Thursday, October 16, 2014

[Yasmin_discussions] Introduction and opening statement

Hello everyone. I'm happy to be participating in this discussion. A little
bit about myself. I am a scientist and Director of the Biological Imaging
Facility at Caltech in Pasadena, California. I have a Ph.D. in Zoology from
U. C. Berkeley where I worked on the evolution of development in a family
of amphibians. Currently my lab studies the development of the inner ear at
the cellular and molecular levels to better understand the causes of
newborn hearing loss. The overarching goal of my research program is to
push the limits of light microscopy to study how proteins function in as
close to in vivo conditions as possible. Obviously I am far more familiar
with the Science than the art side of things though I am looking forward
to learning a great deal from this discussion.

As to my statement I want to raise the only point that I ever found vaguely
compelling in regards to the supernatural. It was an argument from a
Catholic medieval studies professor, at my undergraduate institution, about
alternate philosophical frameworks. I, of course, am a huge proponent of
the scientific method being the best (only) philosophical framework for
understanding the natural world. Are there other "truths" that can be
revealed by alternate philosophical methods? This Catholic professor I
spoke of argued yes and his examples used truism of art, music and
literature. I will use updated examples of true statements that can be
arrived at without using the scientific method. I would argue that the hip
hop group Public Enemy is far superior to the hip hop group Marky Mark and
the Funky Bunch. Keeping to music, I think it is also not controversial
that Mozart is superior to Salieri. I think these are "truths" that one can
arrive at outside of the scientific method. Does this mean that one
couldn't use the scientific method to prove these points? No, I think one
could though it might be difficult (do you use popularity? the consensus of
music critics?) as any criteria could change over time (I think an
historical perspective is crucial for such truisms). Music, art and
literature can really impact people and it seems as if this emotional
impact is being utilized to justify the supernatural.

This is my first time posting on Yasmin and I wish to thank the organizers
for inviting me to participate.

Andres Collazo, Ph.D.
Director, Biological Imaging Facility
Beckman Institute
California Institute of Technology
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