Creationist Wisdom #916: A Pile of [Bleep]

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Daily Mining Gazette of Houghton, Michigan (population 7,708) in the northwestern portion of that state’s Upper Peninsula. The letter is titled Science also is based on faith, and the newspaper has a comments feature.

Because the writer isn’t a politician, preacher, or other public figure, we won’t embarrass or promote him by using his full name. His first name is Daniel. Excerpts from his letter will be enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary, some bold font for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]. Here we go!

Those dissatisfied with the job God has done, imagine that they can assert that while religion is based on faith”, science is backed up by “proof”. (One’s disapproval of God, obviously, proves nothing about Him.) But “science” is as deeply rooted in faith. It is a faith, though, hard to justify.

Right from the start, you know we’re dealing with a powerful intellect. And he likes to use italics and quote mark together. Then he says:

Those who believe that science has “proven” anything about the world or about reality have muddled thinking [Hee hee!]; they confuse inductive reasoning with deductive reasoning. The danger is that they are slipping from the essence of the “scientific method” as permanently provisional. [What?] And Hume, though there is much else objectionable in his philosophy, has suggested how inductive reasoning is false [And therefore …?] (An earl has written, and it is devastating, how the turkey dies.)

We don’t know who that earl was or what he said about turkeys. But Daniel is just warming up. Now he tells us:

Ultimately natural philosophy, now excused from having to address any of the questionable philosophical assumptions it skips over by being called “science”, only concerns, only addresses, and only proves, itself, just like any other science.

What’s he saying? It doesn’t matter. He continues:

There is nothing heraldry’s rule of tincture (it forbids placing color on color or metal on metal) can teach you, and there is nothing it proves, other than about the rule of tincture. There is nothing the canton not being fanciable can teach other than that the canton is not fanciable.

Aaaargh!! Let’s read on:

Science prides itself on its past, and (in a neat trick) even future accomplishments, but it has not established that the objects of perception exist independently of that perception. This question is one of the most contentious in philosophy. Further, its empiricist principles are no more than house rules.

This is great stuff! Another excerpt:

It gets worse in practice, if not in theory. [Oh no!] Events blow up everything we thought we knew [Gasp!]; they are ignored, ignored because they undermine the carefully and even meticulously built structure, the tower of the scientists.

Your tower is crumbling, dear reader. Here’s more:

It is not just Alain Aspect’s work in physics that has destroyed everything. [What?] A Los Angeles goalie made a save without ever touching the puck and we are no longer true believers.

Wikipedia has a write-up on Alain Aspect, but it doesn’t shed any light on Daniel’s thinking. Anyway, now we come to Daniel’s final paragraph. It’s even better than what went before:

The observations contradicting scientific conclusions are dismissed as “anecdotal” if, indeed, even such a fig-leaf is deemed necessary. On the one side lay those to be condemned as misusing the scientific method and on another are hypocrites. While glossing over the tricky and even agonizing question of what constitutes “proof”, they ask us to take a lot on faith. But it is a faith from which we have every reason to have fallen.

Well, dear reader, how did you like that one?

Copyright © 2018. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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9 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #916: A Pile of [Bleep]

  1. “(An earl has written, and it is devastating, how the turkey dies.)” — You know, I actually think I know what he means here. In his discussion of induction in The Problems of Philosophy (1912), Bertrand Russell wrote, “The man who has fed the chicken every day throughout its life at last wrings its neck instead, showing that more refined views as to the uniformity of nature would have been useful to the chicken.” Russell became the 3rd Earl Russell in 1931 when his older brother died.

  2. Thanks, Glenn. You have enlightened me.

  3. “Those dissatisfied with the job God has done”
    Given sin, global flood and a self-sacrificing son said god isn’t that satisfied either.
    Dannyboy has heard the bell tolling, but doesn’t know where the pendulum hangs:

    “the essence of the “scientific method” as permanently provisional.”
    Correct. That’s why scientists are capable of correcting himself, very much unlike believers. It’s also because science is not based on faith.

    “And Hume, though there is much else objectionable in his philosophy, has suggested how inductive reasoning is false.”
    No, Hume has shown that inductive reasoning can’t establish the TRVTH. As deductive reasoning can’t either science is permanently provisional. What exactly is objectionable in this philosophy remains unclear. I suspect that it makes Dannyboy feel sad or something.

    “it has not established that the objects of perception exist independently of that perception.”
    Again, clock and pendulum. Science of course can’t as it cannot definitely establish anything. However we can quite safely assume that for instance internet works. I can’t entirely rule out the possibility that Dannyboy imagines writing his silly stuff and me reading the same silly stuff (or that we imagine it’s the same silly stuff) but somehow that seems a bit unlikely.
    Our dear SC is baffled:

    “it doesn’t shed any light on Daniel’s thinking”
    Quantum entanglement – another bell and another pendulum Dannyboy can’t find, so he concludes that QT undermines science. Dannyboy ploughs on:

    “While glossing over the tricky and even agonizing question of what constitutes “proof”,”
    BWAHAHAHAHA!
    Descartes, Hume, Popper, Kuhn and in our days another Frenchman, Bruno Latour, wrote big fat books about exactly this question. Dannyboy is even vaguely aware of one of these guys. Ah well, many believers don’t like him, usually without understanding exactly why.

    “Well, dear reader, how did you like that one?”
    I liked this cheerful letter very well, dear SC. Thanks!

  4. Indeed thanks, Glenn – you nicely confirm what I wrote about Dannyboy, the clock and the pendulum he can’t find.

  5. When I was getting this ready for posting, I did a Google search for “earl, turkey, dies” and found only a reference to Field Marshal Horatio Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener, and his campaign in Turkey.

  6. Spot-on, Glenn. But I would say the writer is no turkey.

    ‘Those who believe that science has “proven” anything about the world or about reality have muddled thinking; they confuse inductive reasoning with deductive reasoning. The danger is that they are slipping from the essence of the “scientific method” as permanently provisional.’

    He is of course completely correct in this. But does anyone say otherwise, unless they are using “proven” in the laxer sense of “established beyond reasonable doubt”? His examples from heraldry do show that the only things that follow from formal rules are conclusions within the formal system, but it is not clear how this fits into his argument.

    ” Further, its empiricist principles are no more than house rules.” Yet another critic of science who is muddling up intrinsic and pragmatic methodological naturalism.

    In conclusion, he is neither ignorant, stupid, insane, or wicked, just very very muddled

  7. About “inductive” and “deductive” reasoning in science, I think that arguing about this is indicative of the old-fashioned “Scientific Method” of Francis Bacon. Is there any philosopher of science nowadays who accepts this? At the least, there is the important method of “Abductive reasoning” (once again, I refer to Wikipedia).

  8. Yup, that’s more accurate. Fortunately as a non-scientist and non-philosopher I can afford to be sloppy now and then.

  9. Talk about a grab bag of nonsense. He uses long multi syllabic words without understanding their definition. If I were to read that essay all the way thru I would have had to constantly go back and read the sentences again and again to attempt to discover any meaning