Re: Can we ever know truth?

From: Rich Winkel <>
Date: Fri, 18 Aug 2006 01:28:19 -0500 (CDT)

According to Stathis Papaioannou:
>Why would you not include the well-known fact that driving at high
>speed is more likely to kill someone as "evidence"? If the driver
>honestly did not know this, say due to having an intellectual
>disability, then he would have dimminished responsibility for the

I don't know how you're using the term "responsibility", but in any
case the issue is whether a driver is willing to slow down despite
not seeing any obvious hazards.

>Astronomy does not really have an ethical dimension to it, but most
>other sciences do. Discovering that cyanide kills people is science;
>deciding to poison your spouse with cyanide to collect on the
>insurance is intimately tied up with the science, but it is not
>itself in the domain of science.

Precisely. Good medical research is science, but medical practice
often involves matters of expedience, cultural bias, conflicts of
interest and habit.

>As for doing nothing often being the best course of action, that's
>certainly true, and it *is* a question that can be analysed
>scientifically, which is the point of placebo controlled drug trials.

But of course if the research is never done or never sees the light of
day, something other than science is going on.

>You are suggesting that certain treatments believed to be helpful
>for mental illness by the medical profession are not in fact helpful.
>You may be right, because the history of medicine is full of
>enthusiastically promoted treatments that we now know are useless
>or harmful. However, this is no argument against the scientific
>method in medicine or any other field: we can only go on our best

I'm not arguing against the scientific method. I only wish medical
science practiced it more often. It is unscientific to equate
absence of evidence with evidence of absence.


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Received on Fri Aug 18 2006 - 02:31:46 PDT

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