This can also serve as a response to Victoria Mundy, who said: "Since I've taught
college bio and intend to do it again some day, this got me thinking about just
what I think the scientific method is, and where it does and should fit into the
way I view the world even though I don't do much research myself. ... Back to the
scientific method, can you give an in-the field example of what you mean by
"logical structure and conceptual overview"?
In the field of biology, the following comments can be applied to E.O. Wilson's
work on "sociobilogy" and "consilience". (I had more on that for you but windows
crashed - again - one day and I evidently hadn't saved as much of what I'd done as
Basically, any system must be all inclusive and consistent, within it's own
terms. An "inherent goodness" in relation to any attached goals or an
applicability to a given end are what count, along with its relative (to
alternatives) efficiency in relation to those goals or applications. Significance
is understood in terms of coincidence (which can be spotty), rather than support
of opposition. Of course the end result (if any) is still yes or no, qualified to
a significant, less significant or insignificant degree. Gotta go.
> The following article is necessarily brief and consequently contains
> errors of simplicity. Do not bother to report such errors, as they are
> already known and an unavoidable byproduct of abbreviation.
> How Much Does Science Know? This question refers to "science" as the
> organized collective memory (both living and archival written records) of
> contemporary industrialized societies, and "know" as to understand
> sufficiently to make explanatory and predictive statements which are on the
> whole consistantly true.
I would say that science is a methodology that follows a set of principles (no, I
won't define it here due to time considerations & the fact that it isn't necessary
at the moment. There are undoubtedly a number of good definitions around).
Knowledge therefore, is information that conforms in a digestible, useable way to
> I believe that the answer could only be told when all knowable knowledge
> is in,
That presumes a finite nature to knowledge, which according to my definition above
is utilitarian and therefore relative to a given goal (which may or may not be
stated or defined).
What I eliminated did not conform to my premise, & my premise made it irrelevant.
> Reductionism is the taking apart of a subject of investigation, reducing
> it to atomistic parts, studying the parts ... and than coming to the
> conclusion that one can explain the whole by reciting [or understanding] the
> nature of the parts [in relation to the whole. Although I am probably going
> beyond "reductionism" here. In any case, the term "reductionism" is not used by
> those that DO it] .
> This does not work for living systems, and the more complex the living system,
> the less reliable reductionism is.
It is less reliable to the degree that "reductionism" is more difficult with
living systems. However, there is nothing inherently "wrong" with a system that
successfully integrates a definition of "the whole" with a definition of its
parts. However, no well developed model has yet been released publicly.
> ... Science works best now, as through the past when it admits that there are
> unknowns which have no explanation in science. To admit there is a problem is
> the first step in solving one. Where abundant technology obscures the quantity
> of unknowns it does a disservice in the solving of problems, especially for
> life sciences
> which defy the reductionist approach.
Science presupposes the existence of unknowns, since the purpose of science is to
SUPPLY needed unknowns. This is so because true objectivity does not and cannot
exist. We ALL come from somewhere, have a given perspective and have goals. Good
science attempts to be more universal (all inclusive) but MUST stop short of
universal tolerance, is ultimately self destructing (negating). Anything which
pretends otherwise is simply not science.
(All of the above - of mine - presupposes both that **I** am saying this and that
the consistency of it constitutes good science. However, it does not presuppose
that all will agree or understand this. That would be desirable, though not
> Living systems are somewhat more amenable to the top-down "systems
> analysis" than bottom-up reductionist approach. This is a kind of "fuzzy
> logic" used by scientists and non-scientists alike. It puts the wisdom of a
> tribal bushman on the par with an Oxford Biologist. ... bushmen have a better
> record of maintaining working ecologies than industrial nations scientists.
Bushmen have a lot of evolution / practical survival history behind them, which
shoddy science may give little weight to. However, two other things are true:
1).- The world they lived in is disappearing; and 2).- It's disappearance is
caused by "reductionist" mentality and represents a threat not only to the bushmen
but the human race and the biosphere as a whole. It's part of the only
**sustainable** world we have.
The discrepancy between 1).- & 2).- brings to 3).- (at least it damn well
better!): A synthesis of the two. That's what WE are supposed to be doing.
I suggest that the ultimate basis of "reductionism" is monetary greed &/or
prestige (ego satisfaction - which is not inherently bad, but subject to being
misplaced - which brings us back to money and power over others - what's
inherently good, i.e. life giving; and what's good only for it's exchange value.
> Michael Jordan uses advanced calculus, ... instinctively, ... No
> laboratory denizen can compete with him,
It would have to be a very talented one.
> but those who speak the language of
> calculus are presumed to know more about the subject.
There's a difference between a body of information subjected to study about a
field, science or principle (knowledge); and DOING whatever it is. Plant
scientists can't produce an avocado or orange etc. They can only observe,
discuss, recommend and intervene; hopefully to the end of providing support for
the plant and helping the plant do ITS job, better.
Michael Jordan may or may not be as good or better than someone else at teaching
basketball, designing a new sport, sports broadcasting etc.; although he's got a
natural advantage to begin with. But other factors also come into play. He's
best at what he does (basketball, not even baseball. Of course we haven't seen
the end of his or anyone else's talents yet).
> ... the results can have a success predictability which one can bet ones life
> on. Humans have bet their life on this method of discovery of the truth for
> thousands of centuries. It works. It is transferrable to the next generation,
> and the successive approximations get better all the time. This is an ages-old
> method of knowledge, which like Michael Jordan's calculus, is intuitivly
> performed without using high-faluting language to describe it.
There is a real need for for inspired and precise language with which to describe
intuitive events within natural systems. As I've stated before, the dichotomy
doesn't really exist and I think I'd be wrong to pursue this thread any farther at
this time. At this point in time, what "we" need is balanced, whole people; more
Athenians not Spartans or Wall Street magicians. Anybody looking for a universal
common denominator had better have a well defined (& intuitive) grasp of the
whole. Then, the results of an analysis can be checked back against itself and
with the comments of others. Nuff said.
Douglas M. Hinds, Director General Centro para el Desarrollo Comunitario y Rural A.C. (CeDeCoR) (Center for Community and Rural Development) - (non profit) Cd. Guzman, Jalisco 49000 MEXICO U.S. Voice Mailbox: 1 630 300 0550 (e-mail linked) U.S. Fax Mailbox: 1 630 300 0555 (e-mail linked) Tel. & Fax: 011 523 412 6308 (direct - Mexico) e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
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