Divine Beauty

O the beauty, that astounding beauty.
I could deny all the reason you see
for those moments of transcendent glory.
Whereas science is moonlight on the sea.

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Bill Not the Logic Guy

Bill! Bill!
Bill! Bill!

C’mon Bill. You and Philosophy in an unholy alliance?
No! Were you recently blinded by science?

Stick with the facts and the methodological
’cause you’re nowhere near the wellspring logical.
Don’t go pathological!

Would anyone want to listen to a Philosopher
talk about science? Few want to suffer.

So Bill, please
I’m begging you on my knees
go back to your engineering and your stand up game.
Leave philosophy to those with a Ph.D. in more than name.
Don’t give advice if you don’t have the expertise
so you’re not wrong with all your null hypotheses.

Bill! Bill!
Bill! Bill!

Go back to what you do best, Mr. Nye
You’re not the Logic Guy.

Science versus Religion, Again

With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.
Steven Weinberg, quoted in The New York Times, April 20, 1999 US physicist (1933 – )

I think this shows just how short-sighted and prejudiced some people can
be. Of course in the modern era (which, we should always remind
ourselves, won’t be so modern in the next) religion is a convenient
scapegoat for those who think Dan Brown’s DaVinci code are nonfiction.
It is too easy to believe that. And so that kind of logic should be
suspect. Science could easily be substituted for religion here. But,
in the end, I believe it’s just as simplistic to say science brings evil
on us.
Even if you contend that ends justifies the means, certain means can be
considered evil. For example, it is often argued that the thousands who
died in the blasts and subsequent radiation sickness in Hiroshima and
Nagasaki, allowed for an end to the war and so saved lives. Personally
I don’t believe that argument but it would be hard to argue that what
happened to the innocent people in those two cities was not evil. Now
that bomb was the product of the Manhattan Project and so directly
caused by physicists and politicians not priests nor rabbis nor mullahs
nor any kind of religious zealot.
That isn’t to say that evil hasn’t been perpetrated in the name of a
religion. It certainly has but as I just showed, it’s been done for
other causes too.
No Mr. Weinberg. It does not take religion for good people to do evil
things. Evil happens all the time and around us all and doesn’t require
the help of religion or science or any other paradigm. It’s just
people. Stop the simple-minded scapegoating so we can deal with the
real problem.
I believe that there is, within each of us, the potential for great good
or great evil even if something lukewarm in between is the norm. We can
easily hide behind excuses about end causes but it always comes down to
a single personal choice. Who’s to know what we shall each pick?

Science vs. Poetry?

Is there is conflict between the two? Consider the following quote.

In science one tries to tell people, in such a way as to be understood by everyone, something that no one ever knew before. But in poetry, it’s the exact opposite.
Paul Dirac

Paul Dirac is an interesting character but I think he is ignorant about the reality of science in these words. Certainly the best people and ideas that science has to offer can follow this dictum but the vast majority of science does not. You have much science that is as unintelligible to ‘people’ as poetry is reputed to be. Need an example? OK. Here is the title from a random article from the current Journal of Science:

Epochal Evolution Shapes the Phylodynamics of Interpandemic Influenza A (H3N2) in Humans
by Katia Koelle, Sarah Cobey, Bryan Grenfell, Mercedes Pascual

I’m a trained biologist (I have a bachelor’s and master’s degree in it) and I can figure out a little of what the authors are doing here but would someone untrained in science and, more specifically, in biology have any hope? I have my doubts. But perhaps I just picked a bad one. How about another random pick, this time by picking one of the research articles under the T’s in authors:

The Heartbeat of the Oligocene Climate System
Heiko Pälike, Richard D. Norris, Jens O. Herrle, Paul A. Wilson, Helen K. Coxall, Caroline H. Lear, Nicholas J. Shackleton, Aradhna K. Tripati, Bridget S. Wade

Can you understand what this means just from the title? I actually have to applaud the authors for using a term like ‘heartbeat’: it is, in fact, very poetic and unscientific but until you understand what heartbeat means to the authors you cannot know what this title means either.

But what is my point? I usually try to be brief in these golb entries after all. Well here it is, Mr. Dirac (this founder of quantum physics has unfortunately passed away and so I am unsure he can read or hear this rebuttal):

It takes a great deal of effort, perhaps too much in our complicated world, to make anything simple. Or, at least, simpler. Most ideas that are interesting and worth knowing take work to understand, to grok and to internalize. Science, Poetry and other things all have their own lingo that you need to learn in order to get at the shock and awe of the author’s words if they, in fact, exist. Science and the articles that expand it rarely makes itself understandable by everyone. And, I agree, poetry rarely achieves this either. I don’t think it is the function of either to do so. There are talented individuals who spend a lot of time trying to interpret them for us, the common masses, who don’t have the time to make these our areas of expertise. Like text book authors and TV science programs like Discovery or radio programs like Quirks and Quarks and English teachers and book clubs. They are the great interpreters these for the common woman and man. And sometimes they get it right and don’t put penguins and polar bears together doing it.