In my last post I gave some background on my stint on Mormon Matters and then talked about some of the important players.
When I left Mormon Matters my dear friend, DougG, was the only person that really noticed I had disappeared. He was also the only person that actually asked me to return. When I talked with Doug on the phone (that was when he asked me to come back) this is what I told him.
I said I felt like Mormon Matters played an important role of being a friendly place to ‘let off steam’ for those that didn’t believe in the LDS Church’s defining beliefs any more (sometimes still practicing, sometimes, not) while still allowing them to interact with a certain kind of Mormon that still believed, but was sympathetic to their concerns. This belief-with-sympathies approach really only worked if the believers were willing to not strongly challenge the post Mormons on their new beliefs or on their concerns.
So I had come to wonder if my presence there – where I would directly challenge a former members new beliefs — was disrupting that purpose. Was it possible that I was even causing people to quit by my presence?
We had several post Mormons quit within my short stint due to “too many posts supportive of the LDS Church.” After they quit, John Dehlin quickly utilized his post-Mormon network to find new replacements — and this took all of 30 seconds in most cases. And not a single post Mormon that quit ever said “I quit because I don’t like how Bruce is challenging me too much.” It was generally just the existence of too many “pro Mormon posts” that caused the problem. On at least one occaision, we had a blogger quit because she was upset with how Hawkgrrl had moderated a comment. (If you know how permitting Hawk is with comments, you will laugh at that last statement. You have to be cussing and threatening some GA before she’ll consider cutting the comment. Yet it was true that this angered at least one blogger that then quit.) Continue reading
In previous posts I responded (or gave other people’s responses anyhow) to the ideas that science is primarily about prediction, Reductionism, or Holism. In those ideas we found some truth, but not the whole truth.
Another common point of view is that science is really about observation. Related to this is the idea that science is primarily about empirical evidence or in other words must be falsifiable. As it turns out, these points of view are somewhat correct, but also misleading.
Science is Not Primarily Observation
I doubt science would have any meaning if we didn’t take the ideas of observation and empirical evidence seriously. Descarte is rumored to have tried to argue in favor of pure reason, but we know that this doesn’t work out in real life. The problem is that our reasoning capacity is too broad. We can think of logical possibilities that just happen to not exist. Continue reading
…the chameleonic nature of numbers [is] so rich and complex that numerical patterns have the flexibility to mirror any other kind of pattern. (Douglas Hoftsadter in I am a Strange Loop, p. 159)
In my last post, I discussed the point of view known as ‘reductionism’ and the problems with that point of view. In summary, reductionism is the false belief that sciences that work with the smallest units of nature – atoms and below – are somehow more fundamental explanations of reality than emergent ones, such as thought or computation.
A few posts ago, I discussed computability and comprehension. My final conclusion was that while algorithms and explanations aren’t the same thing, you can’t have an explanation without having an algorithm. Continue reading
A while back I did a post about my three favorite non-fiction authors: David Deustch, Roger Penrose, and Douglas Hofstadter (Gesundheit!). This post is about Roger Penrose.
Roger Penrose has an interesting categorization system for scientific theories that I’d like to share. (Later on, I’ll give David Deutsch’s alternative approach.) Penrose believes there are three categories of theories. They are:
He goes on to say that say he’s considered making a fourth category called MISGUIDED but then thought better of it because he didn’t want to lose half of his friends.
In this post I want to talk about the seven scientific theories Penrose considers to be in the SUPERB category. These are the theories that, as Penrose puts it, have been phenomenal in their range and accuracy. Continue reading