I find your lack of argument disturbing

in philosophy •  2 years ago

It has been opined that, through the application of the scientific method, sound reasoning, logical argument and a little love, our world can become a better place for this and the following generations to live in – "better" meaning more peaceful, wholesome, beautiful, satisfying; "worth" living it. And I happen to agree.

The scientific method is well-defined, and summarized by Richard Feynman's famous "If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. In that simple statement is the key to science. It doesn’t make any difference how beautiful your guess is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are who made the guess, or what his name is… If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. That’s all there is to it."

What about sound reasoning? A less well-known word spoken by Feynman goes:

There is one feature I notice that is generally missing in cargo cult science. … It's a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty — a kind of leaning over backwards. For example, if you're doing an experiment, you should report everything that you think might make it invalid — not only what you think is right about it; other causes that could possibly explain your results; and things you thought of that you've eliminated by some other experiment, and how they worked — to make sure the other fellow can tell they have been eliminated.

Details that could throw doubt on your interpretation must be given, if you know them. You must do the best you can — if you know anything at all wrong, or possibly wrong — to explain it. If you make a theory, for example, and advertise it, or put it out, then you must also put down all the facts that disagree with it, as well as those that agree with it. There is also a more subtle problem. When you have put a lot of ideas together to make an elaborate theory, you want to make sure, when explaining what it fits, that those things it fits are not just the things that gave you the idea for the theory; but that the finished theory makes something else come out right, in addition.

In summary, the idea is to try to give all of the information to help others to judge the value of your contribution; not just the information that leads to judgement in one particular direction or another.

~ Cargo Cult Science, 1974

It is also no mystery what constitutes a logical argument. The rules have been set out and summarized in Arthur Schopenhauer's Eristische Dialektik: Die Kunst, Recht zu behalten (Eristic Dialectic: The Art of Winning an Argument, 1831), but today we can link to Wikipedia's list of logical fallacies.

And if you expect now a definition of a little love, this post is not for you and you should close the tab to begin the search for your heart.

"Wait", an interjection is heard by someone who has at least a fuzzy idea which meanings "love" might encompass, "are not love on this side and logic, argument and reason on the other in direct contradiction?"

"Nay", I say, only seemingly, for they depend each on another. If "love" is a concept based on irrationality, intuition, belief and… "faith", it is the Yang to the Yin, the other half of the coin, the shadow of the sunlit mountain, the female principle to the male principle, which only through co(existance|operation|pulation) can continue to be. While it is entirely possible to separate, direct and shield one's view to see only one, only a fool would doubt and deny the existence of the other, or claim the superiority or inferiority of one or the other.

It is not even necessary to quote Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness theorems to show that the scientific method as such cannot be proven within its own system – it is based and builds upon an a priori assumption. Even aforementioned Feynman defines science as a "belief":

Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.

~What is Science?, The Physics Teacher, volume 7, issue 6 (1969), p. 313-320

The most powerful summary I found, however, in Papus' "Kabbalah" (of all places), in the form of an Eliphas Levi quote:

Without faith science leads to uncertainty, without science faith becomes superstition. But science and faith united give certitude, and to unite them, they must not be confounded.

it is with science as it is with lamp posts:

the wise uses it for enlightenment, the drunkard uses it for support.

So there is complete understanding for the argument that organized religion has led to, or has been utilized (is leading and being utilized right now) to commit some, even many, of the most damnable atrocities history has to tell about. And it shall be countered that it is only thanks to the many blessings of "science" and "technology" that today we know of Joseph Mengele, Wernher von Braun, Sarin and Nagasaki.

So that clearly cannot be a sound argument against the spirituality, world view or opinion, maybe even esotericism, many others have found for themselves, most oftenly a belief system complementing, not even contradicting, the rational, scientific world view they agree on with even the staunchest "skeptics".

So this is clearly not about religious zealots who burst into a scientific debate on astronomy, biology or geology with their holy scripture in hand to prove that earth is a disc, evolution is false and earth is less than seven thousand years old. Nor is it about those who (mis)understood the uncertainty principle and quantum entanglement watching "The Secret" and now are convinced that, since knowledge is always due to be overturned, it is advisable give up the quest right away, replace experiment with mantra and to wallow in blissful ignorance instead.

This is about the equally annoying, ideological and outright trollish scientism zealots who burst into an esoteric debate on soul migration, morphogenetic fields, the oneness of all or the synchronicity of eternity with the Principia Mathematica and The Universe in a Nutshell in hand to "prove" in scathing words and hurtful insults their "skeptopath" dogma and how that speech about reincarnation is all silly uninformed talk of uneducated madmen immune to reason and in desperate need of forced medication, a padded cell and reeducation with pulsed electro shocks.

de gustibus non est disputandum

It is only fair to meet the hope of the "faithful" who purport to perceive order and pattern in the opaque chaos of complexity (read: the influence of a metaphysical, supernatural, paradimensional, unexplainable, not immediately visible, power on the tidings of the world) with the same tolerance and acceptance that is expected when making the case for the cold hopelessness of cynical, cartesian, predictable, deterministic, definitive, ultimate inevitability of the universal entropic death.

And maybe even listen to their argument once in a while with an open heart. While some skepticism should always be valued when "faith", on its own, leads to superstition, thus to fear, anger, hate and genocide, it must be conceded that there is not much to lose when giving the possibility of the existence of an intelligence greater than one's own at least the benefit of the doubt – however strong the aversion against "woo".

I believe that ultimately, essentially, we all want the same and that there are few ways more economical to collectively achieve it than listening to learn and speaking to educate. There are many indications that that is what made our species the dominant on this planet. We can use it to our advantage, instead of silencing each other with bad arguments, insults, pre-determined conclusions and assumptions about each other's ways.

Of course the thereminist will find his instrument superior to that of the percussionist, the guitarist praise his own to the sky, the pianist forward all the arguments that set his sound apart from that of the harp, and all the band make fun of the bassist. That does obviously not mean, however, that all must try to outplay all the others in tempo and volume – when a symphony is so much more fun :)

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"Nor is it about those who (mis)understood the uncertainty principle and quantum entanglement watching "The Secret" and now are convinced that, since knowledge is always due to be overturned, it is advisable give up the quest right away, replace experiment with mantra and to wallow in blissful ignorance instead."

LMAO! The "quantum woowoo" stuff is really annoying. People don't even go verify claims of others to look at the bare experiments and results themselves, rather opting to accept the conclusions of beliefs others form and sell them to buy into. Then it justified a warped worldview where they literally create reality with their consciousness...

I have done work on belief and identified a healthy form of belief as imagination and speculation, while also recognizing a detrimental failure to distinguish between belief and truth while claiming a belief is "truth". This is a quintessential distinction that people need to make in order to progress away from dogma and greater understanding of reality.


"Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman" played a formative role for my world view, and claims to "truth". Feynman is adamant that an intellectually honest scientist should not say "this is so and so", and instead say "this seems to be so and so under these or those circumstances, except if".

I also noticed I (accidentally? subconsciously? coincidentally?) managed never to use the word "truth" or "true" in my essay. I am not a solipsist, but I think if there is an objective truth, everyone has his own viewpoint and perspective on it and additionally views it through different filters and lenses. That is why it is important for me that debates about it be fair and enlightening, the arguments sound, the reasoning honest.

Very often I come across a debate between views on a matter I have only limited knowledge about; and if not forming an opinion is not an option, I have found that a good test for veracity is the style of argument. If repeatedly, the supporters of one view resort to personal attacks and ridicule or fallacious arguments ("all experts agree" - well, that's a bad sign usually) while the other side forwards experiment, experience and documented sources, I am more likely to side with a viewpoint I was originally skeptic about. Simply because I am convinced that "speaking truth to power" does not need to resort to verbal violence. "You are wrong, and here is why" is so much more powerful to the "lurker" "on the fence" than "lol you such a moron for believing that".

Thank you for your comment and pointing me to your post, I enjoyed and recommend the read!

All new ideas in science start as a guess, an inspiration, and then you do the hard work to prove or disprove it, refine it, and along the way inspiration is a powerful tool. And not only that, you can go a long way with thought experiments to weed out the inconsistencies.


Lord Vader, this is an unexpected pleasure. I am honored by your presence!

I wish could upvote this twice!!

interesting read