Mod+ Can theories work without evidence?

#2
New York philosopher Massimo Pigliucci, CERN physicist Tara Shears and author of The Science Delusion Rupert Sheldrake debate this issue:

https://iai.tv/video/missing-evidence
I watched my free 20 minutes but the video cut out just as things were getting interesting. It seems the two scientists right of screen were marketing science as a disinterested series of self correcting abstractions punctuated by quantum shifting (sic) genii, while Rupert Sheldrake's insistence that science is as vulnerable to human distortion as any other activity fell on determinedly deaf ears. Is that a fair appraisal of the outcome?
 
#3
I watched my free 20 minutes but the video cut out just as things were getting interesting. It seems the two scientists right of screen were marketing science as a disinterested series of self correcting abstractions punctuated by quantum shifting (sic) genii, while Rupert Sheldrake's insistence that science is as vulnerable to human distortion as any other activity fell on determinedly deaf ears. Is that a fair appraisal of the outcome?
You can sign up for free to see the rest. Just make up an email if you don't want to use a real one. (But remember it to sign in.)

Your appraisal of the outcome is pretty much correct, but it's still worth watching to the end.
 
#6
Interesting video. Thanks for sharing.

Struck by the phenomenon of bias while watching the video, and not those of others but rather of mine. Being one who, dare I say, hopes for evidence of "more" it is quite challenging to not profoundly agree with what is pleasing to me while strongly objecting to that which is displeasing.

That said I continue to struggle with why the broader scientific worldview seems so intent on eliminating study and possibility in this area of "more". It seems close minded and quite frankly mundane. This will not come off well, but how can we ever, truly be inspired and wonderstruck by discovering new insights into the natural, physical world? I mean is anyone regularly awestruck by fire? I'm sure the first of our kind to "discover" it were wonderstruck but enough time passes with more and more discovery as to make fire rather mundane. (Again, through a "How does it answer the "big" questions?" perspective)

To me science should include as a core objective, if not THE core objective, the attempt to answer the truly big questions. Maybe starting with "why?".
 
#9
Interesting, and clearly there was a lot of intelligent input. My feeling is that there was a certain naivety and blind trust put forward as a replacement for research.
 
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#10
I felt that Rupert Sheldrake really dominated that debate - and it seems as though the audience thought the same!

You could feel the subtle distortions that the others seemed to want to promote. Thus the concept of "dark matter" is not meant as a label for some anomalous phenomena, it is a proposed solution to the fact that the inverse square law seems - anomalously - to go wrong over the sort of distances that apply within galaxies.

There have, of course, been a huge number of ganzfelt telepathy experiments whose average success rate has converged to about 32%, where 25% would have been expected by chance. Characterizing telepathy as a field with no real evidence, is just whistling in the dark!

Interesting video. Thanks for sharing.

Struck by the phenomenon of bias while watching the video, and not those of others but rather of mine. Being one who, dare I say, hopes for evidence of "more" it is quite challenging to not profoundly agree with what is pleasing to me while strongly objecting to that which is displeasing.

That said I continue to struggle with why the broader scientific worldview seems so intent on eliminating study and possibility in this area of "more". It seems close minded and quite frankly mundane.
Agian I think that RS struck at the core of that. There is essentially no theory of consciousness (mind) that includes qualia (and surely that is essential). IIT talks about qualia, but these are simply names for mathematical quantities in their theory - which is a great way to bypass the Hard Problem completely!
This will not come off well, but how can we ever, truly be inspired and wonderstruck by discovering new insights into the natural, physical world? I mean is anyone regularly awestruck by fire? I'm sure the first of our kind to "discover" it were wonderstruck but enough time passes with more and more discovery as to make fire rather mundane. (Again, through a "How does it answer the "big" questions?" perspective)

To me science should include as a core objective, if not THE core objective, the attempt to answer the truly big questions. Maybe starting with "why?".
I don't know if you have discovered this thread yet:
http://www.skeptiko-forum.com/threads/critiques-of-science-as-currently-praticed.2959/

It describes innumerable failings of modern science, which seems to have lost direction in so many ways.

David
 
#11
A great debate. Thank you for posting it. Sheldrake is such a treasure, though I do have some respect for Pigliucci as well.
I also finished listening to the podcast and agree, Sheldrake is indeed one of the few pushing the boundaries in a discipline marked by deep reaction and unacknowledged prejudice. I don't share your enthusiasm for Pigliucci's approach, although it is a common one. At one point or another he showed himself susceptible to every one of Rupert Sheldrake's concerns, while being apparently unaware of the bear trap he was digging himself. Or he was so confident of his ground he simply didn't care. Such confidence can only be the result of prolonged exposure to a certain mind set, one in which pre-judgment is rewarded. Why else would anyone confidently dismiss research from an academic with all the right establishment credentials simply because it asked new questions?

Massimo Pigliucci's claim that Sheldrake's research, if valid, would turn science on its head is the kind of thing we often hear for NDEs. "If just one NDE were proven science would have to tear up the book", nonsense. The only people who would have to reassess their position are hardcore ideological materialists. Existing science would simply have to accommodate a new position for consciousness, and as many scientists openly demand a mechanism before addressing evidence, that position may be centuries away.
 
#12
I don't know if you have discovered this thread yet:
http://www.skeptiko-forum.com/threads/critiques-of-science-as-currently-praticed.2959/

It describes innumerable failings of modern science, which seems to have lost direction in so many ways.
I have David, thank you. Great thread that I'm slowly digesting.

Massimo Pigliucci's claim that Sheldrake's research, if valid, would turn science on its head is the kind of thing we often hear for NDEs. "If just one NDE were proven science would have to tear up the book", nonsense.
That one jumped out at me and I am obviously a layperson. I was shocked that Pigliucci would make such a broad generalization. Kudos for RS for challenging the assertion.

I found the distinction that Pigliucci made between the multi-verse theory and telepathy interesting. Again, why would any scientist act as a base handicapper ala a Vegas sportsbook by weighting the potential viability of such things? Put aside his assertion that telepathy experiments have produced no known results. Basically, he's saying the difference is the institution of science, namely physicists, have produced some beautiful math. Further, that the math provides higher conviction for a positive, eventual evidential proof than the longstanding assertion by people of paranormal sensations like telepathy, ESP, premonition, etc.

There's a dangerous self-inforcing bias at work there. The ironic part was the acknowledgment that many prior beautiful "maths" have led to dead ends many times before.

Again, why not simply say, "I don't know, but if its interesting to people we should continue to study it." That seems the most productive, honest, and empathetic response. Oh, and lets not forget his point about the benefit of diversity the scientific ranks by gender and culture. Yet another irony in that the same diversity mandate should not include people wasting time on the study of telepathy and other paranormal areas.
 
#13
Again, why not simply say, "I don't know, but if its interesting to people we should continue to study it."
He said the opposite early in the discussion, something along the lines of research should cease because it has shown no evidence. I mean how much more openly prejudiced can someone be, and still demand objective credentials? If it was about funding, like a cure for cancer or research into telepathy, Piglicci would have a point, but most of Sheldrake's research is shoestring stuff, nicely protocoled and making use of new technology, but not exactly CERN. More like a cleaning budget in a typical university lab I would guess.

He's basically saying Sheldrake's stuff gives real science a bad name and shouldn't even be on the same platform.
 
#14
That one jumped out at me and I am obviously a layperson. I was shocked that Pigliucci would make such a broad generalization. Kudos for RS for challenging the assertion.
All that stuff about turning science on its head is nonsense.

In a technical sense science was turned on its head a number of times. For example, Quantum Mechanics means that at the scale of atoms, the laws of physics are quite different, and even worse, there is no precise scale at which QM no longer applies. That doesn't stop Newton's laws of motion being applied for a whole range of applications - even though they are technically wrong - both because of QM and because of Relativity - but if the objects in question are a normal size, and not moving ridiculously fast, Newton's laws still apply for all intents and purposes.

A science in which mind was not stored in the brain, would simply require some way in which mind could control the brain and use it as its "I/O device". Possibly this might use the uncertainty of QM.

David
 
#15
The reason materialists and mainstream scientists oppose any kind of theories or evidence for PSI, the paranormal, religious affirmation via NDE's or by any other means, visions etc. is of course because of the centuries ongoing struggle between organized religion and evidenced based science, where ground won by science never will be yielded - no matter what. It's a trench-war - and nothing, that even remotely, questioning materialism, can be allowed.

The absolute worst horror for materialists, atheists, and mainstream science would be, for example, if we could get solid proof that consciousness survives death and lives on in an unknown realm, but we are unable to discern anything other than that. No availability to set up controlled experiments or furthermore get some kind of communications going to give further proof & information of its environment and structure. Imagine a ghost, of a verifiable former living being, showing up at the same spot everyday for 5 min and told his name and said he had died and are now living "on the other side", and then start to give the weather-forecast for tomorrow, and after that just disappeared. Unwilling to communicate in any other way, and elude any kind of means of measures, nothing caught on any instrument except from, video, camera and audio, being totally transparent, and have no mass.

This scenario would be the worst horror for trench-war scientists & atheists, because suddenly everything is up for grabs again - all the elements of myths and religious dogma prior to the Enlightenment & Renaissance. If we have proof of an afterlife people would again contemplate what else possibly could be true as well!?! Like; hell, limbo, angels, purgatory, Letters of Indulgence; where you can preventively "buy" yourself, or a deceased loved one, freedom from Purgatory by paying the church for it - and just about any other myths, teachings, and dogmas derived from, not only the Abrahamic-religions, but from all other kinds of belief-system since mankind started to believe in Gods. It sure would be pretty chaotic to just have to make do with the proof of an afterlife, without the possibility to discern anything else about it - and it would drive mainstream-science insane. ;)
 
#17
I also finished listening to the podcast and agree, Sheldrake is indeed one of the few pushing the boundaries in a discipline marked by deep reaction and unacknowledged prejudice. I don't share your enthusiasm for Pigliucci's approach, although it is a common one. At one point or another he showed himself susceptible to every one of Rupert Sheldrake's concerns, while being apparently unaware of the bear trap he was digging himself. Or he was so confident of his ground he simply didn't care. Such confidence can only be the result of prolonged exposure to a certain mind set, one in which pre-judgment is rewarded. Why else would anyone confidently dismiss research from an academic with all the right establishment credentials simply because it asked new questions?

Massimo Pigliucci's claim that Sheldrake's research, if valid, would turn science on its head is the kind of thing we often hear for NDEs. "If just one NDE were proven science would have to tear up the book", nonsense. The only people who would have to reassess their position are hardcore ideological materialists. Existing science would simply have to accommodate a new position for consciousness, and as many scientists openly demand a mechanism before addressing evidence, that position may be centuries away.
Sorry, I said I had respect for him (Massimo), but I did not mean in this debate -- I meant that, as materialists go, I do have some respect for him. He has pushed back on the more extreme skeptics in the past. But in this particular debate, no way. He was terrible.
 
#18
David, how do you assess this:

There have, of course, been a huge number of ganzfelt telepathy experiments whose average success rate has converged to about 32%, where 25% would have been expected by chance. Characterizing telepathy as a field with no real evidence, is just whistling in the dark!
in the context of this:

I don't know if you have discovered this thread yet:
http://www.skeptiko-forum.com/threads/critiques-of-science-as-currently-praticed.2959/

It describes innumerable failings of modern science, which seems to have lost direction in so many ways.
 
#20
I'm not sure what you mean - do you mean that because a lot of science has been found wanting, we should simply give up on/ignore all research?

David
Absolutely not. I mean specifically how do you assess the Ganzfeld research that produced what you've identified as a 32% convergence in light of the lessons learned from the research cited in that thread? Does anything in that thread influence your assessment of that 32%? Does it cause you to reevaluate? Does it make you question how reliable we should consider it? Do you see any warning signs?

I suggest that it should.
 
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