Re: FW: MD Dawkins on quantum/mysticism convergence

From: Steve Drew (
Date: Sun Mar 24 2002 - 16:47:13 GMT

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    Subject: Re: FW: MD Dawkins on quantum/mysticism convergence
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    Hi Aaron

    > Date: Wed, 20 Mar 2002 02:08:58 EST
    > From: <>
    > Subject: Re: FW: MD Dawkins on quantum/mysticism convergence
    > In a message dated 3/19/2002 3:38:38 PM Central Standard
    > Time, Steve Drew <> writes:
    >>> Hi Steve.
    >>> Yes, scientists have their own irrational motives, as well as
    >>> requirements to put food on the table. Fellow scientists need
    >>> to consider these forms of influence, as does the general
    >>> public. People can benefit from being more savvy consumers
    >>> of information, and the more savvy information consumers
    >>> there are, the more the economics will favor honest works
    >>> rather than contagious and profitable mysticism. Ideally, I
    >>> would like to see less money and fame go to dishonest or
    >>> mystical works and more go to the honest and serious efforts.
    >> So would we all, but for a scientist to be honest they have to use
    >> qualifiers in many of their statements which the public in particular do
    > not
    >> seem to be able to handle, e.g. the concept of risk. The charlatan and
    >> mystic have the advantage of being able to say things with 'certainty',
    >> especially if it is couched in pseudo scientific language
    > Hi Steve.
    > The frequent use of qualifiers is a problem not only to the public,
    > but also to editors, who call it "weak prose." So qualifiers often
    > must be concentrated into a few very general statements
    > referring to an entire line of work, for instance. These are
    > mainly stylistic considerations, rather than matters of selling
    > out to something that a scientist privately considers to be
    > rubbish but may support anyway for the sake of profit, fame,
    > power, etc.

    No Aaron, they may appear to be stylistic to an editor, but to a scientist
    the qualifier can be as important as the statement, as few scientific
    statements today fall in to the realm of absolutes. Most experiments are of
    the isolated variables kind, and are a model of the real world. When the
    scientist moves to describe the real world the model becomes an
    approximation, which leaves it open to attack.

    > You can't always tell who has knowingly sold out
    > and who has merely become confused or converted to some
    > movement. We are, after all, only directly aware of our own
    > beliefs, and must admit to uncertainty about everyone else's
    > beliefs.
    > But it strikes me as quite reasonable to suppose that
    > among works of mystical pseudoscience, there profit, power,
    > and fame driven fabrications mixed in with serious lapses in
    > scientific reasoning by people who do not know that they
    > have made such mistakes.

    True. One thing. Why do i feel more comfortable with the idea of someone who
    is a charlatan after the cash, than the one who believes the BS?
    > - --Aaron Lynch
    >>> Often, selling out to mysticism is done by people who already
    >>> have food on the table, but who want to get rich. They
    >>> can then have vested financial interests in attacking more
    >>> honest and serious lines of work, or even claiming that the
    >>> more honest and serious works are actually the mystical
    >>> frauds. They can also have vested financial interests in
    >>> deflecting attention from more honest and serious works.
    >> True enough.
    >>> Awareness of such things may help improve the process,
    >>> especially in today's highly competitive market economy.
    >> I'm not too sure about this, for the same reasons as earlier. Risk
    >> assessment is emotive. After 9/11 the number of people who flew dropped
    >> while other forms of transport in the US rose, despite the greater danger,
    >> not less.
    >> The statisticians could not say it would never happen again. I don't know
    > if
    >> there has been any research been done, but i would bet a couple of quid
    > that
    >> more than a few mystics were consulted by people about travel plans.
    >>> - --Aaron Lynch
    >> Regards
    >> Steve



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