Sunday, April 23, 2017
March For Science!
Science! is unfortunately a recurrent theme on this blog. I wonder if any of the Science Marchers are open to discussion of IQ heritability, or the reproducibility crisis, or Mann's hockey-stick?
Science seems increasingly less about collecting data and going where observation and inductive inquiry lead you, and more about constructing non-falsifiable hypotheses to support pre-ordained conclusions. "Climate Change" and "Nurture, not Nature" are good examples of hortatory, non-falsifiable hypotheses, because the variables and data sets are so large you can always string enough stuff together to support the Cathedral's pronouncements.
You think they're joking.
As noted Scientist Robert Reich Pee Aitch Dee reminds us, there's Good Science and there's Bad Science. Cosmological and biological evolution are Good Science, because they contradict the Biblical literary narrative of Creation espoused by Christian nutjobs. Observing that biological evolution means homo sapiens evolved to fit different environmental and social niches is Bad Science, because it implies that not all men are created equal.
Even venerable old academics like Darwin's Dangerous Clan
run afoul of Good Science. Hopefully this Internet dialogue published by David Haig's Edge stays up for posterity.
One of the Edge participants, Daniel Dennett, apparently offends Good Science for his rather prosaic observation that Consciousness appears to occur along a spectrum of neural complexity. I find this controversy odd because when I was growing up, Dennett would have been the anti-Establishment rebel quoting Charles Darwin and Sartre, versus the Baptist preacher lecturing his congregation that Man is not an Ape. Now, Dennett is the stodgy Darwinist who sings Christmas carols and says natural selection molded brain structures to an apex point of Conscious Man, while Australian academic David Chalmers is the fundamentalist preacher handing out Chick tracts and denouncing Dennett's soulless materialism. Dennett looks at increasingly complex brains and behaviors and concludes consciousness exists along a spectrum. In opposition, Chalmers talks about "feelings" (no kidding) and "pan-proto-psychism" ("It's out there, man!") and Dennett, frustratingly, finds himself wrestling Jell-o. Guess which one gets invited to TED talks.
Why is Dennett's hypothesis so controversial? Chalmers argues for a Mind-Brain dichotomy which is not observable (and hence, non-falsifiable). But even non-scientists observe that as human brains degenerate, consciousness ebbs. Nevertheless, the Mind-Brain dichotomy must be maintained because, among other topics, it "explains" trans-genderism. After all, nobody has yet found a "female" brain in a male body so, by transcendent leap, we conclude that Caitlyn Jenner's Mind got metaphysically trapped in Bruce's Body, through all those years when he was winning the decathlon and siring six children by three women. Likewise, if mentation is proficient to the extent of an individual's neural structure, then Education is a private good with diminishing marginal utility.
Chalmers' discomfiture appears rooted in the Cathedral's dictate of Equality, to which even Science must bend the knee: humans are bound by an over-riding psychic unity; all humans are equally educable; hierarchy has no basis in reality.