Argument from ignorance? – Berlinski on the Question: How in the world could these complex machines and systems have come about without intelligence? – A first look at the question


Warning 64pxAttention:  This is not necessarily an article about Intelligent Design; this is an article about how we think, how we think about scientific propositions, how we think about our own and other people’s thinking and more particularly how the logical fallacy of the Argument from Ignorance can be part of the dynamic.

All of what follows was wrapped around a conversation that was organized around a discussion of Intelligent Design hosted by the Watermark Community Church in Dallas on April 19, 2009 at a forum called The Creation Conversation.  Ok, the building, the host, and the audience were some brand of evangelical Christian, and their ulterior motives were whatever they were, but that doesn’t mean there is nothing for the rest of us to learn from what transpired there, that is if you can be open minded enough to set aside for the moment the place and intentions of that particular conference and learn something from what was said there.

Therefore, we will all be expected to proceed, for the sake of the discussion, as of the subject matter is worth of being treated as a legitimate hypothesis, to be falsified or passed forward to the next round of discussion because it attempts, in good faith, to answer a question that other hypotheses have failed so far to answer:  How in the world could these complex machines and systems have come about without intelligence?

Fair enough?

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Science Eats Her Young – Consensus vs Correctness, the Scientific vs the Political and the happy news of the unkown unknown


Karl Popper, the godfather of falsifiability [Φ phi studios 2014]

Karl Popper, the godfather of falsifiability                                                           [© phi studios 2014]

There is a new guest article up at Judy Curry’s blog, Climate Etc. by Will Howard titled Appeals to the Climate Consensus Can Give the Wrong Impression that is of particular interest to Meme Merchants because it is both relevant in scientific current affairs and is also relevant generally in the discussion of scientific epistemology in regards to how people generally are supposed to know what the state of the science is at any given moment.

The article was originally posted at The Conversation.  Will Howard is a Research Scientist at University of Melbourne  School of Earth Sciences and is also the Deputy Chair of the Australian National Committee for Antarctic Research.

On the current events front of science, there is a bitter and on-going debate about the supposed scientific consensus regarding anthropogenic global warming due the volume of CO2 emitted by human activity.  The debate rages far and wide about this supposed consensus: what is this consensus actually? how many scientists hold this ‘consensus view’? which scientists [or who’s] really count in the matter?  who should do the counting? who owns the ‘consensus’, and what does all of this mean for the rest of us anyway?

No Meme Merchant is going to settle the debate about the specifics of the consensus about the catastrophic global warming debate – there are lots of places trying to do that – but we would like to take up a very confined look at the “what does all of this mean anyway?” specifically in regards to Mr. Howard’s article – before I launch into a rave about what’s so great about science as a way of knowing.

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A Comment on Caravaggio and a Thought Experiment


The Incredulity of St Thomas - Caravagio c.1601 - Truth comes to the doubter

The Incredulity of St Thomas  – Truth comes to the doubter                                    [Caravagio c.1601]

A reader left a comment on the image of The Incredulity of Saint-Thomas by Caravaggio from my March 10,2012 post: When the Uncertainty Monster Rears its Wicked Head Should We Tell the Truth?-A Comment on Curry.  And you know me well enough by this point to know that if I’m going to take the time to write a 500 word reply I’m not going to simply leave it to languish forever buried under an illustration for a year old post.

So, here it is.

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Stoat – Tutelary Beast on the Loose Again-Wikipedia and humanity’s next great leap-What’s up with that?


Stoat_and_chipmunks

A stoat surplus killing a family of chipmunks                                                      – Ernest T. Seton 1909

Anthony Watts over at WUWT.com, his community-service-as-science-blog, has a recent post up on the reinstatement of William Connolley to Wikipedia after having been banned as an editor back in: Wikipedia Climate Fiddler William Connolley in the News Again.  Since its very short I’ll reblog the article in its entirety:

Apparently Mr. Connolley has edited 5428 Wikipedia articles, most about climate. Die Kalte Sonne:

Unbelievable but true: The Wikipedia umpire on Climate Change was a member of the UK Green Party and openly sympathized with the views of the controversial IPCC. So it was not a referee, but the 12th Man of the IPCC team.

[http://translate.google.com/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&eotf=1&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.kaltesonne.de%2F%3Fp%3D7858]

I’m not sure how accurate the translation is, but it suggests he was somehow part of the IPCC “short list” team. See it here at Die Kalte Sonne via this Google Translate link:

With over 5000 articles he’s edited, it makes you wonder if Mr. Connolley was employed by someone or some organization specifically for the task.

The main thrust of most subsequent commenters was to harp on the wiki-depridations of Connolley specifically and Wikipedia’s problem with out-of-control editors, and the unreliability of Wikipedia generally.  Wikipedia, naturally, has a page even on this subject: Criticism of Wikipedia.

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A Froward Child


William Blake Ghost of a Flea
Strange visions… ‘Ghost of a Flea’ by William Blake

On the home front this week I’ve been getting a lot of grief over the overly idealistic positions I take on a number of topics –  in other words I’m found to be wrong, or in denial by my family and friends.  So, I find myself in the very uncomfortable position of either having a very strong disagreement with friends and family – or – to shut up and sit on my hands on certain topics. – [Dr. Laura Schlessinger used to call this, ‘shutting up and being polite’]

Fortunately Michael Quinion of World Wide Words, [also a triple W – gotta love it, it alliterates] my go to guy for all things philological, has rescued me in my extemis, by providing me with just the right word to understand my predicament, I’m being froward [apparently].

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Question of the Day – Well, Which One is it?


Many blogs and website include pages for FAQs, Frequently Asked Questions, which we think is a fine ideas; however, here at Meme Merchants we noticed that most of these supposed FAQs appear to be an invention of the site’s administrators in an attempt to preempt site users from actually asking any questions so the Admin will not then have to take time out of their busy schedule to answer them.  You can tell this is probably the case because there never seems to be a FAQ for any question YOU have about the site, how it functions or it policies – in other words anything you actually care about.  While this situation is not altogether wrong, it does seem to smack ever so sightly of intellectual dishonesty.

Think about it for a moment, if a FAQ page is actually doing its job successfully, none of the questions should ever rise to the level of being asked frequently, doubly true if the site Admins are doing their jobs properly in responding to queries, correcting problems, and have clear, well stated and easy to find policies.  It seems more correct then to call these type of pages something else like, “Things You Need to Know – TYNKs” or “Needful Facts – NFAC,” anything other than FAQ.  Thus the notion of a FAQ seems to be infact some kind of a fairy tale.

Here at Meme Merchants we do not have a FAQ page, because no one has asked us any questions yet, and the Editors would not presume to know what questions are burning in your mind.  We make up A LOT of things around here, our imaginations overflow, but we would not dare to make up what you think [that seems somehow very basic].  You have to set a limit somewhere, and that’s were we set ours.  We have included a contact form on our Contact page which you are encouraged to use to have answered any questions about Meme Merchants related topics or concerns.

We do have an idea to do a feature periodically called:

Question of the Day

Assuming someone ever asks a question – – we will then post it up and rave about it for a while – basically until we are sick of it – and you can then comment.  Eventually those questions and answers will be turned into a FAQ page or filed appropriately someplace else.

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