Friday Roundup

“Facts” it turns out, are not always facts

Here is what might help people understand why “facts” are not always facts…and why such does not diminish science…

And more here: I couldn’t agree more: “The human soul longs for a beautiful story that draws out of a scar-filled life into something bigger. And the Gospel is that beautiful story that calls us out. It messes with you. It seems upside down. But science is also a beautiful narrative. It has many similarities to the life of faith, because it’s tapping into a sense of wonder, curiosity, and mystery. And when you understand the scientific narrative in this way, it actually works together with the life of faith; they are deeply compatible.”

The man is delusional…a carnival barker…snake oil…it is unbelievable he is President

Here is the power of narrative, the power of story to shape how we see and understand the world…and, David Brooks tells a story here: Is it a true one?

Does church attendance reduce bigotry?  I think he is a little too pessimistic, but point well taken.

Is it “high time that we abandoned the well-worn term ‘statistically significant’.”?

The defeat of “TrumpCare” was because of conservatives not liberals or moderates. And, it shows how far their philosophy is from the mainstream.






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8 Responses to Friday Roundup

  1. RonH says:

    re: healthcare and conservatives: “THE whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes being corrected.” — GKC

    Health care in this country will most likely remain broken until it is no longer locked to employer for the vast majority of Americans. That is the root of a great many evils, including the ridiculously inflated prices of health services. The ACA did not address this, and that’s why here in Texas at least the ACA marketplace is a near-useless joke.


    • Until the nation is ready to have a philosophical (even theological) discussion about healthcare we will continue to see half-measures and hybrid-Frankenstein type solutions that, while better than nothing, still have fundamental flaws.


  2. Burk says:

    Hi, Darrell-

    I find it curious how you follow a pean to the story of Christianity with a snake-oil denunciation of Donald Trump. He is also selling a story- a great story about how we are going to be great again, and he is the one to fix it. At least he is not promising a second coming, only a first. Both are stories, and why devalue one when it has far more going for it, empirically, than the other one?

    Anyhow, your Peter Harrison link was quite interesting. Skepticism seems to be our bane now.

    “Kant, clearly, would have been a problematic parishioner and a difficult patient.”

    Skeptics need not apply! This is a sad/funny article, really. It all comes back to intellectual standards. If one has rigorous standards, one can accept lack of knowledge about many things, see into mistakes, lies and deceit, and have more security about what is known. There is truth, and some stories are built to support and communicate it, while other are built for the opposite.

    “Something like “implicit faith” then, seems to be exactly what is called for if the present deliverances of the scientific community are to be accepted by those lacking scientific expertise.”

    Not really- explicit faith and curiosity would be acceptable as well. As would be knowledgeable skepticism. Scientific expertise of the needed level is not hard to come by- the world is awash in helpful media on these topics. What is not acceptable is corrupt, mendacious propaganda as fostered by FOX and its ilk. It is not science’s job to get into the propaganda trenches to fight it out with every corporation and other corrupt interest. That is where the so-called skepticism is coming from, not from “Enlightenment values”.


  3. Burk,

    Well, that you find the story Trump tells as having more going for it than the story told by the Christian narrative is troubling, to say the least. I agree both are telling a story but they are completely opposite ones. Not sure how Trump’s story is empirically true? I guess we could say that, empirically, we know that he is a liar, a snake-oil salesman. I’ll tell you what, if Trump ends up getting crucified and they can’t find his body after three days, and if his followers claim, to the point of death, they have seen him, and if those followers literally change Western Civilization over the next two thousand years, then I will admit there are similarities.

    As to Harrison’s piece, scientists were always fine with people questioning the authority of the Church, the King, or any other authority out there and in fact often encouraged it. What they weren’t prepared for, was to have their own authority questioned as is happening now. And, ironically, the skepticism regarding experts and expert knowledge was inherent in the very “Enlightenment” view that allowed science to become an authority. Skepticism, once unleashed however, can often turn on its masters—it is an entirely disloyal servant.


    • Burk says:

      Hi, Darrell-

      It is simple, really. I am just judging their relative empirical reality, not their moral valence. Trump is undeniably an existing, well-attested person. That already gets substantial points over rather murkey origins of Christianity. Second, he has a track record of building things, accomplishing things, etc. So in terms of his promises to build more things and accomplish more things, he has far, far higher credibility than a theology that has not seen a second coming, not demonstrated a scintilla of any of its world view, from hell to heaven, god, the holy ghost, or anything in between. Aside from the various mythological writings of its scriptures, there is no basis for historical credibility, and its promises (eternal life, second coming, answered prayers, apocalypse, etc.) are likewise without evidence or merit, aside from imaginative artistry.


      • Burk,

        As usual your comparisons are all philosophical category errors–a mistake you make all the time and can’t seem to either understand or get past. Putting that aside, you are welcome to place all your faith and trust in the empirical Donald Trump, since he is more real to you. Good luck with that.


      • Burk says:

        Hi, Darrell-

        Perhaps you can help me understand. As far as I can discern, the category problem is that you allow religious claims to occupy a zone of radically reduced evidence requirements, making faith in unknowables and unknowns into a virtue.


  4. Burk,

    Right, you don’t understand and then to make it worse in follow-up—you beg the question. If you could ever get past those two fallacies or philosophical mistakes—you might find yourself in an actual conversation one day. You should really try it sometime.


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