Tuesday, June 19, 2012

"Are you saying that your don't think that your human brain imposes a reductive structure upon your perception of reality?"

The human brain is limited, and that's why science is interesting and powerful: because it allows us to overcome those limits, expanding our reality to include phenomena that can't be perceived directly with our unaided senses, but are nonetheless real. We can't see ultraviolet radiation (though other animals can), but we can "see" it with appropriate instruments. We can't actually look at the surface of the sun, because it's too far away, and because it would blind us, but we now routinely "watch" storms on the surface of the sun. A more pertinent example: you can't see bacteria, and throughout most of human history their existence wasn't even posited. I can't speak for you but I'm glad my doctor knows about bacteria.

I understand this last example is painful for you, because you feel you were harmed by psychiatric medicine. That's why I'm using it! I'm highlighting the fact that your dislike of medicine is subjective, as is my gratitude to medicine for saving my life on Sleeping Giant mountain. However the existence of bacteria is NOT subjective. The discovery of bacteria could be good or bad, depending on your point of view: Medical outcomes have greatly improved, but the reduced mortality has contributed to overpopulation. Ethics isn't simple! Humans could turn out to be great at science but lousy at ethics.

"Are you saying that "falsifiability" isn't a filter than excludes information ?"

No. Information is an imprecise term. I'm saying falsifiability excludes everything that isn't science, and that's a good thing for science. In fact it's a description of how science works. In other words, falsifiability is an AXIOM of science. When I'm doing science, I expect assertions to be falsifiable, otherwise they're just rubbish. When I'm making art, I can assert nonsense all day long (think of Dadaism), and that's fine because art isn't falsifiable.

"Do you think that everything is theoretically knowable by humans?"

This is way outside my area of expertise! But based on my limited knowledge I'd say: probably not.

"Why are you so invested in determinism?"

I'm not. Determinism is simply a description of a common situation in science: given inputs that generate a known and repeatable outcome. What you're really asking me is, why am I so invested in the scientific method, and the answer is, because I'm inspired by the results. I like the truth, no matter how disturbing it may be. (c.f. Hubble telescope)

"Is not the shifting baseline an egocentric assumption that is delusional?"

No. It's a failure of perception. Our senses aren't adequate for perceiving very slow change, and this exactly the type of area in which science excels. The only reason we even KNOW that our baseline has shifted is because of science, specifically Jeremy Jackson's science in this case.

"I feel as though when I question your ideas you get pissed off or hurt."

I'm neither. Really! I believe my arguments seem paradoxical and conflicted to you but I assure you that vice versa is also the case. From my point of view, humans are both capable of grasping the truth and capable of willfully ignoring it. I wouldn't call that a paradox but I might call it poetic justice.

"If you send me your ideas you should also be willing to consider my ideas."

I do consider them! I just don't agree with them. I also feel that in certain cases they lack sufficient justification or assert unsound reasoning, but this could just be a problem of rhetoric. I'm used to defending my ideas tenaciously and in excruciating detail, after years of practice.

"If I can change, or you can change, anything can."

Lots of things can't change, on all scales, from your (and my) mortality to the destruction of earth by the sun in approximately one billion years from now. The average mammal exists for a million years. So far we've managed 100,000 years, a mere tenth of the average. What is it exactly that you hope for? Another 900,000 years? Do you wish for a kinder, gentler period in human history? If so, how long would you expect it to last? Is there any precedent for it in human history? In non-human history? All species survive by some combination of competition and cooperation. Some have it easier than others. Many parasites are born, live their entire lives, and die of old age entirely enclosed in food (e.g. many of the bacteria in your body). Should we be jealous of this? Or should we feel lucky? I feel lucky!

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