RE: virus: Sham(an) again

Robin Faichney (
Thu, 18 Sep 1997 10:17:51 +0100

> From: Eva-Lise Carlstrom[]
> Robin, I'm not sure I'm entirely clear on the point you're
> making.
> Is your point that science is assuming random mutation, in the absence
> of
> evidence for a directive force? That Occam's Razor is an item of
> faith?
NO! Remember we were talking about whether all that's
non-supernatural falls into the domain of science. My
point was that a great deal of human behaviour is
based on trial-and-error, without a significant amount
of theory. Now, since I started on that tack, there has
been a significant development in the discussion, with
agreement that magic could be analysed, but not
magical action. (That's not very well expressed, but
I think I understand the point.) So my main thesis is
that human action, in general (as opposed to individual
human actions) can never be science-based. That's
not to say I don't believe analysis is possible, but there
are some constraints on it: analysis of human action
in general will inevitably be probability-based, with
only statistical-type predictions. And prediction of
specific, individual actions will always be very heavily
hampered by complexity, especially chaotic factors.
In fact, I predict that the "natural", gut-feeling-based
prediction of what someone will do next will, over a
series of trials, always out-perform any science-based

So, to sum up: humans will always be irrational (in
the normal sense, not David McF's one) in a
very great deal of what they do, and in fact that is
generally the most rational (in David's sense) way
to proceed.

> Eva,
> shaving with Occam's razor, and finding herself a slightly simpler
> solid.
:-) :-)

(who very recently stopped shaving, as he's been
neglecting his facial-crop-rotation cycle, and
stayed "clean" too long)

PS It occurs to me that maybe the most general
thing that can be said about science and human
behaviour is that we mainly act not to confirm or
disconfirm guesses about the way things are, but
to maximise our happiness, and that's exactly as
it should be.