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Scientists with onorthodox views

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    Posted: 26 Aug 2014 at 09:44
The headline should be a bit longer to get to the topic: Scientists, especially the remarkable of famous, that had or have, unortodox views or interests in odd topics, that at least the later world if not their contemporaries regarded as not fully scientific but rather alternative. And I will start with Isaac Newton, after reading a book about that man (not in English I think), that undeniable was one in the top of all times. At the same time deeply interested in alchemy, and in particular in unortodox religious speculations it seems, defending the litteral accuracy of the Bible, or at least its status as "historical", and even in the prophecies of endtime. But he wass not alone, since Johannes Kepler also had some peculiar views about gods design of the universe, and even about horoscopes, a bit like his mentor, Tycho Brahe, an alchemist and maker of horioscopes as well. And I guess there could be mentioned many more that where not only "ordinanry" believers (or nonbelievers), but had their own unusual ideas. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote toyomotor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Aug 2014 at 12:39
fantasus:
Science only exists because educated people dare to ask questions, and to keep asking questions until an acceptable answer is forthcoming.
 
Some of those people-scientists-were considered by the scientific community as fools, nutters or whatever, especially if they questioned the status quo.
 
Let's look at Anthropology for a moment. What was considered to be hard and fact fact last week, is being disproved this week, because other scientists continue to question by looking further and deeper, using the developing technology.
 
Unorthodoxy, in scientific fields, is not a bad thing. Each established fact must be examined from all available angles, and even by scientists from other fields, peer reviewed and accepted by the scientific community-and then the process starts all over again.
 
 
 
It's not that I was born in Ireland,
It's the Ireland that was born in me.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Aug 2014 at 16:02
Originally posted by toyomotor toyomotor wrote:

fantasus:
Science only exists because educated people dare to ask questions, and to keep asking questions until an acceptable answer is forthcoming.
 
Some of those people-scientists-were considered by the scientific community as fools, nutters or whatever, especially if they questioned the status quo.
 
Let's look at Anthropology for a moment. What was considered to be hard and fact fact last week, is being disproved this week, because other scientists continue to question by looking further and deeper, using the developing technology.
 
Unorthodoxy, in scientific fields, is not a bad thing. Each established fact must be examined from all available angles, and even by scientists from other fields, peer reviewed and accepted by the scientific community-and then the process starts all over again.
 
 
 
Yes. But perhaps I should have made it more clear I did not only mean "unortodox" in a more narrow scientific sense, but not least with "non mainstream" religious views. I also mentioned an interest in topics like alchemy and astrology. Here I admit that those interests were not as "odd" or alternative then as they are now. And I was a bit fascinated that Newton seem to have been obsessed with the litteral accuracy of prophesies of the Bible, not least the book of Daniel and the Acopalypse, about studying the scriptures to make an accurate cronology of the world from its creating a few thousand years ago (as he believed). Then also with theological views that differed from the official doctrines (the holy trinity). 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Voltage Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Aug 2014 at 18:20
As I recall he had over one million notes on the Bible, and related subjects.

Uncertain as to the source, but I once read that he stated something to the effect that he would have preferred to be a preacher then a scientist...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Captain Vancouver Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Aug 2014 at 21:10
Even those that excel at certain intellectual pursuits are still a product of their times. Humans are social animals, and are predisposed to group conformity. The beliefs listed in the OP where common at the time, and would have been taken quite seriously by many. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Akolouthos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Aug 2014 at 00:40
Originally posted by toymotor toymotor wrote:

Unorthodoxy, in scientific fields, is not a bad thing. Each established fact must be examined from all available angles, and even by scientists from other fields, peer reviewed and accepted by the scientific community-and then the process starts all over again.


Precisely. Indeed, it is, rather, orthodoxy in scientific fields that is to be feared. For the very presence of an "orthodox" scientific dogma precludes the scientific method. That isn't to say that there aren't things that we may be fairly certain of, but rather that the method requires investigation based on a spirit of inquiry, absent any purely unassailable truths.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Jun 2015 at 20:30
Science needs discipline, and heterodoxy is not, in itself, a good thing.  But the science of one day can stifle and suppress the science of a new day, like how Ptolemy and Aristotle suppressed the Copernican system of Galileo, or like how physics and the scientific establishment today suppresses research into LENR (Low Energy Nuclear Reactions), colloquially know as cold fusion.  For successful cases for LENR, see Stan Szpak, presented by Ruby Carat on coldfusionnow.org, or on youtube.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote wolfhnd Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Jun 2015 at 00:56
LENR still looks fairly unlikely.  If you gave it another name without the fusion part maybe? 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Jun 2015 at 04:04
cold fusion is not exactly the best name, but it does have some name recognition, another term is LANR or Lattice Assisted Nuclear Reactions.  I suggest that before judging whether LENR is "unlikely" look at the Szpak video.  Or you can look at my post on the thread "A Great Discovery or a Disappointing Fraud."  The name is not what I would have selected, but instead of starting a new thread, I added onto one that was already there.
LENR is nowhere near economical, but the Szpak video is convincing to me that it is a real phenomena and it does not deserve the scientific ostracism that it receives. 
I would suggest looking into it through my post and through the Szpak video, there is a lot of stuff out there that is overly optimistic.  But I think that my post mentioned above, and the Szpak video can show why there has been difficulties in the past (physicists' procedures have been crude compared to those of chemical engineers), and that there actually something there.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote wolfhnd Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Jun 2015 at 04:16
Originally posted by franciscosan franciscosan wrote:

cold fusion is not exactly the best name, but it does have some name recognition, another term is LANR or Lattice Assisted Nuclear Reactions.  I suggest that before judging whether LENR is "unlikely" look at the Szpak video.  Or you can look at my post on the thread "A Great Discovery or a Disappointing Fraud."  The name is not what I would have selected, but instead of starting a new thread, I added onto one that was already there.
LENR is nowhere near economical, but the Szpak video is convincing to me that it is a real phenomena and it does not deserve the scientific ostracism that it receives. 
I would suggest looking into it through my post and through the Szpak video, there is a lot of stuff out there that is overly optimistic.  But I think that my post mentioned above, and the Szpak video can show why there has been difficulties in the past (physicists' procedures have been crude compared to those of chemical engineers), and that there actually something there.

Unless you are directly involved in these things it's hard to say if something is real or not.  I have the same problem with global warming.  The same problem for quantum randomness.  I tend to just go with who I think I can trust.  

There is a find line between being skeptical and cynical that should apply to everything we think we know not just science.   
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Jun 2015 at 07:28
Ruby Carat, who founded the coldfusionnow.org website, is a friend of mine, and so I trust her, but like 
Reagan said about the Soviets, "trust, but verify."  The Szpak video does that for me, Robin made it herself.  It is of an old (DARPA?) chemical engineer who is reaccounting his lab's response to Fleischmann and Pons initial experiment.  Because of the misleading name "cold fusion," a big bruhaha was made, especially by physicists.  Chemists, however, use a different tool set, and Szpak's lab, as he explains, had a different method of approaching it, and got positive results.  But, with a name like cold fusion, it sounds like the physicist's domain.  Secretary of Energy Chu was a hot fusion guy so, what? he's going to give something that he doesn't believe in and would compete with his funding a chance?  Romney actually mentioned researching cold fusion in passing on the campaign trail.  Of course, being Mormon, he would know that Fleischmann and Pons were from University of Utah.
The Szpak video is 18 minutes, whereas you are not involved in it, you could judge whether it has inconsistencies.  A friend for the heck of it watched an alien autopsy video, and the "doctors" were holding the forecepts wrong:P  :)   But, I am not looking to convince you, I just want to plant a seed for the possibility.  There are a lot of flakes out there, and they like to latch onto all kind of things.  Question is, is it a peach with a hard seed at the center, or is it an onion, where you strip of the layers and are left with, what? nothing!  Personally, I think cold fusion is rather boring, some heat, so what?  But saying that, what we need is boring, scientific funding and scientific publication for the people who actually understand what is happening with the field.  I think car magazines are boring too, but lots of people seem to like them, Progress depends on a sustained effort, one step after another, and at times one step forward two steps back.  Personally, I don't have that kind of patience, but I admire those who do.  Ruby herself is not a scientist, but she does have a background in, and teaches mathematics and, I believe, physics, plus she has had to learn a lot for this project.
I think global warming is real, the full causes of it, however, are simplified.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote wolfhnd Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Jun 2015 at 08:06
Originally posted by franciscosan franciscosan wrote:

Ruby Carat, who founded the coldfusionnow.org website, is a friend of mine, and so I trust her, but like 
Reagan said about the Soviets, "trust, but verify."  The Szpak video does that for me, Robin made it herself.  It is of an old (DARPA?) chemical engineer who is reaccounting his lab's response to Fleischmann and Pons initial experiment.  Because of the misleading name "cold fusion," a big bruhaha was made, especially by physicists.  Chemists, however, use a different tool set, and Szpak's lab, as he explains, had a different method of approaching it, and got positive results.  But, with a name like cold fusion, it sounds like the physicist's domain.  Secretary of Energy Chu was a hot fusion guy so, what? he's going to give something that he doesn't believe in and would compete with his funding a chance?  Romney actually mentioned researching cold fusion in passing on the campaign trail.  Of course, being Mormon, he would know that Fleischmann and Pons were from University of Utah.
The Szpak video is 18 minutes, whereas you are not involved in it, you could judge whether it has inconsistencies.  A friend for the heck of it watched an alien autopsy video, and the "doctors" were holding the forecepts wrong:P  :)   But, I am not looking to convince you, I just want to plant a seed for the possibility.  There are a lot of flakes out there, and they like to latch onto all kind of things.  Question is, is it a peach with a hard seed at the center, or is it an onion, where you strip of the layers and are left with, what? nothing!  Personally, I think cold fusion is rather boring, some heat, so what?  But saying that, what we need is boring, scientific funding and scientific publication for the people who actually understand what is happening with the field.  I think car magazines are boring too, but lots of people seem to like them, Progress depends on a sustained effort, one step after another, and at times one step forward two steps back.  Personally, I don't have that kind of patience, but I admire those who do.  Ruby herself is not a scientist, but she does have a background in, and teaches mathematics and, I believe, physics, plus she has had to learn a lot for this project.
I think global warming is real, the full causes of it, however, are simplified.

It's not so much that we are cynical as opposed to skeptical but there are just so many of these things that you can't pin down a position on.  Every day I read four or five articles that leave me with no other feeling than exhaustion.  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Jun 2015 at 17:42
Once upon a time, school children would point out how well South America fitted together with Africa.  Their teachers would say that it was just a coincidence.  Now we know, however, with Plate tectonics that the school children were right, and their teachers and scientists of the day were wrong.

Some paleontologists are skeptical about the killer asteroid theory.  Robert Bakker in his book 'Dinosaur Heresies' argues that it was invasive species and ecological collapse.  I took a class on 'Dinosaur Tracks and Traces' over 20 years ago.  The professor, an expert in his sub-field, said he had found at one location, above the KT boundary, dinosaur footprints.  Now a dinosaur makes probably hundreds of thousands of footprints in its lifetime and so it makes sense that, _if_ dinosaurs lived after the event, it would be most efficient to look for their footprints, not their bones.  The remark was just an offhand remark, I doubt he had published on it.  And who could blame him? not wanting to get caught up with what everybody "knows," that the dinosaurs were killed off by a killer asteroid.  Dinosaurs are sexy and asteroids are sexy, and the two together are really sexy for popular science.
Look at the reactions to the reclassification of Pluto.  Religion isn't the only one with sacred cows, people loved little Pluto and were irritated by its demotion to a minor planet, and the first of the Kuiper belt objects.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote wolfhnd Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Jun 2015 at 18:53
You know how I feel about religion so no point in that discussion but religion just makes an easy target for pointing out how irrational faith can be because dogma is usually accurately and indisputably recorded.   
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Jun 2015 at 23:31
I'm just saying that people had an "irrational" fondness for a little "planet" named Pluto.  Pluto was cute, and like bunny rabbits and babies, that cuteness helped Pluto survive, but then the big bad astronomers came and kicked Pluto out of the club (and into a new one).  "Some delusions are functional, a mother's belief in the cuteness of her baby keeps her from strangling it at birth." (Lazarus Long).  An adherence to cuteness is, in a way, very rational, it shows that one is nurturing, harmless and benign.  It just doesn't work on astronomers who are busy trying to clean up the solar system.  I am not sure that they realized at the time that they were shooting at a sacred cow.  But, there are a lot of things in science that spur the popular imagination.  Reason is used in science, but not exclusively in science.  Science itself is subject to the whims and fictions of people.

I've wondered about the implication of irrational numbers, they definitely are irrational, they exist and they are very important in mathematics.  Usually, when we say something is "irrational" we are saying that it doesn't exist or ought not to exist.  It is a term of dismissal, except in mathematics which is the language of science.  There are also "imaginary" numbers, but that is beyond me.  I "pretend" they're not there<grin>.  Numbers are not "physical," but a lot of really smart people (Godel) believe that they have an independent existence from us.  So why couldn't other things not be physical, exist and have an independent existence from us.  Not that I understand Godel. 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote wolfhnd Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Jul 2015 at 01:28
Originally posted by franciscosan franciscosan wrote:

I'm just saying that people had an "irrational" fondness for a little "planet" named Pluto.  Pluto was cute, and like bunny rabbits and babies, that cuteness helped Pluto survive, but then the big bad astronomers came and kicked Pluto out of the club (and into a new one).  "Some delusions are functional, a mother's belief in the cuteness of her baby keeps her from strangling it at birth." (Lazarus Long).  An adherence to cuteness is, in a way, very rational, it shows that one is nurturing, harmless and benign.  It just doesn't work on astronomers who are busy trying to clean up the solar system.  I am not sure that they realized at the time that they were shooting at a sacred cow.  But, there are a lot of things in science that spur the popular imagination.  Reason is used in science, but not exclusively in science.  Science itself is subject to the whims and fictions of people.

I've wondered about the implication of irrational numbers, they definitely are irrational, they exist and they are very important in mathematics.  Usually, when we say something is "irrational" we are saying that it doesn't exist or ought not to exist.  It is a term of dismissal, except in mathematics which is the language of science.  There are also "imaginary" numbers, but that is beyond me.  I "pretend" they're not there<grin>.  Numbers are not "physical," but a lot of really smart people (Godel) believe that they have an independent existence from us.  So why couldn't other things not be physical, exist and have an independent existence from us.  Not that I understand Godel. 


Nice post and great questions.

I'm not so much interested in defending science and attacking religion as asking that people recognize that in a civilized society faith is a dangerous way to resolve differences.  A system based on faith and obligations could theoretically be heaven on earth but it would require that everyone have the same faith in the prescribed obligations.   Lacking that the need for compromise is evident and is made all the more difficult by relying on anything that is not based on evidence.  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Jul 2015 at 02:25
I imagine that for some people, religion is about answers.  For me, and this may be my background in philosophy, religion is more about questions.  But knowing the right questions, itself answers much, and helps one reconcile one's self to what is unanswered or unanswerable.
I don't think of faith as a way of resolving differences, I think of faith as being secure in who you are, and thus in a better position to negotiate with others.  What one should do, however, is not force others to "see the light," (I mean that ironically), but help them in what they choose, or at least stay out of the way.  Buddhism says there are many paths up the mountain of enlightenment, how is it possible to accurately judge the path of someone else who is sincere and ethical?
Not all religions are about belief (orthodoxy), Judaism is more concerned with practice (orthopraxy), although many of the practices are in abeyance because there is no Temple.  Buddhism has a focus on getting away from suffering and clearing the mind (Mushin or no-mind), not really belief.  Islam is about surrendering to the will of Allah.  To paint all religions with the 'belief' brush distorts things tremendously.
But there are bastards everywhere, and religion in that respect is no different.


Edited by franciscosan - 01 Jul 2015 at 03:06
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote wolfhnd Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Jul 2015 at 04:18
Originally posted by franciscosan franciscosan wrote:

I imagine that for some people, religion is about answers.  For me, and this may be my background in philosophy, religion is more about questions.  But knowing the right questions, itself answers much, and helps one reconcile one's self to what is unanswered or unanswerable.
I don't think of faith as a way of resolving differences, I think of faith as being secure in who you are, and thus in a better position to negotiate with others.  What one should do, however, is not force others to "see the light," (I mean that ironically), but help them in what they choose, or at least stay out of the way.  Buddhism says there are many paths up the mountain of enlightenment, how is it possible to accurately judge the path of someone else who is sincere and ethical?
Not all religions are about belief (orthodoxy), Judaism is more concerned with practice (orthopraxy), although many of the practices are in abeyance because there is no Temple.  Buddhism has a focus on getting away from suffering and clearing the mind (Mushin or no-mind), not really belief.  Islam is about surrendering to the will of Allah.  To paint all religions with the 'belief' brush distorts things tremendously.
But there are bastards everywhere, and religion in that respect is no different.

The problem here is that people like you are not the problem.  A lot of people however don't seem to have the self control to try and not force their faith on others.  I would argue however that forcing evidence on others is an act of compassion.  Moral agency and free will require that decisions are based on evidence and are not coerced by anything other than "common sense" or native logic.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Jul 2015 at 06:38
United States is the oldest democracy in the world, and it is about 230 years old (depending on where you draw the line).  On paper, there are older monarchies, but really those have changed radically as well in the last few hundred years.

Christianity is about 2000 years old, Buddhism 2500 years, Islam 1200 years, Hinduism probably like 3 or 4 thousand, same with Judaism.  Now of course all those have changed in time, but religions have a remarkable continuity.

Let's say you want to bury some Plutonium (or whatever else), how are you going to keep people away from it, keep it safe through good times, but also the bad.  What if society collapses?  Are you going to rely on governments, not just those who set it up, but those following, to keep it safe?  How about market forces, capitalism or for that matter, socialism.  It was after all, socialism that lead to Chernobyl.  I know, how about monk-technicians who could monitor the site down through the ages, kind of like the monks who preserved Greco-Roman literature (and rabbis preserving Jewish literature) down through the "dark ages."  Now of course there is no guarantee that the monk will last long enough for the radioactive waste to become harmless, but there pretty much is a guarantee that if don't try to set up some _ultra-long_term protection, someone is going to get into it, and cause problems.  The only institutions that we have that last for thousands of years, are religions.

How about setting up some monk-scientists to watch over the Sequoias.  No other purpose in life than to watch over and promote God's greatest trees.  Well, I mean they would pray and chant and do whatever monks do, but they also have to dedicate their lives to something for profit, to keep their monastery open, something like beer or wine or icons or calligraphy, why not make that thing big huge trees and of course the forest they come in, or rather the advocation of those trees.  They can make it a pilgrimage site, as long as the concentration is on the trees, not the money.  It's a religious thang, so they will go up against short sighted politicians if they need to, and against short sighted loggers or capitalists as well.  MLK jr. was good at using religion to get into politics face, Malcolm X in a different way.  
Talk about moral agency, religion gives people a place from which they look at business and politics and say, "your wrong!"  Not based on dogma, but on basic human decency.  Maybe you don't think that such a position is needed, but it was needed to take on desegregation, and apartheid. It is not clear why it wouldn't be needed in the future, given that it was used effectively in the near past.  But all that is separate from why someone in particular should believe, I am just saying that there are certain things for which religion is useful to those beyond its parishioners. 


Edited by franciscosan - 02 Jul 2015 at 06:42
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote wolfhnd Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Jul 2015 at 09:05
If you want me to argue I will but don't get your expectations to high I'm not a good debater.

I would say your assessment of the stability of religion is exaggerated and you have underestimated the stability of political systems.

There are 40 major christian denomination and an estimated 30 to 40 thousands additional divisions.  While the theological differences may seem small to an outsider it still demonstrates a degree of instability and a susceptibility to mutation.   Religion is transmitted within a culture by a variety of methods but the common means in christianity is the bible.  I think we can ignore the difference in bibles as being fairly insignificant so the cultural transmission of the bible shows remarkable fidelity.  If we did an analogy with a genome then we would say that the transcription had a high fidelity.   Here is the rub though genetic conservation means that genes themselves may change little but that the regulation of expression can have a dramatic effect on the phenotype displayed.  The same process applies to religion in that the fundamental unit of transmission may seem stable but small changes in interpretation can have a dramatic effect on how those beliefs are expressed. 

When it comes to political systems I prefer to think that they come in two varieties those organized around rights and those organized around obligations.  Those organized around obligations seem fairly stable.  Stability can be seen in Islamic law and social structure or in the way Chinese society was organized for centuries.  Western civilization is less stable and is organized around rights such as the divine rights of kings or concepts like human rights in more recent times.  If we made a biological analogy for western civilization we could say it has a high mutation rate.  Variations in mutation rates at least in single celled organisms seem to be related to stress where the number of stable organism in a colony declines and stop overwhelming those with mutations.  Once the environment returns to normal or adaptation occurs the mutation rate decreases.  Some complex organism are extremely resistant to mutations which can be seen in the low cancer rates in sharks for example.  In those organism that have low mutation rates we could say that individual cells and there expression is highly regulated.  For our comparison we can say societies made of many individuals that are loosely organized according to a system or competing rights is less stable than a highly organized society with a rigorously imposed hierarchical system of obligations.

Even in political systems subject to high mutation rates there is still considerable conservation of structure.   As with genetics a fairly high fidelity of replication is required for survival and subsequent adaptation.  To demonstrate this principle I have selected Russia as it has a mixed history of eastern obligation and western rights.

To some outside observers Russia seems the epitome of social upheaval and revolution.  A more careful examination I believe would show that the basic social structure is fairly stable.  To illustrate I will compile a list of analogous social structure before and after the communist revolution.  

Tsar - party chairman especially Stalin 
Nobility - communist party committee members
Secret Police - KGB
Orthodox Church - communist party
Serfs - agricultural communes  

The difference between these social structures is amazingly minimal and demonstrate how political change can be an illusion of sorts. 


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Jul 2015 at 01:33
mutation yes, instability no.  I prefer to think that in America, churches have evolved to fit a wide variety of niches, or in other words, different audiences.  This is a product of separation of Church and State.  Religions in states with a centralized church are suffering from their dominance and lack of adaptability.

I think a closer examination of Soviet "social structure" would show 10 of millions dead during the Stalinist' period, and a birth rate even today amongst ethnic Russians below replacement, even though Putin is trying to increase it by emphasizing "family values."  (that is one reason why he is hostile to gays).
I don't find your analogous social structure to be that analogous.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote wolfhnd Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Jul 2015 at 02:54
I think we need to distinguish between social structure changes and demographic upheaval as one can hide in the other.  Sure demographic changes effect social structure but only over the short term in most cases.  Stalin moved people around and killed millions but the major demographic change in Russian society was the switch from an agrarian culture to an industrial culture but that played out all over Western Europe as well.  The percent of people who worked on farms obviously started before the communist revolution so we can't blame a change in the political system for that.  As I can't think of a more dramatic political change than going from a monarchy to communism wouldn't you expect to see an even more dramatic change in the way the political aspects of culture were manifested?

You could also claim that the communist revolution was a direct result of the demographic change from agrarian to industrial.  If that is true then it had as much impact on religion as it did on the political system.  No enlightenment, no industrial revolution, no religious revolution, no communism and you don't get what results today in only 51 percent of Europeans claiming to believe in god.  That is a major change from perhaps 99 percent only a century earlier.  The demographics card cuts both ways.


Edited by wolfhnd - 04 Jul 2015 at 02:55
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Jul 2015 at 04:15
The demographic change was going on throughout Western Europe and the Americas, it happened in places that did not go communist.  Communism is not necessary for it, and I don't think that it was necessary for communism either.  Communism romances the idea of the industrial worker and so it encouraged the transition, although China and Cambodia tried to make it with just an agricultural system.  However, Marx thought that such a transition could only happen in the most developed countries, already industrialized.  His choice, Germany, though, went for a different kind of socialism.

I have been told that I should learn Chinese, after all 1 1/2 billion people speak it.  Whether Europeans believe in God should not matter to me, and if you look at Russia and Eastern Europe, there has been a back swing towards religion after communism fell.  I wouldn't be surprised if with all this EU community, that local community will start feeling nostalgic about having a separate identity, and part of what they will bring back is local religious practices.  I don't know that but I would hope that people would be smart enough to not adopt the atheism of socialism, with the accompanying purges and cultural revolutions that "clear the way" for "the great leap forward."  If there is another kind of atheism, well then fine.  I am very much for the division of Church and State (which is not the same as religion and politics).


Edited by franciscosan - 04 Jul 2015 at 04:27
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote wolfhnd Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Jul 2015 at 06:57
I was only pointing out the relationship between demographics and the Russian revolution not making a general statement about communism I should have made that clear. 

The relationship between communism and purges and cultural revolutions is probably overstated.  The same sorts of things happen in other political systems.  

It could also be argued that there is more of a historical relationship between humanism and human rights than between religion and morality.  The original debate however was between faith based ideologies and evidence based ideologies.  I tend to place communism and the Nazis in the faith based category.  Again you just substituted Mao for the emperor and Hitler for the holy roman emperor.  Even if you happen to think humanism is based on evidence it still is important to considerer it's historical pedigree and note that it doesn't diverge that much from earlier political thinking in the more distant past.  If you plot social progress it correlates as much with fat and happy as it does with philosophical or religious sophistication.  Cultural evolutions is much more bottom up than most people want to believe.

I'm not trying to persuade anyone of anything I'm just expressing my beliefs, I'm sure that some would call it faith but I sincerely hope that is not the case.     


Edited by wolfhnd - 04 Jul 2015 at 06:58
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Aug 2015 at 16:46
Wolfhound, 
Do you believe in a closed system (that we basically know everything, almost, yet not quite there), or an open system (that we are clueless about seeing around the corner of tomorrow, that the future will be beyond the wildest dreams of science fiction or other guess work)?
Of these two possibilities, what does "faith" say to them, and what does "evidence" say to them?
What is the significance of "evidence," and what is the significance of "faith"?  (not _necessarily_ for you, for we haven't answered the question of whether you have any.  Nor do we need to answer it, (or least I don't need you to answer it)).
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote wolfhnd Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Aug 2015 at 21:55
Originally posted by franciscosan franciscosan wrote:

Wolfhound, 
Do you believe in a closed system (that we basically know everything, almost, yet not quite there), or an open system (that we are clueless about seeing around the corner of tomorrow, that the future will be beyond the wildest dreams of science fiction or other guess work)?
Of these two possibilities, what does "faith" say to them, and what does "evidence" say to them?
What is the significance of "evidence," and what is the significance of "faith"?  (not _necessarily_ for you, for we haven't answered the question of whether you have any.  Nor do we need to answer it, (or least I don't need you to answer it)).

I have no idea why you are asking but I guess that is part of the fun.

It seems to me the more you know the more questions you have.  Take global warming for example the models did not predict the pause which lead to the question of where the extra warming was going.  One of the warming theorist stated that the climate was a chaotic system and difficult to predict.  The problem is that they keep saying their long term predictions will be accurate in direct opposition to chaos theory.  Chaos theory says that deterministic system can be predicted for a while but appear random over longer periods.  If the climate is chaotic then short term predictions should be more accurate than long term predictions.  I believe that is exactly the case only the climate models are so simplistic they can't even make accurate short term predictions.   Clearly the modelers want us to believe they know more than they do.  

People on both sides of the global warming debate keep saying that they can explain their position even to the scientific illiterate.  In the process they make lots of generalizations that are clearly unsupported by evidence.  In reality in would be easier to teach someone the rather small amount of information they need to understand quantum mechanics than to help them master climatology.  The complexity of physics is something of an illusion within the complex math.  Physics works by breaking reality down into finite elements where there is no need to consider the complexity of the relationship between anything other than a finite number of forces.  Almost all other branches of science do not have this luxury.  You can't for example understand how the brain works by studying a single neuron.  While physicists may someday find the equation of everything it is not clear how much that equation will help us in making complex systems predictable.  Using chaos theory and other processes we can only extend the period for which predictions are accurate.

People like to use the analogy of brownian motion to describe the predictability of systems.   Compared to biological systems however chemical reactions are studied under vary controlled conditions and limited components.  Chemistry like physics relies on simplification to promote understanding.  Science that studies systems rely conversely on the complexity of models.  What is intuitively obvious is that a models can never be as complex as the thing being modeled.  Stephan Wolfram's "new" kind of science is perhaps the best example of how we will be forced to proceed.  The evidence that the universe is the product of some fairly simple initial conditions means that in theory computer programs can be built to evolve on their own to create the kind of complexity that makes reasonably reliable predictions about chaotic systems possible.  That complexity however will always be limited by the software and hardware available.  The best we will ever do is close the probability gap.

Free will for me is an example of an approximate chaotic system.   We can predict how people will behave under certain circumstances in the aggregate but individual behavior is impossible to predict.  Quantum physics has ended the debate over whether the universe is truly determinist or not and apparently it is not granting us a little licence.  Even chaos theory can only deal with deterministic systems which leads to the conclusion that fundamentally we are allowed by physical evidence to say that we are what we choose to be not what we are determined to be.  We need not understand how the system that allows us free will functions to recognize it's possible existence.  Free will makes us moral agents and allows for us to approximately choose to act morally which is perhaps the most important truth we can accept on faith without worrying about being absolutely factual. 

It would be easy to say that the universe is deterministic at larger scales and "random" at tiny scales.  Put another way you could say the universe is probabilistic with the probability increasing with scale or size.  We do not however understand how the small scale effects larger scales sufficiently to explain how agency functions and may never understand.  What the evidence suggests however is that we can use the largely deterministic nature of the universe to choose with some degree of probability and within the limits of our understanding the environment we live in.   Science and faith have their own proper spheres of influence with faith being limited to what is philosophically impossible to establish absolutely yet philosophically sound and mostly having to do with morality.          


Edited by wolfhnd - 22 Aug 2015 at 23:28
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Aug 2015 at 18:57
Faith seems to be an issue for you that is floating in the background, and so I was wondering whether making a distinction like a closed system/open system would be useful.  Some people think that we almost have it all figured out except dotting the Ts and crossing the i's.  I tend to equate this with a scientific (or scientistic) point of view like behaviorism or computers can think or the grand unified theory of everything, but it is not necessarily that way, Calvinism would be a closed system.  Faith that believes that "I am a good person because I am rich, I am rich because I am saved," is not much of a faith.  But in the closed system, everything tends to be under control or, almost under control (or so it seems to me).  Faith at its best says that, not everything is under control, that control is very shallow or is an illusion, but things will work out, even if you are dead, things will work out.  The poor don't pretend to understand that they know about things, and so a lot of the time they are in this category, but so also are the religious, the mystics and the politicians (who understand that their success is largely due to chance.)

As a child, you tend to trust in your parents, riding in a car with them puts you to sleep because you are comfortable, and fell safe.  After learning to drive in high school, I couldn't sleep in cars, (unless I was driving, but that is another story), that aura of open ended trust, of faith was gone.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote wolfhnd Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Aug 2015 at 20:16
Free will requires that "not everything be under control"  I simply choose to consider that the limitation of determinism. 

That faith is closely related to free will is only a reflection of that limitation of determinism.  What we cannot prove we either ignore or accept as a tautology.  In the case of free will we accept that moral agencies is a necessary for society to function.  We could be ants infallibly following our instincts and at the mercy our environment but we are not.  With agency we have the possibility and many would say the reality of creating our environment and the responsibility that goes along with creativity.

There is no creativity without uncertainty.  Faith is only necessary for actuating that creativity if it has a religious meaning I have no idea what that would be.    
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Fintan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Aug 2015 at 00:21

Faith, is for me, inside religious and close belief. You can have faith on God but is Impossible to have faith in Science, cause that one is empiric. Then can’t be traditional science cause the science is one,  and come from discoveries that can be cofirm in the laboratory and have to be prove as the  Relativity Theory, that were just a mathematical  theory before was prove with the help of astronomy. Other thing is that the powers don’t want to take a look at the telescope as happen with Galileo.

By example, the Jesuits had his own science, the “Jesuitical Science” but as they had to mixture the religion with science have nothing to do with the protestant, that were much more free in thinking.  The French as always were apart cause don’t use to blend religion, science and politics.

Other matter: the so call "West nations" are not connected by democracy. USA invented it but  don’t want to share with other nations. Why?. I know and the game “Civilitation” knows and they know too.



Edited by Fintan - 24 Aug 2015 at 00:25
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Aug 2015 at 06:51
I think a lot of people have a "faith" in Science, it is called scientism or positivism on the model of Auguste Comte.  Some of these people watch DeGrasse Tyson and think they know what a black hole is.  I think that the more you know about Black holes, the more you realize how little you understand.  I am not talking about someone like me, I am talking about someone who can do the math.  But you ask someone who is a fan of science, they will say "of course" they know what a black hole is.

Democracy is a concept that is imperfectly mirrored throughout the world, including (as also being imperfect), the United States.  Democracy actually was a derogatory term for Aristotle (which he is trying (successfully) to establish it as the common usage).  Herodotus (and maybe Thucydides) talks about isonomy, or isonomia.  I find that more interesting, and have heard in passing (no evidence) that that might be related to the Pythagoreans.
For the faithful, God is not something one can prove, ignore nor is a tautology.
When I see a painting by Miyomoto Musashi, there is no uncertainty, each brush stroke is where it should be.  Each brush stroke is contingent and necessary at the same time. (if that makes sense)  The potential of the artist, the paint and brush, etc. is made actual. 
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