Saturday, November 17, 2012

Another of Veale's Replies to ECREE, and a question for multiverse defenders

Here.   I would like to ask someone who believes

1) That extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence

and

2) The apparent fine-tuning of the universe can be explained in terms of a multiverse as opposed to God

how in the world they reconcile those two commitments. A few years ago, I did a couple of posts entitled "Arguments that don't mix," and it seems to me to be pretty evident that this pair of responses belongs to that category. Why are we told that the existence of a multiverse is NOT a claim that requires extraordinary evidence, but the existence of a universe finely tuned for intelligent life, or that Jesus rose from the dead, does require extraordinary evidence.

102 comments:

cautiouslycurious said...

"The apparent fine-tuning of the universe *can* be explained in terms of a multiverse as opposed to God"

This is not really that extraordinary of a claim. I would presume that physicists already have models of a multiverse that are coherent and consistent with our observations. That is all that is needed to demonstrate that claim. This is something that Veale should consider when determining whether something is extraordinary. There is a big difference in saying that something is a possible explanation versus this is the only one that works; the latter has a much bigger burden than the former.

Mr Veale said...

I'm not sure what your point is here Cautious.
But if all it takes for a claim to be "ordinary" is logical coherence and consistency with our observations, there will be very few extraordinary claims...

moreover, the list of logically possible explanations is potentially infinite. So what we should mean by "possible" is "a possible candidate in an inference to the best explanation". In other words, we need to look for some degree of plausibility...explanatory power, simplicity, etc.

Graham

Victor Reppert said...

I think CC was interpreting my "can be explained" as simply saying that it provides us with a possible explanation. What I meant to be responding to, of course, are people who think the multiverse is somehow a better explanation than a theistic one, since the theistic explanation would be an extraordinary claim that requires extrordinary evidence, while a multiverse explanation would not require that kind of evidence. If you say this, I say,"Why?"

Mr Veale said...

Ah, right, thanks Vic.
I agree with your argument. If multiverses aren't extraordinary, what is?
ECREE seems to be a cover for scientism. It presupposes that "scientific/event" explanations are the only show in town. But agent explanations are familiar, useful and God is a clear and coherent concept.

I'm simply saying that if someone insists on using qualifiers like "extraordinary" when assessing claims, they should recognise that this will not automatically count against theism.
They need to provide additional arguments.

Graham

ozero91 said...

In order to defeat the Fine Tuning Argument, more than just a multiverse is required. The multiverse must be proven to be infinite, as well as completely random in terms of varying cosmological constants.

Crude said...

The multiverse must be proven to be infinite, as well as completely random in terms of varying cosmological constants.

One criticism of this scenario I never see, save for from myself - and I will continue to lodge it until I am in a grave - is that anyone who believe in such a multiverse would automatically be a pagan-theist, not an atheist.

ozero91 said...

How does that work, Crude?

Crude said...

How does that work, Crude?

Because if you have an infinite number of universes with a big enough spread of starting conditions, you are guaranteeing that Zeus-like beings are going to exist: intelligent supremely powerful agents who fashion worlds. Zeus, uncontroversially, is a god. If Zeus and Ares and suchlike exist, theism is true - just an odd form of it.

Another point: a multiverse where an infinite number of universes exist is a multiverse where Darwinism and natural selection are largely obviated at least as natural necessities, while Intelligent Design becomes not only a live option, but a certain reality in some universes.

Infinite multiverses with wide variance in their initial conditions and parameters do a lot more than just call into question fine-tuning.

ozero91 said...

That's interesting. You're basically saying, that in the multiverse, any thing that can happen (logically possible), will happen? Well, then, what's stopping the birth of some god, or the creation of a device, that has the capability (and final cause) to destroy an infinite multiverse? Ok, maybe I'm going a little overboard. But if what you say is true, atheists will have to say that they are atheist relative to our universe, but agnostic/theist relative to the multiverse.

Crude said...

You're basically saying, that in the multiverse, any thing that can happen (logically possible), will happen?

It doesn't have to be anything logically possible, full stop, but anything possible within those parameters, given infinite chances. The makes a certainty out of many, many things. And if you believe gods exist, but are merely far away and have nothing to do with us, you're back to theism. Granted, a weird kind of theism, but theism all the same.

And that's on the assumption those gods have nothing to do with us. Once they become live possibilities in the multiverse, the next question is asking if our universe in fact is under such a being.

This isn't all that revolutionary. Brian Greene expressly has a chapter in his book dealing with scenarios related to this (simulated universes), and to my recollection Martin Rees, Paul Davies and others openly pointed out simulation/creative agent possibilities latent in multiverse scenarios. For some reason, no one ever talks about those - I guess because those gods wouldn't be the orthodox Christian God.

But yeah. I maintain that someone who believes in infinite multiverses with the right parameter variation has stumbled into pagan theism. Tegmark style universes should be regarded as explicitly polytheistic.

It's similar to a problem I had with David Lewis. My amateur understanding is that Lewis believed that all logically possible worlds existed, including universes with gods. I've heard people say 'But he didn't think god existed in this world, so he was an atheist.' To me, that doesn't fly. Once you believe gods really exist, saying 'Oh, but they're quite far away and can't affect us, so it doesn't count' strikes me as a cop out.

Papalinton said...

In response to V Stenger's perspective on theism in his article, Mr Veale makes the claim,

"But science posits unseen powers all the time."

Now THAT IS an extraordinary claim. Cite examples please. And more's the point, if science does posit 'unseen powers' in extrapolating from data and modeling, from which it seems a multiverse is possible and consistent with the data drawn from physics and cosmology, it is largely a descriptor, a euphemistic form of words, that provides some analogous linchpin within the constraints of language through which discussion on the data and modeling can ensue. It is absolutely preposterous to imagine that this is synonymous with theists' belief in a god. That is simply obscurantist theological scatterbrain scuttlebutt.
The positing of a god is not supported by any investigative discipline outside of theological and theo-philosophical musings. Indeed, the christian god is of no consequence or relevance in any other religious or theological discipline outside christian Apologetics. There is only one universally acknowledged science no matter where one lives in this world. But there are thousands of variant theologies.

Victor says:
"What I meant to be responding to, of course, are people who think the multiverse is somehow a better explanation than a theistic one, since the theistic explanation would be an extraordinary claim that requires extrordinary evidence, while a multiverse explanation would not require that kind of evidence."

The multiverse idea conforms with known cosmological and physics data which are fed into a mathematical equation from which a model of the possibility of a multiverse can be properly extrapolated. There is no known modeling in which the omni-max data and supernatural characteristics of a god can be fed in, out of which one can extrapolate the possibility of a grand designer, be it the cosmological constants [teleological fine-tuning] or the beauty of a sunset, or the grandeur of a frozen three-forked waterfall.

The multiverse proposition is not extraordinary in that it has been modeled upon and consistent with known facts. Outside theology and theo-philosophy, the god proposition is indeed an extraordinary claim quite unlike the multiverse premise.

Papalinton said...

"Because if you have an infinite number of universes with a big enough spread of starting conditions, you are guaranteeing that Zeus-like beings are going to exist: intelligent supremely powerful agents who fashion worlds. Zeus, uncontroversially, is a god. If Zeus and Ares and suchlike exist, theism is true - just an odd form of it."

This is nonsense of course. Everybody knows all those old gods are fictitious. It is simply a case of extrapolating from that known data that today's supernatural wonders are consistent with the known fiction. QED

Crude said...

BTW Veale,

Is this site of yours new? I like the general thrust behind it. Looks like I'll have to page through the backlog.

Mr Veale said...

Hi Crude

It's only been up since July/August. David Glass is the brains, mind. I can't take much of the credit. (His book is worth reading too - but I'm not sure if it's available in the USA yet.)

Graham


Mr Veale said...

Papa

How about the Strong Nuclear Force. Seen it lately?

Graham

WilliamM said...

"This is nonsense of course. Everybody knows all those old gods are fictitious. It is simply a case of extrapolating from that known data that today's supernatural wonders are consistent with the known fiction. QED"

The comment you quoted was about Zeus-like beings in other universes that are potentially radically different from ours. Did you even read it?

cautiouslycurious said...

Veale,
Victor interpreted my statements correctly. I thought it was worth pointing out since you made the same mistake when referencing Stenger.

Victor,
“What I meant to be responding to, of course, are people who think the multiverse is somehow a better explanation than a theistic one, since the theistic explanation would be an extraordinary claim that requires extraordinary evidence, while a multiverse explanation would not require that kind of evidence.”

The multiverse is presumably a mathematical model that can be tested. The only problem being that our means of testing it are non-existent. Theists tend to have a problem modeling God, so it hasn’t even reached that stage. For that person, it’s fairly simple to say that a model is superior to some vague idea. There have been attempts to model God, but those tend to have a good amount of counter evidence, which would make it worse than an untested hypothesis, hence extraordinary. I would think this would be the primary difference between the treatment of the two.

B. Prokop said...

In my experience, ECREE is simply another way for skeptics to say, "Whatever you say, and no matter what evidence you submit, there is no way in the world you will ever get me to change my already made up mind."

I think it's time for both "sides" to acknowledge this sad fact. The Apostles were correct when they said that conversion required a change of heart, as well as of the mind.

There is absolutely zero in the Faith that is contrary to reason. But you can't arrive at the Truth if your mind and heart are dead set against it.

RD Miksa said...

Mobile phone test.

Mr Veale said...

Curious
I'm not at all sure that you've grasped the issues here. The only claim that I need to support is that theism can be the best explanation. Surely you'll concede that it beats the naturalistic hypothesis that our universe is a simulation on an alien computer?

It's trivial - totally trivial - to say that an explanation is possible in the sense of logically coherent. The list of logically possible explanations for any event is infinite.

It is possible that you are a brain-in-a-vat. But that is not a plausible explanation of anything much; so the only reasonable way to interpret Vic is to say that there is a conflict between rejecting theistic explanations as "extraordinary" explanation, and accepting a multiverse as an "ordinary" explanation.

You go on to assert that a scientific explanation is always superior to an agent explanation. That's precisely the point that we're debating.

In any case, all sorts of issues cannot be resolved with experiments and mathematical models. In science - The unit of selection in evolution, or the best interpretation of QM. In ethics - the meaning of "good", "right", "wrong" etc. In literature, the meaning of texts. In aesthetics, the meaning of beauty. Furthermore, some Multiverse models - Tegmark's Level 4 Multiverse - cannot be tested. Yet Tegmark offers this as an explanation of commonly accepted facts (the efficacy of mathematics). Some (eg.Ellis) argue that all multiverse models are untestable.

Graham

RD Miksa said...

Good Day to All,

I am always pleased when naturalists bring up the multi-verse (of the infinite variety) not only because it by no means refutes God's existence (at best it only removes one argument for His existence), but also because it causes so many problems for the naturalist / atheist. Consider:

1) Given naturalism, the multi-verse is a rationally self-refuting position and thus when many naturalists try to use it as a counter to theism, it exposes them as the sloppy thinkers that they often are. But even disregarding this fact, consider that...

2) As Crude said, the multi-verse essentially guarantees that some type of quasi theism is true.

3) The multi-verse guarantees that Jesus rose from the dead.

4) The multi-verse holds the potential to negate the evidential problem of evil, which is the biggest problems that theism faces.

5) The multi-verse makes it easy to posit the existence of a 'heaven' and 'hell.'

In fact, I have 17 reasons for why naturalists should be hesitant to posit a multi-verse against theists (I am going to write an article on it), but that will have to wait till I get on a real computer.

RD Miksa

Mr Veale said...

Sorry - that sounds ruder than I intended - apologies, and ignore the first sentence.

Walter said...

I don't know what extraordinary evidence looks like, but I do believe that extraordinary claims require a greater amount of mundane evidence than an ordinary claims do. And the amount of evidence required for belief is going to vary with every individual.

Bob says: In my experience, ECREE is simply another way for skeptics to say, "Whatever you say, and no matter what evidence you submit, there is no way in the world you will ever get me to change my already made up mind."

Religious skeptics aren't the only ones who are recalcitrant in the face of contrary evidence.

The Apostles were correct when they said that conversion required a change of heart, as well as of the mind.

Are you implying that there is a moral component to all skeptical disbelief?

Mr Veale said...

Many multiverse models would point to design, in any case.

http://www.infj.ulst.ac.uk/~dvglass/Research/ExpAway_pres.pdf

ozero91 said...

"Theists tend to have a problem modeling God, so it hasn’t even reached that stage."

This is false. It's not that there are no clear models, there are (Open theism, classical theism, neo theism, etc). Like many things, it's just that they are competing explanations. Debates go on all the time in Philosophy Journals about the nature of God, how God acts in the universe, how one conception is better than another, etc.

ozero91 said...

"The multi-verse holds the potential to negate the evidential problem of evil, which is the biggest problems that theism faces."

Alexander Pruss has done some writing on this issue. His idea was to "sacrifice" the FTA to the PoE. The way I see it, it's a favorable exchange for the theist.

There's also a convention coming up about God and the Multiverse, and I suspect they will discuss this development in depth.

BeingItself said...

The multiverse is predicted by various models of inflationary cosmology. It is not a convenient invention conjured up to explain alleged fine tuning.

ECREE is a pragmatic heuristic.

Reppert asks how to reconcile "commitments" to ECREE and and the multiverse. Reppert is confused, and the question ill-posed.

Papalinton said...

Mr Veale
"How about the Strong Nuclear Force. Seen it lately?"

Personally? No. But I understand that a number of scientists have been able to repeat experiments, consistently demonstrating that 'strong interaction' is a very good model explaining the reactions of various sub-atomic particles that apparently keeps protons and neutrons bound within the atomic nucleus.

The keys here are repeatability, and consistency of results. It establishes what is generally considered reliable science "... to a level of confidence tantamount to certainty" [Wiki} But as with all things science, these findings are provisional until a better explanation comes along.

im-skeptical said...

If you make a claim that something is a fact, you are obliged to provide evidence. If you say that something is a possible explanation, you are not asserting it as a fact, and your burden is reduced to showing that it is consistent with what is known.

If I say that a miraculous event occurred, I am asserting something as fact, and I shouldn't expect anyone to believe me unless I present evidence that rises to the level of the extraordinary nature of my claim. That's ECREE.

If I say that there is a multiverse in which all possible variants of our world exist, you should ask me to present evidence for my claim. If you say there is a god who made the world and endowed humanity with a unique and special kind of existence, I should ask you to present evidence for your claim.

But to say that there is a possible explanation that is consistent with what we know is not asserting that explanation as fact, and doesn't require proof.

Incidentally, the idea that a multiverse implies theism is nothing more than wishful thinking, Crude. Any reasonable multiverse theory doesn't have to include supernatural beings. Any universe, no matter how strange it would be to us, would still be governed by natural laws.

Papalinton said...

William M
"The comment you quoted was about Zeus-like beings in other universes that are potentially radically different from ours. Did you even read it?"

That's where you are profoundly wrong. Whether they are Zeus or Zeus-like is entirely irrelevant. Zeus or Zeus-like beings are fully imaginary, phantasms of the creative mind. They exist only in the mind. They only exist in as much as X-Box Skylanders creatures exist, such characters as Tree Rex, Warnado, Eruptor and Flameslinger.

And as the christian god is the resultant transformation from the jewish god who was the agglomeration of a panoply of Jewish gods in the earliest Jewish history, which in turn competed with a range of other fictitious characters known at the time around the Middle East, such as Osiris of Egypt or THIS range of Mesopotamian gods, there really is no evidence that puts the christian god outside of this framework.

I would even suggest that the lineage I have described above has a far greater chance, based simply on the probabilities, of being the correct 'hereditary' line than that so clumsily offered by Matthew and Luke.

A fictitious christian god in this universe extrapolates to a fictitious christian god in any other of the multiverse, just as the Skylanders characters are.

Sorry boys, you are on a dead loser here.

ozero91 said...

I'll be right back, I have to visit Mt. Olympus and tell the residents that they aren't gods anymore.

Papalinton said...

Mr Veale

You made the statement: "But science posits unseen powers all the time."

to which I replied:

"Now THAT IS an extraordinary claim. Cite examples please."

Have you given any more thought to what those examples are to substantiate your claim?

Cheers

RD Miksa said...

Papa,

Easy...gravity, consciousness, natural selection.

Enjoy.

RD Miksa

ozero91 said...

Dark Energy?

It would help explain the accelerating expansion of the universe, but if it were falsified, then scientists would have to posit something else.

Though I don't see the point to all this. Obviously, we cannot detect these forces with our senses. But we can measure their effects on matter, whether that matter is a tool/instrument or just a test subject.

Mr Veale said...

Oh dear, Papa. Face - palm.
If it's a force, and you can't see it...then my example answered your question.

the fact that science gets good indirect evidence for some of the forces it posits just shows that it can be rational to posit an unseen force.

But if you want another, try the cosmological constant. For other unobservables - singularities, dark matter, dark energy etc etc.

Mr Veale said...

ozero

The point is that there is nothing "extraordinary" about referring to an unobservable.

And there is nothing "extraordinary" about a non-scientific explanation. Ethics, aesthetics, politics, history, hermeneutics, agent-explanations, etc etc etc.

So there is nothing "extraordinary" about theistic explanations. This is a bit of a no-brainer.

Graham

Papalinton said...

Mr Veale
I'm sorry Mr Veale, your definition of 'force' is too theologized for me to hold any meaning. To subscribe to superstitious supernaturalism is of no value to a methodological naturalist, and is of no value as an explanatory tool.

RD Miksa: "Easy...gravity, consciousness, natural selection."

Is this your response to providing examples where ""... science posits unseen powers all the time" in the same way the christian mythos claims the power of a spectral numen that inhabits a supernatural world with the ability to interfere across the event horizon of the natural/supernatural divide?

This is fruitcake talk. A few descriptors come to mind, deranged, batty, out to lunch, not to mention a little jejune, foolish, a deal risible, and a good deal more of the nonsensical.

B. Prokop said...

Walter,

You ask, "Are you implying that there is a moral component to all skeptical disbelief?"

Not at all. this needs to be approached from a rather different direction. (I believe I've already had this discussion with someone on this very website - perhaps with you?) Faith, Hope, and Love are traditionally termed the Three Theological Virtues (the Four Cardinal Virtues being Prudence, Temperance, Justice, and Fortitude/Courage).

Well, there wouldn't be any point in labeling them virtues if they weren't virtuous. So in answer to your question, I would say there must be a moral component to Faith. This says nothing (one way or the other) about any moral component to skepticism.

Crude said...

Veale,

Oh dear, Papa. Face - palm.
If it's a force, and you can't see it...then my example answered your question.


If it makes you feel any better, he probably just plagiarized his response from another source without thinking. ;)

Anyway, my compliments on the site. You guys should get some serious mileage out of not only Nagel's recent book, but the reviews in response to it. If you have a look, the reviews are actually more devastating than the book itself - the responses are basically 'well, only lunatic support reductionist materialism' and redefining materialism to an extreme. It's glorious.

Crude said...

Incidentally, the idea that a multiverse implies theism is nothing more than wishful thinking, Crude. Any reasonable multiverse theory doesn't have to include supernatural beings. Any universe, no matter how strange it would be to us, would still be governed by natural laws.

That's nice, im-skeptical. Just two problems.

* No, not all universes would be 'governed by natural laws' in a proximate sense, even if in an ultimate sense. Some would be governed by intelligent agents, if we're positing an infinity of universes with variance on the right spread of conditions. This is why everyone from Brian Greene to Martin Rees to Paul Davies to others start to explicitly discuss simulated universes with regards to some types of multiverse theories. And once you start dealing with simulated universes, you are dealing with good old-fashioned pagan style theism.

* "Natural" and "Supernatural" are useless words, especially in this context. Zeus and company were subject to laws - he was a third generation being of limited power from a line ultimately birthed by chaos. And yet - ask any atheist - they were gods. Same goes for the Mormon god, really - it's a powerful being in an infinite succession of such beings.

So both of your objections fail, and fail utterly. Multiverse theories which postulate an infinite number of worlds with the right spread of varying initial conditions result in theism being true, and atheism being false. Granted, it's an archaic kind of theism - the theism of absurdly powerful but not omnipotent beings, the theism of embodied creatures who gain and lose power and who may immortal, or may be mortal. But it's a variety of theism all the same, with a longstanding pedigree.

And if you accept those varieties of multiverse - as it always needs to be mentioned, not every 'multiverse' is the same - then congratulations. You're a theist.

If it makes you feel any better, that's the least of your problems. Multiverses wreak havoc on all kinds of other knowledge and understanding, even scientific theories (Neo-Darwinism being first on the chopping block.) But you can't call yourself an atheist once you accept the right conditions.

Another way to think about it is, if you want to insist that the Flying Spaghetti Monster doesn't exist, you'd better not postulate a universe where in principle he could exist given the right initial conditions of the universe, and then argue there's an infinite number of universes with the relevant spread of variance. ;)

Crude said...

I should add, 'simulated universes' aren't the only option here - but they're the most popular one. See: John Gribbin's 'In search of the multiverse.' But the simulated ones, a la Bostrom, are the ones which seem the most interesting to me for a number of reasons, and the ones which get talked about the most.

cautiouslycurious said...

Graham,
“The only claim that I need to support is that theism can be the best explanation.”

I thought I corrected you on this last time. ECREE doesn’t prevent any explanation from being considered the best explanation. It only says that some claims require more evidence, not that they can’t be good explanations.

“It's trivial - totally trivial - to say that an explanation is possible in the sense of logically coherent. The list of logically possible explanations for any event is infinite.”

Not sure where this is coming from, I agree that it’s trivial. I think the confusion is coming from how I explained how one can counter certain claims. When countering someone who says that X can only be described by Y, you can point out that Z can also describe X to refute their premise. The fine tuning argument basically goes that fine tuning is by design or not-design, it’s not by not-design, so it was by design. To refute the second premise, all you need is to offer possible explanations of it being by not-design. This is what Stenger was explaining to the audience. This is what happens when you try to use deduction, you hold yourself to such a high bar that a lot of things become extraordinary claims since you have to show that all of the not-design explanations fail, hence the positing of possible explanations to refute the opposition.

“You go on to assert that a scientific explanation is always superior to an agent explanation. That's precisely the point that we're debating.”

I didn’t assert this nor do I believe this to be the case. John likes pizza is an agent explanation for why John orders pizza at a high propensity when pizza is on the menu. We don’t really have a ‘scientific’ explanation at the moment since neuroscience is such a young field with special limitations. Perhaps one day, we have a model that will say that John likes pizza because of X, Y, and Z phenomena in his brain, but those aren’t happening today so John will order pasta. Until that day, the agent explanation is the preferred explanation for why John orders pizza.

“In any case, all sorts of issues cannot be resolved with experiments and mathematical models…”

Not sure what your point is here. The meaning of terms, regardless of the field (philosophy, aesthetics, morality, etc.), doesn’t constitute knowledge. I would say that the process of interpreting terms should involve tests. If I say that I bought some ‘cha siu bao’ the other day, you might be at a loss for what it is. You might form a hypothesis and test it based on the surrounding sentence structure that you already know. You might think it was a sandwich based on the sentence, “cha siu bao translates to barbeque pork bun.” That is, until you come across the phrase “cha siu bao takes the shape of a dumpling.” That would have falsified your hypothesis, but it gave you more clues to what it actually is. The same approach could be used to interpret unknown words as code breaking so, yes, this is a scientific process. There’s a question of whether we should take interpretations of QM. I’m pretty sure that Feynman basically said that QM is so bizarre that it’s basically impossible to interpret the results, that we should just be content with experimental results. I would be content with Feynman’s position insofar as we consider it to be known (i.e. interpretations are guides for experimentation until they are tested).

“Many multiverse models would point to design, in any case. http://www.infj.ulst.ac.uk/~dvglass/Research/ExpAway_pres.pdf”

This isn’t really informative. It basically puts his conclusions in mathematical form, but it doesn’t offer any explanation for why he concludes the way that he does. This is basically just an appeal to authority. A link to his paper would be much more helpful.

cautiouslycurious said...

Ozero,
“This is false. It's not that there are no clear models, there are (Open theism, classical theism, neo theism, etc). Like many things, it's just that they are competing explanations. Debates go on all the time in Philosophy Journals about the nature of God, how God acts in the universe, how one conception is better than another, etc.”

You’ve seemed to miss what followed so I’ll recite it below:

“For that person, it’s fairly simple to say that a model is superior to some vague idea. There have been attempts to model God, but those tend to have a good amount of counter evidence, which would make it worse than an untested hypothesis, hence extraordinary.”

I don’t see how your examples show anything to the contrary to what I said. Open theism “makes the case for a personal God who is open to influence through the prayers…of people.” This model has baggage that opens it up to a good amount of counter evidence. The discussion of whether God is timeless or not is not relevant since it doesn’t cure God from being some vague idea. We can debate all we want on whether X is red or blue, but that doesn’t mean we can then invoke X as an explanation for something since it is too vague to model anything; you might as well say that the answer is 42.

“Dark Energy?

It would help explain the accelerating expansion of the universe, but if it were falsified, then scientists would have to posit something else.”

Just to correct a misconception, dark energy is a label for a phenomenon and the label doesn’t have any meat to it. It’s not like it’s a specific hypothesis that is being used as an explanation. The only way for it to be ‘falsified’ is if we made an error in our original observations.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oFLW5uxzoKA

im-skeptical said...

"And if you accept those varieties of multiverse - as it always needs to be mentioned, not every 'multiverse' is the same - then congratulations. You're a theist."

I don't accept the absurd multiverse you have postulated. And I don't think you do either, since it would contradict everything you believe about your god. Still, it is reasonable to postulate a multiverse with no supernatural beings. An infinite number of universes does not imply that there must be some with gods in them.

Just as there are an infinity of values between 0 and 1, there could be an infinite number of universes with slight variations of some universal constant, or combinations of constants. The resulting world may or may not contain stars and planets and living things, but there is no need for gods in any of these worlds.

Crude said...

I don't accept the absurd multiverse you have postulated. And I don't think you do either, since it would contradict everything you believe about your god.

The "absurd multiverse" isn't postulated by me. It's postulated by others. I'm merely pointing out some of what you get once you start talking about infinite universes with broad range of varying aspects.

As for what I believe - what in the world does that matter?

Still, it is reasonable to postulate a multiverse with no supernatural beings. An infinite number of universes does not imply that there must be some with gods in them.

Yes, it... actually does. Again, supernatural and natural mean nothing in this context. I didn't say anything about 'the supernatural would have to exist!!!' - you did. I pointed out that you will inevitably get gods existing - powerful intelligent agents creating worlds, universes, etc, over which they have mastery - given certain multiverse scenarios.

I'll also note, this speculation isn't totally unique to me. Martis Rees discusses it. Brian Greene discusses it. Paul Davies discusses it. John Gribbin discusses it. The only thing I've done is pointed out that these beings would be recognized as gods in any other context or age - power-wise, they make Zeus look like a gnat.

So, again - I'm afraid what I said stands. Accept an infinite multiverse with the right variations? Then, my friend, you are a theist. Some kind of pagan-theist, granted, but a theist all the same. At best, you believe the gods are distant. And you may not even believe that.

Just as there are an infinity of values between 0 and 1, there could be an infinite number of universes with slight variations of some universal constant, or combinations of constants.

Yep. And with each universe with different constants you're creating a fresh opportunity for the arising of powerful, world-creating beings. Granted, you may think this is a small chance. Ridiculously small, in fact. Go ahead, make the odds very small. (Good luck trying to justify your odds, btw.)

Now realize that it doesn't matter how small your odds are when your chances are infinite. The incredibly unlikely event, as a matter of fact, happened. It happened quite a number of times, in fact.

I'll say again, this depends on the multiverse speculation you have in mind. Tegmark's expressly runs into this. It's hard, probably impossible, to avoid it when talking about infinite universes with variance in their properties and variance in their material initial conditions. But once you're dealing with that?

Theism, my friend. Paganism. And if you believe this about the universe, paganism falls right out. And worst of all, you still haven't ruled out classical theism itself, or even made it less likely.

I'd say I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news to you, im. But that'd be a lie. I enjoy it. :)

ozero91 said...

"I don’t see how your examples show anything to the contrary to what I said. Open theism “makes the case for a personal God who is open to influence through the prayers…of people.” This model has baggage that opens it up to a good amount of counter evidence. The discussion of whether God is timeless or not is not relevant since it doesn’t cure God from being some vague idea. We can debate all we want on whether X is red or blue, but that doesn’t mean we can then invoke X as an explanation for something since it is too vague to model anything; you might as well say that the answer is 42."

How is the God of open theism vague? The very fact that you are able to find counter evidence means that you understand it in the first place. It might be a bad conception of God, but it’s not obscure or hard to understand.

ozero91 said...

"If I say that I bought some ‘cha siu bao’ the other day, you might be at a loss for what it is."

What happens if he just Google's cha siu bao?

cautiouslycurious said...

Ozero,
“How is the God of open theism vague? The very fact that you are able to find counter evidence means that you understand it in the first place. It might be a bad conception of God, but it’s not obscure or hard to understand.”

Sorry for the confusion, I quoted more than I intended before. I said it had baggage, which makes it a poor model. This is the relevant part, “There have been attempts to model God, but those tend to have a good amount of counter evidence, which would make it worse than an untested hypothesis, hence extraordinary.”

“What happens if he just Google's cha siu bao?”

Then it would defeat the purpose of the exercise. It would be like saying that I don’t need science to know that E=MC^2 since I can just Google it. It completely disregards the method that ‘Google’ went through to make that fact apparent and it begs the question of why scientists don’t just Google answers to cutting edge questions. Anyway, I would simply replace that word with a word that someone hasn’t translated yet, say I was from a tribe not discovered and no outside group had already translated my language yet. If you want to try Google, try these: cunha (66), koh-ree-toh, taca (49), bee-raw (53), capas (78), kiyah (84), b-d-yonkeh (113). (Ignore the numbers; they are page numbers for my future reference) This is almost cheating since someone has gone to the liberty of publishing a book with these words defined, but let’s test the Google method anyway. By the way, these are from Amazon tribes so when Google says that kiyah means “the art of throwing a grenade through an unopen window,” it’s not correct. The hyphenated words are how you would pronounce the words, there is no proper spelling since not all tribes have a written language.

Papalinton said...

If the christian god, the Aquinas model, is outside time and space, as we are told by Thomists in the know, then it seems it wouldn't matter which universe was selected out of the infinite number of multiverses, that entity would remain outside that universe. Whether this universe or any one of the multiverses, each would be still be confined within the space and time parameters apposite to that universe, irrespective of the changes in value, slight or large, of what we conceive as space and time. It seems when this universe started, time and space were the two fundamental elements that also began. So it would seem that space and time is what defines a universe. A universe without space or time or both probably wouldn't be construed as a universe, consistent with the notion of universes, even multiverses.

Therefore whichever particular slice of the multiverse is selected it would simply still have that entity posited outside time and space, unaffected by the conditions that seem to define universes. Unless of course you subscribe to a personal theistic model.

The outside of time and space proposition also works for Cthulu.

ozero91 said...

"Sorry for the confusion, I quoted more than I intended before. I said it had baggage, which makes it a poor model."

That's fine, I'm just wondering where the whole "God is vague" thing comes in. It just seems like an assertion.

"Then it would defeat the purpose of the exercise. It would be like saying that I don’t need science to know that E=MC^2 since I can just Google it."

I should have put a winky face or something next to my original comment, I intended it as a joke. Obviously though, your new example is better. Though I don't think Mr. Veale was talking just about "deciphering." He may also be talking about propositions. From the SEP:

“Propositions, we shall say, are the sharable objects of the attitudes and the primary bearers of truth and falsity. This stipulation rules out certain candidates for propositions, including thought- and utterance-tokens, which presumably are not sharable, and concrete events or facts, which presumably cannot be false. These consequences fit well with contemporary usage. Our definition leaves open many of the questions dividing propositionalists: which additional roles are propositions fit to play? would propositions have to be mind-independent or abstract? what individuation conditions would they have? how would they relate to facts? We examine these issues below, as well as the fundamental issue of whether there are propositions at all.”

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/propositions/

BenYachov said...

Paps

That's almost intelligent what you just wrote.

November 18, 2012 10:46 PM

Except for the bit about God being in the Thomistic sense an "entity" that was an improvement over your usual blather.

Why can't you do that all the time?

BenYachov said...

>The outside of time and space proposition also works for Cthulu.

You mean Yog-Sothoth. Cthulhu is a being alongside other beings.

Also he is not a god just a power alien being worshiped by swamp people.

B. Prokop said...

I agree, Ben. The most coherent thing he's posted in a long, long time!

Mr Veale said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mr Veale said...

" ECREE doesn’t prevent any explanation from being considered
the best explanation. It only says that some claims require more evidence, not that they can’t be good explanations."


ECREE doesn't tell us which claims require more evidence.

"The fine tuning argument basically goes that fine tuning is by design or not-design, it’s not by not-design, so it was by design. To refute the second premise, all you need is to offer possible explanations of it being by not-design. "

I'm bewildered. That is a complete caricature. It doesn't represent Richard Swinburne, or Craig (who merely argues that his premises are more plausible than their denials), or Robin Collins. It doesn't even represent Dembski's explanatory filter accurately.

"We don’t really have a ‘scientific’ explanation at the moment since neuroscience is such a young field with special limitations."


Assumes that agent explanations can be reduced, in principle, to event explanations. Which is to say, scientific explanations are the only show in town. "Folk psychology" is merely filling in a gap.

"The meaning of terms, regardless of the field (philosophy, aesthetics, morality, etc.), doesn’t constitute knowledge.

If I know what a term, or a text, means then I have knowledge. Hermeneutics cannot be reduced to code-breaking - meaning is more subtle.
And the process you describe has nothing to do with the experimental testing of mathematical models, beyond word association.
And most of us can grasp the meaning of a text without forming hypotheses and trying to falsify them. But if you feel the need, be my guest.

Graham

Mr Veale said...

Crude-
I'm losing track of the conversation given the time lag; but thanks for the comments!
I think we could have a review of Nagel in the near future...stay tuned!

Graham

cautiouslycurious said...

Graham,
“ECREE doesn't tell us which claims require more evidence.”

It’s what the first letter stands for. However, I understand what you mean and it’s a fair criticism, but it’s no excuse to claim it means something contrary to what it says.

“I'm bewildered. That is a complete caricature. It doesn't represent Richard Swinburne, or Craig (who merely argues that his premises are more plausible than their denials), or Robin Collins. It doesn't even represent Dembski's explanatory filter accurately.”

I took it directly from Craig’s version of it. Here it is:
1. The fine-tuning of the universe is due to either physical necessity, chance, or design.
2. It is not due to physical necessity or chance.
3. Therefore, it is due to design.

The first premise mentions a couple hypotheses for how fine-tuning can be explained. It mentions the design hypothesis and competing hypotheses that could be grouped as non-design hypotheses. The second premise says that these non-design hypotheses are false. Therefore, the only hypothesis left is the design hypothesis. If someone said that X is a non-design hypothesis that explains FT but is not physical necessity or chance, making the syllogism invalid, it would need to be included in the first and second premise to make it valid again, essentially adding to the category of non-design hypotheses.

Also, he insists that he’s using deduction in his arguments which is a special case of probability theory where the probability of the premises is stipulated to one. If he is merely arguing that his premises are more plausible than their denials, then we can safely ignore his conclusions even when agreeing with Craig about his premises because he’s not then using deduction. He’s trying to mish-mash two different methods and it simply doesn’t work.

“Assumes that agent explanations can be reduced, in principle, to event explanations. Which is to say, scientific explanations are the only show in town. "Folk psychology" is merely filling in a gap.”

I don’t see how this is relevant. You said that I said that scientific explanations are always superior to agent explanations. I gave you an example where that is not the case. Anyways, I don’t think the hypothetical rests on the idea that preferences can be reduced to brain states. As long as the model can accurately predict new information, then it is acceptable.

“If I know what a term, or a text, means then I have knowledge.”

I disagree. Let’s say that you and I have comparable levels of knowledge. I then create a fictional language, with its own dictionary detailing the meaning of each term. Do I then have more knowledge than you? After all, I know the meaning to more terms now. So, if you thirst for knowledge, simply make up words!

cautiouslycurious said...

Graham (cont.),
“Hermeneutics cannot be reduced to code-breaking - meaning is more subtle.“

I think you are thinking of code breaking as finding a key in which to decipher the message, but there are other forms of code breaking that would be akin of deciphering hieroglyphics or learning a new language. I really don’t see the difference. Hermeneutics tries to interpret the meaning of texts and one application of code-breaking tries to interpret the meaning of a series of numbers. They have the same goal so I don’t see what the difference is.

“And the process you describe has nothing to do with the experimental testing of mathematical models, beyond word association.”

Where did I say mathematical models? They are hypotheses for what we interpret the word to mean. They are tested in certain scenarios and when they pass, our confidence grows that it is the correct interpretation. When it fails, then we have to come up with a different hypothesis. You can call it whatever you want, but its following the scientific method.

“And most of us can grasp the meaning of a text without forming hypotheses and trying to falsify them. But if you feel the need, be my guest.”

Be my guest; try to grasp the meaning of the following text without testing any hypotheses. For context, this is a conversation between a visitor just entering a village and encountering two villagers. (For my reference, 102, 125, 128, 132).

Villager 1: Ee-too-kuh-tee-rah-reh reh-heh-m-munh-deh ed-ruh-boo-b-creh rah creh! Ee-bee-nah-reh.
Villager 2: Ah-wee-t-too-reh.
Visitor: Ah-wee-t-tee-reh!
Villager 2: Teh-ree! Awh-wee-t-tee-reh!
Visitor: Mah-ma-rah-ree-ruh, boo-tee.
Villager 2: Ah-ree-re-sheh-creh, bee-raw.

I don’t think you would be able to do so. It would require much trial and error to pick up such concepts. Is the first villager offering a greeting? Are they welcoming when they say so? Are they offering their names or are they conversing among themselves? These are all hypotheses for what the villagers say before the visitor speaks. Which, if any, are correct?

Ozero,
“That's fine, I'm just wondering where the whole "God is vague" thing comes in. It just seems like an assertion.”

Basically this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZpFc3u2isAQ

You can substitute the example being talked about with any number of things such as God being an immaterial spirit, God is timeless yet caused the universe and is able to act in time, etc. It’s like listening to Deepak Chopra, it’s just word soup.

Mr Veale said...

" The multiverse is presumably a mathematical model that can be tested. The only problem being that our means of testing it are non-existent"

Was quite funny...
...especially when you're told that it makes multiverses superior to theism...
and I'm told that mathematical models are quite important in the physical sciences.
And experiments too...Galileo and Newton certainly thought so.
So if you want to call a method scientific, I think you'd better start talking about experiments, measurements, etc. and show that your method has something more than a vague resemblance.

I can grasp the meaning of a grocery list without a hypothesis. And we imaginatively engage with, say, "Bleak House". We tease out allusions, look for metaphors, search for meanings that the author missed. We don't rest at the level of translation - which precedes hermeneutics.

Crude said...

God is timeless yet caused the universe and is able to act in time, etc. It’s like listening to Deepak Chopra, it’s just word soup.

Yes, God is timeless, the First Cause, and created time. God does not 'act in time' like a temporal being. It's not "word soup" - that much is actually pretty straightforward.

Have you ever thought that maybe the problem is on your end? When a creationist describes evolutionary sciences as 'word soup' (and some do), that says more about the creationist than the evolutionary scientist.

The same in this situation - it's just you're in the creationist's seat.

ozero91 said...

Also, if anyone's interested, Max Andrews has a new paper about God and the Multiverse. He calls the model “Thomistic Modal Realism.” He's looking for input/criticism before publication.

Papalinton said...

"That's almost intelligent what you just wrote."

Thanks, Ben. But the point missed is, regardless of which slice of the multiverse selected, that entity would continue to reflect relevance and substance consistent with the faery at the bottom of the garden, but a version apropos to that universe.

I know it is a difficult concept to appreciate a natural understanding of the world and universe, one without the invocation of supernatural super-beings, but humanity is slowly heading that way. Well, that's what the sciences are telling us.
We live in interesting times.

A little off topic, the Australian Government has announced it is to establish a Royal Commission [equivalent to the US's Federal Grand Jury] on child sexual abuse. This is a good decision and long overdue. Can be read about HERE.

cautiouslycurious said...

Graham,
“Was quite funny...
...especially when you're told that it makes multiverses superior to theism...”

What predictions are entailed from theism? Please do explain.

“and I'm told that mathematical models are quite important in the physical sciences.
And experiments too...Galileo and Newton certainly thought so.
So if you want to call a method scientific, I think you'd better start talking about experiments, measurements, etc. and show that your method has something more than a vague resemblance.“

‘My methodology’ is simply what Turing did during the war. You could demonstrate its effectiveness via Monte Carlo simulations and this could be shown to be statistically significantly faster than the alternative method. I don’t know if you consider the method itself to be ‘scientific’ but its effectiveness can be demonstrated scientifically. Perhaps it may be would be better described as a tool of science? Pretty much splitting hairs at that point.

“I can grasp the meaning of a grocery list without a hypothesis. And we imaginatively engage with, say, "Bleak House". We tease out allusions, look for metaphors, search for meanings that the author missed. We don't rest at the level of translation - which precedes hermeneutics.”

I think you should give an example of hermeneutics to illustrate your point.

Crude,
“God is timeless, the First Cause, and created time.”

Please explain. How does a timeless entity go about ‘creating’ time?

“Have you ever thought that maybe the problem is on your end? When a creationist describes evolutionary sciences as 'word soup' (and some do), that says more about the creationist than the evolutionary scientist.

The same in this situation - it's just you're in the creationist's seat.”

No, I don’t think the problem is on my end. I don’t find your creationist analogy compelling. You might as well be defending Chopra’s version of crazy. Perhaps you could give an example of an evolutionary term that would not correspond to anything substantive that we could compare. I would expect that there would be a significant difference.

ozero91 said...

"What predictions are entailed from theism? Please do explain."

Theism is a metaphysical worldview, like naturalism. They don't make predictions. You should not be comparing the predictive powers of the multiverse to theism, but rather multiverse to design. Multiverse theory predicts many universes with varying cosmological constants. Design predicts that there is an agential reason/explanation for our observable universe, and a Designer.

cautiouslycurious said...

Ozero,
“Theism is a metaphysical worldview, like naturalism. They don't make predictions. You should not be comparing the predictive powers of the multiverse to theism, but rather multiverse to design.”

I didn’t compare them, Graham did. So Graham, here’s your answer why multiverses are taken more seriously than theism.

“Multiverse theory predicts many universes with varying cosmological constants. Design predicts that there is an agential reason/explanation for our observable universe, and a Designer.”

This is what I meant when I was talking about being vague. Design hypotheses tend to be unfalsifiable since you can always say that the designer desired said outcome. What is evidence for not-design that can’t be interpreted as bad design?

Crude said...

Design hypotheses tend to be unfalsifiable since you can always say that the designer desired said outcome. What is evidence for not-design that can’t be interpreted as bad design?

Not-design hypotheses, insofar as they deal with the question of design themselves, tend to be equally unfalsifiable. Any evidence for design, good or bad, can be attributed to ultimate non-design. Hence, PZ Myers and others' stances.

Crude said...

And, as I pointed out, multiverses do not get you out of the design question. Some of them actually make design on the universe scale inevitable.

There's other problems with them as well - see Robin Collins' arguments (already mentioned) about fine-tuning a multiverse. I believe Paul Davies said similar.

cautiouslycurious said...

Crude,
"Not-design hypotheses, insofar as they deal with the question of design themselves, tend to be equally unfalsifiable."

I don't know what you mean here. What is a non-design hypothesis that deals with design? Are you talking about the null hypothesis in this case? If so, then that's a failure on the part of the design hypothesis.

"Any evidence for design, good or bad, can be attributed to ultimate non-design. Hence, PZ Myers and others' stances."

Citation? I recall a lecture where he said that simplicity was the hallmark of design, not complexity, but I don't recall him saying that any evidence for design could be interpreted to show a thing to be non-designed. That would mean that he thinks that the evidence we have for say planes and automobiles being designed could be equally used to show it not to be designed. I am more apt to conclude that you have mischaracterized his views.

Syllabus said...

Citation?

I suspect he means the position that Myers - and, if I recall, Shermer - have taken where, if they were to see a "miracle" occur before their eyes, they would categorize as a naturalistic event and dismiss the possibility of it being an act of a non-natural agent completely out of hand - which makes their naturalism as unfalsifiable as the Omphalos hypothesis.

cautiouslycurious said...

Syllabus,
"I suspect he means the position that Myers - and, if I recall, Shermer - have taken where, if they were to see a "miracle" occur before their eyes, they would categorize as a naturalistic event and dismiss the possibility of it being an act of a non-natural agent completely out of hand - which makes their naturalism as unfalsifiable as the Omphalos hypothesis."

I doubt he was referring to that. For one, Crude would agree that the distinction between natural and supernatural is basically arbitrary. Two, we were talking about what constitutes evidence for design, not miracles.

Crude said...

Are you talking about the null hypothesis in this case?

No, since what the null hypothesis should be is disputed. Specifically, it's not "!design" or "!undesign" - at least as far as science goes. It's, with regard to these subjects, "cannot say either way, this question isn't one science can handle".

The point was that any instance of apparent design could in principle be excused as chance/randomness, or design by an agent (say, humans) that itself would be explained ultimately by chance/randomness.

For one, Crude would agree that the distinction between natural and supernatural is basically arbitrary.

That's not what Myers or Shermer argue, at all. Their stance is extraordinarily reliant on natural and supernatural having rapt meanings. They cannot commit to the distinction between natural and supernatural being arbitrary - if they did, it would torpedo multiple intellectual projects they are deeply invested in.

Syllabus is correct - the "naturalism" of Myers and Shermer both are utterly unfalsifiable. That's just two practical examples to back up the principle.

Two, we were talking about what constitutes evidence for design, not miracles.

Recall that I was speaking in ultimates: namely that any design could be imagined as being cashed out in terms of ultimate non-design by Myers and, yes, Shermer as well. Really, even mundane instances of design ('I am a conscious, intentional agent who is writing this sentence') can be denied by materialists (see: Alex Rosenberg.)

Crude said...

I'll add, so long as we're talking about principle, any instance of supposed design can also be in principle cast off as non-design, in ways that go beyond the Rosenberg reference. You can, forever, throw up your hands and say 'it was all luck / all one big coincidence / all chance!' and so on with regards to anything from a Boeing 747 to an actual human being in front of you, speaking, to every event leading up to that point. Now, people may or may not think poorly of your response.

But in terms of conclusive demonstrations? Nope. The in principle possibility is going to remain there.

Syllabus said...

Two, we were talking about what constitutes evidence for design, not miracles.

If we're speaking about the multi-verse vs. teleological fine-tuning, then in this case design would be an instance of miracle. But that's rather trivial.

The more important part about it - and what I admit I didn't express with sufficient transparency - is that, if one takes the position that Myers and Shermer have taken - namely, that any so-called "supernatural" event, be it design or miracle, is always in principle ultimately attributable to non-"supernatural" causes, full stop - then it would follow that when speaking of "design" - with regard to the multiverse - they have a prior commitment to a view that precludes there being any evidence for design at all.

cautiouslycurious said...

Crude,
“Specifically, it's not "!design" or "!undesign" - at least as far as science goes. It's, with regard to these subjects, "cannot say either way, this question isn't one science can handle".”

This is precisely what I said and this is the main criticism being leveled. Ozero said that we should compare the predictive power of multi-verses and design hypotheses. Multi-verse theories offer predictions that we can test, yet you are saying that the design hypotheses don’t offer any. So, this is the reason why multi-verse theories are taken more seriously than theism and design hypotheses (if you could even consider them to be hypotheses).

“That's not what Myers or Shermer argue, at all. Their stance is extraordinarily reliant on natural and supernatural having rapt meanings. They cannot commit to the distinction between natural and supernatural being arbitrary - if they did, it would torpedo multiple intellectual projects they are deeply invested in.

Syllabus is correct - the "naturalism" of Myers and Shermer both are utterly unfalsifiable. That's just two practical examples to back up the principle.”

I think their projects would remain untouched. They seem to be advocating for skepticism, science, and atheism, so he could eliminate usages of the term naturalism with science (and supernaturalism with pseudoscience) and it won’t make one iota of a difference. I did a search for PZ’s blog for naturalism and found it to be fairly empty. A couple hits for methodological naturalism, some in quotes and the other references could be changed as I described. This hardly qualifies as being extraordinary reliant.

“You can, forever, throw up your hands and say 'it was all luck / all one big coincidence / all chance!' and so on with regards to anything from a Boeing 747 to an actual human being in front of you, speaking, to every event leading up to that point. Now, people may or may not think poorly of your response.

But in terms of conclusive demonstrations? Nope.”

You’ve misunderstood what it means to be falsifiable. The question is not whether there is a chance of it being by chance. You could say it was luck for every effect demonstrated by statistics (which incorporates more than you think). The question is whether it constitutes evidence for the hypothesis. If evidence can be brought to bear on the hypothesis, then it is not unfalsifiable. So, the question is, is the presence of the blueprint evidence for design? If the design hypothesis is to mean anything, then this would constitute evidence for design; hence it not being unfalsifiable. However, if you/they disagree that design hypotheses are falsifiable, then (non)design hypotheses become irrelevant. Is there any citation that PZ says that blueprints aren’t an indicator for design?

Crude said...

Ozero said that we should compare the predictive power of multi-verses and design hypotheses. Multi-verse theories offer predictions that we can test, yet you are saying that the design hypotheses don’t offer any.

Read what I said again.

You said that design claims are unfalsifiable because someone can always claim that a given thing was in fact designed. I'm pointing out, in principle, someone can always claim that a given thing was also undesigned.

I think their projects would remain untouched. They seem to be advocating for skepticism, science, and atheism, so he could eliminate usages of the term naturalism with science (and supernaturalism with pseudoscience) and it won’t make one iota of a difference.

Actually, they explicitly advocate for naturalism and 'natural explanations'. Those things are used as a bulwark to determine what is and isn't 'science' to begin with, and what is and isn't a proper explanation. Both rely desperately on this even in limit and principle cases - they reject any possibility of evidence or argument for God precisely because they say a 'natural' explanation will always, in principle, be available, and thus be preferred, saving their atheism.

I'll pay more attention to your view in this case the moment they actually ditch 'natural' and 'naturalism'. There's a reason every atheist from Richard Carrier to PZ Myers to Jerry Coyne still uses these labels, even though (indeed, precisely because) they're next to useless upon examination.

You’ve misunderstood what it means to be falsifiable. The question is not whether there is a chance of it being by chance.

Nah, you've forgotten what you said. Specifically: "Design hypotheses tend to be unfalsifiable since you can always say that the designer desired said outcome." I pointed out that you can always do the same with chance/random hypotheses in the sense of naturalism and atheism in principle.

Is there any citation that PZ says that blueprints aren’t an indicator for design?

There are citations of PZ saying that there can be no evidence of theism because he can and will reinterpret all evidence in a way that allows him to conclude something other than theism, which would cover design arguments. That's going to entail evidence (remember, even in principle) that the universe/nature is designed being explained away or reinterpreted.

grodrigues said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
grodrigues said...

@cautiouslycurious:

"Multi-verse theories offer predictions that we can test, yet you are saying that the design hypotheses don’t offer any."

What predictions do multi-verse theories offer?

"If evidence can be brought to bear on the hypothesis, then it is not unfalsifiable."

No, that is not what (un)falsifiable means. If it were that, then just about every claim would be falsifiable, e. g. miracle reports (eyewitness testimony *is* evidence).

cautiouslycurious said...

Grodrigues
“What predictions do multi-verse theories offer?”

This is not my area of expertise, but it appears that there should be specific patterns that have been specifically defined in the cosmic background radiation if there are other universes. Here’s one news article: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/news-articles/1108/110802-first-test-of-multiverse

“No, that is not what (un)falsifiable means. If it were that, then just about every claim would be falsifiable, e. g. miracle reports (eyewitness testimony *is* evidence).”

If we expect something to occur even if the hypothesis is false, then it is not evidence for it (by definition). Herein enters the Flake Equation: http://xkcd.com/718/

cautiouslycurious said...

Crude,
“You said that design claims are unfalsifiable because someone can always claim that a given thing was in fact designed. I'm pointing out, in principle, someone can always claim that a given thing was also undesigned.”

Correct, this is a flaw in the design hypothesis. When you can’t provide evidence for the hypothesis, in turn, no evidence could be found for the null hypothesis. Your point is a consequence of design claims being unfalsifiable which is exactly what I said, which leaves me to wonder, what is your point?

“Actually, they explicitly advocate for naturalism and 'natural explanations'. Those things are used as a bulwark to determine what is and isn't 'science' to begin with, and what is and isn't a proper explanation. Both rely desperately on this even in limit and principle cases - they reject any possibility of evidence or argument for God precisely because they say a 'natural' explanation will always, in principle, be available, and thus be preferred, saving their atheism.”

Switch natural with scientific and there is no difference. This assertion of yours that they rely on this natural v. supernatural distinction is simply unwarranted. PZ hardly mentions it on his website, instead advocating for reason, evidence based decision making, science, and skepticism. Stop lying about other people, it’s rather dishonest.

“There are citations of PZ saying that there can be no evidence of theism because he can and will reinterpret all evidence in a way that allows him to conclude something other than theism, which would cover design arguments.”

For future reference, when someone asks “Citation?” they are asking you to produce one. The answer to that would be that you don’t have a citation, so don’t pretend. I would like a citation for this claim that he would deny the successful predictive power of theism even if they turn out to be true. I doubt that you will find a quote supporting this because I’ve heard him take a different view about theistic hypotheses. Instead, he says that no evidence can be found for theism simply because theists haven’t adequately defined their hypothesis. In order to do this, they have to step out of philosophy and enter ::gasp:: science.

grodrigues said...

@cautiouslycurious:

The question was rethorical, but the answer is none actually. Not at the moment anyway.

Cute link notwithstanding, you do not seem to know what (un)falsifiable means. Whatever.

cautiouslycurious said...

Grodrigues,
“The question was rethorical, but the answer is none actually. Not at the moment anyway.”

Huh? The article explicitly mentioned otherwise. Can you dispute the content of the article?


“Cute link notwithstanding, you do not seem to know what (un)falsifiable means. Whatever.”

What I said is almost identical to what you find on Wikipedia. “Falsifiability is considered a positive (and often essential) quality of a hypothesis because it means that the hypothesis is testable by empirical experiment and thus conforms to the standards of scientific method.” When something is testable by empirical experiment that means that evidence can be brought to bear on the hypothesis and is therefore falsifiable which is exactly what I said. You don’t seem to know what you’re talking about.

Crude said...

Correct, this is a flaw in the design hypothesis.

You may as well say, "correct, this is a flaw in the no-design hypothesis. When you can't provide evidence for the hypothesis, in turn, no evidence could be found for the null hypothesis."

You're just agreeing with me in a roundabout way now. The fact that you can't supply evidence that cannot in principle be denied for the 'no design' hypothesis is not somehow the fault of the design hypothesis. But hey, I'm glad to hear you concede that there is no evidence for !design.

Switch natural with scientific and there is no difference.

Nah, there's a ton of difference (or at least, an awful lot riding on 'naturalism' actually having content), which is why everyone from PZ Myers to Jerry Coyne to Carrier to others cling to those definitions. You're off in your own little Alamo alone on this one.

Stop lying about other people, it’s rather dishonest.

Everything I've said about PZ is accurate and can be checked on his site. Stop lashing out just because you're freaking out at realizing one of your heroes has a major, major flaw in his thinking. (Well, many flaws, but this is just the one we're discussing.)

I would like a citation for this claim that he would deny the successful predictive power of theism even if they turn out to be true.

Er, I never claimed that "he would deny the successful predictive power of theism even if they turn out to be true", so please, stop lying. I pointed out that PZ Myers would reinterpret all evidence he comes across in a way that denies God's existence. That covers everything, including evidence for design.

But hey, let's go with the citation.

Let's start here.

"There are always better explanations for unexplained phenomena than god: fraud and faulty sensory perception cover most of the bases, but mostly, if I see a Madonna appear in a field to bless me, the first thing I’d suspect is brain damage. We have clumsy, sputtering, inefficient brains that are better designed for spotting rutabagas and triggering rutting behavior at the sight of a curvy buttock than they are for doing math or interpreting the abstract nature of the universe. It is a struggle to be rational and objective, and failures are not evidence for an alternative reality. Heck, we can be fooled rather easily by mere stage magicians; we don’t need to invent something as elaborate as a god to explain apparent anomalies."

or...

"Many of the evidences proposed rely for their power on their unexplainability by natural mechanisms. There isn’t much power there: the vast majority of the phenomena that exist are not completely explained by science. For instance, I don’t understand every detail of Hox gene regulation (no one does), and I don’t understand all of the nuclear reactions going on inside a star (maybe someone does), and pointing at an elegantly patterned embryo or at our Sun will get me to happily admit my ignorance, but my ignorance is not evidence for a god."

So yeah: any evidence PZ Myers encounters that would point at God, including arguments from design, are immediately and eternally - in principle - ruled out by him. He will always assume and beg off for a naturalistic explanations, up to and including believing he has brain damage.

By the way, you also see there how much Myers relies on the 'natural/supernatural' distinction, as I said. If you remove that, a large part of his frail personal wall of nonbelief crumbles immediately.

Really, find better, less stupid atheists to hitch your wagon to. Otherwise you'll just keep getting smacked down, like Myers gets on a regular basis.

grodrigues said...

@cautiouslycurious:

"The article explicitly mentioned otherwise. Can you dispute the content of the article?"

http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/?p=3879
http://backreaction.blogspot.pt/2010/12/evidence-of-eternal-inflation-in-cmb.html

There are arguments that point to the fact that empirical evidence for multiverses is not possible, not even in principle, and -- in a somewhat related note -- that they do not escape fine-tuning problems, so by your yardstick, they are no better than design hypothesis. But since they are not knockdown conclusive, my reaction atm is "Show me the money".

"When something is testable by empirical experiment that means that evidence can be brought to bear on the hypothesis and is therefore falsifiable which is exactly what I said."

Maybe that was what you meant say but that is not what you said. You said was and I quote "If evidence can be brought to bear on the hypothesis, then it is not unfalsifiable." I am not a mind reader, so if you cannot express yourself correctly then the problem is not in me not knowing what I am talking about, but in you.

But this is not all. My charge was after you wrote and I quote again:

"No, that is not what (un)falsifiable means. If it were that, then just about every claim would be falsifiable, e. g. miracle reports (eyewitness testimony *is* evidence).

If we expect something to occur even if the hypothesis is false, then it is not evidence for it (by definition)."

There are some problems with this:

1. You cannot distinguish a general point from the example used to illustrate. If you do not like the example I gave there are countless others: historical claims, philosophical claims, mathematical theorems, etc.

2. So if I am reading you correctly you are saying that if the hypothesis (e.g. event X is a miracle) is false then no evidence can be produced for it. What a nice piece of question-begging we have here.

3. If P = "Event X is a miracle" is unfalsifiable, then likewise it's denial not-P is unfalsifiable. So you cannot appeal to falsifiability criteria to prefer P to not-P. So what are you appealing to when you say that "the hypothesis is false", which I presume refers to the miracle example I gave?

cautiouslycurious said...

Grodrigues,
“There are arguments that point to the fact that empirical evidence for multiverses is not possible, not even in principle, and -- in a somewhat related note -- that they do not escape fine-tuning problems, so by your yardstick, they are no better than design hypothesis.”
From the article: “In it, the authors seem far more interested in promoting their PRL paper as “first test of the multiverse” than in acknowledging that a referee made them do a better test of the idea and they got a null result. There’s no mention of the null result in the article.”

They said that the hypothesis was tested and returned a negative result, which supports what I said. Multi-verse theories have been put into testable forms, which is more than what can be said for design hypotheses.

“I am not a mind reader, so if you cannot express yourself correctly then the problem is not in me not knowing what I am talking about, but in you.”

I would not change how I expressed myself and see no inaccuracy there. I think the disconnect is that I used the term evidence in a Bayesian way, rather than say, how they use the term in the court of law.

“1. You cannot distinguish a general point from the example used to illustrate. If you do not like the example I gave there are countless others: historical claims, philosophical claims, mathematical theorems, etc.”

It’s a matter of predictions. If the claim is unfalsifiable, then it doesn’t make any concrete predictions (i.e. predictions with a win/fail condition). Also, when considering evidence for a claim, you need to differentiate it between competing claims. If we were trying to determine whether I was psychic, then my ordering steak and then guessing the order correctly would not be evidence since it is also the same expectation for the alternative hypothesis.

“2. So if I am reading you correctly you are saying that if the hypothesis (e.g. event X is a miracle) is false then no evidence can be produced for it. What a nice piece of question-begging we have here.”

No, I am saying that If A->B and –A->B, then B cannot be evidence for A or –A.

“3. If P = "Event X is a miracle" is unfalsifiable, then likewise it's denial not-P is unfalsifiable. So you cannot appeal to falsifiability criteria to prefer P to not-P. So what are you appealing to when you say that "the hypothesis is false", which I presume refers to the miracle example I gave?”

Basic skepticism. You disbelieve a claim until there is evidence for it. It basically sets the prior low; generally, we call this not being gullible.

grodrigues said...

@cautiouslycurious:

"They said that the hypothesis was tested and returned a negative result, which supports what I said. Multi-verse theories have been put into testable forms, which is more than what can be said for design hypotheses."

I suggest you read the linked articles again, especially the combox comments. Somewhere, in there it is clear why multi-verse are not in any falsifiable form.

I am not particularly interested in defending design hypothesis. It just takes a great deal of chutzpah to seriously maintain that multi-verse scenarios are in any better shape atm.

"If the claim is unfalsifiable, then it doesn’t make any concrete predictions (i.e. predictions with a win/fail condition)."

I know what unfalsifiable means, I have read my Popper, thank you. So what? The original point still stands.

"No, I am saying that If A->B and –A->B, then B cannot be evidence for A or –A."

First, I suggest you do not use -> as it is liable to be read as the implication operator (in which case your claim is absurd). But I honestly cannot fathom what is the relevance of this tautology (if whether A is true or false, B is always true, then B cannot constitute evidence for A) for anything I said. In order for it to be relevant, you would have to maintain that all P are of that form, but this is clearly not true.

"Basic skepticism. You disbelieve a claim until there is evidence for it. It basically sets the prior low; generally, we call this not being gullible."

Translation: "I have none". Thank you for the clarification. Seriously, did I not explained myself or you are having reading problems? You have defined evidence by falsifiability criterion, so what happens with the countless unfalsifiable claims? Ok, you have a set of prejudices that in some cases leans your preference for one side (e.g. miracles) and even allows you to pass as "non-gullible" (hey, whatever rocks your boat), but what about the countless other cases? What is the principled distinction if no such criterion is available? You made a universal claim P = "[one] disbelieve[s] a claim until there is evidence for it". Ok, so what is the evidence for P? P is clearly an unfalsifiable claim, so does this mean that by your criteria you are bound to disbelieve in P? So what is it you are appealing to? Special-pleading? That you gullible in this just one instance? What?

cautiouslycurious said...

Grodrigues,
“I suggest you read the linked articles again, especially the combox comments. Somewhere, in there it is clear why multi-verse are not in any falsifiable form.”

Can you be more specific? Is it the comment that says that if the multi-verse theory were actually testable, then this result would have falsified it and tossed out? If so, I don’t think he understands what a prediction is. It could be analogous to the Higgs, we have a range of values for where we can search. Each negative result is a little bit of evidence that it could be wrong, but we search the entire spectrum to be sure and in that case, we found it. There were predictions of where the Higgs was, there were negative results in the beginning, and it is a valid scientific discovery.

“It just takes a great deal of chutzpah to seriously maintain that multi-verse scenarios are in any better shape atm.”

My position has been fairly conservative here. At most, I’m claiming that they are testable, not even that they are in good shape. I think that your position takes a great deal of chutzpah since it basically asserts that the scientists who tested the above mentioned hypothesis didn’t know how to do science.

“First, I suggest you do not use -> as it is liable to be read as the implication operator (in which case your claim is absurd). But I honestly cannot fathom what is the relevance of this tautology (if whether A is true or false, B is always true, then B cannot constitute evidence for A) for anything I said. In order for it to be relevant, you would have to maintain that all P are of that form, but this is clearly not true.”

Yeah, I can see how it can be taken that way. I was using it to indicate our expectation if A were true or false. The arrow should indicate the expression “If A is true, then we expect B to occur”. Anyway, I was saying that we expect wacky and plausible testimonies even if miracles don’t happen (Flake Equation) so using them as evidence would be invalid. If we were to take them as evidence, then we would have good evidence for alien visitors, but theists don’t tend to believe that so using that criteria would not adequately explain their beliefs. If you want a relevant response, then propose a good example; I was simply responding to your specific example explaining why I thought it was bad.

“You have defined evidence by falsifiability criterion, so what happens with the countless unfalsifiable claims?”

Then they don’t meet their burden of proof so we don’t believe them. If we don’t have evidence for an effect, then it defaults to the null hypothesis.

“You made a universal claim P = "[one] disbelieve[s] a claim until there is evidence for it". Ok, so what is the evidence for P? P is clearly an unfalsifiable claim, so does this mean that by your criteria you are bound to disbelieve in P?”

Well, when referring to that action, you could ‘rationally’ follow it or not in the sense that ignorance could be bliss. However, once someone prefers to have accurate beliefs, it becomes a good method. -It’s been jury rigged based on observation. If we take the different maxims, guilty until proven innocent (belief until proven false), innocent until proven guilty (disbelieved until proven believable), guilty regardless (gullibility), etc. We can measure the false positives and positive negatives. I fail to see how these would be unfalsifiable claims since they can all be defined, tested, and measured.

grodrigues said...

@cautiouslycurious:

"Is it the comment that says that if the multi-verse theory were actually testable, then this result would have falsified it and tossed out? If so, I don’t think he understands what a prediction is."

I am afraid it is you who does not know what a prediction is or of how science proceeds. But at this point, we are just naysaying each other, so time to move along. You want to labor under the illusion that multi-verse scenarios are atm falsifiable? We all have our gullible blind spots.

"Anyway, I was saying that we expect wacky and plausible testimonies even if miracles don’t happen (Flake Equation) so using them as evidence would be invalid."

We expect wacky and plausible testimonies even if the singular, unique, unrepeatable event X (fill in with whatever suits your fancy, e.g. Johnny murdered Jill) did or did not happened, so using them as evidence in favor or against it is invalid. Your pretzel logic is stellar, just stellar.

"You have defined evidence by falsifiability criterion, so what happens with the countless unfalsifiable claims?

Then they don’t meet their burden of proof so we don’t believe them. If we don’t have evidence for an effect, then it defaults to the null hypothesis."

Ok, unfalsifiable claims should not be believed. All, and I repeat all, mathematical theorems are unfalsifiable claims. So none of them should be believed. Our best theories about the universe make extensive, fundamental use of mathematical results, so they should not be believed either. So congratulations, you have just tossed our best theories about the universe down the drain. And I should add that by your own standards, you really are a gullible fool.

Your claim is also self-refuting. So what is the evidence for P = "If we don’t have evidence for an effect, then it defaults to the null hypothesis"? So tell me, how do you falsify P? Hint: this is a gotcha question.

Really, have you not received the memo that positivism died 50 years ago? I am not talking of Plato, Aristotle or Aquinas here, old fogeys that according to you are "useless" for anything you find "useful".

"I fail to see how these would be unfalsifiable claims since they can all be defined, tested, and measured."

So you do know what an unfalsifiable claim is as well. Shrug shoulders.

cautiouslycurious said...

Grodrigues,
“I am afraid it is you who does not know what a prediction is or of how science proceeds. But at this point, we are just naysaying each other, so time to move along. You want to labor under the illusion that multi-verse scenarios are atm falsifiable? We all have our gullible blind spots.”

Be careful, you’re starting to walk in Ben’s shoes. I don’t really have a dog in the fight on this issue. I could care less if multi-verse theories were proven wrong tomorrow. My attitude towards origins hypotheses is to wait a couple decades until we get experimental results; I’m in no rush to accept any given hypothesis until then. I simply offered up a plausible reason why some people give more credence to those types of hypotheses than say design hypotheses and this is backed up by what the scientists say. Like I said, this is not my area of expertise so I’ll let them manage their own field.

As for not knowing what a prediction is or how science proceeds, I suggest you learn some probability. Our instruments are not absolutely accurate. As such, we can initially come to the wrong conclusion at first, which is why repeatability is such an important aspect in science. If we find a positive result for a hypothesis, that doesn’t mean that it is confirmed and put into textbooks. When we find a negative result for a hypothesis, that doesn’t mean that it is proven false and discarded. This is because when dealing with probability, you sometimes get hits when there is no effect and sometimes get misses when there is an effect. For example, one of the teams testing the theory of relativity reported a negative result, yet as we know now, it was a false negative since we have substantial evidence supporting it. There were two teams, but imagine if it were just them one, if they had simply discarded the theory due to that result, we would have missed a great opportunity. False positives are even more mundane to explain but similar in concept, so I hope you can find your own examples since this is getting long. This should be clear to anyone with any understanding of statistics, so forgive me for not going in depth initially.

cautiouslycurious said...

Grodrigues (cont.),
“We expect wacky and plausible testimonies even if the singular, unique, unrepeatable event X (fill in with whatever suits your fancy, e.g. Johnny murdered Jill) did or did not happened, so using them as evidence in favor or against it is invalid. Your pretzel logic is stellar, just stellar.”

This is why we resort to forensics. This is why a lot of people set free by the innocence project had little physical evidence against them but convicted based on testimony. Like I said before, I am talking about evidence from a mathematical perspective, not the legal perspective, since what is considered evidence in the court of law isn’t always reliable or evaluated correctly.

“Ok, unfalsifiable claims should not be believed. All, and I repeat all, mathematical theorems are unfalsifiable claims.”

This is just incorrect. Take Fermat’s Last Theorem for example. All you need to do is find 4 numbers that satisfy the conditions set in order to falsify it. That is a specific fail condition for that claim.

“Your claim is also self-refuting. So what is the evidence for P = "If we don’t have evidence for an effect, then it defaults to the null hypothesis"? So tell me, how do you falsify P? Hint: this is a gotcha question.”

This is same as the ‘innocent until proven guilty’ explanation I mentioned earlier. You can try each one and see how they fit and then adopt the best one. This is a purely empirical finding. Go ahead and try out something different, perhaps "If we don’t have evidence for a hypothesis, then it defaults to the hypothesis." This tends to not be very fruitful while the ones adopted have been proven to be fruitful. These results are the evidence, if it were the other way, then it would have been falsified. I know it’s a gotcha question, but I have to address it; it relies on a misunderstanding that I want correct. Just because something is falsifiable doesn’t mean that you can falsify it. To falsify something means to actually find negative evidence for it; however, if it is true, there may not be any negative evidence for it even if it is falsifiable (like Fermat’s Theorem).


“Really, have you not received the memo that positivism died 50 years ago?”

I’ve received the memo, but I haven’t heard of a characterization of positivism that fit my views so I concluded that either I am not a positivist or that the criticisms against it are invalid.

grodrigues said...

@cautiouslycurious:

"This is just incorrect. Take Fermat’s Last Theorem for example. All you need to do is find 4 numbers that satisfy the conditions set in order to falsify it. That is a specific fail condition for that claim."

Really? So what sort of experiment can you run to "find 4 numbers that satisfy the conditions set in order to falsify it"? Push the axioms of your background theory where you formalize the theorem (say ZFC, although by results of MaClarty finite order arithmetic should be enough) into an if-then implication statement P. Then P is a tautology, true as a pure matter of logic. So falsifying it is tantamount to falsifying a logical law. So how do you pretend to do that?

Enough of this. You are an ignoramus, clearly do not even know what (un)falsifiability means or even seem to make the least idea of what a mathematical claim consists of. I for one am not going to educate you or even "suggest" anything, although I do thank your kind suggestions even if they are completely useless (doing undergraduate studies in physics followed by a phd in mathematics, kinda, sorta, equips one with some knowledge of statistics and probability theory). Further discussion of this or any of the other points is futile so with a bow, I take my leave.

note: blogger is eating my posts. Reposting (and rewriting on the way) for the third time.

cautiouslycurious said...

Grodrigues,
“So what sort of experiment can you run to "find 4 numbers that satisfy the conditions set in order to falsify it"?”

Again, you’ve missed what it means to be falsifiable. Something can be falsifiable even if you can’t run experiments on it. If a discovery can be made that gives it evidence for or against the claim, then it is falsifiable. For example, the claim that we are alone in the universe is falsifiable since we can find (intelligent) life elsewhere, but we can’t run an experiment to evaluate that claim at our convenience.

“So falsifying it is tantamount to falsifying a logical law. So how do you pretend to do that?”

I never said that something being falsifiable means that it is capable of being falsified and I explicitly expressed the opposite. If something is true, then we should not expect to find evidence of it being false. Logical laws get that title by having strong evidence for them suggesting that they are true. As such, I don’t expect it to be falsified; I’m just saying that it is falsifiable. When you stop misconstruing my position, you will then be justified in criticizing it; until then, get off your high horse.

grodrigues said...

@cautiouslycurious:

By Golly, I will not deny myself the fun of responding this.

"Again, you’ve missed what it means to be falsifiable. Something can be falsifiable even if you can’t run experiments on it."

I have missed what falsifiable is? Giggle. The term was introduced rather late in the philosophical jargon by K. Popper so go read a book instead of equivocating by using your own self-serving private definitions of established terms.

"I never said that something being falsifiable means that it is capable of being falsified and I explicitly expressed the opposite."

So now a claim P is falsifiable if, at least in principle, we can find evidence that is false. But evidence that P is false is evidence that not-P is true and vice-versa, so this boils down to say P is falsifiable if we can find evidence that it is true. But since for just about every claim, from hum-drum scientific claims to wild claims about alien visitations, there is in principle evidence -- and since above you explicitly said that being able to "run experiments on it" is not a requirement, testimony, rational arguments, etc., all this constitutes evidence -- just about every claim is falsifiable and the word is meaningless.

"If something is true, then we should not expect to find evidence of it being false."

Wow, what a flash of insight; my mind reels. But how do we evaluate some claim's truth? We give evidence for it. The story of false positives, that is claims, for which there was evidence they were true but it turned on further examination they were not, in the history of science, let alone in the history of human knowledge, is endless. Again your claim collapses into vacuity and triviality.

"Logical laws get that title by having strong evidence for them suggesting that they are true. As such, I don’t expect it to be falsified; I’m just saying that it is falsifiable."

Suppose you have some sort of putative evidence Q to substantiate the falsity of logical laws. To substantiate that Q is really evidence, you must evaluate it, that is, have an argument for why indeed it is so, but such an argument will inevitably rely on logical laws so you will be using logical laws to refute the logical laws. So how are logical laws falsifiable, Sherlock?

"When you stop misconstruing my position, you will then be justified in criticizing it; until then, get off your high horse."

Misconstruing your position? What position? When you are not uttering trivialities, you are all shot through with inconsistencies and contradictions, and since from a contradiction anything can be proved, you have de facto no position.

Get off my horse? This from Sherlock, The Science-Fetishist, Utterer of Mind-Blowing Trivialities, He Who Knows Not What Falsifiablity Is, stumbling into a philosophy blog decrying philosophy as mostly useless or trivial. What a joker turned out to be.

BenYachov said...

Like I said CC on the intellectual level is just Paps only much more polite but just as clueless.

He is a Positivist & a kneejerk dogmatic one.

He is very ignorant of philosophy including Atheist philosophy or perhaps at best he might have read some Dennett.

Trying to have a rational argument with him is like pulling teeth.

He feigns ignorance of the question or the issues & ignores what is inconvenient.

He then re-asserts his positivist world view as the default standard.

Tedious.

cautiouslycurious said...

Grodrigues,
"I have missed what falsifiable is? Giggle. The term was introduced rather late in the philosophical jargon by K. Popper so go read a book instead of equivocating by using your own self-serving private definitions of established terms."

I'm not using my own definition. Rationalwiki uses the same definition that I am using: "Falsifiability is the ability of a theory—a working framework for explaining and predicting natural phenomena—to be disproved by an experiment or observation.[1] The ability to evaluate theories against observations is essential to the scientific method, and as such, the falsifiability of theories is key to this and is the prime test for whether a proposition or theory can be described as scientific."

While it may not carry the same meaning that Popper originally gave it, I'm using the term in a mainstream sense. I wasn't the one editing the entry so you are simply incorrect in saying that I am using a private definition here. You can cry about it all you want, but you don't have a point here. I don't know why you are ignoring my content to attack some definition which I have clearly laid out (so it shouldn't matter if it fits mainstream usage) and fits mainstream usage. If you would like to respond to my argument rather than superficial drama, then I'll bother with the rest of your post.

grodrigues said...

@cautiouslycurious:

From your quote of Rationalwiki:

"Falsifiability is the ability of a theory—a working framework for explaining and predicting natural phenomena—to be disproved by an experiment or observation.[1] The ability to evaluate theories against observations is essential to the scientific method, and as such, the falsifiability of theories is key to this and is the prime test for whether a proposition or theory can be described as scientific."

From the post I responded to, you said and I quote:

"Again, you’ve missed what it means to be falsifiable. Something can be falsifiable even if you can’t run experiments on it."

This response of yours was in the context of *mathematical claims*. Mathematical theories are not frameworks for explaining or predicting natural phenomena, neither are they disproved by experiment or observation. The definition you quoted is indeed the traditional one (not that there ever was an un-traditional one, except possibly in your confused mind) and is the one introduced by Popper and is the one used by me and just about everyone who knows the basics of philosophy of science, and it vindicates what I have been saying all along. It is *you* who has futzed everything and insisted mathematical claims were falsifiable, not me. So saying that it is the definition you have been using all along borders on intellectual dishonesty, or most likely, just plain rank idiocy.

"If you would like to respond to my argument rather than superficial drama, then I'll bother with the rest of your post."

And if you did bothered to read the rest of the post you would see that I even tried to roll along and guess what your private definition of falsifiability is and dispatched it quite handsomely, thank you.

And whether you "bother" or not with responding to me is quite irrelevant -- remain silent for all I care. I am just having some harmless, innocent fun at your expense, with your endless inconsistencies and contradictions and all.

cautiouslycurious said...

Grodrigues,
Look under applications of falsifiability and you will find that they apply it to hypotheses and conjectures, not just theories:

“A simple procedure can be used to determine whether or not a hypothesis or conjecture is scientific and falsifiable. What would be an example of something that, if observed, would contradict the hypothesis? If this question cannot be answered, then the conjecture is not scientific. In addition, a good test of a theory is that it is able to make predictions about some future event. For example, Einstein's ideas about relativity predicted specific things that would be observed during an eclipse. When the eclipse came, the predictions were confirmed, something which strongly supported his theory. Logically, the two applications are the same thing. A theory useful in practice is not defined by what it allows, but by what it disallows, because that is where its predictive power lies.”

Or check out Wikipedia: “The concept first popularized by Karl Popper, who, in his philosophical criticism of the popular positivist view of the scientific method, concluded that a hypothesis, proposition, or theory talks about the observable only if it is falsifiable. "Falsifiable" is often taken to loosely mean "testable." An adage states it loosely as "if it's not falsifiable, then it's not scientific". But the state of being falsifiable or scientific says nothing about its truth, soundness or validity, for example the unfalsifiable statement "That sunset is beautiful."” Again, not limited to what you say it is.

Do you have any sources to back your claim up, or am I supposed to just accept your say so?

grodrigues said...

@cautiouslycurious:

"Do you have any sources to back your claim up, or am I supposed to just accept your say so?"

I do not need to provide any quotes; the ones you provide make the point for me. Just as examples:

"What would be an example of something that, if observed, would contradict the hypothesis? If this question cannot be answered, then the conjecture is not scientific. In addition, a good test of a theory is that it is able to make predictions about some future event."

""Falsifiable" is often taken to loosely mean "testable." An adage states it loosely as "if it's not falsifiable, then it's not scientific"."

And after this bit the Wikipedia adds "But the state of being falsifiable or scientific says nothing about its truth, soundness or validity, for example the unfalsifiable statement "That sunset is beautiful."" which was the conclusion I wanted to reach.

Right there, for anyone to read -- assuming one can read, which obviously is not your case.

"Again, not limited to what you say it is."

This really has gone on for too long; either you are being intellectually dishonest or besides being an ignorant, you are an idiot that does not even understand what he quotes.

And now, I really do take my leave.

BenYachov said...

CC,

grodrigues unlike you actually has real scientific training, a good command of natural philosophy as well as philosophy of science not to mention a doctorate level understanding of Mathematics.

You can't fake it with him anymore then I can grab a handful of ICR Tracts and take on Richard Dawkins.

You don't understand philosophy of either nature, religion or science. You don't understand falsifiability. You don't understand teleology. Or the difference between philosophy vs science.

Your skills are limited to google and the Wiki since it has been your want to profess ignorance of a topic unless you can google it. Yet both myself(the time I found Aristotle and Aquinas' definition of Love which you said you could not find) & grodrigues have shown even in this you lack competence.
Plus you reject philosophy and mindlessly embrace Positivism.

You son are a walking talking DK effect.

Go learn some philosophy or fuck off. We don't need your inane uneducated blather we already have Paps for that.

BenYachov said...

BTW when I tell you to Fuck off I am speaking for myself not grodrigues.

Just to be clear.

Tony Hoffman said...

I have enjoyed reading some of this comment thread immensely; I hope that all who have contributed will keep their comments intact.

I congratulate the theists whose comments here have underlined the truth behind Christianity's claims of rationality, honesty, charity, and civility.

BenYachov said...

Hey Tony have you learned any philosophy yet? Even Atheist philosophy?

Because I might have some hope for the Gnus if you did.

cautiouslycurious said...

Grodrigues,
“And after this bit the Wikipedia adds "But the state of being falsifiable or scientific says nothing about its truth, soundness or validity, for example the unfalsifiable statement "That sunset is beautiful."" which was the conclusion I wanted to reach.”

Are you saying that the statement “That sunset is beautiful” is true while also being unfalsifiable? If so, please make that case. Such a statement is too vague to present evidence for or against or to even evaluate it. Is it saying that I find the sunset beautiful? That the sunset is deemed universally beautiful? That the sunset contains certain features such as symmetry? Hence the statement is unfalsifiable; it hasn’t been sufficiently defined. Once you define it, then it becomes falsifiable and then we can present evidence to see if it is symmetrical, that I find it beautiful, etc. I fail to see what your point is here that differs from anything I’ve said since. It doesn't help that trying to get you to explain yourself is like pulling teeth.