Imagine all the People-Human Nature, War/Peace & Humanis
Posted: 12 December 2006 08:28 PM   [ Ignore ]
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[b:a9ede78dd1]http://atheism.about.com/od/abouthumanism/a/WarPeaceHuman.htm

"We humanists here in America, like all western thinkers, have come to our philosophy by having the world of ideas first filtered through the particulars of our culture… Perhaps to the point that even scientists have at times become colored by what they already believe to be true about reality. But the self correctiveness of science is such that we can step out of the culture box, if just long enough to put our favorite theories to the test. When we do so, we may just find that the principles of humanism we all carry with us as part of who we are, can indeed be legitimized by an objective application of science, minus the political biases of our time. If we humanists find that we can not do at least that, then the only thing that separates us from the unwarranted presumptions of supernaturalism is our atheism."[/b:a9ede78dd1]

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Barry F. Seidman
Exec. Producer of Equal Time for Freethought

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Posted: 13 December 2006 08:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Ah, the big question in the postmodern era- How far out of our “culture box” can we really step? As a practicing scientist, I’m not convinced indivduals can be more than marginally objective, especially about ideas they are passionately invested in. I do believe the mechanisms of science as a community activity is our best hope for finding truths about objective reality. The postmodern purists would say the mechnism itself is a cultural invention and as biased as the people who employ it, but I think the verifiable effects on the physical world of actions based on well-demonstrated scientific theories are proof enough that there are real truths behind the ideas.
The history of science, though, does show us capable of long periods heavily invested in ideas which are ultimately shown to be based more in cultural beliefs and values than reality. The shift in emphasis in primatology from male aggression to female kinship networks (with a dramtic improvement in the heuristic and predictive value of our theories) probably didn’t coincide with the influx of women into primatology entirely be chance. And surely the “nature red in tooth an claw” emphasis on competition in classical Darwinian theory bears a potentially informative relationship to the laissez-faire socioeconomic theories of 19th century capitalism. But the mechanism of science allows each new generation of scientists (and scientists in cultures from around the world) to challenge the established dogma and rewards them for proving it wrong.
Not perfect, but the best game going if you ask me grin

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You cannot reason a person out of a position he did not reason himself into in the first place. 
Johnathan Swift

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Posted: 13 December 2006 01:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I agree with Mac that it’s quite difficult to discount our cultural biases, and I also agree that scientific training is probably the best method of letting us diminish their influence in our deliberations.

As a retired (no-longer-practicing -  gee does that mean I’ve achieved perfection?  LOL ) physical scientist I seem to have observed that others of my peers tend to be more able to put aside their beliefs and examine problems a bit more objectively than the average person. 

Instruction in critical thinking, logic, semantics, and the scientific method at an early age would probably be useful in allowing the next generation to deal with their problems more effectively.

As far as postmodernists go, their thought processes seem totally muddled to me.  While they may be beyond my ability to grasp, I’d accept their ideas if they could show me any instances where they have actually worked to solve any of our problems.

Occam

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Posted: 22 December 2006 08:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Early Education

[quote author=“Occam”]Instruction in critical thinking, logic, semantics, and the scientific method at an early age would probably be useful in allowing the next generation to deal with their problems more effectively.

Occam

:!: Yes! I agree!  I am interested in how this might be implemented into practical teaching methods.  Do you think the current public school structure would need to significantly change in order to accomodate critical thinking at an early age?  Is it possible to make a small structural change that would foster large gains toward a population of young people that like to think?  I love that you mentioned this because I have been thinking about this problem since I took critical thinking 101. I wish I had been exposed to critical thinking in a systematic manner a long time ago in public school, especially since my parents value the ethereality of faith over the scientific process.  If we cannot count on parents to teach their kids careful thinking, then I think the government would be well served by cultivating future constituents who possess the habit of suspending judgment until examination of evidence.  Wouldn’t that be great?

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Posted: 23 December 2006 10:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I know that some educators think critical thinking is too esoteric for small children, but I disagree.  For example, I get a kick out of kidding with the four to seven year olds in my extended family by using critical thinking errors.  I’m always delighted at how fast they pick up on them and how they enjoy them.  Two examples:

“I went to the market, and there was a sign saying ‘ground round $2.69 a pound -  fat free.”  Did that mean they were selling ground round without any fat in it or that there was a lot of fat in it, but they weren’t charging for the fat?

And the old one which I show to kids old enough to read:  “Woman without her man is nothing.”  I ask what they think of this, and the girls hate it.  Then I ask that they say it with pauses after ‘woman’ and ‘her’.

I put together a list of about seventy critical thinking errors with examples like these and have given them to quite a few kids.  I’m always gratified when one of the kids quotes one of the myths back to me later as they point out someone’s error.  If you want a copy let me know and I can e-mail it to you.

Occam

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Posted: 27 December 2006 06:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Yes, I would appreciate that.  Thanks.

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