A bunch of cunts, mostly in the Australian sense. Except that one guy.

Science is bogus

Do bacteria really exist?

I mean, you can't see them with the naked eye. You don't have any direct evidence of them. It could just be evil spirits that make people sick.

And what's with this whole planets past Saturn thing, anyway? Or even planets around other stars? You can't possibly have any direct evidence of any of that! Nobody can possibly see any of those things!

Heck, the Earth going around the Sun is just something we've merely inferred - it's not like anyone has actually seen it happen with their own two eyes.

Indirect evidence is clearly worthless. There's no power to mathematical inference or reasoning. This thing called reason and logic is useless, since faith can provide all the explanation anyone could ever need or want.

Since it's possible that God could have created the world with all the fossils in place, including all the so-called evidence that the world is older than six thousand years, it's obvious that's what really happened.

You don't need to use theorems or scientific method. It's all just hand waving anyway.

If it's meaningless to me, it's meaningless to everyone.
Permalink Aaron F Stanton 
August 8th, 2005
Nice try, Aaron, but you and I both have a good idea of what is and what is not directly or indirectly observable.

You can't observe 2.3 billion year old bacteria and make truthful declarations about their metabolism. You can take samples of very old portions of the Earth's crust/mantle/what-have-you and make suppositions, and then piece your suppositions together in such a way that they support each other, but you'll be extremely hard pressed to prove most of them, if you ever do. You can take a microscope and see a bacterium alive today, and a telescope and see pluto, et al. What sort of viewing device lets you see 2.3 billion years ago?
Permalink muppet 
August 8th, 2005
> You can't observe 2.3 billion year old bacteria and make truthful declarations about their metabolism.

You can't. But how about someone who has been thinking about this stuff for their whole lives? Do wish to declare with your very limitted perspective just what they can and cannot accomplish?
Permalink son of parnas 
August 8th, 2005
Oh c'mon, muppet. You're just trying to tweak these guys, right? Cause by your logic:

I think that everything that has every been observed comes down to mere coincidence. Cause and effect are meaningless, and the whole of everything mot closely resembles momentary static on God's TV set.
Permalink Jeff Barton 
August 8th, 2005
Parnas -

You can think for 80 years about how things might have been 2.3 billion years ago. You can think and think and think and consider what incidental evidence of that time we may have left, and you might come up with some ideas, and those ideas may fit together nicely and support each other in a very neat house of cards, but you can't prove a thing. 2.3 billion years is a mind-bogglingly long time. To hope for conclusive evidence of the nature of microscopic life at that time is a bit of a stretch. You might be able to make broad statements about the planetary ecology such as "it was hot", "it was cold", "There seems to have been a lot of oxygen", but to say "tiny single celled organisms destroyed the oceans and then built the first Starbucks" is something taken on faith. It just is.

You can all be as stubborn as you like, but science at some points, and especially in some fields, involves some faith. It just does.
Permalink muppet 
August 8th, 2005
I think they're actually talking about photsynthesis.

ie. CO2 + h2O > CH(n) + O2

If we can detect signs of free O2 it's a pretty good indicator for photosynthesis. I find the link to the snowball a bit sus mind.
Permalink a cynic writes... 
August 8th, 2005
Sorry, muppet, light from an object 2.3 billion years away displays events from 2.3 billion years ago.

If you put chemicals A and B into a box, and C and D come out, you try to think of why that happened. There are a large number of possibilities. Maybe a Flying Spaghetti Monster did it. One possibility is a form of metabolism.

If you dig up a 2.3 billion year old rock and find chemical chemicals present that you commonly associate with what you've learned from past evidence seems to indicate a particular type of metabolism, then it's a reasonable hypothesis to suppose that metabolism was taking place 2.3 billion years ago. I mean, unless you want to suppose that chemistry itself changed between then and now.

That's one of the assumptions of science - that its laws don't change. All evidence seems to point to that, but it would pretty much have to, wouldn't it?

If you are going to allow indirect evidence, you can't just arbitrarily say, "I buy that you can go from A to B, and from B to C, but not that you can go from A to C." Sure, it's possible that there are other routes to C, but you try to rule them out. If you allow microscopes and telescopes, you also have to allow other forms of indirect evidence.
Permalink Aaron F Stanton 
August 8th, 2005
Aaron -

If you dig up a 2.3 billion year old rock and find Chemicals X & Y in it, along with the tiny mummified skeletons of Neptunian gypsy gnomes, you might come to the conclusion that Netptunian gypsy gnomes ate Chemical XY and excreted X & Y, but you can't prove it with what's in the rock.
Permalink muppet 
August 8th, 2005
I'm with Aaron - don't bother me with your "fuzzy math" either.

Back to my vacation...
Permalink KayCee 
August 8th, 2005
How can we know:
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/4/23/6759/44351
By using the senses available to oneself.
Permalink Peter 
August 8th, 2005
But it does provide much stronger evidence than any evidence for Flying Spaghetti Monsters.

You're basically saying that you can't prove anything at all, you know.

Science attempts to eliminate wrong answers and provide possible correct ones.
Permalink Aaron F Stanton 
August 8th, 2005
Is that an assumption? I thought an assumption of science is that scientists try to have repeatable results. With models that should predict what you see.

I don't think there's science without scientists. Guys whose job is to be honest, and if they can't do that they're not real scientists.
Permalink Tayssir John Gabbour 
August 8th, 2005
Absolutely, Aaron, and so does a good religion. :-)
Permalink muppet 
August 8th, 2005
Peter -

God could have created that light *in transit* six thousand years ago so that it would be arriving right now, making it seem like events occurred 168,000 years ago.
Permalink Aaron F Stanton 
August 8th, 2005
Well then, all you guys need to do is travel 186,000 m/s * 2.3 billion years out from the Earth and then watch it all come in through your Amazingly Mind-Bogglingly Really Nifty Super High Resolution Telescope and Spectrometer to prove your theory.
Permalink muppet 
August 8th, 2005
I know this was irony or whatever, but there s some truth to it.
The problem is not with observation but with using statisical methods as a replacment for observation. Or like the slashdotters like to put it, correlation is not causation. Not much of a problem in physics and the like, but when it comes to stuff like what causes cancer and what doesn't the science really become quite foggy.
Scince you cant really poison 1000 people to see what happends you pretty much has to rely on statistics on what has happend before, but then you have no possibility of controlling the circumstances and is not really doing hard science anymore.
Add to this that the mechanics of cancer it self are yet to be pinned down there is no possibility of nailing down the causality between a 'carcinogen' and the occurance of the illness. Not to mention that someone discovered that we aparently have as many as 7000 cancerous cells at a time in a fully healthy body that just get trucked away by the imune system.

So what then is a carcinogen, I wonder? The skeptic in me says that there is much money to be made in scaring people, and that scientists are just like people in general and a good half of them dont know what the hell they are doing.
Permalink Eric Debois 
August 8th, 2005
I'll repeat myself, remixed and without the errors (I hope). Muppet you sound like this:

I think that everything that has ever been observed comes down to mere coincidence. Cause and effect are meaningless. [Especially so because God exists.]

Now, there is something to that argument, I guess, if that is the one you are making.
Permalink Jeff Barton 
August 8th, 2005
"Is that an assumption? I thought an assumption of science is that scientists try to have repeatable results. With models that should predict what you see."

Quite correct. Science does attempt to have repeatable results. But if the underlying framework changes during the process itself, the results themselves may be unreliable. Evidence correlating to how laws are now may not be relevant to evidence created in the past if laws changed in the interim. Identical evidence created under different laws reveals different things.

Example:

2 bonk 2 = 4
1 bonk 3 = 4

We can guess that "bonk" means "plus", but if I change its meaning between statements from "times" to "plus" then both statements are still true, but the inference is wrong.
Permalink Aaron F Stanton 
August 8th, 2005
That's not what I'm arguing at all, Jeff. I've been arguing about this SPECIFIC, RIDICULOUS theory about bacteria eating the world's oceans 2.3 billion years ago. You might as well claim that they also wore fashionable little green hats with feathers, which were naturally excreted as a part of their digestive cycle, for all that you can prove.
Permalink muppet 
August 8th, 2005
"Absolutely, Aaron, and so does a good religion. :-)"

I have yet to see *any* religion that provides a testable hypothesis.
Permalink Aaron F Stanton 
August 8th, 2005
Man, you guys post fast.
Permalink Eric Debois 
August 8th, 2005
"Well then, all you guys need to do is travel 186,000 m/s * 2.3 billion years out from the Earth and then watch it all come in through your Amazingly Mind-Bogglingly Really Nifty Super High Resolution Telescope and Spectrometer to prove your theory."

Since we can't get there before the light does, that would be rather irrelevant to this discussion.
Permalink Aaron F Stanton 
August 8th, 2005
Aaron -

But that's the point, sweetheart, you can't prove or disprove a thing. This bacteria theory is impossible to disprove, so it's religion by your definition.
Permalink muppet 
August 8th, 2005
Sure it's possible to disprove. Someone who knows more about this than you or I do could certainly propose what kind of evidence would show that those bacteria could not have done it.

I personally don't know what that evidence might be, but I allow the possibility of it. If that evidence were found, it would disprove the hypothesis.

My inability to come up with it does not preclude the possibility of it.
Permalink Aaron F Stanton 
August 8th, 2005
Well I suppose that you can disprove God's existence by dying and ceasing to exist immediately. At least, you could disprove the Christian God that way.

What's that you say? You need peer review? Well your peers will die someday, too.
Permalink muppet 
August 8th, 2005
That doesn't disprove a thing, and you know it. There are forms of Christianity where ceasing to exist is part of their framework. Jehovah's Witnesses, for example.
Permalink Aaron F Stanton 
August 8th, 2005
Explain to us, muppet, why its ridiculous with all the evidence you can muster.

If you can't then shut up about it. You can express doubts about the causation, I might, but I'd not call it ridiculous unless I could actually present evidence.
Permalink Simon Lucy 
August 8th, 2005
> You can all be as stubborn as you like, but science at some points, and especially in some fields, involves some faith. It just does.

If in a 1000 years people are still hitting their head against the wall then I might agree with you. Until then I'll let people puzzle it out and not invoke god for anything we don't yet understand.
Permalink son of parnas 
August 8th, 2005
son of parnas sez to muppet : "... how about someone who has been thinking about this stuff for their whole lives? Do wish to declare with your very limitted perspective just what they can and cannot accomplish?"

The answer is "of course."
http://discuss.joelonsoftware.com/default.asp?off.9.175734.9
Please keep up to date.
Permalink Snark 
August 8th, 2005
I think the lesson to be learned here is that in matters of science muppet assume he knows better than trained professionals, which to be honest is no different from his approach to everything else.
Permalink Mat Hall 
August 8th, 2005
LOL.

I think the lesson to be learned here is that you all are a tiny bit uptight and take people too seriously, especially me.
Permalink muppet 
August 8th, 2005
Religious people are anti-science and that's a fact.

Most religious people believe in things that have been soundly disproven:

1. They believe that the sun orbits around the earth.
2. They believe that the earth is the center of the universe.
3. They believe the earth is flat.
4. They deny the fact that fetal stem cells can cure alzheimers disease and make the paralyzed walk again.
5. They deny the truth of evolution.
Permalink Charley Darrow 
August 8th, 2005
"1. They believe that the sun orbits around the earth.
2. They believe that the earth is the center of the universe.
3. They believe the earth is flat.
4. They deny the fact that fetal stem cells can cure alzheimers disease and make the paralyzed walk again.
5. They deny the truth of evolution."

Nice troll.

And all white people are racists.
Permalink Rick Tang 
August 8th, 2005
*fart*
Permalink muppet 
August 8th, 2005
Man I would love you hang out with you for a night, Rick. You are too funny.
Permalink Jeff Barton 
August 8th, 2005
"Someone who knows more about this than you or I do could certainly propose what kind of evidence would show that those bacteria could not have done it."

Aaron, don't you have a PhD in microbiology? Who knows more about this that you?
Permalink Fred Michaels 
August 8th, 2005
Hypothesis:

Muppet would make a fart post after every posts I make today.
Permalink Rick Tang 
August 8th, 2005
*fart*
Permalink muppet 
August 8th, 2005
"the lesson to be learned here is that in matters of science muppet assume he knows better than trained professionals"

This is true for every field. If there is someone with credentials and authority in a field, you have no business disagreeing with his knowledge in the area.
Permalink Fred Michaels 
August 8th, 2005
"Man I would love you hang out with you for a night, Rick. You are too funny. "

I swear I didn't write this. It was meant to read "would love *to* hang...".

Oh boy. Looks like I'm in store for some serious introspection tonight. Should I tell my wife about this? :)
Permalink Jeff Barton 
August 8th, 2005
"Aaron, don't you have a PhD in microbiology? Who knows more about this that you?"

Nope, sorry. Computational quantum chemistry. Microbiology is foreign to me.
Permalink Aaron F Stanton 
August 8th, 2005
> Computational quantum chemistry.

So then you know at least as much as anyone doing research in an even marginally related topic right? Because you have a PhD, right?
Permalink Jeff Barton 
August 8th, 2005
"If there is someone with credentials and authority in a field, you have no business disagreeing with his knowledge in the area."

See, now that's not what I said; just because someone is an "expert" doesn't mean you have to believe everythign they say. However, if you know Jack about the field in question and are just basing your disagreement on some idiotic notions you seem to have formed about the subject in hand then sit at the back and don't make a fuss while the grownups talk... :)
Permalink Mat Hall 
August 8th, 2005
"So then you know at least as much as anyone doing research in an even marginally related topic right? Because you have a PhD, right?"

Nope.
Permalink Aaron F Stanton 
August 8th, 2005
"I've been arguing about this SPECIFIC, RIDICULOUS theory about bacteria eating the world's oceans 2.3 billion years ago." - Muppet

"Explain to us, muppet, why its ridiculous with all the evidence you can muster. If you can't then shut up about it."

Exactly, muppet what EVIDENCE do you have that PROVES that bacteria DIDN'T eat the world's ocean's 2.3 billion years ago?

Science is about EVIDENCE. If you can't PROVE using EVIDENCE that bacteria DIDN'T eat the world's ocean's 2.3 billion years ago, then you have to accept that that bacteria DID eat the world's ocean's 2.3 billion years ago. Because THAT is SCIENCE.
Permalink Fred Michaels 
August 8th, 2005
19.
Permalink Mat Hall 
August 8th, 2005
The damn parrot is dead, ok?

It's not pining for the fjords.

Arguning with the shopkeeper can be entertaining for a while, but eventually, you just have to accept you're not getting a refund, and give up.
Permalink Mongo 
August 8th, 2005
Hmmm, no, I said show that its ridiculous with some evidence, I have no idea as to the strength of the evidence they have but I'm not qualified to say its ridiculous, though I'd probably understand any evidence showing that it _was_ ridiculous.

Until I see some then its just fatuous opinion and worthless to call it ridiculous.
Permalink Simon Lucy 
August 8th, 2005
I've been arguing about this SPECIFIC, RIDICULOUS theory about bacteria eating the world's oceans 2.3 billion years ago." - Muppet

"Explain to us, muppet, why its ridiculous with all the evidence you can muster. If you can't then shut up about it."

Exactly, muppet what EVIDENCE do you have that PROVES that it's ridiculous that bacteria ate the world's ocean's 2.3 billion years ago?

Science is about EVIDENCE. If you can't PROVE using EVIDENCE that it's RIDICULOUS that bacteria ate the world's ocean's 2.3 billion years ago (which is a proven scientific fact), then you have to accept that it is NOT ridiculous that bacteria ate the world's ocean's 2.3 billion years ago. Because THAT is SCIENCE.
Permalink Fred Michaels 
August 8th, 2005
If you don't believe me, check this out: there are ONE HUNDRED AND TEN hits at this link:

http://www.google.com/search?rls=en&q=bacteria+ate+the+world's+oceans+2.3+billion+years+ago+is+not+ridiculous
Permalink Fred Michaels 
August 8th, 2005
"Since it's possible that God could have created the world with all the fossils in place, including all the so-called evidence that the world is older than six thousand years, it's obvious that's what really happened."

Since it's just as possible that the world spontaeously appeared a tenth of a second ago, complete with bibles and your memories...

If dinosaur bones and redshifted light can be faked, why not the bible?
Permalink Katie Lucas 
August 9th, 2005
"Since it's just as possible that the world spontaeously appeared a tenth of a second ago, complete with bibles and your memories..."

Or maybe just a tenth of a second ago from now, complete with that post...

Is this discussion not getting a bit silly?

Fred Michaels = Chris McKinstry?
Permalink qwe 
August 9th, 2005
Not really - basically if you are going to make pronouncements on the universe given the internal evidence you have to assume that the evidence is valid.

The moment you say it was created with all the evidence in place you cut the ground from under your own beliefs - which are based on the existence of an old book and your authority figures say so. That said I think the Red Dwarf idea of the lost first page* of the bible turning up is rather unlikely.

*"To my darling Candy. All persons in this book are fictional and any resemblence..."
Permalink a cynic writes... 
August 9th, 2005
How's that?

I'm not saying I agree with that idea, but if you believe in some higher being that has the power to create the whole universe, at what point does this stop you from believing that he/she/it could create it with this false evidence in place?

At any rate, it is worthless to try and bash scientists with this idea since it is no more plausible or proveable than their ideas.
Permalink qwe 
August 9th, 2005
It doesn't take away your ability to believe in a specific higher being - however it does mean that your argument for x being false could be applied to your belief.

So if you say "God created the world 10,000 years ago and faked the dinosaur skeletons to trap the unwary" what argument to have against the reply "No, Baal did it last week and faked the Bible to trap the unwary", other than a recourse to faith.

In the end science and religion are arguing apples and oranges.
Permalink a cynic writes... 
August 9th, 2005
I completely agree, in fact I can't see any reason why the views of science and religion cannot exist together.

Science does not require there to be no higher power and religion does not require there to be aspects of the universe that cannot be explained.

The disagreements come down to dogmatic opinion in the end and most people contributing to this discussion already seem to have made their minds up on where they stand from the previous comments.
Permalink qwe 
August 9th, 2005
Yup. I've been through this discussion many times before, from many different takes, starting a long time ago. It really is a pointless discussion, as far as I am concerned. I shouldn't even bother participating in them any more. Religious people aren't going to change my mind, and I may as well resign myself to not changing their minds.

At this point, it's not even amusing.
Permalink Aaron F Stanton 
August 9th, 2005
Aaron sez : "Religious people aren't going to change my mind, and I may as well resign myself to not changing their minds."

This, f'rexample, is why Richard Dawkins refuses to debate creatonists anymore. His line of thought is that all it does is legitimize them ("I got a real live evolutionary biologist to debate me, so my ideas must have some weight!") rather than provoke any new arguments on either side.
Permalink Snark 
August 9th, 2005
qwe sez : (gloss of Descartes' deceptive demon) "... At any rate, it is worthless to try and bash scientists with this idea since it is no more plausible or proveable than their ideas."

The important point is that this idea is no more -unproveable- than a scientific theory. Scientific theories are distinguished by their falsifiability -- a proposition is falsifiable only if it is possible in principle to make an observation that contradicts the proposition (thus disproving it). Falsifiability is the trait that religious and other beliefs lack -- they cannot be disproved, whereas all scientific theories -can- be disproved (1).

(1) ... as distinguished from axioms and other scientific constructs. We're strictly talking theories, here.
Permalink Snark 
August 9th, 2005
I said : "The important point is that this idea is no more -unproveable- than a scientific theory."

This was a language glitch. I should have said :
"The important point is that this idea is -impossible to prove false.-"
Permalink Snark 
August 9th, 2005
Or, to make the point even better in context, "The point is not that this idea cannot be proved, but rather that it cannot be -disproved.-"

There, now I'm satisfied. Hooray!
Permalink Snark 
August 9th, 2005
Thanks Snark, that's what I was trying to convey, but couldn't get the right worms :)
Permalink qwe 
August 9th, 2005
A pretty good succinct explanation of falsifiability. Saved me a lot of bother. :)
Permalink Mat Hall 
August 9th, 2005

This topic was orginally posted to the off-topic forum of the
Joel on Software discussion board.

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