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Is a surprised sheep a scientist?

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blinkyblinky | 07:58 Tue 25th Oct 2005 | Science
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This question came up in another thread but only got one answer, which I don't think was complete (apologies to mib). It would be nice to hear other opinions.

The idea came from the typical religion/faith v. science/reason opposition. Various posters were saying things like religion relies on faith and cannot be logically verified whereas scientists rely on logic, etc etc.

So if the sun didn't rise tomorrow morning, I think a sheep would feel surprised. Why would it be surprised? - Because the sheep has always observed the sun rising, every morning of its life. Is the sheep's surprise based on faith ("I have faith that this morning will be like other mornings") or is the sheep doing science, ie it has made observations about the world in the past (the sun rises every day) and it is using those observations to predict the future in a rational way? What's the difference?





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blinkyblinky, I'll give this some thought but in the mean time I think you have one that works quite well; yourself; no?
I believe there are several other species with the ability to discriminate various colours. Some species sense colours which we ourselves can not perceive directly. Their survival may depend on this ability for finding food, each other, etc. I don�t have much knowledge of this or how we come to be aware of this but it is interesting that a method exists that we can use to gain this knowledge without direct perception.
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Just re-read this thread. I think two things need to be said.

1. Mib, you stared into a cow's eyes for over an hour?

2. I think it's clear that there is a lot of faith within science. There are basic logical truths like 2+2=4, but science is not based on such dry logic. If it was, scientific theories would never be overturned. So I think that people who attack religion for being too much reliant on faith should bear that in mind (and please note, I am not a christian).

Jake wrote:

"If I said a Tyranasaurus had been discovered alive in the Brazillian jungles a few 'photos wouldn't be sufficient proof. Such a discovery would overturn rules about the sort of area that such an animal would need to survive and a whole host of other knowlege."

Such rules are constantly being overturned. If life was discovered at the centre of the earth, accepted scientific "rules" would be overturned. If souls were discovered to exist, rules would be overturned. If God was discovered living in a terraced house in Ipswich, rules would be overturned. Look at quantum physics - this challenges some of our most basic assumptions about the world. Schrodinger's cat? Is it logical to be and not be at the same time? So be careful when attacking religion for proposing things that may appear illogical.





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El D wrote:

"Our brain instinctively seeks patterns"

That's why the sheep would be surprised. It would have noticed a pattern, and then this pattern would have been interrupted. But if our brains seek patterns, then this suggests that these patterns might be more in the brain than in the objective world, ie maybe we impose a lot of patterns on the world where maybe there are none, or where maybe there are many exceptions which we are blind to.

I think there may be many patterns that we don't see. If you take an IQ test you can see sometimes how difficult it is to discern patterns in things (you know those shape questions where you have to complete the series or spot the odd one out.) Something as complicated as the world, maybe there are many things in front of our eyes (and mind) which we are oblivious to. To say there aren't is like saying "I'm so clever, and I declare that I understand everything."

If the human race survives, I'm sure that in a hundred years, a thousand years, future people will look back at us and be amazed at how much we didn't understand or how different their world view is. When I read people's comments along the lines of "Religion is a load of nonsense" it makes me feel that the speaker assumes that we have reached some kind of peak of human understanding, that there is not much left to be discovered. As I've said elsewhere in AB my own feeling is that, on the contrary, we have only scratched the surface.

I'm not denigrating reason, I'm all for reason. But I think it's reasonable to suggest that maybe we can come to an understanding of something which makes us feel, "Oh, how stupid I was - I didn't understand things right at all!"

Religion has been a major step in developing beyond very basic small social groups and has allowed societies to progress peacefully for tracts of time in different places. It has also been a key method for controlling and manipulating people for malign purposes, obviously, driving warfare and hatred.


With alternative means of control in the West - perceived democracy and overt mass media, the power of religion has waned considerably and appears a personal choice. I have to say that people tend to follow the beliefs of their parents eventually in my experience.


I like to believe I think for myself, but clearly there is a genetic/species reasoning within my thought processes or my actions are likely to be self-damaging. Following religion or science can fulfil the survival imperitive, but science seems more likely to be the winning side (better technology)


At the final analysis I don't believe the reaction of people at the sun not rising would be much different from that of the sheep, except we would panic a lot more. And then we would probably kill and eat the sheep. And then we would probably kill each other. And none of it would make any difference, unless the sun rose again.

Blinkyblinky, I was stretching the facts a little for the sake of humor, I apologize if you took me2cweusly. I forgot my poetic license had expired. I was quite young and was not timing the event, but actually got board with this fairly quickly although I had nothing better to do at the time. I�m actually relieved that you caught me in a lie. I would be worried if you started to believe everything I said. I suppose the world will have to come to an end another day.

i would LIKE to point out that IF the sun doesn't rise tomorrow, then


A: it'll be a BL00DY GOOD LIE-IN


B: those beggars at Greenwich have REALLY OVERDONE IT with this whole "putting the clocks back" thing


C: given the climate at the moment, I'm not sure most of the people in the UK would notice, (something along the lines of "Eh, What Sun's that then?"), and


D: Sheep are there purely to be eaten/romanced, not to bleat on about the weather.


I trust this is the general concensus....?

You just don't understand lambguistics. Baaa a a a h means: Why'd the sun come up an hour earlier this morning?

Here in the Dales,many sheep look surprised.

Seeing is not believing


Believing is seeing


This is not just a religious thing but applies to any learning process, because believing is acceptance which leads to perceiving

Knowing, on the other hand, is an entirely different matter. To obtain knowledge requires an honest approach and a willingness to leave no stone unturned if what lies beneath it may be relevant to the knowledge you are seeking to acquire.


Before you set out on this quest you must be ready to follow the trail to wherever it may lead and set aside any hopes, desires or preconceptions as to what you might find at the end of your journey.


Your honesty, courage and perseverance will be rewarded through your certainty about, and by the useful quality of, the knowledge that you find.

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