[Sca-cooks] Questions on theory and proof

Ian Kusz sprucebranch at gmail.com
Sun Feb 7 19:38:34 PST 2010




As far as
On Sun, Feb 7, 2010 at 10:36 AM, Terry Decker <t.d.decker at att.net> wrote:

> Lovely, but problematic.
> The story of the meteorologists and the pilots is apochryphal with no basic
> journalistic facts being presented.  That the pilot's reports were dismissed
> in some quarters, I have no doubt.  One does not scrap a hypothesis that
> meets all currently quantified data and works on the basis of
> unsubstantiated reports.  However, someone was curious enough to
> investigate, created a body of substantiated and quantified data, and add
> new knowledge to meteorological theory.  The new theory did not supplant the
> old theory of ground to cloud lightning, it is an addition to the theory.
> BTW, scientists have known about upper atmosphere lightning since the late
> 19th Century, but the capacity to make accurate and relatively continuous
> observations has only existed for about 25 years.  The hold up was not
> scientific disbelief so much as being able to gather enough data to
> formulate solid working hypotheses.
> Here you are using a set of imprecise "facts" to make conclusions about the
> general mindset of "scientists" in order to support your pet theory.  Isn't
> that precisely what you are arguing against?
> Bear
>  -

If the story is apocryphal, well, I saw it on the news, back in the day, so
pardon me if I presumed it was true.  It's also in scientific
american....are you sure you aren't dismissing this as "apocryphal" because
it disagrees with your assumptions about scientists?  And if, as you say,
"That the pilot's reports were dismissed in some quarters, I have no doubt,"
that is part of the problem.  You don't dismiss reports to the contrary,
when you've got a working theory.  You can place little faith in them, but
dismissing them goes too far.  Which was the point I was making.  Surety is
not a trait of science.  Everything is a working hypothesis, really.  I
can't even prove we're having this conversation.

I wasn't making statements about "scientists" as if all scientists were the
same.  I was talking about established trends.

No matter the kind of group, herd mentality does occur.  This is true of

Even among the staunch individualists, there is a tendency in scientific
culture to dismiss disagreeing people; part of that is because of the nature
of scientific inquiry - you need to go off in your own direction, which
tends to alienate you, you have to defend your point of view against
criticism, a lot, which tends to make you overdo your self-confidence to
bolster yourself, and so on.  There are a lot of factors which tend to push
you in these directions.

Your statement, "One does not scrap a hypothesis that meets all currently
quantified data and works on the basis of unsubstantiated reports," is odd.
I didn't think you did.  But anecdotal data is still data.  It's just not
enough, by itself.  Countervailing observation is cause for caution, not
dismissal.  Even unverifiable observation.

In fact, you're acting dismissive toward this argument, which is kind of
illustrating my point.  What do you think I am arguing?  Do you think I
dismiss science?  Or scientists?

I'm stating that they're human, and prone to human folly.  Including
overconfidence.  Sometimes the overconfidence is due to some practical
consideration, but it still occurs.

I don't know if you follow spycraft, but some of the more competent spies
have complained that your average spy has a head full of "tradecraft" that
is impractical, but which they won't change.  Does that mean that spies
aren't more capable at spying than someone untrained?  No, it has a lot to
say about human nature and the nature of "average" human behavior.

I experienced this working for the government and the private sector.  I
also experience it talking to religious people, and scientific people.
Scientific people, scholars, historians, etc. are, after all, people.`

It's a trait that inspires caution about everything, including accepted
Ian of Oertha

More information about the Sca-cooks mailing list