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Comment: Re:Circular "reasoning" (Score 1) 794

by reve_etrange (#47976113) Attached to: How Our Botched Understanding of "Science" Ruins Everything

Not sure if you meant to reply to my post. But I agree that it's extremely hypocritical for self-described "Christians" to participate in war, venerate wealth and power, etc.

If science has 'high priests,' it's a religion, or some chancers are putting one over on people big time.

Science doesn't have 'high priests,' although it does have, shall we say, respected 'elder statesmen.' The difference is that a high priest can determine or interpret dogmas, which are selected statements said to be beyond justification or verification, and which can thus in turn be used as a basis for the justification of other statements. In contrast, science abandons verificationism completely. Instead, science relies on falsification of statements, with no statements accepted dogmatically.

In practice, scientists frequently take certain statements as temporary dogmas, in order to generate from them further statements which can be put to empirical tests. If these statements are falsified, the 'dogmas' are themselves discarded, again in contrast to religion.

Comment: Re:In lost the will to live ... (Score 1) 794

by reve_etrange (#47971625) Attached to: How Our Botched Understanding of "Science" Ruins Everything

there's an evolutionary advantage to having a few hermits and sociopaths as a sort of a failsafe

Definitely possible, but it's also quite possible that some kind of accidental physiological defect is at work instead. Something like the probable effect of environmental lead on crime rates in the developed world, not that lead levels probably ever affected the course of human evolution.

Comment: Re:In lost the will to live ... (Score 1) 794

by reve_etrange (#47970235) Attached to: How Our Botched Understanding of "Science" Ruins Everything

You're also ignoring that a shocking number of people nowadays actually are mostly narcissistic sociopaths...Next time someone cuts you off in traffic

That's hyperbole. Cutting someone off in traffic is possibly a selfish act, depending on the larger situation, but it doesn't make a narcissist or a sociopath. We live in the least violent, most socially integrated period in the history of our species, and both conditions are probably more rare than ever before.

What if that person believed at that very moment that a higher power will make them pay for inconveniencing someone else unnecessarily? Would they recognize they're being an asshole and stop?

If they stop, it would only be out of fear of that "power." To recognize that what they are about to do is wrong, and choose not to do it, requires an internal experience of empathy or an again internal rational process which concludes the total costs of the act are greater than the total benefits.

The problem with religious justifications of ethics is that they are just that: post-facto rationalizations for previously committed acts. In reality, people perform acts based on their internal emotional experience in the relevant moment. They experience, unbidden, feelings of "good" or "bad" which influence the immediate decision making process. Whether or not the capacity for these feelings was instilled by evolution or by a god is not strictly relevant here.

Comment: Re:In lost the will to live ... (Score 1) 794

by reve_etrange (#47968835) Attached to: How Our Botched Understanding of "Science" Ruins Everything

Neil DeGrasse Tyson does not "believe" in science like Pat Robertson "believes" in Christianity. Tyson considers statements to highly corroborated if there is empirical evidence in their favor (combined with a lack of falsifying evidence), while Pat Robertson believes dogmatically in certain select statements regardless of any relevant evidence.

Thus, while Robertson believes that these dogmatically accepted statements can be legitimately used to justify or verify additional subsequent statements, Tyson believes that statements can never be verified. Rather, he considers that statements can be falsified, and describes those which resist falsification as corroborated.

Of course, everyone (including Tyson, Robertson and me) don't generally write or speak in such an unwieldy manner unless ambiguity is to be avoided at all costs.

Comment: Re:Circular "reasoning" (Score 1) 794

by reve_etrange (#47968725) Attached to: How Our Botched Understanding of "Science" Ruins Everything

trying to do good by a Christian definition of Good

And what of the Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Bahai and Jainist organizations which try to do good by a "Christian definition of good?" Why do so many Catholic organizations try to do good by a "Protestant" definition of good?

Your clearly using a highly restricted definition of "Christian good" which you've designed specifically to overlap with these other groups. We can ignore that, because in any event the answer is pretty simple. Almost everyone has a highly similar definition of good, because the definition in fact arises from human nature. Many religious thinkers have taken great care to stress that ethics arise from humanity as it is, regardless of whether or not they think it evolved that way because altruism conveys a selective advantage or rather was instilled with altruism by God (because God happened to prefer it).

Comment: Re:In lost the will to live ... (Score 1) 794

by reve_etrange (#47968609) Attached to: How Our Botched Understanding of "Science" Ruins Everything

Perhaps theism has become so prevalent because without any ethical center beyond ourselves, we would all be narcissistic sociopaths like the guy you described.

This is obviously empirically false. In addition to the extreme rarity of "narcissistic sociopaths," despite the widespread lack of "ethical centers beyond the self," it completely ignores the fact that every major religion was and is propagated primarily by coercion if not outright violence, as well as the fact that there is extensive evidence for the selective advantage of altruistic behaviors at multiple levels of the animal kingdom.

Comment: Re:In lost the will to live ... (Score 1) 794

by reve_etrange (#47968561) Attached to: How Our Botched Understanding of "Science" Ruins Everything

And let's not forget that nature has in fact extensively explored these options over the last 3.5 billion years, with the result that many contemporary 'higher' organisms exhibit highly altruistic behavior.

Unlike so many of the arguments proffered by the humanists and anti-humanists alike in this topic, yours has the great strength of avoiding completely any resort to "should" statements (which imply external standards of "good" and "bad") in favor of an empirical analysis of interests.

Comment: Re:In lost the will to live ... (Score 1) 794

by reve_etrange (#47968479) Attached to: How Our Botched Understanding of "Science" Ruins Everything

Why is causing pain to others bad?

The parent already gave a rationale: If I feel that someone causing me pain is "bad" then it follows that causing others pain is "bad."

You haven't addressed this argument whatsoever. The fundamental pillar of the parent's argument is that one's own experience of pain is "bad." You need to address this point in order to call the argument into question.

If you think that we're just collections of cells, then the only thing you should care about is your own personal survival and comfort, and nothing else.

This is merely an assertion without an argument. The statement only sounds reasonable because of the conveniently abbreviated phrase "collection of cells." In reality, the "collection of cells" which is human already has inherent capacities for empathy and altruism. These capacities are actually rather widespread among the 'higher' animals and there is a sizable body of literature establishing their selective advantage. Given those highly corroborated facts, it is hardly surprising to find that human beings do (evidently) care about more than personal survival and comfort alone. There's no need to resort to "shoulds" based on external rule systems to see why this is so.

Most people seem to use "karma" (or "what comes around goes around") as a not-quite-as-supernatural-as-an-omnipotent-God reason for following the Golden Rule.

Nonsense. Most people act according to the internal feelings they themselves have at the moment of decision, not because of external rules. External standards, such as the folk definition of "karma" you mention, are almost exclusively used to produce after-the-fact rationalizations for behavior, rather than to motivate them.

Comment: Re:What's wrong with American drivers? (Score 2) 179

by reve_etrange (#47956693) Attached to: Washington DC To Return To Automatic Metro Trains

And when were those subways built again? The New York subway opened in 1904, the DC metro in 1974, BART (SF Bay Area) in 1972. And the latter two systems were designed for total automation* from the beginning!

And don't say Beijing's opened in 1969, it's technically true but 15/17 lines were built after 2002.

*BART has operators only because of transit union activism and an isolated, pre-opening incident known as the 'Fremont flyer.'

Comment: Re:What's wrong with American drivers? (Score 1) 179

by reve_etrange (#47956671) Attached to: Washington DC To Return To Automatic Metro Trains

BART trains (in the SF Bay Area) have some peculiarities which do seem to be related to the partial automation. The trains frequently have to be 'repositioned' on the platform, but it's apparently* because the door mechanisms don't always engage. If the driver scoots forward a bit and stops again, then the doors open normally.

*I think this because some drivers make announcements implying it's so, e.g. "sorry folks, we have to reposition to get the doors open."

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