Up@dawn 2.0

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Group 3 - Ch 3

I like the idea of evidence and reason being overrated. Despite how little it makes sense given what we currently know about nature, I have for as long as I can remember had this feeling deep within that there's something more to this world than meets the eye. Perhaps it's just wishful thinking. I'd be rather disappointed if this all really is just a meaningless lump of mass. I'm not against the notion of empiricism, I do think we'll figure it out someday, but it might be hard to classify it under what we call science now. Surely a thousand years ago people would have thought the idea of electricity to be mystical. We have grown too arrogant in our time, thinking that we are the pinnacle of scientific thought. I forget who said it but there's a great quote that sums this up, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."


  1. I agree, we should shy away from the enormous condescention of posterity. The people of the past were working with hopelessly limited information, but there is no reason to think that the ignorant poeple of the past wouldnt be convinced of the natural explanation of electricity if they lived in preasent day. We shouldnt blame them for their "mystical" explanation of their world, but there is a distinction to be made between the age of science and every era that came before. We are aware of the possibilty that our current understandin of the world can change given sufficient evidence. there is nothing arrogant about saying, "the unexplained is not nessesarily the unexplainable."

  2. Evidence and reason are overrated? Doesn't everyone use reason and evidence, even if their reasoning is flawed and their evidence is weak?

  3. Well, I think Garber's point is similiar to the point I've been trying to make David - No, not everyone uses reason and evidence. Ironically the Skeptics among philosophers were usually the quickest to point this out: People believe things all the time without any real reason or evidence to do so. If you've never read Hume's Neccessary Connexions it's super interesting to see how possibly one of the greatest empiricists of all time doubted even the most basic laws of cause and effect.

    In essence: We have no reason at all to believe cause and effect exists. We only become trained because if we see A then B over and over again we become accustomed to seeing B follow A. But there's no real reasonable ground to assume that B MUST follow A, except for past experience.

    I remember when I first began studying logic I was fascinated by a particular quote (and I wish I could remember the author now) who pointed out that a True Skeptic is the person most immune to logical argument. Because (infinite chains not able to exist in reality) every argument must rest on at least one (and usually more) premise that can't itself be demonstrated but must be accepted as either self-evident or 'given for the sake of argument'.

    A True 100% skeptic of course, is unwilling to grant anything for the sake of argument, but requires everything to be demonstrated.

  4. I think instead of "real", what you mean to say is "valid" or "good" or "sound."

    I've never heard of anyone who believed something for absolutely no reason and with absolutely no evidence. But I have heard of and met countless people who believe things for terrible reasons on weak evidence, which was my point.

    The fact that we see effect follow cause over and over again *is* a reason to believe that cause and effect exists. You may contest the strength of this evidence, but it is real evidence. If you disqualify this, I wonder what you would consider as evidence, or what you even think the word evidence means?

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. David. If I drop a ball, and it falls to the ground, and I do this over and over again and the same thing happens every time: Explain to me how that is evidence that the ball MUST fall to the ground, and that the ball will fall to the ground every time.

    That's Hume's question, can you answer it? The point being, that people, though in my experience many scientists can be just as blind as many theists on this matter, actually do believe things all the time (such as cause and effect) there is no empirical evidence for. You can not directly observe cause and effect /itself/, you can only observe the behavior of particular objects.

    That's what I'm talking about. Have you read Hume? or any of the other skeptical philosophers?

    1. I feel like I am losing the thread of what you're trying to say. Who is saying that the ball *must* fall to the ground, or that it will fall to the ground every single time for all time? The red herring of having to have 100% certainty before we can provisionally accept a proposition based on available evidence seems to be creeping in.

      Again, are you saying that we have no evidence in favor of cause and effect? Am I missing the evidence in favor of effects preceding causes?

      Perhaps you are making some point about semantics, as if "cause and effect" exists in some way apart from the behavior of particular objects? If so, this reminds me of your point about love and strict materialism. We can't directly observe "love" either, merely it's manifestation between particular objects. Perhaps I'm just failing to grasp your point altogether.

      And yes, I have read Hume, though not extensively.

  7. I felt maybe I should clarify. It is obviously important to get as much evidence and reason for what you can, and follow rational thought as much as is possible - it's done some pretty wonderful good for our race overall (though I'm not convinced it's done as much good as people often think). My point isn't that evidence isn't important. It's that something they call the Eliza effect (named after observing it while testing a computer program in the way back when) causes us to see evidence that isn't actually there, all the time.