Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Water babies in the wilderness
I believe that the moment is near when by a procedure of active paranoiac thought, it will be possible to systematize confusion and contribute to the total discrediting of the world of reality.

Salvador Dali

This was a lead in a monologue I wrote here on the philosophical attributes of scientific debate and the convergence of virtuality and reality as a single entity ie the models being of more importance then the reality of observations and the hypothesis.

It is now the post industrial information age. Each day we experience data transformed in both electronic visual and print mediums to our senses and perceptions. The data transcends both virtuality and reality. The convergence of reality and virtuality in News and entertainment, with science and controversy, with chaos and catastrophe, and the transformation of the delivery of data along the various modes of information have resulted in uncertainty and confusion.

Indeed how can it be expected to identify reality, when there are difficulties of distinction between reality and the unreal when the unreal is being realized, and the real being shown as unreal. Each day we experience a growing crisis of unrealized proportions .As Umberto Eco observed “crisis sells well” The question such crisis pose is whether attitudes have been undermined by the experience of modernity, or whether reality itself, something objective and firm, is an illusion .Is the paradigm now one of “there is no reality?” When the media, governments, and advertisers tell us that dreams are becoming realities, does this mean conversely, reality is becoming a dream?

It is somewhat a paradox that the ones who understand science least, or are the vocal proponents of science and cite the uncertainty principle to encite the unwashed in their arguments against scientific progress, use the double standard to voice their agendas stated or perceived, in say climate change by saying there is a scientific consensus, or the scientific evidence is unimpeachable.

The philosophical ideology of what is, or not real are continuing debates. The primary questions being ontological and epistemological. The former is about being: what is real? Is there reality and form behind appearance? The epistemological question is about knowing: what is truth?. Is knowledge by reason or experience? Or do our everyday systems distinguish between reality and appearance, and truth from falsity. We expect the system of road rules to regulate the traffic, and do not question if the other drivers are rationalists, or empiricists . Previously the normality of the result of an experiment, performed by a scientist, did not rest on whether the scientist performing the experiment is an idealist or materialist, or the source of funding, but the outcome and replicability of the experiment that showed reality.

The spurious arguments that a scientist worked for an energy company ,or was an advisor to XYZ corporation is as relevant as if the scientist used his left or right hand, indeed these idealistic arguments used, are normally seen in the areas of pseudoscience.

Science has a cognitive structure (facts-hypothesis-experiment-laws-theories)together with verification. We have seen the transformation from the Merton norms of Originality, detachment, universality, Skepticism, and public accessibility, and its cognitive structure, to theories that have the form and reason of Pseudoscience. These rely on a casual approach to evidence, spurious similarities, explanation by scenario, research by literary interpretation and a refusal to revise.

As we see above skepticism is part of the structure of science. No scientific statements of fact should be taken on faith. All claims should be carefully scrutinized for invalid arguments and errors of facts, and any such errors should be made public immediately. Simplistically speaking, scientists should trust no one when it comes to claims of scientific fact.

Science and scientific method and the identification of scientific pseudoscience were subjects dear to the thinking of T.H Huxley in the 19th century who described such philistines with degrees as “promoting their value above their market worth” Of all such tales from him the best is in correspondence to his grandson.

Dear Grandpater
Have you seen a waterbaby? Did you put it in a bottle?,Did you wonder if it could get out?could I see it someday ?
Julian(aged 5)

So wrote his grandson after seeing his grandfathers picture examining a bottle that had waterbabies in the picture book of the same.

In reply he wrote

Dear Julian
I never could make sure about that waterbaby. I have seen babies in water and babies in bottles,but the baby in the water was not in the bottle and the baby in the bottle was not in the water. My friend who wrote the story of the waterbaby was a very kind man ,and very clever. Perhaps he thought I could see as much in the water as he did-There are some people who see a great deal and some who see very little in the same things, when you grow up I dare say you will see things more wonderful then waterbabies where other folk see nothing.


An interesting analogy that says more about science then any thesis.


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