Science, Religion and Dogma

Posted on March 21, 2008. Filed under: Science Religion and Dogma |

I ran across an article the other day where the writer quoted Physicist Beverly Rubik Ph.D., Director of the Center for Frontier Sciences at Temple University in Philadelphia. I liked what she had to say and thought it pertained to our discussions on homeopathy:

“Perhaps the greatest obstacle that frontier scientists are unprepared for but inevitably face is political – the tendency for human systems to resist change, to resist the impact of new discoveries, especially those that challenge the status quo of the scientific establishment
“Science” has become institutionalized and is largely regulated by an establishment community that governs and maintains itself … In recent times there has been a narrowing of perspectives resulting in a growing dogmatism, a dogmatic scientism. There is arrogance bordering on worship of contemporary scientific concepts and models … taught in our schools in a deadening way which only serves to perpetrate the dogma …
Strangely, the contemporary scientific establishment has taken on the behavior of one of its early oppressors: the church. Priests in white lab coats work in glass-and-steel cathedral-like laboratories, under the rule of bishops and cardinals who maintain orthodoxy through mainstream “peer review”.”

It is interesting that she makes a religious analogy when so very often the critics of homeopathy suggest that adhering to Hahnemann’s teachings smacks of religious dogma. Maybe their accusations are projection.

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29 Responses to “Science, Religion and Dogma”

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I think the reason that she makes religious analogies (and you find this unusual for a ‘physicist’_ is that Beverly Rubik can no longer be labelled a physicist but a promoter of pseudoscience. The reason Rubik rails against ‘dogma’ is that physics does not support her new pet love of homeopathy. Rather than being a clear sighted scientist that criticises the ‘resistance’ of science, Rubik has now more interested in what she would like to be true about the world, rather than what is true.

Evangelical Andy said “can no longer be labelled a physicist but a promoter of pseudoscience” and aslo said “…rather than what is true.”

Ah yes, Andy, “truth” which HAS to be your “truth” or the “truth” of those that support your “truth”.

And you are very much emphasizing goodscience’s statement- the use of “pseudo” also denigrates any one that doesn’t believe in your “science” and it is very much what priests of certain religions say about other religions.

Well, Rubik appears to believe that rejection of homeopathy by real scientists is somehow political and due to an inability to change. This is utter nonsense. The reason why we can confidently label homeopathy pseudoscience is because those that promote it do so despite an absolute paucity of evidence to support it and because there is no plausible reason to suppose it is true.

When homeopaths come back with a plausible hypothesis and some experimental data that supports that hypothesis then science will change.

There is no suppression. No orthodoxy trying to eliminate heretics. Just silly beliefs and wishful thinking.

To see how daft it is – just read how the switch on of the new Large Hadron Collider in CERN is being anticipated by real scientists. They are itching for new data that could overturn ‘orthodoxy’ and create the possibilities of new understanding about out universe. Why such desire for challenging new data in CERN, but somehow suppression in homeopathy? Now that is an interesting question.

What is Truth- it is the Truth that is manufactured in Laborataries of MNC Pharma who sponsor critics of Homoeopathy !! “Good Science” is the one that
wants all your senses closed to what is real-
Cure by Homoeopathy in this case.
Such attempts have been practised since
times immemorial to suppress the truth. But
remember – Truth is eternal and can not be suppressed and so is Homoeopathy.

Purushottam, I am not quite sure what you’re saying in your post, but it sounds like you think I am not a supporter of homeopathy.
““Good Science” is the one that
wants all your senses closed to what is real-
Cure by Homoeopathy in this case.”
You may want to read my blog more closely.

Andy- Oh, my gosh another heretic physicist!!!! and one that supports alternatives- doubly heretical!!!!

Here’s a quote from another heretic physicist:

“A human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. The true value of a human being is determined by the measure and the sense in which they have obtained liberation from the self. We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humanity is to survive. ”

Sounds like cod Buddism to me.

There is an arrogance in the alternative crowd in picking up a few odd bits of eastern culture, ignoring the context which gave rise to them and the effort generally expected of an acolyte to understand them and churning out their shallow misunderstandings as if they were reporting the wisdom of the ages. It’s like watching a wino neck a stolen bottle of the finest vintage wine. If not actually sacrileges, then definitely crass behaviour and reminiscent, in its disrespect for native peoples, of the attitudes of colonialism.

Well, Derik- I didn’t know that Albert Einstein was into Buddhism but maybe you can give evidence of that.

But that quote was from Albert Einstein- I guess you, Andy and other skeptics consider him in your heretical category too.

Here is an example of a single experiment changing the core ideas of cosmology about a decade ago. It’s the story of the discovery that the rate the universe is expanding is increasing rather than deceasing. Prior to these experiments it was thought that the expansion of the universe would either slow exponentially to form a “Stable Universe” or expand to some size then contract again to some singularity. It was even thought that our universe might be one in an eternal chain of big bangs and big crunches. A team at Berkeley found a way of recording the brightness and distance of a load of special supernovas that always go off at the same brightness and intended to use the data to work out which of the above options the universe was going to take. That is, which of the “orthodox” opinions was correct. They found instead that the rate the universe was expanding was increasing! So the new evidence overturned the old orthodoxy almost immediately and people started looking for this dark energy stuff.

http://www.lbl.gov/supernova/

So Einstein was talking piffle. Though I can understand his sentiments in the aftermath of WW2, having witnessed the Nazis annihilate his fellow European Jews and the physics he had helped to discover being used to annihilate entire cities in a single blast. It is fortunate for us that the Nazis were so anti-Semitic they rejected Relativity and Quantum Mechanics as “Jewish” science and focused on good old German things like homeopathy 😉 .

Look ee here.

Derik isn’t so nice after all, downright nasty in fact- As he spouts off that Einstein just talks “piffle” and homeopaths are “nazis”.

But its nice to see some realness from you Derik, instead of your bullsh#t ‘Ah, I’m just a nice scientist looking for a discussion and some fun’ treacle.

Haa

Sorry about nazi thing I know it’s not fair to bring that up, but you tricked me into condemning Einstein you **** so some small revenge was in order.

Peace and Light

Derik, the Nazi human experimentation and genocide was about as far away from homeopathy as you can imagine and you know it. It is actually more akin to allopathic medicine. It sounds to me like you’re reacting to bewaiwai calling you out. Too bad you can’t admit you are wrong, hmmm, what else could you possibly be wrong about?

Einstein was wrong about stuff. He was wrong about quantum mechanics. The fact that Einstein believed qm was wrong does not make it wrong. And his speech you quote. In what way does it support homeopathy? Your wishful thinking i sbeing projected onto Einstein’s humanistic philosophy.

OK I was wrong in fact and a little crass in expressing myself for which I apologise. I am often wrong in my research and admitting fallibility publicly is good practice for rejecting a favourite hypothesis in private when required.

I will also say that the crimes committed by the Nazis, especially the Holocaust bear no relation to homeopathy. Their interest in homeopathy is merely evidence that belief in homeopathy does not necessarily correlate with “right on” sentiments or politics.

I was thinking about your accusations of prejudice. I think you are trying to make a false analogy between sceptics having a go at you and oppressions suffered by groups of people on the basis of their race or creed. Far from wishing you to receive a nock on the door in the middle of the night I, personally, would be happy to stand you a pint if a pleasant if cut throat argument were on offer.

Never the less the charge of prejudice, in the sense of pre-judgment, was difficult to reject. I am aware that my scientific training through undergrad and postgrad has fundamentally changed my way of thinking. I remember the occasion, some time in my second or third year, when confronted with an idea my first though was not how plausible I found it, but what experiment could be done to test it. So I undoubtedly view homeopathy through a very specific world view. I think this prior world view has two consequences that might be called prejudice.

The first is the idea that all assertions about the world are in doubt, certainly wrong to some extent, and require experiment after experiment to confirm every facet of the assertion before its tentative appetence. This is a prior conviction I carry when I come to look at homeopathy. It is one that I think is justified however. To reject it would be to believe what ever the next think I was told, TV ad breaks would be devastating!

The second is less justifiable and quite insidious. After years of reading scientific papers, text books, listening to talks etc I have developed an aesthetic sense of what good science looks like. It is simple, but subtle, a single equation far from being a simple recipe for calculation embodies great insight into the physical world and requires some understanding to manipulate. Homeopathy appears to me to be ugly, its compass is small being concerned only about human and possibly animal “wellness”. Its central principles are disjointed and without experimental foundation. However I must acknowledge that this revulsion is no reason to consider homeopathy false.

Anyway I hope that’s a reasonably honest account of my prejudices and that you recognise I have thought carefully about your accusations. What are your prejudices? Do think modern science has dehumanised us for example? Have you suffered at the hands of the medical profession? In which case of course you have my sympathy.

Derek,
I understand your aesthetic sense of science and that homeopathic disturbs it. But if you go out of the lab and into real time clincal medicine you will see that all “science” is disturbed in this arena. Real time medicine, which unlike television medicine, unlike labratory medicine has some real challenges and problems. If in fact, conventional medicine was working at a level that you and other skeptics seem to suggest, then we should be seeing a dramatic improvement of chronic disease both in mortality and mobidity in spite of all the environmental influences. This is not the case.

The application of pharmaceutical medicine which looks wonderful in its asthetic workings in the lab or on purely conceptual levels when applied on a living creature whether human or animal in order to bring about health is very fuzzy.

First, you have to define health. In the case of proponents of lab science medicine is a modification of symptoms but in my understanding and expectation is much more- but then we get into an even more fuzzy area- concepts and words like freedom from symptoms and long term happiness and well being. I believe that R. Parse defines these very well in her expectations in the theory of human becoming and its relationship to medicine but then we are getting into the philosophy of medicine.

In a practical sense then, to fully appreciate homeopathy and its success in having “happy” patients and clients there is this other fuzzy context that it functions in which is an end user context which is too anecdotal to satisfy your hunger for a nice clean package. But that is the human- it is much more than the sum of its biochemical workings. On the other hand there is much that is good that has come from a purely technical perspective of the body.

But grasping the real nature of healing is something that I see lacking in these blog discussions- coming from a lack of clinical experience there has been little to suggest that skeptics grasp the crisis of chronic disease and suffering that in real time medicine and clinical practice is being seen.

Sorry to take so long getting back to you, I’ve been away.

It looks to me like “Healing” might have a very different meaning for you than me. It seems fair given how irritated I get with the confusion of the technical and colloquial uses of the word “Energy” that you be allowed to define it as you wish. I have looked up Parse and whilst I can’t find the “expectations” you speak of I can find the three principles of nursing at the heart of her Human Becoming Theory:

Structuring meaning multidimensionally is cocreating reality through the languaging of valuing and imaging.
Cocreating rhythmical patterns of relating is living the paradoxical unity of revealing-concealing and enabling-limiting while connecting-separating.
Cotranscending with the possibles is powering unique ways of originating in the process of transforming.
I don’t understand a word of this and so can’t comment on whether or not they are good definitions of whatever it is they are defining. Perhaps you could help?

I am guessing your view of healing is something like this:

A person’s experience of health and wellbeing are entirely subjective. If they believe that they are unhealthy this is true for them, likewise if they believe they are unhealthy this is true for them. If the person sits down with a therapist, becoming a patient, and agrees with them that the patient is unhealthy, but will be healed following a certain intervention, then this subjective judgment is true for them also. So: If someone considers themselves healthy to start with, then unhealthy due to, say, flue like symptoms, then agrees with a homeopath that taking a certain remedy will heal them then this is in every important respect true. To argue that symptoms would have remitted whether they took the remedy or not is wrong headed. The only thing that matters is the subjective truth agreed by patient and practitioner.

Am I right? If not why not?

A person’s experience of health and wellbeing are entirely subjective.

This is true about health, but not about disease.

OK I totally miss interpreted your view in my first sentence ;(.

So you actually think:

Health is subjective but disease is objective.

Could you illustrate that with an example because I just can’t understand it.

Here is a new blog concerning these subjects: http://limpyblog.wordpress.com/

Sorry Derik- I don’t have time at the moment to explain this fully….but briefly- disease can be measured objectively, but is experienced subjectively in individual ways and this is the basis for curing it, (not suppressing it) and therefore the basis of health or freedom from disease.

You could say this individuality is the basis for homeopathy and other modalities that utilize an individual approach. Pharmaceutical drugs hold little promise of individual “cure” since they are broadly based but effective at palliating and suppressing symptoms in a large number of people. They also need to have side effects because they are not individual.

Bewaiwai

Sorry but I am finding all of this confusing. If homeopathy is individual as you say. Does not the repeating of the same preparation for the same condition in different patients contradict that statement. The same with provings, you note the effect on groups, again doesn’t this contradict your “individual” statement. The same with the supposed treatment of Aids and Malaria.
Or the online audio remedies from Peter Chappel (a prominent society of homeopath’s member) He offers a blanket protection for bird flu etc. As for side effects, a number of homeopath blogs discuss side effects from various pills. Also why do Boots and Helios sell homeopathic pills for specific conditions. Why homeopathic first aid kits? Surely these would have to individualised, are they not broadly based.

Here is an interesting new film that touches on the rigid science people::

WATCH THE SUPER TRAILER FIRST.

http://www.expelledthemovie.com/video.php

It reminded me of Andy Lewis’ comment that anyone who has come out in favour of homeopathy is now according to him a “pseudo-scientist” and should be condemned.

And here is a robust response to ‘Exposed’.

http://www.expelledexposed.com/

bewaiwai, you would seriously side with a vicious right wing and sectarian religious group if it will help you against nasty scientists? You aren’t even a person of integrity are you? I am shocked.

bewaiwai – are Canadians as mad over creatoinism as americans?

I thought it may be interesting to replace “scientist” with “homeopath”
“Perhaps the greatest obstacle that homeopath’s are unprepared for but inevitably face is political – the tendency for human systems to resist change, to resist the impact of new discoveries, especially those that challenge the status quo of the homeopathic establishment …
… Homeopathy has become institutionalized and is largely regulated by an establishment community that governs and maintains itself … In recent times there has been a narrowing of perspectives resulting in a growing dogmatism, a dogmatic scientism. There is arrogance bordering on worship of homeopathic concepts and models … taught in Homeopathic schools in a deadening way which only serves to perpetrate the dogma …
Strangely, the contemporary homeopathic establishment has taken on the behavior of one of its early oppressors: the church. Priests in white lab coats work in glass-and-steel cathedral-like laboratories, under the rule of bishops and cardinals who maintain orthodoxy through adhering to Hahnemann’s teachings.
Also a link with reference to glass and steel cathedrals.
http://revver.com/video/444163/how-are-homeopathic-remedies-made/

Derik said: “bewaiwai, you would seriously side with a vicious right wing and sectarian religious group if it will help you against nasty scientists?”

That’s a good point Derek- I’m not really siding with anybody in that discussion-but they both seem to be the flip side of the same coin- you the”nasty scientists” are fanatically attached to the fact that the only reality is a scientific one and they are saying the only reality is a fanatical religious one.

But I always liked Ben Stein and I like the idea of academic freedom. I liked the trailer and I like the idea of health freedom too.

I like the idea that my body is my own and I’d hate to think that someone like Andy Lewis ( or you) was the person that chooses what I should put it in it and prevents me from having homeopathy which has worked beautifully for me and my family.

And that is where all your fanatical and restrictive “scientific” arguments lead to…

Academic freedom is freedom to engage in debate, as we do here, not freedom to be protected from criticism behind wall of politeness.

I work in a world class academic institution, in the biology school. One of my colleagues is a creationist. I am not aware of him suffering discrimination though he does have to defend his position in discussions from time to time. He seems to enjoy those debates as much as anyone else. I like him being there, like a canary singing down a mine, he indicates academic freedom is alive and well.

My experience of academic science is of open, earnest and engaged people trying to solve problems and discover new things. There is obviously much politicking, lots of egos and plenty of ambitious bastards around as well. We are as human and full of paradox as any other group.

The problem I have with the ID movement in America is that is isn’t about the science or academic freedom, it is about politics. Spin doctors are manufacturing controversies and scandals where none exist to appeal to the good natures of people like you who have no daily experience of academic life.

I think your choice of homeopathy is motivated by politics as well. You want to retain control of your body in the face of people who would tell you what to do. This is a perfectly reasonable desire. You should know, though, that people like me who make studying scientific data our lives work can’t see any reason to believe homeopathy is better at curing disease than a remedy free pill. That said, so far as I am concerned, you must do the best you can for yourself and your family according to your lights.

Many of the sceptics engaging in this debate are from the UK where the question isn’t so much whether homeopathy should be banned but whether our tax payer funded National Health Service should pay for it. The question for us is: Should the tax of all be used to pay for a treatment, used by a minority, for which there is scant objective evidence for efficacy? To which we answer NO!


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