“The doctrine that the world is made up of objects whose existence is independent of human consciousness turns out to be in conflict with quantum mechanics and with facts established by experiment.”[1]

Bernard d’Espagnat

Bernard d’Espagnat (born 1921) is a French theoretical physicist, philosopher of science, and author, best known for his work on the nature of reality.

(via wildcat2030)


An edgy anthropocentric headline… I’ll bite.

I don’t agree with that quote, but I have no idea which facts or experiments he’s referring to, and the “Education and career” section make it clear that this guy isn’t pulling things out of his bum. Sounds like an interesting person.

I’m curious if he means the experiments affected by { observation }, in which case that’s not necessarily the conclusion to which one should jump. But I’d like to find out specifically what he’s talking about.

Microbiology and meteorology now explain what only a few centuries ago was considered sufficient cause to burn women to death.

Carl Sagan, The Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark (via zeitgeistmovement)

Then again, in early medieval times, the Church protected people from being persecuted as witches… but of course that does not quite suit the “science good, religion bad” mantra. Not to mention the darker aspects of applied science…

Sorry, I am being my annoyingly contrary self today. :-(

(via forumgamer)


OS: It’s a good thing you mentioned that. A repeated, decontextualized generalization of any event is bound to be wrong at least somewhat.

In his book, even as he criticizes facets of religion, Sagan often writes about the benefits that it has provided for humans over the centuries. This isn’t your typical angry atheist — this is a person who is familiar with a great deal of history and empathizes with people, understands why they have been explaining things in certain (unscientific) ways, and how that helps them.

The problem is that even when examples are found of an institution’s changes in its thoughts about its own doctrines, in favor of those we consider more morally correct, there’s nothing to anchor the swaying of belief. For example: { Witch Trial History } The Church could make any argument about witch trials — they were grounded in the particular philosophies of the particular person in power at the time.

Saint Augustine of Hippo, an influential theologian in the early Christian Church, argued in the early 400s that God alone could suspend the normal laws of the universe.  In his view, neither Satan nor witches had supernatural powers or were capable of effectively invoking magic of any sort.  It was the “error of the pagans” to believe in “some other divine power than the one God.”  Of course, if witches are indeed powerless, the Church need not overly concern itself with their spells or other attempts at mischief.

But with science, it isn’t about the argument — it’s about checking for error using factual examples. Examples that can be tested again and again, and show consistent results within certain parameters. (I add the last part about parameters because people often bring up the argument, “Well, Newton was wrong!” — he wasn’t, his theory was simply inadequate in describing systems outside of the parameters of our direct perception). One could offer a simple, verifiable explanation, thus putting an end to the time-consuming and often dangerous, circular arguments.



sparse examples of goodwill towards a perceived threat are of little consolation when both the fear of the threat and the goodwill are established on volatile foundations. Thus, the mantra for scientific understanding is gaining increasing support due to its stability and the honesty of the scientist in admitting that not all is accounted for.