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Posted by Harvey on June 1, 2003 23:56:28 UTC

Dick,

I really want to communicate with you versus talking over your head as I've been doing on a consistent level. The problem is that nothing seems to work with you. You mostly fail to respond to most of my points, hence it makes it difficult to force you to contradiction since you won't respond long enough to put yourself in that position. In any case, the technique that I think works the best is questioning, so I'll move more to that line of argument since you might even bother to answer the questions.

***To begin with, I have never pretended to be a philosopher; but I do concern myself very seriously with the duty of an objective scientist.***

Do you think a scientist should be concerned about the reliability of science as long as they have obtained their pragmatic objectives with regard to producing scientific evidence in conjunction with other scientific theoretical concerns? If so, then why do you think a scientist would be interested in going beyond a pragmatic justification?

***You keep interpreting my model as a supposed valid model of reality. That is not really what it is. What it is, is a model of anything (any communicable thing anyway) which could lie on the source end of that pipeline. My model includes a logically constructed pipeline. The problem with the existence of the pipeline is that there is absolutely no way of examining its operation thus the only tool available to consider its performance is logic itself.***

How is what you've just explained different than the concept of reality?

***1) Does the pipeline I refer to exist? The answer to that question is very simple. Are your perceptions an exact representation of reality? Or do illusions really exist? The "pipeline" is nothing more than my name for whatever it is that produces "illusions"! It is also exactly what I am referring to every time I use the word subconscious. Ontology!! Does the pipeline exist or doesn't it? It would be very simple for you to prove the pipeline does not exist, just show me a perception which can be examined without depending on perceptions in any way and I will admit the pipeline does not exist (i.e., the concept of its existence is unnecessary)!***

Am I saying the pipeline doesn't exist or am I merely saying that it is non-sensical to study it, at least without producing some predictions that make it hard to refute that you have successfully studied something of relevance.

***Personally, I believe its existence is necessary! And I also believe there is no evidence for any direct contact between our conscious awareness and reality: i.e. we depend entirely on that "thing" for everything we know! If you do not believe the "thing" I call "the pipeline" exists, then please put forth your arguments in a form which can be discussed. Perhaps you can convert me!***

I would not even try to convert you that there is no 'pipeline' just like I wouldn't try to convert others that there was a 'pipeline'. I see no merit to argue from ignorance. You seem to prefer to argue from your own ignorance, correct?

***2) Do scientists take the existence of such a pipeline into account in their analysis? I think you answered that question yourself!***

In other words, at the beginning of your post you said: "To begin with, I have never pretended to be a philosopher; but I do concern myself very seriously with the duty of an objective scientist." So, if scientists are not studying the matter which you are concerned, but philosophers are concerned with it, then aren't you in effect practicing philosophy?

***D: The issue of this discussion is the fact that the problem we face is one of deciphering the puzzle which is reality. H: NO, NO, NO. This is metaphysics and even philosophers stay away from this issue. D: As I said, people like Harv just don't like to think about the problem and will use whatever cavil they can dream up to cut off debate. For a very simple reason! It is a problem he does not know how to solve thus, in his mind, a waste of time to consider. And he doesn't think anyone else should consider it either!***

Let me ask you a question raised by Mark, which I thought was a good point. If the problem we face is one of "deciphering the puzzle which is reality", then how do you know that you have done that successfully since your interaction with reality is via the human brain, how do you know that the human brain and all that it comprehends (e.g., human logic and human mathematics) are not faulty with respect to "deciphering the puzzle which is reality"? If you do not absolutely know that you have done that successfully, then why am I not right in considering this issue a waste of time to try and answer since even if we were successful we wouldn't know it?

***3) Can the existence of that pipeline have real consequences?

If it has no consequences, then what are illusions? Anyway, if you don't think about it, you certainly can't answer the question. I just want people to think about it! Suppose some experimenter wanted to look for waves in liquid helium in a dewar and used a rod of quartz connected to a float on the helium. Now, if I came to him and asked, "have you taken into account resonance in the rod"? Would you say that was a stupid question? As I said earlier, the current scientific position is: if it can not be tested it must be believed to be true. With regard to this universal unexamined belief, I comment: when belief in that perception leads to totally inconsistent results we assign the title "illusion" to the effect and go back to believing everything else. The fact that we are aware of some illusions implies the pipeline has real consequences and that at least some of them are detectable through the use of logic.***

Would you say that science is concerned about reality or about modeling reality in a way that suits our pragmatic purposes? Do you understand the difference?

***4) Is the pipeline an aspect of the universe subject to analysis? Now this is a horse of a different color (to quote someone). What is it? Is it part of reality or is it part of our model of reality? Well, let's ask the question in another way: are illusions real or are they a consequence of how our subconscious functions. It seems to me that the standard interpretation of this situation is that illusions are not real, they are mental constructs created by our minds. If one is to accept that idea, then the only rational answer is that the pipeline is something to be explained.***

Why not just work off pragmatic justifications for science and skip the philosophical mumbo-jumbo that you are caught up in?

*** It consists of something which absolutely cannot be examined and yet its existence has real analyzable consequences. It can be examined in terms of the internal consistency of its product (our perceptions themselves).***

But, how do you deal with the fact that our concept of self-consistency is itself part of the 'pipeline' as you call it, and apparently as likely to be wrong about reality as anything that our pipeline directly tells us?

***5) Is it reasonable to assume that everyone's pipeline (their subconscious) works exactly the same as everyone else's? That appears to be the assumption of everyone who thinks about the nature of awareness. It seems to me that the assumption is an astonishing leap of faith. Maybe somebody out there understands how the pipeline works and can prove that only one possibility can exist. If so, I would like to see that proof. Personally, I hold it is an extremely unreasonable assumption; particularly when faced with the fact that the phenomena is totally unavailable for examination. In addition, one might consider the large number of "nuts" in the world: i.e., the people whose mental image of the world is severely distorted from the norm! If that is not solid evidence for variation in the functioning of the pipeline, I do not know what is.***

Does it matter for science if everyone's 'pipeline' functions differently? As long as there is pragmatic justification for scientific theories to be accepted, why do we care about whether they are true or not?

***Yanniru keeps postulating that I am modeling the pipeline. I think that is one of the reasons that he just misses the whole thing. I am not doing that at all. What I am doing is constructing a model of what could come out of the spigot if I were to designed that pipeline to my specifications. My right to do this rests entirely on the statement that the pipeline itself is unexaminable. After all, is it not part of my mental image of reality; something of my own creation? Consider your pipeline; simply because your subconscious created that pipeline is no evidence at all that it was not a personal creation. The only complaint which can be made concerning the pipeline I have designed is that what comes out the spigot does not conform to a reasonable mental image of reality.***

How do you know that you have properly set-up the parameters of the problem such that the right answer has been produced? What if the pipeline is much more complicated than you have in mind when you set-up the parameters of the problem and you have achieved only superficial results? How would you know that you were wrong, and how would you know that you were right?

***All I do is propose that my designed pipeline be adopted as an analytical tool for scientific analysis. If we can agree on mathematics and logic (which seems to garner the most agreement between humans yet achieved) then we can agree upon the specific illusions generated by that pipeline as essential parts of an acceptable mental image of reality.***

What exactly are we agreeing on about mathematics and logic? I don't think anyone has agreed that they are the sole means of discovery for pragmatic knowledge about the world. Even logic as useful as that is needs to check itself against the backdrop of evidence just to make sure that the assumptions and set-up of the problem is correct, don't you agree? Why should we treat logic and mathematics as correct beyond a pragmatic based approach? Why should we be concerned of failure to take your approach?

***A foundation upon which we can confidently rest those theories essential to the advancement of science. If that is the case, we can be at least somewhat confident about what our theories rest upon.***

Our theories at least rest on pragmatic justification, so why do we need to worry about what the theories rest on as long as we pragmatically justify them?

***If we are just going to turn a blind eye to the issue, then how can we have any confidence at all in the foundations created by our subconscious (what we think intuitively is true)?***

Why should we need to worry about this issue since we have pragmatic justifications for our uses of the scientific methods? Also, I know of few pragmatic justifications for using your kind of unique method at discovery, so why should we even concern ourselves with it?

***H: [From Harv's interpretation of what I am doing]: By this epistemological approach I assure myself that my model will not attribute to reality things which could have been generated using an ontological approach (e.g., symmetries actually exist in reality. By doing this, I can take advantage that the symmetries generated by my model without making any undue assumptions about reality per se". D: I find this paragraph very confusing.***

My text was to re-interpret what you wrote to Yaniru as he requested that someone other than you try to do. From what I can tell from above, I did explain your position correctly. For example, above you said: "[a]ll I do is propose that my designed pipeline be adopted as an analytical tool for scientific analysis. If we can agree on mathematics and logic (which seems to garner the most agreement between humans yet achieved) then we can agree upon the specific illusions generated by that pipeline as essential parts of an acceptable mental image of reality." In translation you are saying: "By this epistemological approach [taking my designed pipeline and adopting it as an analytical tool for epistemological analysis] I assure myself that my model will not attribute to reality [i.e., we can agree upon the specific illusions generated by that pipeline as essential parts of an acceptable mental image of reality] things which could have been generated using an ontological approach [i.e., carelessly assuming our mental image is correct about reality]."

***Are you saying that it is a valid ontological approach to simply say you believe illusions are real and put that forth as a rational scientific philosophy? As I said, I am no philosopher but that very much strikes me as equivalent to the suggestion that contemplating my navel is a valid research project worthy of financial support.***

Not at all. It is a valid epistemological approach to use pragmatic justification for scientific research and not get too involved in scientific realism of theories and/or scientific entities (e.g., are quarks real?). Are you saying that science can only work if it can justify its theories and entities beyond a pragmatic justification?

***If you are going to take the position that it is impossible to define reality then I will just fall back on my original statement: i.e., people like Harv just don't like to think about the problem and use whatever cavil they can dream up to cut off debate.***

Why do you find a need to define reality? Can you define the nature of quantum gravity in a manner that makes it easy for us to understand all that is involved with it? If not, then why do you think defining reality is even feasible if you can't even answer basic problems facing theoretical physics today much less in 100 years or 500 years? Defining reality should at least wait until we understand physics a little more, don't you think? Or, are you one of those people that has to understand the most complex of all things even though you lack understanding of many of the new theories and problems confronting many in physics today?

***There are a significant number of new predictions from my work; however, unless you can understand it, the predictions are pretty meaningless as they are, for the most part, completely outside your comprehension. Try to explain how a television set arises from an understanding of electricity to an ancient Egyptian.***

Hey, you don't have to explain your predictions to me (the Egyptian). Just write up your predictions and what the correct measurement results should be with many of the experiments that are now probing the deep cosmos. I'm sure you can predict a value that will be dead on that you can later show to scientists worldwide. Or, are they too dumb also?

***To paraphrase Lord Kelvin, if you can express what you are speaking about in numbers, "you know something about it; but when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meager and unsatisfactory kind; it may be the beginning of knowledge, but you have scarcely, in your thoughts, advanced to the stage of Science, whatever the matter may be."***

It's funny that you mention William Thomson. I believe he's the one who thought that physics was largely completed in his lifetime (before Einstein and Heisenberg). Perhaps that's a deep irony that you should consider?

Harv

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