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Let Us Include All Possibilities!

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Posted by Richard D. Stafford, Ph.D. on April 10, 2002 20:58:42 UTC


No, I had no intention of name calling. The term "idiot" is a very specific type of mental problem. The word comes from the same source as the word idiom and refers to a facility in learned behavior as opposed to thinking; an idiot is someone who cannot think beyond what they have specifically learned. Oft times they can have knowledge and abilities far beyond the average but "thinking" is not one of their strong points. Sometimes it is very difficult to detect an idiot as the ability to think is very difficult to test.

I do not think you are an idiot but I do think you resist thinking quite strongly. In particular, consider your response in the post above. With regard to my comment "You are saying that my definition (which has been put forth as completely unconstrained) "inherently involves people" because ... as far as we know" ... Why did you insert the phrase unless you wanted to constrain it to something which included the concept "people". Can you not comprehend that the moment you do that, you need to show me that the concept "people" is required in all possible universes!" you put forth the following response:

***** Harv:
Dick, you used a term in your definition called 'numbers'. What is a number? It is a mental representation of a human. That's what a number is. What if someone defined reality as Cartoonland. Then that definition hinges upon the existence of a concept that exists inside the heads of humans as a concept.

Does it now? If we are going to include all possibilities, why not include the possibility that the concept "numbers" exists outside the existence of humans? In fact, why not include the possibility that the concept can exist in the absence of anything else? It appears to me that your position is, in reality, that only things which you can conceive of exist! I am sorry Harv but that is the constraint put forward by all authorities and any thinking person can comprehend the danger in that error.

***** Harv:
I don't understand you. You think numbers, ideas, concepts, thoughts, exist outside a human being? If so, then you must prove it. I have never once tripped over a concept, a number has never been photographed in space by the Hubble, you can't find ideas in the ocean, etc. These are intangible things that don't exist on their own. You can't separate the intangible from the tangible. They are part and parcel of the definition.

Harv, you have the whole thing backwards! If I am going to include all possibilities then I certainly cannot justify omitting a possibility simply because I cannot prove such a possibility exists. On the contrary, if you are suggesting that the fact that you think I am including a possibility which cannot exist is grounds for rejection of my work then you simply do not understand what I am doing.

The difficulty here is very clear. The entire human race is brought up to think that exclusion of the impossible is the route to clarification and understanding of any problem. On the contrary, a brief examination of the advances of mankind indicated that it is exactly what was thought to be impossible which turned out to be central issue in almost every major breakthrough. It is the mode of common human thought to strip things down to what they think are the essential features of a problem. It is very difficult for most people to comprehend an all inclusive attack.

How about we make sure we exclude nothing! All possibilities must be included or we have failed to consider something. As an aside, when I say I am going to ignore a situation, that is not exclusion as I am telling you exactly what is to be done with that possibility! Essentially, by telling you how I am handling that situation, I am including the possibility. For example, when I state that I will ignore all concepts which are not communicable, I am fully including the possibility that there exists concepts which are not communicable (even though I personally find the concept fundamentally illogical).

But, as I said earlier, just exactly why do you think I should concern myself with concepts which can not be communicated?

***** Harv:
That would completely defeat your idea of eliminating all chance of error from your 'model of reality'.

The construction of this sentence implies a misunderstanding of my "model". Error is not an aspect of the model. Of issue is, does there exist any set of information which can not be represented via that model; and don't bother with the incommunicable issue as, if it is incommunicable, I won't bother representing it! To omit it is not a loss as I cannot communicate it anyway.

Have fun -- Dick

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