Dragonfly

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  1. No, a miracle would be a phenomenon that is unexpected, that goes against well-founded laws that we've found. That Thorium 230 changes into Radium 226, which in its turn changes into Radon 222, etc. until it has become lead, is not a miracle (even if it might have seemed a miracle in the 19th century, as it violated the then known laws of the Dalton model of atoms), but if iron spontaneously changed into gold, it would be a miracle. So tables turning into chairs which then turn into canaries is not "unexpected" and does not go against well-founded laws? Good grief. Please indicate where I said that. The only thing I said was that the statement "an entity behaves according to its nature" in itself does not preclude that possibility. It is our experience and the physical laws we've derived that show us that such things won't happen (so that if it nevertheless did happen, it would be quite unexpected and would be called a miracle), while they also show that other spontaneous changes (like radioactive decay) do happen. No, because its nature would be to act completely random. You're begging the question: the nature of a thing cannot be random as it then wouldn't be the nature of the thing, therefore a thing cannot behave randomly. There is no contradiction in the notion of something behaving randomly. You assert that a thing must have an "identity" which apparently means that it somehow should "behave well". But you cannot make that assertion a priori, as you cannot assert a priori that the thing must "behave well". "Behaving well" is that what you from experience have observed and not something dictated by some Holy Book with Eternal Truths. Not at all, I never said that logic is a meaningless tautology, only that logic itself doesn't generate any new knowledge about the physical world. Here is your prior statement [Dragonfly, 01 September 2010 - 12:33 PM]: The law of identity is the basis for logic, and you made the comparison to a "meaningless tautology." I can't blame you for wanting to modify it now, but you will need to acknowledge that you are, indeed, modifying your former position. I'm not modifying anything, you should read better: I said that Rand's definition of causality was a meaningless definition, as it was a mere tautology. That would be in contrast to the common definition of causality that is not tautological, but empirical, i.e. something that is not automatically true, but has to be verified experimentally. That is of course quite different from logic itself, that is based on tautologies. I refer only to the law of Identity as Rand calls it a corollary of that law. That is also a good example of a fallacy in Objectivist reasoning: first they introduce a new definition of causality that is contrary to the usual definition, and then they claim that experiments that show that some events are not causal [according to the standard definition] must be contradictory as they cannot be acausal according to their new definition. And that is called logic! I've shown now that there isn't any contradiction in my text. But I'm always willing to elucidate further if it isn't clear yet.
  2. Ill-mannered jerk: You're a phony! You're a fraud! I demand proof from you that you're not a phony! Yeah, sure. Why don't you fuck yourself? Some background for the few remaining civilized people reading this tread: On this forum I have myself never brought up the fact that I'm a physicist. At most I'll have confirmed it when asked about. A little detail that can easily be checked. But of course such stupid liars like GHS or Keer won't do that when they play their little power games. It has been mentioned by other people, like Ellen, who know me from longer ago, when I still posted in my own name on other forums. At the time I was still rather naive about giving personal information on the Internet. In the meantime I've learned my lesson (thanks to Objectihooligans among other ones), so I now keep the personal information to a minimum on public forums. I'm only interested in arguments, not in playing the authority, which can be checked by any honest person who has the ability to read my posts.
  3. Well, I've had enough of GHS's continuous insults and smears, so he may have the last word. A rational and polite discussion is not possible with him. Apparently he can only resort to personal attacks, calling names, bullying, bragging about his own achievements, using the argument from intimidation, sarcastic misinterpretations of your arguments while he himself only presents arbitrary assertions without any proof. The following description by Rand fits him to a tee: Not surprisingly he has also a claque that admires this kind of "arguing", but I prefer a different style and a minimum of politeness, without name calling. Even with someone like James Valliant (not exactly my friend) I've had a polite and constructive discussion on the Dawkins list, although we, not surprisingly, disagreed strongly.
  4. You don't have to take my word for it, as I'm just a "phony physicist". I've already given a good reference for you, namely the book by d'Espagnat, a renowned physicist and philosopher. Another famous physicist, Roland Omnès, wrote: "This book is a monument to d'Espagnat's excellent work and style: it is surely the most complete book to have been written on the subject and one likely to last a long time, at least until we come to fully understand the remaining mysteries in the field".
  5. Exactly my point. That's why the book is irrelevant for understanding those later developments. Because Frank could not have known those later developments, that for example definitely proved Einstein wrong in his assumption of local hidden variables.
  6. My, what a shocking revelation... I never claimed that I'd read those books, did I? Indeed I just googled them as you'd mentioned them to get a bit more information and that's how I got the dates. Irrelevant, as I was discussing the philosophical impact of discoveries made after that time, like for example the Aspect experiments. No matter how excellent those books might be, they could never have discussed those new findings, and were therefore not relevant in that regard. Is it really so unclear what I'm writing?
  7. Yes, Ellen knows who I am and knows my email address. So do Jonathan, Daniel, Barbara and MSK. After having had some bad experiences, I do prefer to maintain some anonymity on the Web, however. I can understand that, as I'd accidentally omitted the word "not" from the sentence, so it should read "..are not engaged in fundamental research.."
  8. What does it matter? Would my argument be less valid when I just turned out to be a truck driver? My arguments stand on their own, I never used the argument that I am an authority in the field, in contrast to some other people on this list.
  9. No, that is not the same, although I think the formulation "existence exists" is confusing to say the least. I suppose the supposed meaning is "there exists a real world, independent of our consciousness" Not at all. That it is a tautology doesn't make it untrue. It is at the basis of logic, but in itself it doesn't prove anything. That's not a good definition. See for example Bob's post: No, a miracle would be a phenomenon that is unexpected, that goes against well-founded laws that we've found. That Thorium 230 changes into Radium 226, which in its turn changes into Radon 222, etc. until it has become lead, is not a miracle (even if it might have seemed a miracle in the 19th century, as it violated the then known laws of the Dalton model of atoms), but if iron spontaneously changed into gold, it would be a miracle. No, because its nature would be to act completely random. What would be the contradiction? There are only contradictions between theories, which means that at least one of those theories must be wrong. Experience shows that tables don't turn spontaneously into chairs, but also that thorium or uranium do turn (ultimately) spontaneously into lead. It is empirical observation that is decisive. With the large body of knowledge that has been formed by mankind, we can make predictions which phenomena we can expect and which phenomena not, which doesn't mean that there can't be surprises (like the discovery of radioactivity). Not at all, I never said that logic is a meaningless tautology, only that logic itself doesn't generate any new knowledge about the physical world. Hm, about the use of logic... As I've shown, there are no contradictions, and the fact that some events may be acausal doesn't mean that everything is random. That's what is called a false dichotomy. Would you only like to preach to the choir? Further, your conclusions about what I've said are incorrect, so perhaps it isn't so strange after all.
  10. That is the GHS method. Putting words into your mouth that you've never said, making some sarcastic caricature of you that hasn't any basis in reality. He's constantly suggesting that I claim that physicists are infallible authorities, while the only thing I've repeatedly said is that if you want to criticize the conclusions made by physicists in their field, you should study that field first. A general knowledge of philosophy alone is not sufficient. Further, if I criticize philosophers for their pretensions in that regard, it is understood (as I also have said explicitly, but don't repeat in every post) that I don't mean all philosophers, but the rather pompous kind you find especially in Objectivist circles. That I for example admire the philosopher Daniel Dennett is a matter of record, so there is nowhere a question of "retreat" as has been suggested.
  11. Chasing a spider is not without risks, as you can read here.
  12. Why should such a ratio exist? If the universe would be finite, there would be a number M for which the distance between any two objects in the universe is always < M. But there is no a priori reason that there couldn't be an object with a distance to a given object that is > M and that argument can be repeated ad infinitum, meaning that there doesn't have to be a natural number M with that property. In such a universe there would be a bijection between the number of objects in the universe and the natural numbers. It may be a frustrating idea that you'll never finish counting them, but it is not contradictory.
  13. .There is nothing a priori incoherent in the notion of an infinitely big universe (or "omniplex" if you like), only in the way you express it: would you say that however big the set of natural numbers is, it is even bigger than that?
  14. And that is exactly what happens in some cases. I can't remember that anyone claimed that events are never caused, I must have missed that. Moreover, the fact that for example the event of the decay of a radioactive atom is acausal (it may decay the next second or in a billion years, there is no cause that makes it happen at a particular moment), does not mean that the behavior of an ensemble of such atoms cannot be predicted, as there is a definite probability that such an atom will decay, resulting in the well-known exponential decay laws with their half-life values.
  15. That is a weird and meaningless definition (see for the common definition for example the wikipedia article on causality), as it is as tautological as the law of identity. Because how do we know what the "nature" is of the entities that act? The only way is to observe how those entities act and that is what we call its "nature". So the event consists of the acting of the entities that act as they are observed to act. Well, duh. This doesn't preclude the possibility that such entities will act completely random, that for example that a table will the next moment become a chair and then a canary. In general we don't see such things happen, but that is an empirical fact, not something that can be derived a priori from the law of identity. Again: what is a specific identity? Unless you can rely on divine revelation you can only empirically determine what that identity is, by observing the behavior of that entity. Saying then that its behavior is determined by its identity is merely repeating a tautology. Now it may be true that it would be hard to live in a world were all entities would behave in a random way (that is a kind of anthropic principle), but that doesn't imply that no entity could behave in a random way.