News from mdebellis


























  1. This article has a fundamental flaw from those who don't understand science. Arguments such as "If X is true then that means Y is true and Y makes me/us uncomfortable/immoral/unhealthy/..." Nature doesn't care about your feelings and major advances in science such as the theory of evolution and the Copernican model of the solar system often entail that we have to abandon or rethink traditional concepts that we don't want to change.

  2. I'm interested in the mythic aspect, which has been almost entirely ignored in this thread apart from one brusque dismissal. I think that's the very problem the initial statement is pointing to. Does anyone still read Joseph Campbell, or is he simply regarded now as a "pop" philosopher? He said in one of the Bill Moyers PBS interviews that a contemporary mythology is now almost impossible because the rate of technology-driven societal change is simply too rapid. His proposed solution was for individuals to look at the body of myth we do have in a selective way, finding value and spiritual guidance where possible. This strikes me as also a useful way to step back out of a definitional language crisis. But it requires an open mind, which is hard - but not impossible - to reconcile with rigorous linguistic analysis. A creative application of cognitive dissonance, perhaps?

  3. I never gave Campbell much thought because what little I knew of him seemed incredibly reductive and the kind of pop analysis that people cling to because they like simple answers. Then I found the following first of two parts analysis by Maggie Mae Fish on YouTube and I realized... Campbell was actually much worse than I had even realized. I encourage anyone who thinks Campbell should be taken seriously to watch this. It isn't long and Maggie is also funny as well as providing insightful analysis:

  4. While there are some good arguments against something in this video, this is not a video that actually engages Campbell's thought in any real way.

  5. I think you make some good points. I just really dislike articles or posts with titles like "The meaning crisis and language - how our inability to ‘believe’ myth and metaphor has left us unable to understand ourselves" There is absolutely no evidence I can see of a "meaning crisis" (at least not in the dramatic way the OP states it) and certainly no evidence that we can't "understand ourselves" due to this supposed crisis. Myths constantly evolve as does the way they are passed on. I'm sure when the written word started being used there were people who bemoaned that we no longer had story tellers who could present stories like the Iliad from memory. And when the printing press came about I'm sure some people talked about the crisis that scribes could no longer find employment and that printed books are so sterile compared to the elegant scrolls people used before them.

  6. I get these "requests" daily at this point. It's 100% a scam unless you know the journal/conference, as well as the person sending the request, already to be reputable. But I have had hundreds of these requests, and not one of them have been legit, so it is probably a scam.

  7. I wouldn't count the fact that they call you doctor as all that significant. I get that too but from very reputable publishers, journals, and conferences. People who approach you assume you have a PhD if you publish in journals and conferences and even if they are wrong, they would rather err on the side of being overly polite. I also don't think that just because you get an email from a source you don't know it is virtually certainly a scam. I've received several legitimate inquiries that way and my spam filter usually removes the spam journals.

  8. I agree with a few things in this article although I don't think in the way the author intends. I've said before that IMO there is no major difference between science and philosophy. The difference is that what we call philosophy are topics where science is very immature such as the study of human ethics. Similarly, I think that there is no one "scientific method" but rather science is a combination of various methods such as peer review, data analysis, theory development, mathematical analysis, experimentation, falsifiable hypotheses, etc. For some disciplines (e.g., physics and chemistry) we can use all of these tools for others (e.g., psychology and even history) we can only use some. We use as many as we can for any problem. Some will object that for example it is impossible to do experiments regarding history but in fact I've seen various experiments done to attempt to answer questions such as "Where was the battle of Cannae actually fought?" or "what was Greek fire?".

  9. Haven't checked, but I suspect they are saying that all the fish are genetically the same. Hormones determine the sex, and they are determined by conditions, not genes.

  10. I'm a computer scientist (as well as a philosopher) and one thing I'm trying to do is to bring rigor to the "soft" sciences. I use a tool from Stanford called Protégé to create logical models called ontologies in the Web Ontology Language (OWL). In the past I've used OWL to define what some of Chomsky's students call a Universal Moral Grammar:

  11. This is the first recursive post I've ever seen. The post proves what it is trying to argue... because it is so stupid.

  12. check your posts on your profile. i see three in that sub over the last 28 days.

  13. Thanks again, I found the post. I can't believe I missed that. I still think the moderation was completely unfair. Normally this wouldn't bother me as much but in this case I think it is especially egregious because it is an example of the worst kind of moderation. Moderation that discourages free and open exchange of ideas and makes a community nothing but an echo chamber for people that share the same idea. The fact that the moderators not only didn't bother with even giving me a REASON for why it was not posted and then they blocked me simply for inquiring about why it was blocked is especially aggravating. Anyway, thanks again for your help and I apologize for venting.

  14. I don't know how to see the posts in my profile but I can probably figure it out. But you know what I'm already sick of Reddit. I posted the same comment to Feminism and not only did they block it but they muted me for 28 days. My post was in no way angry or anti-feminist. I said in the post that I am a feminist and have been for many years. You can probably see the post. I raised what I think is a very legitimate point about how some people in feminist theory embrace unscientific claims. And they block me rather then honestly debating. Exactly what people who don't understand science would do. And I see no way to complain about an unfair muting. I hate things like this. I've been a Wikipedia editor for decades and I've never had any issues with them and all the admins there are very fair and will explain their actions and allow you to debate if you disagree with them. I liked Reddit at first because unlike Facebook there were some serious discussions but this just really pisses me off and is a classic example of people with a little power who get off on abusing their power. Anyway, thanks for your help. I just deleted my Twitter account and I think I'm going to do the same with Reddit and from now on stick to Google groups that are moderated by actual scientists and engineers.

  15. I don't see any of this as justification for saying the self is "an illusion". Rather all these factors mean we are (just barely) beginning to understand what it means to say we have a sense of self and how such a sense arises. An illusion is something we see that is clearly inconsistent with reality. There are many examples of this in psychology. When you flash a few well placed dots in a tachistoscope people see a rotating cube rather than a few dots. This is because of something called the "rigid body principle", we are predisposed to see rigid bodies because those were the kinds of things that our hunter gatherer ancestors had to deal with, not flashing dots. Or when you put a pencil in a glass of water it seems to bend. That's an illusion because we never evolved an adaptation to correct for the difference between how light travels through air and through other mediums such as water.

  16. The problem is that there really is no consensus on the evolution of language at all. There may be some good intro books on it but I've studied the topic a bit and never found them. Typically when you have introductory textbooks it is on topics where there is at least some consensus (like particle physics or evolution by natural selection) even if there are still major unanswered questions. The two best books on the topic I can think of are Why Only Us? by Chomsky and someone else I think Biermann and The Symbolic Species by Berkeley anthropologist Terrance Deacon. I've taken classes from both of them and they are both two of the most brilliant people... actually I think they ARE the two most brilliant people I've ever met in person. And of course they both completely disagree with each other. I think both their approaches have merit.

  17. BTW, if you want to see an alternative point of view to what I just said in another post I recommend reading Saul Alinksky's Rules for Radicals. He gets quoted by the right so much... not so much anymore actually but for a while they were always referencing the book as the bible for all left wing people so I gave it a read. To my surprise I didn't like it much. It was a fun read and Alinsky did some amazing things but it was all about how it's important to present people with someone to hate and make politics personal. E.g., if some company is polluting the drinking water then Alinsky says to demonize the CEO of the company and what a creep he is rather than emphasizing all the bad consequences of not having clean water. Maybe that's why I would never make a good politician, I like to think that down deep most human can be reached by rational arguments. Which is also why I thought Trump would never be elected so I should probably admit defeat but I'm stubborn... kind of irrational that way... no one is completely consistent... ;-)

  18. I know that many people won't agree but I think the Enlightenment was a pretty cool movement and that one of the values of the Enlightenment is that reason matters more than myths. The thing about a myth is that if it is an effective enough story it can justify whatever you want. There are probably comics somewhere in the middle east that portray the 9/11 hijackers as noble heroes who sacrificed their lives for Islam (which is how they saw themselves).

  19. First, thanks for prefacing this with "Nobody knows for sure" because so often I see people presenting theories on these kinds of things with a degree of certainty that is far out of proportion to what we know. Second, I agree and I would add a bit more to the hypothesis: that is that the reason homo sapiens turned out to be better at collaboration is that we developed language more or less around the time that the Neanderthals died out.

  20. I think there are 2 possible approaches:

  21. You do realize that Nietzsche was talking about the school system in Germany in the 19th century right? So titling this "the modern school system" is a bit disingenuous. Also, just about everyone I've ever talked to (including me) says that they directly use very little of what they learned in school in their work. I studied computer science but working as an IT consultant I had to learn very different skills than what was or should be taught in school. Knowing how to program was of course useful and for various projects I used some tools from statistics like Linear Regression but the whole experience of developing software with a large team and a client is vastly different than what you learn as a programmer (or even working on small project teams) at school.

  22. As I said in my original post, an organism has to reproduce. There are other factors but that one by itself is sufficient. Every organism from single celled life to plants to humans reproduces. The Earth doesn't generate baby Earths that go out into the solar system and compete for resources with the offspring of other planets.

  23. I mean, that's a pretty safe bet... and no one is going to prove you wrong any time soon.

  24. Well yes and no. We know for example that whatever consciousness is, it takes place in the brain not the liver. We know that firing neurons plays a large role in it.

  25. You didn't address my main point/question which is what is it about philosophy (except tradition) that says these subjects need some discipline that is distinct from science in order to study them?

  26. Thank you for taking the time to reply. I have read and will reread your words. I’m still here walking a tightrope but I am choosing to be on an acute ward which is a very unpleasant place to be. Am I punishing myself for selfishly attempting? Am I still hopeful but unaware whatever the reason I am here and talking candidly about my thoughts and feelings. All I want it to discuss debate and downright argue until I gain clarity and confidence in whatever decision I make. Your words help more than you know kind sir. Also I am to programming as Clapton is to playing quarterback. Honestly the fact it compiles ever is a mystery!

  27. You're welcome. It took me a long time to admit to myself that I had mental illness and needed help and even longer to talk about it openly but I think it is really important to do so to eliminate the stigma and make people realize that it isn't weakness or some moral failing to have mental health issues and need help.

  28. I agree that the idea that is prevalent in some epistemology that knowledge means certainty is clearly flawed. Dawkins actually has a good discussion of this in the God Delusion, that virtually all of science is probabilistic because it is based on induction from data and there can always be new data or better theories to explain the data. So with the exception of mathematical proofs all knowledge is to some extent uncertain. Peirce thought the same thing, in fact he even pointed out that proofs aren't completely certain since (at least for complex proofs like Turing's proof that the Entscheidungsproblem has no general solution) there can always be an error in the proof. There's a precedent for this, there's a famous proof by Von Neumann related to quantum theory that most people now believe is flawed.

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