Philosophy and Science

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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby dandelion on December 29th, 2016, 9:41 am 

Serpent » December 28th, 2016, 9:04 pm wrote:
dandelion -- “Powell's study Homer and the Origin of the Greek Alphabet advances the thesis that a single man invented the Greek alphabet expressly in order to record the poems of Homer.

I have no problem with that (assuming that's how it happened.) It fits very nicely into the gradual, pragmatic development view. He didn't invent writing, just for the Hellenese. Writing of various kinds had already been in use for commerce and record-keeping long before that particular innovation was made for that particular purpose.
Once in a while, an adaptation proves so advantageous that it's very quickly adopted by the majority of users and becomes the new norm. Once in a while, a widely-used process or skill-set or database is so disparate as to become unwieldy; then a tidy-minded and influential user comes along and organizes, systematizes, classifies, collates or standardizes it. These big consolidating steps are more noticeable than the little steps which precede and follow them, but they do not constitute a whole new thing.

Ok, I just thought it might be remiss not to mention, and since it has been mentioned, it also seems worth noting too that, however it happened, it seems to have been considered significant, maybe for reasons like, as well as via visual sense, it seems to have allowed a new way of recording and communicating sound, or “atoms of spoken language” from the review linked, maybe something like an interrelated encoding with another sense. It is said to have democratised such exchange, being potentially available to be read and heard by a far wider audience over great distance and time, less of a guarded skill. I think the alphabet is written about in Rovelli’s book on Anaximander, but I’ve lost my copy for now.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby dandelion on December 29th, 2016, 10:02 am 

On the topic of differences between science and other approaches, there are interesting views in the interview in the thread linked earlier.

Perhaps there are ideas of science as a process of critical inquiry and effective accommodation of new data, whereas some other approaches may be less open.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby Serpent on December 29th, 2016, 2:01 pm 

BadgerJelly » December 29th, 2016, 2:52 am wrote:Serpent -

I am going to have to cheat now. I am going to post two last bits of Husserl's, The Vienna Lecture. There you should hopefully get a better appreciation of thr admixture I've messily tried to present here.

Okay, I will go and look at it.

Other than that I feel need to comment that the scientist is concerned with objectivity and, try as they might, the subjective elements of who they are are never going to be cut out. I would never suggest there is a black and white delineation between anything. I am simply trying to frame a particular weighted attitude that took place and allowed the way for reason to become a pursuit unto itself.

I agree. The greatly increased and stratified population of city-states allowed for a degree of specialized activity - both professional and avocational - that made such demarcations practicable.

It does not, however, change the proportion of logical thinkers to average citizens who are wholly immersed in a superstitious world-view. Yes, the professional method-makers are set aside, sequestered, relatively safe from the pervading religious belief. But they do nothing to lessen the influence of religion on the non-intellectual masses.

Just like there was a seed of "science/philosophy" in the mythological-religious attitude, so there will remain a seed of mythological-religious attitude in "science".

Seeds, yes, but that's not important. What's important is that both kinds of attitude continue, side by side, as established, powerful, independent institutions that shape the society. They contend for the hearts and minds of the people, and make uneasy truce when necessary, but the shamans (cardinals, imams, rabbis, gurus, revivalist preachers) have never lost their grip, even under secular governments and in many place have complete political control.

Western and northern Europe may be struggling its way out of the religious attitude toward a predominantly rational one, though they have substantial reactionary elements. Russia made a valiant effort that got mired in corruption and slid right back into the morass of religion. We do not yet know how China's experiment turns out. America is nowhere near, and has recently been taking steps backward.

I would fear disregard for subjective matters, which is a strong part of generalised scientific politics (do disregard subjective view). In error we find social sciences takingnobjecyive data to try to understand subjectivity ... useful, but also in direct opposition to the matter at hand.

I don't see any immediate problem caused by want of subjectivity.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby TLK on December 29th, 2016, 9:59 pm 

Scott Mayers » Wed Dec 28, 2016 2:01 pm wrote:TLK,

I disagree with one point above you mentioned (but agree with most of your own understanding on the issues).

On "laws" of science, I think that the internal assumptions regarding nature DOES imply a 'law maker' if it is not based on absolute nothing as an origin. The word 'law' by many in science tends to act conveniently as ANY generalized assumptions based on experience AND the input assumptions of the Uniformity that Braininvat mentions. Even logic itself tends to assume consistency (identity), non-contradiction, and exclusive truth values as pre-ordained laws without justifying.

The unwillingness to take that step back to assuming NO LAWS initially is hard for many to accept due to RELIGIOUS thinking, regardless of whether one deems themselves as non-religious or not. You are correct about the induction factor as science and even logic are inferred by pattern seeking. However, science should either stick strictly with the practicality of the methods or accept philosophy as an essential part of it OPEN TO PUBLIC access. That is, it should 'shut up and calculate' and never speak authoritatively upon 'answers' OR it should allow a part of it to be approached by philosophy and logic in general.

What bothers me is how many of the practitioners of science tends to think they alone are privileged to speak authoritatively on INTERPRETATION of their observations and experimenting. You cannot REPEAT constant factors of nature that are reduced to purely physical descriptions to expect something different in all areas. So the theoretical aspects involved are actually not the PRACTICE of science but a privileged practice of the natural philosophy BY practitioners with scientific backgrounds. When this is not clearly understood, it falsely assumes that the scientist is credible to the logical authority on theory of their efforts. While it is a bonus to have such formal background, "science" actually belongs to ALL people's right to interpret philosophically unless philosophy is legitimately recognized within science also, something I personally prefer.

I don't think there would be a need to dismiss demarcation that distinguishes parts of science to require more strict requirements than the more haphazard philosophizing that enables religious or pseudo-scientific thinking into the discussion. But they can be 'legitimately' reflective of participation if it RESPECTS those coming in at some level WITH open philosophizing by the public. What tends to happen though is that those with different understandings contrary to the authoritative views are told to shut up and obey before they are privileged to think. Thinking though requires the reversed process: questioning, postulating, theorizing, then learning by their own means. So even the odd thinking that some think should be dismissed in science only alienates hypocritically those KINDS of thinkers needed to advance science on a theoretical level, not simply a practical one.

So forums for public participation in science MUST respect the novice to BE philosophical foremost BEFORE even expecting them to BE clerically 'fit' for the practice of science proper. That is, a philosophic intellect and 'degree' of experience should come FIRST, before the actual expectation to be 'good' at the practice of science. This has been reversed in institutions where the PH.D (Philosophical degree) is the domain of those who have proven their efficiency at the practice up front. Why should anyone require clerical skills before they are able to see the value of what they are entering into by FAITH when the very ideal of 'science' is to trust WITHOUT FAITH?



On the term, "rational".

I treat 'rational' as it derived similarly in math. It treats one concept in contrast to another in a finite (de-finite) way, as a ratio. What is 'rational' external to numbers is a comparison between two or more ideas or concepts that are understood as one clear idea with closure. A fraction like 1/2 means that to some finite idea, we have one part of two in some equal unit measure.

For all issues, what is 'rational', then, is to be able to clearly enunciate a comparison of one or more ideas with respect to one or more other finite ideas. If it is left open, like non-rational numbers, the lack of closure makes it hard for many to share in some common defined way. But just AS numbers, the rational are NOT all their is to the virtue of 'truth'. Take Quantum Mechanic's Copenhagen interpretation of entanglement and superpostions, for instance; these are irrational and even imaginary in parts; but they can be still practical means even without the acceptance of the interpretation to determine real truths.



Sorry about not responding earlier. I had a busy day today.

I have given your post some thought but I don't have time to address it right now the way I'd like. There is one thing I wonder about that could make a difference in how I might respond. I'm wondering who or what entity you think is the "law maker" of scientific laws? Are you saying that we (or at least scientists) are the makers of the laws that are presented to us by science?
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby Scott Mayers on December 31st, 2016, 12:27 am 

TLK,

I'm absolutely not suggesting some god here, if that is what you are thinking. You would have to ask if such a 'god' should exist, then you'd have to assume it too would have to have some 'law'.

The ONLY think that could be possible, and what I support and can argue, is that Absolutely Nothing is essential. I presented this in a thread here as "[urlhttp://sciencechatforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=65&t=31813]How many truths are there?...[/url]"

Basically, I argue there that should there be an 'origin', then only a state of absolutely nothing is essential. This IS "contradictory" but is alright because to some such state, it has NO law to 'obey'. Assuming any other 'number' of realities as an origin leads to contradiction which for these DO require being non-contradictory. This can be simplified by accepting Godel's "Incompleteness Theorem" as it stands. Only a state of inconsistent rationale suffices to be "complete". So, if there is an origin, it has to be derivable from nothing, and it would be 'absolute' to make it sufficiently complete.

I have a personal full formal argument of this as a theorem but have not yet published this.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby Positor on December 31st, 2016, 9:23 am 

Scott Mayers » December 31st, 2016, 4:27 am wrote:Basically, I argue there that should there be an 'origin', then only a state of absolutely nothing is essential. This IS "contradictory" but is alright because to some such state, it has NO law to 'obey'.

But "nothing(ness)", by definition, is not a "state"; it is the absence of a state. Strictly speaking, we cannot even say "nothing(ness) is [whatever]", because that would be to attribute a property to it, and "nothing" logically cannot have any properties. "It" cannot be free of laws, because there is no "it".
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby TLK on December 31st, 2016, 12:36 pm 

Scott Mayers » Fri Dec 30, 2016 9:27 pm wrote:TLK,

I'm absolutely not suggesting some god here, if that is what you are thinking. You would have to ask if such a 'god' should exist, then you'd have to assume it too would have to have some 'law'.

The ONLY think that could be possible, and what I support and can argue, is that Absolutely Nothing is essential. I presented this in a thread here as "[urlhttp://sciencechatforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=65&t=31813]How many truths are there?...[/url]"

Basically, I argue there that should there be an 'origin', then only a state of absolutely nothing is essential. This IS "contradictory" but is alright because to some such state, it has NO law to 'obey'. Assuming any other 'number' of realities as an origin leads to contradiction which for these DO require being non-contradictory. This can be simplified by accepting Godel's "Incompleteness Theorem" as it stands. Only a state of inconsistent rationale suffices to be "complete". So, if there is an origin, it has to be derivable from nothing, and it would be 'absolute' to make it sufficiently complete.

I have a personal full formal argument of this as a theorem but have not yet published this.



The bolded section appears to be a conditional statement. If it is a conditional statement, then what are the implications if there is no origin?
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby hyksos on January 2nd, 2017, 12:17 am 

Why things happen
Either cause and effect are the very glue of the cosmos, or they are a naive illusion due to insufficient math. But which?

https://aeon.co/essays/could-we-explain ... and-effect


I had a revelation about this topic. It seems to me that Science presumes a binding axiom "before it gets out of bed in the morning" (so-to-speak). That binding axiom is a metaphysical position called Actualism.

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/actualism/

Unfortunately, I can't write a long diatribe about this topic because I'm just learning it. We may have some resident regulars on this forum who adopt an opposing line of thinking called Possibilism. I know clearly that I don't think in the same manner as those people do, and my personality and mode-of-thinking is very Actualist-flavored.

I welcome the input of the Possibilists and their fresh perspectives.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby Scott Mayers on January 2nd, 2017, 1:54 am 

Positor » December 31st, 2016, 8:23 am wrote:
Scott Mayers » December 31st, 2016, 4:27 am wrote:Basically, I argue there that should there be an 'origin', then only a state of absolutely nothing is essential. This IS "contradictory" but is alright because to some such state, it has NO law to 'obey'.

But "nothing(ness)", by definition, is not a "state"; it is the absence of a state. Strictly speaking, we cannot even say "nothing(ness) is [whatever]", because that would be to attribute a property to it, and "nothing" logically cannot have any properties. "It" cannot be free of laws, because there is no "it".

No, we are biased to interpret reality from where we are being IN IT. If "nothing(ness)" was real, it would also LACK requiring being 'defined'.

NOTE my condition: that if there IS an origin, ONLY an "absolute nothingness" can rationally justify this. IF NOT, then all possibilities are true, which assures nothingness as well as any 'count' of truths in between. The one reality that CANNOT logically hold even remotely without some religious bias, is a Finite count, which is summarized by some "one" (given you can treat any count as a "unique" concept in some way).

You also have to understand that while 'time' would not exist, "existence" defined using time would already have been derived. It is hard to use the language we are biased to using by default. Philosophers usually use the word "a priori" which may help if you ignore time. Rather, it might be understood as "essential dependency needed prior to some existent state".
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby Scott Mayers on January 2nd, 2017, 2:06 am 

TLK » December 31st, 2016, 11:36 am wrote:
Scott Mayers » Fri Dec 30, 2016 9:27 pm wrote:TLK,

I'm absolutely not suggesting some god here, if that is what you are thinking. You would have to ask if such a 'god' should exist, then you'd have to assume it too would have to have some 'law'.

The ONLY think that could be possible, and what I support and can argue, is that Absolutely Nothing is essential. I presented this in a thread here as "[urlhttp://sciencechatforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=65&t=31813]How many truths are there?...[/url]"

Basically, I argue there that should there be an 'origin', then only a state of absolutely nothing is essential. This IS "contradictory" but is alright because to some such state, it has NO law to 'obey'. Assuming any other 'number' of realities as an origin leads to contradiction which for these DO require being non-contradictory. This can be simplified by accepting Godel's "Incompleteness Theorem" as it stands. Only a state of inconsistent rationale suffices to be "complete". So, if there is an origin, it has to be derivable from nothing, and it would be 'absolute' to make it sufficiently complete.

I have a personal full formal argument of this as a theorem but have not yet published this.



The bolded section appears to be a conditional statement. If it is a conditional statement, then what are the implications if there is no origin?

Thank you for paying attention on the fact it is conditional.

It IS important to recognize the existence of an absolute nothing and then PRESUME it [logical abduction] to test what leads from it. In contrast to any other assumptions, they have serious permanent faults that lead to contradictions because they all BEGIN with an assumption of 'consistent' logic, something that Godel's Incompleteness Theorem is sufficient to justify.

You can't attempt to demonstrate some 'contradiction' to a system of logic, INCLUDING ALL OF SCIENCE, that cannot itself be closed (completed). Only nothingness has this capacity.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby Scott Mayers on January 2nd, 2017, 2:20 am 

hyksos » January 1st, 2017, 11:17 pm wrote:
Why things happen
Either cause and effect are the very glue of the cosmos, or they are a naive illusion due to insufficient math. But which?

https://aeon.co/essays/could-we-explain ... and-effect


I had a revelation about this topic. It seems to me that Science presumes a binding axiom "before it gets out of bed in the morning" (so-to-speak). That binding axiom is a metaphysical position called Actualism.

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/actualism/

Unfortunately, I can't write a long diatribe about this topic because I'm just learning it. We may have some resident regulars on this forum who adopt an opposing line of thinking called Possibilism. I know clearly that I don't think in the same manner as those people do, and my personality and mode-of-thinking is very Actualist-flavored.

I welcome the input of the Possibilists and their fresh perspectives.

I had to look up the definitions on Actualism and Possibilism to see where you stand at least in context to the above conversation.

I believe that the "Actualist" merely begs what I just mentioned about biases. If you ONLY interpret what you know locally, then only the subjective individual's perspective counts OR is what you personally consider "all that matters." This is fine. But it merely indicates what you think is important....direct reality.

What needs to be questioned though is what "possibility" means if you disagree with the "Possibilist" position. [note that the word 'position' has a root of pos-, which should hint at the discrepancy with how one interprets the word, 'posibility' also!]

Edit note: At a cursory look further into that link on "Actualism", I cannot determine either meaning of the terms with justice as I flipped in my head what appears to mean one thing but the counterarguments presented later as some other thing. I don't trust using terms by other philosophers without sufficient clarity.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby hyksos on January 2nd, 2017, 8:47 pm 

I spent all last night and part of this afternoon reading over everyone's posts in this entire thread. Participants can rest assured that I have seen what you have posted, to at least a cursory glance. Some posts, of course, got more studious attention.

A general pattern jumps out. You all appear to have a very Victorian-flavored romanticized ideal of "Science" in your minds. I do not get the sense that any of you have ever labored late into the night in an actual scientific research lab. I do not get the sense that you have seen the scientific method practiced up close in a personal way.

In the case of Forest_Dump , this is more disturbing. This is a person claiming to have a post-graduate degree in paleontology (or whatever it is).

If you are actually around real science as it is practiced on the laboratory floor (as it were), you very quickly gain a sense of how extraordinarily boring and tedious it actually is. Practical science is extremely mathematical and requires reams of collected data that is then processed and presented using tedious statistical methods. And this data must be presented with error bars that represent statistical margins of error, which are sometimes the "error of least squares" or sometimes the error is "Gaussian", and there are references to the confidence of the data to "5 sigma" and so on. And because correlation does not imply causation, you have to then repeat the test on many different mice, or rabbits. Like you have to inject the chemical into 85 mice, and then keep 85 mice around who are the "control group". You take the data, and then report on the statistics of both the injected and control group.

fig_gp_mu_z_1.png


This is all very tedious. It is not sufficient to merely be "literate" to do science. You must have an intuitive command of mathematics, and have a little bit of perfectionism in your personality. Practical science is neither sexy nor philosophical. It is absolutely devoid of ideology.

Practical science is so obsessed with the empirical data, it is obsessed to a degree no 'regular person' would be comfortable with. We can take that to the bank because we can compare how car mechanics work on cars. They do not perform tedious collection of data or use statistical analysis of that data. If car mechanics worked like scientists, they would have to bring in your car, and 25 different exact versions of your car, and cross-check data collected on all of them. Graph the data, (with error bars) and try to deduce a cause. They don't do that. Instead, they just do routine checks and then use their "mechanics intuition" and "wisdom" to proceed. This magical intuition is only picked up through years of being in a garage. Also, there is no time to waste because the customer wants their car back tomorrow. Get um in, Get um out.

People are people, they will naturally avoid laborious tedium, and naturally avoid math. People do not build scale models of the Notre Dame cathedral out of toothpicks and Elmer's glue. People do not naturally tend to clean their toilet with a toothbrush. But lab science is actually as tedious. (And it's expensive to boot!). Computer science is even more tedious than the biology experiments described so far. Doing computer science really feels like Notre-Dame, Lego(R) version. If you are climatologist, some of those people have to live for 4 months in a raised igloo in antarctica, eating their dinners out of cans, all so they can extract some ice out of the ground 68 meters below surface.

The tedium, perfectionism, adherence to mathematics, and obsession with raw data <--- these exact aspects are why the scientific method did not take hold until way up in to the 16th century AD. Research scientists do not sit around in white togas contemplating the "nature of the cosmos". That simply does not go on.

I will present two examples that exhibit how boring and mechanical science really is. Charles Darwin first, and Dr. Peter Higgs second.

The public dialogue has Charles Darwin riding around in a pirate ship (dubbed the USS Atheism) and hoisting the black flag with skull and crossbones, as he points his secular saber at christian culture -- and yells nasty pirate threats at the shivering christians. Not what happened. Not at all. Darwin did not discover the theory of evolution by natural selection because he had some ideological bent. He didn't concoct the theory to "Destroy Christian culture" nor to "remove God's hand from creation.". Darwin was not boiled in a cauldron of atheistic ideology. Instead, evolution was deduced innocently from data collected in the wild. The theory was actually presented as a solution to some esoteric problem in taxonomy involving the difference between a variety and a species. (But wait -- that's "boring". It is boring, isn't it?) Science can be boring.

Next is Dr. Peter Higgs. The popularity of the Higg's Boson was inflated and overhyped by the science journalists. There were two fat hardcover books written about the boson with titles like
  • The God Particle
  • The Particle at the End of the Universe (cue dramatic music dun-dun-ddd!)

Excited journalists were getting a collective erection over the "God Particle" and they wanted to hold earth-shattering interview with Dr. Higgs himself. They would ask him how he has become harmonised with the essence of all reality and physical cosmic existence and how he reaches out with his fingers and "feels the heartbeat of the universe". And every time the interview would come, poor Dr. Higgs would just always say something plain and vanilla and disappoint everyone. Higgs would say

Well,l I was just working on a theory of symmetry breaking in the electroweak Lagrangian.

The who..wha...? But Doctor Higgs, what about the Nature of Reality and the seeing the mind of God??? Higgs tried to spice it up, but if fell flat again:

Uhm.. we thought there might be a scalar field whose vacuum expectation value was non-zero when the the quantum state is at its lo---

...and the interviewer's eyes would glaze over.

I knew Peter needed to take a more drastic approach. I met with Higgs, and I said, "Peter.. look. When the interviewer shows up this afternoon don't tell him anything about symmetry breaking or vacuum structure, even though you really want to. Instead tell him something like... well uhm... tell them that Lady Cosmos slips under the sheets with you at night and whispers her darkest secrets in your ear. Mix it up like that."

The interviewer came and Peter did what I suggested, and it was a bombshell. Next thing we know, we're getting calls about making documentaries about the so-called "God Particle".

But anyways. The basic problem I see in this thread.

Science : according to the SPCF forum
whitetogateacherslounge.png
ladycosmos.png


Science : as it actually is.
mathmath_moremath.png

weehourslabwork.png

We rarely have time to put the finishing touches on our research paper, as the deadline approaches for publication in the journal. This work often goes into the wee hours of the morning. Sometimes we don't sleep. Other times we have to remind each other to take a break and eat. Life and limb are rarely sacrificed, if we are digging for bones in Tibet, or tagging polar bears in Greenland. Often sanity is imperiled as we find ourselves pushing 60+ hours per week in the lab.

But no -- researchers do not sit in the teacher's lounge wearing togas and sipping on espresso latte's, while they discuss "Reality". That could not be farther from the truth.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby BadgerJelly on January 2nd, 2017, 11:12 pm 

So science is devoid of physical objectcivism? First I heard!

Nice piece of propaganda though. Not quite sure why you felt the need to write all that though?
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby Serpent on January 2nd, 2017, 11:34 pm 

What a sheltered life I had! The only laboratory work I ever did started at 8:30am and knocked off at 4, with a leisurely hour for lunch. No dangers, little discomfort, and really not all that much boredom.
In a medical lab, what you do is mostly routine, always fussy and sometimes literally a matter of life and death.
In forensics, it's mostly routine, always fussy and had better be accompanied by watertight documentation and chain of custody: the standard you have to meet is never letting the pathologist, or hairs & fibres, or documents or ballistics, or spatter expert witness look like a dork on the stand.
(Sometimes that threshold was pretty low; sometimes formidable. You never know which.)

You work with what you get - but everything you get is, at least, real.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby hyksos on January 2nd, 2017, 11:57 pm 

Charles "Blackbeard" Darwin, invaded and colonized the island nation of Galapagos, violently converting the natives to Atheism.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby Braininvat on January 3rd, 2017, 11:05 am 

Great essay. But....wait, is the Higgs section cut/pasted from somewhere? Or....you know Higgs? Hyksos, who are you?
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby Forest_Dump on January 3rd, 2017, 11:30 am 

Hyksos

Not to worry. I got the irony and loved it. Hope you don't mind but I am also going to steal some of it. I will touch on a few administrative points first

hyksos wrote:This is a person claiming to have a post-graduate degree in paleontology (or whatever it is).


Archaeology, actually, but I certainly do have interests in paleontology proper as well as the "blend" dealing with human evolution and this is due to the shared use of the common techniques of data recovery (physical removal of data (i.e., fossil or artifacts)), evolutionary theory (explaining change through time although clearly not as useful, strictly speaking, when dealing with human behaviour), the uncertainties of dealing with past events and processes as well as the common use of other scientific or science-based techniques like radiocarbon dating, "reading" sediments, reconstructing past environments, trusting gravity worked in the past as it does now (thank you to Lyell as much as Darwin), etc., etc.

But you are certainly correct my "claim" to even have visited a university is as irrelevant as your similar "claim" to have worked on a factory floor of science (a lab) and for the same reasons. I will address the rest in a seperate post.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby Forest_Dump on January 3rd, 2017, 11:46 am 

hyksos wrote:A general pattern jumps out. You all appear to have a very Victorian-flavored romanticized ideal of "Science" in your minds. I do not get the sense that any of you have ever labored late into the night in an actual scientific research lab. I do not get the sense that you have seen the scientific method practiced up close in a personal way.


hyksos wrote:If you are actually around real science as it is practiced on the laboratory floor (as it were), you very quickly gain a sense of how extraordinarily boring and tedious it actually is. Practical science is extremely mathematical and requires reams of collected data that is then processed and presented using tedious statistical methods. And this data must be presented with error bars that represent statistical margins of error, which are sometimes the "error of least squares" or sometimes the error is "Gaussian", and there are references to the confidence of the data to "5 sigma" and so on. And because correlation does not imply causation, you have to then repeat the test on many different mice, or rabbits. Like you have to inject the chemical into 85 mice, and then keep 85 mice around who are the "control group". You take the data, and then report on the statistics of both the injected and control group.


This and the paragraphs that followed was great stuff and I loved the irony or first condemning "Victorian science" (i.e., the rise of positivism, scientific laws, etc.) and then basically providing a parody of the tedium of doing the science of a technician working on the factory floor of science (the lab), industriously (a defining criteria of the Victorian era?) cranking out (mass producing?) factoids with machine precision (using mathematical tools to process the raw materials (data) provided) for the approval of some usually unseen manager/overseer (top scientist) in service of some largely unknown purpose. The tedium and drudgery comes through nicely and I strongly suspect (but I will definitely highlight in my own use) an influence from Foucault's "Discipline and Punish" - Foucault and derivatives in critiques of science definitely used many of the same devises and illusions.

So yeah, I got this and liked it. Gave me a whole mess of grins and I am still chuckling..
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby Braininvat on January 3rd, 2017, 12:56 pm 

Was that intentional irony? I may have missed that....
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby Forest_Dump on January 3rd, 2017, 1:27 pm 

Braininvat wrote:Was that intentional irony? I may have missed that....


I certainly assumed so. Must be. The images of "scientists" (definitely more like technicians) toiling in labs with tedious gathering and processing is not just industrial, it is almost out of Dante's Inferno. Truth be told, although I certainly still do some automaton-like measurement of things in a "lab" (in my case more like the older cottage industry) to manufacture data that can then be number-crunched to create factoids that can THEN be interpreted in what I hope and intend is a properly scientific manner, it was precisely this kind "lab life" I found it necessary to avoid if I didn't want to loose sight of the real world out there. Its a "to each their own" kind of thing and I don't want to put down those who live in these, to me but only to me, sterile kinds of boxes but personally (and I repeat IMHO) working in those kinds of labs puzzling through simplistic models of reality in order to control as much as possible so that only one or two factors can vary and then translate into some mathematical jibberish was and is 1) too much like working in a factory or cubicle office building (shades of the Dunder-Mifflin paper supply company) and 2) pretty much my definition of hell.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby Forest_Dump on January 3rd, 2017, 1:46 pm 

I should amplify a bit I think. Those kinds of lab setting certainly do have their place as both the factories of puzzle solving in "normal science" (to use Kuhn's terminology) and as kinds of "boot camps" for training and indoctrination in science, which certainly also has its place, of course. For many kinds of things these functions are indispensible and include a lot of the necessary but, as noted by Hyksos, tedious and mundane chores in the application of scientific methods (including things like forensics, the processing of fossils and artifacts but certainly also the manipulation of genes, chemicals, quarks, etc.). But, while I certainly did enjoy the stability and belief in control, etc., gained by the invention or production of things I found useful in some ways, plus the production of a steady pay cheque, eventually I also found I got something else - incentive to get out of there and back into some kind of real world that I found I was beginning to loose sight of. But how much of it is really "science"? Well, some, but IMHO a very limited kind of science. To each their own.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby Serpent on January 3rd, 2017, 3:22 pm 

It's comforting that mundane minds, too, have their little place in the constellation of Science.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby Forest_Dump on January 3rd, 2017, 3:41 pm 

Serpent wrote:It's comforting that mundane minds, too, have their little place in the constellation of Science.


Indeed. Even undergrads and lab rats can sometmes ask questions that make you sit back and think and re-assess things (out of the mouths of babes as it were). But preferably later after work and over a beer, etc. (Come to think of it, wasn't some great insight into nuclear fission or fission tracks, made over a glass of beer?)
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby Serpent on January 3rd, 2017, 4:06 pm 

Half the great insights in everything were derived from mind-altering substances and/or dreams.
What I meant was not the question-asking students, but all the foot-soldiers who faithfully count and record flashes and droplets, erythrocytes and seconds.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby hyksos on January 4th, 2017, 1:27 pm 

I'd never lower myself to doing something like... scientific research and publishing papers. Such is the province of mundane minds ..and "lab rats". Plus, I might get a stain on my toga. ;)
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby dandelion on January 5th, 2017, 1:36 pm 

Hyksos, just only if it isn’t personal, but relevant, I wonder about the antique username, and also the berobed avatar image. This latter, from a renaissance interpretation of Greek philosophy adorning Vatican walls, Strabo or Zarathustra?

Also, https://www.theguardian.com/science/201 ... mic-system
“Peter Higgs: I wouldn't be productive enough for today's academic system"
"Physicist doubts work like Higgs boson identification achievable now as academics are expected to 'keep churning out papers'”.

Curious!
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby hyksos on January 5th, 2017, 7:06 pm 

dandelion,

I don't speak from experience per se. I was not in a university until the 1990s. I agree with the article and with Dr. Higgs that the "churning out" of papers is really something new to the research culture. However, that does not mean that the sheer level of mathematics used in physics has somehow lessened since the 1960s. There was no time where they sat around in togas eating grapes and whimsically discussing the "God Particle" late into the night. Philosophical discussions of "material ontology" (if they every did occur) were rare. What the process looked like was more like guys filling chalkboards with equations and carrying on endlessly about symmetries in Lie groups.

See the person above holding her fingers onto her temples.. surrounded by a table of books. Unfortunately, that is dangerously accurate as far what goes on late into the night at the university library. Particularly when coming up on a midterm exam week. Very early in my college years, I knew a guy that I worked with in the lab very briefly. (He worked there before I arrived.) He really wanted to major in physics. But he changed his major to linguistics, because (as he said) "I can't stand math." I am not personally happy that this happens to the be nature of the discipline. So saturated as it is with math --- but I cant bring myself to pretend like it's not.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby BadgerJelly on January 6th, 2017, 12:30 am 

Saturated with math. Yep. Without mathematics there is no science. I would also argue that without science there is no mathematics either. The two are a progression of experimentation and measurement.

Also I think you may be taking the idea of what philosophers generally do today and applying it to what they used to do. From what I can tell a great number of "philosophers" (especially in the ancient world) were not inclined to sit around eating grapes. They usually experimented and observed patterns in nature without confining to any particular area of speciality.

I really think that today a very false division has been made due to mathematical idealisation of nature. Science sticks to an idealised exact language (math) whilst philosophy flounders in cumbersome constructs like "English" or "Latin" or whatever.

It was interesting to watch the vid dandelion put up. When they say "science" has come to mean a kind of "truth". You here this everyday as a way to varify decisions. "It's science!" People say. What I mean here is we express the success of science and translate this success as a "truth" in day to day conversation. I should be very clear I am talking about colloquial use of language within the general public. Very often science in courts is made to fit the case and used to politically alter opinion. People play on the false representations of science as an unquestionable body of evidence, where in reality the science is doing anything but settle on one conclusive answer or one conclusive way of interpreting the data gathered.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby dandelion on January 7th, 2017, 7:36 am 

Thanks for your reply, Hyksos. I hope I understand something of what you have said about maths. I haven’t had much time, but see I had also missed a post by Hyksos in this thread about doing science. And, I see I made some mistakes, sorry. I think a mistake I made was in poorly relaying some notions gleaned from the interview about science and philosophy in a thread linked. Looking back, some words I was thinking about from the interview seems to be more about scientific advance than science generally- “It advances by new data or by a deep investigation of the content and the apparent contradictions of previous empirically successful theories.”

Regarding maths, recent physics has been mentioned here particularly, but this thread involves other areas as well as other centuries, so that science involving less maths may be included in this (e.g., “I attempted mathematics, and even went during the summer of 1828 with a private tutor (a very dull man) to Barmouth, but I got on very slowly. The work was repugnant to me, chiefly from my not being able to see any meaning in the early steps of algebra. This impatience was foolish, and in after years I have deeply regretted that I did not proceed far enough at least to understand something of the great leading principles of mathematics; for men thus endowed seem to have an extra sense. But I do not believe that I should ever have succeeded beyond a very low grade.” https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=v3R ... er&f=false page 30). So perhaps then, some areas of maths may be a saturating component? A saturating concern for error described seems to be an example of deep investigation of content or questioning parts that may be involved against new data, or against reasonable cohesion or not within empirically successful scientific theories, etc.?

Regarding Higgs again, I wonder if Hyksos has a view on this description of Higgs’s advance- ‘Higgs said he initially failed to appreciate the significance of his theory. "It seemed to me that this was an important result which I had got, but of course it wasn't clear at the time how it would be applied in particle physics, and those of us who did the work in 64 were looking in the wrong place for the application," he confesses.
Eventually it was left to others, led by Steven Weinberg, to build on Higgs' work and put together the Standard Model…’ https://www.theguardian.com/science/201 ... e-nuisance
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby hyksos on January 7th, 2017, 9:16 am 

dandelion,

Higg's original 1964 paper was surprisingly short, and it was squashed into a larger journal, flanked by other articles by other authors. It's bibliography shared a page with the abstract for the next article.

A physics professor at the University of Nottingham, admitted that he could not even read it, because as he says , "I am not trained in that language.". Point being, there are tenured physics professors who can't read the mathematics of Higg's paper.

In a larger sense, this is really an indication of how specialized certain disciplines have become. The problem of specialization is becoming ever more extreme, particularly in computer science.

Some balls have been dropped in this thread, and that's unfortunate. One dropped ball was Actualism vs. Possibilism. (we have at least on regular at this forum who is a Possibilist.)

The other ball that always gets dropped is Instrumentalism. (For better or worse,) I am the resident Instrumentalist on this forum. I would hope to communicate that Instrumentalism is not new, and can be seen implicitly in the writings of Auguste Comte in the 1830s. I love science and I have had intimate personal exposure to it academically. But as an Instrumentalist, I have very little faith in the power of science to answer The Grandiose Philosophical Questions of Existence.

In addition to just carrying around the philosophy (like some sort of distant memory in my mind) when I saw science close up in the lab, my Instrumentalism was not challenged. Unfortunately -- it was reinforced by what I experienced. Laboratory science is clinical, tedious, and the researchers almost seem like "office clerks" with the endless shuffling of data and endless publishing.

There is something deeply cynical about instrumentalism, I will admit. As outsiders to science, we are maybe first exposed to it by Bill Nye, Niels deGrasse Tyson, and Carl Sagan. My cynicism often gets the best of me on some days. Even when I'm cynical about the whole "Make-Science-Sexy" theme that undergirds its presentation on television.

Nevertheless, I still have enormous respect and admiration for Sagan today.
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