virus: science vs objectivism

Nathaniel Hall (
Tue, 16 Sep 1997 00:25:50 -0600

Nathaniel Hall wrote:

> D.H.Rosdeitcher wrote:
>> Comments and criticisms on the following article are welcome.
>> One of the evolutionary survival strategies in some species is
>> mimicry, in which one species mimics another species as a way of
>> defending
>> itself from predators. For instance, orange and black "monarch"
>> butterflies
>> which taste terrible to birds get mimicked by another species of
>> butterflies which tastes good. Birds which have had bad experiences
>> trying
>> to eat monarchs, don't attack the species that looks like the
>> monarch.
>> Such mimicry also happens in memes, in which certain
>> meme-complexes
>> survive by disguising themselves as other meme-complexes. This can
>> be
>> demonstrated by the way the scientific method gets mimicked by the
>> pseudo-rational philosophy of Objectivism. This occurs due to
>> similarities
>> between animal minds and human minds.
>> The fact that birds can recognize similar looking butterflies,
>> means
>> they recognize patterns. This is simiilar to what humans do when
>> they use
>> inductive reasoning, in which they see a number of specific
>> instances of
>> things and then make generalizations. People and animals recognize
>> patterns
>> such as trees, dogs, other people, etc. Such pattern recognition has
>> evolved for the purpose of keeping animal species alive, since the
>> ability
>> to roughly identify something based on prior experience is useful
>> for
>> survival, even if such guesses at the nature of things is not always
>> accurate.
>> One attribute that man has over other animals is the ability to
>> learn
>> through language and culture. This accelerates his ability to
>> manipulate
>> the environment and accomplish things that previous generations
>> could not.
>> The best set of memes, as far as we know, to accelerate cultural
>> evolution
>> is the scientific method, a type of thinking exclusive to man. While
>> in the
>> inductive reasoning method, generalizations get made from specifics,
>> or
>> conclusions get drawn from previous subjective experience, in the
>> scientific method, a guess about the world gets made to be tested
>> for truth
>> or falsehood.
>> There's a form of memetic mimicry in which some meme-complexes
>> resemble
>> the scientific meme-complex, causing people to accept belief systems
>> which
>> are not as useful as science. One such meme-complex which resembles
>> science, is the philosophy of Objectivism, which poses as something
>> objective and scientific, yet caters to people's animal-like
>> tendencies
>> from which they evolved.
>> The word, Objectivism, seems to imply objectivity--a key element
>> of
>> science. Science is objective, because when you put out a theory to
>> get
>> tested, your theory might be found wrong. This is like saying that
>> what you
>> believe to be true about reality, could be totally wrong--in other
>> words,
>> objective reality does not get determined by subjective assumptions.
>> Objectivism, on the other hand, claims that the inductive method is
>> an
>> adequate and objective way to learn about objective reality, even
>> though
>> ones subjective frame of reference greatly colors the conclusions
>> drawn
>> about reality through induction.
> I find this amusing! Not in and of itself because this is a serious
> attempt to split science from objectivism but because I have another
> fellow attacking objectivism because he thinks its purely deductive!
>> Using scientific sounding jargon,
>> inductive reasoning gets presented by Objectivist writers as
>> something you
>> need to learn how to do, as if it's not already hard-wired.
> I let you on to a secret. I never read the objectivist epistomolgy by
> Ayn Rand so I cannot defend it in detail. I've read all the rest of
> her books but this one was too dry for me to finish it.
>> Also, while
>> science, unlike other belief systems, does not use definitive
>> assumptions
>> as foundations, objectivism mimicks science by using assumptions as
>> a set
>> of foundations (axioms) but giving these assumptions scientific
>> sounding
>> names like "existence" and "consciousness".
>> Meme-complexes which compete with science by mimicking science,
>> may
>> not last too long, since the scientific meme-complex might use its
>> own
>> method to dispose of competing alleles. Also, the scientific meme of
>> Darwinian natural selection probably causes its hosts to replicate
>> its
>> memes, wiping out memes which don't appear to benefit its hosts.
>> --David Rosdeitcher
> I was a scientist long before I read any Rand. And I still consider
> myself as such. Science requires an objective universe and some way of
> knowing it. Objectivism is a Philosophy which not only provides the
> framework for science to occur but answers questions that Science as a
> rule does not typically deal with.( Such as: what is the Good?). As a
> long time practioner of both science and objectivism I see no conflict
> if one makes some minor changes to Rands works. She was not a
> scientist and occasionly said some things which to me as a scientist
> made me bristle. However I do not hold it againest her, no more than
> I hold againest Aristotle some of the strange things Aristole said in
> his day. They were working with incomplete knowledge.However they both
> got the basics right and I will defend againest the split of science
> from objectivism to the end of my days.Of I'm that sure.
> The Nateman