Questioning an Assumption
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06-10-2011, 05:46 PM
RE: Questioning an Assumption
I think the argument our manually-signaturing friend Matt is making, is whether or not worrying about evidence is the best way to a happy, peaceful existence. Which is a different thing from the typical "Evidence is meaningless before faith" bullcrap. I can see the confusion though.
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06-10-2011, 06:39 PM
RE: Questioning an Assumption
I don't know, I think he's asking whether there is evidence that one way is actually better than the other. Like a study or something showing living the skeptical life to be actually better or if it's maybe just our perception due to you know being skeptical.

In which case I would say that there is no actual evidence showing this, other than assumed evidence which isn't evidence at all. We can say till we're blue in the face that we would prefer to have a truthful realistic life over one built on faith or something other than scientific evidence but all it means is life might have been worse for us in a different situation. Then again it could be the same as christians who say they believe in the bible and no other holy book, when in reality they would more than likely believe in the holy book of where they were born regardless of denomination. Maybe in another world that still had faith based realities we wouldn't question it. Who knows. I know that I would have less reason to question things if there were no bible. The bible itself is so horrible and full of stupid things I can't help but ask questions, but if it didn't exist and there was nothing in direct opposition to witnessable events in my faith based world, I might be just as happy with it.

If only there was a study. Maybe I'm wrong about the question too what the fuck do I know?

"I think of myself as an intelligent, sensitive human being with the soul of a clown which always forces me to blow it at the most important moments." -Jim Morrison
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06-10-2011, 07:04 PM
RE: Questioning an Assumption
(06-10-2011 05:46 PM)Sines Wrote:  I think the argument our manually-signaturing friend Matt is making, is whether or not worrying about evidence is the best way to a happy, peaceful existence. Which is a different thing from the typical "Evidence is meaningless before faith" bullcrap. I can see the confusion though.

If that is the question, then I would say that it varies from person to person. I've known many a fundamentalist that is happy as a pig in shit (and at peace) because they have all the answers they need and they are confident about their future. I on the other-hand could never be at peace in their shoes.

I am reminded of this quote “The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact than a drunken man is happier than a sober one” -George Bernard Shaw

If life were better being based on faith and superstition than based on evidence then the dark ages would be a comparative paradise. The fact that mankind has steadily progressed toward an evidence based methodology over faith has made life better. And I see most of the challenges we face as being due to people not believing in evidence. (Global warming, anti-vaccination movement, and so on.)

“There is no sin except stupidity.” Oscar Wilde
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06-10-2011, 10:00 PM (This post was last modified: 06-10-2011 10:27 PM by GirlyMan.)
RE: Questioning an Assumption
(04-10-2011 09:10 PM)Ghost Wrote:  Speaking scientifically, not emotionally or from within our cultural bias, what is the evidence that it is better to live our lives and organise our cultures based only on evidence?

This is nothing more than a variation on "Where ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise."

Ignorance is delusion. Now that I have seen the abyss, I cannot unsee it. And I am better off because of it. I know now how insignificant I am because of it. I like it, it's good. Liberating even. I feel no compulsion to be a happy idiot.

As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
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06-10-2011, 11:07 PM
RE: Questioning an Assumption
Hey, erbody.

There's a lot of things I'd like to respond to, mostly because there's a lot of confusion. But I think, in terms of guiding the discussion, I want to focus on three quotes.

Ludacris Wrote:I don't know, I think he's asking whether there is evidence that one way is actually better than the other. Like a study or something showing living the skeptical life to be actually better or if it's maybe just our perception due to you know being skeptical.

Ludacris wins the fridge. That's exactly what I'm asking.

nontheocrat Wrote:The fact that mankind has steadily progressed toward an evidence based methodology over faith has made life better.

This is the sort of statement that I'm questioning. I'm not saying it's wrong. I'm just scrutinising it.

What is the evidence that supports this notion that life is not only better, but that it's better because of evidence?

I'm really just trying to cut through the "because it is" stuff. That's just received wisdom.

I'm trying to mythbust.

GirlyMan Wrote:Ignorance is delusion. Now that I have seen the abyss, I cannot unsee it. And I am better off because of it. I know now how insignificant I am because of it. I like it, it's good. Liberating even. I feel no compulsion to be a happy idiot.

First of all, that was an excellent link.

What you just said, to me, is a perfectly rational explanation for why evidence has value in your life. But I'm not looking for subjective value, I'm looking for support for a big T Truth.

I also throw back to the Australian Aborigines, who I don't hold up as the quintessential example, just one that happens to seems to me to be relevant to the topic at hand. Their entire worldview is based on something that is clearly and demonstrably false. So were they an ignorant and or deluded people? Also, in the last few hundred years, they've been shown (read force fed) the Truth of the world. Has that revealing made their lives better? My gut says no, but I'm not interested in my gut. If basing beliefs on evidence is better, then their lives must have been made better. Thoughts?

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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06-10-2011, 11:49 PM (This post was last modified: 07-10-2011 12:15 AM by GirlyMan.)
RE: Questioning an Assumption
(06-10-2011 11:07 PM)Ghost Wrote:  ... I'm looking for support for a big T Truth.

You're looking for support for something we don't yet have any evidence or even inkling of.

(06-10-2011 11:07 PM)Ghost Wrote:  So were they an ignorant and or deluded people?

Yup, both. But it's not like it's anything to be ashamed of.

(06-10-2011 11:07 PM)Ghost Wrote:  Also, in the last few hundred years, they've been shown (read force fed) the Truth of the world. Has that revealing made their lives better?

Dunno. You'd have to ask them. But this is precisely why we are leaving these pagans alone. We're smart enough now to know that we could royally fuck them up.

As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
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07-10-2011, 12:13 AM
RE: Questioning an Assumption
Matt raises an interesting question. But you can't begin to answer it unless you first decide what constitutes "the good life" and why one way of living is better than another. What values do you hold dear? What goals are worthy of pursuit? What makes one life better and another worse?

If happiness is your pre-eminent value, then it may well be that exclusive reliance on evidence and rationality won't get you there. The Australian Aborigine example is a good one. You could also cite any number of Native American cultures, not to mention modern fundamentalists of every stripe. During my few years of belief in my youth, until I began to question, I was damn happy. But happiness is not necessarily the measure of what makes a life better or worse. For some, "It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied."

If the pursuit of truth is your highest good, then it seems to me that evidence is the way to get there. Supposed truths that can be arrived at without evidence don't withstand scrutiny.

So first things first. Define what you mean by a good life. Then you can examine whether evidence is the best way to get you there.

Religious disputes are like arguments in a madhouse over which inmate really is Napoleon.
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07-10-2011, 07:01 AM
RE: Questioning an Assumption
As I said before, thinking false things can make you happy, but they make you more likely to do things that will harm you. For being wrong to be preferable, it either needs to be about something inconsequential (Belief in the deist god, or the very liberal version of theist gods, essentially, any belief that won't cause you to act differently than if you didn't have it). Otherwise, it will eventually cause you to stumble ignorantly into suffering.

If a people can find a way to not care about the suffering that comes their way, then sure, believing whatever makes you happy is a-ok. Although I have to ask, if you can ignore suffering, why would you need to believe untrue things to be happy, it sounds like you'd be in damn strong control of your emotions already. But I don't know how much I can believe that people can do that. A few, sure. But not whole cultures. People want to avoid death for them and their loved ones. People don't want to be hurt. They want to indulge their urges. By just believing whatever you want, you may shut yourself out from the best ways to achieve these ends.

Those aborigines were thought to not be human by the europeans. Well... I kind of see where they were coming from. If they were all uncaring enough about the real world for ignorance is bliss to qualify, then... well... what person acts like that? Ignoring your emotions, and having no concern about the real world other than to go about the ritual of survival for the sake of maintaining stasis? I cannot buy that an entire culture is that unusual. That they all really are that perfectly... whatever... such that ignorance really is bliss, even in the long run.

And ultimately, even if most of them were, what about the ones who weren't? What about the aborigine who didn't want to just maintain the status quo? Were they treated with kindness and respect? I don't really know for sure, but I'm willing to bet they were the same bastards to those people that the europeans were when they arrived.

Hypothetically, if you are a kind of person who doesn't care a whit for the real world, but do care about what goes on inside your own head, then sure, you can be happier living a lie. But I don't really believe there are that many people like that. No matter how many 'spiritual' people say they exist beyond this material world, doesn't make it true. You still have to live here, and deal with the world, and the best way to know how to deal with the world is to know how it works.
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07-10-2011, 08:25 AM
RE: Questioning an Assumption
I simply don't believe anybody chooses either/or - to live a life and organize a society based solely on known cause-and-effect chains*, or to live a life and organize a society based solely on faith in the spirit world.

The scientists fall in love and can't prove it, except through a lifetime's fidelity; compose music and can't point to where they heard it; have moments of utter, private joy based on no thoughts they can communicate, except perhaps in poetry.
The ignorant aborigines know which bark cures toothache and which berry causes the runs, where fish hide and birds nest, how to make fire with two sticks and a handful of straw.
*Because at first, there were no chains of cause and effect. The idea of evidence had to be invented before we could even start one. And by then, people had been people, surviving and making use of a world much realer than our present one, for a considerable while. They observed, remembered, guessed.
Ignorance is not delusion - it's a gap or temporary plateau in knowledge. The claim that one is free of ignorance, that's delusion. To fill in the gaps of one's knowledge with intuition and instinct is perfectly logical, whether one has the language to philosophize it or not... and even if one describes it in language obscure to a foreigner. To disdain instinct and intuition because one can't philosophize it to the satisfaction of a foreigner - or even one's own super-ego - would be a misery-inducing folly, akin to cutting off one's nose.
We have physical receptors, reason, emotion, memory, imagination, aesthetic sensibility, culture, education, desire, modes communication. I don't see how throwing any of them away will make life happier or "better".
And nobody has defined better, anyway, nor said better than what.

If you pray to anything, you're prey to anything.
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07-10-2011, 09:11 AM
RE: Questioning an Assumption
(06-10-2011 11:07 PM)Ghost Wrote:  
nontheocrat Wrote:The fact that mankind has steadily progressed toward an evidence based methodology over faith has made life better.

This is the sort of statement that I'm questioning. I'm not saying it's wrong. I'm just scrutinising it.

What is the evidence that supports this notion that life is not only better, but that it's better because of evidence?

I'm really just trying to cut through the "because it is" stuff. That's just received wisdom.

I'm trying to mythbust.

I grew up Pentecostal, where magical thinking was the rule of the day. Where people can be demon possessed, when people anointed cars with oil to chase out evil spirits, where "the prayer of faith" was supposed to heal the sick. And when the sick were not healed, when cars broke, when insanity happened, they blamed the victim for lack of faith. Without looking at evidence (statistically examining the efficacy of prayer against random chance) you have no way of knowing they are wrong. Point in favor of evidence-based reality in my book.

When you live in a swirling world of magical thinking you have no way of telling fact from fiction, and the only alternative I see to an evidence based methodology is magical thinking. The resident of a magical world is tossed all over the placed like swimming in a violent sea with nowhere to stand. Truth becomes what the local shaman says verses what your witch-doctor said because neither of us can prove otherwise. How could that possibly be better?

From such a (non-evidence based) society, there are no brakes to halt the slide into the abyss of insanity. I suppose it is possible to be functional and happy for some people and a magically thinking society will not necessarily train wreck, but I think that the only brake on society is the testability of claims. If you want to believe nonsense or claims without proof, fine, but if you want to fuck up someone else's life then you gotta have proof.

Looking at the progress of Western thought I think not torturing people for being the wrong religion is better than not. We stopped because evidence based thinking showed that no one can be so certain of their religious bullshit to justify torture. If you could be absolutely certain that your religion is true, it is not a large step to torture heathens that don't agree with you because you are SURE you are right. Sure in the 21st Century it still happens, but the majority feels it is wrong because the majority now knows that evidence matters, they just don't always apply it to all that they should. But, the average resident of Western Europe during the Dark Ages would have thought it was natural. Point in favor of evidence-based reality in my book.

One more point, we can think a scientific world (evidence based) for having a life expectancy of 70+ years compared to around 30 in a non-science based society. Since I don't believe in an after life, more life IS better in my view. Another point in the evidence-based column.

I agree with cufflink here that it depends on how you measure quality of life, in every way I measure quality, an evidence-based reality is better.

“There is no sin except stupidity.” Oscar Wilde
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