Ideapod – The cult of science-babble
Hi Deep Thinker
Yes and no.
I agree that we need to speak out about the charlatans, at all levels, most particularly in politics, academia and finance.
Psuedo-science is common.
Science is uncomfortable.
Science is unending questions, with no absolutely certain answers.
Science requires of people that they go beyond right and wrong.
Science requires that we accept uncertainty in all things.
Many people find this uncomfortable, and retreat to the certainty of simple binary distinctions – hence much of the psuedo-science that pervades. Mix that with the need to make money to survive, and the fundamental lack of integrity in our systems, and we have a world where deliberate untruths pervade all aspects of our society and its systems.
So I am a yes to exposing untruths and invalid assumptions, and the science babble charlatans are definitely in the realms of the lesser evils in my estimation.
Which “we” do you refer to?
I can imagine pretty much anything.
I have a range of possible scenarios from extermination, to savagery, to continued economic slavery, to abundance, security and indefinite life extension. All are possibilities. None are certainties.
And the latter is definitely my preferred option, and I am cautiously optimistic that it is the most probable outcome.
The emergence of AI seems to be the greatest threat. A “toddler” or “teenage” AI could do a lot of damage if it got complete freedom before getting to an awareness that its own long term interests are best served by keeping us around.
Life is a system of molecular level assemblers, and when we have molecular level assembly and disassembly under software control, it is a game changer. It can be done now, but energy and materials costs are very high. And that will improve.
Life extension is the big one.
Body regeneration would be next – climbing into a tank with my 80 year old body and going to sleep. The waking up 2 weeks later in my 20 year old body with all scar tissue and broken bones repaired (and maybe a few changes added in).
Space technology is probably next – taking mass from the far side of the moon and launching it into orbit with solar powered linear motors – where it is manufactured into large spinning cylinders creating artificial gravity within. Each capable of housing a million or so people in abundance. Earth ecosystems imported. We could vastly increase the surface area and energy available to us, which gives us time for our reproductive rates to slow to replacement.
All of these things are real possibilities within the next 20 years on current exponential trends.
Hi Deep Thinker
My own case is interesting in the medical science domain.
When I was sent home “palliative care only” over 4 years ago, and told by the top melanoma expert in this country that “there was nothing known to medical science that could extend the probability of my survival” – which was given as 50% 5 months, and 2% 2 years, and I could be dead in 6 weeks, I initially accepted that.
Then I started my own investigation.
What I found is that there is substantial evidence that high dose oral Vitamin C can aide the body’s immune system in removing cancer in most cases. It became clear that this evidence had been hidden, obfuscated, and flat out lied about for the pecuniary gain of the medical establishment.
I have no doubt that millions of people have died of cancer who need not have, just so that companies and groups could continue to profit from the status quo.
For me, the evidence is beyond any reasonable doubt.
So I am extremely sceptical of anything that “medical science” claims.
Sure there are many great people in the medical system, and many breakthroughs have been made; and the system as a whole seems to be corrupt to its core. It is more about making money than it is about delivering health to people.
I am alive and well in spite of the medical system, not because of it.
I used my scepticism and my scientific training to do my own research.
Then I used discipline to apply the lessons of that research.
What I did wasn’t easy – and it worked.
I am here.
Had I believed the medical establishment I would have been dead.
So I am almost as sceptical of most things claimed by the medical establishment as I am of the nuff-nuffs.
I fundamentally distrust anything that has a profit motive involved in it. There are just too many corrupting incentives.
In response to science and understanding – the process is interesting.
All people start making simple binary distinctions. So children start with very black and white worlds, things are true or false, right or wrong. That just seems to be a logically necessary stage in the development of any complex awareness starting from a zero base.
So we start out making assumptions, about reality, and about our senses, and about knowledge – and then we go about living and experiencing and testing.
Along the way we learn that our original assumptions were both necessary, and necessarily too simplistic. So we refine our models.
Eventually, some of us get to the stage where we understand the reality of our biological existence in a reality is such that all of our sensory information is highly modified by our sensory and neural systems.
We learn that as conscious entities we have no direct access to reality, we have only the model of reality that our neural networks create.
It seems clear that the qualia of our existence are a software experience of a software model of a reality.
Our models of existence are created by a combination of evolved systems.
Heisenberg shows us that all measurements of reality contain fundamental uncertainties, and thus our models of reality can never be truly accurate.
Goedel proved logically that even logic is incomplete.
Uncertainty is a deep part of being.
We are amazingly complex entities, we we are as nothing in comparison to any infinity – infinities are like that – just vast beyond comprehension.
And Arthur C Clarke’s quote often comes to my mind “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”.
On current trends we are only two decades from being able to put all the computational and sensing capacity of today’s smart phones into a device smaller than a red blood cell.
We never get direct access to reality – we have shadows on the wall of the cave, and the wall is moving!
Yep – the Buddhists have a saying – that for the master, on a journey worth taking, for every step on the journey the destination gets two steps further away.
Another old saying is “the more we know, the more we know we don’t know”, to which I normally add “and the less certain we become about that which we were once most confident of”.
And there is an aspect to any infinite journey that where we are always looks like we are just stepping over the threshold, however many times we may have had that thought before ;)
Hi Deep Thinker
I’m interested in your comment on this one issue.
There is a product that is at least 70% as effective as most drugs on the market, yet its use is illegal.
What do you think it might be?
It’s called the placebo effect.
In many cases it is over 95% as effective as the most expensive drugs, it is free, and it is illegal.
Doctors know it works, yet they are afraid to use it – if caught they lose their livelihoods.
Why do you think that is?
It need not involve deception.
A doctor could simply say – studies have shown that this pill does help many people – give it a try and see if it works for you.
Hi Deep Thinker
The reason that they give people inactive pills in trials, and don’t just compare groups taking pills with those not taking pills, is that it is well established that just believing something will work means it often does. This is the placebo effect. It is why we use double blind trials.
We are extremely complex entities.
Our beliefs, at both the conscious and subconscious levels are very important to how we function.
We are many millions of times more complex than we are consciously capable of appreciating.
So any mechanism that convinces us, at multiple levels, that we might get better, increases the probability that we will.
Knowing this, knowing that the power of belief is at least as strong as that of most drugs alone, is it not a responsibility of a healer to at least generate the belief, even if no known drug is available, in the full knowledge that the belief alone is far better than no belief?
Just being practical here.
I agree with the first part.
In most cases, the effect from the drug is about the same as placebo. The drug is about as effective as belief alone. Thus drug plus belief gives about twice the effectiveness as nothing.
However, it is not true that placebo is illusion.
Placebo is real.
The doctor does not need to lie or to deceive in any way.
The doctor only needs to say something like, tests have shown that taking this pill can produce significant results in a significant number of people. We are not entirely sure how or why it works, and they have shown that it does work. We have nothing else for you at this time so take this and give it a try.
Surely failure to deliver the best treatment available is a major systemic failure, how else would you characterise it?
Our cultures and educational establishments are not generally incentivised to produce “open-minded, ever-curious, always questioning people”. They are much more focused on producing people who will work within an economic and political system that is strongly incentivised against the delivery of universal abundance of anything.
People who question might disrupt the existing systems.
The systems are incentivised to deliver acceptance without question.
How often did you get praised at school for objecting to a rule, or to a teacher’s instruction?
So yes – I am all for questioning, and it needs to be questioning within a context of responsible social and environmental interaction.
Similarly, I am all for testing, with the same “responsible” caveats.