originally posted by: Kandinsky
I have some type of internal scale that dictates the value I can ascribe to unusual claims. That's what controls the level of interest or amount of
time to give something.
I like the analogy of science as a 'wrecking ball' and it's certainly true for many people. Hasn't it always been on the front-line of the war between
emerging and dominant ideologies? Geocentrism and technophobes springs to mind.
I think the problem in modern culture is a serious misunderstanding about what constitutes science and scientific process. Probably 95% of the process
of learning anything is not scientific and is not necessarily supposed to be. Aside from replications and technologist stuff, most of the interesting
things in our world start with the empirical evidence of a lot of people reporting something, which is not scientific but amounts to everything from
gossip to urban legend to self-made case studies to rumor and a lot of it's wrong in various ways. There's usually eventually discussion and various
ideas come and go about what it might mean that these things are sometimes reported.
Eventually, and this is often way down the road by years or decades at least, someone who IS a scientific sort says hmmn, you know, I hypothesize that
if X were so, and I were to test Y and Z like so, that it would actually result in some data to lend consideration to maybe X being so. And maybe they
set up an experiment for that. And even if the experiment is not null and does give data toward X being so, there's still a ton of experiments that
would probably need to be done to rule out other things, and then finally maybe some actually "controlled" studies in a very serious way assuming the
topic is capable of that kind of study to start with. And then replication studies. And at the end of that we have 'science' and 'evidence'. Before
that we had 'data' and 'exploratory investigation.' Before that we just had people talking about something. That wasn't science. But it was usually
the majority of the history and without it, the rest wouldn't have come about.
So when people today report that they experienced X, and someone goes "That's not scientific!" -- it's so ridiculous, because it wasn't supposed to be
scientific, nobody ever said it was, or that it should be. And in most cases people think 'science' means 'double-blind reductionism' and many
subjects literally cannot be approached that way period, which means either we just pretend half of human experience doesn't exist because it's
inconveniently shaped for a test tube, or we accept that the manner of evaluating preliminary data -- and even of defining what constitutes data --
will have to be of a nature to fit the subject in those cases. Heck that approach is working abysmally even for things that fit perfectly well in test
tubes such as nutrition and health, it's never going to work for say, whether the concept of an afterlife has validity as anything but an archetypal
meme that makes people feel better about the unknown.
Modern mainstream science has become as damaging to a lot of true curiosity and honesty about findings as The Church used to be. I'm a major science
buff but I've come to be as skeptical about the integrity of its modern process as I am of the inappropriate way people try to apply it, as if only
things you can see through that tool are allowed, and as if only what's already been vetted and officially approved is allowed to be taken seriously
even for armchair social consideration, like thought/talk police exist, never mind initial data collection that might eventually lead to a hypothesis.
It's true most people talking about 'woo' are not themselves, nor are their experiences, easily able (if at all) to be put into a scientific context
for evaluation. But they aren't scientists and don't need to be. What would be nice is if our culture would get a larger clue about what science is
not, and how much of the human inquiry is actually not our social definition of science, which is usually mostly just the very last stages of the
process of inquiry. And limited only to the kind of inquiries for which its tools are appropriate. Reductionism studies butterflies by killing them
and measuring their pieces for example. There are other elements of valid inquiry that won't fit in that model, and that's of something physical we
can all agree exists. It certainly gets more complicated when some things are only perceived by some people, or at some unpredictable times, and in
unique ways, and for inexplicable reasons.