Radicals and a science fetish?

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lem
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Nov 22 2006 10:58

I found it really dull for the first few years. When you realize that philosophy is actually quite interesting and inventive etc, you get loads of scientists screaming at you.

gurrier
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Nov 22 2006 12:32

Lets move on from boring old science and talk about football.

My new "philosophy of football" discussion has the following entry requirements.

* You get extra points if you've never played a game
* Not knowing the rules helps immeasurably
* Watching games is a distraction from the important questions.

Now, for our first topic, we'll discuss the well known viability problem as introduced by Timons of Athens.

"does the ball exist?"

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Steven.
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Nov 22 2006 12:42
lem wrote:
I found it really dull for the first few years. When you realize that philosophy is actually quite interesting and inventive etc, you get loads of scientists screaming at you.

Lem, you just went on a big rant, did a load of posts in a row and as far as I could see, not one of them made sense, despite you calling gurrier an idiot.

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Choccy
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Nov 22 2006 12:42
gurrier wrote:
Lets move on from boring old science and talk about football.

My new "philosophy of football" discussion has the following entry requirements.

* You get extra points if you've never played a game
* Not knowing the rules helps immeasurably
* Watching games is a distraction from the important questions.

Now, for our first topic, we'll discuss the well known viability problem as introduced by Timons of Athens.

"does the ball exist?"

except that Jason and I are both interested in the philosophy of science and are open to selfawareness and reflexivity even though he's a phd science student and I'm a science teacher, what's your point?
I'd say we know the rules of the game yet are still able to think critically about it.

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Nov 22 2006 12:46
John. wrote:
lem wrote:
I found it really dull for the first few years. When you realize that philosophy is actually quite interesting and inventive etc, you get loads of scientists screaming at you.

Lem, you just went on a big rant, did a load of posts in a row and as far as I could see, not one of them made sense, despite you calling gurrier an idiot.

I think his "definition of objectivity" post made sense and was pretty valid criticism of the point of Gurrier's he was addressing.

John., can you explain to me what you meant a few months ago (in the Rosemary Branch, Lewisham Way wink ) when you said about chemistry being the only "real" science? I think it'd be relevant to this discussion.

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Steven.
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Nov 22 2006 12:55
choccy wrote:
John., can you explain to me what you meant a few months ago (in the Rosemary Branch, Lewisham Way wink ) when you said about chemistry being the only "real" science? I think it'd be relevant to this discussion.

I'd never say that! Chemistry's shit.

I think some of you might be arguing at crossed purposes. Some people are pointing out problems with the economic structure "science" is currently practised in (which gurrier hasn't disagreed with), whereas gurrier is saying that the scientific method is the best way of establishing the closest thing to objective truth about the world (which none of you have disagreed with)

And revol is just nattering on trying to look clever by using pretentious phrases and calling gurrier "small-minded", when in fact he's just not a poncy bullshitter!

So is there actually any disagreement here?

bastarx
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Nov 22 2006 14:10

Nice way to avoid the problems we've raised with scientific method Gurrier.

Just how much science would we need to know to be allowed to discuss these things with you? I got some A's in high school chemistry and physics and passed first year university physics. Is that enough?

You on the other hand have shown that you are utterly unqualified to discuss the philosophy of science - not because you lack some bit of paper conferred by the state - but because of your ignorant statements here.

I think Gurrier illustrates pretty well what Kuhn calls normal science. When some science is well established and inconsistent results can be easily ignored philosophical discussion is verboten. Kind of like discussion of revolution in normal capitalist times.

Wayne
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Nov 22 2006 16:10

It’s prrroooooven! Scientifically Prrrooven! They said I was mad at the institute!

Oh Gurrier bless your wee cotton socks! I think your first contribution on this thread must be one of the funniest things to appear on libcom since I stopped posting. Pure comedy gold.

‘Conspicuous noisy and impudent,’ as Paul Feyerabend put it!

My friend was involved with a study that examined the linguistic practices used by ‘scientists’ in the GM debate and their conclusions are interesting. They identified four rhetorical strategies that the scientists they interviewed employed to legitimise their knowledge claims.

Firstly, they asserted their professional qualifications:

Quote:
I have a pretty extensive list of publications in relatively prestigious peer-reviewed international scientific journals and conferences. I also sit on several programme committees and review papers prior to acceptance for such publications.

Secondly, they attacked their opponents for lacking these professional qualifications:

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You don't even know what you're talking about, it's just posturing and pseudo-intellectualism. (…)I'm not the one spouting ill-informed pretentious under-graduate drivel about science

Thirdly, they constructed and demolished ‘straw man’ positions:

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What would you propose instead? witchcraft?

Finally, the ‘scientists’ they interviewed tried to associate their knowledge claims with a fantastic epistemology:

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Science is inherently unbiased and objective by definition. All it is really is the study of how we can get closer to objective truth. (…) In order to separate science from the various things that claim to be science, you apply the scientific method.

‘Science’ (as Gurrier argues eloquently in his first post) doesn’t exist:

Quote:
Science is inherently unbiased and objective by definition. All it is really is the study of how we can get closer to objective truth.
On the other hand, scientists, scientific experiments, what people claim is science and what people claim has been scientifically proven and so on are very very far from being the same thing as science itself, and all are normally biased and non-objective in all sorts of ways.

I think we should stop using the word. Part of the confusion stems from its double meaning. On the one hand, it refers to a body of knowledge produced by various disciplines such as biology and physics and I think some people, incorrectly, associate epistemological scepticism with a quasi-primitivist rejection of technologies developed in these fields. But ‘science’ also refers to a now discredited epistemological claim that even gurrier can see exists only as a thought experiment. This claim has been used to assert the objective superiority of men over women, white people over black people and continues to be of rhetorical significance when powerful groups want to enforce truth claims that we are reluctant to accept based on evidence.

In arguing this I’m not proposing relativism. As Derrida has said, who is keener to reason’s call, the thinker who exposes knowledge claims to rigorous scrutiny or the thinker who refuses to hear any such questions? In reading this debate, people will tend to find the arguments of choccy more reasonable than those of gurrier because they are backed by evidence and arguments that we can evaluate in the context of our experience of being in the world (an ontological starting point that we can consider critically rather than “the hard wired brain” which is another meaningless pataphysical construct). This does not mean that choccy has approached the case objectively, merely that he doesn’t sound unhinged and isn’t ranting dogma such as:

Quote:
In order to separate science from the various things that claim to be science, you apply the scientific method.

‘It’s prrroooooven! Scientifically Prrrooven! They said I was mad at the institute!’ and Gurrier, bursting grotesquely from his white coat, turned to stitch some more body parts together before devising a formula that would turn us all into talking carrots wink

If we can move on from that position then we could have an interesting epistemological discussion. It would be interesting to consider feminist standpoint theories, Fox-Keller, Harraway, etc. One of the many problems with indymedia was its claim of independence, it’s mimicking of journalistic neutrality, rather than arguing from an explicitly proletarian perspective. And revol is right to bring up Norris, he’s the daddy (he’s actually bothered to engage seriously with post-structuralism before writing a critique). That said, he does totally fail to get Baudrillard’s sense of humour. There is an element of provocation, it starts a kind of a game… Baudrillard is basically a libcom poster and I’m sure he derived the same rye amusement from reading Uncritical Theory (if he read it) as I will when gurrier comes back shouting:

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I find the various discussions here about science to be generally risible and I can predict with utmost confidence that any half-decent scientist would consider them similarly silly.
You don't even know what you're talking about, it's just posturing and pseudo-intellectualism. I mean, what are you talking about when you waffle on about "science"? It sure doesn't sound like the same thing that scientists mean. They said I was mad at the institute!!!111!!1

wink

Man, I’ve not had a shag in weeks.

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Steven.
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Nov 22 2006 16:25
Wayne wrote:
But ‘science’ also refers to a now discredited epistemological claim that even gurrier can see exists only as a thought experiment.

I don't get exactly what you're saying - do you agree that "the scientific method is the best way of establishing the closest thing to objective truth about the world"?

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This claim has been used to assert the objective superiority of men over women, white people over black people and continues to be of rhetorical significance when powerful groups want to enforce truth claims that we are reluctant to accept based on evidence.

Sorry Wayne, but that's been brought up before about racism or sexism. The problem with assertions that whites are superior to blacks etc. is that it doesn't stand up to scientific scrutiny - it is factually wrong, and doesn't stand up to evidence (even though scientists at the time may have believed it, but this has been pointed out many times and not disagreed with by anyone).

Unless you're using actual evidence, how do you say that racism (for example) is incorrect, and that we are the same?

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Joseph Kay
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Nov 22 2006 16:29
John. wrote:
Unless you're using actual evidence, how do you say that racism (for example) is incorrect, and that we are the same?

if some genetic superiority of one 'race' over another could be fairly well proved, would you accept racism? Is does not imply ought and all that ...

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Nov 22 2006 17:01
revol68 wrote:
What is it with you science geeks and autism?

It's not autism revol. I don't know if you've noticed (and I think you do, but you revel in it because it gives you feelings of superiority) but people like you who have studied philosophy at university start speaking an entirely different language to everyone else, and just natter on looking clever while everyone else tunes out, unable and unwilling to spend the time trying to work out what the fuck you're trying to say (as happens in many discussions on here).

That said, that last post of yours is in English, and has good points in it. Hell, even your spelling's not too bad. B+. I'm off home now, will respond later or tomorrow or something.

MalFunction
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Nov 22 2006 17:20

i doubt we'll sort this one out here.

had a quick look at the wikipedia article on philosophy of science.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy_of_science

very interesting.

but even more interesting is looking at the discussion on the next tab. seems we're not the only ones to have a disagreement on the subject

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Choccy
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Nov 22 2006 17:41

Welcome back Wayne smile

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pingtiao
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Nov 22 2006 18:20

Choccy : quite right, I was wrong to use "anti-science types" in my post.

I still don't have much of a clue of what the actual concrete objections are though (beyond "scientific funding and research boards are hierarchically controlled and thus infected with all the usual capitalist distortions")

gurrier
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Nov 22 2006 18:56
revol68 wrote:
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I don't get exactly what you're saying - do you agree that "the scientific method is the best way of establishing the closest thing to objective truth about the world"?

What is it with you science geeks and autism? It isn't about rejecting scientific method, the issues is about the very nature of scientific method, what constitutes it, what social relations gave birth to it, what effect does technological development play on it, and not in some crude directly causitive manner ie science developed with the ascendency of the bourgeois and so it can be conflated to bourgeois interests and viewpoints.

It isn't about definite statements which can be evaluated, it's about waffle. Seriously, if you have a problem with the scientific method, regardless of where you think that came from, let's have it. Otherwise you're just conflating a whole load of things into a great big hotchpotch that you call science and waffling on.

revol68 wrote:
This is the whole point, no one is questioning the need for evidence and scrutiny, what we are discussing is what made it possible for scientists in one age to believe something that was later proved ridiculous?

You see, the whole point is that there is nothing mysterious or complicated about this at all. Scientists, now and in times of yore, have prejudices, desires, ambitions, etc, etc and some of their beliefs are direct expressions of these human characteristics rather than being the product of evidence-based enquiry, no matter what they claim. Lots of scientists today believe some things that are pretty ridiculous and you don't need to consult philosophers to figure out what makes it possible. Even the dimmest witted person knows that people often act with venal motives.

A more precise way of putting what you are probably trying to express is "what made it possible for an entirely rational and well-informed person to believe that a particular theory was scientific when we now consider it ridiculous".

However, once again, there is no difficulty in answering this question. All it requires is a basic understanding that science is not a great big book of truth cooked up by people in white coats, it is the set of theories which best explain the observed evidence. As new evidence is uncovered and anomalies between existing theories and the set of evidence are identified, very smart people think up ever more brilliant theories and if these theories explain the evidence better, they are adopted as scientific by those of a rational mind. That's the whole point about science, each new theory only has to be better at explaining the evidence than the existing one for it to be adopted, nobody cares whether it's absolute truth or not.

lem
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Nov 22 2006 22:02
John. wrote:
lem wrote:
I found it really dull for the first few years. When you realize that philosophy is actually quite interesting and inventive etc, you get loads of scientists screaming at you.

Lem, you just went on a big rant, did a load of posts in a row and as far as I could see, not one of them made sense, despite you calling gurrier an idiot.

Lol. I only called him an idiot if he is saying "I am a scientist therefore I am right". And this definetly makes sense, at least

lem wrote:
you don't expect the mathematics community to be have the final say on mathmatical realism, or priests the final say on the existence of God - whats the difference?

I mean, I object to Gurrier saying that the scientitific method is the only intellectually acceptable method. It also annoys me that on a thread posted to critique science, he points out that he is a scietist and ALL criticism of it is false - before even listening to the criticism. No-one is above criticism, least of all Gurrier tongue

lem
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Nov 22 2006 22:33
pingtiao wrote:
I still don't have much of a clue of what the actual concrete objections are though (beyond "scientific funding and research boards are hierarchically controlled and thus infected with all the usual capitalist distortions")

Gurrier is suggesting that it is ok for science to be sealed off from external criticism, he celebrates how rational this makes him, don't you find that inherently dangerous, capitalism or not. Would you agree with him?

As to whether the ball in football exists, I think philosophy could solve that problem very very easily. Whats your point? I mean, to say that all philosophy problems are false, not just all metaphysical ones, and not just that we could answer the problem better with the scientific method, is to boldly go where no-one dared go before - a knee jerk reaction to criticism.

Quote:
Seriously, if you have a problem with the scientific method, regardless of where you think that came from, let's have it

It is not the only accpetable way to solve a problem.

You must_not say that a group of people who all adhere to it can only be criticised with, criticism of the s/method, or criticism with the s/method. You disagree with this, don't you?

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Nov 22 2006 23:08
lem wrote:
Lol. I only called him an idiot if he is saying "I am a scientist therefore I am right". And this definetly makes sense, at least

But s/he never said that.

lem wrote:
It also annoys me that on a thread posted to critique science, he points out that he is a scietist and ALL criticism of it is false - before even listening to the criticism. No-one is above criticism, least of all Gurrier tongue

Again, s/he never said that either, so you're just talking more nonsense!

lem
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Nov 22 2006 23:24
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No decent scientist reads any of that rubbish anyway, for the simple reason that, as I said above, it's all really, really easy

I think that it is implied in Gurrier's statements that s/he will not engage with the philosophy of science. From experience elsewhere, I suggest that this is because scientists know best about the philosophy of science, indeed philosophy is a waste of time. Anyway, imo it would be best if Gurrier her/himself said what s/he believed, s/he just seems to be having a go at Revol.

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pingtiao
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Nov 22 2006 23:25

lem,

Quote:
It is not the only accpetable way to solve a problem.

Let's use the scientific method to anaylse this:

suggest an alternative and we can discuss it- I still have no idea what the critique is supposed to be.

lem
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Nov 22 2006 23:34
Quote:
Let's use the scientific method to anaylse this

No x-:

i think that it is enough to say that without the possibility of criticism from outside the scientific community and the scientific method, capitalism or not, science is much more dangerous.

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Nov 22 2006 23:35
pingtiao wrote:
lem,

Quote:
It is not the only accpetable way to solve a problem.

Let's use the scientific method to anaylse this:

suggest an alternative and we can discuss it

I would be interested to see this as well. Anyone?

lem
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Nov 22 2006 23:36

Philosophy doesn't exist, anyway sad

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pingtiao
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Nov 22 2006 23:38

Concrete examples of
1. flaws within the scientific method (or whatever your problem is with "science" as it stands)
2. a suggested alternate model/framework for enquiry

So far there is a lot of hot air on this thread, and AFAICS little substance. Perhaps it is just my lack of philosophical training and understanding- I am happy to admit that. Make it simple for folk like me wink

lem
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Nov 22 2006 23:43

I'm not saying that it is a flaw in the scientific method. I am saying that it is not the only legitimate form of knowledge - why would this mean that science is flawed eek

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Nov 22 2006 23:51
lem wrote:
I'm not saying that it is a flaw in the scientific method. I am saying that it is not the only legitimate form of knowledge - why would this mean that science is flawed eek

So you're saying the scientific method is flawless?

What other useful ways are there of telling things about the world lem, revol, anyone?

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Nov 22 2006 23:56
revol68 wrote:
With our scientific brethern offering such arguments it's no wonder the cultural theorists and strong textualists have been having such an easy time of it.

This is the weird thing about you philosophy people - who cares? I mean it's an entirely self-referential world, which is just irrelevant to anything outside it.

Quote:
Maybe gurrier and you should bother your ass reading abit more into the philosophy of science before being so quick to embrace knee jerk philistine anti philosophical positions.

The only things you've actually said here in terms of a critique are just obvious. I don't see why I should waste my time reading a bunch of self-important overly academic balls that just states the obvious in obscure ways.

Quote:
I mean it's a fecking travesty that you can do a science to a degree level and not have to have even a basic grasp of the philosophy that defines and grounds it.

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Steven.
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Nov 23 2006 00:01
revol68 wrote:
When is it going to sink the fuck in!

It's not about offering alternatives or even criticisms of the scientific method, it's about trying to adequately define a scientific method i.e. what if anything marks it out from other methods of reasoning and thought. It's about asking what is the nature of scientific knowlegde and method, it's fundamentally a question of epistemology, and as such isn't immediately apparent anymore than it's apparent that my chinese take away is actually made up of tiny sub atomic particles in constant motion. It requires both empiricism and theory.

Now maybe I'm an idiot, but I've read this about 5 times and still have no idea what you're trying to say. Other than saying "it" is about defining what scientific method is.

Edit - assuming you mean "it" as "philosophy of science", if so, great, but what are you actually saying?

lem
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Nov 23 2006 00:02

That, in itself, is my critique - that science ignores philosophy. I think that it follows that the scientific community is flawed. Sure, you could see that as hot air without proof that philosophy can discover truth - but besides - that that something else can disover truth is a flaw in the scientific method, is symptomatic of science's quest for TOTAL AUTHORITY.

I don't know how to go about defending the entire history of philosophy. But it makes sense to think that it has at some point discoevered some truth.

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Steven.
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Nov 23 2006 00:03
lem wrote:
That, in itself, is my critique - that science ignores philosophy. I think that it follows that the scientific community is flawed. Sure, you could see that as hot air without proof that philosophy can discover truth - but besides - that that something else can disover truth is a flaw in the scientific method, is symptomatic of science's quest for TOTAL AUTHORITY.

I don't know how to go about defending the entire history of philosophy. But it makes sense to think that it has at some point discoevered some truth.

:?

Fuck this I'm going to bed.