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    Dixon's Avatar
    Dixon
     

    Article: The Gospel According to Dixon #5: Science? Fiction!

    By Dixon Wragg
    WaccoBB.net


    For over three years now, one Daniel Osmer has been providing a valuable service to the local community by organizing and hosting a weekly event called “The Science Buzz Café”. We gather in a café or restaurant to enjoy illustrated lectures on various aspects of science, from geology to physics to biology to math and beyond, presented by an actual scientist or, sometimes, a well-informed amateur. Usually these have been scientific enough to please a rationalist like me, though sometimes they have slid into the woo-woo realm a bit—not unusual in this part of California.

    On March 10th, 2011, the Science Buzz Café presented Dr. Sondra Barrett on “Molecules and Meaning”. Ordinarily in a lecture-discussion format like the Science Buzz Café, I’d just raise my hand and dispute any seeming baloney when called upon. But, as I gradually realized, this presentation was so thoroughly riddled with fallacy that I would have had to speak at some length to address it, and since it was her show, not mine, that would have been an inappropriate spotlight-grab. So instead I’m using this column to show how critical thinking can be applied to assessing claims in a real-world situation.

    Here’s an example of Barrett’s reasoning:

    Photo by kind permission of Dr. Sondra Barrett

    She showed a photo of an ancient petroglyph (rock art) with a sort of intertwined pattern, and told us that it reminded her of DNA, so the person who carved it may have known about the structure of DNA through some kind of inner vision! Then she showed a circular petroglyph decorated with various features and said that the artist may have known about microscopic cellular structure, because it was a picture of a cell!

    Of course, anyone can match images to one another like that. The simple mandalas (circular designs) drawn by primitive people, little children or anyone can be seen as the sun, the earth, atomic nuclei, symbols of wholeness, or cells, among many other things. Intertwined designs could remind us of woven textiles or straw or hair, of the braiding of water in rocky streams—or of DNA. We can match any simple design—squares, crosses, triangles, you name it—to hundreds of images. I pointed that out to Barrett, suggesting that instead of matching recent scientific findings like the structure of DNA to petroglyphs retrospectively, the real test of her idea would be to proactively find in some ancient art the next big scientific breakthrough before the scientists find it. That didn’t even slow her down.


    Threesomes
    She also stated that the number three is special, so that keeping the principle of threeness in mind may help us understand the world. She started listing examples— birth, life and death; three letters in the genetic code; holy trinities in various religions—and encouraged audience members to shout out other examples. But she conveniently ignored the fact that she could just as well have deemed two, four or five special and made similar lists for those numbers. Generally, the smaller the number, the more examples you can find. She had latched onto the idea of threeness being special, then cherry-picked the data that fit, ignoring all the disconfirming data.

    Barrett also showed a photomicrograph of the vitamin niacin. It was striated and a sort of tan or yellowish brown, resembling a stand of wheat seen from the side. She found this very exciting, because after all, wheat has lots of niacin! She even stated as a general principle that the appearance of things on our macrolevel, the human scale, mirrors their structure on the microlevel, and thus may give us information about the microworld.

    But does that mean that everything rich in niacin looks like wheat or, more broadly, that we can tell which foods are high in some nutrient by looking at photomicrographs of that nutrient? Of course not! Most niacin-rich foods, such as various organ meats and seafoods, bear no resemblance to her wheat-like picture of niacin. To support her conclusion that there was some significance to the coincidental visual similarity of wheat and niacin, Barrett had to ignore all of those niacin-rich foods that looked nothing like the picture. So again, she got some exciting idea in her head, then cherry-picked the data to support it. This is science? It’s not even minimally reasonable.

    Those examples are typical of Barrett’s talk (even the part I didn’t stay for, as was verified by a friend of mine who did stay), and they provide us with good real-life examples of a very common fallacy, one we’ve all indulged in: the “confirmation bias”—our natural tendency to see things in ways that confirm what we want to believe (or sometimes what we’re afraid is true); noticing, remembering and exaggerating confirming evidence; ignoring, forgetting, minimizing and making excuses for disconfirming evidence, and interpreting things as confirmation which really aren’t at all.

    Barrett also slipped into at least one other fallacy: the fallacious appeal to authority. When I politely pointed out that her “logic” wasn’t scientific, she rattled off a list of her scientific accomplishments, as if to suggest that if it comes from a scientist, it must be science. Of course, that makes as much sense as saying that since Mozart was a composer, his farts were symphonies.

    Gradually, it became clear what Barrett was selling: intelligent design! That’s right, folks—if you’re seeking intelligent design, you needn’t travel to Skunk Holler and get it from some spittle-flecked Bible-pounder; you can get the new improved version right here in California, from a real scientist!



    When Osmer (the host) asked if she was saying that God was behind the connections she was seeing, Barrett endorsed that notion. And all those similarities that you or I would call coincidental—well, they’re really messages from the Divine. She made no compelling arguments for her claims. Instead, she showed us a quote from some guy named Benson, which was nothing more than a re-statement of the infamously flawed “argument from design” for the existence of a god, and another quote from Teilhard de Chardin which employed even worse logic to support the idea that love rules the universe, or something like that.

    The other indicator that there might be something less than scientifically rigorous going on was that she was giving people an illusion of scientific validity for dubious feel-good beliefs, and she has a book to sell. Ka-ching! No one ever went broke overestimating the public’s appetite for books that tell them what they want to hear.

    Both Barrett and Osmer, when called to task for falsely advertising her talk as science, responded that the talk was conjectural and, since conjecture is fundamentally important in science, was therefore scientific. But that’s like saying that, since kissing involves the mouth, anything we do with our mouths is kissing! Flat earth theories, the spoutings of Glenn Beck, and our hopeful sex fantasies are all conjecture; are they science?

    Even if everything Barrett said had been carefully qualified as tentative conjecture (which is not how I recall her presentation), it would still have been a travesty, because she was clearly implying that elementary logical fallacies such as the confirmation bias constitute some degree of support for her claims (even if not compelling evidence), and they simply do not. This sets a terrible example.

    The difference between scientific and other conjecture is that in science, we don’t rely on logical fallacies as confirmation for conjectures we find attractive. We look for flaws in the reasoning and, when we find that the conjecture is supported by nothing but flawed arguments, we reject it as probably fruitless and move on to the next one.

    Science has become a valuable “brand”. It can help sell books and other products, get government funding for projects, enormously boost the credibility of a claim, and give us some degree of appropriate certainty about what’s true and what isn’t. Just as any valuable brand name will engender counterfeits, so too with science. Thousands of products, “healing” techniques, divination systems, philosophies, even religions (Christian “Science”, The Church of Religious “Science”), fraudulently appropriate the valuable mantle of science.



    But science has earned its credibility precisely by not allowing itself the kind of crappy, self-deluding “logic” that marred Barrett’s presentation and underlies the numerous beliefs that defraud us by masquerading as science. The next time someone tells you that their idea, their product, their healing or divination technique or whatever is scientific, ask them a few questions, such as, “Have you conducted well-designed tests of falsifiable hypotheses that will show if you are mistaken?”, “Have you solicited critique from those who disagree with you?” and “How have you ruled out the possibility that your conclusion is based on fallacies like the confirmation bias, the effort justification effect, confusing the placebo effect with an objective effect, or…?”

    Science has earned its glory as perhaps humanity’s most beautiful and useful creation through centuries of hard, rigorous, brutally honest and self-questioning work. To steal its credibility by claiming unearned scientific validity for unfounded beliefs is a profanation.


    Last edited by Dixon; 09-07-2011 at 06:47 AM.
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  3. TopTop #2
    SandBar's Avatar
    SandBar
     

    Re: Article: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    Dixon,
    Thank you for taking the time to offer your opinions of my recent Science Buzz Cafe. Perhaps you missed the part where I said this was speculative while asking what if people had the ability (proven in other contexts) to see within and express what they are seeing in their art. That doesn't mean they knew they were seeing DNA or cells, only that they saw something in their imagination, dreams, visions. I interpreted what I saw in cave paintings as resembling what I knew in biology.

    Read the writings of Leonard Shlain (Art and Physics), Jeremy Narby (The Cosmic Serpent) and Nobel prize winner Christian de Duve (Vital Dust) to explore the possibilities that humans are capable of vision. The later interpretations serve to provide those AHA moments.

    About 3 - of course I could have developed interesting stories for any number, again this was an inquiry asking why do most religious traditions base their cosmology or theology on three - the Christian trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the Hindu pantheon of Brahma, Shiva, Vishnu etc. Why 3? That idea was developed by looking at the essential threes in biology - the DNA code (pretty important, its not 2 or 4), the 3 embryonic layers in the development of human life, the triune (3) construct of the brain,etc - beginning, middle and end are social constructs of what's needed for completion.

    I interpret the cell in mystical and mythical terms along with understanding their biological functions. Our cells and molecules are designed with intelligence. Their molecular structures evolved along with their biology. "Intelligent Design" as you offer in your article negates evolution and posits that life is 6000 years old or something like that. That was nothing I said or believe. Is it God that designed the world, or a greater force - we each have our ideas about creation. What we may agree upon is life is a miracle, however it began.

    The purpose of my Science Buzz presentation was to instill awe about who we are at the microscopic level and to provide intellectual stimulation to wonder and talk about - what if, how do we know, where does our knowledge come from. Perhaps to some, awe is only in numbers and 'facts' - discovery and the process of exploration is what science is about.

    So obviously I met one of my goals - stimulating discussion. If you want to write more articles, go to it - your mind was definitely stimulated, even if simply to find fault and flaws. BTW, I was offering a book for sale that had nothing to do with the talk, it was on wine. Here's a place to learn more about wine, life & our cells. http://sondrabarrett.com

    It's interesting that one of your pictures showed flawed medical science (cigarettes) and that you used one of my images (cave painting) without permission.
    Last edited by Barry; 06-01-2011 at 01:55 PM.
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  5. TopTop #3
    Dixon's Avatar
    Dixon
     

    Re: Article: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    Quote SandBar wrote: View Post
    ...Perhaps you missed the part where I said this was speculative while asking what if people had the ability (proven in other contexts) to see within and express what they are seeing in their art. That doesn't mean they knew they were seeing DNA or cells, only that they saw something in their imagination, dreams, visions.
    Perhaps you missed the part where I said "
    Even if everything Barrett said had been carefully qualified as tentative conjecture (which is not how I recall her presentation), it would still have been a travesty, because she was clearly implying that elementary logical fallacies such as the confirmation bias constitute some degree of support for her claims (even if not compelling evidence), and they simply do not. This sets a terrible example."

    You keep defending your presentation by back-pedaling, calling it "speculative" or "conjectural", but let's be honest here. When you write a whole book called
    Cells and the Sacred, do related workshops and a video, and spend a whole Science Buzz Cafe trying to make a case for these ideas, it's not just loose speculation. You're not sitting on the porch with friends, drinking wine and speculating "What if pigs could fly?" and "Do you think there's life on Mars?". You're trying to make a case for beliefs that you've pretty much accepted yourself. Be honest about this.

    The issue I'm addressing is not so much whether your belief is true; it could be, for all I know. The main issue is that the support you gave for the possibility that these claims are true was based on an elementary logical fallacy, the confirmation bias, that this is not scientific (thus inappropriate at an event advertised as a scientific presentation), and is a terrible example to set.


    I interpreted what I saw in cave paintings as resembling what I knew in biology.
    Yes, and an astronomer, a Rosicrucian, and a plumber would have made different comparisons based on their differing associations with those shapes. It's a very subjective process known as "pareidolia"--we see a cumulus cloud that looks like a poodle, or the face of Jesus on a tortilla--it's fun, but if we attribute some underlying significance to it, there's a burden of proof we must satisfy or we look like crackpots.


    Our natural tendency to see patterns is one of our greatest survival skills, but as with almost anything, we can err on the side of too much or too little. In this connection, you may have heard of "sheep" and "goats"; "sheep" see patterns too readily, even seeing them when they're not there, while "goats" see them insufficiently, tending to miss patterns that are really there. I see your attribution of special significance to the petroglyphs, the number three, and the photomicrograph of niacin, etc., as examples of a sheep-type fallacy (inferring a pattern or significance which probably isn't there except in your fervid imagination).


    I have no objection to people saying "Hey, that petroglyph looks to me like DNA!" But if someone says or implies that that may signify some kind of special perception on the part of the artist, and offers nothing but the confirmation bias as an argument to back it up, especially in the context of what's supposed to be a scientific presentation--then we have a problem--don't we?


    Read the writings of Leonard Shlain (Art and Physics), Jeremy Narby (The Cosmic Serpent) and Nobel prize winner Christian de Duve (Vital Dust) to explore the possibilities that humans are capable of vision.
    While I'm not familiar with Duve, I am, coincidentally, about halfway through Shlain's excellent
    The Alphabet Versus the Goddess, and have seen Narby speak very interestingly in a documentary (on ayahuasca, I believe--and you may be interested to know that my worldview has been strongly influenced by psychedelic experience. But of course, psychedelic experience can yield delusion as well as truth; that's why we have critical thinking to separate the niacin-rich wheat from the chaff). Unfortunately, I'm always behind in my reading and will probably not get to your suggested books in the foreseeable future. But if you think these writers have offered good arguments for the claims you made in your Science Buzz presentation, why in the world didn't you offer those arguments instead of the fallacious ones I recount in my column?

    About 3 - of course I could have developed interesting stories for any number, again this was an inquiry asking why do most religious traditions base their cosmology or theology on three - the Christian trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the Hindu pantheon of Brahma, Shiva, Vishnu etc. Why 3?
    So "[M]ost religious traditions base their cosmology or theology on three", eh? Did you look at most of the 2500 or so known religions, or are you generalizing from a flawed sample--the major extant religions, which have influenced each other for centuries and some of which are outgrowths of others? Wouldn't you need to survey a large random sample of religions that developed in isolation from one another to rule out cross-contamination of ideas? Did you do that? How many such religions did you look at, and how did you randomize the sample, and how did you make sure you were noticing all the significant numbers instead of just picking up on 3s wherever you saw them?


    That idea was developed by looking at the essential threes in biology - the DNA code (pretty important, its not 2 or 4), the 3 embryonic layers in the development of human life, the triune (3) construct of the brain,etc - beginning, middle and end are social constructs of what's needed for completion.
    Yeah, yeah, but we could come up with even more examples of twoness in biology (or any other realm), and almost as many examples of fourness. Your attribution of specialness to threeness is dependent on minimizing or ignoring the numerous examples of twoness, fourness, etc.--it's the confirmation bias again.


    I interpret the cell in mystical and mythical terms along with understanding their biological functions.
    That's for sure!


    Our cells and molecules are designed with intelligence.
    To assess this claim would require, just for starters, that you define what you mean by "intelligence" (which is probably a bit different from what most of us mean by the term) and whether you're saying that cells and molecules are designed
    by some intelligence. That's a whole discussion in itself--probably an interesting one.

    Their molecular structures evolved along with their biology. "Intelligent Design" as you offer in your article negates evolution and posits that life is 6000 years old or something like that. That was nothing I said or believe. Is it God that designed the world, or a greater force - we each have our ideas about creation.
    I did not say your claims were identical to those of the fundies; I referred to yours as "the new improved version" of intelligent design. Surely you wouldn't deny that you are promoting a sort of "intelligent design"? Your use of terms like "design" and "creation" above certainly seem to presuppose a creator, and you explicitly endorsed something you call God in your presentation. That comes with a huge burden of proof, which you didn't even try to satisfy in your purportedly "scientific" presentation--unless you consider the fallacious quotes from Benson and Chardin support for your apparently theistic claim.

    The purpose of my Science Buzz presentation was to
    instill awe about who we are at the microscopic level and to provide intellectual stimulation to wonder and talk about - what if, how do we know, where does our knowledge come from. Perhaps to some, awe is only in numbers and 'facts' ...
    "...only in numbers and 'facts'" as opposed to what--illusions and fallacies? Well, it's not that I'm not awestruck by your illusions and fallacies--it's just not a good kind of awestruck!

    One gripe that skeptics like me have with you paranormalists is that, if you think you have to accept dubious woowoo claims on the basis of crappy evidence and fallacious logic in order to experience awe, you're awe-deficient, somehow missing seeing all the wonder around you that exists in the real world. I'm constantly awestruck at the wonder of the universe, and I don't have to tell myself that there's some kind of Creator behind it (which I think actually cheapens it), or imagine significance where none exists, in order to experience that awe and Oneness. I really liked your photos and the cool info you gave us about cells, but the experience was ruined for me by the fallacious logic and woowoo beliefs you slathered it with like cheap rancid frosting on a lovely cake.


    ...discovery and the process of exploration is what science is about.
    Exactly! And it's essential that we don't confuse discovery with deciding what we'd like to believe and then using whatever fallacious logic is necessary to support it. Note also that the process of exploration, done properly, will sometimes confirm the beliefs we find inspiring and sometimes disconfirm them.


    So obviously I met one of my goals - stimulating discussion.
    Yeah--congratulations!


    ...your mind was definitely stimulated, even if simply to find fault and flaws.
    Hard not to find them when you're handing them to me on a silver platter! Anyway, it should be said that, contrary to what a lot of New Age bliss-ninnies would like to believe, the process of finding truth is largely a process of finding fault and flaws. You can't separate the wheat from the chaff without identifying both wheat and chaff, and focusing on the chaff is part of finding the wheat. I trust that, as a scientist, you understand that, Dr. Barrett.


    Having said that, I'll take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation for your lovely photography.
    Even though I have little interest in hard drugs such as alcohol, your wine photos on your website are awesome. Also, while I can't support some of your interpretations about the implications of cellular structure and function, I think you have some really cool info to impart about cells, and I resonate strongly with your feelings of inspiration about the wonders of our universe. I hope you understand that, as my column is about critical thinking, my focus was on critiquing your fallacies, so appreciating your lovely pictures etc. was outside the purview of the essay. Really, I'm a nice guy--you'll have to take my word for it.

    BTW, I was offering a book for sale that had nothing to do with the talk, it was on wine.
    I was referring to your upcoming book,
    Cells and the Sacred, which you mentioned. Perhaps I should also have mentioned your workshops on the same subject.

    It's interesting that one of your pictures showed flawed medical science (cigarettes)
    Well of course--I was giving examples of people wrongly appropriating the mantle of science for claims that aren't really supported by good science. What's surprising about that example?


    ...and that you used one of my images (cave painting) without permission.
    Oooops! I sincerely apologize if I've stepped on your rights.
    I'm brand new at this business of attaching photos to my writing, having just started it at the behest of my editor when I began this column a few months ago, and am a bit confused about how to proceed vis-a-vis photo use. Someone with more experience than I suggested that it's pretty safe to appropriate photos as needed as long as they're not labeled as being forbidden for free use, but I suppose that's an oversimplification. Anyway, since it' s not a photomicrograph, I thought you may have gotten that picture from elsewhere yourself, and I wanted the reader to see one of the photos referenced. Of course I'm happy to remove the photo from my essay or give you credit for it or whatever--just let me know what you'd like me to do. Again, I apologize for my ignorance on such matters. [Sondra has now granted explicit permission to use her image - Barry]

    Anyway, thanks for your thoughtful response to my essay, and I hope you can see some value in my critique.
    Last edited by Dixon; 06-03-2011 at 10:28 PM.
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  7. TopTop #4
    Gene's Avatar
    Gene
     

    Re: Article: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    Looks like you picked an easy target , however I have to agree with "Science has earned its glory as perhaps humanity’s most beautiful and useful creation through centuries of hard, rigorous, brutally honest and self-questioning work. To steal its credibility by claiming unearned scientific validity for unfounded beliefs is a profanation." But the thing that made reading this rave worthwhile for me was- "Of course, that makes as much sense as saying that since Mozart was a composer, his farts were symphonies." I'm still laughing and it's true! Thanks
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    Barry
    Founder & Moderator

    Re: Article: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    Quote Gene wrote: View Post
    Looks like you picked an easy target , however I have to agree with "Science has earned its glory as perhaps humanity’s most beautiful and useful creation through centuries of hard, rigorous, brutally honest and self-questioning work. To steal its credibility by claiming unearned scientific validity for unfounded beliefs is a profanation." But the thing that made reading this rave worthwhile for me was- "Of course, that makes as much sense as saying that since Mozart was a composer, his farts were symphonies." I'm still laughing and it's true! Thanks
    My sentiments exactly! Took me hours to stop laughing!
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    SandBar
     

    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction! Gossip?

    What a rousing discussion, farts included, so is this all gas?

    To address the most relevant parts of your gospel. When wondering about why some religions, at least major ones and some indigenous and ancient traditions - maybe 10 - I was intrigued by the fact that they based their theologies on a sacred threesome. And since three is a basic elemental design in our biology and architecture, I leapt to "what if." As a scientist trained to look for connections, as obscure as they may have seemed to you, I still wonder why those religions used the three - where did the idea come from? Neither you nor I, to your satisfaction, seem to have answered that. If you know Narby's work you know that the ayahuasceros accessed information that Narby 'proved' to look like DNA in their paintings. Some would say those were just snakes. Shlain's first book Art and Physics develops the story that artists painted what would later become 'scientific revelations made by physicists.' I believe that what I was developing was/is a similar story - people saw something in their visions, however they got there - their art later was discovered to represent cellular revelations. Who knows, could this be right or wrong - only more research will determine that.

    Do I believe that God played a part in our development - you betcha! How or what God is I don't know. What I do know is that mere genetic accidents over eons cannot account for the intricate machinations and majesty of our cellular universe. Had I not studied human cells in the laboratory for decades I don't think I would have come to this conclusion.

    Christian de Duve, a biochemist, who won the Nobel prize in medicine, in the 1970s, who helped ascertain much of our cellular architecture puts it this way - "Life and mind emerge not as a result of freakish accidents but as natural manifestations of matter, written into the fabric of the universe. I view the universe not as a "cosmic joke," but as a meaningful entity - made in such a way as to generate life and mind, discern truth, appreciate beauty, feel love, experience mystery."

    Thanks for the compliments on my photography and my cell information. Funny, I thought most of my Science Buzz was on the cells and that the 'conjecture' part was only a small portion. I did mention that I had never talked about that (conjecture) in any other venue, it was a challenging first time. My book and workshops are mostly about our cells and what they have to teach us. You should come.
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    Dixon's Avatar
    Dixon
     

    Re: Article: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    Quote Barry wrote: View Post
    My sentiments exactly! Took me hours to stop laughing!
    ...and days to stop farting.
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    Gene's Avatar
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    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction! Gossip?

    Quote SandBar wrote: View Post
    ... Christian de Duve, a biochemist, who won the Nobel prize in medicine, in the 1970s, who helped ascertain much of our cellular architecture puts it this way - "Life and mind emerge not as a result of freakish accidents but as natural manifestations of matter, written into the fabric of the universe. I view the universe not as a "cosmic joke," but as a meaningful entity - made in such a way as to generate life and mind, discern truth, appreciate beauty, feel love, experience mystery."...
    Thanks for the quote SandBar, beautiful. Three's are magical, can't offer any proof but some things just prove themselves over and over in one's life. You can't prove their true but you know they are. Three, the first prime number that is more than one, three, the repetition in chants, the triangles of the star of David, three.
    Last edited by Barry; 06-02-2011 at 10:21 AM.
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    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction! Gossip?

    Quote Gene wrote: View Post
    ... Three's are magical, can't offer any proof but some things just prove themselves over and over in one's life. You can't prove their true but you know they are.
    Yeah, that's an experience we've all had. There's a term for it; it's called "delusion".

    Three, the first prime number that is more than one, three, the repetition in chants, the triangles of the star of David, three.
    Wha...? You're joking, right? There are eight triangles in the Star of David--two big ones and six little ones! Even I know that, and I'm as goyish as mayonnaise! Oi!
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    Sara S
    Auntie Wacco

    Re: Article: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    Belief in the supernatural reflects a failure of the imagination. -Edward Abbey, naturalist and author (1927-1989)


    Quote Dixon wrote: View Post
    Perhaps you missed the part where I said "Even if everything Barrett said had been carefully qualified as tentative conjecture (which is not how I recall her presentation), it would still have been a travesty, because she was clearly implying that elementary logical fallacies such as the confirmation bias constitute some degree of support for her claims (even if not compelling evidence), and they simply do not. This sets a terrible example."......
    Last edited by Alex; 06-03-2011 at 05:09 PM. Reason: Shortened quoted text
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    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction! Gossip?

    Quote Gene wrote: View Post
    Thanks for the quote SandBar, beautiful. Three's are magical, can't offer any proof but some things just prove themselves over and over in one's life. You can't prove they're true but you know they are. Three, the first prime number that is more than one, three, the repetition in chants, the triangles of the star of David, three.


    Hi Gene, I know exactly what you mean by the threes in the triangles of the Star of David.

    That's how I see it, too, being an oh-so-visually oriented person.
    I am not counting the triangles, I'm seeing the points and sides of the triangles.
    To me the Star of David is in threes.
    and obviously, 2 sets of them, duh.

    The blinking yellow WTF and the delusion insult really make you want to chime in again don't they?


    I believe that my biggest problem with Deities general and specific, is the ensuing tyranny.


    And Gene, I really enjoyed the tone of your writing.
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    Dixon
     

    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction! Gossip?

    Quote claire ossenbeck wrote: View Post
    Hi Gene, I know exactly what you mean by the threes in the triangles of the Star of David. That's how I see it, too, being an oh-so-visually oriented person. I am not counting the triangles, I'm seeing the points and sides of the triangles.To me the Star of David is in threes. and obviously, 2 sets of them, duh.

    Ohhh, so that's how you get "threeness" out of the Star of David! It may even be what Gene had in mind, or it may not; he hasn't chosen to clarify himself on that issue. But understand how arbitrary is your attribution of threeness as a quality of the Star of David. We could, at least as easily, call it twoness (two large triangles superimposed), or sixness (six small triangles surrounding a hexagon [a six-sided polygon], or the six long lines making up the image), or eightness (a total of eight triangles), or twelveness (the entire figure is a dodecahedron [a twelve-sided polygon]), or eighteenness (the eighteen small line segments making up the figure), or oneness (it's one symbol which serves to unify a people). My point is that focusing on the threeness is an arbitrary choice which doesn't really imply any more objective specialness for three than there is for two, six, eight, twelve or eighteen, etc. If three is special to you, fine--I've always been kinda partial to the number three myself!--but that doesn't mean three is any more special than any other number objectively speaking. To pick out the threenesses we see around us and ignore or minimize the other numbers as a way to validate the supposed objective specialness of threeness is cherry-picking the evidence; i.e., it's the fallacy known as the confirmation bias, which was my initial point that started the whole talk about the issue.

    The blinking yellow WTF and the delusion insult really make you want to chime in again don't they?

    The WTF sign was simply a way of saying that the unexplained threeness connection to the Star of David was incomprehensible to me (and, I think, to most people), with an implied invitation to clarify it, as you've attempted to do from your perspective. In any case, if the WTF sign seems like some kind of insult or attack, well, no insult or attack was intended nor, I think, implied. From my perspective, you're needlessly negativizing it.

    I'm glad you mention the so-called "delusion insult" because it brings up an important issue: one way people defend their cherished beliefs is to feel insulted when someone suggests they may be mistaken. Let's be very clear on this, Claire: to suggest that someone is wrong about something (in this case, calling their belief a delusion) is not an insult. It does not carry the implication that the person is stupid, crazy, bad or inferior, just that they're human; we're all deluded some of the time. If you call it an insult to suggest you're wrong, the implication is that you'd like to be regarded as infallible, never wrong!

    Yes, my wording was a bit provocative; I chose it because I thought it was kinda punchy and pithy that way. Maybe that was a mistake. But I knew that it implied no insult, and I figured that if it pushed someone's buttons, that would give us an opportunity to discuss these issues, which it has. Please note that I softened my message to Gene by saying we've all had that experience (being deluded), so if you interpret that as insulting Gene, was I also insulting everybody else, including myself? Of course not--all humans are deluded about some things. More than once, my cherished beliefs have been badly wrong, and I assume that some of my current beliefs are wrong, and that this will always be the case, for me and everybody. So I hope you can see that saying somebody's mistaken is NOT an insult.

    What separates the men from the boys and the women from the girls is whether we're willing to hear someone tell us we're wrong about something and actually process that in such a way as to see if it's true--thus having our delusions corrected! Or conversely, we may get defensive, tell ourselves we've been insulted, and mount an ad hominem attack on the one who's suggested we may be wrong, by calling them--oh, let's say for example a "tyrant", LOL!

    Here's why I suggested that Gene's belief was likely to be mistaken: If people say they know something's true but can't prove it, I see two possibilities: 1. There's good evidence for their belief but they're just too inarticulate to articulate it (which I don't think is the case with Gene; he seems at least averagely articulate), or 2. They can't articulate good evidence for the belief because they haven't seen such evidence themselves--which means that the belief probably isn't true.

    Of course, I didn't just say "mistaken"--I used the more charged term "delusion" which, in some definitions, carries the connotation that the belief is held so closed-mindedly that it's not correctable by reasoned argument. Whether that's accurate for Gene's (or your) belief remains to be seen. Is he open to the possibility that this belief, about which he says he "...can't offer any proof but some things just prove themselves over and over in one's life. You can't prove their true but you know they are", is mistaken? Perhaps we'll see.

    I believe that my biggest problem with Deities general and specific, is the ensuing tyranny.

    Maybe it was a mistake to adopt the humorous screen-nickname "Deity". It was meant as a joke. I hope people don't think I'm that grandiose! I do share your opinion about deities in general, Claire, but your dig at me, accusing me of tyranny, is in fact the one and only actual insult I've seen in this exchange among you, me and Gene. I hope you can see from my long-winded explanation that I'm not tyrannizing anybody. I don't want you or Gene to think badly of me. And it certainly was never my intention to hurt Gene's, Sondra's or anyone's feelings. But I'm not responsible for the distress people may cause themselves when they misunderstand an attack on their belief as a personal attack on them.


    Last edited by Dixon; 06-09-2011 at 04:02 AM. Reason: clarification
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    SandBar's Avatar
    SandBar
     

    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    I couldn't get through all of Dixon's words - delusion is derogatory and the tirade he's put here with the statement pointing out I, or anyone else is wrong - NOPE..... This is a discussion where Dixon clearly disagrees with some of the content here and at the Science Buzz. That does NOT mean that he is right, only that he is stating his 'need to be right' opinion. There are always people who can't listen to something someone says because they disagree with it, and hence they find words, 'evidence' whatever you want to call it to prove themselves right. Look at the Birthers as an example.

    I'm not sure who first put up the Star of David, it is constructed from two triangles - two -3-sided geometric shapes. So whether you break it down to 8 or 18 triangles, it is still constructed of 3-sided forms. As is the Sri Yantra and Bucky Fuller's geodesic dome. A reality - 3-sided structures are the first stable form ----- and ---- -----, not stable, can't build anything stable, need a threesome. Not an arbitrary fact.
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    Gene's Avatar
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    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    Dixon, it's all good, no offense taken. Did anyone read the couple of lines I wrote about no proof just a feeling. That's like saying prove that God exists, prove God doesn't exist. That solid object in front of you is really almost entirely empty space. If the nucleus was a grapefruit the first electron would be a baseball nine miles away. Just energy waves and space and tiny tiny bits of matter almost lost in space that,s what all the "Solid" objects around you are. We just can't see it because it's moving so fast. Our perception through are senses is really quite limited and their are many things that through our science and our minds we have come to believe exist that we don't have a clue about (dark matter, dark energy, bending of space and time, subatomic or quantum physics), It's mostly theory at this point. So knowing without proving is perfectly acceptable for me. It's not science it's just life the way I perceive it and none of us really perceive it exactly the same. Yea I might be delusional or I might be right. Just because were the only ones who see it, it doesn't mean it's not there. Peace Gene.
    Last edited by Gene; 06-06-2011 at 06:23 PM. Reason: whops
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    Hotspring 44
     

    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction! Gossip?

    Quote Gene wrote: View Post
    ...Three, the first prime number that is more than one,... .
    No, actually 2 is.
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    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction! Gossip?

    Quote Dixon wrote: View Post

    Ohhh, so that's how you get "threeness" out of the Star of David!

    The WTF sign was simply a way of saying that the unexplained threeness connection to the Star of David was incomprehensible to me (and, I think, to most people), with an implied invitation to clarify it, as you've attempted to do from your perspective. In any case, if the WTF sign seems like some kind of insult or attack, well, no insult or attack was intended nor, I think, implied. From my perspective, you're needlessly negativizing it.

    I'm glad you mention the so-called "delusion insult" because it brings up an important issue: one way people defend their cherished beliefs is to feel insulted when someone suggests they may be mistaken. Let's be very clear on this, Claire: to suggest that someone is wrong about something (in this case, calling their belief a delusion) is not an insult. It does not carry the implication that the person is stupid, crazy, bad or inferior, just that they're human; we're all deluded some of the time. If you call it an insult to suggest you're wrong, the implication is that you'd like to be regarded as infallible, never wrong!

    Yes, my wording was a bit provocative; I chose it because I thought it was kinda punchy and pithy that way. Maybe that was a mistake. But I knew that it implied no insult, and I figured that if it pushed someone's buttons, that would give us an opportunity to discuss these issues, which it has. Please note that I softened my message to Gene by saying we've all had that experience (being deluded), so if you interpret that as insulting Gene, was I also insulting everybody else, including myself? Of course not--all humans are deluded about some things. More than once, my cherished beliefs have been badly wrong, and I assume that some of my current beliefs are wrong, and that this will always be the case, for me and everybody. So I hope you can see that saying somebody's mistaken is NOT an insult.



    wow
    I couldn't even get through your post.
    I think you lost me on the tenth use of the word insult.

    I used the word insult once to describe your intention with Gene's big "delusion". ( I could have used another term, like word.)
    I thought your intention was to be insulting. Boy did I get that wrong. I'm sorry, Dixon. ..

    you know, this is really not for me. I think you may be more linear a person, than actually interests me.
    Yes, I do see the world in shapes and line and movement, expressed energy, in all sorts of visual treats.
    These days. I am working on two large art commissions that involve designing convoluted, complex, balanced Celtic knots --all original. And drawing them out by hand so I really feel what I'm coming up with...
    So I can tell you exactly what a super simple Star of David looks like to me.

    I think I really do find your style um, something. I don't have all night to find the perfect, safe word for that..... lol
    I think, not for me works, works well.

    As far as the tyranny goes, when people get overrun with the force of another's viewpoint, it can seem like it .
    yup, that's what I meant, with irony. Can we still do irony? [ ok, that was a poke/ joke. lol. please forgive me.]
    You choose a name like Deity... you are going to be ribbed about it at some time. this was it for me.

    I wish you all the best, Dixon. I hope you've found what you are looking for.
    I know you won't be finding it for me.
    hey, or from me.
    and so, I'm unsubscribing here. I may look, but ...
    These posts, to paraphrase Emperor Josef II, "too many words", which does not mean you are the Mozart of articles, ja?

    happy trails
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    Barry's Avatar
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    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction! Gossip?

    Quote Dixon wrote: View Post

    Yes, my wording was a bit provocative; I chose it because I thought it was kinda punchy and pithy that way. Maybe that was a mistake.

    I hope you can find a way to be "punchy and pithy" without being quite so abrasive and huffy.
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    Hotspring 44's Avatar
    Hotspring 44
     

    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    Some of my thoughts about the “three’s” pertaining to this discussion here:

    1- As far as what is “magical” is concerned; I suppose that's up to each individual’s interpretation of what qualifies as “magical”.

    2- Physically as far as I can tell; we live in a three-dimensional “world”. That thought is purely conjecture on my part, but I'm sticking to that frame of reference for now because it's the best I know of at this point in time; it works for me.

    3- Three -dimensional objects (such as a theoretical "perfect" sphere, for example) have an inside, an outside, and the “space” surrounding (the outside of) it. I'm referring to three-dimensional, so-called “solid” objects in the simplest of forms, not at the atomic or sub-atomic levels, which has been mentioned in other posts.
    Of course if the three-dimensional theoretical “perfect” sphere happens to be hollow like a ball, then there is also the “space” inside of it. But that does not make it four dimensions even though there is the inside, and outside, space surrounding it, and also the space the whole sphere is “surrounding”; it's still as far as I can tell physically in three dimensions, not four, two, or, any other number/dimensions more than three....
    ... Does that mean three is “magical”?
    ...My thoughts to that question is that; scientifically speaking, it may not be “provable” one way or the other because when all is said and done I suspect that we will discover “magic” and “science” in the purest sense are not actually mutually “compatible” in the first place; In which case any so-called "proof" would be in essence; conjecture.

    In other words, anybody can "believe" extremely complex "science" which they may not completely be able to comprehend or, (anybody can) "believe" in something "magical" that is scientifically "unprovable"; yet both (scientifically unattainable "facts", and magic) may indeed actually exist simultaneously within our three-dimensional "confines".


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    Dixon's Avatar
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    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction! Gossip?

    Sorry to take so long to respond to this post, Sondra. I'm behind on lots of things.

    Quote SandBar wrote: View Post
    What a rousing discussion, farts included, so is this all gas?
    Not all of it, but some of it is. Which parts are gas will depend on who you ask!

    To address the most relevant parts of your gospel. When wondering about why some religions, at least major ones and some indigenous and ancient traditions - maybe 10 - I was intrigued by the fact that they based their theologies on a sacred threesome. And since three is a basic elemental design in our biology and architecture, I leapt to "what if." As a scientist trained to look for connections, as obscure as they may have seemed to you, I still wonder why those religions used the three - where did the idea come from? Neither you nor I, to your satisfaction, seem to have answered that.
    Nobody's saying that three isn't important in a zillion different areas, religious and secular. I'm just saying that, while it may be subjectively significant to you, it's no more objectively significant than other low numbers such as one, two or four. You say that the religions you looked at "based their theologies on a sacred threesome" but, while pretty much all religions and every other realm of thought mentions threeness (and oneness and twoness and fourness...), and the New Testament mentions the Father, Son and Holy Ghost singly as well as in combinations of two or three, the Trinity as we know it was not formalized until the end of the 4th century C.E.! So Christianity is not based on a sacred threesome. It's a monotheistic religion (one god), with a dualistic world-view (two basic principles: good/evil, Heaven/Hell, God/Satan, in conflict), which happens to have developed a trinity at some point, and takes its basic teachings from four Gospels, etc. etc... The same type of analysis would apply to any other religion (or any realm of study you care to cite). Some would, coincidentally, consider threeness primary, others prefer nineness (Enneagram), twelveness (astrology), twoness (the Yin/Yang principle--my favorite), etc. Nothing you've said yet changes the fact that you seem to be looking at the world through "3-colored" glasses--cherry-picking examples of threeness you see and emphasizing them, while ignoring or minimizing twoness, fourness, etc. Again, it's a classic example of the confirmation bias. Can you see that?

    If you know Narby's work you know that the ayahuasceros accessed information that Narby 'proved' to look like DNA in their paintings. Some would say those were just snakes. Shlain's first book Art and Physics develops the story that artists painted what would later become 'scientific revelations made by physicists.' I believe that what I was developing was/is a similar story - people saw something in their visions, however they got there - their art later was discovered to represent cellular revelations.
    Not being sufficiently familiar with either Narby's work or Shlain's Art and Physics, I cannot comment intelligently or fairly on them.

    Who knows, could this be right or wrong - only more research will determine that.
    In principle, any claim could be right or wrong, including yours about the special significance of the number three. But since all I've seen so far is fallacious evidence from you (the confirmation bias), my best guess is that your claim is wrong, since most claims are. I'm always open to better evidence. But the question arises: are you open to the possibility that your claim about threeness is wrong?

    Do I believe that God played a part in our development - you betcha! How or what God is I don't know.
    So, you invoked a supernatural cause, without making a good case for it, at an event that was supposed to be about science, and you didn't expect to catch some flak about that? Surely you see the truth-in-advertising issue there.

    What I do know is that mere genetic accidents over eons cannot account for the intricate machinations and majesty of our cellular universe. Had I not studied human cells in the laboratory for decades I don't think I would have come to this conclusion.
    You do understand that most scientists, including most of those who have studied human cells for decades, and especially the best of them, such as Nobel laureates, disagree with you on this, right?

    Christian de Duve, a biochemist, who won the Nobel prize in medicine, in the 1970s, who helped ascertain much of our cellular architecture puts it this way - "Life and mind emerge not as a result of freakish accidents but as natural manifestations of matter, written into the fabric of the universe. I view the universe not as a "cosmic joke," but as a meaningful entity - made in such a way as to generate life and mind, discern truth, appreciate beauty, feel love, experience mystery."
    Of course life and mind were, in some sense, implicit in the basic building blocks of the universe (including laws of physics, etc.) or they'd never have evolved. But, if he's implying an a priori goal or meaning to the universe, much less a "god", there's a huge burden of proof that goes with that, and it won't be satisfied by the pathetic "Argument from Design". And, since you seem to want to invoke authority by quoting a Nobel laureate here, let's be clear on the fact that the vast majority of Nobel laureates disagree with Duve about this.

    Thanks for the compliments on my photography and my cell information.
    Just giving you your "props".

    I did mention that I had never talked about that (conjecture) in any other venue, it was a challenging first time.
    Good--you were asking for it!

    My book and workshops are mostly about our cells and what they have to teach us. You should come.
    Thanks for the invitation, but my terrible finances won't allow the expenditure. Besides, I think your workshops would slide into the woowoo realm pretty quickly, and I'd make myself unpopular by challenging ideas that most of your participants just love, and it's too painful being in the position wherein people see me as some sort of curmudgeon.

    On a slightly different note. Knowing your interest in wine, I thought of you when I stumbled on this lengthy quote from the late Richard Feynman yesterday, so thought I'd share it in case you haven't seen it:

    • A poet once said, "The whole universe is in a glass of wine." We will probably never know in what sense he meant that, for poets do not write to be understood. But it is true that if we look at a glass of wine closely enough we see the entire universe. There are the things of physics: the twisting liquid which evaporates depending on the wind and weather, the reflections in the glass, and our imagination adds the atoms. The glass is a distillation of the Earth's rocks, and in its composition we see the secrets of the universe's age, and the evolution of stars. What strange arrays of chemicals are in the wine? How did they come to be? There are the ferments, the enzymes, the substrates, and the products. There in wine is found the great generalization: all life is fermentation. Nobody can discover the chemistry of wine without discovering, as did Louis Pasteur, the cause of much disease. How vivid is the claret, pressing its existence into the consciousness that watches it! If our small minds, for some convenience, divide this glass of wine, this universe, into parts — physics, biology, geology, astronomy, psychology, and so on — remember that Nature does not know it! So let us put it all back together, not forgetting ultimately what it is for. Let it give us one more final pleasure: drink it and forget it all!
      • Volume I, 3-10, The relation of Physics to other sciences
    Last edited by Barry; 06-07-2011 at 08:31 AM.
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    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    Quote SandBar wrote: View Post
    I couldn't get through all of Dixon's words
    Then presumably anything you say about what I said will be very tentative, since you didn't read enough to fully understand my points or my support for them.

    - delusion is derogatory
    I won't respond by adding more words to your burden of too many words, since I've addressed this at length in post #12 of this thread.

    ...and the tirade he's put here...
    I just looked up "tirade" to make sure I understand it correctly, and it seems to be an exaggeration at best. In any case, the term "tirade" certainly fits your post (this one I'm responding to) at least as much as it fits mine. It sounds like you're pissed at me. I guess the honeymoon is over.

    ...with the statement pointing out I, or anyone else is wrong - NOPE.....
    Of course you don't believe you're wrong. If you thought you were, you'd change your belief. Same for me. The question is: Are you open to the possibility that you're wrong? I'm open to the possibility that I am, and continue to invite you to give me some good reason to agree with you (some reasonable argument for your position). Do you see that you haven't done that yet?

    This is a discussion where Dixon clearly disagrees with some of the content here and at the Science Buzz.
    To phrase it in a little less self-centered way, let's say that WE are in disagreement. After all, it takes two (at least) to disagree.

    That does NOT mean that he is right...
    Of course not, I could always be wrong, and I look forward to being corrected, perhaps even by you. Lay it on me.

    ...only that he is stating his 'need to be right' opinion.
    Now you're just getting plain nasty, Sondra. You're attributing a very bad motivation to me--this ego-tripping, dominating "need to be right" thing. But have you really ruled out a much better motivation: that I engage with people I disagree with to get better and better approximations of the truth, regardless whether it means verifying I was right or finding out I was wrong? That is, in fact, where I'm coming from. I could be wrong about anything at any time, and I really want you to correct me if I am. Is there some good reason to doubt this and accuse me of bad motivations?

    There are always people who can't listen to something someone says because they disagree with it, and hence they find words, 'evidence' whatever you want to call it to prove themselves right. Look at the Birthers as an example.
    The verbal abuse just keeps on coming! So you'd like to believe that I "can't listen to something someone says because [I] disagree with it"? It seems to me that I've shown that I've listened very carefully to your statements, and everyone else's on this thread, largely by critiquing them. Please give evidence that I'm not listening or retract that statement. Or do you confuse listening with agreeing? And I'm looking for "evidence" to prove myself right? Well, that's part of the process, but I'm also looking for evidence to prove you right and me wrong! I keep asking you for such evidence, and all you've given so far is two kinds of fallacies: the confirmation bias and the fallacious appeal to authority. Actually, you've now used three fallacies, as your verbal attack in this post constitutes an ad hominem attack. And comparing me with the Birthers? Hit me again--harder! Harder!

    In my experience, the ad hominem attack often means that someone can't make a good case for their position by addressing the issues, but also cannot admit they may be mistaken, so they attempt to fallaciously discredit the other person by an inaccurate or irrelevant personal attack. I'd like to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you're more reasonable, so I ask again: Are you open to the possibility that you're mistaken about these things we disagree on?

    I'm not sure who first put up the Star of David, it is constructed from two triangles - two -3-sided geometric shapes. So whether you break it down to 8 or 18 triangles, it is still constructed of 3-sided forms.
    See the first paragraph in my post #12 in this thread for my explication of why 3 is no more significant than any of several different numbers in the Star of David.

    As is the Sri Yantra and Bucky Fuller's geodesic dome. A reality - 3-sided structures are the first stable form ----- and ---- -----, not stable, can't build anything stable, need a threesome. Not an arbitrary fact.
    Any friend of Bucky Fuller is a friend of mine--at least if they don't slap me around too much. Bucky is one of my greatest heroes; I even saw him speak once. He was, IIRC, 84 years old and spoke for 5 1/2 hours! And yes, on the 2-dimensional level, triangles are the most stable, and that's why they're the basis for Bucky's geodesic dome, etc. But note that Bucky himself pointed out that the simplest 3-dimensional structure is the tetrahedron, a four-sided polyhedron with triangular sides! In fact, there ain't no such animal as a three-sided polyhedron--they're all four or more. This is not to deny the importance of threeness in Bucky's thinking (or indeed in the "design" principles of the universe); only to show yet again that you're emphasizing the threeness while conveniently ignoring other numbers of fundamental importance, in this case, fourness. Not only that, but every structure is made from materials, energies and principles that can best be described in terms of twoness--up/down, inside/outside, hard/soft, matter/energy, wave/particle, etc. ad infinitum. So again, I'd like to make you feel good by agreeing with you, but so far you're just not making your case for the objective special significance of threeness. Fair enough?
    Last edited by Dixon; 06-09-2011 at 12:57 AM. Reason: Barry restored a post I'd deleted, thus changing the numbering of the posts. I had to chagne references to Post #11 to say "Post #12"
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    Dixon's Avatar
    Dixon
     

    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    Quote Gene wrote: View Post
    Dixon, it's all good, no offense taken.
    Ah, Gene, your kind and gentle response is like a breath of fresh air, especially in contrast to some of what I've been subjected to lately! I'm glad I didn't hurt your feelings, as I certainly didn't intend to.

    Did anyone read the couple of lines I wrote about no proof just a feeling. That's like saying prove that God exists, prove God doesn't exist.
    Of course I read those lines. That's why I assume your belief is likely mistaken. My position is that "just a feeling", no matter how strong or inspiring the feeling may be, constitutes no evidence for any claim about the objective universe, including claims about the "magic" nature of number three or the existence of a god. Usually, having such strong feelings that something is true is evidence that we really want to believe it, but of course that doesn't make it true. So, in the absence of good evidence apart from "just a feeling", the claim in question is very unlikely to be true. A good general principle to keep in mind! But, since the kind of beliefs that people hold on the basis of "just a feeling" are often very important to their emotional security (such as beliefs in gods), pointing out this logical principle is likely to piss people off!

    That solid object in front of you is really almost entirely empty space. If the nucleus was a grapefruit the first electron would be a baseball nine miles away. Just energy waves and space and tiny tiny bits of matter almost lost in space that,s what all the "Solid" objects around you are. We just can't see it because it's moving so fast.
    Yeah, that's all fun stuff to know and think about, isn't it!

    Our perception through are senses is really quite limited and their are many things that through our science and our minds we have come to believe exist that we don't have a clue about (dark matter, dark energy, bending of space and time, subatomic or quantum physics), It's mostly theory at this point.
    Ah, but note that all of these things you mention are based on careful observations and measurements, and that all of these ideas have taken shape through a process that finds ways to test things, involving a lot of dispute about what's true or not, and changes or rejects ideas as wrong if they fail the tests. This is totally different from believing something on the basis of "just a feeling".

    So knowing without proving is perfectly acceptable for me.
    That sure doesn't follow from what you just said! The path of "knowing without proving" is a great way to get to beliefs which meet your needs; they're just not very likely to be true!

    Yea I might be delusional or I might be right.
    Strictly speaking, delusion means not just being mistaken, but being uncorrectable about it. So, regarding any belief, you can avoid delusion by either making a good logical case for the belief, or, in the absence of such a case, conceding that the belief's probably not true. With all due respect, Gene, cleaving to a belief in the absence of good evidence fits the definition of delusionality, but you should see some of the flak I caught for suggesting that we've all been delusional at times!

    Just because were the only ones who see it, it doesn't mean it's not there.
    Uh, actually it usually does mean that--take it from a guy who used to work in mental health with people who were delusional and/or hallucinating! And, just because we "see" it, it doesn't mean it's there!

    Peace Gene.
    And peace to you, Bro'! I hope you'll continue to take my posts in the spirit intended.
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  42. TopTop #22
    Barry's Avatar
    Barry
    Founder & Moderator

    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    Quote Dixon wrote: View Post
    So, regarding any belief, you can avoid delusion by either making a good logical case for the belief, or, in the absence of such a case, conceding that the belief's probably not true. With all due respect, Gene, cleaving to a belief in the absence of good evidence fits the definition of delusionality, but you should see some of the flak I caught for suggesting that we've all been delusional at times!
    The Miriam-Webster dictionary defines delusion as ": a persistent false psychotic belief regarding the self or persons or objects outside the self that is maintained despite indisputable evidence to the contrary;"

    So it seems to be that it's quite possible to believe is something where there is not "indisputable evidence to the contrary" and to hold that as a "belief", while not being delusional. Some people take it further and speak of it as "my truth", which is the same thing as a belief in my book.
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  44. TopTop #23
    SandBar's Avatar
    SandBar
     

    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    On this THIRD planet from the sun, it is a treat to be able to engage in such a multi-dimensional discussion.
    Dixon, I could explore many other numbers in terms of their 'magical' significance. I chose three for a multitude of reasons that it plays a part in our biology and sacred symbols. And Hotspring, thanks for the 3-dimensions.

    Perhaps here would be a useful discussion about scientific knowing vs the intuitive, the shamanic. Yes, Dixon, for science we need measurements and analysis, so-called proofs. Your use of the cigarette image speaks to just how tenuous scientific proofs can be. Truth today is not so right tomorrow. Many scientists would tell you that many of their paths or discoveries came first from intuition, hunches, the great mystery. Many questions will never be able to be answered by science, including what is love or empathy, God. Not finding answers is not proof they don't exist, just proof we don't have the knowledge or ability to measure.

    I remember not too long ago, acupuncture was considered to be a 'woo woo foreign' practice of no value. After all, no one (in the US) could measure qi. Yet because people were having their pain relieved by acupuncture (placebo?) western science began studying how could that be. Pain-killing molecules called endorphins are released by the little needles but what about people practicing tai chi or qi gong, do they, too, release magical molecules?

    I may never have evidence to answer your objections. There is another way of knowing the world and I have chosen to add uncertainty and speculation, and the 'what if' possibilities. It's so much more fun that way.
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  46. TopTop #24
    Dixon's Avatar
    Dixon
     

    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    Quote Barry wrote: View Post
    I hope you can find a way to be "punchy and pithy" without being quite so abrasive and huffy...
    ...The Miriam-Webster dictionary defines delusion as ": a persistent false psychotic belief regarding the self or persons or objects outside the self that is maintained despite indisputable evidence to the contrary;"
    Barry, you aren't playing fair here. You picked the one definition on the dictionary page that didn't fit my use of the word "delusion", ignoring the broader definition ("something that is falsely or delusively believed or propagated") right above the one you chose which easily fits my looser use of the term, and also ignoring the examples a little lower on the same page which also fit my use of the term, such as:

    • He has delusions about how much money he can make at that job.
    • He is living under the delusion that he is incapable of making mistakes.
    • She is under the delusion that we will finish on time.
    Three of the four examples on your own dictionary page (shown above) were of my looser use of the word "delusion"; only one was of the psychiatric definition which you presented as if it were the only relevant definition! So you had to ignore nearly all of what was on the page in order to cherry-pick the one irrelevant definition that would make my usage of the word look wrong. What's up with that??? (That's not a rhetorical question; I'd like an answer.)

    On top of that, you accuse me of being abrasive and huffy--apparently for properly using a word you don't like. Note that terms like "abrasive" and "huffy" are both more negative than my use of the word "delusion", so your resorting to them in this context seems ironically hypocritical. I think I could reasonably apply several stronger adjectives to you on the basis of your nasty little trick I've just described. Really, an explanation is in order.
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  48. TopTop #25
    podfish's Avatar
    podfish
    Supporting Member

    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    Quote SandBar wrote: View Post
    Truth today is not so right tomorrow....
    I remember not too long ago, acupuncture was considered to be a 'woo woo foreign' practice of no value. After all, no one (in the US) could measure qi. Yet because people were having their pain relieved by acupuncture (placebo?) western science began studying how could that be. Pain-killing molecules called endorphins are released by the little needles ...
    this is a good example, actually, though a counter-example to your main point. Accupuncture has been one of the better-studied 'alternative' treatments, and mechanisms other than the placebo effect were indeed proposed. But it hasn't panned out that way; as studies accumulated, the balance of them don't support any such claims. It's placebo and that's about it.
    And as far as 'truth' being dependent on its chronological location, that's some esoteric physics... it's actually dependent on its velocity as well. In the colloquial sense, though, if it turns out in the future that something wasn't true, it's never been true. "It" was only thought to be true....
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  50. TopTop #26
    SandBar's Avatar
    SandBar
     

    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    Quote podfish wrote: View Post
    this is a good example, actually, though a counter-example to your main point. Accupuncture has been one of the better-studied 'alternative' treatments, and mechanisms other than the placebo effect were indeed proposed. But it hasn't panned out that way; as studies accumulated, the balance of them don't support any such claims. It's placebo and that's about it.
    And as far as 'truth' being dependent on its chronological location, that's some esoteric physics... it's actually dependent on its velocity as well. In the colloquial sense, though, if it turns out in the future that something wasn't true, it's never been true. "It" was only thought to be true....
    Thanks for the addition or correction to this discussion. So though it may not be that endorphins are released, something is. The placebo effect is an amazingly fascinating response of the human body-mind. Here, too, just because we can't measure the chemical change, something has occurred in the body due to belief, expectation. A huge tome co-authored by White looks at all the possibilities of placebo. Another medical mystery.
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  52. TopTop #27
    Barry's Avatar
    Barry
    Founder & Moderator

    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    Here's how this unfolded:

    Quote Gene wrote:
    ... Three's are magical, can't offer any proof but some things just prove themselves over and over in one's life. You can't prove their true but you know they are.
    Quote Dixon wrote:
    Yeah, that's an experience we've all had. There's a term for it; it's called "delusion".
    Quote Claire wrote:
    The blinking yellow WTF and the delusion insult really make you want to chime in again don't they?
    Quote Dixon wrote:
    I'm glad you mention the so-called "delusion insult" because it brings up an important issue: one way people defend their cherished beliefs is to feel insulted when someone suggests they may be mistaken. Let's be very clear on this, Claire: to suggest that someone is wrong about something (in this case, calling their belief a delusion) is not an insult. It does not carry the implication that the person is stupid, crazy, bad or inferior, just that they're human; we're all deluded some of the time. If you call it an insult to suggest you're wrong, the implication is that you'd like to be regarded as infallible, never wrong!

    Dixon, you first used the term delusion in response to Gene's comment: "Three's are magical, can't offer any proof but some things just prove themselves over and over in one's life. You can't prove their true but you know they are."

    While that's not factually true, it's also not factually untrue or "false". So your claim to the partially circular definition of delusion that I didn't quote: "something that is falsely or delusively believed or propagated" doesn't apply. And given that the second meaning is commonly used, the use of the word "delusion" is easily, perhaps commonly, construed to mean the person is not in their right mind and is taken as an insult.

    Note also that the examples you cite below (from the M-W dictionary) referred to a person rather than to the proposition that the person is holding. This is an example of how your writing easily veers off the objective and becomes personal (ie "abrasive and huffy"). This is only case and there have been other recently. It's gotten to the point that I have received two private complaints from members, which is pretty unusual.

    I know that this topic, what's science and what's not, is of great personal interest to you and it's a very worthy point and an important line to keep distinct. And at the same time, science only understands so much. I'd venture to say way less than half of the fundamental nature of reality and what's really pulling all the strings behind the curtain is understood by science.

    So it's fine to say "thus and so" are not supported by science, or even "is not science". it's not fine to say that if you believe something outside of science that the person is having delusions.

    Quote Dixon wrote: View Post
    Barry, you aren't playing fair here. You picked the one definition on the dictionary page that didn't fit my use of the word "delusion", ignoring the broader definition ("something that is falsely or delusively believed or propagated") right above the one you chose which easily fits my looser use of the term, and also ignoring the examples a little lower on the same page which also fit my use of the term, such as:

    • He has delusions about how much money he can make at that job.
    • He is living under the delusion that he is incapable of making mistakes.
    • She is under the delusion that we will finish on time.
    Three of the four examples on your own dictionary page (shown above) were of my looser use of the word "delusion"; only one was of the psychiatric definition which you presented as if it were the only relevant definition! So you had to ignore nearly all of what was on the page in order to cherry-pick the one irrelevant definition that would make my usage of the word look wrong. What's up with that??? (That's not a rhetorical question; I'd like an answer.)

    On top of that, you accuse me of being abrasive and huffy--apparently for properly using a word you don't like. Note that terms like "abrasive" and "huffy" are both more negative than my use of the word "delusion", so your resorting to them in this context seems ironically hypocritical. I think I could reasonably apply several stronger adjectives to you on the basis of your nasty little trick I've just described. Really, an explanation is in order.
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  54. TopTop #28
    Marty M
    Guest

    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    Quote Barry wrote: View Post
    Here's how this unfolded:





    Dixon, you first used the term delusion in response to Gene's comment: "Three's are magical, can't offer any proof but some things just prove themselves over and over in one's life. You can't prove their true but you know they are."

    While that's not factually true, it's also not factually untrue or "false". So your claim to the partially circular definition of delusion that I didn't quote: "something that is falsely or delusively believed or propagated" doesn't apply. And given that the second meaning is commonly used, the use of the word "delusion" is easily, perhaps commonly, construed to mean the person is not in their right mind and is taken as an insult.

    Note also that the examples you cite below (from the M-W dictionary) referred to a person rather than to the proposition that the person is holding. This is an example of how your writing easily veers off the objective and becomes personal (ie "abrasive and huffy"). This is only case and there have been other recently. It's gotten to the point that I have received two private complaints from members, which is pretty unusual.

    I know that this topic, what's science and what's not, is of great personal interest to you and it's a very worthy point and an important line to keep distinct. And at the same time, science only understands so much. I'd venture to say way less than half of the fundamental nature of reality and what's really pulling all the strings behind the curtain is understood by science.

    So it's fine to say "thus and so" are not supported by science, or even "is not science". it's not fine to say that if you believe something outside of science that the person is having delusions.

    Thank you Barry,
    Very well said.

    Two quotes for Dixon and anyone else who is interested:

    "Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere."
    Albert Einstein

    "You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus."
    Mark Twain

    Marty
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  56. TopTop #29
    rossmen
     

    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    your post is a good example of "science" being used to dismiss medical treatments, such as accupuncture. in general it is very difficult to do scientific studies on human health. your description of the scientific research on accupuncture is inaccurate and biased, as a simple google search will demonstrate. science is a dynamic method for exploring the world and the understanding which develops is constantly being refined, as time and money allows. your claim that accupuncture effectiveness is explained by the placebo effect is not supported by scientific research.

    Quote podfish wrote: View Post
    this is a good example, actually, though a counter-example to your main point. Accupuncture has been one of the better-studied 'alternative' treatments, and mechanisms other than the placebo effect were indeed proposed. But it hasn't panned out that way; as studies accumulated, the balance of them don't support any such claims. It's placebo and that's about it.
    And as far as 'truth' being dependent on its chronological location, that's some esoteric physics... it's actually dependent on its velocity as well. In the colloquial sense, though, if it turns out in the future that something wasn't true, it's never been true. "It" was only thought to be true....
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  58. TopTop #30
    Barry's Avatar
    Barry
    Founder & Moderator

    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    Quote rossmen wrote: View Post
    ... your claim that acupuncture effectiveness is explained by the placebo effect is not supported by scientific research.
    As I remember, the scientific bottom line was that "acupuncture" had a statistical benefit, however it didn't matter whether the needles were placed according to standard acupuncture meridians as opposed to being placed randomly. I suppose you could call that a placebo effect.

    More and more I think that the placebo effect is the strongest and most natural medicine! That makes techniques that support and encourage the placebo effect valid!
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