Science is Real

by Luke Muehlhauser on May 31, 2010 in Science,Video

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

FPTI May 31, 2010 at 10:30 am

I love TMBG. This whole album- here comes Science- is probably their best children’s album yet. I actually learned some things from it. Here’s a great quote from their wiki:
Some songs on the album, specifically Science Is Real and My Brother The Ape, have been criticized for promoting science over religion. [5][6] In an interview with Wired, John Flansburgh commented on the song: “Although it wasn’t designed to create controversy, it’s still a big relief to me that the opening track, Science Is Real, didn’t raise any red flags with the label. The song freely acknowledges the Big Bang and evolution, and casually conflates angels with unicorns and elves–all of which might bug some anti-science, pro-angel folk.”

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Gil S. May 31, 2010 at 10:58 am

Looks like a musical that you’d find in a kid show :P But no offense, it’s cool but musicals have just never been my thing. Whenever I saw a show where characters randomly started singing, I’d beg for it to end. Anyways, science is indeed quite real.

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Lorkas May 31, 2010 at 11:54 am

Hmmm… I wonder if anyone is going to rant about scientism in the comments here.

I can’t wait to find out.

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Bill Maher May 31, 2010 at 12:34 pm

TMBG is so great. I have been a fan for a long time.

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svenjamin May 31, 2010 at 2:05 pm

“Flood” was my first CD. I haven’t followed them much in the last few years, but it’s good to know they’re still going at it..

By the way..Did anyone else ever interpet “Particle Man” to be an anti-christian song? Particle man, Universe Man, Person Man, and Triangle Man…Triangle man as the trinity, person man as human being, universe man and particle man being exactly what they sound like?

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James Onen June 1, 2010 at 12:17 am

“Hmmm… I wonder if anyone is going to rant about scientism in the comments here. I can’t wait to find out.”

LOL. There’s only one person I can think of. Anytime now..

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noen June 1, 2010 at 9:31 am

Lorkas
“Hmmm… I wonder if anyone is going to rant about scientism in the comments here.”

If you want to have a philosophical discussion I can do that. From the video:

“Science is a system of statements based on direct experience and controlled by experimental verification. Or as we say, Science is real.”

The charge of scientism is valid. Rudolf Carnap was one of the founding members of the Vienna Circle and Logical Positivism which has been soundly refuted. The verification principle itself be not falsifiable. It goes like this:

Premise 1: Statements are only meaningful which can be verified or falsified.
Premise 2: Premise 1 cannot be verified or falsified.
Therefore Premise 1 is not meaningful.

That, in a nutshell, is scientism and is why few if any contemporary philosophers call themselves Logical Positivists. It is also the crux of my critique of the New Atheist movement. It goes like this:

Premise: New Atheism asserts Logical Positivism
Premise: Logical Positivism is Scientism
Premise: Scientism is not meaningful
Therefore New Atheism is not meaningful.

The appeal of scientism is that you get to bully religious fundamentalists. For a newly converted atheist this is attractive because all you have to do is replace God with Science. You don’t have to wrestle with difficult issues in the philosophy of science or epistemology. All you have to do is take copy pasta from some atheist site and brow beat your opponents. It helps if you pick on ignorant creationist rubes.

New Atheists predictably react very emotionally to a sustained philosophical critique. I think one reason is fear. They falsely equate their Scientism with science. The two are not at all the same.

Premise: New Atheism asserts only scientifically verifiable statements
Premise: Only scientifically verifiable statements are real
Therefore only New Atheism is real.

This argument is invalid because it’s second premise cannot be shown to be true.

And that, as they say, is that.

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Atheist.pig June 1, 2010 at 10:00 am

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Hermes June 1, 2010 at 12:36 pm

…or @noen < dm though there are some similarities.

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Hermes June 1, 2010 at 4:10 pm

Science Friday on NPR
Ira Flatow : And you’re stepping into a little quagmire by naming a song Science is Real. There are a lot of people who don’t believe science.

John Flansburgh (TMBG): Well, you see, that’s not controversial for us.

Ira Flatow: Not for you?

John Flansburgh: No.

* * *

TMBG: Meet the elements

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lukeprog June 1, 2010 at 4:26 pm

“There are a lot of people who don’t believe science.”

LOL.

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noen June 1, 2010 at 4:29 pm

Crickets…. I see you have nothing.

Hermes
Ira Flatow : And you’re stepping into a little quagmire by naming a song Science is Real. There are a lot of people who don’t believe science.

This is a false dichotomy. You are equating scientism with science. They are not the same. There is not a binary choice between your scientism and irrational belief and superstition. The choice is not all or nothing, black or white.

The belief that all of reality can be reduced to either/or, black or white is what I call fundamentalism. Religious fundamentalists interpret their sacred texts in terms of black or white absolute literalism. Secular fundamentalists also interpret their received knowledge, “science” in this case, in similar absolutist terms.

This claim of Logical Positivism is false. The proof is given above. Your best strategy would be to appeal to pragmatism i.e. that the justification for the truth claims of science are that it works. That would be fine with me. But my guess is that many here will not do that for emotional reasons.

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ildi June 1, 2010 at 4:44 pm

I’ll take “scientific realism” for $200, Alex.

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Hermes June 1, 2010 at 5:19 pm

Yeah, whatever. I wasn’t addressing you.

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Hermes June 1, 2010 at 5:29 pm

I’ll take “scientific realism” for $200, Alex.

Indeed! It reminds me of this;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MImESnfUBaU

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Hermes June 1, 2010 at 5:42 pm
Hermes June 1, 2010 at 5:58 pm

Related: Entirely unapologetic, pro-science thread

Excerpts (mostly music);

Science is interesting, and if you don’t agree you can …

Tiktaalik“Fly me ’round the world to find my inner fish”

Large Hadron Rap

Neil deGrasse Tyson

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ildi June 1, 2010 at 7:45 pm

Oh, a kindred spirit! I thought I was the only geek who had bookmarked the Large Hadron Rap…

Guided By Voices – I Am A Scientist

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Hermes June 1, 2010 at 8:32 pm

ildi, thanks! That’s a new one to me.

If you follow the link — Entirely unapologetic, pro-science thread — there’s more ‘sciency goodness’ to be had. After all, what we need more of is science.

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lukeprog June 1, 2010 at 9:14 pm

Hawking’s a badass.

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Lorkas June 2, 2010 at 8:48 am

LOL

Finally noen rants about scientism on a blog post actually related to the topic.

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Justfinethanks June 2, 2010 at 10:31 am

Finally noen rants about scientism on a blog post actually related to the topic.

And yet he brought up the New Atheists in a blog post that didn’t reference them at all. So he’s still basically tilting at windmills.

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