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Entry 614, on 2007-09-25 at 21:34:15 (Rating 2, Philosophy)

There are several ways people who debate me attack my opinions which are based on science and logic. There is the denial of the extreme right and conservative religious person where they just claim that science supports their beliefs and I am just refusing to accept the inevitable truth. These people have no clues about what science is really about. For example, when I discuss evolution they are surprised that what evolution is really about isn't what they imagined.

At the other extreme are the far left liberals. Politically I am fairly well to the left myself but I reject the illogical new-age nonsense many extreme liberals espouse to support their beliefs. Specifically I reject postmodernism, at least in the form where it concludes that one form of knowledge is as good as any other. For example the idea that religion is just as valid as science because they are just different ways of dealing with the truth is nonsense.

Here's why I think so. There are two things about science which puts it ahead of other ways of thinking (or describing them less charitably: ways of avoiding thinking). First, science gets results; and second, the methods of science are really just an extension of the logic and thought processes any reasonable person would use to try to establish the truth.

Let's look at how science gets results. The obvious example is technology. The computer I am using and every other advanced device is the result of scientific research, not religious prayer or paranormal communications or thought transference or alien knowledge or meditation or spirit communication. Has there been a single practical advance which comes from an area rather than science? Well you might say political systems such as democracy come from philosophy but I am talking more about real physical things rather than abstract processes.

When a person who believes in ESP tells you about how well it is supported by research, ask them what practical outcomes have arisen from the area. Not surprisingly there are none, because the fact is the results from research in that area are inconclusive at best. And if anyone tells you that Intelligent Design is such a great new theory, ask them when the practical spin-offs will appear. They will change the subject fairly quickly.

The methods of science are really based on common sense. By this I don't mean that scientific knowledge is intuitively obvious. Clearly quantum theory and relativity seem counter-intuitive, and to some people even evolution doesn't make sense. What I am talking about is the methodology used to reach these conclusions. Quantum physics might be counter-intuitive but the scientific method used to devise the theory isn't.

Who would argue with the idea that if we have a theory we should test it using a well defined method which can be copied by any other person. And that if they follow that method they will get the same results, no matter where or who they are, or what they believe. Who would argue that a theory which makes predictions which later turn out to be true should gain acceptance? Who would argue that experts should be under constant scrutiny from their peers and that all errors should be exposed?

Postmodernists really are talking crap. Science is fundamentally different from all other ways of thinking. If they can't see that they really are living in a fantasy world, and I invite them to forgo the benefits of science and rely on the doubtful advances from other modes of thinking instead.


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