RE: The story-telling ape (was virus: Logic)

David McFadzean (
Fri, 17 Oct 1997 14:22:47 -0600

At 02:05 PM 10/17/97 CST+6CDT, chardin wrote:

>> Are you claiming that all disciplines are equally susceptible
>> to those fallacies?
>Yes, I am. They are human enterprises.

What if one enterprise says you should look for evidence to
support your assumptions, and another enterprise says you
should not look for evidence? Are they both still equally
susceptible to all fallacies?

>This is my point. The authors were showing that almost no, zip,
>zilch, nada experiments are ever validated by replication. It is a
>myth an ideal. It could happen, of course, but the chances are so
>slim that it would almost pay to cheat--you are very likely to get
>away with it.

You lost me. Are we talking about real ideals of science or
mythical ideals. Because the one you labelled Ideal #1 is not
and never was an ideal of science.

>Well, I don't think Dawkins would agree with you. He thinks those
>skills are only lacking in the other camp. He is, in other words,
>infected with his own virus.

I think Dawkins would agree with us about how the reality of
science doesn't live up to its ideals. Do you want to ask him?

>1) Science is an enterprise undertaken by human beings therefore
>there is room for fallacy.

You don't think Dawkins realizes that science is practices
by humans?

>2) As an ideal, a scientist would have his work reviewed by other
>scientists who could pass judgement on the merits of the idea itself,
>rather than forming an ole boy network to keep competing ideas out
>and protecting the status quo.
>However, since scientists are humans, they too give in to these
>weaknesses. The peer-review process behaves as
>a "closed club" network and while this may not be intentional, the
>current system is set up that way--thus peer review is not so hot a
>system for placing "faith" in science.

Dawkins has written extensively on how difficult it has been
to sell his "selfish gene" theory to the establishment. What makes
you think he doesn't know?

>3) Most scientific studies and experiements are never validated by
>replication, thus to depend on this as a safe-check method is not a
>good idea. That is, to assume that it has been replicated or proven
>could be a fatal mistake (in finding the truth).

Most non-scientists probably make this mistake. Working scientists
already know how much time they spend replicating results (almost

>4) A good healthy dose of skepticism should be used when looking at
>scientific assertions. We should want to at least see some proof for
>the claim, including any information which shows that the experiments
>or findings have been successfully repeated or, which is just as
>important, that they could not be repeated. At this present time, this almost
>never happens.

Maybe you could help me convince some others on this list the value
of basing decisions on reason. (This has proven very difficult so far.)

David McFadzean       
Memetic Engineer      
Church of Virus