Register | Sign In


Understanding through Discussion


EvC Forum active members: 50 (9179 total)
1 online now:
Newest Member: Jorge Parker
Post Volume: Total: 918,221 Year: 5,478/9,624 Month: 503/323 Week: 143/204 Day: 13/4 Hour: 0/0


Thread  Details

Email This Thread
Newer Topic | Older Topic
  
Author Topic:   Common Sense
Straggler
Member (Idle past 180 days)
Posts: 10333
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 1 of 37 (487540)
11-01-2008 7:41 PM


A frequent feature of creationist argument is an appeal to common sense. Whether it be the behaviour of straight metal bars in curved space-time, the "self evident" truths of reality or the obviousness of design in nature, the notion of common sense as a reliable and valid measure of veracity continually surfaces in one form or another.
In this thread I would like to put "common sense" under the spotlight.
What is common sense exactly? (But let’s not get into a battle of dictionary definitions) Is it "common" or is it ultimately subjective and thus largely individual? Is there a role for common sense in science at all and if there is what is that role? The creationist contingent almost invariably treat the terms "sense", "reason" and "logic" as synonyms for "common sense" but just how sensible, reasonable and logical are common sense assumptions and conclusions?
How reliable is common sense?
Given the regular creationist appeal to common sense, whether directly or indirectly, I am also interested in examples of established science that would appear to confound common sense. In particular examples of common sense defying scientific principles that are accepted by pretty much everybody, creationist and evolutionist alike.
If promoted - Is It Science?
Edited by Straggler, : No reason given.

Replies to this message:
 Message 3 by RAZD, posted 11-01-2008 9:33 PM Straggler has replied
 Message 4 by Taz, posted 11-01-2008 9:36 PM Straggler has replied
 Message 6 by Brad McFall, posted 11-01-2008 10:43 PM Straggler has replied
 Message 24 by 1.61803, posted 11-03-2008 4:39 PM Straggler has not replied

  
Straggler
Member (Idle past 180 days)
Posts: 10333
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 9 of 37 (487592)
11-02-2008 11:41 AM
Reply to: Message 3 by RAZD
11-01-2008 9:33 PM


Re: common sense is world view applied to reality
Is there a role for common sense in science ...
No, because science needs to test all our understandings of reality, while common sense is just pretending that your beliefs are true.
I think that there is a role for common sense in science. Albeit a fairly limited one. I think common sense is a perfectly valid starting point for an initial hypothesis. However the key is to follow the subsequent evidence wherever it may lead without clinging onto this initial common sense assumption.
As for examples of common sense defying science that do not include the aspects of modern science that creationists find so upsetting:
  • Objects fall due to gravity at the same rate regardless of weight.
  • An object subject to no external forces will continue at it's present velocity forever.
  • The classical view of the atom tells us that all matter is made up almost entirely of empty space.
    These are all counter to common sense and would, I think, suggest that common sense is an extremely unreliable measure of veracity.

  • This message is a reply to:
     Message 3 by RAZD, posted 11-01-2008 9:33 PM RAZD has replied

    Replies to this message:
     Message 15 by RAZD, posted 11-02-2008 7:05 PM Straggler has replied

      
    Straggler
    Member (Idle past 180 days)
    Posts: 10333
    From: London England
    Joined: 09-30-2006


    Message 10 of 37 (487595)
    11-02-2008 11:50 AM
    Reply to: Message 4 by Taz
    11-01-2008 9:36 PM


    So a common sense conclusion is one borne of a sort of 'cultural' belief system?
    Where "culture" can mean those with a common world view, educational background or whatever else is relevant to the conclusion at hand.
    Is that kinda what you mean?

    This message is a reply to:
     Message 4 by Taz, posted 11-01-2008 9:36 PM Taz has replied

    Replies to this message:
     Message 11 by Taz, posted 11-02-2008 12:06 PM Straggler has replied

      
    Straggler
    Member (Idle past 180 days)
    Posts: 10333
    From: London England
    Joined: 09-30-2006


    Message 12 of 37 (487601)
    11-02-2008 2:52 PM
    Reply to: Message 11 by Taz
    11-02-2008 12:06 PM


    If you want to put it this way, sure. I see common sense and common sense conclusion to be the same thing.
    I guess I was just thinking of the fact that any one individual can be part of many 'cultures' resulting in various case specific common sense conclusions as opposed to one overall approach to common sense as a whole.
    The physicists in your example share a common education that provides a certain common sense approach to the ball rolling example you outlined.
    But the students in that physics class may well have very different views of what constitutes common sense regarding biological evolution, for example, as they may well share more in common with those of a similar upbringing and religious background than they do with their fellow physics students with regard to this specific example.
    However this is a minor distinction.

    This message is a reply to:
     Message 11 by Taz, posted 11-02-2008 12:06 PM Taz has not replied

      
    Straggler
    Member (Idle past 180 days)
    Posts: 10333
    From: London England
    Joined: 09-30-2006


    Message 13 of 37 (487602)
    11-02-2008 3:10 PM
    Reply to: Message 6 by Brad McFall
    11-01-2008 10:43 PM


    Re: ignorance and common "sense"
    Do you think that there are any scientific conclusions broadly accepted by all (creationists included) which run counter to common sense notions?
    For example the Newtonian conclusion that a body will remain in constant motion in the absence of external forces being applied.
    As a secondary school teacher I remember asking a class of 11/12 year olds their opinion on this broad scenario (a rock moving in space). They all were of the opinion that the object would eventually come to rest because "it would run out of energy" (or similar notions). Was this a common sense conclusion?
    I would say that yes it was. Are there other examples of such common sense untruths?

    This message is a reply to:
     Message 6 by Brad McFall, posted 11-01-2008 10:43 PM Brad McFall has replied

    Replies to this message:
     Message 14 by Brad McFall, posted 11-02-2008 6:03 PM Straggler has not replied
     Message 27 by Taz, posted 11-08-2008 5:55 PM Straggler has replied

      
    Straggler
    Member (Idle past 180 days)
    Posts: 10333
    From: London England
    Joined: 09-30-2006


    Message 16 of 37 (487623)
    11-02-2008 7:12 PM
    Reply to: Message 15 by RAZD
    11-02-2008 7:05 PM


    Re: common sense is world view applied to reality
    . I think common sense is a perfectly valid starting point for an initial hypothesis. However the key is to follow the subsequent evidence wherever it may lead without clinging onto this initial common sense assumption.
    The problem with this is that it is limiting your starting point, quite possibly to starting in the wrong direction.
    It took from Aristotle to Galileo to get beyond the "common sense" view to actually testing it.
    As long as the common sense notion is treated as a genuine hypothesis (i.e. something that needs to be tested and verified) and not a fact (as was the case with the example you cite) I still think common sense notions will provide an inevitable and valid starting point for investigation.
    But this is a minor difference of opinion really.
    What this thread needs is an advocate of common sense as a viable means of making conclusions. Any creationists out there willing to defend common sense over scientific conclusions?

    This message is a reply to:
     Message 15 by RAZD, posted 11-02-2008 7:05 PM RAZD has seen this message but not replied

    Replies to this message:
     Message 20 by Blue Jay, posted 11-02-2008 8:54 PM Straggler has replied
     Message 25 by straightree, posted 11-08-2008 5:42 PM Straggler has not replied

      
    Straggler
    Member (Idle past 180 days)
    Posts: 10333
    From: London England
    Joined: 09-30-2006


    Message 18 of 37 (487625)
    11-02-2008 7:16 PM
    Reply to: Message 17 by Cold Foreign Object
    11-02-2008 7:13 PM


    Re: common sense is world view applied to reality
    Comments admit that evolution is anti-common sense.
    But does contradicting common sense have any bearing on how true something actually is?
    That is the question.

    This message is a reply to:
     Message 17 by Cold Foreign Object, posted 11-02-2008 7:13 PM Cold Foreign Object has not replied

      
    Straggler
    Member (Idle past 180 days)
    Posts: 10333
    From: London England
    Joined: 09-30-2006


    Message 23 of 37 (487694)
    11-03-2008 2:47 PM
    Reply to: Message 20 by Blue Jay
    11-02-2008 8:54 PM


    Re: common sense is world view applied to reality
    I think "common sense" is most effectively used as a null hypothesis in scientific studies.
    A typical biologists answer
    I think you are probably right.
    As a starting point for investigation the common sense assumption seems, to me, to be a fairly reasonable hypothesis in most cases. As long as we don't insist on clinging to such starting points purely on the basis of desiring commonsense answers to be true, the evidence should ultimately win through whatever starting position is chosen.

    This message is a reply to:
     Message 20 by Blue Jay, posted 11-02-2008 8:54 PM Blue Jay has not replied

      
    Straggler
    Member (Idle past 180 days)
    Posts: 10333
    From: London England
    Joined: 09-30-2006


    Message 28 of 37 (488218)
    11-08-2008 6:43 PM
    Reply to: Message 27 by Taz
    11-08-2008 5:55 PM


    Re: ignorance and common "sense"
    As a secondary school teacher I remember asking a class of 11/12 year olds their opinion on this broad scenario (a rock moving in space). They all were of the opinion that the object would eventually come to rest because "it would run out of energy" (or similar notions). Was this a common sense conclusion?
    This is the same conclusion the ancient Greek philosophers came to. In this case, we are looking at the type of common sense derived from everyday experience.
    Yep. Which I think leads us to two conclusions:
    1) No matter how intelligent those forming the conclusions might be, there is no substitute for empirically testing theories in order to render them reliable.
    2) Common sense can be a very unreliable and poor measure of veracity.
    Both of which suggest that when common sense alone is the basis for an argument any conclusions derived are inferior as compared to tested scientific conclusions.

    This message is a reply to:
     Message 27 by Taz, posted 11-08-2008 5:55 PM Taz has replied

    Replies to this message:
     Message 29 by Taz, posted 11-08-2008 6:59 PM Straggler has replied

      
    Straggler
    Member (Idle past 180 days)
    Posts: 10333
    From: London England
    Joined: 09-30-2006


    Message 30 of 37 (488221)
    11-08-2008 7:10 PM
    Reply to: Message 29 by Taz
    11-08-2008 6:59 PM


    Re: ignorance and common "sense"
    Both of which suggest that when common sense alone is the basis for an argument any conclusions derived are inferior as compared to tested scientific conclusions.
    Not necessarily. I'd say that common sense is enough for me to believe gay people deserve happiness just like the rest of us no matter what christian liars and christian bigots say. I don't care what kind of scientific evidence you bring to the table contradicting this.
    To be clear I was talking about empirical conclusions regarding the nature of reality and the workings of nature. I don't think any amount of empirical evidence can ever tell us who should or should not be deserving of happiness (or anything else).
    Such questions are moral, social or philosophical questions. Science may provide facts on which some such decisions might be made better informed but empirical investigation is never going to tell us what is right or what we should do with that information.
    This thread was intended to be about the reliability of empirical conclusions and the role of common sense in drawing such conclusions.
    If you think common sense has a role in moral decisions as well that might be an interesting tangent.......?
    Edited by Straggler, : No reason given.

    This message is a reply to:
     Message 29 by Taz, posted 11-08-2008 6:59 PM Taz has replied

    Replies to this message:
     Message 31 by Taz, posted 11-08-2008 10:48 PM Straggler has not replied

      
    Straggler
    Member (Idle past 180 days)
    Posts: 10333
    From: London England
    Joined: 09-30-2006


    Message 33 of 37 (488293)
    11-09-2008 4:45 PM
    Reply to: Message 32 by straightree
    11-09-2008 4:32 PM


    Re: common sense is world view applied to reality
    For me, at present, not to use science to inform and conform your common sense is foolish.
    I am not sure what you mean by that?
    Can you give an example?

    This message is a reply to:
     Message 32 by straightree, posted 11-09-2008 4:32 PM straightree has replied

    Replies to this message:
     Message 34 by straightree, posted 11-10-2008 4:05 PM Straggler has not replied

      
    Newer Topic | Older Topic
    Jump to:


    Copyright 2001-2023 by EvC Forum, All Rights Reserved

    ™ Version 4.2
    Innovative software from Qwixotic © 2024