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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Direction for the Future

I have already identified three key attributes of science that makes it a much better epistemology than anything faith has to offer.  Next week, I will identify one more, called backwards compatibility.  In doing this, I will dispel a fairly common belief about the nature of scientific advancement, which was most famously put forth by Thomas Kuhn.  After that, I intend to tackle the problem of induction.  This may take two articles.  Every time I’ve discussed scientific induction (henceforth called simply induction.  Do not confuse this with mathematical induction, which is a deductively valid proof technique) with a philosopher, I’ve found that they seem to assume a few of things about the way science uses induction that just aren’t true.  The most notable of these are the ideas that science’s use of induction requires something to be constant in time, and that induction is specifically about the relationship between the past and the future.  So I think I will spend one article clarifying the use of induction in science, and hold off on addressing the problem of induction until the second article.

After these articles, which will span the next 3 weeks or so, I could take the blog in one of several different directions.  Rather than just blindly choosing what I want to do, I’m going to try and get some reader feedback.  After all, there’s not much point in me rambling on about things if nobody wants to listen.  So I’m going to list some options for future topics.  Some of them would be more difficult to do than others, but if something gets a good vote of support, I'll do it anyway.  So read through the list and let me know what you think.

Further Examination of the God Question
There are plenty of people out there who have attempted to establish the likelihood of a god’s existence without resorting to faith.  If I went in this direction, I would look at various arguments for and against the existence of deities.  I would also look into the “evidence” claimed on either side.  This would probably be the easiest direction for me to take the blog.  It is also the direction a lot of other sites have gone, which may or may not be a good thing.

Does Religion Serve a Non-Epistemological Purpose?
If I went in this direction, I would analyze claims like “religion makes people more moral” or “faith is psychologically beneficial.”  The moral side of things would be pretty easy to tackle.  However, I might have some difficulty analyzing “health benefits” claims.  The real way to assess such claims is through large-scale formal studies, something I don’t have the resources to perform right now.  I could still lay some groundwork though, showing what needs to be studied and what different results would indicate.  I could also try to dig up some relevant studuies on the internet.

A disambiguation series would involve clarifying a lot of false but commonly-held notions about things.  I would probably focus on mathematics and physics, those being my area of expertise.  One idea that immediately comes to mind is to forge a list of things from mathematics and/or science that I wish people would learn before entering into debates about religion or politics or whatever.  Most of this stuff would fall under the Enlightening category.

Politics and Current Events
I could take a break from religion to talk about things I find silly in politics and social norms.  There would be some link to religion along this path from time to time, because religion has a significant influence on a lot of these things in America, but many of the articles in this direction would be Non-Sequiters.  Potential topics include systems of government, marriage, gender equality, and healthcare.

There’s a ton of people out there arguing why there is or is not a god.  Very little of it ever seems to actually sway people.  In this direction, I would try to develop ideas about how to de-convert people.  Rather than rehashing arguments concluding with “there is no god,” I would try to figure out why people aren’t convinced and, more importantly, what to do about it.  This would involve examinations of cognitive bias and the development of arguments that prioritize emotional resonance and grokkability.

Grab Bag
Since creating this blog, I’ve tried to post in a fairly ordered way, with articles developing off one-another and generally maintaining a fairly consistent topic (aside from the occasional filler).  I could instead post a wide variety of articles.  There would be less continuation, and the articles may be longer in order to avoid multi-article series, but it would allow me to address a wider variety of issues.

So what are you guys interested in?  If one of these directions sounds particularly worthwhile to you, leave a comment to let me know.  If one of these directions sounds incredibly boring, let me know that too.  And keep in mind that this is just a random list off the top of my head.  If there's something you really want to see that's not on this list, feel free to suggest it.  I want to make sure to keep my subject matter engaging and enjoyable, so tell me what you think.


  1. I would say the "Does Religion Serve a Non-Epistemological Purpose?" category, but like #1, a LOT of blogs already do that. I'd vote for either "Grab Bag" or "Politics and Current Events," whichever you prefer.

  2. I'm up for Strategies and Disambiguation, especially if the latter includes logic/math/probability type stuff like Bayes theorem or the like.

    For strategies, I find it a fruitful topic, IMO, and there are not enough people talking about it, especially with an eye toward strategies that actually work, rather than just personal opinions about it. You might cross-link with Emil Karlsson, who's doing topics like this, too.

  3. Politics and current events! Because unlike people around here, it's not my opinions on gender/sexuality or tendencies toward socialism that you think are undermining Western Civilization. :P

    -Katie S.