On the denial of measured facts

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On the denial of measured facts

Postby hyksos on January 3rd, 2021, 6:53 pm 

A controversy has been swirling around the internet. The debate involves whether the discipline of philosophy affords a person validation and formal justification to deny measured facts. In this article I will be arguing that there is nothing in the canon of philosophy nor its subdisciplines that allows such denial.

I will define the phrase "measured fact" to be something akin to instrument K measures datum D. ('datum' being the singular of 'data').

Particular examples of measured facts are the following:

  • The planet Mars has 2 moons.
  • A chemist heats two regents in a flask for a specific time, causing a reaction to create a third compound. The chemist examines the contents and notes the ratios of the compound to the remaining regents. The chemist types this number into a laptop.
  • The African bureau takes a census and find that the population of Madagascar is 26 million people.
  • The first character of this bullet point is a capital T , given by ASCII code 0x54
  • Betty White is alive today.

Measured facts occur prior to any process of interpretation of a body of data. They occur far prior to the establishment of any predictive scientific theory. This author recognizes and respects the various philosophical problems and quandaries that arise during the interpretation of a collection of data. It is not the expressed nor hidden motivation of this author to force the reader into a narrow set of epistemic commitments, or to proselytize a particular ontology.

There is nothing within the disciplines of logic or philosophy in any tradition that allows a denial of a measured fact from the comfort of one's own leather armchair. The denial of a measurement is in fact not a viable technique under in any circumstances. As the actual act of denial involves building your own instrument and measuring your own data. Measurement denial is then often time consuming, logistically difficult and prohibitively expensive. Nevertheless, none of these economic and provincial hurdles act as a justification of denial. "I cannot afford to do that" is not an item of evidence for your position, no matter how truthful the plea may be.

In my personal experience, the only people who overtly deny measured facts are (1) evangelical christian creationists -- whose motivations are often unspoken but nevertheless transparent. (2) Used car salesman, whose motivations are entirely transparent. (3) Amateur philosophers who are abusing a distorted form of Cartesian solipsism. (4) Politicians and political pundits.

In my interactions with amateur philosophers on the internet, who contend disciplined philosophy permits measurement denial. In every single case that I have experienced, never once has the philosopher attempted to provide a summary defense of their denial on methodological or pragmatic terms. Nor have they given me a single concrete example where one would be forced to deny a measured fact for some expedient reason. Instead the conversation deteriorates into some sort of social game with no explicit end, other than either trolling or being abusive for fun.

The canon in the age of machines
For brevity, I will let the canon be a placeholder for four famous philosophers of the Western enlightenment, who are famous for their particular forms of skepticism. Rene Descartes, George Berkeley, David Hume, and Immanuel Kant. For our purposes here, the dates of their lives should be noted.

Rene Descartes (1596 -1650)

George Berkeley (1685 -1753)

David Hume (1711 -1776)

Immanuel Kant (1724 - 1804)

All four of these men could justifiably entertain positions that all facts are interpreted, since the only entities in agrarian Europe which could measure and sense the world were biological sense organs. In contrast, the 21st century is a world awash in machines that can measure the world without human intervention, encode those measurements into data, then store that data. Many of those machines, now called "computers", can then go on to process that data.

It is an important faculty developed by the study of philosophy, that the human mind is prone to failures of interpretation, and can be misled about the facts. Epistemic frameworks introduce problems. Overbearing Ontological commitments can mask and distort a person's interpretation of a fact. Religion can distort one's belief in facts, and alter the importance of measurements. Bias can lead a statistician astray. The desire to mislead others can cause problems with the collection and storage of facts in humans. Desire to cheat one's self can all play a factor in distortion of a single datum. This is all very true.

Well, all very true for human beings. Machines do not have religion. They do not have epistemologies. They are not programmed with a particular ontology, because they are not programmed with any ontology. Machines are not biased for racial or political reasons. Machines do not have extraneous motivations that cloud their judgement, because most machines have no motivations, full stop.

In the world we live in , (not the world of 18th century Europe) we have microphones that can measure sound at decibel levels. We have charge coupled devices that can record high frame rate color video. We have telescopes that can measure infrared light -- not even visible to the human eye -- and can store these measurements with the precision and accuracy of energy levels in nano-joules ; 1 billionth of a joule. It is because of these modern instruments that we know that the human ear does not hear loudness in its true linear form. But actually our sense of loudness is logarithmic. These sorts of differences between the human perception of a datum, versus a machine's measurement can allow us to refer to something called the "ground truth" of a measurement. Descartes, Hume, and Kant did not have this concept and it does not appear in their vocabulary.

It is because of these mindless machines which can sense, measure, encode and store facts, that we can do a particular technological act that was simply unavailable to Descartes, Hume, and Kant. We can corroborate our own human perceptions with the same measurement performed by a machine.

Lets return to the example I listed above, which is a chemist exposing regents in a flask to create a product compound. That entire process, including the measurement of the results could proceed by a machine. Furthermore, its software could convert the raw measurement from cameras into information in the form of encoded bits, and store those bits into a database.

I ask the reader now to imagine if a human then repeated the exact procedure using their hands and eyes. Say the human chemist then types in their measurement onto their laptop. Say their number happens to match exactly the number that the machine came up with. This is a concrete example that demonstrates, that under certain circumstances a human being CAN sense, measure, and record a fact about the world. In no shape or form am I asserting that human beings always and continually perceive facts about the world at all hours of their waking life. Instead, I only assert that there exist some rare situations in which a human is perfectly capable of sensing, measuring and recording facts.

Therefore, any amateur philosophers brandishing sophomoric solipsism, have been handed a concrete counter-example to their pleading assertion that "there are no facts, only interpretations".

It is very unlikely that traditional enlightenment skepticism can survive in a world of information processing machines. Today we can not only hypothesize that a signal contains a certain upper bound of information content, but we can quantify that information content in terms of Shannon Entropy. Information in this sense of a signal. Thermodynamics has exposed a maximum upper bound on information that could possibly be stored in a collection of matter, say a benzene molecule. As far as our best understanding of physics dictates, the size of information encode-able onto matter is upper-bounded. this upper bound is enforced by the laws of physics. So, there is some upper bound of information that could, in principle, be encoded in a benzene molecule.

Since our modern civilization has demonstrated an equivalence between the physical states of matter and amount of information encode-able with that matter, further solipsist-flavored ontologies about facts are no longer useful, either conceptually nor pragmatically. We have absolutely every reason to believe that facts do correspond to particular states that could be occupied by a physical system. So while human conceptual frailty can distort interpretations, it cannot distort measurement.

While human conceptual frailty can distort interpretation, a computer that is processing a video stream into a histogram is not prone to such frailty. Thus the only conclusion anyone could draw is that the real world contains facts and that machines can record them.
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Re: On the denial of measured facts

Postby BadgerJelly on January 3rd, 2021, 11:12 pm 

A controversy has been swirling around the internet. The debate involves whether the discipline of philosophy affords a person validation and formal justification to deny measured facts. In this article I will be arguing that there is nothing in the canon of philosophy nor its subdisciplines that allows such denial.


I haven’t seen this ‘controversy’ now anymore than in the past?

In various ‘sects’ of logic it can be validated and in others it cannot. Furthermore there is no reason to assume there are physical ‘constants,’ but it is silly to deny that they are not only useful as well as being evidentially verifiable in a practical sense (as we’re merely specks with a limited perspective).

In terms of cultural attitudes and human society it is apparent enough to me that a proposed denial of items of measurement is extremely useful in framing differing cosmological perspectives across broad spectra of human societies. For example, today many people don’t question the ‘physicality’ of time - our lives have become very much about temporal measurements and our daily (see?) habits have become part of this.

So, in the above case, to question (deny/“bracket”) our notion of what we measure, why we measure it and it’s effect upon our cosmological perspective are all important items to consider when move, eat, sleep, communicate and think about ourselves as part of a community and as apart from other individuals. The boon of measurement (be it in subtler/hazy forms; speech and words) is a shared experience with enough commonality to register our passage in life among other people and as part of our surroundings (people/objects).

Again though. It is dangerous to confuse the ground by equating ‘facts’ with ‘truths’. By way of an obtuse use of ‘doubt’ literally anything’s validity can be brought into question - that is precisely what the ‘philosophical world’ seems most capable of (admittedly this is an extremely tricky operation and it will lead to mistakes - just as freak measurements happen in the physical world).

Anomalies matter just as much as consistency - if not more so!

In short, a ‘measured fact’ isn’t a ‘logical truth’. Just to be clear, I’m generally opposed to psychologism, but as an investigative methodology (via ‘bracketing’) I have no qualms with it. A large degree of caution is required though.

I actually ‘doubt’ causality ... such a statement may seem ridiculous to you and others. I just mean that I’m aware enough to understand that the human perspective is necessarily limited. Omnipotence would make any ‘measurement’ a meaningless exercise (don’t forget ‘measuring’ is a human activity not something upon which human beings are founded).

Mathematics is literally magic in disguise. Mathematics doesn’t measure anything and mere ‘words’ are both limited and limitless in their functions - as they possess no constant universal ‘meaning’.

We do see repeated political attempts to question ‘measurements’ throughout human history. In areas where it benefits some to question this or that paradigm then we’ll see this trend continue. In other areas our ability to ‘measure’ certain contents of human life will necessarily be misplaced and/or too imprecise to allow a rational consensus.

To sum up, it appears this is something like antithesis of the argument against the atomisation of the human experience - the dismissal of ‘measurement’ because it is seen by some as reducing humanity to ‘soulless’ numbers ... there is enough ‘magic’ in the numbers for me tbh ;)
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Re: On the denial of measured facts

Postby BadgerJelly on January 3rd, 2021, 11:33 pm 

In my interactions with amateur philosophers on the internet, who contend disciplined philosophy permits measurement denial. In every single case that I have experienced, never once has the philosopher attempted to provide a summary defense of their denial on methodological or pragmatic terms. Nor have they given me a single concrete example where one would be forced to deny a measured fact for some expedient reason. Instead the conversation deteriorates into some sort of social game with no explicit end, other than either trolling or being abusive for fun.


There is a large swathe of people who have merely touched the surface of postmodernist views and latched in to the idea that they can create their own ‘personal truths’ and spit in the eye of The Man.

I offered criticism to someone who has actually completed a philosophy degree (apparently they received a high grade) and they acted like an upset child (note: they specifically asked for critique of their writing). I guess it’s just down to age and maturity. The idea that you can flat out deny something and create your own worldview is enticing to those who are brought up in a social environment where ‘failure’ is deemed ‘dishonourable’/‘shameful’. Maybe what we both experience is due to mollycoddling - an unfortunate repercussion of a global society increasing in empathy?

“There are no facts, only interpretations!” ... this is the cry of someone who hasn’t taken the time to make explicit - to themselves - what ‘facts’ means in this given context and how they contrast to ‘interpretations’.

My simple argument against people shouting the above is that we can understand each other to some degree and that this is evidence enough that the lived world possesses enough consistency - in our minuscule blip of existence - for our collective ‘interpretations’ to coincide and allow us to squeeze out a slightly better and longer existence.

If you take on that pragmatic approach against them you’ll find they resort to using ‘measurements’ to argue you against your point - at that point walk away rather than rub their noses in it (or they’ll just double-down).

In terms of questioning ‘bedrock physics’ (empirical measurements) Sheldrake is an interesting guy to listen to (“morphic resonance”).
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Re: On the denial of measured facts

Postby hyksos on January 4th, 2021, 1:33 am 

I guess it’s just down to age and maturity. The idea that you can flat out deny something and create your own worldview is enticing to those who are brought up in a social environment where ‘failure’ is deemed ‘dishonourable’/‘shameful’. Maybe what we both experience is due to mollycoddling - an unfortunate repercussion of a global society increasing in empathy?


I think you are really getting somewhere with the molly-coddling. I'm really lining up with you on this one. Age and maturity. Yes. Philosophy is difficult and it should not be used as a justification of one's imagination or a protraction of childhood.

(Lets expand a little bit more in this direction....)

So this stuff started in the humanities depts in the USA mostly in west-coast universities during the 1960s. The main offender was the University of California at Berkeley. (often shortened to just Berkeley). As this particular methodology spread to the midwest, by the end of the 1970s you had tenured professors saying that truth is "socially-constructed", possibly others saying that "facts don't exist." By the 2000s, you had gender studies professors who moonlighted in the humanities telling students that facts should be avoided as they are "tools of the patriarchy."

The result of all this was exactly what you would expect. The rest of campus was convinced these people had gone insane. Philosophy departments were immediately consigned to the Humanities, and then roped off into a little corner on campus.

This most interesting thing about this is that they still exist, and have come to dominate certain sections of the internet. I will name two places /r/philosophy on reddit, which is difficult to post anything onto. and /r/AcademicPhilosophy on reddit, which is just totally impossible to interact with at all. These types of philosophy professors in more "liberal" universities (who moonlight with the Gender Studies dept) are often given a shortened moniker meant to act as a sneer. the word is post-modernist. When these people come to dominate a community on the internet, they are never explicit about their foundational beliefs. Never openly declaring that "Truth is socially-constructed". Never seen to write the exact phrase "Facts don't exist." Instead they operate in a sort of sneaky way, linking you to giant books by their heroes that definitely do say these things. Internet-interaction wise, if they detect a scientist using scientific terms, they isolate them, and work to remove them from their community by silencing, banning, and other forms of attack.

While such post-modernists have not completely dominated discord yet, they are definitely making a small presence there already.

if you want to investigate this deeper, I have names and titles of the books written by such people.
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Re: On the denial of measured facts

Postby hyksos on January 4th, 2021, 1:37 am 

“There are no facts, only interpretations!” ... this is the cry of someone who hasn’t taken the time to make explicit - to themselves - what ‘facts’ means in this given context and how they contrast to ‘interpretations’.

You'll really spin your hat when I tell you that "There are no facts, only interpretations" is a quote of Frederick Nietzsche.
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Re: On the denial of measured facts

Postby Forest_Dump on January 4th, 2021, 1:52 am 

Well a lot of the foundation of post modernism is in Marxist critical theory. But of course questioning our grasp of reality could be found in Rene de Carte. But then when I think of reality being constructed from computer generated models, data, etc, I am fully taken to Plato's cave.
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Re: On the denial of measured facts

Postby Scott Mayers on January 4th, 2021, 4:02 am 

hyksos » January 3rd, 2021, 5:53 pm wrote:A controversy has been swirling around the internet. The debate involves whether the discipline of philosophy affords a person validation and formal justification to deny measured facts. In this article I will be arguing that there is nothing in the canon of philosophy nor its subdisciplines that allows such denial.


I may relate but cannot be sure exactly what you are asserting.

If you are asserting that 'facts' cannot be denied using words in philosophical discussion, I understand. But nor can they be affirmed where stated. I am having difficulty arguing in most online forums with even the apparently most reasonable people when this term is used to describe something. I also strongly argue against those who debate issues like whether the Holocaust had 6 Million Jews die as these are 'facts' that cannot be confirmed nor denied in the context of a philosophical debate. All you can do is to debate agreed to terms within the context of the debate. If one brings up some 'fact', like how I am presently debating with someone who is arguing that "Socialism has failed 100% of the time," giving the handful of the commonly named countries with their purges, etc, I am forced to simply agree to their PARTICULAR claims (without prejudice) and then attempt to argue for the meaning of the term absent the labels that political ideologies give to them.

You gave examples of 'facts' regarding computers that should not matter in the realm of a philosophical debate. Just because a computer can be 'consistent' does not mean that its programming cannot deceive those who do not understand the underlying architecture.

I had a debate once regarding one attempting to demonstrate a computer program that one can run to prove the 2/3 outcome result of the Monty Hall Problem, for instance. The person creating the program would show the coding so that I can argue how its program presets up the expected solution he thought that could INDUCE those using it to trust the outcome. I explained how the machine level logic 'cheats' with respect to certain simple logic gates and with respect to the timing. I can expand on this if you are interested in the particular kind of problem that is involved. But I am only stating this as 'fact' that you can just postulate for the sake of pointing out that even computers are created by humans and so any errors that we have can be hidden in a way that is less easy to notice than the trust one may have regarding its 'consistency'.

The declarations of facts CAN be contested by diminishing their significance in the particular arguments. I often can effectively get the point about the errors one might be assuming regarding their statements of fact but it still requires time for them to let go of them as tools to argue with. In this case, I just have to allow them time for self-reflection. They often come back with an altered means to argue WITHOUT resort to those same 'tools' of arguments using facts.

In general, in debating philosophy, I don't trust anything one attempt to outsource and so prefer they argue as though it is their own ideas. So references to Kant in recent arguments has been raised concerns with me when I'm expected to debate their interpretation of his works to which I am hesitant to consider. The only thing I think is fair is if one uses links as 'supporting' something where the context of the logic is contained in THEIR arguments alone.
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Re: On the denial of measured facts

Postby hyksos on January 4th, 2021, 12:26 pm 

I had a debate once regarding one attempting to demonstrate a computer program that one can run to prove the 2/3 outcome result of the Monty Hall Problem, for instance. The person creating the program would show the coding so that I can argue how its program presets up the expected solution he thought that could INDUCE those using it to trust the outcome. I explained how the machine level logic 'cheats' with respect to certain simple logic gates and with respect to the timing. I can expand on this if you are interested in the particular kind of problem that is involved. But I am only stating this as 'fact' that you can just postulate for the sake of pointing out that even computers are created by humans and so any errors that we have can be hidden in a way that is less easy to notice than the trust one may have regarding its 'consistency'.

This would be a wonderful argument to make if someone in this thread had asserted something like "Computers are never wrong.". Or "machines measure truth all the time" "Machines are the tools to truth seeking". Except such assertions are absent in my article.

Worse, the situation I described was actually a human chemist performing an experiment and getting a reading, and then a machine performing the same experiment and getting a reading. Then I said the numbers matched. Further, I even played coy and softened it, describing the situation as "rare".

(The 'rarity' asserted is not true in reality. Human chemists get machine matched numbers many dozens of times per day.)

Back to the philosophy. The rarity does not matter. It could happen once every five years for this argument. I presented it as counter-example. I only need one.
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Re: On the denial of measured facts

Postby hyksos on January 4th, 2021, 12:52 pm 

Forest_Dump » January 4th, 2021, 9:52 am wrote:Well a lot of the foundation of post modernism is in Marxist critical theory. But of course questioning our grasp of reality could be found in Rene de Carte. But then when I think of reality being constructed from computer generated models, data, etc, I am fully taken to Plato's cave.

Several points.

(1)
Even the deepest of deep Meditations of Descartes, we only conclude skeptical doubt in the readings. We do not conclude they are wrong in a definitive manner. Skepticism even in strong forms can never answer negatively, it can only create doubt.

(2)
Please appreciate that Descartes and George Berkeley could not look back over 200 years of rapid technological progress. That really really matters. Look at Descartes's lifespan years. He had come and gone before Isaac Newton wrote his first papers on mechanics. Newton was a 7 year old boy when Descartes died.


Consider then some applications of (1). If you get off this forum and go out into the world, you will encounter evangelicals, muslims, catholic apologists, young-earth creationists, vaccine deniers, conspiracy theorists and cultists. They will tell you that the ice cores extracted from antarctica mean nothing, and claim the evidence is wrong. They will absolutely play off their position as "philosophy". It is not philosophy.

Used car salesmen will lie to you. His fibbing is not doing philosophy. A used car salesman lying to you is not "adopting a different ontology". He's just lying.

Now lets apply (2). Today we can say things like "these theories worked". The theory predicted something and that prediction matched measurement. "We used our understanding of human genetics to create medical treatments". Berkeley and Hume were not surrounded by examples like this. Those men were positioned in an agrarian world where they had the luxury of inserting doubt into human intuitions.

(if I tried to distill this down to its essence) , it's just the straight message : The discipline of philosophy does not lend validity to your imagination and your fantasies. It does not give you a license to lie.
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Re: On the denial of measured facts

Postby TheVat on January 4th, 2021, 2:53 pm 

Might help the chat if specific examples are offered of philosophy (philosophy of science, in particular) denying the validity of measured facts. Or their scope of value in making statements about reality. Are we talking Feyerabend here? Or just postmodernist nutjobs? (if the latter, I think some would say they aren't really philosophers and more like a literary movement/intellectual fad)
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Re: On the denial of measured facts

Postby BadgerJelly on January 4th, 2021, 10:46 pm 

It could that people view ‘measurement’ as measuring some noumenal world? It would make sense to dismiss measurements if you were to view them in such a light.

The ‘what really is?’ kinda question is probably where the hoodwinking is happening?
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Re: On the denial of measured facts

Postby Scott Mayers on January 5th, 2021, 4:51 pm 

hyksos » January 4th, 2021, 11:26 am wrote:
I had a debate once regarding one attempting to demonstrate a computer program that one can run to prove the 2/3 outcome result of the Monty Hall Problem, for instance. The person creating the program would show the coding so that I can argue how its program presets up the expected solution he thought that could INDUCE those using it to trust the outcome. I explained how the machine level logic 'cheats' with respect to certain simple logic gates and with respect to the timing. I can expand on this if you are interested in the particular kind of problem that is involved. But I am only stating this as 'fact' that you can just postulate for the sake of pointing out that even computers are created by humans and so any errors that we have can be hidden in a way that is less easy to notice than the trust one may have regarding its 'consistency'.

This would be a wonderful argument to make if someone in this thread had asserted something like "Computers are never wrong.". Or "machines measure truth all the time" "Machines are the tools to truth seeking". Except such assertions are absent in my article.

Worse, the situation I described was actually a human chemist performing an experiment and getting a reading, and then a machine performing the same experiment and getting a reading. Then I said the numbers matched. Further, I even played coy and softened it, describing the situation as "rare".

(The 'rarity' asserted is not true in reality. Human chemists get machine matched numbers many dozens of times per day.)

Back to the philosophy. The rarity does not matter. It could happen once every five years for this argument. I presented it as counter-example. I only need one.

I asked what you meant and added what I did under the assumption it was about your apparent greivance with those you clearly loathe. I won't bother with you given your hatred of others who don't think like you are presumed beneath you.

Thanks for tattling about what you think was 'inappropriate' responses in the other thread and having the admin remove all the posts, ....especially given my mention in another regarding censorship. I'm taking my leave of this site as it is just another pretentious authoritarianist's platform for dickheads like yourself.

Good luck.
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Re: On the denial of measured facts

Postby hyksos on January 5th, 2021, 11:40 pm 

Thanks for tattling about what you think was 'inappropriate' responses in the other thread and having the admin remove all the posts, ....especially given my mention in another regarding censorship. I'm taking my leave of this site as it is just another pretentious authoritarianist's platform for dickheads like yourself.


number (1)
I didn't tattle anything. The moderator of this website acted completely of his own free will. Between your post and its removal, I contacted zero people zero times.

number (2)
The moderator left an expository note explaining his motivation for the removal of your reply.

number (3)
I invite any moderator to pastebin your deleted reply for all to see. This pastebin should be placed adjacent to mod's expository. Every human being on this forum will see that you hijacked my thread to go on a tirade that was unrelated to the material I had posted. Your belief that you are being censored is fantasy.
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Re: On the denial of measured facts

Postby BadgerJelly on January 6th, 2021, 12:14 am 

Hyksos -

When these people come to dominate a community on the internet, they are never explicit about their foundational beliefs. Never openly declaring that "Truth is socially-constructed". Never seen to write the exact phrase "Facts don't exist."


Again, don’t you think that the very problem may lie between these two quite different terms? ‘Fact’ and ‘Truth’.

Ontology does matter too. It is easy to dismiss someone’s view based on personal biases (aka personal ontological views or cosmological perspective).

The car salesman will eventually begin to believe their own lies. Understanding this psychological function would probably serve us in delivering both ourselves and others from stubborn misconceptions about our views and others.

Tbh I’ve lost count of the number of times people have misinterpreted what I’ve said, seemingly wilfully at times, but that is part and parcel of the nature of debate and rational discussion. You’re asking for a good argument yet - as I’ve seen in the past - you do tend to suffer the same misgivings as those you place in your crosshairs.

In the post above there is an interesting lesson. Dislikes don’t really help us see what is going on. It is almost impossible to disregard the ‘person’ behind any words. If we can overcome that and apply a good degree of generosity in translation/interpretation of what someone is fighting to communicate (and it is a fight) then maybe the ‘person’ behind the words will fade away and we’ll be less likely to jump to the wrong conclusions?

Also, just because you think someone is lying it doesn’t mean they are. People are not always lying when they say they believe in an afterlife or god. Sometimes it makes more sense to accept their statements as genuine enough and then think about what it would be like to believe such - beyond derogatory dismissal and referring to such attitudes as childish or immature. We’re all at fault in some way or another.

As Vat says, if you gave a specific example it may help?

There are numerous examples on forums where people genuinely believe they’ve given a solid explanation of their position/s, yet many (or all) simply don’t get it. In this sense everyone is correct, but we all fail to parse our thoughts well enough. As we improve, we cut away pieces that confused ourselves and others and add more in the hope to make our monsters live (few of our monsters last long enough to breed something unique).

It should probably be noteworthy to consider this as primarily a Science based forum. This forum possesses a set audience because of this. A great many times I’ve seen people come here trying to offer something only to be met with derision and condescension, when all they are really looking for is a genuine discussion that doesn’t even get the least bit of momentum due to the mindset of certain members of the forum. This happens EVERYWHERE but for totally differing reasons - on a purely philosophical forum there are certainly sections of the community that are dismissive of empirical measurement and physicalism - and this is something fascincating in and of itself don’t you think? Enjoy it :)

I think Scotts outburst above is OTT but I don’t know the context. Either way frustrations are voiced because there is a lack of communication (I’ve been frustrated many times in the past, and likely will again in the future - but I think I’ve mellowed a fair amount!).

Back to the topic and something I’ve brought up before ...

Is it a ‘fact’ that the Sun rises? From an Earthly day-to-day human perspective, yes, it is a ‘fact’. It is ONLY a ‘fact’ because we understand the position this arrives from - as a lived experience on Earth. On a large scale to talk of the Sun ‘rising’ is rather meaningless (the Earth merely rotates and it ‘appears’ that the Sun rises). Furthermore, there are even more obtuse uses of language in the for of metaphors and idioms.

Questioning ‘facts’ - in the sense those on forums often do - is usually boils down to meaning and context, which are both further wrapped up in biases and fears.

The ‘fears’ are usually derived from authorship of action and whether or not we have ‘freedom of choice/thought/action’ - hence the popularity of that across most forums.

Another issue is the concept of god. It is just as daft to quickly dismiss someone when they say they believe in god as it is to not offer a decent ‘gist’ of what the term ‘god’ means by the person stating such.

Ideas and uses of the term ‘belief’ is something I ran into on this forum many years ago. The ridiculous insistence that ‘belief’ meant only one thing is typical to the individual who relies on ‘measurements’.

If you’re entering philosophical discussions with scientific goggles on then so be it. I throw in the occasional philosophical post into the science side of things, but I don’t generally expect much back in return (I merely hope for something).

For an argument against ‘measurements’ I can offer something - albeit obtuse. Such would start from framing scientific thought as operating with the belief in some noumenal world (and there are some people like this p not that it makes much difference to their chosen field), but I’m well aware that those at the top of their field are much more openminded than this and happy to play with more metaphysical ideas to explore hard problems from a fresher perspective.

If I ever write a philosophical work it will be titled “Dichotomies and Magnitudes” and it would be an investigation into ontology as nothing more than an extension of epistemology and what the connotations of this are - but that brief is far too brief to explain what I mean by this (and it’s quite obvious, but the obviousness of it is precisely why I see importance as it’s something we ‘accept’ without thought).

All this leads to one of the main principles of philosophical thought and investigation ... to question the obvious and doubt facts (be this by historicism, epistemic valuation and/or alternative methodologies). The pyramid of method, methodology, epistemology and ontology.
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Re: On the denial of measured facts

Postby hyksos on January 7th, 2021, 1:47 pm 

The car salesman will eventually begin to believe their own lies. Understanding this psychological function would probably serve us in delivering both ourselves and others from stubborn misconceptions about our views and others.

This is mis-directed wordsmithing for no other reason than being contrarian. We know exactly the motivations of a used car salesman. Language can be hijacked and weaponized. Language does not have to be used to communicate ideas, clarify positions, and teach others. It can be used as a weapon to manipulate the behavior of others. This is exactly the purview of megachurch pastors, politicians, and car salesmen.



Also, just because you think someone is lying it doesn’t mean they are. People are not always lying when they say they believe in an afterlife or god. Sometimes it makes more sense to accept their statements as genuine enough and then think about what it would be like to believe such - beyond derogatory dismissal and referring to such attitudes as childish or immature. We’re all at fault in some way or another.

Rest assured the dismissals of these religious claims are not done out of a sense of derision. I would not deem such ideas childish nor immature. Instead I would expose them as yet another attempt by megachurch pastors to weaponize language as a tool to manipulate their parishioners.

I think Scotts outburst above is OTT but I don’t know the context. Either way frustrations are voiced because there is a lack of communication (I’ve been frustrated many times in the past, and likely will again in the future - but I think I’ve mellowed a fair amount!).

You are incorrect. But thank you for being transparent enough to admit that don't know the context.



Is it a ‘fact’ that the Sun rises? From an Earthly day-to-day human perspective, yes, it is a ‘fact’. It is ONLY a ‘fact’ because we understand the position this arrives from - as a lived experience on Earth. On a large scale to talk of the Sun ‘rising’ is rather meaningless (the Earth merely rotates and it ‘appears’ that the Sun rises). Furthermore, there are even more obtuse uses of language in the for of metaphors and idioms.

Questioning ‘facts’ - in the sense those on forums often do - is usually boils down to meaning and context, which are both further wrapped up in biases and fears.

I come to you from a world where there are machines that measure data in the world and process and analyze that data using large layered software. This mangled gigantic software often takes months if not years to bring to fruition through sweat, blood, and tears. You have to be trained in higher mathematics to even understand what the software is doing. We, in our world., obviously value facts very highly considering the amount of work we put in to collect and process them. It is insulting and audacious to listen to some post-modernist Gender Studies professor claim to me that facts don't exist.

By "Fact" I mean the number 143.076 in the columns of a database. by "fact" i mean "we have ice core layer 645,023 in row H isle 5". What if any passage in Descartes Meditations, or David Hume, or something in the Critique of Pure Reason of Kant allows you or justified you to deny a fact? Nothing in disciplined philosophy justified this denial, unless you are hijacking language to lie to your students to manipulate their political ideology.

If you are going to use language as a weapon to lie to people to manipulate and control them, then state such, but do not nance around this forum pretending to be a seeker of Truth.
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Re: On the denial of measured facts

Postby BadgerJelly on January 9th, 2021, 4:45 am 

Hyksos -

You’re taking extreme cases here from people with ‘expertise’ in field of super soft science (aka social sciences). Of course they’re taught not to trust ‘facts’ but they’re (or at least shouldn’t) be relating scientific facts to personal/societal experiences. My name is a ‘fact’ but it is NOT a measurement.

Who, and where, are these people? Where is the argument?

Vat and I have asked for an example. It would help a lot to understand the context. When it comes to gender studies, and such, there is a lot of debate around the interpretation of biological facts ... it isn’t as clearcut as physics and calmly marking the difference between making an empirical measurement and interpreting the value and meaning of said measurement are wholly different human interactions.

We are all ignorant in some respect. I’d love to see an actual philosophical argument against ‘measured facts’ to know what you’re talking about. My own experience is that some fields of actively ignore scientific data - on some subjects. It can appear fruitless, and probably is most of the time, but happy accidents can happen.
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Re: On the denial of measured facts

Postby hyksos on January 18th, 2021, 1:23 pm 

You’re taking extreme cases here from people with ‘expertise’ in field of super soft science (aka social sciences). Of course they’re taught not to trust ‘facts’ but they’re (or at least shouldn’t) be relating scientific facts to personal/societal experiences. My name is a ‘fact’ but it is NOT a measurement.

Who, and where, are these people? Where is the argument?


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_constructivism

https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/against-facts

https://mitpress.mit.edu/contributors/arianna-betti

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isabelle_Stengers

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruno_Latour

https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/subject_spec ... heory.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judith_Butler
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Re: On the denial of measured facts

Postby bangstrom on January 19th, 2021, 7:46 am 

Hyksos ,

I am also having trouble following your argument and the citations you listed have been no help. Your argument appears to be against denying “measured facts” in favor of philosophical speculation. I don’t see examples of this in the citations you gave although the persons you mentioned may have done so elsewhere.

Arianna Betti, for example, defines “facts” as,” Whatever is named in “the fact that” statements.”
I have often noticed that whatever follows “the fact that” in a statement is often no more than a personal opinion and usually not even a popular opinion so denying or questioning such a “fact” is good advice.

And there is Bruno Latour who cautions against the quick acceptance of “facts” just because others have recognized something as fact. He claims that popular acceptance is usually influenced more by prior beliefs, wishful thinking, or cultural influences than by experimental results, evidence or reason. I find this to be another justification for questioning what others may regard as “facts”.

In the other citations, I don’t see examples of individuals denying measurements in favor of philosophizing so I don’t see the relevance to your point.

If your argument is that facts derived by armchair philosophizing are inferior to facts based on experimental evidence, I am sure everyone can agree.

hyksos » January 4th, 2021, 12:37 am wrote:
You'll really spin your hat when I tell you that "There are no facts, only interpretations" is a quote of Frederick Nietzsche.

I am inclined to agree with Nietzsche here so we must have a semantic difference in our interpretation of the word “fact”.

I see fact as just a name indicating a high degree of certainty. To deny that something is a fact is to deny the certainty of its interpretation which is not the same as a denial of the underlying measurement or observation.
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Re: On the denial of measured facts

Postby Forest_Dump on January 19th, 2021, 8:54 am 

Trying to be brief (because I don't want to spend much time talking to deaf ears), I acknowledge I am a product of my culture etc and have difficulty stepping outside it (although I do have extensive education and experience in trying to do so). Accordingly I do believe that, for example, covid exists (although I haven't yet actually met anyone with direct experience of it because of where I happen to live so I have to take it a bit on faith that covid is a measured fact). I also believe covid is caused by a tiny thing called a virus although I have never seen a virus (but there are people who do tell me I might have millions or billions of them in me every time I get a cold). And I don't have any machine that would allow me to see a virus nor could I build one on my own and I suspect there would be considerable trouble if I tried to do effective experiments with covid viruses and people even if I had the time to catch up on the necessary knowledge, resources, etc. So although I think I am in accord with objective knowledge and measureable facts for the most part I have to take it on faith according to what I can learn through main street media from government and big pharma companies (need I go there?). Any suggestion as to how we can turn the info from big profit driven institutions into objective fact driven knowledge that we ourselves don't have to take on faith?
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Re: On the denial of measured facts

Postby charon on January 19th, 2021, 10:58 am 

Any suggestion as to how we can turn the info from big profit driven institutions into objective fact driven knowledge that we ourselves don't have to take on faith?


I wouldn't say the fact that there's such a thing as Covid 19 is something one has to 'take on faith'. There's a rather large mountain of dead bodies which make that quite plain.

Unless you want to believe it's all a hoax perpetuated by some nutty fringe group in America.
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Re: On the denial of measured facts

Postby Forest_Dump on January 19th, 2021, 12:02 pm 

Oh I don't doubt or dispute it for a second. But the point is I have to acknowledge that I don't have access to measureable or objective facts like the 400,000 bodies any more than I witnessed the holocaust, any nuclear bombs or detonations (truth be told I don't even know how to make a Geiger counter, scanning electron microscope or radio telescope. I even take it on faith that the stuff I inject myself with is a chemical called insulin and not hexed witchy water - I have no real way to test.
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Re: On the denial of measured facts

Postby TheVat on January 19th, 2021, 12:15 pm 

Yes, the dead bodies (and my covid-suffering body a month ago) could result from malevolent energy beings that enter the body and suck "chi" out of it. Most of us don't have laboratories and experimental subjects that could allow us to determine that's wrong and that viruses shaped like spikey balls are the real culprit. So we make a good-faith stipulation that several centuries of millions of scientists and lab workers and professors and so on aren't all part of some vast seamless conspiracy to promote a hoax or a false interpretation of reality. Partly an Ockham's razor thing -- it's harder to support such a massive conspiracy in a plausible way than it is to say we're all made of protein molecules and it's a complicated mess in there.
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Re: On the denial of measured facts

Postby charon on January 19th, 2021, 1:58 pm 

Forest_Dump » January 19th, 2021, 5:02 pm wrote: I have no real way to test.


Of course you don't. What's the problem?
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Re: On the denial of measured facts

Postby Forest_Dump on January 19th, 2021, 3:40 pm 

I have always been a firm believer in science although I also believe in leavening it with hard critique and skepticism. That is simply part of my culture - it is the way of my people.
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Re: On the denial of measured facts

Postby charon on January 19th, 2021, 7:00 pm 

...

Being the 'way of your people', whoever they may be, has nothing to do with common sense. If we doubted everything we'd go potty.

Remember Diogenes? He lived in a barrel and took a candle to bed with him every night because he said there was absolutely no guarantee that the sun would rise in the morning. And who can argue with that?

Every time you take a train there's an implicit trust that you won't end up in Timbuktu. Or a barber won't slice off your ear. Or the food you buy from the supermarket won't kill you, or even make you sick... and so on.

It doesn't mean we go to sleep and it doesn't mean nothing ever goes wrong. It means that the likelihood of a certain thing going wrong is so slight as not to induce concern. For example, I have virtually no doubt at all that when I press Submit this message will appear on the forum as it should.

Only the mad question daily things that don't need questioning. So I'd be very surprised if that sort of questioning was actually the way of your people at all. They wouldn't have lasted long if it was.
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Re: On the denial of measured facts

Postby Forest_Dump on January 19th, 2021, 8:22 pm 

Indeed all things happen while everything changes. My people believe we live on a relatively tiny rock that spins while we more slowly circle the sun which is a relatively medium sized ball of gas burning by nuclear fusion etc. Others believe or believed our world is huge and the sun rises in the east and is pulled by some God. However you choose to interpret it, it happens everyday. I might have difficulty proving my beliefs to you (there are flat earth people on the internet too) but I still have them. And truth be told I try to be tolerant of other people's beliefs and do not demand that everyone accept mine. Frankly I think that is why our world has changed. Amongst my people there is this legend about this heretic named Galileo....
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Re: On the denial of measured facts

Postby Forest_Dump on January 19th, 2021, 8:43 pm 

I hesitate to mention, given what happened to my peoples culture hero Galileo, but we do believe the earth eventually will stop spinning and the sun will no longer rise in the east. But I can't really prove it and it is to happen so far into the future that we likely won't even be alive at the time so no need to give that one much thought.
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Re: On the denial of measured facts

Postby charon on January 19th, 2021, 9:09 pm 

I might have difficulty proving my beliefs to you


But we're not talking about beliefs, we're talking about everyday occurrences that don't need to be doubted, like worrying whether the train you board will end up somewhere in the opposite direction it was meant to go.

In any case you're talking nonsense but I expect you think it's philosophically viable. To which I have no answer.
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Re: On the denial of measured facts

Postby BadgerJelly on January 20th, 2021, 12:12 am 

Hyksos -

There is often a number of ignorant students searching for answers and finding ideas like Social Constructivism as a means to push political agendas ... ironically that is precisely what social constructivism can teach us about.

In terms of harder science the whole nature or nurture debate is pretty much over - in that we’ve come to realise this is a convenient (and often necessary) means of navigating the world we’re in/of/apart from/a part of.

We have a dichotic view of the world. We simplify what is before us into binary terms because it just makes more sense. Philosophy generally probes beneath the obviousnesses of these given attitudes (be they self-imposed or imposed via our upbringing - pedagogical and/or otherwise).

People arguing that ‘gender’ is merely a social construct have a fair argument in terms of what is meant by ‘gender’ and how the roles of various different human beings over time has changed - due to social attitudes, traditions, habits and natural circumstances, all combined with technological advances.

I’m particularly worried about groups of radicals. Without radicals there is no social movement and humanity would stagnate.

None of this is to say that there is nothing to be concerned about. I just generally don’t see enough people caring, understanding of willing to question themselves and their own views. I cannot blame people for this as admitting error is possibly one of the hardest things to do in life and something that needs to be honed over a life time. In my younger days I would’ve said things I now regard as both dangerous and stupid ... but I know I had no ill intent. I assume the same of others in this regard and merely aim to probe a little and resist the urge to bludgeon.

People will in almost every situation only change their mind about something if they FEEL they were the ones who took the first steps and came to a new understanding by themselves. It’s a pretty dumb and stubborn attitude, but that is essentially how humans operate during and beyond their maturation.
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Re: On the denial of measured facts

Postby hyksos on January 22nd, 2021, 3:44 am 

I look over this thread and I get the feeling that Bruno Latour and Arianna Betti were writing in a different time in the 1990s. Different time, different world. That era did not have social networking websites connected to cellphones beaming tweets around the world via wireless WIFI. In the 1990s, computers were owned by a few, and they sat on desks with 30lb monitors. In a bygone era of inky newspapers, truth moved slower, and lies moved much slower than they do now.

Just today, a reputable TV news source referred to Qanon as a "movement" (not an internet conspiracy.. a movement ). So LAtour and Betti and Isabelle Stenger had a luxury... a luxury to sit in their leather armchairs in their quiet little university campuses challenging the alleged "objectivity" of science. Those challenges had no consequences. They were, in many ways, idle academic pursuits being played around with in a sealed, consequence-free environment.

Our situation today is that perpetuating lies on social networking websites could quite literally get someone killed, particularly in the middle of a global pandemic. Now anyone with a cellphone can do this. This formerly sanitized experiment with "scientific facts are socially-constructed and meant to reinforce power structures" , is no longer an idle exercise. The nonsense has consequences in the real world. Dire ones.


bangstrom » January 19th, 2021, 3:46 pm wrote:Hyksos ,

I am also having trouble following your argument and the citations you listed have been no help. Your argument appears to be against denying “measured facts” in favor of philosophical speculation. I don’t see examples of this in the citations you gave although the persons you mentioned may have done so elsewhere

". . . I don’t see examples of this in the citations you gave . . . "


Image

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sokal_affair

https://magazine.scienceforthepeople.org/vol22-1/science-wars-the-next-generation/

https://www.depauw.edu/site/sfs/backissues/98/luckhurst.html
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