k, z comments on the science thread at Vox Popoli:
The key idea I got out of what you said is universal in conjunction with verifiable. And that’s the biggest violation that people make. Making universal claims that can never be verified.
This is related to what I sorted out a while back, the difference between inductive and deductive reasoning, which is related to inductive and deductive science (I think).
Deductive reasoning presents two premises and draws a logical conclusion. If both premises are true, then the conclusion must be true. Usually at least one of the premises is a generalization.
Inductive reasoning presents any number of premises and draws a conclusion which actually contains more information than the premises provide. The conclusion is not necessarily true, even if the premises are all true; it is only probably true. Usually the premises are all particularities and the conclusion is a generalization.
It is impossible to live without drawing inductive inferences that are not completely certain. Scientists will tell you that science consists of lots of generalizations with varying probabilities, but everything has to be somehow predictive and thereby verifiable.
Therefore, scientists are quite comfortable making universal claims that specify probabilities and provide a predictive test. The trouble comes when these claims are translated into some kind of social, psychological, or spiritual claims in ordinary language that ignores probabilities and doesn’t control testing conditions. At that point it is no longer scientific, and it is just so much speculation. (See Steve Sailer’s essay on the misuse of Darwinism.)
- “Inductive” Premises: Some ancient bones resemble both human and ape bones.
- Conclusion: Humans are descended from an animal ancestor and all human behavior and thought is determined by our collective history of animalistic biological factors.
However, since the process has never been observed and the factors have never been definitively identified or causally linked to human thought, this is purely speculative and not a scientific claim.
Moreover, the reasoning is not even purely inductive, since an additional, deductive premise is always assumed to be true, especially when it is not stated explicitly: All events in nature are explainable in terms of observable processes. Again, this process may be observable, but it has never been observed.
One of the commenters at VP noted the difference between operational and historical science. This distinction is an evasion used by speculative evolutionists. The paleontologist makes clear observations and operational scientific hypotheses about the evidence presented to him. Then he writes a historical narrative purporting to explain the present data in terms of processes that cannot be directly observed. This is a necessary aspect of any forensic science, but the narrative is nevertheless hypothetical and thus essentially fictitious. Speculative evolutionists may argue about who is the best fiction writer, but they are still writing fiction.
To the extent that their fictitious narratives enter the popular consciousness and impact social theory, they become mythological. If individuals begin to make everyday decisions based on these fictitious narratives about imagined biological factors operating within imagined processes that occurred before recorded history, they are acting based on superstition. This is the phony “naturalism” of Dr. H, which derives from “science” that utilizes “facts” that are not recordable, observable, verifiable, predictable, or repeatable.
Such a perspective fails the test for science or naturalism. Furthermore, it has nothing useful to say about specifically human phenomena such as belief in God, since it claims that all human phenomena are determined by unobserved animalistic factors in the past; those past animalistic factors it presumes to be similar to animalistic phenomena in the present, which, however, bear little resemblance to the human phenomena in question. (See also my review of Songs of the Gorilla Nation.)
However, actual observations of animal behavior may be used to define what is not uniquely human, and what is left is properly the object of anthropological study. This is what I would call the operational science of anthropology, the study of humanity, as distinct from the historical science of anthropology, which is merely speculative fiction.
“When you believe in things that you don’t understand,
Then you suffer,
Superstition ain’t the way.”