“Belief is the death of intelligence. As soon as one believes a doctrine of any sort, or assumes certitude, one stops thinking about that aspect of existence.”.....Robert Anton Wilson

An article in Disinformation by Frater Isla called the Eye of the Skeptic; examines the relationships of faith, fact , our sensory system and how our brains muck up all the information and lead us to doubt our reality or believe that which ain't so. Mr Isla is an equal handed critic of both the “god fearin'” and Atheist.
I'm not entirely sure how I think about the article ...but it is interesting.

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Facts had better BE facts ... or just HOW do we live our lives?!?

The repeatability, the reliability of everyday experience speaks to this very point.  We wake up from our beds each morning to find reality as we left it the day before.  The laws of physics haven't been repealed; our perception of the world as it is remains as it was the day before, presuming that we haven't gone blind or deaf.  Certainly things change, because life and indeed reality are characterized by constant change, but that change has RULES.  Those rules are the laws of physics and of nature.  If we are able to manipulate this world and survive it at all, it is because we have learned those rules and even use them to our advantage.

And it's not as though it's one set of rules for me and another for someone else.  Indeed, our certainty of ascertaining the laws of physics stands in very large part on one person's ability to relay his observations regarding some facet of nature to someone else and ask, "Can you duplicate my results?"  Science as we know it wouldn't be science without that ability.

Some of this stuff - indeed a LOT of it - can easily be taken for granted, and indeed most of us do take the predictability and reliability of reality as it is as a given.  And some of us ... like me ... still touch the test probes together when measuring ohms to make sure the multimeter is working correctly!  Healthy skepticism  continues to have its place.

Put simply, this reality operates the way it operates, regardless of what you believe ... or as someone else put it:

You have a right to your own opinions, but you do not have a right to your own facts.
-- Daniel Patrick Moynahan

There is a point beyond which "questioning" becomes silly. He's basing his argument on the fact that our eyes are not perfect cameras--no news really, and part of the reason we have the scientific process. It really smacks of the theist "How do you know anything" argument when they are backed into a corner. Yes. At a certain point, we all must take it on faith that we are not brains in vats being experimented on by space aliens. But that is arguing things back to a point where words and reasoning stop meaning anything at all and is pointless. Also, skimming through his other articles--especially the interviews--he definitely has a dog in the fight, and it isn't a rationalist one. 

Very well expressed Chad.  I especially like your statement: "arguing things back to a point where words and reasoning stop meaning anything at all and is pointless."

Thank you. It a common tactic I encounter when debating theists. The gist of it being: "your position is just as much faith based as mine. After all, how do you 'Know' anything?" It seems Epistomology is their last ditch defense. It gets rather old because it is tantamount to having to constantly reinvent the wheel.

Loren makes more sense out of nature and facts and replication of trials, and measurements than I can. From my perspective, I look at individuals, families and systems and determine the consequences of their actions as to whether their and my life is better or worse. I guess you can say I am a consequentialist. What I see does come from subjective observation. However, I see very many families and systems disrupted by notions of right and wrong that have nothing to do with health, welfare and flourishing of humans, or the Earth. I observe profits being made by some while others struggle to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. I traveled around the world and I saw poverty and wealth beyond my imagining. Hunger, disease, ignorance, exploitation, and domination of many by a few. Upon questioning, I hear such things as "god gave man dominion over all that swims, crawls and flies" and I wonder which god does that, where and why? I hear "there will always be poor among us" and I ask is that a natural law or a social construct? Some say "slavery is sanctioned by scripture" and I think about the real meaning of that condition. Some say "god created humans to obey him" and I puzzle over that statement; why should we obey and which god says so? Many say "god answers prayers" and I seek evidence that prayers are answered and find none. Some are big on "forgiveness" and reflecting on that idea seems silly to me. There are many who say "submit" and my musing yields me no rational reason why I should, especially to bullies. I don't know how many times I have heard "god will provide" and that generates feelings of laughter and scorn in me.

No, in my opinion, the only imperative that makes sense to me is to flourish and stand with others so that they flourish as well. If my flourishing means someone else has to pay a price and not flourish, then I don't want to be part of that system.

The Earth is a very big place with many systems interacting. There is the water that can be available for all. There is air that can be clean for all of us. There are soils that can produce food for all living things. There is room for wildlife, and migratory patterns, and flyways, and water sheds. All these things can coexist but only if we pay attention to the bigger picture. The Earth is not made for some humans to enjoy; it exists and flourishes for all, or it becomes dysfunctional and diminishes for us all.

Joan ... your perception and mine are of a kind.  They simply come from different disciplines.  Mine comes from the intractable laws which I learned as an engineering student, some 40 years ago.  Yours come from your own background, the unfortunate history of you and your husband, your interaction with people, and the other interactions which created the person whom I know and respect as Joan Denoo.

But they both represent the same reality, represented by two different yet consonant witnesses.  The truth comes from all angles, from disparate deponents representing differing schools of thought.  Different points of view, yet reflecting the same integrated truth.

You and I and others here know that truth. Those outside our understanding have to catch up to it.

Yes Loren, I agree with you that we have parallel visions and I envy you your ability to quantify events using laws of physics and science. Mine come from experience and observation and we both work toward a better world, not only for a few rich USA and world capitalists, but for a world of healthy people and structures that support sustainability. Reducing our government of superstition appears to be necessary to get healthy governance and society. That was the message I meant to convey. 

At one point the author talks about "absolute knowledge". I am reasonably confident that it's very unlikely we could possess such knowledge. The argument being put forward sounds like presuppositional apologetics. How do we know what we know? For starters we have some fairly sophisticated technology to make up for our perceptual shortcomings. Well thought out experiments are designed to get around biases & other artifacts of our neolithic brain. However, in the end one can only have more, or less, confidence in a result. The sun might not rise tomorrow because it got vacuumed up by an errant black hole. Is it likely to happen? No. Am I going to lose any sleep over it? Probably, because I have a lot of irrational worries and thinking about this has just added one more to the list.

Anyone who talks about "absolute knowledge" has his head firmly planted where the sun don't shine.  The physicists who live and die by the current laws of physics recognize that even those laws can change over the course of time, especially on the same scale which created this reality.  On that level, galaxies will recede, the speed of light itself will no longer be the absolute standard it was once perceived to be, and at some point, the Milky Way will at least appear to be the sole occupant of this universe.

Of course, that will be millions, more likely billions of years from now, and if mankind survives that great expanse of time, I doubt he will in any way resemble homo sapiens as we know ourselves to be now ... but you won't be able to tell that to the supposedly "sapient" purveyors of "absolute knowledge."  Their putative absolutes come out of a book ... one book or another ... and can't be bothered with facts or theories or observations.

Even as the perfect is the enemy of the good, so the absolute is the enemy of what is perceived as transient truth ... whether you care to believe that or not .. and personally, no ... I don't.

Well put, both Jay and Loren. We are fully aware of the failings of our senses and thus take steps to compensate for and enhance them, whether through technology or methodology. Also elucidating the ever-conditional nature of scientific "truth." Both of these points underscore what seems to be Isla's fundamental misunderstanding of science and the scientific method.

Interesting tekst. Just accept that the info that reaches your thoughts may be wrong, then try hard to make sure what are facts. Whenever I had a cat put to sleep, I saw him or her from the corners of my eyes in the weeks following, or I heard their voices. Such things happen when your miss them, and only a mad person would believe in the resurrection of cats.




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