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Elaine Howard Ecklund - How Religious Are Scientists?
Posted: 11 May 2010 05:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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@dougsmith ...Exactly! Well put.

And note that the question on the book title is “How Religious Are Scientists?” not “How Spiritual Are Scientists?”...and where is the tag line “An what do they mean by ‘spiritual’?”. Which means a layperson reader with a bias toward mystical religiosity might sloppily call this a “win” for religion. If there WERE a god, he’d know, they don’t need much to go on to misconstrue things.

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It’s better to keep your mouth shut and appear to be a fool than to post a reply and remove all doubt. I guess it’s too late for that though.

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Posted: 11 May 2010 06:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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Yeah, I mean from the discussion the one takeaway is that [95%? 96%?] of scientists believe in evolution, and less than 50% of the US general public does. THAT’s the kind of religiosity that has the new atheists up in arms. I just don’t think there would be a new atheist movement if only 4-5% of the general public rejected scientific results because of their religious convictions. So there’s something of an unclarity about what religion, particularly the paradigmatically problematic religion, really means.

I think what rightly gets some in the new atheist community riled up is the suggestion that religion is always the fuzzy, liberal, scientifically compatible stuff. To be fair, what rightly gets the sociologists of religion riled up is the suggestion that religion is always the fundamentalist, violent, scientifically illiterate stuff.

To that extent, these groups are talking past one another. There are religions of both kinds, and religious practitioners of both kinds. (And perhaps even some who move between them).

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Posted: 11 May 2010 06:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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Another oddity: I believe that she said in the conversation that atheism was on the rise within the scientific community, and then later on said that religion and spiritualism were on the rise within the scientific community. That can’t all be right, since the total would add to more than 100%.

So that confused me.

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Posted: 11 May 2010 06:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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Jot this to the fact that basically I am a healthy skeptic in socio-political issues and somehow cynical. Borrowing an image from the Judeo-Christian Mythology, EHE is the classical snake in Paradise. Except that the fruit she’s holding for us is the sour grape from the Christofascist grapevine, a somehow unorthodox tree of knowledge. In a present which is challenging our societies with environmental problems of our own doing, economical and financial problems created by exempting our corporations from social oversight, and social problems created by outdated socio-legal frameworks which refuse to yield when faced with civilization’s and culture’s changes, her immediate objective is twofold: one, to present scientists as not sold on rejection of the religions, and two, make a picture of scientists as being inherently different from the common populus, them hiding out in the academic ivory towers, unaware of folk preoccupations. Those who confuse the intent of her book (and personal interviews) with the exercise of a loose social science methodology, are buying in the pseudo-science of polling and individual sampling, which is spuriously used here, out of their traditional application in Marketing as practiced in Madison Avenue. This book isn’t a scholar’s product. It is a propaganda piece released in an electoral year, after the fundamentalist-libertarian-conservative-fascist conglomerate got trounced in an historic 2008 election. Their timing is precisely targeted to the summer reading and the campaign perfectly orchestrated and choreographed.
Unfortunately, they succeeded in adding a perceived atheistic (and respected) venue to the dance, confirming the validation of their piece. It helps her to appear consistent in such atheistic picture, and any valid objection easily dismissible considering the source. An atheist as Mooney would play his atheist game so, wouldn’t he? A Q/A at James Baker III Hall at Rice University makes her suspect by association. By far not the effect she’s looking for. She probably would dream to have a televised discussion with Dawkins or any equivalent public atheist.

Doug: El sueño de la razón produce monstruos, excepto en años de elecciones generales, entonces es cuando produce paraísos…

[ Edited: 11 May 2010 07:09 AM by rommey ]
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Posted: 11 May 2010 07:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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Interesting portion of a review by L.A. Jackson in the Amazon page for EHE’s book:

This book is more opened-minded than any book pertaining to science and religion I have come across. The only persuasion asserted by the author is that the conflict between science and religion is not so wide after all, and that a deeper understanding of both groups’ beliefs is a strong step towards reconciliation. Regardless of your religious beliefs or your exposure to this topic, I highly recommend this book. It’s a quick and easy read from a novel perspective that will surely leave you thinking.

Summer reading? Sure, why not… See this comment?  wink

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Posted: 11 May 2010 07:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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Why did this feel like another case of big study proves the obvious? Atheists who go to church? Wow, earth shattering stuff! Where has this (thoroughly sincere sounding woman) been hiding?

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Posted: 11 May 2010 08:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
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Doug, I mean no disrespect on your comments. I like what you’re doing, which, in my perspective, is addressing the product of EHE, both the book and the interview. It is healthy no to dismiss the intellectual challenge that this woman presents to our consideration. But, from my point of inquiry, I leave analyzing the details of her opus to you guys. At my age, I have seen most of all, and discussed a great deal of it. Now, I look for the big patterns, and how each element such as her book and interviews, plays in the context of our global environment. It doesn’t mean that I refuse to read her book, au contrary, I enjoyed reading such material, as I enjoyed her interview and her Q/A at Rice, while at the same time keeping an eye on the legitimacy of the material and the hidden connections.
As a non-believer, my working definitions of religion, church, cult, ritual, spirit, soul, anima, consciousness, mind, are all concomitant (synchronic?) with a biological framework, of which sociology of the species provides me with an encompassing perspective. Philosophy, epistemology, ontology, even logic, are not focus areas, but humble tools to work my way into the knowledge about the Universe and comprehension of it. Although I come from the empiricist perspective of an Engineer, my interest has always been a lot wider than the pedestrian scope of technology. Thus my historical, archaeological, anthropological, psychological and biological investigations. As example, nanotechnology wasn’t born when I was pursuing my academic objectives, but since its appearance in the scientific field I make a point of keeping updated of their work, with an eye on possible connections with our biology and our nature. And there are some jewels to be found in such field. One thing that can be said, is that I am unconventional.
Perhaps this might sound to some as hostile and dismissive of some discussions, but it isn’t so, the point being that I have a lot less time left, now that I reached the age of 68, to chase all that interesting stuff presenting itself to my perception. On the other hand, I never found a discussion that didn’t gift me with something useful to add to my toolbox. And I appreciate such gift.

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Posted: 11 May 2010 08:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
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Understood, rommey. I think we have to be careful not to engage in a form of confirmation bias, chucking out or refusing to engage with results we don’t like just because we don’t like them. I’ve got several questions that I’ve outlined, above, but I believe her methodology is scientifically correct and the results appear to me both plausible and worthy of our interest.

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Posted: 11 May 2010 10:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
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Worship the scientists!

Problem solved.  LOL

psik

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Posted: 11 May 2010 12:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
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dougsmith - 11 May 2010 08:45 AM

Understood, rommey. I think we have to be careful not to engage in a form of confirmation bias, chucking out or refusing to engage with results we don’t like just because we don’t like them. I’ve got several questions that I’ve outlined, above, but I believe her methodology is scientifically correct and the results appear to me both plausible and worthy of our interest.

That’s the problem, this kind of exercise “makes us believe” her methodology is scientifically correct. Well, the lady can do math, what about the process, the delineation of questions in the survey, are they asking precisely defined terms which are meant to reveal precise answers? Are those answers guided, provoked or insinuated by the language of the survey, or are they the result of a free make up by the surveyed? From my read, the answer to the majority of these questions we can make about the described study is negative or reveals a built-in ambiguity. Also that’s what you seem to hint at in your comments and your questions. That’s what I meant when I said that it is a Marketing paper. These kind of surveys is what we do for our clients at Madison Avenue, so the corporate types would buy the campaign we already designed for them. It is an art, not a science. What’s more it is a sales technique for selling a proposition produced a priori of any research.
And for the fallout of the promotion we gave to her opus, that’s already water under the bridge. The spin has already been baked and distributed to the outlets. So it is a mot point to argue about.
Finally, it isn’t a matter of like or dislike. It is what it is. A political propaganda piece. Not a sincere attempt to understand how people think but a deliberate construct to make us think what she wants us to think. I didn’t find and I don’t see any evidence to make me think the contrary. I am open to be shown if any is there.

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Posted: 11 May 2010 12:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
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Finally, I just reminded myself that the book and EHE answers in the interview and Q/A at Rice were not meant to answer to somebody like you or me, because we would catch the bait and release the hook. Then, from my perspective, the book and her answers are directed to a population who expects something and will see in it what they expect, and sit back satisfied their understanding is in the right. No matter that the facts are lost in the exercise. Akin to the results in Biblical Archaeology. We want them to confirm our beliefs. And, from that perspective, they do, oh boy, they do.

[ Edited: 11 May 2010 12:20 PM by rommey ]
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Posted: 11 May 2010 12:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
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Doug: El sueño de la razón produce monstruos, excepto en años de elecciones generales, entonces es cuando produce paraísos… los que se transforman en infiernos una vez que tu haz votado.


(The reason’s dream produces monsters, except in general election years, then it’s when it produces paradises, which transform into hells once you have voted.)

[ Edited: 11 May 2010 12:43 PM by dougsmith ]
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Posted: 11 May 2010 12:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
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Rommey, the color blue is reserved for official Mod/Admin posts, so I’ve changed the color there.

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Posted: 11 May 2010 02:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
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Now, I am going to play devil’s advocate.
I’ve been a bit confined right now, thus have been able to do a bunch of net surfing today and came across this interesting (at least I found it provocative) quote from Francis Collins made during a Charlie Rose (PBS) interview:

(19:15) “Atheism is probably the least rational of all of the choices, it’s the assertion of a universal negative and scientists are not supposed to do that.”

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The Anthropogenic Global Warming Consensus is not formed by scientists !
The Anthropogenic Global Warming Consensus IS formed by the data being gathered !

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Posted: 11 May 2010 02:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
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dougsmith - 11 May 2010 12:44 PM

Rommey, the color blue is reserved for official Mod/Admin posts, so I’ve changed the color there.

LOL, how did you know green is my fav color? OK, I’m sorry to have missed that. There so many things I haven’t learned about the forum that it’s shameful. Now, a question, where you got your quote, I liked it. But, if you know me, I had to improve it. (It had the feel of a Garcilaso de la Vega quote).

[ Edited: 11 May 2010 02:52 PM by rommey ]
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