Politics, God and Religion vs. Science

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jstan

climber
Dec 18, 2012 - 07:05pm PT
www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Cnj8MIQ0HY


Lawrence Krauss describes a conversation with Freeman Dyson on the subject of consciousness.

Limits on the subject as seen by two physicists.
TomCochrane

Trad climber
Santa Cruz Mountains and Monterey Bay
Dec 18, 2012 - 10:18pm PT
the sciences are certainly a powerful discipline for improving our understanding

however there are problems

it is very difficult to observe objectively, as we are intimately related to the reality that we attempt to observe

the questions we ask do a lot to determine the answers we can get

our limited understanding of reality makes it very difficult to ask questions objectively

and we have a very strong tendency to fill in the blanks with our imaginations when we don't know or understand how things work

working in the woods as a tracker requires a strict state of mind restricting this tendency until the reality of the track proves out the truth of what the animal did

when we impose incorrect suppositions upon the reality being observed, we may get the answers we expect through having influenced that reality with those suppositions

this is my major disagreement with the sciences dealing with behavior and psychology, bu also affects even the most objective sciences

i spent quite a lot of time in basement labs at CalTech with Jack Griffith, who was the first to actually photograph the double double helix of DNA using electron microscope techniques

the process involved taking relatively large cells from planaria raised in a bunch of old re-purposed coke machines and freeze drying the cells in liquid nitrogen and then flash silvering them in a vacuum flask so that you could see the molecular shape of the DNA string with an electron microscope

it took a lot of failed attempts to get it to work

http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/cen-v047n011.p010a

i pointed out to him how extensively he was modifying the reality in order to observe it, and he certainly agreed and later made a comment in Time Magazine that his work was less like science and more like witchcraft

my interest in mind/brain/intelligence also led me to spend quite a bit of time in laboratories at UCSF and CalTech looking at brain cell activities and trying to map them to biological and mental functions

again the level of intrusion was so great as to call into question any observed results, i.e. implanting electrodes in the brain

i actually wrote a paper on the subject at one point, relating brain cell activity to computer functionality and music synthesis

much of my professional career has involved using virtual worlds technologies to model what we think we know about complex systems...in order to impose a discipline and honesty upon what we think we know about them and restricting the ability to fudge across the gaps where we don't know...

so we have been having lots of fun with this stuff...but how much are we learning vs how much are we creating the reality that we are supposedly observing?
MH2

climber
Dec 19, 2012 - 08:59am PT
how much are we learning vs how much are we creating the reality that we are supposedly observing?


'Reality' is an inclusive term. Would it be the same question if you asked, "How much are we learning vs how much are we creating what we observe?"

Reality would seem to include things we observe daily, things we observe rarely, and things we may never observe at all. However, reality also includes the thoughts of all the people on earth and mental activity in animals. In this region of reality we at least have the opportunity to create some of what we observe, I hope. Or is that just my imagination?
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
-A race of corn eaters
Dec 19, 2012 - 10:03am PT
What a chimera then is man! What a novelty, what a monster, what a chaos, what a contradiction, what a prodigy! Judge of all things, feeble earthworm, repository of truth, sewer of uncertainty and error, the glory and the scum of the universe.
—Blaise Pascal
MikeL

climber
SANTA CLARA, CA
Dec 19, 2012 - 10:11am PT
. . . to MH2's thought:

What you're learning is what you are creating.

There's no "versus." It's all there is anywhere. You're creating all of it.



One cannot disentangle observation from data. Name a datum that does not entail observation (the 5 senses). Put a "5" in chalk on a blackboard. That's an observed datum that most likely brings with it plenty of context that's socially defined. (What does the "experiment" show?) Pure mathematics might seem like it can be observed without distortion, but I doubt it. We are not machines; we have values and intentions. (See Mats Alvesson and Kaj Skoldberg's "Reflexive Methodology, New Vistas for Qualitative Research", 2000, London: Sage.)

Here's a summary of some of the problems with teasing out observation and intrusion from data from Alvesson's and Skoldberg's first few chapters. (This text comes from a review of the book taken from Administrative Science Quarterly.)

Alvesson and Skoldberg position their project in the context of some well-known controversies about empirical or theoretical orientation, about pure or socially constructed data, about the relation between reality and text, and about the detached or involved position of "the author." They avoid the obbligato third way between such dichotomies by sketching a framework for reflective research in four levels. The first level of reflective research is to be found in how the researcher interacts with empirical material and constructs the data. The next level concerns the researcher's interpretation and search for underlying meanings, while the third level is about critical interpretation of the political and ideological aspects of research. The last level entails the self-critical and linguistic reflection of the researcher. . . . Chapter 2 takes up empirically oriented qualitative research methods and techniques, focusing on grounded theory, and also includes ethnomethodology and inductive ethnography. Chapter 3 discusses the interpretations of several strands of hermeneutics, distinguishing between objectivist and alethic hermeneutics. The political and ideological conditions of research, which are a central point in critical theory, are questioned in Chapter 4. . . . A fifth chapter deals with poststructuralist and postmodern ways of looking at language, text production, theory and the authority of research. The sixth chapter . . . deals with three additional orientations. . . language, gender and power . . . .

(I think it should be added that there is no such thing as purely quantitative research.)

Now, if you can find a body-mind organism ("researcher") that does not have intentions or values, then you'd have something VERY Interesting. But then, of course, that mind-body organism wouldn't have much of a basis to care about anything.
WBraun

climber
Dec 19, 2012 - 02:01pm PT
Samsara, the eternal cycle of life.

The so called scientists should study .....

If they don't then they only rubber stamp themselves as scientists and are not scientists.
Donald Thompson

Trad climber
Los Angeles,CA
Dec 19, 2012 - 02:10pm PT
Samsung, makes decent electronics,

Merry Christmas
Mr. Von Braun


What a chimera then is man! What a novelty, what a monster, what a chaos, what a contradiction, what a prodigy! Judge of all things, feeble earthworm, repository of truth, sewer of uncertainty and error, the glory and the scum of the universe.

And also capable of some really damn fancy two step German polka moves.

Merry Christmas Mr. Fructose

Werner goes deep and Duhnold stays shallow

Merry Christmas Mr. Au Naturel

nature

climber
Boulder, CO
Dec 19, 2012 - 02:12pm PT
Werner goes deep and Duhnold stays shallow.


nothing to see here...
jogill

climber
Colorado
Dec 19, 2012 - 03:09pm PT
Pure mathematics might seem like it can be observed without distortion, but I doubt it

You do pose interesting and unusual questions, MikeL.

;>/
cintune

climber
The Utility Muffin Research Kitchen
Dec 19, 2012 - 05:40pm PT


Funny is funny. And to all a good night.
WBraun

climber
Dec 19, 2012 - 06:11pm PT
Jesus Christ, Easter bunny, tooth fairy, Santa Claus are all real.

Only nerd lab coats can't see them because their brains are filled with way to much sterile data and stupid so called made up facts in their sterile brains ......
MH2

climber
Dec 19, 2012 - 06:56pm PT
Chapter 3 discusses the interpretations of several strands of hermeneutics, distinguishing between objectivist and alethic hermeneutics. The political and ideological conditions of research,



Your investigator can have all kinds of intentions, values, politics, and unresolved anguish about death personal and cosmic, but those won't affect whether objects of differing mass accelerate at the same or different rates in a gravitational field. When you try to study how people behave, though, you could well be wasting time and money. I don't trust studies done on rats, either.

edit:

Of course studies of people can be valuable; they just depend a lot more on the investigator being trustworthy.


jstan, those are limits on consciousness we won't need to worry about for a while. But I will be sure to enjoy my moment in the sun next time I see it, probably about 2 months from now.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
-A race of corn eaters
Dec 19, 2012 - 06:58pm PT
BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Dec 19, 2012 - 07:12pm PT
That is one of the dead from Noah's flood.
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Dec 19, 2012 - 07:44pm PT
MikeL, what [extremely] little I recall, my understanding was that reflexivity in general was more germane to social sciences and qualitative research as opposed to the physical sciences and quantitative research. Wasn't that the whole Margaret Mead thing?
Donald Thompson

Trad climber
Los Angeles,CA
Dec 19, 2012 - 08:53pm PT
The gentleman at the top of this page is " Otzi"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ötzi
jogill

climber
Colorado
Dec 19, 2012 - 09:02pm PT
"Pure mathematics might seem like it can be observed without distortion, but I doubt it. "

it would be interesting for you to expand on your doubt... why didn't you?

We wait, eager for enlightenment.


;>)
BLUEBLOCR

Social climber
joshua tree
Dec 19, 2012 - 11:12pm PT
ED, HappyHanukkah!

what is it about people that assures you they are different from machines?


REALLY?? cOME On?

i'd rather revert back to plants being machine-like. i'm still confused as
to what scientist call "life' inside an Oak tree?
TomCochrane

Trad climber
Santa Cruz Mountains and Monterey Bay
Dec 19, 2012 - 11:57pm PT
WBraun
Dec 19, 2012 - 06:11pm PT

Jesus Christ, Easter bunny, tooth fairy, Santa Claus are all real.

Only nerd lab coats can't see them because their brains are filled with way to much sterile data and stupid so called made up facts in their sterile brains ......


i can't attest to any of that...



but i have personally observed that Werner Braun is for real!
MikeL

climber
SANTA CLARA, CA
Dec 20, 2012 - 07:40am PT
All good questions for me, but I have to run to a meeting, . . . so quickly:

Your investigator can have all kinds of intentions, values, politics, and unresolved anguish about death personal and cosmic, but those won't affect whether objects of differing mass accelerate at the same or different rates in a gravitational field.

Think about it, MH2. Why study any of those things at all? Is it possible to come up with a perfectly neutral answer?

If not, then you're involved as an observer in the observations.
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