Home Forums Deep Time Journey Forum Is the universe a "living system"? Reply To: Is the universe a "living system"?

Jon Cleland Host

  OK, I’m back.   I’ll quickly respond to your most recent post, then continue on the points ((F)) – ((H))


((A))  Apology accepted.  Thanks.  : )


((C)) – Let’s not bring in additional topics such as branes until we resolved the current ones.  So far, it doesn’t seem clear to me that we’ve resolved a single point, much less resolved whether the universe meets criteria #1 for life – metabolism.  Same for “continuously emergent process” ((D)).


 you wrote:

I do consider Brian a scientist in the widely accepted definition of being “a person who is studying or has expert knowledge of one or more of the natural or physical sciences.”

No, because “is studying” is wide enough to drive a truck through.  That would classify college students as “scientists”, and is clearly not “the widely accepted definition”.  After correcting that,   you have “person who has expert knowledge of one or more of the natural or physical sciences.”


 So, how do we know if one has “expert knowledge of one or more of the natural or physical sciences”?  Exactly by the criteria I listed, which were 1.  a Ph. D. in a relevant field (natural or physical sciences are the empirical sciences), 2. significant research in the field, and 3.  significant publications of #2 in peer reviewed journals.  (that’s to show that #2 is true, otherwise it’s hearsay).    
 Our criteria are the same, and Brian doesn’t meet them.    As a  further check, we must remember that our criteria is only useful if it can weed out pseudoscientists, like creationists.  It does so, in the 1, 2, 3 form above.  We agree that the criteria is only useful if it weeds out pseudoscientists, right?
  ((F))  Text of “Living Galaxy” article  – I thought that you had it.  What does it say?
((G))  David Bohm-

You wrote:  First, you say that the physicist, David Bohm was “regularly fooled by charlatans” and, as proof of this you quote Martin Gardner. Gardner was a notoriously closed-minded skeptic who dismissed anything having to do with intuitive functioning. To quote Gardner as proof that Bohm was regularly fooled by charlatans is like asking an atheist to comment on whether people are being fooled by ministers. Martin Gardner is not a source of “empirical scientific data” but dogmatic opinion.

Martin Gardner looked for evidence for claims, and rejected those that did not have it.  That is being “evidence based”, and that’s what it means to be a scientific field.  Being that you called me “closed-minded” for using a dictionary, I’m not sure what basis you are using for calling Martin Garnder “closed minded”.  If  you have evidence of a claim that Martin Gardner rejected, which was later shown to be correct in peer-reviewed journals, then please present it.  Otherwise, you section above sounds like simple name calling.  

Since  you are asking for evidence beyond Gardner, I can supply some as well, though it isn’t necessary.  Feynman also pointed out Bohm’s gullibility, in this article:  http://www.indian-skeptic.org/html/fey2.htm, and you can see plenty of co-presentations by Bohm and charlatans like Krishnamurti, Sheldrake, etc, on sites like this:


Also, this raises a larger, and important, point, which is especially relevant when seen in conjunction with our point ((E)).  That important point is the use of quotes as evidence in themselves.  


Unlike Swimme, we both agree that Bohm is a real scientist, and is speaking in the relevant field (physics).  Yet, I have objected to his quote as proving the point it was used for.  Why? Because to do so is to use quotes as evidence in themselves, which is a mark of pseudoscience.  If one is to look to determine if something is likely true, then finding a scientist who says so (though better than nothing) is not sufficient to do so.  Why not?  Because scientists are real people, and there are millions of them.  Out of millions of real people, of course one can find one who has said something that  could support whatever is desired.  Creationist do this all the time.  It also opens the door to the similar method of quote -mining.  


So even if we agreed that Swimme was a scientist in the relevant field, and had quoted him at saying “the universe is alive”, it still wouldn’t establish the point.  It would help you a lot, but what is needed is something peer reviewed, or better yet, in a college textbook, since those also go through extensive peer review, so the views are those that are widespread among real scientists.   Which brings  us back to point ((H)), which is: 


((H))   Pseudoscience List
A major concern I have is that much of this appears to follow a similar approach as does a lot of pseudoscientific fields.  Specifically:

  1. Redefining words (“Universe”)
  2. Use of quotes as evidence in itself (Bohm)
  3. suggesting that other ideas are “assumptions”
  4. citing non-scientists as evidence (this also applies in cases, not seen here, where scientists are quoted outside their field).
  5. Vague, unsupported assertions (such as “There appears to be a permeating sentience or knowing capacity infusing the universe…”)
  6. etc.

You also wrote:

Fifth, non-locality does suggest there is a deeper connectivity in the universe which can include “information” connectivity. See, for example, http://plato.stanford.edu/search/searcher.py?query=nonlocality     Sixth, you seem to regard scientists as independent observers who are separate from that which they are observing. Is that a correct assumption on my part? If so, I wonder what you think of the statement by physicist John Wheeler who wrote: “Nothing is more important about the quantum principle than this, that it destroys the concept of the world as ‘sitting out there,’ with the observer safely separated from it…. To describe what has happened, one has to cross out that old word ‘observer’ and put in its place the new word ‘participator.’ In some strange sense the universe is a participatory universe.”  

  These could be interesting discussion points, but we haven’t resolved any of the points ((A)) – ((H)), so adding more topics now would make less manageable than it already is.  Plus, it would begin to look like a Gish Gallop, which we surely want to avoid.


 How about we make a “parking lot” for future topics?   If that’s good, then here it is:  


((I))  Parking lot:  Branes, continuously emergent process, non-locality, independent observer.  


Sound good?  Thanks – Jon   P. S.  Take your time to think and respond.  I’ve got stuff for the next several days, and so certainly won’t be able to write again until mid next week.