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Posted by Harvey on June 3, 2003 03:20:14 UTC

Dick,

I am disappointed by your post since I tried to re-establish communication with you through a question process, but you mostly evaded the questions. In any case, let me attempt to respond to your answers and point out how poorly they actually dealt with the issues at hand. But, first I will deal with correcting my responses so that others can see how you fail to pay attention to the responses given to your questions.

***1) Does the pipeline I refer to exist? Harv: Its existence is of no interest as neither it or any illusions created by it are relevant! The issue is, it is non-sensible!***

Dick: 1) Does the pipeline I refer to exist? Harv: It is non-sensical to ask such a question unless you can provide predictions that are irrefutable that you have achieved understanding that others lack.

Note to others: Notice how Dick leaves out the phrase 'unless you can provide predictions' from my response.

***2) Do scientists take the existence of such a pipeline into account in their analysis? Harv: No, as neither its existence nor the existence of illusions are relevant to their work!****

Dick: 2) Do scientists take the existence of such a pipeline into account in their analysis? Harv: Its a philosophical question and until you can show with your predictions that this is a scientific issue, we should continue to treat it as a philosophical question having little concern for the scientist.

Note to others: Notice that Dick in his attempt to re-state my views ignores what science actually studies and slams scientists for their avoidance of philosophical issues. Almost with amazement he has almost no recognition of philosophy.

***3) Can the existence of that pipeline have real consequences? Harv: Suppose instead of directly answering the question, I just run up a cavil on the meaning of "real".****

Dick: 3) Can the existence of that pipeline have real consequences? Harv: 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?

Note to others: Here Dick again completely ignores my response on how science is not concerned about such philosophical matters, and he is completely unable to answer my question about exactly what it is that science is doing. Due to complete lack of attention to this matter, he wildly goes off into a metaphysical never-never land. No wonder why Dick so harshly criticizes science even he fails to understand even basic tenets of science.

***4) Is the pipeline an aspect of the universe subject to analysis? Harv: Again, instead of directly answering the question, I'll just run up another cavil. (...) 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? Dick: The cavil is fundamentally equivalent to "well, if you are going to take that position, then everything is illusion", the single most common cavil put forth by almost every scientist I have ever met. It appears to be very effective at cutting off debate. I believe Harv's answer is, "No, at least I am certainly not going to think about it!"***

Dick: 4) Is the pipeline an aspect of the universe subject to analysis? Harv: How can you study a pipeline objectively when your exposure to the concept of the pipeline is itself through the pipeline?

Note to others: Here is a case in point that Dick lacks even a rudimentary understanding of the argument that has been replied to him by many others - some very esteemed scientists. Dick automatically translates the objection to question (4) in terms of 'everything is an illusion', but this is not even close to what is the cause of objection. The cause of objection is that Dick is studying the principles of every conceivable language when he only understands English. What if to really understand the principles of every conceivable language you at least need to understand fluently 10 various possible languages (e.g., English, Russian, Mandarin Chinese, etc). What if to really understand the principles behind 'pipelines' you need to understand fluently 10 different vastly types of mathematics (e.g., earth's mathematics, Vega's mathematics, M31's collective mathematics, etc)? Dick considers this a cavil, but it is a cavil simply because he cannot imagine it so! But, why should we be so arrogant to restrict how reality is perceivable simply because Dick lacks the imagination to see it otherwise? Obviously, the answer is that we cannot be so obtuse in our approach. This is only one reason why this matter is not necessary to be discussed. Btw, Dick's response to this? Oh, he will tell you that I'm caviling since self-consistency in our mathematics is the best we have to work with and that I can think of nothing better. Of course, I never put myself in the position to say we must do something about this situation since it is an unanswerable situation (which he'll reply to that: "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." Do you see how circular his logic, or are there few who see it? Why doesn't Paul see this given that he is an intelligent guy? Go figure...

***5) Is it reasonable to assume that everyone's pipeline (their subconscious) works exactly the same as everyone else's? Harv: It doesn't matter. Dick: ...your answers to those questions are exactly why no one else has discovered what I have discovered. And they probably won't for at least another few thousand years. What I cannot understand is why you keep posting to my comments when you have utterly no interest at all in understanding what I am saying.***

Dick: 5) Is it reasonable to assume that everyone's pipeline (their subconscious) works exactly the same as everyone else's? Harv: 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?

Note to others: Notice how Dick doesn't want to deal with pragmatic justification. He wants to force science to deal with his metaphysics or somehow we are led to believe by Dick that science crumbles. Now, ignore for a second that Dick is only one of 5 billion people today who believes this (okay, Paul+wife+Alan+otherpoorsouls=3?), but what Dick doesn't want to deal with is the non-issue that he is working on. I say it is a non-issue not because it is not a valid philosophical issue (which it is - but not the way Dick has phrased these problems), but rather because it is a non-issue for science. Science works the same regardless if you consider the 'truths' of science as actual truths, or as 'approximate truths', or as 'useful fictions', or what have you. Science is based on certain agreed upon conventions and those conventions are in place in the journals, halls of universities, and everywhere around the globe where scientists are at work. Imagine if Dick were at your work or school and began questioning the legitimacy of what you do (e.g., work, study, it doesn't matter). How many of us could actually withstand an argument of someone intent on showing that something was illegitimate about what we do? Not many of us could provide a holeless self-defense. This is just one of many things that Dick doesn't understand about science. Science continues on, just like we continue on in our endeavors. We simply have other reasons for our pursuits (maybe it is career success, maybe it is the joy of doing it, maybe it is because we feel we are meant to do it, etc). The point is that pragmatic justification is all that we need to justify our actions, and this completely goes over Dick's head. He wants math and logic to prove it to him, never comprehending that math and logic without the use of evidence have produced very little in the way of knowledge about the world.

Now, back to you Dick. I want to answer your cavils against my arguments:

***Harv: How do you know that you have properly set-up the parameters of the problem such that the right answer has been produced? Dick: That question is immaterial as we all function off a world view produced by our subconscious: i.e., they are all personal constructs anyway. The only difference between the one I put forward is that it is analytically constructed and therefor examinable from a logical perspective. How will I know that I am wrong? My answer to that question is, how do you know when the solution generated by your subconscious is wrong? At least mine is more examinable than yours.***

Your question is a non-issue. I know that my perceptions are wrong when they fail to yield responses that are helpful to my daily life. Maybe I bump into a wall, maybe I hit a curb, etc. The point is that I don't have to know whether reality was such and such and therefore I messed up, rather all my 'wrongs' can be re-translated in terms of a pragmatic situation. On the other hand, what you have put forward via an analytical construction is not right simply because it is self-consistent logic. Here's an example:

(P1) Socrates is a man
(P2) All men are mortal
(C3) Socrates is mortal

Logical right? Can't argue with that syllogistic logic, right? Well, it's wrong! Socrates is dead, and has been so for over 2600 years. Socrates, if we must say such, is a collection of particles perhaps scattered all about the planet, maybe even bits of Socrates are on Voyager II as it hurls into outer regions of the solar system. But, how would we know that the logic of (P1)-(C3) are correct? The answer is that we must verify each statement through scientific means, and then test whether the conclusions are correct. For example:

(P1') Harv communicates to Dick on astronomy.net
(P2') All who communicate on astronomy.net are argumentative people
(C3') Harv and Dick are argumentive people

The logic looks okay. Now we have to check whether the premises are correct, AND we have to check whether the conclusions work out in the real world as our logic suggests. Perhaps the premises are validatable and non-falsifiable, but maybe the conclusion is false. For example, maybe all people who communicate on astronomy.net are argumentative people only when they come into contact with certain kinds of people (e.g., Dick and Harv meet on-line). Otherwise they are rather non-argumentative. In a similar vein, your model could be like this. For example, you treat only one subconscious in your paper, but what if the 'subconscious' as you call it is much more complex and you don't have a central subconscious but many layers and functions of layers that switch off and behave irregularly? What if the brain itself creates symmetries in our head only sometimes, and sometimes it proposes only asymmetries? The point is that your model is based on things-that-you-know-not (just like (P1) above was based on things-that-we-know-not-about-Socrates). Little changes in our set-up of a problem drastically alter a model. Afterwhich, our model is based on poor assumptions and poor modeling. You cannot give any legitimate reason to suppose that you have modeled it incorrectly, and I cannot give you any legitimate evidence that you have modeled it correctly. We are just arguing about 'things we know not'.

***Harv: I don't think anyone has agreed that mathematics and logic are the sole means of discovery for pragmatic knowledge about the world. Dick: Neither have I, but I think mathematics and logic are issues not to be lightly dismissed.***

They are easily dismissed when you try to use logic and mathematics without giving predictions. As my example above showed, logic (or math) without proper and exact application can easily lead to error. Since we don't have God's power of omniscience, we cannot know if we have set-up the problem 100% correctly with respect to the way the world is, so we rely on successful prediction (or retrodiction) to give us a confidence that the selected model is valuable at accomplishing whatever purposes we have in mind. The need for prediction is even more necessary with regard to your model since you venturing off into metaphysics where the nature of your subject matter is entirely outside the scope of observation. So, we especially need indirect observables that at least tell us that we might be on the right track. Since you don't provide any, all we have is nothing but your rhetoric. Not a comforting thought for those who are actually serious about science and the philosophy of science.

***Harv: 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? Dick: Define this pragmatic justification! What part of it is based on unthoughtout assumptions? Harv: Why should we need to worry about this issue since we have pragmatic justifications for our uses of the scientific methods? Dick: Astrologers give me exactly the same justification! Note the end of Chapter 2: "Even if you do not believe my model represents anthropomorphic reality, I have still shown that it is possible that classical mechanics is true by definition as my definitions have led to that result. If you consider your definitions to be sufficiently different from mine that they do not predefine the results of your experiments, I suggest that you need to prove your case." That is precisely the problem with astrology!***

Your views are just deeply mired in error, so it is not easy to show you the light so to speak. Let's take it one step at a time.

***Dick: "Define this pragmatic justification! What part of it is based on unthoughtout assumptions?"***

You have the cart before the horse here in just the way you ask this question. First off, you were not born with even an inkling of how to understand what you just wrote. You learned to understand gradually and by and by you eventually came to a point in your life where you could comprehend the question as well as comprehend the answer (okay, you haven't come to that point yet, but others have). What this shows is that pragmatic experiences come before we develop far enough so that it no longer seems like we are pragmatically justifying important subjects such as logic, math, science, etc. It just seems like these subject matters are outside pragmatic justification because we have grown up our whole lives being trained to identify pragmatic justified statements with good logical statements, or pragmatic justified axioms, with good mathematical axioms, or pragmatic justified knowledge with scientific knowledge. We had this experience of pragmatically approaching the world with such success that we simply forget about the pragmatic justifications and move on and focus on with items such as truthful and falsity in terms of a formal system and in terms of scientific language. In your case, Dick, you evidently held very strong to the formal system method as a means to justify truths about the world, and you probably looked to science to somehow conform to these formal structures. When it came time for you to question science taught to you by your elders, you questioned it in terms of looking for a formal structure justification of science. Obviously science cannot do so, so you became sketpical about science. What you should have done is become skeptical about the formal structures too, but that never happened.

Which brings us back to the original baby that experienced the world through pragmatic justifications. There are many pragmatic justifications, so it is not so easy to decipher which is important and when it is the most important. For example, human babies have a need to please their parents. This human need is a pragmatic justification for our actions early in life, and we tended to 'perform' for our parents when the approval was there. We 'justified' our actions subconsciously (a valid use of the term, I believe) because it met our human need to gain approval from our parents. The beginning of logic in each of us was born as part of how we began to see the world.

As mentioned, there are many other pragmatic justifications, some of them can be reduced to some more basic, primal pragmatic justifications, some of them you probably lose a portion of their structure if you try to reduce. Pragmatic justifications all feed a human need, so a place to begin is what are the basic needs of a human? Well, we have a physical and emotional needs for starters. We have a need for food, water, nutrition, warmth, etc. Emotionally, we have needs for love, acceptance, happiness, a sense of rationality about the world, etc. What we do to obtain those many human needs is pragmatic justification.

***Dick: What part of it is based on unthoughtout assumptions?***

I want to re-address this specifically. Here is part of your misconceptions again. Since all of our sense of logic, sense of what are good assumptions, sense of what are poor assumptions, etc, are all learned in life at earlier age when the pragmatic benefit was more direct than at a later age (e.g., a child cries if not fed when hungry, whereas an adult might worry about what to eat later in the evening - much more indirect hunger need than feeling hunger that moment as a child).

The misunderstanding that you are applying here is that you looking to re-phrase pragmatic considerations in terms of 'logic', but this sense of logic is just a long forgotten remote pragmatic inkling that you at this stage probably are unaware of the human need that you are trying to meet by 'being logical'. Hence, you look for hidden assumptions to what it means to approach something pragmatically, while in fact you are even now feeding that human need that 'being logical' satisfies in an indirect fashion.

***Harv: Why should we need to worry about this issue since we have pragmatic justifications for our uses of the scientific methods? Dick: Astrologers give me exactly the same justification!***

Of course! And, astrology continues to thrive with perhaps more people than who are equally caught up in scientific knowledge. What makes right? The typical answer is that logic and discovery makes right (thereby giving science a strong edge on this argument), but in fact this is not what is really happening (at least to the kind of pragmatist such as myself). What is really happening is that more people benefit certain kinds of emotional needs indirectly met by believing in astrology than people who benefit in other emotions than science. Hence, we see perhaps many more people who accept and know about astrology than are educated about science. So, how can science compete in this kind of atmosphere? Well, easy, science offers certain hidden benefits that people are willing to allow their governments spend money on such scientific projects despite the fact that they'd probably rather have that money for other purposes. They do so because the human need to survive and live as long as one can is also top on their minds. Many, many people associate science with medical technology, energy, pollution control, national safety (just look at how many people are fascinated with the tech weapons of the military), and it is easy to see how pragmatic justifications going on in the back of people's minds give science an edge (and the forefront of the minds of many elected politicians who's political survival requires the effects of science policy: eg, economic benefits, health benefits, etc).

Unfortunately pragmatic justifications don't quite slice it for people like yourself who are soooo caught up in the truth-like qualities that science and mathematics and logic 'pretend' to adorn themselves with. I say 'pretend' since at one time religion too was deemed by almost all in academia of possessing the same godlike qualities. What happened? Just diminished pragmatic effects compared to what science was able to accomplish, that's basically the story.

***Dick: That is precisely the problem with astrology!***

Ahhh. But, we are Johnny come lately upon the scene of human evolution. We come born in a world that has already started to move away from religious truths and more to scientific truths. Yet, astrology (as a type of religion) still clings to its truths, as does science, and as do you. I cling to truths also, but am no longer burdened by the concept and instead I always look to the pragmatic justifications behind all 'truths'. I ask myself "what need is this person trying to obtain" when they espouse a certain 'truth'. I even ask myself what need am I trying to meet by saying that pragmatic justification is a 'truth'. The answer, is at lease several, maybe a lot of needs. And, the world goes around with people meeting their needs, and some arrogant fools making themselves look ridiculous thinking that they are meeting no need at all but are only thinking logically, or matehmatically, or scientifically.

We are all in the business of meeting needs - pragmatic justification reigns. We try to tell each other that we have better justification for our beliefs than others, and rightly so since each type of justification meets a particular human need.

That brings me back to what needs are important for science. Is it the need to justify itself through some elaborate mathematical scheme that tries to reproduce some of what science has discovered (i.e., made the world so much easier to manage by humans)? No. That's only a fallacious story that some fool has invented to meet their need of self-importance. Could have been better served by good ole' reflection and meditation, instead they went a long path around to devising some elaborate scheme which doesn't do diddlely squat.

No. The needs of science as an enterprise is to have the freedom and funds to continue to work with the conventions that have proven the most successful over time. Those conventions are still in flux and will continue to change upon scientific societal needs, but they have been largely adequate for its own purposes. Occasionally some conventions contradict other conventions, and turmoil is a result, but human scientists find a way to overcome this turmoil and proceed with the wheel of scientific progress.

And, what about truth? Fortunately pragmatic justification from our birth to the time we ravel in the concept of truth in our (pre-)adolescent age continues to deceive enough of us so that we think the goal of truth is real. At least real enough to pursue with all of our energies. For some, even questioning this pursuit is a cavil, and for those who do question it? We are standing deciding on whether we should help the others up the mountain top or whether we should climb back down and speak nothing more of the mountain and what the top looks like.

Harv

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