Mod+ 269. DR. MICHAEL SHERMER, SKEPTICAL SCIENCE REPORTING

#42
Why do these people get away with it?
More and more just on the basis of who controls the purse strings for research, who"officially" decides what will be allowed for academic research, and who will be banished if they dare think outside the box (intelligent design anyone?) And who controls the mainstream propaganda outlets (Wikipedia, science rags, corporate news media, Ted Talks).

The actual objective truth, some open-ended questioning based on intelligent reasoning, or good old fashion science - well, that seems to count for less and less these days. We seem to be on the verge of a new kind of medievalism, trading one cultish faith (christianity) for another (materialistic atheism). We're not quite there yet, but lately the materialists have become less and less tolerant of those outside their faith.

My Best,
Bertha
 
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#43
I have to say, I'm listening to the podcast and Shermer is driving me nuts. He just keeps coming back to the same thing: The only way to know the totality of reality now and for all of time is via this method that humans invented 400 years ago that is restricted to measuring material matter called reductionist scientific materialism. Just bypasses the fact that this belief itself is not 'scientifically' verifiable.
And every time he is confronted with an argument that suggests aspects of reality that may not yield to this method, Shermer's answer is: well, that may or may not be true but I don't care.

This is the kind of reasoning that get's him celebrated as a leading expert on these subjects? Essentially, we restrict our thinking to the parameters of the framework that appeals to me or I'm taking my ball and going home?
 
#44
More and more just on the basis of who controls the purse strings for research, who"officially" decides what will be allowed for academic research, and who will be banished if they dare think outside the box (intelligent design anyone?) And who controls the mainstream propaganda outlets (Wikipedia, science rags, corporate news media, academic publications).

The actual objective truth, some open-ended questioning based on intelligent reasoning, or good old fashion science - well, that seems to count for less and less these days. We seem to be on the verge of a new kind of medievalism, trading one cultish faith (christianity) for another (materialistic atheism). We're not quite there yet, but lately the materialists have become less and less tolerant of those outside their faith.

My Best,
Bertha
Agreed. People are privileging their attachment to whichever definitive cultural narrative they have adopted over truth.
 
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#45
I have to say, I'm listening to the podcast and Shermer is driving me nuts. He just keeps coming back to the same thing: The only way to know the totality of reality now and for all of time is via this method that humans invented 400 years ago that is restricted to measuring material matter called reductionist scientific materialism. Just bypasses the fact that this belief itself is not 'scientifically' verifiable.
And every time he is confronted with an argument that suggests aspects of reality that may not yield to this method, Shermer's answer is: well, that may or may not be true but I don't care.

This is the kind of reasoning that get's him celebrated as a leading expert on these subjects? Essentially, we restrict our thinking to the parameters of the framework that appeals to me or I'm taking my ball and going home?
Look, let's face it: a lot of people will believe an authority figure and what they tell them. I just watched an American Civil War documentary and I was astonished that so many Americans at the time marched off excited when the war first started. Like they were all going to some musical. Or that many Americans in the South really did believe there was a good justification for enslaving other human beings. And that if you were Christian, being a slave owner was perfectly acceptable.

Heck - in the US we started an entire war with a country that had nothing to do with 9/11. People are gullible. Put someone in a suit, make him a celebrity, or a president, and they'll believe a great deal what that person has to say.

Look at the middle ages, for centuries the church fought wars in the name of Christ. Could anything be more immoral and less loving than starting wars? Just to get back the Holy Land, or whatever the Popes at the time thought were Christ like? It's all pretty absurd.

I think the trick for intellectuals today - if you dare call yourself an intellectual - is to attempt to see beyond the blinders that are forced upon you by the current orthodoxy of your time. The current orthodoxy of our time - is clearly this reductionistic materialistic philosophy that has commandeered "Science" - as if the two were one and the same. What perhaps is even more astonishing with today's orthodoxy of materialism, is some of the best scientists of the 20th century (Wheeler, Pauli, Schrodinger, Heisenberg, Von Neumann) reached a conclusion about reality that was far from "materialistic". But when did clear facts (readily available) ever stop blind orthodoxy from asserting itself? How long did the church insist people believe the earth was the center of the universe? For how many centuries?

My Best,
Bertha
 
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Alex

Administrator
#46


sure but is that the kind of spirituality you want... not me.

The positive contribution to civilization by Christianity has been enormous.
compared to what... the Conquistadors? is the glass half empty or half-full?

Atheism has been responsible for enormous harm.
of course

but perhaps we'll do better the next round. maybe we can see past the manipulative social engineering tool religion always winds up becoming and find a better path to spiritual truth.
 
#47

is the glass half empty or half-full?
I'm not saying religion is perfect I'm saying criticizing it won't help in the debate with "skeptics" and that materialism is a more deserving target for criticism.

Changing the subject to criticisms of religion won't do anything to get past mind=brain because "skeptics" will never admit that the mind is not the brain because they would have to admit that religion was right and they were wrong and they will never do that. At the same time criticizing religion is exactly what the skeptics want, while there are much better targets for criticism which might have an effect on open minded people. Targets such as ... materialism.


I don't think social engineering is a good idea. I believe in individual freedom and competition of ideas. You can't decide what is best for everyone because each individual case is different.

The paradigm shift is not going to occur because the skeptics were made to change their minds. The source of the problem is the elite people behind the scenes who control government funding of scientific research. They don't want competition from a higher power. Plentiful funding for research on non-materialist subjects would change society instantly simply because the many scientists who don't believe in materialism would then be free to say so. The problem is censorship enforced by control over research grants and employment. It isn't the skeptics who are controlling this, it is the elite people who control the money. And this censorship is just one aspect of the much bigger problem of scientism:


Despite the title this is mostly about the politicization of science in society. It is not all about the current era or the current administration, or even entirely about the government. This video is not anti-science. It is about how science can be abused for ideological or political purposes.

Subjects include:

Appointmentt of Scientific Ideologues

"Why should the law not be able to prevent a person from having more than two Children?" John Holdren Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Co-Chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology​

Stretching The Scientific Data
Global warming alarmist claims (such as an increase of wild fires) that are not supported by science.
Coercive Utopianism
School lunch program that doesn't consider the needs of student atheletes or expectant mothers.​

Secret Science
EPA refusal to release data to .. people they don't like.​

Enlisting Science in the Culture War
President taped a introduction to a TV series that likened those who disagree with climate change to Nazis.
The Rise of Totalarian Science

Ecology
Coercive measures to control population. "The life of a newborn baby is of less value than the life of a pig, a dog or a chimpanzee." Peter Singer
Medicine and Biotethics
NBC (tv network): "It's pro-science to abort children with genetic defects" when such abortions are a question of ethics not science.
Faith & Science
Professors use science to promote their anti-religious views. One researcher who thought design in nature is such an obvious inference that "Young children can be taught basic natural selection using a picture-storybook intervention.
Free Speech
Use of of terms like "heretics" and "anti-science" for anyone who disagrees with the mainstream scientific view. NY Times refusing to print letters to the editor disputing climate change when the tradition of printing letters to the editor exists to provide views that differ from the editorial policy of the paper. Calls for the prosecution of global warming skeptics. Canceling of an interdisciplinary class on the "boundaries of science" that included a week on cosmology and physics data that supported intelligent design. Campus speech code banning science and humanities professors from discussing intelligent design.This is in contrast to the previous point where atheists are free to use science to argue for their opinions such as the need to ban religion. A NASA scientists was fired for sharing information about intelligent design with colleagues. A "Free thinker" mob threatened to disrupt a non credit adult education course at Amarillo College on intelligent design causing the course to be canceled.​

http://nypost.com/2009/10/06/white-houses-botched-op/



OOPS! A crowd of 150 doctors gathers in the Rose Garden to support the health-care overhaul -- as White House staffers scramble to hand out camera-ready white coats to those who forgot their own.​

In my opinion, if science can be abused for political purposes that doesn't mean that science is inherently evil and should be abolished. The same argument applies to religion. Religion can be abused but that doesn't mean religion is inherently bad or that it should be abolished.
 
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#48

compared to what... the Conquistadors? is the glass half empty or half-full?
Compared to human sacrifices conducted by the Aztecs, the Conquistadors were an improvement.

http://www.historytoday.com/tim-stanley/two-cheers-conquistadors
When Cortés retreated into Tlaxcala he was greeted like a liberator. The Aztecs had cut off trade with the Tlaxcalans, starving them to death and had only guaranteed their independence as a source of human sacrifices. Recognising in the Spanish a potential ally against their oppressor, four elders of Tlaxcala converted to Christianity.

Third, Aztec civilisation was on its knees before the Spanish arrived. It was struck by famine in the late 15th century, which was relieved by a series of wars with other states. Defeated soldiers were not killed on the battlefield, but captured and returned to Tenochtitlan for sacrifice. The Aztec rulers were convinced that the end of the world was nigh and butchered thousands to appease the gods. This was a culture obsessed with death: they believed that human sacrifice was the highest form of karmic healing. When the Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan was consecrated in 1487 the Aztecs recorded that 84,000 people were slaughtered in four days. Self-sacrifice was common and individuals would pierce their ears, tongues and genitals to nourish the floors of temples with their blood. Unsurprisingly, there is evidence that Mexico was already suffering from a demographic crisis before the Spanish arrived.
...
the disease that crippled Mexico may have been native to Central America. The invaders were equally affected and could not recognise the symptoms. The Aztecs did and they had given it a name long before the Spanish arrived because it had already dramatically reduced their numbers. They called it Cocoliztli and biologists today identify it as a form of Ebola spread by rats.
...
History shows that a civilisation will only survive so long as it deserves to survive. A society that grows so decadent and violent that it can no longer function can become sterile and self-destructive. As went the Aztecs, so went the Athenians, the Romans, the Qing Dynasty, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Most were overcome by force of arms, granted. But they had already begun to rot from within. While we may weep for the poor Aztec killed on the battlefield or conscripted into slavery we might also give two cheers for the Conquistadors for having purged the earth of a vile culture.

 
#49
I have to say, I'm listening to the podcast and Shermer is driving me nuts. He just keeps coming back to the same thing: The only way to know the totality of reality now and for all of time is via this method that humans invented 400 years ago that is restricted to measuring material matter called reductionist scientific materialism. Just bypasses the fact that this belief itself is not 'scientifically' verifiable.
And every time he is confronted with an argument that suggests aspects of reality that may not yield to this method, Shermer's answer is: well, that may or may not be true but I don't care.

This is the kind of reasoning that get's him celebrated as a leading expert on these subjects? Essentially, we restrict our thinking to the parameters of the framework that appeals to me or I'm taking my ball and going home?
You have a way with words, Michael. Welcome to the Skeptiko forum; I hope we'll be hearing more from you.:)
 
#50

sure but is that the kind of spirituality you want... not me.

compared to what... the Conquistadors? is the glass half empty or half-full?

of course

but perhaps we'll do better the next round. maybe we can see past the manipulative social engineering tool religion always winds up becoming and find a better path to spiritual truth.
See, Alex, I don't quite see religion the way you do. Religion isn't the source of morality, but rather, consciousness is, and religion is the filter through which that is apprehended. Morality is absolute, but religion is relative to the mindset of people of given times and places.

If you read the Gospels, you will appreciate that they are, as I intimated earlier, far ahead of their time. It doesn't matter if they're literally true or not, but you won't find anywhere that Jesus said anything to condone slavery, war, or injustice of any kind. And yet people calling themselves Christian have ascribed to such things, and some still do. Most people simply haven't yet caught up with the morality indicated in the Gospels:

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they who mourn,
for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,
for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they shall be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful,
for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure of heart,
for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they shall be called children of God.

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.


The "kingdom of heaven" isn't a literal place, but a state of being. What must it be like? Well, it's the kind of state in which the beatitudes become obvious, and contemplation thereof should help make them apparent to us. What does it mean to be a "child of God"? To have one's filters toned down so that this state can become progressively more apparent.

I'm constantly astonished by the great edifice of the Christian religion: how it defined sin and redemption and sought to frighten people into compliance. None of that is in the Gospels: there's just this man Jesus, saying things two thousand years ahead of his time: things that arrogant gobshites like Shermer are currently contending atheists have discovered arose materialistically through some incredible, absolutely miraculous accident.

It doesn't matter if Jesus existed; doesn't matter if the Gospel story is true or not; the fact is, that around two thousand years ago, someone was around capable of writing it: whoever it was, was plainly very advanced in a moral sense. Whoever it was, wasn't that much interested in religion; wanted, in fact, to transcend it.

Some people practice religion in this spirit: they know it is a matter of tradition, but use it as a kind of reminder. Rupert Sheldrake is one of them, for example. I myself don't practise Christianity with a big C, but in the very core of my being, the essence of Jesus lives on and speaks to me. More than anything, he tells me to be true to myself: to act out of mindfulness of what I know and what I don't know, which is also, as it happens, the true essence of science. But like religion with a capital R, it has accumulated a vast array of extraneous dogma; has become scientism, indistinguishable from religionism, governed by the same sense of false certitude.
 
#51
I have to say, I'm listening to the podcast and Shermer is driving me nuts. He just keeps coming back to the same thing: The only way to know the totality of reality now and for all of time is via this method that humans invented 400 years ago that is restricted to measuring material matter called reductionist scientific materialism.
I agree, science is limited.
Naturalism is a choice limiting the scope of science based on metaphysical beliefs, it is not scientific.
Science can't answer questions of ethics.
You can't reduce information, semiotics, mathematics, or scientific laws to physics and chemistry


Albert Einstein
“You are right in speaking of the moral foundations of science, but you cannot turn around and speak of the scientific foundations of morality.”

Ludwig Wittgenstein
... at the basis of the whole modern view of the world lies the illusion that the so-called laws of nature are the explanations of natural phenomena.

The laws of nature are descriptive. Science does not explain why the laws of nature are the way they are.

The best explanation for semiotics is that consciousness is non physical, and the best explanation for why the laws of nature are the way they are is a theological explanation.
 
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#52
I have to say, I'm listening to the podcast and Shermer is driving me nuts. He just keeps coming back to the same thing: The only way to know the totality of reality now and for all of time is via this method that humans invented 400 years ago that is restricted to measuring material matter called reductionist scientific materialism. Just bypasses the fact that this belief itself is not 'scientifically' verifiable.
And every time he is confronted with an argument that suggests aspects of reality that may not yield to this method, Shermer's answer is: well, that may or may not be true but I don't care.

This is the kind of reasoning that get's him celebrated as a leading expert on these subjects? Essentially, we restrict our thinking to the parameters of the framework that appeals to me or I'm taking my ball and going home?
Exactly.
Isn't it a bit suspicious to hear such a doubtless skeptic? Shermer really doesn't seem to be very skeptical of his own (mostly unwarranted) assumptions... The sole fact he's got a quick answer for "anything" is highly suspicious. Reminds me of a preacher... :D
 
#53
He just keeps coming back to the same thing: The only way to know the totality of reality now and for all of time is via this method that humans invented 400 years ago that is restricted to measuring material matter called reductionist scientific materialism. Just bypasses the fact that this belief itself is not 'scientifically' verifiable.
The scientific method works.
Providing evidence for and looking for evidence against your hypothesis works. (working includes things like: modern agriculture, sanitation, the computer you are looking at, etc.)
The last 400 years of innovation and human flourishing show that this method works.
Believing in things for which there is no evidence does not work.
Human vulnerability to faith (believing things for which there is no evidence) gives any eloquent psychopath the ability to do immense harm.

And every time he is confronted with an argument that suggests aspects of reality that may not yield to this method, Shermer's answer is: well, that may or may not be true but I don't care.
Because the thing asserted had no credible evidence.
"Credibility" might be our point of contention.
What you find credible, I might see as subjective and non-reproducible self-deception. You might see my demand for things like 'objectivie' and 'reproducible' as being narrow-minded and just being mean because it would take away any foundation for your tenuous, but cherished, beliefs.

OR, I might be misreading your assertion? Do you have another method for arriving at truth that does not rely on evidence, facts, and objective analysis?
Because I don't think I'll believe it.
 
#54
What exactly does Shermer mean when he talks about moral progress being due to science?

One thing he could mean is that modern transportation and communication technologies have made the world
smaller and made tribalism and the demonizing of other cultures and ways of life more difficult. At one point in the interview he hints at the expanding circle of empathy idea made famous by Peter Singer, and it could be argued that progress in science and technology has helped with this.

He could mean that Enlightenment values and ideas have caused people to fight for their rights and to fight for freedom and equality for all. He mentions Hume and Kant at one point in the interview and he does talk about the Enlightenment.

But I don't find any of this particularly convincing.

Granted that science does have certain values built into it, such as truth-telling and freedom of inquiry, but you can't get the ethics of Hume, Kant or the utilitarians from these scientific values alone. You've also got to factor in things like equality, dignity, empathy and a moral sense.

And as for science and technology bringing people together through globalization and reducing tribalism, this is a very rosy way of looking at things. But even if it's true, it only works because we have empathy and some kind of moral sense to begin with.

I'll just finish with one classic example of science following, rather than leading to, social and political change. Homosexuality was once classified as a mental disorder, but this got changed later on because of the gay rights movement, even though nothing had changed scientifically.
 
#55
What exactly does Shermer mean when he talks about moral progress being due to science?
From the book, "The Moral Arc", moral progress is defined as “increase in the survival and flourishing of sentient beings.” As a very simple example, science has greatly expanded our definition of what a sentient being is.
It has uncovered, through an understanding of evolutionary biology, the connections between humans (the whole concept of 'race' is a fallacy based on very minor genetic mutations) and other life on the planet.

In a broader frame, science increases our understanding of the world and replaces untrue beliefs with real information. It is harder to make morally correct judgments if you are basing those judgments on incomplete or erroneous information.
For example, if you believe that witches cause disease in your community and that witchcraft is a real thing, then you are morally justified in killing witches. We now know, through science, that disease has many possible vectors (bacteria, viruses, environmental contamination, nutrition, etc) but that 'witches' is not one of them.

If you believe that there is life after death and that not doing what the man in the funny hat tells you to do will lead to an eternity of pain and torture, you will do what the man in the funny hat tells you to do, up to and including genocide.
Science has shown that the man in the funny hat is just a man in a funny hat and delusional.

Your evolved mechanism for being able to tell right from wrong might be working correctly i.e. you are not a sociopath or a psychopath.
But if that mechanism does not have good information to work with, you will end up doing things that we will see, in the future, as immoral.

And that's the point of the book, morality is improving over time and the driving force behind that improvement is a growth in our understanding of the world, through science.
 
#56
The scientific method works.
Providing evidence for and looking for evidence against your hypothesis works. (working includes things like: modern agriculture, sanitation, the computer you are looking at, etc.)
The last 400 years of innovation and human flourishing show that this method works.
Believing in things for which there is no evidence does not work.
Human vulnerability to faith (believing things for which there is no evidence) gives any eloquent psychopath the ability to do immense harm.
Trying to teach your grannie to suck eggs, I see. Let me see now: what evidence is there that consciousness is produced by the brain? None. Evidence that there is correlation between brain activity and consciousness, sure. What evidence is there that consciousness is not in the brain? Quite a lot, but of course...
Because the thing asserted had no credible evidence.
"Credibility" might be our point of contention.

What you find credible, I might see as subjective and non-reproducible self-deception. You might see my demand for things like 'objectivie' and 'reproducible' as being narrow-minded and just being mean because it would take away any foundation for your tenuous, but cherished, beliefs.
Nobody finds your demands for objectivity and reproducibility as being narrow-minded. What they find narrow-minded is your assertion that there is no evidence for mind being separate from brain: there's bloody tons of it that you choose to ignore or aren't actually aware of.
OR, I might be misreading your assertion? Do you have another method for arriving at truth that does not rely on evidence, facts, and objective analysis?
Because I don't think I'll believe it.
Where's the objective evidence for multiple universes to account for the fine-tuning of universal constants? Could we ever obtain it? And yet many materialists accept that multiple universes exist. On what basis? All I can see is faith. Materialism is as much a matter of faith as you claim non-materialism is.
 
#57
The paradigm shift is not going to occur because the skeptics were made to change their minds. The source of the problem is the elite people behind the scenes who control government funding of scientific research. They don't want competition from a higher power. Plentiful funding for research on non-materialist subjects would change society instantly simply because the many scientists who don't believe in materialism would then be free to say so. The problem is censorship enforced by control over research grants and employment. It isn't the skeptics who are controlling this, it is the elite people who control the money. And this censorship is just one aspect of the much bigger problem of scientism:
In the past, Nobelists like Marie Curie, Pierre Curie, Charles Richet, John William Strutt, and J. J. Thompson and others of the best scientsts such as Sir William Crookes, Sir Robert Boyle, and Louis Pasteur studied psychical phenomenon or expressed "heretical beliefs" because funding for research was handled differently than it is today.


This is from an interview with Rupert Sheldrake:

http://www.thebestschools.org/features/rupert-sheldrake-interview/
...
In the nineteenth century, many of the most creative scientists were not professionals. For example, Charles Darwin was an amateur naturalist living on a private income, with no academic post or government grant. He was much freer as a result.
...
Now, the vast majority of scientists rely on salaries and are far more aware of peer-group pressure. In fact, the peer-review system for jobs, grant applications, and publication of papers in journals means that peer pressure dominates their lives.
...​
https://sites.google.com/site/chs4o8pt/eminent_researchers

Marie Curie (Nobel Prize for Physics and Nobel Prize for Chemistry) first woman to win a Nobel prize, first person to win two Nobel prizes, studied physical mediumship.

Pierre Curie (Nobel Prize for Physics) studied physical mediumship

Charles Robert Richet (Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine) Authored Thirty Years of Psychical Research conducted his own psychical research, believed in telekinesis, precognition, and that physical mediumship produced genuine paranormal phenomena.

John William Strutt (Nobel Prize for Physics) president of the Society for Psychical Research.

J. J. Thomson (Nobel Prize for Physics) member of the Governing Council of the Society for Psychical Research for 34 years.

Sir William Crookes: Discoverer of the element thallium. Elected fellow of the Royal Society in 1863. Royal Gold Medal 1875, Davy Medal 1888, Sir Joseph Copley Medal 1904, knighted in 1897, Order of Merit 1910. Invented the cathode-ray tube. Conducted his own research into physical mediumship and believed it represented proof of the afterlife.

Sir Robert Boyle (1627-1691) was one of the most brilliant scientists of all time. ... Boyle was the father of modern chemistry, the founder of the Royal Society of London, and the author of Boyle's Law. He studied spiritual healing.

Louis Pasteur pioneer of the "Germ theory of disease", discoverer of molecular asymmetry and stereo-chemistry, and inventor of the process of Pasteurization did not believe that life could arise through natural processes.
 
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#58
From the book, "The Moral Arc", moral progress is defined as “increase in the survival and flourishing of sentient beings.” As a very simple example, science has greatly expanded our definition of what a sentient being is.
It has uncovered, through an understanding of evolutionary biology, the connections between humans (the whole concept of 'race' is a fallacy based on very minor genetic mutations) and other life on the planet.

In a broader frame, science increases our understanding of the world and replaces untrue beliefs with real information. It is harder to make morally correct judgments if you are basing those judgments on incomplete or erroneous information.
For example, if you believe that witches cause disease in your community and that witchcraft is a real thing, then you are morally justified in killing witches. We now know, through science, that disease has many possible vectors (bacteria, viruses, environmental contamination, nutrition, etc) but that 'witches' is not one of them.

If you believe that there is life after death and that not doing what the man in the funny hat tells you to do will lead to an eternity of pain and torture, you will do what the man in the funny hat tells you to do, up to and including genocide.
Science has shown that the man in the funny hat is just a man in a funny hat and delusional.

Your evolved mechanism for being able to tell right from wrong might be working correctly i.e. you are not a sociopath or a psychopath.
But if that mechanism does not have good information to work with, you will end up doing things that we will see, in the future, as immoral.

And that's the point of the book, morality is improving over time and the driving force behind that improvement is a growth in our understanding of the world, through science.
Science allows us to understand how the world works, and a person can use this understanding to do a lot of good in the world. But equally a person can use this understanding to do a lot of bad in the world. So really science just makes people more EFFECTIVE at whatever it is that they're doing. There's no particular reason to think that it will make people kinder, less selfish, less violent, etc.

As for racism, I'm betting that socializing and making friends with people from other racial/ethnic groups has had a much bigger impact than some current scientific theory suggesting that the concept of race is unscientific.

The best arguments against God are philosophical, not scientific. See the problem of evil, for example.
 
#59
Trying to teach your grannie to suck eggs, I see. Let me see now: what evidence is there that consciousness is produced by the brain? None. Evidence that there is correlation between brain activity and consciousness, sure. What evidence is there that consciousness is not in the brain? Quite a lot, but of course...
Your contention is that you sense something happening (visual, auditory, etc), this is then transmuted into ghost material, thought about, and then transmuted back to the world of cause and effect (neurons)?
And that this 'ghost material brain' cannot be measured by any means known to man.
And that this 'ghost material brain' must exist and because it cannot be shown to exist by science, that science must be deficient in some fundamental way.
And that even though evidence-based thinking works in almost every other aspect of (for want of a better word) reality, it is broken when it comes to describing you.
Because you are special.
Do I have this right? You are using special pleading to defend this?

Nobody finds your demands for objectivity and reproducibility as being narrow-minded. What they find narrow-minded is your assertion that there is no evidence for mind being separate from brain: there's bloody tons of it that you choose to ignore or aren't actually aware of.
See the 'credible' part of my statement. I see a lot of reasoning along the lines of:
1. Some facts.
2. ???
3. Souls and life after death!

Those facts are comprehensible in the framework of evidence-based science. No soul required.

Where's the objective evidence for multiple universes to account for the fine-tuning of universal constants? Could we ever obtain it? And yet many materialists accept that multiple universes exist. On what basis? All I can see is faith. Materialism is as much a matter of faith as you claim non-materialism is.
The multiple universe theory is a way of describing the evidence that we have. It makes testable predictions (David Deutsch) and might be falsifiable (Everett). Scientists are now testing these predictions in the Large Hadron Collider. I think it would be fascinating if it is proven OR disproven. Because, you know, hard science like that is cool as hell. But at no point in the discussion, the math, the debate, the argumentation, does anybody put on a funny hat and say, "Because Jesus!"
Faith doesn't enter into it and saying that it does shows a fundamental (pun intended) lack of understanding on your part.
 
#60
Science allows us to understand how the world works, and a person can use this understanding to do a lot of good in the world. But equally a person can use this understanding to do a lot of bad in the world. So really science just makes people more EFFECTIVE at whatever it is that they're doing. There's no particular reason to think that it will make people kinder, less selfish, less violent, etc.
I tend to think that when people do not feel threatened, are not hungry and have an education not based on bronze-age religions, they are kinder, less selfish, and less violent.
But that's the optimist in me.

As for racism, I'm betting that socializing and making friends with people from other racial/ethnic groups has had a much bigger impact than some current scientific theory suggesting that the concept of race is unscientific.
Science shows that racial prejudices are just nonsense, at a genetic level, we are all very similar to each other. I assert that the rising tide of morality and moral acuity (being able to see what is moral because you are less dumb) did have something to do with the rise of education and scientific progress.

The best arguments against God are philosophical, not scientific. See the problem of evil, for example.
Nope. If that was true, the God crowd would still have a much stronger hold on us. Many faith traditions make claims about reality that science has shown to be false. There are still people who say that reality is wrong because it does not conform to what their religion says, but the cognitive dissonance for these people is incredible. To try to hold two mutually exclusive concepts in your head (reality v. 'god') must be exhausting and probably manifests itself in other anti-social behaviors.
 
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