"Open-mindedness" part 2

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6079_Smith_W

jrootham wrote:

On left/right free speech:  Two data points: Free Dominion, Babble.

Care to make a conclusion?

 

You  know, I think I have only ever posted to Free Dominion once, and it was many years ago. THey didn't ban me then, and I have never set out to test their boundary. I have posted to a few right wing blogs and sites where I was greeted with quite a bit of abuse, but  nobody ever told me I could not speak. On the other hand I have been to a couple of right-wing religious sites where they pre-screened you, so obviously they are clamped right down. My guess it is a firewall they needed to put up in order to function in the face of torrents of criticism.

But I didn't intend my statement as an indictment of babble, and as  I said, it is kind of a moot point if they (the right, I mean) let you speak, but don't listen. But from what I have seen conforming to doctrine and correct speaking is a bit more of an issue on the left than it is on the right.

Like I said, I think the lip service some on the right pay to libertarian ideals may be part of it, though the control others on the right have of media and other vehicles of information makes for a pretty strong imbalance.

But that is just my opinion based on what I have seen. It is off-topic,  and I don't want to distract this thread further with it.

siamdave

Snert wrote:

Seems to me that any thread on superstition, reason, science, etc., is going to result in a lineup of people wanting some kind of special exclusion for their personal pet Kookery.  If the left doesn't mind hosting their own little loopy Tea Party then so be it.

This is a bit bizarre, an exchange in an 'open-minded' thread congratulating one another on just how closed minded you really are, and how the best response to anyone actually open-minded is to greet them with mockery and attempts to justify your closed-mindedness by completely misrepresenting the open-minded questions of those you disagree with.

There are very valid questions concerning the destruction of the WTC buildings that have nothing to do with 'magic lazers', as there are very valid questions about the use of fluoride that have nothing to do with 'draining precious bodily fluids'. Such juvenile attempts to misrepresent with strawdog arguments and mock those who dare to question your beliefs have nothing to do with being open-minded - quite the reverse, really.

In essence, 'pseudoscience' is the claim that your belief is supported by 'science', when you are very obviously starting from a pre-decided conclusion and attempting to twist some aspect of 'science' to support your conclusion - as was very obviously, and even admittedly, the case with the 'scientific proof' that plane crashes and fires caused the destruction of the WTC towers. Thus you great defenders of 'open-mindedness' stand exposed as nothing more than some form of indoctrinated 'Defenders of the Dogma' - and your attempts to ridicule those who really do have an open mind are the essence of closed-mindedness. Orwell understood the mindset - "Our closed-mindedness proves we are  open-minded!"

 

jrootham

Man this is getting old.

But to stay vaguely on topic, let me attack it this way:  when it comes to the natural sciences there is no such thing as "proof", there is only evidence.  Anybody who talks about scientific proof is being an ignorant fool.  Maybe not a large ignorant fool, but an ignorant fool nonetheless.

 

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Fidel wrote:

Yep. And I think James Randi should open his mind to the legitimacy of global warming science.

[url=http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/swift-blog/806-i-am-not-qdenyingq-an... has.[/url]

siamdave

jrootham wrote:

Man this is getting old.

But to stay vaguely on topic, let me attack it this way:  when it comes to the natural sciences there is no such thing as "proof", there is only evidence.  Anybody who talks about scientific proof is being an ignorant fool.  Maybe not a large ignorant fool, but an ignorant fool nonetheless.

Wow. Methinks, as the old guy said, he doth protest too much. Truth is a bitch sometimes, eh jroot? Brings out the worst in those trying to circumvent it and being seen through for the charlatans - or supporters of same - they actually are. If you really believe the 'preponderance of evidence' supports the official (911) conspiracy theory, then you ought to be using terms like 'ignorant fool' when gazing in your mirror, not throwing them around in juvenile ad hominem attacks when your Defence of the Dogma is found wanting. Which, I am afraid, it always will be, as you are attempting to defend a great fraud, and the truth will out, in the end, quite inevitably, quite beyond your refusal to deal with it.

6079_Smith_W

jrootham wrote:

Man this is getting old.

But to stay vaguely on topic, let me attack it this way:  when it comes to the natural sciences there is no such thing as "proof", there is only evidence.  Anybody who talks about scientific proof is being an ignorant fool.  Maybe not a large ignorant fool, but an ignorant fool nonetheless.

 

 

You know, if you put some of that bullshit in a mason jar you can recreate Francesco Redi's famous experiment, even though I guess he didn't prove anything.

and @ Snert

See what I mean? Best to not to provide anything that could be taken as an invitation.

jrootham

OK, my post was overloaded with snark.  However, the substance remains.

Natural science works like this:  Somebody comes up with a theory about how things work.  They publish a description.  They and others figure out what to look for to prove it wrong.  They look.  After enough looking the relevant community of scholars come to a consensus that the theory is supported by evidence.  

That is the definition of science.

No such thing as proof in there.

The mathematical sciences work differently.  There, there are axioms, which are simply assumed to be true.  The ideas is to keep these small and simple.  Given the axioms people prove theorems, using standard mathematical logic.  In these field people look for mistakes in long and complex proofs.  However, they are looking for proofs, not evidence.

The 9/11 issue is a matter of engineering, not science.  

Unionist

jrootham wrote:

The mathematical sciences work differently.  There, there are axioms, which are simply assumed to be true.  The ideas is to keep these small and simple.  Given the axioms people prove theorems, using standard mathematical logic.  In these field people look for mistakes in long and complex proofs.  However, they are looking for proofs, not evidence.

Not wanting to quibble that much, but that paragraph doesn't in the least describe how mathematicians actually work. Theirs is a vibrant process of observation, guesswork, experimentation, hypothesis, and discovery. Proof is the necessary and tedious ribbon on the box - and sometimes (as in Fermat's last theorem) resists efforts for centuries, while in the meantime spawning new ideas, new forays, even new branches of the science.

jrootham

Point.  But the ribbon is key to the difference between the natural sciences and the mathematical sciences.

BTW My description of the natural sciences is from Popper via Kuhn's "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions", the math part is from courses at U of T.

If anybody has an alternative idea as to how science works please provide it, and sources would be good too.

 

Unionist

jrootham wrote:

Point.  But the ribbon is key to the difference between the natural sciences and the mathematical sciences.

Agreed!

 

6079_Smith_W

@ jrootham

I think we have already had the "is reality real" argument, and gone over the possibility that one might jump off a roof and possibly not fall to the ground. I'm sorry, but you are begging the question. 

The fact is that if I raise olive oil past about 200 degrees in the presence of air it WILL smoke.

If I remove vitamin C from your diet you WILL die within about nine months, very unpleasantly.

If I take sodium bicarbonate and acetic acid and know the number of moles I have of each  I can calculate exactly how much of either the acid or the base will have left over after they react.

If I know the weight of a ball, the angle and force with which I project it, I can tell pretty accurately where it will land (discounting wind and slight variations in gravity if I happen to be on top of a mountain).

So again, sorry, but that line of anti-reasoning only goes so far.

And please, if you want to mention that other subject, make another thread for it before this one gets swamped.

jrootham

I don't understand why you think I am making any claims in contradiction to the things you describe.

The question in science (as opposed to engineering) is WHY olive oil smokes above 200 degrees.  That it does is not in question.

Is that clearer?

 

Fidel

I didn't know that UofT profs support the crazy George II arsehole end of the 9/11 story. Can someone post a link?

Unionist

Is 2 the only even integer which isn't the sum of two primes?

 

Fidel

jrootham wrote:
The 9/11 issue is a matter of engineering, not science.

 So if we follow jrootham's axiom, the Nazis should have discovered that the Gleiwitz incident was actually a series of false flag attacks on themselves and German infrastructure along the Polish-German border leading to the invasion of Poland. And they should have discovered the truth well before deciding to wage a "humanitarian war" on Poles for the sake of peace and security or however der fuhrer described the criminal attacks.

But can we really assume that jrootham's hindsight is 20-20? Because we now know from international legal types at Nuremberg that the Nazis' findings were completely wrong, and that it was the SS who perpetrated operation Himmler in order to make it appear as though foreigners were threatening German national security in 1939. The NAzis were completely fooled by the Nazis! And so would the rest of the world have been fooled until a World Court of law performed an independent review of the events.

HOW LUCKY it was for the Nazis that they had independent advisors on the matter after the terrible world war was over! False premise for and attack and invasion of a sovereign country. OOPS?

In fact as it turned out, there is now a very strong indication that everyone involved could have been saved a lot of trouble and bother with a legitimate investigation!! It's called forensic investigation today. And yes, it's considered a scientific area of study today fyi.

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

Got what you mean now Unionist.

6079_Smith_W

jrootham wrote:

I don't understand why you think I am making any claims in contradiction to the things you describe.

The question in science (as opposed to engineering) is WHY olive oil smokes above 200 degrees.  That it does is not in question.

Is that clearer?

 

No, it's not any clearer, as in I don't believe you have made your point.

I'm not a chemist, but I expect someone more familiar with the science would tell you it had to do with how reactive the compounds in the oil were - as in, the strength of the bonds holding those oils together as opposed to the strength of the force driving it to react with the oxygen in the air.

(edit)

Here, I don't understand all of this, but here is some of their guesswork:

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

6079_Smith_W

Furthermore, jrootham, I think your initial point was whether or not something can be proven in the realm of natural science. If a proof can be demonstrated it is not always necessary to know exactly why that occurs, especially when it involves very complex systems, like organisms.

I know that if my batch of pickles or tomatoes is greater than 5 percent acetic acid then clostridium botulinum will not survive in it. I know that if I have a salt solution with a specific gravity high enough to float a raw egg I can cure meat in it without any fear that it will rot.

Like many chemical and physical reactions, these are things that do not depend on just one function but on a complex web of interactions. Even so, I can safely say that we have it down to a science (or an art).

 

jrootham

Those are observed facts.  They are true observed facts.   What I am objecting to is the use of the term "proof" referring to natural science.

If the moon was made of green cheese physics, chemistry, and biology would all be different, but mathematics would be unchanged.  That is why the term "proof" is appropriate to mathematics but not the natural sciences.

 

6079_Smith_W

@ jrootham

If your only point is with respect to the technical and semantic difference between a mathematical proof and established laws then I would ask you to clarify what you are really trying to say in #53 and to explain why it is relevant to this conversation 

Because if sure reads like you are trying to say that we cannot really know anything for certain. And if that is the case I would say that idea is false.

wage zombie

If someone doesn't understand the technical and semantic difference between a mathematical proof and established laws, then that person isn't much of a scientist.

THe way "proof" is commonly used has very little to with the technical meaning.  People have debates about stuff all the time, for example electoral results or sports statistics.  When people are asked to prove their claims, usually a reference in a newspaper or on a web site will suffice.  This occurs despite everyone understanding that not everything in a newspaper or on the internet is true.

"Scientific proof" can mean whatever the speaker wants it to mean.  If you want make claims about the scientific method, and be taken seriously by scientists, best not to use amorphous concepts like scientific proof.

6079_Smith_W

@ wage zombie

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proof_(truth)

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

Hey, I know it's only wikipedia, but then we already know all about my shortcomings: And I have already said I am not  a scientist.

Like I said, if jrootham's post at #53 or your last paragraph are supposed to mean that nothing can be established as true or false (and that the scientific method essentially means nothing) I would say that you are mistaken.

(edit)

and I see that first broken link. You may have to cut and paste it.

 

 

 

 

 

wage zombie

I think your wiki links are great, and I think they make clear that proof applies to math and logic, and that evidence applies to science.

I catch the #17 bus to work.  I know where the bus stops are.  I know that if I go to the bus stop and wait a while the #17 bus will come (eventually, sometimes it takes longer than I'd expect).  If someone asked me to "prove" that the #17 will come to the bus stop, I would point to the sign that lists the bus routes and emphasize that "#17" is listed.  If that wasn't enough "proof" (really the word here we should be using is evidence) then I would ask the person to engage in an experiment with me and wait 20 minutes to see if the #17 bus arrives.

I know that cities change bus routes all the time.  Sometimes this is due to better routes being established, and sometimes this is due to contruction, or special events.  I know that I don't have any actual guarantee that if I go to the stop the bus will show up, even if it is during the route's scheduled hours.

And yet, when I leave to go to work, I don't suffer from philosophical paralysis due to not being able to make absolutist claims about the bus.  I just go to the stop and wait for the bus.  When it arrives, I get on.  I have never met jrootham, but I suspect that he too is able to effectively take buses despite feeling that "proof" is not the criterion of value for the natural sciences.

If someone asked me to "scientifically" "prove" that Oak St. "is" the #17 bus route, I would assume that they have a poor understanding of the words they were using, regardless of my ability to show them a map of the route.

Is that clearer?

6079_Smith_W

@ wage zombie

I can't believe you expect me to take that seriously, given your pedantic interpretation of the word "proof".

I can take a joke as well as the next person, but please don't try to play games with me.

If you want to talk seriously about this, I am afraid you are going to have to show your hand.

wage zombie

Science is about predictions and explanations.  It is not about proof.

Science is quite good at making predictions, as you have pointed out in post #68.

I have no idea what games you think I am playing.

Brian White

I do not think you are the one playing games.   Some people must have that concrete "religuous certainty" feel to their world.

And I think someone is playing a silly "intelectual" game with us.

Science based on experiments (EVERY experiment have confidence limits) cannot give ABSOLUTE proof of anything.  How accurate can you measure temperature, ph, weight, acceleration due to gravity?  It all affects the confidence in the result and takes you away from 100% certainty. And newtonian versus einstien gravity is a red herring. Gravity was killing people as long as humans existed, long before Newton did his work for the British navy.

I think you explain science very well.

wage zombie wrote:

Science is about predictions and explanations.  It is not about proof.

Science is quite good at making predictions, as you have pointed out in post #68.

I have no idea what games you think I am playing.

jrootham

I am not saying we do not know things.  I am making a linguistic argument against using the word proof, and suggesting that people who use the word in this context are either being lazy or ignorant.

 

6079_Smith_W

Brian White wrote:

Science based on experiments (EVERY experiment have confidence limits) cannot give ABSOLUTE proof of anything.  

Thank you Brian, for saying directly what others have been inferring.

I think you are mistaken.

(edit)

and @ jrootham (cross-posted with you)

Yes. Guilty on both counts. I am both lazy and ignorant, though I am not sure what that has to do with the issue at hand.

Brian White

I said it ages ago.  I don't think you are lazy and ignorant.  I think you are playing games.

6079_Smith_W

@ Brian White

How about we go back to the experiment I mentioned at #56. 

Fresh manure, and we will assume for the purposes of the experiment that it is sterile. If you insist, we'll put it in the oven for a bit.

Seal it up in a jar. 

No flies will appear - ever. 

It doesn't get much simpler than that unless you want me to start breaking jars with ice or dropping apples on the ground.

 

Brian White

Your oven might be faulty, your manure might have lots of straw in it and be insulating, Your timer might be faulty, and your technician might cheat cos he doesn't like you or because he likes flies.

Why do you think people die from tinned food? It is supposed to be cooked hot enough to destroy botulism bacteria but things go wrong.

6079_Smith_W

Gee Brian, I can autoclave it if you really really want.

But if you insist, it does get simpler than that. 

I am in a room at regular atmospheric pressure and gravity. I take a metal ball, 20 degrees C, and immerse it completely it in a basin of water which is the same temperature. The water level will rise. It will not go down. Some time later it may begin to evaporate, but it will not immediately go down no matter how many times you repeat the experiment.

 

(edit)

To be clear, the volume of the ball is 250ml. I place the ball gently in the water. I don't drop it from 10 meters.

Brian White

The ball might crack the basin if it is too big or heavy or the basin too weak. 

You did not specify the size of the ball.  It might not even fit, or it might be too tiny to measure the  assumed rise in level.

Anyway, I have things to do.  And I do not like the game.

Edited to add.

Ok, you did not specify the metal either.  Please try it with sodium, or potasium or lithium.  Wear gloves.

Fidel

Did someone just mention balls?

And not only that there were miscroscopic iron spheres found in post-9/11 dust all around lower Manhattan. harrit and Jones suggest that billions of them can be found in dust samples and what must have amounted to tons of high tech incendiary dispersed some approximate time around the arbitrary calendar date of  9/11/01!  High tech incendiaries like nanothermite aren't typically found in the caves of Afghanistan. And the fires fueled by office furniture and jet fuel could not have burned hot enough(3000 degrees needed) to cause liquid pools of iron to form in the basements of the three buildings spotted by first responders "et al." There were two trade center towers hit by Air Al-CIA'duh pilots with the third a football field in distance away from all the hubub and falling down with all ten key defining characteristics of a professional building demolition. Imagine that. [url=http://www.bentham.org/open/tocpj/articles/V002/7TOCPJ.htm?TOCPJ/2009/00... Open Chemical Physics Journal[/url]

6079_Smith_W

Brian White wrote:

Ok, you did not specify the metal either.  Please try it with sodium, or potasium or lithium.  Wear gloves.

haha

I take some pleasure in the fact that you fall back on the rules when they serve your purpose.

No point in me trying to play games; clearly you are way ahead of me.

And clearly, your workarounds notwithstanding, you're ignoring the points I was illustrating.

The issue is not how to sneak the fly eggs into the jar, it is that there is no such thing as spontaneous generation of a higher order organism, even if the first chapter of Genesis says otherwise.

And an object immersed in water will displace its volume, so long as some invisible martians don't also sneak into the water or the beaker is destroyed by a controlled demolition.

I don't even need for you to try and explain how there can be anything colder than absolute zero.

And Fidel, demons use that explosive all the time. They found it all over the place at that giant plastic Jesus statue that burned down. I thought you knew this stuff.

 

Lord Palmerston

Quote:
There are sound reasons for preferring the data from randomized, double-blind, controlled experiments to the data provided by anecdotes when we are searching for causes. Even well-educated, highly trained experts are subject to many perceptual, affective, and cognitive biases that lead us into error when evaluating personal experiences. The informal procedures most of us use to decide whether events are causally related are vastly inferior to formal rules such as Mill's methods. The formal rules aren't infallible and can be misapplied but they are orders of magnitude more reliable than naive sense perception, unaided memory, or so-called intuition. Formal methods of causal analysis are necessary even if we do not have an emotional, doctrinal, or monetary stake in the acceptance of a particular causal claim. Many of our beliefs are driven by our biases and are generated for their comfort-value rather than for their truth-value. Formal methods of causal analysis are especially  necessary when the causal claim is not particularly comforting or attractive. All things being equal, the more impersonal and detached we are in evaluating potential causal events, the less likely error becomes.

[url=http://www.skepdic.com/essays/evaluatingexperience.html]Evaluating Personal Experience[/url]

Fidel

Quote:
"Natural science does not simply describe and explain nature; it is a part of the interplay between nature and ourselves; it describes nature as exposed to our method of questioning. This was a possibility of which Descartes could not have thought, but it makes the sharp separation between the world and the impossible" - [url=
">http://www.cddc.vt.edu/marxists/reference/subject/philosophy/works/ge/he...

Dogmatic realism not a necessary condition for science.

Quote:
[url=http://books.google.ca/books?id=Mehu2cpozSUC&pg=PA106&lpg=PA106&dq=%22If..."If we go beyond biology[/url],  and include psychology in the discussion, then there can scarcely be any doubt but that the concepts of physics, chemistry, and evolution together will not be sufficient to describe the facts. On this point the existence of quantum theory has changed our attitude from what was believed in the nineteenth century. During the period some scientists were inclined to think that the psychological phenomena could ultimately be explained on the basis of physics and chemistry of the brain. From the quantum-theoretical point of view there is no reason for such an assumption"

NDPP

The Uncomfortable Truth About Mind Control  -  by Michael Mosley

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/features/the...

"We like to think that we exercise free will, that put into a situation where we were challenged to do something we thought unacceptable that we'd refuse. But, if you believe that, then you are probably deluded. What no experimenter has yet been able to predict are the characteristics that mark out those that will rebel from the rest.."

Fidel

I think we can have free will, and that the past, present and future all exist in the river of time and space. We are not unobserved observers looking on. We are part of the canvass.

Quote:
"Then there's the mystery of consciousness. Will we finally have a framework that allows us to translate the mechanical pieces and parts into private, subjective experience? As it stands now, we don't even know what such a framework could look like ("carry the two here and that equals the experience of tasting cinnamon").

That line of research will lead us to confront the question of whether we can reproduce consciousness by replicating the exact structure of the brain – say, with zeros and ones, or beer cans and tennis balls. If this theory of materialism turns out to be correct, then we will be well on our way to downloading our brains into computers, allowing us to live forever in The Matrix.

But if materialism is incorrect, that would be equally interesting: perhaps brains are more like radios that receive an as-yet-undiscovered force. The one thing we can be sure of is this: no matter how wacky the predictions we make today, they will look tame in the strange light of the future." - David Eagleman, neuroscientist and writer [url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/jan/02/25-predictions-25-years]20 predictions for the next 25 years[/url]

6079_Smith_W

Pile-on as peer review?

Psychologists and scientists can't see an explanation for the data, and it is in a field they have traditionally branded nonsense. Therefore it is an outrage.

http://www.boingboing.net/2011/01/07/nyt-on-the-controver.html

It is interesting that there was a difference in this study between erotic images and non-erotic ones. Who knows what that means? A scientific basis for unexplained perceptions like gaydar, perhaps?

...or maybe just more pseudoscientific nonsense.

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