Science Is Not What You Think - new book

#2
Dr. Henry Bauer (who's been a guest on Skeptiko) has a new book out, which I'm greatly enjoying.
He is of course, famous for his opposition to the HIV=AIDS theory. In my estimation there are a number of tests that flag up the probability of dodgy science:

1) There are former senior scientists expressing an opposite point of view.

2) Those opposing the consensus opinion are called Deniers, Woo merchants, assorted other ad hominems.

3) Those expressing the opposite point of view are not able to speak at scientific conferences.

4) The conventional scientists do not seem to address the criticisms being directed at them.

His theory seems to tick all those boxes!

David
 
#3
He is of course, famous for his opposition to the HIV=AIDS theory. In my estimation there are a number of tests that flag up the probability of dodgy science:

1) There are former senior scientists expressing an opposite point of view.

2) Those opposing the consensus opinion are called Deniers, Woo merchants, assorted other ad hominems.

3) Those expressing the opposite point of view are not able to speak at scientific conferences.

4) The conventional scientists do not seem to address the criticisms being directed at them.

His theory seems to tick all those boxes!

David
Henry Bauer has recently made a post on the leading Web critical psychiatry / antipsychiatry portal Mad in America, which is directly realted to his new book. It is worth reading... and comments (including mine) are also intersting.

As for the bbok itself, it is effectively a summary of his life's work and his positions in the area of the Science and Technology Studies (STS).
 
#4
OK thanks - I have bought the Kindle version - I will read it shortly after I finish my present read!

I wish one or two people - such as Malf, BartV and even Stephen Wright could be persuaded to read this!

David
 
#5
He is of course, famous for his opposition to the HIV=AIDS theory. In my estimation there are a number of tests that flag up the probability of dodgy science:

1) There are former senior scientists expressing an opposite point of view.

2) Those opposing the consensus opinion are called Deniers, Woo merchants, assorted other ad hominems.

3) Those expressing the opposite point of view are not able to speak at scientific conferences.

4) The conventional scientists do not seem to address the criticisms being directed at them.

His theory seems to tick all those boxes!

David
Science works at at least two levels. The data gathering, measuring and observing vs the narrative of explanation. The public view is on the narratives. My focus is on the data gathering work of the main body of scientists. Your points are all about the narratives of science.

I see my position as sympathetic to H. Bauer, but different as he presumably brings expertise to the narratives he is critical of and I don't. Opinions, casual assignment and just-so-stories are not empirical science to me. Empirical science records the data patterns and analyzes models that can math model the structure of perceived processes. Hence, like Jean Piaget, I see structure as enduring --- and narratives bound to change.

As an example - Big Bang theory is an informational (mathematical) conjecture expressed as a narrative. To me, it is clearly distinct from the empirical data that forms the structure of the CMBR. The narrative is about the process structure of the the first photons escaping from the cooling of energy. I don't see the structure to the data changing and the natural values dovetail with the physics of just such an event. I see the meaning surely evolving in concert with new scientific structures learned in the future. I don't expect the CMBR to disappear.

This whole truth-laden science narrative is an illusion of the general public. The idea that any individual organism will have a truthful reaction to medicine is silly. The same medicine in different people can have opposite effects. The assumption of physics-like structure in living things is foolishness. Biological regulatory systems may have unexpected pathways to react.
 
#6
Science works at at least two levels. The data gathering, measuring and observing vs the narrative of explanation. The public view is on the narratives. My focus is on the data gathering work of the main body of scientists. Your points are all about the narratives of science.

I see my position as sympathetic to H. Bauer, but different as he presumably brings expertise to the narratives he is critical of and I don't. Opinions, casual assignment and just-so-stories are not empirical science to me. Empirical science records the data patterns and analyzes models that can math model the structure of perceived processes. Hence, like Jean Piaget, I see structure as enduring --- and narratives bound to change.

As an example - Big Bang theory is an informational (mathematical) conjecture expressed as a narrative. To me, it is clearly distinct from the empirical data that forms the structure of the CMBR. The narrative is about the process structure of the the first photons escaping from the cooling of energy. I don't see the structure to the data changing and the natural values dovetail with the physics of just such an event. I see the meaning surely evolving in concert with new scientific structures learned in the future. I don't expect the CMBR to disappear.

This whole truth-laden science narrative is an illusion of the general public. The idea that any individual organism will have a truthful reaction to medicine is silly. The same medicine in different people can have opposite effects. The assumption of physics-like structure in living things is foolishness. Biological regulatory systems may have unexpected pathways to react.
So every truth of the universe can be found in a lab?
 
#7
So every truth of the universe can be found in a lab?
In the context of two levels - science is about logical truth (small t). The "truths" - as answers to yes/no questions - can be combined into truth tables.
A truth table is a mathematical table used in logic—specifically in connection with Boolean algebra, boolean functions, and propositional calculus—which sets out the functional values of logical expressions on each of their functional arguments, that is, for each combination of values taken by their logical variables
Truth - (capital T) is a concept of metaphysics. I am not qualified to discuss the narratives of philosophy in depth.

Being truthful - is not found in the "lab" anymore, or any less, than any other human haunt. I would have personal respect for those whose heart speaks for them.
 
#8
This whole truth-laden science narrative is an illusion of the general public.
I disagree. As soon as science presents abstract data, and even before in the research narrative it presents for funding, it deals in allusion. This isn't just a conceit of the general public, it exists at every level of the scientific project. It's why Richard Dawkins (sometime holder of the chair for the public understanding of science) resorts to memes as a motivator of genes. Lacking any biological motivation at DNA level Dawkins adopts a story world the public can access and buy into. The data doesn't tell us anything except biological organisms exhibit change, so science has to provide a cause and give it a name and a backstory.

You can't blame the general public for seeing truthiness when science's moderators are pushing it wholesale.
 
#9
I disagree. As soon as science presents abstract data, and even before in the research narrative it presents for funding, it deals in allusion. This isn't just a conceit of the general public, it exists at every level of the scientific project. It's why Richard Dawkins (sometime holder of the chair for the public understanding of science) resorts to memes as a motivator of genes. Lacking any biological motivation at DNA level Dawkins adopts a story world the public can access and buy into. The data doesn't tell us anything except biological organisms exhibit change, so science has to provide a cause and give it a name and a backstory.

You can't blame the general public for seeing truthiness when science's moderators are pushing it wholesale.
Of course, you are right. My wording is poor. I am not blaming the public for thinking Dawkins is talking capital T truth. My worldview forces my opinions to see the structural data patterns (where truth tables can test logical inferences) from the distilled narrative. The public relies on the narratives and should be skeptical. I am aware that the public isn't going to start to ask questions about the metrics of data collection and if the narrative can be reduced with confidence to a testable model.

Science narratives are the product of human output and hence must be expected to show the contexts of culture and selection bias. People rightly seek Truth and expect truthfulness from science. But life comes as mixed results and science progresses even if it only gradually clarifying our natural understanding.

John Von Neumann is one of my hero's. He is someone who saw through the facade of narrative - to the deep logical meanings in patterned data. The narrative should be testable in pragmatic reality. Facts get tested either by observations of physical nature from physical events or tests by a simulation of data from events of communication, organization and logic.

The sciences do not try to explain, they hardly even try to interpret, they mainly make models. By a model is meant a mathematical construct which, with the addition of certain verbal interpretations, describes observed phenomena. The justification of such a mathematical construct is solely and precisely that it is expected to work. -J. Von Neumann
  • "Method in the Physical Sciences", in The Unity of Knowledge (1955), ed. L. G. Leary (Doubleday & Co., New York), p. 157
 
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