Re: virus: science's mememic place (was: Sexuality)

Martin Traynor (
Wed, 18 Sep 1996 10:37:12 +0000


On 17 Sep 96 at 12:45, ken sartor wrote:

> A real difference in science vs religion is that you may take a
> piece of science (say newtonian gravitation) and believe it, while
> throwing out other pieces because they are not appealing to you
> due to lack of evidence (or whatever) (say quantum mechanics).
> Christian fundamentalists insist on taking their holy book and
> believing it lock, stock and barrel.

You are comparing science to a single religion, which I had carefully
avoided doing. As I said in my original post, there are
inconsistencies and contradictions in a lot of religions which I too
would take issue with and would happily discard, but science is in
danger of pushing aside the very concepts of religiosity, not just
individual religions.

> Another difference is that much of science can be verified or
> disproved by individuals that are sufficiently motivated. Raw
> data is readily obtainable...

And is tested by using the scientific method. Once again, you must
accept the tenets before you can proceed. Your argument seems to be

1) The scientific evidence that is available convinces me that
science works

2) Because science works, scientific evidence is acceptable


> The point might be that the phrase scientific study is being
> trivialized. When the issues are complicated and the data is
> less than clear, the conclusions are opinions. When there is
> a large amount of vested interest, the opinions are NOT
> science (probably). Example - it took a very long time to
> get cigarette manufactures to admit that smoking causes cancer.
> Under a slightly political/economic different system, i could
> imagine we would occasionally read about health benefits of smoking...
> (losing weight, more energy, how can THAT be so bad?)

Agreed. The concept of science is being undermined by bad
practitioners or by good practitioners being misreported. Don't get
me wrong. I *like* science. It's the toolset of choice for me, where
applicable. But when it's not the right tool I'll look elsewhere.

> Some memes are unnecessary or incorrect. These memes do not
> have to be preserved and science may cause the eradication of some
> of them. Example - if your religion requires the earth to be flat,
> then it is going to be destroyed by science sooner or later (i
> hope). I believe many memes fall into this category. It is not
> that science or scientists *want* to destroy - only a consequence
> (like light destroys darkness :-] )

I agree with you entirely, but again this is dealing with specific
examples whereas I was dealing with the concept of religiosity.

See also the 'tools of the trade' thread.

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