Okay lets break down your post again.
Posted by ReturnofTheSonOfNothing Materialism and Determinism are philosophical positions, not scientific ones. Nature has no purpose
is, similarly, a philosophical question.
Posted by vasaga Maybe. But they are still central to our mainstream scientific views. It's the reason why only abiogenesis is being regarded
as a valuable theory for the origin of life, while something like biocentrism is shoved aside, despite them both being in the hypothesis
Biocentrism has been pretty thoroughly debunked (see
Demystified: A Response to Deepak Chopra and Robert Lanza’s Notion of a Conscious Universe
). Again, we are talking philosophy rather than
science itself, but it is not disregarded because of philosophical positions - it's disregarded because it's bad science. Yes, it is derided because
it is essentially The Secret
dressed up in pseudoscience, and because that walking singularity of mind-body mystic nonsense Deepak Chopra has
so heavily associated himself with it, but apart from that, and more importantly it fundamentally misinterprets testable scientific truths.
For example. Lanza says that everything we perceive is created by the act of perception. He puts forth this idea that subjective experience is all
there is. But when you look at what he says, it's clear he is misrepresenting the nature of reality to make it seem at odds with objective existence.
To do the mental gymnastics, he relies on a subtle conflating of the concepts of subjectivity and objectivity.
i.e, Lanza says about light and colour -
“Consider the color and brightness of everything you see ‘out there.’ On its own, light doesn’t have any color or brightness at all.
The unquestionable reality is that nothing remotely resembling what you see could be present without your consciousness. Consider the weather: We step
outside and see a blue sky – but the cells in our brain could easily be changed so we ‘see’ red or green instead. We think it feels hot and
humid, but to a tropical frog it would feel cold and dry. In any case, you get the point. This logic applies to virtually everything.“
The truth of it is that yes, colour is a subjective experiential truth which lies outside of objective reality. However, he ignores the objective side
of this equation - yes the observers expeiencing colour is subjective, however, the physical properties of light responsible for this experience are
not subjective, they are an objective and testable part of the natural world.
This is of extreme importance and he is missing it entirely - The mind does not create the natural phenomenon itself, it creates a subjective
experience (or representation) of the (objective) phenomenon.
Temperature is another example. The temperature of something is as a direct result of the kinetic energy of the molecules, but the experience from the
observers perception of that temperature is subjective.
His claims that without an external observer, objects remain in a quantum probabilistic state is based on conflating 'observer' with
'consciousness' and is a common yet fundamental misunderstanding of quantum theory.
Like many people, he misunderstands the anthropic principle and puts the cart before the horse, then uses this as his central argument that the
universe to him is obviously tailored for us. It's exactly like
Douglas Adams' puddle
thinking "gee this hole in the ground
fits me perfectly!".
The Null Hypothesis
posted by ReturnofTheSonOfNothing
I will concede that there is actually one assumption which science does make, though like everything in science it is never absolute and it is
certainly not declared a 'fact' - the null hypothesis.
The idea is that the default position for any claim is the possibility that the claim is bogus and does not exist. This is called the null
posted by vasaga It's definitely not the only one in practice...
I think you misunderstand me here. The idea of the null hypothesis is actually basic common sense and skepticism. It's basically saying ' Your idea
is no more than just an idea unless you can prove it'. It's fundamental to the integrity of the knowledge on which we use to build our knowledge
base. I'm not revealing a weakness in science, but rather the opposite - a strength.
Mind over Matter
posted by ReturnofTheSonOfNothing
The Our brains produce our minds, Biological inheritance is purely material and (possibly, depending on what you actually mean) Only mechanistic
medicine works bits would fall into this category, since no one has been able to prove alternate theories like the idea of a soul, or crystal healing
energies or whatever.
posted by vasaga You must've surely heard of the placebo effect? Or the nocebo effect? In case you haven't, watch these:
Of course I have heard of the placebo effect. But you seem to tbe under the misunderstanding that the placebo effect is not mechanistic. The body is
able to produce all kinds of pharmeceuticals at the behest of the brain. When a 'mind over matter' effect happens within the human body, there is a
physical and chemical component to that change. For example, when we experience severe pain or shock, the body produces endorphins (basically natural
morphine) in the hypothalimus or pituitary gland which bind with receptors in the brain to produce the euphoric or soothing effect as a response. This
does not happen by magic, there is a clear, chemical (and thus mechanistic) process which is well understood.
posted by vasaga That should throw the brain/mind one and the mechanistic medicine one out the _ As for biological inheritance, there's
this stuff called epigenetics, where your body could behave as having a damaged gene, while the gene is actually intact, simply because your grandma
damaged her genes while smoking or whatever. Watch this:
I'll admit to not knowing a hell of a lot about it, though it looks just like neo-Lamarckism to me.
Whatever the truth of it, epigenetics like any idea in science will live or die on the testable evidence and on the predictions it makes. It would not
be just assumed that the idea is wrong - the idea would need to be proven and stand up to challenges to be accepted.
I think part of the problem here is, like many, you are putting the cart before the horse.
In science, ideas are not considered true unless they can be proven. You are looking at it from the complete other end. You say "Well why does
science assume my idea is wrong!?".
The answer is the null hypothesis. It's a fundamental bedrock of science and skepticism that an idea needs to be proven before it is accepted.
posted by ReturnofTheSonOfNothing
Matter is inanimate - seems an odd one. Depends on which definition you are using. Do you mean inanimate = non-moving or inanimate = non-living. I
mean at a sub atomic level it's all moving, and at macroscopic level it can be either alive or dead. Can you please clarify, and point me to the
particular scientific position you are referring to.
posted by vasaga
I was leaning more towards the non-living idea. We don't even know what life actually is, so, how do we know what is alive and what isn't? We can't
figure out if a virus is alive or not. How can expect to do the same with particles, or the planet or whatever?
I actually kind of agree. It's not an easy thing defining life, and I believe it's an area where we are seemingly always expanding our knowledge and
definitions. However, just because there is a gap in our knowledge does not mean an untested alternative hypothesis gets a free pass.
The Speed of Light
posted by ReturnofTheSonOfNothing
Laws of nature are fixed. Lets take a look at Scientific Laws. Wikipedia says -
So we can see there several important points which completely refute the idea that scientific laws are fixed, or that they are an assumed fact.
- They are based on conclusions from repeated verifiable experimentation
- They are often formulated and proven mathematically
- They are strongly supported by evidence
- They are not 'fixed' at all, but provisional just like any scientific theory and subject to change should they ever be successfully challenged by
future observations or evidence
- Like all scientific theories, they are not intended to be taken in an absolute sense as immutable fact
posted by vasaga Ok. Even though all of that is true, take as an example, the speed of light. It's always being referred to as being a
fixed value, but in reality, it fluctuates quite a bit. Basically, everything that's referred to as a constant is not actually a constant. You don't
have to watch it fully, since it's very long, but, the first 10-15 minutes or so might already give you an idea... For more info you can read the
'about' of the video.
The only folks interested in challenging the speed of light are Young Earth Creationists. They need for the speed of light to have been much faster
(in the order of billions of times faster) in the past in order to explain away the Starlight Problem (that being, if the universe is only 6,000 years
old, why can we see the light from distant galaxies which are millions of light years away?).
Check out Stuart Robbin's breakdown of this issue in episode 81 of his podcast, Explaining Pseudoastronomy. You can either listen to the episode or
read a transcript at Exposing Pseudoastronomy Episode 81: Is the Speed of Light Constant?
To mention just a few of the points that Stuart makes -
- The speed of light varies depending on the medium it's moving through
- There is no reason to assume the speed of light has changed, other than a YEC agenda
- The idea is based on special pleading
- Supporters and promoters of this idea cherry-pick the data in order to show a slewed result. They focus on sets of data that prove their point of
view, while ignoring those that do not.
- Results from past observations tend to be less accurate. With the advent of technology like lasers, and with a greater understanding of science and
our limmits of measurement, accuracy has greatly improved.
- The Institute of Creation Research (the ICR) itself debunks this idea and does not recommend that YEC's use it.
However, this is all kind of irrelevant. The idea that the speed of light is not constant is not dismissed just because scientists don't like it or
are trying to cover up something or some other bizarrre notion. The idea that the speed of light is not constant is not accepted because it is not
proven. That's it basically. The persons making this claim have simply not proven their case. The alternate idea, that the speed of light in a vacuum
is constant, has behind it mountains of evidence, observations and mathematical proof. There is no equivalency here.