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David Livingston wrote:I think Tyler this quote is appropriate
“The real purpose of the scientific method is to make sure nature hasn’t misled you into thinking you know something you actually don’t know.”
― Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values



Yes but how does the person without education in science tell the difference?  What I'm asking is, how does a person tell science from not-science?  How does someone know that another person is practicing science, or not?





 
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Let me try to respond to all the points made since my last one in one post.

In terms of woolly thinking (and this is a term I want to avoid using in future), I'm thinking in terms of foggy unclear thinking.

The thing is, we all do it. We also all have these mental shortcuts that allow us to make fast decisions on the fly. There's nothing wrong with either of these under certain circumstances.

This brings me to the pseudoscience question. Sebastian's point is exactly why I brought up the distinction between intuitive, experiential thinking and empiricism, and the confusion between the two.

Part of the problem, and this is a question of very broad relevance, well beyond this web site, is that there is no clear dividing line between random assertion and utterly incontestable “fact”. It's a huge grey area, full of nuances.

There are many who seem to be of the view that this means that all views in that grey area are of equal validity: others (me, for example) disagree: to me, it's about examining those nuances. I think that goes to the root of a lot of conflict around here. I'd be very, very keen to solve that problem, but I don't know how to do it. Scientific discussion (in theory, anyway) encourages dialogue.

Paul objects to people sticking a science label on something, when it's actually horse potatoes. That's fine. So do I. I call it pseudoscience. This is why I'm so confused when this is both “perfect in every way” but also “horse potatoes”. I'd really love it if Paul could elaborate on this, please. Am I missing a nuance?

In conventional scientific dialogue a statement requires support from the published literature. This enables everyone reading that statement to read the same literature and ascertain whether the literature supports the science in the way that the person making the statement says it does. When that's missed out (it's taken as an oversight rather than malice) it's considered proper to ask for it and for it to be provided: the conventional shorthand for this is simple (“citation needed”). This is not, as I've mentioned shorthand for “prove it” but “let's discuss your sources”.

This is why this person

any ninny who thinks that you, Neil, should do as the ninny commands you to: think the thoughts he has commanded you to think and write the things he has commanded you to write. Because you say you love science and he wrote the word "science" on his stuff. Therefore you are his personal bitch for life. 


would not get very far. In conventional discourse, I can ask for the citations. Most of the time online I have to go looking for them, which is time-consuming, annoying and may well miss the evidence being referred to, but it usually works. In general terms it's about entering the right web search parameters, which takes practice.

Nobody is likely to make me his “ personal bitch for life”. This isn't science, it's pseudoscience (Paul's horse potatoes):


People have found that they can make up anything crap they want and if they find that some sucker won't believe it, then they will say "scientifically proven" or some such. 



Indeed. One of the things I wanted to do when I started this thread was to help readers learn how to avoid becoming personal bitches. There is a lot of this about.

I tend to react poorly to someone trying to make me their personal bitch, especially when using horse potatoes.

The thing is, there are two broad possible responses to the horse potatoes problem. One is to reject science entirely and simply ignore anything that looks like science because it might be horse potatoes. My response is to reach for the shovel (i.e. do better science) so that it's not left lying around where someone can use it (to mix metaphors in a profoundly disgusting fashion) to make others their personal bitches.

One of the purposes of this thread was to hand out shovels to those who want them.  

In terms of Tyler's question, I tried to answer that at the top of the thread, but evidently failed to do so. I'll try to work out where I went wrong and get back to the question.
 
Tyler Ludens
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I'm pretty dense, Neil.  I generally need to see something said a couple of different ways before I can understand it.  Especially lately.  Don't bother about it if the concept is clear to other people.

 
Neil Layton
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Tyler Ludens wrote:I'm pretty dense, Neil.  I generally need to see something said a couple of different ways before I can understand it.  Especially lately.  Don't bother about it if the concept is clear to other people.



I've seen plenty of evidence of you being anything other than dense, Tyler. If you're missing it, then there is something lacking in my explanation.
 
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Unfolding the nested quotes:

Tyler Ludens wrote:“The real purpose of the scientific method is to make sure nature hasn’t misled you into thinking you know something you actually don’t know.”
― Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values


David Livingston wrote:I think Tyler this quote is appropriate


Tyler Ludens wrote:Yes but how does the person without education in science tell the difference? What I'm asking is, how does a person tell science from not-science? How does someone know that another person is practicing science, or not?



… and here lies the problem.
Teaching true scientific principles (not the ones that are used by various people all over the place) would be one of my most important parts of education.
And if the only purpose is to allow the students to identify peoples false claims of "science".

---

Neil Layton wrote:In terms of woolly thinking (and this is a term I want to avoid using in future), I'm thinking in terms of foggy unclear thinking.
The thing is, we all do it. We also all have these mental shortcuts that allow us to make fast decisions on the fly. There's nothing wrong with either of these under certain circumstances.


I am not happy with the word "woolly" and will use the term "fuzzy thinking" (borrowing from "fuzzy logic") from now on:
As an experimental physicist, I have used and am using fuzzy thinking all the time. Simply because it is much faster (a fraction of a second per calculation, as opposed to minutes).
The cost is the unclear precision. Sometimes a rough answer is sufficient, sometimes it only serves as validation for a calculated result (which their own chance of introducing errors).

Fuzzy thinking is based on the training of your own conscious thinking and making a model of the truth (by observation).
This is then somehow approximated further by the brain and the "computations" are "parallel" to the normal analytic and conscious thinking.
You need to everything the slow way, before the fast way develops.

And I am not the only one to use this. It is very useful and helps to solve problems at an acceptable rate. However it is never accurate and has to be verified by experiment or calculation.
I am not long enough in the area of Permaculture to tell how widespread this is here. As far as I can tell from Geoff Lawton's videos, he is using this technique.

Then there is another way, which I very much try to avoid: Thinking based on feelings or emotions, which could be associated with empiricism.
Side note based on my theory of psychology: The feelings arise from previous obervations that were processed unconsciously.
Maybe Neil termed this "woolly thinking". (I know that some people do this;I am not sure how this applies to the permaculture world.)

---

Then there was "scientifically proven". Unless one is a mathematician, I would question any "prove". (In my opinion proving is reserved to mathematics.)

---
Edit: I wish I could write such a long post without introducing errors…!
Oh and about being "dense": My average density is about 1g/cm³ does this count as "pretty dense"?
 
Tyler Ludens
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Sebastian Köln wrote:
Teaching true scientific principles (not the ones that are used by various people all over the place) would be one of my most important parts of education.
And if the only purpose is to allow the students to identify peoples false claims of "science".



What are the "true scientific principles"?

 
Sebastian Köln
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I can not write them down directly.

However, when you study how different scientists have worked, what drove them, how they dealt with failing experiments, wrong theories and so on, you get an idea what their principles are.
None of them did science to earn money.
They did not care about being famous, in fact some tried to avoid being in the public.
Their work was some sort of play. Maybe like playing chess with physics. Once you lost the 100th game, you win once.
And they knew that their knowledge was always an never ending chase with the truth.
Most of them (the ones I studied) also enjoyed teaching and they were excellent teachers.

Maybe the "Idea of science" is a better term.
 
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@Sebastian K: "My average density is about 1g/cm³ does this count as "pretty dense"?"

This would be the density of water....at ~0 - 10 degrees C.  But since your resting body temperature is around 37C, and since your body is a combination of water and solute and more firm matter, and also given the heated nature of the discussion, I'm thinking your average density may have decreased to about 0.99 g/cm3, ......unless you have been in die Stube too long already, in which case all bets are off.  

"Then there is another way, which I very much try to avoid: Thinking based on feelings or emotions, which could be associated with empiricism. "

[Empiricism is a theory that states that knowledge comes only or primarily from sensory experience--wiki]

I'm curious that you would try to avoid this:  Does this mean that sensations, feelings, or emotions in no way influence, guide, or are considered some part of your internal argumentative process (with the exception of the fact that you might stay late at the lab out of excitement over a new experiment)?  I agree that for the most part the *concept* of "science" would say this should be the case, but (a) would it really incur that much error to consider an intuition/sensation as part of one's data collection, and (b) might one not unfortunately end up missing something crucial by ignoring an intuition/sensation, when going about the *practice* of science?  More than once, the "trickster" of ancient lore has seemed to preside over experimentation just waiting to remind the experimenter of dimensions to which they could have paid at lease some heed.
 
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The firm matter actually matters > And I hope that my body will also contain some air! (And when it doesn't it's too late to correct me.) And no, I have not tried to dive in water at 4°C.

John Weiland wrote:"Then there is another way, which I very much try to avoid: Thinking based on feelings or emotions, which could be associated with empiricism. "

[Empiricism is a theory that states that knowledge comes only or primarily from sensory experience--wiki]

I'm curious that you would try to avoid this:  Does this mean that sensations, feelings, or emotions in no way influence, guide, or are considered some part of your internal argumentative process (with the exception of the fact that you might stay late at the lab out of excitement over a new experiment)?


[I stayed way too long in the lab once thinking it should be working any moment now … for several hours. It actually did work around 2am.]

John Weiland wrote:I agree that for the most part the *concept* of "science" would say this should be the case,
but (a) would it really incur that much error to consider an intuition/sensation as part of one's data collection,
and (b) might one not unfortunately end up missing something crucial by ignoring an intuition/sensation, when going about the *practice* of science?


Let's say that in my case there has been enough "sensory experience" influencing this function up to a condition where it no longer produces appropriate output. I also prefer to reason about the things I do.
I cannot trust my emotions. They provide a hint at best.

John Weiland wrote:More than once, the "trickster" of ancient lore has seemed to preside over experimentation just waiting to remind the experimenter of dimensions to which they could have paid at lease some heed.


I don't know who said the following, but I will try to get close to the original: To discover something new in science, one has to study the history of science.
And I fully agree with you and that quote.
 
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I was going to write Tyler stop doing yourself down. Then I thought that's the answer to you question .
You have convinced yourself you are dense. It's intuetive based on your guess and your subjective opinion . Others such as myself and Neil ( although I am sure there are many others:-) ) look at your previous comments and their appropriateness and content measure them  against what we would think of a comment of a value "dense" and have come to a conclusion no you are not dense . It's in the method and how we measure and define results.

David
 
Tyler Ludens
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This all seems very vague and subjective, which I thought was the opposite of science.

 
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paul wheaton wrote:
One scientist will point to another and say "pseudoscience".  90% of the time there will be a finger going in the opposite direction with the same word on it.  

And then the argument of "I'm right and you are wrong" is replaced with "I'm right because I used science."  The traditional, childish response to "I'm right and you are wrong" is "No, I'm right and YOU are wrong".    The traditional, childish response to  "I'm right because I used science" is "No, I'm right because I used REAL science."



Sorry to add anything... I grew up with wonder and and love of finding out new things. Learning science was one of those things I loved. I have since then found out many dirty secrets in science. The chief thing being that proper scientific research is not cheap. The second thing I find is that people who spend money expect to get something for what they spend. There seems to be a lot of "scientific research" along the lines of: I need a study that says x, who is willing to do that study? I have personally had three experiences with this, two of them quite bad and the third just confirming the cost of research. It is quite something to have one's child diagnosed with a condition and while waiting spend time doing my own research... When talking to the DR, telling them what I had found and having that DR look me in the eye and say: You have done the research and so you know, I can't say anything except to nod my head. Along the same lines, there was a study done that concluded that some of the practices of the large Pharmaceutical where less that the best thing for children with some specific side effects. 13 years later, those companies sued this person over the technique of his study and basically ruined him. I will note that these are the people with the money to do a better study to prove him wrong, but in 13 years they had been unable to do so. I have a family member in medicine, There are some things they have to promote health wise even though they know from personal experience there are flaws with it... you see we live in Canada where the government foots all the bills. There is only one game in town and that game collects taxes from big pharma. I have another family member who has a phd in Chem. Almost all research done in our publicly owned universities is decided on by what areas that research (patents) can be sold from, what will bring money to the university... because otherwise there will be no money for research.

Science and the methods of learning things is wonderful, but I am sorry to say that I don't have much trust for what is called science in this day and age. In all cases when one finds that "science" says something one has to follow the money that paid for the research first to find out what product required science to find out that particular "fact". It has become hard to separate science from religion. I think the best response that shows scientific thought is that "The more you know, the more you know you don't know". And I say that as a quote where all the "you"s point to me.

I spent a number of hours this past weekend contemplating the amazing design of a human being as my first grandchild of only one week lay on my chest and slept. Sometimes what is seen outside of the lab has more to say than discoveries made inside the lab. Sometimes a fool can see what an incredible intellect misses. I am not so sure my grandchild was designed through evolution... what is it about human beings that we must put meaning or purpose to everything? Why is that?

Anyway, permaculture is an incredibly complex design, studying permaculture is like doing many studies at the same time... all interdependent. Scientific study mandates that all be kept the same except one change at a time, I don't know if this is possible with permaculture and yet the study done in permaculture is worthwhile anyway. But is it science? Does it have to be? Sometimes enough circumstantial evidence can be enough to move forward.

No, the earth is not flat. But for the man (no gender implied) building a house, designing the house as if the earth is flat will still "work". Nor does it matter that the earth moves while the sun stays relatively still to the same builder. There is an awareness of seasons that can be traced to that same earth's movement... but the why matters less than the knowledge that it is so. I like the quote from above:

“The real purpose of the scientific method is to make sure nature hasn’t misled you into thinking you know something you actually don’t know.”
― Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values


it needs only one small addition to make it complete.... How then does one make sure that science hasn’t misled you into thinking you know something you actually don’t know?

 
Neil Layton
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I wouldn't call it a scientific evaluation. There are tests that you can conduct that are intended to be more or less objective, but other studies have found such tests to often be more culturally defined. Measuring, if you like, relative density in humans is actually a more fraught subject than it at first appears.

With that said, I've seen you exhibit skills in evaluation (which requires a low density to begin with) and also in asking incisive and important questions, rather than simply taking statements at face value, to which the same applies.

With that said, that remains a subjective view, not one based on direct measurements. We'd need to find a common, standardised means of measuring density, and then compare your scores with a large enough sample in order to achieve the latter.

It might be argued that the first step in scientific investigation is the admission that "I do not know". You seem good at that. I started this thread in part because of the sheer number of things that I do not know, and am of the view that it might be of more general benefit if I and others knew.

Perhaps someone would like to write a post on introductory epistemology (the branch of philosophy that concerns itself with how we know things)? It seems relevant, but I'm a bit buried at the moment.
 
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My point:  a person can express their position WITHOUT saying "pseudoscience" or "wooly thinking" or suggesting that anybody is less than perfect.  I would even go so far as to say that





I think the very best scientists and engineers present their positions without ever saying "pseudoscience", "wooly thinking", "science", "REAL science" or suggesting that anybody is less than perfect.




The presentation of their position does not need it.  In fact, any mention of any of this stuff only weakens the perception of their position in the eyes of the other excellent scientists.

Rather than talk about others, present your own position.

Rather than talk about "science" vs. "real science", present your own position.  

Rather than talk about ethics and philosophy, present your own position.

These other things .... those discussions are infinite.  Those discussions have been going on for many millenia.  

Be the change you want to see.   Don't try to convince others to do your own research.
 
Neil Layton
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Len

I don't think anyone is disputing the notion that there are issues with the implementation of scientific methods. I wrote extensively on this above and elsewhere.

I think the question under discussion is whether we abandon such methods entirely (and thus rely on others, which may be even less reliable - which goes back to Nature fooling you) or whether we address the problem of bad science with better science. I hold the latter position. I am far more interested in encouraging and engaging with others with the same position than in getting into an argument over whether it's "the right" position.

I'm not going to rise to your comment about evolution except to say the the theory of natural selection precludes the notion of "meaning and purpose". That was one of the reasons it was so controversial to begin with.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Len Ovens wrote:Scientific study mandates that all be kept the same except one change at a time,



I disagree.  There are entire branches of scientific study which do not appear to use experimentation, but rather observation, to reach conclusions.

I'm going to attempt to answer my own question:  We know it is science instead of not-science because the parameters of what is being observed and how it is being observed are clearly defined and results can be replicated by others following the same clearly defined parameters.  

Clearly defined.  Not vague, not subjective, not ever-changing.


 
Neil Layton
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Tyler Ludens wrote:

Len Ovens wrote:Scientific study mandates that all be kept the same except one change at a time,



I disagree.  There are entire branches of scientific study which do not appear to use experimentation, but rather observation, to reach conclusions.

I'm going to attempt to answer my own question:  We know it is science instead of not-science because the parameters of what is being observed and how it is being observed are clearly defined and results can be replicated by others following the same clearly defined parameters.  

Clearly defined.  Not vague, not subjective, not ever-changing.




Pretty much, Tyler. What you write is true: it's incomplete, but it's accurate insofar as it goes.

Here is another example of Nature being tricksy, a few people making a lot of money out of making a lot of people their bitches as a result (an example of what Paul writes about), and of science catching Her (and them) out (how to make yourself immune to becoming someone's bitch): http://www.newstatesman.com/culture/games/2016/06/brain-training-exposing-myth-behind-cognitive-enhancement-games
 
Tyler Ludens
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Maybe someone can fill in the missing bits for me...

 
Neil Layton
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Tyler Ludens wrote:Maybe someone can fill in the missing bits for me...



Would love to. Not tonight, but if someone else wants to, please feel encouraged.
 
Len Ovens
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Neil Layton wrote:Len
I think the question under discussion is whether we abandon such methods entirely (and thus rely on others, which may be even less reliable - which goes back to Nature fooling you) or whether we address the problem of bad science with better science. I hold the latter position. I am far more interested in encouraging and engaging with others with the same position than in getting into an argument over whether it's "the right" position.


better science is still based on past science. Nobody has the time to redo all the science needed to make sure all past science is sound. I would suggest nobody has the capacity to understand enough. Stop studying no. Use the best method possible yes. Use the information to build things with and live by, most of the time it can be done... even thinking the earth is flat. Rely on it being correct in some absolute way, not so much. It only seems to take one of the pieces of info we rely on being wrong for the whole of our conclusions to follow.


I'm not going to rise to your comment about evolution except to say the the theory of natural selection precludes the notion of "meaning and purpose". That was one of the reasons it was so controversial to begin with.


No, this comment is the same as what I wrote in different words. I agree completely.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Len Ovens wrote: Rely on it being correct in some absolute way, not so much.



As I understand it, science does not provide absolute answers, as there is no absolute (truth) in science, as I understand it, only robust and less-robust, or even not-robust (weak), theories.  Very robust theories are sometimes referred to as laws, such as the law of gravity, laws of thermodynamics, etc.

 
Len Ovens
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Tyler Ludens wrote:Maybe someone can fill in the missing bits for me...



It would be easy to prove the method wrong, much harder to map a way forward that does not have pitfalls. Science is a human occupation, that is, done by humans. Humans by the time they reach the age they can stand up are full of things they "know". Things they think are true, Things they very much want not to be true. This why  we had a "flat earth" earth so long.
 
Tyler Ludens
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I do not find it easy to prove the scientific method wrong, so I strongly disagree with you.

I think this discussion is going far off-topic.  
 
Neil Layton
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Tyler Ludens wrote:I do not find it easy to prove the scientific method wrong, so I strongly disagree with you.

I think this discussion is going far off-topic.  



Agreed. Can we get it back onto methods and best practice, please?
 
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Chiming in on the thought-stopper word 'pseudoscience', I'd like to remind us that, at one time, the theory of plate techtonics was 'pseudoscience'; bacterial causation of stomach ulcers was 'pseudoscience'; obstetricians infecting their patients via dirty hands was 'pseudoscience'... and many more 'theories' were 'pseudoscience'.  Amazes me that anyone representing science can use the word with a straight face ;)  

And I think permaculture will get wider acceptance when it results in increased profits..... science be ... er.. you know :)  We all know that electricity and aspirin were widely used long before science 'knew' why they worked.
 
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The distinction earlier, between "fuzzy thinking" and "magical thinking" is important. Fuzzy thinking is what we all do. Especially we folks in the US of A who use English units of measure. We round this figure up, that figure down, add a bit to make sure, and send the order. We decide to pace off the line instead of finding the buried tape measure. We can't quite remember a date, but it was around 10 years ago, and therefore so and so would have been around so old, which means . . . etc. We know we read something in a book about thermal mass once, but can't find it again, so we'll use as much water as will fit and see what happens, and anyway the book used a polycarbonate and we are not sure how this bit of salvaged glass compares for R value . . .

Fuzzy thinking is useful; unless one A. has a temperament like Neil's and can carefully record and measure things, and B. has some spare time, that the best one can do.

Especially for perfectionists, this is important. Many perfectionists don't do anything at all, because it will not be perfect. To get around this mental block, perfectionists must throw all exactitude to the winds and do stuff.

Magical thinking, on the other hand, may be useful, but that will probably be either accidental, or the remains of earlier science which has become magical. (I could imagine a post apocalyptic future in which some sort of simple battery operated device has become magical. Some wizard will  bring it from its shrine and turn it on once a year; neither he or the crowd has any clue how it works. Until, one year, it dies, and all are sure that the spirit has left them and they are doomed. )
 
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It seems to me that Science has 2 main characteristics, first the breaking down into smaller and smaller bits, to remove variables and see how each bit functions. This is commonly called "reductionist science". Then once each bit is understood, building it back up to see how things function as a whole, keeping in mind there are often emergent properties of the whole not seen in each bit. This is commonly called "holistic science". However there are ways to gain knowledge intuitively without necessarily going through the whole reductionist holistic process. The human brain can work out some things in this manner too. Commonly called an "aha" moment, or described with "woolly" unscientific terms like "It just came to me in a dream", or some such. Some might even describe it as a "spiritual" experience. Often after such understandings a person might want to work backwards and find scientific evidence for what they first understood though intuitive means. All of these things can advance human knowledge and the human condition. It's the great advantage a human being has over a computer. We can do both.

I had one of those "aha" moments myself when I contemplated the irreconcilable differences between science robustly showing the harm large herbivores have on ecological systems and difficulty in incorporating them into sustainable systems, with the observation that the most fertile and productive ecosystems on the land surface all historically had huge herds large herbivores. Bill Mollison gave me wise guidance to this paradox with this quote, "Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted & thoughtful observation rather than protracted & thoughtless labor; & of looking at plants & animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single-product system." and another quote from the famous scientist that founded organic agriculture, Sir Albert Howard: “As the small trickle of results grows into an avalanche — as is now happening overseas — it will soon be realized that the animal is our farming partner and no practice and no knowledge which ignores this fact will contribute anything to human welfare or indeed will have any chance either of usefulness or of survival.”

What did these two great men and most respected scientists figure out that I am missing? First I broke down their quotes. Bill had it right about agriculture for sure. It is a lot of work. I come from a farming background and while we may substitute tractors and combines for manual labor, it is still requiring vast effort and energy to conduct agriculture. often more energy goes into agriculture than returns in calories of food. So I dug deeper into that quote. "looking at plants & animals in all their functions" What function(s) am I missing? Maybe Sir Albert had a clue? "small trickle of results". So this wouldn't be found in mainstream agricultural scientific consensus  This has to be one or more unexpected emergent properties of the whole reductionism missed. So understanding that holism in science is a better way to find those unexpected properties of the whole, I began looking for minority opinions that used a holistic approach. Took a while and the "protracted & thoughtful observation" took years. Also took years of reading countless published papers on the subject. But ultimately I came to the conclusion that both men were right, and actually while reductionist science may point to ultimately no sustainable system that includes large herbivores, actually the opposite was closer to the truth. It may be that actually is not a sustainable path that excludes large herbivores, and small herbivores and in fact all animals have their function. What we needed to do was figure out those missing functions and reincorporate those functions. All sorts of highly nuanced interdependencies then began to start happening. That's when I knew I wasn't going to be "just" an organic farmer, but rather I would take it the next step and become a permie instead. I have a ways to go yet, but that path is making all the difference.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Scott Strough wrote:I Often after such understandings a person might want to work backwards and find scientific evidence for what they first understood though intuitive means.



Personally I don't see how this intuitive understanding falls under the heading of "science."  To me it looks like "not science."  Only the working backward to find evidence for it could fall under the category of science, as far as I can tell.  Intuition is the impulse to search for knowledge, then the systematic study is the science, used to check the intuition.  The intuition can't be shared with other people, it can't be replicated, but the support for it can be shared and replicated.  If it can't be replicated, it isn't science.

Just feeling like something is the case, or feeling it works, can't be considered science, as far as I can tell from the definition of science.

 
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I think that in non-science contexts, sometimes people present something unproven as wrong. Which may or may not be a problem in certain contexts. But it's not a good way to promote discussion, and can lead one to dismiss things too quickly. The standards for disproving something are exactly as high as those for proving it.

Sometimes I think it can happen that people don't do research before calling something unproven. Biodynamics is a good example because I had pooh-poohed it myself (silently). But as posted at this thread, there is actually peer reviewed ag science supporting the efficacy of biodynamics: http://www.permies.com/t/57308/biodynamic/Evidence-biodynamic-agriculture. Is research on biodynamics over? Far from it. Something is demonstrably going on there, but people dismiss it as "unproven" or worse, without acknowledging the existence of the relevant peer reviewed publications.

I'm not big on woo-woo thinking. But we should, I think, hesitate to dismiss others' experience or reasoning too quickly.
 
Sebastian Köln
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Tyler Ludens wrote:The intuition can't be shared with other people, it can't be replicated, but the support for it can be shared and replicated.  If it can't be replicated, it isn't science.


I have to agree with Tyler. Science includes the tranfer of knowlege by sharing and replicating and repeating and thus the possibiliy for verification.
If there is no way to figure out wheter someones claims are valid or are pointing in the right direction; or they are simply making things up; then this "knowlege" is not very useful to others.

Science is an art with different disciplines (Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, ...). Each branch has refined their own methods and principles. However they share something in common. The urge to understand and reason about the world.

If you dream of a solution, wake up and write it down. And then next morning the solution is still on the paper and makes sense and has a possiblity for verification, I am fine with it.
But using a dream or something similar to justify anything is disputable. Bill Mollison can explain the reason behind every decision that he makes in permaculture design.
When you dreamt about the placement of a swale and someone is asking you, why you are placing it there, how are you going to tell them? How could they learn?
Not by overserving the pattern that some strange person put into the landscape and then repeating it without any understanding of the process! This is how destruction and religion begins.

If you are doing it on your property and do not introduce other people, its fine. It will give future archaeologists something to wonder about.
 
Tyler Ludens
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chip sanft wrote:there is actually peer reviewed ag science supporting the efficacy of biodynamics: http://www.permies.com/t/57308/biodynamic/Evidence-biodynamic-agriculture.



To me that seems like an overly-broad statement.  If we point to some piece of research as "supporting the efficacy of biodynamics" or "supporting the efficacy of permaculture" what are we actually claiming?  Both biodynamics and permaculture are made up of multitudes of different practices.  What exact practice is "science supporting"?  This seems very vague.  It is this vagueness I hope we can somehow reduce.  This sort of claim "science supports biodynamics" (or permaculture) doesn't really tell us anything, it seems to me.

I have questions about the study, but I fear they would take this thread off-topic.  I also don't feel comfortable posting them in that thread because my questions are sceptical of biodynamics, which I feel is against the rules in the biodynamic forum.
 
chip sanft
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Tyler Ludens wrote:

chip sanft wrote:there is actually peer reviewed ag science supporting the efficacy of biodynamics: http://www.permies.com/t/57308/biodynamic/Evidence-biodynamic-agriculture.



To me that seems like an overly-broad statement.  If we point to some piece of research as "supporting the efficacy of biodynamics" or "supporting the efficacy of permaculture" what are we actually claiming?  Both biodynamics and permaculture are made up of multitudes of different practices.  What exact practice is "science supporting"?  This seems very vague.



My statement is general, but the studies in the articles I linked are explicit about what techniques they used, where they got them from, why they are biodynamic, and what the results were. They even used controls. It's all there.

I don't use biodynamics myself and agree that there seems to be stuff involved in it that sets off the baloney alarm. That said, peer reviewed research carried out by serious researchers over the course of years and published in serious journals seems to me worth considering.
 
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@Sebastian K: "Science is an art with different disciplines ...... However they share something in common. The urge to understand and reason about the world."

Less for the technical aspects regarding the practice of science and more to your previous point that "I don't know who said the following, but I will try to get close to the original: To discover something new in science, one has to study the history of science."

Here is something worth considering when thinking about the history of science and subconscious motivations that gave birth to it.....one must consider for themselves whether or not they feel these motivations to be operating in present day science:

"Two aspects of the writings of Francis Bacon (often considered to be the father of the scientific method) stand out:

1) He established an approach of using data gathering to develop and test scientific theories. He stressed the importance of inductive logic in generalizing from data to theory and proposed techniques for using further experimentation to look for exceptions to--and refutations of--those theories. The Platonic approach of looking within for knowledge was replaced by the Aristotelian, empirical, approach of looking out into nature for knowledge. Bacon's empirical approach helped to clearly separate science from philosophy.

2) Bacon also had some 'interesting' things to say about the relationship between science and nature. He was attorney general of King James 1 during the time of the witch trials. In speaking of the role of science, he advocated that nature be "hounded in her wanderings and made into a slave". He proposed that nature's secrets should be "tortured from her". His anti-woman, anti-nature stand reflects his culture, but it also reveals the origin of an important aspect of science that is still evident today, that the goal of science is to dominate nature. This goal, however, is more cultural than logical, it is not an inevitable consequence of the scientific method."
-- http://www.psych.utah.edu/gordon/Classes/Psy4905Docs/PsychHistory/Cards/Bacon.html

@Paul W: "....present your own position."

Agreed....and the care and thoughtfulness that will go into that presentation, as well as the handling of inquiries, will make the greatest difference.
 
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@John Weiland: I agree that "science" has been used to concentrate power in the hands of few.
But in doing this the "scientists" had to introduce conflicts to the laws of nature where there is no permanent concentration of power.
These (what you call motivations) are still present in a wide range of the modern scientific world. And the exceptions are getting fewer and fewer.
To me this is the cancer of science. It will eliminate it if nothing is done against it.
This is one reasons, I did not began a scientific career!

Without doubt there have always been persons like Bacon who abused the idea of science to their own profit. You can call him a "pseudo-scientist" if you want.
(Oh and psychology is another mess… probably because it allowed them to freely modify and use their clients.)


About "science is supporting Z": I would prefer to be explicit and write "Researcher Prof.Dr. X has published paper on Y saying Z". It isn't too much longer but shows what is said by whom.
Only a person can support something (or a pole a roof) and "science" is definitely not a person.
 
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John Weiland wrote:@Sebastian K: "Science is an art with different disciplines ...... However they share something in common. The urge to understand and reason about the world."

Less for the technical aspects regarding the practice of science and more to your previous point that "I don't know who said the following, but I will try to get close to the original: To discover something new in science, one has to study the history of science."

Here is something worth considering when thinking about the history of science and subconscious motivations that gave birth to it.....one must consider for themselves whether or not they feel these motivations to be operating in present day science:

"Two aspects of the writings of Francis Bacon (often considered to be the father of the scientific method) stand out:

1) He established an approach of using data gathering to develop and test scientific theories. He stressed the importance of inductive logic in generalizing from data to theory and proposed techniques for using further experimentation to look for exceptions to--and refutations of--those theories. The Platonic approach of looking within for knowledge was replaced by the Aristotelian, empirical, approach of looking out into nature for knowledge. Bacon's empirical approach helped to clearly separate science from philosophy.

2) Bacon also had some 'interesting' things to say about the relationship between science and nature. He was attorney general of King James 1 during the time of the witch trials. In speaking of the role of science, he advocated that nature be "hounded in her wanderings and made into a slave". He proposed that nature's secrets should be "tortured from her". His anti-woman, anti-nature stand reflects his culture, but it also reveals the origin of an important aspect of science that is still evident today, that the goal of science is to dominate nature. This goal, however, is more cultural than logical, it is not an inevitable consequence of the scientific method."
-- http://www.psych.utah.edu/gordon/Classes/Psy4905Docs/PsychHistory/Cards/Bacon.html


John,
Both Bill Mollison and Joel Salatin had interesting things to say on that very subject.

"I think science without ethics is sociopathology. To say, "I’ll apply what I know regardless of the outcome" is to take absolutely no responsibility for your actions. I don’t want to be associated with that sort of science." Bill Mollison



"In our culture we view the pigs as just so much inanimate protoplasmic structure to be manipulated however cleverly hubris can imagine to manipulate it. And I would suggest that a culture that views its plants and animals in that type of disrespectful, arrogant, manipulative standpoint will view its citizens the same way...and other cultures" Joel Salatin


Food for thought.
 
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Sebastian Köln wrote:
About "science is supporting Z": I would prefer to be explicit and write "Researcher Prof.Dr. X has published paper on Y saying Z". It isn't too much longer but shows what is said by whom.
Only a person can support something (or a pole a roof) and "science" is definitely not a person.



Thank you for pointing this out! It is just jargon, but maybe it's part of the point. By "There is science showing" I mean that there are peer reviewed studies around showing x. It is different and distinct from saying "Science says x...," which would be meaningless.

As for citing a name: I see your point, but I'd call that a matter of preference. "Prof. Dr. So-and-so says this-and-that" is not useful to me, as there may be many people with a particular name, a productive researcher will have many publications, and since I am not impressed by the authority of a name but rather by methods and results, I want to see the paper. Thus I'd prefer to just have the link.
 
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chip sanft wrote:As for citing a name: I see your point, but I'd call that a matter of preference. "Prof. Dr. So-and-so says this-and-that" is not useful to me, as there may be many people with a particular name, a productive researcher will have many publications, and since I am not impressed by the authority of a name but rather by methods and results, I want to see the paper. Thus I'd prefer to just have the link.


I don't care if the name is in a footnote or in the text, possibly in a link. Another issue is the closed-gate policy of most journals. So most of the people cannot read the paper. (To me these things are just not published and not worth citing.)

---

There are thousands of people with funny degrees publishing lies, because publishing the truth would cost them their job. It is rediculous. They call them self scientist but cannot speak the truth!
(This makes statements such as "there is a study that…" or "it has not been proven" empty.)
I would estimate that at least 80% of the "scientist" are in a position where they cannot publish the relevant information, because there are commercial interests that do not allow them to do so.
Another group is publishing to get higher publication counts… you can imagine the quality and amount of useful information in there. These are papers dry as dust containing little more then numbers.

And this is what is publicly known as "science" that "will save us" …
 
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The question of "What is science?" doesn't seem to have been answered in layman's terms. So I am going to try.

Science is the recording of all variables in and surrounding a repeating event/condition or long standing condition so that, over time, a better and better hypothesis (educated guess) can be made as to what causes the event/condition or how to induce a desired event/condition.

Hypothesis is an educated guess. All science is based on current best knowledge an never assumes to "prove" anything. So to say something is "Scientifically Proven" is a mistake. However, an Hypothesis must be "Falsifiable" to be scientific. That means it must be reasonably possible to produce an experiment or observation to prove the Hypothesis wrong.

Observational Science takes very detailed records without interfering. In that way, the scientist can, over time, show how other conditions change with changes in the event/condition of interest. There by making the guess that the two must be linked.

Observational science does not mandate that all variables remain constant, that would be "Experimental Science"

Experimental Science sets up a controlled environment where by one variable can be changed without changing other variables. This gives more definite evidence that said variable has an effect on the event/condition of interest.

To distinguish real science from pseudoscience ask this:
1) Was the hypothesis a result of a sufficient number of repeated experiments/observations?
2) Were alternative experiments/observations tried in an attempt to disprove the hypothesis?
3) Has the experiments/observations been recorded with enough detail that they can be reproduced by another scientist?
4) Has these experiments/observations been reproduced by other scientists or have other scientists produced experiments/observations to disprove the hypothesis?

If the first three are "yes" then try it and take detailed notes of all variables and what you do. And CONGRADULATIONS! you've just been promoted to "Scientist"!
 
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Jotham Bessey wrote:
To distinguish real science from pseudoscience ask this:
1) Was the hypothesis a result of a sufficient number of repeated experiments/observations?
2) Were alternative experiments/observations tried in an attempt to disprove the hypothesis?
3) Has the experiments/observations been recorded with enough detail that they can be reproduced by another scientist?
4) Has these experiments/observations been reproduced by other scientists or have other scientists produced experiments/observations to disprove the hypothesis?



That is very helpful!
 
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