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You Raise A Valid Point

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Posted by Harvey on April 2, 2002 20:59:16 UTC


You are first person to raise this point (I'm melting, I'm melting... just kidding).

***There's one thing I don't understand. If you have a problem with reality being defined as a set of numbers, then how come you accept the worldview given to us by modern physics? Don't you realize that one basic assumption in physics is that everything that is real can be made to move a needle in some instrument? And vice-versa, if it doesn't move the needle then it isn't real?***

I find it more prudent to think our sense impressions (which underlie the assumptions of physicists) are good reflections of the way the Universe really is. I cannot prove that the Universe is how it appears to our senses, nor can I say that we have an exact feel for it. I simply believe it to be so. It is always possible that all sorts of hidden facts distort the world in such a manner that we are hopelessly out of touch with the world, but I don't find that path very illuminating so out of pure prejudice toward what I consider a rational thought process I discount it.

***I really don't understand where the problems are. I don't believe reality is a set of numbers, and I'm pretty sure neither does Dick. All Dick is saying is, if you define reality as a set of numbers then you get a good portion of modern physics as a consequence. I have no idea what could possibly be wrong with that, especially since physicists have been doing essentially the same thing for centuries!***

I have no problem with 'reality is a set of numbers' if such a model predicted not only the most significant finds of physics ever discovered, but predicted a heck of a lot more stuff so that we build some confidence in the model. Imagine if Dick's model could predict the correct formulation of a quantum theory of gravity, or if he could perfectly deduce the existence of dark matter, or could explain what happened prior to the big bang in such a way that was all experimentally validated. I can see Scientific American May issue: "Reality is a Set of Numbers", written by Richard Stafford. That would be fantastic!

***I believe it was you who said that math rules the universe. I wonder what goes in your head to make you think that math could rule anything other than a set of numbers. I disagree that math rules the universe, I think the only thing that math rules are abstract sets of numbers inside people's heads. Most of your criticisms toward Dick are in fact criticisms on your own position, only you do not realize it.***

That's right. I am a mathematical realist. I think mathematics does force conformity of the universe to some rather straightforward mathematical principles. But, this is a belief that at best only has good inductive arguments to support it. It is not a deductive truth of the universe. Induction is like association, you build your case and then you try to link the evidence to your proposition. If the case is sufficiently supported by the evidence, then your proposition is rational and everyone gains some positive belief in your proposition.

In Dick's model, we aren't talking about a good argument for something. We are talking about something that must be the case because the deductions are wide enough to account for all the possibilities. Dick is saying that there is no other choice but for his model to be correct. He, in his view, has proven this to be the case. That case is not well-founded in that view. The cause is what I conceive of as a misapplication of the power of deductive reasoning.

Warm regards, Harv

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