“We must trust to nothing but facts: these are presented to us by nature and cannot deceive. We ought, in every instance, to submit our reasoning to the test of experiment, and never to search for truth but by the natural road of experiment and observation”
Excellent work here. As a physician, I find it astounding how few people seem to firmly grasp evidence-based medicine... In my own profession! Some of my colleagues believe that an understanding of evidence should take precedent to understanding biochemistry/anatomy/cell bio in med school. I think this might be a good idea.
Living an evidence based life is a fascinating, though challenging, proposal. I suspect that an evolutionary approach to understanding biology, culture, anthropology, etc may ultimately provide the strongest evidence in how to live a life aligned with our true nature as humans. Evolution is, after all, a type of randomized controlled trial!
I will be publishing some thoughts on this in a few days. Though, I'm excited to keep following you. Great start to your substack!
My sense as a 'problematic ' adult human female, is that we have now-particularly in the anglophone world- moved into a deranged era of emotional incontinence, intolerant tolerance and the insidious decolonisation of common sense and hitherto accepted facts.
Why do we witness the ever growing wave of mob hysteria, cancellations, persecution of dissent and the bizarre wokus pokus afflicting even the world of mathematics?
Of course the deranged cultish dogma , 'following the science' ,which led to the destructive lockdown lunacy was just as damaging, but we now know that established public health policies were discarded in favour of nudging, control creepery and obfuscation- all gradually coming to light.
Just recently I read with mounting exasperation the personal revelations of the newly transitioned CEO of a woke finance company; apparently, 'leaning into my truth' led to the Damascene moment of enlightenment and subsequent transformation to transwomanhood.
This, to me, is evidence of narcissism and decline and I fear for our future.
If there is anything that evolution provides evidence for, it is the plasticity of biological forms. Given that I urge you to drop the clearly gratuitous anti-trans argument embedded in your examples.
Has the scientific community evolved beyond faith? Let's look at the evidence...
A key mission of medical science is to help us live as long as possible. Trillions upon trillions of dollars are spent in pursuit of this goal. A huge percent of these funds are spent in last year of life, in a desperate attempt to prolong life as long as possible.
This monumental effort is based on the belief that life is better than death. And where is the proof that this assumption is true? There is no proof. Therefore, this is a faith based belief. No one has ever been able to conduct a scientific observation of the realm of death, that which we are making huge claims about. Our "death is bad" conclusion is based entirely on data developed from this side of the life/death divide.
To the degree we MAY have useful data from those who have been declared clinically dead, when such patients return from that state they typically report either nothing bad, or in a significant number of cases they report an extraordinarily wonderful experience.
In spite of having no data from the realm of death, or POSSIBLY having some limited data which MAY undermine the "death is bad" belief, medical science continues to invest huge amounts of money based on the completely unproven belief that death is bad, something to be avoided as long as possible.
Yes, the medical science community. The scientists. The experts. The people with advanced degrees, high positions, prizes, awards, professional recognition. Those who so often present themselves as authorities in the realm of reason. In spite of having no proof that death is bad, they continue to sell us the "death is bad" story, and spend trillions of our dollars maintaining what can only be called a faith based belief.
Dr. Dawkins has asked us to examine the evidence. And so this post offers you some evidence to examine. What do you think? Has the science community evolved beyond faith?
Woman is not a feeling in a man’s head.
That would be in the ideal situation. Unfortunately 300 documents have just been retracted. I read that more than half of the articles published are fake. It is hard to trust these magazines after all the damage they did (and not only to themselves) in these 3 years. For myself, I still go with a saying of Carl Gustav Jung - truth is what works. If you apply that, I think it comes near the point you are aiming at as well.
I'm with you Richard: no one ought to believe in any god that any atheist does not believe in... for every god believed (or disbelieved) is merely an idea :)
That said, if you really want to take a view of reality based on truth, you have to recognise that science only reveals the (approximate) rules that govern the behaviour of observed forms.
The most rigorous theories use mathematics to describe theoretical forms (quantum field, sub-atomic particles, atoms, molecules, proteins, cells... all the way up to stars, galaxies, clusters, and the background radiation), and their theoretical properties (charge, mass, spin, temperature, pressure, etc), together with defined theoretical constants (Planck's Constant, Speed of Light, etc), and theoretical laws (Conservation of momentum, etc) that together describe the theoretical behaviour of the theoretical forms.
We say a theory is valid when the theoretical behaviour of the theoretical forms reliably (though not necessarily perfectly) maps or predicts the observed behaviour of observed forms... that is all. There is a long chain of maths (including the maths embodied in the devices used in any measurement) that links the theory to the observations.
On this view, 'science' can never say anything about this Consciousness in which and to which both the theories and the observations appear... because Consciousness is not a 'form'.
Though, there is the assumption that Consciousness arises inside a brain inside a head, enabling measurements of 'brain function' that correlate with reported awareness.
So in the spirit of inquiry, let's put this assumption to the test. Looking first at the process of Seeing which is an attribute of Consciousness. Based on current theories, the process involves light hitting the retina where it is transmuted into electro-chemical energy that moves along the optic nerves. During this process there is neither light, nor any Seeing. Only after the energy flow enters the visual cortex at the back of the head is it assumed that suddenly (no one knows how) the movement of the 'energy flow' transmutes into 'Seeing-colours'. Whatever, its 'ground', on this account, this Seeing-colours itself is 'immaterial'.
On this understanding, the observer and observed are 'one'... eliciting religious overtones :).
Plainly, there is no 'little person' inside the head looking out through the eyes into the assumed material world. The optic nerves are opaque.
According to current theories, the energy flows outside and inside the body are governed solely by the natural laws.
There is no place in such flows for the intervention of a 'personal will'... or any need for 'awareness'.
It all happens as a continuous flow of energy that may result in the mouth moving to expel air, creating pressure waves that are then assumed to be picked up by an ear and transmuted into mechanical impulses (in the bones of the ear) and then electro-chemical impulses (in the cochlear) that again (magically, no one knows how) are assumed to be transmuted into sound in the aural cortex, where 'the Hearer' and 'the sounds heard' are one.
The fleeting coloured images and sounds appear to be 'words, things, events and relations' as ideas (of number, form and meaning) are associated with the patterns in Awareness.
On this account everything Seen, Heard (and similarly, Felt, Tasted and Smelled) and Known is an illusory image (formed of fleeting sensations and ideas), inseparable from the Awareness in which and to which they appear.
There are many simple observations that confirm the apparent world is a world of illusion.
For example, hold the thumb to the eye. Notice it appears bigger than things known to be orders of magnitude larger than it. A thing that is smaller than another thing cannot also be bigger than it. A thing appearing to be other than it is, is the definition of illusion
As for your own head. See if you can find it
Looking straight ahead, notice the visual field appears like a circle. Notice that beyond the 'edge' is neither 'black' nor 'white'... simply 'nothing'. Notice no body is apparent. Now look down. Notice that only the front of the torso and limbs are apparent... but no head.
Where the head should be, the 'world' appears!
So, keep searching:
Looking in a mirror, a body appears with a head... but based on the scientific view of reality, that is just a coloured image appearing in and to awareness. It is not the physical head assumed to house the awareness.
Place one hand around the front of the head and the other around the back. Notice neither the 'feeling', nor the 'idea' (that the feeling is my hands holding my head) is an actual head.
Observation confirms, beyond theory or doubt, that Consciousness is not in any observable head, that every body (and everything else) is an appearance in and to Consciousness... inseparable from Consciousness.
This raises the problem that the 'world of matter' is forever beyond 'direct observation'... it must be taken on faith alone :)
Looking into the visual field to ascertain the true nature of reality is like looking at the images of a game-world on a display screen in an attempt to discern the nature of the hardware and software that generates the images. It cannot be done. The best that can be discovered are the rules governing the behaviour of the objects apparent on the screen.
And that is all that 'scientific observation' does: it discerns the rules governing the behaviour of apparent forms... apparent in and to Consciousness. And, just as there are no actual objects in a computer, there are no 'material objects' in reality... there are only the rules and the images generated within Consciousness... which is self-evidently the 'ground of being'.
Which raises the question: 'Who am I?'
Consciousness/Awareness is not a 'tangible thing'. All 'tangible things' are appearances in it. The appearances look 3D and appear solid... but appearances are deceiving :)
Introspection, science and all the great religions attest that the apparent world is a world of illusion.
The Bible refers to God as 'Invisible Living Spirit'. It says that God alone is Real. To live is to be Aware: to See-colours, Feel-feelings, Taste-flavours, Smell-odours, Hear-sounds and Know-ideas (number, form and meaning).
Spirit is just an old-fashioned word for Consciousness.
Here Now is only Consciousness Aware of this 'play of life'. This Consciousness is the ground of all being.
This is Thou.
As apparent life and bodies are illusion... so is death. How about that! :)
“Nevertheless, scientific evidence is not always reliable. With the best will in the world, scientists can deceive themselves.”
I fear this is a serious barrier to elucidating life or even for finding truth. The homosapien is just not a reliable enough tool. Moreover, the abilities of individual homosapiens vary widely, so it becomes difficult to discern which ones are reliable enough to depend on for information.
How I stopped caring about other people’s religious beliefs.
I am not a religious believer...period! Unfortunately, my dear departed brother was a devout Christian who used to waste a lot of my time trying to convince me of the validity of his religious beliefs. One day I told him that I was going to write a book that would scientifically explain how the Universe came into existence, and that would completely destroy his biblical Genesis story. It was his response that made me stop trying to convince believers in the errors of their ways, and just accept them for who they are. My brother’s heartfelt pleading response was, “Don’t take our beliefs away from us!” It was at that moment that I kinda wished that I, too, was a religious believer, for at that moment I realized exactly what his religious beliefs meant to him, and every other religious believer throughout the world. What my brother didn’t want me to take away from him was all of the comfort and joy that his religious beliefs brought to him. I don’t know how one’s religious beliefs interact with one’s brain chemistry, but there’s something about religious beliefs that provides believers with feelings of great joy and companionship and compassion and hope and a sense of being forgiven and accepted and appreciated and community and so much more.
Then I got to thinking about the Biblical Genesis story and the Origin of the Universe. Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity tells us that Energy is equal to a mass at rest multiplied by the speed of light squared. E=mc^2. What Einstein’s theory doesn’t tell us is where did all of the Energy come from, and what mechanism caused the Energy to convert into mass??? And for that matter, just what the Hell is Energy anyways? So it all comes down to this dichotomy: for the science believer....Where did the Energy come from, and for the religious believer....Where did God come from?
See my Substack to read my “Apeiron Cycle Hypothesis” that “scratches my personal itch” for an explanation of how the Universe might have come into existence. It ain’t perfect. More like a diamond in the rough that needs polishing by a trained cosmologist/mathematician.
"The evidence of my biology clearly indicates that I am male, but I feel I am a woman therefore I am a woman"
It needs to be clearly defined from scientific evidence if someone can have the brain of the opposite sex but the body not of the opposite sex rather than just a sex based of the body or a body always having the same sex of the brain in an individual. Regardless of trans people someone claiming to feel they have the opposite sexes body is delusional if sincere. Anybody can tell what a bodys sex is for non transitioned people. You can get away with saying you have the brain of the opposite sex as nobody can see ones brain. Nothing about a human brain if ripped out can show what sex the brain belonged to on sight. With further investigation beyond sight could determine the sex of the brain if brains can be categorised under sex. An individuals feelings dont determine the sex of their body .... and I dont think it can of the mind either, I personally think trans people are deluded. Why doesnt a trans person say they were born with the wrong brain rather than body? If a trans person identifies their sex based on their brain then when you ask what sex he or she is then that person will say female if he has a body of a man. If the other way round then it aligns with the publics perception of the individuals sex. In a world where gay people are being more and more accepted why transition at all? Many gay people dress and behave in the cliche way of the opposite sex. You can keep your genitals and thus enjoy sex. If you think about it shouldnt people with the opposite sexes brain make them mostly appear gay as most people are straight. Is being gay simply having the opposite sexes brain so youd be straight in the right body? Another thing about the idea of a sex based brain is that it means that a humans personality is rigid and stuck. So all blokes love cars and all women love makeup. Doesnt this enforce stererotypes on many people that arent stereotypical. However I do think they need help and to be cured of their delusion whether that means they transition or are convinced they are wrong.
"I don’t need science, commonsense is good enough for me"
Evidence always supersedes anything else. Although evidence without logic is a waste as evidence needs to be noticed.
"Alternative “ways of knowing” are just as valid as science, which is just the mythology of a white male tribe"
If "alternate ways of knowing" means alternate methods to get to the truth then science will adopt them if they work. Pseudo science, religon, etc arent adopted because they are false and thus dont work and are not just as valid as science. I dont think science is the mythology of a white male tribe and even if it were that wouldn't mean it was worthless. Darwin, newton and Dawkins are successful and intelligent not because they are white men.
"It's how I feel. It may not be true for you but it’s true for me"
Well if somebody said that based of their feelings you could argue that person saying that is fine but if a person said that about a fact you cant do that because reality doesnt owe you anything and reality exists and is not in somones mind. A mind can perceive reality but cant create or detemine reality.
"It’s how I feel. It may not be true for you but it’s true for me."
This covers a lot of ground. It's pretty easy to see how it could turn into someone with a world-model based on certain experiences lecturing someone else with a different but absolutely equally valid world-model based on vastly divergent experiences. I'd recommend a very large amount of humility here.
I'm willing to accept people for who they are, believe they are, or want to be.
But there are certain truisms in this evidence based world.
I have a few issues with this black-and-white approach. It is either evidence-based or intuition-based, or feeling-based, or faith-based, or belief-based, etc. Why "or" and not "and"? Why do you need to put evidence-based life on top of the hierarchy? Why do you need a hierarchy at all? Aren't all of these methods valid? Don't all of them have a place for specific life situations? Why do scientists need to put themselves on top and discard other methods as inferior, less accurate, or wrong?
Evidence-based science certainly has a place - the proof lies in its existence. Ineffective methods are usually abandoned. But the same is true for all the other ways. This is because they have practical uses for certain people in certain situations. This scientific arrogance reminds me of the religious arrogance shown through the centuries.
Evidence-based knowledge is excellent for relatively simple problems like the razor blade example. Evidence-based knowledge has the greatest success and value in "hard" science like physics, chemistry, biology and technology. Evidence-based knowledge has significantly helped build complex machines and technologies to control the human environment and improve wealth and health in certain areas.
But it is not helpful regarding sociological, inter-relational, psychological, emotional or spiritual knowledge and problem-solving. These problems are too complex and too individual. No laws and methods can be applied with consistent success over and over again. For example, evidence-based science doesn't help me to deal with my sixteen-year-old daughter coming home distressed because she was excluded by her peer group that morning.
Of course, there are many evidence-based parenting books with general advice based on some research, but good luck solely relying on them. We are dealing with a complex matrix of ever-moving parts, and intuition, feeling, beliefs, compassion, biological stress level, and many other factors play into possible solutions.
Even when it comes to evidence-based medicine, science is failing spectacularly with the sheer complexity of so many problems and the individual-specific nature of each patient. I believe no one should be allowed to practice science in a way that inflicts methods on other people without fully and profoundly understanding the words: I know that I don't know. Only the most clever and humble scientists know that they don't know much at all.
Almost all other scientists think they know a lot when all they know is a little more than the average scientist. These are the most dangerous ones. Only people who have deeply mystical experiences and insights about the nature of life should give guidance and recommendations to other people, and that's how it worked through the millennia. And they don't have to impose themselves. People seek them out for their wisdom. These are the true healers.
The so-called evidence-based medicine I experienced throughout my life was shockingly wrong, ineffective and caused more harm than good in about 80% of all problems. In fact, I got so disappointed and frustrated that I decided to take my health into my own hands. Since then, I have been in almost perfect shape and haven't seen a doctor for nearly ten years.
I get much health information from ordinary people through anecdotes from their lives and experiences. I use common sense, intuition, and careful trial and error to see if it applies to my situation. After all, no doctor or scientist is healing anything. Every living system, including our psyche, is constantly healing itself. All we need to do is support that process.
In closing, evidence-based science and medicine have a place on the table of life and can be helpful for a limited number of problems, but they shouldn't think or pretend to be the master and superior to other methods. If they do, they will cause harm.