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Paul Feyerabend  Antony Flew  

Paul Feyerabend  (1924 – 94)  Professor of Philosophy at Berkeley  Web  Amazon  GBS  AV

The Church at the time of Galileo not only kept closer to reason as defined then and, in part, even now; It also considered the ethical and social consequences of Galileo's views. Its indictment of Galileo was rational and only opportunism and a lack of perspective can demand a revision.    Against Method  (1988)  p.129 

Galileo wanted his ideas to replace the existing cosmology, but he was forbidden to work towards that aim. Today the much more modest wish of creationists to have their view taught in schools side by side with other competing views runs into laws setting up a separation of church and state.     Against Method  (1988)  p.130

Financial arrangements can make or break a research programme and an entire profession. There are many ways to silence people apart from forbidding them to speak -- and all of them are being used today. The process of knowledge production and knowledge distribution was never the free, 'objective', and purely intellectual exchange rationalists make it out to be.     Against Method  (1988)  pp.130-131

We must stop the scientists from taking over education and from teaching as 'fact' and as 'the one true method' whatever myth of the day happens to be.      Against Method  (1988)  p.168 

Observational results, too, will speak in favour of the theory as they are formulated in its terms. It will seem that the truth has at last been arrived at. At the same time, it is evident that all contact with the world has been lost and that the stability achieved, the semblance of absolute truth, is nothing but the result of an absolute conformism. For how can we possibly test, or improve upon, the truth of a theory if it is built in such a manner that any conceivable event can be described, and explained, in terms of its principles? The only way of investigating such all-embracing principles would be to compare them with a different set of equally all-embracing principles -- but this procedure has been excluded from the very beginning. The myth is, therefore, of no objective relevance; it continues to exist solely as the result of the effort of the community of believers and of their leaders, be these now priests or Nobel prize winners. Its 'success' is entirely man made.    Knowledge Science and Relativism  (1999)  p.96

Science, surely, was always in the forefront of the fight against authoritarianism and superstition. It is to science that we owe our increased intellectual freedom vis-`-vis religious beliefs; it is to science that we owe the liberation of mankind from ancient and rigid forms of thought. Today these forms of thought are nothing but bad dreams -- and this we learned from science. Science and enlightenment are one and the same thing -- even the most radical critics of society believe this.    Knowledge Science and Relativism  (1999)  p.181

Consider the role science now plays in education. Scientific "facts" are taught at a very early age and in the very same manner in which religious "facts" were taught only a century ago. There is no attempt to waken the critical abilities of the pupil so that he may be able to see things in perspective. At the universities the situation is even worse, for indoctrination is here carried out in a much more systematic manner. Criticism is not entirely absent. Society, for example, and its institutions, are criticized most severely and often most unfairly and this already at the elementary school level. But science is excepted from the criticism. In society at large the judgment of the scientist is received with the same reverence as the judgment of bishops and cardinals was accepted not too long ago. The move towards "demythologization," for example, is largely motivated by the wish to avoid any clash between Christianity and scientific ideas. If such a clash occurs, then science is certainly right and Christianity wrong. Pursue this investigation further and you will see that science has now become as oppressive as the ideologies it had once to fight. Do not be misled by the fact that today hardly anyone gets killed for joining a scientific heresy. This has nothing to do with science. It has something to do with the general quality of our civilization. Heretics in science are still made to suffer from the most severe sanctions this relatively tolerant civilization has to offer.    Knowledge Science and Relativism  (1999)  p.182   see also: Cornelius Hunter

Will the laymen be able to come to a correct judgement? Most certainly, for the competence, the complications and the successes of science are vastly exaggerated. One of the most exhilarating experiences is to see how a lawyer, who is a layman, can find holes in the testimony, the technical testimony, of the most advanced expert and thus prepare the jury for its verdict. Science is not a closed book that is understood only after years of training. It is an intellectual discipline that can be examined and criticised by anyone who is interested and that looks difficult and profound only because of a systematic campaign of obfuscation carried out by many scientists (though, I am happy to say, not by all).    Knowledge Science and Relativism  (1999)  p.187

Three cheers to the fundamentalists in California who succeeded in having a dogmatic formulation of the theory of evolution removed from the text books and an account of Genesis included. (But I know that they would become as chauvinistic and totalitarian as scientists are today when given the chance to run society all by themselves. Ideologies are marvelous when used in the companies of other ideologies. They become boring and doctrinaire as soon as their merits lead to the removal of their opponents.) The most important change, however, will have to occur in the field of education.    Knowledge Science and Relativism  (1999)  pp.187-188

The Presocratics not only tried to understand the world. They also tried to understand, and thus to become the masters of, the means of understanding the world. Instead of being content with a single myth they developed many and so diminished the power which a well-told story has over the minds of men. The sophists introduced still further methods for reducing the debilitating effect of interesting, coherent, "empirically adequate" etc. etc. tales. The achievements of these thinkers were not appreciated and they certainly are not understood today. When teaching a myth we want to increase the chance that it will be understood (i.e. no puzzlement about any feature of the myth), believed, and accepted. This does not do any harm when the myth is counterbalanced by other myths: even the most dedicated (i.e. totalitarian) instructor in a certain version of Christianity cannot prevent his pupils from getting in touch with Buddhists, Jews and other disreputable people. It is very different in the case of science, or of rationalism where the field is almost completely dominated by the believers.    Knowledge Science and Relativism  (1999)   p.188

Using stories we may of course also introduce "scientific" accounts, say, of the origin of the world and thus make the children acquainted with science as well. But science must not be given any special position except for pointing out that there are lots of people who believe in it. Later on the stories which have been told will be supplemented with "reasons," where by reasons I mean further accounts of the kind found in the tradition to which the story belongs. And, of course, there will also be contrary reasons. Both reasons and contrary reasons will be told by the experts in the fields and so the young generation becomes acquainted with all kinds of sermons and all types of wayfarers.    Knowledge Science and Relativism  (1999)  p.189

 

Richard Feynman  (1918 – 88)  Professor of Theoretical Physics at California Institute of Technology  Nobel Prize for Physics  Web  GBS  AV

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself -- and you are the easiest person to fool.    Surely You Must Be Joking, Mr. Feynman  1985  p.343

Another thing I must point out is that you cannot prove a vague theory wrong. If the guess that you make is poorly expressed and rather vague, and the method that you use for figuring out the consequences is a little vague - you are not sure, and you say, ‘I think everything’s right because it’s all due to so and so, and such and such do this and that more or less, and I can sort of explain how this works'...then you see that this theory is good, because it cannot be proved wrong! Also if the process of computing the consequences is indefinite, then with a little skill any experimental results can be made to look like the expected consequences.     “The Character of Physical Law”  1992  pp.158-159

I believe that a scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy -- and when he talks about a nonscientific matter, he will sound as naive as anyone untrained in the matter.     The Pleasure of Finding Things Out  1999  p.142

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Paul Feyerabend  Antony Flew  

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