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Bo takes a critical thinking-, reason-, and science-based approach to issues that matter with the goal of educating and entertaining. You create the show by submitting your questions here. Bo has a PhD in social psychology, but covers a broad range of topics including: Science Education (scientific method, what is / is not science, etc.), Success, Entrepreneurship, Motivation, General Psychology, Social Psychology, Positive Psychology (well-being, flourishing, happiness, etc.), Cognitive Psychology (belief, cognitive biases, memory, our flawed brain, etc.), General Social Science, Critical Thinking, Logical Fallacies, Humanism / Secularism, and even some Philosophy. All (reasonable) questions will be answered here, and some will be the material for the Dr. Bo Show.

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David McDivitt

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Thu, Nov 12, 2015 - 11:09 PM

Please speak about the various meanings of the word "reality".

In a classical sense, empiricism is not reality, but contrary. I feel the idea of scientific-realism is an oxymoron and only conflates what science is. In a desire to be right, which means they seek or want to impose intellectual authoritarianism, many today fall into the logical trap of realism. This goes against science as given to us by Hume and Bacon. Science contrasts Plato and the a priori reasoning he gave us. Science contrasted the Church to the extent Rome conquered Greece, the Church came from Rome, religion and philosophy at that time were one in the same, and the Church at that time occupied Plato's role as knowledge gatekeeper. After two thousand years from Plato to Descartes, the way knowledge was constructed finally began to change, and it was due to technological innovations such as the telescope.

I can understand why empiricism was discounted, then, as untrustworthy. But today we have structured empiricism and social protocols. That's what science is. Science is not the vindication of Plato and his fantasies, nor is it the discovery somehow of what truly is. In what context? According to what use? By who's values?

If I see something, that is not reality. That is empiricism. It is truth by empirical means. Unfortunately the meanings of words have become smeared together and established authors use words indiscriminately without regard to historical context. I think that's a problem, myself.

Materialism is a synonym for realism, and we know the significance of atheistic materialism, which in my opinion is also an oxymoron. If we accept the birth of science to be when we began to think differently, and the way we think is still in a process of transformation, even after five hundred years, maybe that helps put things in perspective. Thanks


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Bo Bennett, PhD
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Bo Bennett, PhD

Host, Doctor of Social Psychology

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About Bo Bennett, PhD

I am the host of this show :) For my complete bio, please see http://www.bobennett.com.
PrintFri, Nov 13, 2015 - 09:53 AM
It sounds as if you are looking for a deeply philosophical answer here, which, unfortunately, I cannot provide. I can provide a psychological and personal perspective, however.

Psychologists tend to see reality differently, depending on specialty. For example, clinical psychologists will have a narrow perspective of reality in dealing with clients who frequently experience hallucinations and delusions as indicated by common symptoms and lack of empirical support. Cognitive psychologists might offer a more broad version of reality in that our perceptions define our reality. I am generalizing here, but the point is, "reality" can be defined many ways. When someone wants to impose their "reality" on other people, other people generally expect and demand evidence for that reality. People often abuse the broad definition of reality in an attempt to change people's behavior, beliefs, and actions.

If someone is trying to convince me that "God" is "real" (that is, a reality), I don't accept or reject that claim because I don't know what "God" is to that person. On the one hand, if a person defines "God" as their inner-voice that guides much of their behavior, then I would have to accept their version of God as real (although I would just call it intuition). On the other hand, if someone were to define"God" as a being who created the universe, I would reject the reality of that being based on the lack of evidence for such a claim. So in short, people can use "reality" as they wish, but my shared acceptance of their reality is provisional based on the claims they are making about their reality.

Hope that helps!
Bo Bennett, PhD
My Latest Book: https://www.uncomfortable-ideas.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thedrboshow/
About Me: http://www.bobennett.com


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David McDivitt
Friday, November 13, 2015 - 11:00:43 PM
Thanks, Dr Bo, that was a pretty good answer. This is my favorite subject and I debate a lot concerning it. I do not like the realist mentality, and though a hard-core atheist, I am not in the materialist or determinist camp. Why? I an not a faith-based person, but evidence-based. My premise is as follows. Determinism means "to determine" or make happen. We as human beings make things happen. We do things to obtain desired results, probabilistically speaking of course. That is determinism. We see what was done and we see evidence of what happened as a result. With regard to phenomena, which is not what we do, but what we observe, if a logical cause and effect relationship can be laid out with regard to the phenomena, then yes, we can say the phenomena was determined accordingly. Otherwise it is random. To say there is determinism without saying exactly what that determinism is, equates to faith and worship of an ideal. I do not do that and I challenge materialists to say how they are not doing that.

For instance, if I flip a coin, and I also do the analysis stating what the result should be with regard to angular velocities, temperature, springiness of skin, as well as other factors, then yes, I can say the coin flip is determined within those factors. Otherwise it is random. Just saying it is determined without saying how, is not good enough. My opinion is, the idea of nebulous determinism is easily used for social prestige because it sounds intellectual. There are many contexts, valuations, and uses in our world. Abbreviating these for the sake of determinism is cheap and not challenged enough. For there to be determinism, and greater realism or materialism beyond that, would require a means of enforcement or authority to make it so. Materialists are unable to follow through and cite any enforcement mechanism showing what brings materialism about. Instead they say "it is that way", which is circular reasoning. Neither do I agree we discover "how things are" in this regard, but mouth cultural biases as we inherited them from Plato. We are very much a Platonic culture.

Is it necessary for anything to be real? No. To qualify, is it necessary for anything to be what it should be? What is it things are supposed to be, exactly? If you have ever served on a committee or participated in a group endeavor, you know this is dynamic and subject to change. Everyone has a right to speak and can potentially sway the consensus. I see no way materialism as an idea can supersede or be superior to that.

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