3 of 4
3
The Ethics of Belief
Posted: 06 October 2013 03:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1307
Joined  2009-10-21
DarronS - 06 October 2013 07:02 AM

I disagree that this anti-vax paranoia is substantially different from AGW denialism. Vaccines have been around a long time and have done demonstrable good. Many, many people are alive today who would have died in childhood before vaccines were widely available. If people based their beliefs on evidence they would not take the word of an empty-headed blonde who got famous for looking good naked.

She looks good naked, what, where? Oh sorry, back on topic. Yeah, big picture, I also have seen the history of anti-vax cartoons from the early days, of cows growing out of people’s arms and backs, because something in the vaccine came from cows. So, nothing new really. A friend of mine who works in a lab, sometimes also teaches ethics of science, uses the famous Lancet published study linking autism to vaccines, as an example. It is good for discussion about just what should be published. Part of the problem too is the press. When that was published, many scientist immediately identified it as flawed. Put our “point/counterpoint” culture can’t absorb that. It hears everything as if it is equally valid and it is somehow up to the individual to figure it out.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 06 October 2013 06:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  542
Joined  2007-09-29
DarronS - 05 October 2013 06:05 PM
inthegobi - 05 October 2013 06:01 PM

And if you can spare the time, could you comment on the example I provided of Krauss’ latest book. Is it an example of doing something if not grossly unethical then intellectually shady?

Chris

No Chris, what Krauss is doing is cutting edge theoretical physics. I replied to that in post #8. Perhaps you missed it.

Well, that’s true *also*. But to be great at X is not to deny he’s talking slick about Y.

Chris.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 06 October 2013 06:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  542
Joined  2007-09-29

Lausten,

One of my posts accidently implied I question Krauss’ physics. Not at all. Sorry about that.

To repeat, I’m questioning his ethics in not just conflating ‘nothing’ with ‘spacetime’ or ‘the laws of physics’, but in insisting on it in the face of opposition even from his colleagues. And that he couched his popular book with this confusion is to darken people’s minds just a little. Like people need more intellectual darkness. It’s especially galling that he did it, proabably, just because it sounds nice and paradoxical-buddha-y.

Chris

Profile
 
 
Posted: 06 October 2013 06:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  542
Joined  2007-09-29
PLaClair - 06 October 2013 05:39 AM

A firm grounding in reality is an essential component of ethics and for that matter, morality, spirituality and useful religion.

I am contractually obligated by my Church to thank you for your concern about the state of my knowledge.

But we agree on the part I’ve quoted above. Without mockery, yea verily. And useless religion is worse than useless.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 06 October 2013 06:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  542
Joined  2007-09-29
Lausten - 06 October 2013 06:23 AM

Now, after the studies, it’s easy to say Jenny McCarthy is acting unethically. I’m not making excuses, but there is some psychology to be understood here. There is such a thing as bad science, and it is not always easy for non-scientists to recognize it. There are also decisions that have to be made before the science is in. If science was always reliable, there would be no problem. But it’s not and that makes terms like “reliable”, “trustworthy” and “belief” difficult for some people to sort out.

Quite.

Chris

Profile
 
 
Posted: 07 October 2013 06:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1307
Joined  2009-10-21
inthegobi - 06 October 2013 06:30 PM

Lausten,

One of my posts accidently implied I question Krauss’ physics. Not at all. Sorry about that.

To repeat, I’m questioning his ethics in not just conflating ‘nothing’ with ‘spacetime’ or ‘the laws of physics’, but in insisting on it in the face of opposition even from his colleagues. And that he couched his popular book with this confusion is to darken people’s minds just a little. Like people need more intellectual darkness. It’s especially galling that he did it, proabably, just because it sounds nice and paradoxical-buddha-y.

Chris

He gets questioned by some of his colleagues because he is working in an area that very few others are and he is exploring things that are difficult to name and describe because they are so new to all of us. Scientists like being questioned as long as there some logic to the question. It’s how ideas are developed.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 07 October 2013 10:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  542
Joined  2007-09-29
Lausten - 07 October 2013 06:42 AM
inthegobi - 06 October 2013 06:30 PM

Lausten,

One of my posts accidently implied I question Krauss’ physics. Not at all. Sorry about that.

To repeat, I’m questioning his ethics in not just conflating ‘nothing’ with ‘spacetime’ or ‘the laws of physics’, but in insisting on it in the face of opposition even from his colleagues. And that he couched his popular book with this confusion is to darken people’s minds just a little. Like people need more intellectual darkness. It’s especially galling that he did it, proabably, just because it sounds nice and paradoxical-buddha-y.

Chris

He gets questioned by some of his colleagues because he is working in an area that very few others are and he is exploring things that are difficult to name and describe because they are so new to all of us. Scientists like being questioned as long as there some logic to the question. It’s how ideas are developed.

We’re talking past each other. There is the healthy debate among physicists about the details of the physical theories held by Krauss; but my point in this thread about ethics of belief is the way he wrapped that physics for a popular audience in a daffy, private definition of ‘nothing’. Krauss’ fellow physicists are also unhappy with him for doing that, but for different reasons: because that’s not about physics but about general clarity. Spacetime is *not nothing* in any ordinary sense of the term. The ordinary full sense of nothing should not be lost in a sea of winking paradoxical language. And Krauss is too important a person to persist in winking paradox.

Face it: Krauss didn’t want to title and organize his book around ‘The Universe from Spacetime and the Laws of Physics’. He thought ‘from Nothing’ sounded Kool and Edgy. he could have just titled it so and then in the first chapter fessed up that he’s not really talking about *nothing*, but *no massy bodies* or something like that.

Chris

Profile
 
 
Posted: 07 October 2013 11:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1307
Joined  2009-10-21
inthegobi - 07 October 2013 10:09 AM

We’re talking past each other. There is the healthy debate among physicists about the details of the physical theories held by Krauss; but my point in this thread about ethics of belief is the way he wrapped that physics for a popular audience in a daffy, private definition of ‘nothing’. Krauss’ fellow physicists are also unhappy with him for doing that,
Chris

Yeah, no kidding we’re talking past each other. I made a couple suggestions to you about how to correct that.

I can only find philosophers who are upset with Krauss. Probably because he says they are not useful anymore when it comes to questions to about the origin of the universe, multi-verse, or laws of physics generally. Do you have any references for these unhappy fellow physicists?

[ Edited: 07 October 2013 12:17 PM by Lausten ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 07 October 2013 12:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  542
Joined  2007-09-29

Lausten,

I can only find philosophers who are upset with Krauss. Probably because he says they are not useful anymore when it comes to questions to about the origin of the universe, multiDo you have any references for these unhappy fellow physicists?

David Z Albert, from his review in the New York Times Book Review. His book on Quantum Mechanics and Experience is about the best and clearest popular book on the subject on the market. He also includes Bohm’s interpretation (while not endorsing it), which is pretty rare for a popular book.

From the review:

Krauss seems to be thinking that these vacuum states amount to the relativistic-­quantum-field-theoretical version of there not being any physical stuff at all. And he has an argument — or thinks he does — that the laws of relativistic quantum field theories entail that vacuum states are unstable. And that, in a nutshell, is the account he proposes of why there should be something rather than nothing. But that’s just not right. Relativistic-quantum-field-theoretical vacuum states — no less than giraffes or refrigerators or solar systems — are particular arrangements of elementary physical stuff.

I hardly need a degree in physics to understand that. Frankly, I don’t think you need a degree in anything to understand the bait-and-switch Krauss proposes. To be fair to you, many physicists do have an addiction for calling something, nothing. I guess we’re ready for perpetual motion machines after all, eh? because the laws of thermodynamics need the old-fashioned definition of nothing, don’t they - as in ‘you cannot get something from nothing.’

Krauss, when pressed about this, continually changes the subject. That’s another unethical epistemic move. No?

But never mind: This forum is *all* about *free* thinking. What in *your* opinion is the real, scientific purpose in using ‘nothing’ in this manner? What’s so terrible about sticking to a straightforward claim that the Universe is created from pre-existing physical laws, or preexisting spacetime, or whatever? Why take a word from philosophy and then change its meaning, and *then* diss philosophers - especially when the re-use is superfluous?

A final word from a physicist who’s no friend of religion, but also no friend of unimportant ‘games’ against religion:

And I guess it ought to be mentioned, quite apart from the question of whether anything Krauss says turns out to be true or false, that the whole business of approaching the struggle with religion as if it were a card game, or a horse race, or some kind of battle of wits, just feels all wrong — or it does, at any rate, to me. When I was growing up, where I was growing up, there was a critique of religion according to which religion was cruel, and a lie, and a mechanism of enslavement, and something full of loathing and contempt for every­thing essentially human. Maybe that was true and maybe it wasn’t, but it had to do with important things — it had to do, that is, with history, and with suffering, and with the hope of a better world — and it seems like a pity, and more than a pity, and worse than a pity, with all that in the back of one’s head, to think that all that gets offered to us now, by guys like these, in books like this, is the pale, small, silly, nerdy accusation that religion is, I don’t know, dumb.

That’s all I have to say about Krauss. Ditto most other science books by secularists and atheists. I think i’ll go re-read some articles in my Gould anthology and get a certain bad taste outta my mouth. His atheism at least has dignity.

Chris

Profile
 
 
Posted: 07 October 2013 01:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  542
Joined  2007-09-29

If Dan Dennett gets Krauss to recant (mostly), does that count? Is Dennett a Good Guy because he’s a fellow atheist, or a Bad Guy and not to be trusted because he’s a smelly philosopher?

Lawrence Krauss: Another Scientist with an Anti-philosophy Complex

Chris

Profile
 
 
Posted: 07 October 2013 02:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1307
Joined  2009-10-21

From the byline: David Albert is a professor of philosophy at Columbia and the author of “Quantum Mechanics and Experience.”
You said “fellow physicists”.

There are too many assumptions in your questions and I generally don’t care for your tone. So I won’t be answering the rest of your post.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 07 October 2013 02:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  542
Joined  2007-09-29
Lausten - 07 October 2013 02:05 PM

From the byline: David Albert is a professor of philosophy at Columbia and the author of “Quantum Mechanics and Experience.”
You said “fellow physicists”.

There are too many assumptions in your questions and I generally don’t care for your tone. So I won’t be answering the rest of your post.

And he’s a PhD physicist. Did he get dumber when he switched to a philosophy department?

Fine by me. This is a sub-thread about, well, nothing.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 07 October 2013 04:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1307
Joined  2009-10-21
inthegobi - 07 October 2013 02:38 PM
Lausten - 07 October 2013 02:05 PM

From the byline: David Albert is a professor of philosophy at Columbia and the author of “Quantum Mechanics and Experience.”
You said “fellow physicists”.

There are too many assumptions in your questions and I generally don’t care for your tone. So I won’t be answering the rest of your post.

And he’s a PhD physicist. Did he get dumber when he switched to a philosophy department?

Fine by me. This is a sub-thread about, well, nothing.

Okay, I read his wikipedia entry too fast. Never know who’s looking over my shoulder at work! No, he didn’t get dumber, and quit being such a snot. I noted also in his wiki entry that only he is mentioned in his tiff with Krauss. Your posts indicated a gaggle of physicists were piling on this ado about nothing. I remain unconvinced.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 07 October 2013 06:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  542
Joined  2007-09-29
Lausten - 07 October 2013 04:59 PM
inthegobi - 07 October 2013 02:38 PM
Lausten - 07 October 2013 02:05 PM

From the byline: David Albert is a professor of philosophy at Columbia and the author of “Quantum Mechanics and Experience.”
You said “fellow physicists”.

There are too many assumptions in your questions and I generally don’t care for your tone. So I won’t be answering the rest of your post.

And he’s a PhD physicist. Did he get dumber when he switched to a philosophy department?

Fine by me. This is a sub-thread about, well, nothing.

Okay, I read his wikipedia entry too fast. Never know who’s looking over my shoulder at work! No, he didn’t get dumber, and quit being such a snot. I noted also in his wiki entry that only he is mentioned in his tiff with Krauss. Your posts indicated a gaggle of physicists were piling on this ado about nothing. I remain unconvinced.

You should check out the Cartalk guys (from public radio) website. They used to have a Boss Button; you pressed it and instantly a fake business-letter, spreadsheet or graph popped up.

I was more of a snot in the other thread. Pax? I put down my axe, you put down your club?

I didn’t mention a *gaggle* of other physicists. Yeah, I noticed the Wikipedia entry is slim too, but he’s hardly as worthy of a long entry as OJ Simpson or Bert Lahr, now is he, heh heh.

Daniel Dennett disagreed with Krauss’ premise. *Jerry Coyne* disagrees with it. (I called him ‘Jeff’ in the other thread.) Dawkins called it the best blow to theists since Darwin. With enemies like that, christians hardly need friends!

Other physicists who do talk this way include Hawking, and Steve Weinberg. I’m not dissing their expertise in physics. But why do expert physicists think they can do anything beyond physics? I’d no more care what a philosopher innocent of physics says about quantum theory. And I are one! None of the rest of us believe we can tell other experts what they should be doing outside of our own fields? (doctors seem an exception, if cocktail parties I’ve attended count as ‘gathering evidence’.)

That should be another ethical behavior; if you’re an expert and a popularizer, you need to be *extra* careful about what you print.

Chris

Profile
 
 
Posted: 07 October 2013 08:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4812
Joined  2007-10-05

Thank you for completely derailing this thread, Chris. I was hoping this would be an interesting discussion.

 Signature 

“In the beginning, God created the universe. This has made many people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.”
Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

Profile
 
 
   
3 of 4
3
 
‹‹ Space and time      Deleted ››