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Author Topic: Elliquian Atheists  (Read 35648 times)

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Offline Kythia

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #675 on: March 28, 2013, 10:44:52 AM »
@Sabby
Maybe, yes.  But I don;t think you can criticise the parent for giving the flat lemonade.  They wanted to help their child and made a decision based on their personal beliefs in absolute good faith.  Sure, that decision was wrong.  But that doesn't mean the parent's decision to do it was in any way morally wrong.

Ditto for religious parents.  They've made a decision based on their beliefs and understanding that they believe will save their child.  While the decision may be objectively wrong it was made for good reasons.

And sure.  There is undoubtedly an entire edifice of work supporting the big bang.  But I, and I'll wager you, am taking that purely on faith.  I'm trusting that that edifice exists while making no attempt whatsoever to verify it.  The ether was a commonly accepted theory that "made it into my hands" or would have done had I lived a century ago.  It was incorrect.  Arguing that the science that the layperson receives is certain purely because a layperson has received it is actually ignoring the scientific method. 

Offline SabbyTopic starter

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #676 on: March 28, 2013, 10:50:53 AM »
@Sabby
Maybe, yes.  But I don;t think you can criticise the parent for giving the flat lemonade.

I absolutely can!

Are you telling me you wouldn't hold parents accountable for harming their children through home medicine they picked up from their own parents just because 'they didn't know?'. I'm sure the infant would have understood if it had been allowed to grow up, but that would have required it's parents taking proper responsibility by knowing what they're doing.

Everyone has a responsibility to understand the implications and possible consequences of my actions. Ignorance is no excuse.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #677 on: March 28, 2013, 10:53:55 AM »
Well, now you're arguing that everyone should be aware of the current state of scientific research for everything.  Which is a)not possible and b)not necessarily helpful.

If I had morning sickness in the sixties I may well have taken Thalidomide.  It was there, prescribed by doctors, etc etc etc.  We all know how well that turned out.  Simply saying that "this is the current state of research" is no guarantee of success (my point b, above).

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #678 on: March 28, 2013, 10:57:07 AM »
@Sabby
Maybe, yes.  But I don;t think you can criticise the parent for giving the flat lemonade.  They wanted to help their child and made a decision based on their personal beliefs in absolute good faith.  Sure, that decision was wrong.  But that doesn't mean the parent's decision to do it was in any way morally wrong.

I can and will. When every bit of evidence and every person with any credibility says "This will harm your child", and you continue to take the harmful action? Well... we take kids away from parents for that sort of shit.

Ditto for religious parents.  They've made a decision based on their beliefs and understanding that they believe will save their child.  While the decision may be objectively wrong it was made for good reasons.
Intentions are irrelevant. Results matter.

And sure.  There is undoubtedly an entire edifice of work supporting the big bang.  But I, and I'll wager you, am taking that purely on faith.  I'm trusting that that edifice exists while making no attempt whatsoever to verify it.  The ether was a commonly accepted theory that "made it into my hands" or would have done had I lived a century ago.  It was incorrect.  Arguing that the science that the layperson receives is certain purely because a layperson has received it is actually ignoring the scientific method.
If you mean that we haven't gone out and personally reproduced COBE, for example, you're right. But we do have a presentation of the actual evidence by those who have gathered it, other huge sections of physics that make little sense without it, and a methodology that provides strong incentive for disproving widely-accepted theory. This was not true of ether, and is strong enough on its merits to lay overwhelming odds that the theory is at least mostly correct (there may be refinements or special cases we have not yet discovered, but the entire thing is highly unlikely to be overturned).

Offline SabbyTopic starter

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #679 on: March 28, 2013, 11:00:15 AM »
Well, now you're arguing that everyone should be aware of the current state of scientific research for everything.

No, I'm saying people need to be aware of their actions. The parents giving their baby flat lemonade, for example. They have no idea if it actually works, and they know their child is frail and also sick. A responsible parent would say 'wait a minute, I'm going to take 5 minutes to use the wonderful free information machine to see if this is right instead of just accepting what I was told as a child blindly'.

The parent who doesn't do that is being completely irresponsible and I have every right to criticize their choice.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #680 on: March 28, 2013, 11:00:44 AM »
Well, now you're arguing that everyone should be aware of the current state of scientific research for everything.  Which is a)not possible and b)not necessarily helpful.

If I had morning sickness in the sixties I may well have taken Thalidomide.  It was there, prescribed by doctors, etc etc etc.  We all know how well that turned out.  Simply saying that "this is the current state of research" is no guarantee of success (my point b, above).
...except that the current state of research on the side effects of thalidomide back then was "nonexistent". And TBH, no, you don't have to be up on everything; I don't expect you to be an expert on electrodynamics before you're allowed to use a lightswitch. Just... when it actually matters, taking five minutes to check it out and being able to tell good evidence from received bullshit should not be a particularly burdensome expectation.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #681 on: March 28, 2013, 11:05:51 AM »
Hmmmm.  I sense we're not going to agree here but thank you for taking the time to listen.  My problem boils down to - after having a fag and thinking about it - that for my personal point of view an awful lot of science seems to come down to an appeal to authority.  The situation is undoubtedly and unarguably different for people more knowledgable about various fields - be they professional researchers or simply highly knowledgable laymen.   But, well, take Oniya's comment.  I have no doubt that guy does have an excellent show.  I've never heard of him though.  So either I'm accepting Oniya as a credible source and thus him or I spend ages researching his history and qualifications before deciding to watch his thing - which I lack the inclination or frankly the skills to do.

However, as I say, I don't think we'll agree and further conversation might well be something more akin to arguing for its own sake (on my part, not necessarily yours) I realise I've kinda shot myself in the foot here by typing the above - it looks like some pathetic attempt to have the final word then flee, but I didn't mean it like that.  I promise.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #682 on: March 28, 2013, 11:07:44 AM »
You'll also find that, on the average, scientists are a lot more willing to say 'Well, we should look into this,' when something happens that doesn't fit their expectations.  The concept of the ether wind was actually disproved by two scientists (Michelson and Morley) who were trying to verify its existence.  Won a Nobel for it, too.

By the way, they still use thalidomide in very specific situations.

(I now feel old - Carl Sagan was one of the big names of my childhood.)

Offline SabbyTopic starter

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #683 on: March 28, 2013, 11:10:35 AM »
But, well, take Oniya's comment.  I have no doubt that guy does have an excellent show.  I've never heard of him though.  So either I'm accepting Oniya as a credible source

No. You either know Oniya is  credible source or you don't. I know she is credible, and reliably so, so I am justified in accepting information from her, to a certain extent.

We know science is reliable because the system in place constantly evaluates information. Just like light switches are consistently functional. I don't flip that switch accepting Edison on authority.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #684 on: March 28, 2013, 11:12:14 AM »
Kythia... I think you're overestimating the amount of time and effort basic research takes these days. When I said "five minutes" before... I wasn't exaggerating. That's about all it takes to check out the basics of anything you've mentioned here. You can call it "appeal to authority", but... I'm left wondering what isn't an appeal to authority in that worldview. Does this network count as support for quantum physics, given that it wouldn't work if we were wrong there? Or do you literally have to see everything with your own eyes? (Note: This is a very dangerous antiscience argument, usually used to promote the view that the earth is obviously 6000 years old and damn the evidence to the contrary - because you didn't personally see it happen.)

Offline Kythia

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #685 on: March 28, 2013, 11:28:26 AM »
Ugh, just because I feel bad leaving things unanswered.  Vanity vanity, etc.

...except that the current state of research on the side effects of thalidomide back then was "nonexistent".

Well, I'm confused.  That's the exact opposite of Sabby's point - that I should trust the system that delivers the headache pills to my chemist.

Quote from: Oniya
(I now feel old - Carl Sagan was one of the big names of my childhood.)

Arrgh, sorry. Whoops.  Id just assumed he wasn't known over here.

Quote from: Ephiral
I think you're overestimating the amount of time and effort basic research takes these days....(etc)

Perhaps I'm misunderstanding, apologies if I am.  My understanding of the arguments of yourself and others was that science gained a large amount of its credibility by making predictions that can be tested.  That that's what elevated it, in your (votre not ton) eyes above religion.  My point was that because I don't do that testing and, honestly, don't know anyone who does then that bedrock of credibility is, in my personal case, weakened.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #686 on: March 28, 2013, 11:38:52 AM »
Ugh, just because I feel bad leaving things unanswered.  Vanity vanity, etc.

Well, I'm confused.  That's the exact opposite of Sabby's point - that I should trust the system that delivers the headache pills to my chemist.
Well, that would be because I disagree with him. The very first thing I do when issued any drug, including OTC meds, is look up the pharmacology. Doesn't take long, has saved my life.

Perhaps I'm misunderstanding, apologies if I am.  My understanding of the arguments of yourself and others was that science gained a large amount of its credibility by making predictions that can be tested.  That that's what elevated it, in your (votre not ton) eyes above religion.  My point was that because I don't do that testing and, honestly, don't know anyone who does then that bedrock of credibility is, in my personal case, weakened.
I think I might be misunderstanding, actually. Why does it matter if you know them personally? What should matter is that the evidence is reasonably solid. (Failing that, say if you don't understand it, then credibility within the field would probably be the most useful proxy. long before Wakefield lost his license, for example, he was considered a dangerous quack by his peers.)

Offline Oniya

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #687 on: March 28, 2013, 11:52:12 AM »
Well, that would be because I disagree with him. The very first thing I do when issued any drug, including OTC meds, is look up the pharmacology. Doesn't take long, has saved my life.

That would be why they give us the drug info here.  I once saved someone's life by recognizing that - despite the allergy notes made on her medical chart - she had been given a scrip for a -cillin drug.

That said, errors on that scale are on the rare side, and get a lot of attention when they do occur.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #688 on: March 28, 2013, 11:55:35 AM »
Well, that would be because I disagree with him. The very first thing I do when issued any drug, including OTC meds, is look up the pharmacology. Doesn't take long, has saved my life.
I think I might be misunderstanding, actually. Why does it matter if you know them personally? What should matter is that the evidence is reasonably solid. (Failing that, say if you don't understand it, then credibility within the field would probably be the most useful proxy. long before Wakefield lost his license, for example, he was considered a dangerous quack by his peers.)

I'm gonna tie these two points together as they seem moderately related.  First off, though, apologies tp yourself and to Sabby.  I had apparently mentally lumped your two's arguments together as one, for some reason.

I think here we've reached what I was kinda groping for when I said we weren't gonna agree.  I could check the pharmocology, could check whether giving flat lemonade to babies was helpful (actually had never heard that one before, but you get the point).  I think it would take me more than your literally five minutes because I think you're underestimating the skillset you've developed by checking these things.  But sure, I could practise and get the time required down.  Obviously I could.

And in fact, in some areas, I do.  Or the equivalent at least. 

I'm unwilling (-able?) to do so in the general case, though.  I'm relatively content to allow most of these decisions to go through on the nod.  I don't, as mentioned, attach any moral blame to others who do so either (and I'm not alone in that - had the baby dehydrated and died there would be no murder charge, at least not in the UK.  "Tragic accident" would be the narrative).  I'll accept that thats a personal failing (or technically, I'll accept that you (vous) may view it as such).  But that means that a large amounf of things are purest appeal to authority.  I have no personal issue with that at all, thats how I choose to behave, noones forcing me to.  I think I may have wrongly extrapolated that outwards into the broader population.  I do stand by my belief that in a wide variety of cases a belief in the "scientific" explanation of x is not backed up in any way by a personal application of the scientific method, though.

But yeah.  That's kinda where I'm coming from and it doesn't seem like I'm gonna convince you that may way is inherantly and inately superior (/facetiousness).

Offline Saria

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #689 on: March 28, 2013, 12:01:51 PM »
Kythia, if I can offer a suggestion that might help:

It's functionally impossible for anyone to know everything about everything, of course. So it becomes necessary for us to just trust certain things to be correct. Thing is, people often misunderstand... incredibly misunderstand... just what that "trust" means. It doesn't mean that if someone tells you something, you decide, "well, this person has never lied to me before, therefore what they say is likely true." In fact, that's not true at all. My brother has lied to me a bazillion times before - he used to make a game out of telling me crap when I was younger! - but if he told me that his kids want this or that game for their birthdays, then I'll trust him.

So what exactly is going on there? The key is that you decide on the truth of something you hear NOT just based on who it comes from, but on whether or not they SHOULD know about that fact. Take Carl Sagan for example: I don't know him at all as a friend, so I obviously I would trust my friends more than him if it were just a matter of familiarity. If it were a question about whether I should do this or that with my life and circumstances I would trust my friends far more than Carl Sagan; they know my life and circumstances, he doesn't. (Obviously I would trust myself still more, because I know my life and circumstances even better than my friends, and unlike, say, an addict of something, I have no reason to doubt my rationality.) But none of my friends are astrophysicists who taught at Cornell and helped put a man on the Moon, so if the question is about space or physics, Sagan's my man.

The same applies for the flat lemonade idea. Suppose a mother hears from a friend that flat lemonade is great for coughs. She may like the friend a lot, and may consider them a very trustworthy friend... but unless that friend is a doctor, it would be stupid to take medical advice from them. If you want to know how to treat a cough, you ask a doctor - or, to be more realistic, a doctor proxy, like a respected medical help line or a website. But how do you determine "respected"? It's simply taking another step back and doing the same process. You find someone or something else that should know about medicine, and see what their opinion on the site is. If you're really concerned, you should also check the criticisms of that site, and how well respected the source of those criticisms is. The more important it is to you that a certain fact is true, the more work you should put into digging down into the foundations of its truth.

You don't need to learn medicine, biology or pharmacology to weigh the truthfulness of the flat lemonade claim. You just need to know that doctors, biologists or pharmacologists are more likely to know whether its true or not than some friend.

So I disagree with what you say about parents teaching their kids religion just because they believe it, no matter how strongly they believe it. If they really care about their kids, and about their kids choosing the truth - and if they really believe that their beliefs are true - they should challenge the kid to find the truth on their own, while providing them with the right critical thinking skills to do so. They should teach the kid, "do not believe what we believe just because we're you're parents, or just because someone else in authority tells you its true - check not only the reliability and honesty of your source, but also whether they should be expert enough on the topic to give you advice." Not, "just trust us because we're you're parents and wouldn't lie to you."

So basically my suggestion is: don't try to untangle the facts of a claim unless you have the expertise to do so yourself. And don't simply trust someone who has your best interests at heart. Instead, try to figure out who should have the expertise to know the truthfulness of the claim (and, obviously, no reason to lie about it), and ask them. And check the opposite opinion, and their credentials as well.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #690 on: March 28, 2013, 12:06:58 PM »
I'm unwilling (-able?) to do so in the general case, though.  I'm relatively content to allow most of these decisions to go through on the nod.  I don't, as mentioned, attach any moral blame to others who do so either (and I'm not alone in that - had the baby dehydrated and died there would be no murder charge, at least not in the UK.  "Tragic accident" would be the narrative).  I'll accept that thats a personal failing (or technically, I'll accept that you (vous) may view it as such).  But that means that a large amounf of things are purest appeal to authority.  I have no personal issue with that at all, thats how I choose to behave, noones forcing me to.  I think I may have wrongly extrapolated that outwards into the broader population.  I do stand by my belief that in a wide variety of cases a belief in the "scientific" explanation of x is not backed up in any way by a personal application of the scientific method, though.

See, my issue is with your conclusion that science is therefore an appeal to authority. It isn't. The fact that people generally find the authority (and the actual visible application of science in their daily lives, let's not forget that) sufficient doesn't change the fact that science itself is evidence-based. Authority is not inherent, it is granted in return for solid work.

That would be why they give us the drug info here.  I once saved someone's life by recognizing that - despite the allergy notes made on her medical chart - she had been given a scrip for a -cillin drug.

That said, errors on that scale are on the rare side, and get a lot of attention when they do occur.

That is... exactly what happened in my case. Freaky.
« Last Edit: March 28, 2013, 12:08:26 PM by Ephiral »

Offline SabbyTopic starter

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #691 on: March 28, 2013, 12:51:29 PM »
The chemist example might not have been the best one, since trial periods for mediations are getting shorter and less thorough, so yeah, some pills don't receive the testing they need before reaching the market. But that doesn't change the fact that a trustworthy system of peer review, like with science, is why we can reasonably say the world is older then 6000 years despite not having a thorough education in geology and extensive data we procured ourselves with tools and machinery and methods that we designed ourselves.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #692 on: March 28, 2013, 01:54:57 PM »
Well, in the case of the -cillins, the drugs are very well-known and well-tested by now, and do the job they are supposed to do (kill microbes.)  There are just some people that they have a similar effect on. :-\

Offline Vanity Evolved

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #693 on: March 28, 2013, 02:35:52 PM »
@Sabby
Maybe, yes.  But I don;t think you can criticise the parent for giving the flat lemonade.  They wanted to help their child and made a decision based on their personal beliefs in absolute good faith.  Sure, that decision was wrong.  But that doesn't mean the parent's decision to do it was in any way morally wrong.

Ditto for religious parents.  They've made a decision based on their beliefs and understanding that they believe will save their child.  While the decision may be objectively wrong it was made for good reasons.

And sure.  There is undoubtedly an entire edifice of work supporting the big bang.  But I, and I'll wager you, am taking that purely on faith.  I'm trusting that that edifice exists while making no attempt whatsoever to verify it.  The ether was a commonly accepted theory that "made it into my hands" or would have done had I lived a century ago.  It was incorrect.  Arguing that the science that the layperson receives is certain purely because a layperson has received it is actually ignoring the scientific method.

I think this is the slight difference; I find it completely fine to believe your friend that 'Hey, when I had a sore throat, my mother would give me honey or flat lemonade. It really helps!'. Unless your child has a violent reaction specifically to flat lemonade or honey, this is not harmful to your child; either it will sooth your throat, or it won't. If it does, woo. If it doesn't, well, that was a waste of lemonade.

Despite parents thinking it is a good thing, it can have -very- real consequences; I've met one or two people in my time who have hugely deep seated problems with their sexuality, one homosexual and one hetrosexual, due to their heavily religious upbringing. One constantly struggles with the fact that he's torn between his sexuality and the heavily imposed ideas his parents forced on him which he can't shake, and the female constantly blames herself for a couple of sexual relations out of wedlock. Sure, teaching your child the Bible because you believe it's good and Christian teachings are good in your mind can seem like a good thing - but depending on the level of teaching these parents give their children, you end up with the potential for hugely scarring beliefs you've forced onto your child in later life.

Offline TaintedAndDelish

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #694 on: March 28, 2013, 08:25:21 PM »

You would need to be a freaking genius to learn everything known to science and verify it yourself. You would also need to have a lot of spare time :-) This is impossible for most folks if not everyone.

For this reason, we need to trust one another but to a certain degree. Unlike religion, we don't resort to blind, unquestioning faith, but instead to a measured degree. The open nature of the scientific community allows for people to review, criticize, test and validate one another's work. Because of this we can be that much more certain that heavily reviewed and tested material is accurate.

How do I know that the 747 that I'll be flying overseas in won't just crash into the ocean? I don't know. I don't understand physics or chemistry or mathematics well enough to check and validate the vessel's engineering, but I trust the makers of the plane well enough to get on board. I have reason to believe that its been tested and proven to work.

Religions like Judiasm and Catholicism do not work this way. In these systems, the truth is administered by a select few. The church or synagogue or whatever dictates what is truth and what's not. You are expected to just shut up and trust blindly and obediently.

If the Vatican made an airplane and said that "No scientists were involved in its design and construction. Jesus appeared and told us how to do it", would you get into it and fly without it first being tested? What if the pope himself argued that he would not allow it to be tested because to question jesus's divine schematics would insulting to him, and would be a terrible sacrilege?






Offline Kythia

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #695 on: March 28, 2013, 08:42:29 PM »
If the Vatican made an airplane and said that "No scientists were involved in its design and construction. Jesus appeared and told us how to do it", would you get into it and fly without it first being tested? What if the pope himself argued that he would not allow it to be tested because to question jesus's divine schematics would insulting to him, and would be a terrible sacrilege?

LOL

Absolutely I would.  A plane made without any engineers or scientists?  If it moves then it'd be amazing, actually flying is pretty unquestionable proof of the existence of god.

I take your point though.

Offline TaintedAndDelish

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #696 on: March 28, 2013, 08:44:30 PM »
OK, that affirms your trust in said religious figures.  Fair enough :-)  I would not be that trusting - especially if as stated, it was not tested and would not be tested.



Offline Kythia

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #697 on: March 28, 2013, 08:47:03 PM »
Mmm, that wasn't quite the point I was trying to make.  But it matters not.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #698 on: March 28, 2013, 08:47:54 PM »
The Wright Brothers were bicycle mechanics...  O:)

Of course, they tested it first.

Offline TaintedAndDelish

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #699 on: March 28, 2013, 08:59:43 PM »
Mmm, that wasn't quite the point I was trying to make.  But it matters not.

( I hope my comment didn't come a cross as a dig. It wasn't meant that way, but in hindsight, I see that it could have been taken that way. I also misinterpreted your response a little. My bad.)