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Damn, Dennett nails it. I've heard the charge of scientism leveled here more than once, they don't always call it scientism, but the argument is the same insipid drivel that Dennett responds to in the video. If you aren't properly respectful of anothers view whether religion or some other topic you're accused of reductionism, scientism, or one of the other names used to dismiss the argument you're making.

The entire video is here

Researchers funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) have discovered key plant enzymes that normally make the energy stored in wood, straw, and other non-edible parts of plants difficult to extract. The findings, published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, can be used to improve the viability of sustainable biofuels that do not adversely affect the food chain.

The team based at the University of Cambridge, and now part of the BBSRC Sustainable Bioenergy Centre (BSBEC), has identified and studied the genes for two enzymes that toughen wood, straw and stalks and so make it difficult to extract sugars to make bioethanol or other plant-derived products. This knowledge can now be used in crop breeding programs to make non-edible plant material that requires less processing, less energy and fewer chemicals for conversion to biofuels or other renewable products and therefore have an even lower overall impact on atmospheric carbon.

The research also increases the economic viability of producing sustainable biofuels from the inedible by-products of crops through increasing our understanding of plant structures.

Leave it to business to solve a problem, and nothing happens. The owners should be held criminally liable.



they don't always call it scientism

I was watching a movie the other day. IT was call "The Mission". Good movie.

It got me thinking the following thing.

What if there were Science missionaries that set up in remove villiages and rather then helping them build a church, built them a school and taught them all about science? How internal combustion, electricity, medicine and other sciences worked.

How much better off would the world be?

that's it, I am going to start a church and call it the Chrurch of Scientology.

Won't you run the risk of increasing their carbon footprints and killing polar bears?

Teach them Windmills

Criticisms of excessive reductionism are an important part of science, Norm, your thin skin notwithstanding.

See, e.g.

Chemical biology and the limits of reductionism Nature Chemical Biology 4, 635 - 638 (2008)

The Limits of Reductionism in Medicine: Could Systems Biology Offer an Alternative? PLoS Med 3(6): e208 (2006).

The end of "naive reductionism": rise of systems biology or renaissance of physiology? Am J Physiol Cell Physiol 288: C968-C974 (2005)

Also, be careful about how you use "scientism", because, to quote Inigo Montoya, "I do not think it means what you think it means." I first read about the concept in Popper. Are you saying that he wrote "drivel"? Just because some yahoo young-Earth creationist uses the term doesn't mean it's an idea without value.

I didn't say the idea was without value, what I said was that the claim of scientism gets used in ways that are nothing more than straw man arguments.

Re: God's scraping the barrel.

What a drag it is getting old. Things are different today...

Maybe he needs some of mother's little helpers.

As for 'scientism' my exprience (as a retired scientist) is that the people who resort to Dennett's version of Scientism are almost always non-scientists who are looking for certainty from a source other than religion. I suppose it is a truism that, if you think like that, you aren't really thinking scientifically.

I agree with Dennet to point - depends on the full video, that I don't have time to watch, or bad editing. He ends by stating you are not entitled to your own opinion. Well he's wrong - your opinion is definitely something you are entitled to regardless of its veracity. What you are not entitled to is to force that opinion on someone else.

I do hope he followed up that comment with that clarification.


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