Sunday, December 14, 2008



Because of the recent need to replace my computer, and the general havoc it has caused, I have been slow in my blog perusing. I have managed to be late to reading several good posts on Dr. Steven Novella's Neurologica Blog:

Dr. Steve follows up on his "Skeptical Battlegrounds: Part I – Background" with "Skeptical Battlegrounds: Part II – Creationism."

There is a nice piece on why SETI is really scientific, "SETI Science."

And, in one of my favorite egregiously uneven matchups of intellectual combat, he also bodyslams Dr. Michael Egnor's latest efforts to make neurology the new ID creationism (including Egnor's attempt, that I previously noted, to hijack the work of philosopher David Chalmers) in "More Neuroscience Denial."

There are other posts over the over the last week that are equally worthy. If you aren't already, you should be reading Neurologica Blog on a more regular schedule than I have been of late.

I think the conflict we have to win is not so much between science and anti-science, as Dr. Steve suggests in "Skeptical Battleground." The problem is that most people learn to make decisions about beliefs as shows of loyalty toward their side. It would be better for people to learn to judge ideas by neutral principles so that they can make their own independent decisions about what to believe.

What's most important about science is that it is what you end up with when you set out to make principled and responsible decisions about what to believe. When you recognize that we are all imperfect human beings, it makes sense to build a culture of skepticism for judging ideas. It when we live in a culture that ruthlessly criticizes every idea we submit to that culture, we learn to craft our ideas more carefully. When we stop expecting our peers to show their loyaty by supporting our ideas, we learn to craft better ideas.

If we encourage people to consider this battle to be just another conflict between two sides, we are really just asking them to choose a side. If we can enourage people to rise above choosing sides, to look for neutral principles which they can use to judge all claims about truth, they may turn naturally to science simply because science embodies these ideas of principled decision making about beliefs.

AdrianG63 at
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