Apology: My Reflections on Forums of Science/Rationalism

Regarding my prior experience that upset people here...

Anything that doesn't fit anywhere else below.

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Re: Apology: My Reflections on Forums of Science/Rationalism

#81  Postby Spearthrower » Nov 23, 2019 11:06 pm

Svartalf wrote:mmmmh? deriving an empirical approach from a logical one is gibberish? Is that not what we've been doing around the breakthroughs made by Einstein for about a century? trying to determine by observation whether he was right or not?


Fill in the blanks there, Svartalf.

What empirical approach was derived from what logical one?
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Re: Apology: My Reflections on Forums of Science/Rationalism

#82  Postby hackenslash » Nov 23, 2019 11:12 pm

Spearthrower wrote:an appeal to your authority


All while failing to note that this is the exact same species of genetic fallacy as the ad hominem he incorrectly cited earlier.

Foundational thinker, indeed. More like 'fundamentalist'.

Meant to add that it's really interesting that it keeps being asserted that science is merely induction, despite the problems with that notion having already been pointed out. To make it explicit, here is the step-by-step of how different types of reasoning are used in the sciences, because it's informative to see the detail:

1. Observe phenomenon.
2. Formulate hypothesis (abduction).
3. Compute the consequences of your hypothesis (deduction).
4. Compute a consequence that, if observed, will show your hypothesis to be incorrect (deduction).
5. Devise experiment (or observation) that will show one or other of the above.
6. Observe phenomenon:
7a. If 3 is observed, your hypothesis survives (induction).
7b. If 3 is not observed, your hypothesis is incorrect (deduction).
7c. If 4 is observed, your hypothesis is incorrect (deduction), and should be modified (at least) or discarded.
8. Rinse and repeat.

As we can see, the only step in there that involves induction is hypothesis survival. Contrary to the woolly understanding of the foundational thinker, deduction plays a far bigger part for far more of the time than induction.

TBH, I'd be fairly impressed if Scott could properly elucidate the difference between these types of reasoning. My guess would be that his definition would contain references to things like 'general' and 'specific', which would be similarly informative.
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Re: Apology: My Reflections on Forums of Science/Rationalism

#83  Postby Spearthrower » Nov 23, 2019 11:18 pm

hackenslash wrote:
All while failing to note that this is the exact same species of genetic fallacy as the ad hominem he incorrectly cited earlier.


Seems like everything's revolving around the genetic fallacy as far as I can see. I'm right because I am special. You're all wrong (and list of other things) because you're not me.
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Re: Apology: My Reflections on Forums of Science/Rationalism

#84  Postby hackenslash » Nov 23, 2019 11:25 pm

Sorry, added considerable edit to that post.
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Re: Apology: My Reflections on Forums of Science/Rationalism

#85  Postby Thommo » Nov 24, 2019 12:07 am

Svartalf wrote:mmmmh? deriving an empirical approach from a logical one is gibberish? Is that not what we've been doing around the breakthroughs made by Einstein for about a century? trying to determine by observation whether he was right or not?


I wrote a long reply, then decided against it. Let me try a short one.

The difference between empiricism and logic is not that empiricism decries or fails to utilise logic, it is that in empiricism your logical premises must be grounded in (sense) observations.

So the answer to your question is quite simply the same as the answer as to whether Einstein's theories sprang from past observations or took no account of them whatsoever.

Einstein's theories were born of prior observations (yes, plus logic) and were validated by subsequent ones. He did not start from the bottom, he stood on the shoulders of giants.

Edit: Typo.
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Re: Apology: My Reflections on Forums of Science/Rationalism

#86  Postby Spinozasgalt » Nov 24, 2019 12:17 am

While we're talking "empirical".
Scott Mayers wrote:The Church in Galileo's day acted as the authority that dismissed any logic that was not 'authorized' by the 'floor' of the Papacy itself. Galileo actually proved what was mistaken about the independence of mass to the force of gravity through a LOGICAL set of arguments, NOT the 'empirical' ones. Note that, the word, 'empirical' is literally a term respecting the 'empire', NOT the intellectual capacity of logical thinking across the population.

Anyone want to defend this point for him? Because, last I read, "empire" and "empirical" didn't share any particular etymological relationship.
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Re: Apology: My Reflections on Forums of Science/Rationalism

#87  Postby hackenslash » Nov 24, 2019 12:55 am

Indeed not. 'Empirical' stems from the Greek for experience, while 'empire' stems from the Latin for command.
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Re: Apology: My Reflections on Forums of Science/Rationalism

#88  Postby Thommo » Nov 24, 2019 2:22 am

:lol:

Good observations. I think I just glossed over that on the grounds that even if it was accurate it would be irrelevant. The fact that October does come from the Latin for eight does not, after all, tell us that it is the eighth month now.

I think the thing I find most peculiar in all this is that the arguments at the centre of contention (D&D players displaying a host of negative traits as a whole, the steady state universe being a better theory than the big bang, drag queens are abnormally tall etc.) were empirical arguments in the first place. They were just bad ones, proceeding from statements amounting to (to paraphrase) "this one D&D player I met".

It is curiously reminiscent of another poster here, who makes similar comments about the inability of evidence to ever weigh in on metaphysical matters... but only so long as they disagree with his conclusions. As soon as evidence is perceived to be favourable it not only counts, but somehow is claimed to count as proof in the strongest sense.

Very few are confounded by such obvious and illogical double standards.
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Re: Apology: My Reflections on Forums of Science/Rationalism

#89  Postby Hermit » Nov 24, 2019 2:54 am

hackenslash wrote:Indeed not. 'Empirical' stems from the Greek for experience, while 'empire' stems from the Latin for command.
Yes, and in Latin it is spelt with an "i". Imperium is a form of authority held by a citizen to control a military or governmental entity. Imperator is the title of someone who has an office of command. Imperare is the verb "to command". The "e" comes from the French Song of Roland, written at a time where spelling had not yet been tamed by the Gutenberg press. The French spelling was adopted by the English, except when it came to its adjective, which is spelt "imperial". The adjective for empiricism is neither imperial nor empirial. It's empirical.

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Re: Apology: My Reflections on Forums of Science/Rationalism

#90  Postby Spearthrower » Nov 24, 2019 3:20 am

Spinozasgalt wrote:While we're talking "empirical".
Scott Mayers wrote:The Church in Galileo's day acted as the authority that dismissed any logic that was not 'authorized' by the 'floor' of the Papacy itself. Galileo actually proved what was mistaken about the independence of mass to the force of gravity through a LOGICAL set of arguments, NOT the 'empirical' ones. Note that, the word, 'empirical' is literally a term respecting the 'empire', NOT the intellectual capacity of logical thinking across the population.


Anyone want to defend this point for him? Because, last I read, "empire" and "empirical" didn't share any particular etymological relationship.


I didn't even read that having long since got bored of the prating... but I did notice him use the word 'empire' in place of 'empirical' elsewhere, but left it alone considering the preponderance of other more egregious errors.

It is particularly amusing given the declaration of being in possession of all things Greek, yet apparently without the ability to read the original Greek. Now fair play, my ancient Greek isn't exactly conversational although I am pretty sure I could hold a long, boring but ultimately fairly convincing dialogue with an ancient Greek farmer; but I still know a Greek root word when I see one. Empirical comes from the Greek word empeirikos, involved with direct experience - i.e. observation, in turn derived from the Greek verb peiran, meaning to try, attempt, or experiment in a physical sense... the 'em' being a prefix comparable in English to 'in' applying a causal directionality to the verb, in this case 'within'... within the realm or remit of observation, and 'al' just making it an adjective.

Empire, as Hack says, is derived from Latin - the verb imperare means to command, from which we get Imperator & the more anglicized Emperor.

And even then, amongst all the errors, this isn't the most egregious located within that sentence.

Scott's really trying to latch onto Galileo Galilei to support his appeal to reason over empiricism? The same Galileo whose name is still attached to the concept of a Galilean telescope which he developed and used to record painstakingly-detailed astronomical observations, and from which direct observational experience he confirmed heliocentricism and was consequently so convinced by his own observations that he defended himself from charges of heresy by the Inquisition until he was finally forced to recant on pain of torture?

There might be worse historical examples to choose, but I think it would be a struggle to find one.

That 'foundational thinking' at work again? Novel square wheels are pretty good arguments against regular reinvention.
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Re: Apology: My Reflections on Forums of Science/Rationalism

#91  Postby Svartalf » Nov 24, 2019 9:30 am

Thommo wrote:
Svartalf wrote:mmmmh? deriving an empirical approach from a logical one is gibberish? Is that not what we've been doing around the breakthroughs made by Einstein for about a century? trying to determine by observation whether he was right or not?


I wrote a long reply, then decided against it. Let me try a short one.

The difference between empiricism and logic is not that empiricism decries or fails to utilise logic, it is that in empiricism your logical premises must be grounded in (sense) observations.

So the answer to your question is quite simply the same as the answer as to whether Einstein's theories sprang from past observations or took no account of them whatsoever.

Einstein's theories were born of prior observations (yes, plus logic) and were validated by subsequent ones. He did not start from the bottom, he stood on the shoulders of giants.

Edit: Typo.


Yet, Einstein's work was truly a revolution, in that it concluded from what was known at the time that universe had properties that nobody had thought of before, in a way, it put the Newtonian view of cosmos on its ear, and it took decades of research, not to mention vastly improved tools and ways to plumb the cosmos before it could be ascertained that he was indeed right.
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Re: Apology: My Reflections on Forums of Science/Rationalism

#92  Postby Cito di Pense » Nov 24, 2019 9:48 am

Svartalf wrote:before it could be ascertained that he was indeed right.


Folks thought Newton was 'right', too. You're just missing the point that Einstein's description is 'better' in the sense of being more general. This is boilerplate stuff in the philosophy and history of science. When data confirm the predictions of a theory, it means that data confirm the predictions of a theory. Any theory you use beyond the limits of its applicability may or may not give you problems, and those you will only discover later, if they emerge. If you're looking for the last word on everything. go with God.
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Re: Apology: My Reflections on Forums of Science/Rationalism

#93  Postby newolder » Nov 24, 2019 10:11 am

Svartalf wrote:
Thommo wrote:
Svartalf wrote:mmmmh? deriving an empirical approach from a logical one is gibberish? Is that not what we've been doing around the breakthroughs made by Einstein for about a century? trying to determine by observation whether he was right or not?


I wrote a long reply, then decided against it. Let me try a short one.

The difference between empiricism and logic is not that empiricism decries or fails to utilise logic, it is that in empiricism your logical premises must be grounded in (sense) observations.

So the answer to your question is quite simply the same as the answer as to whether Einstein's theories sprang from past observations or took no account of them whatsoever.

Einstein's theories were born of prior observations (yes, plus logic) and were validated by subsequent ones. He did not start from the bottom, he stood on the shoulders of giants.

Edit: Typo.


Yet, Einstein's work was truly a revolution, in that it concluded from what was known at the time that universe had properties that nobody had thought of before, in a way, it put the Newtonian view of cosmos on its ear, and it took decades of research, not to mention vastly improved tools and ways to plumb the cosmos before it could be ascertained that he was indeed right.


The postulate of Special Relativity that c is a constant in all non-inertial frames, is a consequence of the logic of Maxwell's equations for e-m radiation from the mid 19th Century :- c = (µ0 e0)-1/2 and is frame independent. Supporting observations, in the form of the Michelson-Morley null result, had to wait until later in the 19th C. Extending SR to GR required the logic of curved spacetime metrics that helped calculate the orbit of Mercury more precisely and also predict the bending of starlight during a total eclipse and measured some time later.

The view from the shoulders of giants - and all that.

Being a more accurate model, however, does not mean that it is "right" everywhere...
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Re: Apology: My Reflections on Forums of Science/Rationalism

#94  Postby Svartalf » Nov 24, 2019 10:40 am

I can't claim Einstein was right in every specific... I just don't have the scientific culture or mathematical ability to do that.
Yet, relativity seems to worki in actuality as it does in the theory (even if we can truly verify this only when we manage to send out vehicles at a speed close enough to light speed to make significant data emerge), E=MC² has been verified through the emergence of nuclear energy and weaponry, and we recently confirmed the existence of gravitational waves... good record for predictions made 40 or more years before the technology necessary to check them out became available.
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Re: Apology: My Reflections on Forums of Science/Rationalism

#95  Postby Spearthrower » Nov 24, 2019 10:45 am

Svartalf wrote:
Yet, Einstein's work was truly a revolution, in that it concluded from what was known at the time that universe had properties that nobody had thought of before, in a way, it put the Newtonian view of cosmos on its ear, and it took decades of research, not to mention vastly improved tools and ways to plumb the cosmos before it could be ascertained that he was indeed right.


What was known at the time.

How was it 'known'?

Was it a product of pure thought? Had logic, independent of the empirical world, conspired to create the necessity? Or was what was known actually mean observations of natural phenomena?

Decades of research... experimentation... empirical observation. Some Einstein's own observations around him, some from previous 'giants'.
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Re: Apology: My Reflections on Forums of Science/Rationalism

#96  Postby Spearthrower » Nov 24, 2019 10:49 am

Svartalf wrote:
Yet, Einstein's work was truly a revolution, in that it concluded from what was known at the time that universe had properties that nobody had thought of before, in a way, it put the Newtonian view of cosmos on its ear, and it took decades of research, not to mention vastly improved tools and ways to plumb the cosmos before it could be ascertained that he was indeed right.



Something that can be ascertained as being right prior to being tested is just a brute fact, not an explanatory model like a theory. Brute facts are experiential - water's wet, stone is hard etc. - they're not mental constructs in the sense of them having been produced by logic.

Models don't spring up from thought alone. They are built on the basis of hypothesis formulation, and hypothesis formation begins with observation - see phenomenon X, attempt to explain it, test explanation.

Logic is of course vital to scientific method, but we don't create explanations of things up in the absence of things needing explanations.
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Re: Apology: My Reflections on Forums of Science/Rationalism

#97  Postby newolder » Nov 24, 2019 10:53 am

Don't get me wrong, Svartalf, - GR theory is a great advance in our thinking and the tests it passes with flying colours are legion. The prediction of gravitational singularities, however, is a major sticking point that will probably get resolved only when someone alights upon/constructs a theory of quantum gravity that passes even more tests. Recent work on entangled objects at different heights in a gravity well, for example, looks like an area of productive research but, what do I know?
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Re: Apology: My Reflections on Forums of Science/Rationalism

#98  Postby hackenslash » Nov 24, 2019 11:02 am

Svartalf wrote:I can't claim Einstein was right in every specific...


You can't claim he was right at all, just as you can't claim that Newton was right, and for all the same reasons. What we can say is that his models are empirically adequate at this time, being in accord with all observations thus far.

Lest we forget, Newton was having predictions validated up the wazoo for centuries, excepting the precession of Mercury's perihelion, against which it returned a tiny error compared to observation, and for which there were several potential explanations that didn't involve Newton being wrong. Yet wrong he was, and it's still important to remember that Einstein may still turn out to have been wrong. There may as yet be some revolution in the way we think about the structure of spacetime that turns it all on its head again. Spacetime singularities are a huge problem, for example (ETA: newolder is a ninja).

At the very least, we know the Einsteinian picture is incomplete.
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Re: Apology: My Reflections on Forums of Science/Rationalism

#99  Postby Cito di Pense » Nov 24, 2019 12:24 pm

hackenslash wrote:
Svartalf wrote:I can't claim Einstein was right in every specific...


You can't claim he was right at all, just as you can't claim that Newton was right, and for all the same reasons. What we can say is that his models are empirically adequate at this time, being in accord with all observations thus far.

Lest we forget, Newton was having predictions validated up the wazoo for centuries, excepting the precession of Mercury's perihelion, against which it returned a tiny error compared to observation, and for which there were several potential explanations that didn't involve Newton being wrong. Yet wrong he was, and it's still important to remember that Einstein may still turn out to have been wrong. There may as yet be some revolution in the way we think about the structure of spacetime that turns it all on its head again. Spacetime singularities are a huge problem, for example (ETA: newolder is a ninja).

At the very least, we know the Einsteinian picture is incomplete.


Well, to be thorough, there's "being right" which people use colloquially the way Svartalf probably intended, but it's vague. It may mean being substantively correct although not in every known detail. It can mean being exactly right (usually at mathematics), or it may mean accurately stating a definition that has been agreed upon. If it's a scientific fact, as pointed out above, exactness comes with error bars and in relation to standard or inter-lab determinations. Colloquial usage is often good enough, even here, but not in this case. In this case, it is indeed incorrect to say "Einstein was right" even with qualification like "in most details". As you point out, we don't know all the details.

I think this ties in with the problems Scott Mayers is having. Scott is trying to say he's correct without citing any standard for gauging correctness. If we get right down to it, one of Scott's statements was described as showing a "grain of truth". When is it appropriate to compliment someone (even lukewarmly) by granting a grain of truth in what he says?

Look at the thread title: What is this "rationalism" of which it speaks? It's not just about stating facts correctly and giving justifications or citing evidence for one's statements. We have contributors of a considerable range in both ability and training, here. Is rationalism an ideology with a goal in mind? Not exclusively. Here, it's a practice. One of Scott's gripes seems vaguely to be about inclusiveness. The point of scientific investigation is not to include various perspectives, but we know it comes up.
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Re: Apology: My Reflections on Forums of Science/Rationalism

#100  Postby hackenslash » Nov 24, 2019 12:51 pm

Indeed. The relativity of wrong.
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