Friday, September 18, 2020

From the archives: Uncle Eric and how you decide how you will know...can you?

Book studied:  "Uncle Eric" Talks About Personal, Career, and Financial Security, by Richard J. Maybury

Why a study guide for chapter 8, when I haven't posted any for the previous chapters?  This is where we're at in our term's work, and it's an important chapter.  Plus it shows you both why I both appreciate Uncle Eric (or Richard J. Maybury) and occasionally disagree with him--or at least want to raise a few questions about where he's coming from.  Which just shows that I've read chapter 8.

Dollygirl and I last read chapter 5 of this book, and discussed why the storytelling model is an effective one, especially for children (it's something our minds can more easily grasp than a list of rules).

We will skip chapters 6 and 7 for now--they're important in Uncle Eric's overall plan, but they don't make especially compelling reading at this point, at least for a sixth grader.

Chapter 8 is "A Model for Selecting Models."

"How do we know we have a good model?" Uncle Eric asks.

What are some ways you can make up your mind about which belief (about a given problem) makes more sense?  Flip a coin?  Ask a celebrity (the "prestige" model)?

Ask a specialist?  Uncle Eric points out that this is at least better than asking someone famous who doesn't specialize in that area, but, on the other hand, some specialists may be reluctant to give up their own accepted models, even if new evidence brings what they believe into question.  For example, read about Ignaz Semmelweis (we like the chapter in Exploring the History of Medicine).  Uncle Eric also uses Galileo as an example.

Sidewinding questions:  Does the Bible teach that the earth is the center of all God's creation?  Uncle Eric says that today we honour Galileo and regard his opponents as "closed-minded tyrants."  Are things different for scientists today?  What about Christian scientists?

Back to the main issue:  what is the final problem with the "prestige" model, that Uncle Eric points out at the top of page 52?

A third method of choosing which model is true:  do your own research.  What are the pros and cons of this?

Why does Uncle Eric say that if "everybody" believes something, then, mathematically speaking, there's a good chance that they're wrong?  Do you agree with this?

What is the scientific method?  What is a working hypothesis?  Watch this excellent, if somewhat silly, demonstration of the scientific method at work:

On page 54, Uncle Eric explains his beliefs about certainty/uncertainty.  Why does he feel it is safer to stay "uncertain" about many things?  Is there anything we can be certain of?  See Isaiah 12:2; Isaiah 25:9; Isaiah 33:6; Matthew 27:54; Matthew 28:20; Romans 6:5; Hebrews 6:13.  Does that certainty contradict the point that Uncle Eric is making?

For further thought:  does science also demand an element of faith, or does that contradict the definition of science?  "In science, one must commit oneself to the belief that the world we see and touch is real, that nature is uniform, and that it operates according to the principle of cause-and-effect.  Without these prior 'leaps of faith,' reasonable though they are, one cannot undertake science."----What Does the Bible Say About...The Ultimate A to Z Resource

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