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Cenderawasih
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Hi all,

I discovered this site by accident after recently being banned from the mirror site scienceforums.net.

(The purported reason given for the ban was that I had been a member several years ago until likewise being banned. Apparently, unknown to myself, banned members are not allowed to return; it falls under their rule against "sock puppets". I suspect, however, the ban had more to do with my contradicting certain rather silly, that is, philosophically naive, claims made by certain moderators.)

First of all, I'm curious as to why the two sites are almost identical, in format at least if not membership. What's the connection?

My own experiences at the other site, I regret to say, were largely negative. There are two sides to every story of course, but my own feeling is that the vast majority of members on the other site, including the moderators, though scientifically knowledgable, tend to be not only ignorant of, but rather savagely hostile to, anything philosophical, which they regard as mere navel-gazing and semantic-rhetorical triviality. 

One unfortunate upshot of this naivete is that philosophically averse scientists (Hawking, Krauss, deGrasse Tyson, Dawkins, just to name a few high profile ones) have an unfortunate habit of saying very silly things about their own vocation, moreover, rehashing antediluvian doctrines long discredited by historians and philosophers of science.

My own interests are more philosophical--the philosophy of science in particular--which did not go down well at all. One almost gets the impression the Old Boys there would rather be wrong in blissful ignorance than to be corrected by (what they see as) an outsider, an intruder on their turf.

So secondly, I'm wondering if it's just my own paranoid delusions LOL. I'd be interested to hear from other members here and their experiences on the other site.

Best regards

Edited by Cenderawasih
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Hello and welcome.

Bans from other sites have little meaning here. If you want to be banned from this site, you will need to earn it!😃

Go ahead and post your philosophical ideas in a manner that promotes discussion. The only red flag I detect is your comment that "the Old Boys there would rather be wrong in blissful ignorance than to be corrected by (what they see as) an outsider, an intruder on their turf"

This signals to me that you are absolutely sure of your philosophical ideas and believe you alone are correct, and that you correct others who are totally ignorant. That does not bode well for a useful dialog. I suggest you be a bit less rigid in your own beliefs and a bit more accepting of other people's opinions.

You will find that, generally speaking, this site is quite accepting of ideas that might not be accepted elsewhere, but we do draw the line on blatent crackpottery.

Having said that, please post your ideas in the proper philosophy section and lets see how it goes. Good luck!

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6 hours ago, OceanBreeze said:

Go ahead and post your philosophical ideas in a manner that promotes discussion. The only red flag I detect is your comment that "the Old Boys there would rather be wrong in blissful ignorance than to be corrected by (what they see as) an outsider, an intruder on their turf"

This signals to me that you are absolutely sure of your philosophical ideas and believe you alone are correct, and that you correct others who are totally ignorant. That does not bode well for a useful dialog. I suggest you be a bit less rigid in your own beliefs and a bit more accepting of other people's opinions.

 

(My red emphasis)

Actually, quite the opposite, though I can see how the way I phrased myself could be easily (mis)read as arrogance.

Philosophy is hard! Speaking personally, I struggle hard enough to understand what the academic professionals are saying to come up with too many original ideas of my own. 

Oftentimes, then, I find myself somewhat reluctantly in places such as these playing more of a negative role. That is to say, providing evidence in the form of quotations and whatnot to show that the overconfident assertions and sweeping generalizations of other people are unjustified or just plain false.

For example, we frequently see blanket assertions of the type "Science is all about X" or "Science has nothing to do with Y". My own studies over the years have led me to suspect that perhaps the only (true!) generalization that can be made about science is "No true generalizations can be made about science".

Potential counterexamples are invited for discussion!

More particularly, my recent banning from the other site came as I was challenging claims from certain other established members (including some staff)--claims that seemed to me obviously preposterous-- to the effect that "science does not deal with reality", "science does not aim for truth", etc.

Are there scientists who feel this way? Of course! Lots of them -- they're known as scientific antirealists. Meanwhile, there are plenty of others who do not feel this way: the realists. Therefore, the above claims, understood as blanket assertions pertaining to all science and all scientists, are simply false; demonstrably so.

But, as I noted earlier, I suspect that correcting moderators on that other site, backed with evidence or not, tends to result in unpleasant consequences LOL. That was my own experience anyway, hence my wondering about the experience of others.

I'm perfectly happy to continue the discussion here if anyone is interested.

And thanks for the welcome. Glad to join you!
 

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Due to what appears to be a glitch on the site, I've been unable to start a new thread. Perhaps the moderators would be kind enough to move the following to whichever section they see fit, presumably, the philosophy of science. Thanks!

 

 

One of the mantras repeated over and over again by senior members on a rival site with a name very similar to this one is, and has been for years, something to the effect "Science does not deal with truth" or "Science has no interest in truth".

(I'll provide direct quotes and sources if required.)

Two tasks for this thread, then:

1. To demonstrate the falsity of the claim, and
2. More interestingly, to explore why people--who are clearly not unintelligent--would say something that is so obviously false.


Part 1:
---------

 I'll begin my refutation simply by quoting from a very small sample of distinguished scientists who clearly feel that science does deal with truth, that science is interested in truth, whether or not that truth is actually attained. 

 

"A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it." - Max Planck 


"In science, truth once discovered always remains truth"- Robert A. Millikan


"As a scientist I care about searching for truth" - Steven Weinberg


"There arises at once the question: should we consider the search for truth or, more modestly expressed, our efforts to understand the knowable universe through constructive logical thought as an autonomous objective of our work? Or should our search for truth be subordinated to some other objective, for example, to a "practical" one?" - Albert Einstein

 

The above list, all Nobel prize winners, could be extended almost ad infinitum. That said, it's at least logically possible, of course, that the aforementioned scientists, as well as all those like them, are mistaken (I personally consider Prof Millikan's comment challengable) or somehow deluded; that they think they are dealing with truth, but in fact aren't.

Consider, then, statements such as "Dinosaurs once walked the planet" or "The Earth is closer to the Sun than Saturn" or "The brain contains neurons" or countless others which could be adduced. These statements certainly appear to be scientific in nature, and speaking personally, I have not the slightest doubt of their truth. How about other members? At the very least, what we can say is that scientists who make such statements, whether right or wrong, are trying to say something true; they are "interested in" achieving truth.

Finally, one can only wonder what those who deny truth to science would say to audience members attending a meeting, hosted by scientists, educating the public about climate change perhaps or vaccines, who raised their hands at the end to ask:
"Is what you are telling us true? If science doesn't deal with truth, or has no interest in truth, as the experts on a popular science website insist, why should any of us here pay the slightest attention to what you're saying?"


Part 2
--------

This is where it gets interesting. Here's my own theory:

As far as I can tell, the website in question is overwhelmingly dominated by physicists. Modern physics, especially quantum physics, ever since the pioneering days of Bohr, Heisenberg et al, has been overwhelmingly dominated by scientific antirealism -- a grab bag moniker for all those opposed to scientific realism, the position that science aims for truth, scientific theories describe reality, theoretical postulates (e.g. electrons) really do exist, etc., etc.


My suspicion is that the abovementioned truth-deniers have probably read or heard somewhere antirealist doctrine to the effect that the epistemic warrant is insufficient for us to believe in the literal truth of scientific theories -- a fairly reasonable antirealist stance. But due to philosophical naivete, they have erroneously taken this to mean science says nothing true, or science does not deal in truth -- a position that is clearly absurd.


What do other members here think?

Edited by Cenderawasih
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P.S. Those who hold the (absurd) view that "Science does not deal with truth" or "Science has no interest in truth", on pain of inconsistency, will also have to refrain from any talk of scientific knowledge or scientific facts

Knowledge and facts are both, by definition, true. To exclude truth from ones pursuits is to exclude any possibility of knowledge or facts. 

Ask the local gentry.

You can't have one without the oooooooooooooooooooooooother.

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