Massimo Pigliucci - Nonsense on Stilts
Posted: 05 November 2010 05:13 PM   [ Ignore ]
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It’s a longstanding debate in the philosophy of science: Is “demarcation” possible? Can we really draw firm lines between science and pseudoscience?

Massimo Pigliucci thinks so. In his new book Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk, Pigliucci attempts to rescue the notion that there are claims we can rule out, and claims we can rule in—a real means of determining what’s science and what isn’t.

Along the way, Pigliucci touches on howlers like creationism and astrology, and borderland areas of research like SETI—and weighs whether science can ever hope to test claims about the supernatural.

Massimo Pigliucci is chair of the philosophy department at CUNY-Lehman College. He was formerly a professor of ecology and evolution at Stony Brook. He’s a prolific blogger and commentator on issues concerning science and skepticism and a prominent battler of creationists and other nonsense peddlers. You can find him online at rationallyspeaking.blogspot.com.

http://www.pointofinquiry.org/massimo_pigliucci_nonsense_on_stilts/

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Posted: 05 November 2010 06:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I enjoy his podcasts. I have his book in my Nook, ready to read next.

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Posted: 06 November 2010 12:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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[10:05] “So those are two really interesting cases where the falsification criterion couldn’t possibly be applied to both cases.  And it shows very nicely why falsification doesn’t work… do we have an alternative? [with a breath of released tension]”

big surprise  So he’s falsified falsification theory.  Okay…

Bayesian Theory?

I do love to read Pigliucci’s articles.  smile

[ Edited: 06 November 2010 12:47 PM by jump_in_the_pit ]
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Posted: 07 November 2010 12:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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jump_in_the_pit - 06 November 2010 12:43 PM

I do love to read Pigliucci’s articles.  smile

Me too! although I don’t always agree with him. I am waiting for an hour when nothing can interrupt me, to enjoy the podcast!

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Posted: 10 November 2010 04:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I like the rationally speaking blog and its associated podcast
http://rationallyspeaking.blogspot.com/
http://www.rationallyspeakingpodcast.org/

One thing they do is provide more WWW links for listeners/readers to follow up on—we could do that here as well.

Going to get the Nonsense on Stilts as an early Thanksgiving/Xmas present to read at the relatives…..
I’m a 1974 graduate of Caltech and one of my favorite discussion of this is Feynman’s well-known commencement address on “Cargo-Cult Science”
http://www.lhup.edu/~DSIMANEK/cargocul.htm
The main take-away is that we need to try very hard not to fool ourselves.

From the perspective of hindsight, Feynman was very critical of science errors but he did not take on religion a la Dawkins.  Don’t know why.

I agree with a comment above that it was interesting to hear Pigliucci’s comments on definition of science and how it really works.  I have seen many discussions of the strong inference model (Platt 1964 Science) and Pigliucci’s explanation of a flaw in it is “reasonably” convincing.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strong_inference
http://pages.cs.wisc.edu/~markhill/science64_strong_inference.pdf
http://pelagicos.net/NSCI6110_spring2010/Readings/O’Donohue_Buchanan_2001.pdf
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2048741/

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Posted: 14 November 2010 03:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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@Jackson
thanks for those references; they say whay I intuited in the suggestions thread only so much better!
http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewthread/8098/P15/

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Posted: 14 November 2010 10:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Science is a thought process.

EVERYBODY has to be a scientist.

Kids need to be encouraged to think in grade school not told what to think.

psik

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Posted: 15 November 2010 01:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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It’s not clear to me what Pigliucci’s suggested Bayesian approach to the demarcation problem is.  He says something to the effect that those who adjust their probabilities in accordance to the evidence are doing science, and those who don’t aren’t.  But that leaves open the question of what counts as evidence and whose evidence counts, and may entail that some scientists aren’t doing science and some pseudoscientists are.

The philosopher Philip Kitcher, in his book _The Advancement of Science_, proposed that the science/pseudoscience distinction bestreduces to a scientist/pseudoscientist distinction, in that scientists are those who participate in the community of scientists and do work recognized as science by scientists, while pseudoscientists don’t.  Pigliucci’s view, on one possible interpretation, seems similar.

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Posted: 04 December 2010 03:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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http://nycskeptics.org/events/rationally-speaking-live-how-to-tell-science-from-bunk.html

Live episode talking about the booki Jan 29 2011

{they need to do this Columbus Day weekend not last week in January ... this is not a great time to visit New York State}
{of course the superbowl will be outdoors at Giants Stadium around this time in one of the coming years…. }

I was thinking of downloading from aubilble for Xmas plane ride…

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Posted: 11 November 2014 01:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Jim Lippard - 15 November 2010 01:15 PM

It’s not clear to me what Pigliucci’s suggested Bayesian approach to the demarcation problem is.  He says something to the effect that those who adjust their probabilities in accordance to the evidence are doing science, and those who don’t aren’t.  But that leaves open the question of what counts as evidence and whose evidence counts, and may entail that some scientists aren’t doing science and some pseudoscientists are.

Well he makes clear it’s complicated and he did bring up StringTheory and SETI as examples of gray areas.
And he makes clear that some pseudoscience does include elements of real science -
but fail by extrapolating those elements into realms beyond the reach of science.

I though the way he put it was an excellent summation:

What scientist {I’ll add, and rational thinkers} do is to modify their degree of belief in one hypothesis or another
in rough proportion with the evidence.

or to frame it another way:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayes’_theorem

… with the Bayesian interpretation of probability, the theorem expresses how a subjective degree of belief should rationally change to account for evidence: this is Bayesian inference,

By the way, anyone here read his book “Nonsense on Stilts” ?

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Posted: 11 November 2014 01:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Jackson - 10 November 2010 04:14 AM

From the perspective of hindsight, Feynman was very critical of science errors but he did not take on religion a la Dawkins.  Don’t know why.

Perhaps because in his days, religion seemed to be more of a thing between the person and the god of his/her choosing - all this rabid fundamentalism trying to tell everyone else they MUST live and act by their god‘s rules, really didn’t catch steam till into the 70s/80s

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Posted: 15 December 2014 11:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Thanks for resurrecting this. I would have missed it otherwise.

I’ve been looking for a single where all these “science gone wrong” stories are collected. I might have to do one myself. Not to show that science that doesn’t work, I think what it shows is how science is self-correcting and how it changes rapidly.

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