Richard Dawkins: The insidious attacks on scientific truth

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techstepgenr8tion
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23 Jan 2021, 9:17 pm

shlaifu wrote:
Well... The thing about the scientific method is that it's not the actual principle of action for day to day work as scientist. People don't walk around questioning everything all the time - they use methods they learned, often without questioning them. Only when things go really wrong, those methods are tested according to the scientific method.

That usually means they do mediocre work that gets treated as such. You probably won't see their names on a paper with Ed Witten.

shlaifu wrote:
That has been established by some of those "postmodern" sceptics, in particular the sociologist Bruno Latour, who went into laboratories and observed the people there like an anthropologist would - and asked people why they were doing the things they were doing. The point is not that the things were wrong - but rather that they were based on dogmas and unquestioned teachings.
Scientists, in daily life, do not rogorously test everything. They trust authorities and assume the authority has done the work.

This relates to a problem our culture has in all sorts of other areas as well - it's a bit like technocracy done really badly so people's capacity to act, sometimes even think or reason, gets sculpted around KPI's rather than showing up as a human being and engaging the content of their work.

shlaifu wrote:
The last thing, with former colonies reclaiming their culture and trying to frame science as "white" ... Well, science and capitalism dissolve cultures and identities. They were forced upon western society, and eestern societies have saved little islands of tradition and irrationality for themselves. But they didn't leave space for this for the subjugated cultures. What I mean is: here, you can be irrational, go to church, buy homeopathic medicines. There's certaon ways of denying science that are considered socially acceptable without totally breaking with a generally scientific world view - but those things are necessary for culture and identity.
Other cultures haven't been given the time to live along science and capitalism - and the exceptions we have aren't they same they would need to maintain their identity....
And stuff is only accelerating.
So I'm expecting some form of breaking point to be reached, if it hasn't already been reached - like in the middle eastern countries, for example.

Well, do remember you're talking to a non-physicalist.

I'd have to reject the idea that spirituality, religious practice, ritual, etc. are necessarily pre-scientific attempts at doing science that were just turned around backward, wrong-headed, and are now obsolete. Even just talking about the normal elements that most physicalists would agree with me on, ie. that there's an elephant and rider in each human being (conscious and subconscious) and that there's a lot you have to do for the health of the elephant, which tends to operate much more in the language of symbol. The deeper architecture of our psyches is wrapped around this sort of thing and honoring it is in a sense keeping up with our psychological health.

On that I do think Dawkins has had a way in the past of being particularly tone-deaf on that last piece (more so than Dennett who seemed to enjoy Christmas music during the holidays, taking part in ritual, etc.). I also got a laugh in one of the Dawkins clips somewhere on Youtube where he re-defined atheism as physicalism, when either he or the interviewer brought up the possibility of atheists who believe in the possibility of ghosts and his assessment that you can't be an atheist and believe in the supernatural in any sort of way - that's exactly the area where John Gray would poke fun at him on his conflation of atheism and physicalism.


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techstepgenr8tion
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23 Jan 2021, 9:18 pm

cyberdad wrote:
Again I don't see much evidence of what Dawkins is talking about?

Social scientists who invoke science as a trojan horse of western imperialism are not preventing scientific evidence from being published so this seems like a straw man argument.

He was talking about things more like #ShutDownSTEM or Audre Lorde's 'You can't tear down the master's house with the master's tools'.


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shlaifu
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23 Jan 2021, 10:05 pm

techstepgenr8tion wrote:
shlaifu wrote:
Well... The thing about the scientific method is that it's not the actual principle of action for day to day work as scientist. People don't walk around questioning everything all the time - they use methods they learned, often without questioning them. Only when things go really wrong, those methods are tested according to the scientific method.

That usually means they do mediocre work that gets treated as such. You probably won't see their names on a paper with Ed Witten.

shlaifu wrote:
That has been established by some of those "postmodern" sceptics, in particular the sociologist Bruno Latour, who went into laboratories and observed the people there like an anthropologist would - and asked people why they were doing the things they were doing. The point is not that the things were wrong - but rather that they were based on dogmas and unquestioned teachings.
Scientists, in daily life, do not rogorously test everything. They trust authorities and assume the authority has done the work.

This relates to a problem our culture has in all sorts of other areas as well - it's a bit like technocracy done really badly so people's capacity to act, sometimes even think or reason, gets sculpted around KPI's rather than showing up as a human being and engaging the content of their work.

shlaifu wrote:
The last thing, with former colonies reclaiming their culture and trying to frame science as "white" ... Well, science and capitalism dissolve cultures and identities. They were forced upon western society, and eestern societies have saved little islands of tradition and irrationality for themselves. But they didn't leave space for this for the subjugated cultures. What I mean is: here, you can be irrational, go to church, buy homeopathic medicines. There's certaon ways of denying science that are considered socially acceptable without totally breaking with a generally scientific world view - but those things are necessary for culture and identity.
Other cultures haven't been given the time to live along science and capitalism - and the exceptions we have aren't they same they would need to maintain their identity....
And stuff is only accelerating.
So I'm expecting some form of breaking point to be reached, if it hasn't already been reached - like in the middle eastern countries, for example.

Well, do remember you're talking to a non-physicalist.

I'd have to reject the idea that spirituality, religious practice, ritual, etc. are necessarily pre-scientific attempts at doing science that were just turned around backward, wrong-headed, and are now obsolete. Even just talking about the normal elements that most physicalists would agree with me on, ie. that there's an elephant and rider in each human being (conscious and subconscious) and that there's a lot you have to do for the health of the elephant, which tends to operate much more in the language of symbol. The deeper architecture of our psyches is wrapped around this sort of thing and honoring it is in a sense keeping up with our psychological health.

On that I do think Dawkins has had a way in the past of being particularly tone-deaf on that last piece (more so than Dennett who seemed to enjoy Christmas music during the holidays, taking part in ritual, etc.). I also got a laugh in one of the Dawkins clips somewhere on Youtube where he re-defined atheism as physicalism, when either he or the interviewer brought up the possibility of atheists who believe in the possibility of ghosts and his assessment that you can't be an atheist and believe in the supernatural in any sort of way - that's exactly the area where John Gray would poke fun at him on his conflation of atheism and physicalism.


Regarding mediocre science: well, yes. Latour wrote about a run off the mill laboratory, not an elite university or snything like that - but that's sort of the point: the elite university serves as the authority, the rest of the eorld just trusts in yhe methods they establish.
Again: there's very good reason for an average scientist to follow those, BUT it's not like infividual scientists employ the ideals of the scientific method in their daily life and check everything for themselves.

Yeah, I remember you're more open toan idea of some form of consciousness outside of plain materialism. And western culture has left sone room for you to pursue this interest, even though it's not cold hard materialism. I hope I'm not insulting you if I label it as "a notion of spirituality".... Maybe it's precisely that, actually: this vagueness. In other words: a vague spirituality does not pose a threat in any kind, because there are no rules or actions that can be derived from it. If science were to threaten a vague spirituality - at what point would a vague dpiritualist say: "this far and no further, I'm picking up my gun to defend my belief?"

My assumption is that people who are considering science and capitalism as white people's way of destroying their culture have defined a line, and science and capitalism did cross it - i.e., their spirituality isn't vague in that sense, but very clear and enactable.


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techstepgenr8tion
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23 Jan 2021, 10:53 pm

shlaifu wrote:
Yeah, I remember you're more open toan idea of some form of consciousness outside of plain materialism. And western culture has left sone room for you to pursue this interest, even though it's not cold hard materialism. I hope I'm not insulting you if I label it as "a notion of spirituality".... Maybe it's precisely that, actually: this vagueness. In other words: a vague spirituality does not pose a threat in any kind, because there are no rules or actions that can be derived from it. If science were to threaten a vague spirituality - at what point would a vague dpiritualist say: "this far and no further, I'm picking up my gun to defend my belief?"

I don't think their odds are good in terms of closing the loop on it - not just for it seeming diaphanous and hard to corner but because, empirically, it's a plausible story (Hoffman, Vallee, Jorjani, etc.) and it comes back a reminder that the universe doesn't arrange itself around comprehensibility in favor of religion, in favor of materialism, or whatever the top socially-organizing myth might be. That said I'd think anyone whose concerned would probably be speaking up against compelled speech, concepts of thought crime, etc. before it turned into a fight to keep the right to panentheism or animism alive precisely because it's a far more remote concern (it's like going after Sir Roger Penrose and asking him to denounce his written and public utterances on mathematical Platonism).

shlaifu wrote:
My assumption is that people who are considering science and capitalism as white people's way of destroying their culture have defined a line, and science and capitalism did cross it - i.e., their spirituality isn't vague in that sense, but very clear and enactable.

So on the practical level yes, this is probably it.

At the same time I have to wonder if these people have really partaken deeply in their culture's rituals. Especially if they have shamanic traditions or do anything equivalent to the guys I listen to on Glitch Bottle who work books like the Ars Goetia, Arbatel, Heptameron, Keys of Solomon, etc. and actually get the incredibly rich experiences that are available by going into an incense filled space, listening to drummers, and getting in touch with one's ancestors. Ayahuasca's just one angle of attack. Whatever is happening in the ceremonial magic space, the traditional African practices that made their way to the Caribbean and Brazil, they aren't small things.

I'd argue that it's a mistake to see them as assailable because the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and people who have eaten know that whatever this stuff does answers to something about the nature of consciousness that science just hasn't made proper contact with, it's probably more the realm of psychology and neurology but even here what the scientific community has had to offer - SSRI's - can't hold a candle, and they're just now starting to catch up with the research on psilocybin and seeing just how poorly the pharmaceutical companies have done at solving the problem. There are a lot of things about the human condition, about human fulfilment, that simply don't answer to at least 19th and 20th materialist tautologies of what should make us happy or what should lead us to most optimal functioning, and it seems like a large part of the problem was that a lot of lip-service was paid to complex emergence but very little respect for what it means for us to be sitting on top of 1 billion year old plus firm-wear stacks.

I think people who are worried about their spiritual practices and social customs, manners of dress, music, etc. in the face of science should remember precisely that - ie. that what they do is medicinal, communal, and that the power is in the practice thereof. As long as they aren't making their way to Sam Harris or Carl Benjamin's screeds on sympathetic magic and human sacrifice (like Carl's 'All Cultures are Beautiful') then it's really no one's business. Similarly if I want to light up frankincense and start carving pentacles and hexagrams in the air and invoking archangels, or chthonic deities, or if I'm doing it with others - so what. They'd need to break up football, baseball, soccer, spinning, basket-weaving, video gaming, stamp-collecting, painting, poetry, movies, and pretty much anything else that adds to life without directly informing us about fundamental laws of physics - and I can't think of any scientists, I don't even think Dawkins, who'd take fixations on objectivity as far as to say that all forms of recreation are 'of the devil'.

This is why on one hand I'm sympathetic to people's desire for pluralism, at the same time I see science and technology as the most likely thing to give us our 'wings' in terms of freedom from the consumer goods churn, solve the food shortage issues, give us the tools to fight both climate change and overconsumption. it's precisely why I'm deeply worried if and when people do strike out at science - and I really like the way Tom Bilyeu put it in his interviews with Gad Saad - the scientific method, applied, is your method for success in your life, it's like calling success and becoming the best you that you can be 'white' or 'patriarchal' then and then what... the good, ethical, and spiritual thing to be is... miserable and helpless? I can't wrap my head around what the end goals of that are.


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techstepgenr8tion
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24 Jan 2021, 1:26 am

About everything I was chatting above, listening to John Vervaeke on Time Freke's channel - really touching on the episteme of what I think we're dealing with well:


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24 Jan 2021, 5:20 am

Subject peoples became subject peoples because the west was more advanced in weapons technology than they were. So "learning Western science" is an effect, and not a cause, of indigenous peoples falling under colonial domination. And once conquered by Westerners learning science didnt keep the subject peoples of the non european world subject. Quite the contrary. Japan resisted European colonization because it embraced western science, and it rapidly became a major power in its own right. Japan defeated a European power in 1905 (Russia), not by rejecting science but adopting it (to build battleships and other modern weapons, and telegraph lines etc).



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24 Jan 2021, 7:16 am

naturalplastic wrote:
Subject peoples became subject peoples because the west was more advanced in weapons technology than they were. So "learning Western science" is an effect, and not a cause, of indigenous peoples falling under colonial domination. And once conquered by Westerners learning science didnt keep the subject peoples of the non european world subject. Quite the contrary. Japan resisted European colonization because it embraced western science, and it rapidly became a major power in its own right. Japan defeated a European power in 1905 (Russia), not by rejecting science but adopting it (to build battleships and other modern weapons, and telegraph lines etc).


That's all true, but the Story of Japan doesn't end there.
These events went hand in hand with nationalism, then fascism, i.e. a hardening of national and racial identity. Then Japan was defeated and shown some of the America's newest inventions. - and since then, all notable Japanese literature is concerned with the split between modernity and tradition. They established a work culture in which lifelong employment with one company - like allegiance to a feudal lord - became the norm, and still is, even though it's unsustainable/unrealistc since the 90s financial crises.
It seems like modernity is something that happens to peoples, and there are only few places that see themselves as innovating, the rest is trying to keep up and make it work with however their society is structured.

Other countries only started existing in the 1960s, and weren't given much help to get up to speed by the British, the Belgians or the French before they left.


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24 Jan 2021, 11:27 am

techstepgenr8tion wrote:
The_Walrus wrote:
When someone says “race is a social construct” for example, they’re making a scientific statement. Race isn’t something that could be discovered by biologists, but it is something which plainly exists and affects people’s lives, ergo race is “constructed” in the social rather than the scientific sphere.

My only trepidation with "race is a social construct" is that it's not one of those phrases that unpacks itself well and I never know by its content who means what by it.

AFAICT race is a construct of light hitting rods and cones in the eye and then being processed by the brain. It's a surface glance of skin, hair, and bone-structure that gives some sense of heritage but even here subtle distinctions mean a lot. On a genetic level apparently it's far less distinct than it is on the optic level. When people say 'social construct' they usually mean that there's nothing there but psychology or opinion but if that were the case we could change our race on a dime by deciding that we felt like we were something else.

The core deliverable, that race is genetically meaningless by itself, probably has more to it but there's probably a way to phrase it that sounds less solipsistic or has less capacity to be used that way.

Essentially, the idea is that race is about perception rather than reality. If someone perceives you to be part of a certain race then as far as they are concerned, you are... but their perception isn’t true. So when we make sweeping statements about races, we’re really making statements about groups of people who we have placed together. But if someone else with different life experience perceives someone differently, then that will affect how they interact with them.

Our understanding of whiteness changes over time. Once upon a time Italians were not considered white in the US. And what about mixed race people, or Armenians, or Turks, or people whose ancestry doesn’t match their appearance?



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24 Jan 2021, 12:08 pm

The_Walrus wrote:
Essentially, the idea is that race is about perception rather than reality. If someone perceives you to be part of a certain race then as far as they are concerned, you are... but their perception isn’t true. So when we make sweeping statements about races, we’re really making statements about groups of people who we have placed together. But if someone else with different life experience perceives someone differently, then that will affect how they interact with them.

Our understanding of whiteness changes over time. Once upon a time Italians were not considered white in the US. And what about mixed race people, or Armenians, or Turks, or people whose ancestry doesn’t match their appearance?

To tell people that what they're seeing is the manifestation of something that's in some sense real but that it's just the surface layer of something much more complex - complex enough to make the surface layer trivial - I fully accept that particular framing of it. To tell people 'it isn't real' or its 'socially constructed' and mean it in as garish a sense as 'it isn't real', that's much more in line with something like 'I'm going to tell you that something you can see clearly with your own two eyes isn't there - at which point you can accept dogma and be 'part of our group', or you can reject it and be in the outgroup'. It's an absolutely terrible way to handle information unless you're trying to create a kingdom of dupes and exile people who reason from first principles.


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