What is the desire to believe certain things can't be explained or replicated by science called

For example, the desire to believe personality is something etherical that cannot, or at least should not be affected by things like man made chemicals like drugs.

Or when sci fi movies talk about futuristic robots, sometimes the robots have advanced cognitive abilities but inferior social skills (Data on star trek as an example). I think that is a desire to believe that social skills are somehow ‘human’ and cannot be explained by science and replicated by technology, which isn’t true (there are already computers and robots that respond to emotional cues).

It isn’t the god of the gaps argument, that is something else. But it is similar to it. Usually it relates to not wanting to believe things associated with religion or personality can or should be explained with science or replicated with technology.

It’s a little akin to vitalism, the idea that living things have properties that are innate and intrinsic, the “spark of life.” It suffered a severe blow when “organic chemistry” was shown to be a lot closer to “inorganic chemistry” than people had thought.

There is also a term, which I can’t remember, from German Scientific Romanticism, Natur_something – Stephen Jay Gould talked about it – where various ideals were, well, romanticized. Ah, right: Naturphilosophie. That might be close to what you’re asking for (or…I might be off by a trillion miles.)




Religion?! :eek:

Belief that science is in its infancy and the human being is a very very advanced being that science will take ages of ages to figure out. And added to the general belief that as more is known the more we realize there is so much more to know. Which equates to the more we learn about humans the more we find out we don’t know.


magic? once you know how something works, the spell is broken.

Well, right now we don’t understand much of how the human mind works, particularly qualia.

As to why in science fiction they often leave things like the human mind outside of the domain of scientific understanding, I think it’s because it is exceedingly difficult to imagine a world where the lid has come off all that stuff. e.g. If we understood how the brain “makes” pain, then straightaway we would want to change it, or have some degree of conscious control. But what is pain? Would it be possible to write a program that would feel much more pain than Homo sapiens is capable of feeling? Could I create unimaginable amounts of suffering by running many instances of that program?
The ability to stop, modify or create pain would have massive implications and it is one of the simplest and first things someone with an understanding of the mind might think to do.

Also, the OP should note that biases exist in the other direction too. ISTM very common for people to assume that the brain is a kind of computer (instead of, simply, a kind of machine). And that simulating everything a brain does is the same thing as making a conscious, sentient mind (note that this is unlike other phenomena; a simulation of rain doesn’t get you wet).

Sorry my last post was quite rambling for GQ. Point being I don’t think it’s a bias per se to imagine the mind being something separate to the scientific description, right now, because:

[li]It is largely separate, FTM, because we have no model for much of how it works[/li][li]It’s difficult to imagine a world where the mind is well understood because it would quickly turn our societies and way of life upside down[/li][/ul]

It’s called religion. The real point is the distinction between things that we don’t understand (lots of stuff) and things that are believed to exist but are permanently beyond human ken. I am reminded of Feynman’s dictum that anyone who thinks they understand quantum theory is lying or deluded. It is, of course, possible that understanding of QM (or anything else that comes to mind–maybe consciousness) is beyond human ken, but it is the belief that it is that is nonsense.

There are two different issues here, though. On one hand, there’s the belief that some things, like the hypothetical existence of God or the soul,* can’t be explained by science. That’s superstition, I guess. On the other hand, there’s the idea that some things, like love, shouldn’t *be investigated by science, because that somehow ruins the “magic” or “mystery” of it. This, I suppose, is more some form of willful ignorance.

Personally, I think it’s ridiculous. To me, love, to stick with that, certainly becomes *more *interesting, not less, the more I understand its biological, chemical, cultural, sociological and historical background. Knowing something about how, say, oxytocin works *deepens *my appreciation for the relationships I’ve had, it doesn’t cheapen it. Also, it makes me better equipped to have better ones in the future. YMMV, though, I guess.

The belief that because there are things science has not yet explained science is invalid, can also be defined as woo.

Same goes for “science was wrong before, so you must respect my loony theories”.

OK, so should the OP have more narrowly asked for a non-derogatory term for the phenomenon?

Where it comes to phenomena of consciousness it would seem like a form of vitalism or at least of vitalist-influenced thinking. But I don’t know what would apply once you go outside of that into external physical-world “unexplained phenomena” – Naturphilosophie would seem to be a theoretical school that expands on the idea but is not really its source.

I believe you’ve made a category error here. Having a simulated brain be sentient is not analogous to having a simulation of rain make people outside the simulation wet. It’s more like your simulation of rain being so detailed that it includes simulated people who get wet.

This rebuttal is not original, but since I can’t remember where I read it (probably more than 20 years ago) I cannot give credit where it’s due [Edited to add: possibly Daniel Dennett?]. I suspect however that the original argument being rebutted (that you chose as an example) was advanced by Roger Penrose.

Suffice it to say that this point is still debated heavily by philosophers and there’s no empirical data to point the way yet (perhaps there could never be).

So the assumption that a simulation of the processes happening in a brain would necessarily be conscious itself would be premature at this time. One can hold that opinion, but we don’t know that yet.

Never mind what the term is for “the desire to believe certain things can’t be explained or replicated by science.” I’m much more interested in what "etherical"means:

To coin a tongue-in-cheek name for the phenomenon:

Unfalsiphilia :slight_smile:

Some of these beliefs - especially in regards to robots and computers - are just a form of ethnocentrism, I think. Our culture (in this case, even our biology) is just plain superior, and we take it as a given when we examine others. The belief that robots can never be as good as humans is not so different from the belief that Africans need Europeans to show them how things should be done.