A chance encounter forces Marcelo Gleiser to rethink the relationship between science and religion.
La Life's insight:
The question is: what does science actually want to do to you?
While this is a moving account, science remains nonetheless a fuzzy concept. Mostly because it is used in a multitude of meanings.
Is science the community of scientists? The corporation constituted by the apparatus of science funding? Is it the canonical scientific method? Is it the corpus of facts that we know to be true? Is it the mountain of bullshit crypto-facts that science keeps piling up daily with no-one bothering to check them? Is it the pile of theoretical dung that are Lambda-CDM cosmology and standard model physics, is it string theory? Is it the pharma industry? Monsanto?
It makes no sense to talk about "science" in the abstract, without clarifying what we mean by that term when we use it. It is one of the most abused words of the day, on either "side of the science debates".
If by "science" we mean "the methods by which we question the world and discover true facts", then we should stop using the word "science", because 90% of people involved in what can also be called "science" don't do that. They write grant applications, they proclaim that 5% deviations from placebo to be miracle drugs to resolve existential problems, they tell us that our selves don't exist, that we don't control our lives, that there is no meaning in the world.
Enough with this "science is wonderful" bullshit. True things and real questions are wonderful. Science as it manifests itself to people has long stopped really caring about that.
A 2010 scientific paper in the Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience discusses problems with neuroscience research quality and proposes as a solution that researchers should be trained in analytical methods. What does it say about modern science that someone has to suggest that researchers should be trained to analyze data?
La Life's insight:
Some selected quotes:
"Few, if any, of the previous reports appear to be valid."
"The most plausible explanation for the 100-fold discrepancy is that the (...) method did not (...) measure [the compound under study]."
"Another (...) metabolite not actually present in the brain at [reported] levels (...) can be neurotoxic (...) at high doses."
"(...) values that are smaller by a factor of about one million."
"A million-fold error was present in a recent report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that clearly arose from the use of inappropriate analytical methods."
"the obvious discrepancy between the previous literature and the results (...) was not detected during peer review."
"the original paper (...) continues to be cited at a high rate when a paper reporting the inaccuracy of the data (...) has been published."
In every field of science it is the same story: ignorance, data cherry picking, excessive interpretations, no reality checking. This drives blissful ignorance rather than knowledge.
The contents of these articles, in particular with respect to Oxytocyn and Serotonin, should be reviewed in light of the grand claims about human nature and happiness routinely made by neuroscientists (viz. In particular, the Churchlands) in that regard. Would be interesting to see whether they persist since 2010, when this article was published.
Through a critical review of Gladwell's work and a damning list of Gladwell recent quotes, Christopher Chabris makes interesting points about the importance, value and implied ethics of science writing and popularization, arguing against oversimplification. Ultimately, he supports the possibly apocryphal Einstein quote "you can simplify as much as possible, but not more."
If thinking about movement actually changes what we understand as the "physiological" brain, i.e. stuff in the brain that we can clearly recognize as causing events, how can anyone take the Libet experiment as meaning that movement is not caused by consciousness?
It's at best inconsistent, and inconsistency is usually the mark of ideological motives..
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