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

chardin (
Fri, 17 Oct 1997 16:45:19 CST+6CDT

> Date: Fri, 17 Oct 1997 14:22:47 -0600
> To:
> From: David McFadzean <>
> Subject: RE: The story-telling ape (was virus: Logic)
> Reply-to:

> 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?
If one enterprise claims to have evidence for its assumptions and
in fact has fudged the data to get a grant or stretched the truth to
fit a pet theory, then I would say it is just as susceptible to
fallacy and any other enterprise. One ought to have proof for their
assumptions, however.

> >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.
I am talking about real science--about how it is almost never
submitted to the processes which make people place it on a pedestal.
It is science, therefore, it must be true and good. It is
"scientific' becomesd synonymous with "it is true."

> >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?
Ask him if scientists are "infected" with a virus or are they somehow
above the rest of humanity--especially anyone who holds religious
> >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?
Maybe I based too much on his Viruses of the Mind article, but that
is what I got from that one.

> >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).

Bells horns whistles!
> Most non-scientists probably make this mistake. Working scientists
> already know how much time they spend replicating results (almost
> none).

Being a part of this post was worth if just for the above admission!
> >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, did you mean the last sentence? that is the most encouraging
remark I think I've gotten on list since my sign on. We may not be as
far apart as we think. That should frighten you if Smith is correct.
> --
> David McFadzean
> Memetic Engineer
> Church of Virus