Darksyde’s “Know your creationists” series on Daily Kos has become a “Know your friends” edition today, with a profile of Wesley Elsberry of the NCSE.
I joined the NCSE last year; glad to see them get this recognition. I had no idea that anyone confused them with the Natonal Science Foundation!
On The Value of Theories and Hypotheses
The only reason for having theories and hypotheses is to guide
experiment. They have no value on their own as truth.
The very idea of “selecting” between competing theories is
ridiculous. It brings us no closer to the truth. The way to
decide among competing theories is to test them, not decide
which is probably true based on some theoretical calculations
or by using some trick, like Occam’s Razor.
After you collect all of the data, then you can draw
conclusions as to what is or is not likely. And one theory will
usually emerge as superior. Truth does not flow from the human
imagination, it flows from experiment and observation. That’s
the only thing that has value. Speculation is interesting and
keeps the mind amused and helps us to design experiment, but it
serves no purpose in it’s own right.
Of course, the number of possible hypotheses is infinite.
The human mind can create an unlimited number of scenarios to
explain any observed phenomenon. But if that is true, it’s not
just a minor flaw in scientific reasoning. It becomes quickly
evident that all possible hypotheses can never be tested.
This may not seem to be a problem until you consider that if
this is so, then the results of *any* experiment will never be
conclusive. The scientific method becomes incapable of proving
But this is not catastrophic because fortunately, science is not
in the business of proving and disproving things. The business
of science is saying what is most and least likely. In addition,
what is sometimes referred to as “scientific truth” is a very
fleeting phenomenon at best, and is inversely proportional to
investigative effort. In the past, scientific truths lasted a
long time, because very few people were looking very much.
But as time goes on, their lifespan is becoming increasingly
shorter. Science finds itself today leading mankind, not to a
single, absolute truth, but to multiple, indeterminate, relative
ones. Rational science is supposed to eliminate this uncertainty,
but it does not. In fact, it contributes to the chaos. Look at
what we deal with on a daily basis. Studies of various kinds are
reported every day with wildly varying claims. This is good for
you today, but it was bad for you yesterday. Substance after
substance is demonized by alleged “scientific studies” that tell
us things that we know are not true. Sugar is evil, salt will
kill you, eggs will give you a heart attack, fat is poison,
blah, blah, blah. Science is not making things clearer its making
people crazy. So what happens?
They look for an anchor, something that doesn’t ever change,
that is constant and supportive. So they turn to God and religion.
It’s inevitable. I don’t agree with it, but I understand it.
Good interview with a good guy. From the ancient fidonet days when we did battle with the forces of darkness in “Bulletin Board” fashion, Elsberry has been on the front lines. He had the foresight to collect the threads in which he participated. Maybe some interesting reading if you have a spare, um… week or two…
…gotta brush up on html tags so I can make those links look cool like the rest of you guys
I hope they do Lynn Margulis at some point. I really need to hear some clarification on what she means about speciation not being possible via natural selection, or who the “neo-Darwinian” bullies are that she disagrees with and how she disagrees with them. Saying things like this and then saying that she believes biology is on track with evolution is just not clear enough, and her quotes are becoming a major part of the creationist quote mining fun.
PZ, you’re part of academia: can’t you just ask for a clarification from her as to what she means with you magic trans-academia powers?
How long should I wait before assuming that my comment has been trashed?
Hey, I see Charlie has made the move to the new digs, too. It took two weeks, but what’s that compared to the endlessness of Life, Time, Universe and everything else….
Charlie Wagner: what exactly has your comment got to do with either Daily Kos, DarkSyde, the National Center for Science Education or Dr. Elsberry? Nothing. You’ve got your own website, so go post your garbage there.
Good article. Based on the recent survey, I think Britain is going to need it’s own NCSE sometime soon.
Tom Morris wrote:
“Charlie Wagner: what exactly has your comment got to do with either Daily Kos, DarkSyde, the National Center for Science Education or Dr. Elsberry? Nothing. You’ve got your own website, so go post your garbage there.”
It’s all about exposure. 5000 people a day read this blog compared to the one or two that read mine. I get dozens of hits whenever I post a comment here. Besides, I have to post *something* every once in a while so that Paul knows I’m still alive and kicking.
“We are a link in Amidas golden chain
of love that stretches around the world.
We will keep our link bright and strong.
We will be kind and gentle to every living thing and protect all who are weaker than ourselves.
We will think pure and beautiful thoughts,
say pure and beautiful words, and do pure
and beautiful deeds.
It’s all about exposure. 5000 people a day read this blog compared to the one or two that read mine. I get dozens of hits whenever I post a comment here.
In other words, just like all antievolutionists, Charles is a leach on people who do the actual heavy lifting.
In other words, you are exploiting the comments section to spam links to your site? And you actually had the temerity to claim that your post didn’t appear fast enough?
So, you are doing it (a) to leech from other people’s popularity and (b) to remind Paul that you exist. The first is really not very ethical (but creationists have never bothered too much about their ethical duties – they are commanded by another force!) and the latter can be done by sending P. Z. an email which says “I exist! I exist! I never had a monkey in my ancestry!”. Then he could delete it.
Congratulations, off-topic monkey. I can see the DI fellowship coming soon enough for Mr. Wagner.
I would be interested to read an article in which you discuss your thoughts on scientists who are also Christians, like Wesley and Ken Miller.
“I would be interested to read an article in which you discuss your thoughts on scientists who are also Christians, like Wesley and Ken Miller.”
Good to hear from you again, Andy. I hope you’re well and happy.
What would be more interesting would be an article in which Paul discusses his thoughts on scientists who are advocates of intelligent design and who are also atheists. I know of at least one.
What is Buddhist Prayer?
“The purpose of Buddhist prayer is to awaken our inherent inner capacities of strength, compassion and wisdom rather than to petition external forces based on fear, idolizing, and worldly and/or heavenly gain. Buddhist prayer is a form of meditation; it is a practice of inner reconditioning. Buddhist prayer replaces the negative with the virtuous and points us to the blessings of Life.
For Buddhists, prayer expresses an aspiration to pull something into one’s life, like some new energy or purifying influence and share it with all beings. Likewise, prayer inspires our hearts towards wisdom and compassion for others and ourselves. It allows us to turn our hearts and minds to the beneficial, rousing our thoughts and actions towards Awakening. If we believe in something enough, it will take hold of us. In other words, believing in it, we will become what we believe. Our ability to be touched like this is evidence of the working of Great Compassion within us.
What’s more, it can a function as a form of self-talking or self-therapy in which one mentally talks through a problem, or talks through it aloud, in the hope that some new insight will come or a better decision can be made. Prayer therefore frequently has the function of being part of a decision-making process.”
Let me guess…… is he a little blond girl?
“Let me guess…… is he a little blond girl?”
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We’re making the planet a better place for cephalopods. It also helps that humans are busily…
Trapped in a cunning prison!
Oh, no, what are you doing now?