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  #1  
Old 22nd September 2015, 10:06 PM
Rockhound Rockhound is offline
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Default The 'Hows' and 'Whys' of Science.

Always remember guys, Science is there to answer the "How's", never the "Why's.
Rockhound.
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Old 23rd September 2015, 12:54 AM
stevebrooks stevebrooks is offline
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Default Re: Truth-Lover

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Rockhound said View Post
Always remember guys, Science is there to answer the "How's", never the "Why's.
Rockhound.
The assumption that there is actually a why is one of the greatest failings of the human condition, it leads to religion and death. If we can assign a why to something bad that happens we can shift the responsibility for it, for instance, why did the man get sick, the witch did it, kill the witch!

Sometimes we have to accept there is no why, there has never been a why and there never will be a why. For most things there are no why's, this is not a problem, it's a property of reality.
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Old 23rd September 2015, 08:55 AM
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Darwinsbulldog Darwinsbulldog is offline
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Default Re: Truth-Lover

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Rockhound said View Post
Always remember guys, Science is there to answer the "How's", never the "Why's.
Rockhound.
But, but....WHY?
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Old 25th October 2015, 07:34 PM
Spearthrower Spearthrower is offline
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Default Re: Truth-Lover

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Rockhound said View Post
Always remember guys, Science is there to answer the "How's", never the "Why's.
Rockhound.

I dispute this - science routinely answers the proximate whys, it just doesn't answer the kind of ultimate ones which most humans desperately want there to be.
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Old 25th October 2015, 08:17 PM
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Darwinsbulldog Darwinsbulldog is offline
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Spearthrower said View Post
I dispute this - science routinely answers the proximate whys, it just doesn't answer the kind of ultimate ones which most humans desperately want there to be.
Nah. That is more science philosophy, or an agnostic metaphysics.

Science, by definition, has built-in tentativeness. And the "why" is more about function, rather than purpose.

Eg. We know the how of wing function, but not the why. The "why" is a non-question really.
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Old 25th October 2015, 08:30 PM
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rayne rayne is offline
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Default Re: Truth-Lover

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Darwinsbulldog said View Post
Nah. That is more science philosophy, or an agnostic metaphysics.

Science, by definition, has built-in tentativeness. And the "why" is more about function, rather than purpose.

Eg. We know the how of wing function, but not the why. The "why" is a non-question really.
Are we talking about "Why" as in function or "Why" as in morality? Science can tell us how something works and why something acts like it does.

In regards to morality, Sam Harris has realised a new book "The Moral Arc" which examines whether science can answer moral questions.

Although your conversation makes me think of this conversation from the original Jurassic Par:

Quote:
Dr. Ian Malcolm: Gee, the lack of humility before nature that's being displayed here, uh... staggers me.
Donald Gennaro: Well thank you, Dr. Malcolm, but I think things are a little bit different then you and I had feared...
Dr. Ian Malcolm: Yeah, I know. They're a lot worse.
Donald Gennaro: Now, wait a second now, we haven't even seen the park...
John Hammond: No, no, Donald, Donald, Donald... let him talk. There's no reason... I want to hear every viewpoint, I really do.
Dr. Ian Malcolm: Don't you see the danger, John, inherent in what you're doing here? Genetic power is the most awesome force the planet's ever seen, but you wield it like a kid that's found his dad's gun.
Donald Gennaro: It's hardly appropriate to start hurling generalizations...
Dr. Ian Malcolm: If I may... Um, I'll tell you the problem with the scientific power that you're using here, it didn't require any discipline to attain it. You read what others had done and you took the next step. You didn't earn the knowledge for yourselves, so you don't take any responsibility for it. You stood on the shoulders of geniuses to accomplish something as fast as you could, and before you even knew what you had, you patented it, and packaged it, and slapped it on a plastic lunchbox, and now
[bangs on the table]
Dr. Ian Malcolm: you're selling it, you wanna sell it. Well...
John Hammond: I don't think you're giving us our due credit. Our scientists have done things which nobody's ever done before...
Dr. Ian Malcolm: Yeah, yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn't stop to think if they should.
John Hammond: Condors. Condors are on the verge of extinction...
Dr. Ian Malcolm: [shaking his head] No...
John Hammond: If I was to create a flock of condors on this island, you wouldn't have anything to say.
Dr. Ian Malcolm: No, hold on. This isn't some species that was obliterated by deforestation, or the building of a dam. Dinosaurs had their shot, and nature selected them for extinction.
John Hammond: I simply don't understand this Luddite attitude, especially from a scientist. I mean, how can we stand in the light of discovery, and not act?
Dr. Ian Malcolm: What's so great about discovery? It's a violent, penetrative act that scars what it explores. What you call discovery, I call the rape of the natural world.
Dr. Ellie Sattler: Well, the question is, how can you know anything about an extinct ecosystem? And therefore, how could you ever assume that you can control it? I mean, you have plants in this building that are poisonous, you picked them because they look good, but these are aggressive living things that have no idea what century they're in, and they'll defend themselves, violently if necessary.
John Hammond: Dr. Grant, if there's one person here who could appreciate what I'm trying to do...
Dr. Alan Grant: The world has just changed so radically, and we're all running to catch up. I don't want to jump to any conclusions, but look... Dinosaurs and man, two species separated by 65 million years of evolution have just been suddenly thrown back into the mix together. How can we possibly have the slightest idea what to expect?
John Hammond: [laughing] I don't believe it. I don't believe it! You're meant to come down here and defend me against these characters, and the only one I've got on my side is the blood-sucking lawyer!
Donald Gennaro: Thank you.
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  #7  
Old 25th October 2015, 08:32 PM
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Goldenmane Goldenmane is offline
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Default Re: Truth-Lover

Proximate whys are actually hows.
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Old 25th October 2015, 08:51 PM
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Darwinsbulldog Darwinsbulldog is offline
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Default Re: Truth-Lover

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Goldenmane said View Post
Proximate whys are actually hows.
It's on the cusp though GM. A fruit fly spends a considerable effort being a good little genetic robot, and does a perfect dance, so why didn't the lady drosophila accept him? So he says: "Fuck it all, at least for now, I am off to teh pub! [1]

Well, probably some fermented grapes, but you get the point.
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Old 25th October 2015, 09:23 PM
Spearthrower Spearthrower is offline
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Default Re: Truth-Lover

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Darwinsbulldog said View Post
Nah. That is more science philosophy, or an agnostic metaphysics.

Science, by definition, has built-in tentativeness. And the "why" is more about function, rather than purpose.

Eg. We know the how of wing function, but not the why. The "why" is a non-question really.

As I said: I dispute that. We know the proximate whys - why is the wing shaped that way rather than another way, why does water boil at 100c at sea-level rather than at 90c, why do stars twinkle rather than appear continuous - the how is the manner in which the cause occurred. At the least, they're indistinguishable from each other, but you can also point to clear whys from a scientific perspective.

Take an example: how did the hole in the ozone form? It formed because chlorofluorocarbons at high altitudes are struck by ultraviolet radiation freeing chlorine which destroys ozone. Why did the hole in the ozone form? Because lots of Chlorofluorocarbons were released by human activity in the 20th century. Both provide necessary elements to understanding the phenomena. Scientific papers are full of 'becauses'.

Last edited by Spearthrower; 25th October 2015 at 09:24 PM.
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  #10  
Old 25th October 2015, 09:27 PM
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Default Re: Truth-Lover

I'm going to shift these posts out of the welcome thread. I'll pop them into 'General Science'
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