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Posted by Aurino Souza on April 3, 2002 14:30:23 UTC

Hi Harv,

I'm melting, I'm melting...

That was funny. If I were 20 years younger I would say "LOL"

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.

That belief is the best way to handle the practical problems in life, and I'm all for it. However, when I see dogmatic physicists saying "reality is like this and like that" I can't help getting annoyed. I feel they are abusing the powers they were given, they were not supposed to say anything about reality, they were assigned the job of making sense of our sense impressions. They are quite good at the latter, but the former has always been and always will be outside their domain. But I think you agree with that.

Now the interesting thing, and what you may not agree but I can tell you it's true, is that while we cannot prove that the universe is how it appears to our senses, we can use logic to prove that it can't possibly be so. For instance, a while ago I I offered the argument that space doesn't exist the way we think of it, that it is little more than a creation of our minds. My argument was based on the scientific fact that all the images we ever see are located "inside" ourselves but we think they are "outside". It's a classic case of an illusion, and I quoted "inside" and "outside" because my argument makes it clear that those concepts only have from the context of the illusion itself.

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 have no problem with being irrational, with making unjustified assumptions, with living with paradoxes. I think it's all part of life and adds zest to it. I only have a problem with people who are irrational, make unjustified assumptions, live with paradoxes, all the while claiming not to be doing it and lambasting everyone else who disagrees with them.

If you paid attention to our dialogue, you must have realized that we don't think much differently. I see you are as strongly opposed to scientific dogmatism as I am. The only problem I see with you sometimes is that you seem to support the very position you criticize. For instance, as I tried to show here, you criticized Dick for defining reality as a set of numbers without realizing your acceptance of physics implied that you agreed with his definition. Try to imagine how people feel when they perceive that kind of contradiction.

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.

Oh Harv, you keep bringing this (non-)issue up, it's completely beside the point. I know you don't see it that way, but that's only because you don't understand what the point is. I'll give you a crude analogy, it probably won't help much but I'll try. What you are saying sounds to me exactly like this:

"The French language is inferior to English because no French author ever reached the literary excellence achieved by Shakespeare. Sure, the French do have the likes of Hugo and Dumas, but they don't measure up to the Bard. This is definite proof that English is better than French"

I suppose you don't think English is better than French even if you think Shakespeare is the greatest author who ever lived. The point is not who wrote it, the point is can Shakespeare be translated into French without losing meaning? Of course it can. So all that stuff you're talking about there, if it's logically consistent with the rest of physics it can be translated into Dick's model. And if it's not consistent, well, why bother?

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.

I have no problem with any of that.

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.

Dick is not saying that his model is the only valid choice. As far as I can tell, that's the kind of argument that usually comes from the mouths of people like Alex. What Dick is doing is entirely the opposite, he's doing things in a wacky way and getting the same "truths" that physicists get. Which only means Alex is full of Language Removed.

(but then, of course he doesn't get post-1940 physics so it's not really the same thing, and here we go again... please see "Shakespeare" above)

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.

Let me tell you what Dick's paper is all about:

0 = 0 = 0 = 0 = 0 = 0 = 0 = 0 = 0 = 0 = 0 = 0 = 0 = 0 = 0 = 0 = 0 = 0 = 0 = 0

Trust me, that's in essence all he's saying. Now prove him wrong!

You only have two chances to prove Dick wrong. Either you come up with a logical proof that 0 is not equal to 0 (tough, but people have been looking for holes in math for ages, maybe there's still one hiding somewhere), or you show him he made a mistake deriving one of his equations. Any other criticism is beside the point until you get those two issues cleared out.

Think about that for a while, there are some serious issues there, issues worth being examined.

Good luck,


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