How We Know What Isn’t So - 2

Total Posts:  2136
Joined  20-02-2006
25 July 2009 12:01


Again I’m not able to respond in the original topic.  (YOU ARE NOT AUTHORIZED TO PERFORM THIS ACTION, etc.)

Tried to order this book from local library system (10 libraries) but they don’t have a copy.  Your assessment doesn’t inspire further efforts to find a copy.  Still, the title itself . . .

You are a 4th grade teacher in a U.S. public school.  One of your students raises her hand and says, “My dad says that Jesus died and came back to life.  Is that true?”  You do not want to lose your job.  You want to help her and the class grow up to become reasonable adults.

Traces Elk
Traces Elk
Total Posts:  5404
Joined  27-09-2006
27 July 2009 06:03

I don’t really understand what problem you think you have and are trying to present, here. To some extent it is that you are presenting a folksy rendition of the thesis that Sam Harris et al. have already presented eloquently in their books. We’ve already seen it, so yours is a rhetorical question that has been asked and answered,  asked and answered, and many times here.

Is it the problem of the ex recto assertion? Is it the problem of the second-hand ex recto assertion (like your example from the fourth grade classroom)?

Not at all. The problem is yours, my friend, in your reluctance to dismiss anyone’s ideas summarily when they consist of nothing but ex recto assertions. Your relentless sense of your own unimpeachable altruism has been perverted into a kind of priggishness in which you backhandedly accuse someone of not wanting your poorly-disguised fourth-grade avatar to “grow up to be a reasonable adult”, as a means of prolonging the repetition of a trite internet conversation that comes from you like noise from a broken record. By the way, when did you stop beating your wife?

The problem is not less obvious when someone offers his assertion that he’s got a tiny, invisible Yeti tucked up his asshole.

Yes, when one is a fourth-grade teacher trying to protect her job, a certain sensitivity is required. Insensitive people don’t go in for teaching the fourth-grade. This is a problem with the educational establishment, and may have something to do with the subsequent result that you think you need a book to dictate to you how we know what isn’t so. Was it the educational establishment you wished to discuss? At least then you will have uncovered a layer of the problem more interesting than another feeble gloss of the Sam Harris thesis, which is about asserting stuff we manifestly cannot claim to know. The problem is that “manifestly” means something different to a philosopher than to a scientist.

Here’s the skinny: There are rules for collecting and presenting scientific evidence. Somewhere between experimental psychology and sociology the rules of the game break down. Everything beyond the breakdown point is, to a certain extent, idle conversation. I’ve presented this viewpoint here for several years now. If you don’t understand it yet, you’re either learning-impaired or have other ideological commitments that compete too successfully with this idea. I don’t really care if you get it or not.

Philosophical relativism may reject as arbitrary the rules of collecting and publishing evidence. I won’t be attending the funeral of philosophical relativism, which will arrive with human extinction. You know it isn’t so that one can expect to leap off the top of a twenty-story building and not go “splat” on the pavement. You know why it isn’t so. Try to contain yourself if little Agnes in fourth grade says she has a tiny invisible Yeti tucked up her ass, and that you can’t prove she doesn’t. You’re not at all asking me for a satisfactory answer to young Agnes; you’re asking me why I don’t care enough to send the very best.

It’s enough to know (i.e., to observe) that the kids who do get it will get it without the assistance of the teacher, and will grow up to have a scientific epistemology and use a scientific method, and that no one can really stand in the way of that.

[ Edited: 27 July 2009 06:30 by Traces Elk]