Friday, 29 April 2016

The Rhetoric of Wrong

How often do we say "Wrong, wrong, almost right" ?  Probably not half enough in this grey old world of subtlety and nuance.
Interesting Isaac Azimov quote from Quora: "When people thought the earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the earth was spherical, they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together."
Creationists are just tooo chuffed with themselves when they say that scientists are a bit short of missing links or that the vertebrate eye, with its exquisite developmental and second-by-second focusing, is too complex to have evolved. That last critique is getting very tired, not to say tiring. William Paley, in his posthumously published 1809 book Natural Theology, used the analogy of a watch found on an empty heath. If you found such a fine piece of machinery in such an unlikely setting, what sort of person would think that the cogs and jewelled bearings and the spring had been thrown together by chance? Sure it must have been fashioned by a creator . . . and so had the vertebrate eye.  I like Paley, like me and Jeremy Bentham, he was a Utilitarian.

And my answer to them is "We the scientists may not have all the details but as a program for understanding how the world ticks, science has the bible beat into a cocked hat."  No amount of scholarly exegesis of Deuteronomy is going to make your car go to the mall. Here's another choice: sources of information that will help in your interactions with other people: Jeremiah or Mirror Neurons?  Don't get me wrong, I won the Junior Scripture Prize in school and there's a lot of good in there but there are more, other and better sources of information.

Science is built with facts as a house is with stones, but a collection of facts is no more a science than a heap of stones is a house. Henri Poincar√© [prev] his bday 29/Apr/1854 today.  So scince is not just the gathering of data but what you do with the stuff.

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