Tuesday 23 September 2014

Science and Belief

This is gonna be a long one and won't seem like my usual "women's disgusting bullshit" thing. Stick with it, you might be surprised how it kicks into the general theme of things going to crap.

Some personal history. A long while back (maybe 4 years) I got into MBTI, Jungian Cognitive Functions, etc. After a while I started asking myself some (of what I thought were interesting) questions. Questions like:

  • What if Freud was projecting his own strangely-warped sexual desires upon everyone else's motives, when he formulated the Oedipus Complex as the central tenant of psychoanalytical theory (do all children really want to have sex with their opposite-sex parent?)

  • What if MBTI and Jungian Cognitive Functions are actually bullshit, and they're simply a measure of the different ways that people cope with reality (and can this be changed with training?)

It also led to a personal theory of why women tend to be more emotional thinkers rather than rational thinkers (80/20 principle, 80% feeling and 20% thinking). Why men tend to be more rational thinkers rather than emotional thinkers (80/20 principle, 80% thinking and 20% feeling). And a few simple rule-of-thumb historical observations like that.

Along with this came a realization that many people do not seem to understand the concept of actions having consequences. And that it seemed to be mostly emotional thinkers who had problems with this concept. (Bash the 80% of women if you want, there's still 20% of men who just don't get it - probably more, giving the huge wave of feminized and emasculated men who have been deliberately taught to be emotional thinkers rather than rational thinkers by our feminized society.)

Recently I've come to the realization that most people do not know what science is.

To most people, Science is the search for Truth. People in laboratory coats, doing fancy math that nobody can understand, to find out the subtleties of reality, to hunt down God and pin Him to a laboratory slide and dissect Him. To shout "AHAH! This explains it all!" and show off their intellect to the world. Scientists are an alternative to God for Atheists. Science has given us cars, electricity, skyscrapers and vaccines because Scientists are Really Smart People™. The fruits of Science come out of thin air and are effectively: magic.


Science is a very simple thing: the process of finding reliable and predictable rules through controlled experimentation (ie you can repeat that mofo anywhere under the same conditions and it always works). A car wasn't made because a Really Smart Person™ invented it out of thin air. It was made because millions of people tried this, and that, and found what worked, and why, and tested it more, and changed it here, and tweaked it there - until one day Henry Ford put together the production-line for his Model-T.

People think: "Wow, Henry Ford made a car and got rich, what a really smart dude!" Yet reality is more like: "Wow, he made a production line which made every car part practically the same and used those identical parts to put together a car which he could sell for a profit. What a really smart idea that was, using the processes underlying science to make something reliable and affordable and useful like that."

Which is why most things these days are made on a production-line.

So this is where you get science. Step...by step...by step...by step. Electricity. Vacuum tubes. Transistors. Integrated circuit chips. Computers. Step...step...step...until finally you end up with that bloody iCrap that the stupid and vapid bitch across the table is rudely pecking away at instead of paying attention to the guy who she's met up with for a coffee-date.

What, you thought that it was magic that made that, and not a million precise steps that are repeated endlessly? No problem, I have a virgin that I plan to sacrifice to Baal tonight. You can bring the black goat. Get your mate to bring some rum and raisins too.

Back to history (and reality): Aristotle was the guy who said that heavier objects should fall faster than lighter objects. He then came out with airy-fairy theoretical speculation to say what makes it so. This process was known as: philosophy. Overall basis in reality: zero. Overall contribution to human progress: negative (I can make a case for that kind of thinking being a major setback for human civilization and progress).

Galileo was the guy who cried bullshit and proved it with a very subtle experiment (no, not the legendary dropping two balls off the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa). He used two different-weight balls rolling down a ramp. You can also test this experiment by dropping a stone and a feather: first both in air (the feather wafts gently down) and then both in vacuum (they both fall at the same rate).

After THAT, a guy named Francis Bacon - probably the greatest thinking man who ever lived, never mind Leonardo da Vinci - formalized Galileo's method of doing science. This distinguishes modern science from other forms of knowledge (like philosophy) because it ignores abstract reasoning about the ultimate causes of things and instead tests empirical theories through controlled investigation.

Step...step...step...step...step...can't repeat it? Throw it out! Step. It's not the investigation of Truth, it's a form of engineering - a kind of trial by error. It's not "true" knowledge because its only knowledge of specific things - and each can (at least theoretically) be disproved by further experiment. To be proved they have to be reproducible anywhere, anytime, by anyone with the right equipment under the same conditions.

So you're probably thinking around about now: Alright BlackPoisonSoul, what's with the fucking history lesson?

What's with it is because it's important. If we don't know what science is then we're going to make some dumbass mistakes. And as I've just shown up there, a lotta people (including some pretty-well-educated ones) don't know what science is. They think that science is something that cannot possibly be understood by mere mortals. They think it delivers wonders. They think that it has high priests. They think that it has an ideology that Must Be Obeyed™.

This is what buggers things up. Since most people think that mathematics and lab coats equals science, they then call economics a science. Even though almost nothing in economics actually comes from controlled and reproducible experiments. Then people get pissed at economists for not predicting impending financial crises. (Actually your best science in this case is to look at history - for example, many civilizations tried variations on paper money and inflation. Zimbabwe, Germany, France, Rome, China, etc - look them up. There's your reproducible experiments of "do X and Y happens", multiple civilizations over 3-4,000 years.)

So. When someone doesn't understand that science is built on experimentation, over and over, with the same exact results - they don't understand why it is that studies in fields like psychology don't really prove much. Only reproducible experiments prove something and - people being all bloody different, plus being a bunch of narcissistic bastards and slippery self-liars to boot - it's hard to reproduce something.

This is where you get headlines of "Study proves X" and "Study proves Y" and "Study proves Z" and they all have a stock picture of a scientist and they're all different and you get frustrated as hell because you're expecting something to make bloody sense. Which is weird because people don't make sense on the whole, so why are you expecting science to make sense of a bunch of weirdo's? Especially when over half of us are fucked up messes anywho?

At any rate, this is where the rubber hits the road, where we find out what science really is. It's the steps required to figure out and make your iPhone. It's the steps required to figure out and make the Saturn V that took Neil Armstrong to the moon. It's the steps to figure out and put together the production-lines which make the refrigerator and stove in your kitchen.

It's all that bloody knowledge, compounded over time, that started with a wet and smelly and hairy ape-like-thing from 1 million years ago. He picked up a rock to hit that bastard in the next tribe over the head with, and it's built up right through a million years to putting us on the moon and making our lives immeasurably easier and better.

That's fucking science.

Then we get non-science (nonsense?) also known as belief. (No I'm not talking about God. This is something completely separate that I know nothing about personally. Science has neither proved nor disproved God and I'm undecided as to if it ever will - though there's some interesting experimentation re the God Helmet.)

If you cannot reproduce it, anywhere, anytime, exactly, then it is not science. It is belief. Therefore by this definition:

Global Warming is belief. There is no reproducible science involved (though in fact, looking at the last billion-year history of global warming/cooling periods, we can see that the planet seems to have a fairly robust temperature-range no matter what). We can't turn around and do multiple experiments over a 100-year-range, adding and subtracting X amounts of man-made CO2 and other chemicals and re-running the experiment again, over and over.

All we have are airy-fairy theories and mathematical models and thought-experiments of which we have no clue if they are correct.

Feminism (Marxism/Communism/Socialism) is belief. There is no reproducible science involved (though in fact, looking at the history of the rise and fall of civilizations, we can see patterns of women's freedoms = sexual licentiousness = decline in civilization). We can't turn around and do multiple experiments over a 100-year-range, adding and subtracting X amounts of Feminism (Marxism/Communism/Socialism) and re-running the experiment again, over and over.

All we have is airy-fairy theories and philosophical thought-experiments of which we have no clue if they are correct.

Economics is belief. There is no reproducible science involved (though in fact, looking at the history of various civilizations, we can see what happens with paper money and debasement of currency and inflation and the like). We can't turn around and do multiple experiments over a 100-year-range, adding and subtracting X amounts of debasement/inflation and re-running the experiment again, over and over.

All we have is airy-fairy theories and philosophical thought-experiments of which we have no clue if they are correct.

Damn. I'm starting to see a pattern here.

Most people do not understand what science really is. They treat it as a belief, looking at it like it's some kind of cargo-cult, voodoo-magic-thing. Yet if we really understood it for what it is, we would understand the difference between science and belief (aka philosophy, aka "how I think that things should be" - even though they really might be the exact opposite).

Then we might take a long, hard look at our social selves. We might actually start to ask hard questions of ourselves. We might start to say things like:
Hmmm. We used to have rules of thumb like X, and our civilization as a whole got along pretty good. We tended to improve our lives lots and lots as time passed. The children's lives got a helluva lot better than their parents had, too. The parents were proud of that, helping to give their children a leg-up in life and make things better for them and us.
Then Karl Marx came up with Marxism - throwing out all those rules and substituting what he thought reality should be like. We saw those fellas Lenin and co who instigated this, violently, over a 4-year-period. We saw when it spectacularly failed in the economic collapse of Russia and the fall of the Berlin Wall. In fact Russia is still massively in the poo from all of this.
Yet, here we are, we're slowly doing the same things that they did, step by step. We're seeing the same or similar stuff that Russia had happen along the way. We can even see some parallels that occurred in history, hundreds to thousands of years ago. Yet we're somehow magically expecting it to be different in the end...
We need to understand very clearly the differences between Science and Belief - why it is that they are so different - why it is that we should keep a wary eye upon them - why we should think about them differently.


  1. Something interesting I've noticed:

    There's a Facebook page called "I fucking love science". It has 18 million-and-some-change likes. On this page, you'll find the latest and greatest of approved progressive braggadocio horseshit. Very little actual science.

    It's not about actually "fucking loving science". It's little more than the predominating orthodoxy of today's societal zeitgeist. It's the Catholic church of the 21st century, complete with patron saints (Neal Degrasse "Magic Negro" Tyson), axiomatic doctrines (gender is a social construct), and heretics (racists, "climate skeptics", etc).

    It's not "logical" or "free-thinking". It's controlling; even more so since it strokes the egos of the serfs. And frankly, that's what most people need. Control. The stupid people who have no understanding of biomechanical and social realities need to be muzzled and yoked. Not given a vote.

    Otherwise, you end up in the modern West. Victims of their own suffrage. And rightfully so, I might add.

    1. But a religious group posting scripture memes is cool though? The difference if you care to know is that the church tells you what to think, the a science group asks for proof.

      If you don't like science, shut off your computer and saddle up your horse. Everything you use today is a product of science.

      Hell, you don't even get a horse. They were domesticated via animal husbandry, a biological science.

      One last aside...do you really think the science community takes the population of IFLS seriously?

    2. I never brought up scripture. You did. Or did you miss my shot at the church? Lame strawman, brah.

      Also, I never railed against science, so I think I'll retain my computer. I railed against holier-than-thou faggots like you who posture themselves as great minds in spite of their complete lack of accomplishments. Imagine that.

      Lastly, I don't much care what the beta dorks in the "science community" (LOL) do or don't take seriously. I care about things with utility.

    3. You used fifty cent words to artificially inflate your arguement. You resorted to name calling and ridicule. You failed to determine my position to see if you could win my support.

      Three strikes, you're out.

      My advice, less emotion and more questions.

    4. LOL! Weak.
      You didn't even address the arguments. You threw out a strawman. And when that didn't work, you took your ball and went home. Nice job, umpire.

      Also, nobody cares about your support.
      As your name implies, you're ANONYMOUS.

  2. Not to nitpick, but probabilistic processes are also a valid target of scientific inquiry. People that work in hard sciences have it much easier in that regard. The law of large numbers is on their side (astronomically large sample sizes - it's enough to recall the number of Avogadro to illustrate the point), their objects of study are unburdened with 'path dependence' ('life history' and memory, IOW), are much more uniform and have far less degrees of freedom in their possible behavior than, say, organisms studied in life sciences or (to even higher degree) humans in soft sciences. There is also less opprobrium if things get a little... 'messy', if you know what I mean. Ethical considerations are practically absent. In other words, 'particles have no rights'.

    Still, at the heart of the matter, there are philosophical underpinnings you can't really get rid of. Take for example the concept of probability itself and the age-long question what you measure under the label of probability. There are two main camps: bayesians and frequentists, both using a slightly different operative definition, coming from different philosophical assumptions.

    There is also a perpetually ongoing discussion about the demarcation problem. It can be traced to the definition of knowledge in general (scientific knowledge included) as true, justified belief. Do you understand now? In order to have a study result classified as scientific, there are endless debates 'how much' and exactly 'by what methods' it has to be justified. Some even claim that a quote from the Bible suffices. : )

    Well, I probably shouldn't write so much about a subject I'm not involved directly in.

  3. Personally, I like this rule of the thumb: the more predictive power has a specific ruling, the more 'scientific' it is. You could make scientific claims about the particle diffusion speed of a specific solvent/solute combination, but you can't make reliable predictions about the movements of a single particle.

  4. Science isn't about experiments. It it were, astronomy wouldn't be a science. Science is about observations, and explanations for those observations. An experiment is a controlled way to set up an observation, but it's not the only way.

  5. Paul, explain to me what is a natural experiment, then. How does it differ from an informed observation?

  6. @Nominee - I know IFLS. I think of it as science reporting, sometimes misquoted and often concentrating on big and sexy things (today: Wormholes are Quantum-Entangled Black Holes and quantum entanglement might be achieved via wormholes also). You might consider it to be a basics-only semi-informative channel (aka telling lies to children so that they have a rough idea of what's going on).

    Once they get into university they become informed on a deeper level of reality than the superficial surface which they learned as children. Think of it as a primer to get people *interested* without it being overwhelmingly technical. You can even think of much of the internet in the same manner.

    @Mindstorm and @paulmurray - I deliberately passed over probability and statistics. Actuarial's have their place in insurance, yet they can be blindsided when a so-called Black Swan event strikes - like the earthquakes in Christchurch. (I must reread that book by Nassim Taleb once more, I need a refresher-primer.) Similarly what happened with the Quants at Long Term Capital Management - their models were only partially accurate and down they went. Derivatives from mortgages and the credit card industry hit the banking system, yet we still have the derivatives from student loans (which cannot be discharged via bankruptcy, at least so far as I know).

    Likewise I specifically bypassed theoretical physics. Quantum Theory, the Standard Model, String Theory, M Theory, Supersymmetry, Supergravity, etc. Einstein revised his General Relativity to take out a cosmological constant (which he stated putting it in was a huge blunder, yet now it might not be given Dark Energy). Things can be exceptionally important on the quantum scale. Yet we're still mostly-uninformed and in the position of cracking the nut open to see if there's something edible/useful inside of it.

    I semi-sorta lump Astronomy into this, along with statistics, etc. While we think that we have a model of the Main Sequence of stars, etc - we don't know for absolute certain-sure about that. Yet astronomy ended up working out gravity and Newton's laws of motion (and thus rockets and putting man on the moon). Once the scientists thought that they had worked out the fusion sequence in the sun, they then figured out how the atomic bomb could be used as a trigger for a fusion bomb.

    We have scientists working in materials-sciences who think that they may have figured out how the microstructure of a conductor can make it superconducting at higher temperatures. Invisibility-cloaks for microwave and optical wavelengths, plus how this could potentially be adapted to "divert" ground-shock-waves around buildings and thus make them earthquake-proof. People are working out how to get nanostructures to self-assemble, rather than trying to figure out how to place each atom individually with some form of brute-force machine.

    Hopefully I've illustrated better the difference in thinking. One is things which can be tested and used to materially improve our lives and civilization. The other is airy-fairy theories which have not been tested, yet are being applied willy-nilly to our social structure without deep thought regarding the potential consequences. It's the difference between "we think reality is like this and we're doing our best to check it" vs "I am saying that reality is this and I'm ignoring all evidence to the contrary".

    Some things are simply interesting to know about and think about. The Supermassive Black Hole at the center of our galaxy - interesting. Gamma Ray Bursts which could potentially wipe out all life on earth in short order - interesting. Substantially material to our civilization? Not readily apparent.

    1. Interesting, but only as a source of amusement? The themes explored in the book titled 'The Men Who Stare at Goats'.

      Interesting, and might have practical applications? The idea of stochastic resonance.

      Not interesting by itself (except for an extremely small minority), but might have extremely far reaching, potentially revolutionary implications? The practical equivalence of entropy in traditional thermodynamic sense and entropy in information theory.

      Rhetorically - which examples belong to science?

    2. Speaking of 'extremely far reaching, potentially revolutionary implications', have you noticed the heading titled "Information is physical"? While not explicitly stating 'all information is physical', how do you think, how much place it leaves for any supernatural phenomena? It's funny reading religious people ribbing atheists as being 'low IQ materialists'. Heh, as if religiosity were to correlate with IQ. Pot and kettle, in short. I am a materialist monist, BTW...

      You might like the subject of bioinformatics, likely being pre-equipped with general understanding of applied methods and software types used.

      Take for example BayeScan. How would you explain to a 'high IQ' creationist how it works without referring to evolution at least once? : )

      I wonder how many of these genes would be highlighted by it as still undergoing selection. Or, perhaps this is a true statement: 'Mankind has stopped evolving'. Well, I'm not convinced...

    3. Heh, these soulless atheists and their blasphemy...

    4. ^^ "...not stating explicitly that..."


    5. Have you noticed that the list of HAR-related genes has only 25 entries, while the number of HARs is 49? Hmm, how many of unlisted HARs are a part of a template for an untranslated RNA sequence, or have another, unknown function (or at present no function at all)?

      It's staggering how much we don't know yet.

  7. And unfortunately, science is made of people. Who are prone to bias, making mistakes, and having their own agendas.

    97% study falsely classifies scientists