Received: by alpheratz.cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk id SAA03837 (8.6.9/5.3[ref firstname.lastname@example.org] for cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk from email@example.com); Sun, 24 Mar 2002 18:43:03 GMT From: <AaronLynch@aol.com> Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Sun, 24 Mar 2002 13:36:57 EST Subject: Re: FW: MD Dawkins on quantum/mysticism convergence To: email@example.com Content-Type: text/plain; charset="US-ASCII" Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit X-Mailer: AOL 4.0 for Windows 95 sub 113 Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Precedence: bulk Reply-To: email@example.com
In a message dated 3/24/2002 11:02:34 AM Central Standard
Time, Steve Drew <firstname.lastname@example.org> writes:
> > 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.
I'm not sure we have any substantive differences on this matter.
All I am saying is that when writing for the public and editors, a
scientist who wants to put qualifiers in nearly every statement
may have to consolidate them into a few meta-statements that
serve as qualifiers to an entire article or book. (The same
scientist may have few or no problems putting qualifiers in her
peer-reviewed journal articles, however.) For instance,
hypotheses about evolutionary psychology are for the most part
just that: hypotheses. Few of the proposed genetic factors have
been identified, much less shown to have a fitness that is linked
to their psychological effects. Now if a work simply drops all
qualifiers entirely, and presents hypotheses as if they were all
empirically confirmed, that can leave the work open to more
serious attack, even if it is written for popular or semi-popular
> > 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
> is a charlatan after the cash, than the one who believes the BS?
I'm not really sure I share your preference for the charlatan
over the errant believer. With the believer, there is some hope
of convincing him of his errors. There is also some hope of
correcting the mistakes he may have transmitted to others.
With the charlatan, you can expect that no matter how
thoroughly you refute his message, he is apt to find new
ways of expressing it and new audiences who will listen.
Challenge his business and power interests too much, and he
may even sue you, run you into exile, or both. (Who would
EVER do a thing like that?) Then again, either a true
believer or a cash and power-driven charlatan may kill you
in extreme cases.
This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Sun Mar 24 2002 - 18:53:49 GMT