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Thread: Fact?

  1. #1
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    Fact?

    This is more of a question about philosophy and/or semantics than direct science.

    Do you agree with the following statement?:

    "Fact's don't take place in the future"

  2. #2
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    No.

    The sun will still be hot tomorrow. The speed of light will still be c. I'll still be blonde.

    I do know what you're saying; how can something be proven true if it hasn't happened yet. But, based on past observations, I know that if I open this bottle of water and turn it upside down, the water will spill on my desk. It hasn't happened yet. But based on past observations, I can say with enough certianty that it will happen. At least, that's my take.

  3. #3
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    I recall having an extensive conversation about this in a philosophy class years ago. Suppose I make the statement, "It will rain here tomorrow". And then tomorrow, it does actually rain. So was my statement a fact when I said it, or did it only retroactively become a fact once it rained? It's clearly a statement that will be either true or false (either it will rain here tomorrow or it will not), but can it be said to have a meaningful truth value a the moment I say it, or is its truth necessarily indeterminate until the following day?

    I think every philosopher since Aristotle has weighed in with an opinion on this one. Look up discussions about the sea battle tomorrow, and you'll see what I mean. Frankly, I'm still not sure what I think about it myself.
    Conserve energy. Commute with the Hamiltonian.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by idav View Post
    This is more of a question about philosophy and/or semantics than direct science.
    All right, then! We should start with, "what is a fact?", right?

    What is a fact? in your opinion as OP.

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    Too possessive.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by idav View Post
    This is more of a question about philosophy and/or semantics than direct science.

    Do you agree with the following statement?:

    "Fact's don't take place in the future"
    Yes, no, I mean yes, no, maybe.

    Fact: 1. something that actually exists; reality; truth.

    Something that actually exists - doesn't take place in the future. agree
    Reality - doesn't take place in the future. agree
    Truth - doesn't take place in the future. disagree

  7. #7
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    Ok--I just had to look it up. www.merriam-webster.com:

    1: a thing done: as aobsolete : feat b: crime <accessory after the fact> carchaic : action 2archaic : performance , doing3: the quality of being actual : actuality <a question of fact hinges on evidence>4 a: something that has actual existence <space exploration is now a fact> b: an actual occurrence <prove the fact of damage>5: a piece of information presented as having objective reality

    1. is closest to the roots (same root as factory) but not the most common meaning today.

    5 seems to be closest to what is meant in this thread. The sun will rise tomorrow: I guess that's a tentative fact, since after all, there just "might" be a black hole traveling at 0.99999999c headed this way. It's "fact enough for practice" though.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by tdvance View Post
    It's "fact enough for practice" though.
    That's my opinion on the matter. It's nice to think of fact as set-in-stone, 100% absolute...but from my limited knowlege of things on a quantum scale, there's never 100% certianty of anything, even after the fact.

    Therefore I'm comfortable with calling something that will happen a fact, solong as the overwhelming evidence shows that it will indeed happen.

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    If one drops a known mass in a gravitational field of 1G tomorrow, it's acceleration is known now.

  10. #10
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    oooOOOOOOoooohhhhHH

    already with the spinny-hurty head thing. lol

    Ok.. So this is the way I parse the issue:

    Facts are data - empirical evidence. Evidence is nonexistant until it occurs. The statement "The sun will rise tomorrow" seemed perfectly legit up until the Death Star showed up on Alderran's radar.

    Hypotheses predict the likelihood of a fact occurring. These are untested scenarios for the future. "The Dodgers will play tomorrow" is a hypothesis. Hypotheses have evidence supporting it - i.e. facts. "The dodgers are currently scheduled to play tomorrow." "There is no rain in the immediate area to threaten the game", etc.. etc... It can also employ predictive models as well in support: "The seismic data currently indicate that a large quake is not imminent which may disrupt the game". A hypothesis' strength is based on

    Theories are hypotheses which have undergone many many many rounds of successful testing. We are so certain of some theories' outcomes that we assign them the title of "Law" and trust their predictive power implicitly. It is these theories which we colloquially call "facts".

    So, in the spirit of philosophers everywhere, I posit the answer to the original question is yes... and no.

  11. #11
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    Several people seem willing to count as facts things which might not have happened yet, but whose outcome is so certain (like the Sun rising in the morning), that for all practical purposes we can dismiss the alternatives. For those of you who espouse this point of view, what about statements that are less certain? For example, my statement that it will rain here tomorrow. If it does rain here tomorrow, is my statement a fact at the moment I utter it, even though we are not (and cannot be) aware that it is a fact at the time? Or does it become a fact only when it starts to rain tomorrow, proving the truth of the statement? Or is it never a fact at all, even though it is eventually borne out as a true statement? And do the answers to those questions change if I replace the words "a fact" with the word "true"? Or is being a true statement synonymous with being a fact, and one implies the other?
    Conserve energy. Commute with the Hamiltonian.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by idav View Post
    This is more of a question about philosophy and/or semantics than direct science.

    Do you agree with the following statement?:

    "Fact's don't take place in the future"
    fact means science, so it will remain there in the future also. But the fact's don't take is somewhat jumbling me, ok, facts are remain unchanged, because they are facts of the present, but what ever the future fact that cannot be predict hence they will certainly not take any place in future of the future, because we can not see beyond the facts.


  13. #13
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    It's another way of saying "Facts are not happening in the future" or "you can only call it a fact if it has already happened or already exists".
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    Facts .. are timeless.

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