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Pythagorean Nonsense

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Posted by Harvey on May 13, 2002 16:52:27 UTC

Hi Paul,

I should clarify a few points.

***I'm not exactly sure what you mean by "sophist" physics (you know how I am with isms) but I agree completely that it was a missed opportunity.***

Sophists became famous for doubting everything, including our senses. Unlike pragmatists, sophists strove to disavow rational views to the point of being ludicrous (e.g., physics is to be regarded true as a result of human definitions instead as a result of experimental findings).

***H: but I think that such situations are real opportunities for Science to better explain itself to the public P: I agree with this also. Even more important, this situation is a real opportunity for Science to broaden its base of understanding of reality. It's a dirty shame that they are ignoring this golden opportunity.***

The fact is that he is a Pythagorean and this shows a basic misunderstanding of the empirical stance of science. We don't have to hypothesize the existence of numbers as 'out there' in order to regard the results of experimental science as facts. They are facts because they are discovered, not because of some Pythagorean nonsense.

***H: That is what I enjoy about Dick's 'model', it has an inherent misunderstanding of science,... P: Your apparent confidence in the certainty of this assertion is completely understandable when you consider the hold traditional ideas have on most people's imaginations.***

I regard Pythagorean beliefs as nonsense. I don't have to believe in Pythagorean religion in order to be a believer in the success of science. Dick is asking for a belief in a religious position in order to believe his paper is correct. I can't accept that.

***H: and the correction to that misunderstanding moves at the heart of science and its success. P:If there were a misunderstanding on Dick's part, its correction would undoubtedly move Dick, but I doubt it would have much affect on the heart of science and its success.***

No, I mean that if we understand the fallacies in Dick's paper, it moves people to a more clear understanding of science (especially the empirical nature of science). For example, take Dick's concepts of experiments being true by definition, this is complete baloney. Anyone who comes to see how experiments are used to understand the theoretical success of prediction, will have a better understanding of science. If someone thinks that terms such as 'energy', 'work', 'time', 'acceleration', etc are used to make an experiment come out as expected, then they sorely misunderstand science.

***On the other hand, if science were to find that there was no substantial error in Dick's work, then that realization would have a dramatic impact on the heart of science and its future success. It's too bad they won't deign to look at it closely enough to settle the question.***

As Richard mentioned, there is probably some useful science underneath Dick's approach, but he is so hell-bent on sophist concepts that he himself cannot so them. He can only construe a sophist interpretation, therefore science can learn nothing from his approach. It takes a considerable amount of effort to find any use of his mathematical work, and apparently this has already been done by others. Unfortunately Dick's poor philosophical understanding of science prevented him from making some contributions to physics. This wouldn't be the first time that a poor philosophy led to such missed opportunities. Einstein believed the universe was static, therefore he missed out on the expansion of the universe predicted by the GR equations. Also, he could have probably made more contributions with QM, had he been willing to accept QM as more fundamental to the universe. Not to pick on Einstein, but it goes to show that one's philosophical notions can have a major impact (both good and bad) on their scientific accomplishments. Fortunately, Einstein held the right philosophy regarding the relativity principle and equilibrium principle (etc) such that he was able to make the overwhelming successful contributions to science.

***H: Of course, a correction to Dick's approach will never convince an Aurino (who like Dick is pretty much sold on their own misguidings). P:If Science would only produce a case showing a need for such a "correction", we would also find out whether this assertion of yours is true or false. Until then, I guess we each hold our own positions for our own reasons.***

This is what I, Richard, Bruce, Alex, Luis, etc have all tried to provide Dick. I think he doesn't listen because of his sophist confusion. Usually he does this by not holding one consistent position (or one consistent definition of some of his terms, e.g., reality).

Sorry to be 'hard', but you must realize how hard Dick is on those who genuinely are trying to correct him on his simple misunderstandings of the philosophy of science. He attacks those who can help them, so it is necessary to become a little more frank in these replies. No one, I think, intensionally wants to hurt his feelings, but the man is very confused with regard to the philosophy of science. It is very obvious.

Warm regards, Harv

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