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Sam Drops the Ball - Part II
Posted: 17 February 2007 04:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]  
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[quote author=“Salt Creek”]This is a blatant and willful misunderstanding of what, exactly, has been achieved by the Copenhagen interpretation, or whatever. The fact that this operation of “collapsing the wave function” applies (relevant to the point you think you are making) only at the length scale of electrons seems to mean nothing to you, and apparently allows you to think that you have now “collapsed the wave function” of the elephant in your particular room.

The difficult thing you have to contend with is that matter does cohere, and exhibits collective properties of “particles in aggregate”, and the fact that all the molecules in the cow never simultaneously jump over the moon and then reconstitute themselves in Farmer Brown’s field seems to have no significance for you. That cow is standing in that field, chewing its cud, and it seems advantageous in a practical sense for you and me to agree on that state of things. Otherwise, what has put all those cowpies there?

You may go right ahead attempting to walk through walls. No need to involve me in your little drama of willfully misinterpreting science. Naive realism is a rhetorical device, and not within the methodology of science. I have granted already that the concept of “objective reality” is a starting point, rather than a conclusion. Let’s see where it takes us when we do not, in fact, assume there is nothing knowable outside our own consciousness.

Roland Omnes (a first rate French physicist), Quantum Philosophy.  An excellent book.

Actually, the wave function collapse (or, in more modern terms, decoherence) applies at all scales.  If we accept quantum mechanics as our current best description of reality then there actually is a small probability that cow will jump over the moon. 

Now let’s rephrase the point.  Clearly all that any of us has as immediate experience is something inside our own mind so the solipsistic conclusion can never be refuted.  But it is a dead end so we don’t have to take it seriously.  So I can assume that there is a reality out there, and that you guys are not just figments of my own warped imagination.  But before we can start off with objective reality, let’s decide what we mean by the term “objective.”  What are the conditions and criteria necessary for objectivity?  Most philosophers and others who talk about this seem to take the term only in the sense of intersubjective communication.  It seems to me, however, that there has got to be much more to it than that.  For example, how does my mind work in presenting me with the images of a world that I experience?  How can I make projections of these internal first person experiences to infer something about an external reality?  Since I’ve managed to survive so far, I must be doing something right, but what?

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Posted: 17 February 2007 04:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]  
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[quote author=“burt”]Since I’ve managed to survive so far, I must be doing something right, but what?

What you are doing is “surviving”. A big bank account always helps. For the defense: The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers. :D

“‘Never’ is a long time”, to quote Johnny Cammareri in Shanley’s “Moonstruck”. In a practical sense, it means you and I won’t live long enough to see the cow jump over the moon.

Therefore, we should simply set to, with a will, as they say. Or go on trying, as all good mystics do, to walk through walls. Who knows, one of these days, you might get lucky.

Do you feel lucky? Well, do you, Punk?

[ Edited: 17 February 2007 04:19 AM by ]
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Posted: 17 February 2007 04:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]  
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[quote author=“Salt Creek”][quote author=“burt”]Since I’ve managed to survive so far, I must be doing something right, but what?

A big bank account always helps. For the defense: The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers. :D

“‘Never’ is a long time”, to quote Johnny Cammareri in Shanley’s “Moonstruck”. In a practical sense, it means you and I won’t live long enough to see the cow jump over the moon.

Therefore, we should simply set to, with a will, as they say. Or go on trying, as all good mystics do, to walk through walls. Who knows, one of these days, you might get lucky.

Do you feel lucky? Well, do you, Punk?

Wow!  I didn’t know that there were any of us Freak Brothers fans still around LOL 

Never said I expect to see that cow flying (or pigs for that matter).  One correction though—not all good mystics try to walk through walls, you can tell the ones that do by the bruses on their forheads.

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Posted: 17 February 2007 11:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]  
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[quote author=“Salt Creek”] For the defense: The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers

“Dope will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no dope” —Freewheeling Frank

“‘Never’ is a long time”, to quote Johnny Cammareri in Shanley’s “Moonstruck”.

Rose Castorinii: “Are you drunk?
Loretta Castorini: “No. Are YOU drunk? “
Rose: “No… but I have a hangover. “


The prosecution rests.

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Posted: 17 February 2007 11:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]  
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Salt Creek,

  Once again you respond like (a) “Champion”. For someone who bills himself as a professional scientist or a working physicist or something like that you sure are given to emotional outbursts and fits of irritability, I hope that you are not like this when you’re at the office.


  I am appalled at your lack of understanding of the perceptual process and what it means in terms of human understanding of the world that surrounds us. You probably believe that the computer screen on which you are reading these words is the ‘real’ screen. Sorry, but that’s not the case.

  Light from the screen hits the retina where it is turned into electrical impulses that travel along the optical nerve to the visual cortex. The visual cortex interprets the signals and generates the ‘screen’ that you ‘see’ before you. So the computer screen that you ‘see’ before you is not the actual screen it is a mind-brain construction. The most that you can say about the screen is that you believe that it is an exact replica of what is out ‘there’, the key word here is replica. The brain receives electrical impulses from the senses and uses them to construct the world ‘out there’. Take the case of a color blind man who is looking at a stop sign, he only sees shades of gray. In the ‘real’ world the sign is red, in the world that he ‘sees’ the sign is gray. Now if he could get an eye transplant his world would have red stop signs. But then maybe his color blindness resides in the visual cortex and not the eye. What if the nerve impulses are all shades of gray and it is the visual cortex that supplies the color, kind like what Ted Turner does when he colorizes old black and white movies. Does this mean that he is seeing the ‘real’ world and we are not? This brings up the question of exactly where is the color red located, is it in the stop sign, the eye, or the brain? Is it located in the ‘real’ world out there or in ‘here’ in the brain. All the senses operate the same way and the same questions apply to all of them. The ‘real’ world is mediated by the senses and consciousness, constructed by the brain and projected ‘out there’. It may be a nearly exact copy but it is still a copy and there is no way to tell, beyond a shadow of a doubt, what really lies ‘out there.’

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possiblities, but in the expert’s there are few.” 
Suzuki Roshi.


“The most beautiful and profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the sower of all true science. He (or she) to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead.”
Albert Einstein


  Salt Creek, I have hunch that you know all this and just no longer think about it, maybe you forgot about it or maybe you don’t think that it is significant. In any case I’ll let you in on a little secret, when you listen to a stereo song using headphones, the music isn’t really coming from the middle of your skull.

By the way, I always stop at stop signs whether they are red or gray.

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Posted: 18 February 2007 02:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]  
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[quote author=“JustThis”]I hope that you are not like this when you’re at the office.

I never met anyone like you in any lab I ever worked in. Persons who busy themselves too readily with the details of the “conscious mediation of reality” are seldom capable of being productive enough as scientists or as students to hold down a job in a working engineering laboratory. They tend to slow research progress to such an extent as to defeat the mission of a lab. We sometimes made a few “blonde” jokes about them. Except we used the word “mystic” instead of the word “blonde”.

There is, in fact, no way for a human being usefully to “perceive” the temperature dependence of the “viscosity” of an isobutene polymer blend in the range of 50° to 125° C. You don’t try to stir it around with your finger and describe quantitatively how the viscosity changes. You need to use an instrument that maintains the sample at a uniform (but controllable) temperature and operates under established viscometric principles.

If I had first been required to determine whether that polymer blend was, in some sense, “out there” or not before I did the experiment, my work would quickly have ground to a halt.

The most that you can say about the screen is that you believe that it is an exact replica of what is out ‘there’, the key word here is replica.

If you can present me with any example where this should matter to me in any practical sense, you are invited to do so. Whether or not the devices with which I interact may be simulacra is of little relevance to me otherwise.

[quote author=“JustThis”]I am appalled at your lack of understanding of the perceptual process and what it means in terms of human understanding of the world that surrounds us.

As students of biology like Dawkins point out, perceptual organs and visual processing evolved within a physical environment and those that were less effective at “mediating” that environment tended to be selected out. It is not an encouraging sign that human beings like yourself who appear to take rather lightly physical aspects of nature (except for stop signs and similar objects) are protected by an entire society of other human beings and their supply chains.

You seem to treat “perception” as a touchstone, i.e., fetish, of mystery, but in fact, you do not rely on perception to express your doubts about the basis for asserting an objective reality. You rely on intuition. If you relied on perception, you’d realize that you’re beating your head against a brick wall and wouldn’t deny your perception of its solidity.

This forum is frequented by several people who think there is a “god”. Their “consciousness” often appears so chaotic that their perceptual mediation of “reality” cannot be corroborated intersubjectively. Simply substitute “spiritual” anywhere you have written “perceptual” and you will begin to understand the origins of my attitude toward you. Somewhere in the chain that leads to knowledge you have lodged a non-material entity. I do not make emotional responses to the mysteries of nature. I reserve those for responding to faith heads like you.

Cosmo: It’s a pinkie ring!
Loretta: It’s temporary!
Cosmo: Everything’s temporary!

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Posted: 18 February 2007 05:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]  
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Salt Creek
Doesn’t the previous post demonstrate the problem with the debate. At heart you’re a positivist. You cannot see the practicality of the non scientific. There is no empirical tool for God. God’ viscosity cannot be measured and his temparture cannot be taken therefore he doesn’t exist. It is a limited view which defines the practical as scientific and the scientific as practical. If something seemingly exists outside the practical then it must be reduced to the empirical (consciousness is reduced to biological function) If it cannot be reduced then it is dismissed as non scientific and impractical. As to why only the scientific counts all we have is the positivist’s circular reasoning. It doesn’t even hold up its own principles. There is no scientific reasoning that demonstrates the exclusivity of scientific knowledge.

Like Micky, Mikey, Davey and Pete you saw her face now you’re a believer.

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Posted: 18 February 2007 06:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]  
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[quote author=“frankr”]Like Micky, Mikey, Davey and Pete you saw her face now you’re a believer.

At least I’m not stuck in a permanent ‘Pleasant Valley Sunday’ like you are. I typically have to tell people like you that scientific epistemology is a starting point, not a conclusion. Yep, it could be wrong. So far so good, although it still doesn’t guarantee anyone eternal happiness.

If somebody wants to question whether or not the moon is a rock in order to avoid issues having to do with some hardware left on its surface by space travelers, human-fashioned hardware that will likely outlast the human race by thousands of millennia, that is his prerogative. That hardware is not going to go away when we do, unless ET comes along with a big dump truck and carts it all off to Beta Ophiuchi (which will, by then, go by a completely different name).

I would never suggest that the non-scientific perspective doesn’t “count”. It counts, all right, but only on its fingers and toes. It holds up four fingers and gets a result of two and two-thirds fingers every time for reasons which I have previously outlined for BC. That’s a brand of knowing I have no practical use for. May you use it in good health. Just wash your hands before picking your “knows”.

Nobody wins these internet debates, but since Barnum’s axiom holds true, you are sure to sucker in a few more with this newly blithering brand of nonsense. The Straw Herring™ rides (the waves) again.

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Posted: 18 February 2007 06:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]  
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It seems that you are pulling the old fashioned red herring (copyright expired) I do not doubt the authenticity of scientific experiment as ameans to knowing. I do doubt it as the only source of knowledge. If I were to hold it as the only source of knowledge I hope I would have better scientific reasoning then it works for me. I would hope my world view would hold to the criteria of my um uh world view. Instead you say only empirical evidence is acceptable and when it is pointed out that there is no empirical evidence for your world view you state “I could be wrong blah blah blah space aliens, nose picker, straw herring, etc”

One final note on your radical evolutionary theory. Wouldn’t it make sense that we would eventually evolve to a point where it would benefit our survival to believe something that is not true to be true. It may also benefit the species to believe something that is not true to be true. Now if this is the case is the atheism God debate just an evolutionary struggle for survival or is it (as most of us rightly or wrongly perceive it) a struggle to find and describe truth. If the former then all religious atheist dialogue is just two bucks locking horns for the right to impregnate the local doe. Well I’m not your stepping stone.

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Posted: 18 February 2007 07:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]  
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Not only do the 50000 religions have each to contend one-on-one with science as a “way of knowing”, they have to contend with each other. However, the one thing that religions cannot really do, once they come into existence, is evolve. Sure, a mutation can give it an extra pair of legs, but it usually fits like tits on a boar hog. The filigree on your Catholicism reminds me of the decoration of those late Cretaceous nautiloids, whose like may not ever be seen again. Religions don’t develop more doodads to succeed against science or other religions, however. They tweak and twiddle so much merely to keep their rickety selves from falling apart in a soft breeze.

Not to toss out another Herring™, but Frank, do you have any idea why the Beatles are considered a more important musical influence than the Monkees? This is a completely separate issue, and ultimately has little to do with science.

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measured out in miles
What make you think you’re
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Posted: 18 February 2007 07:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]  
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[quote author=“Salt Creek”]
Not to toss out another Herring™, but Frank, do you have any idea why the Beatles are considered a more important musical influence than the Monkees? This is a completely separate issue, and ultimately has little to do with science.
.

I have no idea but I will guess. I know 67 or so you had he the beatles the monkey and the beach boys all at the top of their popularity. I say the beatles were embraced by the counterculture where the monkeys and the beach boys were not. They never lost their pop appeal. They never got away from the screaming girls. Thats my guess. I still prefer Ray Davies and the Kinks.

Long ago life was clean
Sex was bad and obscene
And the rich were so mean
Stately homes for the Lords
Croquet lawns, village greens
Victoria was my queen

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Posted: 18 February 2007 08:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]  
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[quote author=“frankr”]One final note on your radical evolutionary theory. Wouldn’t it make sense that we would eventually evolve to a point where it would benefit our survival to believe something that is not true to be true. It may also benefit the species to believe something that is not true to be true. Now if this is the case is the atheism God debate just an evolutionary struggle for survival or is it (as most of us rightly or wrongly perceive it) a struggle to find and describe truth.

That is an interesting thought. Since religious belief has persisted for many thousands of years, it must necessarily be adaptive- regardless of whether the belief itself is true. It does seem to serve both the individual and the group. It can bestow a sense of confidence and calm during situations. It can make individuals more decisive when there is no time to think things through. It can also serve as a glue that bonds people into a group or team.

If it were not adaptive, it would not be so widespread. That said, being adaptive simply means that religious belief has helped people survive. The process need not be a pretty one. There is also the issue that what is adaptive for current needs may be destructive in the long term and what is adaptive under past circumstances may become a hinderance when those circumstances change.

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Posted: 18 February 2007 10:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]  
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[quote author=“Salt Creek”]If you can present me with any example where this should matter to me in any practical sense, you are invited to do so. Whether or not the devices with which I interact may be simulacra is of little relevance to me otherwise.

Oh, you want PRACTICAL.

Can’t help you there.

“There is no quantum world. There is only an abstract physical description. It is wrong to think that the task of physics is to find out how nature is. Physics concerns what we can say about nature. ”—Niels Bohr

I endorse this notion, and as a philosopher feel justified in making inquiries which are outside the realm of the purely practical and the purely rational, but nevertheless remain essentially relevant to the human condition.

“...contemporary physicists come in two varieties. Type 1 physicists are bothered by EPR and Bell’s Theorem. Type 2 (the majority) are not, but one has to distinguish two subvarieties. Type 2a physicists explain why they are not bothered. Their explanations tend either to miss the point entirely (like Born’s to Einstein) or to contain physical assertions that can be shown to be false. Type 2b are not bothered and refuse to explain why.” —David Mermin

Methinks you are a classic 2b.

“Shut up and calculate!”—Paul Dirac

Salty’s mantra.

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Posted: 18 February 2007 11:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]  
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1,197 messages on this forum from someone (called Salt Creek) who has no time for philosophy or religion? I wonder how that happened.

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Posted: 18 February 2007 12:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]  
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[quote author=“Salt Creek”]Not only do the 50000 religions have each to contend one-on-one with science as a “way of knowing”, they have to contend with each other. However, the one thing that religions cannot really do, once they come into existence, is evolve. Sure, a mutation can give it an extra pair of legs, but it usually fits like tits on a boar hog. The filigree on your Catholicism reminds me of the decoration of those late Cretaceous nautiloids, whose like may not ever be seen again. Religions don’t develop more doodads to succeed against science or other religions, however. They tweak and twiddle so much merely to keep their rickety selves from falling apart in a soft breeze.

Frank, as you know, the question of objective v. subjective epistemological validity comes up on this forum again and again. As if I hadn’t already weighed in many times, I’ll try once again. SC sums things up in his above post. Current scientific methodologies were concocted to answer questions that have been asked forever and then some.

People naturally seek consensus and repeatability when sorting through various ways of viewing and understanding different aspects of the world, and we always have. That’s the way humans are put together. Each of the thousands of sects of religions, for instance, contains like-minded people to a degree. That is, for one reason or another—for example, due to family upbringing, personality traits, shared experiences, etc.—certain people find themselves in one sect and certain other people in other sects. Consensus and repeatability apply toward providing truth judgment microscopically when considered regarding individual people belonging to their various religious sects.

But since so many religious sects exist in the world, consensus and repeatability are by necessity limited to the microscopic and fail terribly macroscopically. Scientific methodologies, on the other hand, are designed to be universally applicable. Consensus and repeatability are always seen as applying as universally as possible. Scientific method dismisses your feelings of security and profundity when pondering an answer to a problem as dissected by your Church fathers, Frank, because those feelings lack worldwide consensus and repeatability.

Frank, am I being overly obvious here? Can you understand what so many here are trying to tell you? If you want and/or need the religious structure you’ve adopted or been born into, please try to imagine that to others, the realities of your religion have no meaning whatsoever, and never will.

And keep in mind that as “supernature” has come to be described and categorized scientifically, one piece after another of it has been whisked away. Those bits that remain unanswered due to a lack of universal consensus and repeatability are in a sense waiting to be explained at some future point. Science as we know it is extraordinarily young. Much work remains to be done. Supernatural and mystical questions once flourished because they were so numerous. Now there are fewer, and future scientifically oriented work will cause future such questions to evaporate even further. It may be that no universal Theory of Everything will ever come about. We’ll be left with what we have now: answers about how things tend to operate. Truth be damned if there is none, right?

By the way, mahahaha, I love that Bohr quote. Did you get it from Pais? If not, where? (I’d like to read the surrounding material if you got it from somewhere else.)

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