Re: [atheists-27] Nature of scientific law

From: Don W.
Sent on: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 2:55 PM
Carl  (and others),
 
You are absolutely right on this.  There is no agreement on what science is.  The methods vary vastly from one field to another.  In fact we have what is called the boundary problem.  We have no clear line between what we call science and non-science.  Yes there are claims that can be universally determined to be outside of science and others that are almost universally understood to be sound science. 
 
This implies that we need to be highly skeptical.  However, extreme and unbalanced skepticism becomes a general stance against science itself.  That is also quite counter-productive.
 
There is no solution other than to do the hard work investigating the evidence and reasoning behind the claims that are made.
 
Don

From: Carl Stoll <[address removed]>
To: [address removed]
Sent: Tuesday, March 26,[masked]:51 PM
Subject: Re: [atheists-27] Nature of scientific law

I agree that “life, mind, morality and reason" are within the purview of scientific materialism/ naturalism, with the  proviso, however, that these sots of phenomena must be studied by means of methodologies specifically developed for each of them separately. The scientific laws governing information [i.e. data encoding, decoding, transmission, storage, reproduction, etc.] are autonomous with respect to scientific  laws governing biology, for example.
Furthermore the scientific methodologies applicable to different disciplines need not all possess the same degree of quantifiability, precision, etc. Some sciences are fuzzier than others.
Scientism/Positivism are ideologies of scientific thought that seek to model all sciences after the example of whichever science happens to be dominant at the time. It used to be physics, now it is computer science.
Comte defined mathematics as the realm of quantity. However shortly thereafter set theory arose and soon became the theory underlying math. Set itself theory is not quantitative. Instead, it lays the logical foundation for defining the concept of quantity.
Thus Comte’s positivist view of math was  rendered obsolete by scientific progress and was revealed as referring merely to a certain field of math and not to math per se.
Likewise the social sciences have had to develop new methodologies because causality in social sciences (similarly to meteorology and segments of biology)  differs qualitatively from causality in natural science (as exemplified by classical physics leaving out quantum physics) . This causality in question is characterized by many independent variables, each of which exerts scant influence on events. Traditional causality, on the contrary, takes place in a scenario with few independent variables, each of which exerts strong influence on outcomes. This new sort of causality is accompanied by the use of statistics instead of traditional logic. Carl 

2013/3/26 Joseph B <[address removed]>
Hmmmn... I don't buy that " life, mind, morality and reason" is outside the purview of scientific materialism/ naturalism. 
 
My understanding is naturalism is about all the observable matter in our universe and the things that somehow affect, or supervene on them. So this would include things like love, or interest rates, etc. 
 
To the extent that "life, mind, morality, and reason" are superventions on material things, that would mean they are testable and are thus amenable to scientific understanding...
 
And I'm iffy on the whole "inevitability" of life, mind, morality and reason. This is a question that should wait until we actually see life outside of our world.
 
But then again my philosophy is weak and am now just babbling.  :)

On Tue, Mar 26, 2013 at 12:57 PM, Carl Stoll <[address removed]> wrote:
Solar energy is old hat. I am for lunar energy. 
Cosmologists may all be atheists, but geologians are all devout as can be.
On cosmology, see: 
http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cross-check/2013/01/30/is-scientific-materialism-almost-certainly-false/
Is Scientific Materialism “Almost Certainly False”? By John Horgan, Scientific American, January 30, 2013 



2013/3/25 Don Wharton <[address removed]>
Chad,
 
I am not as pessimistic as you are about the prior investments made in bioenergy. Yes the use of corn to make ethanol is not a great energy winner. However, the ethanol is very high octane and it is much better than the lead based octane boosting chemicals used in the past. Moreover, there are a whole range of companies that are working on using wood pulp, switchgrass or corn stover instead of corn itself. For some of them the result is a sugar that can be used to make ethanol from the existing corn to ethanol infrastructure.
Biofuels Digest is quite optimistic on a couple of companies:
“Adding the CAPEX and OPEX together, we show (based on a 20 year amortization of the plant’s construction cost) Mascoma in the $2.24 per gallon range for its 40 Mgy capacity, compared to POET’s $2.35 per gallon.”
The Mascoma plant will be using wood pulp. The Poet plant will be using “will use corncobs, leaves, husk, and some stalk.”
Don
From: Chad <[address removed]>
To: [address removed]
Sent: Sunday, March 24,[masked]:43 PM
Subject: Re: [atheists-27] Solar Energy

Don,
I'll touch on the question of solar energy and the cost.
Perhaps taking the advancement of wind and solar technology out of the private sector would be a great first step. Some things should be for the good of mankind and the planet and not for-profit. In time solar energy technology could be cheap enough that the grid would draw significantly from it use. Wind turbines, at this time, are far more appealing to me. Good ones are still crazy expensive ($25k +) but they do not depend on sunny skies for optimal output. You mentioned Germany in your post. Admittedly, I am not yet well read




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