The Shallows

And not only why is it deeper, but why is it considered a level of explanation? That’s a serious, literal question. I really don’t understand what it means – to talk of a deeper level of explanation based on unsupported assertions as opposed to a shallower level of explanation based on warranted assertions. How can explanations that float free of any rational epistemic requirements and checks and standards be deeper than those that are constrained by what we are able to figure out about the real world via tested methods? To put it more bluntly, how can explanations that are simply made up be deeper than those that are the result of careful inquiry and investigation? Is that what ‘deeper’ means? Made up? Fantasy based? Inventive?

How, in fact, can explanations of that kind explain at all? How can an explanation that is not tethered to evidence or investigation actually explain?

The whole idea seems to work the same way the idea of ‘alternative’ medicine works. What is alternative medicine alternative to? Medicine that works. Medicine that works, as doctors and medical researchers patiently (and impatiently) point out, is simply medicine. If it works, it works, and doctors will prescribe it. If it works, furthermore, it can be shown to work. If it works, it is possible to produce evidence that it works. Proper, replicable evidence. If it is not possible to produce such evidence, then what reason is there to think the medicine in question does work? So alternative medicine is simply a friendly name for medicine that, as far as has so far been shown, doesn’t work. It is also medicine that does not have to meet any standards or pass any tests – because that’s what non-alternative medicine does. Same with God and religion and deeper levels of ‘explanation.’ Deeper levels of explanation simply means explanation that doesn’t explain. Alternative explanation, one might call it. Homeopathic holistic alternative explanation, that doesn’t explain a damn thing, but simply tells a story. About as deep as the drop of sweat on a gnat’s eyebrow.

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