That’s because in it, Pat Flynn and I discuss the concept of scientism, “the Science” with a capital “S,” as well as epistemological questions like “how do we know what we know?”
Pat is a repeat guest not only because I enjoy our conversations, but I’ve gotten great feedback from listeners who like hearing about these deeper, philosophical topics we wade through. Plus, I believe the answers to these “big” questions like the ones we discuss in these philosophical tangent episodes (or at least the act of thinking about them) can help us live a better life.
In case you’re not familiar with Pat, not only is he a fitness expert who is known for his kettlebell prowess, but he’s also a podcaster, philosopher, and author.
In our discussion, we talk about . . .
- Science with a capital “S” and how we know what we “know”
- When and why to be skeptical of “the science”
- What scientism is and what science can and can’t tell us
- The concept of a “bully consensus”
- How we can use this information to make better choices
- And a lot more . . .
So, if you want to learn what scientism is, why science isn’t always the answer to all questions, and how we really know what we know, listen to this podcast!
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6:58 – Is the science behind the vaccine safe? Is what we think we know real?
26:45 – Why should I be skeptical about science?
30:53- How can we “know things” through science?
36:24 – Do you have examples of scientific research that has proved certainty or truth?
41:40 – What is the human relationship with science?
1:04:48 – Should we be skeptical of science or trust science?
1:23:33 – How can this information help us to make better choices in our lives?
Mentioned on the Show:
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What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!
Mike: Hello, friend, and welcome to Muscle for Life. I am Michael Matthews, your gracious host. Thank you for joining me today for an interview I did with my buddy Pat Flynn and not the smart passive income, pat Flynn, the Chronicles of Strength, pat Flynn, who I have had on the show several times before.
Philosophical musing. That sounds kind of pretentious, but maybe we should just call it naval gazing. But if you liked our previous jam sessions, then here’s another one for you to enjoy. And in this one, pat and I discuss the concept of M, how that differs from science, and that goes into epistemological questions like, how do we know what we know?
And in case you are not familiar with Pat, he is not only a fitness expert known for his kettlebell prowess, but he’s also a podcaster, a philosopher by training. And I guess by trade, that has been his focus of a lot of his writing, his academic writing. I know he is working on getting some of that work published.
In fact, it might already be done by now in the process of peer review. And Pat’s also an author. He’s written several books, and in this interview, him and I talk about when and why to be skeptical of the science, especially when it has the capital S, the science is settled, what SM is and what science can and cannot tell us a concept called the bully consensus, which is important to understand if you are going to try to wade through some of the more controversial scientific arguments like climate change, for example, and more.
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Pat: a pleasure as always, Mr. Matthews. Thank for having me.
Mike: Yes, yes. I’m looking forward to today’s discussion. Uh, something that is, is more relevant now than at least, uh, any other time I can remember in my lifetime.
And to, to start us off, I think a, a good springboard into this discussion is, uh, an anecdote that, that I’ll share. And this is a discussion that I’ve had with, uh, with quite a few people. And it’s, it’s gonna be regarding the Covid vaccine, just because it’s controversial and, and it, it sucks and it perks up, it perks up people’s ears, right?
Sure. So, so, so somebody will say to me, the vaccine is safe, right? And, and I’ll ask, well, what do you mean? What do you mean by safe? And they say, well, the chances of side effects are, are very, very low. Okay. How do you know that? Oh, well, that’s what the science says. Uh, well, how do you know what the science says?
Have you reviewed it yourself? Have you looked at the research yourself? Have you looked at the data yourself? No, but I mean, I trust those who have reviewed it. The experts? Mm-hmm. . Okay, fine. So then what you’re saying is you believe the vaccine is safe based on the information that has been presented to you by certain people, and then the I I’ve yet to have someone just say, well, yeah, yeah.
I, I, that, that’s correct. What they usually say or always say is some version of. No, no, I don’t believe anything. The vaccine is safe. The science says so. And then I’ll point out, but you didn’t review the data, you didn’t participate in the investigations that produced the data. So how do you know, how do you know what the science says?
Like, you know what you ate for breakfast today? Hmm. And then it’s again, well, it’s because the, the experts and the consensus and Right. All credentialed, all these people, they investigated it and they all say it’s safe. And then I go, okay, fine. So you believe that the vaccine is safe based on the claims of certain experts then?
Correct. No , it’s safe. I trust the science. Right?
Pat: Yes. I mean,
Mike: this level of stupidity is, is, is, is kind of gobsmacking to me. And, and for people listening, realize that. I didn’t make the claim that the vaccine isn’t safe. I didn’t even say that. I was only trying to make the point that how do we really know what we think we know?
And, and this applies to, you know, that’s a, so much more than just the vaccine. I’m
Pat: not, I’m not just trying to attack. Yeah. We’ll, we’ll, we’ll generalize this cuz I’m not trying to get banned for being on the Mike Matthews show , but I mean, we’ll, we’ll bring it into to relevant aspects I guess. But really Mike, what you’re asking is the fundamental question of epistemology.
So if people aren’t have, haven’t heard our previous conversations, my actual sort of formal backgrounds in philosophy and if epistemology asks exactly that type of question, right? Epistemology just concerns with it is just concerned with theories of knowledge. Right? What is knowledge? Um, well, how do we know what we know?
What are the sort of conditions that need to be in place for us to say that we have knowledge? So you’re really asking a very deep. Epistemological question, what is the difference between knowledge and belief? For example, I mean, if you go all the way back to Play-Doh, it seems like Play-Doh wants to say that that knowledge is something like justified true belief, right?
Uh, but then there’s been, uh, obviously a lot of, as philosophers, do they, they argue they disagree. That’s just a profession, right? Uh, but really, um, I, I, I guess fundamentally in the, in the 1960s there were some, there was a famous very short paper by a guy named Get Air where he proposed some, uh, pretty challenging counter examples to that idea of knowledge.
And this has become known as get air cases. So this has kind of exploded the field of epistemology, uh, into, into many different theories trying to, trying to solve this, this issue of being Getty Eyes. And we can maybe talk about some of those cases that people are interested in it, but, but they’re really just cases where it seems like.
We need something else aside from uh, just sort of mirror true belief, uh, to have knowledge and what is, what is that something else? To what this, can
Mike: you give one example of these ?
Pat: Yeah. So one ones pretty goofy. It’s,
Mike: it sounds very abstract,
Pat: but Yeah. Yeah. So, um, let me think of one that’s not from get here, but kind of more recent.
Uh, it actually, yeah, this, this, this one, uh, I gotta redownload it in my memory, uh, would actually, the example is given in my state of Wisconsin. So imagine that, um, imagine you’re driving through Wisconsin, uh, right? And unbeknownst to you, somebody puts up a bunch of fake Barnes, right? They’re fake barns.
They’re just, they’re just not real barns, but they look like Barnes if you’re, if you’re driving, uh, sort of down, down the road in the highway, right? Uh, but by happenstance, uh, you actually, in between all the fake barns, you, you, you do pass a real barn and you come to form the belief that that’s a, a sort of a, a real.
But there seems to be something wrong about that. Right? Because it just seems like that was just kind of just lucky, right? Like, you’re right, it’s a true belief. That’s a real barn. But given those circumstances, it seems like we like, yeah, it just seems like there’s something about that, um, where we don’t wanna quite say that you have, have knowledge cuz there’s sort of a, a degree of just weird epistemic look there, right?
Uh, so that would be an example of, and, and of course with philosophy, all these examples are often highly contrived. But that’s, that’s the, the point of being thought experiments in philosophy, right? You try to stress test different models, different models of knowledge, or with ethics you have classic trolley, trolley problems, right?
But trying to give counterexamples or break a model even with very contrive situations. So examples like that are meant to, are meant to be contrived, but they’re meant to stress test or break a model or understanding of something like, like, And so this has, and maybe we can try and, and, and, uh, and, and tie this back into your question because, um, really what, what you’re talking about, what you’re probing somebody on is whether we can have knowledge and ment that’s, that’s what you’re getting.
Knowledge, testimony. And actually, Mike, I wanna say yes, generally we can have knowledge testimony and, and we can actually call it knowledge. We can have what’s called warrant. Warrant is supposed to be this term in epistemology, this quality that sort of, uh, gets us from just, uh, yeah, mere true belief to actual knowledge.
And I think we wanna have to say that, that that’s the case, right? Because so much of what we think we know and believe about the world is based on testimony, right? Like even my own name, even, even where I was born, right, is something I received through testimony. Obviously most of our scientific knowledge, you know, most of us are not running the experiments ourselves and stuff like that, right?
So I think the general position is, Um, yeah, it seems like I, I should be able to have knowledge, uh, through testimony. Otherwise, I’m gonna be stuck in a real deep skeptical pit unless and until I have what’s in philosophy have, unless, until I have a defeater of it. Some reason to question, uh, the testimony or some reason to think that that testimony was unreliable.
And in the examples that, that you gave, without going right back into the controversial topic, the question would be, well, is there a sort of rival testimony or a rival expertise, uh, that would, um, challenge the original testimony that I received? There’s some other reason to think that the testimony I received is unreliable.
So, yeah, I don’t know. I don’t know where we wanna go from this, but I do wanna say that I think a, a correct theory of knowledge and if we wanna get into it, I, I, I hold to a theory called proper functionalism, and externalism should be able to say that we can get knowledge. Um, from testimony, however, it’s open to defeat, right?
That it’s not a sort of incorrigible or infallible knowledge, right? It’s sort of, it’s a knowledge that can be defeated, right? In the presence of some evidence or, or circumstance that would call into question the reliability of the testimony. So I just threw a lot out there. You think at any parts of it that you want, that seem relevant.
Mike: And well, that, that actually ties into, uh, another line of questioning that I’ll, that I’ll use. Not, not necessarily, it doesn’t have to be with, with the vaccine, but it is usually with more controversial, um, with, with, with the cultural footballs that just get passed back and forth endlessly. Right? And, and that is, I’m gonna take, take something like climate change also controversial.
Uh, some, some people, of course, they will say that the science is settled, but then you have many credentialed people who say, well, we can all acknowledge that climate is changing, but the science of why is certainly not settled. And, and so somebody will, will tell me the primary reason why is we humans are burning fossil fuels and we’re releasing too much carbon in the atmosphere.
And that’s it. That that is the primary reason why mm-hmm. right. And. And then there’s, there are the questions that I could ask. Same type of questions in the, in the case of the vaccine. Yeah. How do you know that? But then, but then there’s this other point of counter testimony. Right. And I will ask. Okay.
Um, so, so what are, uh, a few plausible counter-arguments to, to that position? Can you tell me, ideally, could you tell me like the top. Strongest counter arguments to what you just said because in the case of climate change, you can find some good ones. You can find some very credentialed people who will offer a counter testimony to, uh, the, the mainstream narrative, so to speak.
Right. And I’m not even saying they’re right, but I’m just saying they’re out there. I’ve seen them myself. And can you explain to me then first what those strong Can you steelman the opposite? Can you ex, can you explain the strongest counterpoints mm-hmm. and why you are not convinced by them, why you think those people are wrong?
Or you think the weight of the evidence is, is with the other side? Yeah. Ne never once. Never once . And that’s not just with climate change. That’s with so many, again, controversial things where people will say things be very quick to, to say things as if they have it all figured out. Yeah. And they are certain that this is reality.
But then, but then it becomes very clear very quickly that they have not even considered the other side. And that also to me is it’s, it’s hard to understand. I understand. We don’t necessarily have the time or the inclination to, uh, explore all of the world with such depth and all of the things that are going on.
Mm-hmm. , but then why, why don’t we, and, and I try to do this myself. I’m, I’m human. We, this is just part of human nature. So I do try to consciously remind myself of things that, uh, I, I feel like I have. Knowledge, and I have, uh, at least I can, I can speak deeply enough to defend something that I can say, Hey, I, here’s what I think.
I think that there’s a good chance that I’m right and let me explain. Mm-hmm. , why, you know what I mean? Mm-hmm. . And then there are things like climate change where I would say, you know, I don’t know. Right. Because there, there are, I, I’ve heard, I’ve heard good arguments on both sides of, of this issue.
Mm-hmm. , and I haven’t looked into it enough to be able to, if I had to make a big bet, uh, I would pick one side versus the other if I had to, but I wouldn’t be highly confident in this bet. Yeah. You,
Pat: you, you weekly, why isn’t there more of that? You weekly lean towards a particular hypothesis, right? Right.
You have a certain degree of confidence in a particular hypothesis. And I’ll say that
Mike: I, I, I might, I might be wrong. Yeah, of course. But, but they’re, they’re just in, in having. Many conversations. This is with over social media and, and, and email with, with people about so many things. Uh, that, that mentality is not Yeah.
It’s just not
Pat: common. You’re, you’re certainly right. And again, not to veer away from the super controversial issues. We can go into ’em if you want, but I think there’s some good general points to explore here. Ear earlier brought up, uh, knowing what you had for breakfast, and that’s a, you know, that’s an interesting case.
How do you know what you had for breakfast? Well, you seem to just have this deep intuition and, and seeming that you had these sort of memory experiences and that they’re reliable. Right. But of course, philosophers have memory is not reliable though. Yeah, but I mean, fly, go back to Decart, right? His, uh, sort of, uh, you know, uh, demonic, uh, uh, hallucination, you know, thought experiment, right?
Of, well, well, maybe it’s just. You know, the result of some demonn causing you to think you had oatmeal for breakfast, but uh, really you didn’t. Right? Or, or brain in the vat scenarios or simulation hypothesis, right? So all these things can be called into, questioned by globally skeptical scenarios. And I would say a good epistemology has to sort of be able to, to to, to deal with that.
Right? And the one that that I hold too is, there’s actually a sort of a link here between , how we could say that, um, we are warranted in saying I know what I had for breakfast and in, um, what I know through certain chains of testimony and it has to do with something, um, uh, something about the, the sort of aim or the goal directedness of our cognitive powers.
That our cognitive powers have a, a proper function that they’re operating in sort of an environment which they were origin originally meant to or designed to operate in. Uh, and that they’re not only directed at. The attainment of truth, but the, there’s, they’re operating toward a, a good design plan, um, that has a high statist likelihood of actually getting truth.
Those are like the different conditions that have to be in place for us to get that quality of warmth, which can come in degrees. Right. It can come in, it can come in degrees. Right. And that’s kind of what you’re, and,
Mike: and just to that point mm-hmm. to, to, to, I think to state it very simply, good enough. Is, is a different, uh, that that’s different with different things?
Yes. If we’re talking about like, uh, how do, how do I know what I had for breakfast? Uh, well, I, let’s see. I could, I could video myself, uh, eating the breakfast, but you’re still relying on No, I know, I know what I’m saying though. What I’m saying though is, uh, I could video myself. Here’s a little experiment.
Mm-hmm. , see if I remember correctly. Okay. That’s interesting. Um, I could, if I were to eat something that, let’s say causes, uh, causes my stomach to, to be upset and, uh, I could run that experiment a couple of times. Videoed, there’s a point where you go, all right. This is good enough for my purposes, my purposes of controlling my calories or my macros, for example.
Pat: Yeah. But, but pause right there cuz notice you’re already assuming the reliability of memory. Oh no, I know. In all those I know, I know what I’m saying. What I’m saying is
Mike: you can’t, you have to though, or you can’t live your life. Like there’s a point where
Pat: you can’t live your life in these, in these radically skeptical scenarios.
And, and most people obviously hear these skeptical scenarios and they think that they’re, they’re just ridiculous. Um, and I agree, they, they’re ridiculous. They’re not true, but they’re meant to do something. They’re meant for us. They’re meant to get us to be more critically reflective about who we are and what knowledge is and what the conditions are knowledge are.
So they, they serve an important purpose there. And what they would do in this scenario is say like, look, it seems like some beliefs are just properly basic. We don’t believe these things, uh, because we infer. From something else, right? There’s the deep intuition and seeming here, uh, it really seems like my knee hurts, so I, I just believe that my knee hurts, right?
And I’m sort of warranted and believe that it just really seems like two plus two equals four. And so I just believe that two plus two plus four, and I’m more like, it’s, I’m not making inferences to these beliefs. They’re called properly basic. Another one is what’s in philosophy known as the problem of other minds.
How do I know that you’re just not a really cleverly programmed Android like Matthews? Well, it just really seems like you’re somebody else who’s a, an embodied mine like I am. This is a properly basic belief. Now what makes me warranted? And that will come down to the reliability of these sort of deep intuitions and stuff like that.
And then you have to build out this whole, I mean, epistemology is a huge field, right? So we can’t get into all of it now, this whole account, right? That can help sort of undergird that and substantiate that. And I kind of gave you the, the basic account of what would be called a proper functionalism. But then.
I would say you also have to take an external predictive
Mike: power has to be a part of that. Right? Um, what kind of, what kind of predictions can you make based on your beliefs? And do they, do they bear
Pat: out? That’s, that’s gonna be getting I think, a, a little bit more into the topic we wanna, uh, get to later in terms of, of, of, of, of science and, and what we should expect of science and what the criteria is for something to count as scientific.
And I think some making, you know, being predictively fruitful is the case there. I think we’re at something even much more bedrock right now, which is epistemology. So in short, what I wanna say is that there are things that, um, we really can say, uh, we’re warranted in knowing, uh, perceptual beliefs, external world, what I had for breakfast memory, my belief in other minds and indeed belief that I get through testament, right?
But, uh, these beliefs can be defeated now. They can be defeated. If I have reason to think that, uh, I’ve encountered a sort of situation where, I’ve been duped or something is unreliable. Right? So when it comes to like some testimony, like I just have no reason to doubt that it’s correct. Like my parents told me what my name is and when I was born, like I just don’t really, I’ve never seen any evidence or reason.
To think that they’re lying to me about when and where I was born and what my name was and all that. So I just, I like, and who cares? And Yeah. , well, I mean, I guess I would try to carry, if you, if you were
Mike: to find out that you were born elsewhere, you’d be like, that’s kind weird that they, uh,
Pat: yeah. So, so
Mike: for that.
But does it, would it change anything about Right. You and how you live and your thoughts about anything? But, but now think about maybe, maybe aside from your parents, and Sure. Why,
Pat: why would you tell me? And it just doesn’t seem like there’s any reason why they would wanna lie to me or need to lie, lie to me, right?
Yeah. Um, now maybe I have, maybe I just haven’t thought of that yet, but that, yeah, it just seems right to say that no, I really do know when and where I was born, even though I don’t have any memory of it or videotape evidence or anything like that. Right? And that comes from testimony. However, um, we know, and there’s been many papers published on this, um, that certain, um, you know, uh, sometimes they’re called a bully consensus.
Uh, conform right in, in academia in science and philosophy and a bully consensus is when a consensus isn’t established really on the basis of evidence, but on the basis of social pressures, political pressures, all these sorts of things, economic pressures, whatever they are, right? Um, so this might be reason to question, uh, a chain of testimony in certain regards, right?
Do you think that there’s a chance here that there’s, that there’s a bully consensus or something like that, right? Are there perverse incentives at work that might, um, be a detriment to the actual truth getting out or, or, or, or somebody reliably reporting what is actually the case versus just doing what they, uh, need to do or want to do to get ahead politically or, or economically or socially, or
Mike: just, or just, just to fit in, not be ostracized, not lose their license to practice medicine.
Pat: Right. Hundred, hundred percent. Yeah. So a hundred percent. And I, I wanna say without, again, getting into too many details is yeah, there’s many areas where that’s the case where I myself remain agnostic of certain issues because I just don’t, I just don’t see that I have, uh, reason to think that there’s a reliable chain of testimony here.
Now, that isn’t to say that I can’t have knowledge for testimony at all. I think you have to be able to say that, but there can be instances where you can reasonably question testimony, and in fact, it would be unreasonable not to question it once you reach a certain degree of, of evidence or instances where you think, I mean, and this is common sense, right?
If, if you’ve been repeatedly lied to, by somebody before, right. You would think you’re a fool if you keep trusting their testament . Right? Like, this person has proven themselves unreliable. Well, the same, or, or if, if
Mike: somebody has, has been to jail multiple times for, uh, defrauding investors or has been to jail just once for, for doing that, and then they come to you to ask if you want to invest in their latest scheme, you would, you would have grounds for Right.
Pat: being skeptical. Yeah. And this isn’t to say that, uh, that they’re wrong, right. Uh, that it’s not saying that they’re wrong, but it would be a sort of Well, they say
Mike: they’ve changed, they’ve Yeah. And they’ve, and maybe they
Pat: learn their lesson. They have. Right. But it would be, it would be a reason, uh, to be hesitant, certainly about just adopting whatever they say and reason to do a more thorough investigation yourself.
Right. Um, and I think that connects with what you’ve said before. Right. If you have reasons to think that, uh, the sort of transmission. Or even generation of certain information might be unreliable. It doesn’t mean that it’s wrong, it doesn’t mean that it’s false, but it would be reason to at least be a little hesitant and that you should take extra steps to really try and investigate this and adjudicate it for
And then a good thought exercise is, and again, especially with with controversial issues, is to think about why, why might somebody want to lie to me or, or, or some group, why might they want to lie to me about this? And a very easy place to start is always money. Money, question mark. Is there, is there a lot of money in this?
Is there a lot of, could there be a lot of money in lying about this? And if the answer is yes, then you shouldn’t be quick to dismiss that, I think.
Pat: Right, right. And again, I just wanna just be, um, careful, I guess, is that just because there’s money, there’s this a money incentive? It does. It doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily wrong.
But I think you’re right. Of course. I think you’re right. It’s, it’s it’s reason for a more thorough investigation. Absolutely. Right.
Mike: Let’s just say if, if there’s no money in lying about something, uh, let’s get into science, for example. Mm-hmm. . Okay. Why, why should I be more skeptical about the, uh, science of, again, let’s say, let’s say climate change?
And that’s not to say that I know, uh, whether ultimately we by burning fossil fuels are driving climate change or not. But why should I be more skeptical of, let’s even say what’s, what’s represented as a scientific consent consensus about that versus the scientific consensus about how to build. ,
Pat: are you asking me that question?
Well, or is that,
Mike: well, I just a rhetorical, but you can answer. It’s just, it’s just, let me, um,
Mike: these things
Pat: are not the same or not let, let me hold this up first. This is a good book. People wanna, I think, get a very, uh, more realistic idea on science. It’s called Science Fictions, how fraud, biased negligence and hype undermine the search for truth.
And I think people forget that. First off science, and maybe we should back up a little bit here before we get into your question, right. Um, is an exceedingly broad kind of camp, right? Like what, what is science? First off? Uh, that’s a first off. That’s not a scientific question, right? That’s a philosophical question.
Science can’t even really. Define its own, its own boundaries, its own conceptual boundaries. And in fact, there’s many scientists, uh, who argue among themselves whether other scientists, uh, I just read an article just from a physicist the other day, who wants us to stop calling Psychology A Science cuz it doesn’t meet certain criteria according, uh, to, to him of, of what a science should be.
Now, again, that’s not a question you can answer. That isn’t an argument. He can make qua physicist, right? That’s an argument he’s making, uh, qua philosopher of science or something like that, right? What, what is, what does qua mean? Uh, as like in the Rolex, right? He’s not, he’s not making that argument in the role as a physicist, right?
Obviously nothing that physics can tell you but should count as a science, right? Uh, but he’s sort of assuming the role as, as a philosopher. And I actually thought it was a pretty good argument. Uh, I forget some of the details right now, but, um, but, uh, even the, the origin of psychology, right? Like when it was first around, it was, it was very much considered a pseudoscience, right?
And then it sort of, You know, uh, was, was increasingly accepted and now I think most people are comfortable calling it a science, but it’s a very, very different dissipate in its methodology and the sort of confidence that gives us in its, in its, uh, conclusions than, than physics is. I don’t think anybody denies that.
Right. Uh, physics people often see as a sort of, well,
Mike: the replication crisis is particularly, I mean,
Pat: it was psychology and economics. It really kicked off the replication crisis, which is, which this book goes into huge detail about, right. And for people who are unfamiliar, is that it just seems like a great number of, uh, uh, scientific findings that were used as sort of the launchpad and basis, uh, for a lot of, of policies and, and consensus, um, have not been able to be replicated.
And in fact, in many instances have, have been falsified. Right. And this is, this is a, this is a huge problem, right? Because this was like foundational. For a lot of stuff, and this has not been resolved. Now it’s important to understand that this, this does affect, uh, some sciences worse than others, like psychology, like economics.
Um, but I guess the harder the science Yeah. It’s the more susceptible it is to, to quantification, mathematization and stuff like that. You, this seems to become less of an issue. And of course, this, this ties in to, to the argument the physicist was, was making against psychology. It’s just not a hard enough, uh, uh, uh, feel to, to be rightfully called a science was, was his, his argument.
Right. And I think the replication crisis is something that he, he didn’t appoint to it in, in this article, but, but he would, right. And, uh, certainly we do feel like that that is an, an important aspect, right? Like we sh we should be able to, to replicate, uh, our results if we have a, if we have a, a sturdy and reliable theory.
Anyways. I’m rambling at this point, Mike, so you have to circle me back around to the point, to the point we wanted to, uh, to get on here. This is a
Mike: good, I think that’s a, that’s a good introduction. Mm-hmm. and just a good segue into, uh, knowing things, quote unquote, knowing things. How can we especially layman know things Yeah.
Through science. Yeah, good. And
Pat: good, good connection cuz this will, this will bring us back around to epistemology. So there is an epistemology, and I think this is sort of, uh, uh, very much, uh, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s sort of trickled down into our culture without a lot of people knowing it, uh, called scim m.
Now scientism isn’t science, scientism is an epistemology. It’s a theory of knowledge. And proponents of scientism will say, the only things we can know are those things which come out of the hypothetical deductive method, the scientific method. We didn’t even really talk about what all that is. But it, it, it’s something of an arc, right?
That we gather data. The reason inductively up to some general theory. And then we use that theory and we recent deductively down by trying to make and test predictions and stuff like that, right? Whatever else science is, it seems to be a large agreement that it should follow that type, it should have that type of structure to it, right?
Um, now the problem with Scim, right? And, and again, this is like, you see this even though people don’t articulate it very well, and they may not even believe that, that they are kind of in this camp. You see it, uh, almost just operative every day with people. Just say, just trust the science, capital S science, right?
They take this sort of like, uh, devotional attitude to the science , right? Kind of creepy in some respects, but, but cism faces a, a fundamental issue, right? Uh, and that fundamental issue, I would say is that it’s, it’s either self-defeating or it’s. , right? This is the problem with scientism. As an epistemology, the only things we can know are the things that come through the scientific method, right?
Why is it self-defeating? Well, that claim that the only things we can know must come through the scientific method is not something that comes through the scientific method, right? So it doesn’t even meet its own standard. Doesn’t even meet its own criteria, right? So, so according to scientism, then we can’t know that claim
Well, if we can’t know that claim, then how can we, how, why should we, how can, how can we operate according to it right now? What, uh, what they could do at this point if they wanna kind of hold onto their, to, to that, uh, scientism attitude is just make scientism trivial by expanding the definition of science to include, like everything else, including philosophy, right?
But the problem is, like, most scientists don’t wanna call philosophy of science. And I think, I actually think that’s right. I think philosophy is philosophy. It’s not science, right? So it’s, so m is either gonna be self-defeating. or it’s going to be trivial, but it’s also obvious that, that we do know many things.
Um, but not because of science, and science itself must presuppose many things. It can’t, it can’t sort of justify or establish its own assumptions that it needs to even get off the ground. We’ve talked about some of these things, right? We have to have a reliable memory to do science. We just assume memory is reliable.
There’s no test we can run to show that our memory is reliable. Cause it always assumes, it always assumes that it is right. It always assumes that, that like, I remember the data here and I can compare it to the data there. So there’s, there’s no way that I could verify. Through the scientific method, either the reliability of my memories or any of my senses, right?
That my senses are reliable, that there’s an external world. Science has to assume all of this, right? I couldn’t verify,
Mike: well, couldn’t, couldn’t we develop experiments that would allow us to, um, say things with a high level of certainty or not?
Pat: Not in disrespect, not without vicious circularity. Right.
Because all the experiments fundamentally are already dependent upon me believing in assuming that my senses are reliable. Right. So I’m immediate Well,
Mike: correct. Yeah. But, but what I’m saying is that, that we could, I, I would think that through experiments we could get to a point where we could at least say, I have a good reason.
Here are some good reasons to believe why my senses are correct. Yeah.
Pat: Not through science. You can’t, it’ll always be viciously circular. You can use science to get to good re reasons and, and, and credence, right. A degree of confidence in things beyond that. Fb make this assumption. But there’s no way from science you’re ever gonna be able to, to, to argue without a vicious circularity that your senses are reliable.
Because everything about experimentation, right? You’re already assuming that your senses are viable. Right. You see that? Like you’re just
Mike: No, no, of, of course. I get that. What I’m saying though is for, for the practical, um, use of, of, of living and being able to do things and being able to build things. Yeah.
Pat: I mean, you can take a blind leap of faith, but it’s not verified by science. It’s assumed by science. No, no. But what
Mike: we we could say is, Hey, this is good enough for our purposes. Right? Well, yeah. What’s what? Come, come, come back to the is is the demonn. Is the demonn tricking me into thinking things. Okay. I do my experiment with my Right, but, but the, the point recordings, well, did the demonn, did the demonn create the recordings?
There’s a point where you just go, you know, I, I guess I don’t really care because for my purpose of, let’s say losing weight. Yeah. I, I’m gonna assume that I remember
Pat: remembering, think correctly. Don’t think quite Stephen too much. Yeah. Well, well, well, let’s not switch subjects, right? Cause the subject right now is not whether my senses are viable.
I think they are. And I think there’s good philosophical reason. To trust our deep intuitions on that. What we’re talking about now are the things that science cannot tell us about in principle, that science must assume. So we’re challenging the, the false assumption that everything we know comes through science.
That’s what we’re talking about right now. We can go further.
Mike: Right? Sci are, are there, are there some examples of things that you feel, uh, science, because, cuz some people might be thinking, well, uh, they, they might have a, a high level of respect and reverence for the scientific method regardless of how familiar they are with it.
And they, they might, well generally believe that. Well if, if something is true, then we should be able to. Through science come to a, a high level of certainty of its truth. It might take a long time in a lot of experiments. You know what I mean?
Pat: No, no. Uh uh. Because that already assumes that science is exhaustive.
Right. And that’s exactly what I’m challenging. I what I’m gonna say is science is really good for telling us thing about telling us about certain aspects of reality, and there’s other aspects of reality that just fall right through the methodologic of that. And they’re just not in the domain of science to investigate.
I’ll complete the list. And, and what are some, yeah, what are some, yeah, so we already just talked about reliability of senses, external world, but there’s also mathematical truths, logical truths. These are things that science presupposes without math and, and logic science goes nowhere. Right? Um, there’s moral truths.
This is really important, right? Scientists have to assume, I would argue, a sort of binding and objective moral landscape to the world, right? Why? Because they, they assume that it’s just wrong to lie about your data, to, to lie about your results, to lie about your conclusions. If that isn’t an assumption going into science.
Yeah, good luck. Science being reliant. Right. Uh, and, and we know sometimes people don’t actually, uh, follow, uh, that, that, you know, the, the sort of moral rules, if you will, and that is, of course, a great detriment to science. So science can’t tell us anything about morale, right? This is, this is, this is well agreed upon, uh, certainly among the, the broad swath of philosophers.
You got a few people here and there who make some, some valiant, pathetic attempts. Uh, but it always falls short, right? The science
Mike: wouldn’t, wouldn’t that run it run counter to the, to the agreed purpose of science though? Because if you’re just, if you’re just inventing data, then that is not now serving the purpose of, uh, the, the, the scientific arc, right?
That you mentioned. Yeah. So you had, and that’s now a whole new. Uh, approach to quote unquote science that is, is not in keeping with even the original spirit of the scientific method. Yeah. You
Pat: would have what K has there as a sort of, uh, what’s called a, a hypothetical imperative. Like, hey, if we want to get, uh, you know, uh, accurate or, uh, reliable, an accurate understanding or a model
Mike: of something, then, then we probably shouldn’t fake the
Pat: data then you shouldn’t fake the data.
Right. But I think people want something stronger that they want call it categoric. Like you shouldn’t fake the data, period. Right. And certainly there’s nothing in science that should, uh, that, that will, that will verify that. And also there’s, there’s deeper sort of moral commitments that, that, that go into, uh, science as well, which we can get into as, as, as we move along.
You know, for me, sort of, uh, normativity is, is is a, it’s a web. It’s a web, uh uh, certainly between. Uh, logic, mathematics, and morality. So I think these things are all bound up in a, in a very deep way. Uh, but I think we probably covered enough at this point, right? So science can’t tell us, just to recap it, science can’t tell us about the reliability of our senses.
Can’t tell us about morality. They can’t tell us about, um, uh, that, that there really is an external world, right? These are things that we assume it can’t. Science assumes logic, it assumes mathematics, right? So there’s all these different aspects of the world, uh, that we think we have knowledge about that clearly doesn’t come from science because it must be assumed in order to even do science.
Right? So aside from sm being sort of self-defeating, there’s also just, it’s just very clear that science, um, is not bedrock, right? It’s clearly, and that’s why you have disciplines like philosophy of science, right? That’s why philosophy of science exists to sort of investigate the foundations of science and also to help interpretation.
Of science. Right. A lot of times what comes outta science is open to any, uh, number of different interpretations they take, take like quantum mechanics. So last I checked, there’s like 10 to 12 different empirically equivalent interpretations of what the implications of quantum mechanics are. Right? And that’s something that philosopher science try to help get conceptual clarity about.
And then this is where kind of like science and metaphysics and all these, these different disciplines start to bleed to try and make sense of, of stuff that science is telling us. But it isn’t exactly clear what is being told in these instances, if that makes sense. Um, so now remind me of what you, of what you said before so we can circle back.
Mike: Those are, those are good thoughts on, on what? Uh, on, just to put science, I guess in its, uh, correct place in the hierarchy of, uh, I suppose it’d be an epistemological hierarchy, right? And that it’s, it’s not, it’s not the foundation of, of all knowledge. If you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, definitely check out my sports nutrition company Legion, which thanks to the support of many people like you, is the leading brand of all natural sports supplements in the world.
Um, let’s, let’s talk about a bit about, of the, a bit about the human side of science, because as you mentioned, and, and of course I’ve come across this, we all come across this. Many people will represent science as it’s science with the big S it’s, it’s monolithic. And, uh, there is a, a general
Pat: belief that it’s settled in certain areas, right?
Mm-hmm. , and, and
Mike: also that, that it works with the, with the accuracy and the, uh, impartiality of, of your computer running some, some math problems, right? And it just spits out the answer. And what many people don’t want to even consider is the very human aspect. You had mentioned this bully consensus.
That’s one element of it. Um, you know, the Max Plank, I believe it was him, the, the famous physicist. Yeah. He’s, he’s the guy, I think you said science progresses one funeral at a time. That’s right. Yeah.
Pat: He usually, it takes a couple decades, . Yeah.
Mike: And his point is that you have, you have, and this is, there are many of exa, many of, uh, examples of this.
Uh, in, in many different disciplines where you have a new, uh, theory that, that turns out to be right, but it doesn’t just immediately triumph, it doesn’t just convince somebody comes forward with, and it can be well reasoned. They can already have empirical evidence. And to outsiders, it actually might seem very plausible.
Like, oh wow, that actually makes a lot of sense. Right. But in, in the scientific world, and again, there are many examples, I’m sure you can share some of them, uh, of, of what is, uh, eventually accepted as a true idea. Mm-hmm. first being vilified and, um, opposed by, by the powers that be so to speak. And it, and it takes a lot of people.
Who, who are more just vested in maintaining the status quo. Often if they, and, and, and often these people, they contributed to the status quo. So if they were to acknowledge that this new idea actually better explains this whole thing, then their own work Yeah. Then they would be invalidating in some cases their life’s work.
Yeah. And so it, it, it just, in many cases, it requires those people to finally die and go away and then to have a new generation of, uh, of, of peers come up and be willing to. Even entertain this new idea that again, eventually, uh, is, becomes accepted as That’s right. The dominant truth.
Pat: That’s Yeah. Yeah, absolutely.
I mean, that’s right. If you study the history of science, the history of scientific ideas, you, you’d be surprised to see how resistant people were to some of the mainstream theories today. I mean, Darwin, for example, the people were extremely resistant at first, uh, but also Big Bang, you know, cosmology, right?
I mean, uh, some pretty interesting historical details. There is, um, uh, sort of, um, it is actually quite interesting. It was a Catholic priest, father George Nature, who first sort of presented the equations, uh, to Einstein. And Einstein actually sort of fudged the equations to keep the universe, uh, static.
And, uh, he later admitted, uh, that this was one of the biggest mistakes that, that, that sort of, he, he ever made in his, in his scientific career, that he was wrong. Um, Now there was other evidence that came in, you know, later that, that supported, um, what is now sort of the, the standard, uh, understanding of Bing bang, or maybe, maybe
Mike: a more, a more empathetic example of, um, of Semmelweis Semmelweis.
Uh, it’s probably Semmelweis, just Hungarian doctor.
Pat: Yeah. Well, just a real quick thing I was gonna say, uh, about, uh, some of these examples is that, that the reason there is there’s resistance, is, is this what you’re talking about? It’s a human element. It’s prior commitments. It’s prior philosophical commitments, metaphysical commitments.
Uh, sometimes just wanting, also just sometimes wanting the world just don’t wanna be wrong, right? Sometimes they just don’t wanna be wrong. That’s a huge part of it, man. I mean, people get really attached. To their theories. Yes. To their models. Yes they do. Uh, this is true for scientists. This is true philosoph for philosophers, right?
People come up with ideas and like it becomes their pets. They’re precious, right? . And they do. They get, they get really atta, this is a hu, this is, this is just a human element of it, right? And it takes a very, I think, mature, uh, mind is something we all have to fight against to, to be willing to kind of kill your.
It’s need be. And that’s not an easy thing to do. I mean, I, I see it all the time, especially in philosophical circus, man, people will go to their grave. I mean, this isn’t in,
Mike: in fiction, right? Mm-hmm. , I mean, this is the old Kill Your darlings where so many It is. It’s exactly, it. Novelists, they’ll say that they know the character needs to die for the purpose of the story.
Pat: they just don’t wanna do it. They don’t wanna do it. Yeah. Man, people love their theories. Their theories are their pets, right? I you just see it all the time. Uh, it doesn’t matter sort of how much pressure’s against it, how much evidence is against it, how many, how many arguments are against it, uh, people just have.
And when hard time, when people,
Mike: and when people who, um, are, are our suffering from that. When they also have power, when they are gatekeepers, uh, when they decide what is approved and what is not approved, then, then you can have even bigger problems.
Pat: That’s right. Mm-hmm. . Yeah, I mean, this is kind of getting into some of the, the dirty details, which again, I can’t recommend this book highly enough.
Science fiction, science fictions, uh, by Stuart Richie by the way. Um, yeah. I mean, it’s just, it’s just none of this is as clean and neat as I think people on the popular level think it’s right now, I’m, I’m more in the philosophical circle, but I got a lot of friends who are professional scientists. Uh, it’s the, it’s the same issue all the time.
There’s a lot of political games. There’s a lot of checking people at the gate, right? Like, you know, checking them before they can even get into the review process and stuff like that, because, you know, their ideas might be seen as unfashionable or unwelcome in, in various ways, right? So even me, like I’ve had papers that were clearly never even just, just looked at because I was trying to, to challenge just certain things, right?
And I’ll give you a great example, right of, of a bully consensus. If you wanna do something controversial, take contemporary gender, right? Take contemporary gender through, right? This is, this is an issue. Um, where there is clear mob mentality. Uh, there’s virtually no reason to think that this is at all coherent.
There’s virtually every reason, philosophical and scientific to think that it is incoherent, yet people are terrified to publish on it cuz the mob will come down. The mob has come down to people who’ve, uh, critiqued it. Uh, and I, I’ve got lots of, lots of friends in the academy who want to say stuff about it, but are afraid to.
They, they don’t wanna publish on it at all. Not because they don’t have arguments, but they know if they do, they will be, in some sense sort of marginalized or punished or something like that, right? So this is an instance where I don’t like whatever people, uh, now this is an area where I, I, you know, I’m sort of qualified to assess arguments and stuff like that, but it’s a, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s something where like, I don’t care what the expert says about gender theory, right?
Like, this is , this is nonsense, right? This is, this is, this is, this is a garbage ideology that really is a political ideology that has taken hold in certain philosophical circles. And then it’s like being pushed out from academia into the culture at large. And it’s got a really strong bully consensus.
Like really strong. It punishes, dissenters, uh, through all sorts of various, uh, nefarious means. And that works, intimidation works, uh, you know, threats work, cancellation works. So you have this sort of, Sacred, uh, icon, if you will. Uh, that is, I argue, just beyond nonsense. It doesn’t even raise to the level of nonsense that like nobody is allowed to question, right?
When you have every reason to question this, every reason to believe that what’s being promoted is absolutely false, but there it is, and it’s becoming more and more mainstream every single day, not because there’s good reasons to believe that it’s true or any sort of evidence in its favor. Uh, it’s just a pure, sort of deep political ideology that has just worked its way up and has and gotten enough, I guess, uh, structures in place to to, to allow it to exert power.
Mike: And what would you say to people who would, who would ask, well, well, why, why, why are there so many credentialed, influential people? Uh, why, why would they push this if it weren’t true, or if it weren’t useful or it weren’t
Pat: more wrong? Well, it’s, it’s useful, or at least they think it’s useful. Um,
Mike: useful, let’s say, let’s say in if it weren’t constructive, if it weren’t closer to the truth, which is
Pat: at the s the, the problem is there’s often a lot of sort of post-modern ideology, uh, that’s, uh, underneath a lot of this stuff that would even challenge notions of, of truth to begin with.
So we have to remember that’s, that’s in the background of a lot of minds. But a lot of people who are engaged in, uh, on the professional level, there’s a divide between the professional and the popular level and the transgender debate. People on the professional level, uh, what they’ll tell you is, no, we are engaged.
in a sort of game of conceptual engineering here, and we think that this will be useful to solve a social problem, whatever that is, harm to certain people. Right. And, uh, that’s, that’s kind of what they’re, what, what they’re after, right? Um, so
Mike: it is, it is. And then, and then on the flip side, that, and, and that the costs of, uh, adopting this are, are very low.
Pat: That, that would be part of the argument. But, but a lot of them will say, no, we are just doing conceptual engineering. Right? So, um, yeah, a lot of the professionals will say no, like a biologic man could never be a biologically woman, and we’re just kind of re-engineering what we mean by a woman. Um, but the problem in the professional literature, this is something called, uh, known as as the trans inclusion problem, right?
And this is a mess, right? Because there’s many different conversations going on at many different levels and, and people have no idea what’s going on. So I’ll try and clarify at least some of it, right? Um, and the trans in Inclusion problem, I had a conversation with, uh, a p friend of mine who’s published in this area.
Um, who’s, who’s just waiting to lose his job over, over some of his critiques. Um, is this right? How do we get a definition of woman, uh, that isn’t just trivial or a totology that a woman is anybody who identifies, but we’ll also include all the people that we want in the definition of, of, of woman, but exclude all the people that we don’t want.
And the philosophical promise that’s impossible. You’re never going to be able, uh, to do that. And you, you know, you can try and define a woman in certain ways that a woman is just somebody who suffers, suffers certain indignities. That’s the definitions some people will give. But again, you’ll seem to get people in that you don’t want in.
And, and you’ll also exclude people that you do want in, or maybe you’ll say that, uh, or . This is, uh, another approach is you’ll just kind of park. The definition of women in certain stereotypes. Right? Which is kind of counterproductive to what a lot of feminists have been trying to go against anyways. And this is why in the philosophical circles, you now have kind of war camps between what has been Yeah.
Uh, labeled turfs, trans exclusionary, radical feminists. And, and those continue to push the, the war ideology. But the problem, and this is what my friend, uh, Thomas Lugar, uh, argues, and this is right, is that like, look, as soon as you divorce the concept of woman from an adult human female, right? That’s a sort of biological telogy, right?
It’s a sort of nature that’s at, at the readiness to fulfill a particular biological role. You’re never gonna be able to solve this problem, right? You’re just never gonna be able to solve this, this trans inclusion problem. This is a, this is, this is a project that in principle is something that cannot be solved.
And of course the traditional definition of, of woman is, is an adult and female. And this is true, but we wanna, we do wanna get our definition of, of this, right? Right. It’s not somebody that just has ovaries or certain, uh, chromosomal, uh, makeup because you can have, uh, defects and deformities and these are one of the sort of sophistical arguments if you’ll make, well, somebody not a woman, if they, if they have chromosomal abnormalities and stuff like that.
And the response to that, there is no, a woman is a particular nature that is at the readiness that under normal conditions would be able to fulfill a biological role. But of course we account for abnormalities and defects and stuff like that all the time. I mean, all of medicine already prepost this.
Right. And in fact, that’s why we have medicine. We assume that there’s sort of norms or ranges of norms and that things can go wrong, right? We don’t call clubfoot just a different kind of foot, right? No. This is somebody that’s gone wrong. Uh, so again, it’s, it’s this, it’s this weird thing where we’re seeming to make a completely arbitrary exception, uh, to accommodate, uh, uh, just a, a completely political ideology that makes no conceptual sense, has no sci, and it really isn’t a scientific ar argument.
That’s the thing that other people understand. Cuz you know, in science we will will point to these abnormalities, be like, see, but that’s already presupposing a certain philosophical back, right? The idea of this is something different versus this is something defective. Right? How do you solve that? Will you solve that?
I would. By having a particular philosophy, having a particular metaphysics, having a particular philosophical anthropology. Now I’ll say once you have the right understanding of common sense, understanding philosophically the scientific evidence greatly supports and favors that hypothesis over its rivals.
But people have to be careful not to get sucked in by these pseudo, uh, scientific, pseudo philosophical arguments where people will say, well, what about, what about this? And what about that? It proves nothing, cuz the argument is much deeper than that. Um, so anyways, I’m, I’m giving a, a hasty summary of enormously sort of convoluted issue, but hopefully that’ll give people some resources to, to begin thinking about this clearly.
Cause people obviously deeply confused. But the point is, is ha having actually studies, right? It is nonsense. Uh, but the reason it’s kind of, uh, it’s gotten pulled. Now to answer your question, right, is because people can make strong appeals to emotions, right? People can say, look, no, we need to do this because people are being harmed, right?
People are being harmed, they’re being discriminated. Against. And if, and if you care about people, uh, then you’ll be on board with this. And if not, you’re a big Right. And Mike, you know, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Right. And that, that dude, that’s as effective on pretty much that, that, that works just as much on people in the academy as it does people on Twitter.
Yeah. And why do you care
Mike: so much? Yeah. Why you, why you, this biological male wants to call himself a woman and wants to get surgery and take hormones and, right. And,
Pat: and obviously, uh, you know, I’ve got a lot to say about that very bad argument as well. First off, and no other circumstance is the compassionate, caring thing, uh, to sort of feed into somebody’s, uh, delusion.
And it is a delusion, right? It’s a mental disorder. Uh, if somebody, you know, identifies as being severely overweight when they’re actually anorexic, the last thing we would. Is continued to just say, oh yeah, yeah, you are severely overweight. Right? That’s ridiculous. Eat less, eat less, right? No. What we try to do is, is, is, is help them however we can to reestablish the right sense of the objective facts of the matter, right?
Of what is, what is really, uh, the case. Now people will push back and say, well, the transgender stuff isn’t as dangerous as like that. But I’ll say at minimally we know through the, through the best sort of, I mean, if you look at
Mike: the suicide rates Exactly. There’s, there’s certainly a, a
Pat: danger, yeah. Even post, even post interventions and even in cultures that are greatly affirming of this stuff, what we see is this is really, uh, really catastrophic, uh, for people in terms of, of of the lives they live and the, the, the suicide rates and all that.
So, and here’s the other thing I wanna say is like,
Mike: then of course the counterargument often used for that as well. That if,
Mike: we were all much more accepting of this. Well that’s
Pat: why I said I brought as individuals, cultures, society. That’s why I brought in cultures where they
Mike: are much more No, I know.
I’m just saying. Cause that is commonly said that, well, those, those numbers would be far lower and these people would do far better if, and that’s,
Pat: it’s, it’s a hypothesis. And that hypothesis I would argue has been falsified or at least strongly challenged by the data that we have in other cultures.
Right. Uh, and this isn’t surprising, right? Uh, that’s kind of what we would expect to see if this is in fact a deeper sort of mental disorder. And the other thing I wanna say about this without turning the whole episode onto this topic, but it is an important topic, is we don’t have to know what the solution is to know what the solution.
I, I personally don’t know what the solution is to help people who, who struggle with this. That’s not my specialty. Right? I’ve read about other solutions that seem to be effective, sort of cognitive behavioral techniques and therapy and stuff like that. Um, but we don’t have to know what the solution is to know what the solution isn’t.
Right? And reaffirming, we’re not even reaffirming. We’re just affirming somebody’s mental disorder that isn’t true, is not the solution. Mutilating people is not the solution. And especially pushing this on kids is not the solution. I don’t know what the cure for cancer is, but I can tell you, putting a horse hair into a bottle and swirling it around with some apples, cider vinegar, I’m willing to fight against that if that’s proposed, even though I don’t know what the solution is.
Pretty confident that isn’t it. And in, and in certain instances, proposing false solutions, um, it is progress to fight against those, right? Even if we don’t yet have exactly what the, the rights, the solution is. So yeah, I’m pretty, uh, uh, yeah, this, this is one that, um, I think it’s a great example where there’s a clear bully consensus that is formed through various social pressures that comes under the guise of, right.
It’s promoted under the guise of some goodness, wanting to reduce harm, uh, but has nothing in support of it. I would say from an intellectual standpoint, there’s no reason at all to think this is true, and there’s every reason that we should, we should be out there combating this and trying to get this ideology just eradicated completely.
Mike: And, uh, what, what would you say to people who say, well, when, when somebody says scientism, it’s, it’s usually somebody who is trying to discredit a scientific theory. They don’t like, uh, often, often somebody who’s religious. I’ve, I’ve heard that one before. Yeah. Um, yeah, it’s, it’s just a label. It’s like, you know, anti-vaxxer or climate denialist.
It’s, it’s meant to just try to shut
Pat: discussion down about something. Yeah. I mean, well, let me, yeah. Lemme say a couple things, right? So, I’m, I’m religious. I mean, I used to be an atheist. Um, and now I’m religious and, uh, I’m a huge fan of science. So let me, let me be clear, right? It’s like , um, nothing that I’ve said.
Uh, is meant to disparage the, the fruitfulness or the productivity or the advancements that science has given us in technology and knowledge. Right? It’s, it’s clearly been enormously successful. What I’m fighting against is just in in, in overreach. In overstepping. Right. Particularly in, in epistemology or sort of like, uh, yeah, I guess that turning science into a false.
Right. And you and understanding that what, what’s at this
Mike: point it is, it is very religious. Yeah. It’s, it, right. It has a, has a kind of luminous quality. Yeah. I mean, scientists have sort of, it’s, it’s almost, it’s almost medieval in that sense. Yeah. They’ve, they’ve
Pat: fulfilled the sort of priestly role in, in a lot of respects.
Mike: Yeah. They are. They are. They are. In many ways, I think the high priests of our, for sure. Modern society, at least the, the
Pat: non-religious economy. Yeah. And I mean, people have big questions about life. There are questions that, you know, uh, are not really scientific questions. It is funny to see how they, they want to hear the scientists, you know, answer, answer to it.
Right. Like Neil Degrass, Tyson’s answer it anyways. Um, So, yeah, no, I, I say like something, what the
Mike: meaning of life is . Yeah. Yeah. Lemme just
Pat: run some experiments and, and he always sounds beefy as hell when he talks on those things cuz he is just not really a trained philosopher. He’s at least on those matters like philosophy, religion or something like that.
And, and he, he strikes people in that field as exceedingly amateurish when he speaks on those, even though, you know, he’s obviously credentialed in, in his areas. Right. But he’s not necessarily being credentialed or educated in one area doesn’t mean you’re gonna be, um, well spoken or accurate or, or articulate in another.
You could be, but you could also not be Right. Um, so yeah, to your question, I mean like, yeah, I mean, uh, certainly there’s probably people out there, uh, that do just throw that, that label sm around because they don’t like some scientific theory or something like that. And I guess you just have to take those, those case by case.
And that’s why I’ve tried to be careful in this conversation to say specifically, What SM is as it’s promoted by Yeah. Professional philosophers. Right? So I’ll give you an example. There’s a, there’s a professional philosophers name’s Alex Rosenberg. He’s got a very goofy book, but it’s a very good book. I, in a way, I mean, I disagree with almost fundamentally everything in it.
And if you, if you read it, you’ll see why I say that. It’s goofy, but it’s called The Atheist Guide to Reality. And Rosenberg is a, is a, is a well-established philosopher. And he is, he is a strong proponent of scientist. Scientist, uh, and not just in a epistemological s but an ontological s. So he’s gonna say at the end of the day that the only things that, not just the things that we can know come through science, but the only things that exist are what comes through science.
And for him, it’s gonna be just physics. It’s just gonna be just fundamental physics. So he is gonna say, it’s just fair and both right, and this, this, this. So I’m trying to give a, a fair representation of what the, the actual professional thinkers mean. By scientists show why that’s false. Uh, how, how we deal with it on the popular level, I think comes, uh, case.
Case by case. And there of course are people who I think take unreasonable positions against certain scientific hypotheses for various, I don’t know, uh, reasons, political, religious or, or otherwise. I guess we’d have to consider a specific example. Uh, but I’ve just tried
Mike: to, it might be enough just to acknowledge that, that there, there is.
Let’s say, uh, misuse of even the, the term scim. Uh, some people I think they, they use it, um, either ignorantly or they, they use it in a disingenuous
Pat: way. Yeah, for sure. Um, yeah, I mean that is just the case on, on the kind of like, I guess social media
Mike: level in general. Of course, .
Pat: Yeah. Right. People are just exceedingly sloppy.
Mike: Yeah. . Right, right. Um, it’s almost, it’s sometimes just like a gotcha or a comeback, you know? Uh, but, but let’s, let’s wrap up. I have one more question I want to hear your thoughts on. So for people listening, what, what should their conclusion be? Because some people. They might be thinking, okay, so then, uh, should I just be skeptical of, of everything?
And, but especially in, in the realm of, of science and when somebody says that scientific research indicates one thing or another, uh, what should my, what should I just say? Well, maybe, uh, or should I categorize certain things where there, there’s certain levels of skepticism that are, um, appropriate given.
Given whatever the context is. And there are some things just to start it off, there are some things, for example, let’s, let’s just start with health and fitness, right? Somebody like me might say, or if somebody like you might say, um, at, at this point, of course, you don’t even have to just rely on the scientific research, but I could say there’s a lot of scientific research that shows that, uh, energy balance dictates body weight.
And if you wanna lose fat, you’re gonna have to, you’re gonna have to restrict your, your energy intake. You’re gonna have to burn more, more energy than, than you consume consistently over a period of time. And then somebody goes, uh, okay. Um, I don’t know if that’s true or not, but it, this one’s pretty simple because I would say, just give it a go here.
Here’s a, here’s a little calculator. Test your information. test it, test it for yourself. You, you don’t have to read a single scientific paper. Uh, or, or listen to what anybody, you don’t even have to go find counter arguments necessarily. If you don’t want to just yet, why don’t you just give me seven days?
Here’s this little calculator. Um, put in your numbers and then make sure you hit those calories and see what happens. Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. . And if, if you lose some fat and there are different ways of measuring that, then you can, you can. Continue on with a high level of certainty that something is fundamentally correct about what I said.
And for your purposes, you go, well, maybe it’s not the ultimate truth, but it’s good enough because now I can just lose fat and move on with my life. Yeah. So that’s, so that’s one thing. Mm-hmm. . Right. Um, but, but then there are are many other things that are, are intimately involved in how, or, or, or, or they’re, they’re, they, they inform how we live our lives.
Mm-hmm. , it’s not just, Hey, um, this scientist says that that light moves at the speed of, what is it, 300 kilometers a second or whatever. , how do I really know that I’m gonna go spend all this time investigating? No, who cares, right? How, how is that going to affect how you live your life? But, but if we take something like, should I get a covid injection?
Not that we have to harp on that, but the, that, for example, is something that, uh, is, is an important decision one way or another. And the many other things that, uh, that you, you might look to science or a consensus and say, well, what is, what does the science say? Or what does scientific research say? On something that, uh, I mean even take something like, like happiness, right?
I wanna be happier. What is scientific research? Yeah. Right. I’m just saying, right. What is Yeah, that’s, that’s a, that’s a popular, yeah,
Pat: I would say
Mike: I have, I have, I made my,
Pat: I’ll stop talking if you understand what I’m saying. Right. Where, you know, when, when should you be skeptical? How, how do we,
Mike: how, how do we nav, how do we better navigate reality then?
Should we just ignore science altogether? I would say no. Right? That’s one. That is one, a lot of people, that is their solution. They, they could care less what scientific research says about anything. They’re gonna go off of anecdotes, they’re gonna go off of intuitions. Sure. Mm-hmm. . And that’s, that’s one way of going about it.
Is there a better way? Yeah, I think, I think there is. And then the opposite of the spectrum is, okay, I’m gonna take literally whatever the scientific consensus is, whatever I can, uh, get my hands on in terms of scientific research. And I’m just gonna, I’m, I’m, I’m, I’m not gonna have a single thought. Uh, that, that doesn’t agree with these consensuses, and that’s what I’m, that’s how I’m gonna live my
Lemme try and, and answer it by, by thinking about flags and I think like flags are indicators or, uh, situations where I think your, your skepticism, uh, should be raised. And, you know, Mike, I, I have to say, and, and people can track down our, our previous conversations, but I have to think like, whatever method I’m using it, it, it has to be somewhat reliable.
Cause I think I’ve been pretty accurate in my predictions and skepticism over our, our, our conversations these past couple of years. Mm-hmm. , and you’ll remember I was quite skeptical of Lockdowns initially. Remember that, and I think we talked about this and the reason I was skeptical was that there seemed to be a, a prior, uh, strong consensus against Lockdowns that was formed in a sort of non politicized way.
And then we had cloth masks. That was another one that I was skeptical of. That was another one. I mean,
Mike: I was as well, and a lot of people argued with me and now look at the, at the
Pat: CDC says cloth masks don’t do anything. Now, it’s now it’s pretty much universally acknowledged, I would say the best studies, including the Bangladesh study, which if you examine and the Denmark study, uh, showed that, yeah, they just make no meaningful, uh, difference whatsoever.
Why was I skeptical of these? Well, first off, there was a sort of sudden flipping of a prior consensus in a highly politicized environment. That to me is a flag. That’s a flag, right? It’s not, um, certainty that what that, that, that this, uh, position is false. But for me it’s like, okay, what’s going on here?
Why the sudden flipping? Right? Like what new evidence just could have come out? And of course you looked in the evidence, you had this like exceedingly like, Low quality evidence, just crap. Right? And it’s like, really, this is what flipped it, right? In this highly political environment. And just to, just to give people an idea, there was now, uh, a new, uh, article paper that came out in, uh, studies and applied economics, the biggest literature review and meta-analysis, the effects of lockdowns, of Covid 19, uh, mortality.
And, uh, what, what, what it shows is that the meta-analysis includes that the lockdowns have had little to no public health effects, though they have had imposed enormous economic and social costs where they have been adopted. This was something where we were intimidated and shamed. And I was talking about this from the beginning.
Look at, look at the great, the, what was it?
Mike: Great Barrington, uh, if I’m getting that correctly, declaration.
Pat: And that’s the thing, right? So, so
Mike: yeah. And look at the people who signed on to that and how much black they. And, and, but look at their, look at
Pat: their bone of fi. I mean, they were right. Yeah. You had Jay Aria, you had Martin Koff, you had people from Harvard, Stanford all over, right?
So this was another indicator for me is like, clearly this isn’t a consensus, right? The media’s saying something, but I see highly, and then you had Twitter fact checkers,
Mike: right? Who they could say that those guys were wrong and, and that you shouldn’t be able to even share their opinion. Yes. Wait, what?
Pat: Highly relevant, what is going on? Experts. And then here’s the thing, where are the incentive structures, right? These guys are speaking out against this and they have pretty much everything to lose and nothing to gain really. Whereas anybody else who kind of hops on the consensus, like, you’re gonna get all the social political favors, right?
So that is another indicator for me, right? Highly relevant experts speaking out when they have sort of, uh, maybe very little to gain in, a lot to lose that means, okay, something, something must be really pushing these guys here, right? In terms of the evidence. And so that was the reason why, even though I’m not an infectious disease expert, right?
I was, from a layman’s perspective, initially very skeptical of the lockdowns, and then decided I need to do actually more research into this and try and get myself up, uh, to a level of competence where I can really try to adjudicate this. And I tried to do my due diligence, and the deeper I went into it, the more I saw, yeah, this is really a bozo policy.
Uh, it makes predictions, those predictions are failing as the meta-analysis as this definitively showed based on,
Mike: based on wacky models that were,
Pat: that have, that have been wrong. They were ludicrously false, right? I mean, yeah, just, just ridiculous. So from, from
Mike: people who had a history of bad modeling,
Yeah. So yeah. So I’m trying to answer your question through example of certain flags and indicators. No, that’s a good example. I know, yeah. Certain flags and indicators. And one is, are we, is there something that’s sort of, uh, a sort of highly politicized, um, climate? Right. That’s sort of forcing a change in position or the adoption of a new position.
So to me, seeing so, so maybe, maybe
Mike: you have the elements of social political pressure. Money. Money and power. Money and power Two major, right? Uhhuh, corrupting influences. Sure. Which is, which is no
Pat: surprise, but yeah. Power influence. Social, uh, social social factors are, are a big one, right? Just social agendas.
Social political agendas. Cuz right, if like, if you’re trying to push a social political agenda and the, the, the populist sees science as the priesty class, of course you’re gonna want them on your side, right? Of course you’re gonna want a science, right? So like, immediately, like you just see, okay, there’s, there’s probably gonna be some perverse I status here again, doesn’t mean it’s false, but if that’s kind of in the background for me that’s an indicator that, hey, I maybe I shouldn’t just be so quick, you know, to just, to just take in whatever’s being told to be.
But then there’s of course tons of areas of science, right? That are, that, that are largely free from a lot of that stuff that I think by and large, , you’re perfectly warranted in accepting un unless and until something comes up to give you strong reason, uh, to question it. And of course, we do that all the time, right?
When I hop onto airplanes and, and stuff like that, you know, I’m kind of trusting the, the, all the different sciences that, that, that went into that. Right. Um, so yeah. I don’t know if that answers your question.
Mike: And, and of course though, if you look at the, the incentive there, the incentive is to make it all work and make money , right?
Pat: and yeah, the incentive is, yeah, there’s a money incentive, but I also know I’m gonna make more money with better science. It doesn’t get people killed. Right. Type of thing. Right. , um, right. Probably not gonna do so well as an airline if I’m constantly dumping my passengers into the ocean and stuff like that.
Mike: But by telling them that that’s not what’s happening
Pat: actually. Yeah. So unfortunately, unfortunately, and this is unfortunate, right, because as, as I think we, we kind of, uh, indicated at the beginning episode, it’s like, uh, we really do need testimony, right? We really do need authority to kind of function.
Epistemologically. So it’s really a shame, and it does a lot of harm when, um, there’s corruption on those lines. Right. It does a lot of harm and we’ve seen
Mike: that. Right. And, and that’s something I just want to comment on that I think also should be considered is the track record.
Pat: Yeah. Mm-hmm. ha
Mike: has, has this, uh, has this industry had a, had a sorted history?
Are there a lot of scandals? Yep. Uh, well, I think that’s, that’s a big, it’s another flag,
Pat: red flag. It’s another indicator for sure. Mm-hmm. . Yeah. So,
Mike: and, and, and, and then, or, or, or even individual organizations. Mm-hmm. , uh, has this organization been caught? Lying, cheating and stealing again and again and again.
Okay, well, the, the, that’s, that’s a good reason to, to be very skeptical of anything that organization says, period. Right? Yep.
Mike: Not, not that everything that they say is going to be false, but otherwise, I think is to live, uh, I mean, it’s minimally, you’re, you make for a good mark if, if you don’t even
Pat: consider that.
Yes. I mean, it’s just like, it’s, some of this is so common sense. It’s like, boy, you can cry wolf stuff, you know?
Mike: I know. But, but it’s, it, it’s, it’s, it’s not. If you look at it from a, let’s say a marketing perspective, right? For people who would ask, well, this is, this would be an uncomfortable way for me to live.
Um, I, I, I recently, I read a book called Wired to Create, and in it they cited a, it was a Harvard study, surveyed a bunch of people, and it was, if I remember correctly, about 80% of people, adults who were surveyed, um, said that, that the idea of thinking differently made them feel uncomfortable. Hmm. Right.
Yeah. It is hard. And I, and there’s some truth in that, right? Sure. And so, so for somebody to, to consider, um, living in, in the way that we’re describing or, or maybe, uh, tweaking their operating system a little bit, so to speak, and they go, well, this, this would make me uncomfortable. Like, now I’m supposed to question so many different things.
And, and then, and then, and then not only it’s questioning all these different things. It’s, it’s having to then consider that, that there are a lot of powerful, influential, rich, um, people who are working against my best interests and, uh, what’s in it for me.
Pat: Yeah. You know, it reminds me of like, think about it as a marketer.
Mike: How do you sell this mindset to somebody where they go, why, why should I? I, I feel comfortable right now, my life’s doing. I’m okay. I’m not sick, I’m not dying. I don’t have any problems that are really pushing me to want to question everything. Mm-hmm. , why should I even do it? What’s
Pat: in it for me? Yeah. Well, I guess it depends how much you care about truth.
And I think deep down we all recognize that whatever else we agree, the truth is, the truth is something that’s really important. And that completes us. I guess you have like, Hardcore, uh, maybe pragmatist out there that would, would try to get around it. I would say deep down that this is something that you can’t not know, right?
We all sort of, we all do know that truth is important. It sort of perfects and, and completes us in a way, and it’s something worth having in and of itself. I would say
Mike: some people though, they might say, I would rather have comfortable, comforting lies than, than very disturbing truths. Yeah. They’d
Pat: rather just live in the matrix.
Right. Um, , which we didn’t talk about the simulation. I thought this, but maybe next time. Sure. Um, maybe next one. Yeah. I don’t think, I don’t think that’s, I don’t think that’s true actually. I think they might, they might say that I don’t think they really believe the deep down. I mean, would you rather True?
Would you rather a life? Right. There’s some famous al where it’s here. This is a good philosophical, uh, subject. Right. I mean, imagine a guy, his name’s. And, uh, he thinks his life is going well, thinks his wife loves him, he thinks his kids, uh, respect him. He thinks his business is doing well, but actually in reality, his wife’s cheating on him with his business partner.
His business partner’s stealing all his money. His kids despise him, right? Would you wanna be Bob? I think most of us say, nah, I don’t wanna be Bob. Right? I don’t wanna, I don’t wanna live a life, even if I believed, uh, otherwise than the facts. I don’t, I don’t want a life like that, right? So, so
Mike: again, to make it clear though, Bob’s um, his happiness factor, let’s say, is currently higher.
Than, than yours or
Pat: mine. He’s got a nice, lets brain chemistry, you could say. Right? Yeah, for sure. What, what
Mike: I’m saying though is like his experience, his, his day-to-day experience, he, he experiences more joy than, let’s say we do, but he’s wrong about everything. He’s living a work life. If he only
Pat: Yeah, he’s, if he only knew.
And that’s, I mean, that just gets deep back at the heart of the sort of Aristotelian and classic Greek notion of what a good life is. Right? A good life really is like, uh, you know, Aristotle sometimes is translated using happiness, but I think awesomeness is, is a better. Example. Right? It’s a life of virtue.
It’s a life of, it’s a life of perfection. And, and, and it
Mike: defined as like inspiring. Awe.
Pat: Yeah. Yeah. It’s, it’s a life. It’s really, you are an excellent instantiation of the type of thing that you were meant to be. Right? And you’re a rational agent. Part of that excellence means attaining truth, right? Coming to know the way the world really is.
And other virtues as well. Of course he’s got his, his famous account of virtue ethics, right? So yeah, you really can’t have an overall good life. Everything or most of what you believe is false, at least not according to aerosol. Right? So a good life, a truly excellent, awesome life is not to be equated with just a certain brain state or brain chemistry.
And I think that’s right. I think we all know that’s true deep down, right? And I think that’s why most of us wouldn’t just hop into the matrix, even if we think it could, um, Optimize our brain chemistry, cuz we have this deep intuition that, I mean, we’re, we’re gonna find
Mike: out in our lifetime when, uh, the, the Metaverse give that, give them 10 years to work on that.
And it, it’ll be, you know, it’ll, it’ll probably reach the level of, of Ready Player one at least in our lifetime, where you can basically just go live in this alternate reality. And you’re a, you’re a superstar superhero, uh, Uber mench in the Metaverse, and you are less than, than zero in reality. Your body barely works.
And that’s basically all you can do is plug into the, to the matrix, to the
Pat: Yeah. You know, I mean there’s, there’s, there’s, I guess, slight differences, right? Cause there’s, there will be people who choose
Mike: that. They, they will choose it 100%. There’s no question. There’s,
Pat: they already do. They live in mm. M o RPGs and Right.
Um, but they still know they’re, they’re playing a game, right? There’s this other one where you don’t know. Right where , you see what I’m saying? There is, there is. But, but if you wouldn’t, wouldn’t you say
Mike: though that, that somebody who they already willingly choose it as what we’re talking about and they know they’re playing a game, if you could tell them, guess what, we could set it up so you don’t know you’re even playing a game.
How cool would that be? Yeah,
Pat: yeah, I think so. Then, then I think we’re in, like, have you ever seen the movie Vanilla Sky from with Tom Cruise? No. No. I actually like that one a lot. And in many ways I actually like it, uh, more than the Matrix, but it’s, it’s the same type of theme. And, and it’s, you know, all of this is just borrowing off of classic philosophical thought experiments, sprain into that, uh, type of stuff.
Even we, going back all the way, uh, to Dekar and I think, again, we would all realize that no, I’d, I’d rather live in the real world. Maybe I still wanna play games. And maybe, you know, and, and maybe there’s , maybe there’s even a way. I mean, I,
Mike: you could, I know people. Mm-hmm. , I, I’m not, uh, not, not, not clo I was, I, I have known people.
Well, who I really, if I had to make a bet, I think they would, yeah, they would say, put me in the
Pat: metaverse. And, and what Aris thought would simply say to them is that they’re just wrong. People can be wrong about what the good life is, so. Right. And I would agree with that. It’s a choice though, right? Yeah.
They can, I mean, you have choose, they can choose that just like people can choose to do any sorts of vicious or a moral things, but that doesn’t change the sort of objective facts of the matter. So even if they did choose it Yeah. In Aris we just say, yeah, you just made the wrong choice. Right. Right. That is, that isn’t the way to live a good life.
Mm-hmm. . Yeah. So I forget how that ties into all the other stuff we were talking about, but it is, uh,
Mike: well, I was just posing, I was just posing the question of, uh, tr trying to bring a lot of these ideas to practical in terms of like, how can this help us make better choices in our life and, uh, when, when, if we want to include.
uh, this, the, the, the method of the scientific method of research. Yeah. And you know, I’ve commented on this is, I don’t know if you’ve seen this on social media, not to get off on a tangent, but this idea that unless you are a trained scientist, you cannot do research. Anybody who says that they are doing research, uh, is they’re not actually doing research.
And it’s a, it’s, it’s a very. Condescending. Like, oh, oh, you read a book, or you read some books, or you read some articles, or you watched a YouTube video, , you did not do research. , you simply, uh, watched YouTube videos and read things. That’s cute. Right. And I, I, I think, I think that’s, that’s of course, um, it’s just, it’s just using semantics to try to, uh, put people down when mm-hmm.
what’s more accurate is, is there are different types of research and, and certain types are better than others, that’s for sure. That’s correct. Mm-hmm. watching a YouTube video is not the same as, as maybe reading scientific papers on something. Um, although the YouTube video might just be, uh, sum summaries of scientific papers.
Right. But, but the point stands, right? Mm-hmm. and, um, and so, so including, Research in, in decision making is, uh, I think, I think reasonable. But, um, as, as, as you were saying, and as as I’ve been saying, uh, it, it, it is naive to think that all scientific research is purely objective and that there are no politics.
Not in the sense of, uh, right versus left or, but, but in the sense of yes, the, the, the underlying assumptions and principles and aspects that relate to power and status and all the other things that, that it’s naive to think that, um, that, that there aren’t very human problems
Pat: with the scientists, right?
Mm-hmm. , correct.
Mike: Yeah. That, that they’re, they’re, they’re not somehow elevated humans or when in their work. They, uh, are completely unbiased and they are 100% willing to scrap all of their beliefs if the evidence Yeah, that sounds nice. Yep. You’re just not gonna meet many scientists.
Pat: A and also understanding that the sciences differ right in their methodology and very often the degrees of confidence that they give us.
Right? So something like general relativity. An enormous degree of confidence in, right? Um, but other sciences are sort of more forensic. They have to reason, um, make inferences to the best explanation, right? There’s always sort of, uh, alternative, uh, hypotheses that seem to, you know, be explanatorily competitive and, and so what we, what science, you know, really gives us are degrees of confidence.
Now, in some instances that, that might be like a 99.9 9, 9, 9 7%, right? Degree of confidence. But yeah, that’s not always the case. Uh, a lot of times it’s a lot, lot lower than that, right? Um, and that’s just a realistic and honest understanding of science as a whole, the different disciplines of
Mike: science, which means it’s okay to be skeptical, right?
I think that probably should be said because I think many people, they are afraid to speak against. The science. Right. Or to even to even express a doubt or to raise questions. It, it’s, it seems like there is a cultural expectation, certainly these days to just swallow the, the pieties that are, that are given by the high priests.
And if you have questions, it’s just because you don’t understand things or Yes, you’re
Pat: an ignorant
Mike: crowd. Yeah. You’re, you’re just ignorant or you’re stupid and
Pat: yeah. That’s the end of it. And you know what’s, where, where we get like a hundred percent confidence in science is really like when we get that clear counter example, right.
Which means when we can throw a theory away, here’s a theory, Al swans are white. Oh, right. Making lots of great predictions. I’m increasing my confidence. Oh crap, there’s a bunch of black swans. Right. Well now I have certainty that theory’s false. Um, but other than that, it’s just all about increasing degrees of confidence, but still remaining open to the fact that I could, I could come across that, that black swan, right?
I could have to abandon the
Mike: theory and it’s incumbent upon us if we really want to, um, to do, let’s say, uh, thorough research on something to go look for those black swans. To not assume that, well, I came across five experts who all said the same thing. That’s enough for me, uh, there,
Pat: right? And that, I mean, look, that is a hot debate right now in philosophy of science, right?
Like, does a theory need to be falsifiable to be a scientific theory that is not so? that all scientists and philosophers agree on. Some say yes, absolutely. If it’s not in principle falsifiable, then it’s not a scientific theory. Others are saying no, we can just rely on inference to the best explanation and other sort of inductive criteria like simplicity and explanatory power, it’s scope and degree of ad hocness.
So like even that itself is something that is a much wider and broader debate within philosophy of science. That is by no means settled. It’s an active debate even today. Final
Mike: comment, just cause I think it’s useful on this point of falsify ability. It just reminds me, again of some of these conversations I’ve had with people, um, where I, I, I will ask them what would have to happen for them to question that belief or for them to, to discard it.
And, and many times, I, I don’t get an answer Yeah. To that about lockdowns in particular and, and masking and that, that’s just the, the general topic of discussion these days. Obviously that could be applied to many different things, but it’s just, it’s just interesting, um, to, to ask somebody who’s all in on lockdowns, all in on mandates.
Uh, okay. So, Let’s say it’s been 10 years, uh, 10 years from from now, you’re on your 17th booster shot, and you’re being told that if you don’t get the 18th, that you can’t participate in society. We’ve seen no meaningful change in the curve of, of, uh, it’s now an endemic disease, covid, and it, it spikes, then it comes down and it’s, it’s like the flu in that regard.
Do you think maybe at that point, Your, your assumptions about the viability of lockdowns and mandates. Maybe at that point you start to question, or maybe ulterior motives name, let’s be generous and just say, money. Maybe, maybe this money is a factor. Billions of dollars in profit being generated again, every time it goes nowhere, the most common response I get to that is, well, I’m, I’m, I, I don’t need to engage in, in, in conspiratorial thinking or your, you know, little, little, uh, um, conspiratorial thought experiments.
I just deal in reality and data and science. I mean,
Pat: really that’s, that’s, that’s just called slogan. The fallacy of sloganeering. That’s, that’s what I call it anyways, right? No, what you ask again, and maybe this will help tie everything together, right? That’s a really important epistemological question, right?
For the things that are important to you, big things, things that matter, things that sort of bear in on your, on your life, um, at least heavily. Uh, do you have some line, do you have some threshold where you can say, yeah, if, if this, or crossed. I would change my mind, or at least seriously reconsider it. I think that you should be able to identify that for the things that are, are really important and, and that really matter to you, or at least the things that, yeah, again, like heavily, these are the things that,
Mike: that guide you in, in your major decisions in your
What would have to happen for me to either change my mind or at least seriously think that may, may be on the wall, right? And if, if, if you can’t answer that, uh, at least like have some general idea of where the line is. Do that. Do that. That’s, that’s really important. Cuz, cuz otherwise, like you’re, you’re just not being serious, right?
You’re just, you’re just not being serious in life. Mm-hmm. . Yeah. I, or at least acknowledge that right?
Mike: That we’re, we’re dealing with, this is ma this is now an article of, of faith. Not, not to say that in a way to attack religion, but just, just in the dictionary. This is, this is now more in the realm of, uh, of,
Pat: of, it’s really Yeah.
Yeah. I would even say super, just like outright superstition, right? Um, yeah. I, I mean even for religion, and we’ve talked about this before, like there’s clear lines that if they were crossed I’d be like, yeah, I was, I was wrong. , right? Yeah, yeah. Say, I mean like the Catholic church makes certain traditions, right?
And it’s, it’s, it’s very, like you can be scientific about it, right? It predicts from its doctrine of infallibility that this will never happen, right? So if, whatever that is, right? If that happens, I would have to put my hands up and say, yeah, wrong. Kind of give it up. Right? So I’ve. I’ve got that even on a level of faith, not even science or anything else, no.
Faith is a much more, uh, you know, uh, thicker and, and, and more difficult, uh, philosophically and theological concept, but at least in that kind of thin understanding. Yeah. Like, even that threshold exists for me, uh, on that, uh, on that plane, if you will. So, yeah, I think that, uh, I think what you bring up is a really excellent point.
It’s something, it’s something that everybody, everybody should think about. Obviously it’s not just something you wanna just throw at other people, but reflect on it for yourself, right? Yeah. Here are some, like, of my core beliefs in my life, here are things that sort of, they’re like my operating program in a way.
What would have to happen, right? What would, what line would have to be crossed for me to start to really question these or, or see, see that I’m wrong. It’s a really important.
Mike: And it’s something that in health and fitness, I’ve, I’ve changed my mind on, on quite a few things over the years. Oh yeah. And not, not to, to, I’m not saying that to, to give myself a hug.
Um, but it, it is something that I certainly also try to do in my work. There are many things that I thought going into this were, were probably true that I now would say almost certainly not. Or probably not. Yep. And
Pat: yeah. And that’s okay. And I like that almost certainly. Or probably again, degrees of, of confidence, right?
Uhhuh, . Yep. And PE people would do better to talk like that too. Like, you know, some, some things I’m very confident. Other things, you know, just I’ll say like, Hey, here’s kind of my working hypothesis. I think it might, I think it might be true. , but I’m honestly am sincerely open to, to counter evidence and there’s nothing wrong.
I think there’s a lot right of just talking that way on a number of subjects. People are just like way too black and blank. Like I’m just, yeah. I’m certain that it’s true or I’m certain that it’s false. No, no, no,
Mike: no. That’s, I think there’s something deep in us that doesn’t like uncertainty though. Yeah. It makes
Pat: us feel uncomfortable.
You’re right. You know? Yeah. Yeah. No, yeah, that’s true. Uhhuh, but I mean, if we’re honest with ourselves. Yeah, no, there’s just, there’s just a great number of things where it, it doesn’t reach the level of. Incorrigible and infallible belief. Right. It’s, I, I kind of think it’s true or I really think it’s very highly probable hope.
Yeah. I, I would like to think it’s true or like I’m That’s ok too. I’m, I’m agnostic, but I would like if it’s true. Right? Yeah. All those things. It’s just a huge, huge spectrum and just get, yeah, just be honest with yourself. I guess that’s my last bit of advice there. Right.
Mike: I like it. I like it. Well, uh, this has been fun as always.
Why don’t we just wrap up quickly with where people can find you if they want to follow, follow your work and um, also if there’s anything in particular, if they’re still listening, they liked this conversation, they probably would, like, for example, your book, uh, how to Think About God if they Are Yeah.
Interested in that or, or just anything else you want, you wanna tell them
Pat: about. Yeah, lots. Working on lots of stuff. Uh, I got, uh, just gotta revise and respit on, uh, on an article for a journal, so hopefully that will come out. That’s actually on some of the material in that, in that book you mentioned, uh, cosmological reasoning, uh, arguments for God and stuff like that.
Uh, But more relevantly, I guess, for podcast listeners. I actually started a new podcast, um, cause, cause, uh, because my other podcast was so generalist, I had so much stuff going on. I, I decided to break it off and, and separate the philosophy from fitness content. So the new one that makes sense. The new ones called Philosophy.
Yeah. Because apparently, Mike, you never told me this. You’re the social media guy. You YouTube hates inconsistency, right? Oh, that
Mike: I, that actually, uh, I didn’t know. Yeah. I, I don’t pay attention to, to YouTube at
Pat: all. Yeah. People told me that I was, was killing my own channel because I was so insistent in the themes.
Um, you know, I do like one fitness episode, one philosophy episode, something completely different. And so I was advised, uh, to start a new channel. So I did send a new one. Long story short, it’s called Philosophy for the People. Uh, I co-host it with my friend, uh, Jim Madden, who’s a, uh, professor of philosophy and fo focuses on philosophy of mine.
So people might wanna check that out. And my original podcast is the Pat Flynn Show, very humbly and originally named. And my website is chronicles of strength.com.
Mike: Awesome. Thanks again, pat. Thanks, Mike. Well, I hope you liked this episode. I hope you found it helpful, and if you did subscribe to the show because it makes sure that you don’t miss new episodes.
And it also helps me because it increases the rankings of the show a little bit, which of course then makes it a little bit more easily found by other people who may like it just as much as you. And if you didn’t like something about this episode or about the show in general, or if you have, uh, ideas or suggestions or just feedback to share, shoot me an email, [email protected], muscle f o r life.com, and let me know what I could do better or just, uh, what your thoughts are about maybe what you’d like to see me do in the future.
I read everything myself. I’m always looking for new ideas and constructive feedback. So thanks again for listening to this episode, and I hope to hear from you soon.