Jerry Coyne summons Sean Carrol to take on biocentrism. It’s a fair fight.

La Life’s insight:

The kind of claptrap that Lanza portrays in the Independent is what you reap when you sow unreal science.

Lanza’s unreal statements are legitimized in the public perception at least, by countless other bullshit that scientists peddle all the time as empirical truth to the public.

Three examples : the constant reference to the notion of "observer" in mainstream accounts of QM. Quantum indeterminacy and the collapse of the wave function/decoherence are not functions of "conscious observation", whether of Schrödinger’s cat or the photon going through the second slit. They are functions of whether there is some other thing there that interacts with the quantum system and reduces it. It has nothing to do with "observation". Keep talking about "conscious observers", and you’ll legitimize Lanza’s bunk. Multiverse theories : as long as cosmologists get credit for coming up with any bunk they feel like provided they show some half-consistent set of complex mathematical expressions that rely on the purely abstract concept of probability 1 at infinity, you will be legitimizing any crap that claims crazy stuff that we can’t observe can still be scientific.

Universe from nothing : yet another cosmological theory gleaming pseudo-data, removed from any real observations by several layers of maths and probabilities, relying on barely plausible interpretations, once again relying on probability 1 at infinity and making empirical truth claims about stuff that is ontologically outside of our experimental reach.

Sean talks of "mapping maths to observable things". Well, as long as you keep confusing the map with the territory, and end up believing that the maths IS the reality, this is what you get, and you have very little to oppose the crazies because, ultimately, you yourself give no credit to empirical validation to make truth claims.

That’s what I don’t understand about self-proclaimed "naturalists". It seems that, counterintuitively, these are the most egregiously platonician about their worldview, that the maths is indeed the real world, rather than an imperfect approximation.

Do we still have to remind ourselves that we can’t account for gravity, EM and nuclear forces out of the same consistent mathematical theory? Shouldn’t that give us a strong clue that we can’t claim our maths to actually BE reality, or even consistently map to it?

It’s only if you apply the same standards of self-criticism to yourself as you do to others, and most importantly not criticize them using arguments that could just as well be applied to yourself, and accept the fact that our current theories do not explain how nature is set up that you can then oppose rational empirical standards to crazy claims. Otherwise you don’t really have much standing.

from A quoi sert la connaissance ? What is knowledge for? | Scoop.it http://www.scoop.it/t/a-quoi-sert-la-connaissance-what-is-knowledge-for/p/4012067719/2013/12/03/biocentrism-vs-multiverse-and-backwards-time

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