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Old 2009-04-15, 00:25   #1
cheesehead
 
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Default Avoidance of self- & other-deception in proofs

Please contrast the means by which religion (or other nonscientific field) tries to avoid human self-deception and other-deception with the means (such as (1) use of experiments with objective measurements to test explicitly-stated hypotheses and (2) publication of experimental hypotheses, procedure and results so that others may independently confirm/disconfirm the results by objective means) by which the scientific method tries to avoid those.

I put "in proofs" in the title to indicate that I'm not referring to deception-avoidance in areas of everyday life. I'm interested in having this thread discuss deception-avoidance in science, religion, or other nonscience fields -- in the process of trying to determine what is true and what isn't.

Last fiddled with by cheesehead on 2009-04-15 at 00:33
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Old 2009-04-15, 14:19   #2
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Just as not all scientific methodologies are the same, not all religious methodologies are the same. I will only attempt to explain my own religious heritage, and the methodologies employed there.

Here are just a few of the major deception avoidance techniques that come to my mind. I will only sketch some of the methods; feel free to ask further clarifying questions.

#1-Multiple eye witness accounts, from sources we can question.

Let me build up some of the framework, so you can get a big picture of what I'm talking about. My church is run by a lay ministry. That means none of the leaders are paid for their service. Every member has a calling (if they accept), and all local leaders are called from the local congregation. For example, my current calling is as 2nd counselor to the Bishop (the local head of the congregation). I coordinate with auxiliary organizations (such as the Sunday School, the Primary, etc...) and help the Bishop discuss who should be called to open positions. Basically, my job is to help the Bishop, who is extremely busy. He was similarly called from the local congregation. My wife's current calling is as a Cub Scout leader.

We do not aspire to these callings. We cannot run for office. The call comes from the local leaders, and we either agree to serve or not. Due to the size of the church, we also have general authorities, who are similarly called, and preside over larger geographical areas.

So, those even in the highest councils of the church are lay members. There is no salary, although those who are called and accept full time service are provided for; often giving up higher paying jobs.

At the "earthly" head of the church are 15 men (3 presidents and 12 apostles), who we believe are prophets. They are special witnesses of Jesus Christ. They are eye witnesses to His resurrection, and bear that testimony. One can examine their lives, their actions, and the witness they bear. And while they are the most prominent witnesses, they are not alone.

#2- We provide copies of our scriptures and send missionaries to describe how one can verify for themselves our message is true, via a test of explicitly stated hypotheses (to borrow some of your words).

Again, some background. While witnesses are important, we also provide an experiment, which if performed will provide further evidence. The experiment is as follows:

Step 1: Learn what we teach, so you can form a basis in your mind of whether what we teach has a chance of being true, is good and right, or is even worthwhile to explore further.

Step 2: Part of that is learning that we believe God is a being we can communicate with, and can communicate back. That He is capable and willing to give us knowledge and wisdom.

Step 3: Ask God, in humble and sincere prayer, if the things that have been taught are wrong or right.

Step 4: Listen for the answer by the Holy Ghost; which some describe as both eliciting a physical warmth and pouring light and knowledge into the mind.

I can think of a few other ways to avoid deception, such as repeating the experiment, continuing to study and test other hypotheses, etc... but I'll stop here.
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Old 2009-04-15, 20:48   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeta-Flux View Post
Step 3: Ask God, in humble and sincere prayer, if the things that have been taught are wrong or right.
I suppose that if one does not get an answer the prayer was not humble or sincere enough ?

If it is sincere one is already convinced : how can you ask something sincerely from a concept you do not already believe in ?

The test works only for the convinced .

Jacob
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Old 2009-04-15, 21:05   #4
only_human
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cheesehead View Post
Please contrast the means by which religion (or other nonscientific field) tries to avoid human self-deception and other-deception with the means (such as (1) use of experiments with objective measurements to test explicitly-stated hypotheses and (2) publication of experimental hypotheses, procedure and results so that others may independently confirm/disconfirm the results by objective means) by which the scientific method tries to avoid those.

I put "in proofs" in the title to indicate that I'm not referring to deception-avoidance in areas of everyday life. I'm interested in having this thread discuss deception-avoidance in science, religion, or other nonscience fields -- in the process of trying to determine what is true and what isn't.
For example, how has religion attempted to avoid self deception in witchcraft trials or in determining demonic possesion?
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Old 2009-04-15, 23:28   #5
Zeta-Flux
 
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Originally Posted by S485122 View Post
I suppose that if one does not get an answer the prayer was not humble or sincere enough ?
That's one way to read it. Are there, perhaps, more charitable interpretations?

Quote:
If it is sincere one is already convinced : how can you ask something sincerely from a concept you do not already believe in ?
You allow enough room in your heart for the possibility, and work from there. One can have a sincere hope.
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Old 2009-04-16, 03:33   #6
cheesehead
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeta-Flux View Post
#1-Multiple eye witness accounts, from sources we can question.
Eyewitness testimony has been shown to be the least reliable category of evidence in court cases.

A scientific study may be inspired by eyewitness reports. Various aspects of eyewitnessing has been studied in experiments. But eyewitness testimony itself is never acceptable as scientific proof. As an extremely simple example, there are optical illusions (e.g., mirages) which people perceive as something other than what they really are.

Quote:
At the "earthly" head of the church are 15 men (3 presidents and 12 apostles), who we believe are prophets. They are special witnesses of Jesus Christ. They are eye witnesses to His resurrection, and bear that testimony. One can examine their lives, their actions, and the witness they bear. And while they are the most prominent witnesses, they are not alone.
You believe and trust them. Such belief and trust in subjective testimony makes one susceptible to deception (intentional or otherwise), when compared to objective evidence.

When you write "They are eye witnesses to His resurrection", do you mean that there are currently-living persons who eye-witnessed Christ's resurrection? Or are any of those 15, persons who lived in the past but not now?

Exactly what type of objective evidence is there that any of the 15 eye-witnessed a resurrection?

Quote:
The experiment is as follows:
First, how is the experimental hypothesis formed?

Quote:
Step 1: Learn what we teach, so you can form a basis in your mind of whether what we teach has a chance of being true, is good and right, or is even worthwhile to explore further.
So, it depends upon an individual's ability to learn, and upon an individual's ability to form a basis for deciding whether some hypothesis is correct? What if the individual misunderstands?

What are the objective definitions of "being true" and of "good and right"?

Quote:
Step 2: Part of that is learning that we believe God is a being we can communicate with, and can communicate back. That He is capable and willing to give us knowledge and wisdom.
Is there any objective evidence to corroborate that belief?

Quote:
Step 3: Ask God, in humble and sincere prayer, if the things that have been taught are wrong or right.
So, this depends on an individual's ability to pray? Are there objective standards for such prayer?

Quote:
Step 4: Listen for the answer by the Holy Ghost; which some describe as both eliciting a physical warmth and pouring light and knowledge into the mind.
So, the individual monitors him/herself for bodily sensations or perceptions, but not with any objective measurement? Is a thermometer used to measure warmth?

Quote:
I can think of a few other ways to avoid deception, such as repeating the experiment, continuing to study and test other hypotheses, etc... but I'll stop here.
Zeta-Flux,

You have not yet described any method of avoiding deception!

All you've described are recommendations for coming to some sorts of conclusions, and/or avoiding dissention. Not one of them avoids deception. As a simple example, the individual is, apparently, free to interpret any bodily sensation or perception as being an "answer by the Holy Ghost" rather than as being, for instance, warmth produced by digestion of a preceding meal, or even a product of mental illness.

I've personally, along with other individuals including a psychiatrist, witnessed a person sincerely testifying to having seen "Mary, mother of Jesus" in a room earlier that day. That room was in a portion of a hospital reserved for patients with mental illness, with locked entrance and egress being controlled by medical personnel. (The point is not that my eyewitness testimony is reliable; it's that mental hallucinations can be interpreted, completely sincerely by the person experiencing them, as being religious experiences.)

I see nothing in your above descriptions that rules out testimony by a mentally-ill (as we would now judge in the 21st century) person about a hallucination. How does your religion distinguish between reality and unreality?

Last fiddled with by cheesehead on 2009-04-16 at 04:14
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Old 2009-04-16, 03:51   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeta-Flux View Post
That's one way to read it. Are there, perhaps, more charitable interpretations? ...
During a recent funeral sermon, I heard a young lady that was newly educated, and ordained, by the United Methodist Church define true prayer as listening as opposed to asking.

Last fiddled with by AES on 2009-04-16 at 03:53 Reason: Pazuzu made me post it.
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Old 2009-04-16, 04:14   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cheesehead View Post
I'm interested in having this thread discuss deception-avoidance in science, religion, or other nonscience fields -- in the process of trying to determine what is true and what isn't.
I'm interested in avoiding the deception of self and others in math proofs. I see many cranks post badly-flawed proofs. How is it that, in math of all fields, they can self-deceive? And what about certain companies hyping math and/or science discoveries that 'clearly' have no basis in fact?
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Old 2009-04-16, 04:33   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CRGreathouse View Post
How is it that, in math of all fields, they can self-deceive?
Why should math be different from magnetic belts, in that regard?

In each case, there are one or more human persons, with human psychology, who are the self-deceivers.

Quote:
And what about certain companies hyping math and/or science discoveries that 'clearly' have no basis in fact?
I'll just say this gets into the area of consumer protection.

Last fiddled with by cheesehead on 2009-04-16 at 04:42
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Old 2009-04-16, 05:29   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cheesehead View Post
Why should math be different from magnetic belts, in that regard?
Because math demands a higher standard of proof than science. (Such proofs wouldn't be possible in science -- nor would they be desirable, as they'd bog down progress.)

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Originally Posted by cheesehead View Post
I'll just say this gets into the area of consumer protection.
Maybe even investor protection?
http://scienceblogs.com/goodmath/200...by_zero_to.php
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Old 2009-04-16, 09:15   #11
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If one chooses to set oneself up for deception then that is what one will find. The human mind is a complex machine and understanding it is difficult, but I have seen enough in my time to convince myself that the human mind can believe anything if the user so desires it and seeks it.

If a notion or idea is presented in the right way a person can become convinced by the argument alone. A long time believer in false notions can cause those believers to reject any and all refutations out of hand with no thought that other explanations could be possible.

Self deception is rampant in humans. It seems we have in inbuilt tendency to believe in "good" things. To reject long held notions and accept the real evidence requires critical thinking and the ability to see through our own biases. It also takes courage to tell oneself that deeply held beliefs, no matter how "good" they may be, could be wrong.
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