Zeteticism is the opposite of science

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trig

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Re: Zeteticism is the opposite of science
« Reply #30 on: August 17, 2011, 03:16:08 PM »
'Moonshrimp' is a simplified term to describe possible shrimp-like bacteria living on the moon. It is often used to mock the theory by RErs. In this context, it is oft times spelt with an A.
It is very hard indeed to talk about moonshrimps or moonshramps with a straight face when you do not seem to know the difference between a shrimp and a bacteria. It is like saying I saw a whale-like mouse. And even that comparison is simpler than the one you say, since at least the whale and the mouse are both mammals.

Is a shrimp-like bacteria microscopic or macroscopic? Multi-celular or single cell? With or without spinal cord? Or brain?

Do you even know that bacteria are no longer considered part of the kingdom "animalia" but are now classified as the kingdom "Bacteria" or "Monera" or "Prokaryota?

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Lord Wilmore

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Re: Zeteticism is the opposite of science
« Reply #31 on: August 21, 2011, 10:04:52 PM »
Really, if you listed all the principles by which science abides and all those for zeteticism side-by-side they would be almost identical.  There seem to be a lot of misconceptions about zetetic practice going around (at least, from the research I've done on the subject), most of which are probably well-founded considering that the RE community's general education on the subject comes from some (specific) very un-zetetic FE proponents.

It is certainly possible to form a zetetic hypothesis; there is no reason why I can't say "I think X will happen when I do Y" and then test that hypothesis. 

Zetetic experiments should also be well-controlled and precisely measured, and should also ideally be repeatable.

Conclusions drawn zetetically are almost entirely based in strict logical argument, so both fields use logic.

When it comes down to it, there is just one teeny, tiny difference between the two:  science allows for inductive reasoning and argumentation, while zeteticism does not allow for induction.

As it turns out, this is really a pretty huge difference.  Any good scientist can tell you that we really know very few things to be irrefutably true about the universe; science and scientific proof are strongly based on the fact that theories *must* be falsifiable.  If it is impossible that a particular hypothesis could ever be falsified, then it can never be scientifically tested and verified. 

Because of this, the vast majority of scientific knowledge is inductive in nature.  Science makes a hypothesis and tests the everliving crap out of it until everyone is pretty sure that it is accurate, then that hypothesis is given theoretical status.  If it passes the test of time it may eventually be called a law, but a scientific claim can never get to the point of "this is absolutely and irrefutably true everywhere and always." 

It is always possible that a better theory may come along; take Newton's Law of Gravitation, for example.  It lasted hundreds of years and even now is still taught in every undergraduate physics course as Law, but it has been shown to be only a close approximation to the truth that is valid under a wide range of (but not all) conditions.  The studies of relativity and quantum mechanics have had some pretty interesting things to say about gravity over the course of the last century, none of which could possibly have been anticipated by Newton or included in the Law of Gravity's initial formulation.

And this is where Zeteticism's major shortcoming (from a scientific point of view, at least) lies.  Zetetically drawn conclusions can *only* be of the sort that science can never draw because it rejects inductive logic outright and relies instead entirely on deductive logic.  This sounds great on paper, but in practice it does nothing but hamper the practicing zetetic by crippling his ability to reason in the manner to which humans are naturally accustomed.

A zetetic can never entirely count as knowledge any experiment that has been performed by someone else (even another zetetic) because it is impossible to know for sure that the experiment will yield the same results if it is set up in a different place, or measured by a different person.  This is a fact as surely as water is wet, but while science accounts for and embraces it zetetecism instead becomes burdened and crippled by it. 

Because of this, a zetetic is limited in what he may properly count as things he knows to be true, and as someone else has already pointed out this sort of mentality would necessarily limit the scope of human knowledge to that which might be acquired in a single lifetime.  It is never possible for a true zetetic to build the foundation of his work upon the work of others; he must start from scratch, and discover knowledge anew.

As markjo noted, zeteticism really is a useful tool when performing skeptical inquiry.  Just as any useful tool, however, it can also be completely useless or extremely dangerous.  It is up to the user to keep a tool from getting out of hand, so to speak.



On a different but related topic, if any of you is still in his (her) undergraduate curriculum there are a couple of philosophy courses that you could take that are very pertinent to the distinction between zeteticism and science, and what the two fields respectively class as truth and knowledge.  I recommend taking a course on the philosophy of science and a course on Epistemology; you'll be surprised at what comes up when the topics of truth, knowledge, and verification are discussed from a deeply critical point of view.

I'd also recommend reading Renee Descartes' "Meditations."  In the first two or three chapters he does some very interesting work that, in my reckoning at least, is essentially the logical extension of the zetetic point of view.  (This book contains the famous "I think, therefore I am" that is so often quoted when the subject of philosophy is broached)


There's a lot of question-begging going on here, frankly, and precious little justification. Incidentally, the cogito as written above is taken from the Discourse on Method, though a different expression of the same concept constitutes the turning point of the second meditation.
"I want truth for truth's sake, not for the applaud or approval of men. I would not reject truth because it is unpopular, nor accept error because it is popular. I should rather be right and stand alone than run with the multitude and be wrong." - C.S. DeFord

Re: Zeteticism is the opposite of science
« Reply #32 on: August 21, 2011, 11:37:13 PM »
There's a lot of question-begging going on here, frankly, and precious little justification. Incidentally, the cogito as written above is taken from the Discourse on Method, though a different expression of the same concept constitutes the turning point of the second meditation.

I admit I may have engaged in a bit of reductio, but I don't really think I did any question begging (or if I did, could you please elaborate?). 

I also freely admit that my understanding of zeteticism is somewhat limited; my primary source on the subject has been your own Discourse on the Zetetic Method, appearing in this thread:

http://www.theflatearthsociety.org/forum/index.php?topic=48821.0

The post you quoted was not intended to disparage zeteticism per se, but instead was more aimed at demonstrating why it cannot completely replace the function of science.  It is certainly useful in its own right and has its strengths, and science definitely has shortcomings.

The main point, I think, of the difference between the two is in the acceptance or rejection of inductive logic.  Science is founded on it, zetetecism rejects it.  And I suppose this is where my own confusion steps in. 

Scientific knowledge is based strongly on argumentation from both inductive and deductive logic, but anyone versed in the scientific method knows that the weakness of induction is accounted for in the type of conclusions that are reached.  Science never says, "this is absolutely true," because it is acknowledged that a conclusion drawn from an inductive hypothesis can be infallible.  Instead what we get are results that amount to a best guess based on collected evidence and analytical effort.

Again, pardon my confusion, but it seems like zetetecism takes the opposite approach.  Deductive logic is applied to observations, and the conclusion drawn is necessarily infallible if the logic is done well and if the premises are correct.  Barring a rejection of deductive logical structure, the only thing that really has a problem here is the verification of the premises (the observations).  It is well known that sensorial evidence is prone to inaccuracy; following this thought train, however, leads us down the primrose path that Descartes already traveled before us.  To this end, your citation and points about Rowbotham's solution to the problem of solipsism is well-taken and it seems reasonable to accept that the zetetic can extend his reality beyond himself.

My real problem, I think, is where a zetetic draws the line on what constitutes acceptable evidence.  I can obviously count observations taken with my own eyes, but can I accept observations taken through a telescope?  What about if I watch someone else make an observation with their own eyes that I could have made, but chose not to?  What if I receive a data sheet detailing observations that someone else made?

On a similar vein, what does zeteticism have to say about prediction?  A large part of the merit of a scientific theory is based on its predictive power, but again this is rooted in the inductive logic employed by the scientific method. 

It seems to me (please, correct me here if I am misinterpreting things) that it is impossible to make a zetetic, predictive statement.  If I drop a ball a thousand times and observe a high degree of consistency in its motion, I might zetetically argue that this ball tended to fall consistently during my tests; when asked about what will happen the next time it is dropped, however, there is no possible chain of deductive logic that leads from "this ball fell at approximately the same rate over the last thousand tests, therefore it will fall at the same rate during the next test."  There is certainly an inductive method by which to reach this conclusion, but I am at a loss to see the deductive method by which zetetecism can make predictions.

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trig

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Re: Zeteticism is the opposite of science
« Reply #33 on: August 22, 2011, 08:35:09 AM »
It seems to me (please, correct me here if I am misinterpreting things) that it is impossible to make a zetetic, predictive statement.  If I drop a ball a thousand times and observe a high degree of consistency in its motion, I might zetetically argue that this ball tended to fall consistently during my tests; when asked about what will happen the next time it is dropped, however, there is no possible chain of deductive logic that leads from "this ball fell at approximately the same rate over the last thousand tests, therefore it will fall at the same rate during the next test."  There is certainly an inductive method by which to reach this conclusion, but I am at a loss to see the deductive method by which zetetecism can make predictions.
Fact is, Zetetics cannot provide any theory with any predictive power at all, because their methodology necessarily ends up making them accept inconsistent deductions.

One example: Earth is flat, because I see the sea and looks flat. The Sun is always at the same distance from me because it looks the exact same apparent size all the time. Same with the Moon. The Sun and Moon go below the horizon every day, moving as fast as they did at every other moment of the day or night. The horizon is the same infinite plane for everybody on a flat Earth. Therefore, when the Sun goes under the horizon for us it goes under the horizon for everybody, so it also has to be at night for Tokio and Singapore and New York. But I have talked by phone with people there who say it is not so.

If seeing is more important than deducting you will sooner or later have to accept two observations that contradict each other.

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Hazbollah

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Re: Zeteticism is the opposite of science
« Reply #34 on: August 22, 2011, 08:44:57 AM »
'Moonshrimp' is a simplified term to describe possible shrimp-like bacteria living on the moon. It is often used to mock the theory by RErs. In this context, it is oft times spelt with an A.
It is very hard indeed to talk about moonshrimps or moonshramps with a straight face when you do not seem to know the difference between a shrimp and a bacteria. It is like saying I saw a whale-like mouse. And even that comparison is simpler than the one you say, since at least the whale and the mouse are both mammals.

Is a shrimp-like bacteria microscopic or macroscopic? Multi-celular or single cell? With or without spinal cord? Or brain?

Do you even know that bacteria are no longer considered part of the kingdom "animalia" but are now classified as the kingdom "Bacteria" or "Monera" or "Prokaryota?
I mean luminescent, small (smaller than shrimp, how much smaller I don't know because I've never seen one) creatures that live on the moon. I highly doubt their existence, I'm just explaining it.
Always check your tackle- Caerphilly school of Health. If I see an innuendo in my post, I'll be sure to whip it out.

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trig

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Re: Zeteticism is the opposite of science
« Reply #35 on: August 22, 2011, 09:15:21 AM »
'Moonshrimp' is a simplified term to describe possible shrimp-like bacteria living on the moon. It is often used to mock the theory by RErs. In this context, it is oft times spelt with an A.
It is very hard indeed to talk about moonshrimps or moonshramps with a straight face when you do not seem to know the difference between a shrimp and a bacteria. It is like saying I saw a whale-like mouse. And even that comparison is simpler than the one you say, since at least the whale and the mouse are both mammals.

Is a shrimp-like bacteria microscopic or macroscopic? Multi-celular or single cell? With or without spinal cord? Or brain?

Do you even know that bacteria are no longer considered part of the kingdom "animalia" but are now classified as the kingdom "Bacteria" or "Monera" or "Prokaryota?
I mean luminescent, small (smaller than shrimp, how much smaller I don't know because I've never seen one) creatures that live on the moon. I highly doubt their existence, I'm just explaining it.
And even if they were the size of whales, or the size of virus, or round or long, the only fact we have is that every observation we have contradicts this "theory".

A similar, but less stupid, deduction was that Venus is probably covered with clouds all the time, so there has to be a climate that is apt for dinosaur-like creatures. This idiocy was corrected by Carl Sagan, who helped design the missions which got real information about Venus.

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Lord Wilmore

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Re: Zeteticism is the opposite of science
« Reply #36 on: August 22, 2011, 09:16:02 AM »
I admit I may have engaged in a bit of reductio, but I don't really think I did any question begging (or if I did, could you please elaborate?).


Simply put, you say that "[the rejection of inductive reasoning] is where Zeteticism's major shortcoming (from a scientific point of view, at least) lies . . . [this] hampers[s] the practicing zetetic by crippling his ability to reason in the manner to which humans are naturally accustomed." The problem is that implicit in this criticism is the assumption that because humans are naturally accustomed to reason inductively, any theory that does not embrace inductive reasoning is faulty. However, one of the key tenets of Zeteticism is that (following Hume's criticisms) inductive reasoning is not a sound basis for seeking truth.


I also freely admit that my understanding of zeteticism is somewhat limited; my primary source on the subject has been your own Discourse on the Zetetic Method, appearing in this thread:

http://www.theflatearthsociety.org/forum/index.php?topic=48821.0

The post you quoted was not intended to disparage zeteticism per se, but instead was more aimed at demonstrating why it cannot completely replace the function of science.  It is certainly useful in its own right and has its strengths, and science definitely has shortcomings.


Your post was well articulated and in no way hostile or disparaging. However, I am compelled to point out that the conclusion that Zeteticism is flawed compared relies on the premise that inductive reasoning is sound. As a central tenet of Zeteticism is that inductive reasoning is not sound, the value of inductive reasoning is precisely what is being contested.


The main point, I think, of the difference between the two is in the acceptance or rejection of inductive logic.  Science is founded on it, zetetecism rejects it.  And I suppose this is where my own confusion steps in. 

Scientific knowledge is based strongly on argumentation from both inductive and deductive logic, but anyone versed in the scientific method knows that the weakness of induction is accounted for in the type of conclusions that are reached.  Science never says, "this is absolutely true," because it is acknowledged that a conclusion drawn from an inductive hypothesis can be infallible.  Instead what we get are results that amount to a best guess based on collected evidence and analytical effort.

Again, pardon my confusion, but it seems like zetetecism takes the opposite approach.  Deductive logic is applied to observations, and the conclusion drawn is necessarily infallible if the logic is done well and if the premises are correct.  Barring a rejection of deductive logical structure, the only thing that really has a problem here is the verification of the premises (the observations).  It is well known that sensorial evidence is prone to inaccuracy; following this thought train, however, leads us down the primrose path that Descartes already traveled before us.  To this end, your citation and points about Rowbotham's solution to the problem of solipsism is well-taken and it seems reasonable to accept that the zetetic can extend his reality beyond himself.

My real problem, I think, is where a zetetic draws the line on what constitutes acceptable evidence.  I can obviously count observations taken with my own eyes, but can I accept observations taken through a telescope?  What about if I watch someone else make an observation with their own eyes that I could have made, but chose not to?  What if I receive a data sheet detailing observations that someone else made?


In my opinion this is likely to be a matter of debate among Zetetics in much the same way as philosophers of science have requent disputes about falsifiability. For my part, I believe that direct sensorial evidence is a strict but sound criterion, and that rules out using the observations of others as a basis for Zetetic reasoning.


On a similar vein, what does zeteticism have to say about prediction?  A large part of the merit of a scientific theory is based on its predictive power, but again this is rooted in the inductive logic employed by the scientific method. 

It seems to me (please, correct me here if I am misinterpreting things) that it is impossible to make a zetetic, predictive statement.  If I drop a ball a thousand times and observe a high degree of consistency in its motion, I might zetetically argue that this ball tended to fall consistently during my tests; when asked about what will happen the next time it is dropped, however, there is no possible chain of deductive logic that leads from "this ball fell at approximately the same rate over the last thousand tests, therefore it will fall at the same rate during the next test."  There is certainly an inductive method by which to reach this conclusion, but I am at a loss to see the deductive method by which zetetecism can make predictions.


Predictive power is not as important for Zeteticism as it is for the scientific method. Zetetic theories live or die based on their logical consistency and validity. Scientific theories live or die based on their predictive power. In other words, predictive power is the standard by which scientific theories measured, but it is not the standard by which Zetetic theories are measured.


Nobody is saying that inductive reasoning is useless and that we should reject it outright. Simply put, predictions are necessarily inductive and therefore necessarily uncertain. Zeteticism is about seeking the truth, and determining what is incontestably true. If we wish to make predictions, we are forced to leave the realm of truth and enter the realm of doubt and uncertainty. So long as that is acknowledged, it is not a problem.
"I want truth for truth's sake, not for the applaud or approval of men. I would not reject truth because it is unpopular, nor accept error because it is popular. I should rather be right and stand alone than run with the multitude and be wrong." - C.S. DeFord

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trig

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Re: Zeteticism is the opposite of science
« Reply #37 on: August 22, 2011, 11:26:42 AM »
Nobody is saying that inductive reasoning is useless and that we should reject it outright. Simply put, predictions are necessarily inductive and therefore necessarily uncertain. Zeteticism is about seeking the truth, and determining what is incontestably true. If we wish to make predictions, we are forced to leave the realm of truth and enter the realm of doubt and uncertainty. So long as that is acknowledged, it is not a problem.
You have it the wrong way around: Zeteticism has no sustainable claim to the realm of truth because it has no predictive power.

Saying things because they seem very basic truths is just a huge leap back to the philosophers before Plato. If Zeteticism had found a way to make mutually consistent claims, then it would have achieved the same rank as Mathematics, where all theorems are true if correctly proved. But Mathematics exists as concepts with no necessary connection to physical objects or phenomena.

What is the criterion for saying that one Zetetic truth is better than another? Why is "the Earth is flat" better than "the Sun travels to under the horizon"? Why should I accept models (like Rowbotham's hovering Sun) from which I can make predictions but whose predictions are clearly wrong?

The problem with Zeteticism is not just that it does not make predictions (in fact Zetetics' "truths" do imply measurable predictions that fail), it is that it does not give a replacement for them. Any crackpot claim is Zetetic if it came from a strong attempt by someone to reach into himself for a basic truth, and no method is proposed to choose among contradicting claims.

Re: Zeteticism is the opposite of science
« Reply #38 on: August 22, 2011, 11:30:11 AM »
It is said that science is built upon the shoulders of giants.  Though, last time I checked, giants didn't exist.  Coincidence? I think not.
"There is no adequate defense, except stupidity, against the impact of a new idea. "
- Percy Williams Bridgman

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thefireproofmatch

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Re: Zeteticism is the opposite of science
« Reply #39 on: August 22, 2011, 11:33:19 AM »
It is said that science is built upon the shoulders of giants.  Though, last time I checked, giants didn't exist.  Coincidence? I think not.
Actually, Issac Newton said "if I had seen further, it was by standing on the shoulders of giants" or something like that.
we're expected to throw up our hands and just BELIEVE.

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trig

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Re: Zeteticism is the opposite of science
« Reply #40 on: August 22, 2011, 11:56:44 AM »
It is said that science is built upon the shoulders of giants.  Though, last time I checked, giants didn't exist.  Coincidence? I think not.
Not coincidence, metaphor. And if you can understand a metaphor you can understand how Einstein, Heisenberg, Newton, Galileo and many others are giants.

Re: Zeteticism is the opposite of science
« Reply #41 on: August 22, 2011, 11:58:31 AM »
I seriously doubt they were actually giants.
"There is no adequate defense, except stupidity, against the impact of a new idea. "
- Percy Williams Bridgman

Re: Zeteticism is the opposite of science
« Reply #42 on: August 22, 2011, 11:59:42 AM »
I seriously doubt they were actually giants.
Maybe you need to put on your reading glasses and read a few books so you can understand figurative language.
Quote from: Tom Bishop
If you don't know, whenever you talk about it you're invoking the supernatural
Quote from: Tom Bishop
Unknown != Magic.

Re: Zeteticism is the opposite of science
« Reply #43 on: August 22, 2011, 11:55:52 PM »
Wilmore,

Allow me to first say that I appreciate the effort you're putting forth to have a civilized discussion on this topic.  Seeing as how it seems to be a subject you have studied for some time, I'm sure you've also spent some time answering similar questions from the uninitiated.  This has been a topic of interest to me since I found this forum, and I'm glad to finally find someone from the FE side who is willing to help me properly understand it.

Simply put, you say that "[the rejection of inductive reasoning] is where Zeteticism's major shortcoming (from a scientific point of view, at least) lies . . . [this] hampers[s] the practicing zetetic by crippling his ability to reason in the manner to which humans are naturally accustomed." The problem is that implicit in this criticism is the assumption that because humans are naturally accustomed to reason inductively, any theory that does not embrace inductive reasoning is faulty. However, one of the key tenets of Zeteticism is that (following Hume's criticisms) inductive reasoning is not a sound basis for seeking truth.

...

Your post was well articulated and in no way hostile or disparaging. However, I am compelled to point out that the conclusion that Zeteticism is flawed compared relies on the premise that inductive reasoning is sound. As a central tenet of Zeteticism is that inductive reasoning is not sound, the value of inductive reasoning is precisely what is being contested.

I think perhaps I wasn't quite clear in the way I framed my criticism.  My argument wasn't meant to find flaw with zeteticism for its rejection of induction in general; as you already mentioned, Hume (and others) have found fault with induction as a logical process and for my part the argument there appears sound.  It should be noted that implicit in the scientific method and the formulation of scientific theory is an acknowledgement of this weakness.  As someone with experience in this aspect of human inquiry, I think many would agree that the acknowledgement of this epistemological weakness is one of science's greatest strengths.  It humbles the practicing scientist, and enables those who understand it to work towards improving humanity's understanding of the natural world.

Instead, what I meant to accomplish was to demonstrate that zeteticism cannot be used to accomplish the same sorts of things that science accomplishes (though by the same token, science is lacking in the opposite sense).  Considering your comments to follow, I think we both agree on this point.


In my opinion this is likely to be a matter of debate among Zetetics in much the same way as philosophers of science have requent disputes about falsifiability. For my part, I believe that direct sensorial evidence is a strict but sound criterion, and that rules out using the observations of others as a basis for Zetetic reasoning.

From my understanding of zeteticism, this seems like a pretty reasonable position to hold.  I do have to ask though, what is the reasoning behind drawing the line at observations made by others?  I can see why one might have cause to doubt the word of some (probably most, in truth) people in their observation, but it seems to me that a sufficiently like-minded individual who is as careful in his experiments as oneself might provide an acceptable source of observational evidence. 

Why should you trust your own senses but never those of another?  As I said, I can understand ruling out some/most people on this issue, but a blanket statement including *all* other people requires some pretty strong assumptions.  Such a position might stem from a sort of ultra-skeptical Cartesian inquiry, but it's a fairly slippery slope that lies between "my senses are acceptable evidence" and "at least some other people's senses are acceptable evidence." 

Predictive power is not as important for Zeteticism as it is for the scientific method. Zetetic theories live or die based on their logical consistency and validity. Scientific theories live or die based on their predictive power. In other words, predictive power is the standard by which scientific theories measured, but it is not the standard by which Zetetic theories are measured.


Nobody is saying that inductive reasoning is useless and that we should reject it outright. Simply put, predictions are necessarily inductive and therefore necessarily uncertain. Zeteticism is about seeking the truth, and determining what is incontestably true. If we wish to make predictions, we are forced to leave the realm of truth and enter the realm of doubt and uncertainty. So long as that is acknowledged, it is not a problem.

I think this gets to the heart of my confusion on the subject of zeteticism.  From this comment it seems that I should conclude that the practice is not intended to function as an investigative tool geared towards understanding the world around us, but is instead an epistemological framework for judging what we might count as knowledge.  Does this sound like a fair assessment to you?

Where I got hung up on the issue was the usage of "zetetic" and "zeteticism" common to some of the more vocal personalities on this forum.  It often appears in a context implying that when attempting to understand the universe we should substitute zeteticism for science, which clearly contradicts your own exposition on the subject and the discussion we have had to this point.  I realize that several of these people are simply trolling, but given their extended exposure to the subject I mistakenly believed that they properly understood it.

Much of my previous commentary has been from the position of a scientifically-minded individual.  As you properly noted, scientific theory lives or dies largely on the basis of its predictive power; from the standpoint of a critical analysis of zeteticism, it seemed only natural to search for this similarity when I had taken the practice to be intended as a substitute for science.

Again, thank you for taking the time to discuss this topic.  It is really helping me to understand the position of the FE theorists (the serious ones, not the trolls).

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Lord Wilmore

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Re: Zeteticism is the opposite of science
« Reply #44 on: August 23, 2011, 12:10:09 PM »
Wilmore,

Allow me to first say that I appreciate the effort you're putting forth to have a civilized discussion on this topic.  Seeing as how it seems to be a subject you have studied for some time, I'm sure you've also spent some time answering similar questions from the uninitiated.  This has been a topic of interest to me since I found this forum, and I'm glad to finally find someone from the FE side who is willing to help me properly understand it.


No problem. The goal of this society is to encourage free thought and discussion, and to be quite frank it's enjoyable to discuss Zeteticism with someone interested in the core issues at play in Zetetic theory. In truth, it's quite rare (something that I will raise again later in this post.


I think perhaps I wasn't quite clear in the way I framed my criticism.  My argument wasn't meant to find flaw with zeteticism for its rejection of induction in general; as you already mentioned, Hume (and others) have found fault with induction as a logical process and for my part the argument there appears sound.  It should be noted that implicit in the scientific method and the formulation of scientific theory is an acknowledgement of this weakness.  As someone with experience in this aspect of human inquiry, I think many would agree that the acknowledgement of this epistemological weakness is one of science's greatest strengths.  It humbles the practicing scientist, and enables those who understand it to work towards improving humanity's understanding of the natural world.


I have to disagree regarding the bolded point; in my experience, this is not the case. Scientists respect the conventions of their own methodology, but I do not think the philosophical weaknesses of the scientific method are recognised by most scientists. This is not a serious argument, just my own experience and sense of scientific discourse.


Instead, what I meant to accomplish was to demonstrate that zeteticism cannot be used to accomplish the same sorts of things that science accomplishes (though by the same token, science is lacking in the opposite sense).  Considering your comments to follow, I think we both agree on this point.


I can certainly agree with the above statement, though only as stated above. However, I do disagree with your 'take' as it were on the above statement, which I'll get to later!


From my understanding of zeteticism, this seems like a pretty reasonable position to hold.  I do have to ask though, what is the reasoning behind drawing the line at observations made by others?  I can see why one might have cause to doubt the word of some (probably most, in truth) people in their observation, but it seems to me that a sufficiently like-minded individual who is as careful in his experiments as oneself might provide an acceptable source of observational evidence.

Why should you trust your own senses but never those of another?  As I said, I can understand ruling out some/most people on this issue, but a blanket statement including *all* other people requires some pretty strong assumptions.  Such a position might stem from a sort of ultra-skeptical Cartesian inquiry, but it's a fairly slippery slope that lies between "my senses are acceptable evidence" and "at least some other people's senses are acceptable evidence."


First, the reasoning is never made clear by Rowbotham in Earth Not a Globe. My own view is that your own sensorial experiences are the only experiences one can truly verify. Even scienctists acknowledge this, which is why they put such great emphasis on the repeatability of experiments.


As for your second point, I think the slippery slope lies between "at least some other people's senses are acceptable evidence" and "everyone's senses are acceptable evidence". Where would you draw the line? In contrast, there's a clear difference in verifiability between your experiences and anyone else's.


I think this gets to the heart of my confusion on the subject of zeteticism.  From this comment it seems that I should conclude that the practice is not intended to function as an investigative tool geared towards understanding the world around us, but is instead an epistemological framework for judging what we might count as knowledge.  Does this sound like a fair assessment to you?


Not quite. Zeteticism is still a tool for investigating the world around us. However, its focus is on explaining how the world is. Science posits theoretical explanations about how the world may work, and uses predictive power to assess whether those explanations are sufficient. Zeteticism draws incontestable logical conclusions from experiences, which amount to certain knowledge. If experience conflicts with the conclusions drawn, clearly there has been a logical misstep along the way.


Where I got hung up on the issue was the usage of "zetetic" and "zeteticism" common to some of the more vocal personalities on this forum.  It often appears in a context implying that when attempting to understand the universe we should substitute zeteticism for science, which clearly contradicts your own exposition on the subject and the discussion we have had to this point.  I realize that several of these people are simply trolling, but given their extended exposure to the subject I mistakenly believed that they properly understood it.


As I noted in the preface to the Discourse on the Zetetic Method, there has been precious little theoretical discussion of the Zetetic Method. Indeed, I am aware of no other out-and-out theoretical analyses of the methodology between Rowbotham's original writings and my own. Aside from a handful of sporadic and philosophically shallow threads here on this forum, it appears that in well over a century my brief essay is the only theoretical discourse on the subject. As a result, I believe there is a great deal of confusion about what Zeteticism is and what it means, both among RE'ers and FE'ers.


Again, thank you for taking the time to discuss this topic.  It is really helping me to understand the position of the FE theorists (the serious ones, not the trolls).


No problem at all.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2011, 05:55:24 AM by Lord Wilmore »
"I want truth for truth's sake, not for the applaud or approval of men. I would not reject truth because it is unpopular, nor accept error because it is popular. I should rather be right and stand alone than run with the multitude and be wrong." - C.S. DeFord

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trig

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Re: Zeteticism is the opposite of science
« Reply #45 on: August 23, 2011, 02:27:20 PM »
My own view is that your own sensorial experiences are the only experiences one can truly verify. Even scienctists acknowledge this, which is why they put such great emphasis on the repeatability of experiments.
This is where Zeteticism falls off the table. I cannot verify the existence of viruses, but by understanding (and not just reading) the scientific literature I know more than I would ever learn with my own senses, even if I had the equipment. Same with atoms, electricity, and even quantum physics. I know most of the time when I am receiving poor quality science because of my intellectual capacity, not because of my senses. Testing whether the scientific information I receive is credible because of its internal consistency is part of everyday life.

Zetetics have not flunked because of the validity of the "only through my senses" argument. They have flunked because they chose to back the wrong horse and have lacked the will to accept it.

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PizzaPlanet

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Re: Zeteticism is the opposite of science
« Reply #46 on: August 24, 2011, 04:55:55 PM »
I cannot verify the existence of viruses
Incorrect.

Same with atoms
Incorrect.

electricity
Incorrect.

and even quantum physics.
Incorrect.

I know most of the time when I am receiving poor quality science because of my intellectual capacity, not because of my senses.
An analysis of what your senses tell you is a very important part of the Zetetic method, yes.

Testing whether the scientific information I receive is credible because of its internal consistency is part of everyday life.
Life must be boring for you. Verifying observable evidence is so much easier and more conclusive.

Zetetics have not flunked because of the validity of the "only through my senses" argument. They have flunked because they chose to back the wrong horse and have lacked the will to accept it.
Incorrect.
hacking your precious forum as we speak 8) 8) 8)

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Theodolite

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Re: Zeteticism is the opposite of science
« Reply #47 on: August 24, 2011, 09:22:29 PM »
I cannot verify the existence of viruses
Incorrect.

Incorrect


Same with atoms
Incorrect.

Incorrect
electricity
Incorrect.

Incorrect

and even quantum physics.
Incorrect.

Incorrect

I know most of the time when I am receiving poor quality science because of my intellectual capacity, not because of my senses.
An analysis of what your senses tell you is a very important part of the Zetetic method, yes.
Incorrect

Testing whether the scientific information I receive is credible because of its internal consistency is part of everyday life.
Life must be boring for you. Verifying observable evidence is so much easier and more conclusive.
Incorrect

Zetetics have not flunked because of the validity of the "only through my senses" argument. They have flunked because they chose to back the wrong horse and have lacked the will to accept it.
Incorrect.

Incorrect
Gather round my gentle sheep, I have a wonderful spherical story for you

Re: Zeteticism is the opposite of science
« Reply #48 on: August 25, 2011, 01:01:09 AM »
Sorry for the delayed response; I've been pretty busy this week and haven't had time to do more than briefly browse these forums and write a couple small replies.  Also, let's try to keep a discussion thoughtful and meaningful for once.  I'm a bit disappointed to see that while I was away the thread seems to have regressed to one-word rebuttals.


I have to disagree regarding the bolded point; in my experience, this is not the case. Scientists respect the conventions of their own methodology, but I do not think the philosophical weaknesses of the scientific method are recognised by most scientists. This is not a serious argument, just my own experience and sense of scientific discourse.

In all honesty, there's a good chance that your experience is indicative of the majority.  While most scientific education covers thoroughly the methodology and various practices and standards involved in research and theoretical investigation, I doubt very many scientists have a deep enough understanding of epistemological issues to see where the root of the weakness lies.

That said, however, most (professional or academic, not amateur) scientists that I have encountered at least have a thorough enough understanding of their subject and its methods to recognize the weakness if not its philosophical underpinnings.  There are certainly plenty of people that (wrongly) hold scientific theory as infallible though, behaving almost as if it were a religion rather than a methodology.


First, the reasoning is never made clear by Rowbotham in Earth Not a Globe. My own view is that your own sensorial experiences are the only experiences one can truly verify. Even scienctists acknowledge this, which is why they put such great emphasis on the repeatability of experiments.

From my understanding, the issue of personal verification is not the reason why a proper experiment must be repeatable.  If this were the case, there would be lots of scientists around who find fault (beyond the previously-discussed induction issue) with many modern experiments.  In modern experimental physics, experimental apparatuses are often extremely specialized and expensive; for this reason, much of the time experiments are never duplicated by other scientists. 

Instead, the reason is because it is always possible that an experimenter incorrectly interpreted a result or was unaware of a potential source of error.  A repeatable experiment means that someone who is reviewing the literature and the first guy's research has opportunity to spot the mistake and test the hypothesis again with his improved understanding of the experiment. 


As for your second point, I think the slippery slope lies between "at least some other people's senses are acceptable evidence" and "everyone's senses are acceptable evidence". Where would you draw the line? In contrast, there's a clear difference in verifiability between your experiences and anyone else's.

With regard to the slope you suggest, I agree that it exists but I don't really think it is much of a problem.  It seems to me that resolution is a simple matter of practicality in who you choose to accept.  There is probably not a clear-cut line between trustworthy and untrustworthy here that applies in all cases, but I think in general someone who is sufficiently like-minded to oneself and who utilizes similar methodology and has similar research goals might be an acceptable candidate.

With regard to the slope I suggested, yes I agree there is a clear difference between my own and anyone else's experiences.  I suppose I should have elaborated, but as I mentioned I think that accepting one's own sensory experience while rejecting all others requires an important assumption. 

In order to hold this position, I must assume that I am unique amongst humanity in a sense other than "I am myself, and they are not."  This is somewhat akin to Wittgenstein's beetle-in-a-box argument about the conscious experience, only rather than assuming that everyone else's beetle is the same or similar to mine I assume that they are all irreconcilably different. 

They may be other people, but blanket rejection of all others' observations seems to me to have no stronger logical foundation than outright rejection of one's own senses.  It is always possible that they made a mistake, but then again it's always possible that oneself has made a mistake as well in an observation.  If we accept that not everyone is trying to deceive us at all times (a reasonable proposition, I think) then we must also accept that at least *some* people have observational abilities akin to our own, and can therefore be trusted at least some of the time to provide observational evidence that is as correct as our own.*


*As I re-read this, it strikes me that a zetetic actually cannot accept this premise precisely because he is a zetetic.  It is not possible to directly observe the mental states of another, so we cannot make assumptions about their condition.  I feel like there is a zetetic way around this problem lurking just around the corner, but I can't quite grasp it.


Not quite. Zeteticism is still a tool for investigating the world around us. However, its focus is on explaining how the world is. Science posits theoretical explanations about how the world may work, and uses predictive power to assess whether those explanations are sufficient. Zeteticism draws incontestable logical conclusions from experiences, which amount to certain knowledge. If experience conflicts with the conclusions drawn, clearly there has been a logical misstep along the way.

I guess I can see how zeteticism could be understood as a tool rather than just as an epistemological framework.  I still find myself having trouble with its claims about certain knowledge drawn from deductive logic. 

It's not that I dispute the rigor or worth of deduction or observation, mind you.  Rather, it seems to me that there are an awful lot of assumptions that end up backing any observationally-based statement about the world.  It's one thing to construct a valid deductive argument from data that has been observed, but verifying the argument's soundness is another thing entirely because the complexity of the universe makes absolute verification of observational premises a very difficult task. 

All it takes is a look at the currently active Bedford Level Experiment thread to see what I mean by this statement.  Rowbotham constructed a valid deductive argument to prove the world was flat, and set out to verify his premises with the experiment.  From the observational data he collected, it follows that his argument was also a sound one -- that he was, in fact, correct about the Earth's flatness.

The problem is, there are a ton of other assumptions lurking behind his observations in this case.  It's not as simple as "If the Earth is round, then its curvature will obscure objects at a distance.  Objects are not observed to be obscured in this manner.  Therefore, the Earth is not round."  The veracity of his observation that objects are not obscured lie assumptions about the path traveled by light between observer and observed and the behavior of water flows in open channels, among other things.

These background assumptions ruin his deduction, but from a zetetic standpoint he has not really made an error in his argument or experiment.  His only mistake was to trust the accuracy of his observations, a principal which lies at the very foundation of his method.  It is very likely that what he reported is actually what he observed, but his bias towards acceptance of only self-verified evidence necessarily precluded him from accounting for the hidden assumptions in his logic.

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trig

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Re: Zeteticism is the opposite of science
« Reply #49 on: August 25, 2011, 06:43:12 AM »

I guess I can see how zeteticism could be understood as a tool rather than just as an epistemological framework.  I still find myself having trouble with its claims about certain knowledge drawn from deductive logic. 

You are giving way too much credence to Zeteticism. You see an epistemological tool, but it really is not much more than a game of words.

Truth is, what we see, listen, smell, taste and touch is information designed for the purpose of survival, not raw information devoid of interpretation that we can accept as certain knowledge. And when we apply some deductive logic to the information we remember lots of inconsistencies are found because we remember the interpretation we made, not the pixels of a photo or the wavelength of the sound we heard.

As examples, we now know that eyewitness testimony of crimes is enormously fallible, we have successful experiments where specific memories are easily implanted, people see the Virgin Mary in tortillas and stained walls, magicians have fooled millions for centuries with simple tricks, most people hear their names called when in reality there was nothing more than indistinguishable voices.

Zeteticism might be seen as an epistemological tool, in the sense that if you only accept absolute truth you will have to accept that it will eventually have to pass through your own senses to get to your brain. You can only accept what comes through your senses because everything you know passes through your senses. But that is only half of the "I think, therefore I exist" argument. The whole argument is: I only know what my senses tell me, and I know my senses lie to me, so the only thing I really know is that I think.

Going back to the design of our senses, we have learned that we see faces even where there aren't any because recognizing faces is a critical survival skill, and erring on the side of caution is the best strategy. We hear what we most want or fear to hear because it is better to flee a thousand times from non-existing threats than to stay calm when a threat really exists. In some cases we can base our knowledge on the raw, uninterpreted information from a photo, for example, but in general we must take the interpreted information stored in our minds with more than a few grains of salt.

Re: Zeteticism is the opposite of science
« Reply #50 on: August 25, 2011, 12:59:45 PM »
Yes, but you have to draw the line somewhere.  Descartes' Meditations in which he puts forth that argument were designed with the intent of providing an infallible foundation of truth and logic on the basis of which the rest of scientific argument and other human knowledge could be constructed. 

He chose not to draw the line anywhere and deliberately examine all possible sources of knowledge or truth and eliminate every one which admitted of even the slightest possibility of fallibility.  The problem with this, as you have noted, is that we end up eliminating everything except the fact that we know we are thinking because everything else comes to us through our senses, and our senses are clearly not perfect.  He proceeded to rebuild what he had destroyed, but even a moderate critical analysis of his work can find a number of holes in his logic.

In all honesty, I don't think it is possible to accept anything at all as knowledge or truth if you take such a radical skeptical position (except self existence as Descartes discovered, and even that is suspect on deeper analysis).  So unless you want to live in a terrible world in which you know nothing or almost nothing, you have to draw a line somewhere.

From a strictly philosophical standpoint, there is not really a definitive argument for drawing that line in any particular place.  What do you decide to accept as justification for that which you hold as knowledge?  On a First-Meditation-Cartesian standpoint, I only know that I exist.  Relaxing skepticism a little, I can say that I know I see my computer screen in front of me.  A little more and I can say that I know that my computer screen is in front of me.  A little further and I can say that I know that if I drop it, it will fall.  Still further and I can say that I know that my wife liked the birthday present I bought her.  On and on, until I can say that I know that Tupac and Elvis are still alive, and meet weekly for a rowdy game of Scrabble.

The point being, zeteticism is really only a choice of where to draw that line.  It draws the line a little more strictly than science, based primarily on concerns about the rigor of induction as justification for knowledge.  Zeteticism chooses to accept only direct observation as evidence on which to base claims of knowledge, and only deduction as a method for generating new knowledge from that evidence.  Science extends the first criteria to other types of experimental evidence, and extends the second criteria to include inductive proof.

To me, the strongest argument in favor of accepting science's structure rather than zeteticism's is the fact that induction is built-in to our conscious experience.  It's less philosophically sound than deduction, but it is such an important part of how we understand and interact with the universe we live in that it doesn't really make sense (to me, at least) to reject it on the grounds that it is possible for it to produce falsehoods. 

The same argument applies to acceptance of reported evidence from other people.  Unless you assume that either you are unique among humans (aside from "I am me and they are not") or that everyone is always trying to trick you, there isn't a good philosophical reason (to me, at least) to reject all evidence provided by others.  There's certainly reason to examine it in many cases, but it seems like quite a leap to me to justify total rejection.

That said, it still seems to me that zeteticism could be used as an investigative tool in much the same sense that science is used in this way.  It has a structure for determining acceptable evidence, for generating claims based on that evidence, and for testing those claims.  All of this mirrors science.  The main differences are only the acceptable sources for evidence, and the fact that science strives to make predictive claims where zeteticism can only make claims about what currently is and never about what will happen.  Zeteticism's claims have a stronger epistemological foundation than science's in that there are fewer possible sources of error in both the logic and evidence, but these gains come at the cost of a reduced scope of usefulness.

*

Lord Wilmore

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Re: Zeteticism is the opposite of science
« Reply #51 on: August 25, 2011, 08:07:07 PM »
Sorry for the delayed response; I've been pretty busy this week and haven't had time to do more than briefly browse these forums and write a couple small replies.  Also, let's try to keep a discussion thoughtful and meaningful for once.  I'm a bit disappointed to see that while I was away the thread seems to have regressed to one-word rebuttals.


Agreed. This thread has been going quite well, and I don't want to see it degenerate, so any further low-content posting will result in suspensions. Take heed.


In all honesty, there's a good chance that your experience is indicative of the majority.  While most scientific education covers thoroughly the methodology and various practices and standards involved in research and theoretical investigation, I doubt very many scientists have a deep enough understanding of epistemological issues to see where the root of the weakness lies.

That said, however, most (professional or academic, not amateur) scientists that I have encountered at least have a thorough enough understanding of their subject and its methods to recognize the weakness if not its philosophical underpinnings.  There are certainly plenty of people that (wrongly) hold scientific theory as infallible though, behaving almost as if it were a religion rather than a methodology.


Granted, some have a sufficient grasp of the scientific method's location in the philosophical landscape. However, I think that much of the antagonism exhibited by Zetetics toward science stems from the acolyte majority. Ours is a scientific culture, and challenging science is often seen as dubious, whether you be a zetetic, a phenomenologist or an ethicist.



From my understanding, the issue of personal verification is not the reason why a proper experiment must be repeatable.  If this were the case, there would be lots of scientists around who find fault (beyond the previously-discussed induction issue) with many modern experiments.  In modern experimental physics, experimental apparatuses are often extremely specialized and expensive; for this reason, much of the time experiments are never duplicated by other scientists. 

Instead, the reason is because it is always possible that an experimenter incorrectly interpreted a result or was unaware of a potential source of error.  A repeatable experiment means that someone who is reviewing the literature and the first guy's research has opportunity to spot the mistake and test the hypothesis again with his improved understanding of the experiment.


Granted, in situations where the experiment cannot easily be conducted again (through no fault of the experimenter), the description and details of said experiment are usually sufficient basis for scientific criticism. Nevertheless, such cases are the exception rather than the rule, especially in historical terms.


With regard to the slope you suggest, I agree that it exists but I don't really think it is much of a problem.  It seems to me that resolution is a simple matter of practicality in who you choose to accept.  There is probably not a clear-cut line between trustworthy and untrustworthy here that applies in all cases, but I think in general someone who is sufficiently like-minded to oneself and who utilizes similar methodology and has similar research goals might be an acceptable candidate.


I suppose what this comes down to is that I and many other zetetics don't consider the disarming adjective "practicality" to be a simple matter if it has the potential to interfere with truth-seeking.


With regard to the slope I suggested, yes I agree there is a clear difference between my own and anyone else's experiences.  I suppose I should have elaborated, but as I mentioned I think that accepting one's own sensory experience while rejecting all others requires an important assumption. 

In order to hold this position, I must assume that I am unique amongst humanity in a sense other than "I am myself, and they are not."  This is somewhat akin to Wittgenstein's beetle-in-a-box argument about the conscious experience, only rather than assuming that everyone else's beetle is the same or similar to mine I assume that they are all irreconcilably different. 

They may be other people, but blanket rejection of all others' observations seems to me to have no stronger logical foundation than outright rejection of one's own senses.  It is always possible that they made a mistake, but then again it's always possible that oneself has made a mistake as well in an observation.  If we accept that not everyone is trying to deceive us at all times (a reasonable proposition, I think) then we must also accept that at least *some* people have observational abilities akin to our own, and can therefore be trusted at least some of the time to provide observational evidence that is as correct as our own.*


*As I re-read this, it strikes me that a zetetic actually cannot accept this premise precisely because he is a zetetic.  It is not possible to directly observe the mental states of another, so we cannot make assumptions about their condition.  I feel like there is a zetetic way around this problem lurking just around the corner, but I can't quite grasp it.


To my mind, you're making a jump here that does not follow from the zetetic's actual position. To pursue the Wittgenstein analogy, zetetics do not argue that other people's beetles are "irreconcilably different". That itself would be an ungrounded assumption. All the zetetic does is acknowledge his ignorance of the beetle's nature or existence. That which we do not know cannot serve as a basis for knowledge. The zetetic is therefore not making assumptions about other people, as you suggest.



I guess I can see how zeteticism could be understood as a tool rather than just as an epistemological framework.  I still find myself having trouble with its claims about certain knowledge drawn from deductive logic. 

It's not that I dispute the rigor or worth of deduction or observation, mind you.  Rather, it seems to me that there are an awful lot of assumptions that end up backing any observationally-based statement about the world.  It's one thing to construct a valid deductive argument from data that has been observed, but verifying the argument's soundness is another thing entirely because the complexity of the universe makes absolute verification of observational premises a very difficult task. 

All it takes is a look at the currently active Bedford Level Experiment thread to see what I mean by this statement.  Rowbotham constructed a valid deductive argument to prove the world was flat, and set out to verify his premises with the experiment.  From the observational data he collected, it follows that his argument was also a sound one -- that he was, in fact, correct about the Earth's flatness.

The problem is, there are a ton of other assumptions lurking behind his observations in this case.  It's not as simple as "If the Earth is round, then its curvature will obscure objects at a distance.  Objects are not observed to be obscured in this manner.  Therefore, the Earth is not round."  The veracity of his observation that objects are not obscured lie assumptions about the path traveled by light between observer and observed and the behavior of water flows in open channels, among other things.

These background assumptions ruin his deduction, but from a zetetic standpoint he has not really made an error in his argument or experiment.  His only mistake was to trust the accuracy of his observations, a principal which lies at the very foundation of his method.  It is very likely that what he reported is actually what he observed, but his bias towards acceptance of only self-verified evidence necessarily precluded him from accounting for the hidden assumptions in his logic.


I grant much of the above, but it's important to note that zetetics only claim that Zeteticism is a firmer base for truth-claims than science when practised correctly - it is not a step-by-step guiding to absolute knowledge. Simply put (bearing in mind this is a point of controversy among FE'ers), Rowbotham constructed a sound logical argument upon false premises. I do not intend to enter into a discussion of Rowbotham here, so I will simply say that though a zetetic may not accept the reported experiences of other people as evidence, he/she is free to consider their arguments and/or criticisms. If a zetetic's premises come into question, he/she can consider the force of the argument presented without violating the principle of 'self-verification' (as you describe it).


To me, the strongest argument in favor of accepting science's structure rather than zeteticism's is the fact that induction is built-in to our conscious experience.  It's less philosophically sound than deduction, but it is such an important part of how we understand and interact with the universe we live in that it doesn't really make sense (to me, at least) to reject it on the grounds that it is possible for it to produce falsehoods.


Yet people like trig problematise perception, declaring that its fruits are often rotten. Nevertheless, it too is "built-in to our conscious experience", so why should induction be acquitted on such grounds, while perception remains in the dock?


Not sure why, but I am reminded of a passage from Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of Perception:


[. . .] science succeeds in constructing only a semblance of subjectivity: it introduces sensations which are things, just where experience shows that there are meaningful patterns; it forces the phenomenal universe into categories which make sense only in the universe of science . . . I may be familiar with a face without ever having perceived the colour of the eyes in themselves. The theory of sensation, which builds up all knowledge out of determinate qualities, offers us objects purged of all ambiguity, pure and absolute, the ideal rather than the real themes of knowledge (Merleau-Ponty 12-13)


Of late I have been considering the implications of phenomenological discourse on the Zetetic method, and I hope to write some small essay on the subject in the next year. Whether I'll actually get round to it is another question.


Apologies in advance for any dodgy stuff in the above post; I broached the beaujolais some time ago, and I am starting to feel its effects =)





Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. Phenomenology of Perception. Oxon: Routledge, 2002. Print.
« Last Edit: August 25, 2011, 08:09:18 PM by Lord Wilmore »
"I want truth for truth's sake, not for the applaud or approval of men. I would not reject truth because it is unpopular, nor accept error because it is popular. I should rather be right and stand alone than run with the multitude and be wrong." - C.S. DeFord

Re: Zeteticism is the opposite of science
« Reply #52 on: August 26, 2011, 01:05:04 AM »
Granted, some have a sufficient grasp of the scientific method's location in the philosophical landscape. However, I think that much of the antagonism exhibited by Zetetics toward science stems from the acolyte majority. Ours is a scientific culture, and challenging science is often seen as dubious, whether you be a zetetic, a phenomenologist or an ethicist.

Agreed.  That is one of the reasons why I am enjoying this forum (and particularly this discussion) so much -- even though I disagree with your position, it is refreshing to engage in criticism towards things which are often taken as self-evident.


Granted, in situations where the experiment cannot easily be conducted again (through no fault of the experimenter), the description and details of said experiment are usually sufficient basis for scientific criticism. Nevertheless, such cases are the exception rather than the rule, especially in historical terms.

From my own knowledge of science and its history, I get the impression that the option to duplicate an experiment really only gets exercised when a result is controversial (and therefore prone to greater scrutiny) or when an experiment is discovered later to have missed some source of error.  They are definitely the exception, but building repeatability into the method helps to ensure that it is needed less frequently.


I suppose what this comes down to is that I and many other zetetics don't consider the disarming adjective "practicality" to be a simple matter if it has the potential to interfere with truth-seeking.

...

To my mind, you're making a jump here that does not follow from the zetetic's actual position. To pursue the Wittgenstein analogy, zetetics do not argue that other people's beetles are "irreconcilably different". That itself would be an ungrounded assumption. All the zetetic does is acknowledge his ignorance of the beetle's nature or existence. That which we do not know cannot serve as a basis for knowledge. The zetetic is therefore not making assumptions about other people, as you suggest.

The further I get into this discussion, I think the more I begin to understand the rules you play by, so to speak.  Having read these responses I can see now why my argument fails from a zetetic standpoint.  It is not really a matter of rejecting another person's observations because he might be wrong or deceitful; instead, it is a simple matter of an inability to zetetically verify his observational capability and state of mind.  The mind of the other is unobservable and therefore cannot be leveraged to acquire zetetic knowledge.


I grant much of the above, but it's important to note that zetetics only claim that Zeteticism is a firmer base for truth-claims than science when practised correctly - it is not a step-by-step guiding to absolute knowledge. Simply put (bearing in mind this is a point of controversy among FE'ers), Rowbotham constructed a sound logical argument upon false premises. I do not intend to enter into a discussion of Rowbotham here, so I will simply say that though a zetetic may not accept the reported experiences of other people as evidence, he/she is free to consider their arguments and/or criticisms. If a zetetic's premises come into question, he/she can consider the force of the argument presented without violating the principle of 'self-verification' (as you describe it).

Agreed, this is not really the place for a discussion of Rowbotham's work.  I simply meant to use him as a relevant example for my argument, since there is another thread that highlights the point I was making. 

As far as the bit about examining another's argument goes, I see no reason why a zetetic shouldn't be able to make a judgment on validity so long as soundness calls are saved until premises can be verified.  In fact it seems that this sort of thing should be encouraged -- looking at the work of another is often one of the best ways to become inspired.


Yet people like trig problematise perception, declaring that its fruits are often rotten. Nevertheless, it too is "built-in to our conscious experience", so why should induction be acquitted on such grounds, while perception remains in the dock?

I can't speak for trig or others on this one, but I would argue that perception ought to be acquitted to the same degree as induction in this instance.  That said, however, the two remain different animals entirely and beyond their prevalence in our conscious experience they probably need to be treated very differently.

As I am writing this, I realize that they do in fact get treated differently -- this is pretty evident in looking over the history of this discussion, especially the highlighted differences between science and zeteticism.  I think it would be interesting to do an analysis comparing the function of the two (induction and observation) with respect to knowledge.  I suspect they have strong epistemological similarities.  My philosophy is a bit rusty these days, so towards that end I might spend some time this weekend reviewing Hume's criticism of induction (which if I am not mistaken, is one of the primary drivers behind its rejection by zetetics).


Not sure why, but I am reminded of a passage from Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of Perception:


[. . .] science succeeds in constructing only a semblance of subjectivity: it introduces sensations which are things, just where experience shows that there are meaningful patterns; it forces the phenomenal universe into categories which make sense only in the universe of science . . . I may be familiar with a face without ever having perceived the colour of the eyes in themselves. The theory of sensation, which builds up all knowledge out of determinate qualities, offers us objects purged of all ambiguity, pure and absolute, the ideal rather than the real themes of knowledge (Merleau-Ponty 12-13)


Of late I have been considering the implications of phenomenological discourse on the Zetetic method, and I hope to write some small essay on the subject in the next year. Whether I'll actually get round to it is another question.

Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. Phenomenology of Perception. Oxon: Routledge, 2002. Print.

I must admit, I have somewhat of a gap in my knowledge when it comes to the specifics of phenomenology.  Perhaps another reading topic if I can get some spare time in the weeks to come.

Just reading that passage, however, I get a somewhat metaphysical feel from Merleau-Ponty's take on perception and knowledge.  His point about freedom from ambiguity and object qualities strikes me as an argument from the metaphysical position that all objects are composed of properties and that there is no such thing as an object that exists in-and-of itself with no properties (instead, those things we observe are to be understood as a particular arrangement of properties). 

Because such properties are largely defined in terms of their effect on our observational senses, it might be possible to argue that the observation of the various properties of an object could lead to an unambiguous understanding of that object. 

At any rate, I'm kindof flying by the seat of my pants on this one.  I guess this particular essay would probably be a good place to start before I make myself look too much the fool by analyzing it out of context.

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trig

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Re: Zeteticism is the opposite of science
« Reply #53 on: August 26, 2011, 02:04:08 AM »
That said, it still seems to me that zeteticism could be used as an investigative tool in much the same sense that science is used in this way.  It has a structure for determining acceptable evidence, for generating claims based on that evidence, and for testing those claims.  All of this mirrors science.  The main differences are only the acceptable sources for evidence, and the fact that science strives to make predictive claims where zeteticism can only make claims about what currently is and never about what will happen.  Zeteticism's claims have a stronger epistemological foundation than science's in that there are fewer possible sources of error in both the logic and evidence, but these gains come at the cost of a reduced scope of usefulness.
Still, I disagree totally in the "fewer sources of error" part. Your senses are a huge source of error, which science corrects to a great extent with the requirements of repeatability. The fact that you get into logic contradictions very quickly when you rely only on your senses and the logic conclusions that come from your own sensory information is quite inevitable.

You put one hand that was in cold water in warm water and it feels unbearably hot. You dream about finding the watch you lost and then you think you remember seeing it. In general your senses, with no help from other people, are a very poor source of absolute or almost absolute truth.

You still have the logic contradiction that comes from these few, simple observations: The sea looks flat to the unaided eye. The Sun is always at the same distance from you, and that is why it does not change apparent size, brightness or shape or apparent speed during the day. The sun goes under the horizon at the same speed it had all day, (or maybe faster, according to some people's accounts that come from unaided observation alone). When it is night for me it is night for all the world, because the Sun is under the flat Earth. It is not night for everyone because I frequently talk with people in other continents and they are asleep when I am in mid-afternoon.

There still might be a small nugget of absolute truth that comes only from my senses and logical conclusions from my sensory information, just because nothing can be denied absolutely. But the track record of this idea is a good indication that there is nothing there to be found. Absolutely nothing has been found yet, neither about the Earth's shape nor about anything else.

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PizzaPlanet

  • 12224
  • Now available in stereo
Re: Zeteticism is the opposite of science
« Reply #54 on: August 26, 2011, 02:26:12 AM »
I cannot verify the existence of viruses
Incorrect.

Incorrect
Oh, okay, so science doesn't know of viruses.
Zetecism: 1 - Science: 0


Same with atoms
Incorrect.

Incorrect
Oh, okay, so science doesn't know of atoms.
Zeteticism: 2 - Science: 0

electricity
Incorrect.

Incorrect

and even quantum physics.
Incorrect.

Incorrect
Wow, science doesn't even know of electricity. Bro, here's a brotip: The device you typed this post on is evidence of electricity.
Zeteticism: 3 - Science: 0

I know most of the time when I am receiving poor quality science because of my intellectual capacity, not because of my senses.
An analysis of what your senses tell you is a very important part of the Zetetic method, yes.
Incorrect
Damn, science can't even read dem Wiki pages.
Zeteticism: 3 - Science: -1

For a surveyor, you surely need to survey your knowledge a bit more, my dearest ClockTower.
hacking your precious forum as we speak 8) 8) 8)

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trig

  • 2240
Re: Zeteticism is the opposite of science
« Reply #55 on: August 26, 2011, 03:19:43 AM »
I cannot verify the existence of viruses
Incorrect.

Incorrect
Oh, okay, so science doesn't know of viruses.
Zetecism: 1 - Science: 0


Same with atoms
Incorrect.

Incorrect
Oh, okay, so science doesn't know of atoms.
Zeteticism: 2 - Science: 0

electricity
Incorrect.

Incorrect

and even quantum physics.
Incorrect.

Incorrect
Wow, science doesn't even know of electricity. Bro, here's a brotip: The device you typed this post on is evidence of electricity.
Zeteticism: 3 - Science: 0

I know most of the time when I am receiving poor quality science because of my intellectual capacity, not because of my senses.
An analysis of what your senses tell you is a very important part of the Zetetic method, yes.
Incorrect
Damn, science can't even read dem Wiki pages.
Zeteticism: 3 - Science: -1

For a surveyor, you surely need to survey your knowledge a bit more, my dearest ClockTower.
Your quoting out of context is getting totally out of bounds. Where did you get "science doesn't know of viruses" from? Do you even remember who wrote "I cannot verify the existence of viruses", or if that phrase was originally as you quote it?

You are playing word games because you have nothing of substance to say. You have almost reached the bottom of the barrel when the only thing you can say is "incorrect", and then you reach even lower when you try to get something out of your own one word arguments.