Mod+ Henry Bauer and Nonsense vs. Dogmatism

#1
Alex's latest guest and Rhome Viharo's thread on Rational Wiki bring up some issues which I'm curious about. So I have a few questions of my own.

Henry Bauer calls science dogmatic when it treats his idea that HIV is not the cause of AIDS as nonsense. I'm wondering how that distinction is made. We may not agree on which ones, but can we agree that some ideas are nonsense, even obvious nonsense (I will offer up the idea of a flat earth as a universal example (fingers crossed ;)))?

When is treating nonsense as nonsense justified, and when is it dogmatic?

Is there any role for engagement (discussion, publication, respectful treatment) with ideas which are nonsense?

Is there any role for ridicule instead of engagement when an idea is obvious nonsense, and when? Please note that in this case I'm most interested in ridicule directed at scientists by proponents (I am already unconvinced by Skeptical and Rational Wiki's use of ridicule).

Linda

(Mod+ refers to the NAR as described by Alex in this post - http://www.skeptiko-forum.com/threa...cal-science-reporting.2068/page-16#post-62781 or as described here - http://www.skeptiko-forum.com/threads/does-it-matter.1240/page-5#post-33913)
 
#2
Alex's latest guest and Rhome Viharo's thread on Rational Wiki bring up some issues which I'm curious about. So I have a few questions of my own.

Henry Bauer calls science dogmatic when it treats his idea that HIV is not the cause of AIDS as nonsense. I'm wondering how that distinction is made.
First, I've reported you for continued attempts to trivialize the Mod+ designation by re-purposing for your own personal ends. Till you stop or an admin informs us that you are setting the board rules, know that every time you trivialize Mod+ do so I will be as harsh, rude and denigrating to you as I can. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised as you wonky materialist morons are often acting without any honor. Still that you would come here and do it so blatantly - seeking to co-opt a designation made specifically to allow for threads without the naysaying drivel that is your stock-in-trade remains startling.

Second, (and the only response I would have made if you hadn't been acting like a troll) - if you want to know more about Bauer's perspective the place to start is by reading through some of the articles on his website. https://scimedskeptic.wordpress.com/

Oh and in case you missed it - Stop Attempting to co-opt the MOD+ designation for your own churlish aims!

It is there for a well-defined purpose. You are basically giving a finger to a rule set by the site owner.
 
#3
Saiko, the Mod+ explanation I provided specifically links to an explanation given by Alex for this use of Mod+. I've reported your post as a clear violation of his rule.

Linda
 
#4
Saiko, the Mod+ explanation I provided specifically links to an explanation given by Alex for this use of Mod+. I've reported your post as a clear violation of his rule.

Linda
Here's the most relevant part (vis-a-vis Saiko's post):

I've already run this past Andy, since he would be responsible for the "asked to leave" part for those who do not honour the mod+ tag, and he says it seems fair.

Thanks,
Linda
 
#6
I suppose this depends entirely on which side of the fence you're on. It's obviously going to be dogmatic to anyone who believes the data.
I get that this is the way it comes across. I'd like to start by giving proponents the benefit of the doubt, instead of presuming "sour grapes", though.

Linda
 
#7
I run into this all the time in my field (agriculture) working at one of the premier Ag universities in the world. It's a challenging situation for sure - I often have to make the call whether something is "nonsense" or not (recommended practice or not). Of course, I am supposed to rely on information that is "research-based" when making that judgement. But, like everyone on this forum knows, there are so many topics that sit on the fence - nonsense to the academics in my field, but interesting and potentially valid to all of our clients. So, the thinking goes - the academics are the ones that are "right" and aligned with the science while the clients are "deceived" by silly myths and misinformation. Now, if I found this to be the case on each and every one of the topics I've encountered, I might just say that's true. But it's actually more like 50/50 - I find data on the "fringe" topic, supply it to the academic specialist in that topic area and receive back the reason why that one study doesn't make it true or what is wrong with the methodology of the study or the very common, "now let's see it replicated". When I bring up topics that have completely flipped 180 degrees with new research exemplifying that what we think is true today could be false tomorrow, they usually give me, "yep that's the beauty of science". So, on and on it goes. Clients come to me years later and say, "see I brought this to you years ago and you said it was nonsense and now it's being promoted by the University." I just have to say "yep, good ol Science - it will probably be false again in a few years :)" One very interesting dynamic that I've come across here in the US is that, in my field at least, research from other countries "doesn't count" ; in fact, academics don't even look at research outside the major AG universities in general. In summary, I am careful to NEVER ridicule my clients (it may come back to me when the science flips); instead, I prefer to listen, engage and discuss. In the end, I usually qualify my recommendations with, "based on the science accepted by the University today, this is/ is not a recommendation we can make." This demonstrates a willingness to nurture true understanding, rather than delivering an ego driven pontification.
 
#8
First, I've reported you for continued attempts to trivialize the Mod+ designation by re-purposing for your own personal ends. Till you stop or an admin informs us that you are setting the board rules, know that every time you trivialize Mod+ do so I will be as harsh, rude and denigrating to you as I can. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised as you wonky materialist morons are often acting without any honor. Still that you would come here and do it so blatantly - seeking to co-opt a designation made specifically to allow for threads without the naysaying drivel that is your stock-in-trade remains startling.

Second, (and the only response I would have made if you hadn't been acting like a troll) - if you want to know more about Bauer's perspective the place to start is by reading through some of the articles on his website. https://scimedskeptic.wordpress.com/

Oh and in case you missed it - Stop Attempting to co-opt the MOD+ designation for your own churlish aims!

It is there for a well-defined purpose. You are basically giving a finger to a rule set by the site owner.
Lol. Thank you!
 
#9
I run into this all the time in my field (agriculture) working at one of the premier Ag universities in the world. It's a challenging situation for sure - I often have to make the call whether something is "nonsense" or not (recommended practice or not). Of course, I am supposed to rely on information that is "research-based" when making that judgement. But, like everyone on this forum knows, there are so many topics that sit on the fence - nonsense to the academics in my field, but interesting and potentially valid to all of our clients. So, the thinking goes - the academics are the ones that are "right" and aligned with the science while the clients are "deceived" by silly myths and misinformation. Now, if I found this to be the case on each and every one of the topics I've encountered, I might just say that's true. But it's actually more like 50/50 - I find data on the "fringe" topic, supply it to the academic specialist in that topic area and receive back the reason why that one study doesn't make it true or what is wrong with the methodology of the study or the very common, "now let's see it replicated". When I bring up topics that have completely flipped 180 degrees with new research exemplifying that what we think is true today could be false tomorrow, they usually give me, "yep that's the beauty of science". So, on and on it goes. Clients come to me years later and say, "see I brought this to you years ago and you said it was nonsense and now it's being promoted by the University." I just have to say "yep, good ol Science - it will probably be false again in a few years :)" One very interesting dynamic that I've come across here in the US is that, in my field at least, research from other countries "doesn't count" ; in fact, academics don't even look at research outside the major AG universities in general. In summary, I am careful to NEVER ridicule my clients (it may come back to me when the science flips); instead, I prefer to listen, engage and discuss. In the end, I usually qualify my recommendations with, "based on the science accepted by the University today, this is/ is not a recommendation we can make." This demonstrates a willingness to nurture true understanding, rather than delivering an ego driven pontification.
Thank you for contributing. I'm not sure why you are calling some of this "nonsense". It sounds more like the normal practice of science, where various ideas are tested and recommendations change as more evidence accumulates (either for or against ideas). Rather than "nonsense", it sounds like ideas in various stages of being tested. In particular, science isn't ignoring these ideas if there is ongoing research, so how could this be an example of the sort of dogmatism Henry Bauer complains about?

Linda
 
#10
Alex's latest guest and Rhome Viharo's thread on Rational Wiki bring up some issues which I'm curious about. So I have a few questions of my own.

Henry Bauer calls science dogmatic when it treats his idea that HIV is not the cause of AIDS as nonsense. I'm wondering how that distinction is made. We may not agree on which ones, but can we agree that some ideas are nonsense, even obvious nonsense (I will offer up the idea of a flat earth as a universal example (fingers crossed ;)))?

When is treating nonsense as nonsense justified, and when is it dogmatic?

Is there any role for engagement (discussion, publication, respectful treatment) with ideas which are nonsense?

Is there any role for ridicule instead of engagement when an idea is obvious nonsense, and when? Please note that in this case I'm most interested in ridicule directed at scientists by proponents (I am already unconvinced by Skeptical and Rational Wiki's use of ridicule).

Linda

(Mod+ refers to the NAR as described by Alex in this post - http://www.skeptiko-forum.com/threa...cal-science-reporting.2068/page-16#post-62781 or as described here - http://www.skeptiko-forum.com/threads/does-it-matter.1240/page-5#post-33913)

Also, when is it fair to bring up previous (possible) lapses in critical thinking (a belief in "The Loch Ness Monster", or considering a circus conjurer to have supernatural powers)? I know this can be regarded as "poisoning the well", but doesn't it indicate a certain predisposition?
 

Bart V

straw materialist
Member
#11
Also, when is it fair to bring up previous (possible) lapses in critical thinking (a belief in "The Loch Ness Monster", or considering a circus conjurer to have supernatural powers)? I know this can be regarded as "poisoning the well", but doesn't it indicate a certain predisposition?
I don't think that is 'poisoning the well', it is more like putting up a sign saying "warning this well is poisoned"
 
#12
Thank you for contributing. I'm not sure why you are calling some of this "nonsense". It sounds more like the normal practice of science, where various ideas are tested and recommendations change as more evidence accumulates (either for or against ideas). Rather than "nonsense", it sounds like ideas in various stages of being tested. In particular, science isn't ignoring these ideas if there is ongoing research, so how could this be an example of the sort of dogmatism Henry Bauer complains about?

Linda
Well, it sounds like you fall into the camp that feels my situation is simply "the normal practice of science"; hence, you agree with the academics calling everything outside the "circle of research-based information" as "nonsense" as they do (which you've altered to "ideas in various stages of being tested"). Whether or not the ideas are being tested (some are, many aren't), if it falls outside the circle, in my situation, it is nonsense until proven otherwise. Sprinkle in a little condescension mixed with little ridicule and in some cases shaming and you've got yourself a situation where my clients trust in "the normal practice of science" subsides leading to resentment and feelings of dogmatism. This is why I choose to engage in discussions with my clients in a different manner than the academics do/would do - like I mentioned. There really is no distinction in my field between "obvious nonsense" and "nonsense" when it comes to ideas outside the current circle of "research based information". This leads to the situation that Henry complains about. It also leads to the science in my field progressing at a snail's pace and aligns it with corporate/political interests that provide funding for research rather than a true interest in "what works".
 
#13
What does anyone think about Bauer's position that HIV doesn't actually exist? Is that something divisive among people who do not believe that HIV causes AIDS? Does it cross some line into the nonsensical?
 
#14
I don't think that is 'poisoning the well', it is more like putting up a sign saying "warning this well is poisoned"
I disagree. It can be tempting to take this as a sort of short cut to decide whether someone is making any sense, but it's not a reliable method at all. Remember that Herschel, who discovered Uranus, also though that people lived on the sun. Also Lowell, who was instrumental in the discovery of Pluto, was a firm follower of the Canals on Mars theory. Anyone trying to use those failings to try and disprove the existence of Uranus or Pluto would probably get into difficulties quite quickly.
 
#16
Well, it sounds like you fall into the camp that feels my situation is simply "the normal practice of science"; hence, you agree with the academics calling everything outside the "circle of research-based information" as "nonsense" as they do (which you've altered to "ideas in various stages of being tested"). Whether or not the ideas are being tested (some are, many aren't), if it falls outside the circle, in my situation, it is nonsense until proven otherwise. Sprinkle in a little condescension mixed with little ridicule and in some cases shaming and you've got yourself a situation where my clients trust in "the normal practice of science" subsides leading to resentment and feelings of dogmatism. This is why I choose to engage in discussions with my clients in a different manner than the academics do/would do - like I mentioned. There really is no distinction in my field between "obvious nonsense" and "nonsense" when it comes to ideas outside the current circle of "research based information". This leads to the situation that Henry complains about. It also leads to the science in my field progressing at a snail's pace and aligns it with corporate/political interests that provide funding for research rather than a true interest in "what works".
I think we are talking about two different.

Henry Bauer's complaints are about what he sees as an unwillingness by science to even consider his ideas. Experts don't respond to his critiques, his critiques aren't raised at conferences or in publications (except in fringe journals or conferences, which are attended by experts either), research directed by his critiques isn't funded, the 'controversy' isn't included in the educational curriculum, etc. And I think his description is accurate. His criticisms aren't given the time of day by experts in the field. In this case, it's because he is obviously wrong. But how is someone who is not an expert supposed to know that?

You describe recommendations which change over time depending upon the state of the research. What you seem to be calling "nonsense" isn't ideas which have been shown to be false, but rather attempts to base recommendations on ideas which haven't yet been tested. This isn't an example of ideas which are regarded as "nonsense". It's an example of a process which is regarded as nonsense - jumping the gun and making recommendations when the idea hasn't been adequately tested. Your example actually works against the idea that science is dogmatic and impervious to criticism. In your example, even when you have individual practitioners who are condescending and dismissive, critiques are raised and discussed, research is funded and performed, the research and controversy makes its way into the educational curriculum, and science changes as a result. You complain that this makes progress slow and scientists aren't following the right leads. But how are we supposed to know which leads are going to be fruitful beforehand?

Linda
 
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#17
Also, when is it fair to bring up previous (possible) lapses in critical thinking (a belief in "The Loch Ness Monster", or considering a circus conjurer to have supernatural powers)? I know this can be regarded as "poisoning the well", but doesn't it indicate a certain predisposition?
Only if the process used to conclude that a circus conjurer has supernatural powers is the same process used to come to an opinion about HIV/AIDS. That's why I often try to find out why someone has a particular belief or drawn a particular conclusion. Sometimes the same process is used for both (e.g. "my intuition about whether it makes sense"), so the discovery that the process has been wrong in some cases tells you that the process does not reliably separate true and false ideas/beliefs. But when the process is different (as it often is), then it's "poisoning the well" because the comparison isn't valid.

Linda
 
#18
http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2013/04/a-history-of-scientific-discoveries.html

Nobel Prize Winning Discoveries that were First Ridiculed as "Pseudoscience".

(See Notes below for details and references.)
Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar: Black Holes
Binning, Roher, Gimzewski: Scanning-Tunneling Microscope
Barbara McClintlock: Mobile Genetic Elements
Stanley Prusiner: Prions
Jacobus Henricus van't Hoff: Theory of 3D Molecules
Peyton Rous: Viruses Transmit Cancer
Dan Shechtman: Quasicrystals ("There is no such thing as quasicrystals, only quasi-scientists." - Linus Pauling, before Shechtman won the Nobel Prize for discovering quasicrystals.)
Hans Krebs: The Krebs Cycle, Metabolic Energy Production
Svante Arrhenius: The Properties of Electrolytes are Caused by Charged Atoms
Hannes Alfvén: Magnetohydrodynamics
F. Sherwood Rowland, Mario Molina, and Paul Crutzen: Choloroflurocarbons Destroying the Ozone Layer

Many more important discoveries that were first ridiculed by Science can be found at: amasci.com, megafoundation.org and Crackpots Who Were Right. Here are just a few:
Alfred Wegener: Contintental Drift
J Harlen Bretz: Catistrophism in Geology
Lynn Margulis: Endosymbiotic Organelles
George Zweig: Quarks
Warren S. Warren: Flaws in MRI theory

 
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#19
I run into this all the time in my field (agriculture) working at one of the premier Ag universities in the world. ....
I think in partiular, you have to take the opinions of people with practical knowledge and expertise seriously.
 
#20
What does anyone think about Bauer's position that HIV doesn't actually exist? Is that something divisive among people who do not believe that HIV causes AIDS? Does it cross some line into the nonsensical?
Henry Bauer's ideas unquestionably cross into the line of nonsense, from the perspective of someone with adequate knowledge and experience to evaluate his claims (I mentioned on the old forum patients with AIDS were cared for under my specialty and that I cared for many, many HIV/AIDS patients, I started my training at the start of the recognition of the syndrome and have first hand experience of the history of these discoveries, my institutions were heavily involved in HIV/AIDS research, several close acquaintances are super-specialists in the field, etc.). People don't realize how horrific and unprecedented this condition was. The effect that effective therapy had on this condition was almost miraculous. I can't even begin to describe how it felt when we no longer had to face the trauma of trying to staunch the unrelenting onslaught of what this disease was throwing at us. So to then be faced with people who try to claim that the disease doesn't really exist, pre-existing conditions are mistaken for something else, it's drug side-effects, blah blah blah, is so laughably wrong that it's not surprising to be met with "wait, you actually expect me to waste time addressing this?"

However, this brings us back around to my initial post and your questions. How are you supposed to know any of that? Just because it's easy for me to identify nonsense because some of it happens to fall under my area of expertise, where does that leave the ordinary educated lay-person?

As far as "what sort of reaction is justified?", I tried to use the "flat-earth" example as something every educated lay-person would recognize as laughably wrong. Somebody pesters you to explain the Bedford level experiments without resorting to the Psuedoskeptical explanation of "refraction", and proclaims that astronauts and physicists are operating under a delusion on that basis. Is NASA obliged to address their criticisms patiently and respectfully every time they announce a shuttle launch? Should conferences and space in scholarly journals be devoted to addressing their claims. Is it okay to ignore them? Can you laugh at them?

Linda
 
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