Fw: [prj] Memes: Dawkins on Science and Sensibility

James Daugherty (daugh@home.msen.com)
Tue, 10 Mar 1998 04:22:31 -0500

Fallacy of material reductionist determinism below:

-----Original Message-----
From: Lloyd Miller, Research Director <lloyd@a-albionic.com>
To: New Paradigms Discussion Group <prj@mail.msen.com>; Conspiracy Theory List
<CTRL@LISTSERV.AOL.COM>; Agendas <agendas@maelstrom.stjohns.edu>; Tony Wells
Phenomenal Books <zp14@dial.pipex.com>
Date: Tuesday, March 10, 1998 4:00 AM
Subject: Re: [prj] Memes: Dawkins on Science and Sensibility

|This post provides an excellent lead-in to reviewing
|the concept of "Paradigm"....something we should
|do periodically, of course, on the "New Paradigms"
|discussion list.
|See comments interspersed below.
|-----Original Message-----
|From: Tony Wells Phenomenal Books <zp14@dial.pipex.com>
|To: prj@mail.msen.com <prj@mail.msen.com>; Bill Kingsbury <kingsbry@gte.net>
|Date: Sunday, March 08, 1998 4:35 PM
|Subject: Re: [prj] Memes: Dawkins on Science and Sensibility
||A few years ago, I took Dawkins seriously. I stopped doing that
||when he was on a BBC TV programme Newsnight when he was
||poo-poohing astrology.
| Is this a sufficient reason for not taking Dawkins seriously?...I haven't
|bothered to do the math either...but I easily concede Dawkins might be wrong
|here...more likely would be that the nearest Star (other than the Sun) exerts
|less gravitational force on a human body located on earth than does the person
|next to you....the Moon obviously has considerable gravitational effect here on
| However, though Dawkins may be goose stepping with an anti-Astrology
|paradigm in this instance, it does not mean he is necessarily not making a
|scientific contribution in another field, say in the field of memes......
||In that programme he said forcefully that
||there was more gravity generated by the person sitting opposite
||him, than by, in his example, the moon.
||Well, I did the math, and he was wrong. *very* wrong. For those
||that can't or won't do the math, think about the earth's
||sea-tides. Dawkins was not a good advert for science on that
||I was brought up in a scientific and engineering background and
||have frequently come across similar examples of a closed mind set
||in 'scientists'. When this happens, I comfort myself with the
||thought that it takes a lot of effort to 'climb out of the cellar
||of your mind' (transactional analysis-speak).
| Actually, though I think Dawkins made an interesting conceptual
|by introducing the concept of "Meme", I tend to think all his genetic and
|memetic theorizing is flawed by his "goose stepping" withthe "Old Paradigm" of
|"deterministic materialist reductionism."
| Dawkins' idea that the biological body is "nothing but" a space ship for
|"selfish genes" anxious to spread and reproduce themselves is "materialist
|reductionism" at its worst.....a blatant demand that we ignore the evidence
|available to each and every one of us for the reality of "wholes", ie. our
|"selves" as conscious entities with at least degrees of freedom from our
|material micro-structures. Dawkins makes a similar error in his analysis of
|"memes", chosing to focus on memes as mind viruses deterministically spreading
|from mind to mind due to special characteristics rather than as "the genes of
|social/power organism" with wholistic degrees of freedom from their "memetic"
|By the way, "complexity" theory has the potential of explaining how "wholes"
|exist with certain degrees of freedom from the presumably deterministic
|interactions of their micro-structures.
||In case anyone thinks I'm an astrology freak, I'm not. I just keep
||up with anomaly research, including the interesting and repeatable
||demographic studies of bithdates.
| Can you recommend good data re: birth dates and demographics?
||I just do the math and check the
||accuracy when I suspect opinion is clothed in science.
||My advice to anyone presented with similar scientific opinion is
||the misquote: Trust no one and keep your slide rule dry.
| Agreed.
| Paradigms, in my opinion, are "worldviews" or "opinion systems" that take
|scientific or other principles beyond the areas for which they have been
|rigorously tested. Paradigms are guesses that goe beyond actual empirical
|testing often stimulated by the human need for order and predictability
|exceeding their first hand knowledge. Paradigms are ok to use when you have to
|guess for the purposes of action, but we should try to stay aware of the limits
|of our knowledge in all situations and avoid Paradigmic dogmatism.
||Tony Wells
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