Science v faith

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Science v faith

Postby Brightonian » Thu Mar 11, 2010 3:04 am

I recently came across a thought-provoking remark by GK Chesterton:
It is idle to talk always about the alternative of reason and faith. Reason is itself a matter of faith. It is an act of faith to assert that our thoughts have any relation to reality at all.
Then synchronicitously, George Monbiot wrote a piece for Guardian making a related point:
The detail of modern science is incomprehensible to almost everyone, which means that we have to take what scientists say on trust. Yet science tells us to trust nothing; to believe only what can be demonstrated. This contradiction is fatal to public confidence.
Monbiot goes on to cite studies which appear to demonstrate that people tend to be impervious to rational persuasion on issues like climate change or Iraq's supposed possession of WMDs under Saddam Hussein. This probably applies to climate-change believers as much as to sceptics.

So here's a (deliberately polemical) question for the professional scientists here: why should people believe you?
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Re: Science v faith

Postby admin » Thu Mar 11, 2010 7:52 am

I think the problem lies even deeper than science. Science is based on mathematics, and mathematics is based on logic. Most people are highly illogical. I don't know if it is because they've never been taught logic, or because they have learned to shut down their logic circuits in the face of something they don't want to believe, but it happens. And it is exacerbated by the media, who love people who say outrageous things.

On the other hand, the media wouldn't quote such people, and the public wouldn't pay so much attention to such people, if at some level it wasn't obvious that what they say is preposterous. In fact, I suspect that a lot of people say outrageous things just because it is sure to get a lot of attention.
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