[PODCAST] #338: Scientific Consensus vs. Dissent (Part 3) – Disciplined Minds


Part three in our series examining the concept of scientific consensus and contrasting it with the voices of dissenters who find value in minority scientific opinions, theories and conclusions. It will also ask the question: is there any way to bridge the gap? Darrell Becker will be co-hosting all episodes in this series.

Some selections from The Ultimate History Lesson: A Weekend with John Taylor Gatto

Darrell and I discuss Disciplined Minds : A Critical Look at Salaried Professionals and the Soul-Battering System That Shapes Their Lives.

See Brett's notes here.

"My thesis is that the criteria by which individuals are deemed qualified or unqualified to become professionals involve not just technical knowledge as is generally assumed, but also attitude—in particular, attitude toward working within an assigned political and ideological framework. I contend, for example, that all tests of technical knowledge, such as the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) or the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), are at the same time tests of attitude and that the examinations used to assess professional qualification are no exception. I consider in detail how the neutral-looking technical questions on such examinations probe the candidate's attitude.

The qualifying attitude, I find, is an uncritical, subordinate one, which allows professionals to take their ideological lead from their employers and appropriately fine-tune the outlook that they bring to their work. The resulting professional is an obedient thinker, an intellectual property whom employers can trust to experiment, theorize, innovate and create safely within the confines of an assigned ideology. The political and intellectual timidity of today's most highly educated employees is no accident."
-Jeff Schmidt, Disciplined Minds

Bumper Music:
"Church of the Poison Mind" Culture Club
"Making Plans For Nigel" XTC

Look Closer:

Darrell's Site: Voluntary Visions - http://voluntaryvisions.com/

Darrell's Communication Glossary - https://schoolsucksproject.com/practical-definitions-voluntary-communication-by-darrell-becker/

Scientific Consensus and the Argument From Authority - https://skeptoid.com/blog/2013/04/09/scientific-consensus-and-the-argument-from-authority

T&H Trivium Resources - https://www.tragedyandhope.com/trivium/

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  1. The Krebs cycle describes how food is converted into energy at the molecular level. Explaining in detail how glucose molecules are broken down via oxidation to release ATP is one of the watershed moments of modern biology, and should be of interest to any human being who eats, breathes, requires energy, and is curious about nature’s laws. Moreover, the plethora of replication and validation studies of Krebs’ work has allowed for the accumulation of even more advanced knowledge of the organic chemistry of food and energy, and a better understanding of the relation between energy and various proteins, fats, and carbs. That a medical practitioner and educator finds no value in memorizing the steps of the Krebs cycle shows not only incuriosity toward more valid descriptions of natural laws, but an ignorance of memory’s long-standing position as one of the central planks of classical rhetoric. Of course, we should all commit to memory the 5 steps of GTD, the 4 pages of questions in NVC, the 6 hats of critical thinking, the 3 steps of Trivium (IN THAT ORDER!), and the 7 critical thinking strategies of John Rappaport, objective researchers without subjective biases or agendas (unless your name is Edward Snowden- an obvious double agent!). Oh by the way: have you bought a copy of Gatto’s DVD, subscribed to T&H, or donated to the cause of absolute Truth? Time’s running out and the government is concealing essential ESP studies (based on Rappaport’s cherry-picked review of a single and limited Harvard study). Methinks the lady doth protest and point fingers prior to self-knowledge.

    • Thanks for teaching us all about the Krebs cycle, Donald.
      My reference to this in the podcast was that it was very possible for people like Brett to make effective choices as to their health, their diet and their supplement choices without knowing about this information. I did not say (or imply) that knowledge of the Krebs cycle is not useful.
      The other things you mentioned as things that might be useful to study and know of are naturally optional, as optional as the knowledge of the Krebs cycle. It seems to come back to practicality. My first teacher of medical training has practically used the knowledge of Krebs in his medical practice, but I think that it would take much longer to demonstrate to Brett and much of the audience how to make this knowledge serve practical decisions in our lives.
      The items you mentioned seemed to have some aspects of practical use in my own life, but the memorization of them doesn’t seem to be “required”, and requirement (or other obligations) were not implied in this podcast. I was hoping more people would investigate the book Disciplined Minds and see if the concerns being mentioned in the book showed signs of being evident in the reader’s lives, or not.
      I think my “protests” (concerns?) are warranted, but I’m open to understanding how this might be less important than I might presently conclude.

      • Thanks for the reply, Darrell. Glad to hear you’re keeping an open mind although the subconscious often speaks louder than words. Your rhetoric is not the worst I’ve heard regarding this topic by a long shot, but I don’t think it’s not as objective and unemotionalized as you claim either. Actually, the general ideas you express, I’m in complete agreement with. The difficulty arises when we dig deeper into the specifics, and this to me, is what separates the scientific method from subjective intuition and cultural relativism. Of course, there are already large communities devoted to alternative medicine, oriental herbs, nutrional supplements, etc. My insurance provider, Blue Cross/Blue Shield (the largest in the country?) even allows for 30 accupunture visits per year, and medical marijuana is legal and taxed in my state, so the vicegrip monopoly on medicine and science seems more than a little exaggerated. OK, so the Krebs cycle has no practical use to you, that’s fine. But why the negativity toward those who find value in it? Ok, so memorization of some of the most validated and replicated details of mainstream biology is something you find boring and call indoctrination. But to paraphrase Newton, if I have seen farther it is by standing on the shoulders of giants. And this notion is referred to as the cumulative effect and is part of any method than can be called a scientific method. There are so many amazing and valid and reliable scientific discoveries (Krebs’ cycle being just one example) that appeared before we were born and are not inherited by us simply by being birthed. We are not born scientists; in fact, nearly every psychological study of the past 100 years suggests the opposite: we are born with subjective biases, parental and cultural indoctrination, appeals to authority and tradition, etc. And this is the importance of disciplining your mind in the hard sciences (fuck the soft sciences); if we are agreed that existence exists, and not everything is relative, then isn’t there value in disciplining our minds to understand existence in greater and greater detail? Plus, there is no new creativity without understanding the major themes of past creativity; creation doesn’t fall from the sky like Zeus’ thunderbolts; it comes from the replication and mutation of old ideas, aka synthesis, aka evolution. Of course, I know you claim to have proof against macroevolution as well, but I wonder if you’re merely regurgitating anti-authoritarian-authorities prior to a deep and thorough examination of the topic. Are you creating your own niche for yourself by defining yourself as standing against another niche? I liken the phenomenon to the teenager who first awakens to the evils of conformity and then rebels against the mainstream by dressing all in black and listening to heavy metal and spending half his day making fun of pop music fans. Meanwhile, some of us have been listening to pop, metal, jazz, funk, acid, rock, and country in search of musical universals. This is my metaphor for real science.

  2. After listening to this I read through Disciplined Minds. I was rather disappointed with this book. As someone who is currently working on a PhD in the sciences, I know there are some problems with the process of professional training, and I was hoping that this book would help explain some of those problems. To some extent it did touch on some real problems, however the legitimate concerns were packed between so many non-sequiturs, loaded phrases, and vague arguments drawn from cherry-picked anecdotal cases that it was hard to take any of it seriously.

    From my experience as a PhD candidate in biochemistry, yes there is some peer pressure and politics in the process, but no more so than almost any other human institution funded by the government. I’m definitely looking forward to finishing and moving on, but I’d hardly say it’s been soul crushing.

    • Hi Bryan,
      I agree that the book Disciplined Minds is not the ultimate research work on the subject of the compartmentalization and centralization of knowledge and understanding within the sciences. I think the book serves more as a warning of a direction to look at, so as to possibly prevent greater problems should the concerns in the book be shown as highly valid. I wished to respond to this portion of your comment:

      “From my experience as a PhD candidate in biochemistry, yes there is some peer pressure and politics in the process, but no more so than almost any other human institution funded by the government.”

      For many listeners to the podcast, “human institutions funded by the government” are a rather large concern, and this seems to be a source of many of the problems of the cultures and societies around all of us. Many listeners who haven’t engaged the PhD route are unaware of the level of peer pressure and politics which shape the future scientists who go through and achieve their career in the sciences.

      “I’m definitely looking forward to finishing and moving on, but I’d hardly say it’s been soul crushing.”

      I’m glad, Bryan. My education (though only at the masters level) was also not “soul crushing”. The value I gained from this book was that it showed me that there were areas in life in which damage (to people) may be occurring in much larger quantities than are being measured, and that alternative ways of learning professions would be far less damaging. The fact that the apprenticeship route to learning a trade in the sciences and medicine has been nearly destroyed (in favor of the college route) is another important factor I wished to draw attention to. Again, I’m happy to know that your particular PhD path is going ok, without causing trauma that you notice. Please keep in mind that the gist of the first 100 shows are to show the particular damages that conventional schooling has already done to most of us, subtly, effectively indoctrinating many individuals into the lessons of conformity, apathy and obedience.

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