249. Tim Freke On Soul Crushing Science

#1
Soul crushing science... Heh, Alex is good at putting words in his interviewee's mouths...

Tim Freke: I love science. I love all human knowledge, and I love science. I love its attitude. I love what it shows.
I know, I know... Alex is referring to a certain type (caricature?) of science (scientism?), but I can't see how framing the interview in this way is constructive in any way.

However, it may herald a subtle shift in Alex's game. In the intro to this show, sharp-eared listeners would also have noticed that, unless it was a slip of the tongue, he has changed the title of his book from "Why Skeptics Are Wrong...." to "Why Science Is Wrong....".

Is that a good idea?
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

#2
I think the title of a book, unless it's self-published, is something publishers have a lot more say in?

Especially for non-fiction books?
 
#3
I guess it could be titled "Why Scientism is Wrong..." but I think it's clear what is meant by the term science. It would be a bad idea to have "Why The Scientific Method is Wrong..." or "Why Science Experiments are Foolish".

It's comparable to the "Science Delusion". Everyone knows what that means, I guess.
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

#4
I guess it could be titled "Why Scientism is Wrong..." but I think it's clear what is meant by the term science. It would be a bad idea to have "Why The Scientific Method is Wrong..." or "Why Science Experiments are Foolish".

It's comparable to the "Science Delusion". Everyone knows what that means, I guess.
I suspect the title will have way more changes before it gets to the publication date.
 
#7
Sciborg_S_Patel said:
I think of materialism as one might a virulent disease like rabies. Some people might simply be carriers, and continue to live as if morality and free will were real under their paradigm.
Sciborg, yet again you're failing to distinguish between materiaism being false and materialism being bad. We have plenty of good reasons, from philosophers like Chalmers, Nagel and Strawson, for thinking materialism is probably false, but no good reasons as far as I can see for thinking it's bad, which is probably why these philosophers never argue that materialism is bad.

The materialist who believes in objective morality probably is making a philosophical mistake. They believe that moral values, human rights and normativity are somehow part of the natural world. So, yeah, there's something wrong with their theory and their philosophical views. The question is, is there any reason to think that people who believe (wrongly) that moral values are part of the natural world are more likely to behave badly than people who believe (rightly) that moral values are not part of the natural world? They all believe in moral values and surely that's what counts.
 
#8
Sciborg, yet again you're failing to distinguish between materiaism being false and materialism being bad. We have plenty of good reasons, from philosophers like Chalmers, Nagel and Strawson, for thinking materialism is probably false, but no good reasons as far as I can see for thinking it's bad, which is probably why these philosophers never argue that materialism is bad.

The materialist who believes in objective morality probably is making a philosophical mistake. They believe that moral values, human rights and normativity are somehow part of the natural world. So, yeah, there's something wrong with their theory and their philosophical views. The question is, is there any reason to think that people who believe (wrongly) that moral values are part of the natural world are more likely to behave badly than people who believe (rightly) that moral values are not part of the natural world? They all believe in moral values and surely that's what counts.
Hey Dominic, this comment is in the wrong thread. :D
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

#12
I was just in the middle of writing nearly the exact same thing.
I actually understand the criticism if one misunderstands me as claiming the change occurs in an individual, or collapse after a decade, rather than projecting a long term degeneration.

I'm also thinking of Bakker's Semantic Apocalypse.

In biological terms, my fear is that the Semantic Apocalypse is about to happen. Despite the florid diversity of answers to the Question of Meaning, they tend to display a remarkable degree of structural convergence. This is what you would expect, given that we are neurologically wired for meaning, to look at the world in terms of intent, purpose, and propriety. Research in this last, the biology of morality, has found striking convergences in moral thought across what otherwise seem vast cultural chasms.

Even though we cannot agree on the answer, we all agree on the importance of the question, and the shapes that answers should take – even apparently radical departures from traditional thought, such as Buddhism. No matter how diverse the answers seem to be, they all remain anchored in the facts of our shared neurophysiology.

So what happens when we inevitably leave that shared neurophysiology behind?
 
#13
I can say as one who used to be a materialist that- to come to a point where I began to see glimpses of 'truth' concerning my actual disposition in reality, and hence the abandonment of those prior materialist assumptions- I undertook some fairly profound positive alterations. I mean, I know with absolute certainty that materialism is wrong. And this understanding is so powerfully transformative for the better. It's quite amazing. Of course, a cynic could say I'm deluded (they'd be wrong and projecting), but being deluded is much more fruitful than being a materialist. But that's just me. Everyone is different. Fact is it shouldn't make a difference, because there really shouldn't be anything there that it can make a difference to.

The kicker is that now, for me, if materialism were true, it would make no difference.
 
#14
IMO this is the greatest thing ever written in the Skeptiko forum, or maybe just plainly one of the greatest things ever written--

Fair enough, Dominic. Let me say I think there are two kinds of belief: conditioned (by others or oneself), and evidence-based. Think of it scientifically: the scientist constructs a hypothesis, and then tests it: the evidence may either support or refute it.

So what's the hypothesis? It's in two parts. First, that there's the possibility that life has some kind of meaning. The second, is that there may be a way of obtaining evidence to support that. If a person rejects that hypothesis out of hand, without testing it, well, that's their prerogative, but at that point further dialogue becomes pointless.

How to test it? Well first, I don't believe it's easy. It can take many years, throughout which one has to be genuinely open to the first possibility even though no incontrovertible evidence may be coming in. What is the procedure for getting the evidence? Maybe one can find a spiritual teacher and carry out prescribed exercises, for example: not that there's any guarantee, because there are many bogus teachers out there (and perhaps even more bogus students). Some think psychoactive chemicals can do the trick without years of striving. I'm not really qualified to say anything with certainty about either option. That said, I discovered inadvertently something that may have worked for me.

The very act of searching for meaning, maybe for several decades, leads to the discovery that one has disguised motives for doing so. They're egotistical: maybe one wants to feel special or to experience nirvana or whatever. So, one tries to kid oneself that this time one is being sincere, wanting to find meaning (whatever it might turn out to be), for its own sake. After going through loop after loop and discovering one is still being egotistical, at some point, despair might set in.

It has to be genuine despair, and that can't be faked. Despair is horrible, but it has a potentially useful side-effect: it puts a bloody great hole in the ego. And that's an important aim of genuine spiritual teaching. Zen masters have one way of beating pride out of you, Sufis another, Hindu mystics a third, and so on. And my theory is that when the bloody great hole appears, the conditions may be right for an enhanced spiritual awareness to arise: I suspect we'd be aware like that all the time if we were humble all the time, but few of us are: maybe only the very greatest of adepts are. I'm not saying that the awareness, if it comes (again, no guarantees) will be very dramatic; it may be quite subtle, but one thing for sure is that it'll be something one hasn't experienced before: and that's what constitutes the evidence in support of the hypothesis.

I've said that I'm an atheist of the Abrahamic God, and that conventional religion is not for me. That said, it wouldn't surprise me if some religionists might, through sincere faith, also develop spiritual awareness. The odd secular humanist might eventually develop it too. And there's always the (remote) possibility that even the most hardline materialist might have a Damascene experience: who knows.

So: I've explained to you the hypothesis, and how it can be tested. I've said it may take decades to get the evidence, and it might never happen anyway. Dismiss it if you want, but if you do so without giving it a try, there's no way you'll ever know whether it's bunkum. And if you do get the evidence, it will only be good for you: there's no way to convince anyone else.

It's a bitch, ain't it? The experiment's not for the impatient, insincere or faint-hearted, that's for sure.
http://www.skeptiko-forum.com/threads/utopianism.850/#post-21453
 
#18
Given that widely divergent and incompatible morality systems can be set out under both materialistic and immaterialistic worldviews I'm not sure that mere belief or not in materialism is all that great a factor in how humans decide what they think is moral.
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

#19
Given that widely divergent and incompatible morality systems can be set out under both materialistic and immaterialistic worldviews I'm not sure that mere belief or not in materialism is all that great a factor in how humans decide what they think is moral.
So outside of consumer protection the skeptical movement's War on Immaterialism is worthless?
 
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