Randomly Scienced

randomly scienced

Since a very young age, I’ve been fascinated with science (I first fell in love with cosmology). Every year since, my appreciation of science has grown – though my knowledge of it not considerably as much — one of my chief regrets. In this post, I want to lay out some random observations I have accumulated in watching the science vs dogma debate play out.

#1: Epistemic Dictatorship
One day I found a comment on my blog post in which a friend and I debated back and forth on God, the Meaning of Life etc. The commenter had asked what is life, that he could not imagine it as a meaningless pile of interacting chemicals, and wondering where consciousness could have arisen. Another commenter, after spending many days lambasting me on my knowledge of cosmology (he held philosophical opinion above observational cosmological evidence, so I should have ignored him but I foolishly didn’t); anyway, after such lambastation heaped upon me for wishing upon humanity an epistemic dictatorship, being scientistic, and ‘just another guy confusing cartesian bifurcation for reality,’ he responded to commenter #1, saying that since it was impossible for consciousness to arise by itself, it must have been created by a conscious agent. Circular reasoning at its finest.

#2: The Irony of Denying Evolution and Cap and Trade
In America, the religious right have fervently set it upon themselves to make war upon the theory of evolution for offending their presumed sensibilities, and also, against global warming, taking particular issue with cap n’ trade. Of course, the sweet jingle of irony never lingers far from those who hold facts at bay. They disdain cap-and-trade, because well, they are fixated upon the short-term profits from coal/oil/gas/shale, much to the detriment of the long-term health of the biosphere, and the rank and file Republicans, whom have been indoctrinated to tying their economic security to the elite factions of the party, have lapped it up hook, line, and sinker; that being it will irrevocably extinguish short-term economic growth (unable to see that other businesses and technologies will pick up the slack for long-term growth). Evolution at its finest; using shortsighted animal instincts to focus on what is here and now, with the security and safety of short-term profits, all the while ignoring, or keeping at bay the uncertainty of the future, i.e., they preferably express the lower-order thinking we have accumulated from our evolutionary ancestors, giving their neocortex a much unneeded vacation. (And though I do not wish to offend anyone unjustly, I can just find no other way to express it. This is not to say that only the religious right express such dimwitted sentiment, but they are, unfortunately, the most pernicious about it. To be fair, the left have their own share of madness; anti-nuke despite it being the safest form of power generation, and anti-GMO despite the fact that even organic food today is in some shape or form, genetically modified and all we are doing is replacing blind evolution with purposeful evolution – something necessary if the worst of climate change does occur and increasing desertification and seasonal rain find themselves obfuscating our attempts at growing food.)

#3: Anti-Scientists
Then we have the anti-science people (in a more general sense), whom look to science’s past to discredit its present. These invariably crop up in science vs religion debates – usually invoking Stalin’s and Pol Pot’s atheistic, materialistic agenda, Nazi eugenics, Soviet Lysenkoism, or upon matters of white racial superiority.

These arguments fail flat for several different reasons. Firstly, and as most secularists are aware; the ‘atheistic‘ regimes of Stalin and Pol Pot denounced religion on the surface, but in reality, simply replaced the God in religion with the State. It was merely religion in another form and speaks more so than other examples to the danger of religion than of atheism. (Besides, the new atheist movement is not about just being an atheist. In fact, that is the last thing it is about. It is about using reason and empirically sound and validated methodologies to improve the lot of everyone.)

Back to the charge however of anti-scientism, and to attack their proposition directly; they assume – one might say demand – science must have gone from 0 to 60 immediately (0 being the blind superstition of our ancestors, and 60 being scientifically where we find ourselves now), without first passing through 1 to 59. (As if the Pentateuch, New Testament, and Quran just fell from the sky in one piece, instead of being the accumulated baggage of earlier religions and cultures – and that first religion from which the others derived, whatever it might have been, it is reasonably safe to say, was based on ignorance of nature.) Yet, while many excuses are made for religions failing in the past and present (and let’s face it, future), they point to science as if it was a cohesive, secular, and centralized entity that popped out of nowhere, and unable to find many solid examples of its failing today, look to its ignorant past so they may continue their smear campaign. (I am not insinuating that science is perfect. Far from it; from publication bias, to reporting bias, to funding bias, to inefficiencies in the peer-review system, to taxpayer research thrown behind paywalls. Science has a lot to set straight, but, as is so often the case with science, one by one, they are slowly but surely being tackled and will eventually be overcome.)

To go through the charges one by one. There was no basis for Lysenkoism empirically, especially as established as natural selection was then, so while it may have hidden under the veneer of science; did not make it so. The soviet famines caused by such blind faith in Lamarckism was not exemplified by a scientific attitude, but unwarranted faith in an unscientific geneticist who put his faith before reality.

Now take racial superiority, which for thousands of years was coddled by the religious texts of the world. The churches instilled into the white, ignorant populations under their domain the required incentive to rationalize the subjugation of non-whites, and thus to the educated elite of their day seek meaning where there was none – this latter trait is basic human nature; all humanity suffer from its thorny thistles – to prove white superiority instead of deducing from first principles; namely, nature. (Scientists aren’t gods; they are subject to the same biases and agendas of power as were others. The word scientist didn’t even exist until 1833, so to speak of scientists before that is somewhat meaningless, they were just people with all their biases, shortcomings, and blind spots. For all of Newton’s genius, he was an alchemist, and Darwin set forth on the HMS Beagle to prove the truth of the Bible, and then almost didn’t publish his On The Origin Of Species for fear of backlash. And Galileo regarded the Bible as an alternate source of truth just as much as nature herself.)

There is also the further myth propagated into the European zeitgeist in that they were high, mighty, and superior to all others because they were the first to practice some proto-scientific methodology. Many religious people give credit (or take credit rather) for the church for harboring the scientific method and universities during the conflicts and plagues of Europe, which they indeed did, but they ignore the fact that it was only because the Saracens (Muslims as they arrogantly called them) had bought with them from the orient the translated works of Ptolemy, Aristotle, Plato, Euclid, Hippocrates, and the wisdom of the ancient Greeks, which they had translated, copied, incorporated, and spent 400 years theorizing and building upon with funding from the caliphs (who considered it their duty to learn more of the world, and so poured money into scholarship and the building of huge libraries compiling such great works of knowledge as the Booking of Healing and the Canon of Medicine, the latter being a million words long). In the process far surpassing the superstitious peasants subjugated to the feudalistic and petty lords making war upon another over in ‘high and mighty‘ Europe. Though eventually, this constant warring would prove beneficial as it did not allow the rot of stagnation to take hold and thus encouraged innovation in the machinery of war, productivity, and agriculture – but which only took hold after the Muslims had bought all their knowledge and shared it freely. By the sheer dumb luck of being so ignorant that war was inevitable were the conditions so fortuitous, and thus paved the way, for the enlightenment; not forgetting the Muslims bringing with them the translated knowledge of the ancients, as well as their own formidable knowledge-bank. During the end of the 12th century, the scientific decline of the Islamic empire began as they began pursuing spirituality as opposed to science or knowledge for its own sake – such was also the case with China. It is only very recent that knowledge has begun being pursued for its own sake on a large-scale.

To attempt to taint science’s past – which is much younger than many people think) – to discredit its present is akin to watching a 12-month old baby take its first steps, watch it fall down several times, then tell it stop trying for fear of further failure and telling the young chap that crawling is a superior method of transportation (read: truth). Then, once the cute little baby figures out how to walk on its own and starts running and then jumping, they continuously point to those first few steps as prove that the baby started failing first, therefore every step it takes is to be looked upon as suspicious, and not proof that walking/running/jumping is superior to crawling. This, in a nutshell, is what people mean when they say science is an epistemic dictatorship, or refer to its practitioners as scientistic, and bladdy blah blah >>insert meaningless insult here<<.

Where the mindset comes from that demands reality conform to our subjectivity instead of the other way around, I will never understand. Never will I ever. And some of these people have the balls to call scientists arrogant for wanting to know the way the world really works…

The Connection Between Government and Alcohol

Recently, I wrote a post titled Religion, Milk, and Education. In it, I explored the connection between religious belief and the emotional attachment we have to cow’s milk, and briefly iterated how it related to our educational system today. It was my most popular post, and the neurons in my brain, newly tuned and primed (via dopamine) to the connective influences between disparate links in our society, thought up this post. The connection between Government and Alcohol.

In this year of 2012, we have (and had) elections ranging around the world. From France, where they recently elected a socialist by the name of Francois Hollande, and soon in the USA, where they will decide between the aesthetically pleasing and benign Barack Obama, and the sloppy flip-floppy Mitt Romney.

Continue reading “The Connection Between Government and Alcohol”

Why Is Politics Still Relevant?

I really feel the need to ask this question. I have been watching a lot of political commentary lately, and reading about it on the web, and I can’t for the life of me understand why politics is still relevant.

Democracy was invented thousands of years ago in Athens. It was created at a time when we didn’t have all the answers to everything that’s happening around us, and thus philosophy was used to arrive at the most rational answer, which while good for the time, isn’t so great today. As Stephen Hawking said in ‘The Grand Design’, “Philosophy is dead. Philosophy has not kept up with modern developments in Science…”. And he’s right. Philosophy and science are no longer comparable.

I feel, much in the same way that philosophy’s relevance is waning, that the relevance of politics should also be declining along with it, but I am not seeing this happen in the world around me. It seems to me, that it is rising. This year we have elections going on around the world, most noteworthy is the American Presidential Election later this year. We’ve had months upon months of republican primary posturing, talking points, ads, backstabbing, news coverage, debates and all the BS that accompanies such things.

They keep going on and on, on how Obama is destroying the country, and blah blah blah and they debate back and forth on the best way to do this and that. Political whim’s and economic talking points of which little is based on fact. All designed to increase a politicians popularity, increase his chances of wining the primary, and eventually the presidency. In short, it’s all pandering.

But my question is, why is politics still even relevant? Politics is run on the whims and opinions of people, which can be and often are wrong and biased. It’s just as easy to believe in a lie, as it is to believe in the truth. All you need to do is keep repeating the lie; Eventually it sticks.

On matters of the economy, health, education and all things relevant to the modern world, science and mathematics provide most of the basic answers already. We can come to the best, most efficient conclusions through statistics, studies, experiments using the scientific method to arrive at the most suitable solution to todays problems, so why so much pandering? Why so much BS? Why such radical different solutions to the same problem? Why are most of these solutions also BS?

It’s unbelievable that in this modern age, we are using social tools invented thousands of years ago to discuss modern problems. Especially when we have the necessary tools and methods to solve it ourselves so much better.

The problem is two-fold; First off, a misinformed populace, and the second that politicians live inside their bubble, and you can’t evolve and update a system from within it. It’s hard to think outside the box when you’ve spent your whole life in the box and disconnected from reality on top of that!

The first problem is greater than the second. Politicians derive their power from us. There is an invisible balance of power between the government and the people. The government does everything in its power to distract the people, give them the freebies they need while they do their work behind the scenes tipping the balance of power to their side. On the other hand, the people lap up the entertainment whether it be feeding Christians to the lions, or watching the NFL.

Who takes the time these days to really research how their country is run? How the democratic process has been usurped, or how much of the power lies with the state. A few do, most don’t care. Presuming safety in numbers, and that this time is different, this time democracy will remain uncorrupted. It’s almost amazing at how easy it is to numb a populace. It just takes time, and a bit of distraction.

Why Doesn’t Ron Paul Get Any Love?

It’s fascinating watching the american media covering the Presidential race. Well, not so much fascinating as mind-blowing as its so blatantly obvious that the media is pulling their own agenda in regards to whom are eligible as the next candidates. As such, a candidate like Ron Paul gets next to no coverage whatsoever.

I believe the reason is, is that Ron Paul threatens the establishment. As is plainly obvious, the corporations of America have taken controlled of its government, and the way they did it was not hard at all. Bribery is legal, campaign donations are legal, and only come if the candidate or party they donate to propagate their viewpoints. This upper level of society has in a way usurped power from the democracy. Such as the military industrial complex, that FDR warned Americans about 50 years ago, that thrives on perpetual war. They will fight tooth and nail before any troops are ever called home. They make too much money from death and destruction to care about spending trillions of dollars that America doesn’t have. Like the food giants who make it ever difficult for small farmers to get their products to market, and use dangerous chemicals to streamline the food production system that threaten the lives of millions. Ron Paul threatens everything that doesn’t make sense, and that is why he gets no coverage at all.

Ron Paul’s mission is to cut the waste out of government. He wants to bring the troops home from Afghanistan and Iraq, and the 250,000 other troops stationed around the world for no reason. This costs a huge amount of money, and is no longer required. He wants to cut down on the size of the government, to only its essential functions and leave the rest to the private sector.

In a way, I understand why these corporations act the way they do. They act only in their own self-interest. Much as we all would. We act and do the things we do so that we can have a paycheck, food and a home etc. Except in their case, they are beholden to shareholders who demand more money than the last quarter. We, as humans always want more, and bigger or both. Notice how we keep building bigger cities, and taller buildings decade after decade, we are all over-compensating for something. Now, while I understand it, I don’t excuse it. They need to wake up and smell the roses and adhere to the will of the people as you are supposed to in a democracy.But through the continued lobbying of politicians and their parties, they continue to get what they want and will continue to do so until people wake up and have their voices drown out the donations of corporations, which is a very tall order.

Ron Paul is the one contender who has never changed his viewpoints for the sake of an audience. He doesn’t try to sugarcoat his message or dumb it down. He says what he believes in, and he says exactly what he will do once he’s in office. He’s not afraid to discuss any topic and give his own take on it. Agree with him, or disagree with him, it doesn’t matter. That’s the way a politician should act. That’s whats been missing from government for so long. I can’t ever remember a time (but I am only 26) where a politician was so candid, honest and even ready to admit his shortcomings.

Just read this open letter that Ron Paul wrote himself, and see for yourself how different a politician this man is from the rest of the crowd. Then check out the funny video of the Daily Shows take on the media ignoring Ron Paul.

I am inspired by the Occupy Wall St movement that has cropped up while I have written this blog post. I only hope that it doesn’t get hijacked by other parties with their own interests at heart, much like the tea party was in its infancy a few years ago. The founder of the tea party disavowed the party saying that it had been hijacked, read the following quote:

“It began as a movement to take back the United States from corrupt politicians. The Tea Party movement has been hijacked by Republicans and is now all about guns, gods and gays. Karl Denninger of The Market Ticker was one of the original founders of the Tea Party and calls the direction of the group an absolute joke.” – Karl Denninger

What does the future hold? Does Ron Paul stand a chance, or will a dim-witted talking points politician again take the reins of the Presidency, and democracy wither away ever more? I would like to hear other people’s opinion on this, leave a comment and lets gets a good discussion going.

Until next week.