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Jay Lake
Date: 2010-12-08 05:20
Subject: [links] Link salad for a hump day
Security: Public
Tags:books, conventions, cool, culture, funny, grief, links, personal, politics, reviews, science, writing
I will be an instructor at Viable Paradise in 2011 [ jlake.com | LiveJournal ] — What me intimidated?

Kyle Cassidy reviews some of his favorite books — Including my own The Specific Gravity of Grief.

Math Puzzles’ Oldest Ancestors Took Form on Egyptian Papyrus — Mysteries of the ancients, indeed. (Thanks to Dad.)

Why I hate Darwin's beard — A zoologist reflects on images of scientists.

Arsenic and old Universe — The self-correcting mechanisms of science in action. This is the kind of stuff that the denialists who infest conservative American "thought" never understand. Reality-based thinking admits of and corrects for error. Faith-based thinking cannot be wrong by self-definition, and therefore does not understand that self-correction process.

Charlie Stross on Julian Assange — I think he's on the money here.

Why our Afghanistan War Dead don’t Seem to be News — An interesting piece of socio-political analysis from Juan Cole.

If Only Laws Were Like Sausages"I'm so insulted when people say that lawmaking is like sausage making," said Stanley A. Feder, president of Simply Sausage. Hahahaha. (Snurched from Scrivener's Error.)

?otD: What really knocked you out? The cheap sunglasses?

Writing time yesterday: 1.5 hours (WRPA, 1,500 words on a short story project)
Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride
Hours slept: 6.25 hours (solid)
This morning's weigh-in: 251.6
Yesterday's chemo/post-op stress index: 5/10 (peripheral neuropathy, emotional distress)
Currently reading: Between books

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User: daveraines
Date: 2010-12-08 17:27 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
>> Faith-based thinking cannot be wrong by self-definition, and therefore does not understand that self-correction process.

No. The root meaning of "faith" is "trust." Even if you limit it to the religious sense, even if you tie it to "belief without proof," faith requires self-correction all the time. And not only self-correction, but peer review. Sometimes this even gets really dramatic, as in the Protestant Reformation.

As an amusing but not definitive (heh) side note, dictionary.com illustrates the "belief not based on proof" meme with a sentence drawn from science: "He had faith that the hypothesis would be substantiated by fact."

Actually, the article you cited talks about the scientific process in much the same way I think of faith: "at some level, I have to trust the scientists know what they’re doing, that the peer-review process is working, and the results reliable." Self-correction then follows.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2010-12-08 18:28 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Hmm. I would assert that since faith-based thinking by definition proceeds from unprovable assertions, the correction process you cite is itself not a correction in the logical or objective sense, just a realignment of one's choice of unprovable assertions. The Reformation decidedly falls into that category.

As for the example of having faith in other scientists, this is a failing of the English language. I cannot, for example, personally prove the sun's diameter, but I have faith that the numbers given to me are based on provable assertions which, if I had the time, I could explore or reprove for myself. That's a linguistic shortcut, not a parallel in actual thinking.
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User: daveraines
Date: 2010-12-09 00:45 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Hmm. What scientists tell me is that they cannot prove anything in the sense of "this is absolutely true for every place and every time." What they have is evidence that is stronger or weaker. I'd claim the same for faith, though I grant it's not usually (ever?) evidence in the scientific sense--more in the judicial or sociological sense.

Second, I don't think scientific "faith" is a failing of the English language; I think it's exactly the point, exactly the right definition. You have faith in the numbers because you can reprove them for yourself. I have faith in God for the same reason, with the exception noted above, that I would use the word "evidence" rather than the word "proof." I can test the proposition that God is love, for instance, by my actions and see what happens. I can look around at others who live by the same creed and see what happens in their lives. Is that proof? No. It's evidence.

Finally, again, "faith" is not "belief without evidence"; it's "trust [and resulting action] based on belief."

That said, is there a difference between scientific faith and religious faith? Sure. Many. Probably that would occupy another post, though.
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User: daveraines
Date: 2010-12-09 00:51 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
An addendum: a scientist told my congregation that, while science finds it hard to claim absolute certainty, it can make claims to a very high degree of certainty; and religious people should stop saying, for instance, that science can't "prove" evolution. So I'm not trying to put down science, because I buy his point completely and respect the accomplishments of science greatly.
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User: daveraines
Date: 2010-12-09 02:37 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Last comment. I think.

As you know, I consider Hethor a pretty good depiction of faith. He has a life-changing encounter with the Divine, accepts that evidence, trusts in his call, and acts on that trust.

Now as a reader I approach this with a certain degree of distrust. I haven't read _Pinion_ but I suspect this whole clockwork earth thing will end up in the Riverworld solution (it wuz aliens all the time!). So Hethor could be wrong. If so, I imagine he will self-correct.
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User: mrtact
Date: 2010-12-09 16:51 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Re: VP-- that's awesome. I think you will be a great addition to that staff. And now I'm trying to remember whether I suggested you to Uncle Jim, or merely thought about it...

Tim K
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