Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Convergence and Divergence

Here goes a short post on a fundamental difference between science and woo. Science is convergent, woo is divergent.

First, science converges. That means that multiple observers and lines of inquiry will lead to a few or even one answer. For example, evolution is backed by genetics, population statistics, geology, fossil records, nuclear physics (via radiometric dating), and so on. There's one objective reality, and all the evidence it leaves for us should point to one answer. That's what we get.

Woo diverges. That means the opposite. Take religion and faith, for example. Belief with faith as the basis has produced thousands of religions and denominations thereof that rarely agree on anything. For another example, take the recent wake of 9/11 twoofers. You've got some who claim the planes were holographic, some who claim the buildings were brought down with hushaboom, some who claim they were brought down by thermite that burns perpendicular to gravity, some who claim it was an orbital R9 wave cannon, and so on and so on and so on.

The divergence of woo is so bad, that many woos, apparently to tolerate their differences, dive into the belief that reality is different for everyone and that we should give up on science because the answers change, depending on your "certain point of view." My regular readers know I'm not a fan of that sort of pessimism.


MWchase said...

So, they take Obi-Wan at his word in ROTJ?

Luke Skywalker: Obi-Wan! Why didn't you tell me?! You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father!
Obi-Wan Kenobi: Your father was seduced by the Dark Side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true, from a certain point of view.
Luke Skywalker: [incredulously] A certain point of view?
Obi-Wan Kenobi: Luke, you will find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view. [Wikiquote]

Clint Bourgeois said...

The Force is like a strong version of The Secret.