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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

3. Karl Giberson's basic point: Why are we not all contented Darwinian cows?

Giberson's basic point in "Would you like fries with that theory?" is that lay people should be contented cows when listening to scientists.

Well, first, what about the Altenberg 16, scientists seeking to rescue evolution from tax burden Darwinists?

And just shutting up and listening would get us where, exactly? My favourite Giberson lines:
My field is physics. I cannot imagine what it would mean for a layperson to deal with the data of physics and draw their own conclusions.
Well, physics can easily be divided into what can be demonstrated and what can’t. The prospects of getting an explorer probe out to Pluto or a Canadarm on the space shuttle could, at least in principle, be demonstrated or refuted. Multiple universes or competing Darwinian universes (Lee Smolin-style) cannot. Well, Giberson goes on, as profs tend to do:
Furthermore we rarely—if ever—apply this “Professor Everyman” style of reasoning to, say, medical diagnoses. If our child is sick we want our doctor to share the collective wisdom of the medical profession with us and tell us what to do, not hand us some charts and say “Here are the facts. Let me know what medications you want me to prescribe. Or if you think surgery is required.”
Well, excuse me. I sure want a say myself. And have always had one in the past. And my kids and grandkids are fine.

I don’t know what happens in Prof. Giberson’s community, but here we think that consensus is important, because it affects patient care - except in unusual, emergency situations, where no one need accept responsibility for an adverse outcome. I once saw a doctor on her knees on the floor of a hotel lobby, administering heart massage to an unconscious heart attack victim, while awaiting emerg backup.

However, in a normal surgical situation, the doctor offers the patient a chance to choose, or a parent a chance to choose on behalf of a minor child. That is quite different. The reality is that, today, matters are often complex. Many people simply refuse further conventional treatment, and they are by no means less aware than the physician of what that means. They need to live with whatever outcome either way, and if one outcome means more suffering than another, they need to determine at what point conventional treatment has run its course. Onward, research!! But why the parent is a worse judge than the physician in such difficult cases, is out of my reach.

In a typical modern community, where we have clean water, vaccinations, absence of constant violent crime, etc., obvious solutions work, and we just provide them. We call that "applied science" - known locally as "engineering." But we cannot extrapolate applied science to all difficult cases.

Next segment: 4. Maybe the coffin is still empty because no one actually bought it?

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:

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