My first step is to try and find something they know that I don't before crafting persuasive arguments. Maximize for total knowledge not winning arguments.
I'm kind of pissed that I guy I disagreed with seems to have been banned here, for example. I was curious where he was coming from and whether my foundation was as shaky as his appeared to me. (I think it was a guy, but I'll never know)
The best teachers I've ever had simply laid out all the evidence they deemed relevant and had us make up our own minds. The conclusion was never really in doubt by the teachers, but the process of arriving at it independently was more important than the destination.
I started out as a chemist (undergrad), became a statistician (grad), and finally realized that I had to design, run, analyze and fund my own experiments if I wanted something resembling "the truth", 9 times out of 10.
But my undergrad English teacher made me realize that it's more powerful to plant the seed of an idea and water it with evidence (selectively presented or not) than to try and outright convince people, when you have the luxury of time. I hope that my students are smarter for it; I let them sink or swim by their own wits and I expect them to ask for help if they find they're out of their depth. It's how the real world tends to work anyways.
EDIT: verb tense agreement
Telling someone they're wrong is useless. After that they can only think of reasons why they're correct.
E.g., "What questions would you ask me to convince me that you are correct?" It opens up the argument so they are less defensive, since they started with a question instead of an argument.
It would take a whole lot of cognitive dissonance to get through a decent sized software project and imagine it is all flawless or couldn't be even slightly better in some way.
Both ends of behavior are the result of being confronted often with error, be it caused by wrongful action or caused by externalities. When a circuit goes up in smoke, its just physics being a harsh mistress; getting angry about it is useless, so we just skip the blame/anger part.
But it's often necessary to get programmers to change their behavior, since what they are doing is causing the problems, and programmers are no better than anyone else at changing behavior in response to criticism.
Design and code reviews are particular hot spots, which is why most I have seen had become just check offs.
The work of a programmer is to sit in front of a soulless machine that has no inhibition in telling the programmer made a mistake on his code at regular intervals.
You need to be pain intolerant to be a programmer, while in other roles pain avoidance is the norm.
And in fact, that is one of the techniques of conflict management between partners, addressing the problem instead of finding the responsible of it.
"@Dave, you seem to have made yet another type error on line 56. @jon recently committed code that didn't fail any integration tests. Why can't you be more like @jon?"
"Wow @Dave! that's the smartest code I've ever seen! just one thing, there's a probably-not-that-important error on line 56"
If you build a system which successfully encourages actual humans to say nice things about one another's code _and mean it_ while incorporating constructive feedback, it would work beautifully, but that is a markedly more challenging problem...
It's not much different to my mind, and I fall into that camp of people who always think they're wrong.
Try to tell me I'm completely right, I'll argue with you why I'm not
This is probably one of the most insightful things you can ever read. Internalise this and your whole way of approaching others will be changed. This is valid for arguments and discussions, but really for interpersonal relationships in general.
Interesting, given that I'm a 'creationist idiot' (I won't go into details), I never actually debate this with anyone that doesn't have the theological (and hermeneutical skills) necessary to understand WHY on this old Earth someone would think it's young. It's a complex problem, touching on many areas and, yes, very stupid arguments can be brought up in favor and against specific flavors of creationism.
BUT, regarding ID (which is often breathlessly conflated with creationism), when I talk with people that have the philosophical expertise to understand it (but not agree with it), I have only met respectful attitudes. This is not to say that it convinces me I'm right in what I believe. I'm still the kind of skeptics that gives plausibility percentages to his beliefs.
Regarding life in general, no amount of patience will harm you.
I think you do a misfavor by using the phrase "breathlessly conflated" in a comment which supports being aware that others may be "starting from a different premise", etc.
It doesn't help that the authors of a "Of Pandas and People", an ID textbook, effectively did a search and replace in early drafts of "creationism" with "intelligent design", and "intelligent creator" to "intelligent agency", after Edwards v. Aguillard settled that teaching creationism in public schools was not constitutional. One of the famous examples is how "creationalist" became "cdesign proponentsists". https://ncse.com/creationism/legal/cdesign-proponentsists .
Quoting the judge in Kitzmiller v. Dover:
> By comparing the pre and post Edwards drafts of Pandas, three astonishing points emerge: (1) the definition for creation science in early drafts is identical to the definition of ID; (2) cognates of the word creation (creationism and creationist), which appeared approximately 150 times, were deliberately and systematically replaced with the phrase ID; and (3) the changes occurred shortly after the Supreme Court held that creation science is religious and cannot be taught in public school science classes in Edwards. This word substitution is telling, significant, and reveals that a purposeful change of words was effected without any corresponding change in content ....
While certainly ID is different from creationism (it can allow extraterrestrials as the intelligent designer, and not just a deity), it "cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents." (Quoting Dover.)
Those starting from a different premise from you, that is, that ID is a smokescreen for creationism which uses the language of science to get around constitutional restrictions of what can be taught in schools, would not consider this as a real distinction but rather a deliberately introduced confusion. For them, it would not be a breathless conflation, but an indicator that the social and religious basis of ID as a creationist movement is more relevant than the details of its doctrine, which they also believe to be a incorrect interpretation of the evidence.
"Edwards v. Aguillard, 482 U.S. 578 (1987) was a U.S. Supreme Court case concerning the constitutionality of teaching creationism. The Court ruled that a Louisiana law requiring that creation science be taught in public schools, along with evolution, violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment because the law was specifically intended to advance a particular religion."
In the spirit of the OP's article, let me say that I wholeheartedly agree with you, but you might want to look at this from another perspective... ;-D
Point being SCOTUS can even agree with itself. It has the power of the gun, which means we may care about its position, but hardly that it is right.
We may be bound legally by their ruling, but that is simply a matter of law and tradition. The Supreme Court does not itself have a constitutional mandate to decide on the meaning of the constitution and the constitutionality of laws. It started when a chief justice decided that is what the court was going to do in 1803, and everyone went along with it.
The concepts of case law and judicial review are simply traditions of our legal system.
The constitutional clause in question says that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." That to me seems to say the government shouldn't be screwing with it one way or the other.
I do disagree with your statement that Chief Justice Marshall 'decided that is what the court was going to do', as the everyone in the ratification debate, including the Anti-Federalists, believed that federal courts could find a statue to be unconstitutional. Marbury v. Madison was the first to exercise that power. The 1796 case of Hylton v. United States, under Chief Justice Ellsworth, shows that judicial review for constitutionality was not new to Marshall.
My earlier comment was "after Edwards v. Aguillard settled that teaching creationism in public schools was not constitutional". I believe this is clearly in the context of the post-Marbury v. Madison tradition of the last 200 years.
Your followup comment was "There are no constitutional restrictions on what can be taught in schools." As you are coming from a different tradition, and a distinctly minority and non-influential one, I think you would have been more clear had you written "The Constitution doesn't say the Supreme Court has the right to decide what can be taught in schools."
Otherwise, we were under the incorrect belief that summarizing Edwards v. Aguillard would be enough to show that your statement was incorrect.
Under the US legal tradition since the early 1960s, schools are not part of a free exercise of religion. See Engel v. Vitale, Abington School District v. Schempp, and related cases dealing with prayer in school for the logic.
It also doesn't seem clear to me how setting up a curriculum (a legal act, after all) can't be covered by that text, unless you want to go back and argue it is only concerned with preventing a church becoming literally "established" like the Anglican Church is in England.
I disagree. The judicial branch, within which the Supreme Court is established as the paramount actor, has the Constitutional role of resolving all cases and controversies arising under the Constitution and laws of the United States, which cases and controversies often, in their resolution, require determining the meaning of the Constitution and laws of the United States.
There are Constitutional restrictions on both what government can cause to be taught in public schools and the techniques which government can direct be used to teach those things, arising through the various provisions of the Constitution that constrain the powers of States, particularly the 14th Amendment.
It depends on what you consider "harm", while you may not physical be harmed, you can sure waste a lot of your life trying to explain concepts that people are not willing to hear.
I couldn't agree more.
As a lifelong believer in science, raised in the Midwest among creationists, I have come into many conversations with intelligent people who somehow place faith in front of evidence. It's demoralizing to realize the frequency that this phenomenon occurs. I've recently scheduled a trip to the Creation Museum to observe the message at its core (half for a laugh, half to better understand my opponents in future debates).
Of course, a visit to the Natural History Museum, NY, is on the same itinerary for balance.
What do you do? How do you live your life your last three days?
One school of thought says, disregard the evidence. Assert, against it all, that the meteor is going to miss. Or if that's hard, decide to trust someone who asserts it (this is usually easier).
This is arguably rational. If you're wrong, it won't matter, and you'll probably feel less awful your last three days.
I think creationist's thinking is something like this:
1. If evolution is true, then God is not.
2 Without a creator's purpose, existence is meaningless.
3. If existence is meaningless, you might as well assume it has a meaning, (because that's no less meaningless than anything else!).
To argue against a creationist, it's probably best - or at least, most efficient - to argue against the first stage in that chain of reasoning. If you want to argue against all theists, you can argue against the second.
If you want to argue against all non-nihilists, I guess you can argue against the third, but that is ... literally pointless either way.
So the third point is a good thing to concede in arguments with creationists (and theists, if you insist).
Serious question - is this US-specific line of thinking? Because I was raised in Poland, which is ultra-religious and if you aren't a catholic you will be ostracized from your community, and yet evolution was NEVER questioned in my education, and I went to private catholic schools. It's widely accepted by everyone, I think even the pope supports it. Obviously, it's accepted in the line of "evolution is real, but God probably helped a bit along the way", but still, I don't know anyone crazy enough to say evolution is not real. And yet the assumption I always hear on HN and reddit is that if you are religious you don't believe in evolution - how come?
The problem in parts of the US is that some religious leaders decided, quite explicitly, to use evolution to drive a wedge between modern, 'materialist', scientific thinking and their followers. I think this is because they could forsee their congregations falling as more people became better informed and drifted away from religion. So they found a way to make it "us or them" and forge a new sort of unity through opposition. Unfortunately it took hold quite well and has been spread outside the US by US influenced churches and pastors.
Edit - this is part of it - https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wedge_strategy
But this is quite a new development. It's hard for us to appreciate it, but there are other conceptions of religion's role in life. In the US, many religious people believe that things in the Bible literally describe how stuff is, it's not just an allegory or metaphor to help people in their lives. (Or similarly in Islam, the religion is not separate from all other aspects of life, but an inseparable part, without which nothing else makes sense).
Indirectly. Creationism is really only a thing within certain subsets of baptist and evangelical branches of Christianity, and these branches haven't take a large hold in Europe, whereas in the US they've flourished. Catholics have never really gone for it, even in the US, as far as I'm aware.
Catholics haven't gone for it the way certain branches of Protestantism have because adhering to Young Earth creationism in the face of empirical evidence to the contrary is largely, in those branches of Protestantism, a defense of a particular extreme form of a sola scriptura (a Protestant doctrine which directly contrasts with Catholicisms dual role for scripture and tradition) with Biblical literalism (which is likewise not a Catholic doctrine.)
There are Young Earth Creationists in the Catholic Church, but its a matter of personal belief that is far removed from the core doctrine and identity of the Church.
I grew up in Italy. No comment needed, I suppose :-)
Still science is science, and religion is religion. They manage to live together in (enough) harmony. But idiot thesis like creationism are never given any more credit than a promise by a politician in the last days before an election.
I think there's a bigger problem with the religious version that you presented. Namely, for any religion/concept of God, you can imagine another one that wants you to do opposite things. How do you know which God's existence to assume? You're back to trying to find evidence for one God against another God. In practice, this would probably also provide evidence against the claim that "no Gods exist". It's hard to think of evidence of the form "If there's a God, it probably wants X as opposed to not X." that really needs that pre-condition.
So the religious person may just as well go back to trying to gather evidence for God against no-God, because they need to gather evidence for God against the God-that-desires-opposite-things anyway.
In some religions, the relation with God is a tangible and personal one. God "speaks to you" so to speak.
So you just "know" -- you're not starting from evaluating random entities against each other as if they're all equal.
If God "speaks to you", you already "know" he exists. This was precisely what I tried to point out in my previous comment. If you have a method to pick out a particular God out of all possible Gods, then this method (or something related) can also be used to reject atheism directly. There's no need for the elaborate argument that I responded to.
By the way, this is disputable. I'm not denying that idiots/creationists use this argument; I question the argument itself.
If evolution is true, a literary interpretation of the Bible is not. Still, evolution can be seen as a wonderful present from a "superior intelligence".
I also find the evidence for Christ's resurrection quite strong. "The Case for Christ" by Lee Strobel is a book that lays it out well (though I'm not a huge fan of the literary approach).
There's a tendency to write off creationists and theists as completely irrational and stupid, without giving any thought to their motivations.
edit: I missed jahnu's post inmediately below, with a similar theme "That's the essence of Pascal's Wager"
edit2: and mcguire
So I guess I should say "me too"
I don't think it's like Pascal's wager, because there's no need for probability here, and you're not trying to avoid any bad outcome. I think it's more like how Pascal rejected the concern that he might be insane (if you ask yourself "how do I know I'm not crazy?" you're basically already assuming you're not crazy).
But, I haven't actually read all of Pascal's Pensees. What extracts I have read of it suggests to me that he's heavily straw-manned both by later philosophers and people writing about it today, so for all I know the "wager" was more like this, too.
Hell is nowhere in this chain of argument. God arguably is, but that's in step 2. It's step 3 which may kinda, sorta remind you of Pascal's Wager, but it's only an argument against nihilism, not even for theism.
Yes, conceding step 3 leaves wide open the question of what to believe in instead of nihilism. Even conceding step 2 leaves open the question of "what sort of god are we talking about". But this is precisely the point. That means you can argue these things separately, while still acknowledging your opponent's ultimate concern.
You can even give your superego a face and think there is a big guy in the sky that loves you and cares about what you do.
Although you have to concede quite a lot. When you feel awe at the stars, or the exhilaration of love, or burning anger at injustice, you must tell yourself, "this feeling is just an adaptive delusion; there's nothing good about caring or wrong about rape and murder per se, I just happen not to like them because I'm That Sort of Mammal".
If you say "existence is meaningless, morality doesn't exist" and in the next breath say anything about what people should or shouldn't do, including whether they should believe in God, I respectfully submit that it's inconsistent to do so. (Not that you should mind inconsistency.) This is my beef with people like Dawkins: if he's right, everything he says is utterly pointless.
That said, I can concede a lot without pretending the universe somehow cares for me. I eat good food, and drink good wine, and just enjoy everything I have.
Even if you disagree with me, you may concede that for all practical means the universe is infinite and the human mind is finite. Since something finite can't contain the infinite, how foolish would I be if I pretend to understand the universe?
Not that I agree with the creationists, I would love to believe that I'm special because some big guy in the sky gave me life. It is a comforting idea, but in order to accept the concept of an anthropomorphic god you have to believe that humans are somehow special, and this is very pretentious. I'm living in this tiny little rock floating in space which existence is barely a drop in the ocean of time. I'm not special except in the minds of the few people that manage to like me.
But I will not pretend my own version of god is less made-up: the Tao we talk about is not the real Tao.
Which can be a very intelligent and rational thing to do. It all depends on the end goal ("discover how the world actually works" vs "calm your soul through belief in a higher power", etc.).
People can do very stupid things (dangerous to them, to the detriment of their health, social relations, etc) in pursuit of evidence. And very smart things based on faith.
Again, it depends on the end goal.
Ex falso quod libet.
That's actually patently false. I might have an irrational goal of driving a Ferrari while pouring ketchup on my head, but not all methods are equally capable of realising it.
And of course, if I break into a bank and steal money as the method to get the Ferrari I could be put to jail (either before or after realizing my dream) -- so the method absolutely does matter.
>Ex falso quod libet
That is about logical statements -- it says nothing about methods of realising a goal, except if your goal is to build correct logical propositions.
Modern science is based on gathering information and forming ideas and hypotheses around it. The origins of matter and energy are an active area of investigation, not a guilty secret.
"Guilty secret" is an uncharitable reading of the parent post, I'd say more out of the realm of scientific inquiry and more the philosophical. It's like asking "what was there before time existed?" - the scientific answer is null because that's a nonsense question - "before" implies the existence of a "time" to count it.
And yet, if the universe suddenly exists at T+0:00, it'll be impossible for science to understand the conditions at T-0:01 because that information does not exist given consensus understanding of time.
Still, we can comprehend the concept of "before time existed" on some abstract level, but the sciences cannot, absent some external source of information that a scientist must necessarily reject until it appears.
And potentially that pushes the question back further - so where did all that come from?
I took issue with the initial post because it sounded conspiratorial, and it also sounded like there was a huge cop-out at the centrw of everything that people were trying to ignore. On the contrary - it's very interesting and it's no shame or revelation to say "we don't know yet, and we don't know if we ever will"
Yes, like that of the post which I was directing my response towards:
>As a lifelong believer in science...
Science is fundamentally hypothetical, not something to be sure of.
Believe: to accept (something) as true; feel sure the truth of.
"Believing in science" or "believing in creationism" are both opposed to your statement (which I agree with), because they do not leave room for doubt:
>we don't know yet, and we don't know if we ever will
It's one thing to go to a church (there even might be purely social reasons), and it's another thing to discard overwhelming scientific evidence and believe something based on the principle of not needing any evidence at all. I become especially sad when I think of the confused minds of the poor children of these people.
On the topic, I've found The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins a very enlightening read if one wishes to understand the arguments of religious people.
It is that, if you want to have any hope of bringing a creationist over to your side, you need to be able to understand and articulate both their arguments, and their point of view.
If you can establish that you understand them, they are going to be a lot more receptive to you asking the hard questions about their beliefs (this is best done by asking them to convince you to be a creationist, and then asking those hard questions).
Calling those people idiots does nothing other than give them a legitimate reason to dislike both you, and by extension, other people that "believe in evolution".
Somewhat related to that, creationists tend to be deeply religious, so books like The God Delusion -- which I very much enjoyed, by the way -- are almost guaranteed to turn off a creationist. It would be better to recommend books that explain evolution through a Christian world-view, as they will have a much easier time relating to the material.
Personally I think the God Delusion by Dawkins is as far from my perspective as could be possible, so I would not recommend it as a book for people to understand "religious people" (as if you could pigeon hole people like that!). Blanket stereotyping forgets about individuals.
You'd be surprised.
You can easily find creationists with higher IQ than you, that can out-solve problems in your field faster than you.
And the same for most categories one can dismiss as "idiots", except people with verifiable cognitive impairment.
This would be because it is a firm rejection of scientific evidence in favour of belief. Not all forms of faith and belief require you to reject evidence, mind, but this one most certainly does.
But in other respects I'm at least a reasonably intelligent software engineer!
That stretches the definition of an idiot considerably.
>This would be because it is a firm rejection of scientific evidence in favour of belief.
That could be beneficial for one's emotional health (belief in higher power and all that) and thus the smart thing to do in some cases.
Who said "identifying reality correctly" is the smarter thing to do? Sometimes, not being too logical can have great benefits.
Here's an old argument for this:
>Origin of the Logical. — Where has logic originated in men's heads? Undoubtedly out of the illogical, the domain of which must originally lave been immense. But numberless beings who reasoned otherwise than we do at present, perished; albeit that they may have come nearer to truth than we!
Whoever, for example, could not discern the "like" often enough with regard to food, and with regard to animals dangerous to him, whoever, therefore, deduced too slowly, or was too circumspect in his deductions, had smaller probability of survival than he who in all similar cases immediately divined the equality.
The preponderating inclination, however, to deal with the similar as the equal — an illogical inclination, for there is nothing [100%] equal to another — created the whole basis of logic. It was just so (in order that the conception of [a shared] substance should originate, this being indispensable to logic, although in the strictest sense nothing actual corresponds to it) that for a long period the changing process in things had to be overlooked, and remain unperceived.
The beings not seeing correctly [and saw similar things as "same" and static] had an advantage over those who saw everything "in flux".
In itself every high degree of circumspection in conclusions, every sceptical inclination, is a great danger to life. No living being might have been preserved unless the contrary inclination — to affirm rather than suspend judgment, to mistake and fabricate rather than wait, to assent rather than deny, to decide rather than be in the right — had been cultivated with extraordinary assiduity.
The course of logical thought and reasoning in our modern brain corresponds to a process and struggle of impulses, which singly and in themselves are all very illogical and unjust ; we experience usually only the result of the struggle, so rapidly and secretly does this primitive mechanism now operate in us.
(Friedrich Nietzsche, Gaya Scienza -- with small edits in  to make the excerpt clearer)
And here's a newer one:
>Hoffman: Right. The classic argument is that those of our ancestors who saw more accurately had a competitive advantage over those who saw less accurately and thus were more likely to pass on their genes that coded for those more accurate perceptions, so after thousands of generations we can be quite confident that we’re the offspring of those who saw accurately, and so we see accurately. That sounds very plausible. But I think it is utterly false. It misunderstands the fundamental fact about evolution, which is that it’s about fitness functions—mathematical functions that describe how well a given strategy achieves the goals of survival and reproduction. The mathematical physicist Chetan Prakash proved a theorem that I devised that says: According to evolution by natural selection, an organism that sees reality as it is will never be more fit than an organism of equal complexity that sees none of reality but is just tuned to fitness. Never.
And personally, yeah, I think anyone that can't cope with reality as it is, that needs comforting fictions of higher powers, is de-facto weaker and worse off.
The scientific method has advanced our society immeasurably. Evolutionarily speaking our rationality and logical thought has given us such amazing success it's hard to see how that is supportable at all. It's also not clear what they mean by "tuned to fitness" there. He seems to consider that abstractions and shortcuts are the same as unreality, which appears orthogonal to this debate.
Where do hypothesis come from?
I'm not sure how that's a weakness?
Yes, an intelligent agent will do exactly what you suggested. And by the way, what you said was exactly a hypothesis. What exactly did you do to generate it? Where did that text/ideas come from?
When you come to the bottom of it you'll probably find something that you can't explain. You'll have to think about something and that will lead to something else and so on.
The scientific method is just a means of communicating ideas to other people. But, can you use scientific method on itself? That is, can you communicate a scientific method to generate scientific methods (basically only the hypothesis) for a particular subject? What about "hunches"? Can I have them?
If you can, you hit jackpot. But if you don't, then you might want to think more about discarding the unexplainable.
Go beyond that and try to imagine an 4d or 5d space. Then extrapolate and do a bijection from that to understanding what God is. Why do you think that you can do that? What does this prove about all this thing?
You seem to be trying to say that the use of hunches and soft knowledge to form the basis of inquiry and test somehow contradicts or weakens the idea that the world around us can be best understood by the scientific method.
"Hypothesis" is not knowledge, nor are such generated by magic, and they only become knowledge when tested (or contradicted).
As for the last bit, sorry you've degenerated into talking nonsense.
I'm asking: how can I generate hypothesis? Are you in possession of a scientific method for generating hypothesis? Can you share it?
Scientific method can do so much but I guess you have made up your mind already.
Hypothesis is not knowledge until tested.
Since you can't use scientific method to bootstrap itself - as far as anyone can tell - this is enough to question scientific method's ability to resolve _all_ issues and declare any result on things not applicable to it.
Is this important? You tell me. You may find it useful not to apply unsuitable methods to all situations.
Scientific method likely cannot resolve all possible categories of question, no. Empiricism is a fundamental assumption, that things are repeatable and hold true under investigation.
However this is a very different sort of assumption to the rejection of evidence based on faith that is implicit to creationism. One is our best effort to understand the world around us, the other is wilful ignorance.
Because a thing which you believe and yet is not defined by the scientific method (or rather, empiricism) is known as "faith", a concept which you and the rest of this thread has spent a good deal of energy attacking.
In other words, it has no empirical base. It's an idea. A thought, held in the belief that some future action by you or others may prove it correct.
That variable certainly exists - it's why we have blind-controlled trials as the gold standard of research.
As compared to a hypothesis - here is an idea that should be tested by investigation, I make no prior judgement to its truth
Quoting Hamming: "A man was fishing with a net in the sea. He concluded that there is no smaller fish in the sea than what he caught". (s/fishing net/scientific method)
(1)Empiricism modulo quantum effects - and here we go again.
I.E. how is it possible to choose fiction as fact in the knowledge it is fiction?
I don't really understand the mindset...
That's just the moment of choice though. Given enough conditioning and getting used to it yourself, it can become as convincing (to your own self) as any reality.
Besides, don't people chose convenient truths over reality all the time, creationists or not?
Even the belief in science, which usually is a belief in fiction (an ideal of how it should be conducted) as opposed to how it's practiced and what interests and motivations are in play (from corporate tampering to "I'll review this peer reviewed paper favourably, because that guy is a friend of a friend, or they might help with my grants, etc." -- which can even function at a subconscious level, e.g. instinctively being more positively predisposed to papers by people you know or can help your career).
Don't people choose convenient fictions? Not people worth knowing, IMHO, no. People that choose inquiry over ignorance are the ones thay actually make stridea out of the darkness and got us where we are today.
"Belief" in science is the wrong way to think about it. Understanding that the scientific method has flaws but is still far superior as a tool to discover what is, rather than proclaim it without evidence or shy away into comforting fictions, seems the best way to approach knowledge.
That's a convenient fiction to believe, but I haven't found it to be true in anybody.
Whether they end up doing so is less important, they choose not to whenever the choice is apparent.
I've known wonderful artists and creative persons who absolutely could not give a flying duck for the "reality".
Was the person here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0319061/ worth knowing?
There is also the argument that if you yourself do not accept evidence that creationists do, that does not mean that evidence is not there.
You might also want to read/see Hamming about science and how mathematics is not exactly free from presuppositions.
And there is also the Goldbach conjecture where you find that a system generates facts about itself that can be demonstrated only by going outside the system - ad infinitum.
I did not read the paper you mentioned but God does not exactly work like people regularly assume, that is "you pray and God will do you good".
The idiot argument is convenient but weak. It just gives a quick way to dismiss counter arguments
That would be The Incompleteness Theorem of Gödel - not Goldbach
Although I guess there are creationists and there are creationists:
If you ask me about science I will answer with science. I did well in school, including biology and introduction to astrophysics.
If you hold a gun to my head and ask if I still belive this nonsense about the world being created I'd guess I'd say yes (if I can't get around to disarming you, I don't like armed people with strong ideological beliefs going around trying to convince people :-/ )
On a more serious note: For me, the distinction between belief and science disappear somewhere around "all models are wrong, some are useful". For me, both models have been very useful.
Which is what I don't like about [some] creationism. It tries to use a Why tool to answer a How question.
And as long as you take Biblical stories to be metaphors and/or best-effort explanations from before we had the data that we have now, they're perfectly fine stories that make plenty of sense as an explanation.
Adam&Eve for instance. If all you know is that it takes a man and a woman to produce a baby, it stands to reason that at some point there had to have been the first pair.
Could religion not be considered a philosophical framework?
Thanks for showing me there's a name for why vs how. I had no idea.
I think the atrength of this distinction also varies between people. I know many religious atheists who believe in the value of religion, in its teachings and traditions, even in some hybrid concept of heaven and hell, possibly god, but who do not believe God exists as a factual entity or that anything from any religious text is fact rather than metaphor.
But I also come from a country that is 68% christian but only 32% of the population says they believe in there being some sort of god.
Edit: Apparently "Catholic Atheism" is a thing that exists: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_atheism
What useful model does creationism put forward?
I've met creationists that believed in micro evolution: microbe can evolve to get certain resistance. But not the macro one, that is natural selection can result in human as we are right now. I was absolutely not able to justify the probability that it can happen.
Is that an argument for the current state of the marbles being created from nothing?
A stronger argument is that we have managed to create building blocks of life from basic physics and chemistry. No superpowers required for that.
At least we can see how the stars begin, change and die.
No. Just some creators.
We just don't have a handle on how common those conditions are. And many other subsequent conditions, for cellular life, for multicellular, for tissues and organs. Finally, for intelligence and sapience.
The 'best result' (assuming we're itching to disprove God) would be to show an origin of life is plausible. But even that doesn't prove where life on Earth actually came from.
At that point they aren't arguing against evolution so much as they are cosmology, geology, physics etc. The only difference between micro/macro evolution is the timescales involved and the timescale is what they don't accept.
Succinctly, if miracles exist, they violate natural laws. Claiming that natural laws and observations (carbon dating, say) do not allow for miracles is begging the question.
But alsetmusic's fact-finding mission could still be useful! Right now he doesn't even know where to start on how to construct an argument, because he doesn't know what creationists have been told.
There are probably many pieces of evidence in the creationist museum that are valid "holes" in science, that we're still looking to fill. He'd be able to acknowledge certain fossil gaps and irregularities, while describing how they still fit into the great scientific theory.
From what I've seen the arguments aren't that sophisticated, they start with an outright rejection of most branches of science. Amusingly, evolution is the one they criticize the least.
It's interesting to compare this POV with the Scott Adams'. In his school of thought all people are mostly irrational, even if they think otherwise: http://blog.dilbert.com/post/147595892021/how-persuaders-see...
Human beings are, generally speaking, irrational. We have a sort of flashlight'o'rationality that we can shine on specific things for periods of time, but most of how we behave is guided by a mixture of instinct, culture, emotion, and our life experiences.
It is pretty well-established that even highly rational people tend to choose a position and then build chains of logic to support it. As a very strong case in point, look at how the world of mathematicians worked to "correct" Marilyn vos Savant's solution to the Monty Hall problem.
And while we can work to change our habits, to instill more rational behaviors, we are still operating from within a system that is mostly irrational and emotional. And more importantly, we have to either want to change, or be made to want to change.
This is rarely accomplished by telling somebody that they are wrong.
Personally, I tend to think of human beings as being rational-at-the-core, but with that rational core being surrounded and filtered by a wall of culture, emotion, and experience.
So when people disagree with me, it is because their chain of logic is based on a different cultural-emotional-experience state than mine.
And if I can not understand where they are coming from -- listening is a superpower here -- I can not hope to either learn the thing that they know and I don't, and nor can I hope to change their minds.
Now, when it comes to arguing for a viewpoint, it is our natural instinct to defend ourselves -- a verbal challenge to what we believe is still very much an "attack".
The simplest way to bypass this reflex, is to start from a position where you are on the "same team". To agree with where they are right, and to validate the parts of their position that you share.
From there, you can then work in small steps and gentle pressure to engage both their rational core, as well as their culture-emotion-experience filter.
In other words, they are responses to internal and external states, which means there is a reason for them. To find the actual source, we have to delve into many branches of philosophy and science.
I actually think that humans work the other way around. At our core is a giant GPU parallel computing system that deals in emotions and our culture. Slapped on to the system is a slow weak single core trying desperately to control everything. I can recommend the book "The Master and His Emissary" by Iain McGilchrist.
Notice especially in the Schizophrenic Paranoia in the link in the GP. Most people are dumb, but there are the evil "Persuaders" who are out to get you. And you are the enlightened one who has figured out the "truth". Classic delusion.
How did you feel about this post? ;-)
Valid logic, different premises.
(So tell me, have I mastered it now? ;) )
I guess that is being irrational given that you are not taking all the assumptions into account, but it's the level of rationality that most people operate at.
However if your talking about an emotionally charged situation, yeah rationality be damned emotions are running that show.
The new information could be about being less wrong (updating the rules of their causality) or it could be a new situation on which to apply their existing ways of thinking.
It's true that one half of people literally has less-than-average intelligence...
I agree with the spirit of what you're saying, but I think you're conflating two orthogonal dimensions.
There is someone's level of intelligence, and there is the degree to which they have different starting assumptions to you on the topic.
Eventually, I get to a crossroad: either I accept what these people are saying as right (even when it's wrong and would require some absurd actions on my part), or I navigate to exit that situation so I can minimize my future interactions with those people. If neither are possible, it's perhaps time to find new work. Of course, I'd love to get onto the same page as them. But I think we have to acknowledge that sometimes it's not possible. I say this as someone who believes that he has gotten pretty good at this skill after years of experience.
As would probably be expected, these types of people are lifers at organizations where they have used political means to entrench themselves, and would likely not survive on the open market if they ever needed to look for new employment.
Generally when that happens to me I've come across what I like to call a "fundamental argument." Where neither party is correct and neither party is wrong. A good example of this is "do you believe in religion" because nobody can prove or disprove the existence of a higher being or a religion. But some people will fundamentally be okay with believing in a higher power though. So whatever side of the debate I'm on, when the conversation comes down to a fundamental argument I let both parties be right.
Let's take your example a little further, starting with the perhaps more general: "Do you believe in a higher power?".
I agree that it is impossible to disprove the existence of a higher power, however I do think it is possible to prove (not that I think it will be proved, ever). Things that were previously taken as evidence of such a proof are now generally accepted as natural phenomena (lightning as a crude example).
The nature of what would prove the existence makes for a much more interesting argument than the mere possibility of existence.
"Do you believe that the higher power interacts with this universe?"
"Do you believe that we can measure that interaction?"
"What would that measurement look like?"
"Why haven't we actually measured that?" (perhaps a loaded question!)
If someone chooses to believe in a higher power that is unable to interact with us, and has no impact on anything we do, good for them! Potential issues arise when people believe that the higher powers does interact with the world, and so I find that discussion much more interesting than merely if such a thing could exist or not.
You don't believe in something just because you cannot disprove it. You must have some evidence to believe it in the first place. Otherwise, you would believe in all kinds of celestial teapots.
I've been spending a lot of time focusing on this with customer support. When a customer is hot about a problem it doesn't help at all to show facts about anything. It really helps though to begin with a place of empathy of how you understand how they feel if you were in a similar situation. For example, had a great experience with Indinero recently when I was hot about a problem. Their customer service rep though approached it exactly from how he would feel the same way as me in such a place and here's how they'll fix it. If he just started with the "here's how we'll do better" I don't think he have gotten through to me in the situation. I've been using this a ton with problems ranging from dealing with my 2 year old to hot topics for customer support, and it's really impressive how well it works.
Yes, in many ways it's simply practicing empathy. But for some reason without thinking about the tactic folks who want to be practicing empathy don't seem to get to that point.
FWIW: I talk about this topic more in depth in video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tzGOdE92z9I
Experience teaches that it's almost always a sign of someone who's not empowered, or worse, not capable, of actually improving the situation. At worst their role is to actively impede the process, a circumstance far too frequently encountered.
In it, he states that it’s possible to be mostly right, and partly wrong. Or mostly wrong, and partly right. Someone's argument or design can have components which are absolutely wrong while still ending up being right enough for all practical purposes.
It can get even worse when there is no genius in play, just power or money and a good social/professional bubble.
Devils advocate here; Isn't this an example of displaying a superior attitude and the sort of the thing you're claiming to be against?
My opinion has been that if you really value truth, leave your ego at the door. Emotional intelligence is key to discovering things you don't know, from sources that may be less than friendly.
I am not advocating being needlessly toxic. This goes for both parties. But people would do well to learn when to A) Not expect respect B) Know how deal with someone who is disrespectful, but is correct in the current subject matter being discussed.
I'm also not talking about "expecting respect", I'm talking about people who cross basic lines of conduct. "I don't feel I'm being treated as well as I should," is not in this, and yes, people who expect that need to ground themselves in reality a bit.
Incidentally, Barack Obama was particularly good at this construction in his first term, but fell victim to the first trap. Pre-Trump Republicans in general fall victim to the second, when they have any effective rhetoric at all.
Like most rhetorical devices, it works better in person than in print.
It's one thing I do kind of miss about working shitty, dangerous construction and logging jobs summers in college. There's no time for pussyfooting around when a miscommunication means somebody gets crushed or mangled by heavy equipment. Brusque, unambiguous, often profanity-laced communication is more effective getting the point across rapidly...
I've had a recent online experience in a community in which all interaction is anonymous -- but the anonymity isn't persistent, rather, identities are created and assigned for each discussion.
This almost perfectly destroys any and all sense of community. It also interacts poorly with several other site dynamics, but the result is phenomenally toxic.
I do know online communities, usually smallish (5-50 people, occasionally more, but rarely >150) where that kind of banter can develop. I've seen it in workplaces, but rarely, and even then often only between a few people. Like you I've seen it in jobs involving physical work, close quarters, and danger, and those were some of the most awesome times of my life. There's a strong sense of missing that in much technology and online interaction.
I've also seen places which are almost the antithesis of this. Where there's no trust, or camarderie, or sense of shared purpose. Financial industry and political environments seem to be the epitome of this. In banking, the culture permeates inside organisations, in politics, it's usually confined to rivalries across party lines, though not always. In either case, though, you find that there's an excessive need for formality, protocol, and ego-buttering which isn't so necessary elsewhere.
And which apparently you and I both find tedious.
I'd like to experience that, it's pretty much how I read reddit/hn anyway. I would be a good way to eliminate group think.
Using automoderator and/or other moderation bots in your own sub, you could automatically only accept contributions from young accounts that haven't posted in other subreddits
I had similar experiences communicating with the guide in whitewater rafting.
For example, this text is wrapped.
I work for a boss that went to a management school where they taught him a "retain/improve" method: first tell people which behavior they should retain, to stroke their egos, then tell people how they can improve, which is what you actually want them to do. So every time I hear praise come out of his mouth, I immediately get cynical and think "that's not what he really thinks, he's just saying that because he's been trained to say things like that first."
TL:DR of the original article is "show empathy to people." Empathy is not the same thing as flattery, and poor management doesn't know the difference.
Because if you're concocting praise to implement something you call a "shit sandwich", it probably is disingenuous.
1) Be polite. Nobody wants to listen to or learn from a rude person.
2) Avoid signaling your values, knowledge, or status. Write for the person you are addressing, not other members of your in-group. Proofread your writing and delete anything that does not serve this purpose.
3) Don't value winning more than understanding.
Over time I've learned that when arguing, some people are convinced they must win, and they value that over correctness or logic. With those types, I simply back off with a neutral stance and save myself the time of arguing with someone not interested in changing their position.
How to compose a successful critical commentary:
You should attempt to re-express your target’s position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that your target says, “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.
You should list any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement).
You should mention anything you have learned from your target.
Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.
Anyone interested in learning more I would recommend reading: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/How_to_Win_Friends_and_Influen...
While some people (especially children who aren't used to this method) might not enjoy it at first because it seems to be harder and takes longer than "just giving the answer", it actually helps people learn how to reason about things (which is something that is lacking in a lot of people these days IMO).
For example, one such axiom (not being rigorous here) may be "human life is valuable". If someone else takes "human life has no inherent worth", then you're kind of at an impasse, as each statement forms the basis of entirely different systems of morality.
In fact I'd argue that an uncontradictory absolutist position for body integrity is impossible in the case of abortion (assuming the fetus is considered human!), since the only absolute resolution technically isn't abortion, but rather premature birth and artificially keeping the fetus alive.
Of course the disagreement between camps remains on when a fetus becomes human...
See the entire history of philosophy and ethics.
Begin with praise and honest appreciation. People will do things begrudgingly for criticism and an iron-fisted leader, but they will work wonders when they are praised and appreciated.
Have you ever encountered this? If yes, does rational argument and persuation work with people who don't care?
So the answer is no, rational argument doesn't always work. Sometimes the best that you can do is simply minimize harm to a relationship by not letting the argument escalate or letting anyone burn any bridges. Depending on context, sometimes it might even be worth yielding to a seemingly-irrational argument if it means preserving a valuable relationship (this should be done with caution, obviously). And sometimes things really are just irreconcilable (though hopefully not too often).
If that all fails then you have to find other strings to pull. Figure out what currencies they care about (think social pressure) and see how you might be able to use them to help you make your case.
Everybody has that ledger in their head when they make a decision but what's on that ledger can vary dramatically. If you want to both dissuade an irrational actor and keeping things civil, then you need to figure out what's on that ledger and whether you have a way of adjusting those items, maybe by offering a more palatable (to you) alternative, or by changing the perception of the costs/benefits, or by actually changing the costs/benefits, and so on.
It was a failed argument that I saw when rationalization was not helpful for my families welfare. I could not take it law either, as law does not cover many family scenarios.
I think probably it's a little more universal than that :)
I also think Pascal made the point better in his quote than the rest of the article did.
Here's a classic negotiation example that I just can't crack:
Her: I've told you, please don't leave your socks on the floor.
Him: (mirroring) Leave my socks on the floor?
Her: Yes. Please throw them in the laundry bin right after you take them off.
Him: (open-ended question) How am I supposed to do this if I'm in a hurry?
Her: After you take off your socks, pick them up. Then throw them into the bin. Two seconds and you're are done.
Him: (Pascal's empathy) Yes, you're right. Leaving socks on the floor is just annoying. But understand that when I get home sometimes I'm in a hurry or I'm tired and I don't feel like picking up the socks.
Her: Please just do it. It annoys the hell out of me.
There's just no good way to negotiate your way out of this. Typically negotiation courses and books always focus on how the reader will bargain to win, not to minimize losses or just accept to lose but compromise on an ongoing basis (give-and-take).
Here he could debase Her argument as being a manifestation of an obsessive compulsive disorder. If she agrees to that "diagnosis" just a little, he might be able to move to a kill by proposing that the socks remain on the floor as a form of therapy that will help Her treat her overwhelmingly obsessive behavior.