Renaming this forum: The Scientific Druid

A forum for the discussion of heuristic questions relating to Druidry using verifiable methods. Fo-fúair!
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Re: Renaming this forum: The Scientific Druid

Post by bookishepona » 18 Jul 2011, 09:15

I haven't been here for very long, so maybe my observations are insufficient: but a problem I seem to be seeing here, which lowers the quality of discussion and cannot be fixed by a change of name, is unequal access to research reports. Because so much important scientific work is only reported in full behind a paywall (usually accessible only to those with access to an academic institution or who are very rich), it's hard for the ordinary reader to get a sense of what it actually said (rather than what someone else says it said, which can be a very different thing). I don't want to criticise academics for this (the need to eat and pay bills is common to us all), but I have seen here and elsewhere discussions of scientific experiments hampered by the fact that some or all of the participants can't access the full range of current evidence.

I don't know what we can do about this, but perhaps awareness of the problem can be a first step in trying to stop it lowering the quality of our discussions.
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Re: Renaming this forum: The Scientific Druid

Post by Explorer » 18 Jul 2011, 09:40

bookishepona wrote:I haven't been here for very long, so maybe my observations are insufficient: but a problem I seem to be seeing here, which lowers the quality of discussion and cannot be fixed by a change of name, is unequal access to research reports. Because so much important scientific work is only reported in full behind a paywall (usually accessible only to those with access to an academic institution or who are very rich), it's hard for the ordinary reader to get a sense of what it actually said (rather than what someone else says it said, which can be a very different thing). I don't want to criticise academics for this (the need to eat and pay bills is common to us all), but I have seen here and elsewhere discussions of scientific experiments hampered by the fact that some or all of the participants can't access the full range of current evidence.

I don't know what we can do about this, but perhaps awareness of the problem can be a first step in trying to stop it lowering the quality of our discussions.
Wikipedia would be a good alternative. That isn't academic state-of-the-art proof, but a hell of a lot better then what we see now sometimes.
For instance, there is this 'talking to trees' thread here about a totally ridiculous article in Touchstone. I only needed wikipedia to show a number of false 'facts'. And common sense (hopefully) does the rest. The argument will be that wikipedia doesn't provide certifiable proof, but I think that it is good enough for a druid forum, especially with common sense to back it up.
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Re: Renaming this forum: The Scientific Druid

Post by bookishepona » 18 Jul 2011, 15:07

Nico wrote:The argument will be that wikipedia doesn't provide certifiable proof
I'm not too worried about that, because final proof (of a theory or explanation rather than the simple facts of an observation) is rather more slippery than often supposed. I've studied philosophy and I'm not convinced that academic scientific articles provide 'proof' nearly as often as they (or more often the media around them) would have us believe. Nor am I sure who would be issuing the certificates in this case!

I'm more concerned about getting as close as possible to the original source of evidence. With some experiments, you can repeat them yourself at home, but when that's impossible, the best you can do is read the original report of the experiment, which should include exact details of the method and results, rather than just summing them up for general consumption. Wikipedia doesn't provide that level of detail for two reasons: it's boring and it's plagiarism. We might need that level of detail in some cases, though, to help us understand what's happening especially where results are in some way unexpected (not all the time, and I agree that references to widely accessible sources - whether wikipedia or another website which cites its sources in turn - are better than no references).
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Re: Renaming this forum: The Scientific Druid

Post by DJ Droood » 18 Jul 2011, 22:24

imo, skepticism is at the heart of druidry, and what sets it apart from other spiritualities which emphasize faith, belief, acceptance, surrender and obedience. The Druid seeks to experience spiritual truths first-hand, and isn't completely satisfied simply reading about it or hearing about it second-hand. The Druid is always asking questions and seeking truthful answers.

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Re: Renaming this forum: The Scientific Druid

Post by skydove » 19 Jul 2011, 13:29

The trouble is neither it is possible for many of us to directly experience scientific truths first hand, it's mainly only what you read or someone else says is true. I don't have the time or the scientific brain to read lots of book references on subjects beyond my limited capabilities. I can however go out and experience sitting and thinking under a tree and think about my own thoughts. You have to have a degree of skepticism about all things
including your own responses but you still live and enjoy your own life even the fairy stories that you make up along the way. The things that drive us whether scientific enquiry, poetic, artistic or philosophical endeavors or any other obsession that makes us who we are, colour our responses and maybe we should respect this more in each other and therefore not judge each other too harshly in our responses.
Is it possible for science and tolerance to go together or do these aspects of our understanding have to go in separate boxes and of necessity never meet?
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Re: Renaming this forum: The Scientific Druid

Post by DJ Droood » 19 Jul 2011, 14:11

skydove wrote:Is it possible for science and tolerance to go together or do these aspects of our understanding have to go in separate boxes and of necessity never meet?
I see science and tolerence as being pretty much the same thing...questioning and open-minded, not allowing ancient hatreds to dominate the discussion...I think the question is if science/tolerence can exist in the same box as religion/hate.
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Re: Renaming this forum: The Scientific Druid

Post by Explorer » 19 Jul 2011, 14:11

skydove wrote: Is it possible for science and tolerance to go together or do these aspects of our understanding have to go in separate boxes and of necessity never meet?
What exactly do you mean with 'go together'?

Do you mean what I said in my opening post?:
"As druids we hope to reconcile that knowledge with the spiritual meaning that we experience through the world of nature. Together this can give us insights, wisdom, balance."
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Re: Renaming this forum: The Scientific Druid

Post by skydove » 19 Jul 2011, 16:04

Yes Nico I do, though perhaps with simpler words :D

Sometimes I feel we can be guilty of compartmentalising people and their attitudes, in this instance into scientific/ non scientific views of the world. We dont always look beyond our own ( and in your case particularly carefully thought out and well articulated) view of the subject we are talking about to see or attempt to see the person beyond with different views and a whole set of non scientific experiences to back up their world view.

Could I ask you a question, why is it you practice divination, which could be looked at as being extremely non-scientific?
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Re: Renaming this forum: The Scientific Druid

Post by Explorer » 19 Jul 2011, 18:29

skydove wrote: Could I ask you a question, why is it you practice divination, which could be looked at as being extremely non-scientific?
Very good question, thank you for asking it!
Ofcourse that is extremely non-scientific. I do lots of extremly non-scientific things. I talk to trees, the sun and moon, and to non-existing spirits of the land.

My view of the world is not just scientific at all, only for certain subjects where science is the best tool. Like when I want to understand how nature works physically, or when I want to know when and where the moon rises. It is about facts and knowledge. And also the other way around, when somebody comes with facts and knowledge, then I must respond from a scientific view, because that is the language that that person chose to communicate in.

But when it comes to relating to that same world on a personal emotional and meaningful level, then science isn't the best tool at all. Worse, it is meaningless, on purpose.
My personal choices for that physical and emotional relationship with nature are things like hiking and camping, purely for the experience. And on a more meaningful spiritual level, druidry. Which means that I can relate/commune with nature through ritual, divination and magic.

The first view leads to knowledge, the second view leads to meaning.
And I think that the right combination leads to wisdom, because these two ways of thinking, these two sides of dualism, do not contradict or weaken each other. They strengthen each other. (the christians didn't get that part, neither did the humanists, so druidry isn't that bad :grin: ).
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Re: Renaming this forum: The Scientific Druid

Post by Will » 19 Jul 2011, 18:51

Thank you all for this cogent discussion! As I catch up; I am backing up a bit to add a comment to Sky Dove's line:

"The trouble is neither it is possible for many of us to directly experience scientific truths first hand"

as I want to question (if question are allowed? :) the notion of "...scientific truth...".

I've not met many in the technical disciplines comfortable with the notion of "scientific truth". A scientific method, yes. A scientific process, yes again; or scientific theories, models, facts all yeses. Scientific truth; scientific reality --not so much. In my experience, all sciences must and do learn to tolerate "noise in the data" and the limitations of ideas that can only model; but never exactly replicate "truth" and "reality".

Science is successful if it produces a repeatable "model" (theory, idea, concept) that, under some limited set of conditions, enables a prediction that matches what actually happens with sufficient accuracy as to be useful for some intended purpose. Here, I think, are several notions here that clearly distance "science" from "truth"; and bring much closer to "tolerance".

How much error (untruth?) can you tolerate? Science wins as long as the frequency of your cell phone is set "close enough" to the designated (true? ideal?) channel frequency that you experience only an acceptably rare occurrence (tolerable number?) of dropped calls and "dark spots". No cell phone operates at the true (target) frequency. You cant get a "true" cell phone; only a "close enough" cell phone. All contain some "error" that separates each individual phone from the "truth". We can only choose to either tolerate error, and the bother of dropped calls; or demand to live in a world of "truth" and do without cell phones until a "true" cell phone comes along.

For me, science demands and teaches tolerance. In exchange (a gift for a gift? :) for tolerating untruth, error, falsehood; science gifts me with me with enormous power; to communicate around the world at the speed of light; to live a life of ease without hauling water, chopping trees for fuel or catching and killing my supper; to destroy the world at the flick of a button. (Well no, in all honesty, I haven't the power to do this last, but science has gifted someone with such power!)

Science trades truth for power.
Does this locate me on the "dark side" :}

Thanks for your time, Will

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Re: Renaming this forum: The Scientific Druid

Post by skydove » 19 Jul 2011, 21:42

Thanks for your explanations, I understand a little more now Nico and Will, and all the others who contributed.
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Re: Renaming this forum: The Scientific Druid

Post by Explorer » 20 Jul 2011, 08:18

good post Will! :shake:
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Re: Renaming this forum: The Scientific Druid

Post by DaRC » 20 Jul 2011, 11:19

An excellent post Will - thank you.
However it doesn't help with the naming dilemma - after all this forum would be rubbish named as the 'Tolerant Druid' :grin:

For me there has long been an issue within druidry between those who like arguments to be substantiated and the fluffy canards. The main area of contention is separating what is academic knowledge from what is personal opinion. Academic knowledge requires proper references beyond personal research or non-academic works.

IMO this forum is where the canard chaff can be challenged / separated from Druidic wheat without creating a huge flame war.
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Re: Renaming this forum: The Scientific Druid

Post by joey_bernard » 20 Jul 2011, 14:46

Thanks Will. As someone with a science background, I really appreciate it when someone else "get's it". Science is never about "TRUTH". It is about understanding the world, to the best of our ability. That means that as we learn more, that understanding necessarily changes. And we get closer and closer to what is really happening in the world. Will we ever get to 100% understanding? I doubt it. But maybe 99%

As for odd practices, I am a strict materialist and atheist and yet I practice divination. But for very practical, psychological reasons. When I am trying to figure out a problem/issue, I find that sometimes I get stuck in a particular track of thoughts and no matter how often I think about it I follow the same track. I find divination helps. Take a random sample of any symbol set that is both vague enough to fit a lot of situations yet well-defined enough not to fit all situations; tarot cards as an example. Now take that sample set and try and fit it to the problem you are trying to figure out. I find the process will allow me to "jump the track" and be able to consider other paths of thought that I was unable to before. Nothing supernatural, just a clever way of hijacking the deficiencies in the human mind and coming up with new solutions.

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Re: Renaming this forum: The Scientific Druid

Post by Will » 20 Jul 2011, 16:24

SkyDove, Nico, DaRC, Joey, All, thanks for the positive reviews. Yes, I did side step the question of name. For me, the name chosen both does not matter all that much; and can have significant unintended and intuitional value; both positive and negative. Being quite new to The Druid's Head, I really don't know which "table" to elbow my way into. I follow the conversation, to find those of interest where I can throw in a few relevant thoughts now and again.

On the naming thing, I was a part of a druid group that named its training "Dedicant Program" Innocuous enough for most I guess, but I could never get past the name. It kept chanting at me: "I'm dead, I can't" or at times "this is dead, I can't". Choosing a name, like everything we do, can, will and does have unknown, unforeseen and uncontrolled ripples. At he moment, I am not inclined to accept responsibility for ripples in the "pond of names". In good old fuzzy druid :) fashion, I'll trust that there is a quite old and quite wise (or cynical, or puckish, or practical?) salmon lurking somewhere near the surface of the "pond of names" who one day will pop his head out, spitting a large hard chestnut bonking someone on the head. We will all know the best name. (Ok, all look around your key boards, chairs, wherever, and let us know if you find a small hard nut-like object covered in salmon spit. Or at least hopefully salmon spit. That matches best it all the stories I've heard! I suppose a magical salmon could just as easily communicate with us humans via the other end of his system :}.

I found Druid's Head, not by name or by affiliation, but by content. One of the boards popped up when I asked mr google for guidance towards intelligent conversation on a specific word set of interest.

Sorry to be evasive, for me its the conversation not the name that attracts or otherwise. The content here at the Druids Heads, is far and away the best; at least at the few tables I've visited so far.

Thanks. http://www.druidry.org/board/dhp/postin ... 48&t=38701#
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Re: Renaming this forum: The Scientific Druid

Post by Will » 21 Jul 2011, 23:47

skydove wrote:The trouble is neither it is possible for many of us to directly experience scientific truths first hand, it's mainly only what you read or someone else says is true
Sky Dove, We may not be able to experience all the results of science first hand, but we can come close on some. One example that I follow closely is the reported arctic ice cap data. To be sure, I don't see the ice cap first hand (though there are webcams that allow you to see (supposedly) real time images of conditions at the north pole). I also don't personally analyze every scrap of reported data (though the raw data is available for download). Rather, I rely on the level of summary provided at the (US) National Snow and Ice Data Center's Arctic Sea Ice NEWS and analysis wb page at http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/index.html .

That site presents a convenient level of data summary and analysis sufficiently close to original data for my uses. I am bit, perhaps obsessive as I keep a link on my desk top; and check it daily. I use it as a kind of mental prod to remind me what's going on out there somewhere over the horizon. Rather scary to say the least; though I expect this is preaching to choir as it were. It helps keep me provoked, motivated, and yes a bit angry. In a mythological and intuitive way; I am watching the real time scalping of Earth in slow motion. I find it one of the most painful visits, particularly this time of year.

The north east passage over Russia looks like it will open within the next week or so, almost a month ahead of prior years. The ice cap looks to be on track to shrink to a new low, smaller the the previous small in 2007. It also looks like both the north east and the north west passage may both open this year. As far as I've been able to determine this has not happened for several millenia, probably tens of millenia. Not that this does not attribute the shrink to anything particular;nor does discuss global warming. You draw your own conclusions. As near as I've been able to determine, this facility collects, compiles and reports(with some analysis) data collected from airborne and satellite sensors.

For me, this site prompts more prayer than most any other. Visit it at your own risk.

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Re: Renaming this forum: The Scientific Druid

Post by Al Hakim » 23 Jul 2011, 20:57

Gents (and ladies, too, of course),

what is the discussion about? I understand that science has to follow certain rules like giving evidence and so forth. The druidic magazine is not a scientific journal. Therefore, I would not expect scientific rules applied there. If there are misunderstandable contents - I think - it would be the role of the scientist to explain the error in popular and understandable language to those who have a different education. If that seems impossible why not open a new scientific forum while the "skeptical druids" remains for the "ignorant" ones?

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Re: Renaming this forum: The Scientific Druid

Post by Will » 30 Jul 2011, 16:41

Al Hakim wrote:Gents (and ladies, too, of course),

what is the discussion about?...open a new scientific forum?

Al Hakim
Al Hakim, Thank you for your insight, though I might have dropped the note about ignorant ones. We all have our own ignorance. That's what science is for. It provides one way that some of us choose to explore our ignorance; and discover useful tools amoungst the random rubble of rocks (as it were :) And there in lies the opportunity, I think, for a thread or forum that actually participates in the development of the science, by establishing and following some kind of disciplined rules of thought, documentation and verification.

For example, in a thread just next door, I've over heard an excellent conversation on how not to approach "talking with trees". Good conversation, though we might turn it towards a more positive thoughts by exploring how we do "talk" to trees, or how they do talk to us. And communicating with trees is but one example of where our science could go, once a discipline was established.

I would certainly participate in such discussions; and invite *all* to participate; ignorant or otherwise; though all posts might be sorted against specified criteria and subject to the kind of incisive deconstruction Joey demonstrated next door. In fact such deconstruction of proposed theories is, of necessity a part of the method. Its how we learn.

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Re: Renaming this forum: The Scientific Druid

Post by Bart » 01 Aug 2011, 15:35

Will wrote:
Al Hakim wrote:Gents (and ladies, too, of course),

what is the discussion about?...open a new scientific forum?

Al Hakim
Al Hakim, Thank you for your insight, though I might have dropped the note about ignorant ones. We all have our own ignorance. That's what science is for. It provides one way that some of us choose to explore our ignorance; and discover useful tools amoungst the random rubble of rocks (as it were :) And there in lies the opportunity, I think, for a thread or forum that actually participates in the development of the science, by establishing and following some kind of disciplined rules of thought, documentation and verification.

For example, in a thread just next door, I've over heard an excellent conversation on how not to approach "talking with trees". Good conversation, though we might turn it towards a more positive thoughts by exploring how we do "talk" to trees, or how they do talk to us. And communicating with trees is but one example of where our science could go, once a discipline was established.

I would certainly participate in such discussions; and invite *all* to participate; ignorant or otherwise; though all posts might be sorted against specified criteria and subject to the kind of incisive deconstruction Joey demonstrated next door. In fact such deconstruction of proposed theories is, of necessity a part of the method. Its how we learn.

Will
Talking to trees is not the problem, trying to set up a meaningfull communication is what troubles me. I seem to miss a part in my brain which can do this. All I hear is my subconscious budding in.

I hope scientists are skeptical, but reviewing publications this is unfortunately not true. Many scientists are conformist believers. The skeptical philosophy goes back to the days of the ancient Greeks. A perfectly acceptable way of approaching every day life.

Maybe we shouldn't rename the forum, just add a new one. In this forum we question the fabric of an argument, in the other we promote actively coming up with scientific proof of fluffy subjects. The tough one would be to research the universal subconscious: as soon as I think of soemthing, you should be aware of it. How do you do a double blind test if everybody is informed?

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Re: Renaming this forum: The Scientific Druid

Post by Will » 01 Aug 2011, 17:37

Bart wrote: Talking to trees is not the problem, trying to set up a meaningfull communication is what troubles me. I seem to miss a part in my brain which can do this.
"...A meaningful communication...". Yes indeed. What troubles me is that such a defect, lack of brain function or whatever extends to all. Even sitting in a quiet familiar living room, gazing at the "fish-o-vision" with my wife of many years; I am never confident of a meaningful conversation. Maybe that's just my psychological/philosophical defect.

In thinking about talking with trees, we must include a rigorous study of the lore of talking, of conversation, of communication in its entirety; not just with trees. Certainly there is much to be reflected upon in both hard and soft channels linking humans and trees (in fact all others such as stars, rocks, owls, Earth). There is also a whole body of lore reflecting on communication generally (between any to entities such as computers, radio transmitter-receiver, etc; and a whole body of lore on what it takes to think about how, if and when humans communicate. Really communicate. In writing, verbally, and now electronically. And the kinds of things, of impacts, errors, and misunderstandings that creep into and alter "meaningful communication".

Talking with trees is triply complex. It combines the intricacies of "meaning", "channel or mode", and "understanding". There is much theoretical and conceptual testing work to do before we get to the double blind part. And yes there are academics looking at bits and pieces, though I am not sure if any one is looking at the whole of it. Here I would also mote that if there was significant work developing an ability for talking with trees by others, it will be impossible for us to access for 20 to 50 years. Think of the national security implications if every grove or stand became a communications correspondent capable of observing, reporting and even acting in some limited way. And before you laugh, observe the work with dolphins. First trained for entertainment such as the movie Flipper; and now numerous live aquarium shows; the US Navy is actively researching how to train and use dolphins (and other sea mammals, fish etc?) as warfighters. You can be sure if dolphins; why not trees.

Successfully talking with trees can only lead to, eventually, successfully commanding them into battle. It is the human way. Maybe we and they are better off not conversing; or at least admitting to it.

Just a thought, Will

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