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Scientific agnosticism is the only answer ?
Posted: 08 March 2010 11:32 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Now that I finished that Climate Change and Contrarian essay, I’m getting a little email traffic regarding it.

My pal RC, while still avoiding addressing any of the sources I offer has boldly asserted that
“Scientific agnosticism is the only answer.” 

I always thought healthy and honest skepticism was the scientific way to understanding.

I’m a little stumped at what “Scientific agnosticism” means
or how it would play out in gathering knowledge.

Any thoughts?

[ Edited: 08 March 2010 01:21 PM by citizenschallenge ]
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Posted: 08 March 2010 01:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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citizenschallenge - 08 March 2010 11:32 AM

I always thought healthy and honest skepticism was the scientific way to understanding.

With respect - Now that get’s my Funniest post of the Year nomination. I see no scepticism in any of your posts, of which there are many, on Global Warming. On the contrary they have all the hallmarks of a religious proselytizer. Closed minded, self congratulatory and most at home, it seems to me, in the many love-in-like threads hereabouts. Least at home with any discussion of the facts except those with voluminous one-sided links akin to religious links to the Bible.

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Posted: 08 March 2010 01:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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scepticeye - 08 March 2010 01:16 PM
citizenschallenge - 08 March 2010 11:32 AM

I always thought healthy and honest skepticism was the scientific way to understanding.

With respect - Now that get’s my Funniest post of the Year nomination. I see no scepticism in any of your posts, of which there are many, on Global Warming. On the contrary they have all the hallmarks of a religious proselytizer. Closed minded, self congratulatory and most at home, it seems to me, in the many love-in-like threads hereabouts. Least at home with any discussion of the facts except those with voluminous one-sided links akin to religious links to the Bible.

A case can be made for the need for haste in addressing what is obviously a real and immediate danger to life on earth. I believe that the skeptical inquiry part about climate change has passed and that scientific consensus has been arrived at. Climate change is a fact, and unless we address this issue in a global way, we can expect to witness dire consequences, even in our lifetime.
In this case the boy is crying wolf because the wolf is at the door.

[ Edited: 10 November 2010 04:12 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 08 March 2010 01:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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scepticeye - 08 March 2010 01:16 PM
citizenschallenge - 08 March 2010 11:32 AM

I always thought healthy and honest skepticism was the scientific way to understanding.

With respect - Now that get’s my Funniest post of the Year nomination. I see no scepticism in any of your posts, of which there are many, on Global Warming. On the contrary they have all the hallmarks of a religious proselytizer. Closed minded, self congratulatory and most at home, it seems to me, in the many love-in-like threads hereabouts…

scepticeye this is poetry.
I wish for once you could come up with specifics.

scepticeye - 08 March 2010 01:16 PM

... Least at home with any discussion of the facts except those with voluminous one-sided links akin to religious links to the Bible.

Isn’t one’s scientific knowledge built upon the work of others ~ and our critical examination thereof?

Isn’t referencing the sources that supports ones statements at the core of both science (& law)?

You pick on me for using a lot of links ~ but you never confront the content of those links… Why?

I don’t expect anyone to take “my” word on AGW, though I’ve written tons of ‘em.
But I sure as heck want to rouse them into some thinking and then offer ‘authoritative’ sites where they can gather knowledge for themselves, then make their own decisions!   cheese

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Posted: 08 March 2010 01:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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but let’s get this thread back on track:

I’m a little stumped at what “Scientific agnosticism” means
or how it would play out in gathering knowledge.

Any thoughts?

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Posted: 08 March 2010 01:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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citizenschallenge - 08 March 2010 01:40 PM

I’m a little stumped at what “Scientific agnosticism” means
or how it would play out in gathering knowledge.

Any thoughts?

I assume it means that when there is a disagreement in science (i.e. among scientists) that we, the general public, should remain agnostic about those results. That is, we should not claim to know which is the correct alternative.

Of course, this is only true if there is a real controversy within the relevant science about some result, and not, e.g., a fake controversy like the purported one about darwinian evolution, or indeed anthropogenic global warming.

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Posted: 08 March 2010 01:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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dougsmith - 08 March 2010 01:44 PM

I assume it means that when there is a disagreement in science (i.e. among scientists) that we, the general public, should remain agnostic about those results. That is, we should not claim to know which is the correct alternative.

Of course, this is only true if there is a real controversy within the relevant science about some result, and not, e.g., a fake controversy like the purported one about darwinian evolution, or indeed anthropogenic global warming.

Thanks that’s good.  It actually gives me sort of a handle on the notion.

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Posted: 08 March 2010 06:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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I believe the derivation of the word “science” is from Latin, “to know” or “knowledge”.  Agnostic means unknowable or without knowledge.  I could be snide and say your friend is merely admitting that he knows nothing about science.  However, I believe he’s confusing the scientist’s openness to new information modifying any scientific conclusion, no matter how well documented it is, that is, lack of certainty, with lack of knowledge. 

The obvious an oft repeated example is Newton’s theory of gravity and Einstein’s modification of it.  It didn’t make the first wrong, or suggest that we adopt an agnostic view of the theory (law) of gravity, just that new information can update our ideas. 

Certainly, Darwin’s writings on evolution are brilliant and have been extremely valuable bases for research and understanding, even though he screwed up (in your friend’s view) by not including DNA analysis in his nineteenth century writing.  The discovery of DNA and methods of its analysis doesn’t mean those who read his works should have been “agnostic” (without knowledge) about it, just that further polishing and verification was done on his ideas.

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Posted: 08 March 2010 06:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Occam
However, I believe he’s confusing the scientist’s openness to new information modifying any scientific conclusion, no matter how well documented it is, that is, lack of certainty, with lack of knowledge.

And there is the rub between open ended scientific conclusions and closed dogma, which is not subject to inquiry or modification.
The beauty of Science is that it is always open to expansion, modification, and refinement, with additional data as it presents itself.

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Posted: 10 March 2010 10:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Very nicely written, d & O & W.

I hope RC clicks the link I sent him and reads this stuff for himself.
(RC If you are out there please do join in, SE would probably like the company wink)

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Posted: 10 March 2010 03:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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citizenschallenge - 08 March 2010 01:35 PM

scepticeye this is poetry.
I wish for once you could come up with specifics.

The truth is you don’t. Because every attempt I have made in previous threads on this subject to raise specific issues about specific data sources you have run away and relied on burying the argument in voluminous links instead of engaging.

Isn’t one’s scientific knowledge built upon the work of others ~ and our critical examination thereof?

Yes it is.

Isn’t referencing the sources that supports ones statements at the core of both science (& law)?

Yes it is. Except you are stuck in belief-mode where you spend most of your time, based on my reading of your many posts hereabouts, essentially taking part is love-ins with others that are also in belief-mode. You cannot conceive of any possibility that you are basing your belief on dodgy foundations and you bolster your self confidence, as do your fellow believers, by starting new self congratulatory threads exchanging yet more voluminous links to articles, posts, scientific papers with lovely charts and diagrams. And you intertwine this with periodic ridiculing of people who disagree.
Let me be fair to you. I see the advantages of doing so. It gives you comfort to build this group of believers and dismiss sceptics. I understand the motive. What I find perplexing is that you and the other believers here label yourselves as sceptics yet pay lips service to it’s real meaning.  In doing as you do, you share far more with committed theists that you realise. And in common with the more fundamentalist types of theists I find it perplexing that you think that this strategy, allied with the ridiculing, will go anywhere towards persuading sceptics of your view.

You pick on me for using a lot of links ~ but you never confront the content of those links… Why?

Because I have stated elsewhere many times that there are specific areas of the data underpinning this theory that disturb me most and it is only those areas that I have an interest in confronting. The mass of your links are built on assumptions that I simply do not accept. Assumptions about the data and assumptions about the modeling software. No amount of pretty pictures and convenient graphs can ever compensate for flawed data and assumptions.

I don’t expect anyone to take “my” word on AGW, though I’ve written tons of ‘em.
But I sure as heck want to rouse them into some thinking and then offer ‘authoritative’ sites where they can gather knowledge for themselves, then make their own decisions!   cheese

That reduces rational thinking to a ‘battle of the links’. I am not interested in finding supporting reports to battle with yours. I am not really interested in love-ins with people who also doubt like me. I am simply interested in good science and avoiding runaway conclusions based on flawed ground work.

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Posted: 10 March 2010 03:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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dougsmith - 08 March 2010 01:44 PM
citizenschallenge - 08 March 2010 01:40 PM

I’m a little stumped at what “Scientific agnosticism” means or how it would play out in gathering knowledge.

Any thoughts?

I assume it means that when there is a disagreement in science (i.e. among scientists) that we, the general public, should remain agnostic about those results. That is, we should not claim to know which is the correct alternative.

Of course, this is only true if there is a real controversy within the relevant science about some result, and not, e.g., a fake controversy like the purported one about darwinian evolution, or indeed anthropogenic global warming.

As always scepticism is ok when you agree with the sceptics. It is ‘fake’ when they disagree with you. This is the kind of corruption of the very word scepticism that undermines the promotion of rational thinking.
A true sceptic does not pick and chose where he applies his scepticism. A rational thinker does not pick and chose where he uses these great faculties. He applies them equally to every situation, without prejudice and without succumbing to the temptation of smug and cozy belief systems. And the continued tag teaming of your (generic use) pet belief system to that of a theory proved and forged over a hundred years of experiment and examination - instead of creating credibility - does the exact opposite because if a theory cannot stand on it’s own two feet without this kind of co-dependency then it cannot be as strong as it is claimed.

“Scientific agnosticism” is a contradiction in terms and contributes nothing to any debate except that of the pitfalls of the over clever use of semantics.

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Posted: 10 March 2010 11:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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scepticeye - 10 March 2010 03:57 PM

“Scientific agnosticism” is a contradiction in terms and contributes nothing to any debate except that of the pitfalls of the over clever use of semantics.

Well, funny you say that. 
That’s why I was scratching my head over it and decided to bring it up here. 
But, you see it comes from my number one AGW contrarian friend to quote his email:

On Mon, Mar 8, 2010 at 10:19 AM, RC wrote:

  Scientific agnosticism is the only answer. 

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Posted: 10 March 2010 11:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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scepticeye - 10 March 2010 03:44 PM

Because every attempt I have made in previous threads on this subject to raise specific issues about specific data sources you have run away and relied on burying the argument in voluminous links instead of engaging.

That’s what you claim, but all we read is your repeated dramatic poetry.
Why not repeat some of this information you’re so sure of ???
Why not offer some education rather than an insults?

scepticeye - 10 March 2010 03:44 PM
citizenschallenge - 08 March 2010 01:35 PM

I don’t expect anyone to take “my” word on AGW, though I’ve written tons of ‘em.
But I sure as heck want to rouse them into some thinking and then offer ‘authoritative’ sites where they can gather knowledge for themselves, then make their own decisions!   cheese

That reduces rational thinking to a ‘battle of the links’.

No! It reduces rational thinking to a battle of information!
He who has the best most realistic information, even if that information doesn’t encompass 100% of what’s out there to learn, leads.
~ ~ ~
. . . hey. Wait a minute skepticeye,
weren’t you advocating that scientist should release their data so that people could decide for themselves… or something like that. 
How does that jive with what you’ve just said?

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Posted: 10 March 2010 11:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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scepticeye - 10 March 2010 03:57 PM

A rational thinker does not pick and chose where he uses these great faculties. He applies them equally to every situation, without prejudice and without succumbing to the temptation of smug and cozy belief systems.

Yup, we agree again tongue wink

Write4U - 08 March 2010 06:21 PM

... and there is the rub between open ended scientific conclusions and closed dogma, which is not subject to inquiry or modification.
The beauty of Science is that it is always open to expansion, modification, and refinement, with additional data as it presents itself.

As for tag teaming.  Hey, the guy makes sense wink

So SE educate a little… pleaze angry

[ Edited: 11 March 2010 12:01 AM by citizenschallenge ]
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Posted: 11 March 2010 12:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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scepticeye - 08 March 2010 01:16 PM

With respect - Now that get’s my Funniest post of the Year nomination. I see no scepticism in any of your posts, of which there are many, on Global Warming. On the contrary they have all the hallmarks of a religious proselytizer. Closed minded, self congratulatory and most at home, it seems to me, in the many love-in-like threads hereabouts. Least at home with any discussion of the facts except those with voluminous one-sided links akin to religious links to the Bible.

With respect - Now that get’s my Funniest post of the Year nomination. I see no scepticism in any of your posts, of which there are many, on denial of Global Warming. On the contrary they have all the hallmarks of a religious proselytizer. Closed minded, self congratulatory and most at home, it seems to me, in the many love-in-like threads hereabouts. Least at home with any discussion of the facts except those with voluminous one-sided links akin to religious links to the Bible.

Look into the mirror, scepticeye. cool grin

When I asked you, you gave no arguments, no links to facts. Citizenschallenge does a much better job here.

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