Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Atheist reduction of Knowledge to Science 3 of 3

Image result for Metacrock's blog C. Wright Mills
C. Wright Mills 
(1919-1962)


for parts 1-2 see index guides at top under "Science"


C. Wright Mills was a sociologist at Columbia University in New York. He is best known for his work The Power Elite.[16] It is from that work that we take the popular phrase of the 1960s, “military industrial complex.” In The Sociological Imagination[17] he explodes the illusions by which the power elite cover their own lack of understanding. His message there is that not only does the system run over the individual but even those who are in charge of it are dragged along by its momentum and don’t really know where they are going. Mills was one of the first thinkers to use the term "post-modern" (which he hyphenated). For Mills, writing in the '50s, modernity had already passed away, post-modernity had dawned. "The ideological mark...[of the post-modern epoch] --that which sets it apart from the modern age-- is that the ideas of freedom and of reason have become moot; that increased rationality may not be assumed to make for increased freedom."[18] As with Schweitzer, Mills reflects that the technological structure separates people from control over or reflection upon the ends of their lives. "Caught in the everyday milieux of their limited lives, ordinary people cannot reason about the greater structures both rational and irrational of which their milieu are subordinate parts."[19] (168).

The individual learns not to reason, but to rationalize the goals and ends of life, and his or her position in the overall scheme of things. Given...the ascendant trend of rationalization, the individual 'does what he can.' He gears his aspirations and his work to the situation he is in and from which he can find no way out. In due course he does not seek a way out: he adapts. That part of his life which is left over from work he uses to play, to consume, to have fun. Yet this sphere of consumption is also being rationalized. Alienated from production, from work, he is also alienated from consumption, from genuine leisure. This adaptation of the individual and its effects upon his milieux and self results not only in the loss of his chance, but in due course of his capacity and will to reason; it also affects his chances and his capacity to act as a free [person]. Indeed, neither the value of freedom nor of reason, it would seem, are known to him.[20]

The end result, according to Mills, is that society becomes filled with "cheerful robots," those who obey the programming of technique and cannot seek alternatives.[21] Mills charged that the social sciences help to further the aims and methods of technique, hiding behind the " scientific objectivity," unwilling to mount any critique. Mills anticipates Herbert Marcuse's work, written in 1964, One-Dimensional Man.




            Herbert Marcuse (July 19, 1898 – July 29, 1979) was a German academic who fled to America to avoid the Nazis in the 30s. He worked for the OAS during the war and latter become the major intellectual powerhouse behind the New Left of the 1960s. He was based in San Diego where the taught, Ronald Reagan tried to have his Doctorate revoked to silence his criticisms of the war and the establishment. He was a Marxist, some say Neo-Marxist he was critical of Stalin and called a revisionist by Stalinists. Marcuse was best known for his seminal work One-Dimensional Man (1964), one of the greatest books of the era and one of primary importance for the century. In One-Dimensional Man, Marcuse argues that affluent capitalist society has been good at providing primary needs to a mass population (despite continuing poverty for some) and it has created a bourgeois society that perpetuates false needs. The American worker has bought into his place in the capitalist order as a cog in the machine, or a bit of overhead for the owners of the means of production, because in exchange will continue to supply the false needs upon which he has become admitted; that is the material trammels of an affluent society.

...The irresistible output of the entertainment and information industry carry with them prescribed attitudes and habits...The products indoctrinate and manipulate; they promote a false consciousness which is immune against falsehood. And as these beneficial products have become available to more individuals, in more social classes, the indoctrination they carry ceases to be publicity; it becomes a way of life. It is a good way of life' much better than before and as a good way of life, it militates against qualitative change. Thus emerges a pattern of one-dimensional thought and behavior, in which ideas, aspirations, and objectives that, by their content, transcend the established universe of discourse and action are either repelled or reduced to terms of this [social-political] universe. They are re-defined by the rationality of the given system and of its quantitative extension.[22] (12).

The prognosis for one-dimensional man doesn’t end with just supporting capitalism as the basis of false needs. The whole concept of being a thinking person who lives in a society in which thinking people can determine their own lives is called into question and in fact done away with because the concept of freedom is illusory and not scientific. The scientistic crowd is telling us that freedom is a trick. The issues of one-dimensional man don’t stop Marxism because there is more to power than just capital vs labor, or capitalism vs. Marxism. Lurking behind the accumulation of false needs (technological version of bread and circuses) is operational thinking. This is what Marcuse means by "quantitative extension of the given system" (quotation above). " The trend [one-dimensional consumer society] may be related to a development in scientific method: operationalism in the physical, behaviorism in the social sciences. The common feature is a total empiricism in the treatment of concepts; their meaning is restricted to the representation of particular operations and behavior...In general, we mean by a conceptnothing more than a set of operations...a positivism which, in its denial of the transcending elements of reason, forms the academic counterpart to the socially required behavior."[23] The positivist and reductionist tendencies of contemporary scientific thought, which props up the technostructure and furnishes it with "empirical proof," works to eliminate all concepts that cannot be quantified, and therefore, eventually ”commodified.”
            Stanly Aronowitz wrote Science as Power, in which he argues two things: power is possessed by a process of legitimating, and science has lent itself to that legitimating at the expense of all other forms of truth.[24] In other words power is not merely taken by a group or an institution but it is built through a process of self legitimating moves. That process is part of the means by which modern science procures funding and perpetuates itself in modern society; by being of use to power through lending itself to the development of the means of power. We see this explicitly through the military but more subtly through industry and the development of technology, the status of scientific funding in the university and so on. In lending itself to power as an enforcement mechanism science subsumes other views and other concepts of truth. This process is inherent since science has always provided a certain aspect of truth in revealing the mechanism through which the natural world functions. Apart form the cultural currying of power, Aronowitz finds, science has an intrinsic power in its conflation of truth and knowledge. “Devising a method of proving the validity of propositions about objects taken as external to the knower has become identical with what we mean by ‘truth.’”[25] In other words science purports to tell us how the physical world stacks up and wont allow any other method to introduce other kinds of truth that it would consider authoritative, that becomes all there is in the world, the physical set up that science can study and quantify. The process by which modern though came to understand itself as its own object, from Plato’s observation of truth as self representing, to Hegel’s notion that consciousness takes itself as its own object, is done away by modern science. [26]Perhaps that’s why atheists have such abhorrence for the subjective. We can’t trust our own perceptions we can only trust that which is produced by the scientific method. The problem is so much of modern science is not procured through the process of empirical verification that is the hallmark of modern science, but must be reached though calculation, in terms of modern quantum theory for example. Then truth comes to be a rubber stamp placed upon “truth” by science. As Aronowitz points out, “Science is truth, and can for this reason represent itself by means of its procedures…self criticism of science is conducted within the boundaries of its own normative structures.”[27]
            The thinkers from Schweitzer to Marcuse and Aronowitz they are all building on the indicators of civilization in decay that Schweitzer originally saw. By the time we get to the end of the twentieth century they are so far gone one dimensional man is established. We are now working on moving from one-dimensional to cheerful robot. There’s a snowball relationship in that the scientistic mentality creates the situation then feeds off of it. Knowledge is reduced to one thing, science, then that one thing is transmogrified from knowledge to technique, or illusion of technique. Finally humanity itself is displaced as freedom is reduced to just anther false need. That is to say freedom becomes confused with the products one buys and with the process of choosing products. The concept of freedom itself is ratcheted down from a personal philosophical understanding of the goals and ends of one’s life to purchasing power to obedience. The real discourse becomes closed around the one possibility left to us, which is how best to obey. When the only form of knowledge is science knowledge of freedom must disappear, there is no freedom in science. The concept of freedom requires a substantial conceptual background to cover all the bases. We have to understand the parameters of freedom, the possibilities, the impediments to freedom, balancing freedom against responsibility and so on. When the only form of knowledge is about the facts of nature and how they work there’s no room for an abstraction like ‘possible freedom.’

Separation from God.

            For those of us who feel we know the reality of God in our lives, this is a great harm. It would rob those who don’t know that reality of the ability to ever learn. Reduction of knowledge to only scientific knowledge, ala the ideological administration of scientism, robs us of knowing God because it reduces religious experience to the level of the “subjective” the emotional, these are greatly things to be avoided in the ideology of scientism. Scienstism portrays itself as rational and objective it places all that does not bow before it in the category of the irrational and the subjective. We have already seen the way new atheism rationalizes scientific protocols to manipulate “God does not exist” into a scientific fact, via Austin Cline (see above FN 7).  To reprise that statement:
"this alleged entity has no place in any scientific equations, plays no role in any scientific explanations, cannot be used to predict any events, does not describe any thing or force that has yet been detected, and there are no models of the universe in which its presence is either required, productive, or useful." [28]
But that’s just circular reasoning because it assumes at the outset that since there is no argument that is deemed acceptable scientifically, there can be no warrant for belief in God. As long as the only form of knowledge is science then the only valid argument is scientific. While there are valid scientifically based arguments for God (see chapters nine and ten) there is no “fact” accepted in science such that “God exists.” Therefore, any argument for the existence of God is met with “that’s disproved before we start because it’s not science.” Cutting off other forms of knowledge the gate keepers of scientific acuity merely denounce warrant for belief based upon their own prejudices. Based upon that assumption it is deemed “unscientific” to argue for such a warrant. In fact what I’m saying is that scientists are human and they embody the same prejudices as anyone. That has to be ignored when the only from of knowledge is science because the human factor is not part of the scientific process. Thus belief in God is removed from reality by a series of protocols that amount to nothing more than jumped up ideology.

God belief and the realm of discourse

            Belief in God is more than just belief in an entity. It’s also the basis for rejecting the closed realm of discourse. This is true for two reasons, (1) because as the Transcendental signified God sets in motion the basic first principles that serve as premises of logic. God determines the basis upon which truth is held, since God alone is the ultimate creator then God alone is the final assigner of meaning. Thus the realm of discourse can never be truly closed by temporal power or human concerns. (2) Because in a practical sense the open nature of discourse depends to a great deal upon the understanding of technique. When we come to vest the illusion of technique with all power and all logic then we vest it with all right. That’s when we start thinking its right to pursue actions merely because we have the physical prowess to do so. As long as God is understood as the orbiter of truth no human technique affords one the efficacy to close the realm of discourse around any one social project. An example of what I’m talking about is the case of a worker in stem cell research who was injured by the technology but was denied direct medical care. “I was denied directed medical care for exposures from dangerous embryonic stem technologies incurred while at work. Unbelievably, I was denied under the premise that ‘trade secrets’ supersede a worker’s right to specific exposure information. Welcome to the embryonic stem cell world, a world of legal quagmire where human rights and public rights are slated toward the chopping block.”[29]

In fact, the public has been fooled. The embryonic stem cell research industry is far from the altruistic persona it has painted itself to be. Rather, embryonic stem cell research is about big money, first and foremost. It is about securing a position of power within the economic and legal mainstream of the American public. That is why biotech worker’s rights regarding safety and healthcare have been denied. That is why, unfortunately, the public’s right will be denied too.

And the media has not helped. The media has purposely turned the human embryonic stem cell debate into a polarized “religion versus science” contest.

But issues lying in-between those two polarities contain much of the tainted meat that can negatively impact the public toward human rights. These concerns get no media attention. The public remains ignorant. In fact, the public lacks an understanding of the legal, social and cultural effects that could negatively impact them as advanced technologies move forward.[30]

What’s the link from science as the only form of knowledge and this case? The realm of discourse is closed around the illusion of technique. Ethical consideration disappear because we have the technology we know how to do it, it’s sanctioned by the thinking experts who make decisions for us. These are the guys that know stuff, there’s no knowledge outside of science, these are scientists so they must know all about ethics and if they do can do it, must be good to do.





[16] C Wright Mills, the Power Elite. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1956. No page given.
[17] C. Wright Mills, The Sociological Imagination. New York, London: Oxford University Press, 1967 (originally 1959)
[18] Ibid, 167
[19] Ibid., 168
[20] Ibid., 170
[21] Ibid., 171
[22] Herbert Marcuse, One-Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Soceity. Boston: Beacon Press, 1964, 12.
[23] Ibid.
[24] Stanley Aronowitz, Science as Power: Discourse and Ideology In Modern Society.Minneapolis Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 1988, ix.
Stanley Aronotwitz is professor of Sociology and cultural studies at CUNY Graduate Center, New York. He is a long time cultural critic and political activist.
[25] Ibid., vii.
[26] Ibid.
[27] Ibid., viii the idea about quantum physics he states on page ix
[28] Austin Cline, “Scientifically God Does Not Exist: Science allows us to say God Does not Exist, there is role for God in science, no explanation that God can provide.” About.com, Agnosticism/Atehism. Online publication:http://atheism.about.com/od/argumentsagainstgod/a/GodScience.htm  accessed 12/27/13.
[29] Becky A. McClain, “Embryonic Stem Cell Research Funding Threatens Human Rights and Public Interests.” Watchdog on Science. On line resource. Septermber 14, (2010). http://watchdogonscience.blogspot.fr/2010/09/embryonic-stem-cell-research-funding.html   
accessed. 1/15/14.
[30] Ibid.

104 comments:

Eric Sotnak said...

Thought you might find this resonant: https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/beard-nassem-taleb-twitter-feud-and-dangers-of-scientism-auid-868?access=ALL

Joe Hinman said...



Eric's link

Joe Hinman said...

Berbers are not black. They ade all the Romans be black which is not accurate, but so what? what does it have to do with scinetism?

Joe Hinman said...

After reading further I agree, It's a good point it's the kind of criticism i've been trying to make, the statistician is giving in to the illusion of technique.

im-skeptical said...

Ah, yes. Massimo Pigliucci. Like Nagel, he's a darling of the theists, because he is more ideologically aligned with them than with atheists. I really believe that both of them are either closet theists, or they just target their books at the side with the greater number of buyers.

Joe Hinman said...

yo don't even bother to think about what they say you just go they are not in line with the science worship faith they are no good.

im-skeptical said...

Judging from your comment at 7:19 AM, your a fine one to tell me that. But I was just looking at another post of yours, where your hypocrisy shines through. Your response to Klatu here, is nothing short of stunning. You have no idea the this person is a Christian, and you dismiss him as a myther, because you don't have the patience to read past the first few sentences and understand what he's talking about.

Joe Hinman said...

Of course nothing in his post implies that he is not an atheist. He's a rambling lunatic uttering a bunch of meaningless invective that has nothing to do with anything under discussion,


"New proof on the web/ part 1

The accumulating scandals shaking the roman catholic church will look a mere trifle compared to the perfect storm that appears to be on the way. For these growing, worldwide sexual scandals, exposing the endemic institutional corruption of this tradition, while betraying thousands of children and the faithful, only reflect a far greater betrayal and crime against humanity itself and is setting the stage for the 'churches' worst nightmare: the questioning of it's very origins! And that has already started on the web. But not by any atheist ravings. We may very well come to remember the church as two thousands years of accumulated hubris and theological self deception, retailing a counterfeit copy of revealed truth. "

Not clear enough to peg even why he's positioning,

Mike Gerow said...

The mistake of scientism is to elevate scientific knowledge and data crunching to a level of certainty and competence they most definitely do not have, while at the same time dismissing every other approach as obsolete nonsense. ... The scientistic game is foolish not just because it is incoherent (what statistical, empirical evidence do we have that scientism works? What does that even mean??), but because it is dangerously self-serving. It makes a promise on behalf of science that science cannot possibly maintain.

yes, this is a point Joe often makes and it's stated succinctly in Eric's article.

So far, I've seen no substantive critique of it here either...?

im-skeptical said...

So far, I've seen no substantive critique of it here either...?

Try this.

JBsptfn said...

This is where you typed this hum-dinger in the comments:

IMS If science led to verifiable knowledge of God, even at the cost of a loss of all humanity, then religionists would embrace scientism and ridicule anyone who doesn't.

Mortal had a pretty good response, and then Papalinton rambled on with more nonsense like he always does.

im-skeptical said...

The troll is back.

JBsptfn said...

I am not trolling, I am just letting people know what is in that entry that you linked to above.

Joe Hinman said...

IMS If science led to verifiable knowledge of God, even at the cost of a loss of all humanity, then religionists would embrace scientism and ridicule anyone who doesn't.

that says to me that it is a matter of competing religions for Skepie, but if cience proved God (sciemtism doesn't prove anything) that would be a good endorsement of theology so it would not mean reducing all knowledge to science,

im-skeptical said...

that says to me that it is a matter of competing religions for Skepie, but if cience proved God (sciemtism doesn't prove anything) that would be a good endorsement of theology so it would not mean reducing all knowledge to science

So you agree with what I said (except for the part about competing religions, which is not what I said). The point is that you will happily grasp at anything that confirms your beliefs. If science does that for you, then science it is. You will embrace it fully. If science doesn't do that for you, then you have no use for it, and you will go around telling the world that you don't need no stinkin' science. As it is, you need something else to confirm your beliefs, and whatever that might be, you will embrace it. So you have your feelings that tell you ... What do those feelings tell you? They tell you whatever you want to hear. So you now have "warrant" to go on believing what you believe. And anyone who thinks that belief should be based on something more rational - like empirical evidence and science - is just some "religious" nut.

Mike Gerow said...

So far, I've seen no substantive critique of it here either...?

Try this.


skep, the point above is limited to questioning the validity of "data-crunching" as a path to absolute knowledge, which as the article points out is incoherent. You can't use data -crunching or statistical methods to prove that natural regularity and predictability are unbreachable and the unusual or unique never happens and will never happen in the first place(which is what David Hume pointed out long ago) or even show that (eg) the current set of natural laws will continue to hold forever based on a mere 14 billion years sample set. And these issues set some hard limits on what science can discover or project against the vast or infinite possibilities of whatever could happen given a finite amount of matter and enough time and space .... no?

Even really big data sets and "hard facts" pale in comparison against the vastness of possibilities, and that's just ONE of the issues with trying to use "science" (ie stats) inappropriately -- eg to rule out "God" in all the possible versions of that concept. So, in precise terms, stats, when everything's said and done, are precisely tools for measuring "what usually happens", whereas "God," when people use that concept seriously, it usually represents some breach or irruption from someplace outside of that "statistical regularity," which demonstrates the "type mismatch" underlying the whole issue.

Your point that Joe when he rails against "scientism" sometimes uses rather a lot of invective may be valid, but it doesn't really address the serious issues raised by the other article, imo.....

im-skeptical said...

Here are quotes from the article:

the technological structure separates people from control over or reflection upon the ends of their lives.

the social sciences help to further the aims and methods of technique, hiding behind the " scientific objectivity," unwilling to mount any critique.

The whole concept of being a thinking person who lives in a society in which thinking people can determine their own lives is called into question and in fact done away with because the concept of freedom is illusory and not scientific.

The trend [one-dimensional consumer society] may be related to a development in scientific method: operationalism in the physical, behaviorism in the social sciences. The common feature is a total empiricism in the treatment of concepts; their meaning is restricted to the representation of particular operations and behavior...In general, we mean by a conceptnothing more than a set of operations...a positivism which, in its denial of the transcending elements of reason, forms the academic counterpart to the socially required behavior.

The positivist and reductionist tendencies of contemporary scientific thought, which props up the technostructure and furnishes it with "empirical proof," works to eliminate all concepts that cannot be quantified, and therefore, eventually ”commodified.”

power is possessed by a process of legitimating, and science has lent itself to that legitimating at the expense of all other forms of truth.

In lending itself to power as an enforcement mechanism science subsumes other views and other concepts of truth.

science has an intrinsic power in its conflation of truth and knowledge.

science purports to tell us how the physical world stacks up and wont allow any other method to introduce other kinds of truth

Perhaps that’s why atheists have such abhorrence for the subjective. We can’t trust our own perceptions we can only trust that which is produced by the scientific method.

truth comes to be a rubber stamp placed upon “truth” by science.

Knowledge is reduced to one thing, science, then that one thing is transmogrified from knowledge to technique, or illusion of technique.

When the only form of knowledge is science knowledge of freedom must disappear, there is no freedom in science.

But that’s just circular reasoning because it assumes at the outset that since there is no argument that is deemed acceptable scientifically, there can be no warrant for belief in God.

What’s the link from science as the only form of knowledge and this case? The realm of discourse is closed around the illusion of technique. Ethical consideration disappear because we have the technology we know how to do it, it’s sanctioned by the thinking experts who make decisions for us. These are the guys that know stuff, there’s no knowledge outside of science, these are scientists so they must know all about ethics and if they do can do it, must be good to do.


I think Joe's ENTIRE point is "Religion GOOD. Scientism BAD."

im-skeptical said...

But you want me to critique Pigliucci's article, don't you?

Here ate some relevant quotes:

it is representative of a malaise that has stricken a good chunk of academics and an increasing portion of the general public: scientism"

Scientism is defined as the belief that the assumptions, methods of research, etc., of the natural sciences are the only ways to gather valuable knowledge or to answer meaningful questions. Everything else, to paraphrase Taleb, is bullshit.

The mistake of scientism is to elevate scientific knowledge and data crunching to a level of certainty and competence they most definitely do not have, while at the same time dismissing every other approach as obsolete nonsense.


Pigliucci was quite critical of Taleb for using logical fallacies. So what does he do? He uses the example of one person who is (he thinks) over-reliant on statistics, to generalize to a widespread attitude that has "stricken" much of modern thinking: scientism. And then he uses scientific information to dispute that. Which is good, because science must look at ALL available evidence, and not focus one specific thing. But Pigliucci was painting a false picture.

His definition of scientism is bullshit. It's a straw-man, and that's something I addressed directly in my article. Which brings up the question: did you read what I had to say about it?

Mike Gerow said...

Yeah I did, but sure, maybe I missed it?

Can you explicate your view then?

What kinds of things is science capable and incapable of shedding light on?

Joe Hinman said...

im-skeptical said...
But you want me to critique Pigliucci's article, don't you?

not especially

Here ate some relevant quotes:

it is representative of a malaise that has stricken a good chunk of academics and an increasing portion of the general public: scientism"

Scientism is defined as the belief that the assumptions, methods of research, etc., of the natural sciences are the only ways to gather valuable knowledge or to answer meaningful questions. Everything else, to paraphrase Taleb, is bullshit.

that is what you believe Skep and you hold it as tenet of worship


The mistake of scientism is to elevate scientific knowledge and data crunching to a level of certainty and competence they most definitely do not have, while at the same time dismissing every other approach as obsolete nonsense.

Pigliucci was quite critical of Taleb for using logical fallacies. So what does he do? He uses the example of one person who is (he thinks) over-reliant on statistics, to generalize to a widespread attitude that has "stricken" much of modern thinking: scientism. And then he uses scientific information to dispute that. Which is good, because science must look at ALL available evidence, and not focus one specific thing. But Pigliucci was painting a false picture.

logical fallacies are not science,it's good to void fallacies if you recognize that they are part of logic not seine but if you think science is all there is then using fallacies is a contradition,



His definition of scientism is bullshit. It's a straw-man, and that's something I addressed directly in my article. Which brings up the question: did you read what I had to say about it?


no it's not that;s just what scientism is, it's what you believe,



12:01 PM Delete

im-skeptical said...

Well, Joe. Obviously if you are credulous to believe in your religious myths, you are credulous enough to believe anything. I told you what I believe. And there are whole books that say pretty much the same thing. One thing you cannot do is tell me what I believe. You might be able to talk yourself into this fantasy view of how atheists think because it makes you feel superior, but it's not the truth. And that's a fact.

im-skeptical said...

What kinds of things is science capable and incapable of shedding light on?

Science is capable of shedding light on our world and the things in it. Science does not make us feel love or aesthetic appreciation. And that's not to say that I don't share those things with the rest of humanity, either, as people like Joe would have you believe. As I said in my article, there is a difference between knowledge gained through empirical means and science proper. There are plenty of things that we learn empirically, like historical accounts for example, that you might not call science. Does that mean I dismiss them? NO.

Listen to what Pigliucci says of scientism: "to elevate scientific knowledge and data crunching to a level of certainty and competence they most definitely do not have, while at the same time dismissing every other approach". Pigliucci is a liar.

Joe Hinman said...

m-skeptical said...
Well, Joe. Obviously if you are credulous to believe in your religious myths, you are credulous enough to believe anything. I told you what I believe. And there are whole books that say pretty much the same thing. One thing you cannot do is tell me what I believe. You might be able to talk yourself into this fantasy view of how atheists think because it makes you feel superior, but it's not the truth. And that's a fact.

2:33 PM Delete

It's obvious what you believe, You are not willing to be honest with yourself,

I experienced reality, religion is just the way I explain it

Joe Hinman said...

Science is capable of shedding light on our world and the things in it. Science does not make us feel love or aesthetic appreciation. And that's not to say that I don't share those things with the rest of humanity, either, as people like Joe would have you believe. As I said in my article, there is a difference between knowledge gained through empirical means and science proper. There are plenty of things that we learn empirically, like historical accounts for example, that you might not call science. Does that mean I dismiss them? NO.

I see sceintism guys trying to compete with the sense of awe all the time,

Listen to what Pigliucci says of scientism: "to elevate scientific knowledge and data crunching to a level of certainty and competence they most definitely do not have, while at the same time dismissing every other approach". Pigliucci is a liar.

you are full of shit,that;s exactly what they are doing when they say "we are one gene away from beating region" of course that's what they think. you are afar top be honest,it;s a clash of neologism,

im-skeptical said...

Joe, your problem is that when you say something like "dismissing every other approach", what you mean is dismissing religion. Yes, we atheists dismiss religion, and that's what bothers you. That's why you are so full of hate towards us. Religion tells us nothing but what we have already been programmed to believe. It is not a valid epistemology. We certainly don't dismiss any epistemologically reasonable approach to knowledge.

Mike Gerow said...

Listen to what Pigliucci says of scientism: "to elevate scientific knowledge and data crunching to a level of certainty and competence they most definitely do not have, while at the same time dismissing every other approach". Pigliucci is a liar.

Well, he does seem to know this topic, being (in fact) the co-editor of an upcoming book of essays on it:

https://www.amazon.com/Science-Unlimited-Challenges-Maarten-Boudry/dp/022649814X/ref=la_B001IU0D3K_1_13?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1501884938&sr=1-13&refinements=p_82:B001IU0D3K&tag=appiculous-20&camp=smios
University Of Chicago Press (December 4, 2017)

His definition of "scientism" may not entirely agree with yours tho.

Plus, in the article, he quotes Taleb's quite uncomplimentary remarks about the competence and intelligence of historians as an example of scientistic arrogance....

Does Taleb engage in scientism? Indubitably. I have already mentioned above his generalization from what one particular historian (Beard) said to “historians” tout court. But there is more, from his Twitter feed: “there is this absence of intellectual rigor in humanities.” “Are historians idiots? Let’s be polite and say that they are in the majority no rocket scientists and operate under a structural bias. It looks like an empirically rigorous view of historiography is missing.”


And he seems to have some clue about both the philosophy of science and the use of scientific methods in history too, judging from other links he cited, as well as from his own professional competence with stats from his work as an evolutionary biologist. (See the bio at the bottom.)

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/scientific-knowledge-social/

http://peterturchin.com/cliodynamics/

So in what sense did you mean to say he's a "liar?"

im-skeptical said...

So in what sense did you mean to say he's a "liar?"
- In this sense: "to elevate scientific knowledge and data crunching to a level of certainty and competence they most definitely do not have, while at the same time dismissing every other approach". There is not a word of truth in it. Let me make a few points here.

- What makes Pigliucci an expert in scientific thinking? If he is using Taleb as an example, then he is wrong.

- I don't know anything about Taleb, but if (as Pigliucci claims) he thinks that there is just one source of evidence that makes his case about the prevalence of ethnicities in the Roman empire (or any other thing, for that matter), he is not taking a scientific approach. How, then, can this be an example of scientism?

- Pigliucci denies that this way of thinking (scientism) allows any source of knowledge but formal science, then he has never talked with an actual scientist, because it's simply not true. Instead of listening to his uninformed view, why don't you listen to some actual scientists?

- Why don't you take my word at face value? I'm not lying about what I believe. Could it be that you have an agenda?

Joe Hinman said...

So in what sense did you mean to say he's a "liar?"
- In this sense: "to elevate scientific knowledge and data crunching to a level of certainty and competence they most definitely do not have, while at the same time dismissing every other approach". There is not a word of truth in it. Let me make a few points here.


that is what scientism does, it's what you do

- What makes Pigliucci an expert in scientific thinking? If he is using Taleb as an example, then he is wrong.

He's smart

- I don't know anything about Taleb, but if (as Pigliucci claims) he thinks that there is just one source of evidence that makes his case about the prevalence of ethnicities in the Roman empire (or any other thing, for that matter), he is not taking a scientific approach. How, then, can this be an example of scientism?

- Pigliucci denies that this way of thinking (scientism) allows any source of knowledge but formal science, then he has never talked with an actual scientist, because it's simply not true. Instead of listening to his uninformed view, why don't you listen to some actual scientists?

you are treating scientist like its science,
scientism is not science, but there are plenty of scientists who say things that fit the description. Stenger. Krauss, and dwkimns are among them,they are assholes,


- Why don't you take my word at face value? I'm not lying about what I believe. Could it be that you have an agenda?

If you don't reduce all knowledge to science, Skep what critic do you have of religion that is notscinetiifc?

Joe Hinman said...

m-skeptical said...
Joe, your problem is that when you say something like "dismissing every other approach", what you mean is dismissing religion.

I didn't say it that was Pugglucci. but no I dom't mean just region because there is phenomenology deductive reasoning, intuition, mystical experience, and social sciences.

Yes, we atheists dismiss religion, and that's what bothers you. That's why you are so full of hate towards us.

No I'm full of hate toward you because you're so insulting and so arrogant about your own ignorance,they treated me like shit when I know so much more than they do,


Religion tells us nothing but what we have already been programmed to believe.

that's stupid for many reasons,who would do the programming? Programming can only be dome by a mind so you are acknowledging God and too arrogant to admit it, so you are assuming determinism which is self evidently wrong,


It is not a valid epistemology. We certainly don't dismiss any epistemologically reasonable approach to knowledge.

you don't even know what epistemology is, science is not epistemology. Science assumes epistemology, that's another example of a field of thought science can't acknowledge but depends upon,

Mike Gerow said...

Religion tells us nothing but what we have already been programmed to believe

How is it possible that science then could tell us things other than what we are already programmed (evolutionistically) to believe?

Mike Gerow said...

What makes Pigliucci an expert in scientific thinking? If he is using Taleb as an example, then he is wrong.


Well, his qualifications include being both a philosophy prof who specializes in philosophy of science, the editor of a book in philosophy of science published by a major academic press, and also a working scientist in evolutionary biology. Check out his bio at the bottom of that article.

;-)

Mike Gerow said...

skep, I think given his background we might assume P is just using the Taleb case anecdotally and dramatically as a device in a blog article and not assume that's the only piece of evidence he's got to make his case with?

Mike Gerow said...

that;s exactly what they are doing when they say "we are one gene away from beating region" ,

Well, as MJR points out, it's easy to overestimate the strength of those arguments anyway. At best, they only put a dent in the "metaphysically necessary" concept of God, which only Raises about questions the "God of philosophy," so to speak -- the rationally/empirically deductible version of "God", like the "God" of the CA, which is a very narrow and limited concept of "God" -- and assert only the POSSIBILITY of a universe without a (conscious) creator.

They sure don't "disprove God" in any conclusive sense.

im-skeptical said...

It's clear that arguing with religionists is an exercise in futility. It's the same as trying to explain what kind of evidence it would take to convince a skeptic that there is something supernatural in our world. It doesn't matter what answer we give. The religionist will twist it into a denial of what we actually believe. It's Heads I Lose, Tails You Win.

Likewise, if we lay claim to a reasonable epistemological stance based on empiricism, the religionist will twist it into something that is not at all representative of what we actually believe. This distortion of your opponent's position is just "lying for Jesus", an effort to gain the advantage in the debate that comes at the cost of forfeited intellectual honesty.

What a pity.

Mike Gerow said...

Well, no....

Exactly what I asked you to articulate for me was: "[the ] kinds of things [that] science is capable and incapable of shedding light on" in your view?

I also suggested the scientific (i.e. statistical) method might have limitations based in its privileging of "the ordinary over the extraordinary" ( in the sense that scientific efforts look to find repeatable, i.e. ordinary effects rather than unique events)and in its inability to extrapolate over really large data sets (e.g. infinite quantities over time or space) as a couple of examples of the OBJECTIVE limitations of the method and therefore its inability to provide ABSOLUTE knowledge. And my point was to explicate some of the concerns P was talking about in his blog article. Those didn't really have to do with "subjective" qualities like "love and aesthetics" -- at least not in any essential way -- so your response seemed off the mark to me.

So, since I am still largely unaware of your position on the limits or not of scientific inquiries, I can hardly be accused of being a "religionist" who is "distorting it", can I?

im-skeptical said...

Exactly what I asked you to articulate for me was: "[the ] kinds of tings [that] science is capable and incapable of shedding light on" in your view?
- Right. And I gave an answer that you ignored. Or perhaps you want me to say something different. I really don't know what you're fishing for.


I also suggested the scientific (i.e. statistical) method might have limitations based in its privileging of "the ordinary over the extraordinary"
- The point that I made is that Pigliucci's example is NOT an example of scientific method. But I will say that science does favor one kind of evidence over another. It favors objective evidence. I don't deny that science has limitations, and any real scientist would agree with that. That's why Pigliucci's (and Joe's) story is a straw man. He is lying (and selling lots of books to religionists, who are hearing exactly what they WANT to hear, coming from an atheist).

Joe Hinman said...

One of the major things that bothers me about the myopic nature of Skep's approach is that he doesn't even discuss most of what was in the article. He equates scientism with science. So when I make criticism of scientism he takes the approach "O you don't understand science the things you say about scinece are wrong" it never even occurs to him I'm not talking abouit science but about a trouper of scientific groupies and their half baked understanding,that's because it fits his view.

Joe Hinman said...

The point that I made is that Pigliucci's example is NOT an example of scientific method. But I will say that science does favor one kind of evidence over another. It favors objective evidence.

he's talking about scientism see what i just said,

I don't deny that science has limitations, and any real scientist would agree with that. That's why Pigliucci's (and Joe's) story is a straw man. He is lying (and selling lots of books to religionists, who are hearing exactly what they WANT to hear, coming from an atheist).

those ;imitations prevent a scientific critique of theology or dealing with theological issues,

7th Stooge said...

We can all agree that science is the most reliable route to certain kinds of knowledge such as observable, third person verifiable. But those arent; the only legitimate forms of knowledge, so scientism is wrong. All the rest is obfuscation.

im-skeptical said...

But those arent; the only legitimate forms of knowledge, so scientism is wrong. All the rest is obfuscation.
- Thank you, Joe. But you already said that.

im-skeptical said...

he's talking about scientism see what i just said,
- Uh, Joe, you should read what I was responding to. It's included right there with mu comment.

those ;imitations prevent a scientific critique of theology or dealing with theological issues,
- They certainly don't prevent a critique of the bullshit in your book.

7th Stooge said...

- Thank you, Joe. But you already said that.

Thank you. I'm not Joe. Can you argue for scientism without resorting to using religion as a strawman or discrediting people based on who they are popular with as you try to do with Nagel et al?

im-skeptical said...

Thank you. I'm not Joe. Can you argue for scientism without resorting to using religion as a strawman or discrediting people based on who they are popular with as you try to do with Nagel et al?

- I don't argue for "scientism". As I said before, it is a loaded term that means different things to different people. I am an empiricist. In the manner that you/Joe use it, it is most definitely a straw man. And the reason I differentiate people like Nagel and Pigliucci is because their views are most emphatically NOT representative of the people that you/Joe criticize.

Mike Gerow said...


I don't deny that science has limitations, and any real scientist would agree with that. That's why Pigliucci's (and Joe's) story is a straw man. He is lying (and selling lots of books to religionists, who are hearing exactly what they WANT to hear, coming from an atheist).

those limitations prevent a scientific critique of theology or dealing with theological issues,

Joe, I'd like to see you do a blog or a series of them focused narrowly on (the principles of) exactly this topic--"science's inadequacy as a tool for critiquing theological issues, why this is overreach"--then....like a thematic statement.....

Mike Gerow said...

skep, I'm 100% certain that Joe would never use the phrase "et al" in a comment ... Ergo stooge isn't him.....


;-)

Mike Gerow said...

skep, I think the point Joe made above is pertinent....



those limitations [ of the scientific method] prevent [its] critique of theology or [its] dealing with theological issues.


Being called "scietismist" for disagreeing with that might be irrelevant and a straw man too, yes but....

im-skeptical said...

I'm 100% certain that Joe would never use the phrase "et al" in a comment

You're probably 100% certain of a number of things that aren't true.

Ryan M said...

What propositions are being debated in this comment thread? It gets hard to follow based on no quote functions and some people apparently responding to only parts of comments.

Mike Gerow said...

I'm 100% certain that Joe would never use the phrase "et al" in a comment

You're probably 100% certain of a number of things that aren't true.


skep, you don't know anything about what I'm "certain of" -- or if I'm "certain of" anything at all--& if you're going to take attempts at humor and twist them into insulting, snide comments while seeming simultaneously to be avoiding the real gist of everything else I'm trying to say, I think I'll just stop talking to you....

Joe Hinman said...

Joe, I'd like to see you do a blog or a series of them focused narrowly on (the principles of) exactly this topic--"science's inadequacy as a tool for critiquing theological issues, why this is overreach"--then....like a thematic statement.....
7:47 PM

I have several times bit I'll see if I can group them into a series,great idea for a multi part post.

Joe Hinman said...

Ryan M said...
What propositions are being debated in this comment thread? It gets hard to follow based on no quote functions and some people apparently responding to only parts of comments.

I know Ryan. Skep dos one om blogger and he has the quote function,I can't find out how to get it,

Joe Hinman said...

there are no propositions, all Skep can do is ad hom everything is always ad hom with him,

Joe Hinman said...

the only time I would use et al is if I'm too lazy to name all the authors,i only use it in a bib.

im-skeptical said...

Ryan, the main issue under discussion in this thread is the paper by Massimo Pigliucci that eric linked in the first comment. He decries scientism. I pointed out that his view of scientism is not a depiction of of the actual views of the people he criticizes. It is a straw man. Joe and his allies here all insist that Pigliucci is quite correct, and that I don't really hold the epistemological views that I espouse.

Mike Gerow said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike Gerow said...

I pointed out that his view of scientism is not a depiction of of the actual views of the people he criticizes

I merely responded that, as P's something of an academic expert on this, your refutation prob'ly needed a lot more rigor. Perhaps we can all read his book of collected essays when it comes out in Dec (for a start)?

Ryan, there seems a lot of interest in continental philosophy at least -- since Meillasoux's book came out --on the topic of empiricism vs intuition as a basis for knowledge. Skep's linked essay kinda glibly glossed over the issue, but on the surface it seems pretty .... um, "intuitive" that empiricism has to be ultimately based in some primary intuitions anyway, no?

Katherine Malabou published a whole book on this, based on one ambiguous comment in Kant's CPR, a couple years ago....

im-skeptical said...

I merely responded that, as P's something of an academic expert on this, your refutation prob'ly needed a lot more rigor. Perhaps we can all read his book of collected essays when it comes out in Dec (for a start)?

- And I merely pointed out that perhaps rather than taking Pigliucci's word for it, perhaps we can listen to that actual people he criticizes to see how their views correspond to what he says about them. Pigliucci is a LIAR.

Mike Gerow said...

Well, yeah, that's why he's putting out a book of collected essays in Dec via U of C academic press with a variety of different perspectives about scientism....cuz he's just such a LIAR!!!!!


****yeesh!!!!!*****

im-skeptical said...

Why don't you read Coyne's book? After all it's HIS views (and others with similar views) that are the subject of this question. See how much he agrees with what the liar says. I think you'll find a much broader and more nuanced explanation of his own views than anything you would ever hear from the likes of Joe or Pigliucci.

Mike Gerow said...

Not likely to read any books centred around the A/theism debates at this point, myself, but here's a bit from a review in the reputable magazine, Scientific American, who seemed to see in it a New Atheistic-type of rabble rousing and invective......


Actually, Faith vs. Fact serves as a splendid specimen of scientism. Mr. Coyne disparages not only religion but also other human ways of engaging with reality. The arts, he argues, “cannot ascertain truth or knowledge,” and the humanities do so only to the extent that they emulate the sciences. This sort of arrogance and certitude is the essence of scientism.

Mike Gerow said...

Oops, sorry skep.....


https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cross-check/book-by-biologist-jerry-coyne-goes-too-far-in-denouncing-religion-defending-science/

im-skeptical said...

That is the same bullshit you hear from religionists. READ HIS BOOK if you have any interest at all in understanding his views. If you don't, that's fine too. But don't go around pretending you understand his epistemology. YOU DON'T.

Joe Hinman said...

im-skeptical said...
That is the same bullshit you hear from religionists. READ HIS BOOK if you have any interest at all in understanding his views. If you don't, that's fine too. But don't go around pretending you understand his epistemology. YOU DON'T.
1:24 PM

guilt by association and ad hom, does he not state his true opinion his blog? everytime you get backed n a corner you start borrowing hate slogans around:that's the religionist. Relgonist is your N word."

you are brining donw the intellectual quality of the blog,

Joe Hinman said...

that scientific American is ran by religionists,

Joe Hinman said...

Mike's link

Joe Hinman said...

from mike's linki

Do we really need another book telling us how awful religion is? Biologist Jerry Coyne apparently thinks so. In Faith vs. Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible, he berates not only religious believers but even “accomodationists,” non-believers who think science and faith can find common ground.
Coyne contends that religion "is severely at odds with science, and that this conflict is damaging to science itself, to how the public conceives of science, and to what the public thinks science can and cannot tell us." This is a defensible position, but Coyne poses it in such an extreme form that he discredits his cause.
I read Coyne’s book because The Wall Street Journal asked me to review it. The review, titled “Preaching to the Converted,” is behind a pay wall, but here’s a lightly edited excerpt, in italics:
Coyne’s defenses of science and denunciations of religion are so relentlessly one-sided that they aroused my antipathy toward the former and sympathy toward the latter… He overlooks any positive consequences of religion, such as its role in anti-slavery, civil-rights and anti-war movements. He inflates religion’s contribution to public resistance toward vaccines, genetically modified food and human-induced global warming.

He's a Dawkamentalkst and a bigotted hate monger

Atheism's answer to John Hagee

im-skeptical said...

John Horgan is not a scientist. He is a journalist, and his main claim to fame is his book that says science is at or near its end. Needless to say, scientists don't agree.

im-skeptical said...

And Joe, I'll repeat what I told Mike. If you want to understand what people like Coyne actually believe, you should read their own words - not what others who disagree have to say about it. Otherwise, you're just talking out of your ass.

Ryan M said...

This is such a silly discussion. Terms such as "Religionists" are clearly made to be derogatory, just like how "Gnu atheists" is intended to be derogatory. Don't make ANY comments about the people you're conserving with. List the proposition(s) you're debating, make your argument for the proposition, list your evidence for the proposition.

Massimo's def 1 of scientism - [if x is valuable knowledge or x is an answer to a valuable question then x is known through the natural sciences]

Massimo's criticism of scientism 1 - [Scientism elevates scientific knowledge to a degree of certainty which is not epistemically permissible]

Massimo's criticism of scientism 2 - [Scientism elevates scientific methods to a degree of competence far greater than what is actually the case]

Massimo's definition of scientism adds value into the mix, something not usually done. However, the essence of his definition captures what philosophers of science call 'scientism'. There is no single definition of "scientism", but they largely agree that in some sense that science is required for epistemic justification for all or most propositions, so science is required for all or most knowledge.

The criticisms he lays out are not appropriate, I don't think. For the first criticism, to anyone seriously invested in science, doubt is practically presumed. Perhaps to lay advocates of scientism, scientific knowledge is certain in the classical sense (i.e. if S knows P, then S has no degree of doubt that P), but for anyone educated in the sciences, this almost certainly is not the case.

I don't think Massimo can really use this criticism since the things outside of science, such as questions about whether abstract objects exist, are simply unsettled. Yes, if science is required for epistemic justification, then we must rule out Mathematical Platonism, among many other things. Concluding that science goes beyond its competency without having examples of settled matters outside of science is premature IMO. The sorts of things that cannot be added into scientific models are perhaps unsettled for a reason; they don't exist or questions of their existence are meaningless.

im-skeptical said...

Again, a quote from Pigliucci: "The mistake of scientism is to elevate scientific knowledge and data crunching to a level of certainty and competence they most definitely do not have, while at the same time dismissing every other approach as obsolete nonsense". Someone please show me a real scientist who actually thinks like that. Certainly Coyne doesn't. How do I know that? I read his book.

I agree, it's a silly discussion. Saying things that are demonstrably false is pretty silly. If you try to tell me something disparaging about what I believe, and I know that it's not true, I feel justified in referring to your beliefs as "religionism". But unfortunately, this seems to be the way that most of my discussions with Joe go.

Joe Hinman said...

gain, a quote from Pigliucci: "The mistake of scientism is to elevate scientific knowledge and data crunching to a level of certainty and competence they most definitely do not have, while at the same time dismissing every other approach as obsolete nonsense". Someone please show me a real scientist who actually thinks like that. Certainly Coyne doesn't. How do I know that? I read his book.


I quoted several of then and Mike also just did in the scientific Americana article, Coyne,

im-skeptical said...

An article by someone who hates Coyne. TRY READING HIS BOOK.

Ryan M said...

"Someone please show me a real scientist who actually thinks like that."

Are you mistaking scientism for science? Scientism has described by philosophers is an epistemic view on justification, mostly. It is not the same thing as science. A person need not be a scientist to be an advocate of scientism, nor does being a scientist necessitate following scientism.

im-skeptical said...

Joe, you are stunningly addled by confirmation bias. You find something that agrees with your view, and you look no further. You take it as The Sacred Truth. You have a source you can cite, and that's all you need to go around claiming that your point has been proven.

im-skeptical said...

Are you mistaking scientism for science?
- No. I'm talking about the description of "scientism" that Pigliucci makes. It isn't real. Nobody thinks that way, as far as I know.

Mike Gerow said...



I don't think Massimo can really use this criticism since the things outside of science, such as questions about whether abstract objects exist, are simply unsettled. Yes, if science is required for epistemic justification, then we must rule out Mathematical Platonism, among many other things. Concluding that science goes beyond its competency without having examples of settled matters outside of science is premature IMO. The sorts of things that cannot be added into scientific models are perhaps unsettled for a reason; they don't exist or questions of their existence are meaningless.


Ryan, I suspect a lot of it is the inappropriate use of scientific method to make a field or topic seem more "scientific" and so more amenable to being funded? Or it's around REAL LIFE PRACTICES rather than THEORIES about how science should be conducted.

As for what you say here, how would it relate to the justification of empiricism itself for one thing? That is to say, the rationalist/empiricist debate itself? That, as mentioned above, seems like a question neither resolvable within scientific models, nor nonexistent, nor meaningless or unimportant...so wdyt?

Ryan M said...

"As for what you say here, how would it relate to the justification of empiricism itself for one thing?"

It depends on your view of whether empiricism, rationalism, or sub classes of them are propositions. They could just be viewed as underlying parts of how we model what is true, or what is epistemically justified. So for example, a person advocating scientism might not say 'It is true that only scientifically verifiable statements are true', but rather that 'we define truth in terms of scientific verification'.

Now with respect to the things science cannot answer, the objection Massimo and others wants to make is that there are examples of epistemically justified propositions that science adds nothing to. For example, Massimo himself is a moral realist, and thinks "Moral realism is true" is an example of a justified proposition for which science is irrelevant to. But using examples like this is worrisome. Many people do happen to believe in abstract objects, that moral realism is true, that God exists, and many other things, but it isn't clear that any of those people actually have knowledge that such beliefs are true. If I was to advocate scientism, I would ask for demonstration that we actually are justified in believing in counter examples to scientism as an epistemic theory.

Ryan M said...

"No. I'm talking about the description of "scientism" that Pigliucci makes. It isn't real. Nobody thinks that way, as far as I know."

The description is rather common among philosophers.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientism

It might be the case that no one adheres to what Massimo refers to as "Scientism", but it's still the case that his use of the term is not anything new. It is just a variation of a term that has a history with philosophers going back 70 or so years. I doubt Coyne or anyone else follows scientism as Massimo defines it over something like a weaker empiricist view (epistemic justification coming from sense data DOES NOT require science).

If anything, I'd think chargers of scientism are made because a person advocates that a type of proposition must be explained by science to gain justification. In theist v atheist debates, some atheists say "God exists" is such a proposition. But this is not really scientism unless we think that scientism is also a label for the belief that science applies to propositions where it does not. That would be silly though.

Ryan M said...

"If you try to tell me something disparaging about what I believe, and I know that it's not true, I feel justified in referring to your beliefs as "religionism". But unfortunately, this seems to be the way that most of my discussions with Joe go."

I say nay nay, depending on your goal. Discussions between theists and atheists are extremely difficult to make fruitful. If you want to actually engage in meaningful dialogue, then any comments which can hurt the discussion ought to be avoided. In your case, calling Joe and other theists "religionists" is going to hurt genuine dialogue. Joe obviously has a long history of this exact behavior, such as saying Secular Outpost members are engaging in the "illusion of technique" to avoid theistic arguments. Or with respect to Joe to you, Joe likes to say you replaced God with science, that you have faith, or other terms which are obviously meant to be derogatory based on what you think of faith, religion, etc. It isn't helpful, and I don't see a point in it.

Mike Gerow said...


An article by someone who hates Coyne. TRY READING HIS BOOK


Along the lines of what Ryan just said, this kind of paranoid clam, esp when addressing moderate Povs about theism like Horgan!s "psychedelic agnosticism" and P's mostly nonaggressive atheistic stance, well maybe, thats, perhaps, not SUCH a good reflection on the more thoughtful forms of atheism nor a credit to the cause, u think?

"If you're not a rapid anti-religionist" you're no better than a damn religionIst!"

im-skeptical said...

I doubt Coyne or anyone else follows scientism as Massimo defines it over something like a weaker empiricist view

- Much less the ridiculous forms of scientism pushed by people like Joe, that actually defines scientism as religious ideology rather than an epistemological view, or the charges that the practitioner is devoid of (and actively rejects) any kind of humanity (yes, that's what they say). And lots of people take this crap seriously.


If anything, I'd think chargers of scientism are made because a person advocates that a type of proposition must be explained by science to gain justification

- I don't know why Pigliucci doesn't present a more honest perspective of a real scientific mindset, but I think Joe sees empiricism as a threat. Empiricism is not conducive to theistic belief. It must be bad. Scientism must be denigrated.


I say nay nay, depending on your goal.

- I get worked up about things I consider to be bullshit. I understand that I'll never change the beliefs of the religious. Nor will the "good atheists", who only serve to bolster their false beliefs by giving them undue respect, or even support. You can say that I'm belligerent, but I think I am certainly no more belligerent than the people I argue with. I have little sympathy for their crocodile tears about those mean nasty "gnus".

im-skeptical said...

this kind of paranoid clam, esp when addressing moderate Povs about theism like Horgan!s "psychedelic agnosticism" and P's mostly nonaggressive atheistic stance, well maybe, thats, perhaps, not SUCH a good reflection on the more thoughtful forms of atheism nor a credit to the cause, u think?

- And of course you define the moderate or "more thoughtful forms of atheism" as any that doesn't challenge or take issue your own beliefs. I get it.

Joe Hinman said...

did Skep ever deny the basic thesis that scietism reduces all forms of knowledge to science? The only way that denial is meaningful would be if you can name another form of knowledge that you take seriously. So what is it?

im-skeptical said...

Jesus, Joe. Haven't you heard a word I said?

Read it again

Joe Hinman said...

there is a huge difference in whining "there's no such thing as scinetisim no one thinks that: (which I have proven over and over there are major famous sci nits who think it), and actually pointing to a a from of knowledge and saying:this is more valuable for X than science).

Joe Hinman said...

And of course you define the moderate or "more thoughtful forms of atheism" as any that doesn't challenge or take issue your own beliefs. I get it.

yo are full of shit, you assume anyone who disagrees with you is a fundamentalist none of us are,none of us three are like that

Joe Hinman said...

this is closed, we are not accomplishing shit here,

Mike Gerow said...

I get worked up about things I consider to be bullshit. I understand that I'll never change the beliefs of the religious. Nor will the "good atheists", who only serve to bolster their false beliefs by giving them undue respect, or even support. You can say that I'm belligerent, but I think I am certainly no more belligerent than the people I argue with. I have little sympathy for their crocodile tears about those mean nasty "gnus".

In the real world, most real life atheists really are "good atheists" (by your definition) just as most of those despicable theists are "good theists." IOW, most people are nice and polite, and don't see much of worth in the constant bickering, strident, militistic postures struck by theistic apologists and the "opposing" anti-apologists. But, for some of those people, it does sell books.....albeit in a pretty cheap way.

Moreover, given their militant stances, it shouldn't be surprising that many of the anti-religionistic "New Atheists" (like Harris and Hitchens) are political neocons, geopolitically in line with Trump, the hawks in the GOP and many Xian evangelicals. Dunno what you think of that?

A Faith in Ends

im-skeptical said...

Dunno what you think of that?

I think you are being deliberately provocative. Either that, or you are stunningly ignorant.

im-skeptical said...

there is a huge difference in whining "there's no such thing as scinetisim no one thinks that: (which I have proven over and over there are major famous sci nits who think it), and actually pointing to a a from of knowledge and saying:this is more valuable for X than science).

- Of course there is. We know that if 'X' is religious belief, science just won't do. So you have faith, and you have your inner feelings, etc. However as a means of obtaining justified knowledge, they just don't have the same epistemological merit.

Mike Gerow said...

I think you are being deliberately provocative. Either that, or you are stunningly ignorant.

Ignorant in what way? (I'd like to know more about your geopolitical views....)

Did you even read MJR's piece on Harris? ;-)

im-skeptical said...

Did you even read MJR's piece on Harris? ;-)

- Of course I did. Rubenstein is obviously a religionist, whose views of Harris are clouded by her religious perspective.

She uses the same old tropes that religionists love to hurl at athsists, such as the "Hitler was an atheist" lie. Hitler was a Christian, and he never disavowed his belief in God. His anti-semitism is deeply rooted in the traditional religious-based hatred of Jews prevalent in European Christian society.

She speaks of his cherry-picking phrases from the Koran that would falsely indicate that the religion is somehow nor peaceful. If you read the book, you would know that he quoted full verses, going on page after page after page, to show without any doubt that there is ample reason to think that this religion advocates violence.

But the one that struck me the most is this: "As you may have noticed, with his concentric circles of lunatics, Harris has just drawn for us the image of a target."

What she is doing here is to insinuate that Harris is advocating some kind of violence. There is nothing in his book that even hints at violence, but this dishonest religionist is reading it into his words.

The more I read of this smear piece, the more I understand that Rubenstein is totally full of shit.

Mike Gerow said...

Oh, really? In her review MJR quotes him explicitly as advocating both first strike nuclear war.....

In such a situation, the only thing likely to ensure our survival may be a nuclear first strike of our own. Needless to say, this would be an unthinkable crime—as it would kill tens of millions of innocent civilians in a single day—but it may be the only course of action available to us, given what Islamists believe (

And torture....

“If there is even one chance in a million that [a jihadist] will tell us something under torture that will lead to the further dismantling of Al Qaeda, it seems that we should use every means at our disposal to get him talking

These things aren't violent?

These quotes are fake, maybe?
Tell us, where do you stand?

im-skeptical said...

Oh of course - the cherry-picked quote. Go on a few more sentences, and you find this: "We must come to terms with the possibility that men who are every bit as zealous to die as the nineteen hijackers may one day get their hands on long-range nuclear weaponry. The Muslim world in particular must anticipate this possibility and find some way to prevent it."

And for a more nuanced view of his position on torture, I'll let him speak for himself (this is something you'll never hear from the likes of Rubenstein):
if you think it is ever justifiable to drop bombs in an attempt to kill a man like Osama bin Laden (and thereby risk killing and maiming innocent men, women, and children), you should think it may sometimes be justifiable to “water-board” a man like Osama bin Laden (and risk abusing someone who just happens to look like Osama bin Laden). It seems to me that however one compares the practices of “water-boarding” high-level terrorists and dropping bombs, dropping bombs always comes out looking worse in ethical terms. And yet, most people tacitly accept the practice of modern warfare, while considering it taboo to even speak about the possibility of practicing torture. It is important to point out that my argument for the restricted use of torture does not make travesties like Abu Ghraib look any less sadistic or stupid. I considered our mistreatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib to be patently unethical. I also think it was one of the most damaging blunders to occur in the last century of U.S. foreign policy. Nor have I ever seen the wisdom or necessity of denying proper legal counsel (and access to evidence) to prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay. Indeed, I consider much of what occurred under Bush and Cheney—the routine abuse of ordinary prisoners, the practice of “extraordinary rendition,” etc.—to be a terrible stain upon the conscience of our nation. - Harris

Mike Gerow said...

Okay, he's perhaps a little less aggressive neocon than Bush or Chenet, but nevertheless.....

Where do you stand yourself geopolitically, skep.....is the West "at war with Islam?" Should it be?

Joe Hinman said...


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvItJjBpGps

im-skeptical said...

Where do you stand yourself geopolitically, skep.....is the West "at war with Islam?" Should it be?

- I am a liberal - the exact opposite of what your narrative wants to make me out to be. It is the Bush neocons and the Trump klansmen who want to be at war. I don't - and certainly not with a religion. However I believe that we should defend ourselves from extremists when necessary - just like Harris does. His position (if you listen to HIM, rather than those who hate him) is much more reasonable than many people make it out to be.

Ryan M said...

"Much less the ridiculous forms of scientism pushed by people like Joe, that actually defines scientism as religious ideology rather than an epistemological view, or the charges that the practitioner is devoid of (and actively rejects) any kind of humanity (yes, that's what they say). And lots of people take this crap seriously."

Portraying scientism as anything but an epistemic view is obviously an attempt to poison the well against scientism. Or as you say, it is a way of being provocative. Joe would be wise simply to define what scientism is, that being a sort of view about epistemic justification, and then explain why it is a failure (either by citing counter examples, or showing some other issue). Going on about scientism being a religion isn't helpful.

I get responding to belligerence with belligerence. However, I don't think being nice to theists is giving their views respect. If I really wanted to show respect to theist views, I'd stop refuting them. Now there is the question of which theistic views, if any, are worthy of response that is not quasi mockery. Jeff on the Secular Outpost laid out criteria recently, but understandably they are subjective and perhaps used specifically to justify not mocking the sorts of theists Jeff in particular wants to converse with (e.g. the Richard Swinburnes and Timothy McGrews of the world).

im-skeptical said...

I don't think being nice to theists is giving their views respect.

- I agree. And most of the time when I enter a discussion, I start out with what I think is a substantive comment that addresses the post in a civil way. Sometimes the discussion remains civil for a time, and sometimes it degenerates immediately. With me and Joe, it's different. It's like we've been engaged in an ongoing discussion for a long time. There's a lot of sniping, but I don't feel that it's hateful.

Mike Gerow said...

So, skep, you'd consider this statement as one made by a peacenik, liberal, never violence-advocating, granola-hippie type? Not some someplace-to-the-right-of-the-Bushes neocon?

"We are at war with Islam. It may not serve our immediate foreign policy objectives for our political leaders to openly acknowledge this fact, but it is unambiguously so. It is not merely that we are at war with an otherwise peaceful religion that has been ‘hijacked’ by extremists. We are at war with precisely the vision of life that is prescribed to all Muslims in the Koran.[38]"

I'm sposed to buy this? Nope, this guy, far as his geopolitics go, belongs on Rush Limbaugh and Alex Jones' shows without a doubt.....

im-skeptical said...

I don't agree with Harris about everything. In my own view, it is fundamentalist extremists we are at war with. He does make a good case in his book that it is the religion as described in the Koran that is the motivation for fundamentalists' extremism. Your assessment of him is just plain wrong. Politically, he disagrees with practically everything about those right-wing people you mention. But your opinion seems to be based on distortions perpetrated by dishonest people like Rubinstein. If you are at all interested in truth, you could try reading his own words, and not just what others say about him.

im-skeptical said...

And there's another thing you should note. He talking about the religion - not the Muslim people. He makes that very clear, yet he has been called a racist by people on both the left and the right. They simply don't want to understand his position. And I don't think you do, either.

Joe Hinman said...

this is closed,

Mike Gerow said...

He talking about the religion - not the Muslim people.

That's part of the problem, that arrogant and clinical mode of thinking, the highly-abstracted and clinical idea that you can extract a "religion" from a "people" and their "customs" and their "culture" and their "conditions" and their "history" in such a clean, crisp, zippy, and quite unproblematic way, as if you were removing some unfortunate appendage, like an unfortunate patient's tonsils or appendix or something. All these things, in real cultures, are inextricably interlinked-- a people's customs, culture, religion, and integrated into their entire sense of identity, and the distinctions Harris is insisting on It's not such an easy trick even to KNOW (eg) where "our customs" stop and "our religion" (proper) begins esp in the contexts of different cultures than the one(s) we grew up in and/or around.


And that was basically Bush's mistake too, back then!


But that's modernity for you and Harris's simplifications and misunderstandings are far from atypical. The whole Enlightenment, after all, which he continues to represent and to which his thought is indebted , was a totally Eurocentric affair, and it was "paid for" largely by all the people on other continents whose enslavement or gencide provide those powdery-wigged euro-bourgeois gentlemen with all that extra leisure time to begin puttering around with experiments. It's no accident, therefore, viewing things along the lines of the
reasoning applied above, that the Age of Reason and the Age of (European) Imperialism would closely coincide, u think?

As MJR said, it's not like "Lady Reason's" hands were EVER clean.....

(Sorry to broach your closure of this thread, Joe, this is my last comment....)