Jeff_Rubinoff

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"Science" as Curiosity-Stopper

Also, you can sell magic to a modern audience by dressing it up in "science." From an 'autopathy' (homeopathy using patient's own bodily secretions) site that I recently found: "Today, isopathy is used to treat, among other things, people whose health has suffered as a result of a certain type of vaccination. They are given the same vaccine, but this time homeopathically diluted. The potentised poison of a viper can be used isopathically to treat a viper’s bite. Nevertheless, this understanding of isopathy has some drawbacks – it ignores certain central aspects of homeopathy, primarily its holistic concept. And it goes against what Hahnemann said about Homeopathy: that it is treatment on the principle of “like cures like”. Isopathy thus ceases to be homeopathy. Opinions on this matter, however, varied. In The Medical Advance, volume XXXII, no. 2, 1894, p. 59, the well-known homeopathic doctor J.H. Allen from Indiana wrote: “I will give proof that I think will be fully convincing to most minds that so called Isopathy is but the highest phase of similia in the highest sense.” "

IMO, this is a brilliant example of "cargo cult science." It looks and sounds like science, but it has no content whatsoever. The system it refers to is in fact a form of sympathetic magic. The author slips by including one falsifiable statement, but it is not one that anyone is ever likely to test experimentally.

Semantic Stopsigns

What if you are trying to explain evolution to someone and he states "Evolution is just another religion." Is that a stop sign? To me it is, in the sense that the only reason to continue at that point would be to enjoy the sound of your own voice. The person has just signalled his membership in a tribe; you recognize that you are not in that tribe; and you recognize that he will not consider anything further you have to say on the subject, because that would be disloyal to the tribe. Global warming is a religion, taxation is theft, property is theft, healthcare is not a right (I'm not sure if the reverse is used as a flag, too), there is no peace without justice, "allopathic medicine"; there are a lot of them. I'm old enough to remember "The Soviet Union is a state in transition," too. (Sadly, it was in transition to total collapse.) All these statements are what Eliezer calls "Green and Blue" (I think--those are the two chariot racing team colors, right?) markers. I'm not sure if these statements are also semantic stop signs. Anyway, I think that class of statement is very different than statements like abiogenesis or prebiotic soup, because the latter statements indicate that the original topic has been exhausted. That line of reasoning has gone to its logical end, and to continue conversing, we must switch to a different discussion. Not quite the same thing as saying that "tribal loyalty dictates that I do not use reason to consider anything further you say on this subject."