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AuthorTopic: The Sky Is Falling...?
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Most scientists agree (4 out of 5, in fact) that getting all your knowledge from one source is anathema.

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Posts: 4114 | Registered: Monday, April 25 2005 07:00
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quote:
Originally written by Stillness:

Let's say we disagree on an issue and I hold myself out to be an agent of truth and knowledge. What is the best way for me to find out who, if either of us, is right?
There is no way to find out.

Suppose you accept that you're fallible: now, someone else, who's also fallible, tells you something and changes your mind about an issue. But if both of you are fallible, you have no way of knowing whether you were right or wrong to change your mind. You're no closer to knowing the truth than you were to begin with. The only way to escape the dilemma and actually get things done is to assume that you have a perfect ability to discern what is true or false. The fact that this assumption is false is irrelevant; that's what makes it a myth, and good myths are essential to any functioning individual or society.

quote:
Should I call you stupid now or say, "let's agree to disagree and maybe we can think about this more if new information comes to light."
"Let's agree to disagree" is just a polite way of saying "I still believe that I'm right and you're wrong, even if I can't convince you of it." It isn't of any real consequence whether you think they're wrong because they're stupid or because of some other reason.

quote:
I'd listen to your perspective. Even if you're wrong I might learn something of my faith from you.
How would you know that you'd learned something from me, as opposed to being misled by me? By applying your own judgement, presumably. So in the end it still comes down to having absolute confidence in your own ability to find the truth.

quote:
So I'd never be so bold and haughty as to belittle someone for disagreeing with me.
Disagreement is belittlement. If you didn't believe that someone was wrong about something, you wouldn't disagree with them. That's what disagreement means. And since it's better to be right about something than to be wrong about something, to say that someone is wrong about something is to belittle them.

[ Thursday, August 23, 2007 19:34: Message edited by: Thuryl ]

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It's not as if Richard Dawkins was ever elected Official Mouthpiece of Science by a majority vote of world scientists. He's just a guy who stepped up on a soapbox. He seems to be a pretty good evolutionary biologist, but I don't think much of him as a philosopher, let alone as a theologian. Criticize him all you want, by all means. But if you assume that he somehow represents science, you've swallowed his biggest hook. I expect this may be exactly why he uses his aggressive rhetoric: he hopes to make everyone he can't convince look ridiculous, by goading them into a foolish crusade against science.

I do think that just about everything everyone does is based on irrational induction and humankind is irrevocably lost in the wilderness of the unprovable. But it's a wilderness for which experience and judgement seem to provide decent survival tips.

In other words, no, I don't think we can just pretend David Hume never existed. Though I once wrote a short song claiming that.
quote:

Oh give me a Hume
With his skeptical gloom
And his fears that he doesn't exist.
How seldom is heard
Anything so absurd!
Was he mad, or just thoroughly pissed?

Hume! Hume is so strange.
He's a positive negativist.
His thinking was blurred,
If it even occurred,
And he probably doesn't exist.


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Again, TM wishes to contribute:

quote:
TM sez:
quote:
Originally written by Stillness:

Let's say we disagree on an issue and I hold myself out to be an agent of truth and knowledge. What is the best way for me to find out who, if either of us, is right?

Answer: By agreeing on a method which tends to produce very, very good results. Like freaking methodological naturalism.

Are we not using [deleted] COMPUTERS? Or did you [new-agers] PRAY the internet into existence with CRYSTAL POWERS?

The next time you get a disease, do all of us a favor and doubt empiricism [for a while].

Also, watch this.


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Gamble with Gaea, and she eats your dice.
Posts: 4130 | Registered: Friday, March 26 2004 08:00
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quote:
Originally written by Thuryl:

[QUOTE]Suppose you accept that you're fallible: now, someone else, who's also fallible, tells you something and changes your mind about an issue. But if both of you are fallible, you have no way of knowing whether you were right or wrong to change your mind.
On things scientific (and we'll leave it there lest I be accused of derailing again) I agree. The point is that being amicable and tolerant is not just about being nice, but is practical. People can deal with, "Well, we'll just have to think about that some more" much better than they can deal with, "That's just idiotic." When you say the latter you don't just limit the other person, but yourself from adjusting and growing. Pride comes before the crash.

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SoT, it's not just Dawkins. I don't feel like he was elected Mouthpiece. I do feel that what you noted as an anti-scientist sentiment may stem from a reaction to scientists like him. It's not my sentiment. I'm anti-anybody-that-abuses-their-position. When the mechanic rips me off because I don't know much about cars I don't write off all mechanics. It may prompt me to get familiar with the automobile so that I'm not as easily fooled next time though. And if the next mechanic says, "I'm the mechanic here. Trust me" when I try to ask questions about his diagnosis I'll be taking my car elsewhere.

Bad scientists and bad mechanics - it's basically the same. The prime difference being that mechanics can only steal money, but scientists can steal minds and sway societies. We have a duty to be wary. It would be unscientific not to be.

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EDIT: TM, do you think it's possible to use scientific method and arrive at different results? If so, what do we do then? Assume the majority is correct? Go with the guy who calls other he most names?

[ Thursday, August 23, 2007 22:50: Message edited by: Stillness ]
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quote:
Originally written by Stillness:

People can deal with, "Well, we'll just have to think about that some more" much better than they can deal with, "That's just idiotic." When you say the latter you don't just limit the other person, but yourself from adjusting and growing. Pride comes before the crash.
The crash is exactly what I'm aiming for. The only way to discover what things are truly enduring is to try to destroy everything and see where you fail. I set fire to the world to find out what will rise from the ashes.

[ Thursday, August 23, 2007 23:34: Message edited by: Thuryl ]

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Well, we'll just have to think about that some more...
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quote:
Originally written by Stillness:

EDIT: TM, do you think it's possible to use scientific method and arrive at different results?
Not if you're doing things properly, no. A scientific experiment's most basic property is that it is repeatable. If it is not, then you're doing bad science.

You may get results that, if extrapolated and expanded upon, lead to differing conclusions, but then good scientists know that they are going beyond the available evidence to reach their conclusions and have a significant degree of uncertainty in their conclusions reaching beyond the data. This is one of the ways that scientists can have different opinions on an issue.

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quote:
Originally written by Thuryl:

quote:
Originally written by Synergy:

A world of scientists would be an Orwellian nightmare realized. We've simply swapped one dominant religion for another.

-S-

So what's your solution: no dominant religion, or your religion as the dominant religion? Do you dare to deny that you believe the world would be better off if there were more people like you?

No, there really should only be one like me. It's enough.

I'm curious what it is you think my religion is? I recognize the traits and inclination in myself which I think are humanly common and result in religions. I can think of little I hold to at this point which I would call a certainty in the realm of spirituality/reality. I sense and observe that there is always much more to everything than we know. This applies to science, which I love, lest anyone imagine otherwise.

Spirit is a word that can often be equated to attitude. All institutions generate attitudes/spirit which color and shape them. Science is not a thing apart from human agency and coloring. Therefore it cannot be the godlike formula for truth its dogma declares. It is a very good method. What the spirit of science at this time lacks as a whole is humility and pause. It's too quick to be sure of itself, to think it's got a thing figured out, despite how perpetually it is revised over and over. I resist pride and arrogance before anything else in this world. I take up the fight in those places where I believe I see the arrogant spirit/dogma of science has taken root foolishly and may well be leading masses of people to live, think, and fear a certain way based upon likely unrealities. Everything is psychological. Everything is spiritual and attitudinal. These cannot be separated out from the human being or from "science" which is composed of collective human belief, practice, and behavior.

Thuryl, regarding being wrong = being belittled. I would say that depends entirely if one believes it need be a blow to ego or self to be wrong, to admit one is wrong. Being wrong is nearly always part of the process of becoming right or more right in anything. What's wrong with being wrong? I'm more interested in how people are right and how they are wrong (attitudes/behaviors) than in the mere fact that they are or aren't. I'm happy to be wrong. Often. I may stick my ground doggedly on certain matters, but even in this issue here of global warming, I am saying, I don't know. My favorite mantra of my current life is, "I don't know."

I wish science would admit this more often too. Scientists are the rock stars of the geek set. They know they have a perceived sense of power, wisdom, knowledge, authority. People listen to their conclusions. People alter their lives based upon what the scientists offer them. I tell you that on a psychological/spiritual level, this has a tremendous, yet subtle effect on what goes on in the realm of the scientist. Power corrupts. It is marvelously subtle and insidious. It is not that scientists are bad or that pastors are bad. It is what happens to people who find others believing in them. Ah, the intoxication of being somebody. People so intoxicated frequently soon come to buy their own press, and science is no exception.

-S-

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Okay, suppose you're right. Suppose that scientists have all of this power and authority. Why should they give all of that up, just because you, an ordinary, fallible human with no special authority, say so? Power has to be held by somebody, and given that everyone is just about equally imperfect, it may as well be held by scientists as anyone else. If power corrupts, then everyone being a little corrupt is no better than a few people being very corrupt. In fact, you could say that those who hold on to power and keep it from others are doing them a favour by preventing them from being corrupted.

[ Friday, August 24, 2007 22:07: Message edited by: Thuryl ]

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As ever, the amusingly wry logic.

My problem is not that a scientist or anyone else is not perfect. It's when people act or imagine otherwise, that I revulse. Science does not convey its current consensus on a thing as quite possibly very wrong, incomplete, ignorant, or otherwise fallible. Lipservice gets paid to it, but attitude rarely actually conveys it. "Science" gives every indication of thoroughly enjoying and buying into its godlike perception among so many. I maintain my assertion that the scientist is the high priest of the modern age. I see virtually no difference in the end result. Masses are misled and led into fear over and over again. They lay their bodies upon the altar to give themselves as human sacrifices to Thalidomide, asbestos, and the latest-plastic baby bottles.

-S-

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quote:
Originally written by Synergy:

Ah, the intoxication of being somebody.
Yes. You are absolutely right. Those scientists who research new ways to recover illegible writing on papyrus fragments and on palimpsests are truly changed to core by their awesome power to affect how others look at the world. Their celebrity status is enough to make them act just like Paris Hilton. That's why the tabloids are filled with so many stories of college professors running amok and getting DUIs and getting caught with underage girls. Also they sit in their labs and cackle. A lot.

I shouldn't kid. I mean, I hear that winning a Nobel prize — which does make a scientist a celebrity, at least for a couple of days — changed a professor at Cal whose name is the other half of the tariff named after Willis C. Hawley. Before, this professor was a great researcher who couldn't teach and treated his undergrad researchers like dirt. After, he was a great researcher who couldn't teach and treated his undergrad researchers like dirt and talked about how he was now an "ambassador for science" or something.

EDIT: One difference between science and religions of the past is that science can actually change when things aren't working. The only reason that you, Synergy, know that asbestos is bad for you is that scientists researched the long-term effects of it. Scientists created asbestos, and scientists also saved us from it. Religious institutions have a hard time doing the same thing.

EDIT 2: Your idea that science is like a religion is not by any means a new one. I think Asimov articulated the idea best, though, in Foundation: "For it is the chief characteristic of the religion of science that it works, and that such curses as that of Aporat's [a high priest in the novel] are really deadly."

[ Friday, August 24, 2007 22:57: Message edited by: Kelandon ]

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Arancaytar: Every time you ask people to compare TM and Kel, you endanger the poor, fluffy kittens.
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quote:
Originally written by Synergy:

People alter their lives based upon what the scientists offer them.
Which is, of course, why we've all stopped chopping down trees and driving cars.
Posts: 10 | Registered: Tuesday, February 14 2006 08:00
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quote:
Originally written by Synergy:


I'm curious what it is you think my religion is? I recognize the traits and inclination in myself which I think are humanly common and result in religions. I can think of little I hold to at this point which I would call a certainty in the realm of spirituality/reality. I sense and observe that there is always much more to everything than we know. This applies to science, which I love, lest anyone imagine otherwise.

And yet earlier you tried to equate science with "a religion", even going so far as to speculate that having a world full of scientists would be "an Orewellian nightmare". Your usages were insulting, not complimentary. No one who has the faintest understanding of what science is and what religion is would make the error of equating science with being 'a religion'.

The thing that troubles me about this mostly is that religionists and anti-scientists of all stripes have a tendency to think that the term "religion" can arbitrarily be applied, as derogatory, to ANYTHING they have reservations of or disagree with.

This is wrong. "Religion" has some definitive traits that separate it from methodologies such as science(as well as from barely relevant terms like "atheism" which many often mistakenly try to characterize as "a religion").

quote:
Spirit is a word that can often be equated to attitude. All institutions generate attitudes/spirit which color and shape them. Science is not a thing apart from human agency and coloring.
Neither is math and yet math is still a pretty solid method for determining that 2 + 2 does in fact = '4'. Same goes for science and existential claims. Not to say, of course, that science HAS all the answers or ever could have all the answers to everything, but that the methodology itself CAN be applied to eventually reveal/demonstrate/verify and/or falsify ANY existential claim IF that claim even has any merit/potential to begin with.

For example: IF vampires were discovered to exist, it would be by scientists. These vampires would be classified as "Non-reflecting, hemoglobin-dependent humanoids with an aversion to garlic", labeled Homo Nocturnus and then studied to figure out the hows and whys(re: mechanisms) of these things.

Everything which exists(outside of the imagination) IS natural/material/physical and must be so by definition.

quote:
Therefore it cannot be the godlike formula for truth its dogma declares.
A straw man. The ONLY people who EVER even bring up this alleged "scientific dogma" are the people rallying against it. What is curiously missing are dogmatic scientists advocating such a position as they rally against.

quote:
It is a very good method. What the spirit of science at this time lacks as a whole is humility and pause.
Bald assertion and probably an irrelevant conclusion fallacy to boot. This usually stems from someone characterizing some scientist(like Richard Dawkins) as an "arrogant, closed minded, militant bulldog" or some such by virtue of him/them not treating absurdities with kids gloves and pretending the absurdities have some merit. If skeptics say that Nazism or Holocaust denial is stupid, no one calls them or us who apply the same priciples "arrogant". The minute they/we(skeptics) say that 2,000 year old superstitions of nomadic sheep herders being held to as literally true TODAY is absurd, we become "arrogant" and such. Even though in BOTH cases we can demonstrate WHY the beliefs/claims are without merit.

quote:
It's too quick to be sure of itself, to think it's got a thing figured out, despite how perpetually it is revised over and over.
More bald assertions and I would also refer you to Mr. Asimov's wonderful rebuttal to this.

To sum up, science does not say, nor are scientists quick to proclaim that "This is how it is... STUPID!" and then get alarmed when other scientists make new discoveries which require revision of the earlier theories. Scientists say "Here is our current understanding of how this phenomenon works..." and when new data comes in say "Ah...we just discovered *THIS* which changes things slightly...". And these revisions DO have a point of diminishing returns. WE WILL forever be revising the minute details of how we understand, say evolution or the formation of planets. WE will NOT however suddenly discover years from now that evolution does not happen or that the earth is flat! SO we can say with 100% certainty that evolution is a FACT and the Earth is an ellipsoid, regardless of how our understandings of the mechanisms involved are revised/improved upon.

quote:
I resist pride and arrogance before anything else in this world.
Yeah, you and every other guy on the planet(including the prideful and arrogant for the most part). Take a number. It is a common tactic to beat on the straw man of "pride and arrogance" when debating these matters. Everyone is a freedom fighting hero of the people(even Bill O'Reilly!) in their own mind.

quote:
I take up the fight in those places where I believe I see the arrogant spirit/dogma of science has taken root foolishly and may well be leading masses of people to live, think, and fear a certain way based upon likely unrealities.
Yeah, I spend around 30 hours a week debating Creationists and the like and they all tell me the same thing. One thing you guys all have in common is that I NEVER hear one of you say "Oops! Okay, I was wrong about Global warming/evolution/Reki Healing/Psychics/Life coaches/etc....".

But I remain hopeful. ;)

quote:
Everything is psychological. Everything is spiritual and attitudinal. These cannot be separated out from the human being or from "science" which is composed of collective human belief, practice, and behavior.
I do not grant your re-definition of "science" here. Science is basically empiricism + logic, from a materialist axiom, relying on several methodological principles to distinguish "belief" from actuality.

quote:
Thuryl, regarding being wrong = being belittled. I would say that depends entirely if one believes it need be a blow to ego or self to be wrong, to admit one is wrong. Being wrong is nearly always part of the process of becoming right or more right in anything. What's wrong with being wrong? I'm more interested in how people are right and how they are wrong (attitudes/behaviors) than in the mere fact that they are or aren't. I'm happy to be wrong. Often. I may stick my ground doggedly on certain matters, but even in this issue here of global warming, I am saying, I don't know. My favorite mantra of my current life is, "I don't know."
"I don't know" is a mantra of science ironically enough. ;)

quote:
I wish science would admit this more often too.
I find it puzzling that you seem to think that science(scientists actually. Science is not some singular, sentient entity) does NOT(admit this often enough)!? I think the error here from non-'science fans' is that everyone believes that their own pet beliefs/ideas, whether it be a theistic religious concept, a new age psychic phenomenon, a cryptozoological claim or what have you deserves some unearned "respect" or degree of credibility and when these things are not given the unearned "That could be..." or "That makes sense." then they get vicious and start hurling the baseless charges of "arrogance" and such.

I am not obligated to say that impossible things "could be" or that things which do not follow from rules of inference "make sense". I am well within my rights to say these sorts of claims are idiocy and to explain WHY they are so.

quote:
Scientists are the rock stars of the geek set.
Hyperbole much?

quote:
They know they have a perceived sense of power, wisdom, knowledge, authority.
Which is mostly negated by the character attacks they continually suffer from people claiming they are "arrogant", "ivory tower haters of humanity" or some such. I mean really...how often do you see scientists revered or praised for what they do as opposed to how often they are attacked anymore? Maybe my own view is distorted by how many lunatic anti-scientists I see every day on the net, in my local newspapers, on T.V., in the movies etc.

quote:
People listen to their conclusions.
Sometimes. They would do well to listen a bit more though. It is a tragedy every time someone goes to a faith healer, a therapeutic touch advocate, a Reiki healer, a psychic, an exorcist or a Chiropractor instead of just going to a doctor.

quote:
People alter their lives based upon what the scientists offer them. I tell you that on a psychological/spiritual level, this has a tremendous, yet subtle effect on what goes on in the realm of the scientist. Power corrupts. It is marvelously subtle and insidious.
I think you are being paranoid and highly speculative. If it were power they were after they would go the route of Andrew Weil or Depak Chopra and write anti-skeptical fluff for the masses, and be invited to several talk-show appearances per year to regurgitate stuff that they would not be obligated to back up!
But for whatever reason, they chose the path of truth. Until recently scientists could not land a non-sci-fi book on the bestseller lists and now we see a shift back towards an 'Enlightenment' era where people like Harris and Dawkins can manage to sell books instead of Sylvia Browne and Co. and all of a sudden the apocalypse is coming or 'Scientists are abusing some grand power they have'?!

quote:
It is not that scientists are bad or that pastors are bad. It is what happens to people who find others believing in them. Ah, the intoxication of being somebody. People so intoxicated frequently soon come to buy their own press, and science is no exception.

-S-

You will have to substantiate this character attack on scientists if you expect anyone who does not blindly believe such things already to give it credence.

[ Saturday, August 25, 2007 20:31: Message edited by: SkeleTony ]

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quote:
Originally written by SkeleTony:

Neither is math and yet math is still a pretty solid method for determining that 2 + 2 does in fact = '4'.
Ah, now this brings up a question for which I never got a straight answer out of you last time we talked. Are you a Platonist or not? Because your sentence as it stands is contradictory: either mathematical objects are purely human constructs and the only reason that 2 + 2 = 4 is that we define "2", "4", "+" and "=" so that it must do so (in which case saying "2 + 2 does in fact = 4" is vacuous, because you could just as easily define it to equal 5), or mathematical objects do exist independently of human agency.

quote:
Everything which exists(outside of the imagination) IS natural/material/physical and must be so by definition.
Question 2: are you a positivist? That is, do you believe that "to exist" means nothing more or less than "to have observable effects"? Because that's what this sentence seems to imply, but positivism is inconsistent with some of the claims you've made in previous debates. If you're not a positivist -- that is, if by "natural/material/physical" you mean something other than "having observable effects" -- then you're going to have to define what you mean by "natural/material/physical".

quote:
I do not grant your re-definition of "science" here. Science is basically empiricism + logic, from a materialist axiom, relying on several methodological principles to distinguish "belief" from actuality.
quote:
Science is not some singular, sentient entity
Which of these do you believe? Is science something, or is it nothing?

[ Saturday, August 25, 2007 23:28: Message edited by: Thuryl ]

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quote:
Originally written by Thuryl:

quote:
Originally written by SkeleTony:

Neither is math and yet math is still a pretty solid method for determining that 2 + 2 does in fact = '4'.
Ah, now this brings up a question for which I never got a straight answer out of you last time we talked. Are you a Platonist or not? Because your sentence as it stands is contradictory: either mathematical objects are purely human constructs and the only reason that 2 + 2 = 4 is that we define "2", "4", "+" and "=" so that it must do so (in which case saying "2 + 2 does in fact = 4" is vacuous, because you could just as easily define it to equal 5), or mathematical objects do exist independently of human agency.

Out of curiosity: aren't you, infact, shifting goalposts here? I usually find your train of thought quite sound, but in this case you are confusing linguistic philosophy with the logical properties of the language we call math. The logic behind 2 + 2 = 4 exists no matter what we call each number or what sign we use to interpret it.

Another way of putting it: we need a language like math to describe the principles of logic, that exist outside the human mind. The rest is confusion along the lines of: how do I know that my blue is the same blue as your blue? An interesting thought experiment when intoxicated, but little more.

@ SkeleTony: Thanks for your upliftig post.
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All you need is a sufficiently flexible programming language:
Prelude> let 2 + 2 = 5
Prelude> (3 - 1) + (6 / 3)
5


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quote:
Originally written by Locmaar:

Another way of putting it: we need a language like math to describe the principles of logic, that exist outside the human mind.
Ah, but that's the crux of the issue, now isn't it? If you're not a Platonist, you don't necessarily believe that the principles of logic do exist outside the human mind.

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quote:
Originally written by Thuryl:

quote:
Originally written by Locmaar:

Another way of putting it: we need a language like math to describe the principles of logic, that exist outside the human mind.
Ah, but that's the crux of the issue, now isn't it? If you're not a Platonist, you don't necessarily believe that the principles of logic do exist outside the human mind.

:eek:

But you don't have to a Platonist to find the very idea of things existing outside the human mind appealing. Either way, math as a language is a human invention, the principles behind it are at best human discoveries... I think... eh...

:confused:
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quote:
Originally written by Locmaar:

But you don't have to a Platonist to find the very idea of things existing outside the human mind appealing. Either way, math as a language is a human invention, the principles behind it are at best human discoveries... I think... eh...
That events happen we may accept for now as uncontroversial. That those events seem to happen in certain patterns is a useful observation. The idea that those humanly-constructed patterns (which are, after all, based on a large but finite data set) represent objectively existing universal laws is somewhat more problematic.

I view a logic (I say "a logic", for there are multiple different kinds of logic used by different logicians, or by the same logicians at different times) as a kind of gentleman's agreement to refrain from considering the possibility that certain patterns which we consider most essential for analysing the world may not always apply.

[ Sunday, August 26, 2007 02:48: Message edited by: Thuryl ]

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quote:
Originally written by Thuryl:

there are multiple different kinds of logic used by different logicians, or by the same logicians at different times
Don't forget "or by the same logician at the same time". ;)

[ Sunday, August 26, 2007 03:11: Message edited by: Khoth ]

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Posts: 1798 | Registered: Thursday, October 4 2001 07:00
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Posts: 157 | Registered: Saturday, August 25 2007 07:00
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quote:
Originally written by Thuryl:

quote:
Originally written by SkeleTony:

Neither is math and yet math is still a pretty solid method for determining that 2 + 2 does in fact = '4'.
Ah, now this brings up a question for which I never got a straight answer out of you last time we talked. Are you a Platonist or not? Because your sentence as it stands is contradictory: either mathematical objects are purely human constructs and the only reason that 2 + 2 = 4 is that we define "2", "4", "+" and "=" so that it must do so (in which case saying "2 + 2 does in fact = 4" is vacuous, because you could just as easily define it to equal 5), or mathematical objects do exist independently of human agency.

False and this is why I no longer get involved in these sorts of philosophical debates where nonsense like solipsism and the like are sure to pop up. What you are doing here is trying to posit a linguistic argument, not a logical one. Regardless of whether we call the quantity that is four, "four" or "fifty", the quantity remains the same. It is completely irrelevant the specific names we give to quantities. If I grab what we now call "one"(a singular item) can of soda and set it next to my monitor next to ANOTHER can of soda, then I have TWO cans of soda, regardless of whether we call this quantity "two" or "Sleestack".

quote:
quote:
Everything which exists(outside of the imagination) IS natural/material/physical and must be so by definition.
Question 2: are you a positivist? That is, do you believe that "to exist" means nothing more or less than "to have observable effects"?
Depends on what you are specifically meaning by "exist" above eh? ;) Two can play the semantics game guy. If you are defining "live"(for example) as "Having a zest and great joy for all that surrounds you" then asking a doctor in the OR how he determines if a patient is alive or dead is nonsensical. The doctor will say something along the lines of "If the patient is brain dead for 'X' amount of time and has no heartbeat, he is dead..." and you will be shouting "How does THAT determine of the poor guy had a zest and joy for all that surrounded him?!".

I do not bother with such subjective blather. If your interest here is to get bogged down in absurd questions like "How do we KNOW that we KNOW that we know that we know...(ad infinitum)" then count me out. Idealism is such nonsense to me. Cart-before-horse pontification.

"Existence" is distinguished from non-existent/imaginary things by sense contents and linearity.

That answer your question or should I just build a literal wooden box that you can easily swing your hammer at?

I am a materialist/naturalist/empiricist.

quote:
Because that's what this sentence seems to imply, but positivism is inconsistent with some of the claims you've made in previous debates.
let's just avoid this trying to label me as whatever and just point out these alleged contradictions, shall we? That is much easier. Find two contradictory statements I have made and quote them here. Pure and simple.

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If you're not a positivist -- that is, if by "natural/material/physical" you mean something other than "having observable effects" -- then you're going to have to define what you mean by "natural/material/physical".
"Natural" meaning something that exists and operates by potentially understandable, physical laws and processes, having sense contents and being constrained by linear temporal sequence.

"Material" meaning is composed of matter/energy.

"Physical"...meaning it exists independently, as opposed to being an imaginary/conceptual entity.

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I do not grant your re-definition of "science" here. Science is basically empiricism + logic, from a materialist axiom, relying on several methodological principles to distinguish "belief" from actuality.
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Science is not some singular, sentient entity
Which of these do you believe? Is science something, or is it nothing?[/qb]
What are you talking about?! I cannot even parse your question?! You seem to be under the impression that I made contradictory assertions above but I will be damned if I can see where you drew this inference!?!

Science exists as a concept or action, like math or walking.

[ Sunday, August 26, 2007 05:27: Message edited by: SkeleTony ]

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"I am in a very peculiar business. I travel all over the world telling people what they should already know." - James Randi
Posts: 219 | Registered: Saturday, October 13 2001 07:00
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quote:
Originally written by Thuryl:

quote:
Originally written by Locmaar:

But you don't have to a Platonist to find the very idea of things existing outside the human mind appealing. Either way, math as a language is a human invention, the principles behind it are at best human discoveries... I think... eh...
That events happen we may accept for now as uncontroversial. That those events seem to happen in certain patterns is a useful observation. The idea that those humanly-constructed patterns (which are, after all, based on a large but finite data set) represent objectively existing universal laws is somewhat more problematic.

So you are saying that no matter how repeatably we can demonstrate a ball rolls downhill(as opposed to straight up into the sky or changing into a big marshmallow or whatever) when released from the top of said hill, we should not infer that gravity works as it apparently does?! That just because we do not observe splitting atoms to result, by direct inference, in gold coins spewing from volcanoes half a world away is not reason to conclude that there is no reason to infer such a thing?!

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I view a logic (I say "a logic", for there are multiple different kinds of logic used by different logicians, or by the same logicians at different times) as a kind of gentleman's agreement to refrain from considering the possibility that certain patterns which we consider most essential for analysing the world may not always apply.[/qb]
Sounds like an irrelevant conclusion to me.

[ Sunday, August 26, 2007 05:28: Message edited by: SkeleTony ]

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"I am in a very peculiar business. I travel all over the world telling people what they should already know." - James Randi
Posts: 219 | Registered: Saturday, October 13 2001 07:00
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quote:
If I grab what we now call "one"(a singular item) can of soda and set it next to my monitor next to ANOTHER can of soda, then I have TWO cans of soda, regardless of whether we call this quantity "two" or "Sleestack".
The problem isn't in what we call "one", it's in what we call "cans of soda". There's no objective, unambiguous definition of a complex object such as a can of soda -- it's a social construct. Is a can of soda still a can of soda if you pour out 1% of the soda and replace it with water? What about 90%? 99%? Does the number two still exist if there are no objects for there to be two of?

To put it another way, do you believe the number two is a real object or an imaginary object? According to you, if it's a real object it must be material: what substance is it made of? And if it's imaginary, it doesn't exist.

To put it yet another way, what do two cans of soda have in common with, say, two horses? "There's two of them" is not an answer.

quote:
Originally written by SkeleTony:

So you are saying that no matter how repeatably we can demonstrate a ball rolls downhill(as opposed to straight up into the sky or changing into a big marshmallow or whatever) when released from the top of said hill, we should not infer that gravity works as it apparently does?! That just because we do not observe splitting atoms to result, by direct inference, in gold coins spewing from volcanoes half a world away is not reason to conclude that there is no reason to infer such a thing?!
I'm not saying there's no reason to; I'm saying there's no logical reason to, although there are perfectly good practical reasons to. Have you heard of David Hume? Induction is certainly a useful way of gaining information in practice, but it's not logically valid, no matter how much you might like it to be. And because it's not logically valid, there's no way to reach a conclusion with 100% certainty through induction alone, no matter what axioms you start with.

[ Sunday, August 26, 2007 06:15: Message edited by: Thuryl ]

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