Thursday, February 4, 2016

Thoughts About Science and Skepticism

Science AND Skepticism in Respect to Logical Fallacy


Many people from various forums know me, often by name, as my hobbies and interests range the gamut from the mundane to the exotic, from science and logic to free thought and outright speculation. However, I am starting to distance myself from the concept put forth as supposed skepticism. Skepticism is a healthy thing when partnered with reason and logic. However, modern skepticism has been proving itself to be anything but logical or reasoned, but instead demonstrates a barrage of preconceived notions, anti-religious rhetoric, and bald emotional response instead of logic.

A close look at science is also showing the same trend.

"Big claims," many might assert. "Pure assertion," others may claim. "Nothing more than an attack!" A crowd could roar. 

Skeptics

Not true, I simply state. This is what I have personally witnessed in various venues from youtube to various skeptic sites and blogs -- over and over and over again. What I am seeing is such things as atheism posing as skepticism. A person can be both skeptical and religious at the same time, though many might view this as some sort of aberration or affront. To them I simply say, "get over it." Any statement over the existence, or non-existence of a god or gods is a statement of religious belief. To state it is a non-belief is a bald Red Herring logical fallacy. 

Skepticism is not believing or disbelieving in a specific concept, it is the application of logical probabilities towards the reality of a given concept.

There are Skeptics, for instance, that believe in the possibility of free energy, but themselves place a high probability of the lack of a creature known as bigfoot. I am sure there are probably the reverse as well, as it falls within the bounds of humanity. Skeptics are supposed to be skeptical of everything, applying logic and reason to ever subject, not just applying them only to things outside of the accepted mainstream. 

To cloud the issue, many of the supposed skeptics I have been seeing of late are only self-described skeptics. A person cannot claim the title of skeptic if they do not have enough information about a subject to judge the claims or proposed evidence provided to them. At that point they have illogically applied the Bandwagon logical fallacy as their sole reason for belief. This has another term -- faith.

The type I just mentioned are the worst of the bunch, asserting that their basis for belief is both rational and local. I find it interesting when many of these do not even know what I am talking about when I reference the term "Logical Fallacy." So much for logic or reason, since applying logical fallacies to a discussion or debate is neither logical nor reasonable according to the science of critical thinking. These people tend to react emotionally in discourses since they do not understand what logical thought is. 

I wish these were only laypersons, but I have found a growing trend of people with college degrees asking me what I am talking about when I mention the term Logical Fallacy. Clue: I am not talking about a lie but a specific list of irrational arguments. They have undoubtedly heard at least a few of the terms before, such as Circular Reasoning, Straw Man, Red Herring, Argument From Incredulity, Begging the Question, etc., etc., etc., but do not have a clue where they come from or what they mean, or why they are important. I find that to be a failure of our educational system.

If a person chooses to be skeptical of a subject, they should make sure it is because they have enough data to make the judgement. Also, they should acknowledge their own limitations of knowledge, in that a degree in business, art, or philosophy does not qualify them to judge a matter of science. There are indeed laypersons who probably know more about specific subjects in areas outside that supposed skeptics field of expertise than them. 

There is a simple means to spot the self-imposed skeptics. They demonstrate by action and even openly claim in many blogs the illogical notion that abstract concepts such as science or atheism need defending. No, unfortunately I am certainly not joking, no matter how ridiculous or illogical the notion may seem. They are classical zealots, used in the negative sense. I also agree that a method of study and observation (science) does not need any defense, nor does a religious viewpoint, or any other abstract concept for that matter. 

Many skeptics I know are very nice people, who try hard to actually be logical. You can tell many of these as they tend to refuse to start arguments and do not rely on insults or sarcasm instead of logic. However, from those I have encountered (not a small group) these tend to be the minority of those claiming the mantle of skeptic in the 21st century.

The reader needs to understand that I am a skeptic myself, since a core belief of mine is to prove everything. However, it is illogical to form a stance of belief or disbelief on subjects that I do not have enough information on, or defend my stances using irrational arguments.

Science

I am finding myself pulling back from modern day, so called, science. Why, you may ask?

Modern science is not science, that's why. Whether intrigued by that statement or outraged makes no real difference, as I will qualify the statement. First, we must answer the question of what science actually is, and is not.

Science is an abstract concept, a logical system of study based upon an orderly method used to make determinations about the physical universe, in a grandiose nutshell. 

Science is NOT a physical thing. 

Science is NOT a specific theory (relativity, QED, evolution, etc.,) or even a group of theories. To be called scientific, a theory has to be falsifiable, and if falsified it is rejected according to the scientific method.

Science is NOT a group of humans who practice science, these are called scientists, or people charged with accurate implementation of the scientific method towards studying the universe.

Science is NOT atheism. Atheism is a religious viewpoint.

Science is NOT a "body of knowledge," though many try hard to claim such. That mass of knowledge is ever changing, with old notions of what is or is not true or plausible being either buttressed by new data or disproved by the same. Scientists, applying science have yielded a mass of tentative knowledge over time.

These are important concepts logically speaking. Logic itself is starting to become eroded in both those who assume themselves logical and/or those actively practicing the method by profession. Many modern theories are riddled with such illogical applications of thought such as circular reasoning, all three propositional fallacies, and any disagreement with a popular theory is met with a slew of informal and red herring fallacies instead of logical discourse. If someone thinks this is not true, I challenge them to examine any one of Richard Dawkin's debates (a famous modern skeptic and scientist) on a line by line basis as he defends science (IE atheism and evolution). 

Science has somehow become a living thing that must be defended, whose tenets in the form of indisputable (therefore non-falsifiable) theories are somehow written in stone as cold hard fact -- though the very notions are absurd, at least according to the scientific method, as well as the scientific application of critical thinking and the corresponding concept of logical thought.

According to he scientific method, ALL theories are disputable!

So, I shall now answer the question of why I would disassociate myself from modern science; to do otherwise would be hypocritical if I personally choose to remain logical. 

Something to think about, at least. For more information on logical fallacies, Wikipedia has a non-comprehensive, but serviceable list of fallacies that will grant the reader a place to start: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fallacies