john42t

Scientific Certainty?

Recommended Posts

> For the Greek, I recommend the Loeb Classic Library Physics ...Volume I...Volume II

Michael, have you read these? Can you compare different versions? If so, you are -considerably- more knowledgeable or better read on that than I am.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

> The crime was..heresy. I do note that it was a time of religious wars. As I said the Reformation was 100 years running at this point and in fact, by this time 1633, all of Europe was at war over religion. Wrong as the Church was, the error was political, just as when Woodrow Wilson ordered all radio receivers to be seized. There was a war on. It does not mean that the Presidency or the Democratic Party is in favor of seizing radios as a matter of policy. [Michael M]

That's a good historical point, although burning people at the stake, massacres, etc. is a bit more strict than radio restrictions. As you say, the Counter-Reformation, the Inquisition, etc. occurred when Catholicism felt under seige and 'at war'. (Of course, on the other hand, it took a very long time for them to 'loosen' up in appreciable degree. And even today...)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

> For the Greek, I recommend the Loeb Classic Library Physics ...Volume I...Volume II

Michael, have you read these? Can you compare different versions? If so, you are -considerably- more knowledgeable or better read on that than I am.

I have not. I only point to Alaska. You guys have a meta-argument going that is easy to resolve. I have relied on other LCL books and I own several. New for $24 now, you can can find them used for $10 or less if you haunt second-hand bookstores.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

<...>

By the way, here is a "dirty little secret". Mathematicians are closet Platonists. No mathematician would devote ten years of his life to something that he did not consider real. No matter what a serious mathematician says, he does not consider the exercise of his craft merely formalized play with symbols. There is something more substantial there. If you accuse a mathematician of being a Platonist, unless he is Kurt Goedel, he will deny it but he really is a Platonist of some sort.

So you (a mathematician) are also a Platonist of some sort?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

<...>

By the way, here is a "dirty little secret". Mathematicians are closet Platonists. No mathematician would devote ten years of his life to something that he did not consider real. No matter what a serious mathematician says, he does not consider the exercise of his craft merely formalized play with symbols. There is something more substantial there. If you accuse a mathematician of being a Platonist, unless he is Kurt Goedel, he will deny it but he really is a Platonist of some sort.

So you (a mathematician) are also a Platonist of some sort?

When I am doing mathematics. I act and think as though the abstract mathematical objects really exist in the world.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bob,

Here;s the good news.

They do exist in the world. Your brain exists in the world, so everything in it is obviously in the world.

Michael

Yes. A figment of my imagination. But when I am doing the math these figments seem quite real and substantial.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bob,

Here;s the good news.

They do exist in the world. Your brain exists in the world, so everything in it is obviously in the world.

Michael

Yes. A figment of my imagination. But when I am doing the math these figments seem quite real and substantial.

Ba'al Chatzaf

From an article by David F. Peat (Mathematics and the Language of Nature):

http://www.fdavidpea...ssays/maths.htm

Galileo had written, "Nature's great book is written in mathematical language" an opinion that has wholeheartedly been endorsed by physicists of our own time.

So they aren't really "figments of the imagination", are they, given that nature itself offers ample study of mathematical principles at work.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Truth is the only safe ground to stand on. - Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Thanks for the link Xray. You wrote:

So they aren't really "figments of the imagination", are they, given that nature itself offers ample study of mathematical principles at work.

From your link

The English mathematician G. Hardy refused to justify mathematics in terms of its utility and pursued it as an art for its own sake. He seemed to rejoice in the very abstraction of his own research and in its remoteness from practical applications. Indeed, Hardy once spoke of a monument so high that no one would ever be able to see the statue that was placed at its pinnacle - a fitting metaphor for his own, somewhat extreme, view of the role of mathematics.

AND

All men are mortal.

Socrates is a man.

Therefore: Socrates is mortal.

Or, to take another pattern,

Some mathematicians are clever.

All mathematicians are animals.

Therefore: Some animals are clever.

What is striking about these patterns is that the truth of the conclusion does not depend on the content of the sentences but on their form. In other words, substitutions do not affect the validity of the proof:

All [cats] are [wanderers].

[Minou] is a [cat].

Therefore: [Minou] is a [wanderer].

Clearly these patterns and substitutions have something in common with algebra. Other transformations are also possible within language.

From:

John shut the door.

We get:

The door was shut by John.

These are only a few of the great range of abstract operations possible within language.

end quote

My Dad taught Navigation at Penn State and I was born in their hospital, so math was hiding somewhere in my genes.

Excellent site Xray. Even for someone like me who never got past Algebra II, and Trig., in High School and College, though I did later take difficult “tech” math in my first year of electrical engineering which was also my last year of EE. Yet I loved the two semesters of college math. I was around 45 and my company closed our plant and opened one in Mexico so I got free a “living” and a free educational upgrade for a year. Thank you Bill Clinton. I just could not pass up the opportunity for the technical training though it did not lead to much.

Semper cogitans fidele,

Peter Taylor

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So they aren't really "figments of the imagination", are they, given that nature itself offers ample study of mathematical principles at work.

Hint: Nature makes the dots. Humans connect them. Are the connecting lines "real" or did we just make them up?

Ba'al Chatzaf

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I see those scientist at Hogwarts (or was that The Dharma Initiative) have been busy. Peter

Pentagon-supported physicists on Wednesday said they had devised a "time cloak" that briefly makes an event undetectable. The laboratory device manipulates the flow of light in such a way that for the merest fraction of a second an event cannot be seen, according to a paper published in the science journal Nature. It adds to experimental work in creating next-generation camouflage -- a so-called invisibility cloak in which specific colours cannot be perceived by the human eye. "Our results represent a significant step towards obtaining a complete spatio-temporal cloaking device," says the study, headed by Moti Fridman of Cornell University in New York.

The breakthrough exploits the fact that frequencies of light move at fractionally different speeds. The so-called temporal cloak starts with a beam of green light that is passed down a fibre-optic cable. The beam goes through a two-way lens that splits it into two frequencies -- blueish light which travels relatively fast, and reddish light, which is slower. The tiny difference in speed is then accentuated by placing a transparent obstacle in front of the two beams. Eventually a time gap opens up between the red and blue beams as they travel through the optical fibre. The gap is tiny -- just 50 picoseconds, or 50 millionths of a millionth of a second. But it is just long enough to squeeze in a pulse of laser at a different frequency from the light passing through the system.

The red and blue light are then given the reverse treatment. They go through another obstacle, which this time speeds up the red and slows down the blue, and come to a reverse lens that reconstitutes them as a single green light. But the 40-picosecond burst of laser is not part of the flow of photons, and thus cannot be detected.

In a commentary, optical engineers Robert Boyd and Zhimin Shi of New York's University of Rochester, likened the experiment to a level crossing on a busy road. When a train comes, the cars are stopped, and this causes a gap in the traffic. When the train has passed, the stopped cars speed up until they catch up with the traffic in front of them. To the observer, the flow seems quite normal, and there is no evidence that a train has crossed the intersection.

After proving that the "cloak" is possible, the next step for the researchers is to expand the time gap by orders of magnitude, firstly to microseconds and then to milliseconds, said Boyd and Shi. The time cloak has a potential use in boosting security in fibre-optic communications because it breaks up optical signals, lets them travel at different speeds and then reassembles them, which makes data hard to intercept. Last year, scientists reported a step forward in so-called metamaterials which act as a cloaking of space, as opposed to time. Metamaterials are novel compounds whose surface that interacts with light at specific frequencies thanks to a tiny, nano-level structure. As a result, light flows around the object -- rather like water that bends around a rock in a stream -- as opposed to being absorbed by it.

Fridman's work was part-supported by the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, or DARPA, a Pentagon unit which develops futuristic technology that can have a military use. Its achievements include DARPANet, a predecessor of the Internet.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So they aren't really "figments of the imagination", are they, given that nature itself offers ample study of mathematical principles at work.

Hint: Nature makes the dots. Humans connect them. Are the connecting lines "real" or did we just make them up?

Ba'al Chatzaf

If nature makes the dots, the connecting lines are linked to something real. Would you agree?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If nature makes the dots, the connecting lines are linked to something real. Would you agree?

The connection is in our brains or a function of what our brains are doing. Since the brain is a physical entity (mass and energy) the connection is physical (sort of). If we give up on free will then this connection is not problematic.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If nature makes the dots, the connecting lines are linked to something real. Would you agree?

The connection is in our brains or a function of what our brains are doing. Since the brain is a physical entity (mass and energy) the connection is physical (sort of). If we give up on free will then this connection is not problematic.

Ba'al Chatzaf

But you're on record as saying you believe in free will. Correct?

(I could hunt down your previous post if you don't remember.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But you're on record as saying you believe in free will. Correct?

(I could hunt down your previous post if you don't remember.)

I -believe- I have freedom to chose between certain acts. It is a belief. I know of no solid drop dead proof of free will derived from the physical nature of the world. Call it an act of faith. There are several things that I believe which I cannot absolutely prove. Such is life.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If nature makes the dots, the connecting lines are linked to something real. Would you agree?

The connection is in our brains or a function of what our brains are doing. Since the brain is a physical entity (mass and energy) the connection is physical (sort of). If we give up on free will then this connection is not problematic.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Why is it necessary to give up on free will if one acknowledges that the brain is a physical entity? While this physical entity certainly does provide the basis for any thought to occur, we stiil do have choices, don't we?

For example, I just chose by my own free will to reply to your above post. From the fact that our brain provides the physical basis for every choice we make, imo it is a non-sequitur to conclude that we cannot consciously choose between alternatives because the physical lentity 'brain' will steer us in one specific direction only.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Why is it necessary to give up on free will if one acknowledges that the brain is a physical entity?

Physical entities do not have will. They just operate according to their physical nature. Our brains are no exception. The belief that ourselves and our minds are something other than physical is a fancy. We are meat machines.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Why is it necessary to give up on free will if one acknowledges that the brain is a physical entity?

Physical entities do not have will. They just operate according to their physical nature. Our brains are no exception. The belief that ourselves and our minds are something other than physical is a fancy. We are meat machines.

Ba'al Chatzaf

The physical entities we call humans obviously do have will. Do you think that - just one example out of many - contraceptives would ever have been invented if the will to avoid unwanted offspring hadn't existed? :smile:

The same goes for countless other human inventions.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Why is it necessary to give up on free will if one acknowledges that the brain is a physical entity?

Physical entities do not have will. They just operate according to their physical nature. Our brains are no exception. The belief that ourselves and our minds are something other than physical is a fancy. We are meat machines.

Ba'al Chatzaf

A meat machine is one of several devices a butcher uses to render meat. There are other machines for other types of users--stuffing sausage in a factory, for instance. If we have to do it your way let's be more accurate. We are also water and bone machines. We are thinking machines. We are electrical machines. We are bi-pedal machines. We are animal machines as opposed to plant and metal.

The real problem with your label, of course, is lack of enough differentia and a proper genus. "Rational animal" is something we can work with even if we take exception to. We can use a "meat machine" to grind hamburger, fer Cris' sakes.

--Brant

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Why is it necessary to give up on free will if one acknowledges that the brain is a physical entity?

Physical entities do not have will. They just operate according to their physical nature. Our brains are no exception. The belief that ourselves and our minds are something other than physical is a fancy. We are meat machines.

Ba'al Chatzaf

A meat machine is one of several devices a butcher uses to render meat. There are other machines for other types of users--stuffing sausage in a factory, for instance. If we have to do it your way let's be more accurate. We are also water and bone machines. We are thinking machines. We are electrical machines. We are bi-pedal machines. We are animal machines as opposed to plant and metal.

The real problem with your label, of course, is lack of enough differentia and a proper genus. "Rational animal" is something we can work with even if we take exception to. We can use a "meat machine" to grind hamburger, fer Cris' sakes.

--Brant

Meat machine = macines made of meat (i.e. living biological tissue). We are physical from the ground up and the top down. All the way down to the molecular level. There is nothing in us but matter and energy. There is no spirit (in the literal sense), no soul and no ghost in the machine. We are meat that thinks.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ba'al Chatzaf wrote:

We are meat that thinks.

end quote

Stop beating up on yourself. You are an intelligent, heroic being. No delusion is required to accept the ‘you’ that wakes up in the morning, then despairs throughout the day. That is not the machinations of meat. End the dispair and go back to your mood when you first woke up.

Semper cogitans fidele,

Peter Taylor

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Meat machine = macines made of meat (i.e. living biological tissue). We are physical from the ground up and the top down. All the way down to the molecular level. There is nothing in us but matter and energy. There is no spirit (in the literal sense), no soul and no ghost in the machine. We are meat that thinks.

Ba'al Chatzaf

The "thinks" gives us something to hang our hat on. You have conceded that those 'meaty entities' called humans can think. They can think on a fairly elaborate level, surely you will agree. They are valuing, goal-seeking entitiies possessing, in many areas of life, the ability to choose and make decisions. Any objections so far?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Why is it necessary to give up on free will if one acknowledges that the brain is a physical entity?

Physical entities do not have will. They just operate according to their physical nature. Our brains are no exception. The belief that ourselves and our minds are something other than physical is a fancy. We are meat machines.

Ba'al Chatzaf

A meat machine is one of several devices a butcher uses to render meat. There are other machines for other types of users--stuffing sausage in a factory, for instance. If we have to do it your way let's be more accurate. We are also water and bone machines. We are thinking machines. We are electrical machines. We are bi-pedal machines. We are animal machines as opposed to plant and metal.

The real problem with your label, of course, is lack of enough differentia and a proper genus. "Rational animal" is something we can work with even if we take exception to. We can use a "meat machine" to grind hamburger, fer Cris' sakes.

--Brant

Meat machine = macines made of meat (i.e. living biological tissue). We are physical from the ground up and the top down. All the way down to the molecular level. There is nothing in us but matter and energy. There is no spirit (in the literal sense), no soul and no ghost in the machine. We are meat that thinks.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Why did you quote me if you didn't intend to answer me? You are aware that you are merely repeating yourself?

--Brant

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Why did you quote me if you didn't intend to answer me? You are aware that you are merely repeating yourself?

--Brant

You used the phrase "meat machine" in a different way than I did.

I don't understand your point.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Excerpted from the article below: Even if everyone had an IQ of 200, you'd have exactly the same range of personalities as you have now.

End quote

I don’t think that is true. What do you think?

Peter Taylor

What If Humans Were Twice as Intelligent?

You might someday be much, much smarter than you are now. That's the hope of neuroscientists focused on understanding the basis of intelligence. They have discovered that the brains of people with high IQs tend to be highly integrated, with neural paths connecting distant brain regions, while less intelligent people's brains build simpler, shorter routes. But no one knows why some brains construct much longer-range connections than others.

"When the brain mechanisms that underlie intelligence are understood, it is theoretically possible that those mechanisms can be tweaked to increase IQ," said Richard Haier, a neuroscientist and professor emeritus at the University of California, Irvine, who studies intelligence. For the first time in human history, he said, "the concept that intelligence can be increased is reasonable."

It's a titillating thought but, considering the aphorism "ignorance is bliss," one might wonder: Would it really be better to be brainier? What would life and society be like if we all suddenly became, say, twice as intelligent?

For simplicity, imagine that instead of our current mean IQ score of 100, humans had an average score of 200. (Experts say this isn't a true "doubling" of intelligence because the IQ scale doesn't start at zero and, furthermore, the test isn't actually designed to yield a score as high as 200 — but we will set aside these qualifications for the purpose of argument.) According to Earl Hunt, professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Washington and president of the International Society for Intelligence Research, approximately one person in 10 billion would have an IQ of 200. With a current world population of 7 billion, there may or may not be one such person alive today and, in any case, his or her identity is unknown. However, the 17th-century genius Isaac Newton, discoverer of gravity, calculus and more, is sometimes estimated to have had an IQ of 200 (though he never took an IQ test). So, using him as an archetype, what if we were all a bunch of Newtons? Would the world be much more advanced than it is today?

Self-actualization

Haier believes greater intelligence, which he defines as the ability to learn faster and remember more, would be highly advantageous on an individual scale. "Experiencing the world with a higher IQ might be more interesting for most people. They might enjoy reading more, might have a greater depth of appreciation for certain things and more insight into life," he told Life's Little Mysteries.

Furthermore, IQs of 200 would allow us to pursue activities and careers that most interest us, not just those we're mentally capable of, Haier said. We could master new languages in a few weeks, for example, or become brain surgeons.

Smarter humans would also be healthier and longer-living, the scientists said, because they'd have a better grasp of what behavior leads to these attributes. "Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and even more, managing a chronic illness such as diabetes, can be quite cognitively challenging. That's the sort of challenge intelligent people can meet… by definition," Hunt wrote in an email.

Social skills

Society would not benefit quite as much as individuals from a mass intelligence boost. Although people like to blame social problems on human ignorance and stupidity the scientists say removing these factors would not lead to the emergence of a harmonious Utopia. Greater intelligence does not come hand-in-hand with a greater ability to cooperate.

"Intelligence is independent of personality and emotion, so you can have very intelligent people who are also just kind of crazy people," Haier said. "Even if everyone had an IQ of 200, you'd have exactly the same range of personalities as you have now, and because that's a determining factor in how good your society is, you won't necessarily have a better society." Again, consider Isaac Newton: along with his off-the-charts smarts, he was also a notorious misanthrope.

While petty crime rates would fall in a society of Newtons, Hunt speculated that white-collar crimes, such as banking scams and cover-ups by pharmaceutical companies, might increase and even grow more sophisticated. On the other hand, so would crime-fighting. "The evil corporate villains would be smarter than ever, but so would the government officials who were writing and enforcing the safety regulations! Who would win? Who knows?" he wrote.

Despite these issues, there's a very good chance that higher-functioning brains would help us invent technologies to fix some of our bigger problems. Haier explained that just as a team of 100 engineers is more likely to come up with a remarkable innovation than a team of 10 engineers (because there's more total brainpower working on the job), having 7 billion "geniuses" on Earth would likely lead to solutions to some currently intractable issues. We might figure out a hyper-efficient way to desalinate saltwater, for example, or tap into a limitless alternative-energy source.

Because both those advances would produce a greater abundance of resources, they would likely minimize societal conflict — despite some humans being just as nasty as ever.

Loss of faith

According to Hunt, there's evidence to suggest that many humans, if significantly smarter, would lose their belief in God. "There is a small tendency for people with high scores to be more liberal in their social attitudes and less likely to accept strong religious beliefs. This makes sense; we can know things by reasoning or we can accept something on faith. If we all became very good reasoners, there would probably be a small shift to preferring reasoned over faith-based explanations of the phenomenon of life," he wrote.

Some people would undoubtedly continue to accept faith-based cosmologies, however, as there have been many examples in history of highly intelligent and religious people, Hunt noted.

Looking smart

Confounding the stereotype of the nerdy brainiac with suspenders and thick glasses, Hunt mentioned one other change that would be expected to occur if we all became smarter. "People would be better looking!" he wrote. A study from Harvard University found a significant correlation between peoples' test scores and how physically attractive other people rate them to be, he explained, and extrapolating the finding up to people with IQs of 200 implies that, in our world of super geniuses, an "average-looking person" would move up to the top 15th percentile on our current scale of looks.

Even if the extrapolation isn't quite accurate — if the correlation between intelligence and attractiveness breaks down past a certain range —humanity might at least be better at things like exercising and grooming. "I think what would happen is that there would be fewer homely-looking people; especially people who are unattractive because they are slovenly," he explained. "Intelligent people are aware that looking badly is a handicap in getting jobs, being invited to parties, etc."

One final thought: Even when scientists finally do discover the mechanism for ramping up intelligence, it is highly improbable that everyone would be given an immediate IQ boost. The "haves" would surely benefit from the neuroscience research more than the "have-nots," and this invites a further line of inquiry. As Hunt put it, "Suppose that in some future society, part of the population, say 10 percent, became hugely intelligent, while the rest stayed where we are now or even dropped behind a bit. What would that do to society?"

This story was provided by Life's Little Mysteries, a sister site to LiveScience. Follow Natalie Wolchover on Twitter @nattyover. Follow Life's Little Mysteries on Twitter @llmysteries, then join us on Facebook.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...