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[Neuroscience] Re: Q on vestibular system: Acceleration or velocity?

Matthew Kirkcaldie via neur-sci%40net.bio.net (by m.kirkcaldie from removethis.unsw.edu.au)
Sun Apr 15 16:49:43 EST 2007


In article <4621e032$0$2743$ed362ca5 from nr2.newsreader.com>,
 "Glen M. Sizemore" <gmsizemore2 from yahoo.com> wrote:

> Is creationism "valid"? Is there a life force? Is the wind the breath of 
> Poseiden?

They are tough asks - I guess I would add a third loathing to my list, 
which is people who are deliberately ignorant and unwilling to accept 
others' views.  I think many of the creationists who lobby against 
teaching evolution are trying to impose ignorance on school children, 
and I despise that.  I don't think creationism should be taught in 
science classrooms because it's a matter of belief, and thus outside the 
corpus of evidence based science - just like I don't think there should 
be a theological branch of mathematics, or surveying.

If someone chooses to believe that God made the world as it is, and does 
so without pretending that certain facts don't exist, I have no problem 
with that.  It's not a belief I share but I can understand the emotional 
resonance it carries, and how important that can be. And in the cold 
light of day I can't stand up on my own certitude and decree it to be 
wrong.

Life force?  It's a quaint term, but how exactly DO we characterise the 
difference between a complex assembly of interacting biomolecules, and a 
living thing?  I see it as a kind of a gestalt term for "having the 
right kind of complexity".  But that's probably a goofy thing to admit.

See, if we're going to talk about "memory" and "recall" as if they were 
abilities, or properties, of nervous systems - when in fact we can only 
describe experience-dependent reconfiguration of neural assemblies - 
then we are OK with using such semi-metaphorical terms in science. To 
that list I would add "consciousness", "self", "free will" and "soul" - 
but again, this is just my idiosyncratic view.

> What about the cold-fusion guys? 

My relatively uninformed take on Pons and Fleischmann is that they 
reported what they found and were excoriated for it - I don't think they 
were in it for the money or the fame, and I don't think they or anyone 
else can explain why they observed what they did.  I suspect someone 
will figure out what happened one day.  If it was fraud, or a stunt, I 
have no respect for that.

Nice points you raise, I might have known you wouldn't allow a loose end 
to go unexplored!

      Cheers, MK.


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