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Latest doctrine: It’s wrong to “believe” in Darwinian evolution, because you must accept it without thinking – Philly Inquirer

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In “’Belief’ in evolution? It may be the wrong word” (06/27/2011), Faye Flam, Philadelphia Inquirer staff writer, allows us to know that we really shouldn’t say we “believe in” evolution because, as Larry Krauss puts it,

“I have attempted, largely through spurring on from several colleagues . . . to never use the word belief in talks,” said Arizona State University physicist and writer Lawrence Krauss.

“One is asked: Does one believe in global warming, or evolution, and the temptation is to answer yes,” he said, “but it’s like saying you believe in gravity or general relativity.”

“Science is not like religion, in that it doesn’t merely tell a story . . . one that one can choose to believe or not.”

Ms. Flam typefies the legacy media in decline because she cannot or dare not grasp what is being said here: You should not say you believe in Darwin’s theory because that would imply that you could disbelieve it, and that you could disbelieve it on evidence.

On the facts Krauss so confidently cites: People have questioned gravity and general relativity, and may yet again. In fact, gravity has been the odd man out among the four fundamental forces. As a cosmologist, he would of course know that. But he is counting on Flam not to. And certainly not to ask anyone who did. Or even to wonder.

The thing is, people who do ask questions are finding less and less help from legacy media, in proportion to increasingly insistent demands for belief in their rapidly shattering worldview.

Take, for example, the avoidance strategy of a recent paper on the trilobite eye. Legacy mass media take it up? Never. Except to help with evasion and obfuscation. It’s the only role they can envision and – for their phase of large public media.

It is their epitaph: We evade the news.

Larry Krauss? Yes, him of all people, Larry “the Grouse”, who tried debating a pro, and it seems we’ll never heard the end of how the man was wronged.

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Denyse O’Leary is co-author of The Spiritual Brain.

Barb, oddly, I agree with you. But most people don't agree with me :) My take on "facts" are that: facts at one level are actually models at the level below. Or, as I prefer to them "data". In other words there aren't two classes of thing, data and models. There is no such thing as completely "raw" data - all data are cooked (all facts are provisional in some way). But we make models of data at, for example, the level of our sensory experience, and that model at that level, becomes a "fact" or datum, at the next. I model the light pattern on my retinal as a tree - that tree becomes my data when I start to count the trees. I then model trees as woods and forests of various sizes - those woods and forests are "models", and become data at the next level, for instance, if I was trying to compute the volume of timber in a region, or the area of old-growth forest. So although the further down we drill, the rawer the "data" get, we still never run into raw reality. We can infer that it is there, but the only access we have to it is via our nested models. Which we must always continue to test against new data :) Elizabeth Liddle
Mung, Wait until you fall off a roof or out of a tree :S paragwinn
I do to, but gravity has never radically altered my life. Mung
I *believe* in gravity ;) mike1962
Krauss doesn't seem to grasp that beliefs are the foundation that knowledge is built on. A belief represents an interpretation, evaluation, conclusion, or prediction about the nature of the world. Our beliefs come from our perceptions which, admittedly, might be wrong; we might be biased or have limited experience and thus our beliefs are inaccurate and distorted. Becoming a critical thinker requires us to examine our beliefs to determine if they're based on reliable information. Once we do this, we can start developing knowledge. We can ask: are the beliefs compelling and coherent explanations? Are our beliefs consistent with other beliefs or knowledge? Do they provide accurate predictions? Are they supported by reasons and evidence? Krauss seems to think (wrongly, I might add) that "believing" is equated with not thinking or not having any evidence, when the exact opposite is true. Saying "I believe in evolution" simply means that one has (presumably) evaluated the evidence and come to a conclusion. Barb
One is asked: Does one believe in geocentrism, the phlogiston, or that classical mechanics holds at all scales, and the temptation is to answer yes. But it's like saying you believe in miasma, or the aether. Really, Krauss is a piece of work. nullasalus
Flim Flam allanius
Knowledge: well-warranted, credibly true belief. kairosfocus
You miss the point. It's not that people question whether gravity (or for that matter general relativity) exists or not, the evidence is overwhelming (as it is for evolution). What some people question is the detail - e.g. is gravity still attractive at large scale, cosmological distances, or does it become repulsive? It's all part of the general progress of science - science will never answer every question, even on gravity, but the answers it gives will become progressively better and more accurate as more and more evidence accrues. And the same is true for evolution. Grunty

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