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Peter Watts

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Peter Watts is a Canadian science fiction writer and a marine biologist.

In a recent post on his blog Peter writes:

I find it odd how few people seem willing to entertain the possibility that science may not be able to test the Spiritual simply because it's really tough to test things that don't exist. I'm not just talking about the stereotypic ignorant redneck doofi that we effete intellectuals like to invoke whenever anyone disagrees with us. I'm talking about the effetiati themselves-- journalists, academics, a fair number of pretty smart people. Friends. Colleagues. Respected rivals. Point out that religious experiences can be invoked by the judicious application of magnetic fields to the brain� hell, even cite it as a theoretical possibility (and speaking of which, you might want to check out "A Word for Heathens" over on my Backlist)� and at least a few of them will respond that "you haven't explained religious rapture�you've merely simulated it". The unspoken assumption seems to be that it doesn't matter how much it squawks, waddles, humps, breeds, or looks like a duck, it can't be one because there is some ineffable essence of duckness that will forever be beyond scientific understanding. Exactly what this essence does, why it is necessary� given a simulation that matches up to the so-called "original" in every measurable way� remains unclear.

I do not know why people insist on adding additional speculative elements to models that work better without them. Haven't these guys ever heard of parsimony?