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Interview with Dr. Henry Bauer - Part 1
Vortex: Hello again, dear Psience Quest members. I’m glad to present you a new interview, or, probably more a dialogue than an interview in a strict sense – with Dr. Henry Bauer, Professor Emeritus of Chemistry and Science Studies and Dean Emeritus of Arts and Sciences at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Once his specialty was chemistry, yet his interest in scientific controversies inspired him to move to the field of Science and Technology Studies (STS). It is the latter field where he became truly eminent, even if simultaneously highly controversial, figure. Yet Dr. Bauer had never shied away from controversial topics – in fact, such topics is exactly what he studies.
Even this dialogue with him inspired a new controversy, with some Psience Quest members being quite unwelcome to Dr. Bauer and his ideas (some of his ideas, at least). Yet, happily to us all, we have reached a communal decision to invite Dr. Bauer here and engage in discussion with him.
This discussion will be published in two parts. The first one with deal with the science itself, its characteristics and qualities. The second one will be dedicated to the social situation of the scientific community, its current problematic state and what can be done about it.
So, welcome to Psience Quest, Dr. Bauer! Glad to have you here, on our forum.
Dr. Henry Bauer: Thanks indeed from me. I'm pleased at the chance to talk about interesting things with interested people; especially if they may have different ideas but are willing to discuss differences.

So, Dr. Bauer, today we will discuss science as such. This discussion will take a dialogic format: I will tell about my own ideas concerning the topics being discussed, and then let Dr. Bauer to present his ones. And, I think, we should start from the nature of science itself.
I would define science as one of the basic ways to explore and explain the world. What differentiate science from other ways of exploration and explanation is its impersonal and objective approach: science analyses and describes the world as if it is an impersonal mechanism, rather than a personal creation or transpersonal manifestation. It is important to understand that impersonal and mechanical assumptions of science are not absolute truths – they are highly useful, yet, at the same time, limiting and limited intellectual working instruments.
This impersonal instrumental assumptions allowed us to develop and maintain the cross-cultural and international set of provisional but reliable knowledge which is universal for all human beings, and may be effectively used by any individual human. This universality is the strength and achievement of the scientific approach (even if this ideal universality is not as absolutely universal when it comes to actuality; we will talk about it a bit later).
The social interaction and intellectual exchange between the people conducting scientific research also created global scientific community, which separates its general goal of knowledge-seeking from the specific social interests of the groups and individuals participating in it (well, ideally so – in an actual social circumstances, this ideal of communality is never fully achieved, and nowadays the situation is especially perilous; yet this is the discussion for the second part of the interview).
But social communality should not mean intellectual unanimity: the intellectual conflict between different schools and positions in science is exactly its driving force. Mutual amiability between scientists and scientific groups on a social level should be combined with mutual criticism on intellectual level. In science, there is no theoretical construct or experimental observation that is beyond debate (again, it is how it should be, not how it actually is – the real situation may differ quite radically).
And what are your ideas, Dr. Bauer? What is science? What are its basic characteristics and qualities?
Dr. Henry Bauer: Overall I agree, with some quibbles. I agree wholeheartedly with your second-last paragraph; but earlier you had said “provisional but reliable knowledge which is universal for all human beings. It is universal only in principle. In practice there are differences of opinion on many topics.
And while science aims to be impersonal, scientists are far from that and a great deal about scientific activity follows from that.

Vortex: While all the aforementioned characteristics being important to me, my approach to the identification of science and its demarcation from non-science is normative and methodological. I think there is a scientific method. It should be better understood not a kind of simplistic straightforward scheme but as a kind of “methodological field” – the totality of diverse practical methodologies employed by scientists that, with all their diversity, still share three basic qualities that makes them scientific and separate them from non-scientific ones – verifiable empirical data collection, falsifiable rational theorising and open communal discussion. If any of these three basic criteria is not met, the methodology used by a researcher can be hardly called scientific.
So, these THREE criteria – verifiability, falsifiability and openness – is what may be used to demarcate science from non-science. Other proposed criteria, such as measurability and repeatability, are less useful. If they are to be fully accepted, not just social and behavioral sciences, but even life sciences should be dismissed as “non-scientific”. The same may be said by the testable predictions criteria proposed by Imre Lakatos – only physical sciences can fully employ it, while the aforementioned falsifiability, proposed by Karl Popper, may be employed by the whole spectrum of science.
Yet you, Dr. Bauer, apparently hold a remarkably radical position on these two notions – scientific method and demarcation problem. You apparently state that there is no universally applicable scientific method and no clearly identifiable demarcation criteria. Is it so? Please explain us your position.
Dr. Henry Bauer: I recommend philosopher Larry Laudan's article as definitive, that there is no workable process or reasoning by which science can be distinguished from non-science: Larry Laudan (1983), “The Demise of the Demarcation Problem”, pp. 111–27 in R. S. Cohen, and L. Laudan (eds.), Physics, Philosophy and Psychoanalysis, Dordrecht (Netherlands): D. Reidel.
To start with, there is no definition of “science” that is universally agreed to; it is only agreed that physics, chemistry and some others  are science, but no agreement over what is common to them and not to other topics. Chapter 8 in my book Beyond Velikovsky considers various attempts at demarcation and shows that they don't work. Groups of people doing what the mainstream often calls pseudoscience --- say, parapsychology or ufology --- practice openness and claim to be seeking verifiability and falsifiability. Studies accepted as scientific may lack falsifiability --- much in social science; cosmology, perhaps? High-energy particle physics--- string theory?? And Karl Popper who first proposed this as a criterion abandoned the idea quite quickly.
Lakatos pointed out that it's normal in science to modify theories as new evidence comes in: it evades being falsified, in other words.  That's also what parapsychology does, and ufology, and just about everything else. It's what human beings do.
As to scientific method: This concept was originated by philosophy, not by science. Science students don't learn anything about “the scientific method”, it's taught in social science texts and courses but not in chemistry or physics. I had a PhD in chemistry and several publications before I even heard of “the scientific method”.
My 1992 book, Scientific literacy and the myth of the scientific method, was very favorably reviewed and is still  in print, evidently still used in some courses. A lead review of it in Science magazine “strongly recommend[ed ]the book to anyone who hasn't yet heard that the scientific method is a myth”. As I wrote in my latest book, “nothing about science can be understood in terms of that method. It doesn’t explain how scientists are educated and trained, it doesn’t capture the fact that individual scientists in different fields work in importantly different ways, it doesn’t explain who succeeds in science and who doesn’t, it doesn’t explain the history of science, it doesn’t offer a way to distinguish science from pseudo-science, it doesn’t explain why some once very successful scientists later go quite wrong” (Science is Not What You Think,  McFarland 2017).
Although there is no objective impersonal definition of science, and therefore no objective impersonal method to demarcate science from non-science or pseudo-science, there is an empirical way. The scientific consensus at any given time determines what is science and what is not. There are three things science deals in: methods, facts, theories. The scientific consensus accepts as science anything that is orthodox in all three aspects. When one of them is unorthodox but eventually becomes accepted, that counts as a “scientific revolution”: say, new facts or phenomena (X-rays, radioactivity) or a new theory (relativity; continental drift). When TWO aspects are unorthodox, it is what Gunther Stent called “premature” and the scientific consensus leaves it in limbo, sometimes for a long time (Mendel's laws of heredity; Wegener's continental drift, both in limbo for several decades. When all THREE aspects are unorthodox,  the scientific consensus says it's wrong, pseudo-science, say the Loch Ness Monster. I first suggested this way of classifying unorthodoxies in my book about Nessies, The Enigma of Loch Ness: Making Sense of a Mystery (1986) and continue to find it useful.

Vortex: I think, what is important to understand about science is that it has its limitations – and that the limitations of science are not limitations of what is real, valid and important.
The impersonal, objectifying nature of scientific research is exactly what makes it so strong and effective. Yet it also signify a border, and principal inability of science to transcend this border. The personal and the transpersonal, the humane and the spiritual, largely exist beyond the area of scientific inquiry (even if, maybe, not entirely beyond it; we will return to this question a bit later, in questions concerning social sciences and anomalistics). The fact that neither personal nor transpersonal can be fully comprehended with the impersonal approach of the sciences, does not make them illusory, meaningless or devaluated. Neither this inability to move far beyond impersonal should be used as an argument against science. Science is wonderful in its own field of implementation; but this field is not infinite.
Yet, the are some people – ironically, oftentimes not scientists themselves, but the dwellers of humanitarian and philosophical milieus – who insist that science equals reality, that it either possess already or will possess one day all truth and the only truth about the world. They insist that everything that lies beyond the scope of the scientific study is unreal, invalid and negligible. This attitude is what may be called scientism, and it is based on a profound misunderstanding of science, of the aforementioned connection between effectiveness and limitation in the scientific research.
And what can you tell us about the problem of scientism, Dr. Bauer? What are the limits of science? How can culture of science turn into a cult?
Henry Bauer: I agree with what you say. Scientism is to “believe” in “science” in the same way as some people believe in God: the source of  absolute unquestionable truth. Scientism extrapolates from successes science has had in understanding some aspects of nature to assuming that science could eventually “understand” everything. I think that's obviously absurd: human beings are inherently incapable of “understanding” what it means that the universe started in a Big Bang, or that it has always existed.
Scientism began in the late 19th century; Thomas Huxley, a propagandist for Darwin, preached sermons for “The Church Scientific”.

Devotees of scientism make things even worse and more absurd by insisting that what “science” knows today is unquestionably true, that the present-day “scientific consensus” is true even though the history of science is a long story of consensus being changed.

Wendell Berry demolishes the scientism of E. O. Wilson in Life is a Miracle. Some other debunkings of scientism, cited in my new book, include
Appleyard, Bryan. 1993. Understanding the Present: Science and the Soul of Modern Man. New York: Doubleday.
Barzun, Jacques. 1964. Science: The Glorious Entertainment
. New York: Harper and Row.
Standen, Anthony. Science is a Sacred Cow. E. P. Dutton, 1950
White, Curtis. 2013. The Science Delusion: Asking the Big Questions in a Culture of Easy Answers. Brooklyn (NY): Melville House (augmented ed., 2014).

I don't think the internal culture of science has become a cult, certainly many scientists are not devotees of scientism (although some scientists certainly are, in particular those who belong to the so-called “Skeptics” groups, which are skeptical about everything except what they themselves believe.
Vortex: Science is usually supposed to be an evidence-based approach, with empirical evidence playing a central role in the research process. Quite a few empiricists criticised theoreticians who create grandiose logical-mathematical speculations that, despite all their intellectual elegance, are divorced from actual, perceptible reality. Many theoreticians, however, argued for a primary importance of a well-developed fundamental theory and refused to change it because of some experimental results.
I think, both sides are partially correct. There is always “anomalous” evidence that contradict a theory, including the currently dominant one; and there is always some formal and conceptual problems within any theory, including the most widely accepted ones, as well. The existence of these evidential anomalies and intellectual problems is not a sufficient reason for an immediate rejection of the theory; yet it is a sufficient reason to understand the incomplete and provisional nature of even the most successful theory, and for the search for anomalies and alternatives.
This path of change, however, may be disrupted if the proponents of the dominant theory effectively elevate it to the level of the socially enforced dogma and initiate stigmatisation and persecution of the people presenting anomalous evidence and counter-argumentation against it, justifying themselves with the appeals to the “scientific consensus”. This problem will be discussed in detail in the second part of the interview.
So, what is your opinion, Dr. Bauer? What is more important in the scientific research, theory or evidence? How do theory or evidence connect and interact in an actual scientific process?
Dr. Henry Bauer: You describe this issue very well. In my Scientific Literacy and the Myth of the Scientific Method I give examples of cases where putting evidence first worked and other cases where going with the theory and ignoring contradictory evidence worked. But I don't know of a way to predict in any given matter which is going to turn out right.
Vortex: Let’s now turn to the empirical evidence, specifically. I advocate a wide and inclusive approach to the evidence in science: this means, I think that the evidence beyond the controlled laboratory experiments also has scientific value. Field experiments, case studies, case reports – all they have value. Even witness testimony may have empirical – and, thus, scientific – significance if approached carefully and critically enough.
And what is your view, Dr. Bauer? Do field experiments, case studies and reports, witness testimony have empirical value for science?
Dr. Henry Bauer: Certainly.  In fact all science starts that way. But then to form a scientific consensus, evidence has to accumulate that others find convincing, and anecdotes and personal testimony don't usually do that. For example, I think Tim Dinsdale's film is objective proof that Nessies are real, but many people are not convinced by it. I am in some part because I knew Tim personally; and because I know some other people who have seen a Nessie.
In principle I realize that such personal knowledge might not be valid, that something could be tricking me, but in practice I disregard such possibilities.
Vortex: We should also consider the scientific theory in more detail. It is well known that science, historically, was born by philosophy; the earliest scientists called themselves “natural philosophers”. Only later science separated itself from philosophy.
I think, any scientific theory still starts from some philosophical assumptions, and cannot be more valid than these initial assumptions are. Since the conceptual part of the scientific theory is as necessary as the formal one, there is no way for science to separate itself from its philosophical foundations.
The peculiar nature of the scientific theories, compared to the philosophical ones that provided a basis for them, is their formal component – their reliance on mathematics and logic (mostly formal and mathematical one). While mathematics and logic are not sciences in themselves, they, along philosophy, precede science and lies in the bedrock of the scientific reasoning.
Dr. Bauer, do you think that philosophical assumptions are the evitable starting point in scientific theorising, and what is your general attitude to philosophy and its relationship to science and philosophy? What do think about mathematics and logic – can they be called “sciences” themselves? What is their role in scientific theorising?
Dr. Henry Bauer: I think one can do good science, including proposing theories, without knowing any philosophy. But philosophy can help to make theorizing logical, and it can certainly demonstrate logical fallacies and make us aware of them to guard against them.
Philosophers dabble in all sorts of specialties. Logic doesn't need empirical basis, it seems to me, whereas ethics or philosophy of science do. But I don't know enough philosophy to  talk about it.
Mathematics is not science because, like logic, it doesn't need external evidence.
Vortex: Beyond the two commonly recognised components of the scientific research – empirical and theoretical – there is also the third one, which is often overlooked: the social one.
It is crucially important to remember that scientists are humans, and the scientific community is the human community; all personal and social biases characteristic for human beings and communities they form are present in science no less than in any other humans’ social activity. Understanding that prevents the dogmatic worship of science and provides with the perspective that allows to perceive social forces in work in the academia – forces that may thwart the research process quite easily, and sometimes they do.
Yet is also important not to overindulge in the social approach to science; sociology of science should NOT become sociology-instead-of-science. Social considerations should not become a substitute of studying the evidence and argumentation presented by the sides of the scientific debate; but they are a valid reason to allow an equal amount of attention to all sides, even if one of these sides is currently a “mainstream” one and other ones are “fringe” ones.
It is also worth remembering that sociology (and psychology) of science is a double-edge sword; you can be as easily “socialised” (and “psychologised”) as your opponent is. If driven beyond a reasonable limit, such “psychosocial” debate will totally miss the vital issues of data and interpretation and turn into a competition in creative defamation of one’s opponent.
One last important point to mention is that sociology of science is not “global conspiracy theory”. The social distortion of the scientific process does not require some unified malicious clandestine organising. Most scientists having personal biases, as well as formal and informal scientific organisations having social ones, are still quite honest; they do not intentionally try to deceive anyone, they just fail to see beyond their sincere, persistent mistakes. Of course, deliberate fraud do exist as well – so, on the local level some small “conspiracies” are possible – yet it is not a part of any widely organised and sustained deceptive program.
Dr. Bauer, what do you think about sociology and psychology of science? What insights can they provide? What are the limits of psychosocial approach to the scientific process? Why sociology of science does not require any “global conspiracy theory”?
Dr. Henry Bauer: I agree entirely with your discussion.
Science seeks true understanding of external nature. Social and psychological characteristics of human beings present difficulties in doing that. Ideally the scientific community helps to overcome individual psychologically induced flaws, but it also introduces socially induced flaws: conflicts of interest; “a camel is a horse designed by a committee”. Science through communal work becomes interpersonal, impersonal, not individually subjective, but it is not objective.
Some sociologists and post-modernists have tried to insist that natural science can be no more true to reality than sociology; the former Edinburgh-based of “Strong program in the sociology of science” postulated that scientific activity should be analyzed without  regard to whether its conclusions are true or not, that unsuccessful science should be explained in the same ways as successful science. I think that's silly. I  suggested to one of the Edinburghers that there would never be discovered a chemical element to fit into the Periodic Table between Hydrogen (#1) and Helium (#2). He responded, “Why not?” I think he was stupidly misguided by the dogmatic tenets of the strong program in the sociology of science.
Vortex: If science is a human activity, with inevitable personal and social factors of any such activity, it require ethics for its effective existence. I separate scientific ethics into two parts: internal one and external one.
The internal scientific ethics is a vital component of the functioning of the scientific community; without it, the scientific research would become fruitless and ineffective, if not just impossible. Its principles are integrity, equality and internal openness. Integrity means that scientists should not engage in intentional fraud, and try their best to identify their unintentional biases in order to counteract them. Equality means that theories and evidence should be judged by themselves, not by the academic authority of people presenting, defending or criticising them. Internal openness mean that the flow of information within the scientific community should be unrestricted, making any information concerning research available to any member.
The external scientific ethics is dedicated to the existence of the scientific community in general society, and its interaction with it. Its principles are humaneness, independence and external openness. Humaneness mean that scientific research should NOT be based on the practices that are cruel, harmful or nonconsensual to the research subjects. Independence means that science should not serve any social, political and economic forces or goals, even the most sympathetic and justified ones; scientific objectivity is not the same as moral approval or disapproval. External openness means that science should not isolate itself from the ideas and evidence presented by people and communities from outside; they should be evaluated equally with the ones that were, respectively produced or discovered within the scientific community itself.
Dr. Bauer, what do you think about the importance of the ethics in science and the role that it should play in the scientific process? What specific ethical imperatives should scientists follow?
Dr. Henry Bauer: I agree with everything you said.
Science must be impersonal if it is to be true to external reality, and its value to society comes from that.
Scientists are part of society, and “science” must not be placed somehow outside society as though obtaining understanding were more important than human lives. What humans do should not harm humans.
“Science” is not a God that can be justifiably followed if it damages humankind.
Pure knowledge could be gained by doing experiments on human subjects in ways that could hurt them; most people agree that such research should not be done, that the potential gain in knowledge is not worth the human cost.
Vortex: The one of the most interesting questions concerning science is its relationships to technology and medicine.
I think that neither technology nor medicine is, as itself, science, yet they are strongly connected to science since they largely rely on the scientific knowledge. Of course, this reliance is not inevitable – “folk” technology and medicine have existed long before science, and continue to exist today; yet, even in their case, scientific research can be useful in assessment of their verifiable efficacy, reliability and safety.
To provide a link between science and technology, and science and medicine, applied and medical sciences exist. They are necessary for transforming the achievements of science into pragmatically useful technologies and medical practices, as well as for evaluating the ones that existed before science or exist outside of it nowadays.
And you, Dr. Bauer – what can you say about relationship between science and technology, as well as science and medicine? Are technology and medicine themselves sciences? What do you think about applied and medical sciences?
Dr. Henry Bauer: Technology and medicine are not simply applied science. Sometimes technology has led to science: the development of steam engines led to the science of thermodynamics. Much technology develops quite empirically, but of course pertinent scientific knowledge can help technological development.
Medicine should be about individual patients, and medical science has a long way to go before it does that. So far it has dealt almost entirely in statistics and averages, which can actually be harmful to some individuals: those who might be particularly sensitive to certain “side” effects of drugs, or more generally when it is presumed that everyone should have the average blood pressure and blood sugar and cholesterol level.
Vortex: Another interesting question is the differences between different areas of the scientific inquiry. Physical sciences are commonly considered to be the “ideal case” of the scientific inquiry. All other sciences are usually compared to them, and they always differ: even life sciences, while still being natural ones, cannot achieve measurability as easy and precise, and repeatability as strict and stable, as physical sciences can.
But the real problems start when we leave the territory of the natural sciences and enter the realm of social and psychological ones: hardly any standard criterion of practice accepted in the natural sciences can be followed here. Such “softness” allows some critics of social sciences to claim that they are not sciences at all, but rather humanities pretending to be science. Psychologists and sociologists themselves have two common responses to such criticism. They may try to imitate physical (or, at least, life) sciences as close as possible, sometimes to the level of denying the very existence of consciousness, selfhood or free will – the path chosen by behaviorism and cognitivism. Or they may allow themselves to give up strictness in their approach and achieve deeper understanding instead – psychoanalysis, humanistic psychology and transpersonal psychology are good examples.
In my opinion, social and psychological sciences represent transitory forms between sciences and humanities, and thus possess the characteristics of both. To be effective, they should accept both “quantitative” and “qualitative” approaches and let them mutually balance each other.
Another question dealing with inner separations of the scientific practice is the question of scientific disciplines. In my opinion, excessive specialisation is something that science should avoid: the real discoveries requires cooperation and exchange between different disciplines. Interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary studies is what we should develop.
And we should allow, even encourage, analysis and criticism by researchers from beyond the particular discipline: they can provide the perspective that the narrow specialists may miss.
Dr. Bauer, how can you describe the differences between physical sciences and life sciences? Between natural sciences and social sciences? Do you consider social sciences to be truly scientific? What do you think about the interdisciplinary research? About interdisciplinary criticism?
Dr. Henry Bauer: See my new book.
Our view of “science” is based on physics, chemistry, and the like. Our high regard for it comes from the marvelous progress in those fields. That came because it was relatively easy to progress, because the studied things were inanimate and all the same --- all electrons are the same, all atoms of hydrogen-1 are the same, etc. --- so that measurements could lead to universal laws and constants of nature.
Living things are not identical to one another, so such studies cannot be successful in the same way as in physics or chemistry.  Even less so when it comes to human psychology and sociology. Sociology and psychology cannot discover universal laws, or constants of nature, because they don’t exist.
Within science, specialization is needed as studies go deeper. But conclusions must be consonant with other fields of science.
Truly interdisciplinary work in natural science creates new specialties: biochemistry, biophysics.
Anything that matters to human beings should be interdisciplinary because biology, psychology, sociology, history, etc., each see only limited aspects of what is important.
(I ignore academic discussion of interdisciplinary, whether it is just multidisciplinary or something else.)
Vortex: At last, we arrived to the topic that is the most important to our forum and its members: the scientific status of anomalistic and “fringe science”.
Following my normative and methodological approach to science, I can accept “fringe” areas of research as long as they employ the same, or at least similar, methods of study that mainstream scientists employ. For example, let’s take the case of anomalistic consciousness research like parapsychology. The parapsychological studies are highly methodologically rigourous – oftentimes even more rigourous than the many ones performed by mainstream psychologists. And they are successful, presenting us the evidence and argumentation supporting the veridical existence of psychic phenomena. The persistent rejection of such research by the mainstream scientific community is not relevant here: scientific truth depend neither on authority nor on majority.
And what do think about the anomalistics and “fringe science”, Dr. Bauer? Is “fringe” studies, the research of the anomalous phenomena, science? Is parapsychology, specifically, science? Can the “pseudoscience” description be of any use? What knowledge can such heterodox research provide? Can it be accepted by the mainstream scientific community, one day in the future?
Dr. Henry Bauer: Since there is no satisfactory definition of science and no objective way to distinguish it from other things, the question should be whether what are frequently called anomalistics and “fringe science” may be able to generate useful knowledge. Of course, yes; as with what is called science, useful and reliable knowledge can be gained, sometimes but not always. Much that is accepted as science now was at one time considered fringe or anomalous. For discussion and many examples, see my 2001 book Science or Pseudoscience: Magnetic Healing, Psychic Phenomena, and Other Heterodoxies (University of Illinois Press)
Vortex: Thank you for all your answers, Dr. Bauer. I do not say “goodbye” to you for now – soon we both will be back with the second part of the interview, there we will discuss the modern state of scientific community and scientific research, the problems they face and the measures that may be enacted to resolve these problems.
For now, all Psience Quest members are encouraged to debate the points raised by Dr. Bauer and me. See you later!
[-] The following 6 users Like Vortex's post:
  • Laird, laborde, Michael Larkin, berkelon, Ninshub, Doug

Will Dr. Bauer be participating in the forum, or just in the interviews?

Thank you. 

(10-13-2017, 07:36 PM)fls Wrote: Vortex,

Will Dr. Bauer be participating in the forum, or just in the interviews?

Thank you. 


I sent him an e-mail asking whether he is going to enter the forum as a member. Now I'm waiting for his decision.

I hope he will choose entrance, since I'd like to see him debating you directly...
(10-13-2017, 07:46 PM)Vortex Wrote: I sent him an e-mail asking whether he is going to enter the forum as a member. Now I'm waiting for his decision.

I hope he will choose entrance, since I'd like to see him debating you directly...

I've just read the parts in blue so far. I have some small quibbles with some of what he says, but overall, I don't disagree with what he says. Of course, I've never had much interest in the hand-wringing over the 'demarcation problem', anyways. 

(10-13-2017, 07:54 PM)fls Wrote: I've just read the parts in blue so far. I have some small quibbles with some of what he says, but overall, I don't disagree with what he says. Of course, I've never had much interest in the hand-wringing over the 'demarcation problem', anyways. 


This is just the first part, don't you forget. The really controversial part of his views - his criticism of the modern scientific commmunity - is reserved for the second one.

And do read my parts as well - these are not just questions, I expressed my views there as much as Dr. Bauer did.
(10-13-2017, 07:58 PM)Vortex Wrote: This is just the first part, don't you forget. The really controversial part of his views - his criticism of the modern scientific commmunity - is reserved for the second one.

Yeah, I saw that. 

That will probably be more interesting. 

I do have some questions for anyone who understands this.

What's the point of the 'demarcation problem'? What practical difference does it make? What's wrong with just leaving it at "science is what scientists do" (besides putting a bunch of philosophizers out of work)?

Thanks for this, Vortex. Not much to say at the moment: I think the second part might offer more to chew over and comment on.
(10-13-2017, 09:37 PM)fls Wrote: What's wrong with just leaving it at "science is what scientists do" (besides putting a bunch of philosophizers out of work)?

Just a thought: maybe what's wrong with it is that it doesn't describe anything specific or meaningful? Compare with: "Fruglebunding is what fruglebunders do". Does this tell you anything about what fruglebunding is or what fruglebunders do? Does it give you any indication as to who might reasonably claim to be a fruglebunder, and why that person would be justified in their claim?
More generally: a fascinating interview, thanks to Vortex and Henry Bauer for sharing it with us. The most interesting part of it for me was that with which I engaged with Linda above: the question of whether science can be adequately demarcated from other intellectual activity, and if so, how. Henry Bauer's suggestion that "there is no workable process or reasoning by which science can be distinguished from non-science" is extremely challenging and provocative. It reminds me of the old idea that science and philosophy were once very much considered to be intertwined, to the point that science was once known as "natural philosophy" - as Vortex pointed out in the interview. Perhaps one possibility is a return to a view compatible with that one: that "science", "philosophy", "observation", "logic" and "argumentation" - etc -  are very difficult to separate from one another, and that, ultimately, they exist in close and perhaps inextricable relation with one another.

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