The Logical Leap: Induction in Physics


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Does anyone contest that well over a thousand posts on this thread amount to empty insult which makes this thread, its participants, and Objectivism look bad?[

Ted,

Insult to whom?

Who cares what "Objectivism" looks like to others?

I sure as hell don't.

Does anyone think, for example, that Michael Newberry's recent departure from this forum is a good sign?

My policy is that if people decide to post here (within the posting guidelines, including a bit of flexibility), that is good for OL. If people decide not to post here, that is good for OL.

Michael Newberry is pursuing his interests. That is good for him and good for me.

He can come and go here as he pleases.

He's a good dude. I like him and admire his work. I wish him success.

Michael

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Your appeals to authority, especially in regard to DF, have been egregious.

So go fuck yourself, housewife.

I offered an Olive Branch, but Ellen demanded the entire tree. She has repeatedly insulted me in this exchange, and you don't see her offering to apologize. I have no problem with this -- tempers often flare in the midst of a heated argument, and I regard this as a normal part of the process, one that I don't take seriously -- but if Ellen can't take it, she shouldn't dish it out.
Point of fact: Ellen has not been dishing out the same kind of thing you just dished out. You deserve enormous respect as a philosopher George, respect that several people here have not been granting, and there's nothing wrong I see in the logic of how you are assessing what's happened here with DF (although I still don't see that he was worth your time and energy, even from the beginning), but is the kind of escalation you are engaging in based on a principle or on something else?
I agree with you about my last insult. I wrote and posted it too quickly, and I very quickly returned to OL to revise it by omitting the "Go fuck yourself" remark. But by then one response had already been posted, so I was stuck with it.

. . .

Lesson learned. I will slow down in the future.

Shayne Wissler essentially told George Smith to be more civil.

And George agreed to do exactly that.

I stand in awe.

Twice.

:)

Michael

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As a footnote, because I know the Ayn Rand Love/Hate dichotomy fanatics will misinterpret what I said above, I do care about reaching readers--but not to display a pretty "Objectivism" to them (whatever that is).

I wish to convey the crucial message that they should think for themselves and that to do so is good.

Objectivism is a start point here, not an end point. Each person's sovereign mind and his or her best honest thinking is the end point.

As to any social movement of Objectivism, the constant schisms and pettiness killed any good in that image to the general public a long time ago--and killed it dead and deceased. I have no wish to resuscitate it.

Rand's works are another matter, but that's another matter...

Michael

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As a footnote, because I know the Ayn Rand Love/Hate dichotomy fanatics will misinterpret what I said above, I do care about reaching readers--but not to display a pretty "Objectivism" to them (whatever that is).

I wish to convey the crucial message that they should think for themselves and that to do so is good.

Objectivism is a start point here, not an end point. Each person's sovereign mind and his or her best honest thinking is the end point.

As to any social movement of Objectivism, the constant schisms and pettiness killed any good in that image to the general public a long time ago--and killed it dead and deceased. I have no wish to resuscitate it.

Rand's works are another matter, but that's another matter...

Michael

My sentiments exactly.

Shayne

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I think the current policy works just fine. Michael is to be congratulated for his light touch.

George,

Thank you.

But all I did was take to heart what you said when you showed up here, back in 2006:

But you're quite right, he is common-sensical and he's perfectly sane. . . most of the time.

Jeeez -- a few unfortunate incidents with my chainsaw many years ago, and people never let you forget.

Ghs

(Note from Administrator: This post has been copied from here.)

I learned in the streets of the combat zones in São Paulo, Brazil, to be nice to people who play with chainsaws...

Michael

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Both are objective, each from its own perspective. The subatomic world of the physicist is no more real or objective than the world of everyday life. Nor is it inherently more fundamental.

Ghs

May I assume that you are not a reductionist?

Both the man-scale world and the atom-scale world are as real as rain and just about anything in the man-scale world can be logically or epistemologically reduced to the atom-scale world.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Please excuse the intrusion, Bob, but aren't you a reductionist?

Inquiring "minds" want to know...

Rebirth of Reason, 2-24-08

I said there is no objective empirical evidence for the existence of a non-material (i.e. non-physical) mind. It has never been detected, in spite of the powerful technology for imaging the human body. There is no objective sign of a mind anywhere. Only brains, nerves, glands and such like. Stuff made of atoms and sub-atomic particles.

If you want to be believe in the existence of Mind made out of some non-material no physical fairy dust go right ahead. That puts you in the ranks of the religious.

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Please excuse the intrusion, Bob, but aren't you a reductionist?

Right down to the sub-atomic level.

Ba'al Chafatz

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Both the man-scale world and the atom-scale world are as real as rain and just about anything in the man-scale world can be logically or epistemologically reduced to the atom-scale world.

This is true in physics and chemistry perhaps. It is not true for much of biology. Ernst Mayr gives a list of some twenty examples of well defined notions in biology which cannot be reduced to physical terms. Concepts like niche, sexual selection, speciation, altruism, apomorphy, Batesian mimicry, kin selection, holophyly, niche, health, and so on. None of these can be reduced to atomic, or chemical explanations or explanations in terms of mass or volume or velocity or acceleration or so forth.

Neither can any truth of the science of linguistics, (except, if you like, certain aspects of acoustic phonology) be explained in physical terms.

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Both the man-scale world and the atom-scale world are as real as rain and just about anything in the man-scale world can be logically or epistemologically reduced to the atom-scale world.

This is true in physics and chemistry perhaps. It is not true for much of biology. Ernst Mayr gives a list of some twenty examples of well defined notions in biology which cannot be reduced to physical terms. Concepts like niche, sexual selection, speciation, altruism, apomorphy, Batesian mimicry, kin selection, holophyly, niche, health, and so on. None of these can be reduced to atomic, or chemical explanations or explanations in terms of mass or volume or velocity or acceleration or so forth.

Neither can any truth of the science of linguistics, (except, if you like, certain aspects of acoustic phonology) be explained in physical terms.

Robert Efron wrote a terrific article on this which was published in The Objectivist in 1968:

Abstract: Robert Efron, in “Biology without Consciousness and Its Consequences,” Perspectives in Biology and Medicine (Autumn, 1967), p. 9-35, takes issue with supporters of behaviorism and materialism: “The most important premise of the philosophy of materialism which affects the field of biology is the ‘principle of reduction,’ that is, the premise that all the phenomena of life can be accounted for, described by, and deduced from the laws of physics and chemistry” (p. 10). Efron is of the opinion that the question at stake is not a matter of scientific principle but a matter of faith: “The reductionist has absolute faith that the unexplained phenomena of life and consciousness will be reduced to the laws of physics in the future” (p. 13)

Efron demonstrates that this position amounts to a form of mysticism.

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Sanity isn't a science, btw; it is a psychological value judgment.

It is for the most part presently, but when that changes we may see some real progress in man's social problems.

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You are drawing a completely inapplicable analogy between a mathematical expression and the physical universe. It's true that expressions with a divide by zero are undefined. This has absolutely nothing to do with the physical universe. There is no logical contradiction to an infinite universe.

You have not defined and cannot define what you mean by infinity.

I have no idea where you're getting this idea. Infinity is a well defined term. The concept of infinity is used frequently in mathematics. For example, the set of all integers between 0 and 1000000 is finite, but the set of all integers is infinite. The set of all rational numbers is also infinite, as is the set of all real numbers. In mathematics, the distinction is also made between countable and uncountable. Thus, the set of all integers or the set of all rational numbers are countably infinite; the set of all real numbers is uncountably infinite. In mathematical analysis, there is a thing called a Hilbert space, which is an infinite dimensional space. Various mathematical theorems have been developed pertaining to Hilbert spaces.

What is meant by infinite is not at all ambiguous. It is another term for unlimited. Thus, the set of all integers is infinite, because the number of such integers is not limited; no matter how many integers you select, there are always more. With regard to the physical universe, there is also nothing ambiguous about the term. An infinite universe is a universe with an unlimited amount of space, matter, energy, etc. Thus, in an infinite universe, if you were an immortal space traveler, no matter how many regions of space you explored, there would always be new regions to explore, without limit. New regions of space would just go on and on forever. Please note that this is not the same as a finite, unbounded universe, in which you would eventually explore every possible region of space and then start returning again to the previously explored regions.

I seriously doubt you wantto say math is not applicable to reality.

I never said that math is not applicable to reality, since I most certainly do not believe this. What I said is that the particular mathematical analogy you were using about dividing by zero had nothing to do with the issue of whether the universe is finite or infinite.

Either the relation between the size of the universe as a whole to the size of a body within the universe is defined or it is not defined. If the ratio of the size of an object like an atom to the size of the universe is some real, however large, whole number ratio, then the universe has a definite size expressable in a ratio of the size of the atom to the size of the universe. It is only if the size of the atom in relation to the size of the universe is equivalent to zero that the universe is infinite. But then the ratio is undefined, and all statements about the universe in relation to any real life objects are equal to equations where you divide by zero, and anything goes, and you are stating a contradiction.

You're correct that, if the universe is infinite, then the ratio between the size of the universe and the size of any particular entity within the universe cannot be expressed as a real number. Infinity divided by any real number is still infinity. Where you're wrong is in assuming that this mathematical fact would entail any physical or philosophical contradictions.

All entities within the universe are themselves finite, and their physical and mathematical relationships between each other are unaffected by the finitude or infinitude of the entire universe. For example, suppose that we have two entities, a and b, with masses of 1kg and 2kg, respectively. Suppose that they exist within a finite universe with a total mass of 10^100 kg (This is a ridiculous, made up figure. I'm just using it for purposes of illustration). Well, in this case, the ratio between the mass of entity a and the entire universe is 1/10^100, and the ratio between the mass of entity b and the entire universe is 2/10^100. The ratio of the mass between entities a and b is 1/2. Now suppose that these two entities exist in an infinite universe with infinite mass. The ratio between the mass of either a or b and the entire universe is now zero (1/infinity = 2/infinity = 0). However, the ratio between the mass of entity a and entity b is still 1/2. Similarly, the other aspects of the relationship between entities a and b are no different for these two cases. For example, the force of gravitational attraction between entities a and b is unaffected by whether the universe is finite or infinite.

You state that "It is only if the size of the atom in relation to the size of the universe is equivalent to zero that the universe is infinite. But then the ratio is undefined, and all statements about the universe in relation to any real life objects are equal to equations where you divide by zero, and anything goes, and you are stating a contradiction." I still cannot make any sense out of this statement. Can you give me an example of a statement about an infinite universe in relation to a real life object that would not make sense and entail a contradiction?

Martin

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You are dropping the context of the distinction between a potential infinity and an actual infinity.

I am quite familiar with the different types of infinities. They are all potentialities, not actualities.

Are you saying that the universe is actually infinite, or not? The second is unconfirmable. There would be no way to verify what was 10^10000000...... times as far away as you could see or travel.

No possible claim that the universe is actually infinite could have any concrete meaning (which you admit) nor any sufficient evidence to support it.

It's not a scientific statement, it's not compatible with any rigorous actually held model. It's simply an arbitrary assertion that cannot be reduced to its concretes.

Are you familiar with the requirement to be able to reduce abstractions to the concretes upon which they depend? Do you deny its validity? Do you still deny that I can visualize 100,000,000,000 objects? Do you still claim that you can visualize an actually infinite number of objects? Do you have a problem with my reduction of the model of a finite, bounded model of the universe to concretes?

Do you deny that the universe is actually expanding? Do you hold that a universe which is actually infinite can be getting bigger? If it were infinite, would it not already be bigger?

You offer the partially imagined notion of the idea of space which does not stop, and then you stop and say you see no problem with this.

Arbitrary, unconcretizable, and negatively defined, assertions hold no weight.

As for the problem with mathematical equations using undefined terms, do you not understand that they allow one to express contradictions?

Fallacies based on division by zeroIt is possible to disguise a special case of division by zero in an algebraic argument,[1] leading to spurious proofs that 1 = 2 such as the following:

With the following assumptions:

59fbcec15fbbc8744c0a4309c126a8a8.pngThe following must be true:

d2e283e91dee2cad966314a84da9f1d5.pngDividing by zero gives:

469c83d5e0959e4caaceea20df153c53.pngSimplified, yields:

c4c9b852c938da096b69fc257a7a8d82.png

The fallacy is the implicit assumption that dividing by 0 is a legitimate operation.

Does this not trouble you in the least bit?

Are you not tempted to check your premises?

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Who cares what "Objectivism" looks like to others?

I sure as hell don't.

Neither do I.

And there's something I'd like to say for the record: If there's one attitude in which George Smith and I are thoroughly aligned, it's in not being fans of civility policies. We're both veterans of the most delectably uncivil list ever, Old Atlantis, a list where uncivil discourse attained a riotous flair not to be duplicated. (The particular assortment of personalities was essential to the special spark of that list.) George and I have been on the same side in many battles, on opposite sides in some. The battle in which we were most strongly and staunchly aligned was that which followed upon Jimbo Wales' announcing a civility policy -- with the result, since Jimbo wouldn't rescind, that Old Atlantis was ruined. I still look back nostalgically on those good old warring days.

A song from "Damn Yankees" comes to mind.

Ellen

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I don't agree with this at all, except when dealing with Trolls. When Jimmy Wales decided to impose rules of civility on Old Atlantis by sending warnings, there was a mass exodus of the best posters and that elist dried up. Thus was Atantis II born.

I think the current policy works just fine. Michael is to be congratulated for his light touch. If I got a warning on every occasion when I went overboard, I would stop posting here, period.

Ghs

I was reading backward up the queue, as is often my method when catching up to a lot of new posts on a thread. I hadn't seen George's comment when I wrote mine above.

Ellen

PS: No thanks re the signed copy, George. Hang it on your wall if you wish.

Edited by Ellen Stuttle
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Who cares what "Objectivism" looks like to others?

I sure as hell don't.

Neither do I.

And there's something I'd like to say for the record: If there's one attitude in which George Smith and I are thoroughly aligned, it's in not being fans of civility policies. We're both veterans of the most delectably uncivil list ever, Old Atlantis, a list where uncivil discourse attained a riotous flair not to be duplicated. (The particular assortment of personalities was essential to the special spark of that list.) George and I have been on the same side in many battles, on opposite sides in some. The battle in which we were most strongly and staunchly aligned was that which followed upon Jimbo Wales' announcing a civility policy -- with the result, since Jimbo wouldn't rescind, that Old Atlantis was ruined. I still look back nostalgically on those good old warring days.

A song from "Damn Yankees" comes to mind.

Ellen

I don't think rescinding would have saved it. The man suddenly appeared from behind the curtain asserting ownership de facto and de jure. You'd think if the ostensible here-to-fore owner, now forgotten, had had any balls he'd have put it up for sale instead of accepting Wales server charity putting Atlantis's neck in a noose. I have to respect what Wales then did in creating Wikipedia but I don't especially respect him as a person.

It's funny that George's blow-off quote to Ellen is slowly transmogrifying itself from bad to funny. I mean after that George was out of ammo and had to start using his brains again. If I were having a face to face argument with George and one of us told the other to do that the other would probably reply in kind, everyone would then laugh and go get some of Jeff's beer. Well, all these postings are essentially conversations, but not for wimps.

--Brant

Edited by Brant Gaede
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Well, all these postings are essentially conversations, but not for wimps.

So now cattiness and ad hominem are a proof of manliness. . . .

No. It's putting that crap aside and resuming manliness, if you will.

--Brant

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Well, all these postings are essentially conversations, but not for wimps.

So now cattiness and ad hominem are a proof of manliness. . . .

No. It's putting that crap aside and resuming manliness, if you will.

--Brant

In other times, that kind of "manliness" resulted in a glove to the face and a duel in the field of honor. And I'm not sure how "manly" it is when it's an inside joke of some kind, sounds more like a fraternity initiation.

Shayne

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Well, all these postings are essentially conversations, but not for wimps.

So now cattiness and ad hominem are a proof of manliness. . . .

No. It's putting that crap aside and resuming manliness, if you will.

--Brant

In other times, that kind of "manliness" resulted in a glove to the face and a duel in the field of honor. And I'm not sure how "manly" it is when it's an inside joke of some kind, sounds more like a fraternity initiation.

Well, we are talking specifically about people who have had long-term Internet relationships. Ellen, George, myself and others have been yakking it up with each other since the 1990s.

--Brant

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It's funny that George's blow-off quote to Ellen is slowly transmogrifying itself from bad to funny.

I thought the line was funny when I first wrote it because of the "housewife" crack at the end. (I never would have written the line without that.) But after thinking about it for a few minutes, it seemed a lot less funny and a lot more boorish. That's when I returned to the thread to revise the post, only to find that someone had already posted a reply. I frequently post during late night and early morning hours, when traffic is slow and it is usually an easy matter to revise a post before anyone reads it. This is more difficult during the day, especially on a Saturday or Sunday, when numerous people are viewing a thread at the same time.

I've sometimes posted things that I thought were pretty clever at the time, only to look at them later and wonder what the hell I was thinking. I doubt if I am the only one who has had this experience.

I don't know if anyone else has had this problem, but I will sometimes spend some time writing a post, only to get disconnected and lose what I have written before I get a chance to post it. After a number of annoying instances of this, I began to hit "Add Reply" rather than "Preview Post" in order to be sure that I don't have to retype everything; then I run the spell check and make other corrections after the post has appeared.

Ghs

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I don't know if anyone else has had this problem, but I will sometimes spend some time writing a post, only to get disconnected and lose what I have written before I get a chance to post it. After a number of annoying instances of this, I began to hit "Add Reply" rather than "Preview Post" in order to be sure that I don't have to retype everything; then I run the spell check and make other corrections after the post has appeared.

But "cloud computing" is wonderful. Don't point out all those inconvenient facts.

You might also want to be aware that some of us are subscribed to certain threads, and so get copies of initial posts in our inboxes.

Shayne

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I don't know if anyone else has had this problem, but I will sometimes spend some time writing a post, only to get disconnected and lose what I have written before I get a chance to post it. After a number of annoying instances of this, I began to hit "Add Reply" rather than "Preview Post" in order to be sure that I don't have to retype everything; then I run the spell check and make other corrections after the post has appeared.

But "cloud computing" is wonderful. Don't point out all those inconvenient facts.

You might also want to be aware that some of us are subscribed to certain threads, and so get copies of initial posts in our inboxes.

I subscribe to some threads as well, but (when it's working, which isn't very often) all I get are links. Do you mean to say that you actually get copies of the posts?

I may go back to the Preview Post method and take my chances of getting cut off. Some of my unrevised posts are so full of typos as to be embarrassing. I type very quickly but without much accuracy.

What is "cloud computing"?

Ghs

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I subscribe to some threads as well, but (when it's working, which isn't very often) all I get are links. Do you mean to say that you actually get copies of the posts?

I may go back to the Preview Post method and take my chances of getting cut off. Some of my unrevised posts are so full of typos as to be embarrassing. I type very quickly but without much accuracy.

What is "cloud computing"?

I get copies of the posts in my inbox. Don't know if there's an option for selecting one or the other.

"Cloud computing" is a way of wasting all the computing power on your desk and offloading virtually everything onto a centralized computer, so that you can have the problem of not being able to effectively edit on your own computer, not being able keep track of your own posts, lose all your work when the network goes down, and not be able to recover things if there's a glitch on the centralized server or if the list owner decides he's had enough of Ted's nonsense and shuts everything down. (Well, you can edit using a different application and then you can tediously keep track and copy things everywhere as if this were the 80's all over again).

We software engineering types have ways of solving the problems with cloud computing, but having drunk the cloud computing Kool-Aid, we don't bother. Besides, what fool wants to install something other than a web browser on their computer? Web browsers are the only way to go, anyone who would suggest otherwise has a few screws loose.

Shayne

PS: This post contains liberal amounts of sarcasm.

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I don't know if anyone else has had this problem, but I will sometimes spend some time writing a post, only to get disconnected and lose what I have written before I get a chance to post it. After a number of annoying instances of this, I began to hit "Add Reply" rather than "Preview Post" in order to be sure that I don't have to retype everything; then I run the spell check and make other corrections after the post has appeared.

What I do is to open an email form in my Eudora program and then every paragraph or so copy-paste a post I'm working on to the email form and hit Save there. Thus if I get disconnected from the list -- which hasn't happened to me often since we got highspeed a few years back -- or some other problem develops, such as my mangling nested quotes so badly I need to start over, I have "the story so far" saved as an unsent email.

(I still often have to edit a post after it appears because of my not noticing a typo such as writing "in" meaning "it" and stuff like that -- usually details that would pass the Roland test and which I don't notice until the post appears in final version on the screen.)

Ellen

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