Brainy Quote of the Day

Monday, December 11, 2017

Cause and Effect...

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Topics: Climate Change, Commentary, Ecology, Politics, Research


Assuredly climate change has something to do with the California fires, but TIME lists it last as one of a number of causes; CNN says "we don't know," but mention several factors like the Santa Ana winds that can spread it in the years-long dry conditions that preceded this tragedy. There's a tendency to leap to the "aha" and go with what happens to be the proclivities of your particular tribal group. Unfortunately, these tend to be the ones that appreciate and understand science, and those that consider it something to fear when it challenges the other tribe's dogma.

We've had fires with lightening strikes since humanity was comprised of hunter-gatherer migrating groups. We've had fires with the advent of agriculture, cities and civilization. What matters is whether we believe in a collective effort to write policies that will protect life and property - now derisively known as government, that some in the human tribe run for, then put themselves in a position to thwart any solutions from it. "Pluck" alone will not solve our problems. We lack, as I've said on posts previous to this one, a depth of understanding in the following:

Civics - the study of the rights and duties of citizens and of how government works,
Source: Merriam-Webster

Epistemology - Defined narrowly, epistemology is the study of knowledge and justified belief. As the study of knowledge, epistemology is concerned with the following questions: What are the necessary and sufficient conditions of knowledge? What are its sources? What is its structure, and what are its limits? As the study of justified belief, epistemology aims to answer questions such as: How we are to understand the concept of justification? What makes justified beliefs justified? Is justification internal or external to one's own mind? Understood more broadly, epistemology is about issues having to do with the creation and dissemination of knowledge in particular areas of inquiry.

Science - a systematic and logical approach to discovering how things in the universe work. It is also the body of knowledge accumulated through the discoveries about all the things in the universe.

The word "science" is derived from the Latin word scientia, which is knowledge based on demonstrable and reproducible data, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. True to this definition, science aims for measurable results through testing and analysis. Science is based on fact, not opinion or preferences.

Scientific Method - When conducting research, scientists use the scientific method to collect measurable, empirical evidence in an experiment related to a hypothesis (often in the form of an if/then statement), the results aiming to support or contradict a theory.

The steps of the scientific method go something like this:

1. Make an observation or observations.
2. Ask questions about the observations and gather information.
3. Form a hypothesis — a tentative description of what's been observed, and make predictions based on that hypothesis.
4. Test the hypothesis and predictions in an experiment that can be reproduced.
5. Analyze the data and draw conclusions; accept or reject the hypothesis or modify the hypothesis if necessary.
6. Reproduce the experiment until there are no discrepancies between observations and theory. "

Science along with its subset engineering deals in the natural sciences, i.e. those things that relate to nature or phenomena that can be observed, defined, measured, calculated, or quantized (quantum mechanics I'm alluding to here). Once the subject goes into the supernatural, whatever the argument, it is no longer science.

That does not mean science is incompatible with wonder:

“Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light‐years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual. So are our emotions in the presence of great art or music or literature, or acts of exemplary selfless courage such as those of Mohandas Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr. The notion that science and spirituality are somehow mutually exclusive does a disservice to both.”

Thomas Jefferson fashioned our federal republic after Sir Isaac Newton, Sir Francis Bacon and Sir John Locke—the creators of physics, inductive reasoning and empiricism. We have to decide as a species what path we're going to follow - belief or rationality. One is a function of culture, and a source of comfort to many in particular groups; the other the natural outcome of our previous hunter-gatherer ancestors. It is a matter of survival. It would be culturally arrogant and supremely stupid to consider after 5 mass extinction events, we could not hurry the next one. As matter-of-fact, we're within and on track for the sixth. It is a dark poetry that lead (Pb) in-then modern plumbing had previously been suspected as ending the world empire of Rome (it didn't). The current one appears being scuttled by enabled Silicon transistors, transmitting 140 (now 280) characters. Little did we know our future epitaph - that will be unearthed by any curious alien archaeologists, assuming they will have survived their own intelligence Entropy for deep space travel - is being written in this daily inanity of "alternative facts."

Related link:
Nobel Week Dialog: Science and Society - the Future of Truth

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