a USAmerican evangelical Protestant invention. Same thing with IDism. And now, as the irony shows, sadly they are fighting with each other.

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  22. Gregory: Presumably based on ‘methodological humanism,’ rather than ‘methodological naturalism’?

    Why base a social science on ‘methodological naturalism’ if 1) the ideology that the methodology qualifies doesn’t suit the subject/object being studied, & 2) if ‘humanism’ is a more appropriate term than ‘naturalism’ for what scholars & ‘scientists’ in the social sciences, and at all times humanities, actually focus their time, attention & interest on?

    The problem for KN in responding is that humanism has a long established tradition. The main split between secular humanism & religious humanism has not been resolved. And frankly, I don’t like his side’s chances. But hey, this is TSZ, so of course the secularizing, naturalizing, skepticizing pathway is preferred by many.

    Sooner or later, an appropriate term needs to be made to address the ‘methodologisim’ of this crazy evangelical-philosophical mess from de Vries. A much healthier conversation between science, philosophy & theology/worldview is possible once one moves beyond de Vries’ philosophy of science caprice with love-your-enemy MNism + MNism mangling of English-language coherency.

    I’m not all that conversant with your terminology. I can look up the words, but I lack the deep background. To me, the terminology you use drips with theological immersion. Now, I am neither a scientist nor a philosopher, but I have enough background and education to read scientific materials accessible to the layman – Nature, Science, Scientific American, Science news etc. And in many many years of reading these (many of the highly technical material takes a good deal of time to decipher), I have never seen any of the terms you use. These publications are devoted to the research methods used (so the studies can be replicated) and the conclusions, often with error bars. No “isms” anywhere.

    Probably as a result of this background, I fail to see the need for any isms. Here we have a question about how our universe works. How can we answer this question? What are the key ideas involved, and how can they be operationalized so we can do relevant investigation? What are the important variables, can they be isolated or controlled for? And so on.

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  23. Flint,

    All I can say is that especially when one studies people, the ‘-isms’ matter greatly. And they often matter even more when people deny they hold any (because that is obviously false; it either means they don’t know what they think or believe or that they are hiding it for whatever reason they don’t want you to know, which likely makes a major difference on the subject/object of their study/research). Biologists holding to ideological naturalism is nothing really new; it required the term ‘biologism’ to describe the excesses. Having a legitimate alternative to ‘naturalism,’ however, on the table in ‘humanism’ makes a big difference.

    “To me, the terminology you use drips with theological immersion.”

    If something that poses as ‘methodological naturalism’ is actually ‘methodological anti-supernaturalism,’ what’s wrong with pointing that out as a more accurate term? I am not arguing for ‘supernaturalism.’

    And the terminology you use to me drips of worldview (skeptic, atheist/agnostic) immersion. So what difference does it actually make? There are many of us who have been waiting to speak about some things that your ‘camp’ has closed off for far too long. Maybe your ears are itching to listen to something ‘new/old’ again?

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  24. Gregory: End of first paragraph, did you mean ‘without’?

    I think I meant, “using the scientific method.”

    I think it is important that you highlight “Abrahamic religious cultures,” which is still the bedrock of western civilization & much of the world. I have more experience with Indian scientists (& engineers, having visited there multiple times) than with Chinese, though some with the latter as well. With Indians, there is little concern at all about MNism vs. PNism (or MNism#2). In India, spirituality is a given, a taken for granted, an un-eraseable, even with a much smaller secularized urban elite. At top National Science Institutions, no problem speaking openly about religion & science; this is simply not taboo & I have witnessed it even in ‘secular’ circumstances. ASN wouldn’t get off the ground there. It just hasn’t been hyper-rationalized like ‘the west’ has. So, no, they’re not talking about it or thinking with that concept in mind. Funny that Swamidass’ family has Indian roots, though he seems to have been born in the USA from his California accent & become scientized (not just scientific) by vocation.

    MNism is purely a USAmerican evangelical Protestant invention. Same thing with IDism. And now, as the irony shows, sadly they are fighting with each other.

    I think this is one of the things I’ve been saying, though with difficulty. What I see you doing is obsessing with irrelevant theological notions, for which you can dismiss me as a benighted atheist. But I would suggest that when there was no science, for millennia, understanding of our universe advanced at a glacial pace. I would strongly suggest that without theology, science wouldn’t skip a beat.

    I don’t think Gould’s separate magisteria idea was well thought out. In pure theory, science and theology need not conflict. The problem is that religions make scientific claims. Gould would probably argue that this is a mistake, that this is religion overstepping its proper boundaries. But regardless, religion DOES make scientific (that is, testable and falsifiable) claims. This conflict is real.

    So I think I agree with you that MNism, MASNism, secular humanism, and that ilk are symptoms of religion (theology?) PUSHING into areas it doesn’t belong. I hope I’ve clarified my position that there is only one kind of science, but many (overlapping) fields, with techniques, instrumentation, and limitations peculiar to each. To me, physics and psychology are both amenable to the hypothesize-test-analyze cycle. “Political science”, not so much (I argue it’s not any sort of science).

    I have much more experience with Chinese scientists and engineers than with Indians, but anything theological has never had occasion to arise. We were designing circuits, and the most high-level we got was to figure out who was going to use the end products, how they would be used, what problems they would be used to solve, and how we could build something to do that. I can understand all too well that someone like you would be concerned with theological aspects to things, whereas such aspects would never cross my mind. To me, religious belief is the proper target for anthropology.

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  25. Gregory:

    And the terminology you use to me drips of worldview (skeptic, atheist/agnostic) immersion. So what difference does it actually make? There are many of us who have been waiting to speak about some things that your ‘camp’ has closed off for far too long. Maybe your ears are itching to listen to something ‘new/old’ again?

    You understand, I have gone through a long life (I retired a decade ago), I have been in politics, engineering, polling, and plumbing. I’ve been a professional musician (still am). And in all that time, there was never once an occasion where religion was relevant. I even sang in a church choir for a few years; there’s no need to believe anything to do that, but you have to be able to carry a tune and read music. If no such thing as religious belief existed, I don’t believe my life experiences would have been any different. Maybe I just wasn’t listening, but I didn’t need to.

    I’m not trying to pretend I have no worldview. My view is, I suppose, close to logical positivist, except labels are always misleading. Maybe it’s willful blind ignorance to dismiss religious belief as superstition imposed on children before they were old enough to know better. But my ears are itching to hear your views no less than yours are itching for my freely offered relief from what ails you!

    1+
  26. Flint: nd my reading is that the resolution of this conflict lies in doing philosophical contortions a pretzel would env

    What is important to me is understanding science as it is actually practiced by successful scientific communities.

    How do practices differ among scientific domains? How and why do they change over time? What norms govern those practices? How do human motivations affect those practices? How is science affected by the culture in which it is practiced? Does doing science yield truth about the nature of reality, or does science only provide tools for predicting outcomes?

    That is different from simplifying and idealizing science in order to explain it to students and layman, perhaps as part of explaining why it should be trusted or to explain how it relates to religion.

    I don’t know how much interest you have in these topics, but if you want to spend some time on them, Wikipedia can provide some introduction. Of course, the usual caveats apply to using Wiki. Some suggestions would be these articles:

    – philosophy of science, science and technology studies, science studies, sociology of scientific knowledge, scientific realism
    – demarcation problem
    – Karl Popper, Thomas Kuhn, Bruno Latour

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  27. BruceS: How do practices differ among scientific domains?

    It is pragmatism all the way — do what works in that domain.

    How and why do they change over time?

    They adapt to new knowledge, new technologies, etc.

    What norms govern those practices?

    I doubt that this is a well formed question.

    How do human motivations affect those practices?

    Human motivations are the drivers of pragmatism.

    How is science affected by the culture in which it is practiced?

    The international culture of science is the important one here.

    Does doing science yield truth about the nature of reality, …

    No, it cannot do that, though perhaps it is seen (incorrectly) as doing that.

    It can, however, provide new knowledge (as distinct from truth) about the nature of reality.

    To maybe clarify there — truth amounts to an expression of relations between known concepts. Science is very much engaged in producing new concepts.

    There will, of course, be new expressions of truth as relations between these new concepts. I’m inclined to see that as invention rather than as truth discovery.

    …, or does science only provide tools for predicting outcomes?

    That seems to be a question about possible outcomes that could already be discussed but could not be predicted. While science may do some of that, it has much more to do with opening the way to allow consideration of new kinds of outcomes that could never previously have been considered. And, yes, it does provide tools for predicting these new outcomes (but I would omit the word “only”).

    And maybe some definitions:

    journalism: a method of describing the world using existing concepts;
    science: a system for modifying existing concepts and inventing new concepts, so as to allow more detailed descriptions of the world than were previously possible;
    philosophy of science: a system for discussing and examining science as if it were journalism, thereby missing much of what distinguishes science from journalism.

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  28. Neil Rickert: It is pragmatism all the way — do what works in that domain.

    I agree with that. But it does not get interesting unless you get into the details.

    system for discussing and examining science as if it were journalism, thereby missing much of what distinguishes science from journalism.

    Keith is taking a holiday; are you his delegate?

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  29. Gregory: All I can say is that especially when one studies people, the ‘-isms’ matter greatly. And they often matter even more when people deny they hold any (because that is obviously false; it either means they don’t know what they think or believe or that they are hiding it for whatever reason they don’t want you to know, which likely makes a major difference on the subject/object of their study/research).

    The “-isms” are useful for classifying people into groups, not so much for understanding them as individuals.

    It’s certainly true that we should be aware of our various cognitive and epistemic biases, because doing so allows us to cultivate the epistemic humility necessary for respectful dialogue and productive disagreement.

    I’m less sure that being able to slap a “-ism” label on oneself is all that important, and I’m pretty sure that slapping an “-ism” on someone else is antithetical to respectful dialogue and productive disagreement.

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  30. Kantian Naturalist,

    Oops, KN went out of order. Maybe he didn’t notice. Or maybe he did & is avoiding something?

    I asked: “Have you not read Paul de Vries’ paper in which he (according to Ron Numbers) coined MNism?”, since he genuinely seemed to want to learn & understand how the concept ’emerged.’ Then again, maybe KN doesn’t want to learn & that is simply part of his agnostic/atheist/apostate position.

    Surely KN will tell us he has read de Vries’ paper already. Or is he searching for it now?

    Instead of addressing that & the linked I provided, he commented on something I wrote to someone else (KN seems not to know how to have a conversation with me, which is done by simply addressing the person, not some abstract philosophistic opponent), rather than to him, as the above thread was directed: http://theskepticalzone.com/wp/swamidass-vs-nelson-trying-to-find-a-common-narrative-with-id-on-mn/comment-page-3/#comment-260426

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  31. petrushka: I’m not Keiths, but I like that description.

    My post is somewhat unfair to Keith, since, based on his posts, he does make an attempt to actually engage with some philosophy.

    But Keith does seem to be around and perhaps he will miss this one, despite his Googling prowess.

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  32. I really wasn’t commenting on Keiths, but on the notion that science is too slippery to submit to verbal analysis.

    Science isn’t a method or a destination. It’s a living system that evolves to exploit niches, and in doing so, creates new niches. It really doesn’t do much good to speak as if it could be contained or constrained.

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  33. petrushka: I really wasn’t commenting on Keiths, but on the notion that science is too slippery to submit to verbal analysis.

    Science isn’t a method or a destinatio

    So if I understand your written analysis, you are saying scientists control the domains and methods of science. Which I agree with. That’s close to what the MN paper I linked earlier claims as well.

    As it iurns out, the evolutionary analysis of scientific theories goes back to at least van Fraassen in 1980:
    ” For example, van Fraassen (1980: 40; see also Wray 2007, 2010) suggests that successful theories are analogous to well-adapted organisms—since only successful theories (organisms) survive, it is hardly surprising that our theories are successful”
    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/scientific-realism/

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  34. BruceS:

    As it iurns out, the evolutionary analysis of scientific theories goes back to at least van Fraassen in 1980:
    ” For example, van Fraassen (1980: 40; see also Wray 2007, 2010) suggests that successful theories are analogous to well-adapted organisms—since only successful theories (organisms) survive, it is hardly surprising that our theories are successful”
    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/scientific-realism/

    An interesting metaphor. I tend to think in terms of coherent explanations. At the bleeding edge, where knowledge is limited and often speculative, there are naturally a lot of proposed explanations. This in turn leads to varying approaches to gathering evidence which gradually becomes more appropriate and more complete. Theory, research, and often instrumentation work in concert to shed better light on the edge of knowledge. Better theories in turn suggest more questions to be researched.

    Where the metaphor breaks down, at least in my view, is that evolution doesn’t equate to steady progress or life improvement, it only means something close to an equilibrium between organisms and environments is maintained. Whether life considered generally will be better or worse on Earth after humans render the planet unliveable for humans is strictly a value judgment. In contrast, scientific theories (at least in principle) represent steady improvement in explaining our universe. I can’t really foresee a time when things are so well understood that science’s job is simply keeping up with what changes.

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  35. BruceS,

    Pg 40 of van Fraassen is conflict-oriented, you know, right?

    “any scientific theory is born into a life of fierce competition, a jungle red in tooth and claw.”

    In the previous sentence he equates ‘scientific’ with ‘Darwinist’. LOL! It was 1980, in any case.

    Van Fraassen’s an interesting example because later as an adult he converted to become a Roman Catholic.

    “I cannot see philosophy as being able to be more – at most – than a voice in the wilderness clearing a way for the Lord.” – van Fraassen (1999)

    I have a feeling that KN might disagree with BruceS here & go more with the ‘mutual aid’ position, than with the conflict & competition position BruceS lifts up to be looked at. But there’s philosophistry on both sides there, in line with the ‘skepticism’ at TSZ.

    “evolutionary analysis of scientific theories goes back to at least van Fraassen in 1980” – BruceS

    It goes at least back to Kuhn in 1962 or even 1951 (will have a look). Von Bertalanffy had written an outline to (evolving) general systems theory in 1950, before the book in 1968, which both include ‘science’ framed as an ‘evolving’ system. I’d guess ‘that type of analysis’ goes back to the 1920s or 30s somewhere. Fraassen only took a small bite & did not look nearly as closely at this supposed ‘phenomenon’ (‘evolution of science’) as David Hull did in 1988.

    Of course, ideological evolutionists don’t usually stop to consider the non-evolutionary & trans-evolutionary features of the conversation. The ridiculous uses of ‘evolution’ seem to yet know no limit in the ‘paradigm’ we are still stuck in.

    Ah yes, ‘science evolves,’ because … uh, doesn’t everything ‘evolve’ cuz ‘evolution’ just means ‘change’ … and, uh everything changes, right? To say that science changes, of course, but technically doesn’t ‘evolve’, rather to say it ‘develops’ as a trans-evolutionary phenomena would sound counter-intuitive to some (most) people (here).

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  36. Bruce,

    My post is somewhat unfair to Keith, since, based on his posts, he does make an attempt to actually engage with some philosophy.

    To say the least. As in dedicating entire OPs to philosophical papers and positions.

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  37. Gregory,

    MNism is purely a USAmerican evangelical Protestant invention. Same thing with IDism. And now, as the irony shows, sadly they are fighting with each other.

    Not sure why you consider that ironic. Did you think that “USAmerican evangelical Protestants” agreed on everything?

    There are advantages to both positions.

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  38. Flint: n contrast, scientific theories (at least in principle) represent steady improvement in explaining our universe

    Some issues raised (but hardly settled!) in the wiki articles I linked:
    – is scientific progress “steady?” (See Kuhn stuff)*

    – in what sense does science progress and what if anything does that tell us about the theoretical entities postulated by science (eg are quarks real? was phlogiston real when it was best science? will quarks be real when we have theory of quantum gravity?)

    – what is nature of scientific explanation and how do scientists determine the “best” one (best according to what norms? what is decision process?)

    I don’t know if those sorts of details interest you. But I will leave it to you to pursue them if they do — lots on the web in wiki, sep, iep. Also in philosophy of science courses at MOOCs.

    ———————————-
    * Just for fun: Kuhn’s paradigm change model for scientific change (early 60s) is sorta like Eldredge/Gould punctuated equilibrium model for evolutionary change (early 70s).

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  39. BruceS: Some issues raised (but hardly settled!) in the wiki articles I linked:
    – is scientific progress “steady?”(See Kuhn stuff)*

    As someone pointed out, nothing is continuous when examined in fine enough granularity. I’m aware of Kuhn’s writing, and I think he was part right, not because scientific advancement isn’t steady, but for more human reasons like sheer unwillingness to accept or admit error or credit different ideas.

    – inwhat sense does science progress and what if anything does that tell us about the theoretical entities postulated by science (eg are quarks real?was phlogiston real when it was best science?will quarks be real when we havetheory of quantum gravity?)

    Seems to me science progresses in the sense that explanations become more refined, better defined, more predictive. Scientific theories can be regarded as models, evaluated on the quality of their predictions. The question isn’t whether quarks (or strings) are “real”, but rather how well that model describes observations and guides future research.

    – what is nature of scientific explanation and how do scientists determine the “best” one (best according to what norms? what is decision process?)

    I don’t know if those sorts of details interest you.But I will leave it to you to pursue them if they do — lots on the web in wiki, sep, iep.Also in philosophy of science courses at MOOCs.

    ———————————-
    * Just for fun:Kuhn’s paradigm change model for scientific change (early 60s) is sorta like Eldredge/Gould punctuated equilibrium model for evolutionary change (early 70s).

    Yes, I’m interested in these questions. I think, again, scientific explanations are models. The best models are those that best fit the requirements of being consistent with related models, being able to make good predictions, being able to suggest fruitful avenues of research. The “decision process”, at least from my perspective, is the net output of lots of scientists looking at a problem from many different angles, looking at different details, and gradually leading to intersubjective agreement. Why was phlogiston eventually rejected? My reading isn’t that it was because phlogiston wasn’t “real”, but because other models proved more explanatory and more consiliant with related models.

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  40. Using the pond bottom as an evolution metaphor, some liquids are more viscous than others, and resist conforming to small fissures.

    Does the pond have an actual bottom, or just a series of finer pores?

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  41. keiths,

    Ironic that evangelical Protestants created this mess themselves (allow it in a Journal without ‘thinking things out before putting them out’) & are still now fighting each other over it with primitive ‘western’ tools, while having given atheists & agnostics, but more particularly, anti-religious people a kind of mole-whacker to hit those evangelical Protestants with, while they’re fighting with each other about it. Most Abrahamic monotheists I have spoken with on this topic don’t wish to associate their views with those of unruly evangelical Protestants about this, and one must include S. Joshua Swamidass here in his confident scientistic non-mainline manifestation.

    The ideological infection of MNism has gone beyond merely evangelical Protestantism by now, & sadly there are very few clear voices on the topic of MNism, MNism, PNism, & other types of ‘naturalism,’ *ALL* of which are ideologies.

    “Did you think that “USAmerican evangelical Protestants” agreed on everything?”

    It’s hard to know when to take you seriously given the worldview you seem to espouse. This, however, can’t be a serious question. = P

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  42. Gregory,

    The evangelicals who are being “whacked” by MN are a different bunch from the ones who invented and promulgated the term.

    I just can’t see the irony in the fact that they are all evangelicals.

    keiths:

    Did you think that “USAmerican evangelical Protestants” agreed on everything?

    Gregory:

    It’s hard to know when to take you seriously given the worldview you seem to espouse. This, however, can’t be a serious question. = P

    It’s a rhetorical question. Evangelicals obviously don’t agree on everything, so I don’t see why you’d expect them to agree on MN. It’s not as if it were a centerpiece of Christian doctrine.

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