Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Lawrence Krauss Perverts Logic, Yet Again.

Lawrence Krauss: Teaching Doubt

Lawrence Krauss is not one for thinking through the impact or consequences of the things he says. And for some reason he still gets published. He reminds me of the Kardashians in that regard. Published merely for blurting out some – any – nonsense.

This time Krauss is attacking religion on the basis of the “sanctity of doubt”. The premise is that in science, nothing is sacred, so therefore doubt is sacred. This stunning example of internal contradiction does not faze him in the least, for the reason that Krauss really means something else: religion is the only target here, not science itself, and certainly not Krauss.

Krauss singles out some admittedly embarrassing examples of religious belief, which obtuseness he implies applies to all who hold theist positions. Since he is arguing for doubt and the sacredness of doubt, his position is that everything must be doubted and that doubt must be the position taught in the education systems.

However, Krauss is known to get testy when his own bizarre personal definition of “nothing” – as is his veracity based on “a universe from nothing”… except some stuff – is doubted. His position appears to be that in his case, doubt is not applicable, because he is a physicist, who is a friend of Dawkins from who he might get a Dawkins Award someday. (Or maybe already did, I don’t keep track. Or maybe Dawkins got a Krauss Award from Krauss?) The two have been trouping around the planet proselytizing Scientism, Atheism and Philosophical Materialism, none of which either of them actually doubts.

Krauss doesn’t seem to understand a couple of points which are pertinent to his principle of sacred doubt, even beyond the shining salience of its internal non-coherence. First, it is much easier to doubt anything Krauss says since he is a known liar; second, doubt (or radical skepticism as others know it) does not produce knowledge.

In fact, one must be a credulous fan of circuitous obfuscation in order to believe that “doubt”, as a single concept held in a vacuum empty of modifying concepts, is a proper principle of thought. It is not until doubt is attacked by investigation, logical analysis and discernment that any knowledge can be teased out. In fact, doubt is not even necessary for starting the process; only a perceived need to know about something is required. Doubt, held by itself, is merely a precursor to pathological cynicism. Perhaps that explains some of the Kraussian effluent.

Krauss is not concerned with teaching doubt as a general principle – his own Reductio Ad Absurdum would suffer the worst, of course. What Krauss actually wants is for government schools to teach anti-religious propaganda, and that it is not to be doubted. His claim that,

“if our educational system does not honestly and explicitly promote the central tenet of science—that nothing is sacred—then we encourage myth and prejudice to endure”,

Is a purely a religiously held Scientistic ideology requirement which would be placed as a hamstring on actual open thought processes. If we must doubt everything, then we must doubt the principles of logic and even the First Principles; that leaves us in the Nietzschean stew of a Universal Unknowability which leads directly to a philosophy of anti-rationalism.

And if “nothing is sacred” actually were the central tenet of science, then why is evolution sacred? Why would Dawkins (evolution’s Chihuahua) hang around with Krauss, if that is Krauss’ position? Well, again, that is not Krauss’ actual position, because science IS sacred for Krauss, and not to be doubted. It’s the basis for Krauss’ self-anointed credibility. One might demand credibility as a science expert in some narrow discipline, but there is no discipline called “doubt”. So here again Krauss uses terms which he defines and delimits for his own purposes.

Actually doubting evolution and AGW would be anti-science, wouldn’t it Lawrence? Of course it would.

So the entire article is Special Pleading, and is merely a bigoted attack on religion. Certainly it is not meant that anyone should doubt Krauss, doubt his books, doubt anything called “science”. Under the Principles of Krauss, doubt applies only to religion.

But a final point to be made is that doubt is NOT the “central tenet of science”; objective discernment of physical cause and effect relationships of physical phenomena is the central tenet. And its pursuit is motivated by any or all of the following: curiosity, money, and the personal desire to outshine Einstein and Darwin in the history of intellectual achievement.

I do doubt that Krauss knows very much about the roots and underpinning logic of his own field, after statements like that one. He is much more interested in the ideology of Scientism than in the restrictions of logic and empirical theory.

Update: edited slightly, 3-19-15


Jayman said...

I had a similar take on the article. The man has no self-awareness.

Phoenix said...

Krauss says:Informed doubt is the very essence of science.

What I find puzzling is how does one take a leap from doubt to scientific evidence.Evidence is confirmation,which is certitude of being in possession of facts.Krauss should have given us a deductive syllogism,preferably a chain argument,because it will establish a transitive link between the premises and conclusion.

In my humble opinion,I believe faith is the first step to scientific evidence.After all,a hypothesis is first formed before experimentation takes place.All hypotheses are faith based with zero evidence attached or they'd be called theories.Doubt does not fit into the equation and seems more anti-scientific than faith.

Stan said...

That really is the way it works in today's sciences. But it was originally designed to work from an inductive accumulation of data which is used to formulate a tentative "rule"; the rule is used to form the hypothesis which deduces the outcome of applying the rule experimentally.

But ever since Darwin, those empirical principles have been dropped in favor of just making up the rule, without even having any inductive accumulation of data.

Making up the rule is called "Just So Story Telling" as we all know, and it is used in almost every "science" these days. Actual science has deteriorated significantly from its empirical origins because of both physical limitations and the propensity to accept story-telling as "truth".