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Comment: Re:Failed state policies (Score 1) 435

by Atzanteol (#48620129) Attached to: In Breakthrough, US and Cuba To Resume Diplomatic Relations

That fact doesn't matter nearly as much as you might think it does. He flies in doctors because the Cuban ones aren't as competent and because he can personally afford to. That has zero bearing on whether people have access to healthcare - though it does speak to the quality of the healthcare they are being given.

Comment: Re:$6k to 7$7k/month (Score 1) 231

by Atzanteol (#48407385) Attached to: The Dutch Village Where Everyone Has Dementia

As a connoisseur of "libertarian crap" let me just say you have a bit of a ways to go my friend. "collect?" I think you mean "steal!" And never explain that you mean taxes by that - it just weakens your over-the-top hyperbole. Not to mention "subsidize?" Next time say "give away your hard earned income."

And try to work in a reference to the Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged or Nazis next time 'kay? If I'm gonna read this crap it should at least be entertaining.

Comment: Re:So they got their reservation using deception? (Score 1) 1007

by Atzanteol (#48284151) Attached to: Creationism Conference at Michigan State University Stirs Unease

Yes - I believe we agree here. I think, perhaps, we've been using the verb "silence" a bit differently which may be the cause of some confusion. I'm using it with a perhaps more "liberal" meaning. Not to actively silence (censor) but to not allow a voice (refusing to acknowledge). Depending on ones POV either can be considered to be "silencing." I'm more against the former than the latter.

There exists a word for what you want to communicate: "ignore". There is no reason to use "silence" to mean "ignore" except to confuse.

Sort of - Ignore isn't quite what I had in mind. Something stronger than that. Refusing to publish the paper of a quack, for example, isn't just ignoring - it's removing that opinion from the public sphere. Or maybe something like not hiring a professor of evolution who believes in creationism for example. Something with consequences beyond just being ignored but not quite censorship. I'm not sure English has a word for it.

Science is not simply "opinions offered by smart people." They are hypotheses supported by data. It doesn't even matter if the people doing it are smart or not - the data is what matters. Sometimes data contradicts one's personal beliefs and you get "pseudoscience" - a discipline that accepts what it has already decided is true first and then seeks to prove it with the data. Typically this involves cherry picking data and other poor practices.

Your argument is that scientific experts are special and better than experts in any other field of knowledge.

No - it is that *science* is a better tool for producing facts about the world than any other discipline. Did you miss where I said "the data is what matters?" I'm not claiming science is better or that other disciplines are bad. But if you want to know something about world then the best tool for the job is a scientific approach.

But don't apply it to literature and art.

That completely ignores that scientists are human, are subject to the same corrupting influences of other fields, and that not even peer review is sufficient to remove bias and guarantee truth. (See studies on repeatability of peer reviewed studies)

It doesn't at all - that's why I said the *data* is what matters and not *people*. Science is a self-correcting methodology. It's like an algorithm for generating facts about reality. It's not perfect (nothing is) but it works quite well and is reasonably fault tolerant. The philosophy of science is about refining science to take into consideration for, and correct, the flaws that you mention. The process run over time is what makes science work. Not any single study or finding. The repeatability issues you mention are *exactly* what makes science great at what it does! They're exposing the flaws in the individuals! Would you rather we just blindly agreed with the first study and get on with it???

Think about it. How many scientific consensuses have been overturned in the history of science? Why would you treat any particular consensus as the final word on the matter, when the very nature of the scientific method provides contingent results? (We have not yet proved X to be false vs. We proved X to be true)

You're tending towards extreme philosophical skepticism here a bit. "How can we know anything at all?"

You're the only one talking about absolutes like "guaranteeing proof" or removing bias completely. Lets not commit the nirvana fallacy.

For the most part scientific consensuses have not been overturned - augmented and modified yes but not overturned. Example: Newton was "pretty right" about gravity but there were anomalies. Einstein got closer. Somebody else will undoubtedly do better. But that is not to say that Newton was "wrong." That's what you expect from science - a better theory than the one that you had. Not a whole-sale throwing out of a prior theory but modifications on it. Gravity didn't turn out to be "intelligent falling." It's still an attraction between massive bodies. I doubt that will change.

The consensus forms *after* it has been shown to be mostly correct. Perhaps with accepting some flaws (everything is flawed - deal).

I get the feeling you're not comfortable with probabilistic truth. Bayesian thinking is much more useful that full right/wrong. It does not leave us with proofs or 100% certainties though. It leaves you with something in between based on "prior probabilities" and whether you have supporting or conflicting data.

I'd love to hear about all the scientific consensuses that have been overturned by some sort of magic or miracles.

The list goes on. All of these are demonstrably false.

You cannot possibly prove creationism false with science. Creationism is fundamentally a historical claim, which is outside the realm of the scientific method.

The best you can do is say it unlikely by logic and cumulative evidence - but that is not a scientific result, however true it may be.

Talk about damning with faint praise. "You can't disprove me" is the battle-cry of those with no evidence to support their claim.

I reject your claim though that Creationism can't be dis-proven. Certain components of Creationism can certainly be tested. 6,000 year old Earth? False. No common ancestry? False. The human race began with 2 people created from dust? Do I really need to tell you this is false? And if the "theory" depends on these components then, well, the theory fails.

If you're talking about the Roman Catholic Church stance on the big bang and evolution then sure - you're finally closer to "claims that cannot be proven false." But that only says "we may not be wrong." Yipee? Join the choir of other metaphysical beliefs that also can't be dis-proven.

However if your theory can't be tested then it is not a scientific theory. That's not saying it's wrong but if a competing theory has empirical evidence and is based on good scientific methodologies then the latter should be preferred.

I am curious though. What *better* way of discovering facts about the world would *you* suggest over science? Or are you just anomaly hunting so as to weaken the scientific stance so that you can feel better about a non-scientific position you have that conflicts with empirical evidence?

Comment: Re:So they got their reservation using deception? (Score 1) 1007

by Atzanteol (#48273035) Attached to: Creationism Conference at Michigan State University Stirs Unease

*I* wouldn't say the school shouldn't allow it though. But neither should they be quiet about distancing themselves from it IMHO.

Then we're agreed that silencing is not necessary. Now, why would you avoid trying to silence people, if you think it justified? I think your recognize that it's a declaration of total war - and that's not going to be pleasant, even if the "right side" wins.

Yes - I believe we agree here. I think, perhaps, we've been using the verb "silence" a bit differently which may be the cause of some confusion. I'm using it with a perhaps more "liberal" meaning. Not to actively silence (censor) but to not allow a voice (refusing to acknowledge). Depending on ones POV either can be considered to be "silencing." I'm more against the former than the latter.

In general I enjoy dissent actually - which is why I am loathe to refuse any sort of complete censorship. Yes - as you say - it would be a "total declaration of war" of sorts which would be bad. However the solution to one bad extreme is rarely an extreme move in the opposite direction.

There is such a thing as "scientific consensus" which is much more than opinion or majority rule. It's the expert accepted view based on evidence and science. If you are arguing against the consensus then you are very likely wrong. I'm not sure I'd call "you" (them) an idiot though - it takes a lot of intellect to convince oneself that something so wrong can be right. And I don't mean that in a flippant way - it's true.

The "idiot" standard is pulled from the post I responded to.

Acknowledged.

That you think high intelligence is required to hold such wrong beliefs should give you pause on trusting a consensus of experts. What are experts, if not highly intelligent people on a subject matter?

I would say there are at least a few important distinctions that come to mind.

1) Consensus implies there has been some sort of peer review of the claims and support from multiple disciplines (very important).
2) Experts are trained in the subject and more knowledgeable about it specifically (not just "smart people").
3) Experts properly following the scientific method are using a tool that is known to produce good results.

Think about it - would you go to your very smart accountant for advice on a heart transplant? Probably not - you would prefer the opinion of an expert.

In military history, how many upsets have we seen where the experts were utterly wrong in a way that cost thousands to millions of lives? It's not limited to warfare. How many financial experts lost their shirts in the economic crashes throughout the past century? Expertise does not equal correct. Even you're not willing to go past "likely wrong/correct".

Military expertise is not a scientific discipline. Nor is finance or economics. Neither is based upon empirical evidence and scientific methods. They're not even in the same ballpark as the original topic.

Science is not simply "opinions offered by smart people." They are hypotheses supported by data. It doesn't even matter if the people doing it are smart or not - the data is what matters. Sometimes data contradicts one's personal beliefs and you get "pseudoscience" - a discipline that accepts what it has already decided is true first and then seeks to prove it with the data. Typically this involves cherry picking data and other poor practices.

Examples:
* Homeopathy
* Creationism (of the sort that makes claims about the age of the earth and evolution of humans)
* Humorism
* Tarot / Psychics

The list goes on. All of these are demonstrably false.

As I said in another post somewhere - forming a group that seeks to prove your point of view is NOT a good way to advance.

Comment: Re:So they got their reservation using deception? (Score 1) 1007

by Atzanteol (#48256089) Attached to: Creationism Conference at Michigan State University Stirs Unease

An important part of progress is in being able to determine which ideas no longer bear fruit and abandoning them.

Is progress based on destroying opposing ideas, or promoting better ideas? Does the latter depend on the former?

Yes, to an extent. Though we may be equivocating a bit over what "silenced" means. If you're providing "serious attention" to quack and fringe beliefs then you will never be able to move forward with the good ideas. Allowing them to pay for a room and have a conference probably doesn't arise to the level of "serious attention." However when that group is using it as a "backdoor" into college campuses you must question their motives. They're not just renting a hall - they're trying to cloak themselves in undeserved authority.

*I* wouldn't say the school shouldn't allow it though. But neither should they be quiet about distancing themselves from it IMHO.

Or do you really think that a physics class should invite a flat-earther to give a talk rather than "silence the dissenting opinion" (two can play the hyperbole game)?

I don't think a physics class _needs_ to invite a "flat-earther" to give a talk, but neither do I think that "idiots" need to be prevented from using a public university's facilities when they pay for it.

How do you decide "idiocy"? Majority opinion, a board of appointed people, or an "anti-idiot" supervisor? Do all facility requests need to go through this process, or only for the "obvious" idiots?

There is such a thing as "scientific consensus" which is much more than opinion or majority rule. It's the expert accepted view based on evidence and science. If you are arguing against the consensus then you are very likely wrong. I'm not sure I'd call "you" (them) an idiot though - it takes a lot of intellect to convince oneself that something so wrong can be right. And I don't mean that in a flippant way - it's true.

I think, however, it's natural to berate people who are so inclined however. If somebody doesn't know the Earth is round I'm inclined to call them a fool myself.

Comment: Re:So they got their reservation using deception? (Score 1) 1007

by Atzanteol (#48249781) Attached to: Creationism Conference at Michigan State University Stirs Unease

An important part of progress is in being able to determine which ideas no longer bear fruit and abandoning them.

Or do you really think that a physics class should invite a flat-earther to give a talk rather than "silence the dissenting opinion" (two can play the hyperbole game)?

Comment: Re:It makes you uneasy? (Score 1) 1007

by Atzanteol (#48249727) Attached to: Creationism Conference at Michigan State University Stirs Unease

I think you're arguing with emotion rather than logic.

Is this how you simply shut-down conversation or something? At what point was I "arguing emotion?" If you think I was - you're wrong.

There is no level of certainty with evolution.

I'll stop you right there - In the post I replied to you said, and I quote, "There are plenty of successful, repeatable experiments that defend evolution dealing with certain aspects of it."

That is called "supporting evidence." It's something Creationism doesn't have and it's what gives us confidence that the theory being tested is valid. You never hit 100% with your confidence but the more supporting evidence you have, and the relative lack of conflicting evidence, the more confident you become. You will always have holes, questions, etc. In fact all the other theories which most creationists don't question also have holes and open questions - including gravity. But I'm sure you don't question it too hard when deciding whether to leave your house by the door or the window on the second floor.

There may be evidence of an evolutionary process at work in various species, but that's a huge leap away from explaining how we came from the primordial soup. Let alone dipping into the realm of self-conscious and the ultimate question of what happens to the mind when the body ceases to function.

100% correct. It also doesn't explain:
* Why my mail was late today
* Why it rained recently
* The strength of the strong nuclear force
* The results of the latest elections
* How Germany defeated Brazil so spectacularly in the world cup
* etc.

If you're going to apply a theory to things that it doesn't address then I'd suggest the problem exists NOT with the theory but somewhere between your chair and keyboard. Nobody ever claimed evolution was a theory of everything? Where the hell did you get that idea?

There are a whole lot of things that science has no explanation for.

Again - 100% correct. If there weren't then science would "stop." BUT you're not just making a factual claim here are you. You're trying to introduce doubt so as to open the door to quackery. To say that "there are a whole lot of things that science has no explanation for" is NOT the same as saying "science has no explanation for anything" though. And evolution is a good, testable, theory that explains quite a bit (though not everything).

Again - pick another scientific theory and see if you apply the "but we don't know anything" doubt to it. Would you become concerned that we are wrong about orbital mechanics because of this doubt? If somebody suggested that instead there were "intelligent falling" rather than gravity would you take them seriously?

I don't really care much about the creationism vs evolution debate, but it's very wrong to look down on people who are trying to find meaning to their existence.

Only if you're looking down on them *for* trying to find meaning to their existence. I'd say it's fair game if they're trying to make scientific claims without doing any due process. But otherwise I'm in agreement here.

Especially considering the huge holes in our scientific understanding of ourselves. It seems almost evil to berate people that want to believe there's something more by stating that there is not, but we can't prove or disprove it either. Religion doesn't exist to overturn science. Perhaps some religions, and perhaps some followers of other religions, but that's a gross blanket statement. Does science exist to eradicate God?

No - though some atheists would think otherwise. Frankly people can, will, and do believe in all manner of crap that can't be tested. And even crap that can and has been tested and shown to be false. The problem is when you get into the areas that can't be tested - like gods, ghosts, etc. All science can really say here is that "the evidence does not support that conclusion."

It seems very unlikely to me that any gods exist. Or if they do that they care about us in any way. But some people take great comfort in thinking that they do. The problem is that it doesn't tend to stop with the warm-fuzzy feelings. It spills over into reality. Like a kid with an imaginary friend. It's fine when she just talks to her - but not so good when the broken vase is blamed on her.

Comment: Re:Completely appropriate venue (Score 1) 1007

by Atzanteol (#48246145) Attached to: Creationism Conference at Michigan State University Stirs Unease

Are you saying you have empirical evidence for this claim? If so then yes. You will need some crazy-good evidence to overturn the mountain of evidence I have accrued over the years which supports the idea that "people do not return from the dead." But I'd love to see what you've got. I hope it's not just a book that makes some claims, gets some historic items right, and was written by motivated reasoners though. Otherwise your "evidence" is hardly worth the paper it was written on.

Comment: Re:So they got their reservation using deception? (Score 1) 1007

by Atzanteol (#48246039) Attached to: Creationism Conference at Michigan State University Stirs Unease

You act as though we have no process for determining which ideas are useful and which are not? This is exactly the point of the scientific method - to weed out the useful and fruitful theories from the crap.

At some point you stop listening to the guy who raves on about how the Earth is flat, or how the Earth is at the center of the universe, etc. Intelligent design is dead. It was still-born. Nothing has come from it and nothing ever will.

Comment: Re:So they got their reservation using deception? (Score 1) 1007

by Atzanteol (#48245859) Attached to: Creationism Conference at Michigan State University Stirs Unease

They have been silenced using facts, logic and argument. They just won't shut-up. Not that I'm against letting them speak - but at what point do you continue to reasonably debate with somebody who believes the Earth is flat and that ships can sail off the end of the world?

At some point in time you have the right to declare a topic no longer worthy of debate.

Comment: Re:It makes you uneasy? (Score 1) 1007

by Atzanteol (#48245669) Attached to: Creationism Conference at Michigan State University Stirs Unease

Science does not work like that. There are no "absolute proofs" of *anything*. What you're asking for does not and cannot exist for anything other than math (and even that requires accepting some basic facts as true a priori).

Evolution *has* been proven to a very high degree of certainty. Which is the most you can ask of a theory of anything.

I don't think we should simply shun religion per se either - but we should acknowledge when it has grossly over-stepped its bounds of knowledge. Creating a discipline with the sole purpose of over-turning what has become scientific consensus is no way to progress either.

I never cheated an honest man, only rascals. They wanted something for nothing. I gave them nothing for something. -- Joseph "Yellow Kid" Weil

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