OPINION

A Limitation Of The Scientific Method

February 02, 2009
Ravi Kulkarni

The Scientific method (from wikipedia)

"Scientific method refers to bodies of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering observable, empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning. A scientific method consists of the collection of data through observation and experimentation, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses."

I often hear from scientists and wanna-be scientists (like me) that the scientific method is the only way possible forward in understanding the universe. Logical reasoning and the scientific method have their place in the scheme of things. But to say that they are primarily responsible for all progress is putting the cart before the horse. In the definition above, formulation of a hypothesis is taken as a part of the scientific method. However, this formulation is often mysterious, and no one can really explain how a "productive" hypothesis is arrived at. Most of the times logic and reasoning have nothing to do with it.

The anonymous Indian genius that conceived zero, Kepler, Newton, Kekulé, Marie Curie and Einstein all have one thing in common: they created a paradigm shift in our understanding of nature. The paradigm shift was not in the proof they offered but the hypothesis itself. While proof is important, it is secondary to the hypothesis. I doubt if anyone of these giants have explained how they came up with the hypotheses. Given a "productive" and viable hypothesis, someone can and will come up with a proof eventually just as Fermat's last theorem demonstrated.

The modern scientists spend their lifetimes perfecting the scientific method. But they probably do not spend enough time understanding how the hypotheses are made. It is assumed that a good scientist "knows" how to arrive at one. There is no process, no class (that I know of) and no "formal" guidelines to come up with a good hypothesis. No good hypothesis no significant progress. That's a limitation of the scientific method.

The ancient Indian sages approached the process in a different manner. Many of them were true yogis and attained samadhi by meditation. The claim is that when one attains samadhi, the knowledge about the true nature of the universe arises spontaneously. Perhaps this is the source of all hypotheses. They made seemingly amazing leaps in understanding the nature. Often they didn't explain how they arrived at that knowledge, but only stated it with authority. Frequently one hears the phrase "self evident" with such statements. It is left for the later commentators to comment on that statement and expound it. Some commentaries on Patanjali's Yoga Sutras say this: if all the books are burnt and all knowledge is lost save the Yoga Sutras, then rest of the knowledge can still be developed by accomplished yogis.

I know that there will be some scientist types on DC who will grill me on this one (where is Commonsense?), but I will make this claim: scientists will do much better in their disciplines if they include meditation in their curriculum. Have you noticed how often multiple scientists come up with the same new idea that miraculously solves a difficult problem that mankind has grappled with for ages? In my opinion this phenomenon is not magic or coincidence, but it can be explained by our spiritual nature. We are all connected by an underlying thread and that manifests itself in these mysterious ways. In fact someone even conducted a maze running experiment on rats that showed that once a particular maze is solved by one rat, other rats find it easy to solve.

Ravi is an IT professional with a penchant for philosophy, numbers, science fiction, chess, economics, hindustani classical music and... you get the picture. He has much to say, but not enough words to do it. He welcomes any criticism, sincere or otherwise, and will not take anything personally.
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A Limitation Of The Scientific Method

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Author: Ravi Kulkarni

 

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#1
Aditi N
February 2, 2009
10:52 AM

Several statements in your article just immediately rattled me:

"The modern scientists spend their lifetimes perfecting the scientific method. But they probably do not spend enough time understanding how the hypotheses are made."

This is absolutely not true. 90% of the struggle in the scientific world is perfecting a well-thought out , rational hypothesis that can be tested by a scientific method. Nobody dives into a scientific method without a hypothesis. The scientific method is just a quest to test whether the hypothesis can be demonstrated or nullified.

Ironically, you say this: "There is no process, no class (that I know of) and no "formal" guidelines to come up with a good hypothesis"

And not only is there a formal means to come up with a rationale and a solid hypothesis but this following statement of yours is actually a preliminary hypothesis:

"scientists will do much better in their disciplines if they include meditation in their curriculum"


Except of course in a scientific method you wouldn't just get away with stating it. You would have to actually demonstrate it using multiple models, empirical data and then statistical analysis.

Using your above statement as a hypothesis you would have to demonstrate substantially the following:

1. Define "much better" (quantitative)
2. Define "disciplines"
3: Define "curriculum"
4. Provided you have quantitative values for above definitions design an experimental procedure to test whether meditation has an effect on the above values.
5. Before you do any of the above you will first have to form a baseline for performance of the scientists on whom this meditation is being tested.

I can almost guarantee you that considering how vague the hypothesis is, the experimental design will either be impossible to achieve or will take eons.

Examples of more reasonable hypotheses therefore would be:

"Meditation can improve the number of hours that a scientist can perform laboratory experimentation"

"X hours of meditation would result in a Y-fold increase in the number of hours it takes for scientists to come up with a better hypothesis"

"Scientists who meditate are likelier to come up with a better hypothesis using the same preliminary data than scientists who are not meditating"

These above hypothesis would be easier to test. This how you could come up with a good hypothesis.

P.S I didn't meditate.






#2
commonsense
February 2, 2009
11:18 AM

Ravi,

Intuition, mysticism, yoga etc. are all very fine and valid sources of knowledge, but it is not possible to institutionalize them. Many scientists obviously have insights, flashes of intuition etc. but the process does not stop then and there. One of the zillions of examples, Kary Mullis who got a Nobel Prize for PCR, had a PhD, but was working in a coffee shop until he was recruited by a company to work on genetics. He claims he had this insight for PCR, while driving on an isolated highway and reflecting on the grass on both sides of the road as he drove:

http://bitesizebio.com/2007/10/24/the-invention-of-pcr/

But it did not stop there. He went back to the labs and tried to work his hypothesis out, and in the process, got a prize.

Insight, intuition etc. are fine, and indeed essential, ie. possibly necessary, but not enough.

The concept of zero was not "invented" in the context of "science" as such and is not limited to the Indian cultural context either.

At the end of the day, one has to ask: why do we need science? If we need it to eventually explain and understand everything under the sun, then we are setting ourselves up for a fool's errand.

#3
commonsense
February 2, 2009
11:20 AM

""While driving his Honda Civic on Highway 128 from San Francisco to Mendocino, Mullis made an intellectual leap. He reasoned that by using two opposed primers, one complementary to the upper strand and the other to the lower, then performing multiple cycles of denaturation, annealing and polymerization he could exponentially amplify the piece of DNA between the primers.

The idea of PCR was born, but the technique was still very much in it's infancy. The E.coli DNA polymerase used in the early days was destroyed during the denaturation step so had to be replenished after every cycle. Cetus workers quickly developed the first thermal cycler named "Mr Cycle", which automatically added new polymerase after each heating step.""

Was Kary Mullis a rishi? Depends on what one means by the term! He did pull a gun on his scientific boss (an Indian by the way!) who Mullis thought was trying to suppress his research...

#4
commonsense
February 2, 2009
12:06 PM

Ravi,

I guess it all boils down to this. Science cannot and should not answer the all-important question: "how should I live my life"

If one needs to build a bridge or find out whether the moon is made of cheese or not, science can help. But it cannot answer the question: "must we build this bridge or not?" "Must we find out whether the moon is made of cheese or not"? Such questions cannot have an "scientific" reasons, only social ones.

Science might help us to know that smoking could lead to lung cancer. Or get us a rough handle on the probability of this happening. But it cannot provide us the answer to the question: "must I smoke"? The answer to which depends on the pros and cons of the pleasure or pain one derives from smoking. Science does not get any pleasure or pain. The state might ban smoking by citing science, but that has to do with the cost in medical expenses etc. and little to do with "scientific" reason as such. We as humans have the burden of addressing this question. And yes scientists obviously are human too; they are not parachuted from outerspace to bring us news of "science"!

But you raise a fundamental, interesting question, for which unfortunately, there are no clear-cut answers. Except of course, the fact that we should strive to live out our lives as ethically as possible, not inflicting damage on anyone. A tall order for sure, but no reason why we should not aspire to it even if we cannot always live up to our aspirations and principles.

#5
Aditi N
February 2, 2009
12:45 PM

CS: "Was Kary Mullis a rishi?"

Mr.Mullis himself credits the discovery and the "opening of his mind" to LSD :)

#6
Ravi Kulkarni
February 2, 2009
01:39 PM

Dear Aditi,

Thank you very much for commenting on my article. As I stated earlier, I am a wannabe scientist and so there is much for me to learn.

I absolutely agree that a hypothesis is the first step towards scientific discovery. My point was not that scientists do not hypothesize, but they do not apply the same rigor to the process of finding one that they use elsewhere. Perhaps I am wrong.

"And not only is there a formal means to come up with a rationale and a solid hypothesis but this following statement of yours is actually a preliminary hypothesis:"

I would be interested to know of such a process. Is there a paper or a book I can read? I am interested because I want to understand what makes one creative. I like to think of myself as being creative (at least in my professional life) and want to know how one can enhance creativity.

Your point about my vagueness is well taken. I know my hypothesis will not stand up in the court of science and I accept the verdict with humility. However, it raises an interesting question. Does science then only admit precise questions that can be quantitatively answered? If that's so, then aren't we restricting our search under the streetlight because there is light and not in the darkness where there may be more interesting things?

Regards,

Ravi Kulkarni

P.S.: I will meditate on your points :)

#7
Somik Raha
URL
February 2, 2009
03:28 PM

Ravi wrote:
I absolutely agree that a hypothesis is the first step towards scientific discovery. My point was not that scientists do not hypothesize, but they do not apply the same rigor to the process of finding one that they use elsewhere. Perhaps I am wrong.


You are right, IMHO. In the method of hypothesis testing, there is no guidance on how one can come up with a hypothesis. The only guidance is on testing the hypothesis by comparing with a null hypothesis. This aspect does not get the necessary criticism and inspection that it should. More fundamentally, the method of hypothesis testing has major issues with it. The proponents of the method are not able to explain how they justify the use of normal distributions, not to speak of the fraud committed with the use of "statistical significance," which implies some mystical importance and is needed for journal publications. People claim statistical significance using very small sample sizes (30 in psychology and social science and 6 in Biochemistry, from what I gather).

The best critique of the misuse of probability is by Nassim Taleb in his controversial book, "The Black Swan," where he exposes the major fallacies of statistics(and financial engineering) that misguides us into believing we are using a scientific method. Those who call themselves statisticians or financial engineers should read this book.

#8
commonsense
February 2, 2009
03:31 PM

Aditi:

"Mr.Mullis himself credits the discovery and the "opening of his mind" to LSD :)"

True, as did Timothy Leary and many others who were not "scientists" professionally speaking. Mullis also want to pursue research in many unorthodox areas, so I guess he is a rishi of sorts. As are most thinking scientists! Yet, there are rishis who are just rishis (does not mean they are of any lesser value) and scientists who are scientists AND rishis, including of course einstein, the two bohrs (father and son), ramanujam, chandrasekhar etc. etc.

#9
commonsense
February 2, 2009
03:34 PM

Aditi,

Heres' an interesting review of Mullis' book _Dancing Naked_

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v21/n13/shap01_.html

Apologies if you've already seen it!

#10
commonsense
February 2, 2009
03:55 PM

Somik,

What you say and what the author of _The Black Swan_ has to say is quite right when it comes to the social sciences, including of course economics and finance etc. Much of the time it's like shooting the dark since one is attempting to get a handle on social action that is neither totally unpredictable nor totally predictable.

To some extent the situation obtains in the physical sciences, but physical entities do not have minds of their own, no intentionality, desires etc. Even organic entities have no sense of self like humans, hence it is that bacteria don't blush, only humans do! However, while physical sciences may not get at the TRUTH (which is impossible of course), the do provide a reasonable plausible, tentative handle on the state of affairs, which of course is never completely stable.

Re: Roy Bhaskar, _A Realist Theory of Science_ (2008)

The post-modernists might claim science is nothing more than just another story/narrative. The die-hard comical positivists may claim, like prophets that they can find TRUTH. The realist modestly claim that whatever is going on can never be fully grasped, but science provides the best plausible, tentative handle on whatever it is that is going on. And this tentative explanation is of course always subject to revision because there is always new, fresh data; and whatever it is we are trying to understand is always in a process of change, never stable, sometimes as a consequence of our very understanding of it.

#11
Ravi Kulkarni
February 2, 2009
04:55 PM

Dear Commonsense,

I agree that a hypothesis is not the end of the story. But it plays a very important role and there are good hypotheses and there are others. There is no question that when it comes to "hard" sciences rigorous scientific approach is absolutely essential. Nature doesn't take kindly to anyone violating one of her rules. Science is very good at finding answers, it is only limited by the quality of our questions. It is easier ask good questions in math and physical sciences. It gets much murkier as we get into the biological and social sciences where the streetlight-and-the-lost-ring phenomenon begin play a role.

I believe we are all spiritual to a differing degree. Just because someone is an atheist and has no belief in spirituality does not mean the intuitive process does not work in them. Intuition works best when combined with deep knowledge of a subject along with critical thinking and periods of absolute rest. All these ingredients for scientific innovation are required. Obviously someone like me with rudimentary knowledge of physics and math is not going to come up with a great insight into unified field theory.

Regards,

Ravi

#12
kaffir
February 2, 2009
05:58 PM

Ravi, are you trying to focus on "why scientists do what they do", and perhaps increased scrutiny of it by the scientist himself?

#13
Ravi Kulkarni
February 2, 2009
06:36 PM

Dear Kaffir,

Not really, just trying to understand why some scientists abhor spirituality. Some claim that science as it is practiced today can explain everything about the universe (eventually) and I don't believe them.

Regards,

Ravi Kulkarni

#14
kaffir
February 2, 2009
07:55 PM

Ravi,

I see what you're getting at.

There is some ongoing research on the effects of meditation on brain. I remember reading about neuroscientists collaborating with Dalai Lama and conducting some experiments on monks who have been practicing meditation for years, and the results showed that surprisingly, the brain waves associated with "happiness" were way above average and exceptionally high for those monks. There have been some preliminary and very basic studies into health effects of yoga.

In my opinion, it boils down to the schism between mind and body and following the empirical evidence, which are the underpinnings of western science and Cartesian world-view, whereas meditation and yoga don't quite neatly fit into that model. At best, they would fall under evidence-based modalities, similar to Acupuncture - where one can show (and accept) a correlation/causation between action and result, but can't explain the mechanics (why) of it satisfactorily, as western science has no concept of chi.

The other point is that with both yoga and meditation, the positive effects manifest when combined with an attempt at living a disciplined life (niyam, precepts), which is quite antithetical to the messages we're bombarded with in today's modern world of "do whatever you please." It would be quite a challenge to conduct double-blind studies. :)

I see a lot of dismissive (not skeptical, dismissive) attitude towards meditation and yoga among Indians (and there are some valid reasons that would make one reach that conclusion - we've had our fair share of quack babas), but I'm sure that will change as soon as western science validates meditation/yoga and publishes some positive results. That's an unfortunate tragedy for many of us Indians - we learn about our own culture through the west and need the west to validate it first before we start valuing it.

From what little I know, yoga/meditation has been used in Indian prisons to reduce the rates of recidivism with some success, and similar experiments have been tried in a few US prisons and elsewhere. It's tough to make progress when there's so much knee-jerk reaction and antipathy to anything even remotely related to Hinduism or religion.

I personally don't really care - I have my first-hand experience where I *know* that yoga/meditation are beneficial and healthy for me, and I consider myself lucky that I got a chance to experience it. Maybe the western world will catch up and validate it (that it's beneficial), maybe it won't - doesn't affect my practice which is independent of such validation. :)

#15
kaffir
February 2, 2009
08:10 PM

Ravi,

There's another dynamic which plays a part. Our narrative is that the western science and our modern world is the pinnacle of civilization, so this hubris prevents an honest look at practices like yoga/meditation/Acupuncture, or even admitting that any past civilization (not just in India, but say, Mayans) had made some discoveries or had achievements that parallel or surpass what our modern civilization offers. There's already an in-built prejudice in the minds of most. This prejudice expresses itself when you read about archaeologists and scientists expressing surprise when they make some discoveries about a past civilization and their capabilities. The flip-side is those who, instead of speculating, believe that nuclear weapons were used in ancient wars without any basis.

#16
commonsense
February 2, 2009
08:11 PM

Kaffir:

""I personally don't really care - I have my first-hand experience where I *know* that yoga/meditation are beneficial and healthy for me, and I consider myself lucky that I got a chance to experience it.""

it does not matter whether science can validate this or that. if it works for you or anyone, it works, theories and hypotheses be damned. science cannot tell humans how to live their lives. it can only tell them "if you do X, Y might happen" and that too not with much certainty. The natural and for sure the social world are too open-ended to come up with a "covering law" explanation or hypothesis. all we can hope for are "conjectures and refutations".

so if yoga / meditation works, it works for you. if it doesn't, it doesn't. why bring in science to validate it, then market it, patent it and have the idiotic phenomenon of so-called "yoga clothes" and chains of money making outlets trying to sell "real yoga"?

Some scientists may abhor spirituality, just as some spiritualists may abhor science. So what? It does not change the every-changing, never fixed reality. To imagine that science is the measure of everything is pretty arrogant on the part of a minority of narrow-minded scientists. And to claim that science is nonsense, is the same narrow-mindedness on the part of narrow minded spiritual folks.

#17
commonsense
February 2, 2009
08:13 PM

kaffir,

both sides are nuts.

plus there is no "western" science as such. all a "grand titration", always...many streams of thought, ideas, practices, always cross-fertilizing each other

Joseph Needham _The Grand Titration_

#18
kaffir
February 2, 2009
08:25 PM

cs, as I said, I personally don't care for any validation, but that doesn't mean that scientific validation will not bring benefits, maybe in the form of increased use of yoga/meditation in prisons to help prisoners.

I use "western" in the sense of methods (empirical evidence, double-blind studies etc.) employed by scientists today, and not in a pejorative manner.

#19
commonsense
February 2, 2009
08:32 PM

Ravi:

"scientists will do much better in their disciplines if they include meditation in their curriculum."

interesting claim, but with little evidence to back it up though!

it all depends on what one means by "better". scientiss will come up with better explanations of the natural world if the medidate? will they make more money? will they become more famous? will they resort to less back-biting and stabbing their rival colleagues in the back? will they be more relaxed? will they be more happy? some scientists perform "better" when they are in a state of frenzy; others when they are relaxed; yet others when they are asleep and dreaming; there is no "covering law" for creativity, be it science, art or poetry.

like most scientific claims, this claim is a "conjecture", unless it can be pitched as hypothesis that can be "refuted". as it stands, it is a catch-all claim that is not even close to any specificity; hence it is an opinion, which does NOT mean that it is wrong; but it is not any different from the opinion that scientists will do "better" if they acquire a "killer instinct" whatever that means.

#20
kaffir
February 2, 2009
09:55 PM

"so if yoga / meditation works, it works for you. if it doesn't, it doesn't. why bring in science to validate it, then market it, patent it and have the idiotic phenomenon of so-called "yoga clothes" and chains of money making outlets trying to sell "real yoga"?"



cs, there are already many centers that are teaching yoga as well as meditation, without any validation from science. As for idiotic yoga clothes and such, that's the "gift" of capitalism and not something to do with yoga. As long as I can practice yoga without being forced to buy such clothes, that's what matters to me - I have a choice. Why should I be bothered and why should it affect my yoga practice if others are buying silly yoga clothes? I see no reason to impose my choice of not buying silly yoga clothes on to them, and that's not a pre-condition for me to practice. When they realize it for themselves that they're wasting their money, maybe they'll stop buying such clothes.

Besides, Americans have special apparel for all activities - you have special ski clothes, special snow-boarding clothes, skateboarding clothes, surfer apparel, bicycling clothes and so on. If silly yoga clothes bought by others make some perfectionist/purist totally reject yoga, then that's quite illogical and his/her loss, IMO.

#21
kaffir
February 2, 2009
10:07 PM

As for money-making, are yoga teachers supposed to live on air? Or is the society geared towards taking care of their basic needs so that they can teach yoga gratis? Should a doctor treat his patients for free?

#22
suresh naig
February 3, 2009
07:30 AM

commonsense: it was very interesting to read your comments. When you mentioned smokig and cancer, it was the statistics of a high percentage of smokers contracting lung cancer, which associated smoking and lung cancer.

I do agree science is quantitative, and statistics play an important role in science. That reminds me of a joke of a statistian.

His contention was that his wife was faithful and loyal statistically, since she flirts only one day in a year. That makes it statistically insignificant since it is 1/365.

Science needs philosophy to explain and exist, whereas philosophy doesn't necessarily need science.

#23
commonsense
February 3, 2009
08:24 AM

Kaffir:

"I use "western" in the sense of methods (empirical evidence, double-blind studies etc.) employed by scientists today, and not in a pejorative manner."

I get your point. but even these methods are not peculiarly "western" in the cultural sense...just an institutionalization of a methodology in a particular place or time.

as for yoga clothes etc. I totally agree. my point however is that science and spirituality really belong to different domains, so to speak, even though a lot of science emerges from religious, spritual philosophy. But if i need to find out the cause of my lung cancer, i will pay attention to science not religion. If i need to make a decision whether, after i get cancer, should i stop smoking, i will rely on my personal philosophy of life, NOT on science, ie. is it worth to have a longer life without the "pleasure" of smoking or a guaranteed shorter life but infused, so to speak with what I really value ie. smoking. It is in this sense that science does not answer to question to value ie. "how must i live my life" nor is it meant to, so one cannot "blame science". It is meant to answer questions such as "IF I CHOOSE THIS course of action, what is the BEST and most efficient way of achieving it". But what the course of action is, cannot be justified by science alone. Life is too complex and multi-faceted to be reduced to isolated variables.

And yes, I get your point about capitalism driving yoga clothes etc, and yes i enjoy my daily mediation, and I don't need a deepak chopra or anyone else to validate it for me.

Suresh Naig, at the end of the day, we humans create science for our own ends and it should not be the other way round. And I say that as a scientist!

#24
commonsense
February 3, 2009
08:36 AM

Kaffir:

"I use "western" in the sense of methods (empirical evidence, double-blind studies etc.) employed by scientists today, and not in a pejorative manner."

I get your point. but even these methods are not peculiarly "western" in the cultural sense...just an institutionalization of a methodology in a particular place or time.

as for yoga clothes etc. I totally agree. my point however is that science and spirituality really belong to different domains, so to speak, even though a lot of science emerges from religious, spritual philosophy. But if i need to find out the cause of my lung cancer, i will pay attention to science not religion. If i need to make a decision whether, after i get cancer, should i stop smoking, i will rely on my personal philosophy of life, NOT on science, ie. is it worth to have a longer life without the "pleasure" of smoking or a guaranteed shorter life but infused, so to speak with what I really value ie. smoking. It is in this sense that science does not answer to question to value ie. "how must i live my life" nor is it meant to, so one cannot "blame science". It is meant to answer questions such as "IF I CHOOSE THIS course of action, what is the BEST and most efficient way of achieving it". But what the course of action is, cannot be justified by science alone. Life is too complex and multi-faceted to be reduced to isolated variables.

And yes, I get your point about capitalism driving yoga clothes etc, and yes i enjoy my daily mediation, and I don't need a deepak chopra or anyone else to validate it for me.

Suresh Naig, at the end of the day, we humans create science for our own ends and it should not be the other way round. And I say that as a scientist!

#25
kaffir
February 3, 2009
11:24 AM

"my point however is that science and spirituality really belong to different domains"



Yes, I know. I never claimed otherwise.

#26
commonsense
February 3, 2009
03:09 PM

Kaffir,

I know you never claimed otherwise! But I have little control over my assinine temptations!

Here's a nice quote on the crux of the matter, when it comes to the dominant (we all know of important heterodox strains be it the sufis, or whatever) semitic conception of "spirituality" and "God":

"The key point here is that, because of the extraordinary emphasis placed on the transcendence of the divine, there is a tendency for all that is nonmaterial to be expunged from everyday life, and gathered up as it were, into the single entity of God"

But here's another famous quote from Aaman Lamba, with which of course I totally agree (nope, not engaging in flattery here!)

"All religions are crap!"

So any attempt to prescribe mandatory spirituality for scientists in the form of meditation etc. is doomed from the start, since there is no one-size fits all spirituality. Plus we have no clue, nor should we try to legislate a particular form of spirituality or lack thereof for others!

To add to Ravi's interesting discussion: sure, perhaps meditation would make some scientists better; so would eating raw carrots, taking public transportation, etc. to each his/her own is what I say because there is no "scientific" way to legislate happiness and the "perfect" life.

#27
kaffir
February 5, 2009
03:07 AM

cs,

Are you sure you wanted to address your last comment to me? Because nowhere have I mentioned anything about prescribing mandatory spirituality for scientists.

Is it your hobby to keep constructing straw-man arguments based on some imaginary comment and then feeling joy in demolishing them? I don't think it adds anything to the discussion, but hey, whatever makes you happy - there's no fee to type comments. So, break a leg. :)

And I could care less for yours or Aaman's opinion on religions - I am capable of forming my own view based on my own study, tyvm.

#28
commonsense
February 5, 2009
08:21 AM

Kaffir:

Relax, it was addressed to Ravi actually who argued that if scientists would be better off if they meditated...

in my usual rush, i gradually shifted from one point to another without signalling a pause. it happens. not the end of the world. don't expect me to kill myself out of remorse and guilt. i will go back to my mediation now.

#29
kaffir
February 5, 2009
01:29 PM

cs,
I'm quite relaxed, but thanks for your concern. :)
Some of your comments provide much amusement to me, and it seems that your ideology/belief (whatever it is) just sets you up to view "enemies" everywhere as soon as there's some difference of opinion or a different viewpoint. Maybe you should meditate on that. ;)

#30
commonsense
February 5, 2009
02:55 PM

Kaffir,

cool :) (to use a term that does not gell with my advanced age!).

OK, will meditate over why exactly it is that I need imaginary enemies to needlessly rant against restore my sense of self. in other words, what can i do to put an end to my delusions? quantum mechanics or meditation or both in equal measure :)

#31
commonsense
February 5, 2009
03:02 PM

kaffir,

or it could just be that i'm just a cranky old fart trying to stay on the wagon ;)

#32
Ravi Kulkarni
February 5, 2009
03:50 PM

Dear Commonsense,

I am not mandating a compulsory meditation for anybody leave alone the scientists. As to the scientific proof of the efficacy of meditation for scientists, one has to look in an indirect manner. As you and Aditi have pointed out, it is hard to prove one way or the other. For example how does know that a particular epiphany occurred because of regular meditation but not because of great sex one had had the previous night.

My hypothesis (or conjecture as you said) is based on the observation that the ancient Indian philosophers and scientists seemed to have made amazing leaps of understanding without supporting proofs and/or experiments. They even claimed that this knowledge developed spontaneously. All this seems to point to yoga and meditation.

This is not to say that the scientists should give up their existing tools of thought experiments, logic and reasoning and experimentation. But meditation could become an additional tool which is probably way underutilized.

Regards,

Ravi Kulkarni

#33
commonsense
February 5, 2009
04:16 PM

Ravi:

"Dear Commonsense,

I am not mandating a compulsory meditation for anybody leave alone the scientists."

I know! But there's no mirch-masala in any argument unless a straw-person is not constructed! Such is the slippery nature of language, rhetoric, the construction of meaning etc. (The trick however is to construct a straw-person that is not completely different from the initial claim ie. I did not claim that you were talking of mediation rather than meditation :)

#34
commonsense
February 5, 2009
04:20 PM

Oops! I meant:

But there's no mirch-masala in any argument unless a straw-person IS constructed!

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