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Would it be better not to know?

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posted on Dec, 29 2010 @ 06:46 PM
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Without touching on why we exist, I wish to pose a question:


If, in the pursuit of knowledge, we uncover information that may either lead to, or be abused to justify, discrimination against groups or individuals, would it be better to abandon the pursuit altogether, and instead accept a potentially flawed account as absolute and unalterable fact?



Or, revealing the agenda of this question by giving a specific example, if knowing that evolution by natural selection favours certain forms over others leads to discrimination between groups of said forms, would it be better not to consider it as a possibility?




I ask this for two reasons:

a) some people, on a website whose aim is to "Deny Ignorance" seem to accept a handful of unalterable texts or concepts as absolute fact over the ever changing, self-correcting field of science;


b) Cosmic.Artifact started a similarly themed post very recently, and I wondered how it might progress if worded differently.

edit on 29/12/2010 by TheWill because: (no reason given)




posted on Dec, 29 2010 @ 06:55 PM
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One of the biggest misconceptions is the idea of "Survival of the Fittest", people misconstrue this to mean that the stronger will or even should survive compared to the weak.

What is actually meant by "Survival of the Fittest", however, is that individuals with the capability to breed will pass on their traits rather than those that are unable. Fitness, in the sense of evolutionary theory, is the ability of an individual to breed. If an individual is dead or infertile, it has basically no fitness. If an individual has a favorable trait that will allow it to survive longer and thus breed more, it has a higher fitness than the individuals lacking that trait.

If people truly understood evolutionary theory, they would understand that variation of traits is more beneficial rather than a set of particular traits, at least in terms of natural selection. In this sense, natural selection/Darwinism is not a reason to "create a perfect race" or anything like that, because natural selection only works when there is some variety of traits.

Edit: I know that this wasn't exactly an answer. If I had to answer, I would say yes. As long as there is evidence to support it, there's no reason to suppress information. Something small could lead to something big.
edit on 29-12-2010 by PieKeeper because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 29 2010 @ 07:05 PM
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reply to post by PieKeeper
 


A very valid point, but not quite answering the question - yes, there is nothing in natural selection that can be used to justify, for example, the genocides of the 20th century, but if there is a possibility that it could be abused to justify such, should we pretend that natural selection does not occur, and wallow instead in ignorance?


It applies to many other concepts, too... if gravity could be abused in an attempt to justify pushing people off cliffs, should we pretend that gravity doesn't happen?



posted on Dec, 29 2010 @ 07:12 PM
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Yeah, I wasn't sure where exactly you were coming from, and I wanted to pre-empt a response by Cosmic Artifact where he links his Dark Face of Darwinism thread.


I would say that we shouldn't censor our scientific findings for fear of how others will use it, unless it's something like "How To Create a World Devouring Black Hole."
- I think that in the end, the benefits towards scientific advancement will outweigh the potential for abuse.



posted on Dec, 29 2010 @ 08:04 PM
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Originally posted by TheWill

If, in the pursuit of knowledge, we uncover information that may either lead to, or be abused to justify, discrimination against groups or individuals, would it be better to abandon the pursuit altogether, and instead accept a potentially flawed account as absolute and unalterable fact?



You've obviously never spent much time in a university Anthropology department
. Sadly, this is a very real issue in the world of academic archaeology/anthropology. Identity is a very hot-button topic in the field these days, and there are no easy answers. Everyone wants biological/archaeological anthropology to tell them that their ancestors did (___blank___) and so they have a biological/ancestral 'right' to do/have/say/think/exploit (___blank___). The simple truth is that there are aspects of human biological/evolutionary makeup that could be (and have been) abused by any number of special interest groups.



posted on Dec, 29 2010 @ 08:20 PM
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Originally posted by TheWill
If, in the pursuit of knowledge, we uncover information that may either lead to, or be abused to justify, discrimination against groups or individuals, would it be better to abandon the pursuit altogether, and instead accept a potentially flawed account as absolute and unalterable fact?


Or, revealing the agenda of this question by giving a specific example, if knowing that evolution by natural selection favours certain forms over others leads to discrimination between groups of said forms, would it be better not to consider it as a possibility?



I think it's better not to care.

Whether we're a freak series of accidents and sexy ancient monkey mating, or god did it; neither answer changes my life.

Then again, I don't believe, if there is a god, he would ever be the fundamentalist meteor-chucker that goes around smiting people who are otherwise fine people but don't worship him properly that some portray him as. So I don't care, and I think he would get that; I think he understands my lack of interest in bothering with an argument which is constantly countered with unprovable assertions that despite all evidence, "god did it".

I mean, some people actually assert that all evidence contrary to "god did it" is actually god's doing, to test faith.

There is no point in the debate because it typically, save maybe a few times, goes the same way and results in two sides calling one another idiots.

The answer would be interesting, but I care far less about where we came from, and intensely about where we're going.



It may not have answered the actual question, but it's my 2 cents.
edit on 12/29/2010 by eNumbra because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 29 2010 @ 08:20 PM
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One thing I know is that the TRUTH is always better than fooling yourself...even if it might hurt or you it forces you to abandon faulty, old beliefs or convictions.

So I'd never trade a quest for true knowledge for ignorant bliss.



posted on Dec, 29 2010 @ 08:27 PM
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Originally posted by MrXYZ
One thing I know is that the TRUTH is always better than fooling yourself...even if it might hurt or you it forces you to abandon faulty, old beliefs or convictions.

So I'd never trade a quest for true knowledge for ignorant bliss.


You've got a valid point but, sadly, within scientific academia this is rarely the widely-held opinion. The only ones who are really advancing knowledge, rather than towing the line of the status quo, are the fortunate few who are 'so big' (the Hawkings, Dawkinses, and Hoftstadters, et al of the world) as to have been effectively able to remove themselves from the wheel.



posted on Dec, 29 2010 @ 08:30 PM
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Originally posted by ArchaeologyUnderground

Originally posted by MrXYZ
One thing I know is that the TRUTH is always better than fooling yourself...even if it might hurt or you it forces you to abandon faulty, old beliefs or convictions.

So I'd never trade a quest for true knowledge for ignorant bliss.


You've got a valid point but, sadly, within scientific academia this is rarely the widely-held opinion. The only ones who are really advancing knowledge, rather than towing the line of the status quo, are the fortunate few who are 'so big' (the Hawkings, Dawkinses, and Hoftstadters, et al of the world) as to have been effectively able to remove themselves from the wheel.


That's a total misconception. The cool thing about science is everyone can come up with his own hypothesis/theory...as long as he/she accepts that the entire rest of the scientific community will try to shoot holes into your theory. If it holds up, good for you! If not, tough luck, hypothesis get rejected all the time.



posted on Dec, 29 2010 @ 08:31 PM
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reply to post by ArchaeologyUnderground
 



You've obviously never spent much time in a university Anthropology department . Sadly, this is a very real issue in the world of academic archaeology/anthropology. Identity is a very hot-button topic in the field these days, and there are no easy answers. Everyone wants biological/archaeological anthropology to tell them that their ancestors did (___blank___) and so they have a biological/ancestral 'right' to do/have/say/think/exploit (___blank___). The simple truth is that there are aspects of human biological/evolutionary makeup that could be (and have been) abused by any number of special interest groups.


I haven't spent much (=any) time in a university anthropology department, but I am aware that this issue isn't as abstract as I would like it to be. I was trying to show, through the asking of a ridiculous question, how lacking in any value the anti-evolution view-point is. I thought wording it as I did in the OP was better than suggesting that prevention of progress in the manner of the anti-evolution brigade was akin to Hitler's burning of books.



On an unrelated note, in a post in a different thread, you mentioned that you are a professor of anthropology, and so I'd like to breifly wander completely off-topic and ask you a question about people:

In the temperate zones, is seasonal affective disorder more common in people whose ancestry is at roughly the same latitude, or people whose ancestry is primarily from a more tropical region?



posted on Dec, 29 2010 @ 09:02 PM
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Originally posted by MrXYZ

That's a total misconception. The cool thing about science is everyone can come up with his own hypothesis/theory...as long as he/she accepts that the entire rest of the scientific community will try to shoot holes into your theory. If it holds up, good for you! If not, tough luck, hypothesis get rejected all the time.



In theory, you're absolutely right. In theory. My experience (and it is by no means more than minimal in the grand scheme of things) with reality is that the 'scientific community' (at least my little corner of it) is not overly receptive to ideas that go too far outside of the accepted standards. Ask any 'tenure track' professor how much freedom they have to come up with his/her "own hypothesis/theory". I think you'll be shocked (that is, assuming you get an honest answer).



posted on Dec, 29 2010 @ 09:18 PM
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Originally posted by TheWill
reply to post by ArchaeologyUnderground
 


I haven't spent much (=any) time in a university anthropology department, but I am aware that this issue isn't as abstract as I would like it to be.


I didn't mean anything against you by my comment, only against academic departments (that I've had experience with)
. (here's an unrelated question...why can I not use the 'emoticon' buttons to actually produce an emoticon?)



On an unrelated note, in a post in a different thread, you mentioned that you are a professor of anthropology, and so I'd like to breifly wander completely off-topic and ask you a question about people:

In the temperate zones, is seasonal affective disorder more common in people whose ancestry is at roughly the same latitude, or people whose ancestry is primarily from a more tropical region?


Feel absolutely free to correct me if I'm wrong as it's been a couple of years since I've seen the latest data on things like this, but as of c. 2009, the answer was that people with more recent genetic ancestry in more tropical regions do, in fact, suffer the effects of vitamin-D deficiency more severely than people whose genetic ancestry has been accustomed to higher latitudes for a longer period of time.

I have read, for example, that people of East Indian and African ancestry have more health issues when living in the UK (notoriously cloudy = extra low vit-D), than people with lighter skin tones. For example:

anthrogenetics.wordpress.com...

I would like to categorically state for the record, however, that as someone who has an in-depth knowledge of both human skeletal and genetic makeup: WE ARE ALL THE SAME UNDER THE SKIN. Yes, there are ways in which bones will 'suggest' or 'incline' towards one or another of what we culturally call 'races', but biologically, races do not exist. We are ALL Homo sapiens at the end of the day.

Feel free to ask any more questions you may have



posted on Dec, 29 2010 @ 10:28 PM
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To make the most of our potential then we need to work with the facts, not lost in a maze of lies and opinion. History can be a tough and sad and subject at times, but it does help explain the mess we are in. The first step towards fixing a problem is to identify it.



posted on Dec, 30 2010 @ 01:42 AM
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reply to post by TheWill
 

Good question. Over in this humongous thread I am presently fighting a one-man battle on behalf of the idea that beautiful people are 'better' people--that beauty in humans is a direct marker of evolutionary fitness and a proxy marker for many attributes of fitness such as health, intelligence, courage, fertility, etc. I am getting the usual stick from people who think this is elitist and wicked.


If... knowing that evolution by natural selection favours certain forms over others leads to discrimination between groups of said forms, would it be better not to consider it as a possibility?

No. Historically, the repression or distortion of knowledge has always shown itself to be the greater evil. It is the discrimination that we must oppose, not the knowledge that seems to justify it. It is not our business to do Nature's work--or rather, what we falsely imagine to be Nature's work--for her.

edit on 30/12/10 by Astyanax because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 30 2010 @ 01:50 AM
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reply to post by TheWill
 
it is best to keep an open mind were anything can be the truth, if you do find the truth and feel it would be a heated subject keep it too your self and see what others say , when you find one that sates the same as you think /know then you can say your 02 cents. for one will fall 2 can make a stand.



posted on Dec, 30 2010 @ 01:53 AM
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reply to post by ArchaeologyUnderground
 


My experience (and it is by no means more than minimal in the grand scheme of things) with reality is that the 'scientific community' (at least my little corner of it) is not overly receptive to ideas that go too far outside of the accepted standards. Ask any 'tenure track' professor how much freedom they have to come up with his/her "own hypothesis/theory". I think you'll be shocked (that is, assuming you get an honest answer).

Hmm.

Would you accept a replacement of the phrase 'scientific community' by 'social sciences community'?

This is, to my understanding, a particular issue in anthropology, sociology, psychology and related fields, where political correctness reigns supreme and diligent research and experimental design are relatively rare. If you are, as your username implies, an archaeologist, I imagine this would be particularly frustrating to you, because your field is traditionally a lot more rigorous, and therefore more likely to produce findings that reflect reality rather than provide support for the way people think things ought to be. Yet work in your field feeds into the social sciences, particularly anthropology, and probably meets with resistance when its conclusions are not what social scientists would like.

Would you care to comment on that?

edit on 30/12/10 by Astyanax because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 30 2010 @ 07:37 AM
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Originally posted by Astyanax
reply to post by ArchaeologyUnderground


Would you accept a replacement of the phrase 'scientific community' by 'social sciences community'?

This is, to my understanding, a particular issue in anthropology, sociology, psychology and related fields, where political correctness reigns supreme and diligent research and experimental design are relatively rare. If you are, as your username implies, an archaeologist, I imagine this would be particularly frustrating to you, because your field is traditionally a lot more rigorous, and therefore more likely to produce findings that reflect reality rather than provide support for the way people think things ought to be. Yet work in your field feeds into the social sciences, particularly anthropology, and probably meets with resistance when its conclusions are not what social scientists would like.

Would you care to comment on that?

edit on 30/12/10 by Astyanax because: (no reason given)


You're absolutely right, and I probably should have qualified that statement with a "(social) scientific community". And, you are correct in that archaeology/physical anthropology tends to be somewhat of the bastard child of both social sciences and hard sciences, never really fully accepted by either group.

There's a saying by Kroeber that states that "Anthropology is the most humanistic of the sciences and the most scientific of the humanities". I would agree to a point, but I would replace "anthropology" with "archaeological/physical anthropology" in his statement. Cultural/linguistic anthropology are pretty much fully accepted and integrated into the social sciences.

That's not to say, though, that political correctness doesn't play a role in the hard sciences as well. It does, though probably to a lesser and less overt degree. It's definitely a major problem in archaeological/anthropological sciences, however, so thank you for bringing up that important point of distinction that I overlooked.
edit on 30-12-2010 by ArchaeologyUnderground because: (no reason given)






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