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One-way skeptic Michael Shermer: Sanctifying tittle-tattle as science

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Here’s a C-span debate between Shermer and non-materialist neuropsychiatrist Jeffrey Schwartz:

Mr. Schwartz and Mr. Shermer debated the limits of science in addressing spiritual questions. Mr. Shermer argued that such issues will either eventually be addressable using conventional scientific thinking, or will remain mysteries that science cannot penetrate. Going beyond material explanations, he claimed, is not the answer. Mr. Schwartz said that quantum physics has thrown new light on these questions, and that his own work has demonstrated that non-material forces may influence material entities, such as the brain. Following prepared remarks accompanied by slides, the speakers responded to questions from the audience. This discussion was part one of a larger debate on the scope of science organized and hosted by the Veritas Forum in the Ackerman Grand Ballroom at UCLA. Co-sponsors were The Center for Inquiry International, The Skeptic Society and Skeptic magazine, and The IDEA Center. The debate was moderated by Professor Willard. Mr. Schwartz is the author of The Mind and the Brain: Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force, published by Regan Books. Mr. Shermer wrote The Science of Good and Evil: Why People Cheat, Gossip, Care, Share, and Follow the Golden Rule, published by Times Books.

The 2004 debate is still relevant, and the titles of the debaters’ respective books tell us something: Schwartz is interested in how the mind and brain really interact, to provide better clinical interventions in mental disorders. Shermer wants to sanctify tittle-tattle as science.

That, of course, is a key goal for a materialist atheist today: The TV hair model grasps and communicates title-tattle to his audience superbly; he would quickly be turned off by science as such.

This will turn out to be, some think, a serious problem for the ID community, which is committed to a traditional evidence-based definition of science. How do we tell the suit model, in so many words,  that the evidence points away from life as a big cosmic accident? He and his audience desperately need to believe that it is, and will accept any dogma or speculation that justifies their choices.

Hat tip: Stephanie West Allen at Brains on Purpose


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