Tuesday, week 9. What do you believe and why? Can you prove it? How, or why not? Does it matter whether you can provide evidence for what you believe? Does what you believe matter? Is everything relative? Is science just another belief system?
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Kinds of belief: faith-based, evidence-based, values (morals, aesthetics), other?
How can you know? (epistemology)
What is true? (ontology – truth – objectivity?)
Faith, intuition, gut feeling, common sense, perosnal experience, critical analysis, …
In 1991, President George H. W. Bush called Ambassador Joseph Wilson a "True American Hero." In 2003, senior officials in President George W. Bush’s White House tried to intimidate critics and punish Wilson for what he knew—and finally made public—about the administration’s lies before the invasion of Iraq. …
In July 2003, Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, was outed as an undercover CIA operative, allegedly in retaliation for Wilson blowing the whistle on Bush administration dissembling about Iraqi efforts to procure weapons of mass destruction. …
Pragmatism – it gets the job done
Simple relativism – all beliefs are equally valid
Liberalism – not to be confused with relativism
Nihilism – beliefs don’t matter (does anything?)
Logical positivism, reductionism, conventional or objectivist science
Social constructionist science
Truth matters, all else being equal
Truth matters for its own sake
Socially-constructed theories and “strong-objectivity”
Global warming – Is it real? So what? Is it our fault? Can we do anything about it?
Global temperature Temp rises as CO2 rises
increasing rapidly, recently since industrial revolution
Temperature variations over the last 1,000 years suggest a recent sharp rise in temperature caused by human activities. The chart is relatively flat from the period AD 1000 to 1900, indicating that temperatures were relatively stable for this period of time. The flat part forms the stick's "shaft". But after 1900, temperatures appear to shoot up, forming the hockey stick's "blade".
Nature 1998, Geophysical Research Letters 1999, by Michael Mann, Ray Bradley, Malcolm Hughes
CO2 and Global Temperature Change, by Whole Systems Foundation
Ozone hole – Is it real? So what? Is it our fault? Can we do anything about it?
1928 - chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) Invented by Thomas Midgley, Jr.,
Widespread use as refrigerants - millions of tons of CFCs produced and evaporated.
1974 – Chemists Rowland Molina of UC Irvine theorized that UV light in the stratosphere would dissociate CFCs, and that the free chlorine atoms would dissociate ozone.
1978 - CFCs in aerosol sprays were banned in the U.S.
mid-1980s - severe annual depletion of ozone began to appear above Antarctica
1987 fifty-seven industrial nations signed the Montreal Protocol -- the first global environmental agreement --to phase-out of CFCs.
1996 - All production of CFCs in developed countries halted on Jan 1.
2003 – Rate of growth of ozone hole slows
2005 – Ozone hole starts to shrink.
17:05 30 July 2003, NewScientist.com news service, Gaia Vince
Almost 30 years after it was first reported that pollutants were destroying the Earth's protective ozone layer, there is clear evidence that the global CFC ban has had an impact.
For the first time, it has been shown that the rate of ozone depletion in the upper stratosphere - 35 to 45 kilometres up - is slowing down. "This is the beginning of a recovery of the ozone layer," says Michael Newchurch, at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, who led the new research.
Between 1997 and 2000, the average rate of ozone depletion slowed by the equivalent of seven per cent per decade. But the authors say that it will take at least 40 years before the depletion stops and recovery begins. "Ozone is still depleting but just not as fast. We are still decades away from total ozone recovery," Newchurch says.
Scientific American, November 2005
testable not subject to test
falsifiable immune to falsification
designed to change ideally immutable
in response to discoveries
evolution Intelligent Design
questions for inquiry “God of the Gaps”
What is faith? A confident belief or trust in a person, belief, loyalty, or religion. (MS)
… in centuries past, … most scientists, as well as many scientists today, identify themselves as spiritually devout.
But … they invoke divinity only when they read the boundaries of their understanding. …
Newton’s laws of motion … accounted for phenomena that had eluded philosophers for millennia … Newton [insists on] data, “inferr’d from the phaenomena,” But in the absence of data, … Newton invokes God …
A century later, … Laplace demonstrates that the solar system is stable over periods of time longer than Newton could predict… when … Napoleon asked him what role God played in the construction and regulation of the heavens, … Laplace replied “Sire, I have ho need of that hypothesis.”
Today secular philosophers call … divine invocation “God of the gaps” …
… in … a stunning … philosophical inversion, … ecclesiastics … began to declare that it was the laws of physics themselves that served as proof of the wisdom and power of God.
… eighteenth century “clockwork universe” – an ordered, rational, predictable mechanism fashioned and run by God and his laws of physics
… [Big Bang as Genesis] …
In contemporary America, the notion that a higher intelligence is the single answer to all enigmas has been enjoying a resurgence. This present-day version of God of the gaps [has a new] name: “intelligent design.” The term suggests that some entity, endowed with a mental capacity far greaterthan the human mind can muster, created or enabled all the things in the physical world that we cannot explain through scientific methods.
But why confine ourselves to things to wondrous or intricate for us to understand … why not tally all those things whose design is so clunky, goofy, impractical, or unworkable that they reflect the absence of intelligence? …
… Intelligent design is a philosophy of ignorance.
Science is a philosophy of discovery. …
Fri. Nov. 18. 2005, By NICOLE WINFIELD, Associated Press Writer
VATICAN CITY - The Vatican’s chief astronomer said Friday that "intelligent design" isn't science and doesn't belong in science classrooms, the latest high-ranking Roman Catholic official to enter the evolution debate in the United States.
The Rev. George Coyne, the Jesuit director of the Vatican Observatory, said placing intelligent design theory alongside that of evolution in school programs was "wrong" and was akin to mixing apples with oranges.
"Intelligent design isn't science even though it pretends to be," the ANSA news agency quoted Coyne as saying on the sidelines of a conference in Florence. "If you want to teach it in schools, intelligent design should be taught when religion or cultural history is taught, not science."
Conjecture – hypothesis – guess
Evidence – facts – data
anecdotal vs. statistical
Theory – law – model – map
Truth is whatever you care about most. (CC)
Truth cannot be defined or analyzed. (MS)
Truth is a tool to get you what you want.
Truth is objective.
Truth depends on physical, mind-independent relationships and properties.
Truth is causal realism, in part.
Truth is deeply normative.
Truth is good, a worthy goal of inquiry, worth caring about for its own sake.
Do you care about caring about the truth?
Integrity and happiness (Lynch):
good life, richly lived
pursuit of truth
What do you choose do with knowledge/power?