That was a long spanking for King Crocoduck


I mentioned before that I got into a conversation with Kevin Logan and Kristi Winters about this painfully narrow video on philosophy of science by another YouTuber, King Crocoduck. It’s patently obvious that KC knows next to nothing on the subject, and is really just desperately rationalizing his hatred of social justice.

The video of our conversation was recently posted. It starts at about 8:20, and goes on for THREE (3) HOURS. I’m sorry. Here, you watch it, I’ve got to trundle a cat down to the vet (ooh, she’s going to hate me, she does not like to go to strange places), and maybe I’ll be back by the time you’re done.

(Note: none of us are philosophers. We should have recruited one to join us.)

Comments

  1. says

    (Using “he” for Crocoduck since everyone else seems to be so doing)

    Let’s note that he also consistently conflates “rational coherence” (the big4 property as named) with “internal coherence” (the label he seems to fairly consistently use in the first 1/2 of this video). Rational coherence and internal coherence are two different things. You can read many science fiction stories (and religious texts) that aren’t rational at all, but are certainly internally coherent.

    In the 79th minute he uses the concepts of in/coherence in another problematic way. He describes a model with a snake on the right and on the left as an incoherent model.

    In fact if there is only one snake you should, based on the observed inability for objects massing on the order of magnitude of a snake to occupy two positions at once, predict only a single location for the snake based on the sensory data. Predicting that there are 2 snakes, however, is not rationally incoherent. There are indeed at least 2 snakes in the world, and they are not rationally precluded from occupying positions on either side of a given person.

    Predicting 2 snakes from the auditory data available would be a failure of predictive accuracy and/or precision (depending on how you wanted to frame the question). It would also further fail to accurately predict how many safe paths a person has available for safe retreat/flight.

    INTERESTINGLY FOR HIS THESIS, however, any person whose predictive accuracy fails in this way will be motivated to retreat from the real snake and will still pick a safe path … so long as they’re motivated to retreat from snakes generally and so long as at least one of the predicted snake locations is the real one (or close enough to the real one). Evolutionary fitness wouldn’t be strongly harmed in this case, at least there’s no a priori reason to believe it would be.

    So not only does he fail to correctly identify the aspects of his own model (rational coherence vs. predictive accuracy), but he also fails to analyze the fitness consequences with any facial validity.

  2. bodach says

    @ Crip Dyke, Right Referend & etc. Over the years reading this blog, I’ve always appreciated your comments and takedowns. Thanks!
    (I’m not watching a three hour video, of course.)

  3. says

    While I applaud your tenacity, I’d say you’re giving king crocoduck more attention than he merits.

  4. says

    @rsmith:

    Probably true.

    @Robert Westbrook

    +1

    @bodach

    I’ve always appreciated your comments

    Thanks!

    I’m not watching a three hour video, of course

    I listened to it without video while doing chores this morning. Got a little more than 1/2 way through, though the 2nd half of the first hour I probably didn’t hear much more than 50/60% because doing dishes meant running water which made it hard. In short: your stance is completely understandable. I didn’t make it through myself.

  5. says

    Never fuck with a Croco-duck
    Never laugh at him and loudly shout “bad luck!”
    An’ don’t be taken in
    By original sin
    It’s just some Bronze Age wanker who’s misogynin’
    An’ don’t think ‘What a lark to visit Noah’s Ark’
    It’s just a lousy park to keep folks in the dark.
    Tip your hat and run away
    Don’t come back another day
    Shove the Sin into a bin
    Keep it from your kith and kin
    And never ever ever fuck
    Do not even try your luck
    Don’t be a schmuck and never fuck with Mr Croco-duck

  6. hemidactylus says

    Hmmm…though King Crock overly broadens the notion of sciencing* to include pretty much the actions of all other creatures in the natural world, I fail to see how that silly move can be construed as an example of the naturalist fallacy. The NF seems to be itself an ineffective nuke when overdone by applying it to King Crock’s simplistic and unsatisfying rendition of evolutionary epistemology (not itself an appeal to evolutionary ethics). He’s not analytically decomposing Moore’s Platonic sacred Good into profane or mundane terms. John Gray had argued that Moore himself failed at demonstrating this error for Spencer.

    -obnoxiously Sam Harris does a similar broadening of sciencing in *The Moral Landsape to facilitate a bunch of philosophically ignorant moves, but Harris’s subject matter is far more relevant to Moore’s work than King Crock’s seems to be.

    Just a mild peeve.

  7. hemidactylus says

    I’m kinda commenting as I go (sorry for the asterisk placement foul up above). PZ makes an apt transition point toward the adaptationist fallacy (the naturalist fallacy is irrelevant). This evolutionary epistemology stuff as King Crock applies it suffers the AF. But EE is akin somewhat to Popperian theory testing (keep the baby, jettison JC’s bathwater).

    At the point I’m watching now KC is invoking fitness tracking by groups of organisms but not truth tracking by…groups of scientists. Crucial difference? Survival and reproduction seems to build apparati of expectation. Conjecture and refutation greatly surpass such rudimentary adaptive expectations we are born with. I have to admit evolutionary psychology does have some relevance with their mismatch notion, but our social capacities to construct knowledge ameliorate many shortcomings. We know why sugar and fat are not beneficial in the amounts found in readily available foods. There is the hard kernel of reality that we test against that makes social constructionism fall just a tad short. Knowledge is nothing without that core basis in reality.

  8. hemidactylus says

    And whenever someone is invoking demarcation (clears throat) via falsification they need to realize that Popper was invested in that mindset of evolutionary epistemology which King Crock is helping himself to in overly greedy and poorly digested dollops.

  9. kingoftown says

    Interesting how he assumes using the scientific method (or his 4 criteria thing) would be a selective advantage. With his rattlesnake example, an animal that ran the hell away when it heard a rattle because everyone else does would survive whether the source of the sound was a threat or not. One that wanted to falsify the rattle=death hypothesis would be at a pretty obvious disadvantage.

  10. hemidactylus says

    “On the level of scientific discovery two new aspects emerge. The most important one is that scientific theories can be formulated linguistically, and that they can even be published. Thus they become objects outside ourselves: objects open to investigation. As a consequence, they are now open to criticism. Thus we can get rid of a badly fitting theory before the adoption of the theory makes us unfit to survive: by criticizing our theories we can let our theories die in our stead. This is of course immensely important.

    The other aspect is also connected with language. It is one of the novelties of human language that it encourages story telling, and thus creative imagination. Scientific discovery is akin to explanatory story telling , to myth making and to poetic imagination. The growth of imagination enhances of course the need for some control, such as, in science, interpersonal criticism— the friendly-hostile, co-operation of scientists which is partly based on competition and partly on the common aim to get nearer to the truth. This, and the role played by instruction and tradition, seem to me to exhaust the main sociological elements inherently involved in the progress of science; though more could be said of course about the social obstacles to progress, or the social dangers inherent in progress.”-

    Karl Popper “Evolutionary Epistemology” (1973). Popper Selections (edited by David Miller). 1985. Princeton University Press

    Popper in this essay is comparing and contrasting what he considers “three levels of adaptation: genetic adaptation; adaptive behavioral learning; and scientific discovery, which is a special case of adaptive behavioral learning.”

  11. hemidactylus says

    Aha. Checkmate. Hemi can now nuke the evil social constructionists. At a bit after 2:27:00 we get into the enjoyment of eating chicken. There are aspects of all cuisine (recipes, cultural borrowing, trade, branding) that are social constructs, BUT what social construct will prevent those genetically predisposed to taste cilantro as soapy to want cilantro? Reality bites.

    “Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”- Robert Oppenheimer

  12. Frederic Bourgault-Christie says

    @Crip Dyke: The sloppiness is just comprehensive. I just can’t get out of my head how utterly thoughtless this is and how obviously he hasn’t talked to anyone remotely informed on the topic. Off the top of my head…

    *He rapidly brushes over whether humans have cultural influences at the level of basic cognition, like walking through the woods. We do. In addition to basic cognitive biases like perceptual illusions. If there can be social influence even at his level of “doing science”, which is all obviously a trick to conflate different processes together so as to be able to make a fallacy of composition, then his three cylinder model doesn’t work. He doesn’t even address that possibility.
    *He tries to argue that science at the level he’s talking about can’t be socially constructed because of all of his awful Peterson-level failure to recognize that “social” is not the antonym of “natural”. He can only do this by trying to ignore that there’s actually a huge gap between “literally perceiving the world and navigating it” and “publishing a paper”. Even in terms of just basic fieldwork, scientists are going to be gathering data, figuring out how to read instruments and dials, etc. All that has socially constructed elements even before the level of determining methodology.
    *All of his arguments hinge on abuse of continuum fallacies combined with the utterly reductive thinking that plagues very small minds. He has absolutely no tolerance for ambiguity. So put aside that he didn’t actually make a robust argument as to why a car salesman is doing something that isn’t fundamentally scientific but a slime mold does. When he tries to argue that science isn’t fundamentally socially constructed, well, who cares that it is? How socially constructed does it have to be for it to be relevant? How much of the time? He is trying to argue that because there’s no hard and fast difference between a river and a stream, there is therefore no flash flood.

    It just keeps going. It’s incredibly hilarious that he has to try to argue that philosophy can’t precede science, when he has to start his presentation with… bad philosophy. And, of course, he just states by fiat that we should define truth and science and methodology the way he does. Like, okay, you think that the only truth that should be counted as such is the kind you can determine by “science” (whatever you mean by that since personal revelation should count as evidence by his reasoning), but why should I? This utterly selfish, egoistic myopia almost makes me wonder how far his theory of mind can go. He really doesn’t seem to grok the pretty obvious point that if someone says “Science, as I define it, is socially constructed”, it’s not a response to say “Well, science as I define it isn’t”, which is literally the only response to his entire presentation that is needed. (No wonder he tries to brush over the accusation of his equivocation so rapidly).

    He also got butthurt in the comments. He refuses to debate Kristi but he will make an insulting comment about Kevin. An utter manchild.

    @rsmith: The problem is that KC’s level of misunderstanding is super common. People like PZ and Kristi actually need to inoculate against folks like him.

    @hemidactylus: That’s not the naturalist fallacy. The naturalist fallacy he’s performing is “I’ve identified a behavior that is natural in other species, therefore…” Like I pointed out to him, I could use his reasoning to say “Human flight is natural. We naturally use tools to expand our mobility, birds fly and that precedes society [as KC poorly and self-inconsistently defines it], therefore there is no social construct to flight”. What he fails to recognize, just like Peterson does, is that the way that humans do the thing he identifies, in his case making models of the world and responding to stimuli, is through socially constructed means. Unlike other animals who tend to be much more instinctual, we’re universalists who learn from others. So even if one could say that a slime mold does science non-socially, that doesn’t prove we don’t. That‘s the naturalist fallacy he’s performing.

  13. Frederic Bourgault-Christie says

    @Crip Dyke: The sloppiness is just comprehensive. I just can’t get out of my head how utterly thoughtless this is and how obviously he hasn’t talked to anyone remotely informed on the topic. Off the top of my head…

    *He rapidly brushes over whether humans have cultural influences at the level of basic cognition, like walking through the woods. We do. In addition to basic cognitive biases like perceptual illusions. If there can be social influence even at his level of “doing science”, which is all obviously a trick to conflate different processes together so as to be able to make a fallacy of composition, then his three cylinder model doesn’t work. He doesn’t even address that possibility.
    *He tries to argue that science at the level he’s talking about can’t be socially constructed because of all of his awful Peterson-level failure to recognize that “social” is not the antonym of “natural”. He can only do this by trying to ignore that there’s actually a huge gap between “literally perceiving the world and navigating it” and “publishing a paper”. Even in terms of just basic fieldwork, scientists are going to be gathering data, figuring out how to read instruments and dials, etc. All that has socially constructed elements even before the level of determining methodology.
    *All of his arguments hinge on abuse of continuum fallacies combined with the utterly reductive thinking that plagues very small minds. He has absolutely no tolerance for ambiguity. So put aside that he didn’t actually make a robust argument as to why a car salesman is doing something that isn’t fundamentally scientific but a slime mold does. When he tries to argue that science isn’t fundamentally socially constructed, well, who cares that it is? How socially constructed does it have to be for it to be relevant? How much of the time? He is trying to argue that because there’s no hard and fast difference between a river and a stream, there is therefore no flash flood.

    It just keeps going. It’s incredibly hilarious that he has to try to argue that philosophy can’t precede science, when he has to start his presentation with… bad philosophy. And, of course, he just states by fiat that we should define truth and science and methodology the way he does. Like, okay, you think that the only truth that should be counted as such is the kind you can determine by “science” (whatever you mean by that since personal revelation should count as evidence by his reasoning), but why should I? This utterly selfish, egoistic myopia almost makes me wonder how far his theory of mind can go. He really doesn’t seem to grok the pretty obvious point that if someone says “Science, as I define it, is socially constructed”, it’s not a response to say “Well, science as I define it isn’t”, which is literally the only response to his entire presentation that is needed. (No wonder he tries to brush over the accusation of his equivocation so rapidly).

    He also got butthurt in the comments. He refuses to debate Kristi but he will make an insulting comment about Kevin. An utter manchild.

    @rsmith: The problem is that KC’s level of misunderstanding is super common. People like PZ and Kristi actually need to inoculate against folks like him.

    @hemidactylus: That’s not the naturalist fallacy. The naturalist fallacy he’s performing is “I’ve identified a behavior that is natural in other species, therefore…” Like I pointed out to him, I could use his reasoning to say “Human flight is natural. We naturally use tools to expand our mobility, birds fly and that precedes society [as KC poorly and self-inconsistently defines it], therefore there is no social construct to flight”. What he fails to recognize, just like Peterson does, is that the way that humans do the thing he identifies, in his case making models of the world and responding to stimuli, is through socially constructed means. Unlike other animals who tend to be much more instinctual, we’re universalists who learn from others. So even if one could say that a slime mold does science non-socially, that doesn’t prove we don’t. That‘s the naturalist fallacy he’s performing.

  14. avalus says

    I could not handle it without your comments. KC is so grating to listen to, full of himself and uniterrupted featureless flat talking down to you voice, it turned to babble or noise so much, that after a while I could only -understand- what Kevin, Kristy and PZ said.

  15. hemidactylus says

    @15-16 Frederic Bourgault-Christie

    The naturalistic fallacy is a quite specific thing with limited or no applicability and isn’t just saying it’s in nature therefore “something humans too”. King Crock doesn’t seem to be doing the things that GE Moore was talking about in the Principia Ethica nor what TH Huxley had criticized in his essay on evolutionary ethics. He’s just appealing to a poorly put evolutionary epistemology as if it’s some secret weapon his adversaries have never thought of before [eye rolls]. See Popper quote I provided above.

    Invocation of the naturalistic fallacy is a sensitive point (or trigger) for me in a similar manner as “social Darwinism” and as “critical theory” by reactionary SQWs.

    I think the Popper quote above is sufficient to delineate science from genetic adaption and adaptive learning. Science (as conjecture) becomes exosomatic narrative that can be extinguished (refutation) without mortal consequence to the practitioner. Other organisms aren’t doing stuff at that level so KC’s simplistic evolutionary epistemology falls flat. That does seem a continuum fallacy. Language, narrative, and what Popper refers to as World 3 become a problem for KC.

    And I still think that however much social construction goes into science there is something in nature that our concepts are referring to or our brute facts are corresponding to in the natural sciences. See my facetious cilantro nuke above. In the social sciences the referents or stuff social facts correspond to can themselves be socially constructed. But as you may have pointed out to me earlier even social constructs like money push up against constraints. Because of reflexivity things can go way outta whack before reality steps in, such as when housing prices bubble then pop. I would really need to sit down with Searle and Soros for a while to do that notion justice.

  16. Frederic Bourgault-Christie says

    @18: Yes, the naturalistic fallacy is usually the fallacy of deriving “good” from “natural”, but KC is actually sort of doing that. Insofar as he clearly thinks that making objective models are both good and natural, and he doesn’t even make a case for why we should care about his values and definitions aside from them being natural, he is committing the classical naturalist fallacy. But in a broader sense of assuming that because X is natural that therefore humans do it “naturally”, he is committing that one too. And they’re related fallacies, as in both cases he is unable to see that a natural process can be both socially constructed and therefore riddled with value judgments.

    I think the error is much deeper than you’re describing it as being. His argument hinges on assuming that because you can find presocial antecedents to something that humans do socially that they therefore don’t do it socially. It’s a straight up non sequitur, and it’s derived from his misunderstanding of what you can derive from something being natural. Just like birds fly without (much) social involvement (though even here there is an element of mother birds teaching birds to fly and flocks and so forth), while humans fly only through tools, the way that humans do the thing he is describing is much more socially and technologically involved because we’re social and tool-using animals. He is relying on us assuming that because something is in the “natural” box that therefore it can’t also be in the “social” or “technological” box, and that comes from a certain fallacious construct of nature being pure and opposed to humanity, instead of humans (and their societies and social constructions) being part of nature. Perhaps we should call it the Peterson fallacy: “Because I can detect it in pre-human nature, it is morally benign in human behavior”.

    And I do agree that science, as a social construct, is almost certainly far more affected by brute facts than some other social constructs. I think the kind of postmodernist response to science is actually based on a parallel fallacy: It’s a social construct, stories about reality are social constructs, therefore they are the same thing. But science is a specific kind of social construct, So I would argue that science is closer to paper money than electronic money, because it is much more affected by brute facts (though, as we know from the history of, say, racist pseudoscience, not so much so that propagandistically useful delusion can’t be paraded as if it were science). If people like KC and (to a much lesser extent) Professor Dave (the latter of whom I quite like but is vulnerable to scientistic excess as well) stuck to that kind of argument, admitting the obvious impacts of things like bias and propaganda but noting that that doesn’t obviate the importance of things like logic and empiricism and caring about models matching data and making predictions, they’d be much better off. But people like KC desperately need science to be a transcendental pathway to truth that makes them better than the irrational hoi polloi.

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