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Applying Skeptical Scrutiny To Our Relationship With Knowledge
Posted: 06 July 2017 07:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 91 ]
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Lausten - 06 July 2017 06:18 AM
Tanny - 06 July 2017 05:36 AM
Write4U - 05 July 2017 07:14 PM

I am merely advocating for an Independent Scientific Agency that is tasked with deep research into the long term effects of adding possible dangerous substances into our eco-system.

We’re in danger of going way off topic, so let’s focus on the proposal for an Independent Scientific Agency.  Who would run this agency, what would their mission be exactly?  What powers would they have?  What powers would they not have?

Those are great questions

Comes to mind comprehensive studies from worldwide input of information about causes and results of the ecological impact of altering the environment from the intensive use of artificial chemicals such as pesticides, herbicides.

Similar to the concerted and coordinated scientific study of GW. Other than publication of advisory articles and worldwide symposiums addressing the problems and offering possible solutions, such an Agency would have no enforcement powers, but they would have access to scientific publications and the Press and perhaps to a forum such as the United Nations. 

IOW a true Applying of Skeptical Scrutiny To Our Relationship with Knowledge of the results of our applied sciences in connection with the ecosystem, in addition to the study of GW, over long periods of time. We KNOW they are intimately connected, but we are lacking a comprehensive study of data from all sources . To keep track of the results deforestation and desertification, without including the underlying causes of all ecological changes, keeps these scientific disciplines removed from each other and prevents a comprehensive knowledge of the State of the Earth.

[ Edited: 06 July 2017 08:01 AM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 06 July 2017 08:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 92 ]
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Perhaps this helps?

What if we think of knowledge as an element of nature? 

Hasn’t “knowledge” been developing on it’s own since even before the emergence of the human species?  As evolution unfolded species were able to collect and manage increasingly complex sets of information, right?  And then humans came along and this process already underway took a significant leap forward. 

Suppose we think of knowledge as being a force of nature like water or electricity?  And then we take the same approach we take in managing all other forces of nature.

We want water here, but not there.  We want water, but not too much, or too little.  We have elaborate mechanisms in place for managing water, and the systems are based on reasoning far more sophisticated than “more is better”.

If this makes sense, then it follows that whatever processes we create for managing knowledge will sometimes involve increasing knowledge, and sometimes involve limiting knowledge. 

So Ok, the EPA is in the business of managing the appropriate application of tools like pesticides.  That’s a good example, and so….

Who is in the business of managing the tool of knowledge?  What branch of science studies where we should have more knowledge, and where we should have less? 

My point has been that, in regards to knowledge, we seem to be about at the stage where we were when we discovered DDT.  We once reasoned, bugs are bad, and this kills bugs, so let’s spray it everywhere!!  Isn’t that what we’re doing with knowledge, spraying it everywhere?

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Posted: 06 July 2017 10:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 93 ]
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Information is an element of nature and somehow nature keeps adding more. There wasn’t any information about atoms until thousands of years after the big bang. Knowledge is an adaptation to an information niche. Evolution will decide if that adaptation survives in which case it will likely introduce more information, providing new niches for knowledge to evolve. Maybe “More is better”, or at least more survivable is a law of nature. And nature isn’t interested in what survives so long as new information comes into existence. More is better from Nature’s perspective.

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Posted: 06 July 2017 03:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 94 ]
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JohnH - 06 July 2017 10:09 AM

Information is an element of nature and somehow nature keeps adding more. There wasn’t any information about atoms until thousands of years after the big bang. Knowledge is an adaptation to an information niche. Evolution will decide if that adaptation survives in which case it will likely introduce more information, providing new niches for knowledge to evolve. Maybe “More is better”, or at least more survivable is a law of nature. And nature isn’t interested in what survives so long as new information comes into existence. More is better from Nature’s perspective.

“more is better” can also be translated as “growth”. Almost all societies aim for growth in almost every aspect of development.

But growth is inextricably connected to the mathematics of the Exponential function.  Steady growth of anything within a finite environment, results inevitably in exhaustion of finite resources.  At that point zero growth becomes inevitable.

Conclusion; “more is better” is a self defeating endeavor.  “Zero growth” is mathematically inevitable in a finite environment with finite resources.

Moreover, the exponential function can create unimaginably large numbers in a relatively short time.
A steady population growth of just 1% will produce an exponential doubling time in size of anything every 70 years.

Example: At 1% steady growth of oil consumption, will result in the consumption of more oil than the total oil consumption used in the entire previous history of oil consumption, in just 70 years. This calculation holds true for everything that has a steady growth rate of just 1% !!!!!

Think about that for a moment and apply this simple arithmetic to anything we consider that “more is better”.

!% growth = doubling time every 70 years
2%  ”    =    ”      ”    ”    35 years
3%  ”    =    ”      ”    ”  17.5 years

7%  ”    =    ”      ’    ’    10 years

[ Edited: 06 July 2017 03:30 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 06 July 2017 05:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 95 ]
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You’re on to something useful Write.  The more pieces of the knowledge puzzle we have in place, the faster we can place the rest of the pieces.  It’s a process which feeds on itself. 

If we describe the modern world as knowledge=>power=>change unfolding at faster and faster rates, surely there sooner or later comes a point where human beings can’t manage the process.

What branch of science studies what rate of knowledge development would be ideal?  Which specific scientists study this specific subject?

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Posted: 06 July 2017 06:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 96 ]
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Tanny - 06 July 2017 05:46 PM

You’re on to something useful Write.  The more pieces of the knowledge puzzle we have in place, the faster we can place the rest of the pieces.  It’s a process which feeds on itself. 

If we describe the modern world as knowledge=>power=>change unfolding at faster and faster rates, surely there sooner or later comes a point where human beings can’t manage the process.

What branch of science studies what rate of knowledge development would be ideal?  Which specific scientists study this specific subject?

I can’t answer that, but I’m sure there are scientists/mathematicians who would be able fashion a workable model. The internet may prove an invaluable tool in gathering data from around the world.

p.s. correction of my little table in previous post ; 3% should read 4% growth = doubling time of 17.5

For calculating a doubling time it is always 70 / x% steady growth.

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Posted: 07 July 2017 05:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 97 ]
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Write4U - 06 July 2017 06:04 PM

I can’t answer that, but I’m sure there are scientists/mathematicians who would be able fashion a workable model.

Two points:

1) Until someone can point us to specific scientists addressing themselves specifically to the question of, “how much knowledge is enough and how much knowledge is too much”, I propose that we might assume that no such scientists exist.  Of course this is a temporary conclusion until such time as counter evidence appears.

If no such scientists exist, what does that do to the cultural authority of the science community?  My proposal for now is that scientists have become a kind of clergy with whom we have about the same kind of blind trust relationship as we used to have with religious clergy.  Example, we see no scientists talking about limits to knowledge, and so assume none are needed, even though common sense logic suggest otherwise.

2) How would scientists/mathematicians go about fashioning a workable model which can tell us “how much knowledge is enough and how much knowledge is too much”?

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Posted: 07 July 2017 09:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 98 ]
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Tanny - 07 July 2017 05:34 AM
Write4U - 06 July 2017 06:04 PM

I can’t answer that, but I’m sure there are scientists/mathematicians who would be able fashion a workable model.

Two points:

1) Until someone can point us to specific scientists addressing themselves specifically to the question of, “how much knowledge is enough and how much knowledge is too much”, I propose that we might assume that no such scientists exist.  Of course this is a temporary conclusion until such time as counter evidence appears.

If no such scientists exist, what does that do to the cultural authority of the science community?  My proposal for now is that scientists have become a kind of clergy with whom we have about the same kind of blind trust relationship as we used to have with religious clergy.  Example, we see no scientists talking about limits to knowledge, and so assume none are needed, even though common sense logic suggest otherwise.

2) How would scientists/mathematicians go about fashioning a workable model which can tell us “how much knowledge is enough and how much knowledge is too much”?

You confuse science with scientists. Science is a process, a loosely defined set of tools for determining truth, so it has no personality, no goal, no morals. People supply that. All people. Science is not political, but it drives politics, despite what some people say. So all of us are responsible for deciding where money and effort is spent on science and how much. It’s a far from perfect system, and I think you are struggling with that, but not confronting it directly. You are talking about things that are affected by how grant money is distributed and how corporations fund and use knowledge and how universities are funded, but you are talking about the effects, not the sources. So you come up with logic like waiting for scientists to appear that are addressing this political problem and say that “we” assume things that we actually don’t.

As for them being clergy, that’s your theme of equivocating faith and logic. They are very different. Clergy can do pretty much what it wants. It has no method for determining if god is real and doesn’t want one. Science requires evidence for any claim. It requires a falsifiable experiment that can be repeated. The only people who have that “blind trust” you speak of are people who don’t understand the process. They should learn what it is before they critique it.

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Posted: 07 July 2017 07:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 99 ]
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Tanny - 06 July 2017 05:46 PM

You’re on to something useful Write.  The more pieces of the knowledge puzzle we have in place, the faster we can place the rest of the pieces.  It’s a process which feeds on itself. 
If we describe the modern world as knowledge=>power=>change unfolding at faster and faster rates, surely there sooner or later comes a point where human beings can’t manage the process.
What branch of science studies what rate of knowledge development would be ideal?  Which specific scientists study this specific subject?

I liked your analogy of a “puzzle”.  We have an abundance of pieces but as far as I know there is no framework to fit these pieces together and form an emerging picture.

There is no lack of information about specific problems of human caused instabilities at regional or even global levels. IMO, the problem lies in the lack of coordination between all these separate endeavors.

We have thousands of scientific studies and good approximations of the results of these studies. But they are always treated a separate scientific conclusions, which is what the scientists were tasked to do.  There is no problem with the scientific disciplines in and of themselves.
One of my favorite links in my library is the “Worldometer” site. It gives us a “realtime” estimate of statistical information about major global areas of public concern.
http://www.worldometers.info/

While it provides us with some pertinent anticipated results of these statistics, such as “estimated end of oil” , which today stands at about ~46 years, and the amount of chemical pollutants introduced in the environments

5,035,763 Toxic chemicals released in the environment this year (tons)

, it gives no further analysis, but refers to the agencies which keep track of this specific problem. But these statistics are oriented to the activities of humans only, and it provides no information about the relationship of these human activities and their impact to the global ecosystem, such as the disappearance of pollinating insects and the long term projections of the global impact of this phenomenon and a host of other “seemingly” non-related natural phenomena.

We know and often cite Huxley, that everything is connected to everything else. But in practice we are not trying to fit these individual pieces of information into a comprehensive study of the puzzle of the State of the Earth itself.

I am proposing an independent body which gathers all information of not only human activities, but which incorporates everything we know about the natural changes occurring on earth and giving us a single source of reference.
We have managed to construct models of dictionaries and encyclopedias and their instant translation in all languages.  These are major works and have taken years to compile, but they are useful in communication.

Is there any reason why we could not fashion an Encyclopedia of the State of the Earth, where all the reliable knowledge of the earth sciences is compiled, along with deep analysis of the connections and projected models of future results?

One could say this information is already available on the internet. But the net is a library, with many books and research in even one specific area may take days and then must be sorted for fact and fiction.

Is it possible to provide a picture of the completed puzzle (allowing for update or refinement), instead of just the pieces as found in Worldometers?

[ Edited: 07 July 2017 07:36 PM by Write4U ]
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