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You Just Don't Pay Any Attention To What I Say!

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Posted by Richard D. Stafford, Ph.D. on August 31, 2002 22:17:37 UTC

Hi Harv,

I am happy to learn that you are not peeved with me. Your response certainly does point out the differences in the way you and I think. You get unbelievably close to understanding what I say and then completely miss the central issue. I won't comment about Luis other than the fact that he misquotes me on a regular basis and never actually presents any arguments at all against what I say.

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Harv: Absolutely correct! I am just as biased as anyone. The issue is not that we have bias, the issue is what sub-conceptual schemes are we prepared to give up if they do not cohere with layers having presumably more precendence (e.g., conventions non-fallacious reasoning, etc).
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See; the problem is your insistence that some part of the bias need be retained in order to discuss the issue I have seen. I say the bias is only required for the basic communication: that is, if you have faith in the internal consistency of mathematics you possess and have sufficient faith in the necessary concepts to follow my reasoning. Your decision as what to believe after you have listened to the logic, I leave to you. The problem I have is that you simply refuse to "look through my telescope".

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Harv: True to only a certain extent. Mathematics still depends on axioms. The choice of axioms, of course, holds a high precedence, and is not easily avoidable (although, axioms of math are constantly questioned and have been questioned).
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As I have said earlier, I leave that issue to others more qualified than myself. Certainly if mathematical constructs are worthless then my arguments are equally worthless; however, I think such a conclusion is quite destructive to any "scientific" approach to any problem. If that is your position then your position amounts to "all scientists should forget about what they do as none of it can be proved". I don't really believe you would stand behind such a position! Fundamentally, your response is off the subject and has almost nothing to do with what I am trying to show you.

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Harv: The problem, though, is that mathematics has nothing to do with the external world, so you need more ontological commitments besides the mere math axioms that you use to construct your model.
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If you would hear my arguments, you would see the ontological commitments! I make them very slowly and very deliberately.

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Harv: Without those other commitments, you would have no means to 'hook' your model into the world of physics (i.e., the material universe).
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I simply have no argument with that position. My position is simply that those hooks must be carefully constructed so as to insure that there exists no possibility of creating a model which constrains what can be modeled. For the purposes to which this model is to be put, a model which is not totally general is worthless.

Regarding my rephrasing your P1'

"[P1''] - My subconscious leads me to believe that there is a world 'out there' that is separate from my inner thoughts (my conscious awareness) which I call 'reality'. Ultimate reality is what I perceive must really be 'out there' and I define that to mean that ultimate reality cannot be reduced to misperception, chemical imbalances in our cognitive abilities, inaccurate human theories of nature (including the concept of "sense impressions"), etc., etc., etc. !'

you miss the entire rational for my change. Your term "sense impressions" is a plural construct which implies you are speaking of multiple things. If you are willing to change the term to "the sense impression you are consciously aware of" (essentially blocking off the conceptual baggage carried along with "sense impressions"), then you are talking about exactly the same thing I am referring to by "my subconscious" (whatever creates that mental model of the universe I am aware of). I call it my subconscious because I didn't do it on a conscious level and that is all I intend to imply.

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Harv: The most basic interaction I can contemplate is the flood of images, sounds, smells, etc that come to 'me'.
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The problem I have with that statement is that it explicitly contains aspects of that mental model which must be held in doubt: explicit direct references to things you call images, sounds, smells etc. Even by your own personal model, all images are illusions created by the nerve connections to your brain and not direct physical perception of what is out there. I would rather relegate the whole business to "that mental image of reality" which you work with. Just stick the whole thing in one bag and don't try to convince me you "know" any of it to be "ultimate reality".

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Harv: Your answer, I imagine, is "because I feel myself reacting to my thoughts of images, sounds, smells, etc". This is P1'. P1'' reduces to P1'.
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No Harv, it is not. My answer is that the problem you insist upon concentrating on has no bearing on what I would like to show you. I fully admit that in order to communicate I need the facilities of what you call my personal "ontology"; but, I insist that it only be used as a vague rudder to steer one's thoughts to the discovery I have uncovered. I certainly do not insist on any accuracy in that model worth arguing about; it is no more than a communication device. The final logical decisions are to be made in your head by your conscious musings.

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Harv: Perhaps 'logic' might be more basic since you need some type of logic to make mathematics meaningful to the questions you wish mathematics to address. In addition, you need logic to even obtain meaningful axioms of math. Paul and I have argued this point more than once, but each time we each agree to disagree. I agree, of course, that mathematicians treat the basic definitions and symbols as undefined (i.e., meaningless), however whenever we are talking about P1' and applying math to it, we are necessarily adding meaning to our axioms.
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Again, you go completely off subject. The logic behind mathematics I leave to others much more qualified than myself; I simply take the subject of mathematics as the single most reliable set of logical structures I have to work with.

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Harv: However, in the process of making these additional assumptions [I presume you are referring to mathematics here???], the question is whether you are describing ultimate reality or merely settling for an epistemologically more adequate approach. Well, if you are starting from P1' (and hence P1''), then you are not describing ultimate reality and nor could you even hope to do so (as even you, I think, might agree).
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No, I am not starting from P1. I am starting from some mathematical relations. What you are complaining about is nothing more then my vague amateurish persuasion to get you to look! That persuasion is obviously a failure as you seem to have a strong anti-mathematics bias.

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Harv: The problem, then, ... which, incidentally, the 'Bible Code' is trying to pawn itself as being).
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No, the problem is how to get you to look at what I am saying.

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Harv: QM ... To reject those principles is currently equivalent to rejecting the theory.
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I do not concern myself with any theory. Neither do I "reject" QM or any other theory for that matter. The whole thing (at least until I get well down the road) is completely immaterial to what I want you to look at. In essence, everything I do is equivalent to exactly the kind of things every scientist does; however, where the scientist does those things in the particular case, I express exactly the same type of moves in an abstract manner.

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Harv: I would say that we have no portion of 'ultimate reality' to work with. We don't have access to this data is what I'm trying to say here. All we have access to is the flood of images, sounds, smells, etc that we are reacting to.
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Perhaps if you would stop and think about what you have just said, you might perceive the issue I would like to show you. I think the first statement you make is false (or at best, not well thought out). If you are to insist that "we have no portion of 'ultimate reality' to work with", then there is, from your perspective, no component of 'ultimate reality' in anything we might think we know. That appears to me to be a succinct statement of the anti-realist's position and I don't think you consider yourself in that camp! I suspect that what you are really trying to say is that we have no "known" portion of 'ultimate reality' to work with and with that I have no argument at all.

One of the most important aspects of mathematics is the idea of working with unknowns. I think a lot of people who have difficulty following mathematical logic fail to grasp that concept. Do you understand the concept of working with unknowns?

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Harv: What that is, we cannot say if it is 'ultimate' information or trivial information.
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I agree 100%; however, I think we can say that some of it might be "ultimate" information and some of it is probably "personally created" (I don't know that I would use the word "trivial") information. I have named these two components: "knowable data" and "unknowable data". The "knowable data" is valid information about "ultimate reality" whereas the "unknowable data" is data created in order to explain the valid information (created by what I do not know, but created none the less). At no place in my presentation do I make any claim at all that there exists any way of separating the two. Both are "unknowns" however there are some subtle differences.

The only claim I make is that the two must be logically handled in a slightly different way with very profound consequences. The "knowable data" is given and unalterable, whereas the "unknowable data" is a free creation of my mind. The issue is, given any representation of the 'ultimate' information conceivable, is there any rational way of creating what you call "trivial" information (my unknowable data) such as to express the constraint (that of assuring internal consistency) in a convenient manner?

You see, the issue of internal consistency is fundamental to any explanation of anything for reasons I have stated elsewhere. The answer to the question is, yes! There exists a straight forward procedure for creating such "unknowable data" which guarantees the requirement of self consistency. That guarantee is expressed in the final equation of Chapter 1.

My point is that there exists no set of "ultimate data" which cannot be modeled via my model (my model is completely general) and that my model is guaranteed to be internally consistent. It thus forms a foundation from which the problem of determining the true nature of ultimate reality. See my title: "The Foundations of Physical Reality.

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Harv: For example, a schizophrenic may have very good reason to believe they are experiencing ultimate reality with one of their dillusions, but that doesn't make it so. They too are experiencing a flood of images, sounds, smells, etc, but much of it could be quite misleading.
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But some of it might be based on ultimate reality couldn't it? The real problem is that the created data usually turns out to be pretty internally inconsistent! If it were 100% internally consistent, do you think you could find a way of proving he was wrong?

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Harv: I have no problem playing math games to try and duplicate the epistemological knowledge of science, however where I have a problem is that I cannot accept epistemological methods that do not produce predictive success on their own merit.
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What I have produced is a far better explanation of what you experience than the explanations provided by modern science. If you would look at it, I think you would agree; however, I find no mechanism by which I can get you to even consider looking at it.

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Harv: ... we have no way to know if we are dealing with Bible Codes or a new means to produce more certain-type knowledge (i.e., very reliable such as the scientific 'method').
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What I have put forth is a simple way of avoiding an error in logic which pervades almost all of science. A way of bringing into account the entire universe in one fell swoop. I have done to the macroscopic picture what calculus did for the microscopic issues of continuity.

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Harv: To date, no one has been able to surpass the reliable success of the so-called scientific method.
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I have no complaint with the scientific method at all. All I ask is that they do a little homework first!
Internal consistency is my byword. I know of no scientist who would intentionally balk at assuring their work should be internally consistent. However, they all seem to leave the issue to others.

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Harv: It is not so easy to predict, but it is a heck of a lot easier to explain once you have the predictive models at hand.
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What I laid out was not built to predict anything! It was built to assure internal self consistency and otherwise constrain nothing. Now that is Chapter 1. The statement is either true or false. Only two questions may be asked: 1. is what I present internally self consistent or not? and 2. does the method of modeling the information constrain any representation of "ultimate reality" (the knowable data) in any way at all? If I have made an error, someone should point it out. If they cannot point out an error, then my model is useable and any possible representation of anything can be so modeled (so long as there exists no information outside the data represented in the model).

Now, as my model puts absolutely no constraints whatsoever on what may be represented, the fact that some 90% of modern physics cannot be false says something very significant. Essentially it says that the professionals have not thought things out carefully.

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Harv: Philosophers mostly concentrate in dwelving into questions which lay the groundwork for future scientific success (or better understanding past scientific successes).
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If that is the case then someone ought to at least look at what I have to say. They might be surprised.

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Harv: For example, current interest in the philosophy of science is heavy into the realism/anti-realism debate [Dick: I step right across that debate - each position has equal representation in my model: i.e., the issue is still completely open], the role of language [Dick: the role of vague non-mathematical language may be side stepped, it also being left open], the nature of scientific laws [Dick: most of the "scientific laws" cannot be violated being tautological consequences of definitions], the nature of mathematical models [Dick: why don't you look at this one once?], work related to neurobiology and cognitive science (e.g., AI) [Dick: yeah, I think what I have to say impacts these issues very heavily], counterfactuals [Dick: I don't know what a counterfactual is!], causality [Dick: everything makes a lot more sense if you relegate "causality" to being a figment of your imagination], the nature of space-time [Dick: another unnecessary figment of your imagination], reductionism and holism in science [Dick: my presentation is the only completely holistic representation I am aware of, some of you philosophers ought to look at it!], scientific methodologies [Dick: all I have done is added a step; instead of ignoring it, you should examine it carefully.], factors in favoring theory acceptance, the nature of scientific evidence [Dick: now that idea is central to my presentation, as I have said before, to refuse to look is to scuttle rational science!], biological divisions of species, genus, families, interpretations of quantum mechanics [Dick: one should understand exactly what I have said before making any attempt to interpret quantum mechanics!], interpretations of probability within science [Dick: the single aspect of probability of which I make any use at all is that it must be expressible as a real number between 0 and 1; I am aware of no interpretation of probability which violates that rule and I believe the rule to be embedded in the definition itself!] , etc. And, this is just one field within philosophy. [Dick: then it appears that what I have done should be of interest to some philosophers.] Working to solve these kind of problems helps to avoid misconceptions in scientific work. [Dick: yes, I think what I have done does help avoid misconceptions in scientific work!] In terms of understanding science, it is better to analyze the philosophical claims of science and understand them in terms of the successes and failures of science rather than trying to duplicate the success of science. We can add more to our understanding of science using this means, but this does not entail duplicating the results of science (anymore than the philosophy of law tries to duplicate the success of the judicial system). It simply tries to understand the philosophical implications and as well as perhaps the metaphysical implications of science. [Dick: I think that, if you understood what I have done, you would find many very significant implications.]
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You ought to look at it!

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Harv: It seems 'nuts' agree fully when they face a common foe, but their disagreements are often swept under the rug and reappear after the foe has departed.
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Oh, I sure have noticed that!

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Harv: Dick, your 'subconscious' is a pscyhological concept that was used to better understand the working of the mind. If you reduce this picture to its pre-ontology, I think you will see that even the 'stream of moments' that we experience are reducable to P1'. We are simply rationalizing a collection of moments into a rational structure which we can characterize as our experience of the world.
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I understand exactly what you are saying. My complaint with what you say is that by explicitly referring to 'stream of moments' you are already positing "stream of moments" as an aspect of "ultimate reality". I hold that you (at least at this moment) have no way of knowing what is "ultimate reality" and what is not. Just put all this trash in one bag and give it a name (how about just calling it "information"). You are just confusing yourself with the attack you attempt. You are sitting there trying to untie the Gordian knot! Step back and look at the whole problem at once.

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Harv: What happens after that is based on an attempt to rationalize this experience into something meaningful (e.g., time, space, conscious, logic, etc).
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Yeah, shouldn't we make that attempt as organized as possible or are you more in favor of just running pell mell into the fray?

Have fun -- Dick

PS - Maybe we shouldn't get this started again as you seem hell bent on misinterpreting what I say.

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