December 20th, 2003

beartato phd

(no subject)

Arg. I had a big rant written and somehow I hit "back" in IE and it was gone by the time I had gone forward again. Dammit.

I was just being annoyed at being accused of demanding "absolute" proof, whatever that means, something that happens to me now and then. I can barely keep myself from shouting, no, it's your argument that I don't like. Please try to imagine that perhaps an argument better than yours, which I would accept, exists. If you claim that X likely leads to horrible situation Y, I expect something more than a listing of all the people you know, and the people that they know, where X led to Y. I want to scream, you are supposed to be a scientist, dammit, you are supposed to know better. I was there when they were teaching you Bayes rule. But already my mother is practically at the point of tears, telling me about how ruinously bad and genuinely painful the particular situation Ys are. I don't deny that, mom. But she keeps telling me about them. I don't have the heart to attack any more. I don't particularly want to be attacking anything, I just want to have good reasons, good principles to live by. I am confident, however, that if I bring up my motivation I will be told that valid principles only come from God, so that's a dead end.

I want to believe something strong enough to stand up to criticism, to inquiry, to skepticism, to experiment... I do attack, as a reflex, to see how well things hold up. But what do I do, when they say, "oh, you," shaking a finger, "you're just demaning absolute proof, you're being too logical, you're being too unemotional"? Do I scream at them? Do I scream at them about how I do feel horrible hearing about such horrible outcomes? How I'm not shutting them up because I don't care, but because it hurts too goddamn much to dwell on it, and it isn't advancing their case one jot? Do I yell at them about how it hurts to even think of how much war and pain and and injustice and death has been fucking caused in the world by such one-sided displays of evidence as if they were complete, such appeals to emotion? Fuck. And I'm practically doing it myself now. Even agnosticism seems like not doubting enough some times.