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Posted by Harvey on September 24, 2003 15:34:46 UTC

I brought our discussion up to the top.

and yes Harv, there is something inherently rational about the two divisions with respect to knowable data and unknowable data. the problem with these two concepts is that for some reason it is natural for us to think of them in terms of mathematical known values and unknown values when that is not what they are at all. the two
concepts are really more related to an issue of a human condition that of cognition and the reality of which cognition is a part of. where reality is what ever it is and that reality is assummed to be "knowable" or cognative, and then
there is what we think we know about reality which is "unknowable" ie a figment of our imagination. Allan's theories would be a perfect example of unknowable data :). albeit those may be a bit less constrained by the rules that knowable data lives by than those theories of say Einstein and Heisenberg.

Tim, you are accepting this garbage with hook, line and sinker attached. Whenever someone says "there are two kinds of people in this world..." don't you just want to smack them? This is what Dick is in effect doing. He is saying that there are two kinds of knowledge. But, even experience alone says that this is not the case. Here, answer the following questions with yes/no answers that you believe might be true in an objective sense (you are not allowed to give an explanation for your yes/no answer):

1. Newton's theories were wrong.
2. Einstein's theories are right.
3. Quantum mechanics is physics of the very small.
4. There are two kinds of people in the world: those 130 and above IQ and those below 130.
5. People are either right in their opinions or they are wrong in their opinions.
6. If you get straight A's in college and didn't have to study you are smart.
7. If you flunk out of college and can't manage to solve simple problems you are dumb.
8. Artists are creative people.
9. Smoking cigarettes brings cancer.
10. Exercising means a healthy life.

Every answer to the above question would fail to be 'knowable data' or 'unknowable data'. The reason is that things like context, degree of truth, the spanse of truth, measure of truth, definition, etc are all vital for every solution. There are no black and white, yes/no responses to most statements, and this includes scientific theories.

The reason that Dick won't provide an exhaustive definition of 'knowable data' and 'unknowable data' is because he knows that his terms would the quicly fail miserably when put to the test (e.g., questions 1-10). Why is it that you cannot see this? How can you be so sucked in by someone who comes along and says there are two kinds of people in the world? Commonsense says that you should immediately label such an individual as a crank and be on your way.

i guess you just can't buy into the idea that Dr. Dick's work is not a theory so as long as that is the case i can understand that it is going to be impossible to convince you that it shouldn't have to make new predictions. even though the very physics that Dr. Dick's work is able to derive does and can make predictions.

Define theory. The whole suggestion that Dick is not putting forth a theory is utterly ridiculous. It is like saying that this is not a response to your arguments. True, I can call it something else (e.g., I could call it a clarification of my previous comments), but it is a response. Similarly, Dick is putting forth an argument about how it is that we have the particular scientific theories that we happen to have - this is a theory. It may not be a particle theory, it may not be a TOE theory, but it is a theory. And, as a theory, it must prove itself by making predictions. If this wasn't so, then anyone could say anything about anything, and as long as they framed it in mathematically speak, they could walk away saying they proved something as true. That would be ridiculous.

it is admirable to try and avoid errors. i'm all for that. Dr. Dick express's much concern about that issue in his work. freedom of expression is by no means the only thing i want. i want creativity. i want something new under the sun. i want to know what i don't know, not rehash continually what i already know. you wont find those kind of things with out taking some risks, with out changing. there is a wise saying, "if you keep on doing what you've always done you'll
keep on getting what you've always gotten." come now Harv, do you really think Dr. Dick is quack?

Absolutely. You have to look no further than "there are two types...".

i'm sure you recognize in him a high degree of intelligence. i don't believe you would bother to discuss his work so much if you did not find
something of interest with in it. you don't spend nearly as much time discussing Allan's theories.

I'll talk to anyone who is rational. Dick is rational, but still a quack. Alan is not rational. He doesn't have that much money to debate on the internet. My guess is that his electric bills are high. That is, he leaves the light on even when no one is ever home.

the idea that reality is a set of numbers and that the behavior of absolutely any collection of things may be explained by the rule F=0 is new Harv. that Dr. Dicks work can then go on and derive much of physics is just an aside.
what i find ground breaking about Dr. Dick's work with respect to science is not with respect to theoretical grounds so much but more so with the scientific method it's self. approaching a scientific problem or any problem for that
matter with the knowledge that reality is a set of numbers, that the behavior of absolutely any collection of things may be explained by the rule F=0 provides the scientist or the problem solver a platform to set up his application of the scientific method from. in other words one need not start from the bewildering position of complete ignorance when one is confronted with some new problem that needs to be solved.

Tim, it looks good only because he has stepped on the shoulders of giants while kicking them in the face in making his 'discovery'. My belief is, and it is just a belief, is that once physicists have been able to formulate the mathematics of successful theories, that this opens up the way for people like Dick. They do so by showing how certain mathematical techniques (e.g., symmetry, renormalization, conservation, etc) can produce new and insightful aspects of nature. Once those techniques are known, then one can apply simple methods (e.g., two kinds of data in the world...) to arrive at the same scientific conclusions that took the history of science to arrive at. This shouldn't surprise anyone in my opinion. The concept is that once you know the particular trick, you can reproduce the results without having to go through the long route of empirical science. This gives the illusion that we didn't have to take the long route of empirical science, but this is only an illusion. 20/20 hindsight is always better after the fact.

In the case of Dick, he argues that he wasn't trying to get the results of QM, GR, etc. However, that is not the point. He knew the mathematical tricks to arrive to those theories. Once you apply the tricks, the tricks force your hand in what you can consider, and if you follow their lead, those tricks take you to the same results. Now, someone can conclude from this that we are destined to arrive at certain laws by how we consciously process sensory data, but this is far from necessary. All that one need say is that once you know the tricks, you can easily arrive at our fundamental theories.

This is basically the concept of string theories. By knowing the tricks of metrics, symmetries, etc, the scientists can arrive at many of our equations in physics. The key is to extend those results to areas where current physics cannot answer (e.g., singularities in general relativity near the big bang, etc), and you only have a successful theory if you can extend these theories to that new level. Otherwise, you toss string theory out with the kites.

from what i've seen of Frieden's work it really isn't any more like Dr. Dick's work than Fischer's is. both are fundamentally different from Dr. Dick's in that IMHO they are more convoluted, and difficult to understand.
they lack the elegant simplicity that Dr. Dick's work has to offer. not the same basic ideas either as i see it.

Well, you have to make your complaints to Richard. I only know that his approach is similar. It looks at how symmetries function internally (i.e., in our mind), and then deduces our physics. Frieden goes further than Dick and even tries to compute his own TOE, however I think he fails because he is waiting for people like Witten, Hawking, Turok, Hartle, and many others to generate the nifty tricks. Once they give him the tricks he'll say "I meant to include this nifty trick in my paper, and now I can arrive at the new physics...". Of course, it is just a sham for those wanting to believe in this kind of magic. There is no magic, just hard work of brilliant people who wave chalk and not magic wands. Dick is just one of many who will wave their wands in the future.

The people I feel sorry for are those who come after a TOE (assuming such will happen). Those people will have to put up with people like Dick without any recourse to asking for predictions since once a hypothetical TOE happens, they will only need to produce the TOE and not any more new phyics. That would make for a boring world to listen to quacks. Hopefully there's always room to improve a theory, but that might get old too. We're lucky we live in this period where all of this is still exciting and the quacks don't get much attention.

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