1. Ramen.

    Mate, do you have the abridged version of that flat earth calculation thing. I was trying to find it the other day and couldn’t. Is it in a post, or was it a comment?

    1. What he did was pretty cool. Still doesn’t detract from my main message. If we were willing to listen to the experts, when warranted of course, we’d be far better off. I speak of climate change, agriculture, evolution; those subjects where experts are all agreed upon and where the evidence is clear. National Security is another thing entirely. This post is a bit tongue-in-cheek too.

      1. That reminds me that I was going to do a post on climate change – the evidence for climate change in layman’s terms, for non-scientists like myself. There’s so much misinformation and rumour. I mean, it’s fine to ask questions, be sceptical or disagree, but think for yourself and do some research. What’s that expression: ‘opinions are like ar*eholes – everybody’s got one’?

        Btw, thank you for challenging me with your posts on GM crops.

        1. Sooooo much misinformation. It’d be incredible if it wasn’t so depressing. And, you’re welcome. I used to be one of those idiots who didn’t listen; I like to think I’m not anymore. 🙂

      2. you are correct, but when did they ever listen to experts yet, till the game is in extra time, the reason i mention moscow Ed, is the terrible price the truth exacts, be a marriage, the economy, or the environment. neil young warned us thirty years ago, bob dylan, the list is so long.

  2. Amen…it would make the world such a happier and healthier place to live. Of course, I still have a hard time listening to experts as these days they seem to have some lobby-group or big-business financing their lifestyle. Sigh…I am not only an idiot, but a cynical one at that 🙂

    1. Businesses have lobbies, the experts don’t. The experts are usually public-sector scientists on issues like GMOs, Evolution, climate change, cosmology etc.

      1. Agree with you 100%, but the problem for idiots like me is that there is this perfect opaque system where it is difficult to tell just who is a real expert. Business has a mind of its own, with a focus to increase shareholder wealth which often means in today’s market, it is a short term view not long term. Unfortunately, industry leaders occasionally have their own “experts” and a slush fund to push those views to their audience, often at the expense of real experts.

        1. That indeed is ‘the challenge.’ But it’s a little worse than that because it doesn’t take a genius to realize who’s who. On climate science, who you going to listen to as a layman (don’t forget, I’m one too — layman that is), a climate scientist, or a meteorologist who points to a green screen? On evolution, will you listen to an evolutionary or molecular biologist or a priest? Of course, the issue is confirmation bias, and people choose their experts depending on if they agree with their pre-confirmed beliefs, so-called ‘motivated reasoning’ causes them to choose so. So my 20 word post is more of an exasperation than a solution. As they say, easier said than done.

  3. Scientists can’t expect to be treated like Middle age priests, and have there theories accepted unquestioning by the public.

    I reject this cult of the expert. I don’t have to be an expert to be able to rationally consider a theory and the evidence for and against it.

    I am pro-GMO, skeptical of anthropogenic climate change, know the universe is 14 billion years old, skeptical that all the diversity of life can be explained by natural selection but accept it can produce some speciation.

    I don’t accept ideas just because they are a held by an expert or academic. I listen carefully to what they are saying, also consider those who may disagree with the theory, consider the evidence of both sides and make a decision.

    Rather than railing against the stupidity of those who disagree with you (and believe me I am guilty of the same sin) we should look at our own theories and think how we can better explain and most importantly engage with those who disagree. The attitude of some scientific communities to skepticism (e.g. Climate change) is very troubling and damaging to the scientific endevour.

    1. Scientists don’t expect to be treated like Middle Age priests. That’s why they go through the process of peer-review, collaboration, disclosure of methodology and data etc.,. The data speaks first and foremost, not the scientist or his perceived authority. It is not a cult, as is often leveled against them. It’s not easy to get in, but there is nothing stopping anyone from getting in: put in the hard work, learn the subject inside out, do the experiments, publish the results, if it true, or close enough, you’re in. Doesn’t matter what color you are, what gender, what your results are, if it’s true it will eventually get accepted.

      You’re further along than most, but still commit the fallacy of thinking a lone human being (yourself) can judge the multitude of information there is on any given subject. Consider evolution, it is true, not because I said so, or Richard Dawkins, but because there are millions of pieces of evidence in its favour dating back 150 years. You can’t be expected to know all of them, neither can any one scientist, but they have all been accessed, re-acessed, reviewed, scrutinized again and again. You can no longer doubt them, only fail to understand that the scientific consensus is more than an opinion: evolution is a fact, just as the Universe is 13.82 billion years old. The same goes for climate change.

      In other words, your skepticism is great, but the final hurdle you haven’t cleared yet is the inability to see past your own limitations (at least, from what I understand from your comment). Your comment of evaluating the evidence of both sides illuminates this; human intuition is ill-equipped to contemplate millions of pieces of information, much of it on very different scales (very small or very large). At the end of the day, there is only evidence, and it doesn’t tell two sides.

      I think it was Brian Dunning who said this (not hte exact quote but the general meaning): it’s rational to agree with the scientific consensus if you don’t understand it, but it’s irrational to disagree with it for exactly that reason.

      Nice chat.

  4. Thanks for the response. I am a rebel and a skeptic so your <> is not something I accept.

    We can both accept as facts the timeline of life on earth (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_evolutionary_history_of_life).

    But I find parts of those facts that I don’t think Naturalistic Evolution explains well . To name the main ones: how did life evolve from non-life, explanation for the cambrian explosion, explanation for the human mind.

    As I have a Christian world view I don’t have to find ways that all the complexity of life on earth occured from via a purely naturalistic process. Those with an atheistic world-view need to do that.

    I am open that my Christian belief affects how I interpret these facts. It seems to me Atheists want to claim that there world view doesn’t affect anything of how they interpret these facts.

    Godel’s incompleteness theorem shows that all theories are based on unprovable suppositions. What are your suppositions?

    1. Hi Scott,

      Well, those facts that you mentioned, namely the transition from non-life to life and the human mind, are both things that science hasn’t yet explained. Doesn’t mean it won’t, but given the last 400 years of methodological naturalism, we have every reason to suspect that there is a natural cause. As for the cambrian explosion, there is a certain human tendency to think there was only a few forms of life one year, and millions the next. That’s not how it happened, the evolution of life over that time period happened over a period of at least 10 million years, if not more. There are still questions lingering over that period, but it was not the overnight event that many believe it to be.

      My suppositions are methodological naturalism. The world we see is consistent with naturalism. We’ve never had evidence otherwise (not good evidence, anyway). Godel’s theorem is correct, in which case, it would apply to God also. To make the case that God is the cause of the Universe, is to ignore the case for why should God be there? The case without god, requires one less supposition, and has an inexhaustible amount of evidence going for it (which makes a good case for philosophical naturalism). I can’t remember who said it, but a godly universe sure looks similar to a godless universe.

      Appreciate the discourse. Hit me back if you want to continue. (Sorry for the late response, working has been kicking my ass.)

  5. “The case without god, requires one less supposition”. I disagree.

    If you exclude God you need a cause for the coming into existence of the universe. The latest thinking from physists (i.e. http://blogs.reuters.com/faithworld/2010/09/02/god-did-not-create-the-universe-gravity-did-says-stephen-hawking/) is that given the laws of the physics we can expect universes to ‘pop’ into existence. But you need to suppose the laws of physics exist independent of any universe. So your first uncreated cause, is the laws of physics. My first uncreated cause is a personal God.

    Another supposition we both hold (I expect) is that the human mind can accurately observe and measure reality. It is unprovable, but we both hold it as true by faith.

    1. You bring up a good point, but miss one key thing. You don’t need a laws of physics to create that, the laws of physics come after. There’s still ‘stuff’ if you wish to be pedantic but it is as close to nothing as — so far as we can tell — it can be.

      So the ‘uncaused cause’ is the Kruassian nothing that is unstable, but that doesn’t need to be explained as it has no properties aside from the properties inherent in a system that must contend against the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle; whereas God has properties: consciousness, emotion etc, that can’t be uncaused. Those properties are extra-suppositionalist (I may have just invented a term :-P), compared to the Kruassian nothing that some physicists believe is the beginning of all things. So, I disagree with your disagreeance, but this is a fun chat. 🙂

      I slightly differ with your second supposition that we both hold as true. I think the human mind can create explanations for reality that ever more closely represent reality, but it will never get there. In the future, we may rewire our brains and achieve some asymptotic increase in its representation of reality, but we aren’t there yet. We just have too many cognitive, social, and memory biases that get in the way of critical thinking (everyone, I’m not denigrating anyone), i.e., critical thinking is not the default state, but in our present state, we’ve still come a long way, but only because of experiment and theory building up and across dozens of generations (no one person was able to do it on his own).

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