RE: Argument From Authority

From: Damien Broderick (
Date: Sun Aug 19 2001 - 01:51:31 MDT

At 12:24 AM 8/19/01 -0700, Lee wrote:

>I firmly believe that science
>is nothing more than ordinary reasoning and common sense
>methodically applied to certain areas of inquiry.

Ah, then you might read Alan Cromer's UNCOMMON SENSE for another opinion.
He develops a Piagetian analysis of why science is really quite difficult
and massively counter-intuitive. Plainly we mostly approach the world on
the basis of evolved dispositional templates that, in conjunction with
cultural memory, create our *folk physics* and *folk psychology*, etc: the
usual ways humans tend to negotiate our *Lebenswelt*. One element of folk
physics or plain common sense gives us the wrong answer if we ask so simple
a question as which bullet falls to the ground first, one dropped straight
down or one fired horizontally above a level plain at 1 km/hr. (Luckily,
folk physics assumes that the earth is flat.)

Note that I'm not equating scientific methodologies with voodoo or
postmodern cant, just saying that combining sufficient quantitative changes
can yield a qualitative change: reasoning applied ruthlessly and tested by
experiment can indeed produce science, but the outcome isn't `common' sense.

Damien Broderick

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