Monday, October 19, 2009

Review of TLS -- Promises are made

This is the second in a series of posts that will be reviewing and responding to the arguments of Dr. Feser's The Last Superstition. This was part 1. I haven't read many books of philosophy, and none aimed at popular audiences, so when I note that Dr. Feser starts out with a list of claims that he promises to demonstrate later, I have no idea if that is standard procedure or not. It does make the first chapter, Bad Religion, devoid of meaningful content with regard to establishing Dr. Feser's claims. However, one of the things I want to do is to in this post is list all these promises Dr. Feser makes in Chapter 1. After I review the last chapter, I will return to this list and we will see what has actually been proven.

Claims Dr. Feser says he will demonstrate
Secularism is inherently immoral and irrational, only a specific sort of religious view can be moral, rational, and sane
On intellectual grounds, atheism can not be true
Secularism can never spring from reason; its true grounding is from a willfulness and desire for it to be true
The basic metaphysical assumptions that make atheism possible are mistaken
Secular propaganda is the source of fideism
It is as impossible to say nature has no meaning or purpose as it is to square a circle (more on that below)
Secularism is parasitic on religion for all its important ideas, it is strictly a negation
What is characterized as a war between science and religion is really a war between competing metaphysical systems
The classical metaphysical picture is rationally unavoidable, and thus so is the traditional Western religious view derived from it
Given atheism and naturalism, there is no persuasive argument that allows you to trust in either reason or morality
Edit on 2009-NOV-17 to add: The abandonment of Aristotle's metaphysics has led to the abandonment of any rational or moral standards that can be used to justify moral positions, and is responsible for the curent civilizational crisis of the West.

Dr. Feser allows himself a full 241 pages in the next five chapters to accomplish all this. Of course, with so modest an undertaking, he leaves himself plenty of space to continue to denigrate atheism, secularism, the New Atheists (Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, and Hitchens), Hume, and many more in those chapters as well.

I do have a few other comments on some of Dr. Feser's remarks in chapter 1. While I still intend to avoid responding to the mere demagoguery that he indulges himself in, there are a few points that reveal interesting and noteworthy aspects of both him and his opinion of his audience.

There is nothing particularly noteworthy or striking about his claim that the less people know, they less they realize their ignorance. In fact, I read similar thoughts from a variety of science books and scientists growing up, typically along the lines of 'The more you know, the more you realize how little you know'.

I do not agree that attempts to account for phenomena such as the mind without referencing God is a religious discussion. You might as well say that attempts to account for lightning without referencing God is a religious discussion. Then again, perhaps Dr. Feser would say that. I would not be surprised at all to see him claim that any discussion of any natural phenomenon is inherently religious.

One of the common hallmarks of purveyors of woo is a sense of persecution that results from being treated equally. This comes out twice in Chapter 1, where first Dr. Feser complains that some philosophical positions distasteful to him are considered still worth discussion even when they can't be demonstrated, while the subject of religion is considered not to have made its case. Of course, the second standard is a far higher hurdle than the first, and certainly not to be awarded lightly. To imply that religion must be granted the second when other positions are granted the first, or else the supporters of the second are receiving unfair treatment, sounds very much like a persecution complex. Shortly after that, he complains that the distasteful propositions are referred to as making people think, whereas in this context religion is apparently not worthy of a moment's notice. He acknowledges that most people are raised religiously, but somehow misses the point that immersing people in thoughts they already find comfortable will be doing the opposite of making them think, it is much more likely to lull them to stupor. However, the concern seems to be for some sort of time equality, not purpose, because otherwise religious ideas are just not being treated fairly.

Dr. Feser pulls out the old saw about the desire to disbelieve in hellfire being a motivation for atheism. Oddly, I have met very few Christians who believed they, personally, were going to hell. I certainly never did, back in the day. He doesn't seem to understand the human tendency for exceptionalism, or to be deliberately ignoring it.

Dr. Feser declares that the notions of a selfish gene, or design via natural selection, can only be true and interesting if by these terms we attribute some superhuman, literal intelligence to the gene and the process. I'm not sure what to make of this. Obviously he knows the terms are metaphors that describe the complex interactions of various feedbacks mechanisms. He doesn't think that the study of feedback mechanisms is interesting, that the feedback mechanisms are not true, or that the use of metaphor makes the concept untrue or uninteresting?

Dr. Feser complains about 'Easter Bunny comparisons to God', which he disdains. This is all fine for him, but the authors upon whom he heaps this disdain are do not have the audience of his peers in mind; their books are for the general public, and often specifically the religious members thereof. The Easter Bunny example actually strikes right at the heart of what many of these people believe. If the religious group doesn't have their followers trained in the ideas of Aristotle, why should it be the job of Dennett, et. al., to train them? Later on, Dr. Feser says that this is an example of these authors not being willing to take on the real issues against the formidable opposition. With all the diminutions hurled against these authors, you would think he believe this is the appropriate level of opposition for them, but I suppose he thinks even more poorly of his fellow believers in this regard. At any rate, while I might not have the training of a Dennett, I am happy to accommodate Dr. Feser by engaging his ideas directly. Having read through Chapter 4 so far, I have not found any reason to see his presentation of reason, faith, and religion as having a superior metaphysical basis to your typical Sunday preacher.

Finally, Dr. Feser likes to make great use out of the metaphysical absurdity of square circles. He is unaware that all circles are indeed squares, under the taxicab metric (I'll devote a separate post to that). This is a problem with his metaphysical analysis that we’ll cover in more detail later. For now, let’s just say that like any other formal system, Aristotle’s metaphysics will turn out to be founded on arbitrarily chosen premises that are inherently improvable and not obviously better than a variety of alternatives as a description of reality.

1,677 comments:

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UnBeguiled said...

I wrote somewhere, in a comment thread on Feser's blog perhaps, that the premises in TLS are either empirically false or bald unfalsifiable assertions. He went postal.

So you read chapter 3 and are not a theist? This could mean only one thing, according to Feser: you are insane.

One Brow said...

I'm sure Dr. Feser doesn't like having his assertions challenged. It goes against the Catholic mindset in many ways.

Thomas said...

Two points.

1. Regarding the Easter Bunny analysis, we need to make a general distinction between direct intuition and second order reflection. Faith, in many ways, is a kind of vision cultivated by certain technologies (to use the term the way Foucault does). This level of direct intuition, like any other intuition, cannot be defended in its own mode, it must shift to second order reflection. This is not a particular to faith, but to any kind of intuition, whether perceptual, intellectual, or mathematical. In order to defend the truth of direct intuition, one must find ways of formulating the content of the intuition indirectly.

The Church has since its inception (and certainly in the letters of St. Paul) resorted to philosophical terminology to do this: whether Platonic and Stoic, as in the early Church; Aristotelian, as in the Eastern Roman Empire and then the Scholastic period; Kantian and Hegelian, mostly by later Protestants; and phenomenological in the Husserlian or Heideggerian tradition, as most competent theologians do now. The important thing to note is that this second order kind of reflection need not be performed in the act of faith, but in order to explicate and defend that faith to others, as well as to understand it in another mode.

The Easter Bunny rebuttal clearly does not fit the facts. If you were going to argue anything, you should bring up other religious traditions that cultivate a mutually exclusive vision, then ask what makes one any more right than the other.

2. You make the familiar mistake of thinking that because a premise is not absolutely objective, that it is arbitrarily chosen. This simply does not follow. Aristotle starts instead from the general human situation, and proceeds dialectically (rather than deductively) to ensure that if any of his starting points is faulty, then this will be discovered and the truth will be found. Incidentally, pretty much all of Aristotle's starting points get overturned or strongly revised in the course of his inquiry. To move beyond faulty premises is actually what drives the dialectical method.

UnBeguiled said...

"You make the familiar mistake of thinking that because a premise is not absolutely objective"

I have no idea what an "absolutely objective" premise would be like.

"that it is arbitrarily chosen"

I don't think Feser chooses premises arbitrarily. Rather, he chooses premises he hopes will lead to a certain conclusion. All apologetics operates this way, and is what distinguishes it from honest philosophy and science. But of course, apologists have not cornered the market on this kind of backwards reasoning.

UnBeguiled said...

One Brow:

Page 34:

"For what we know about triangles are objective facts, things we have discovered rather than invented. It is not up to us to decide that the angles of a triangle should add up to 38 degrees instead of 180 . . ."

Did you fall out of your chair reading that? Of course we could choose that the angles add up to 38. Right angles would be 19 and circles would have 76. What's the problem? Feser is hopelessly confused.

As a kid I tried to convince a teacher that we should change the convention and make right angles 100 degrees. She thought I was insane, claiming "but that's not how the world is". Oy. With teachers like that, no wonder we have folks like Feser.

Thomas said...

Unbeguiled,

I was responding to the discussion in the original post of Aristotle's metaphysics as a "formal system," which it manifestly is not. I'm not here to defend Feser.

One Brow said...

Thomas,

I agree the Easter Bunny, like many other arguments in the everday discussion of religion, is not really persuasive against those who with the background to appreciate the more sophisticated arguments in the debate, The same would be true of the arguments from evil, reason, or complexity.

As to whether or not it fits the facts of the belief of any particular individual, I don't think you can say that this argument is not appropriate against any believer or even a majority of them. Different people understand their personal beliefs in different ways.

I will be reading up more on Aristotle before I post the review on Chapter 2, including the file you so kindly sent me. However, if you think by "arbitrary" I mean with a sense of caprice, I assure you that I mean just the opposite. The arbitrariness allows the philosopher to pick the starting conditions that will help the model built in the formal system be the most correspondent model that can be arrived at for the particular needs. For metaphysics, this of course means the selection of axioms that best describes reality. I certainly don't intend to imply that such a selection is careless nor chosen only for reasons of dogma.

Unbeguiled,

I am fairly sure that Dr. Feser did not mean that the size of a degree was fixed, but that having chosen the size of a degree, the sum of the measures of the angles of a triable would then be fixed to a certain number of degree. Of course, while you can demonstrate this in a Euclidean model of space, we already know that the Euclidean model of space fails, and in particular this is would not be true of many triangles of perfect form in many regions of space. However, even then, for a given three locations in space that the perect form triangle connects, we can't choose how many of the pre-defined degrees their angles sum to.

One Brow said...

Thomas,

It is the nature of philosophy generally, and metaphysics specifically, to be a formal system, and as long as the primary proof method remains deductive reasoning, this will be its state. Incorporating empirically derived notions or revealed pronouncements as axioms will not change this. performing feedback where these axioms are accepted, considered, and then affirmed or rejected will not alter this (although it can and usually does alter the formal system presented).

I'm not ready to declare which axioms of Feser's take on Aritotle's precepts I find suspect. Further study might change my mind on htem, after all. But regardless of whether I accept them in whole, in part, or not at all, the resulting structure will indeed be a formal system.

UnBeguiled said...

"I am fairly sure that Dr. Feser did not mean that the size of a degree was fixed"

Perhaps, but it seems to me that interpretation requires bending over backwards to be charitable. Which is not a bad thing.

Thomas said...

"It is the nature of philosophy generally, and metaphysics specifically, to be a formal system, and as long as the primary proof method remains deductive reasoning, this will be its state."

This may be true of Spinoza, but for most "metaphysical" philosophers, this is inaccurate. And for Aristotle in particular, your characterization is flatly false: again, Aristotle does not proceed deductively, he uses a particular form of dialectic, derived from Socratic dialectic, that begins from opinions about the way things are that are faulty (else the dialectic cannot proceed).

One Brow said...

Well, learning a new type of proof method, neither deductive nor inductive, but a particular form of dialectic. That sounds interesting. Looks like I have a lot to look forward to this weekend.

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "Dr. Feser means that the Pythagorean Theorem is actually true, he leaves no doubt of that in chapter 2 when discussing Platonic Forms: he does indeed mean the Pythagorean Theorem is true as a real-world proposition. This is of course an error."

To quote good ole Sam Cooke..."Don't know much about geometry...."

But, somehow, I thought the parallel line postulate applied to plane geometry. Now, it's true that the earth is not a plane, and that space may be curved, but why wouldn't it be true if you constructed a true plane in the real world?

aintnuthin said...

I mean, like, as far as I know, Pythagoras never claimed it would hold true on a sphere or on some warp-up piece of tin, did he? Is this just a straw man, you're introducing, I wonder, eh, Eric?

One Brow said...

But, somehow, I thought the parallel line postulate applied to plane geometry. Now, it's true that the earth is not a plane, and that space may be curved, but why wouldn't it be true if you constructed a true plane in the real world?

Constructing a true plane (a perfectly flat figure that exists in only two spatial dimensions) is not possible. Even sub-atomic particles require all three spatial dimensions.

I mean, like, as far as I know, Pythagoras never claimed it would hold true on a sphere or on some warp-up piece of tin, did he? Is this just a straw man, you're introducing, I wonder, eh, Eric?

1) At straw man is designed to be something attacks the opponents argument. As I mentioned, this was incidental to Dr. Feser's argument, more illustrative than substantive. "Now, I don't think these particular errors will be overly relevant to Dr. Feser's argument (certainly not the error of fact), but that just makes them small errors." So, even if I had misrepresented his argument, it could not have been a straw man.

2) while you could call a right triangle a form, the Pythagorean Theorem is not a form, and the model where the theorem is true is not a model of our reality. So, you could say "the Pythagorean Theorem is true" in the same sense you could say "it is true Paul Bunyan was over 12 feet tall", that is, it is true within the relevant fiction to which it applies. This is, as far as I can tell, not what Dr. Feser means by calling it true.

UnBeguiled said...

If I recall correctly, Dr. Feser has a very specific goal in mind when he declares that the Pythagorean Theorem is true, and is something true that humans discovered about the universe.

He claims that his arguments for the existence of God are like the proofs for the theorem. Thus, we can know that God exists with as much certainty as we can know the Pythagorean Theorem is true.

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: Well, sure, Eric, for the sake of avoiding quibbles, the whole plane geometry thing is idealized. But so are a lot of things that people think are "true" as reveal "discoveries about the world."

Take Gallileo's notion that all material bodies accelerate at the same rate under the force of gravity, and Newton's formula for calculating it. It's only true in a vacuum, and the world aint no vacuum. As far as I know, no one has ever claimed to have created a perfect (artificial) vacuum, either.

So, are Newtons formulaes "true" in the same sense that "Paul Bunyon is 12 feet tall" is "true," ya figure?

One Brow said...

So, are Newtons formulaes "true" in the same sense that "Paul Bunyon is 12 feet tall" is "true," ya figure?

First, let's put aside the corrections from General Relativity (because Newton Law is not true due to the influences of General Relativity) and pretend that Newton's Law would hold in a vacuum.

Newton's formula is a calculation of the force of gravity. You can derive a calculation for acceleration based on certain assumptions about the existence or non-existence of other forces that affect the acceleration, such as friction from that atmosphere, but the existence of these forces does not change the force applied by gravity itself. Newton's formula is every bit as acccurate regardless of the existence of a vaccum, but the model for acceleration may be inaccurate.

aintnuthin said...

Meant to quote this statement in the last post: "Constructing a true plane (a perfectly flat figure that exists in only two spatial dimensions) is not possible. Even sub-atomic particles require all three spatial dimensions."

If my memory is right, ancient societies like the Egyptians used the Pythagorean theorem (without ever having reduced it to a mathematical formula) to calculate right angles with amazing precision. So, ya might say it is true for practical purposes, eh?

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "...but the existence of these forces does not change the force applied by gravity itself. Newton's formula is every bit as acccurate regardless of the existence of a vaccum..."

Yeah, that's what I'm sayin about plane geometry. Of course relativity also relies on a theoretical vacuum to posit the absolute, constant, speed of light.

In either case, the non-existence of a true vacuum "in the world" is irrelvant to the claims being made.

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "Newton's formula is a calculation of the force of gravity. You can derive a calculation for acceleration based on certain assumptions about the existence or non-existence of other forces that affect the acceleration..."

Yeah, we touched on this in another thread. Had Newton posited the existence of "dark matter," his formula for "gravitational attraction" would have been different (it would in fact, have been impossible to calculate a formula). Yet those who believe in dark matter seem to accept it because they believe in the universal application of Newton's formula.

It's all kinda circular, like the theory that man-made C02 emmissions are the predominant cause of global warmin, ya know?

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "It is the nature of philosophy generally, and metaphysics specifically, to be a formal system, and as long as the primary proof method remains deductive reasoning, this will be its state."

This is also true of science, or at least "scientific theory," eh, Eric? So why limit it to philosopy and metaphysics? You seem to have great faith in the science you wish to accept, kinda like Feser does with the metaphysics he chooses to believe in, eh?

Again, taking it one step further, scientific theory has metaphsics built right into it, just not in a manner that is expressly stated (and is in fact expressly denied by some).

aintnuthin said...

Accordin to some, God is pure spirit and, by definition, cannot be "seen" or otherwise detected by human senses, kinda like ghosts Dark matter can't be seen either, because it is impervious to, and does not interact with, electro-magnetic fields, etc., kinda like ghosts.

Some believe in God, some believe in dark matter. Some believe in both, some believe in neither. Whatever, it all kinda comes down to "belief," don't it?

aintnuthin said...

Gorgias, the ole sophist, claimed that nothing exists. Furthermore, he claimed that, even if something did exist, nobody could know it. but even (falsely) assumin that something exists, and that somebody could know it, he could never communicate his knowledge to anyone.

Kinda cool, I spoze, but my onliest question is: Did he really believe that, ya think?

aintnuthin said...

It mighta been another ole sophist, Protagoras, mebbe, who said sumthin like:

They aint never nuthin so true as that which is believed to be true.

I think I kinda catch his drift, there, but aint zakly sure.

aintnuthin said...

I always find it somewhat ironic that many people who label themselves "skeptics" in fact seem to have a relatively rigid set of beliefs that they think you must adhere to if you are a "skeptic." Amongst themselves, and others, they generally try to enforce the acceptance of their particular beliefs by ridiculing those who may not share them.

Mebbe I'm just too skeptical, eh? Or not skeptical enough, as they would probably tell me. One or the other...mebbe both.....

One Brow said...

If my memory is right, ancient societies like the Egyptians used the Pythagorean theorem (without ever having reduced it to a mathematical formula) to calculate right angles with amazing precision. So, ya might say it is true for practical purposes, eh?

Well, I don't think Dr. Feser would recognize "true for practical purposes" as being the same thing as "true". I would agree it is sufficiently accurate for everyday use.

Yeah, that's what I'm sayin about plane geometry.

I think you and I agree that plane geometry is a model, designed to give you an approximation, and not some truth that definitively describes reality. So, you are basically repeating my positon to me. This is not Dr. Feser's position or approach to the material.

Of course relativity also relies on a theoretical vacuum to posit the absolute, constant, speed of light.

Actually, the speed of light is an absolute constant within any particular medium (as far as we can measure), and that constant varies from medium to medium.

In either case, the non-existence of a true vacuum "in the world" is irrelvant to the claims being made.

Unless a claim is being made about the world itself.

Yet those who believe in dark matter seem to accept it because they believe in the universal application of Newton's formula.

Newton's results were based on experiments like having moving one ball close to another ball and observing the effects on a twisted wire that held the second ball. I'm not sure how dark matter would affect that experiement.

This is also true of science, or at least "scientific theory," eh, Eric?

Within the general process of science, we do at one point make an inductive leap from the empirical knowledge to general principles. So in that part of the overall scientific endeavor, this is true. However, the basis of the inductive leap on empirical data at least ensures that the leap itself is reflective odf reality, while removing the certainty of the conclusion.

So why limit it to philosopy and metaphysics?

Science starts with empirical data. Metaphysics starts with ideas that make sense to the metaphysician. To me, that's a big difference. In practice, it restores the certainy of the conclusions within the model itself, but removes any guarantee the model reflects reality.

You seem to have great faith in the science you wish to accept,

I trust the science regardless of whether I want to accept it.

Again, taking it one step further, scientific theory has metaphsics built right into it, just not in a manner that is expressly stated (and is in fact expressly denied by some).

We have discussed a couple of metaphysical assumptions of science, such as reliability fo measurements and uniformitarianism, before. Did you mean somethign else?

Some believe in God, some believe in dark matter. Some believe in both, some believe in neither. Whatever, it all kinda comes down to "belief," don't it?

Dark matter is just a place holder until what is really happening can be discovered.

Kinda cool, I spoze, but my onliest question is: Did he really believe that, ya think?

Who knows? People seem to believe all kinds of crazy things.

Amongst themselves, and others, they generally try to enforce the acceptance of their particular beliefs by ridiculing those who may not share them.

I think it is no more realistic to catagorize all skeptics than it is to categorize all the credulous.

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "Science starts with empirical data. Metaphysics starts with ideas that make sense to the metaphysician. To me, that's a big difference. In practice, it restores the certainy of the conclusions within the model itself, but removes any guarantee the model reflects reality."

I tend to disagree. Observation may start with data, but observation is not science. Science "starts" with a hypothesis...one that makes sense to the hypothesizer. Your original statement was talking about a method of proof ("...as the primary proof method remains deductive reasoning, this will be its state"), and that's really what I was addressing.

The framing of a hypothesis (which, I'm sayin, "starts" the science) is indeed inductive in character, but the "primary proof method" remains deductive. A hypothesis is "confirmed" when it's necessary implications (arrived at deductively) are not found to be false. So the proof method is the same, I would say.

And I really can't see the distinction between the "certainty" within the "model itself," between a deductive system which incorporates so-called "scientific" premises and ones which are mathemtatical, metaphysical, or pertaining to any other subject matter which may be analyzed by hypothetico-deductive treatement. The certainty is always there "within the model itself," aint it?

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "We have discussed a couple of metaphysical assumptions of science, such as reliability fo measurements and uniformitarianism, before. Did you mean somethign else?"

Yeah, I meant a lot more than that. It depends on innumerable assumptions or presuppositions which might be characterized as "metaphysical" in nature. Our concepts of matter, space, and time, just for examples. These are all abstractions, products of hypothetical and speculative notions, etc. Doesn't mean they are false---simply that they are "man-made" and preferred by the people relying on them., just like the presuppositions of metaphysicians.

I'm not sayin that science and metaphysics are the "same thing," just that science too has its metaphysical presuppositions. It took centuries for philosphers to define the nature of matter and decide upon it's essential characteristics (now widely relied upon by practical scientists), and even now I don't think you can say the issue has been "settled." The concepts are NOT what we "see" in nature or with observation, they are secondary and derivative.

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "I think you and I agree that plane geometry is a model, designed to give you an approximation, and not some truth that definitively describes reality. So, you are basically repeating my positon to me."

Yeah, we agree, but I don't think I'm just repeating your position. Physical "laws" are often based upon idealized conditions, such as vacuums, which, like planes, may never exist in "reality." But you don't seem to think they are both only "true" in the sense that Paul Bunyon is 12 feet tall is true, i.e., within the framework of a "fictitious" system which does not literally conform to reality.

In that respect, I really can't see how the claim that, IF you had an idealized plane, THEN "x" would be the case, is substantially different from the claim that IF you had a perfect vacuum, THEN "y" would be the case.

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "I think it is no more realistic to catagorize all skeptics than it is to categorize all the credulous."

I agree, but you seem to by implying that I said otherwise. My initial statement was simply that "I always find it somewhat ironic that many people who label themselves "skeptics..." Last I heard, "many" is not "all," ya know?

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "I trust the science regardless of whether I want to accept it."

Surely you must realize how naive that a reference to "the science" is, eh, Eric? You act as though "the science" is some monolithic, objective thing that is identically perceived by all. It aint. If our discussions about the evolutionary theory, global warming and the nature of "scientific theory" in general have taught me nothing else about what you call "the science," it would be that it is exactly the opposite. One merely decides, on the basis of more or less information, which side of a scientific dispute he chooses to agree with, if he takes a definitive position at all, anyway. There are undoubtably many subjective factors which influence any such "choice," just as there are in metaphysical choices.

aintnuthin said...

Someone claims: "We know John Doe is the murderer because we found the gun, and, as extensive ballistic tests confirm, it is the same gun that is registered to John Doe."

I don't have to have any opinion about who the murderer is, or know a single thing about ballistics tests, to observe that the mere fact that the gun is registered to John Doe doesn't mean he is the murderer (don't mean he aint, either, of course). My skepticism about, or criticism of, the unwarranted
conclusion is addressed to the argument upon which it relies, not the science, or the question of who the murderer is.

All the same, there are people who would interpret my criticism as a claim that John Doe did NOT commit the murder or that ballistics tests are unreliable. They would be wrong, but, still.....

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "Newton's results were based on experiments like having moving one ball close to another ball and observing the effects on a twisted wire that held the second ball. I'm not sure how dark matter would affect that experiement."

I aint sure either, nor could Newton be, that's the point. If dark matter is just "there" but cannot be detected, he would have no way of knowing if a whole shitload of it was hanging around next to his balls on twisted wires. Or maybe just a little....or maybe none....no way to say. This was all in response to your observation that: "You can derive a calculation for acceleration based on certain assumptions about the existence or non-existence of other forces that affect the acceleration..."

You can assume whatever you want about dark matter, you just can't verify it.

One Brow said...

I tend to disagree.

That is your right.

Observation may start with data, but observation is not science.

Observation is not all there is to science, but it is both the key component and the starting point. There are no hypotheses to confirm or disconfirm without the observations on which they are grounded.

Science "starts" with a hypothesis...one that makes sense to the hypothesizer.

Unlike mathematics or metaphysics, the hypotheses in science don't come from the mind of the scientist, but from inferential leaps based on observations.

... but the "primary proof method" remains deductive.

Hypotheses are confirmed or disconfirmed by observing the results of experiments that hypotheses make predicitons about. Theorems in formal systems are proven by following rules of a calculus (logic, for philosophy and mathematics) from an accepted start to a desired conclusion. They are not even close to being the same thing. One key distinction is that the first method never produces a certain confirmation or disconfirmation, the second always has absoltue certainty.

The certainty is always there "within the model itself," aint it?

When was the last time you heard a scientist say anything was proven beyond all doubt? By contrast, any theorem in a foraml system is proven beyond all doubt.

Yeah, I meant a lot more than that.

Such as?

Our concepts of matter, space, and time, just for examples.

These fall under the two assumptions I already made, trustworthiness of observations and uniformitarianism.

These are all abstractions, products of hypothetical and speculative notions, etc. Doesn't mean they are false---simply that they are "man-made" and preferred by the people relying on them., just like the presuppositions of metaphysicians.


The concept of something will always be an abstraction. How is that a metaphysical assumption of science? Is there some other sort of existence a concept could have?
The concepts are NOT what we "see" in nature or with observation, they are secondary and derivative.

Isn't that essential to the nature of a concept? In what way does that make a concept a metaphysical assumption?

Yeah, we agree, but I don't think I'm just repeating your position. Physical "laws" are often based upon idealized conditions, such as vacuums, which, like planes, may never exist in "reality."

Some physical laws are described on objects that don't exist, like ideal gases. Many other sorts of physical laws, such as Newton's mechanics, do not require ideal conditions to hold true.

But you don't seem to think they are both only "true" in the sense that Paul Bunyon is 12 feet tall is true, i.e., within the framework of a "fictitious" system which does not literally conform to reality.

Some physical laws are described on objects that don't exist, like ideal gases. Many other sorts of physical laws, such as Newton's mechanics, do not require ideal conditions to hold true.

I agree, but you seem to by implying that I said otherwise.

OK.

It aint.

I agree, but you seem to by implying that I said otherwise.

If dark matter is just "there" but cannot be detected, he would have no way of knowing if a whole shitload of it was hanging around next to his balls on twisted wires.

Not to mention moving exactly as he moved his balls. Maybe it was the Flying Spaghetti monster moving the dark matter around.

You can assume whatever you want about dark matter, you just can't verify it.

That's because it's a placeholder as opposed to something that has been discovered.

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "Hypotheses are confirmed or disconfirmed by observing the results of experiments that hypotheses make predicitons about. Theorems in formal systems are proven by following rules of a calculus (logic, for philosophy and mathematics) from an accepted start to a desired conclusion. They are not even close to being the same thing."

Yeah, I already said that, eh, Eric? Except I didn't say they were the "same thing." I said that the method of "proof," such as it is, relies on deductive reasoning. The so-called "confirmation" is also deductive, except it is a fallacious type known as "affirming the consequent." If P, then Q; Q, therefore P.

If you don't think sumthin like theoretical phsyics can be just as abstract and disconnected from reality as metaphysical philosophy, well, then, two words.....

"string theory"

Know what I'm sayin?

aintnuthin said...

Heh, to illustrate my point, a little excerpt from wiki, eh?

"String theory posits that the electrons and quarks within an atom are not 0-dimensional objects, but 1-dimensional strings. ...One of the most inclusive of these is the 11-dimensional M-theory, which requires spacetime to have eleven dimensions, as opposed to the usual three spatial dimensions and the fourth dimension of time."

And you wanna complain that, bein only 2 dimensions, planes aren't "real?" What the hell is a one-dimensional string, then? Or 11 dimensions of space-time?

I guess either one is a little more is a little more comprehensible than 0-dimensions, though, ya know?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/String_theory

"By now, just about everyone has heard of string theory. Even those who don't really understand it--which is to say, just about everyone--know that it's the hottest thing in theoretical physics. Any university that doesn't have at least one string theorist on the payroll is considered a scientific backwater....Not Even Wrong, by Columbia University mathematician Peter Woit, and The Trouble with Physics, by Lee Smolin at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ont., both argue that string theory (or superstring theory, as it is also known) is largely a fad propped up by practitioners who tend to be arrogantly dismissive of anyone who dare suggest that the emperor has no clothes."

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1226142,00.html

Woit and Smolin could possibly have a point, notwithstanding the decades of research time and enormous expenditure of funds devoted to this theory by enthusiastic scientists (or are they philosophers?). Kinda makes me wanna read Schopenhauer or Hegel for some reason.

aintnuthin said...

"when problems arise, the solutions often introduce yet another layer of complexity. Indeed, one of the theory's proponents calls the latest of many string-theory refinements "a Rube Goldberg contraption."... the new, improved theory posits a nearly infinite number of different possible universes, with no way of showing that ours is more likely than any of the others.... Maybe, they've argued, there really are an infinite number of universes--an idea that's currently in vogue among some astronomers as well--and some version of the theory describes each of them. That means any prediction, however outlandish, has a chance of being valid for at least one universe, and no prediction, however sensible, might be valid for all of them."

Well, they seem to cover all the bases, sho nuff, eh? They have more answers than the holy roller who just came to my door. In addition to giving me a right fine lookin magazine, free, he was kind enough to spend about an hour telling explaining his "theory or everything" to me. Back in my day, we just called it God, but ya gotta be "scientific" these here days, I spoze.

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "Unlike mathematics or metaphysics, the hypotheses in science don't come from the mind of the scientist, but from inferential leaps based on observations."

You think that noteworthy metaphysicians don't base their hypotheses on observation aided by deep reflection? You don't think that hypotheses don't come from the "mind of the scientist?" You seem to be reciting a G.E.D. notion of what "science" is, Eric, but I suspect that you have never really given the matter much thought.

aintnuthin said...

I told my homey, Butterball, that I wuznt no biologist, or nuthin, but that it wuz my understandin that cats and dogs are both mammals. He told me I best check my research on that, because every fool knows that cats aren't the same thing as dogs.

One Brow said...

I said that the method of "proof," such as it is, relies on deductive reasoning.

The usual response by scientists in these discussions is something along the lines of proof being for mathematics and alcohol. Science creates predictions from the results of the leaps of logic, not proofs.

... except it is a fallacious type known as "affirming the consequent."

We agree that the founding principles of a hypothesis/theory are arrived at through induction, and that there is no valid proof method for confirming the result. You're using this to try to convince me science is like mathematics or philosophy?

If you don't think sumthin like theoretical phsyics can be just as abstract and disconnected from reality as metaphysical philosophy,

I think that not all speculations concerning physical objects are scientific in nature.

"string theory"

Know what I'm sayin?


Yup. Since when did a speculation with no experimental basis become a product of science? Or, is string theory one of your claimed essential metaphysical assumptions of science (in which case i would disagree)?

You think that noteworthy metaphysicians don't base their hypotheses on observation aided by deep reflection?

From what I can tell, most metaphysicians choose their starting positions very carefully to ensure the result of the deduction will conform to their preferred position.

You don't think that hypotheses don't come from the "mind of the scientist?"

It is human nature to notice and expolore patterns, and the initial hyptheses of scientists are certainly an example of that phenomenon.

You seem to be reciting a G.E.D. notion of what "science" is, Eric, but I suspect that you have never really given the matter much thought.

No doubt you'll spend another 60 or 100 posts trying to up my educaiton level, only to find that I actually understand and accepted those points initially. Then we can do it again in the next thread.

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "Yup. Since when did a speculation with no experimental basis become a product of science?"

As I said before, I think science "starts" with a hypothesis, which is basically "a speculation with no experimental basis." Hence, it is not a "product of" science, it is science.

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "No doubt you'll spend another 60 or 100 posts trying to up my educaiton level, only to find that I actually understand and accepted those points initially."

This is a recurring theme in our discussions, sho nuff. I have often accused you of merely paying "lip service" to certain concepts, without incorporating them into your thought processes.

You say, for example, that you are well aware, and agree, that correlation does not necessarily imply causation, but the next thing I know, you are arguing that smoking causes cancer, that something about the time of day, and day of the week, "causes" a batter to hit better, that there is a "causal justification" for conclusions premised on =/- stats, etc.

You say that you are well aware that coin flips are independent of one another, but, next thing I know, you are implicitly arguing that the outcome of the first flip will influence the outcome of a second one, etc.

You acknowledge that science is uncertain, but call just about anyone who disputes your conclusions about the cause of recent global warming a "denialist," etc.

I won't even start with what you "acknowledge" about evolutionary theory, only to proceed to argue as though the opposite were true.

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "We agree that the founding principles of a hypothesis/theory are arrived at through induction, and that there is no valid proof method for confirming the result. You're using this to try to convince me science is like mathematics or philosophy?"

Yeah, I guess I am. This all started with your critique of Feser, claiming that the pythagorean cannot be "true" (or true in the world) because planes don't exist. Then you brought up Paul Bunyon.

This same type of objection could be levelled against any number of "scientific" notions (such as dimensionless quarks, one-dimensional strings, and a host of others, but you seem to deny that, or deny the relevancy.

My point about dark matter was not really about the liklihood that it "really" exists, but the circular reasoning which underlies its postulation to begin with. The willingness of scientists to accept, believe in, and argue for, unverifiable, seemingly contradictory, notions such as dark matter is just a by-product of that.

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "From what I can tell, most metaphysicians choose their starting positions very carefully to ensure the result of the deduction will conform to their preferred position."

But it seems that it is this very factor which leads you to praise scientific starting positions (hypotheses); they pick a premise which they think will imply things which "conform to" their observations.

String theory "predicts" many things about the world. Problem is, they are the same things that are predicted by classical physics. Of course the string theorists simply tinker with their mathematical premises until they conform to their "preferred positions" (observations). They select the conclusion first, and alter their premises accordingly. Kinda like the modern synthetic theory of evolution, ya know?

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "... is string theory one of your claimed essential metaphysical assumptions of science (in which case i would disagree)?

I aint no philosopher (thank God), but my understanding is that ontology is one branch of what philosophy calls metaphysics.

Particle theory claims that the basic structure of material is "particlies" (while acknowledge that this view creates a host of apparent paradoxes and other problems). String theorists say its strings, not particles. Both theories can accurately predict the same types of things. This of course, is always an inherent problem with relying on successful prediction as "confirmation." For any given phenomenon, there are potentially an infinite number of theories which would "predict" it, but that aint my point right now.

Point is this: So is fundamental reality (ontology) particles, or strings (or sumthin else)? Since we cannot test the difference, and since both explain things, you are free to simply take the ontological position you prefer, and proceed accordingly. Kinda like metaphysics, ya know?

One Brow said...

As I said before, I think science "starts" with a hypothesis, which is basically "a speculation with no experimental basis." Hence, it is not a "product of" science, it is science.

I will continue to disagree. Science is a process, the various models, hypotheses, experiements, tc. are products of the process. The process starts before the hypothesis.

This is a recurring theme in our discussions, sho nuff. I have often accused you of merely paying "lip service" to certain concepts, without incorporating them into your thought processes.

Meanwhile, you have retained a very simple notion of how these concepts are incorporated and what they mean, often devoid of any sort of nuance, trying to establish clear bright lines in a murky world.

you are arguing that smoking causes cancer,

Somking does cause cancer. Only an overly simplistic notion of causation seems to lead you think there is reason to say otherwise.

that something about the time of day, and day of the week, "causes" a batter to hit better,

Actually, what I said was that is the correlation was stong enough based, it was reasonalble to act upon that correlation even if you were unsure of the cause. Again, you insensitivity to nuance led you to misunderstand.

that there is a "causal justification" for conclusions premised on =/- stats, etc.

You don't think better players will produce better +/- stats, all other things being equal?

you are implicitly arguing that the outcome of the first flip will influence the outcome of a second one, etc.

I acknowledged my misunderstanding of the situaiton there. I even wrote a post on this blog about it.

You acknowledge that science is uncertain, but call just about anyone who disputes your conclusions about the cause of recent global warming a "denialist," etc.

I don't have conclusions. My use of the term is, and has been, based on the manner in which they frame their disagreements. I didn't call Dr. Spencer a denialist, because he actually did some science to show there was a gap in the model. Other people don't bother.

I won't even start with what you "acknowledge" about evolutionary theory, only to proceed to argue as though the opposite were true.

Just as well. You continually used the same sort of simplistic notions throughout over a thousand comments. I'm not complaining, because I learned a lot in those exchanges.

One Brow said...

This all started with your critique of Feser, claiming that the pythagorean cannot be "true" (or true in the world) because planes don't exist.

You misunderstood, then. If we lived in a flat space of the sort described by Euclid, I would hold the the Pythagorean Theorem was trus even though planes would not be constructable. The Pythagorean Theorem is untrue because space has negative curvature.

This same type of objection could be levelled against any number of "scientific" notions (such as dimensionless quarks, one-dimensional strings, and a host of others, but you seem to deny that, or deny the relevancy.

I don't know enough about these things to make pronouncements on what is or is not ridiculous. As far as I know, none of them is incompatible with our reality (but if they do, I will revise my opinion). Euclidean geometry is incompatible with reality.

But it seems that it is this very factor which leads you to praise scientific starting positions (hypotheses); they pick a premise which they think will imply things which "conform to" their observations.

Observations are not the same thing as preferred positions, nor was that intended as a criticism of metaphysicians in particular. The results a hypothesis needs to conform to are supposedly objective (not every scientist does this well), while metaphysicians don't have that luxury.

Point is this: So is fundamental reality (ontology) particles, or strings (or sumthin else)? Since we cannot test the difference, and since both explain things, you are free to simply take the ontological position you prefer, and proceed accordingly. Kinda like metaphysics, ya know?

I agree, and you will note I have been reluctant to say either position is a scientific position. Possibly, eventually we will be able to test for a difference between the theories. Then one will get to be science, the other will be discarded (or more likely, both will be discarded in favor of the unexpected).

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "I agree, and you will note I have been reluctant to say either position is a scientific position. Possibly, eventually we will be able to test for a difference between the theories. Then one will get to be science, the other will be discarded (or more likely, both will be discarded in favor of the unexpected)."


Hmm, so you're sayin that neither of these is a "scientific position?"

1. Fundamental reality is made up of particles
2. Fundamental reality is made up of strings

I think the particle physicists would definitely disagree. Both are, at a minimum, "scientific positions," whether right or wrong. I'm sure that you must be relying on a "verifiability" criterion here, but even if you could devise a test that would show one to be superior to another, that would not verify that the remaining one as correct. Before you know it, some other competing view will come along, as you yourself noted.

If you carry that view to it's logical conclusion, there never is, never has been, and never will be a "scientific position."

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "The process starts before the hypothesis."

Words like "process" often refer to sumthin rather vague, non-specific, and ambiguous. Where, in you view, does science "start," exactly?

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "Somking does cause cancer. Only an overly simplistic notion of causation seems to lead you think there is reason to say otherwise."

Well, we've been through this once, but your definition of a "cause" is meaningless and useless. As I understood you, anything which in any way increases the likelihood of even X happening is it's "cause." By this view X could have 25 million "causes." Multiplying what one identifies as a "cause" to virtual infinity does makes thing complex beyond meaning, and can't be considered overly simplisitc, I spoze. It's just useless, and totally contrary to all scientific notions of causality. Scientific "verification" of any theory would never be even remotely possible with this definition.

And, yeah, I too have heard "scientists" say such nonsense as smoking "causes" cancer. Kinda like playing basketball "causes death" (one time out of 10 billion, mebbe, like when a player with a heart condition hauls of and kicks the bucket during a game). Breathing causes death, because every breath makes it more likely that you will die sooner, rather than later (due to the wear and tear of it all, ya know?).

Birth causes death, because being born makes it more likely that you will die than not bein born, etc.

The main point is this: Without a deterministic notion of causation (whether right or not), science is surely in no different of a position than metaphyics.

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "You don't think better players will produce better +/- stats, all other things being equal?"

Better than +/- stats than what? The other team? If you're simply asking me if 5 NBA players will perform better than 5 grade school kids who all ride the short but, the answer is obvious. But that's not the kinda claim I understood you to be referring to.

aintnuthin said...

Take the olympic team on one side. Take the grade schoolers on the other, but give them, say, Eric Maynor. Will the team Maynor's on now lose by less? Mebbe, mebbe not. Let's say the olympic team wins 140-6 that way, instead of 150-0. Maynor's +/- is only -134, you could say, and without him the team +/- stat would be -150. Is it Maynor's -134 +/- stat that proves the team is better with Maynor, or just your own damn eyes, eh?

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "You don't think better players will produce better +/- stats, all other things being equal?"

Of course it is the whole ceteris paribus assumption that is never fulfilled with +/- stats, that's the point. Every player on Maynor's team had a -134 +/- stat (assuming only 5 played the entire game). Does that, standing alone, show that all players are of equal value?

I don't think so! Homey don't play dat.

aintnuthin said...

If Maynor could simply manage to dribble out the shot clock on every possession, he would narrow the margin of victory, while commiting 67 turnovers. Notwithstanding his horrible box score, he would have made the team "better." But again, I don't think his +/- stats would tell you that.

aintnuthin said...

Park Dwight Howard under the defensive basket for the whole game. If Maynor or any kid ever gets close to the basket, he can block the shot. In the meantime, after every made basket, put Lebron James on the kid trying to inbound the ball to Maynor (unless Maynor himself is trying to inbound to some kid, in which case see next strategy). Put Deron Williams, Chris Paul, and Carmelo Anothony on Maynor at all times. Probably at least 98% of all possession will result in a quick steal, and Maynor's presence will not garner a single point for his team.

I'm just havin fun here, but the point is the same:
1. One player does not a team make, and the stats for one player will not tell you a whole lot about the team's performance, as a unit, and
2. If you start makin substitutions on each side, the "all things being equal" qualification goes out the window, and the question of "cause" is unascertainable (unless, of course, "cause" does not really mean "cause," but just one of 10 million factors).

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "You misunderstood, then....The Pythagorean Theorem is untrue because space has negative curvature."

No, I don't think I misunderstood, we're just repeating the same steps.

In essence, you're sayin: Principles of plane geometry do not hold true on a basketball.

I'm sayin: Yeah, and no one ever claimed it did. The theorem holds true for planes, whether or not there is a basketball in the room.

aintnuthin said...

I am told,by the way, that no measurable curvative of space (whether "negative" or "positive," whatever that difference may be) exists when all matter is located at a remote distance. But, again, I think that issue is irrelevant to the validity of the claim.

If I said that if all zebras are pink, and if this animal is a zebra, then this animal is pink, it would not invalidate my claim to point out that zebras are not pink. I never said they were.

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "I don't know enough about these things to make pronouncements on what is or is not ridiculous."

I didn't say they were ridiculous. If they are "real," as scientists seem to believe, then they are real (in which case your argument about all matter having volume, therefore precluding planes, goes out the window too). Either way, they are relied upon in particle physics, so, I guess, that isn't "true" either by your definition. Particle physics may well be just another formal, deductive system, like plane geometry

"A point particle (ideal particle, or point-like particle, often spelled pointlike particle) is an idealized object heavily used in physics. Its defining feature is that it lacks spatial extension: being zero-dimensional, it does not take up space...There is no experimental evidence for any of the elementary particles having spatial extent, and so they are usually considered to be point particles in the more general sense too (at least to the limited extent that the concept of a "particle" is meaningful in quantum field theory.)"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Point_particle

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "Some physical laws are described on objects that don't exist, like ideal gases. Many other sorts of physical laws, such as Newton's mechanics, do not require ideal conditions to hold true."

How ya figure? "Newton's First Law states that an object will remain at rest or in uniform motion in a straight line unless acted upon by an external force." http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/Newt.html

There are no straight lines, you're sayin, right? Any postulation of a "straight line" is merely an untrue fiction, like Paul Bunyon, aint it? Newton's law does not apply to the "real world," only to an idealized, fictional world he made up.

Eric, I keep trying, unsuccessfully, no doubt, to get you to see the double standard you routinely apply. You somehow exempt science from the same criticisms you apply to other topics, because you think it is somehow "different." It is clear that you think this difference is due to the attempt to formulate theories which conform to empirical observation.

String theory, particle physics theory, evolutionary theory, or whatever scientific discipline in which "theories" may be generated are all just theories (based upon certain "ideal" assumptions). Necessary consequences are then deduced from those assumptions. Whether they conform to observations or not is a totally separate question from the nature of the theory itself, and the methods used to concoct and apply it.

aintnuthin said...

I do see where you claimed earlier that science starts with observation, because, you said, without observation there would be no science. Why not say it starts with the big bang, because without something to observe there is no observation? Why not say it starts with abiogenesis in a warm pond, because without observers there is no observation.

Dogs "observe." So do muskrats, and a whole host of other organisms. Are they doin "science," ya figure? Science starts with an attempt to explain, not the mere existence of something that, in theory, could be explained. An explanation requires an "explainer," i.e., an intelligent, discerning observer capable of abstraction, conceptualization, generalization, etc. If not, then you could claim a tapeworm is doin "science," ya know?

aintnuthin said...

If I was asked to describe or define the essential nature of automobiles, I would probably first mention the internal combustion engine. Others might claim that the essential nature is nuts and bolts, because no car is assembled without them. Matter of perspective, I guess.

One Brow said...

I think the particle physicists would definitely disagree.

Some might. Lots of people disagree about what is scientific.

Both are, at a minimum, "scientific positions," whether right or wrong.

Being compatible with reality is not enough to be scientific. You have to have some sort of evidence for existence. There is rule of which I am aware that says unicorns can not exist. That doesn't make it scientific to say unicorns exist.

If you carry that view to it's logical conclusion, there never is, never has been, and never will be a "scientific position."

There has never been a position that has been useful to predict the results of experiements and investigations? Curious statement to make.

Words like "process" often refer to sumthin rather vague, non-specific, and ambiguous. Where, in you view, does science "start," exactly?

'Where' woulde be in the mind of the observer.

Well, we've been through this once, but your definition of a "cause" is meaningless and useless.

It's the one used by biologists, doctors, and many others to describe the relationship between smoking and cancer. If you have a problem with it, you have a problem with reality, because reality is a messy thing, where you don't get bright line distinctions and direct, linear causal relationships except in the most idealized of circumstances.

By this view X could have 25 million "causes."

Exactly.

It's just useless,

Just because you don't understand how to use it does not make it useless.

and totally contrary to all scientific notions of causality.

Weren't you just telling me about all these scientific laws that used things which were too simplified? In beginning-level science courses, simple notions of causality are used (just like simple notions of atomic structure are used).

Scientific "verification" of any theory would never be even remotely possible with this definition.

Yet, science marches on, despite your protestation. Drug trials don't expect 100% performance of new drugs to accept the drugs are having an effect.

One Brow said...

Without a deterministic notion of causation (whether right or not), science is surely in no different of a position than metaphyics.

Except for the whole 'based in reality instead of arbitrarily chosen starting points, and use of inductive rather than deductive reasoning' thing.

Besides, determinism does not requires single-branch causality.

Better than +/- stats than what?

Then similar players on the same team.

In essence, you're sayin: Principles of plane geometry do not hold true on a basketball.

A basketball would have positive curvature. Space-time has negative curvature.

More to the point, and too make it more clear, I would say that the principles of Lobachevskian geometry are true, and in particular that is it true the three angles of a triangle add up to less than 180 degrees, in reality.

I'm sayin: Yeah, and no one ever claimed it did.

Dr. Feser makes the claim the theorem holds for reality. He is in error, because reality has the shape of Lobchevskian geometry, not Euclidean.

I am told,by the way, that no measurable curvative of space ... exists when all matter is located at a remote distance.

"No measurable" means too small to measure, possibly too small to be theoretically measurable. It is different from not existing.

... it would not invalidate my claim to point out that zebras are not pink. I never said they were.

How does this relate to the claims of Dr. Feser, who claims (in the terms of this metaphor) that all zebras are pink?

Newton's law does not apply to the "real world," only to an idealized, fictional world he made up.

If space were flat, I would accept Newton's Law as being a true depiction. As it is, if you replace "straight line" with "timelike geodesic", even though there is no such actual object as a timelike geodesic, I would accept that the description of following a timelike geodesic as true.

Eric, I keep trying, unsuccessfully, no doubt, to get you to see the double standard you routinely apply.

When you keep failing to understand what I am saying, your effort is not likely to be successful. Hoever, I will keep trying to clarify my points, as the fault may be mine.

You somehow exempt science from the same criticisms you apply to other topics, because you think it is somehow "different."

In the sense that I think science should be subject to the criticism appropriate to science, and not those those of metaphysics or mathematics, this is true.

It is clear that you think this difference is due to the attempt to formulate theories which conform to empirical observation.

In the sense that this is true of any empirically derived field of study, sure.

Whether they conform to observations or not is a totally separate question from the nature of the theory itself, and the methods used to concoct and apply it.

Yup.

... Why not say it starts with abiogenesis in a warm pond, because without observers there is no observation.

If you want to go back that far, I have no problem. I was speaking more on a pracitcal level than a metaphysical one.

Dogs "observe." So do muskrats, and a whole host of other organisms. Are they doin "science," ya figure?

Is performing one step of the scientific process enough to be said to be doing science? Interesting question.

If not, then you could claim a tapeworm is doin "science," ya know?

So, you apparently think you need to perform more than just that step of the process. I concur.

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "It's the one used by biologists, doctors, and many others to describe the relationship between smoking and cancer. If you have a problem with it, you have a problem with reality..."

Let's see now.....the misuse of a word creates "reality?"

One Brow said: "....you don't get bright line distinctions and direct, linear causal relationships except in the most idealized of circumstances."

Fine, then don't say you know the cause. "Messiness" is just an excuse for me to claim that "science causes insanity," or any other non-sensical claim I choose to assert. The solution is not to abandon all standards for the meaning of the word "cause," is it?

The whole thing reminds of some pygmies I know who argue that the baskets in the NBA should be lowered to 3 feet, so they can play.

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "Yet, science marches on, despite your protestation."

Sure, science marches on, because science is not idiotic enough to consider anything (and everything) that increases the likelihood of X occuring to be is "cause(s)".

aintnuthin said...

Everything that is alive and has senses "observes," even without any particular purpose in doing so. You might as well say that the first step in science is becoming alive.

People sat under apple trees, and observed apples falling off of trees, for centuries without coming up with a theory of gravity, ya know? Apples do not have the theory of gravity written on them, and no amount of observing them will give you that.

aintnuthin said...

Sorry, I overlooked this more recent position you expressed: "'Where' woulde be in the mind of the observer."

I agree with that, I took you to be sayin sumthin else before.

aintnuthin said...

I would expect a better shooter to score more points than a poorer one, all things being equal. That said, you can't just look at a box score and say that a person who scored 12 points (on, let's say, 6-35 shooting) must therefore be a better shooter than one who scored only 10 points (on 5-5 shooting). Surely you see the fallacy here, doncha?

aintnuthin said...

I said: "Newton's law does not apply to the "real world," only to an idealized, fictional world he made up."

If space were flat, I would accept Newton's Law as being a true depiction.

So we agree then: it's just a world Newton "made up," despite your prior claims to the contrary that Newton's mechanics were independent of fictions.

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "Except for the whole 'based in reality instead of arbitrarily chosen starting points, and use of inductive rather than deductive reasoning' thing."

No, there is no difference there. Metaphysical premises are not chosen "arbitrarily," and inductive reasoning is used to arrive at them.

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "... it would not invalidate my claim to point out that zebras are not pink. I never said they were.

How does this relate to the claims of Dr. Feser, who claims (in the terms of this metaphor) that all zebras are pink?

Well, my point was addressed to your objection, not Feser's claim. I'm not sure what his claim is, exactly, so I can't address it.

I will note that you have consistently used "reality" as being synonomous with the external world. But some would claim that thoughts "really" exist and are hence part of "reality."

I have a feeling that Feser is just saying that the pythagorean theorem is an example of what Kant called an "analytic" (as opposed to synthetic) truth.

aintnuthin said...

Back to the other point. My premise is this, as I told my homies: Riding in a automobile increases the liklihood that you will die in an automobile accident. Therefore riding in a car causes death.

My homey called a cab for a 2-block ride down to the liquor store, because he was too lazy to walk. I told him, unequivocally, "Cab rides cause death!"

When he got back, he was actin all kinda smug because he didn't die. He thought he had somehow proved me wrong, the chump.

I went back and got a newspaper clipping from years ago about some people who got killed in a car wreck, and one of the cars was a taxicab. That's all I need, one instance, out of millions, where riding in a cab causes death and my premise is irrefutable. Cab rides cause death! After that, nuthin can ever prove me wrong. My theory of causality has not merely been "confirmed" or "verified" in some inclusive sense, but it has been irrefutably proven beyond all argument and doubt. I'm a better scientist than anybody on some academic faculty, then can't claim that kinda proof for their claims that X "causes" Y, can they?

aintnuthin said...

Years back, I pushed my 4 year-old-stepson (I never did like that little bastard, anyhow, ya know) out in front of moving car at the last second, making sure he couldn't stop.

Then I filed a lawsuit against the guy for causing my stepson's death. Everybody knows that moving cars cause death, so it should have been an open and shut case. But wouldn't ya know? Some tricky lawyer convinced those jurors that the driver didn't cause his death. Obviously, they didn't even know what a "cause" is.

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "I would say that the principles of Lobachevskian geometry are true, and in particular that is it true the three angles of a triangle add up to less than 180 degrees, in reality."

Well, you can say that, of course. That's one theory, and it may well even be "true." But has this been confirmed by "observation?" I mean, like, has anybody ever actually seen curved space? Or is this all just some postulate or inference, like those used in metaphysics, euclidean geometry, and Newtonian mechanics??

aintnuthin said...

This is off topic, but, then again, in a way it aint. I have long thought that it is kinda peculiar that Plato, who is the prototype for the "realist" or "idealist" view, seemed to have reached his conclusion by way of being a strict empiricist.

He basically presupposed that nothing can be "known" unless it is observed. But we seem to "know" things that we cannot ever see in "reality." We know what "equal" is, somehow, even though we never see 2 things that are exactly identical in our everyday experiences. How can this be, if you're skinnerian, lockean tabula rosa kinda guy?

That's where his "theory of reminiscience" came in. He figured we must have previously been to (but forgotten) a realm where some things truly were "equal," etc., and from which we could derive that knowledge. Having seen them before, we could now know them, once our memories were stimulated.

So, kinda like Feser seems to be sayin, if you're gunna be a strict empiricist, ya may have to turn idealist to keep things empirical. Otherwise, ya aint got nuthin to base nuthin on.

aintnuthin said...

I don't know what Feser says in the book you're readin, Eric, but I do note that he says this elsewhere:

"But when I say that I can see the truth of the Pythagorean Theorem, I am now using the term in neither a univocal nor an equivocal sense, but rather in an analogical way. That is to say, what one does when he “sees” the truth of the theorem is not the same as what he does when he sees a tree, but it is not completely different either. There is an analogy between the sort of thing we do with our eyes and the sort of thing we do with our intellects that makes it appropriate to describe both as kinds of “seeing.”

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/

He also claims there that he used to be an atheist--you probably already knew that, but I didn't. Apparently part of his conversion revolved around a reassessment of the cosmological argument:

"I have the greatest respect and admiration for Craig, who is, needless to say, one of the great Christian apologists of the age, a brilliant philosopher, and a fine scholar. His work on the history of the cosmological argument played a role in my own conversion, since it helped lead me to see how very badly most critics of the argument misunderstand it. "

One Brow said...

Let's see now.....the misuse of a word creates "reality?"

The word 'cause' is not incompatible with a plural causality relationship.

Fine, then don't say you know the cause.

There is no "the" cause. To think "the" cause exists or could exists is an act of folly. There are causes.

Further, no one claims to be able to look at a particular instance of cancer and identify spedcific environmental causes for it. Yet, smoking does cause cancer.

The solution is not to abandon all standards for the meaning of the word "cause," is it?

You mean, since we can't guarantee that everyone we put in prison is guilty, we should abolish all prisons? I don't think so. Reality is not limited to all-or-nothing status, regardless of your preferences.

Sure, science marches on, because science is not idiotic enough to consider anything (and everything) that increases the likelihood of X occuring to be is "cause(s)".

If you wish to be so ignorant as to believe that, feel free. Meanwhile, in the real world, scientists carefully design experiments (such as using matched pair formats) to rule out various causes of blood pressure changes in blood pressure studies, to focus on one particular cause for changes in blood pressure. So they act like there are multiple causes of high blood pressure, of cancer, of just about any other non-germ disease.

Surely you see the fallacy here, doncha?

Absolutely. I am not aware of any other statistic that measures total on-court contributions to the score like +/-, but it certainly succumbs to its own flaws and biases, just like any other measure.

So we agree then: it's just a world Newton "made up," despite your prior claims to the contrary that Newton's mechanics were independent of fictions.

As far as Newton knew, space was flat. It was the world he measured, not one he made up. It was arrived at through induction, not arbitrary starting points. I do not agree he made it up.

No, there is no difference there. Metaphysical premises are not chosen "arbitrarily," and inductive reasoning is used to arrive at them.

Some metaphysicians claim not to use arbitrary methods, but so far every one I have read winds up doing so. There is no induction that says realism is preferential to conceptualism and/or nominalism.

Well, my point was addressed to your objection, not Feser's claim. I'm not sure what his claim is, exactly, so I can't address it.

My objections have been to Dr. Feser's positions.

One Brow said...

I have a feeling that Feser is just saying that the pythagorean theorem is an example of what Kant called an "analytic" (as opposed to synthetic) truth.

If you read more on the Aristotlean/Thmosian belief system he adopts and promotes, you'll see this is not what he means.

Therefore riding in a car causes death.

If this is more likely than dying on a bus or by walking, I would agree.

That's all I need, one instance, out of millions, where riding in a cab causes death and my premise is irrefutable.

No, that's anecdotal evidence, and the scientists who say that smoking causes cancer don't make this claim based on one guy who smoked and got cancer.

Some tricky lawyer convinced those jurors that the driver didn't cause his death. Obviously, they didn't even know what a "cause" is.

Or, perhaps he just convinced them there was a difference between being a cause and being responsible.

I mean, like, has anybody ever actually seen curved space?

We have seen light follow the curves in space. Of course it's not possible to see space itself.

He basically presupposed that nothing can be "known" unless it is observed.

Would you consider that to be an empircal statement based on inductive reasoning?

That's where his "theory of reminiscience" came in.

He invented a theory with no empircal basis to keep his mtaphysical assumption? I thought you generally opposed that sort of thing.

So, kinda like Feser seems to be sayin, if you're gunna be a strict empiricist, ya may have to turn idealist to keep things empirical. Otherwise, ya aint got nuthin to base nuthin on.

That's very much like something Dr. Feser would say. I'll have more to say about that in future posts, I expect.

I don't know what Feser says in the book you're readin, Eric, but I do note that he says this elsewhere

What you quoted does not disagree with what I have been saying are his postions.

aintnuthin said...

Eric, ignoring tangential nitpicking about curved space, or whatever, is there such a thing as a right triangle? I mean, let's ignore perfection as the sole criterion. Can I draw, on paper, a right triangle (with reasonable approximation to a "perfect" triangle)?

If so, then will A-squared + B-squared = C-squared, regardless of whether A = 1", 5" or any other dimension? If so, do those measurements appear as they do only because I arbitrary made them so, with my premises?

Couldn't I, if I had no acquaintance with the theorem, possibly infer the formula from taking repeated measurements of different sized right triangles, and then spotting a pattern?

If I did that, would my "discovery" of the pythagorean formula be a "scientific" one derived from careful and repeated observation and measurment of material objects which exist "out there?" How would this be any different from Newton's derivation of the formula for gravitational "attraction?"

One Brow said...

Eric, ignoring tangential nitpicking about curved space, or whatever, is there such a thing as a right triangle?

The answers to some of these questions are different in our curved space versus a hypothetical flat space. However, right trinagles exist in both.

Can I draw, on paper, a right triangle (with reasonable approximation to a "perfect" triangle)?

Yes.

If so, then will A-squared + B-squared = C-squared, regardless of whether A = 1", 5" or any other dimension?

In flat space, yes. In curved space, it depends on how fine your measurements are.

If so, do those measurements appear as they do only because I arbitrary made them so, with my premises?

No.

Couldn't I, if I had no acquaintance with the theorem, possibly infer the formula from taking repeated measurements of different sized right triangles, and then spotting a pattern?

Yes. However, as the fineness of your measurements increased, you would notice (in curved space) that the meaurements no longer precisely fit the pattern.

If I did that, would my "discovery" of the pythagorean formula be a "scientific" one derived from careful and repeated observation and measurment of material objects which exist "out there?"

Yes, it would be a scientific formula. It would not be a mathematical theorem, though. No one thinks the Pythagorean Theorem is true because we measured a bunch of triangles.

How would this be any different from Newton's derivation of the formula for gravitational "attraction?"

It wouldn't. Newton Law of Gravity wasn't a mathematical theorem either.

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "So they act like there are multiple causes of high blood pressure, of cancer, of just about any other non-germ disease."

Well, now you're just changin he topic, with respect to "multiple causes." We were talkin about whether smoking causes cancer, without regard to any claim that ONLY smoking causes cancer. Two entirely different things.

We've talked about this before, but a lit match does not (solely and invariably) cause subtantial quantities of gasoline to ignite--not without oxygen. So the presence of sufficient oxygen is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for igniting gasoline. Nuthin new there. If you want to argue that it takes at least 2 additional things (i.e, gas and oxygen) for a match to cause the gas to ignite, fine.

Even if you want to claim that it is only the 3 things together that "cause" the resulting fire, I would understand that. But none of that is the point.

If the gas ignited only 3 times out of 1,000 with touched by a match with oxygen present, that you would be hard-pressed to say those three things predictably "caused" a fire.

Likewise, if smoking a pack and a half of cigarettes for years resulted in 3 out of 1,000 smokers contracting lung cancer. The "causal" relationship would still be lacking, even if no non-smoker EVER contracted lung cancer (which aint the case, of course).

But not if you define "cause" to mean any correlation, connection, or unidentified association, no matter how slight, of course. If I want to INSIST that the driver caused my stepson's death, that is exactly what I would argue, of course. Of course the stupid jurors might try to claim that I caused his death, by pushing him in front of a moving car.

I said: "Therefore riding in a car causes death.

You responded: If this is more likely than dying on a bus or by walking, I would agree.

Sure, you agree with your own definition. If I defined a cat as a dog, I would "agree" that a cat is a dog. Simple tautology. It's the absurdity of the definiton that I dispute, not your "right" to call anything you want anything you want.

aintnuthin said...

I said: "Therefore riding in a car causes death.

You responded: If this is more likely than dying on a bus or by walking, I would agree.

As I said in a previous post, on the one hand, if directly pressed you will freely acknowledge that correlation does not prove causation, and rather indigantly protest that it is insulting for anyone to question whether you think otherwise.

In the next breath, you will argue that the most tenuous correlation "proves" causation. I'm really at a loss to know what to make of it all after a while.

I usually just conclude that you have some emotional reason for wanting to declare that "smoking causes cancer." Are you perhaps in the midst of a lawsuit againt a tobacco company seeking millions for them "causing" the death of a loved one, by any chance?

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "No one thinks the Pythagorean Theorem is true because we measured a bunch of triangles."

Why not? Why would you say this? If I wanted to "confirm" that some pie-in-the-sky prediction about squares, square roots, and triangles, was an accurate prediction, why wouldn't I measure a few to see? Isn't that what science is all about?

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "Yes, it would be a scientific formula. It would not be a mathematical theorem, though."

I don't think I understand the distinction you're tryin to make here.

Let's try working backwards, OK? Suppose I did measure a bunch of trianges, and it struck me that if the shortest side was 6" then invariably the hypotenuse would be 10" and the longer leg 8."

If it was 3", then 5" and 4" would hold.

Hmmm....3 squared = 9, 4 squared = 16, which add up to 5 squared (25). Same with 36, 64, and 100. I'm starting to guess there might be some kinda invariable pattern here....lemme try some more.

Now then, I take my discovery to the local mathematical genius, who I find playing checkers down at the barber shop. I say: I don't know why it is, but A2 + B2 always seems to equal C2. Can you come up with some premises which would dictate this result?

A few days later he comes up with euclidean geometry, which he developed independently to address this problem. Kinda like string theory, or particle physics do, ya know?

Does A2 + B2 = C2 because of his premises? Did his premises "make" that happen? Once you know the results you're trying to achieve, you don't just "arbitrarily" choose premises. You choose, and then modify, if necessary, ones which will imply the results you already know, kinda like string theory, and all.

So, do the theorems generate the measured dimensions, and the relationship between them, or do the measured dimensions generate the theorems?

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "There is no induction that says realism is preferential to conceptualism and/or nominalism."

Sure there is, for each and every one of them. Of course they can't all 3 be right, and maybe none of them are right. But any of the three may be inductively generated by a certain interpretation of one's observations, experiences, and reflections thereon. Most "scientific" hypotheses are inductions which are incomplete or just plain wrong. They're still inductions, and they are the preferred explanation by those proposing them.

aintnuthin said...

I suspect, without knowing, that Feser is simply sayin that, yeah, the pythagorean theorem is true, within the natural limits of our ability to accurately measure such things. Objectively so, in the sense that the relationships can be repeatedly measured and verified in external objects.

The theorem does not make the dimensions, they are inhererently there, for all to verify. The theorem merely reduces them to a mathematical formula.

aintnuthin said...

"We have seen light follow the curves in space. Of course it's not possible to see space itself."

OK, so I take you answer to be that's it's an inference, not an actual "observation." I used to like watchin the human cannonball git his ass shot out of a cannon into a net about 200 feet away at the circus. He always travelled in a curved line. I never realized that proved space itself was curved. Mainly, I guess, because, as you noted, it's not possible to see space itself.

aintnuthin said...

Spoze you were round when Newton first introduced his mechanics at a lecture to the Royal Society, eh, Eric? Now spoze you started peppering him with questions like:

1. Hey, Ike, how ya know that spaced aint curved, eh?
2. What makes you think that mass doesn't increase with speed? Ya ever ask yourself that?
3. Did it ever occur to you, dumbass, that time slows down with speed, or that lengths become foreshortened?
4. What if 95% of the matter in the universe is undectable dark matter? What happens to your gravitational formula then, eh?

Do you think the Royal Society would say: Great questions, Eric! I don't think so. You would quickly be escorted out, probably to the nearest insane asylum, ya know?

Ike and his listeners have already made ontological/metaphysical assumptions which preclude the possibility of their even making sense out of such questions.

If you asked them, they might well say they have no ontological assumptions whatsoever, and that their conclusions are strictly confined to those dictated by observation and known fact.

Such unstated, yet completely accepted, implicit metaphysical assumptions are part of every scientific theory. This is what I've been tryin to say before.

aintnuthin said...

After centuries of observation and record-keeping certain patterns became apparent in astronomical observations. The relative position of the fixed stars in the zodiac, as it appeared today, was just the way it appeared about 365 days ago, and again 365 days before that, etc. Then some guy says, looky here, I predict that it will look this way 365 days from now. Check back with me then, and we'll see if I'm right.

Later, some guys got some mathematicians together and said: We want you to produce some premises which imply the recurring appearances we see. Oh, yeah, and among those premises must be that the earth is motionless, at the center of the universe, and all heavenly motion must be circular, got it?

So, they went out and did what they were told to do. Later, some guys at the UN were asked to come up with some premises which would imply the global temperature changes seen in the last 30 years or so. Oh, yeah, and among these premises must be that the warming is caused by man.

Enter, Mann with his hockey stick graph, stage right.

One Brow said...

If the gas ignited only 3 times out of 1,000 with touched by a match with oxygen present, that you would be hard-pressed to say those three things predictably "caused" a fire.

I've had trouble lighting my backyard grill from time to time. I'm still pretty sure the initial source od the fire is the match, even if not every match works.

Likewise, if smoking a pack and a half of cigarettes for years resulted in 3 out of 1,000 smokers contracting lung cancer. The "causal" relationship would still be lacking, even if no non-smoker EVER contracted lung cancer (which aint the case, of course).

Because?

But not if you define "cause" to mean any correlation, connection, or unidentified association, no matter how slight, of course.

No one argues that with regard to smoking and cancer.

If I want to INSIST that the driver caused my stepson's death, that is exactly what I would argue, of course. Of course the stupid jurors might try to claim that I caused his death, by pushing him in front of a moving car.

Both would be correct.

It's the absurdity of the definiton that I dispute, not your "right" to call anything you want anything you want.

Then show the definition, which is the one currently being used by scientists all over the world, is absurd.

In the next breath, you will argue that the most tenuous correlation "proves" causation.

Except, I have not made that argument. I can see where, if you choose to take the most perverse interpretation possible of some of my shorter answers, you might ingterpret that. However, I have no intention of changing how I respond based on your determination to interpret it in a certain way.

I usually just conclude that you have some emotional reason for wanting to declare that "smoking causes cancer."

You mean, like respecting the judgment of the AMA and pretty much every doctor I have read on the subject?

Are you perhaps in the midst of a lawsuit againt a tobacco company seeking millions for them "causing" the death of a loved one, by any chance?

No, nor can you show in any individual case that a particular cancer was caused specifically by tobacco.

Why not? Why would you say this?

Bexause math doesn't work inductively. For every pattern you can find where induction works, there are ten others where it does not work. Mathematicians don't accept inductive reasoning.

Isn't that what science is all about?

Mathematics is not a science.

One Brow said...

Once you know the results you're trying to achieve, you don't just "arbitrarily" choose premises. You choose, and then modify, if necessary, ones which will imply the results you already know, kinda like string theory, and all.

Yes, that is how formal systems like mathematics and string theory work. You choose the premises to make the model useful for your needs.

So, do the theorems generate the measured dimensions, and the relationship between them, or do the measured dimensions generate the theorems?

They typically work together.

Sure there is, for each and every one of them.

Since there is way to access the universal, there is not way to inductively state where and how it exists.

Of course they can't all 3 be right, and maybe none of them are right. But any of the three may be inductively generated by a certain interpretation of one's observations, experiences, and reflections thereon.

Induction is a process of generalization, not of interpretation.

Most "scientific" hypotheses are inductions which are incomplete or just plain wrong. They're still inductions, and they are the preferred explanation by those proposing them.

Agreed.

I suspect, without knowing, that Feser is simply sayin that,

Feel free to ask him.

OK, so I take you answer to be that's it's an inference, not an actual "observation."

OK, we can go with that.

I used to like watchin the human cannonball git his ass shot out of a cannon into a net about 200 feet away at the circus. He always travelled in a curved line. I never realized that proved space itself was curved. Mainly, I guess, because, as you noted, it's not possible to see space itself.

That must be why. Of course, when you are looking at an 'object' whose velocity is unaltered by gravity, like a photon, it's more obvious this is not a gravitational effect.

You would quickly be escorted out, probably to the nearest insane asylum, ya know?

I would hope they would ask for the reasons I wanted to introduce all these complications into the process. Of course, the notion of Lobachevskian geomotry would not even be available to them, so what could I mean by curved space? What experiements could I use to prove it? when that came up empty, I would be ignored.

If you asked them, they might well say they have no ontological assumptions whatsoever, and that their conclusions are strictly confined to those dictated by observation and known fact.

Who claims scientists make no ontological assumptions?

Such unstated, yet completely accepted, implicit metaphysical assumptions are part of every scientific theory. This is what I've been tryin to say before.

Outside of uniformitarianism and the trustworthiness of observations, I don't recall you actaully bringnig any into the discussion that didn't turn out to be the result of induction as opposed to an assumption.

Later, some guys at the UN were asked to come up with some premises which would imply the global temperature changes seen in the last 30 years or so. Oh, yeah, and among these premises must be that the warming is caused by man.

Enter, Mann with his hockey stick graph, stage right.


Any proof of the claim this was an assumption used by Mann?

aintnuthin said...

One Brow asked: "Any proof of the claim this was an assumption used by Mann?"

The proof is in the puddin, eh? Mebbe the guy this guy was talkin about was Mann, ya know?: "I had another interesting experience around the time my paper in Science was published. I received an astonishing email from a major researcher in the area of climate change. He said, “We have to get rid of the Medieval Warm Period.”

It appears that some of these scientists had a pre-conceived conclusion in mind that they were seeking to "prove." Spencer makes this point by showing how the hockey stick graph was selected, and emphasized, by the UN while ignoring hundreds of contrary research papers, etc.

Mann is also the guy who has consistently refused to give the basis of his conclusions to "outsiders" who then must go to great effort, using "reverse engineering" to reconstruct his calculations and then show that they are wrong. This Mann guy just seems kinda suspect, doncha think?

aintnuthin said...

Prior exchange:

"Why not? Why would you say this?

Bexause math doesn't work inductively. For every pattern you can find where induction works, there are ten others where it does not work. Mathematicians don't accept inductive reasoning.

Isn't that what science is all about?

Mathematics is not a science."

====

I'm going to try to get serious here, Eric, because I repeatedly see this inclination on your part.

The "slogan" (not the right word, but...) that you use on the bottom of each page of this website packs a lot a insight and wisdom into a brief summary, and I know exactly what you are gettin at with it.

That said, you don't want to oversimplify, as you often accuse me of doing. Platonists reason from the general to the particular, from the essential nature (form) of a thing to the specific nature of its imperfect imitations. Once they decide, for example, that object x is a dog, they need look no further at object x to tell you all you need to know about it--it all follows from its "dogness."

You seem to follow a similar procedure when it comes to formal systems vs. science vs. belief systems. That is, you seem to first put any claim into one of those categories, and then all kinds of conclusions about it necessarily follow. But simple categorization may not be so easy, as you seem to acknowledge when you say this:

My question: So, do the theorems generate the measured dimensions, and the relationship between them, or do the measured dimensions generate the theorems?

Your answer: They typically work together.

You want to call the pythagorean theorem part of a "formal system." It could be seen that way, but need not be. Again, the formula holds true whether anyone has ever "deduced" it from some premises or not. As a matter of fact, historians say the conclusions of the theorem were used long before any formal system of geometry had been established, and long before the mathematical formula was "discovered."

The Egyptians used it in reverse, for practical purposes. They did not first construct what they believed to be a right triangle, and then deduce the relative lengths of the 3 sides. Rather, they took 3 sides (say 3 pieces of rope, one 9 feet long, one 12, and one 15) and used those to create a right triangle---they got the 90 degree angles which they desired to use in construction from the lengths, not vice versa.

You seem to think of Euclidean geometry as only a formal system, because that's the way it was taught to you, probably. You then seem to conclude that Euclid just "arbitrarily" made up some axioms, postulate, theorems, etc., that just accidentally happened to correspond, more or less, to the "real world."

That's not what happened. Knowledge of many of the relationships were there, known and pre-existing, which Euclid then tried to "synthesize" in a formal, deductive system. He knew the conclusions (at least some of them) that he wanted his system to imply. Those conclusions came from empirical observations.

That's really all science does, ultimately, as I see it. They take "known" conclusions and then try to hypothesize premises which would appear to imply those conclusions.

You can "confirm" the apparent validity of the pythagorean theorem with a protactor, ruler, pencil, and paper, just as you can "confirm" deductive implications of scientific hypotheses. These are not two fundamentally and radically distinct areas of "knowledge." In fact, they are fundamentally the same in many important respects.

It is not easy to clearly and rigidly identify and any conceptual activity as solely formal OR scientific OR faith-based. It fact, I would say it is often impossible, because there are generally elements of all three in each system.

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "One Brow asked: "Any proof of the claim this was an assumption used by Mann?"

With circular reasoning, the premise is the conclusion, and vice versa. Spencer also demonstrates that how the IPCC virtually assumes it conclusion by ruling out, a priori, the possiblity of other causal factors.

aintnuthin said...

I said: "But not if you define "cause" to mean any correlation, connection, or unidentified association, no matter how slight, of course."

You responded: "No one argues that with regard to smoking and cancer."

Nobody argues what? That it is a confused misuage of established concepts and language to say that smoking "causes" cancer, based on the "evidence," such as it is? Many people make this same argument--you think I'm the only one? Of course, they are all probably just criminally insane DENIALISTS, but, still.....

aintnuthin said...

Excerpt from an article published in the Journal of Theoretics by an M.D., eh?. Ya might ask, what, exactly, is "theoretics?" Well, according to this guy:

"We must embrace Theoretics as a discipline that strives to bring objectivity and logic back into science. Every article/study has some bias in it, the goal is to minimize such biases and present the facts in a comprehensible and logical manner. Unfortunately, most scientists have never taken a course in logic, and I'm sure that English class was not their favorite. Theoretics is a field of science which focuses on the use of logic and appropriate language in order to develop and communicate scientifically credible theories and ideas which will then have experimental implications. As someone whom I respect says, "Words mean things." Let us use language and logic appropriately in our research and in the way that we communicate information."

Now, on to smokin, and cancer, eh?:

"Yes, it is true, smoking does not cause lung cancer. It is only one of many risk factors for lung cancer. I initially was going to write an article on how the professional literature and publications misuse the language by saying "smoking causes lung cancer," but the more that I looked into how biased the literature, professional organizations, and the media are, I modified this article to one on trying to put the relationship between smoking and cancer into perspective. (No, I did not get paid off by the tobacco companies, or anything else like that.)...If they would say that smoking increases the incidence of lung cancer or that smoking is a risk factor in the development of lung cancer, then I would agree. The purpose of this article is to emphasize the need to use language appropriately in both the medical and scientific literature (the media, as a whole, may be a lost cause).

http://www.inspire.com/groups/lung-cancer-alliance-survivors/discussion/smoking-does-not-cause-lung-cancer/

Hmmm, he started out intending only to complain about the misuse of language, but switched when he saw how "biased" the literature is, eh? Must be some kinda DENIALIST, sho nuff.

aintnuthin said...

This guy is definitely some kinda hard-ass spoilsport, tryin to insist on logic and objectivity, doncha think?

What fun is that? It's so much easier and more entertaining when everything causes everything else. Then ya don't even have to think before confidently proclaiming that any one thing "causes" another. That's the way.....unh, huh....unh, huh... like it!

aintnuthin said...

This same guy says that "a woman is three times more likely to die from an abortion than from delivering a baby (WHO data)."

I wonder why NOW isn't out demonstrating 24/7 carrying signs that scream "ABORTION CAUSES MOTHERS TO DIE," eh?

aintnuthin said...

This guy notes that no correlation between lung cancer and tobacco has been found in England, eh? Mebbe it aint the tobacco, per se, but either: (1) The crappy pesticides used in the USA or (2) The government mandated additives they put in cigarettes, ya know? Whaddya think?

aintnuthin said...

I said: "Of course they can't all 3 be right, and maybe none of them are right. But any of the three may be inductively generated by a certain interpretation of one's observations, experiences, and reflections thereon."

You responded: "Induction is a process of generalization, not of interpretation."

You very often respond to something I've said with a comment like this, and I almost always ignore them rather that get off on some irrelevant tangent. But lemme ax ya: What is the relevance of this comment? What are you trying to prove? Do you think I said that induction is interpretation? Are you trying to refute something I said? Or is this just something you felt like noting?

aintnuthin said...

My question: So, do the theorems generate the measured dimensions, and the relationship between them, or do the measured dimensions generate the theorems?

Your answer: They typically work together.

I fully disagree with your answer here, to the extent that it is, or is intended to be, an answer to the question.

The premises do not, and cannot, make ropes of particular lengths form a right triangle. Thoughts do not create and dictate reality from all I know and have seen. These relationships would hold even if no one ever created hypothetical formal systems from which they could be deduced. The theorems are strictly ex post facto. While the facts may indeed influence the choice and substance of the theoretical premises, this is NOT a two way street. The premises do not influence the measurement one makes of a right triangle (whether of sides or angles).

Newton's theory of gravity does not "make" matter behave as it does, nothwithstanding the opposite impression one can get from the glorious praise of Newton's theory (pre-relativity). Many scientists spoke and behaved as though Newton's theory had some kinda dictatorial power over nature.

aintnuthin said...

Newton had 3 laws of motion (inertia; F=MA; and equal reaction). Taken together do these constitute a "formal system" by your definition, Eric?

If not, why not?

One Brow said...

The proof is in the puddin, eh?

So, that would be no.

Mebbe the guy this guy was talkin about was Mann, ya know?...“We have to get rid of the Medieval Warm Period.”

A quick look at the "hockey stick graph", error barrs included, shows the "Medieval Warm Period" is not an issue for it.

It appears that some of these scientists had a pre-conceived conclusion in mind ...

You are basing this on an out-of-context comment by some unidentified guy.

Mann is also the guy who has consistently refused to give the basis of his conclusions ...

That seems a little simplistic and arbitrary, not to mention irrelevant.

This Mann guy just seems kinda suspect, doncha think?

So? How does whether or not Mann is an idealogue change that every reconstruction of the data by third-party sources has duplicated the hockey-stick to one degree or another? It's not like scientists have stopped producing these graphs. It's almost like you are trying to say Mann can''t be trusted, so the science must be bad. Sorry, that doesn't wash. His work has been vetted, corrected, and expanded upon. Differeing methodologies have been used. The end result is always the same: over most of the world, the last 25 years are the warmest ever.

Spencer also demonstrates that how the IPCC virtually assumes it conclusion by ruling out, a priori, the possiblity of other causal factors.

He raises a good question about a gap in the model. That is very different from assuming a conclusion.

You seem to follow a similar procedure when it comes to formal systems vs. science vs. belief systems. That is, you seem to first put any claim into one of those categories, and then all kinds of conclusions about it necessarily follow. But simple categorization may not be so easy,

In our attempt to improve our knowledge as a whole, there is nothing that prevents us from using different types of systems in the same endeavor. While science is primarily an empirical system, it adopts uniformitarianism in the same way a belief system does, and it use the results of inductive leaps as axioms to derive predictions. Also, within each type of system, there are various feedback mechanisms to try to overcome the defictis. Empirical systems take more measurements in more kinds of places, formal systems refine their axioms to make them more useful, belief systems search out ways to demonstrate parts of their creeds.

The key difference is between the various types of systems is when they accept that a statement is true. Science does not accept a statement is true because the head scientists say so, nor because you followed the results of some calculus to that result, but because you went out and measured it. Formal systems declare something is true when it comes out of the calculus applied. Beleif systems declare something is true when it matches the trusted authority.

One Brow said...

Knowledge of many of the relationships were there, known and pre-existing, which Euclid then tried to "synthesize" in a formal, deductive system. He knew the conclusions (at least some of them) that he wanted his system to imply. Those conclusions came from empirical observations.

That is what I think happened. How else would the system be useful?

That's really all science does, ultimately, as I see it. They take "known" conclusions and then try to hypothesize premises which would appear to imply those conclusions.

The science I have read has been about either generalizing patterns or using/proposing the mechanisms that cause these patterns. I'm sure you have in mind string theory, dark matter, and other things that are not really true, in science, until they have been confirmed experimentally. At the very least, these constructions are not considered to be true until they are tested.

You can "confirm" the apparent validity of the pythagorean theorem with a protactor, ruler, pencil, and paper, just as you can "confirm" deductive implications of scientific hypotheses. These are not two fundamentally and radically distinct areas of "knowledge." In fact, they are fundamentally the same in many important respects.

You can confirm the near-validity of the Pythagorean Theorem on any individual triangle. Until you have a mechanism for why it is true, it's not a scientific theory, and you have no way of knowing whether is may or may not be true the next time. That is what the formal system provides for the Pythagorean Theorem. Without the mechanism, it's just a coincidence.

All types of knowledge are fundamentally the same in many important respects, this does not detract from them being radically and fundamentally distinct.

Nobody argues what?

No one argues that smoking causes cancer based on correlation alone.

One Brow said...

"We must embrace Theoretics as a discipline that strives to bring objectivity and logic back into science.

*chuckle*. Scientist are not perfect, but part of teh process involves getting people with different biases and different tchiniques to work on the same problem and resolve it together. There is no lack of objectivity or logic in science as a whole, even though there is in many different practitioners.

"Yes, it is true, smoking does not cause lung cancer. It is only one of many risk factors for lung cancer.

Let's be clear: he says that smoking increases lung cancer rates, he doesn't want to use "cause" because his threshold is 50% (that is, A causes B only if B happens 50% of the time or more when A applies). Dr. Siepmann's standard is arbitrary and pointless.

This same guy says that "a woman is three times more likely to die from an abortion than from delivering a baby (WHO data)."

I wonder why NOW isn't out demonstrating 24/7 carrying signs that scream "ABORTION CAUSES MOTHERS TO DIE," eh?


Without looking at the data that led to his conclusion, I can only say that NOW and Dr. Siepmann probably have different interpretations.

This guy notes that no correlation between lung cancer and tobacco has been found in England, eh?

Where? Based on what data? Why shouldn't this be considered an outlier?

Mebbe it aint the tobacco, per se, but either: (1) The crappy pesticides used in the USA or (2) The government mandated additives they put in cigarettes, ya know? Whaddya think?

Then, why just England as oppsed to Europe? Ias the tobacco so different in Scotland, France, or Poland?

I said: "Of course they can't all 3 be right, and maybe none of them are right. But any of the three may be inductively generated by a certain interpretation of one's observations, experiences, and reflections thereon."

You responded: "Induction is a process of generalization, not of interpretation."

You very often respond to something I've said with a comment like this, and I almost always ignore them rather that get off on some irrelevant tangent. But lemme ax ya: What is the relevance of this comment? What are you trying to prove? Do you think I said that induction is interpretation? Are you trying to refute something I said? Or is this just something you felt like noting?


Using the term "inductively generated" to describe the results of interpretation is a category error, and an attempt to give give more basis in what is observable than any of the positions merit.

The premises do not, and cannot, make ropes of particular lengths form a right triangle. Thoughts do not create and dictate reality from all I know and have seen. These relationships would hold even if no one ever created hypothetical formal systems from which they could be deduced. The theorems are strictly ex post facto.

Without the theorems, all you have are a bunch of coincidences which may or may not be true the next time you try it with a piece of rope. Besides, if your rope is hanging on the curved hull of a ship, suddenly you don't get a right triangle. The theorems tell you what conditions need to apply so you can know when the ropes will, and will not, make a right triangle. The axioms are not just interesting notions of reality, they are starting conditions.

Newton's theory of gravity does not "make" matter behave as it does, nothwithstanding the opposite impression one can get from the glorious praise of Newton's theory (pre-relativity). Many scientists spoke and behaved as though Newton's theory had some kinda dictatorial power over nature.

Perhaps they were so comfortable in the metaphor it looked that way.

Newton had 3 laws of motion (inertia; F=MA; and equal reaction). Taken together do these constitute a "formal system" by your definition, Eric?

If not, why not?


Are you asking if, separated from the rest of the scientific process, as stand-alone staements, can they be treated that way? Sure.

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "No one argues that smoking causes cancer based on correlation alone."

You do. Although smoking and cancer were the specific examples, this whole discussion is about what constitutes a "cause." Your position is that any one thing, say x, which would serve to increase, in even the slightest degree, the "chances" of Y occuring can, and should, legitimately be called the cause of Y.

It is just as obvious that you view a correlation as being sufficient to conclude that X "increases" the chances of Y occuring.

Tell me, if you will, what, other than correlation, is used to argue what "causes" lung cancer.

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "Let's be clear: he says that smoking increases lung cancer rates, he doesn't want to use "cause" because his threshold is 50% (that is, A causes B only if B happens 50% of the time or more when A applies). Dr. Siepmann's standard is arbitrary and pointless."

Heh, arbitrary and pointless, eh? As are centuries of philosphical inquiry and debate about the definition, all dictionary definitions, and the necessity of a strict notion of causality in order to even concoct any scientific experiment which would either confirm or disconfirm a hypothesis are all "pointless," eh?

Your solipsism has now passed all bounds of belief. "Arbitrary," heh. "Pointless," heh. Is there no end to the subjectivity you will resort to to prop up your agenda, Eric?

One Brow said...

You do.

You are mistaken.

Your position is that any one thing, say x, which would serve to increase, in even the slightest degree, the "chances" of Y occuring can, and should, legitimately be called the cause of Y.

I would says "x causes Y" or "x is a cause of Y" (never "the cause of Y" as very few events have singular causes), but that is not just correlation. X raising the incidence of Y is different from X and Y occuring at high percentages together.

It is just as obvious that you view a correlation as being sufficient to conclude that X "increases" the chances of Y occuring.

Then why don't I think having a pre-lung-cancerous condition causes people to smoke? That's just as valid an interpretation of the correlation. For that matter, so is some unknown conditon z that causes both x and Y. Do you think I, and the medical community, just made that choice among teh various options arbitrarily?

Tell me, if you will, what, other than correlation, is used to argue what "causes" lung cancer.

http://jnci.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/91/14/1194

One Brow said...

As are centuries of philosphical inquiry and debate about the definition, all dictionary definitions, and the necessity of a strict notion of causality in order to even concoct any scientific experiment which would either confirm or disconfirm a hypothesis are all "pointless," eh?

I don't believe that there is a sound argument that a strict notion of causality requires a 50% threshold. Biologists all over the world conduct experiments every day with notion that there are multiple causes to various condiitons, and this is not the same as not being a cause at all.

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "I don't believe that there is a sound argument that a strict notion of causality requires a 50% threshold."

Well, OK, I agree with that part. The 50% threshold might at least bring the probablistic notion of causality up to a "more probable than not" standard (which would, as far as probablististic notions go, be FAR superior to any definition which says the slightest increase in the odds of something happening constitutes "causation"). But it would not in any way comport with "a strict notion of causality."

aintnuthin said...

A word that means anything and everything means nuthin. Let me engage your ideological disposition here, eh, Eric?

The World Health Organization says that a pregnant women is 3 times more likely to die from an attempted abortion than from childbirth.

By your standard, I guess I could now legitimately say that "abortion causes pregnant women to die."

So, now what? Anyone who advocates abortion advocates the death of pregnant mothers because, after all, abortion "causes" death, that the idea?


I would expect your argument against such a conclusion to run along the lines that, in any particular case, the chances of a woman dying due to an abortion is minimal, and is therefore relatively insignificant.

I would agree with that argument 100%. So where does that leave us?

It leaves us with a definition of "causation" where the word "cause" is virtually meaningless--something to be scoffed at as irrelevant. That is misuse of language, sorry. You may want "causation" to mean something in particular, something that will be useful to imply scientific gravity in your ideological disputes, etc., but that aint it. Caustion means virtully nothing by your definition. It won't help you a bit.

aintnuthin said...

A few years back, I heard of a guy who drowned in his bathtub (when it had water in it) So what can I now rightfully conclude about the "many causes" of his death? Well, a very small sample would be.

1. Bathtubs causes death
2. Water causes death
3. Filling a tub with water, with the intention of taking a bath causes death.
4. Entering a tub with water in it causes death
5. Thinking about taking a bath later causes death.

I could go on forever---again, the use of the word "cause" in all of these situations is merely laughable.

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "Using the term "inductively generated" to describe the results of interpretation is a category error, and an attempt to give give more basis in what is observable than any of the positions merit."

"Category error," eh? Since you are the MASTER of categorizaton, lemme ax ya how so? If you believe for one second that raw observation, without interpretation, is the least bit meaningful or useful, mebbe you are making a "category error," eh?

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "Without the theorems, all you have are a bunch of coincidences which may or may not be true the next time you try it with a piece of rope. Besides, if your rope is hanging on the curved hull of a ship, suddenly you don't get a right triangle. The theorems tell you what conditions need to apply so you can know when the ropes will, and will not, make a right triangle. The axioms are not just interesting notions of reality, they are starting conditions."

The theorem makes them non-concidental? The "axioms" are the "starting conditions" of "reality." Well, Eric, you appear to have placed yourself in the camp of the absolute platonists, sho nuff. Now I know you are a closet "realist," I guess.

One Brow said...

Well, OK, I agree with that part. The 50% threshold might at least bring the probablistic notion of causality up to a "more probable than not" standard (which would, as far as probablististic notions go, be FAR superior to any definition which says the slightest increase in the odds of something happening constitutes "causation"). But it would not in any way comport with "a strict notion of causality."

If you want to set the standard at 100% in your usage, and wail at the decaying Western world when scientists use a different standard, be my guest. However, and make no mistake about it, scientists do use a different standard. Otherwise you wouldn't be able to say vaccines prevent diseases, among many other things.

A word that means anything and everything means nuthin.

I don't think that is the situation for the word "cause", though.

I would expect your argument against such a conclusion to run along the lines that, in any particular case, the chances of a woman dying due to an abortion is minimal, and is therefore relatively insignificant.

Assuming the 3 times figure is accurate, I'm not sure that would be true. That would probably be getting us into the tenths of a percent, at least. Dying even one time out of a thousand seems significant.

It leaves us with a definition of "causation" where the word "cause" is virtually meaningless--something to be scoffed at as irrelevant.

So, you think the only time something should be called is "cause" is when it meets a standard of relevance? Is the standard of relevance allowed to change from person to person?

That is misuse of language, sorry. You may want "causation" to mean something in particular, something that will be useful to imply scientific gravity in your ideological disputes, etc., but that aint it. Caustion means virtully nothing by your definition.

It means the the cause A of the effect B plays a direct role in increasing B. I don't consider that to be nothing.

A few years back, I heard of a guy who drowned in his bathtub (when it had water in it) So what can I now rightfully conclude about the "many causes" of his death? Well, a very small sample would be.

1. Bathtubs causes death
2. Water causes death
3. Filling a tub with water, with the intention of taking a bath causes death.
4. Entering a tub with water in it causes death
5. Thinking about taking a bath later causes death.

I could go on forever---again, the use of the word "cause" in all of these situations is merely laughable.


The linkage for 5 is a little thin. Outside of that, every time you take a bath you take on a slight risk of dying due to the bath. Weighing these risks is a part of life. Saying the notion of "cause" doesn't apply does not change the underlying mechanisms.

If you believe for one second that raw observation, without interpretation, is the least bit meaningful or useful, mebbe you are making a "category error," eh?

I agree.

One Brow said...

The "axioms" are the "starting conditions" of "reality."

I don't recall putting those two phrases together, and I doubt you think I believe that.

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "Outside of that, every time you take a bath you take on a slight risk of dying due to the bath. Weighing these risks is a part of life. Saying the notion of "cause" doesn't apply does not change the underlying mechanisms."

I agree with everything you say here, but I've never been arguing about the notion of risk, or trying to change the "underlying mechanisms." Risks are risks. Mechanisms are mechanisms. Causes are causes. It's the inappropriate apellation of "cause" that I don't like, that's all.

I would object to the claim that "buying a lottery ticket causes the buyer to win millions." But, in that case, at least, the purchase (or other means of aquistion, like theft) is at least a necessary, if not sufficient condition, for winning the lotterty. Smokin aint even a necessary condition for contracting lung cancer.

aintnuthin said...

I said: The "axioms" are the "starting conditions" of "reality."

You responded: "I don't recall putting those two phrases together, and I doubt you think I believe that."

You didn't? They were in the same sentence. What is this supposed to mean, if not what I summarized, then?:

One Brow said: "The axioms are not just interesting notions of reality, they are starting conditions."

One Brow said...

Well, as I said, you are free to rant against how "cause" is used. How about we agree to disagree there?

"The axioms are not just interesting notions of reality, they are starting conditions."

The "just" certainly made things worse, I admit.

Axioms are starting conditions that tell you when the theorems apply. As I noted, the three pieces of rope that form a right trangle on a flat wall do not form a right triangle on a curved ship's hull. The big culprit here is that the parallel postulate does not apply on the ships hull. The Pythagorean Theorem is true in any situation where all the axioms of Euclidean geometry apply. There is no reason to think these axioms are notions of reality.

aintnuthin said...

I said: "the chances of a woman dying due to an abortion is minimal, and is therefore relatively insignificant."

You responded: "Dying even one time out of a thousand seems significant."

I didn't say it was "insignificant," I said it was "relatively insignificant." Relative to the other important considerations at stake.

One Brow asked: "So, you think the only time something should be called is "cause" is when it meets a standard of relevance?"

Yeah, exactly.

One Brow said...

Can you define that standard objectively, or is it "I know it when I see it"?

aintnuthin said...

Suppose we altered the symmetry of a coin in such a way as to make it 1% more likely to land on heads than tails (50.5% heads, 49.5% tails). Let's call this the "bias."

Now, if you want to say "the bias causes the coin, on average, to land on heads more often than tails," I would agree that the term "cause" is properly used.

If you tried to equate that statement with one that says "the bias causes the coin to land on heads," I would completely disagree that the word/concept of "cause" was being properly invoked. Like a said before, risk are risks, odds are odds, and causes are causes. A risk is not a "cause."

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "Can you define that standard objectively, or is it "I know it when I see it"?

I'm probably can't define it, but I can define what it aint, know what I'm sayin? It AINT the "revelance" that comes from a claim that any correlation which increases, no matter how slightly, the odds of X happening constitutes a "cause."

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "The big culprit here is that the parallel postulate does not apply on the ships hull. The Pythagorean Theorem is true in any situation where all the axioms of Euclidean geometry apply. There is no reason to think these axioms are notions of reality."

Why not? Is the hull of a ship "reality" and a piece of paper "unreality," or something? Are you confusin the notion of "reality" with the notion of something which is immutably and invariably true in all situations? That if I say ice melts, then that could only be "true" if it did so whether the air temperature was 200 above or below zero?

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "The Pythagorean Theorem is true in any situation where all the axioms of Euclidean geometry apply."

I would dispute this, depending on just what you mean by "true," but I won't right now. Right now I will simply ask how this is different than any other claim which purports to be "true."

If I say "it's true that touching a burning match to gasoline will cause a fire," it's implied that oxygen will also be present. All claims of truth, whether synthetic or analytic, are only so within the framework of a broader context. That was the point I made in my first post on this topic.

aintnuthin said...

Continuing with my examples above, in "reality" sometimes there is sufficient oxygen present to support the ignition of a fire, and sometimes there isn't. You speak as though only either one or the other of these two possiblities could be "reality," and the other "not reality."

One Brow said...

I understand your objections to how "cause" is being used, I think, and don't really feel like debating what amounts to a preference of definition, especially when you are not sure you can even provide an ojective standard for the term.

Are you confusin the notion of "reality" with the notion of something which is immutably and invariably true in all situations?

From what I can determine, this is what Dr. Feser means when he says the Pythagorean Theorem is true.

That if I say ice melts, ...

Do you mean that absolutely or conditionally, with unstated conditions? English is not always precise.

I would dispute this, depending on just what you mean by "true,"

I mean within the limits of whatever region it is to which all of the axioms of Euclidean geometry apply.

Right now I will simply ask how this is different than any other claim which purports to be "true."

When I say it, and when you say it, I don't think there is much difference. There seems to be a wider gap between what we mean and waht Dr. Feser means.

All claims of truth, whether synthetic or analytic, are only so within the framework of a broader context.

Actually, my understanding of analytic statements is that they are true based on their inherent meanings regards of realities. So, "If John is a widow, then he will live within his means" would be sythetic, and "If John is a widow, then he was married in the past" would be analytic.

One Brow said...

You speak as though only either one or the other of these two possiblities could be "reality," and the other "not reality."

After all this time, I would think you would interpret my statements a little more charitably.

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "Actually, my understanding of analytic statements is that they are true based on their inherent meanings regards of realities. So, "If John is a widow, then he will live within his means" would be sythetic, and "If John is a widow, then he was married in the past" would be analytic."

Yeah, that's my understanding too, but both need a context. 2 + 2 does not equal 4, without first having defined 2, 4, addition, and equality.

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "After all this time, I would think you would interpret my statements a little more charitably."

I not trying to be uncharitable, Eric, but I do truly question what you mean or are trying to say, as I understand it.

What does it mean to say that Euclidean geometry does not correspond to "reality?" At several points in this thread, you raise the objection that if Euclidean geometry is not true outside it's stated boundaries, then it is not true "in reality." All that said, a2 + b2 = c2 will still hold true, within the natural limits of our ability to measure such things, of a right triangle drawn on a piece of paper. You primary objections seem to be:

1. Not all of "reality" is the equivalent of a piece of paper,
2. They are not absolutely and precisely true to the 1/1,000,000,000,000th degree, even if we can't measure those differences, and
3. That the pythagorean theorem cannot be "true" of the real world because it can be deduced from a cleverly constructed set of "arbitrary" premises. The theorem is therefore merely a "mathematical" construct, and can't, by definition (of a formal system), be synthetically true, only analytically so.

All of these statements/claims about "reality" and "truth" are made without specification of what you mean by the terms reality and truth. I'm trying to get you to analyze your (unarticulated) premises in that regard.

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "I...don't really feel like debating what amounts to a preference of definition, especially when you are not sure you can even provide an ojective standard for the term."

To me it is not just a matter of "preference." In the English language "dog" simply does not mean "red," whether I prefer it that way, or not. Likewise, I don't have to define precisely what obscentity is to be able to declare that a picture of my beagle puppy eating from his bowl is NOT obscenity.

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "Do you mean that absolutely or conditionally, with unstated conditions? English is not always precise."

I mean conditionally, with unstated conditions, of course. All (reasonable) claims are inherently of this nature. Even if one tries very hard to specify each and every "condition" which is implied, he cannot state them all.

Nothing is "absolutely" true, and I don't take any platonist to claim otherwise, if by "absolute" you mean without regard to the context.

aintnuthin said...

As you'll recall, Gould claimed that apples do not stop falling from trees while we debate whether Newton's or Einstein's theory of gravity provides the better explanation of "gravity."

There is a beauty to the notion that H20, of which oxygen is a component, can exist, with identical molecular structure, in liquid, solid, and/or gaseous states, and it seems to "explain" a lot. That said, a lit match will still cause gasoline to ignite when oxygen is present in a gaseous state as a component of a larger molecule, whether I have a theory of what "oxygen" is, or not. That's just the way "reality" is.

You have a notion of what Feser is sayin, but I'm not sure you are correctly interpreting his claims with all their nuances. I'm not sure you aint either, but here's what strikes me about his apparent claim that the pythagorean theorem is "objectively true:" The relationship will hold(within it's stated limits) in "reality" whether we ever reduce it to a mathematical formula, deduce it from conceptual premises, or not. Those latter things in no way cause or create the unvarying relationships that we can measure in right triangle.

In that sense, he appears to be right, the pythagorean theorem is "objectively" true, in the same way it is "objectively" true that an apple dropped from a third story window will fall to the earth (barring a net outside the window, etc.). Such "facts" exist and occur independently of any "theory" to explain them.

aintnuthin said...

I said: "Mann is also the guy who has consistently refused to give the basis of his conclusions ..."

You responded: "That seems a little simplistic and arbitrary, not to mention irrelevant."

Arbitrary, irrelevant, and simplistic, eh?

"Though other proxies were also used in the calculation of the IPCC’s 2001 graph, those proxies that showed the clearest apparent increase in temperature in the late 20th century were given almost 400 times as much weighting as those that revealed the presence of the mediaeval warm period.

Furthermore, the authors of the graph removed all of the proxy data for the mediaeval warm period itself, while writing that they had included it, and substituted some “estimates” of their own without admitting that that was what they had done. The effect of the “estimates” was to erase the mediaeval warm period. The true data were then hidden on the computer of the graph’s compilers in a file labeled “CENSORED_DATA”. If the “estimates” were replaced by the censored data, the mediaeval warm period promptly reappeared. If the defective bristlecone-pine proxies were removed and the remaining proxies used on their own, the mediaeval warm period reappeared.

McIntyre & McKitrick (2005) exposed some of these defects in a paper published in Geophysical Research Letters. Thereupon an investigation was mounted by the US National Academy of Sciences, which found that the graph had “a validation skill not significantly different from zero”"

http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/monckton/temperature_and_co2_change_briefing.html

Hmmm, so Mann and his homey substituted "estimates" for hidden, "censored" data which misrepresented the true data, eh? Well, it would probably be arbitrary, simplistic, and irrelevant to think that meant anything, I spoze.

aintnuthin said...

If what Mockton is saying is true, Mann also falsely claimed that the suppressed data had been included in his graphical reconstruction. I now realize that I'm just a DENIALIST, but, somehow, this all seems a little suspect to me. I guess I need some time in a re-education camp.

One Brow said...

What does it mean to say that Euclidean geometry does not correspond to "reality?"

So far in our examples, we have been using two-dimensional manifolds (something that looks like a plane but may have bends) because they are easy to picture and construct. So we have been using things like the surface of a ball for examples of positive curvature, a wall for being flat, or a saddle for negative curvature. Another advantage is that within our three-dimensial space, it is fairly straight-forward to build small examples of these two-dimensional manifolds.

However, Euclidean geometry is a model for three spatial dimensions, we live in three spatial dimensions, and as a three-dimensional manifold, space is not in some places curved positively, in some places flat (although it can be very close to flat), and in some places negatively curved. In every place where we can measure the curvature, it is negatively curved. Euclid's model does not hold in negatively surved space (although many of the individual axioms do, it is not all of them).

3. That the pythagorean theorem cannot be "true" of the real world because it can be deduced from a cleverly constructed set of "arbitrary" premises. The theorem is therefore merely a "mathematical" construct, and can't, by definition (of a formal system), be synthetically true, only analytically so.

I would say that you have no guarantee that the model generated by a formal system will be true, but it certainly could be true. In the case of Euclidean geometry, it is not true (although in smaller gravitational fields it's a very accurate estimate), not because it is impossible for a formal system to be true, but because there are axioms that don't apply to space-time. Yes, for a mathematical statement to be true, it should be completely true. This has been the standard in mathematics for centuries.

Now, if you were to strip out any abiltiy to have a third dimension from the axioms, and create a Euclidean-geometry-of-a-plane-only, then that would be sometimes true (when you were operating in a plane) and sometimes not.

Likewise, I don't have to define precisely what obscentity is to be able to declare that a picture of my beagle puppy eating from his bowl is NOT obscenity.

However, do you expect to have a productive argument with someone (maybe from PETA) who thinks that picture would be obscene? As I said, I don't expect to change your thinking on how "cause" should be used.

Nothing is "absolutely" true, and I don't take any platonist to claim otherwise, if by "absolute" you mean without regard to the context.

It's nice to see you can interpret people charitably, when you so choose.

One Brow said...

There is a beauty to the notion that H20, of which oxygen is a component, can exist, with identical molecular structure, in liquid, solid, and/or gaseous states, and it seems to "explain" a lot.

Technically, the reason for being in the form of solid, liquid, or gas is the size of the molecules involved. Liquid water will have chains involving a few or several atoms of oxygen (and about twice that number of hydrogen, of course), while ice will have very large chains that preserve the ratio.

You have a notion of what Feser is sayin, but I'm not sure you are correctly interpreting his claims with all their nuances. I'm not sure you aint either, but here's what strikes me about his apparent claim that the pythagorean theorem is "objectively true:" The relationship will hold(within it's stated limits) in "reality" whether we ever reduce it to a mathematical formula, deduce it from conceptual premises, or not. Those latter things in no way cause or create the unvarying relationships that we can measure in right triangle.

If Dr. Feser meant that he thought of the Pythagorean Theorem as situationally true (as I interpret your "within it's stated limits" to mean), he has expressed that very poorly in his book.

Arbitrary, irrelevant, and simplistic, eh?

Yes. Arbitrary in that if places all the blame for non-cooperation on Mann, as opposed to the critics. Simplistic, in that what was a changing condition of data being released by Mann and not released by Mann in varying degrees is boiled down into a satement that could easily pass for saying he never cooperated at all. Irrelevant because every re-construction of the data by major scientific bodies has the hockey-stick shape to one degree or another, and they did not all rely exclusively on Mann's data or methods. attacking Mann is a sideshow, that distracts from the data itself.

Not too mention, if you look at the enormous error bars on Mann's graph, it says very little at all before 1700 or so. Certainly, it allows for temperatures in 1100 AD to be as warm as those in 1995.

aintnuthin said...

I asked: "What does it mean to say that Euclidean geometry does not correspond to "reality?"

You responded at some length about the nature of space. Am I to take it, then, that "space" is "reality" and that if euclidean geometry does not correspond to space, it therefore cannot be "real?"

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "Now, if you were to strip out any abiltiy to have a third dimension from the axioms, and create a Euclidean-geometry-of-a-plane-only, then that would be sometimes true (when you were operating in a plane) and sometimes not."

Are you implying that something cannot be "real" unless it is "true," and that it cannot be "true" unless it is eternally and immutable true, irrespective of context?

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "I would say that you have no guarantee that the model generated by a formal system will be true, but it certainly could be true."

Your response seems to indicate that you did not read my summary the way I intended it. My point was merely that any set of "stand-alone" facts can be subjected to an attempt to systematically explain them by creating a "formal system" to do so. The question of the "truth" of the model is quite independent of the existence of the fact. a2 + b2 = c2, and the ratios of the lengths of the sides of a right triangle to each other encapsulated by this mathematical formula, would hold, with or without, the existence of a model or a mathematical formula.

So why treat the pythagorean theorem as having been "produced" by the formal system? In practice, it is the reverse. The facts generate the system and it's premises. The formalization of the facts is ex post facto (redundancy intended).

My point is that you first choose to view the pythagorean theorem as solely a product of a formal system, and then conclude that deductions from theorems are not themselves "facts." I agree with that conclusion, but not the premise (i.e., that the relative length of the sides of a right triangle are dependent upon, or dictated by, a formal system).

You are confusing the theoretical, explanatory model with the facts themselves. Gould tries to warn against this type of "category error."

aintnuthin said...

From what I gather, Feser is arguing that a materialistic, mechanistic ontology which is governed by strictly determinative "laws" of causality generates false problems such as mind/body duality, lack of free will, etc.

Those who have explicitly or implicitly embraced such an ontology will always argue, directly or indirectly, that the only thing that is "real" is matter in motion in space. But, again, this is a mere tautology in such a belief system. The premise dictates (and in fact is) the conclusion, and vice versa.

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "Irrelevant because every re-construction of the data by major scientific bodies has the hockey-stick shape to one degree or another."

I have no clue what you mean to say here. Every cat is a dog to "one degree or another," but so what? The IPCC's own graphs prior to adopting Mann's did not even remotely resemble a "hockey stick" except maybe "to the degree" that a hockey stick shape has some lines followed by departures from a line.

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "Irrelevant because every re-construction of the data by major scientific bodies has the hockey-stick shape to one degree or another."

Experts claim that Mann's methods will ALWAYS produce a hockey stick shape, irrespective of the data fed into it. Consistency alone is NOT a test of accuracy, meaning, or value. Something can be consistently wrong, consistenly meaningless, etc.

aintnuthin said...

I have read a couple of Feser's recent blog entries to see if I can get a better feel for what his claims are. I came across this statement, which seems to make it clear that, for him, "natural" does not imply "material," and that "existence" need not be material existence.

"From a Scholastic point of view, “natural” does not entail “material” – angels and demons are immaterial, but still part of the natural, created order. Nor does the entailment seem to hold even from a naturalistic point of view, given e.g. that Quine is perfectly happy to countenance abstract objects if they are necessary to make sense of empirical science."

I also note that he rejects an "anthropomorphic" view of God, and that he writes ultimately as a "theist," not simply as a metaphysician (although his "religious" views rely heavily on his metaphysics).

aintnuthin said...

I'm just repeating myself now, but, what else is new? I've been repeating myself in extended discussions with you for years now, and I still suspect that you do not really understand what I'm trying to say half the time.

1. I say: Material objects accerate at the same rate due to gravity, regardless of weight or composition. Objection: Cannonballs fall faster than feathers in the "real world."

2. Let me qualify that claim then: in a vacuum, they would accelerate at the same rate. Objection: There are no true vacuums in the "real world" so your claim has nothing to do with reality.

3. I have heard that a perfect vaccuum has been created, so you're wrong on that. Objection: It wouldn't matter if you can create a perfect vaccuum, vaccuums do not uniformily exist in every part of the "real world." Therefore your claim could be, at best, only "sometimes" true. If it is not always true, then it is not genuine truth, therefore not "real."

Would you honestly assert these objection against Galilleo's claim that material objects fall at the same speed? I don't think so. You have already said that "adjustments" can be made when objects are not contained in a vaccuum, so the claim is still "true." Of course, the implications of plane geometry can similarly be "adjusted" if the surface you're dealing with is not a true, "ideal" plane, so what's the difference, and why direct such criticisms only toward it?

Again, I have never understood why you seem to think "scientific theory" is a different type of knowledge than is contained in "formal systems." Except, of course, because you like to think that the scientific theories you prefer to assert are as certain as any "fact" can be.

aintnuthin said...

More repetition, concerning the distinction between fact and theory (because I still think that you don't properly distinguish between them in practice--I know you do in theory).

It appears to us, as an "observational fact," that the sun "rises" in the east. Does that observation, depend on, result from, or become comprehensible only because of, some premises from which it can be deduced?

I can create a theoretical model that would, if true, make the sun appear to "rise" in the west, but that would not make the sun start rising in the west, needless to say.

Likewise, I can create a hypothetical model, be it heliocentric, geocentric, or some-othercentric, which does imply that the sun would appear to rise in the east. Do those theories "make" the sun rise in the east? Of course not. The "observational fact" remains the same, with or without a "scientific theory" to explain it. The observational facts are completely independent of the theories. Just like the pythagorean theorem, ya know?

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "If Dr. Feser meant that he thought of the Pythagorean Theorem as situationally true (as I interpret your "within it's stated limits" to mean), he has expressed that very poorly in his book."

Do you take him to insist that the pythagorean theorem would hold true on the surface of a basketball?

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "Technically, the reason for being in the form of solid, liquid, or gas is the size of the molecules involved. Liquid water will have chains involving a few or several atoms of oxygen (and about twice that number of hydrogen, of course), while ice will have very large chains that preserve the ratio."

This is strictly a tangent, but it doesn't sound right to me. The size of H20 molecules is always constant aint it? Are you suggesting otherwise when you say: "the reason...is the size of the molecules involved."

It also sounds like you may be claiming that, in different states, you have "pure" oxygen combined with "pure hydrogen," (while the overall ratio stays the same): "Liquid water will have chains involving a few or several atoms of oxygen." I have always thought (and still think) that each individual molecule of water has a 2:1 ratio, and that all are the same size (although not as densely packed in each state). Am I wrong, or just not understanding what you are trying to say?

One Brow said...

Am I to take it, then, that "space" is "reality" and that if euclidean geometry does not correspond to space, it therefore cannot be "real?"

I may have confused reality and truth here, but I would say that if Euclidean geometry does not correspond to our existence, it can not be true in the sense Dr. Feser means when he says it is true. I don't think any mathematical object is real, but the reasons do not have anything to do with correspondance.

Are you implying that something cannot be "real" unless it is "true," and that it cannot be "true" unless it is eternally and immutable true, irrespective of context?

We have both agreed that being real and being true are independent concepts.

So why treat the pythagorean theorem as having been "produced" by the formal system? In practice, it is the reverse. The facts generate the system and it's premises. The formalization of the facts is ex post facto (redundancy intended).

If it were the Pythagorean Axiom, sure. I have been saying all along that we choose the axioms we find most useful, which often means the ones that apply well to our world. The Pythagorean Theorem is a product in the sense that it was not necessary to have it as an axiom because it can be deduced from other axioms.

My point is that you first choose to view the pythagorean theorem as solely a product of a formal system, and then conclude that deductions from theorems are not themselves "facts." I agree with that conclusion, but not the premise (i.e., that the relative length of the sides of a right triangle are dependent upon, or dictated by, a formal system).

What happens with the formal system produces results that are here-to-fore unverified, or even inherently unverifiable, such as the notion that N < #(2^N) = #R (that is, the number of the natural numbers is strictly smaller that the number of subsets of natural numbers, and the number of subsets of the natural numbers is the same as the number of real numbers)? In science, a result that was completely unverifiable would be treated as a speculation, much like string theory and dark matter are by many physicists. In mathematics, this is every bit as true, confirmed, real, what-have-you as the Pythagorean Theorem, even though there is no way to create an observation that will verify it. You keep wanting to treat math like science, but it is not.

You are confusing the theoretical, explanatory model with the facts themselves. Gould tries to warn against this type of "category error."

Gould was not discussing mathematics.

From what I gather, Feser is arguing that a materialistic, mechanistic ontology which is governed by strictly determinative "laws" of causality generates false problems such as mind/body duality, lack of free will, etc.

I don't recall him addressing free will in his book, but otherwise pretty much.

Those who have explicitly or implicitly embraced such an ontology will always argue, directly or indirectly, that the only thing that is "real" is matter in motion in space. But, again, this is a mere tautology in such a belief system. The premise dictates (and in fact is) the conclusion, and vice versa.

Of course. How could it be otherwise?

The IPCC's own graphs prior to adopting Mann's ...

Looking at the error bars, the temperature at the end of the graph is really only significant as of 1995. So, anything before 1998 would show that effect well.

Experts claim that Mann's methods will ALWAYS produce a hockey stick shape, irrespective of the data fed into it.

My comment was about the work done by various major scientific organizations, not about everyone who used "Mann's methods". Again, your attempt to restrict the discussion to Mann only disguises the situation. Further, I can only interpret that claim to mean 'irespective of which data sets are fed into it', because it is ludicrous to think you can't find datapoints that will make the graph flat.

One Brow said...

You have already said that "adjustments" can be made when objects are not contained in a vaccuum, so the claim is still "true."

The acceleration from gravity is the same on all material objects, but the are other sources of acceleration.

Of course, the implications of plane geometry can similarly be "adjusted" if the surface you're dealing with is not a true, "ideal" plane, so what's the difference, and why direct such criticisms only toward it?

Because space is not flat, and in any sense you can think of right trangles as existing naturally, as opposed to those that are constructed in special conditions, the Pythagorean Theorem is only a good approximation.

Again, I have never understood why you seem to think "scientific theory" is a different type of knowledge than is contained in "formal systems." Except, of course, because you like to think that the scientific theories you prefer to assert are as certain as any "fact" can be.

How do you reconcile that with my constant restating that there certainty is the feature of knowledge denied to science?

The observational facts are completely independent of the theories. Just like the pythagorean theorem, ya know?

The sun rises with or without observers. It takes men to design flat surfaces. If we don't build flat surfaces, we never 'discover' the Pythagorean Theorem.

Do you take him to insist that the pythagorean theorem would hold true on the surface of a basketball?

I take him not to be speaking contextually at all. I take him to be speaking in a manner that says Riemannian geometry is false and Euclidean is true, a perspective we do not share.

Am I wrong, or just not understanding what you are trying to say?

In water vapor, just about every molecule is three atoms large (some will be 6, or 9, etc.). Let's call the three-atim version a "core" molecule. As it condenses, the hydrogen atoms in one core molecule start to form bonds with the oxygen atoms in a different core molecule, creating chains of the core molecule linked together into one large molecule.

aintnuthin said...

Do you take him to insist that the pythagorean theorem would hold true on the surface of a basketball?

I take him not to be speaking contextually at all. I take him to be speaking in a manner that says Riemannian geometry is false and Euclidean is true, a perspective we do not share.

OK, any particular reason you take him that way? He doesn't seem to be that naive and ill-informed, but maybe he is.

aintnuthin said...

"Further, I can only interpret that claim to mean 'irespective of which data sets are fed into it', because it is ludicrous to think you can't find datapoints that will make the graph flat."

Randomly generated data. When recent events are given 400 times as much weight as older one's this is to be expected. Of course you can design any set of data to be flat, or any other way you want it--just ask Mann, eh?

One Brow said...

OK, any particular reason you take him that way? He doesn't seem to be that naive and ill-informed, but maybe he is.

In additional, there could also be some combination of rhetoric, devotion to a particular metaphysic, and a completely different way of thinking about the world.

Randomly generated data. When recent events are given 400 times as much weight as older one's this is to be expected.

If you mean recent fluctuations are exaggerated or earlier fluctuations, that doesn't explain why a recent gain would be more likely than a recent loss.

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "How do you reconcile that with my constant restating that there certainty is the feature of knowledge denied to science?"

What's to reconcile? I take you to also concede, like Gould, that even so-called "facts" are not absolutely certain. I wasn't comparing science with a formal deductive science, just fact.

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "The sun rises with or without observers. It takes men to design flat surfaces. If we don't build flat surfaces, we never 'discover' the Pythagorean Theorem."

We don't "build" anything with precision to the millionth of a millionth of a centimter, not even the orbits of the earth around the sun, do we? A piece of paper is "flat" to us, for all intents and purposes, and we will measure (not deduce) an a2 + b2 = c2 relationship in a right triangle drawn on a piece of paper. Is absolute precision, down to the nth degree, now an implicit part of what you are willing to call "real?"

Do you level these same criticisms at newtonian premises, and also insist that they are not "real" because they don't reflect reality? If you do not consider "correspondence" to be a criterion for truth or reality, as you say, why would it matter anyway?

One Brow said...

Do you level these same criticisms at newtonian premises, and also insist that they are not "real" because they don't reflect reality?

In case I have not been clear, I say the Pythagorean Theorem is not true becasue we live in a three-demensaional manifold of negative curvature. We can created finite simulations of flat surfaces, but there are no straight lines (there are various geodesics instead) or planes. To the extent these geodeisics are descriptions of inertial paths, they are real, while straight lines are descriptions or inertial paths, and not real.

Absolute precision is a part of the mathematical proof. I've already acknlowdged the Pythagorean Theorm is a good approximation. For most mathematicians, "good approximation" still means "false", often with a "but acceptable" tacked on.

Do you level these same criticisms at newtonian premises, and also insist that they are not "real" because they don't reflect reality?

You said "premises" instead of "laws", so I'm not sure what you mean. The Law of Gravity would be a useful, false approximation, for example.

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "You said "premises" instead of "laws", so I'm not sure what you mean. The Law of Gravity would be a useful, false approximation, for example."

I could have said postulate or hypothesis, I guess. I specifically had in mind the claim that all matter accelerates at the same rate in a vacuum. You responded, in part, with respect to Newton's 3 laws of motion, which is certainly understandable. Let me reply (in the next post) to what you did say on that score.

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "In case I have not been clear, I say the Pythagorean Theorem is not true becasue we live in a three-demensaional manifold of negative curvature. We can created finite simulations of flat surfaces, but there are no straight lines (there are various geodesics instead) or planes. To the extent these geodeisics are descriptions of inertial paths, they are real, while straight lines are descriptions or inertial paths, and not real."

OK, you have used two crucial words here ("true" and "real"). But both seem to be inextricably bound to a given relationship with (correspondence to) "space" (as you deem it to be).

This suggests a correpondence theory of "truth" and a materialistic view of "reality." Ultimately, in this post, you also seem to equate "reality" with "truth." Also seemingly implied is an absolute quality to "truth," i.e., something that is absolutely (and not just approximately, or conditionally) "true." Is there any such thing? Is there, ultimately, no "truth?" If no truth, is there no "reality," either?

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "In additional, there could also be some combination of rhetoric, devotion to a particular metaphysic, and a completely different way of thinking about the world."

Well, I could see where all of those factors could be (and no doubt are) in play, but I can't see how any of those could possibly lead him to believe that euclidean geometry would be absolutely true and accurate on the surface of a basketball, ya know?

aintnuthin said...

A further comment on context, and such: If I count 3 shot glasses on the bar top and report my findings, I am implicitly saying that this is "true" in this particular bar, and this particular time.

Ten seconds from now there could be 10 or 0 or any other number of shotglasses on the bartop. At this very moment, there might be 10 on the bartop across the street, but I'm not even talking about that, or any other, bartop, just this one.

Objecting that not all bartops have 3, or that this bartop will not eternally have 3, is simply irrelevant. It is, you might say, simply a strawman type of argument.

One Brow said...

I specifically had in mind the claim that all matter accelerates at the same rate in a vacuum.

I believe I rephrased that as saying that all acceleration due to gravity is the same, which is a very good approximation.

OK, you have used two crucial words here ("true" and "real"). But both seem to be inextricably bound to a given relationship with (correspondence to) "space" (as you deem it to be).

There is no argument that the Pythagorean Theorem will be true withing certain finite constraints. However, Euclidean geometry is not constained finitely nor to two dimensions.

This suggests a correpondence theory of "truth" and a materialistic view of "reality."

When Dr. Feser declares the Pythagorean Theorem is true, or that God is the ultimate source of all effects, he is addressing a correspondence to reality. In trying to say why I disagree, I am falling into the same habit.

Is there, ultimately, no "truth?" If no truth, is there no "reality," either?

If there is an ultimate truth, I am not sure we would ever been able to discern it from all the pictures of it we build for ourselves.

..., but I can't see how any of those could possibly lead him to believe that euclidean geometry would be absolutely true and accurate on the surface of a basketball, ya know?

In Euclidean geometry, there are no triangles on the surfaces of basketballs, because there are no lines. Lines are straight.

Objecting that not all bartops have 3, or that this bartop will not eternally have 3, is simply irrelevant. It is, you might say, simply a strawman type of argument.

I agree.

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "The acceleration from gravity is the same on all material objects, but the are other sources of acceleration."

In what conditions? I'm going to read the last part of your sentence to say "but there are other forces or conditions which affect the rate of acceleration," because I don't think you're trying to say that a feather accelerates just as fast as a cannonball in "the real world." But, there again, this all relates back to the positing of a non-existent conditon--that of an absolute vacuum, so why is the claim not "untrue" and "unreal" by your standards?

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "The sun rises with or without observers."

So you claim. Feser claims the pythagorean relationship would hold with or without observers too. You both seem to think that observers are irrelevant to "truth."

George Berkeley, probably the strictest empiricist who ever lived, claimed otherwise. His dictum was "to be is to be perceived," and the logic behind it was seemingly impossible to refute.

For him, a tree ceased to exist once it was no longer being perceived. A tree falling in the forest indeed "made no sound" if no one was present to hear it. His empiricism also led him to conclude that material objects have a "continuing" existence only because God is present to perceive them at all times, which sounds like sumthin Feser might say, eh?

aintnuthin said...

Assume that F=MA. Now assume that I apply a force of 38.67 foot-pounds to object X. Further assume that object X then accelerates at the rate of .357 feet per second. Now, tell me the mass of object X.

This can be done, with absolute certainty, given the premises. It is, in effect, a formal, mathematical system. It is also "science" or "scientific theory" according to most. How does it differ from euclidean geometry?

And what do the premises even mean, really? What is "mass" other than a strictly mathematical book-balancing concept that means "resistance to acceleration?"

aintnuthin said...

I'm so physicist, but I find many of their pronouncements to be somewhat puzzling and inconsistent. Take the concept of mass, which I just mentioned.

Matter travelling at the speed of light would have "infinite mass," as I understand them. This would seemingly follow because, they say, nothing can travel faster than the speed of light. The object would therefore (by dictate) have infinite "resistance to acceleration" (which is all mass is, right?). Even an infinite force could not further accelerate it.

Such a particle would then presumably have infinite energy, enough "energy" to entirely demolish this universe and a million more just like it, because mass = energy, is some ratio. Yet, again, merely as I understand it, "particles," such as photons, which are said to travel at the speed of light have exactly zero mass. How can it be both zero and infinite, I wonder? If a photon has zero mass, why would it not be accelerated beyond measure by even the least "force?" I just don't git it.

At the speed of light, time stops, and distances are shrunk to nuthin. So, then, here ya got sumthin that is fatter than the fattest elephant which can go clean across the universe (which is zero distance now) in no time flat (because time has stopped). Seems a little suspect, somehowze, don't it?

aintnuthin said...

Relativity, like other modern theories of physics (quantum theory, for example) generates a lot of apparent paradoxes, and ultimately relies on a strictly deductive theory backed by a positivistic notion of "reality" (e.g., the speed *is* what we measure it to be, even if we have to simultaneously, assume that both time and distance are constantly changing, and even though speed is simply a function of time and distance). The question of what really "is" does not even get asked--the only question is what do we measure it to be. If the truth depends on our measurements, would it be true without us there to measure it? The whole thing is strictly observer-dependent, aint it?

As we have discussed in other threads, a number (admittedly a minority) of reputable theoretical physicists reject relativity theory as being strictly speculative, unnecessarily complicated, and intuitively objectionable while arguing that they have alternate theories which account for all the same phenomena.

The conclusions of relativity theory are inferential, and not something we can directly observe. And yet you seem to adhere to this inferential speculations as encompassing and embodying both "truth" and "reality." Why would you do that, if you don't think formal systems are "real," I wonder?

aintnuthin said...

You have elaborated at some length on what you believe the "true" nature of space to be. But how do you determine that this is true?

"...all the facts that seem to require special or General Relativity can be more simply explained by assuming an ether that corresponds to the local gravitational field....the bending of starlight near the Sun, the confirmation of General Relativity that made Einstein world-famous, is easily explained given a non-uniform light medium...Some may prefer to try to understand all this in terms of the “curvature of Space-Time,” to use the Einstein formulation (unintelligible to laymen, I believe). But they should know that a far simpler alternative exists."

http://www.gravitywarpdrive.com/Rethinking_Relativity.htm

aintnuthin said...

Same guy on "time dilation:"

"Experiments have shown that atomic clocks really do slow down when they move, and atomic particles really do live longer. Does this mean that time itself slows down? Or is there a simpler explanation?...Moving clocks slow down, in short, because they are “ploughing through this medium and working more slowly.” It’s not time that slows down. It’s the clocks. All the experiments that supposedly “confirm” Special Relativity do so because all have been conducted in laboratories on the Earth’s surface, where every single moving particle, or moving atomic clock, is in fact “ploughing through” the Earth’s gravitational field, and therefore slowing down...

Now let’s turn back to the Global Positioning System....In (Einstein) theory it was expected that because the orbiting clocks all move rapidly and with varying speeds relative to any ground observer (who may be anywhere on the Earth’s surface), and since in Einstein’s theory the relevant speed is always speed relative to the observer, it was expected that continuously varying relativistic corrections would have to be made to clock rates. This in turn would have introduced an unworkable complexity into the GPS. But these corrections were not made. Yet “the system manages to work, even though they use no relativistic corrections after launch,” Van Flandern said. “They have basically blown off Einstein.”

On "mass/energy:"

"The equation E = mc2 was discovered as a byproduct of Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity (True). Relativity, they conclude, is indispensable to our understanding of the way the world works. But that does not follow. Alternative derivations of the famous equation dispense with Relativity. One such was provided by Einstein himself in 1946."

http://www.gravitywarpdrive.com/Rethinking_Relativity.htm

I don't bring these issues up to debate their relative merit, but rather to demonstrate that:

1. Different "arbitrary" (as you might say) assumptions can both lead to the same implications, and,
2. How one interprets the "results" of "confirming tests" is itself dependent upon the assumptions one brings to the interpretation process.

My concern here is with "truth" and "reality," not physics per se.

aintnuthin said...

We also touched on the notion of the conclusions dictating the premises, rather than vice versa. To elaborate on this:

"The advance of the perihelion of Mercury’s orbit, another famous confirmation of General Relativity, is worth a closer look (the perihelion is the point in the orbit closest to a sun)....The equation that accounted for Mercury’s orbit had been published 17 years earlier, before Relativity was invented.... Although Einstein said he had been in the dark, it was pointed out that Gerber’s formula had been published in Mach’s Science of Mechanics, a book that Einstein was known to have studied. So how did they both arrive at the same formula?...[Van Flandren] asked a colleague at the University of Maryland, who as a young man had overlapped with Einstein at Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study, how in his opinion Einstein had arrived at the correct multiplier. This man said it was his impression that, “knowing the answer,” Einstein had “jiggered the arguments until they came out with the right value.”

If the General Relativity method is correct, it ought to apply everywhere, not just in the solar system. But Van Flandern points to a conflict outside it: binary stars with highly unequal masses. Their orbits behave in ways that the Einstein formula did not predict. “Physicists know about it and shrug their shoulders,” Van Flandern says. They say there must be “something peculiar about these stars, such as an oblateness, or tidal effects.” Another possibility is that Einstein saw to it that he got the result needed to “explain” Mercury’s orbit, but that it doesn’t apply elsewhere."

aintnuthin said...

When I was in my early 50's, I went to a ballgame at Yankee Stadium. Babe Ruth hit a powerful blast that went clean out of the stadium and ended up bustin a car windshield and a guy's head, to boot.

From the time ole Babe hit it, it followed a curved path---it kept goin up and out for a good long spell, and then it was suddenly goin down and out (to the street).

I was in the top row of the upper deck in right field. I have since wondered how I ever navigated myself through the curved space to git there. I also wonder how bent my body must have been, sittin there in that curved space, and all, ya know?

aintnuthin said...

I recall seein a 400-pound sweathog there that kinda looked like she would if you looked at her in a fun-house mirror. I guess the more massive you are, the more ya git distorted by curved space.

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "In Euclidean geometry, there are no triangles on the surfaces of basketballs, because there are no lines. Lines are straight."

Right, and I see no reason why Feser would claim otherwise. As I said in one of my first posts in this thread: "I mean, like, as far as I know, Pythagoras never claimed it would hold true on a sphere or on some warp-up piece of tin, did he? Is this just a straw man, you're introducing, I wonder, eh, Eric?"

If someone claims that F = MA, and I object that F cannot equal MA, at least not in any "real" sense, because in the "real world" there is friction which slows down the acceleration, how would my objection be any different (substantially) than your objection regarding the pythagorean theorem?

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "[Feser chooses premises he hopes will lead to a certain conclusion. All apologetics operates this way, and is what distinguishes it from honest philosophy and science."

As should be obvious, I have also been disputing the veracity of this off-the-cuff remark by you. How is "science" any different? How could it be? Scientific theory, by definition, explicitly attempts to formulate hypotheses which will "lead to certain conclusions" (observational data).

One Brow said...

But, there again, this all relates back to the positing of a non-existent conditon--that of an absolute vacuum, so why is the claim not "untrue" and "unreal" by your standards?

Because the claim is not that the acceleration is the same, but that the component of acceleration due to gravity is the same.

George Berkeley, probably the strictest empiricist who ever lived, claimed otherwise. His dictum was "to be is to be perceived," and the logic behind it was seemingly impossible to refute.

So is the logic of solipsism.

... which sounds like sumthin Feser might say, eh?

In some ways.

Assume that F=MA. Now assume that I apply a force of 38.67 foot-pounds to object X. Further assume that object X then accelerates at the rate of .357 feet per second. Now, tell me the mass of object X.

This can be done, with absolute certainty, given the premises.


Along with a couple of other, generally-assumed-and-not-states premises, OK.

It is, in effect, a formal, mathematical system. It is also "science" or "scientific theory" according to most.

In is a small, formally constructed part of a larger scientific theory, but not a scientific theory on its own (no law is a theory). As a part of a larger theory, it is science.

How does it differ from euclidean geometry?

The law itself? Very little.

And what do the premises even mean, really? What is "mass" other than a strictly mathematical book-balancing concept that means "resistance to acceleration?"

One thing mass is, that neither force nor acceleration is, is conserved (OK, mass-energy). Athough, you can argue it is a philosophical choice to treat the conserved entitiy as fundamental and the ephemral entities as the book-balancers, I don't think that's a highly disputed choice.

Matter travelling at the speed of light would have "infinite mass," as I understand them.

You are describing the limits of equations that we know work on particles up to (let's say) .9c or some such. If the fastest we have measured is .9c, we really don't know what happens at .99c or .999c, much less at c. Further, "infinite" is not a number.

Yet, again, merely as I understand it, "particles," such as photons, which are said to travel at the speed of light have exactly zero mass.

Photons have zero rest mass (they cease to exist if forced below the speed of light, say by collision).

If a photon has zero mass, why would it not be accelerated beyond measure by even the least "force?"

A photon is not the type of particle you can apply force to.

The whole thing is strictly observer-dependent, aint it?

Then why doesn't it vary from observer to observer, for the most part?

One Brow said...

The conclusions of relativity theory are inferential, and not something we can directly observe. And yet you seem to adhere to this inferential speculations as encompassing and embodying both "truth" and "reality." Why would you do that, if you don't think formal systems are "real," I wonder?

I think any other system that lays equal claim to describing reality, i.e., explaining all the experiemental outcomes, can be treated being real, as well.

...an ether that corresponds to the local gravitational field...

An ether that precisely mimics the effects of space-time bending, and is otherwise undetectable, not behaving like any wave-carrying medium on earth. This is simpler?

All the experiments that supposedly “confirm” Special Relativity do so because all have been conducted in laboratories on the Earth’s surface, where every single moving particle, or moving atomic clock, is in fact “ploughing through” the Earth’s gravitational field, and therefore slowing down...

So, it doesn't matter how the clock is positioned or constructed during the passage, moving through the ether will affect it in exactly the same way? Is a boat as easy to row upstream sideways?

... it was expected that continuously varying relativistic corrections would have to be made to clock rates. This in turn would have introduced an unworkable complexity into the GPS. But these corrections were not made.

Why would the relativistic conditions be continuously varying? The clocks are under a constant acceleration.

1. Different "arbitrary" (as you might say) assumptions can both lead to the same implications, and,
2. How one interprets the "results" of "confirming tests" is itself dependent upon the assumptions one brings to the interpretation process.


Until you devise a test that can tell between them, sure. We have agreed on this before. why repeat it?

This man said it was his impression that, “knowing the answer,” Einstein had “jiggered the arguments until they came out with the right value.”

What could be more reliable than third-hand testimony?

Their orbits behave in ways that the Einstein formula did not predict.

I actively looked for confirmation that this is a problem between the empirical data and the predictions of GR, but I didn't find any work. I did find a lot of work that translating GR into predictions for bodies of unequal mass that are sprialing inward is very difficult, but that's hardly the same thing.

When I was in my early 50's, I went to a ballgame at Yankee Stadium. Babe Ruth hit a powerful blast that went clean out of the stadium and ended up bustin a car windshield and a guy's head, to boot.

From the time ole Babe hit it, it followed a curved path---it kept goin up and out for a good long spell, and then it was suddenly goin down and out (to the street).

I was in the top row of the upper deck in right field. I have since wondered how I ever navigated myself through the curved space to git there. I also wonder how bent my body must have been, sittin there in that curved space, and all, ya know?


Pretty cool, eh?

One Brow said...

Is this just a straw man, you're introducing, I wonder, eh, Eric?"

In spacetime, you can't embed a plane. You can embed a two-dimensional manifold of negative curvature, but not a plane, and even many lines would eventually exit space. If you are going to describe a geometry that is as real as the formula for H2O (and Dr. Feser certainly does), it has to be Lobachevskian, not Euclidean.

If someone claims that F = MA, and I object that F cannot equal MA, at least not in any "real" sense, because in the "real world" there is friction which slows down the acceleration, how would my objection be any different (substantially) than your objection regarding the pythagorean theorem?

Yes, because friction itself acts as a force, and one proper response to that objection is to subtract the amount of force friction applies from the initial force. By contrast, the only way to "save" geometry is to put aside the parallel postulate in favor of the possiblity of having more than one line in a plane through a point that does not intesect a given line (effectively giving the space negative survature), which renders the Pythagorean Theorem unprovable and not true in general.

One Brow said: "[Feser chooses premises he hopes will lead to a certain conclusion. All apologetics operates this way, and is what distinguishes it from honest philosophy and science."

As should be obvious, I have also been disputing the veracity of this off-the-cuff remark by you.


I didn't say that, UnBeguiled did. It doesn't sound like me at all. If there is a difference between "honest philosophy" and apologetics, it is certainly not that.

How is "science" any different? How could it be? Scientific theory, by definition, explicitly attempts to formulate hypotheses which will "lead to certain conclusions" (observational data).

Scientists seem to think that they follow hypotheses to a conclusion, rather than choose them for the conclusion. In formal systems, if the conclusion is not acceptable, contradictory, or just disliked, you change the inital assumptions. In science, if the experimental result does not match the prediction, regardless of much you want it to, you discard the prediction; if the result does match the prediction, you keep the prediction even if you are not fond of it.

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "Scientists seem to think that they follow hypotheses to a conclusion, rather than choose them for the conclusion. In formal systems, if the conclusion is not acceptable, contradictory, or just disliked, you change the inital assumptions. In science, if the experimental result does not match the prediction, regardless of much you want it to, you discard the prediction; if the result does match the prediction, you keep the prediction even if you are not fond of it."

This seems incorrect to me on several counts.

1."Scientists seem to think that they follow hypotheses to a conclusion, rather than choose them for the conclusion." Some may talk (and even think) that way, I dunno, but it doesn't hold up under analysis. The whole point of the hypothesis [the premise(s)], is to "explain" the foreknown "conclusions" (the observed facts). I note a "fact" (conclusion, such as "water freezes," and then deliberately try to formulate premises which would imply ("explain") it.

2. "In formal systems, if the conclusion is not acceptable, contradictory, or just disliked, you change the inital assumptions." Yeah, and if a hypothesis generates implications which "fail" (are inconsistent with, or contrary to, the observations), you simply change the initial assumptions (formulate a new hypothesis to test). I don't see any difference.

3. "...if the result does match the prediction, you keep the prediction even if you are not fond of it."
Yeah, that's what I'm sayin. Ya gotta distinguish a "prediction" [in the context of scientific theory, the "prediction" would be the necessary implications of the premises (hypothesis)], and the hypothesis itself. You keep the conclusion always. If I start with the conclusion that the sun rises in the east, then that will not vary, that is simply the invariable conclusion my hypothesis must imply. I can say it is because the god Mercury drags it behind a chariot, or posit any other theory which would imply it, but whatever theory I prefer it MUST be consistent with my observation that the sun appears ot rise in the east. The conclusion comes first, thereafter we try to produce logic which will "rationalize" it.

One Brow said...

1. "Water freezes" would not be part of the formal system within the experimental design process we have been discussing. Instead, that would be "when I remove heat from this particular location, the water in that location will freeze" (along with various on how quickly, etc.).

2. One difference is that of being not acceptable,contradictory, or just disliked versus failure. If the results of science are not acceptable, contradictory, or just disliked, they are still accepted. Another is that the hypothesis is not the initial assumption in science, but a step in the middle of the process. A third is that your failure becomes part of the data for the new hypothesis. A fourth is that when you change an initial assumption, you basically have a brand-new theory in formal systems, but when you add a new data point in science, that does not potentially invalidate the whole.

3. I think there as a semantic misunderstanding here. I meant a prediction as in the result of adopting a hypothesis, not just an observation. Any hypothesis you adopt needs to make predictions that match observations, but you don't separate the prediction from the hypothesis.

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "Yes, because friction itself acts as a force, and one proper response to that objection is to subtract the amount of force friction applies from the initial force. By contrast, the only way to "save" geometry is to put aside the parallel postulate..."

No. That is not the "only" way to "save" the pythagoren theorm. You can save the claim that A2 + B2 = C2 just like you "save" the claim that F=MA, i.e., by adjusting for the differences between the actual (real world) conditions and the ideal (theoretical) conditions upon which the initial claim was based. I'm not one, but I'm sure a good mathematician could tell you what relative side lengths you would end up with if you tried to apply the principles of geometry in conditions it was not initally assuming. Changing the premises has nothing to do with A2 + B2= C2 in a plane. That still holds true. You once again appear to be equating the "fact" with the premises which might explain it

Once you starting "acounting for" the "forces" of friction, you are simply altering your previously unadorned and unqualified claim that F=MA. You now have sumthin like F1 - F2 = MA.

Elsewhere you say: "Because the claim is not that the acceleration is the same, but that the component of acceleration due to gravity is the same."

Likewise, the claim in euclidean geometry is that A2 + B2 = C2, in a plane, not on all surfaces.

Futhermore, strictly speaking, the "force" of gravity clearly does NOT accelerate all objects the same to begin with. Equal amounts of gravitational force would produce different accelerations in different objects. The heavier (more massive) the object, the more force "gravity" applies to it. Otherwise, the same force could clearly NOT accelate all objects the same. Hitting a bowling ball with a baseball bat would not "accelerate" it just as much it would a golf ball hit with the same force.

aintnuthin said...

Edit: Meant to say, in that last post: "Likewise, the claim in euclidean geometry is that A2 + B2 = C2, in ALL planes (replacing "a plane"), not on all surfaces.

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "I think any other system that lays equal claim to describing reality, i.e., explaining all the experiemental outcomes, can be treated being real, as well."

Well, one amibiguity here is that you have not defined what you mean by "describe" or how "description" applies to "reality." As we have discussed before, there are supposedly at least 10,000 different sets of premises that can be used in string theory to describe or "explain" the same "facts." Are they all "real," then?

It seems to me that what you are calling "all the experimental outcomes" here is what you might equate with "reality." But my question was not about those, it was about the abstract, formal theories, which purport to explain them. It is that type of thing that I was understanding you to consider as "real" in about the same sense that Paul Bunyon is "real."

aintnuthin said...

Back to the "force" of gravity for a minute. Newton's "law" of gravitation basically presupposes that the amount of "force" which results from the interaction of two objects varies in accordance with distance, relative mass, etc. In what sense would a varying force be the "same" force? How can something which changes be "constant?" This concept of "sameness" can only be explained by the use of abstraction and resort to "universals" to explain why the two are supposedly the "same" when they are simultanously "different," right?

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "Any hypothesis you adopt needs to make predictions that match observations, but you don't separate the prediction from the hypothesis."

Premises are "separate" from the conclusions they logicially entail, as most people see it, anyway. "Predictions," in scientific jargon, are simply deductions from (hypothetical) premises. They are not the premise themselves.

In a certain sense, I suppose you could argue that the conclusion and the premises are the same thing, because one entails the other, but that would ignore the one-way direction of logic. While the premises may entail the conclusion, the conclusion does not entail those particular premises.

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "Another is that the hypothesis is not the initial assumption in science, but a step in the middle of the process. A third is that your failure becomes part of the data for the new hypothesis."

Lemme guess, eh? And it turtles, all the way down, right?

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "...the hypothesis is not the initial assumption in science, but a step in the middle of the process."

Exactly.

Step 1: arrive at your conclusion
Step 2: formulate a hypothesis which you think would entail that conclusion
Step 3: (optional) see if your hypothesis does, in practice, entail your conclusion.

There it is, right smack dab in the middle, sho nuff. That's my point, you gotta have your conclusion first, only then can you proceed to form "scientific" premises to imply it.

aintnuthin said...

A homey of mine who liked to read philosophy books once asked me if I could figure out premises which would lead to the conclusion that Socrates is (was) mortal. He assured me that Socrates died a long time ago, so there was no question about the conclusion, just the premises.

I said, kay, den, howze bout this here:

1. All humans are borned destined to be immortal, but if they piss God off, He will make them mortal.

2. Socrates pissed off God.

He said: "Wrong, aint, ya damn fool, ya, them aint the right premises."

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "Why would the relativistic conditions be continuously varying? The clocks are under a constant acceleration."

Not sure why you question this. To begin with, the clocks are not under a constant acceleration, they are accelerated initially, but then settle into a uniform speed. I'm not sure that why you raise the question, though.

The point is that time is ongoing, and differences therefore get continously increased. If one clock runs a minute a day faster than another, then after one day the difference will be one minute, but after two days it will be two minutes, ad infinitum.

One Brow said...

No. That is not the "only" way to "save" the pythagoren theorm. You can save the claim that A2 + B2 = C2 just like you "save" the claim that F=MA, i.e., by adjusting for the differences between the actual (real world) conditions and the ideal (theoretical) conditions upon which the initial claim was based.

There is no adjustment that make the Pythagorean Theorem true in a manifold of negative curvature. There may be occasional right trianlges that are Pythagorean triples, but you can't prove a mathematical theorem by example or experimentation.

Changing the premises has nothing to do with A2 + B2= C2 in a plane.

If Dr. Feser was making a comment designed to e limited to a plane, as opposed to a declaration of a universal truth for our reality, then your criticism would have meaning.

You now have sumthin like F1 - F2 = MA.

More like F1=MA1, F2=MA2, F=F1 - F2, and the conclusion A=A1 - A2. Except n>2 anyow.

Likewise, the claim in euclidean geometry is that A2 + B2 = C2, in all planes, not on all surfaces.

Your claim, sure.

Futhermore, strictly speaking, the "force" of gravity clearly does NOT accelerate all objects the same to begin with. Equal amounts of gravitational force would produce different accelerations in different objects.

Why are you bringing up "Equal amounts of gravitational force"? Who was discussing that?

Are they all "real," then?

Who knows if any of them are?

It is that type of thing that I was understanding you to consider as "real" in about the same sense that Paul Bunyon is "real."

When you talk of something being true within a formal system, that is the same as calling Paul Bunyan height true within the story of Paul Bunyan. While we are fairly sure paul bunyan's story is fictional, we can never be sure a formal system is real in the sense of corresponding to reality.

This concept of "sameness" can only be explained by the use of abstraction and resort to "universals" to explain why the two are supposedly the "same" when they are simultanously "different," right?

I'm not sure about the "only", but I don't have another way to offer.

While the premises may entail the conclusion, the conclusion does not entail those particular premises.

Which is why an empirical system like science offers less than absolute certanty.

There it is, right smack dab in the middle, sho nuff. That's my point, you gotta have your conclusion first, only then can you proceed to form "scientific" premises to imply it.

Except the use the hypotheses to form predictions, not confirm data you already know.

To begin with, the clocks are not under a constant acceleration, they are accelerated initially, but then settle into a uniform speed.

That would be adjusted for before take-off, though.

However, anything in an orbit is under constant acceleration. Even if the speed is unchanging, the velocity is changing.

The point is that time is ongoing, and differences therefore get continously increased. If one clock runs a minute a day faster than another, then after one day the difference will be one minute, but after two days it will be two minutes, ad infinitum.

That was not what Van Flandern was saying. He was saying perfectly sychorized orbital clocks would deviate from the earth time due to relativistic effects.

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "That was not what Van Flandern was saying. He was saying perfectly sychorized orbital clocks would deviate from the earth time due to relativistic effects."

Right. The earth and the satelite are moving with respect to each other. Whichever one is "really" moving, this should make their ongoing time-keeping processes (or at least the perception thereof) different, right?

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "Except the use the hypotheses to form predictions, not confirm data you already know."

Well, that's not really relevant to this issue. The "data you already know" is what I'm calling the conclusion.

Now new issues can arise. If the hypothesis was not fallaciously-formed, we know it implies the conclusion (prediction) which it was specifically designed to imply, sure. But what else would your hypothesis imply, if anything? Those you might call "other predictions," but they are all "predictions" in the sense that the hypothesis would theoretically entail them.

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "One Brow said: "Except the use the hypotheses to form predictions, not confirm data you already know."

To put what I just said in a slightly different way, hypotheses are "used" in different ways for different purposes. It's raison d'etre is to "explain" (another way of saying "predict") the particular "data" it was directed toward, ad hoc. Of course it may (will) also have other ramifications which were not originally in mind and we can try to confirm that these other ramifications are not themselves inconsistent with known (or knowable) facts. This is step 3 in my example.

aintnuthin said...

By the way, this particular topic has a bearing on my objection to the way "cause" is misused.

Suppose I have a hypothesis and I suggest that it can be "tested" because, if true x "might" also be the case, or X could possibly be the case, or, worse yet, that X could possibly be the case 1 time out of 1000.

There can be no test with such loosely defined "implications."

Major Premise: Some wealthy people are named Rockefeller.

Minor Premise: One Brow is rich

Conclusion: Therefore One Brow's last name could be "Rockefeller."

All true (I know you're rich), but so what? Where is the "test" of such "logic." It's not predicting anything at all, just stating possibilities.

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "However, anything in an orbit is under constant acceleration. Even if the speed is unchanging, the velocity is changing."

Well, if you want to say that a change of direction is an acceleration, OK, I don't really know if that's the technical definition or not. But it just raises other questions, such as what constitutes a "change" of direction. Deviation from a (non-existent you claim) straight line? Or deviation from the only line it can follow in curved space (if this, then there is no change in "direction" for an object in orbit, is there?).

But either way, the "velocity" of the orbiting object and the earth itself are different (not to even mention the magnitude of the gravitional effects, which also supposedly alter time), right? You seem to be implying that if something is "constantly" accelerating, then it's time-frame will match that anything that is not "constantly" accelerates (at least not in the same respect--the may be orbiting the sun, but it is not orbiting both itself and the sun, like the satelite).

One Brow said...

Right. The earth and the satelite are moving with respect to each other. Whichever one is "really" moving, this should make their ongoing time-keeping processes (or at least the perception thereof) different, right?

Because the acceleration of the clocks and the relative speed differential is constant, the deviation from the speed of our clocks here on earth is constant. The clocks are adjusted to tick a little faster for each second to compensate for relativistic effects (at least, that would be my expectation, not being an actual satellite engineer).

One Brow said: "Except the use the hypotheses to form predictions, not confirm data you already know."

Well, that's not really relevant to this issue. The "data you already know" is what I'm calling the conclusion.

Now new issues can arise. If the hypothesis was not fallaciously-formed, we know it implies the conclusion (prediction) which it was specifically designed to imply, sure. But what else would your hypothesis imply, if anything? Those you might call "other predictions," but they are all "predictions" in the sense that the hypothesis would theoretically entail them.


One principal point of generating the hypothesis is to generate new predictions, and see if they are verified or not. It's not just confirming the current conclusions. However, it's true a hypothesis that does not explain current conclusions would be rejected.

By the way, this particular topic has a bearing on my objection to the way "cause" is misused.

Suppose I have a hypothesis and I suggest that it can be "tested" because, if true x "might" also be the case, or X could possibly be the case, or, worse yet, that X could possibly be the case 1 time out of 1000.


How is that a hypothesis? Whats the mechanism? Why is it one time out of 1000?

There can be no test with such loosely defined "implications."

Maybe not. Can you run a million trials in both the control and the experimental group? You shoud be able to see an increase of 1 in a 100 then.

All true (I know you're rich), but so what? Where is the "test" of such "logic." It's not predicting anything at all, just stating possibilities.

Cancer has no cause, as far as you are concerned, because there is no single condition that abosolutely guarantees cancer will develop. Got it. I iunderstand this is your view. Even though it's not the way "cause" is used by any of the scientists involved, you will continue to be your majority of one. Why discuss it further?

But it just raises other questions, such as what constitutes a "change" of direction. Deviation from a (non-existent you claim) straight line? Or deviation from the only line it can follow in curved space (if this, then there is no change in "direction" for an object in orbit, is there?).

In Newtonian mechanics, when space was thought to be flat, it was a straight line. That has now been replaced with a timelike geodeisic (that is, a mass will follow a timelike geodesic unless distubed).

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: Even though it's not the way "cause" is used by any of the scientists involved, you will continue to be your majority of one. Why discuss it further?

Jesus, Eric, does the bluster, bluff, hyperbole, and cocksure assertion without basis never end? I don't come to my understanding of how all "of the scientists involved" understand the notion of "causality" by reading mass media accounts by reporters, by resort to my own prejudices, etc. I find such sources as the dictionary and/or lengthly theoretical discussions of the scientific meaning of "cause" much more reliable and accurate on such things.

There is clearly NO reason to discuss it further. The "majority of one" comment is wrong, but in any case it has become clear that you do not critically analyze many of these things, you merely inquire as to what you think the majority view is (at least if it favors the view you prefer to assert), and then adhere to it, with "common useage" as the only required criterion for acceptance and justification.


One Brow said: "Cancer has no cause, as far as you are concerned,... Got it."

You "got" nothing. Cancer presumably has a "cause" is each instance it occurs (or, on your view, perhaps millions of causes in each instance it occurs). In some cases, that cause could be smokin, I dunno. In other cases, it might be chewing bubble gum, again, I dunno, and I guess I never will "know" unless and until they do a correlation study to see if there is "any" (whatsoever) positive correlation between the two (again, on your view)."

I don't think you're even capable of seeing the difference. Even assuming that X "causes" Y one out a million times that Y occurs, and assuming that X only "causes" Y one out of a million times that X occurs, that simply is NOT a valid basis for the generalized, unqualified claim that "X causes Y" for anyone I know, or have ever heard of, except you.

aintnuthin said...

One Brow said: "Because the acceleration of the clocks and the relative speed differential is constant, the deviation from the speed of our clocks here on earth is constant."

What are you saying? You have already rejected a "constant deviation," I thought (you said there would be NO deviation, not a constant one). Are you saying that if two objects are approaching each at .90C, their respective clocks will be the same (unless and until the relative speed differential varies by increasing to .89C or .91C)?

I have no clue where you're getting this. Obviously your view is at odds with that of at least one trained physicists (Van Flandren) as well as with my understanding of every account of the phenomenon I have read.

In fact, from what I read, the opposite of what you claim appears to be the case. Because of the equivalence (between gravitational "forces" and acceleration) principle, the time dilation effects caused by an speed differential itself could be partially or totally offset, or even exceeded by, an object which is accelerating with respect to the "stationary" observer.

"Time dilation can arise from (1) relative velocity of motion between the observers, and (2) difference in their distance from gravitational mass.

"1) In the case that the observers are in relative uniform motion, and far away from any gravitational mass, the point of view of each will be that the other's (moving) clock is ticking at a slower rate than the local clock. The faster the relative velocity, the more is the rate of time dilation."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_dilation

The specific reference here is to "uniform relative motion." Simply put a (uniform) difference in relative motion will produce two clocks that do not appear to keep time at the same rate, and that difference will itself be uniform. Again, the accumulated yearly difference would then be 365 times the daily difference. As I understand it, clocks on two different frames of reference would only keep the same time if there was no relative motion between the two. A difference in relative motion, whether constant, or not, would create a difference in the clocks.

aintnuthin said...

I have always found it to be somewhat ironic that individuals who associate with certain "groups" in order to demonstrate that they are a "non-conformist" generally exhibit an amazing degree of conformity to the uniforms, rituals, etc., established by the group.

For the Hippies of the 60's it might have been wearing long hair, love beads, and bell-bottom pants while totin around a copy of Mao's "red book." For Hells angels it's Harley motorcycles, leather vests, and other such items that are virtually mandatory.

The final degradation of a free and moral agent, as Jefferson might say.

aintnuthin said...

What does the result of a "confirming" experiment tell you, and how much do the assumptions you bring to the process of interpreting "results" influence your conclusions?

"Lorentz also popularized the famous transformations that bear his name, later used by Einstein. However, Lorentz’s relativity theory assumed an aether, a preferred frame, and a universal time. Einstein did away with the need for these. But it is important to realize that none of the 11 independent experiments said to confirm the validity of SR experimentally distinguish it from LR -- at least not in Einstein's favor....Sagnac in 1913, Michelson following the Michelson-Gale confirmation of the Sagnac effect for the rotating Earth in 1925 (not an independent experiment, so not listed in Table 1), and Ives in 1941, all claimed at the time they published that their results were experimental contradictions of Einstein SR because they implied a preferred frame. In hindsight, it can be argued that most of the experiments contain some aspect that makes their interpretation simpler in a preferred frame, consistent with LR...Yet, none of these experiments is impossible for SR to explain."

http://www.metaresearch.org/cosmology/gps-relativity.asp

I bring this up again, because I don't recall you responding to my question about how and why you were so certain of the "nature of space" you recited. You seem to start with the assumption that that particular interpretation of "reality" is unquestionably true, and then proceed judge any other claim to "truth" as dependent upon corresponding to it.

aintnuthin said...

Nuthin to do with acceleration, per se, but the motion and gravitational distortions to time (or, just clocks, maybe, but, whatever...) can, in theory cancel each other out under the perfect circumstances. In fact that occurs on earth at sea level (I didn't know this, but find it rather curious):

"Remarkably, these two effects cancel each other for clocks located at sea level anywhere on Earth. So if a hypothetical clock at Earth’s north or south pole is used as a reference, a clock at Earth’s equator would tick slower because of its relative speed due to Earth’s spin, but faster because of its greater distance from Earth’s center of mass due to the flattening of the Earth. Because Earth’s spin rate determines its shape, these two effects are not independent, and it is therefore not entirely coincidental that the effects exactly cancel."

http://www.metaresearch.org/cosmology/gps-relativity.asp

aintnuthin said...

Also worth noting, I think, that the assumptions built into the very design of a "confirming" experiment can dictate the outcome:

"Measuring the one-way speed of light requires two clocks, one on each end of the path. If the separation of the clocks is known, then the separation divided by the time interval between transmission and reception is the one-way speed of the signal. But measuring the time interval requires synchronizing the clocks first. If the Einstein prescription for synchronizing clocks is used, then the measured speed must be the speed of light by definition of the Einstein prescription (which assumes the speed of light is the same in all inertial frames). If some other non-equivalent synchronization method is used, then the measured speed of the signal will not be the speed of light. Clearly, the measured signal speed and the synchronization prescription are intimately connected."

http://www.metaresearch.org/cosmology/gps-relativity.asp

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