Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Scientific Rejection of Vitalism (continued).

[to return to the main document, click here, http://standtoyourduty.blogspot.com/]
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03. State Org.s:
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the Empire State [New York] Association of Two-Year College Biologists [ESATYCB] states:
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[in "Community College Biologists Oppose Alternative Medicine"] {also reported in Skeptical Inquirer, May-June 2004}
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"[ESATYCB] voted to confirm a position statement opposing any association between community college biology instruction with the unscientific beliefs of chiropractic and other alternative medicine schemes [...] alternative medicine uses the language of science, but convolutes scientific reasoning to justify its undemonstrated claims [...] blurring the line between that which is considered accepted science and that which is not [...] 'junk biology' undermines the task of biology educators whose responsibility is the presentation of science-based information [...] the expectancy is that the policy statement will 'red flag' alternative medicine as a questionable source of science-based information and provide support for educators who openly question dubious medical claims";
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(click here,
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the Kentucky Council Against Health Fraud states:
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[in “Naturopathy”]
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“scientific assessment. We feel that naturopathy is an invalid and potentially dangerous approach to health care: rather than being grounded in scientific concepts, naturopathy is based on outmoded, 19th century ideas such as vitalism, the doctrine that living things have distinct ‘vital principles’ or ‘life forces’ which lie beyond regular scientific understanding of matter an energy […] naturopaths like to embrace unscientific ideas such as balancing the body’s ‘energy’; to be overconfident in the body’s ability to heal itself; and to consider ‘natural’ remedies such as herbs superior to more scientifically based treatments […and] naturopathy holds that many diseases are due to accumulation of ‘toxins,’ a scientifically invalid concept […] many approaches used by naturopaths are pseudoscientific, for example, homeopathy, chelation therapy, colonic irrigation, hair analysis, and some electrical diagnostic devices […] naturopathy has a history of opposition to science-based medicine […] naturopaths lack the rigorous training of medical doctors […] KCAHF recommends that scientifically-based health professionals be consulted rather than naturopaths”;
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(click here,
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the Michigan Science Teachers Association states:
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[in “A Position Statement of the Michigan Science Teachers Association On Evolution Education & the Nature ofScience”{02-03-2007}] 
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“it is the mission of [...] MSTA [...] to support and provide leadership for the improvement of science education throughout Michigan. In fulfillment of this mission, the MSTA recognizes that it is essential that students be introduced to the most contemporary scientific scholarship available [...] the scientific community’s resounding consensus on the validity and robustness of [for example] evolutionary theory [...] the scientific community’s repeated validation of evolutionary theory [...we opposed introduction of] non-scientific ideologies into the science classroom [...such as] non-scientific ideologies as 'creation science,' 'creationism,' 'intelligent design' or other non-scientific 'alternatives to evolution' from the science classroom as they do not meet the characteristics and rigor of scientific empiricism [...we affirm that science is] an empirically (tested) derived body of knowledge [...that] scientists view and seek to explain the natural world through the empirical lens of science [...] science is unique in its approach by relying exclusively upon empirical natural law (e.g., the laws of physics, chemistry, geology, etc.) in its explanation and not upon supernatural intervention or untestable conjecture. It is this testability that is a hallmark of the nature and process of science. Scientific hypotheses and theory must be testable against the natural world and therefore at least potentially falsifiable. Furthermore, any conclusions formulated from these tests are tentative pending new data to the contrary. As our scientific knowledge expands and provides us with better insights into the natural world, science is able to modify previous conclusions and theory to incorporate this new knowledge [...] the National Academy of Sciences defines theory as a '…well substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that incorporates facts, laws, inferences and tested hypotheses' [...e.g.] the scientific community’s strong advocacy for evolution theory is a result of the preponderance of corroborating empirical data originating from virtually all disciplines of the physical and biological sciences. The scientific community regards evolutionary theory as one of the most robust and well-substantiated scientific theories to date as evolutionary theory represents the convergence of corroborating evidence from independent lines of scientific investigation [...] teaching theological or philosophical explanations alongside or in place of evolution theory would not make the classroom presentation 'fair or equal' but would result in the offering of false scientific alternatives to our students which would be a violation of academic honesty and our professional responsibilities as trustees of our student’s academic development and science literacy”;
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(click here,
http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/news/2007/MI/479_michigan_science_teachers_reaf_2_28_2007.asp)
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the New York Academy of Sciences states:
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[in past member Ernst Mayr's article "The Autonomy of Biology: How the Complexity of Living Systems Makes Biology Unique"]
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[indicating, to a large extent, how wed vitalism and teleology are, historically]
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[defunct](for a youtube.com slideshow of this, click here,
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"Chapter 2: The Autonomy of Biology [...] it took more than two hundred years and the occurrence of three sets of events before a separate science of the living world -- biology [this includes human biology] -- was recognized [...] one can assign these events to three different sets [...the first set] the refutation of certain erroneous principles [...] under this heading, I deal with the support for certain basic ontological principles that later were shown to be erroneous [...] certain basic explanatory principles not supported by the laws of the physical sciences and eventually found to be invalid. The two major principles here involved are vitalism and a belief in cosmic teleology [...] as soon as it had been demonstrated that these two principles are invalid and, more broadly, that none of the phenomena of the living world is in conflict with the natural laws of the physicalists, there was no longer any reason for not recognizing biology as a legitimate autonomous science equivalent to physics [...per vitalism] the nature of life, the property of being living [...] most naturalists [...] were convinced that in a living organism certain forces are active that do not exist in inanimate nature. They concluded that, just as the motion of planets and stars is controlled by an occult, invisible force called gravitation by Newton, the movements and other manifestations of life in organisms are controlled by an invisible force, lebenskraft or vis vitalis [vital force]. Those who believed in such a force were called vitalists [...] popular from the early seventeenth century to the early twentieth century [...] the end of vitalism came when it no longer could find any supporters. Two causes were largely responsible for this: first, the failure of literally thousands of unsuccessful experiments conducted to demonstrate the existence of a lebenskraft; second, the realization that the new biology, with the methods of genetics and molecular biology, was able to solve all the problems for which scientists traditionally had invoked the lebenskraft. In other words, the proposal of a lebenskraft had simply become unnecessary [nonparsimonious...] the critical logic of the vitalists was impeccable. But all their efforts to find a scientific answer to the so-called vitalistic phenomena were failures. Generations of vitalists labored in vain to find a scientific explanation for the lebenskraft until it finally became quite clear that such a force simply does not exist. That was the end of vitalism [...] teleology is the second invalid principle that had to be eliminated from biology before it qualified as a science equivalent to physics. Teleology deals with the explanation of natural processes that seem to lead automatically to a definite end or goal [purposefulness...] Aristotle invoked a fourth cause, the causa finalis [...] alas, no evidence for the existence of such a teleological principle could ever be found, and the discoveries of genetics and paleontology eventually totally discredited cosmic teleology";
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(click here,
(archived here,
(for the archive.org history of this page, click here,
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b.
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"biologists [...] now rejected vitalism and cosmic teleology [...the new] solution had to satisfy two demands: it had to be completely compatible with the natural laws of the physicists [like thermodynamics], and no solution was acceptable that would invoke any occult forces [has to be actually measured, testable]";
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(click here,
[not archived?]
(for the archive.org history of this page, click here,
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