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Science as a source of “truth”

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Do you ever get tired of hearing Michael Shermer and clones drone about science as a source of truth?

Well, then, you’ll make some sense of this:

This month — nearly 25 years after the blaze — a federal magistrate recommended that Lee should either be given a new trial or released from prison outright. A federal judge must approve the recommendation, and prosecutors are expected to file papers this week arguing that Lee’s conviction should stand.

His case is one of dozens around the U.S. to come under scrutiny because of entrenched but now-discredited beliefs about how arson can be detected. The Arson Research Project at the Monterey College of Law in California has highlighted at least 31 convictions based at least partly on debunked fire investigations, including that of a Texas man executed in 2004, and experts believe there are many more.

“There was just no science behind” the old assumptions about arson, said Paul Cates of The Innocence Project, a group that works to overturn wrongful convictions, primarily through the use of DNA. “A lot of this was just guesswork and voodoo.”

Lee, now 79, has consistently maintained his innocence.

“Science,” as in pop science mags, is often just “voodoo” spelled a different way.

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13 Replies to “Science as a source of “truth”

  1. 1
    tgpeeler says:

    The claim that science is the only source of truth (it’s obviously “a” source of some truth) is itself not a scientific statement and thus fails to meet its own standard. I think science in general and certainly the rest of us would be a lot better off if scientists were required to pass at least an introductory logic course sometime in their collegiate career. Then maybe we wouldn’t be bombarded with the constant evolutionary BS. Or have books that claim the universe came from “nothing” and then define “nothing” as “something.” Sigh…

  2. 2
    CuriousCat says:

    The funny thing IMO is in order to define “truth” we pretty much need to refer to metaphysics, while in science we try to avoid from metaphysics as much as we can. Then we say science is the most important source of truth.. Pretty much confusing, at least for me.

  3. 3
    vividbleau says:

    tgpeeler

    I think science in general and certainly the rest of us would be a lot better off if scientists were required to pass at least an introductory logic course sometime in their collegiate career. Then maybe we wouldn’t be bombarded with the constant evolutionary BS. Or have books that claim the universe came from “nothing” and then define “nothing” as “something.” Sigh…

    Tom I reaaly think this is where most of the problems find their source when discussing issues with scientific types, atheists, materialists, etc, etc.

    For them, and I know I am over generalizing, if it cant be measured, calculated, weighed, or in anyway agreed upon by our universl shared experience it cannot qualify as knowledge. I think the late Steven Jay Gould in his book “Rock of Ages” summarised this very well when he articulated the different magesterium’s and thus popularized the faith fact distinction.

    What is objective? What is factual? Objective facts are those things that have been empirically verified everything else is subjective or faith based.Knowledge is that which can be emperically verified.

    This explains much of the nonsense we see with the empiricist. They start, or I should say they think they start, with the empirical not realizing that their main starting point is not empirical at all. Their starting point, like veryone elses, is a set of non empirical assumptions.They are blind to them.

    There seems to be a great distaste amongts empiricists for philosophy, logic, and what SB and KF term ‘the rules of right reason” That is the starting point for any scientific endeavor.

    It is the abandonment of “rules of right reason” and logic that result in silly nonsense that something comes from nothing.We see this on this forum all the time where arguments are made that since logic cannot be empiricaly confirmed there maybe times where science and logic go their seperate ways. What is hilarious is that they are oblivious to the fact that they are using logical arguments to argue against logic!!!How absurd can you get?

    I know the quantum world is a weird place but cats are not dead and alive at the same time and in the same relationship and any so called observation that they are is wrong.That was Shrodingers point!!

    Something cannot come from nothing, it is a logical impossibility therefore cannot be.I dont care what empirical observation one appeals to as evidence that this is so.Furtermore if one is appealing to empirical observation to make this assertion they must be looking at something to observe the nothing they say the something came from.

    I am reminded of the book written about a year ago where chapters were written about nothing and describing what nothing is, these people are foolish. What can someone write about nothing? We cant even concieve of nothing because we must think of something to explain what nothing is. What an absurd state of affairs.

    Vivid

  4. 4
    tgpeeler says:

    Vivid, I agree with you. Let me take a shot at expounding on a couple of the points you made. First, the propositions that only empirical truth is “real” truth or that science is the only way to truth or that knowledge is that which can be emperically verified are neither empirical nor scientific. This seems to be, as you point out, what these folks cannot or most likely will not understand. All truth is discovered by means of rational thought whether or not it is scientific or theological or philosophical. Rational thought in my world being sense experienced mediated or ruled by reason, essentially. The very idea that only sense experience can be trusted for knowledge is not something that can be sensed. We sense particulars but all laws are universals. We come to be aware of universals by abstracting from particulars that we sense. So the people who insist that only “scientific” knowledge is possible are doing the same philosophy (only very poorly) as the ID person who is (properly) inferring design from information.

    SJ Gould popularized this horrific error in his NOMA “doctrine.” For one thing, he commits the fallacy of equivocation by misusing the word “faith” (as virtually everybody does these days, theist or not – I never use the word anymore because the modern definition widely used is that faith is believing something without evidence – what kind of fool does that?). The New Testament noun for faith is pistis and it refers to a body of truth believed based on good evidence. The verb for faith is pisteuo and it means to place one’s trust in or to rely on or to believe someone or something, again, based on good evidence. New Testament faith NEVER means to blindly believe something without evidence. I refer interested readers to the Gospel of John for a look at New Testament epistemology. The idea that truth is somehow compartmentalized is ridiculous. All truth is known in the same way, by means of rational thought. This also means that truth cannot contradict truth and therefore “scientific” truth cannot contradict “theological” truth. Truth is truth. If there is a conflict between the two then it’s an apparent conflict only and results from a misunderstanding of either science or theology or both. There cannot be two separate ways in which the universe is.

    “We see this on this forum all the time where arguments are made that since logic cannot be empiricaly confirmed there may be times where science and logic go their seperate ways. What is hilarious is that they are oblivious to the fact that they are using logical arguments to argue against logic!!! How absurd can you get?”

    It’s very absurd and it comes from either a breathtaking ignorance of, or rebellion against, reason. WE start, rationally, with the proposition that things exist, and that things are what they are (this is the Law of Identity) and go from there. That is our fundamental, foundational, and FIRST principle. Thought of any kind, rational or otherwise, is impossible without an implicit acceptance of this principle. The problem is that they won’t or can’t think this through and make it an explicit part of their intellectual tool kit. Very sad state of affairs. The fool has said in his heart there is no God.

  5. 5
    tgpeeler says:

    And, oh by the way, lurkers and materialists of whatever stripe, the Law of Identity, although eternally so, is not an a priori, arbitrary principle that we are somehow compelled by doctrine or religion or philosophy to accept. We arrive at this most fundamental truth, upon which all other truth is based, by abstracting the general principle FROM THE DATA. We start with the data, the sense experiences that we have. As we look around we see that things exist. We see that we exist. We see that everything is what it is. We may not know exactly what that is but that’s an epistemological issue not a question of ontology. In fact, we cannot even imagine that a thing could exist and not be what it is. This is how certain our starting point is. Case closed.

  6. 6
    kairosfocus says:

    TGP: In order to think about anything, we ave to recognise its identity. That effects a world partition W = { A | NOT=A }, and from that first act of reason, the triple principle of identity, non-contradiction and excluded middle are immediately, jointly present. If you speak or type or scrawl an equation, you are using it. If you recognise your friend, you re using it, if you observe a plumb bob, you are using it. And so forth. KF

  7. 7
    StephenB says:

    Vivid, tgpeeler,

    You are both right, of course. Almost always, our disputes with Darwinists and skeptics are not about evidence. The real battle is over their assumption, unrecognized by them until we expose it, that there is no standard for interpreting evidence in a rational way.

    A few years ago, Woody Allen reported that he had taken his mid-term exam in existentialism. He left the paper blank and received a grade of 100.

  8. 8
    StephenB says:

    tgpeeler

    We arrive at this most fundamental truth, upon which all other truth is based, by abstracting the general principle FROM THE DATA. We start with the data, the sense experiences that we have. As we look around we see that things exist. We see that we exist. We see that everything is what it is. We may not know exactly what that is but that’s an epistemological issue not a question of ontology. In fact, we cannot even imagine that a thing could exist and not be what it is. This is how certain our starting point is. Case closed.

    Excellent! Thank you. I would add this: It an object has an essence or a nature, we do, in fact, know what it is by virtue of having abstracted its universal “whatness” from the particular we encounter through our senses.

    In other words, the law of non-contradiction is true

    ontologically–a thing is what it is and cannot also be something else at the same time and in the same way.

    logically–a proposition about that thing cannot be true and false at the same time and in the same way.

    psychologically–a proposition about that thing cannot seem to be true and false at the same time and in the same way.

  9. 9
    StephenB says:

    KF:

    In order to think about anything, we ave to recognise its identity.

    Well put. Thank you.

  10. 10
    vividbleau says:

    Tgpeeler

    )SJ Gould popularized this horrific error in his NOMA “doctrine.” For one thing, he commits the fallacy of equivocation by misusing the word “faith” (as virtually everybody does these days, theist or not – I never use the word anymore because the modern definition widely used is that faith is believing something without evidence – what kind of fool does that?). The New Testament noun for faith is pistis and it refers to a body of truth believed based on good evidence. The verb for faith is pisteuo and it means to place one’s trust in or to rely on or to believe someone or something, again, based on good evidence.

    Yes as I have pointed out many times on this forum faith is not fideism!! Unfortunately our modern world does not know the distinction between the two and embrace the equivocation because the gospel according to Gould, Dawkins, etc tells them so. Faith is now defined as fideism which is as you rightly point out is not what faith means. It is not to believe in spite of the evidence (fideism) rather to believe because of the evidence.

    KF and SB thanks for all you do and your time and effort to this forum.

    Vivid

  11. 11
    kairosfocus says:

    Folks,

    Faith is a word kidnapped and forced to read a stilted strawman caricature “confession” while blinking “torture” in Morse Code.

    But, almost no one seems to care.

    But also in fact, we must have a reasonable faith as a basis for rationality if we are to thrive intellectually, we must properly balance reason and belief starting from worldview foundations.

    Yes, as turtles all the way down forever is an absurdity, and turtles in a question-begging circle also fails to be good enough, we must start from a foundation of first plausibles that grounds a responsible, reasonable faith that is factually adequate, coherent and explanatorily adequate.

    Whether we call ourselves religious or secular, scientific or skeptical.

    And, selective hyperskepticism is self-referentially incoherent. Which points to the pivotal role of the plumbline set by self-evident first principles of right reason in such a process.

    One may dismiss or ignore such, but at the cost of trying to build a worldview and life on UNREASONABLE, UNEXAMINED, UNCRITICAL faith . . and, selective hyperskeptics worshipping at the altar of Doubt, I am looking straight at you.

    KF

  12. 12
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Beyond the triple principle LOI, LNC and LEM, there is also the principle of sufficient reason. If A is, why is that so? That is, we expect or at lest hope that there is a good and sufficient reason, and on further reflection see that suggested entities or beings may be possible or impossible. If the latter, the candidate, such as a square circle, has inescapable contradictions among key attributes and so cannot exist. If possible then there is at least one possible world which if instantiated, would have A in it. That points onwards to contingent beings, those that are not in all possible worlds as there are on/off enabling factors for A to exist. For instance a horned horse with a horn in the forehead is possible, but not yet actual. But there may be possible entities with no on/off enabling factors, i.e. they cannot not exist. For instance the truth 2 + 3 = 5 never began to exist and will never cease, it has no beginning or end. So we see that there are contingent and caused beings, and that here are also necessary beings. That contingency vs necessity of being gives sufficient reason for existence, and the impossibility of suggested beings whose core attributes stand in mutual contradiction is sufficient reason for why these do not exist, they cannot. And, we see here how logical reasoning form first principles is also a source of truth. KF

  13. 13
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Truth being understood as Aristotle put it in Metaphysics 1011b: that which says of what is, that it is; and of what is not, that it is not. Which stands distinct from whether we have warrant for knowing that a true claim is so, to what degree. Truth accurately describes reality, our knowledge base seeks to approach the truth.

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