Steven L. Taylor
Wednesday, July 6, 2022
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective.
He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog).
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This almost always works for me.
Every once in a while I take a look at “The Blockchain” to see if it’s fulfilled any tiny piece of its endless hype. By this I mean that it is being used for something that couldn’t be done as well using traditional technologies. (Cryptocurrencies don’t count. They are a scam and a method for low level drug and blackmail transactions, at least until those transactions get big enough for a law enforcement agency to bestir itself enough to poke a finger at Crypto’s “absolute anonymity” house of cards. ) So, once again I turned eagerly to a column by a “serious source” in the Post patiently explaining that you should ignore the current crashing and burning of the Crypto market and instead focus on the real value it brings to other areas, which are….
At last! After the years and years of hype here’s an insider ready to demonstrate the real world practical applications that could only exist because of The Blockchain! And they are:
So… nothing actually exists yet. Or does he believe that the one actual app he mentions (Audius, whose product vows, on a minimalist website, to “help you find up and coming artists”) has solved a real world problem? That Spotify, Apple Music and the other streaming services were desperately struggling for a way to store their files?
Yeah, The Blockchain is still just a fantasy. And a scam. And a means for low level drug dealers to convince themselves they can’t get caught. But mostly a scam.
C’mon guys, pick one.
Pro-Life my ass.
@CSK: Sometimes. If I had to guess I’d say it works 50% of the time for me. I have noticed that some days it works most of the time but other days not at all. I have no idea why that would be, other than site traffic may have an effect.
I don’t know, either. But it seems worth a try.
ETA: It just did. 😀
@CSK: Today is one of those days where it’s NOT working for me. Just watch, now that I’ve said it won’t, it will.
ETA: sure as shit.
The words of Rosa Parks back in 1991 – she was right.
Must see TV?
And that’s just the beginning. This story has more twists and turns than the road to Sa Calobra
Next day reply to @OzarkHillbilly
Atheism is a negative belief and nothing more. There are organized groups of atheists here and there who may share common beliefs.
Still, I don’t believe the laws of nature guide the universe. They simply describe how things happen and what can happen. What actually happens is largely a random interplay of forces, energies, and matter.
But that’s just me.
I think that makes a lot of sense. That said, I’ve come across a lot of people who claim science exclusively for atheism and then apply it to all kinds of things it doesn’t apply to. “Science” can no more dispute religion than it can refute, I don’t know, the concept of chairs. Sure, if in your particular religion it is a requirement that the world will end tomorrow then observations will prove that wrong. But that isn’t some grand battle between science and religion. If your religion states that there is an unknowable creator that manifested the universe, science doesn’t really enter into that discussion. Despite this, there are many self described atheists that essentially maintain that “science” can know all things and if we don’t know of it now then it doesn’t exist. That is faith, and a religion of sorts.
Marjorie Taylor Greene says that the Highland Park shooting was a false flag operation designed to ruin MAGA month (I had no idea there was such a thing) and get Republicans to buy into gun control.
You combat religion with philosophy.
That said, religions tend to claim explanations for natural phenomena that can be disproved with science. A simplistic example is that lightning is a consequence of accumulated electric charges, not Zeus hurling thunderbolts or Jehovah targeting particular people or spots for some inscrutable reason.
Or see the whole evolution mess in America and a few other places.
Then, too, there are religious doctrines resting on scientific fallacies. I once argued with a Catholic priest when he explained original sin. My take is that there was no “first man” nor “first woman” living alone among only animals (presumably including non H. sapiens hominids), ergo no way they did something to displease some deity into casting them out.
And there’s interpretation, too. If things like, say, homosexuality, are innate and largely or completely unalterable (inalienable?), and if some god is claimed to have created humanity in his /her image and likeness, then this god is gay, as he created all people in his image and likeness. And since women also exist and are, indubitably, human as well, this god is both male and female.
None of that ever got into the Bible, though.
Obviously they have never met science. Science will never be able to “know” all things. Every time we answer a question, it raises 10 more.
This is a separate matter.
My take is science can eventually learn many things, but might not be able to learn everything, or we may not be able to comprehend everything. But there’s a huge caveat:
Many things have gone unexplained despite extensive research. It’s tempting to say these things lie beyond the reach of science, but we don’t know that. Mercury’s orbit is a case in point. It required what today wed call new physics to explain it, and the guy who figured it out spent not a minute looking for a massive body between Mercury and the Sun. that mystery dragged on for decades.
Today we have no clue what dark matter is. We have ruled out things it is not, like massive neutrinos. There is a feeling that if dark matter only interacts gravitationally with itself and with normal matter, we will never be able to learn anything more about it. That is, we will never know what it is, even if we’re capable of manipulating it somehow and find a use for it.
So wait and see what happens.
Wisconsin is no longer a functioning democracy. This is not hyperbole. I’m sitting here wondering what we could possibly do.
@MarkedMan: Yeah, man, but “Blockchain” sounds kinda cool.
@MarkedMan: Religion and science are incompatible.
Religion exists because somebody simply says it does. There is no ability to argue the negative – you can’t “prove” something doesn’t exist, but equally you can’t just assert that it does either.
Science demands quantifiable and repeatable proof, and it changes when such proof is offered, accepted, and/or refuted.
Atheism is a belief system, as @Kathy said a day or two ago, is like not collecting stamps is a hobby. Atheism is a religion in the way that “off” is a TV channel.
I was a product & architecture lead for a blockchain based product in the healthcare credentialing space. It’s real, we shipped it, but it’s not really changing the world. Healthcare moves so slowly that I’ll probably be retired before the US market is actually ready for this.
Sarah Matthews, Trump’s deputy press secretary, has agreed to testify publicly before the Jan. 6 committee next week.
Given that Matthews has defended Cassidy Hutchinson, she may have some interesting things to say.
ETA: Pat Cipollone will also testify, though not publicly. His testimony will be videotaped and transcribed.
I have no urge to combat religion. I DO have the urge to combat misinformation propagated by people who base their beliefs on their feelings. But that doesn’t only include the religious. Crystal healers, anti-vaxxers, 9/11 truthers, those who believe there is useful evidence that supplements do us any good, none of that poppycock is any more likely in the religious as anyone else, as far as I can see.
The Church’s teaching on original sin is not exactly a burning issue, but I’m pretty sure that any serious Catholic scholar will view original sin in terms of our innate nature and the difficulties inherent in trying to become a person adhering to a higher code of ethics. People are born totally focused on themselves and their own needs and uncaring of others. Becoming an ethical being is a constant struggle against these basic urges.
The official position of the Catholic Church is that the Bible is an essential book written by men who were inspired by God and it is essential that we carefully investigate what meaning was really intended and what God wanted to manifest in those words. Pope Pius XII said that the Noah’s Ark story was composed: “In simple and metaphorical language adapted to the mentality of a people but little cultured”.
So there was no EDIT key when I made this post. Now that I have left the thread and returned, here is the EDIT key. I am compelled to use it.
FUCK YOU NRA!
Florida didn’t just miss the deadlines. There was a deliberate choice by the DeSantis administration not to preorder vaccines.
To echo Ozark: pro-life, my ass.
@PoliticalBiker: Really curious as to what this product was/is. Can you provide a link? What was the thing that blockchain provided that you could not have accomplished in a different way, or at least not as well in a different way?
I just can’t see it that way. It’s like giving the following choice, “Are you a soccer fan or are the lug nuts on a 2012 Chevy metric or imperial?” They are simply two different things.
I suspect most people are confusing assertions made by people who call themselves religious and actual religions. Blowhards want to speak in absolutes about things they know nothing about and of course that is true of blowhards who happen to be religious, just as it is true of people who aren’t. Let’s set aside religion for a minute. If Tom Brady thinks drinking a half gallon of vile green juice a day will prevent cancer, that is provable or disprovable. But disproving it doesn’t invalidate football, it just reveals Brady as a crank.
I can’t speak for very many religions but I know that it is the official position of both the Catholic Church and the Dali Lama that when our beliefs are in contrast to what is empirically true (which is the job of science) the most important thing is to explore why our beliefs were in error. Sticking your fingers in your ears and shouting that “My beliefs are still true and I can’t hear you!” is both childish and a dereliction of your duty as one of the faithful.
(Man, for someone as irreligious as me, I’ve been defending religion a lot today…)
Just heard via WBBM AM audio stream on the net that there has been eighth death from Monday’s events in Highland Park, Illinois. The report did not say if the dead was a shooting victim. I can’t find any other confirmation of this report.
Reuters confirmed it a few minutes ago.
Reuters is usually one of my go to sources. Somehow slipped my mind.
Now they’ve retracted that report.
They’ve retracted it. Sorry.
The prevailing distinction in (main stream) Catholicism, Judaism, and several other religions is that religion helps us to comprehend the things that science can’t explain.
The Catholic Church has promoted science for centuries*–including Saint Thomas Aquinas, who was instrumental in developing the scientific method.
—Wikipedia (read the whole thing, it might be enlightening)
* Yeah, politics got in the way sometimes, but not faith.
No need to apologize.
I have been listening to WBBM Newsradio since just before my earlier post at 12:46am edt.* There has been no other mention of an eighth victim one way or another since then. This would hardly be the first time that something has been reported in error by the press.
*The time stamps on the thread are apparently Eastern Daylight Time. Local time where I am in the Central Daylight Time zone is 12:27 pm as I type this.
I have been aware of this in the past but that does not always carry over to the present.
Edit: Just heard WBBM Radio report that another person has died this morning of gunshot wounds from the Monday shooting.
So here we are.
An aside. It is interesting though, that a number of SC justices are members of a church that acknowledges that the Christianity’s core testament is a metaphor and that the teachings of Jesus are reports and interpreted by his followers. Yet these same SC justices take that position that a document, written by fallible men is somehow sacred and beyond interpretation.
I was at a 4th of July party a number of years ago. When the IL State Police took over policing the Town of Cicero, for, um, reasons. Anyway, at this particular party the host was a Cicero firefighter. He was lighting off a massive amount of fireworks. The State Police showed up to make him stop and immediately behind the came the Cicero Police. The various police factions proceeded to get into a heated turf war (while the fireworks show continued) that ended up with the State Police quietly slinking away.
As a victory dance the host lit off a particularly large mortar. I got to watch as the host walked back to the house the mortar tipped over and pointed towards the house. The image of that lunatic jumping for safety as the mortar shell hit the curb, exploded and framed him in red glory is seared into my brain. The host was singed, but fine. Everyone was pissed at me for laughing my ass off.
@CSK: Meh. My rate is closer to 30 or 40%.
Just get technical, “blockchains” are a very old idea. Things like the git SCCM system and the file systems on most Linux computers are actually blockchains, based on what now would be called Proof of Authority blockchains.
The thing that is new and has yet to show benefits is the Proof of Work and Proof of Stake blockchains cryptocurrencies are based on.
The reason this is important is that crypto people often try to smear the distinction between crypto and blockchains in general so they can steal an aura of respectability from older applications.
@Just nutha ignint cracker:
Maybe it depends on the browser? Who knows?
Or possibly I possess a mysterious power.
I’m originally a Chicago southsider and still have family there. It is absolutely no surprise that Al Capone didn’t have his headquarters in Chicago, but rather in Cicero, where he could have the entire police department and all the town officials on his payroll.
Nothing has substantially changed about Ciceronsince then.
@OzarkHillbilly: Yeah it’s gotten kind of silly as some years ago I saw an article about a “mass shooting” that involved a man shooting his estranged wife then himself. No one else was injured or shot at. In the past it would of been reported as a murder suicide.
Did not expect this news (and did not expect to find any news when I visited this site).
If you want to find out how I did (very mildly NSFW): terminal Lance comic
If you want it straight from a real news source to make sure it isn’t a parody: tri-city local
When it comes to religion I highly recommend the comfort of Ignosticism,
For me it’s more a matter of pragmatism: 1) That’s correct, the concept is not falsifiable. 2) People have been arguing this for millennia, I’m unlikely to be the genius who comes up with the proof. 3) If I did believe it would make no substantive difference in my life. Or to express my opinion more succinctly, it’s not a fit question for adults, so I don’t know, and I don’t care.
As to conflict between religion and science, there is no necessary conflict. As Stephen Jay Gould put it, they deal with separate magisteria. However, people do insist on finding conflict. I would add that many conflicted questions of “science”, like when does life begin, are really semantic questions.
I take Kathy’s point to be that even if we fully understood the laws of physics, we could not predict the future. Too many variables, too many contingencies, and too much randomness. Similarly, if we fully understood quantum physics, there would still be the potentially religious question of how the heck that came to be.
@PoliticalBiker: When I was in grad school, one of my classmates did a study on how change happens in various fields of endeavor. Her statistical analysis of various industries showed that change–defined, in the study cited, as 50% adoption by stakeholders–typically takes 30 years in healthcare, IIRC.
The only industry worse was education at 65 years.
Edit function working today. Yesterday, I was 1 for 4 on refreshing the page producing an edit function.
I have encountered scientists who were religious believers (for an arbitrary value of “religious”) and Anglican clerics who were fascinated by science.
A scientific philosophical view is certainly incompatible with Biblical literalism; or any sort of mythological literalism, for that matter. For instance, the sun is not, in fact, carried on a boat navigated by Ra.
But outside some parts of the USA, Biblical literalism is almost as unusual among Christians as literalist paganism.
Catholic disputes with science are a slightly different matter; it gets complicated, and largely related to political, rather than base doctrinal, matters.
@sam: The “SimpliSafe” in the top corner is deeply ironic.
There’s also apatheism, the belief that the answer to the question whether there is a god or not doesn’t matter because you should be trying to live your life the same way in either case.
I’ve also recently become interested in “pseudo-religions” like Discordianism, Church of Satan, Pastafarianism, etc. that allow the creation of organizations that fill the same social and community building functions as churches without the irrationalism of religious doctrine.
@sam: @CSK: Wow! There are still people who don’t know why you don’t shoot off fireworks next to your car (or your house’s propane tank, or in tall dry grass, or…)?
@Tony W: I don’t see them as incompatible; they’re answering different sets of questions using different worldviews and methods. Though, I guess that for some people, the preceding would define “incompatible.” But I don’t think that I “compartmentalize” my thinking to work both systems. Maybe I do though.
@Just nutha ignint cracker:
@Sleeping Dog: “Yet these same SC justices take that position that a document, written by fallible men is somehow sacred and beyond interpretation.”
Yes, but only to the extent that such a belief furthers their political and social agendas. When that belief is not necessary, it goes under the bus like any other patsy.
That’s kinda what I did with my neo-pagan nonsense. I was/am looking for something culturally competent pre-Christian mysticism to fill a couple of roles in my life; like community, introspection and, um, again, reasons.
By culturally competent I mean Celtic/Northern European. The last thing I want to be is some dopey white lady in a native headdress or sari spouting nonsense. I want my nonsense to have a connection to my actual ancestors.
@CSK: I’m fine about mysterious powers related to the site. I don’t even care that you can’t/don’t/won’t share them. You explain how you do it and that’s enough.
Science and religion are incompatible epistemologies. In science a belief must be predicated on observation and experimentation, vs. beliefs that are based in faith. Experimentation and faith are indeed incompatible. Atheism is incompatible with faith, and compatible with science.
The notion that science is another form of faith is absurd on its face. It’s the sort of ‘counter-argument’ offered at the Sunday School level. There is simply no evidence of a god, none. The same amount of evidence that supports the existence of leprechauns. My lack of belief in leprechauns is not a faith, it’s an assessment of evidence. Should evidence surface – either of god or leprechauns – I would of course reconsider my atheism.
@Just nutha ignint cracker:
It must be my magic fingers.
I again repeat my theory that humans have a deep-seated psychological need to wear silly hats and that many of our societal problems result from a shortage of opportunities to satiate this need. =)
@Jen: And yet, the house was kept secure. All that SimplySafe promises. There was no evidence (so far at least) that the house was burglarized, or even caught fire.
But yeah, I like the irony. I’d be passingly interested in finding out whether the van exploded eventually or if the smoke was only burning road film and debris from under the car.
But I’m a kinda sick little cracker.
Meanwhile in the UK, latest pictures show Boris Johnson’s government getting to grips with the situation.
@JohnSF: True. I’m an Episcopalian and our congregation has at least a half dozen Ph.D.’s, mostly in chemistry or physics.
Johnson seems determined not to resign. As of now.
Oh, he is, he is.
Which will make his final ignominious fate all the more amusing, and worthy of a champagne toast.
@Matt: I sure hope you are not taking that as the reason
we have had a tremendous rise in the number of mass shootings in the US. First, I’ve followed this for years and I’ve never seen any organization that tracks mass shootings count a murder/suicide as a mass shooting, so whatever source you had on that was some kind of bizarre outlier. And second, any organization that tracks it applies internally consistent definitions from year to year.
@gVOR08: Yep, I’m more or less an ignostic too.
Great line in Parliament by Sir Keir Starmer on the Conservatives attempts to pry Johnson’s fingers from the doorframe:
I’m sure you know that President 45 once referred to John as “the Donald Trump of Great Britain.”
Just in case this was directed at my comment above, I was absolutely NOT equating science and religion. I equated some Atheism with religion, and mentioned that some Atheists believe that science is capable of explaining everything (and to be clear, I meant that to mean “explaining everything in such a way as the human mind can comprehend it”), and that if science had not confirmed something than it was false.
To me, the closest I get to understanding the religious is when I contemplate that there are some truths that our human minds cannot understand, in much the way that my cat will never understand calculus. But perhaps there are truths that are understandable in other ways, or at least visible. Across the whole panoply of human history there is case after case of people perceiving a connectedness between us and the rest of the universe that is somehow profound while yet unexplainable. I wonder if this might be a blurry but brilliant perception of those things that are beyond the limits of our minds.
Atheists can feel that wonder and marvel at such possibilities. I’m more or less an atheist myself and I feel that wonder. But there is a certain type of atheist that to me more resembles a dour minded Presbyterian than anything else. The ones that are uninterested in anything outside their comfort zone and smug in their belief that if something doesn’t interest them it is a sign of mental deficiency in those it does interest.
@MarkedMan: I have seen one murder/suicide classified as a mass shooting, but that’s because the children were also shot, bringing the total to the 4 injured/killed that is the standard.
These used to get lumped into a domestic violence category, but I can legitimately see them being classified as “mass shootings” if they meet the 4+ casualties threshold.
If it was just two people, that doesn’t make any sense.
I saw that phrase (aptly) applied to Giuliani when he dismissed The Kraken from what was considered by the press to be Trump’s legal team.
@Jen: Sigh, no magic edit button for me.
I should say that “classified” is a misnomer in my post–it was a newspaper article that used the phrasing of “mass shooting,” not an organization that tracks this information. Still, it made some logical sense to me after hearing the details.
I remember this because it struck me as atypical.
Johnson/Trump equivalence: there are some definite parallels, but also considerable differences, in personalities and above all in the environments and circumstances.
Johnson is considerably smarter, and less malevolent and crooked, than Trump.
A Parliamentary politician can’t be as inept as Trump usually turned out to be under pressure and attain a leadership position.
But Johnson is entirely self-serving, and so lazy when his immediate tactical concern is not engaged that he can be as stupid strategically as a genuine idiot.
And one great similarity between the two is a profound indifference to truth, honour, and norms of behaviour or “propriety”.
Making both effective operators for a project in the shorter term, but utterly unreliable as allies or partners in the way politicians usually need to be for long-term success.
A good summation, though in terms of behavioral norms, Johnson seems much less overtly churlish.
So, religion takes an ever diminishing purview?
That’s a really strange thing to do.
Trump’s admiration stems from Boris being the only guy, aside from Lil’ Kim in Korea, that can reasonably claim to have a sillier hair-do than his own. Playa’ respect game.
@MarkedMan: My take was that he’s still playing “we’ll never be able to solve the problems as long as you folks keep mis-defining stuff” from yesterday.
Look at ancient Egypt.
Perhaps overall religion was a positive influence on society, through ritual, community, etc. But it also led to the construction of the world’s most expensive tombs, usually called the pyramids. But aside from the pyramids of Giza, it’s amazing how much wealth went into royal and noble tombs. I mean all of them, from the early mastaba to the step pyramids, to the actual pyramids, to the great pyramids, to lesser pyramids made of mud brick, to the Valley of the Kings. Add the treasures kings, other royals, and nobles were buried with (which were invariably stolen by grave robbers over the centuries).
And then there’s the whole Akhenaten mess. It may be the pharaoh switched from the worship of the traditional pantheon to one God, The Aten, just to strip away the power of the priests of Amun, who owned an awful lot of fertile lands in the name of the god they served.
All this from a religion that was relatively benign, and encouraged people to do good.
About the best innovation in modern politics, is the separation of church and state. I’ve zero issues with religion as a personal or community affair. It gets ugly when it’s used in politics.
Quite aside the fact that fireworks are delicate and require care and knowledge in how to use them, who the bleeding hell sets them off during the daytime?
The usual counter from the theistic, if they admit to valuing objective rationality at all, would be that the expanding explication of science and reason does not destroy but enhances theological analysis.
Aquinas was the great champion of this opinion in the Middle Ages.
Though his “rationalised” theology often seems odd to us, because it made base assumptions that secular philosophy excluded as it separated from theology.
Other theologians were inclined to insist that faith and tradition should be relied upon, and that human reasoning was inherently unreliable: e.g. the Franciscan School and indeed a lot of the Catholic hierarchy at the time.
It was only later that the Catholic Church adopted Thomist “rationalist theology” as a default, while Protestants often tended to be more in the Franciscan tradition.
All main Christian theological camps (rationalist, scriptural, mystical, pietistic etc) probably agree that matters of meaning and purpose cannot be addressed by science.
The science-minded would probably agree, but regard it as a non-issue, a mistaken philosophical stance; which is my opinion:
That there is no underlying “meaning”.
One of the best counter-arguments to my default view I’ve ever heard was from an Anglican biologist, who maintained there was no reasonable evolutionary explanation for human aesthetic sensibilty:
“Why on earth should we like sunsets? Why do we spend vast amounts of effort and money on cultivating flowers? And music?”
Incidentally, for an example of a scientist interested in theistic matters, you may care to read up on Isaac Newton’s interest in Biblical occultism some time.
@sam: That one’s pretty good, but it’s hard to top MOTHERFUCKIN BOOTLEG FIREWORKS
@Just nutha ignint cracker:
And just think, Cracker, that despite a federal pyrotechnic license and way too much money to invest in this stuff, we never did manage to burn up any of our stuff.. or the neighbors’ stuff.
Very impressive, in a Ren & Stimpy sort of way.
Still, bet those guys are sleeping in the burned out minivan for … Oh, forever?
This reminds me of an episode many years ago in a suburb of Tacoma, where the Tribal* fireworks stand ( which if I recall correctly was in a 40 ft double wide ) somehow self ignited. People who witnessed this said it was the greatest 60 second fireworks show ever seen. When the fire department got there a couple of minutes later, all there was was melted asphalt and the remnants of the trailer frame.
* In in Washington, tribal fireworks stands on tribal land have no effective limits on what they can sell. We were taught in class neither State nor Federal regulations apply there, and from what my neighbors launch, anything that remains suborbital is available.
The Established Church of England, headed by Her Majesty, the Defensor Fides, and Supreme Governor of the Church of England, the Bishops as the Lords Spiritual of the Upper House of Parliament, who are appointed with the advice of the Prime Minister, stares episcopalianally.
Church and and state commingled, we haz it!
If that was unintended, holy shit redux.
Well, your Her Majesty is a figurehead. Is Her Church one too?
There’s science, and then there’s dispassionate, objective observation and reasoning. I see no reason why the latter cannot apply to questions of purpose or meaning. It’s one thing philosophy is supposed to do. That is, everything can rely on a base of evidence.
IMO, philosophers should conduct experiments, gather data, make observations, etc. I’d take Plato’s forms far more seriously if he had presented evidence for it.
Well, yes. of course.
That’s the whole point of them.
Though actually Her Maj may get to enact one of the last overtly non-figureheady aspects of her role in the coming days.
See commentary by Stephen Bush of the New Statesman. Among others.
Who knows, if Johnson refuses to quit No.10, Her Lizness’s Colonelcy of the Household Cavalry might come in to play, LOL. (Actually, not really LOL at all 🙁 ).
You may want to look into Buddhism, particularly the writings of Thich Nhat Hahn, but many of the others as well. There is a strong element of experiment and verify — here’s an 8 fold path that basically no one can follow, find the parts that work for you to reduce/eliminate suffering.
It’s then intertwined with the religions it comes in contact with, so you have the cycle of rebirth from Hinduism, etc., and discussions of whether that is “real” or just a metaphor to make things easier (if there is no self, what could be reborn, on the other hand as a purely practical matter if you can follow 60% of the path in this lifetime, believing that you will be better able to follow in the next lifetime, that allows one to not be as strict)
I’m not convinced you would call it a religion, based on your assumptions.
If you have not done the experiments yourself, repeatedly, under various conditions… you’re relying on faith. At times a misplaced faith, as the Replication Crisis shows.
In theory, the scientific community has ways of steering away from poor results, but in practice once things become accepted wisdom, they are incredibly hard to dislodge. Papers are regularly cited even when they cannot be replicated.
Faith isn’t a matter of religion vs. science, it’s a matter of being human, having finite time, skills and interest, and accepting the word of expert authority. It’s deciding when not to be skeptical.
And experimentation isn’t the domain of science either, as many people convert from one religion to another as the second religion works better in their lives (fits their outlook, has the right level of community, gives them a scapegoat to hate, etc.) — that’s experimentation right there.
To function in life, we have to accept things as true (or true enough) without direct knowledge. That’s faith. And it can lead to crusades and genocide when it’s religious, and phrenology and eugenics when it’s scientific.
You’re making a hard division where there isn’t one. People are flawed and finite and forgetful creatures of habit and, yes, faith — assuming otherwise is like assuming a cow is a perfect sphere.
Alternately, you could go with the “science cannot fail, it can only be failed” argument, but if it is doomed to be forever failed… then it is the spherical cow.
(Spherical cows have their uses, mind you)
Many years ago, I read somebody who said that the meaning of life was a life of meaning. I took it to mean that if one does something that is meaningful to them, that was enough.
And there we have one of the, perhaps the, fundamental divides in philosophy.
And why a lot of scientists view a lot of philosophy as being of little value due to it’s failure to ground itself in objective reality.
To which the Platonist replies, and what is objective reality?
To which the realist replies with a slap upside the head.
“Thus I refute him”
Zen Master Johnson asks, “What is the sound of one hand slapping?”
I’ve always thought Aristotle and Popper more likely to be useful than Plato, because idealism is just too prone to the arbitrary for it’s own good.
But materialism (I’d say objectivism, but the Randites have polluted that term) does have it’s limitations IMO: what on Earth is, or can be, an materialist, objective philosophy of aesthetics?
Ever seen a Frankfurt School Marxist, a Nietzscheian, and a Santayana-ist in a mud wresting fight? 🙂
On other things, two more cases of COVID at work. One over the weekend, one just today right before lunch. I’ll ask for people who’d like to be tested tomorrow.
The one who caught it over the weekend was the last other person to wear a mask at the office, but she had been slipping lately. I’m worried about her, as she has some comorbidities. At least she took four shots of AZ.
At that, she took her latest the same day I did. In fact she let me in on it, for which I’m very grateful. But this proves how quickly the second booster wanes in the face of almighty Omicron. I truly hope someone starts making Omicron specific boosters soon.
Strict materialists tend to ignore intangibles like mind, emotions, free will, etc.
Free will is a good case. IF chemical and electrical interactions among neurons are responsible for minds, then no mind can have “free” will, as all an organism does is ultimately determined by said interactions.
And yet, all evidence is that somehow people act as though they have free will.
I’ll take evidence over reasoning and narrative. The evidence is for free will, even if we don’t understand how.
@Jen: In the end, you have to define it somehow, and then stick to the definition. A serious organization cannot be playing at, “but this one doesn’t count because…” or, “but this one counts even though…”
@Kathy: I think your Egyptian example is apt, but I think it as likely to give credence to my point (that we give way too much importance to religion and that just because someone cites that as a primary motivation doesn’t mean it actually is) than yours. It all hinges about how much the tombs were a dominance display for the here and now vs. how much they were an actual play for eventual power in the afterlife.
I think this could be knowable. If we could see that the pursuit of these edifices cost them power but they pursued them anyway, I would concede your point. But if the pursuit increased their power and prestige then it could go either way.
@Gustopher: Excellent, I would also add that the sensors of the human body are woefully limited in both apprehending and comprehending reality. We know this based on the more capable bio-sensors possessed by other life forms on earth..AND by the tools we’ve created that extend our own bio-sensors ability to discover more of the observable Universe.
It is a reasonable assumption that there is Universe outside and beyond the scope of the biosensors we’ve evolved…as it is obvious the weak and limited reach they provide.
The Horizon is not an actual thing, its the natural limitation of our video sensors. But for our motility tools, there could be no evidence of anything beyond it….but there is.
No, but I’ll certainly buy ringside tickets for this one. Heck, I’ll buy tickets for you and Cracker too!