[permaculture] How to decide?

Cory Brennan cory8570 at yahoo.com
Mon May 7 10:45:43 EDT 2012

A good scientist will use both intuition and observation, and will not be afraid to notice when his observations don't match up with his intuition. I have found a lot of usefulness in science as a permaculturist. But I'm also well aware of how much science has not yet documented - like the full complexity of soil life, weather patterns, etc. One can give a nod to science where it is accomplished, but realize that it is still discovering things that indigenous people have known and practiced for eons.

 From: Daniel Jager <dfjager at yahoo.com>
To: permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org 
Sent: Monday, May 7, 2012 4:43 AM
Subject: Re: [permaculture] How to decide?
I can't leave this alone, precisely because I also am a scientist, who dislikes the "consensus-building" that is being attempted here. It is not directed per se to the person in this previous message, but is more a generalized critique o how we view the world, and whom we should believe. 

> ------------------------------
> Message: 2
> Date: Sat, 5 May 2012 11:34:01 -0700
> From: Toby Hemenway <toby at patternliteracy.com>
> Subject: [permaculture] How to decide?
> One way is to look for intellectual honesty and a
> willingness to put the work up for review, and to address
> data that don't support their viewpoint. That last is the
> hallmark of an honest investigation.

And what will protect us from the bias of modern day scientific 'thinking'. What will protect us from the entire (scientific) group's 'bias'?

Similarly, I have spent around 18 years among scientists. My view is radically different than Tob's though, regarding their integrity, morality and objectivity, including their methods. Agreed, most mean well, mean very well, but logical thought and strict adherence to 'the method' do not compensate for a lack of wisdom and understanding.
I thought that was why Mollison started permaculture in the first place. Quote: "The Forest is our greatest teacher… If you lose the universities, you lose nothing. If you lose the forest, you lose everything."
Nature knows intuitively, but not us (anymore) with our logical and systematic probing. That is why I feel affinity with Fukuoka's ideas. It dismisses the logical, and dissecting, scientific mind; BUT NOT the careful and personal direct observation and awareness.

> There's a big difference in the way scientists work, and the
> way the deniers work. I spent 20 years in science, and still
> hang out with lots of scientists, so I know how they work.
> They almost always start with an observation: like, "hey,
> temperatures seem higher." Then they ask  questions: is
> what they are seeing real, and if it is, why is it
> happening? Sometimes they start with a question: are temps
> rising, falling, or unchanging? Most of them really try to
> make their experiments honestly ask these questions. If they
> don't, usually other scientists will rip them a new one;
> it's too public an endeavor to avoid that. Many new findings
> get challenged by peers who find holes in the work, a very
> important part of science, and the researcher then does
> more, rigorous experiments and either drops the idea or
> presents more robust findings. Generally, if an idea
> survives this process, there is some merit in it. It may not
> be the whole story, but it's been well tested by that
> point.
> The deniers, however, start with a theory that they don't
> like, such as evolution, climate change, or the germ theory,
> often for political, economic or religious reasons, though
> not always. But they never start with data. They don't start
> with a question. They start with a theory they don't like.
> Then they look only for data and anecdotes that support
> their view, and they ignore, distort, or hide any data that
> don't support their view. You can generally find
> intellectual dishonesty right in the arguments themselves,
> flawed reasoning, and smokescreens designed to make it look
> like they have answered an issue when they have just
> deflected the question.  If you see someone hiding or
> distorting unsupportive facts (as opposed to just worrying
> about them, a human trait demonstrated in the so-called
> "climate-gate" emails, where they ended up reporting the
> unfavorable data, something the deniers never do.), they
> probably have little merit.

Some "deniers" may accept something on pure faith, sure. Like many people accept the scientific "consensus" on pure faith.
Some non-science educated deniers accept something based on a deep "feeling" or intuition, like some scientists work on a gut feeling and intuition. Einstein, Newton, Bacon, Huygens, Pythagoras; anyone?
Some "deniers" work purely from scientific fact, like many mainstream scientists touting the "consensus" work purely from scientific fact.
I don't see the "camps" as that strictly divided.

> And this is why I won't argue the facts with anyone. Because
> facts can be made up, ignored, zombified, and selected. We
> then just go round and round, and this is why Oystein left:
> I wouldn't go round and round, but went to a higher level of
> logical flaws and integrity, and he took his toys and went
> home. You have to be willing to do your own investigations
> and weigh the facts and the quality of arguments from both
> sides, not just one. It's why I may show a bit of temper
> when I write about this: because liars piss me off, and then
> I get mad that people lazily believe them instead of
> applying themselves to the hard work of investigating. 

This is very true. Facts and anecdotes can be made to go round and round. Anyone can convince anyone else of almost everything, if such person is properly trained in the art of oration (think lawyers and pr-firms, anyone?).

My idea about these topics is: If you do not have the guts and stamina to try and study or experiment with these ideas on yourself, then in the end you know nothing, it is then just borrowed info without understanding. Many people don;t realize how dangerous borrowed info actually is.

Personal experimentation or effort is required. Everyone must re-invent "the wheel" (so to say) by themselves again. Only then will they "know".
This is as much true regarding health, climate change, or heck, even "permaculture design". Without personal experience and careful observation, it is all meaningless.

>  Logic, motivation, and integrity are the true signs of
> whether an argument is worthwhile, not how many facts you
> can find in a Google search that only looks for things that
> support you.

My idea is such: The rare True scientist, whether educated as such or not, never goes for answers, but stays with the question; the uncertainty; the wonder. And to find integrity in this day and age (but also in the past, as the Roman saying goes: Quid bono Who benefits?), I would like to add this observation I made.

"It is far easier to trust another person's ideas, who has acquired them from intuition, hard work, and pure interest, than it is to trust the ideas from someone who has used them to create his or her livelihood with them."

As Krishnamurti said: "And so there we are. There are no teachers, no authorities, no experts, no gurus at all. We are all alone in this mad brutal world."

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