Robert Campbell

The Logical Leap: Induction in Physics

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You say that the only way to know the nature of a specific entity is “to observe how those entities act and that is what we call its nature.” That much is true. But then you go on to say: “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 other words, as George suggested in his follow-up post, all the events in your universe could just as well be inexplicable miracles.

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.

Look at it this way: If DF can turn himself into a physicist, anything is possible! (Sorry, I couldn't resist. I know I've pounded this subject into the ground, so I will try to restrain myself.)

There is a very amusing aspect to DF's table-to-chair-to-canary scenario. Examples like this are almost always used as the terminus of a reductio ad absurdum argument, e.g., "If you deny causation, then you must believe it is possible for mice to become automobiles, for worms to become physicists, etc."

I used examples like this ATCAG, and they are supposed to illustrate the absurdity involved in denying the identity approach to causation, i.e., that what a thing is determines what it can do. But when someone enthusiastically embraces the absurd end of a reductio, there isn't a hell of a lot you can do, except come up with some sarcastic witticisms.

I recall two examples from my college years, both of which involved the chestnut "How do I know that I exist?" When this question was asked in an Intro class, the professor replied, "Who wants to know?" When it was asked during the first day of a class on linguistic philosophy, the professor asked, "Do you really have doubts about whether or not you exist?" When the student replied "Yes," he quipped, "Then perhaps this class will prove therapeutic for you."

My favorite retort to an absurd position was that given by Bertrand Russell about solipsism. In a passage I quoted in ATCAG, Russell said:

I once received a letter from an eminent logician, Mrs. Christine Ladd Franklin, saying that she was a solipsist, and was surprised that there were no others. Coming from a logician, this surprise surprised me.

:rolleyes:

Ghs

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Here is an excerpt of the "polite" post of this chronic liar:

Here's the post I was replying to, my first post was the model of politeness, since then I've matched your tone:

http://www.objectivistliving.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=9092&view=findpost&p=105977

I don't understand why you're posting here when SLOP is quite simply made for you.

http://www.solopassion.com/tracker

Do you folks treat your families and pets this way?

My family and friends aren't hopelessly irrational/stupid/dishonest.

You’ve been posting very actively for 2-3 weeks. Why not go back to whatever it was you were doing with your time before then? I can’t imagine that you’re having a good time here with all us lumpen.

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If you don't so much as know what the data is -- what was being tested, how it was being tested, why the tests are tests, what the results were -- how are you qualified to judge an interpretation?

Are you serious? Do you know all the details of every experiment that has been used as the basis for conclusions in physics? Of course not. Then how can you assess the conclusions? Do you accept them on faith?

I take physicists at their word about their experimental results. But an unjustified philosophical inference from that data is an unjustified philosophical inference; it doesn't matter what the data is. If a doctor tells me that I have a broken thumb so both of my legs will need to be amputated, I may agree with his factual diagnosis but not with his inference. Use some common sense, for crying out loud.

Ghs: Tell me, Ellen -- how, in principle, could a physicist ever prove metaphysical indeterminism, when every aspect of his profession would be impossible without presupposing causation? And don't give me any more BS about "non-local hidden variables." Give me a sensible explanation.

Give me a sensible question, one moreover which looks as if you've actually read the content of Dragonfly's posts.

My question has nothing to do with DF's posts. I asked you a simple question. If you don't care to answer it, fine, but then don't presume to lecture me about what you think physicists have proved. If you don't even have an inkling of what it is possible, in principle, to prove, then you are nothing more than a credulous dupe waiting for the next charlatan to believe in.

Moreover, on at least two occasions Ellen Stuttle stated that she believed you are a physicist [...].

My statement wasn't in "I believe that..." form. I don't know if he makes his living as a physicist. What I know is that he is extremely well-versed in the field, with the kind of well-versedness which only comes from active engagement with the problems of a field.

You specifically asked me if I knew that DF is a physicist. I replied, yes, I know he is a physicist. I said this because of something you said earlier. You didn't just say that he is well-informed. I don't want to run through a pile of posts to find where you said this, but if you wish to press the issue, I will. You are wrong. You either deceived me, or you were deceived by DF. Which is it?

Are you a philosopher? What are your credentials? Does someone need to know your credentials to judge if the description "philosopher" is accurate?

I have no credentials whatsoever, and whenever the subject has come up, I have always gone out of my way to make this clear. I don't have so much as a high-school diploma, and though I attended college for 3 1/2 years, I never finished a degree, not even a B.A. Nevertheless, I have managed to do reasonably well for 40 years in this field without ever holding a "real job."

This is one reason why I am so hostile to frauds like D.F. I would have had no serious problem with him if he had mentioned his lack of credentials up front, i.e., if he had corrected the erroneous statement you made about him, even though I would have taken him less seriously on some technical points and probably not have wasted as much time as I did.

[Later edit: Btw, if this is no big deal, then why, after I raised the issue of credentials, didn't DF just come out and admit that he lacks credentials? Why all the beating around the bush? And why didn't he apologize for any misleading impression he may have contributed to? Can you spell T-R-O-L-L?]

Ghs

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Here is an excerpt of the "polite" post of this chronic liar:

Here's the post I was replying to, my first post was the model of politeness, since then I've matched your tone:

http://www.objectivistliving.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=9092&view=findpost&p=105977

I'm glad you posted that. Your hypocrisy speaks for itself. But leaving aside your hypocrisy elsewhere, in *this* thread your escalation of hostility was quite obviously unwarranted. Yeah, I made a minor little jab, and then you brought out the assault rifle and flame thrower. Quite irrational.

You’ve been posting very actively for 2-3 weeks. Why not go back to whatever it was you were doing with your time before then? I can’t imagine that you’re having a good time here with all us lumpen.

If I thought everyone here was in your category you wouldn't have to whine, I'd already be gone. But there's an easy out for you: you can stop posting your irrational drivel at me and ignore my posts. You're not capable of getting any value from my posts, and I don't really recall you saying anything of interest to me except for your inane responses to my posts.

Shayne

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You should at least apologize to Ellen for allowing her to twist in the wind after she came to your defense by claiming that you are a physicist.

I think the person who owes an apology is you to Dragonfly, George.

Ellen

I don't apologize to frauds. I wasted a lot of time with DF on the assumption that he was qualified to speak with some authority on the subject of physics. And he knew that I was working from this erroneous assumption. Can I get all that wasted time back?

Your keen sense of judgment in matters of physics didn't prevent you from being wrong about DF, now did it? But my suspicions about DF, based on his bone-headed statements, turned out to be correct. So who is the better judge of such matters? And I'm an uncredentialed philosopher who supposedly doesn't know zilch about physics. Even worse, I'm not even married to a physicist.

Ghs

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You should at least apologize to Ellen for allowing her to twist in the wind after she came to your defense by claiming that you are a physicist.

I think the person who owes an apology is you to Dragonfly, George.

Ellen

I don't apologize to frauds. I wasted a lot of time with DF on the assumption that he was qualified to speak with some authority on the subject of physics. And he knew that I was working from this erroneous assumption. Can I get all that wasted time back?

Your keen sense of judgment in matters of physics didn't prevent you from being wrong about DF, now did it? But my suspicions about DF, based on his bone-headed statements, turned out to be correct. So who is the better judge of such matters? And I'm an uncredentialed philosopher who supposedly doesn't know zilch about physics. Even worse, I'm not even married to a physicist.

Ghs

Ellen's opinion of DF is hers, and not worth arguing, George.

She is not privy to information you don't have, is she?

You say you have already wasted enough time on him.

I think the fact that Dragonfly has announced his departure from this long fractious thread only after he was challenged to provide his credentials speaks volumes for his good faith or lack thereof.

I am still waiting for DF to give a coherent explanation of what he means by an infinite universe in concrete terms.

From what I have seen, I don't think there's any there there.

Edited by Ted Keer

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Ellen's opinion of DF is hers, and not worth arguing, George.

She is not privy to information you don't have, is she?

You say you have already wasted enough time on him.

I think the fact that Dragonfly has announced his departure from this long fractious thread only after he was challenged to provide his credentials speaks volumes for his good faith or lack thereof.

Your point is well taken, and I know I'm overdoing this. But my frustration is with Ellen, not DF. His type is unfortunately common on weblists, and they are barely worth the time it takes to expose them.

I have known Ellen for around a decade; we used to have a lot of exchanges on Atlantis and Atlantis II. I have always respected her judgment, but her rants on this issue astonish me. (Yes, I know I have been ranting too.) She should be pissed at DF, not at me. He is the one who -- indirectly, at least, by not correcting her erroneous statement -- deceived her. All I did was to believe Ellen, even though this resulted into my being suckered into taking DF more seriously than I should have.

If I came to someone's defense by attributing to him impressive credentials that he didn't possess, and if he made no effort to correct my statement, I would be really, really pissed at him. I certainly wouldn't be pissed at the people who took me at my word.

I'm tired, having wasted the better part of a day on this nonsense, but the effects of the one-two sucker punch -- the first by DF, the second by Ellen -- should have worn off by tomorrow.

There is a lesson here: Always be suspicious of someone who wades into a technical discussion with an air of authority but who won't even give his name.

Ghs

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Use some common sense, for crying out loud.

Maybe you'd be wise to start doing that.

I asked you a simple question.

No, you didn't. Nor did you even pay attention to my own earlier post on the subject. (Maybe you missed it.)

Moreover, on at least two occasions Ellen Stuttle stated that she believed you are a physicist [...].

My statement wasn't in "I believe that..." form. I don't know if he makes his living as a physicist. What I know is that he is extremely well-versed in the field, with the kind of well-versedness which only comes from active engagement with the problems of a field.

You specifically asked me if I knew that DF is a physicist.

My point is, I didn't say, "I believe that..." I have no doubt whatsoever that he indeed is a physicist. I know a great many physicists. I know who does and who doesn't know the subject. I know who is and who isn't a fraud. I have known DF for 6 years, corresponded with him, read his posts. I consider him the most informed on physics of anyone who has posted on any of the lists I have read or posted on in that time. [*] If you're a "philosopher," he's a "physicist" and then some, whether he's teaching and/or actively doing research (which I think he isn't doing at this time) or not.

Ellen

[*] Minor correction: There are some small lists I read which are specifically FOR physicists, and there are some folks there who know their stuff too. I meant the public forums of this sort.

Edited by Ellen Stuttle

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I am still waiting for DF to give a coherent explanation of what he means by an infinite universe in concrete terms.

He gave it. Perhaps you missed the post. It wasn't long.

Ellen

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[This post was partially rewritten at 4:47 a.m.]

Use some common sense, for crying out loud.

Maybe you'd be wise to start doing that.

Now that you mention it, I have been been crying out loud hoping you would use some common sense. But it hasn't worked so far. Do you have any other suggestions as to how I might assist you in this regard?

Ghs: I asked you a simple question.
No, you didn't. Nor did you even pay attention to my own earlier post on the subject. (Maybe you missed it.)

Yup, I must have missed it. Lucky me.

My point is, I didn't say, "I believe that..." I have no doubt whatsoever that he indeed is a physicist. I know a great many physicists. I know who does and who doesn't know the subject. I know who is and who isn't a fraud. I have known DF for 6 years, corresponded with him, read his posts. I consider him the most informed on physics of anyone who has posted on any of the lists I have read or posted on in that time. [*] If you're a "philosopher," he's a "physicist" and then some, whether he's teaching and/or actively doing research (which I think he isn't doing at this time) or not.

You obviously don't understand the difference between philosophy, which has no special qualifications, and the special sciences, which do. But how could I expect you to understand such a complicated idea?

So if you say that DF is a physicist, fine, then he is a physicist. Who am I to question your Pickwickian use of labels? The good news is that I am now an economist because I know a lot about economics, and I am also a sociologist because I know a lot about sociology. You just enabled me to beef up my portfolio, and for that I thank you. (Maybe I should read some books on brain surgery so I can call myself a brain surgeon.)

Moreover, since you are qualified to anoint physicists, based on how much knowledge you think they have, you must be a physicist as well. "Physicist Ellen" -- that's pretty damned impressive. And now your husband is also married to a physicist!. There's a certain symmetry in that perspective, so I approve.

I have to stop now. I am suddenly having flashbacks of Ellen Moore, and they are making me dizzy.

Ghs

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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.

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I'm glad you posted that. Your hypocrisy speaks for itself.

I take it this is as close to a retraction as we’re going to see. Instead of “chronic liar” you upgrade me to hypocrite. Terrific. From 1:00 to 1:30 there’s some important info you ought to consider in future:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zb39htpY6dU

That is, assuming you have assets, which I doubt. I do, which is why I refrain from throwing your accusation back at you, however well justified I'd be by the facts.

I've learned my lesson (thanks to Objectihooligans among other ones)

You certainly have my sympathy on this point, FWIW.

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From 1:00 to 1:30 there’s some important info you ought to consider in future:

So now you're making physical threats. You're literally threatening to come steal from me. I think that should get you kicked off this board.

Shayne

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You say that the only way to know the nature of a specific entity is “to observe how those entities act and that is what we call its nature.” That much is true. But then you go on to say: “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 other words, as George suggested in his follow-up post, all the events in your universe could just as well be inexplicable miracles.

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.

To act “completely random” is to act contrary to an entity’s nature.

No, because its nature would be to act completely random.

In other words, its nature would be to act as if it had no nature--i.e., no identity, since identity is what sets the limits of potential action.

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.

To exist is to be something specific--i.e., to have an identity. More explicit contradictions.

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.

If that is indeed the case in your universe, then this entire discussion is a complete waste of everyone’s time. Logic is a meaningless tautology for you, which experience can invalidate at any given moment.

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]:

That [view of causality] is a weird and meaningless definition..., as it is as tautological as the law of identity.

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!

You have clearly demonstrated that you embrace contradictions (see above).

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.

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I am still waiting for DF to give a coherent explanation of what he means by an infinite universe in concrete terms.

He gave it. Perhaps you missed the post. It wasn't long.

Ellen

Where?

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As far as I can tell there are all kinds of physicists with differing levels of ability with the general commonality not so much of physics per se but mathematics--that is, if you have the math and do the math and are interested in physics you will be in short order a physicist. No math, no physicist and no physics.

I remember the physics' publication started by my friend Petr Beckmann in January 1990--when he knew he was likely to die from his cancer which he did three and a half years later. What struck me most about the articles that appeared over the years was not the physics, which was beyond me, but that none of the myriad authors cared about anyone's credentials only the subject under discussion. One article I recall was written by a high-school student next to articles by PhDs. Edward Teller, a friend of Beckmann (who disagreed with him about Einstein), once pointed out that the ideal age for a PhD in physics was the very early 20s or even late teens and that academia wasn't properly geared to turning them out at the proper young age--that physicists tended to do their best work young. Out of all this I came to the conclusion that the more difficult the work--or the more high the level--the less the guy doing the work cared about his bona fides or anyone else's regarding their respective academic degrees. It was just the work. One of the 18th century's greatest scientists--and he only did science for a relatively few years--was Benjamin Franklin. In his case his credentials were his work in electricity. Generally those who care the most about credentials are those in the so-called "soft sciences" and, perhaps, bureaucrats who dish out money in support of corrupt scientific investigations by self-corrupted or neutered scientists whose number one obligation is to get those Federal grants.

This is my first post in ten days. My last one prior might have been my last here as may this one now. I don't know and don't care that much. I can deal with direct ad hominem attacks easily enough, but when Shayne Wissler came up behind me and took a bite out of my ass ignorantly blind to my basic style of posting which no one but he had objected to in over four years and 6300 posts, I had to reconsider the whole enterprise. Previously I had logged off SOLOP August 10 and now I hardly even read it any more much less log on and post. I miss it not at all. Now I find this place for me is for reading, not posting. Shayne's a brainy twit and aside from his irrational ad hominems I usually agree with him, but as far as me being here only the straw breaking the camel's back. More importantly are the structural changes to OL. Starting a year ago then piled on in the last month or so it is no longer practical to find anyone's old posts and the exceedingly weak search function is a joke. I had the conceit I was writing more than for present conversation, but now I know how silly I've been to think that, especially since so much Internet stuff keeps disappearing. Anyone remember The John Galt Line?

In a way DF got what he deserved from George because he has been continually bitch-slapping philosophy, philosophers and Objectivism for years here, but if he says he's a physicist I take his word for it, but unlike Ba'al who says he himself is not a physicist only a well-informed fan, I don't think he has put up one word of actual physics--only physics' philosophy. Well, all real science is (objective) philosophy, but not all (objective) philosophy is science. That's right: every ounce of real science, or any "science" for that matter, expresses philosophy for upon philosophy is it based. However, if DF suddenly were to start talking actual physics, I don't see what George would then have to respond to beyond what he already has had to respond to. The conversation has to be limited to what is the correct philosophy. In this George seems ignorant, but DF seems profoundly ignorant or hypocritical. You can't have your philosophy and eat it too. As science is subsumed by philosophy, George wins this "debate" by default. He didn't need, though, to spend a day posting with fire in his eyes and smoke coming out of his ears.

--Brant

Edited by Brant Gaede

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As far as I can tell there are all kinds of physicists with differing levels of ability with the general commonality not so much of physics per se but mathematics--that is, if you have the math and do the math and are interested in physics you will be in short order a physicist. No math, no physicist and no physics.

I remember the physics' publication started by my friend Petr Beckmann in January 1990--when he knew he was likely to die from his cancer which he did three and a half years later. What struck me most about the articles that appeared over the years was not the physics, which was beyond me, but that none of the myriad authors cared about anyone's credentials only the subject under discussion. One article I recall was written by a high-school student next to articles by PhDs. Edward Teller, a friend of Beckmann (who disagreed with him about Einstein), once pointed out that the ideal age for a PhD in physics was the very early 20s or even late teens and that academia wasn't properly geared to turning them out at the proper young age--that physicists tended to do their best work young. Out of all this I came to the conclusion that the more difficult the work--or the more high the level--the less the guy doing the work cared about his bona fides or anyone else's regarding their respective academic degrees. It was just the work. One of the 18th century's greatest scientists--and he only did science for a relatively few years--was Benjamin Franklin. In his case his credentials were his work in electricity. Generally those who care the most about credentials are those in the so-called "soft sciences" and, perhaps, bureaucrats who dish out money in support of corrupt scientific investigations by self-corrupted or neutered scientists whose number one obligation is to get those Federal grants.

This is my first post in ten days. My last one prior might have been my last here as may this one now. I don't know and don't care that much. I can deal with direct ad hominem attacks easily enough, but when Shayne Wissler came up behind me and took a bite out of my ass ignorantly blind to my basic style of posting which no one but he had objected to in over four years and 6300 posts, I had to reconsider the whole enterprise. Previously I had logged off SOLOP August 10 and now I hardly even read it any more much less log on and post. I miss it not at all. Now I find this place for me is for reading, not posting. Shayne's a brainy twit and aside from his irrational ad hominems I usually agree with him, but as far as me being here only the straw breaking the camel's back. More importantly are the structural changes to OL. Starting a year ago then piled on in the last month or so it is no longer practical to find anyone's old posts and the exceedingly weak search function is a joke. I had the conceit I was writing more than for present conversation, but now I know how silly I've been to think that, especially since so much Internet stuff keeps disappearing. Anyone remember The John Galt Line?

In a way DF got what he deserved from George because he has been continually bitch-slapping philosophy, philosophers and Objectivism for years here, but if he says he's a physicist I take his word for it, but unlike Ba'al who says he himself is not a physicist only a well-informed fan, I don't think he has put up one word of actual physics here--only physics' philosophy. Well, all real science is (objective) philosophy, but not all (objective) philosophy is science. That's right: every ounce of real science, or any "science" for that matter, expresses philosophy for upon philosophy is it based. However, if DF suddenly were to start talking actual physics, I don't see what George would then have to respond to beyond what he already has had to respond to. The conversation has to be limited to what is the correct philosophy. In this George seems ignorant, but DF seems profoundly ignorant or hypocritical. You can't have your philosophy and eat it too. As science is subsumed by philosophy, George wins this "debate" by default. He didn't need, though, to spend a day posting with fire in his eyes and smoke coming out of his ears.

--Brant

LOL, don't go Brant, I miss your erudition.

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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?

The internal dialogue of a self-hating physicist. How sad. I have heard of this rare mental disorder but have never seen an actual case.

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.

I won't ask about your credentials again, because I wouldn't want some crazed Objectivist hooligan to hunt down everyone in the world with the same credentials until he found you. We do have to be very careful, especially the paranoid among us, so I won't ask you to violate your privacy. Let us hope that information about your credentials doesn't show up on Wikileaks.

Btw, I am an astronaut, but that's all I can say. I want to keep personal information to a minimum on public forums. I was once hounded by a band of hooligan physicists screaming for my blood, and I still haven't recovered from the trauma. :lol:

Ghs

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Brant I'd hate to see you go. I'm sorry for my harsh retort. I made a mistake in forgetting that you're a good guy. I do tend to get distracted by the genuine lowlifes and then sometimes take it out on the wrong people. Sorry.

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Brant I'd hate to see you go. I'm sorry for my harsh retort. I made a mistake in forgetting that you're a good guy. I do tend to get distracted by the genuine lowlifes and then sometimes take it out on the wrong people. Sorry.

Well I can and do personally accept that, Shayne, but you do your best work by far when you avoid the ad hominem epithets even when they are deserved. I'm a thoroughly seasoned Internet poster on many venues going back 22 years when technically it wasn't even the Internet. You can Google me onto Petr Beckmann's old Ft Freedom which was a 300 baud dial up. So it has little to do with you but I've been thinking how better to use my time considering the tremendous personal strain I am under for other reasons. The worst of it is the country is going into the crapper for all the reasons I've been aware of for 50 years or more plus the tipping point that was 9-11. I truly now wonder if my country which no longer seems to be my country will last longer than I will. At the age of 66 considering my genes and overall health I may be good for 30 more years, which I once thought a blessing but now a kind of hypothetical curse. In spite of those genes, however, I do have hope because I don't have much hair on the top of my head any longer while my ancestors all did. That used to worry me a little. Maybe I've got a few aneurysms waiting to pop.

--Brant

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LOL, don't go Brant, I miss your erudition.

Yup: seconded, GS.

Brant may or may not be an Objectivist, but he is OL's Perspectivist.

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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!

Actually, this is not a new definition or approach at all, one peculiar to Objectivism -- far from it -- but if DF believes it is, I think we should humor him. He has suffered terribly at the hands of Objectivist hooligans, so we owe him that much.

Meanwhile, for those who would like to know something about this approach to causation instead of guessing, I especially recommend two sources: First, H.W.B. Joseph's An Introduction to Logic (Chapter 19, "On the Presuppositions of Induction: The Law of Causation," pp. 400-425); second, Brand Blanshard's The Nature of Thought (Chapter 32, "Concrete Necessity and Internal Relations," vol. II, pp. 475-520).

Both of these discussions are quite long and involved, and if I ever get the time to type out representative passages that illustrate the major arguments, I may start a separate thread on this subject. Meanwhile, here is a brief passage by Joseph (p. 408) that indicates that we are talking about the same approach defended by Rand, NB, and other ignorant Objectivists who hate science.

If a thing a under conditions c produces a change x in a subject s -- if, for example, light of certain wave-lengths, passing through the lens of a camera, produces a certain chemical change (which we call the taking of a photograph of Mount Everest) upon a photographic film -- the way in which it acts must be regarded as a partial expression of what it is. It could only act differently, if it were different. As long therefore as it is a, and stands related under conditions c to a subject that is s, no other effect than x can be produced; and to say that the same thing acting on the same thing under the same conditions may yet produce a different effect, is to say that a thing need not be what it is. But this is in flat conflict with the Law of Identity. A thing, to be at all, must be something, and can only be what it is. To assert a causal connection between a and x implies that a acts as it does because it is what it is; because, in fact, it is a. So long therefore as it is a, it must act thus; and to assert it may act otherwise on a subsequent occasion is to assert that what is a is something else than the a which it is declared to be....

Joseph goes on to consider possible objections to this approach, as did Blanshard a few decades later. (Blanshard's discussion is more involved that Joseph's.)

Of course, both of these philosophers liked to defend meaningless definitions and empty tautologies, and neither possessed DF's secret credentials, so I mention these sources for entertainment purposes only. I do not mean to suggest than anyone could possibly learn anything from them, especially not a physicist who never appeals to authority, who never talks about things he is ignorant of, and who knows (perhaps in virtue of his secret credentials) that whatever O'ist-types believe in these matters is always wrong.

I have to go now. It's time for me to train some new astronauts.

Ghs

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LOL, don't go Brant, I miss your erudition.

Yup: seconded, GS.

Brant may or may not be an Objectivist, but he is OL's Perspectivist.

Ah! Thanks guys. My ego does require some existential stoking and stroking.

--Brant

purrr

Achilles has left his tent

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Both of these discussions are quite long and involved, and if I ever get the time to type out representative passages that illustrate the major arguments, I may start a separate thread on this subject. Meanwhile, here is a brief passage by Joseph (p. 408) that indicates that we are talking about the same approach defended by Rand, NB, and other ignorant Objectivists who hate science.

If a thing a under conditions c produces a change x in a subject s -- if, for example, light of certain wave-lengths, passing through the lens of a camera, produces a certain chemical change (which we call the taking of a photograph of Mount Everest) upon a photographic film -- the way in which it acts must be regarded as a partial expression of what it is. It could only act differently, if it were different. As long therefore as it is a, and stands related under conditions c to a subject that is s, no other effect than x can be produced; and to say that the same thing acting on the same thing under the same conditions may yet produce a different effect, is to say that a thing need not be what it is. But this is in flat conflict with the Law of Identity. A thing, to be at all, must be something, and can only be what it is. To assert a causal connection between a and x implies that a acts as it does because it is what it is; because, in fact, it is a. So long therefore as it is a, it must act thus; and to assert it may act otherwise on a subsequent occasion is to assert that what is a is something else than the a which it is declared to be....

Notice this passage, "If a thing a under conditions c produces a change x in a subject s ". Here is single cause => single effect in action. This type of thinking is not scientific anymore, although at one time it was.

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In a way DF got what he deserved from George because he has been continually bitch-slapping philosophy, philosophers and Objectivism for years here, but if he says he's a physicist I take his word for it....

You are a better man than I, Gunga Din. After all the tap dancing DF did after I repeatedly asked him if he is a physicist, only to have him say now, at long last, that he is a physicist, even though he won't reveal his credentials, I wouldn't believe the guy if he told me that shit stinks. Then there was Ellen Stuttle's confusing explanation, which seemed to say that DF is a physicist because he knows a lot about physics.

DF might be telling the truth now, but his trollish behavior is reason for doubt. If truth be known, after all of his silly games, I don't give a damn if he is Stephen Hawking. His grasp of the philosophy of science, and of philosophy generally, is pathetic. He has no business lecturing O'ist types, even Randroids, on such matters, given his own ignorance.

Well, all real science is (objective) philosophy, but not all (objective) philosophy is science. That's right: every ounce of real science, or any "science" for that matter, expresses philosophy for upon philosophy is it based. However, if DF suddenly were to start talking actual physics, I don't see what George would then have to respond to beyond what he already has had to respond to. The conversation has to be limited to what is the correct philosophy. In this George seems ignorant, but DF seems profoundly ignorant or hypocritical.

As you may know, I repeatedly attempted to distinguish between physics and the philosophy of science, because there is no point in discussing technical matters of physics on a list not populated by physicists. If someone who claims to know physics says x and someone else who claims to know physics says not-x, then the discussion is reduced to a battle of supposed experts, and this can lead to endless rounds of "You should read this book" or "Go to this link."

Moreover, when discussing the philosophical aspects of physics -- whether these be its philosophical foundations or the philosophical inferences that can legitimately be made from experimental results -- the discussion will grind to a halt when someone who claims a special expertise in physics also claims that this gives him a special expertise in philosophy. This, of course, is nothing more than an illegitimate appeal to authority, and anyone foolish enough to make it might just as well claim an expertise in baking cookies.

You can't have your philosophy and eat it too. As science is subsumed by philosophy, George wins this "debate" by default. He didn't need, though, to spend a day posting with fire in his eyes and smoke coming out of his ears.

As a person who is gloriously uncredentialed in everything but who has spent much of his career interacting with highly credentialed academics, I have developed a sixth sense for spotting phonies, credentialed or not. And I am not inclined to go easy on them, especially those who pose as experts in a given field.

You wouldn't believe how ignorant some academics are about basic facts in their own fields. Here is just one example among many:

Many years ago while giving a lecture on Classical Liberalism for a group of students and their professors at a major university, I mentioned that 1776 was a good year for liberals because it saw the publication of Paine's Common Sense, Jefferson's Declaration of Independence, Bentham's Fragment on Government, the first volume of Gibbons' Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations.

The lecture was well received, but after I finished I was approached by a tenured professor of economics; in fact, he was the head of the econ department. He said that he didn't want to embarrass me during the Q&A, but Adam Smith was a 19th century figure. He was a contemporary of Marx, so he couldn't have published the Wealth of Nations in 1776.

At first I thought the prof was joking, but he wasn't; he was dead serious. Gag me with a spoon! Some of his students were standing around, and I didn't want to embarrass him, so I suggested that he double-check his dates. I never heard back from him.

Now, how the hell you can earn a PhD in economics, teach the subject for many years, and become the head of a major department, and not know even the century of Adam Smith, who was probably the most influential economist in history -- well, maybe someone can explain this, but I can't.

Ghs

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