Thursday, December 19, 2013

America First?

. One upshot of Singer's views on alleviating hunger comes I believe, from his utilitarianism. According to Utilitarianism, we are to maximize the total balance of pleasure over pain, and in counting this, we are to consider each person's happiness as equal to everyone else's. Hence, my happiness, or that of my family, should count no more from the moral point of view than anyone else's happiness. 
Countering this is the sentiment of Marty Robbins' song "In My Own Native Land." A lot of people who read Singer's essay say that we should help America first, as Marty Robbins implies. Singer disagrees. What do you think? Is it ethical to say "America First?"

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Jimmy Carter on Fundamentalists

“A fundamentalist can’t bring himself or herself to negotiate with people who disagree with them because the negotiating process itself is an indication of implied equality.”

Jimmy Carter August 17, 2006

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Witch hunts, and their secular counterparts

I see John Loftus is using witch hunts as the basis for attacking Christianity. So, there won't be witch hunts if we just give up Christianity.

No, but there have been secular equivalents, including this one.  But since it was in Soviet Russia, it doesn't count.

Monday, December 16, 2013

A J Ayer's Near Death Experience


Is there just one moral absolute?

Philosophical naturalists often take relativistic views on ethics. Yet, there seems to be one ethical area about which they are absolutists, and that is the ethics of belief. They say with Clifford "It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence." In fact, to some of them, this seems to be more obviously true than "It is wrong, always and everywhere, and for anyone, to inflict pain on little children for your own amusement." 

I don't understand this. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A note from the Discovery Institute about the so-called Wedge Document

The following is a response by Rob Crowther on the so-called Wedge Document. What is interesting is that the Forrest and Gross book is recommended by people like Dawkins, Pinker, and E. O. Wilson.

What can be learned from this? The fact is that in their desire to defend science against ID, the people who should be expected to be proportioning their belief to the evidence have bought in on a ridiculous conspiracy theory. As I have written previously, nonspecialists have to rely, to large extent, on the credibility of the experts in the scientific community. Fiascos like these damage the credibility of the Darwinist community, and in the final analysis, of Darwinism itself.

The “Wedge Document”: How Darwinist Paranoia Fueled an Urban Legend

In 1999 someone posted on the internet an early fundraising proposal for Discovery Institute’s Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture. Dubbed the “Wedge Document,” this proposal soon took on a life of its own, popping up in all sorts of places and eventually spawning what can only be called a giant urban legend. Among true-believers on the Darwinist fringe the document came to be viewed as evidence for a secret conspiracy to fuse religion with science and impose a theocracy. These claims were so outlandish that for a long time we simply ignored them. But because some credulous Darwinists seem willing to believe almost anything, we decided we should set the record straight.

1. The Background

§ In 1996 Discovery Institute established the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture (now just the Center for Science & Culture). Its main functions were (1) to support research by scientists and other scholars who were critical of neo-Darwinism and by those who were developing the emerging scientific theory of intelligent design; and (2) to explore, in various ways, the multiple connections between science and culture.

§ To raise financial support for the Center, Discovery Institute prepared a fundraising proposal that explained the overall rationale for the Center and why a think tank like Discovery would want to start such an entity in the first place. Like most fundraising proposals, this one included a multi-year budget and a list of goals to be achieved.

2. The Rise of an Urban Legend

§ In 1999 a copy of this fundraising proposal was posted by someone on the internet. The document soon spread across the world wide web, gaining almost mythic status among some Darwinists.

§ That’s when members of the Darwinist fringe began saying rather loopy things. For example, one group claimed that the document supplied evidence of a frightening twenty-year master plan “to have religion control not only science, but also everyday life, laws, and education”!

§ Barbara Forrest, a Louisiana professor on the board of a group called the New Orleans Secular Humanist Association, similarly championed the document as proof positive of a sinister conspiracy to abolish civil liberties and unify church and state. Forrest insisted that the document was “crucially important,” and she played up its supposed secrecy, claiming at one point that its “authenticity…has been neither affirmed nor denied by the Discovery Institute.” Poor Prof. Forrest—if she really wanted to know whether the document was authentic, all she had to do was ask. (She didn’t.)

§ There were lots of ironies as this urban legend began to grow, but Darwinist true-believers didn’t seem capable of appreciating them:

Discovery Institute, the supposed mastermind of this “religious” conspiracy, was in fact a secular organization that sponsored programs on a wide array of issues, including mass transit, technology policy, the environment, and national defense.
At the time the “Wedge Document” was being used by Darwinists to stoke fears about Christian theocracy, the Chairman of Discovery’s Board was Jewish, its President was an Episcopalian, and its various Fellows represented an eclectic range of religious views ranging from Roman Catholic to agnostic. It would have been news to them that they were all part of a fundamentalist cabal.
Far from promoting a union between church and state, Discovery Institute sponsored for several years a seminar for college students that advocated religious liberty and the separation between church and state.
3. What the Document Actually Says

§ The best way to dispel the paranoia of the conspiracy-mongers is to actually look at the document in question. It simply doesn’t advocate the views they attribute to it.

§ First and foremost, and contrary to the hysterical claims of some Darwinists, this document does not attack “science” or the “scientific method.” In fact, it is pro-science. What the document critiques is “scientific materialism,” which is the abuse of genuine science by those who claim that science supports the unscientific philosophy of materialism.

§ Second, the document does not propose replacing “science” or the “scientific method” with “God” or “religion.” Instead, it supports a science that is “consonant” (i.e., harmonious) with theism, rather than hostile to it. To support a science that is “consonant” with religion is not to claim that religion and science are the same thing. They clearly aren’t. But it is to deny the claim of scientific materialists that science is somehow anti-religious.

§ Following are the document’s major points, which we still are happy to affirm:

(1) “The proposition that human beings are created in the image of God is one of the bedrock principles on which Western civilization is built. Its influence can be detected in most, if not all, of the West’s greatest achievements, including representative democracy, human rights, free enterprise, and progress in the arts and sciences.” As a historical matter, this statement happens to be true. The idea that humans are created in the image of God has had powerful positive cultural consequences. Only a member of a group with a name like the “New Orleans Secular Humanist Association” could find anything objectionable here. (By the way, isn’t it strange that a group supposedly promoting “theocracy” would praise “representative democracy” and “human rights”?)

(2) “Yet a little over a century ago, this cardinal idea came under wholesale attack by intellectuals drawing on the discoveries of modern science. Debunking the traditional conceptions of both God and man, thinkers such as Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, and Sigmund Freud portrayed humans not as moral and spiritual beings, but as animals or machines who inhabited a universe ruled by purely impersonal forces and whose behavior and very throughts were dictated by the unbending forces of biology, chemistry, and environment.” This statement highlights one of the animating concerns of Discovery Institute as a public policy think tank. Leading nineteenth century intellectuals tried to hijack science to promote their own anti-religious agenda. This attempt to enlist science to support an anti-religious agenda continues to this day with Darwinists like Oxford’s Richard Dawkins, who boldly insists that Darwinism supports atheism. We continue to think that such claims are an abuse of genuine science, and that this abuse of real science has led to pernicious social consequences (such as the eugenics crusade pushed by Darwinist biologists early in the twentieth century).

(3) “Discovery Institute’s Center... seeks nothing less than the overthrow of materialism and its cultural legacies.” It wants to “reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions.” We admit it: We want to end the abuse of science by Darwinists like Richard Dawkins and E.O. Wilson who try to use science to debunk religion, and we want to provide support for scientists and philosophers who think that real science is actually “consonant with… theistic convictions.” Please note, however: “Consonant with” means “in harmony with.” It does not mean “same as.” Recent developments in physics, cosmology, biochemistry, and related sciences may lead to a new harmony between science and religion. But that doesn’t mean we think religion and science are the same thing. We don’t.

(4) “Without solid scholarship, research and argument, the project would be just another attempt to indoctrinate instead of persuade.” It is precisely because we are interested in encouraging intellectual exploration that the “Wedge Document” identified the “essential” component of its program as the support of scholarly “research, writing and publication.” The document makes clear that the primary goal of Discovery Institute’s program in this area is to support scholars so they can engage in research and publication Scholarship comes first. Accordingly, by far the largest program in the Center’s budget has been the awarding of research fellowships to biologists, philosophers of science, and other scholars to engage in research and writing.

(5) “The best and truest research can languish unread and unused unless it is properly publicized.” It’s shocking but true—Discovery Institute actually promised to publicize the work of its scholars in the broader culture! What’s more, it wanted to engage Darwinists in academic debates at colleges and universities! We are happy to say that we still believe in vigorous and open discussion of our ideas, and we still do whatever we can to publicize the work of those we support. So much for the “secret” part of our supposed “conspiracy/”

§ A final thought: Don’t Darwinists have better ways to spend their time than inventing absurd conspiracy theories about their opponents? The longer Darwinists persist in spinning such urban legends, the more likely it is that fair-minded people will begin to question whether Darwinists know what they are talking about.

To see the complete original text of the document and read a more detailed response go to: The Wedge Document: So What? (


Robert L. Crowther

Director of Communications

Center for Science & Culture

Secular Sources of Morality

There are two “secular” sources for a moral life. One is our natural sympathy for others, and the other is social usefulness of much moral behavior. But I am not sure these motivations cover all the cases of morality.

Religion and Warfare

There have been wars in which religious motivation has been a factor, although I think a lot of these things are political with a religious justification. For example, the Irish don’t like the British presence in their country, and probably wouldn’t even if there were no religious differences between Britain and Ireland.

Non-religious and even anti-religious states, such as the Soviet Union, have not made the world more peaceful. If some political leader were to decide that what was holding the human race back was religious belief, I could imagine them starting a war to attack religion. The only countries that have been officially atheistic have been communist countries, and they have a bad track record.

Tipler on creationism

Falsifiable Young Universe Theory   
Speaking of Tipler, be sure not to miss his paper, "How to 
Construct a Falsifiable Theory in Which the Universe Came Into 
Being Several Thousand Years Age,"  PSA  1984, Proceedings of the 
Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association (Vol. 2, 
pp. 873-902). Tipler is not a creationist, indeed, he writes, "I 
personally am an atheist" (p. 895), but he finds that "the 
political position taken by many opponents of the creationists 
offends my liberal instincts" (p. 874). Further, Tipler argues that 
federal judge  William Overton  made a serious error in his 1982 
Arkansas decision, when Overton ruled that creation  ex nihilo  is 
"inherently religious;" Tipler writes:

The problem with this is that..the standard big bang theory has 
the Universe coming into existence out of nothing, and 
cosmologists use the phrase "creation of the universe" to 
describe this phenomenon! Thus if we accepted Judge Overton's 
idea that creation out of nothing is inherently religious, it 
would be illegal to teach the big bang theory at state 
universities! I pointed out this amusing implication of Judge 
Overton's opinion to John Wheeler, who teaches big bang cosmology 
with great enthusiasm at the University of Texas, and he wrote to
me that "he would be unable to obey the law" [i.e., Overton's
decision]. (p. 894)

This paper is fascinating, but beware:  you'll need (at least) a
Ph.D. for the astrophysics.

Can science tell us why matter exists?

We have theories about why nonliving matter became living, and how simple life-forms evolved into more complex ones. What science can’t tell us is why there is any matter at all, as opposed to no matter. 

Or can it?

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Attacking ID with the wrong stick?

A redated post.

In an oped piece in the Christian Science Monitor, Alexander George says that the enterprise of demarcating science from pseudoscience is a historically a failure. So while he opposed ID and the attempt to bring it into the school classrooms, he is critical of the attempt to use a distinction between science and pseudoscience to argue against its inclusion.

My own study in the philosophy of science reached much the same conclusion where Creationism was concerned. After Judge Overton used a demarcationist argument to strike down the Arkansas creationism law, both Philip Quinn and Larry Laudan, neither of them defenders of creationism by any stretch of the imagination, argued that the judge had accepted bad arguments from expert witnesses in support of their conclusions.

Larry Laudan, "Commentary: Science at the Bar - Causes for Concern,"
_Science, Technology and Human Values_ v7 n41 (Fall 1982) 16-19.

Philip L. Quinn, "The Philosopher of Science as Expert Witness," in C. F.
Delaney, J. T. Cushing, G. Gutting, eds., _Science and Reality_ (University
of Notre Dame Press, 1984) 32-53

and more generally:

Larry Laudan, "The Demise of the Demarcation Problem," repr. in M. Ruse,
ed., _But Is It Science?_ (Prometheus Books, 1988) 337-350

I was even told that when Judge Overton ruled there were Big Bang cosmologists who pleaded with the judge not to use the criteria he did to define science because it would not only rule out creationism, but modern cosmology as well.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

No Pity for the Kitty

The ASU-UA football game is tonight, so I thought I would let everyone know where my sentiments lie, (as both an ASU graduate and instructor). 

Fall Down, Arizona (to tune of Bear down, Arizona):

Fall down, Arizona,
Fall down, black and blue.
Fall down, Arizona,
You know damn well you're through.

So it's Trip! Fall!
Drop that ball!
Arizona, you are screwed!

Jay Richards on the AFR


Monday, November 25, 2013

Boghossian's Agenda

This is a Debunking Christianity account of what Peter Boghossian is up to. Does anyone see this as dangerous to a free society?

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Friday, November 22, 2013

A couple of new youtube videos

One on Lewis and intelligent design, and one on the AFR.

An excerpt from Lewis's "Image and Imagination"

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Lewis's passing. Here. 

Oh yeah, there was some American politician who got shot that day, and another British author who died that day as well.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Descriptive Project in Debating Controversial Issues

You know when discussion is productive when opposing sides spend less time trying to zing one another and more time trying to get clear on where their real differences lie.

When it gets unproductive is when people assume that they know exactly why the other side thinks the way it does. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Some Background on School Prayer

But you have to look at the background on this. Our country was initially populated by people escaping religious persecution who were looking for a safe have to practice their own religion. When we came together as a country, we had a religiously diverse population, so when we wrote the constitution, we had to say that the government would not support any religion at the expense of others, nor would it prohibit the free exercise of religion. 

Prayer in public schools was a complicated issue where there was a religious diversity amongst students and teachers, because, how could, say, Catholics and Protestants agree on a prayer to say. Now, we are talking about a school-sponsored prayer. No student-sponsored prayer is, or needs to be, prohibited. But in the Cold War, America was distinguishing itself from a Communist enemy that was known to be atheistic. So, the school district in New York decided to develop a prayer which they thought anyone who believed in God could pray. (Those of you who pray, do you ever pray generic prayers?) 

Interestingly, it wasn't the atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair who sued the school district to stop this, it was some Jewish parents, who thought that the prayers said in school would not be considered appropriate for Jewish students to pray. The Supreme Court said that it violated the establishment clause of the Constitution to have this prayer, even though the prayer was a generic prayer. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

More dialogue with Parsons

  • You can follow his side here. 

    Keith, I think you have misunderstood what I am doing with the idea of the psychon. The problem I am pointing to is this. I am not actually suggesting that the "soul" is a physical entity, but I am attempting to show that in order make a define the physical in any meaningful way that excludes things like "psychons", you have to define the mental (or as you would have it, the "personal") out of the physical. You seem to be saying that there is nothing but prejudice keeping us from assigning mental properties to physical entities like the brain. But when you have to define the physical in contradistinction to the mental, I believe that you have at least a prima facie difficulty that requires some explanation.
    Since the physical, at least at the base level has to be free of purpose, intentionality, subjectivity, and normativity, these things have to be bootstrapped in on higher levels. Further, these higher levels have to be necessary consequences of what is on the lower levels.
    Now you seem to follow Melnyk in bootstrapping the mental into the upper levels of a physicalistic universe via some version of functionalism.
    Here's a description of functionalism provided by William Vallicella.
    Mental properties are functional properties. So when we say that x, a brain event say, has a mental property, all we mean is that it stands in certain causal relations to sensory inputs, behavioral outputs, and intervening brain events. So what makes the brain event mental is simply the relations in which it stands to inputs, outputs and other brain events. Once you grasp this, then you grasp that the brain event can be wholly physical in nature despite its having a mental property. Mental properties are not intrinsic but relational.
    Now, the link provides some criticisms by Vallicella of this claim, but my main concern at this point is simply asking you if you think his description of functionalism is correct.

      Tuesday, November 12, 2013

      Keith Parsons responds, and I reply back

      Yes, I do think you are abusing language here, and the result is that your position becomes even more obscure than standard Cartesian dualism. "Physical" obviously means more than occupying space or having a spatial location. Marley's ghost could be coming through Scrooge's locked door, and so have a spatial location, and still not be a physical entity. "Physical" has to mean that its causal powers and liabilities are reducible to, or ultimately explicable in terms of, the laws, entities, and processes acknowledged by basic physics. In terms of our current understanding, the causal capacities of physical things come down at rock bottom to the properties and interactions of quarks, leptons, and the gauge bosons that mediate fundamental forces. Your "psychons, angel ons, and theon" are not physical in that sense--or, if they are, then I REALLY have no idea what you are talking about.
      Further, a basic component of the concept of the physical seems to be that it is impersonal at the ontologically fundamental level. Fundamental things do not think, choose, decide, reason, etc., though fantastically complex composites of them (e.g. you and me) do. As I have always understood dualism and theism--and as they are defended by some of their leading advocates, such as Richard Swinburne--these views put personal explanation at rock bottom.
      For these reasons, then, I regard your suggestion that souls might be physical to be an abuse of these terms as they are normally understood.
      Let's get to what you identify as the real issue: Do the principles of reasoning govern the brain or the laws of physics?
      Here is my basic question: Why can't thinking logically (in accordance with the laws of logic) be something I accomplish with my physical brain? Why cannot my thought, say,
      ~(P v Q), therefore
      ~P & ~Q
      be physically realized as an event in my brain? If realization is taken as an identity relation, as I think it should be, then the above-described mental even IS a physical event
      Problem solved. The radical disjunction you propose simply does not apply. Things in the physical world can be done in accordance with the laws of logic because those laws are apprehended by mental events that are physically realized in the operations of the brain.
      This mental/physical act of apprehension, in virtue of its physical properties, can therefore initiate or enter into causal chains. That is how the laws of logic impact the physical world--qua apprehended by physical brains.
      Where is the incoherence? In fact, there is none. There may be a recalcitrant feeling of incoherence on the part of some people, but I suggest that this feeling has no logical basis, but is due to the continued subliminal influence of pernicious and obscurantist Cartesian categories. For four hundred years a religiously-based ideology has told us that the mental and the physical are mutually exclusive categories. We have to finally exorcise this notion, or the mind/body relation will always appear unnecessarily obscure.

      VR: OK, what defines the "physical?" You say
      "Physical" has to mean that its causal powers and liabilities are reducible to, or ultimately explicable in terms of, the laws, entities, and processes acknowledged by basic physics. In terms of our current understanding, the causal capacities of physical things come down at rock bottom to the properties and interactions of quarks, leptons, and the gauge bosons that mediate fundamental forces. Your "psychons, angelons, and theon" are not physical in that sense--or, if they are, then I REALLY have no idea what you are talking about.
      Well, Keith, that runs you up against what is known as Hempel's dilemma. You can either define the physical in terms of current physics, in which case you have quarks, leptons and gauge bosons that mediate fundamental forces. But if you go that route, then physicalism is obviously false, since clearly we can expect physics to expand and discover other entities at the basic level of analysis. On the other hand, if fundamental physics is expandable, then fundamental physics might be expanded to include just the entities that I mentioned above, in which case you haven't ruled anything out.
      Now I see that you made the step that is typically made at this point. You say:
      Further, a basic component of the concept of the physical seems to be that it is impersonal at the ontologically fundamental level. Fundamental things do not think, choose, decide, reason, etc., though fantastically complex composites of them (e.g. you and me) do. As I have always understood dualism and theism--and as they are defended by some of their leading advocates, such as Richard Swinburne--these views put personal explanation at rock bottom.
      This is what is called the "via negativa" in defining the physical. The "mental" has to be kept off the basic level in order for the "physical" to be significantly physical. But that's exactly what generates the incompatibility between the mental and the physical. You have to make sure the base level is stripped of the mental, but you still want to make sure the mental is still there at some other level. The problem is going to be that if the mental isn't in the base, then there is a lack of entailment between the physical state-description and the mental state-description. It isn't just a religion-based ideology that generates this result, it is the fact that any attempt to define the physical the excludes what you want it to exclude has to exclude the mental from the physical.
      Admittedly, you can have properties of a whole system that is not a property of its proper parts. Thus, if you have a wall made up of bricks that are six inches high, you can add the bricks up and get a wall that is six feet high even though none of the bricks is six feet high. However, there is an "adding up" of the brick sizes which entails that the wall is six feet tall. Given the brick-statements, the wall-statement is entailed. But it doesn't work that way for the mental. I see this, for example, in Quine's argument for the indeterminacy of translation. You can pile up non-mental facts until doomsday, but the question of what mental states there may be remains open. In the case of the bricks and the wall, the brick state-descriptions entail the wall-statement. In the case of the physical state-description, these state-descriptions do no in any way entail the mental state-description. Any set of physical state-descriptions is compatible with various mental state-descriptions, or there being no mental state there at all.

      • Monday, November 11, 2013

        Could I really be a materialist after all?

        Some further discussion with Parsons. 

        Depending on how you define the brain, I would be prepared to agree that we think with our brains, if we just mean by that whatever occupies the space between me ears. My argument isn't an argument for something that is not spatial. However, do the laws of physics govern the brain, or do the principles of reasoning? That's the real issue. Can we admit into brain theory the emergence of something whose actions are determined by laws other than the laws of physics, if we assume that because the laws of physics operate non-teleologically?
        Here's something I once wrote in a reply I once did to Richard Carrier:
        But we should be careful of exactly what is meant by the term “brain.” The “brain” is supposed to be “physical,” and we also have to be careful about what we mean by “physical.” If by physical we mean that it occupies space, then there is nothing in my argument that suggests that I need to deny this possibility. I would just prefer to call the part of the brain that does not function mechanistically the soul, since, as I understand it, there is more packed into the notion of the physical than just the occupation of space. If on the other hand, for something to be physical (hence part of the brain) it has to function mechanistically, that is, intentional an teleological considerations cannot be basic explanations for the activity of the brain, then Parsons’ suggestion (and Carrier’s as well-VR) is incoherent.
        You see, I could become a materialist rather easily. I could just say that God, souls, and angels are just different types of material beings. To give them a scientific ring, I can call them psychons, angelons, and, of course, the theon. Now, if you don't like my proposed expansion of materialism and you want to exclude me from the materialist club, you have to explain to me why I am abusing language here. You have to tell me what it is about matter that makes it impossible that God is a material being. And how would you do that without saying that these entities have ground-level "mental" properties which exclude them from inclusion into "the physical."

        Sunday, November 10, 2013

        Notes on some more comments by Parsons on the AFR

        KP: Further, human beings would be most unfortunate if in fact a theory as important as PRM (the physical realization of the mental-VR) were true and could not be rationally believed. Goetz and Taliafero appear to concede that PRM could be true, but they hold that the truth of PRM would preclude rationally believing it by our standards of rational belief. However, if our standards of rational belief are such that they can preclude us from rationally believing an important theory that (we are assuming) is in fact true, then perhaps our standards of rational belief are deficient. Standards of rational belief are supposed to permit, not preclude, rational belief in true theories. If PRM is true—and, again, Goetz and Taliafero apparently concede that it could be—then this is a very important truth and there needs to be some way that we can rationally believe that it is true.

        VR: Interestingly, if it is problematic that certain things of significance my be true, and yet we are unable to rationally believe them, then this poses some problems for a number of interesting positions in philosophy, which many religious skeptics endorse. A good example would be Hume's essay on miracles. If we take Humeanism about miracles far enough, the God could be sitting up in heaven performing miracle after miracle, and the best we could, as human reasoners, could say about it would be that we don't have a naturalistic explanation for it yet. Water into wine? We'll understand it better by and by. Someone rises from the dead? It's GOT to be a hallucination. I'm being appeared to hellishly? Got to be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato.

        Are there features of the world and human minds that are necessary in order for there to be, for example, any scientists in the world? Suppose reality were nothing but a turnip with a bit of whipped cream on top. If this were the case, this would be a significant truth, but given the nature of knowledge, neither the turnip nor the whipped cream would know this. Turnips and bits of whipped cream don't do science. Is this a problem?