Rant on rants on Sheldrake
So, I randomly came across this video by Rupert Sheldrake.
Now, Rupert Sheldrake does have some pretty left-field ideas, but I was quite surprised to hear that this TED talk of his was removed by TED from their site. Sheldrake is a very intelligent person and an accomplished and highly credentialed scientist. Certainly someone to give a hearing to, even if you disagree with what he says.
Anyway, I made the mistake of reading some of the comments. Science fanbois (who know nothing about the philosophy of science) wind me up.
Comments such as the following got me into rant mode:
"by definition, there can be no dogma in science. Religion is a belief system so this clown says science is a belief system"
"Belief system? What would you use to disprove a scientific belief? A: Science, empirical falsification. Anything else is ideological."
And here's my rant:
I call bull shit. Of course science is a belief system! (and there is plenty of dogma in science)
An example of what science assumes: naturalism (e.g. that all causes of natural phenomena are natural). Science doesn't prove this, or show this, or even question this; it is a basic philosophical presupposition.
To those who might agree with the quotes (poor deluded souls), if you're so smart, answer these questions for me:
- What is the scientific method?
- How do we know the scientific method?
Here's why you can't answer the questions:
- There is no scientific method! The truth is that there are lots of methods that science uses, and some of the most significant advances in science have not been a result of applying any method at all.
- If there was a scientific method (or even a limited set of methods), they would form the criteria of knowledge. But here's the problem: how can anyone come to know the criteria of knowledge without first having that criteria? (you can't!) Also, you can not logically defend a criteria of knowledge by using that same criteria - the result is a necessarily circular argument.
Does this mean that I am opposed to science? Not at all! I love science, I just think it is mistaken to think that: a) science is infallible, and, b) modern science is the only way to knowledge. I am also opposed to people using phrases like "that's not scientific" or "that's pseudo-science" as a way to dismiss ideas out of hand.