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RE: offtopic helmet polishing (was Re: rm fails to remove symboliclinks to directories)

On Wed, 20 Apr 2005, Robb, Sam wrote:

> >   In science, we have this wonderful concept, called "evidence".
> > Observation generates evidence; faith does not.
> Nonsense.  Faith is based on evidence.  Tell me - do you think that
> the sun will come up tomorrow?  Yes?  That's faith.  You have your
> observations, some evidence, and you extrapolate from that to reach
> a conclusion about something you have yet to observe or experience.

Sam, with all due respect, I believe you're addressing the later point by
this rejoinder, rather than the lines you quoted.  You can hardly argue
with the fact that observation does indeed generate evidence (in fact,
"evidence" is just "observation" translated), and that faith is generally
associated with lack of evidence (because otherwise it would be called a
"scientific conclusion").

Now, being an agnostic, I'm not taking sides here.  In fact, I would
classify faith into two categories: "honest faith", which is really a
deeply believed theory that's doesn't contradict what little evidence
there is, and "blind faith", which is belief in something contrary to
unambiguously interpretable exising evidence[*].

One could argue that the scientific method of adhering to a theory until
it's contradicted by facts is just "honest faith" in the above definition.
There are also well-known stories of scientists hanging on to their
theories far beyond that point (in which case this becomes "blind faith").

FWIW, I (and most people) see nothing wrong with "honest faith".  It's
"blind faith" that's mostly argued about.

> > In fact, faith is an invitation to self-delusion, since it consists
> > mainly in the false inference that the apparent strength and clarity
> > of a perception or belief is an indication of the accuracy of its
> > relation to reality, which is a total non-sequitur.
> Oh, come one.  The basis of the scientific method is *precisely*
> the idea that the "strength and clarity of a perception... is an
> indication of the accuracy of its relation to reality".  Science
> is based on our perceptions of reality; increasingly detailed
> observations lead to an incresingly accurate model of reality.
> If I follow your logic, then I must conclude that both science and
> faith - indeed, anything based on my perceptions - are nothing but
> self-delusion.  Intellectually cute, perhaps, but hardly satisfying.

Now we're getting "Matrix"y...
[*] Given the fact that the definition of "unambiguously interpretable" is
subject to some heated arguments, everyone has a different idea of what
constitutes "blind faith".
      |\      _,,,---,,_
ZZZzz /,`.-'`'    -.  ;-;;,_
     |,4-  ) )-,_. ,\ (  `'-'		Igor Pechtchanski, Ph.D.
    '---''(_/--'  `-'\_) fL	a.k.a JaguaR-R-R-r-r-r-.-.-.  Meow!

"The Sun will pass between the Earth and the Moon tonight for a total
Lunar eclipse..." -- WCBS Radio Newsbrief, Oct 27 2004, 12:01 pm EDT

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