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Author Topic:   Becoming Less Wrong
bluescat48
Member (Idle past 2360 days)
Posts: 2347
From: United States
Joined: 10-06-2007


Message 16 of 27 (476614)
07-25-2008 10:01 AM
Reply to: Message 15 by New Cat's Eye
07-25-2008 8:28 AM


Re: The goal
Even if we are, in fact, absolutely correct, our tenativity prevents it from ever becomming "truth" to us.

So we, ourselves, cannot have it as "truth" (even though it might actually be).

It might be "truth" in reality, but for us it will never be "truth".

It is good that we cannot have it as "truth." If this were the case we would still be in the dark ages. What was "truth" in the 14th century in many cases is no longer truth. To question the truth is to seek the truth.


There is no better love between 2 people than mutual respect for each other WT Young, 2002

Who gave anyone the authority to call me an authority on anything. WT Young, 1969


This message is a reply to:
 Message 15 by New Cat's Eye, posted 07-25-2008 8:28 AM New Cat's Eye has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 17 by New Cat's Eye, posted 07-25-2008 10:31 AM bluescat48 has responded

    
New Cat's Eye
Inactive Member


Message 17 of 27 (476616)
07-25-2008 10:31 AM
Reply to: Message 16 by bluescat48
07-25-2008 10:01 AM


Re: The goal
It is good that we cannot have it as "truth." If this were the case we would still be in the dark ages.

Non sequitur.

What was "truth" in the 14th century in many cases is no longer truth.

Then it wasn't "truth". "Truth" as it is used here refers to the actual objective reality. What was thought to be "truth" in the 14th C. was not actually the "truth".


This message is a reply to:
 Message 16 by bluescat48, posted 07-25-2008 10:01 AM bluescat48 has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 18 by bluescat48, posted 07-25-2008 10:40 AM New Cat's Eye has responded

  
bluescat48
Member (Idle past 2360 days)
Posts: 2347
From: United States
Joined: 10-06-2007


Message 18 of 27 (476619)
07-25-2008 10:40 AM
Reply to: Message 17 by New Cat's Eye
07-25-2008 10:31 AM


Re: The goal
Then it wasn't "truth". "Truth" as it is used here refers to the actual objective reality. What was thought to be "truth" in the 14th C. was not actually the "truth".

My point exactly. How do we know if what we assume as truth is in fact truth. The point is that many theories have been either altered or overturned thus showing what is believed to be truth, many in reality, not be.


There is no better love between 2 people than mutual respect for each other WT Young, 2002

Who gave anyone the authority to call me an authority on anything. WT Young, 1969


This message is a reply to:
 Message 17 by New Cat's Eye, posted 07-25-2008 10:31 AM New Cat's Eye has responded

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 Message 19 by New Cat's Eye, posted 07-25-2008 10:52 AM bluescat48 has responded

    
New Cat's Eye
Inactive Member


Message 19 of 27 (476620)
07-25-2008 10:52 AM
Reply to: Message 18 by bluescat48
07-25-2008 10:40 AM


Re: The goal
My point exactly.

Oh. I thought your point was that if we could have things as "truth" then we'd still be in the Dark Ages :rolleyes:

How do we know if what we assume as truth is in fact truth.

When it comforms to the actual objective reality.

The point is that many theories have been either altered or overturned thus showing what is believed to be truth, many in reality, not be.

But theories aren't believed to be "truth" in the first place, its tenative.


This message is a reply to:
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bluescat48
Member (Idle past 2360 days)
Posts: 2347
From: United States
Joined: 10-06-2007


Message 20 of 27 (476634)
07-25-2008 12:30 PM
Reply to: Message 19 by New Cat's Eye
07-25-2008 10:52 AM


Re: The goal
But theories aren't believed to be "truth" in the first place, its tenative.

Not believed, but accepted as truth until a more plausible theory is found. In the middle of the 18th century, most scientists accepted the phlogiston theory as truth, but this was overturned by Lavoisier's theory of oxidation-reduction which is still accepted.


There is no better love between 2 people than mutual respect for each other WT Young, 2002

Who gave anyone the authority to call me an authority on anything. WT Young, 1969


This message is a reply to:
 Message 19 by New Cat's Eye, posted 07-25-2008 10:52 AM New Cat's Eye has responded

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New Cat's Eye
Inactive Member


Message 21 of 27 (476639)
07-25-2008 12:47 PM
Reply to: Message 20 by bluescat48
07-25-2008 12:30 PM


Re: The goal
But theories aren't believed to be "truth" in the first place, its tenative.

Not believed, but accepted as truth until a more plausible theory is found.

They are not accepted as "truth", though. People might believe that they are "truth", but that is not a scientific position.


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 Message 20 by bluescat48, posted 07-25-2008 12:30 PM bluescat48 has not yet responded

  
onifre
Member (Idle past 1121 days)
Posts: 4854
From: Dark Side of the Moon
Joined: 02-20-2008


Message 22 of 27 (476644)
07-25-2008 1:20 PM


I think the main objective is to get people who would otherwise not trust science, because of that 'We are right' label, to start understanding science with the newly improved 'We are less wrong than before' label.

To me, this seemed like the whole point to the letter.

However, life is subjective. No matter how much evidence certain theories may carry, they will not be able to trump someones subjective experience.

People like to be right and as was stated in the letter,

because the underlying ideas themselves are alien and disturbing to many people, who have the feeling they know how to be "right" but have no idea at all how to be "less wrong," and for whom the whole thing sounds defeatist, to be settling for second best.

...we see that even when faced with 'facts' about any particular area of science, people will reject it on the bases of their own subjective experience being easier for them to confirm as 'truth'.

Truth however, is tenative, but only for those who continue to persue the question that was asked. For those with religious beliefs, they seek no further 'truths' because they feel they already have it.

So science may try to get closer to being 'less wrong', but people with religious belief feel they already are 'right'. Our goal should be to better present science, not as a dogmatic belief, but as a pursuit to being 'less wrong', that way both sides can feel that neither is trying to trump the other.

Rememer we have to be gentle when we slide in the facts about science into the creationists' back side:)

Edited by onifre, : spelling


"All great truths begin as blasphemies"

"I smoke pot. If this bothers anyone, I suggest you look around at the world in which we live and shut your mouth."--Bill Hicks

"I never knew there was another option other than to question everything"--Noam Chomsky


Replies to this message:
 Message 23 by New Cat's Eye, posted 07-25-2008 2:10 PM onifre has responded
 Message 25 by subbie, posted 07-25-2008 3:04 PM onifre has responded

    
New Cat's Eye
Inactive Member


Message 23 of 27 (476653)
07-25-2008 2:10 PM
Reply to: Message 22 by onifre
07-25-2008 1:20 PM


Good post, onifre.

I have one minor quibble..

For those with religious beliefs, they seek no further 'truths' because they feel they already have it.

So science may try to get closer to being 'less wrong', but people with religious belief feel they already are 'right'.

A little too generalized, dontcha think? I'm a person with religious beliefs but I don't fit your descriptions.

I think you probably meant some specific relious beliefs rather than in a general since, but still....


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onifre
Member (Idle past 1121 days)
Posts: 4854
From: Dark Side of the Moon
Joined: 02-20-2008


Message 24 of 27 (476662)
07-25-2008 2:43 PM
Reply to: Message 23 by New Cat's Eye
07-25-2008 2:10 PM


A little too generalized, dontcha think?

You are correct sir...that was a bit of generalizing on my part. I too have spiritual beliefs.

I meant more of a religious belief that forces people to reject tested evidence.

I think you probably meant some specific relious beliefs rather than in a general since, but still....

I did...:)


"All great truths begin as blasphemies"

"I smoke pot. If this bothers anyone, I suggest you look around at the world in which we live and shut your mouth."--Bill Hicks

"I never knew there was another option other than to question everything"--Noam Chomsky


This message is a reply to:
 Message 23 by New Cat's Eye, posted 07-25-2008 2:10 PM New Cat's Eye has not yet responded

    
subbie
Member
Posts: 3509
Joined: 02-26-2006


Message 25 of 27 (476670)
07-25-2008 3:04 PM
Reply to: Message 22 by onifre
07-25-2008 1:20 PM


quote:
I think the main objective is to get people who would otherwise not trust science, because of that 'We are right' label, to start understanding science with the newly improved 'We are less wrong than before' label.

To me, this seemed like the whole point to the letter.


Well, if that was the point, I certainly agree with it. Perhaps I'm getting hung up on the sentence:

In an enormous variety of distinct fields of inquiry the same general pattern is becoming clear: there is no such thing as "right," the very concept needs to be replaced with "progressively less wrong."

There is "right." Science is an endeavor to find that, or to get as close to it as we can. Certainly at the same time we are doing that, we are also getting "less wrong." But at bottom, the goal is not to become "less wrong," but to find out what is "right."

In fact, I think that the idea that science is not about finding out what is "right" is actually counterproductive. The world is full of anti-science types, and those suspicious of science. They would find solace in the concept that science isn't looking for what's right because there is no right. If instead it's all about getting "less wrong," it's a lot easier for them to say they're getting "less wrong" as much as science is, but in a different way.

The goal of science is to accurately describe the world. This goal only makes sense if there is a real world to describe, if there are "truths" about the real world for science to be seeking. There is a curious paradox that science is seeking the "truth," but will never label any of its findings "truth." If the point of the letter was to argue that science needs to make clearer that none of its conclusions are "truth," I agree wholeheartedly. But to argue for that point by suggesting that there is no "truth" is not the way to go about it.


Those who would sacrifice an essential liberty for a temporary security will lose both, and deserve neither. -- Benjamin Franklin

We see monsters where science shows us windmills. -- Phat


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onifre
Member (Idle past 1121 days)
Posts: 4854
From: Dark Side of the Moon
Joined: 02-20-2008


Message 26 of 27 (476696)
07-25-2008 4:33 PM
Reply to: Message 25 by subbie
07-25-2008 3:04 PM


There is "right." Science is an endeavor to find that, or to get as close to it as we can. Certainly at the same time we are doing that, we are also getting "less wrong." But at bottom, the goal is not to become "less wrong," but to find out what is "right."

I agree that there is 'right', and I feel that the way science approaches the questions is the proper way, or rather the 'right' way.

In fact, I think that the idea that science is not about finding out what is "right" is actually counterproductive. The world is full of anti-science types, and those suspicious of science. They would find solace in the concept that science isn't looking for what's right because there is no right. If instead it's all about getting "less wrong," it's a lot easier for them to say they're getting "less wrong" as much as science is, but in a different way.

Yes, and as someone who places faith in the scientific method I understand your point. However, those 'anti-science types', are anti because to them their subjective experiences are what matters most. So a dogmatic approach scares them off...like the paper said, no one wants to be in second place.

The goal of science is to accurately describe the world.

I will have to disagree to some extent with this. I believe the role of science is to collect evidence and give a qualified interpretation of that evidence. If that evidence brings us closer to understanding the natural world then good, however, it could have a counter effect and make the natural world seem much more confussing also...as with something like String Theory perhaps.

I think the GOAL of science is to collect evidence using the scientific method, the HOPE would then be that that evidence accuratly describes the natural world.

But to argue for that point by suggesting that there is no "truth" is not the way to go about it.

Agreed. But thats where it falls back to subjective experiences being much easier for people to place faith into than what science may be claiming about the natural world.

There is 'truth', this we can all agree on. But, 'truth' is something that is agreed upon by a majority. There is a majority of Muslims that believe the 'truth' is what is written in the Koran(many Christians as well with the Bible). How then would you express to them the problems with their 'truth', and then in turn have them agree that the new 'truth', which you are presenting(or rather science), is much more plausable than theirs?

Here is where the point in the letter is made about changing sciences views from 'We are right', to 'We are workinig on being less wrong'. This will of course be fuel for those who will still oppose science, but then again, what ISN"T fuel for those opposed to science? :)

Edited by onifre, : spelling


"All great truths begin as blasphemies"

"I smoke pot. If this bothers anyone, I suggest you look around at the world in which we live and shut your mouth."--Bill Hicks

"I never knew there was another option other than to question everything"--Noam Chomsky


This message is a reply to:
 Message 25 by subbie, posted 07-25-2008 3:04 PM subbie has not yet responded

    
Hyroglyphx
Member
Posts: 5688
From: Austin, TX
Joined: 05-03-2006
Member Rating: 1.3


Message 27 of 27 (476743)
07-26-2008 12:27 PM
Reply to: Message 25 by subbie
07-25-2008 3:04 PM


Semantics and truisms
In fact, I think that the idea that science is not about finding out what is "right" is actually counterproductive. The world is full of anti-science types, and those suspicious of science. They would find solace in the concept that science isn't looking for what's right because there is no right. If instead it's all about getting "less wrong," it's a lot easier for them to say they're getting "less wrong" as much as science is, but in a different way.

I think you have a valid point here, because if something is "less wrong," it still would imply that it is heading towards something that is "right." If something is "less wrong" then it is also "more right" by default. We may not be able to always ascertain what is absolutely true, but that is always what is being striven for.

There is a curious paradox that science is seeking the "truth," but will never label any of its findings "truth." If the point of the letter was to argue that science needs to make clearer that none of its conclusions are "truth," I agree wholeheartedly. But to argue for that point by suggesting that there is no "truth" is not the way to go about it.

Philosophically nothing else would make sense. Of course science understands this truism, as you share, but it cannot make such declarations in the form of absolutes. There is always something waiting to subvert it, and there is that curious part of us that just wants to see if it is possible. For the Laws of Thermodynamics, there are always the Maxwell's Demons waiting to prove the infallibility.

But perhaps it is like this: We all know that something like the laws of conservation and energy have never been demonstrated to be false. It is true always, as we know it. However, given these laws only make sense in relation to how the laws became laws in the first place (i.e. mass, velocity, gravitation, etc) they would cease to be absolutely true if we were under other conditions found elsewhere in the universe. But I suppose it is meaningless to talk about anything else, because should anything change the inviolable laws of physics, I'm pretty sure it would be catastrophic to humans, in which case, we wouldn't be able to relish in proving an immutable law wrong... because as a consequence of that law breaking, we'd all be dead.


“I know where I am and who I am. I'm on the brink of disillusionment, on the eve of bitter sweet. I'm perpetually one step away from either collapse or rebirth. I am exactly where I need to be. Either way I go towards rebirth, for a total collapse often brings a rebirth." -Andrew Jaramillo
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