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Posted by Mario Dovalina on May 5, 2002 00:33:16 UTC

Hi Harv:

I thought I'd bringthis conversation to the top to avoid carpal tunnel causing scrolling related injuries. Also, it might get some 3rd party participation. I'd be interested to see what other folks thought of this.

There's too many examples in history where humans were able to make use of their models only to find out later that the models gave wrong predictions.

Harv, I keep refuting this, and you keep saying this. I KNOW science's answers are not totally accurate. We used to assume the world was flat, since it seemed like it. We used to assume that the earth was the center of the universe, because it seemed like it. We used to assume that the orbit of the planets was circular. So, yeah, our current estimation is almost certainly wrong.

But your solution to this problem strikes me as insane. You bypass the reason and say with bold confidence "The world is flat." Harv, don't you see that the destruction of scientific theories is science's strength? You criticize science for being inaccurate, but don't apply those same standards to yourself. You don't hold yourself to the same restrictions that you impose on me.

For example, in order to say atomic theory is approximately true since the best explanation for nuclear reactors is if our atomic theory is approximately true is to beg the question. What do you mean by best explanation?

How is that begging the question? (by begging the question I assume you mean that I'm assuming what I claim to prove from the outset) If our understanding of atoms was completely totally wrong, we couldn't perform fission. Agreed? Similarly, if our understanding of fluid dynamics was completely incorrect, we wouldn't have airplanes. (lift) The very fact that we have functional technology as a result of our scientific theories would tell us that those theories have tangible bearings in the outside world. Of course, it's only an approximation. But unless you propose an alternative, it's the best we can hope for. Your "solution" is to not deal with evidence and make assumptions without the benefit of use statements. Harv, why don't you agree that use statements can be used to approximate related truth statements?

We can just accept the Miracle Argument as our reason to believe in us knowing truth, but then we are in the same boat as the theist who accepts God's existence because of a miracle argument

Harv, I have never EVER said that I believe I know truth. You don't seem capable of accepting that. I am relatively certain that science doesn't know any truths. But the point is, we are much closer now than we would be without reason and investigation (again, because of related use statements)

We can't know we approximate it, and we cannot know if we are on the right track. All we can speak of is in terms of our pragmatic success and what is ultimately meaningful to us humans

The pragmatic success (external 'confiration' through use statements) qualifies as an approximation. I don't understand why you don't seem to think so.

P.S.: You might appreciate this. Monty Python on sex versus logic. It's quite possibly the funniest thing I've heard in years. (please ignore the extrememly politically radical site that it's on) :) :

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