Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Death Of Epistemology

Scientific Truth
A storm-wracked island in a sea of superstition


"The Death Of Epistemology: Anti-Vaccine Expert (And Playboy Model) Jenny McCarthy"


We are living through "The Death of Epistemology."

The Scientific Method -- our best probabilistic tool for determining Truth -- has fallen prey to "The Faithful."

By "The Faithful," I mean those prowlers "on the outskirts of The Obvious" who seek "exceptions" to "general rules" in order to "prove" there are no "real truths" other than Sacred Scripture -- be it Jewish, Christian or Islamic.

In the view of "The Faithful," "God's Truth" not only trumps all other "truth" but belittles both. (In no more than 20 years, "faithful" belittlement of anthropogenic global warming will seem as absurd as the pulpit-preached assertion that slavery was The Will of God.)

The Faithful's obsessive insistence on Absolute (And Absolutely Rigid) Truth, is a passion intrinsically inimical to the probabilistic nature of scientific truth.

Rigid Truth reveals the perfectionism of American neo-Puritans ever zealous to overturn widely-applicable truths (truths that can be corroborated statistically) in order to posit "exceptions" -- no matter how slight and dubious -- as divinely-ordained New Truths.

These "religious opinions" constitute an "Epistemological Caliphate" in which doctrinal and dogmatic assertions tower over scientific truth.

Intellectually colonized by this "Epistemological Caliphate," Paul Ryan proudly declares: "I don't believe in the validity of some polls."

Why? Because his "chosen" polls -- which is to say his non-rigorous truths -- are considered "scripture." According to the received idiocy, there is no need for terrestrial truths when Celestial Truth is on our side.

A few days ago, a Floridian who keeps Sean Hannity updated on both presidential candidates' recent appearances in Florida, made a revealing slip after Hannity expressed disbelief that an Obama event attracted 15,000 people. Without missing a beat, his Florida informant chimed in: "I don't think the crowd was as big as it was."

Immediately, she "corrected" herself: "I don't think the crowd was as big as reported."

Once we have accounted for a reasonable amount of partisan "spin," either "facts mean something," or we find ourselves adrift in the same "Sea of Superstition" that typified the world before the advent of Scientific Method.

For several centuries the Scientific Method -- vigorously advocated by America's Founding Fathers, under aegis of The European Enlightenment -- has been our only tool for exiting the swamp of superstition in order to reside on newly-formed "Islands of Rationality."

In this regard, I encourage you to read my earlier post, "Is Perfectionism A Curse? Paul Ryan Tells The Truth."

Notably, science makes tremendous leaps by using "theories" and their technological applications. The "Theory of Relativity" (which is NOT a Law) undergirds much of the modern world.

Nevertheless, "The Faithful" pretend that "theory" is not enough; that only inerrant Truth will do.

Tragically, the history of "inerrant Truth" is the cornerstone of Pascal's insight that "Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction." 

On the other hand, scientists -- largely operating on theoretical foundations based on probability -- are able to accomplish feats like the following.

It takes time for societies to exhaust their accumulated “cultural capital."

However, the assault on Reason and Scientific Method is so far advanced that -- absent the revival of Rationality -- we risk the re-normalization of witch hunts, "crusades" and "inquisitions."

Aquinas would be appalled.


Arguing against those who said that natural philosophy was contrary to the Christian faith, (Aquinas) writes in his treatise "Faith, Reason and Theology that "even though the natural light of the human mind is inadequate to make known what is revealed by faith, nevertheless what is divinely taught to us by faith cannot be contrary to what we are endowed with by nature. One or the other would have to be false, and since we have both of them from God, he would be the cause of our error, which is impossible." 
"Aladdin's Lamp: How Greek Science Came to Europe Through the Islamic World" 

by John Freely


"Thomas Aquinas And Islam"

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