Daily Archives: November 23, 2011

Why Yesterday’s Post Was (Only Partly) WRONG

I meant to post this a couple of hours ago, but life sometimes gets in the way.  I had a lot of work to do around the house.

Yesterday, I posted that truth is not relative.  Truth is truth, and if it’s the truth, it isn’t going to go back and reverse itself, as science so often does.

I spotlighted 5 things I was taught in elementary school science class as irrefutable fact, all of which are now considered false.  So much for irrefutable scientific fact, right?

At the end of the post, I stated that I already knew the reply to this and I agreed with it.  So let’s discuss that reply.

Science is great at discerning cause-and-effect, but I’m not so sure that I’d classify the findings as “irrefutable truth.”  Ever.  Which means that we are going to expect to find things we previously established through the scientific method to be false, because we might not have the entire picture.

It means our knowledge base is growing — more rapidly now than ever before — and so we will find out that we occasionally missed the mark with previously held scientific theories.

When a new CEO walks into a company, he can’t find everything out about everything in the company before he starts making decisions and changing the company around.  At best, he will make decisions with 70% of the data he needs.

Considering the vastness of the universe, the average scientist is likely formulating theories with 10% of the necessary data.

So that science is wrong isn’t a problem.  We expect to revise theories as more data become available.

With that in mind, those specific points I made become simplistic and silly.

Nothing ever suggested that the speed of light was the maximum attainable speed.  It looked that way for a long time.  Though we were confident in that conclusion, the universe is still quite mysterious to us and therefore finding something that moves faster than light should be exciting rather than garnering an “I told you so.”

If it’s possible to break the light barrier, then interstellar travel becomes a distinct possibility, and that would be cool.

The senses by which we perceive the world are varied, and scientists don’t officially agree on how many we have.  The do agree on the core five of touch, taste, smell, sight, and hearing.  So it’s too simple to just say, “I learned about five senses, now there’s more?  Scientists are wrong!”  It’s more along the lines of discovering new ways we perceive the world.  Again, excitement and wonder should be the response, not “I told you so.”

Similarly, “planet” is a category that was never defined.  Now it is.  Pluto is no longer a planet and four asteroids are no longer asteroids because of semantics.  Changing these definitions was necessary because the solar system is far more complex than we thought it was.  After all, it’s weird to have moons larger than Mercury and asteroids roughly comparable to Pluto.  Even Pluto’s own moon is roughly the same size as its parent.

Revised definitions help keep things more consistent.

The brain is more complex than a Cray supercomputer and is far more compact.  It’s faster with its computations and it controls the body so seamlessly we barely know it’s there.

So it was overly simplistic of the scientists to ever postulate that the left hemisphere is cold logic and the right hemisphere is creativity.

Finally, I have no idea where that taste bud diagram ever came from.  I knew that was false the first time I saw it, because I tried liking an ice cream cone with different parts of the tongue.  I tasted it just fine.  For some reason, my teachers all tried to defend the diagram, but I think privately every student in that room knew better.

Revising conclusions in the face of new data is a staple of science, and I agree it is a valid reply to my over-simplified statements yesterday.  However, this is a serious double standard toward theism, and tomorrow I will explain why.  Then, you will be able to comment!

On Science and Being Called Ignorant

For the record, I love science and I excelled in it at school.  I took some of the advanced classes — microbiology and anatomy & phisiology.  I couldn’t get into the marine biology or genetics optional courses that only the top 1% of science whizzes get into, unfortunately.  In other words, I’m not ignorant of science so please stop saying I am.

— Cory Tucholski

Two Simple Requests to All My Readers

Dear Readers,

I value everyone’s input and I really do read and consider your comments, even if I don’t always respond to them (or respond quickly).

At the end of yesterday’s post on truths that I learned as irrefutable in elementary school that have all been overturned by science, I explained that I knew there was valid reply to my points.  I purposely made them simplistic because I have a grander design that will play out today and tomorrow.

I know that when I touch a nerve,  I will get very angry replies.  I further know that suggesting science isn’t a 100% effective method for discerning truth to atheists is like yelling “Allah’s mother wears army boots!” in the middle of a crowded square in Afghanistan.  In fact, the stoning I’d get for that is probably a quicker and less painful death than the slow torture of 1000 atheists calling me ignorant and stupid in creative, pseudo-intellectual prose.  For this reason, I disabled the comments on yesterday’s post.

I already know exactly what I’ll read.  And in a mere couple of hours, atheists will read exactly what they automatically thought as they read the post.

Despite requesting people to hold all comments, even e-mails, until the end of the series, I received this e-mail from Mark Preston:

I notice that the concept of comments seems to have slipped you by since people are not actually able to make them. Given your appalling nonsense about science in the post today I am not surprised.

Obviously, he didn’t read to the end.  The first simple request, dear readers, is that you read to the end of my post before you leave a comment.  I don’t always go the direction you think I’m going to go, and I hope that my atheist readers find a pleasant surprise in this series, and a greater challenge than answering my purposely ignorant and simplistic riposte toward their messiah — I mean, science.

Exactly as I predicted, Preston suggests I’m ignorant in so many words, and is quite condescending.

You know what I noticed, though?

I’m ignorant, but he’s not attempting to correct me or explain why my points are simplistic.  Just arrogance and biting condescension.

I’m more open minded than the most open minded atheist.  Trust me.  If I’m wrong, show it to me.  Educate me.  Teach me.  I might not agree right away, I might discuss it further or offer contrary opinions — mine or other scientists.  But don’t give up.  I want to know I’m wrong if I am, but I still fall into the typical human mind trap of not letting go right away.

It’s not close-mindedness.  Its basic psychology.

So my second simple request: Please educate me, and don’t talk down to me about it.  I want to learn.

I try to educate the atheist as to why I think he’s wrong, and why his theology is totally whack.  Do me the same courtesy.


Cory Tucholski