minnow at minnow at
Thu Dec 16 17:30:56 EST 2004

Anita replied to Ika and somebody else but I have lost the relevant post

>> Ika wrote:
>> >But - but - isn't turning randomness into patterns through
>> >interpretation how magic works? And fiction? (And life, for
>> that matter
>> >- or mine, at any
>> >rate?) Just not science.
>> Precisely. Magic, yes. Fiction, yes. Science, no. As for life
>> - yes and no, simultaneously.
>No, no, no. Turning randomness into patterns through interpretation is the
>beginning of science. Science doesn't end there, but that's where it starts.
> scientist once,

A couple of afternoons ago I was listening to the radio as one does when
ironing, ie not because the programme was one I really really had to hear
but because it was *there*, and somebody was investigating people who are
investigating reincarnation.

The people who were being "oooh, I believe in this, it all makes sense"
were all of them, as far as I could tell, making patterns like anything,
and interpreting to fit, and at the same time claiming that they were
following "scientific method"; the people who were scientists and were
trashing their efforts were saying "no, you started out with a pattern you
thought you saw, and then looked for examples that fitted it".

(I must say I wasn't very convinced by for instance the child whose parents
were sure he was the reincarnation of some chap from the
next-village-but-one, but when he was taken there he didn't recognise
anything, nor any person, even though he had earlier talked about them by
name.  Sounds like a put-up job to me, that does.  The person doing the
research thought it an interesting case that should not be ignored.)

So isn't it that the patterns are *there* in the randomness that is the
beginning of science?  Not turning randomness into patterns, but suddenly
noticing a pattern of some sort in what had previously appeared random, and
saying "gosh, that's interesting.  I wonder if it *always* follows that
rule, or if there are exceptions?"  I would have thought that *making*
patterns was not science, because that would be causing the data to fit the
thesis, and shouldn't it be the thesis that is developed from the data?

You can tell I'm not a scientist, can't you.  Oh well.


To unsubscribe, email dwj-request at with the body "unsubscribe".
Visit the archives at

More information about the Dwj mailing list