Swedish man bursts into flames at train station.

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Re: Swedish man bursts into flames at train station.

#61  Postby lucek » Jul 07, 2014 7:55 pm

Soral wrote:Absence of evidence IS evidence of absence. If you're ringing my door every day and I don't answer, then that's evidence that I'm away. Incidentally my fist isn't suddenly going to go straight through some solid wall, because such a practice doesn't go well with physics.

As said in my last post that isn't absence of evidence. That is negative evidence. You have information that answers your inquiry it is just negative. As days go by the repeated tests result in greater confidence in the null hypothesis.
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Re: Swedish man bursts into flames at train station.

#62  Postby Soral » Jul 09, 2014 8:08 am

There are no ''tests'' to prove or disprove this, however with what we know about molecular biochemistry, spontaneous human combustion is impossible. There is a reason why a high fever is so lethal.

Alas the majority does not seem to know this, and there have been at least a few cases where men have gotten away with murdering their wives by blaming it on spontaneous combustion after appealing to evidently very gullible judges.
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Re: Swedish man bursts into flames at train station.

#63  Postby Spearthrower » Jul 09, 2014 9:42 am

Soral wrote:Absence of evidence IS evidence of absence. If you're ringing my door every day and I don't answer, then that's evidence that I'm away.


However, you not answering your door doesn't mean you don't exist. There is an explanation for you not answering your door and a simple dismissal of your existence doesn't even attempt to address that explanation. In fact, I'd argue it makes precisely the same mistake as the initial claim.

An analogy of the methodology you've expressed in this thread would be like me saying that as I've never seen you home, you don't exist. Actually, the only supportable claim I can make is that I've never seen you home. That's all the evidence supports. I can 'disprove' a claim which says that you are always home (and answer your door), but I can not legitimately extend my certainty beyond that.

Likewise, we can rule out spontaneous combustion in the cases where we've established a more mundane set of causes, but that doesn't actually mean we've forever ruled out the notion of spontaneous combustion. We may treat it as highly unlikely for all the reasons you've written in previous posts, and we may personally consider it unworthy of further attention, but unless we look under every stone, we can't 'disprove' the existence of something, we can only debunk positive claims to the contrary. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, and never will be in any robust methodology aiming to discover the facts.

Before you cite it: yes, I know Russell's teapot and all the others! ;)


Soral wrote:Incidentally my fist isn't suddenly going to go straight through some solid wall, because such a practice doesn't go well with physics.


An ironic point, because our knowledge of physics suggests that this can actually happen, albeit with an infinitesimally tiny chance of ever occurring. Again, this reflects back on the willingness of the scientific method to evaluate old claims based on new evidence.

Soral wrote:There is no evidence to disprove shapeshifting reptilians, but with everything we know about biology (we're speaking hundreds of years worth of research), logic demands dismissal of such claims. The same applies for this.


If you invoke 'logic' here, you're not doing so from a scientific perspective. Science doesn't operate on the grounds that 'we've never seen this before, so it's false'. Instead, you look at the purported evidence and seek to explain it via experimentation. While the initial claim may prove to be false, it's only in this way that we uncover what actually happened. Your logic, here, cannot actually provide a substantive explanation for the purported phenomenon, just a dismissal of one particular claim based on precedent.

I find it hard to imagine why one would want to express absolute certainty here. Shapeshifting reptilians on this planet may well be unevidenced, but does that mean that no such thing is possible? Would shapeshifting reptilians break the fundamental laws of the universe? Is shapeshifting implausible in any context, under any conditions? How would we know if we just wrote off any such notion based on what we already know? How would we ever prove ourselves wrong if we're not willing to look?

Of course, I realize I am being drawn into ever more absurd claims, the easier to poo-poo thereafter, but the point is actually extremely important. For me, rational skepticism is not about expressions of certainty - leave that to the religionists. Rational skepticism requires a engagement with the claims being made, an honest review of the evidence, a willingness to put to one side one's predispositions and prior judgements. Otherwise, we're not really being skeptical, but tribalist.

I'll cite Cali here as an example towards what I would consider a robust critical framework for dealing with claims about unevidenced entities and phenomena:

Calilasseia wrote:If an entity X is asserted to exist, and no critically robust substantive evidence is available supporting the assertion that entity X exists, then no one is obliged to accept the unsupported existence assertion, and one may safely proceed in one's endeavours as though entity X does not exist, until that evidence is forthcoming


Like you and others here, I do not accept the claim that spontaneous combustion is plausible, however, I think it's important to recognise that it's the positive assertion that's being dismissed, rather than the purported phenomenon. With regards to the purported phenomenon, the only honest thing we can do is disregard it until evidence is forthcoming, then treat that evidence to a skeptical inquiry.

So I guess we'll have to accept that, even though we agree on the substance of the point, we differ on the route by which we arrive at it.
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Re: Swedish man bursts into flames at train station.

#64  Postby DarthHelmet86 » Jul 09, 2014 9:45 am

Soral wrote:If you're ringing my door every day and I don't answer, then that's evidence that I'm away.


I would argue that is not evidence that you aren't home, I know it isn't for me. I often don't answer the door when it is rung even when I am in. I know when people are coming over so I know when the people at the door are people I don't want to deal with. It is evidence that you aren't answering the door, but not the reason why.
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Re: Swedish man bursts into flames at train station.

#65  Postby Soral » Jul 09, 2014 9:57 am

Spearthrower wrote:
Soral wrote:Absence of evidence IS evidence of absence. If you're ringing my door every day and I don't answer, then that's evidence that I'm away.


However, you not answering your door doesn't mean you don't exist. There is an explanation for you not answering your door and a simple dismissal of your existence doesn't even attempt to address that explanation. In fact, I'd argue it makes precisely the same mistake as the initial claim.

An analogy of the methodology you've expressed in this thread would be like me saying that as I've never seen you home, you don't exist. Actually, the only supportable claim I can make is that I've never seen you home. That's all the evidence supports. I can 'disprove' a claim which says that you are always home (and answer your door), but I can not legitimately extend my certainty beyond that.

Likewise, we can rule out spontaneous combustion in the cases where we've established a more mundane set of causes, but that doesn't actually mean we've forever ruled out the notion of spontaneous combustion. We may treat it as highly unlikely for all the reasons you've written in previous posts, and we may personally consider it unworthy of further attention, but unless we look under every stone, we can't 'disprove' the existence of something, we can only debunk positive claims to the contrary. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, and never will be in any robust methodology aiming to discover the facts.

Before you cite it: yes, I know Russell's teapot and all the others! ;)


Soral wrote:Incidentally my fist isn't suddenly going to go straight through some solid wall, because such a practice doesn't go well with physics.


An ironic point, because our knowledge of physics suggests that this can actually happen, albeit with an infinitesimally tiny chance of ever occurring. Again, this reflects back on the willingness of the scientific method to evaluate old claims based on new evidence.

Soral wrote:There is no evidence to disprove shapeshifting reptilians, but with everything we know about biology (we're speaking hundreds of years worth of research), logic demands dismissal of such claims. The same applies for this.


If you invoke 'logic' here, you're not doing so from a scientific perspective. Science doesn't operate on the grounds that 'we've never seen this before, so it's false'. Instead, you look at the purported evidence and seek to explain it via experimentation. While the initial claim may prove to be false, it's only in this way that we uncover what actually happened. Your logic, here, cannot actually provide a substantive explanation for the purported phenomenon, just a dismissal of one particular claim based on precedent.

I find it hard to imagine why one would want to express absolute certainty here. Shapeshifting reptilians on this planet may well be unevidenced, but does that mean that no such thing is possible? Would shapeshifting reptilians break the fundamental laws of the universe? Is shapeshifting implausible in any context, under any conditions? How would we know if we just wrote off any such notion based on what we already know? How would we ever prove ourselves wrong if we're not willing to look?

Of course, I realize I am being drawn into ever more absurd claims, the easier to poo-poo thereafter, but the point is actually extremely important. For me, rational skepticism is not about expressions of certainty - leave that to the religionists. Rational skepticism requires a engagement with the claims being made, an honest review of the evidence, a willingness to put to one side one's predispositions and prior judgements. Otherwise, we're not really being skeptical, but tribalist.

I'll cite Cali here as an example towards what I would consider a robust critical framework for dealing with claims about unevidenced entities and phenomena:

Calilasseia wrote:If an entity X is asserted to exist, and no critically robust substantive evidence is available supporting the assertion that entity X exists, then no one is obliged to accept the unsupported existence assertion, and one may safely proceed in one's endeavours as though entity X does not exist, until that evidence is forthcoming


Like you and others here, I do not accept the claim that spontaneous combustion is plausible, however, I think it's important to recognise that it's the positive assertion that's being dismissed, rather than the purported phenomenon. With regards to the purported phenomenon, the only honest thing we can do is disregard it until evidence is forthcoming, then treat that evidence to a skeptical inquiry.

So I guess we'll have to accept that, even though we agree on the substance of the point, we differ on the route by which we arrive at it.


By that logic, you also cannot rule out that every atom in my body suddenly turned to silicon, and I turned into an inanimate glass statue (despite the fact that violates the laws of physics, as the likes of spontaneous human combustion does.)

As I stated earlier, there is a reason why high fevers are so deadly. That isn't a coincidence - it has basis on fundamental physics. It turns out that complex biological functional macromolecules don't hold up (pun not intended) at high temperatures.

I really can't believe how many people believe in such crap. It's like believing the Earth is flat, which is actually less outrageous because it's theoretically possible for a somewhat flat (donut-shaped) planet to exist.
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Re: Swedish man bursts into flames at train station.

#66  Postby Spearthrower » Jul 09, 2014 11:12 am

Soral wrote:
By that logic, you also cannot rule out that every atom in my body suddenly turned to silicon, and I turned into an inanimate glass statue (despite the fact that violates the laws of physics, as the likes of spontaneous human combustion does.)


By what 'logic'? I am not appealing to logic, but to critical assessment of claims. I can 'rule out' your claim by examining the evidence you give me. In this case, I can rule it out because you are typing, and you wouldn't be if you were inanimate glass! ;) One doesn't need to appeal to prior convictions to address claims - one needs to test them to see if they stand up to critical consideration. This is the difference here: you are appealing to a priori knowledge, whereas each and every one of the reasons you offer for rejecting the notion of spontaneous combustion resides on a posteriori knowledge. Unless you believe we have all possible evidence relating to this phenomenon, how can you be so confident? I just don't understand the confidence element.


Soral wrote:As I stated earlier, there is a reason why high fevers are so deadly. That isn't a coincidence - it has basis on fundamental physics. It turns out that complex biological functional macromolecules don't hold up (pun not intended) at high temperatures.


Why are you repeating something which I agreed with?

Soral wrote:I really can't believe how many people believe in such crap. It's like believing the Earth is flat, which is actually less outrageous because it's theoretically possible for a somewhat flat (donut-shaped) planet to exist.


You seem to have overlooked the numerous times where I have stated I hold the same position with you with respect to belief in spontaneous combustion. I can say it again if necessary: I don't find spontaneous combustion remotely plausible.

Instead, I am talking about the problems of 'dismissing out of hand' - not a very sound methodology if one's interest is in ascertaining a decent approximation of reality.
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Re: Swedish man bursts into flames at train station.

#67  Postby kennyc » Jul 09, 2014 11:48 am

DarthHelmet86 wrote:
Soral wrote:If you're ringing my door every day and I don't answer, then that's evidence that I'm away.


I would argue that is not evidence that you aren't home, I know it isn't for me. I often don't answer the door when it is rung even when I am in. I know when people are coming over so I know when the people at the door are people I don't want to deal with. It is evidence that you aren't answering the door, but not the reason why.


Yep, same here, and same reason I don't answer my home phone unless I know who is calling.
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Re: Swedish man bursts into flames at train station.

#68  Postby Darwinsbulldog » Jul 16, 2014 2:56 am

kennyc wrote:
DarthHelmet86 wrote:
Soral wrote:If you're ringing my door every day and I don't answer, then that's evidence that I'm away.


I would argue that is not evidence that you aren't home, I know it isn't for me. I often don't answer the door when it is rung even when I am in. I know when people are coming over so I know when the people at the door are people I don't want to deal with. It is evidence that you aren't answering the door, but not the reason why.


Yep, same here, and same reason I don't answer my home phone unless I know who is calling.


No, not answering your door or phone is evidence that the homeowner might not be home, it is also evidence that the homeowner may chose not to answer phone or door. That piece of evidence, by itself, is not conclusive. So there are the possibilities that the owner is away, or is choosing not to respond, or is deaf or whatever. To do a differential diagnosis, one would have to gain further facts that can narrow down the possibilities to the only one, or at least the most likely one.
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Re: Swedish man bursts into flames at train station.

#69  Postby Varangian » Jul 16, 2014 7:15 am

Schrödinger's tenant...
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