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Thread: The last and final argument about reality.

  1. #13261
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    Has objective reality been coined in this forum? The definition I found on the web is "The objective reality is the collection of things we are sure exist independently of us." Just Google the term. Sounds like MIR to me....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Selfsim View Post
    So the Objective Reality of Newtonian Physics never really changed .. GR introduced an expanded range of contexts and thus expanded our knowledge of Objective Reality (or your 'SMDR') beyond the Objective Reality applicability range of Newtonian Physics.
    I put in the S because there is most definitely a difference between a MDR and a SMDR just like many of the caveats in science.

    For instance the basic MDR didn't change much between 500 and 1700 but the SMDR changed dramatically. While this little 'difference' might be a useful tool in 'reconciling' various aspects of the many different genre's of modern day science without caveats (i.e. on faith) its usefulness drops when the caveats are included and the unresolved inconsistencies reappear and remain inconsistent and unreconciled.

  3. #13263
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    Quote Originally Posted by gzhpcu View Post
    So now we have mind independent reality, mind dependent reality, scientific mind dependent reality, objective reality... leaping lizards...
    Of course we have all those things, that's how thinking works.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gzhpcu View Post
    Has objective reality been coined in this forum? The definition I found on the web is "The objective reality is the collection of things we are sure exist independently of us." Just Google the term. Sounds like MIR to me....
    I've warned against googling definitions, because although a definition is always a useful starting point, unfortunately definitions always have to be very vague and very inclusive of many different things. That's how they are designed, because they are not equipped with context, whereas meaning is always contextual. (Why aren't people taught this? The nonsense they believe about definitions knows no bounds.) So instead of looking up definitions, do the work of deciding what you mean when you use a word, and watch for internal inconsistencies-- they abound. Also watch for circularity.

    Examples include, when you look for definitions of "reality", you find things like "reality is everything that exists", and then you look up "exist" and get "have objective reality" and so forth. The fact is, definitions can never tell you what things are, and they can also never tell you what you mean when you use a word. They only tell you what many people tend to mean in various situations, but there is a real danger of creating a kind of illusion of understanding when real understanding requires a whole lot more work than looking up a definition.

    What's more, it should be very obvious the internal inconsistency of saying "things we are sure exist independently of us." Who is sure, did you just say, how do we tell we are sure, and how is that independent of us? I have to wonder if people even look at what they are saying sometimes. But yes, the common poor definitions we find involving "reality" are ripe with such clear inconsistencies, there is a complete lack of introspection on the topic. I'd like to sit down with whoever thought that was a good definition and have this conversation:
    Me: please tell me something you regard as objectively real.
    Them: the Empire State Building (etc.)
    Me: so the Empire State Building is something you are sure exists independently of you.
    Them: yes.
    Me: and why are you sure it exists?
    Them: for reasons X, Y, and Z.
    Me: So those reasons convince you that you are sure?
    Them: yes.
    Me: That's the part that isn't independent of you.
    Last edited by Ken G; 2019-Sep-01 at 05:10 AM.

  5. #13265
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaurieAG View Post
    I put in the S because there is most definitely a difference between a MDR and a SMDR just like many of the caveats in science.

    For instance the basic MDR didn't change much between 500 and 1700 but the SMDR changed dramatically. While this little 'difference' might be a useful tool in 'reconciling' various aspects of the many different genre's of modern day science without caveats (i.e. on faith) its usefulness drops when the caveats are included and the unresolved inconsistencies reappear and remain inconsistent and unreconciled.
    What 'inconsistencies' are you talking about?

  6. #13266
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    Quote Originally Posted by gzhpcu View Post
    Has objective reality been coined in this forum? The definition I found on the web is "The objective reality is the collection of things we are sure exist independently of us." Just Google the term. Sounds like MIR to me....
    Hmm .. that might explain others' confusion when I used the term then ... Never even crossed my mind that it could be interpreted in completely the opposite sense. 'Objective Reality', to me, means just what it denotes .. Reality as distinguished by the objective (or scientific) process. Fascinating!

  7. #13267
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    ... Me: That's the part that isn't independent of you.
    Spot on!

    Man, this topic is so messed up!
    So now, its assumed by others that dictionary definitions must be 'correct' (and 'true')!?
    Not much wonder accusations of 'non-standard language usage' were directed at me! (That one had me scratching my head!)

  8. #13268
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    Yes, "standard usage" basically means "vague enough that anyone can use the word without any clear idea what anyone else is talking about, and the best part is, they won't even know it." What you have to do is pick your battles about which meanings are the crucial ones to not leave vague. For example, in this thread, the meaning of "reality" is crucial, so no dictionary definition will come even close to being sufficient, but the meaning of "mind" is not, so a dictionary definition suffices since everyone can insert their own meaning and nothing important really changes. The common meanings of "reality" are such a mix of internal inconsistency and circularity that we have to start with even recognizing the role of mind. Later, there could be another thread on how the mind affects our concept of reality, and that would require much more work around the term "mind." We might not even have the science for that one yet.

  9. #13269
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    I agree, if we do accept for the moment that our minds generate our reality using science to form knowledge within our MDR, the description of the evolution of mind within our species and within individuals is a good topic and must include the evolution of ideas which invade our minds during our lives. The science for that is a work in progress but already we could say that the mainstream view has changed pretty dramatically over the same period that the mainstream view of physics, chemistry, and biology have changed in the last century or so.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    I agree, if we do accept for the moment that our minds generate our reality using science to form knowledge within our MDR, the description of the evolution of mind within our species and within individuals is a good topic and must include the evolution of ideas which invade our minds during our lives. The science for that is a work in progress but already we could say that the mainstream view has changed pretty dramatically over the same period that the mainstream view of physics, chemistry, and biology have changed in the last century or so.
    Why is this a problem for a mind exploring its own perceptions? Its pretty much what we'd expect, no?
    I mean, stepping back into the realm of science; Evolution for example, carries with it the same notion of unguided (self-guided?) principles, as life evolves.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    Yes, "standard usage" basically means "vague enough that anyone can use the word without any clear idea what anyone else is talking about, and the best part is, they won't even know it." What you have to do is pick your battles about which meanings are the crucial ones to not leave vague. For example, in this thread, the meaning of "reality" is crucial, so no dictionary definition will come even close to being sufficient, but the meaning of "mind" is not, so a dictionary definition suffices since everyone can insert their own meaning and nothing important really changes. The common meanings of "reality" are such a mix of internal inconsistency and circularity that we have to start with even recognizing the role of mind. Later, there could be another thread on how the mind affects our concept of reality, and that would require much more work around the term "mind." We might not even have the science for that one yet.
    Another crucial issue to add to that list, for science I think, is 'time'. Time is conveniently squirrelled away as being something known as an intrinsic property of spacetime in GR, and again in the evolution of the QM State in QM, but it can also be viewed equally an intrinsic property of 'mind'.

    I've come to view our understanding of time as becoming a pivotal linch-pin for unlocking big scientific insights into the mind's role in how it shapes reality. The science may be close with QM 'reality' experiments on that front .. (Oh .. I'm not that claiming any of this is big news though).

  12. #13272
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    Quote Originally Posted by Selfsim View Post
    Another crucial issue to add to that list, for science I think, is 'time'. Time is conveniently squirrelled away as being something known as an intrinsic property of spacetime in GR, and again in the evolution of the QM State in QM, but it can also be viewed equally an intrinsic property of 'mind'.
    I agree that time is an excellent place to look for mind dependence in our understanding of reality. The way relativity unites space and time led many physicists to think that time does not exist one moment "at a time" the way we perceive it. If it is the way our mind/perception works that separates the action of time from space, then this would be a classic example of mind involvement in our conception of how reality is put together. As you point out, time also has a kind of bizarre place in quantum mechanics, again very different from how we perceive it because quantum mechanics allows us to "Fourier transform" away time until it looks instead like different behaviors across a continuum of frequencies (i.e., a continuum of energy scales), leaving room once again for us to interpret time in our own mental way that is very different from what is "really going on" there. Which is more real, a wave function that associates a different complex number to every time, or a Fourier transform of a wavefunction that associates a different complex number to every frequency? Neither seems a lot like what we experience, only one changes with time, and either can predict the outcomes of our experiments. Is this telling us something more fundamental than what we can experience, or just some crazy theorist's mathematical means of interpreting what we already know is the true reality, the tigers and such?
    I've come to view our understanding of time as becoming a pivotal linch-pin for unlocking big scientific insights into the mind's role in how it shapes reality. The science may be close with QM 'reality' experiments on that front .. (Oh .. I'm not that claiming any of this is big news though).
    I also think that the big payoff for physics of understanding better how our minds work is we will understand better why time works the way it does in our physics. But it's just one example of all the potential payoffs for new fundamental theories if we get better at including the role of the physicist in the physics. Doubt we'll see it any time soon though, we first have to even recognize this is a promising direction-- progress will likely be slow.

  13. #13273
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    Quote Originally Posted by Selfsim View Post
    What 'inconsistencies' are you talking about?
    For a start dm (if you have been reading this whole thread and not just posts to you you would see several examples).

  14. #13274
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    Quote Originally Posted by Selfsim View Post
    Man, this topic is so messed up!
    So now, its assumed by others that dictionary definitions must be 'correct' (and 'true')!?
    Just before coming to this forum today I read that a 'quantum superposition' was just a statistical term used to denote 'a correlation between two objects' so the magic (at a distance LOL) just disappeared.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LaurieAG View Post
    For a start dm (if you have been reading this whole thread and not just posts to you you would see several examples).
    Link references?
    I know of no inconsistencies when it comes to dark matter ..

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    .. Neither seems a lot like what we experience, only one changes with time, and either can predict the outcomes of our experiments. Is this telling us something more fundamental than what we can experience, or just some crazy theorist's mathematical means of interpreting what we already know is the true reality, the tigers and such?
    Well, we're getting a little off track here, but I'm afraid to say that I, (as just another mind), don't see any sort of mystery or anything mystical, in anything leading to your above question. They are all just different 'rotations' (or viewpoints) on the same phenomenon to me. These 'rotations' (or descriptions) are all brought into focus by the empirically observed relationships of the parameters you mention of the same phenomenon.

    The way I see it, the wavefunction is an abstract mathematical function that contains all the statistical information that an observer can obtain from measurements of a given system. Now from the MDR viewpoint, 'the given system' here, is still not something which 'exists' independently from our minds .. but its ok to believe it is .. (lets face it, QM is mind boggling enough .. let alone throwing MDR/MIR into the mix).

    The thing is though, none of any of it could possibly make any sense whatsoever, unless the concept of time is present, and I say we bring that concept everywhere with us .. into every conceivable imagining, idea, hypothesis, scientific theory or observation, or any general chit-chat we have on any given topic. I guess my evidence here, that time might be one of our base level concepts, relies on imagining trying to make sense of QM, GR and general chit-chats, in the absence of such a concept(?)

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G
    I also think that the big payoff for physics of understanding better how our minds work is we will understand better why time works the way it does in our physics.
    But that's pretty easy isn't it? The answer being: because its our Physics too, no? (And so too: that time might also be our base level concept for cognition of our Physics).

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G
    But it's just one example of all the potential payoffs for new fundamental theories if we get better at including the role of the physicist in the physics. Doubt we'll see it any time soon though, we first have to even recognize this is a promising direction-- progress will likely be slow.
    Yep .. I think trying to get people to imagine that time may not be 'a thing', or a scientist to imagine that it may not just be a measurable quantity, or a QM physicist to imagine that it may not be a property of the evolution of a QM state, is virtually impossible .. (Ie: if my travels and recent web-experiences are any indication of that, that is).

  17. #13277
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    Quote Originally Posted by Selfsim View Post
    Why is this a problem for a mind exploring its own perceptions? Its pretty much what we'd expect, no?
    I mean, stepping back into the realm of science; Evolution for example, carries with it the same notion of unguided (self-guided?) principles, as life evolves.
    I didn’t mean to say there was a problem, but that our own attitude to mind has fundamentally shifted in the last hundred years just as it did from previous years where there was an idea of external influence in a spiritual way. We are now seeing how our very early development of our mind and brain, or should I say brains to include the whole of the central nervous system, the endocrine system and the biome, form our unconscious beliefs. The observation that people who look so similar can have such fundamental different beliefs bears this out because when challenged people cannot define the moment they took a decision to hold a belief.
    It must be a truism that there are as many realities as there are individual minds, and I find that very sobering in the context of human conflict, and decision taking, where we know that humans are emotional rather than logical.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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    Quote Originally Posted by LaurieAG View Post
    Just before coming to this forum today I read that a 'quantum superposition' was just a statistical term used to denote 'a correlation between two objects' so the magic (at a distance LOL) just disappeared.
    You are either misinterpeting that source, or it is completely wrong. We know that interpretation is wrong, because Einstein himself stated that he regarded the correlations predicted by quantum mechanics to be absurd. That's why he thought the experiment would come out differently than it did. But the experiment does come out the way he thought it couldn't, so there is no way to make that "magic" disappear, it is an experimental fact no matter how you interpret it.

    If the source knew what it was talking about, it was saying that there is no reason to imagine that some kind of signal transports instantaneously across space. That much is true, but it's only one type of a "magic" that could prove Einstein wrong.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    If the source knew what it was talking about, it was saying that there is no reason to imagine that some kind of signal transports instantaneously across space. That much is true, but it's only one type of a "magic" that could prove Einstein wrong.
    Just like DM, it's something that is not entirely within our SMDR but is accepted (on faith) despite the exact mechanisms being unknown (part of the MIR).

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    Quote Originally Posted by LaurieAG View Post
    Just like DM, it's something that is not entirely within our SMDR but is accepted (on faith) despite the exact mechanisms being unknown (part of the MIR).
    You can be quite certain that absolutely nothing in science is "accepted on faith." It's just not the point at all.

    Of course, it depends on what one means by accept on faith. In the context of this thread, it means hold to be true despite not being able to show that it passes tests. Science would never have any reason to do that, although scientists, as people, sometimes take off their scientist hat without warning.
    Last edited by Ken G; 2019-Sep-05 at 10:19 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    You can be quite certain that absolutely nothing in science is "accepted on faith." It's just not the point at all.

    Of course, it depends on what one means by accept on faith. In the context of this thread, it means hold to be true despite not being able to show that it passes tests. Science would never have any reason to do that, although scientists, as people, sometimes take off their scientist hat without warning.
    So your answer is yes and no with caveats.

  22. #13282
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    I listened to a program about the amazing mathematician Noether who helped Einstein with symmetries that lead to gauge theories. When people talk about maths u derlying the universe, as if maths came first, like an archetype, they are in effect referring To Noether’s work. I believe the symmetries idea underpins the standard model we use for the moment. I kind of remember her name in Topology when I was a student more then fifty years ago now, and i am surprised her name has not come up before in this thread. Well it has now!
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

  23. #13283
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaurieAG View Post
    So your answer is yes and no with caveats.
    I think that could be said to any question you've ever seen in your life. The answer is always in the caveats.

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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    I listened to a program about the amazing mathematician Noether who helped Einstein with symmetries that lead to gauge theories. When people talk about maths u derlying the universe, as if maths came first, like an archetype, they are in effect referring To Noether’s work.
    It certainly is a very deep question as to why the universe acts as though it obeyed strongly unifying symmetries. But an equally interesting question is why it doesn't actually seem to obey those symmetries, as we seem to eventually be able to find a break in every symmetry we encounter. In fact, it seems to me that every symmetry was made to be broken, in a manner of speaking.

    So why would the universe be close to obeying symmetries, as if the symmetries "existed" and told the universe "how to behave", but doesn't actually obey symmetries, as if they didn't "exist" and can not tell the universe how to behave? I think when we can answer that, we will have come a long way toward understanding the difference between an MDR and an MIR. Does the universe even need to be told what to do, or is telling things what to do purely an anthropomorphism of how we think?

  25. #13285
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    We see these at the macro level. Iron seems to be the ultimate structure yet it proves impossible to keep out those impurities, atom by atom that give us the actual properties, silicon is doped to make semiconductors that are much more interesting than pure silicon, and as for carbon and water, life would not be possible if water was not asymmetric and polarised. Even the matter antimatter balance is a tease. In our models we are drawn to elegance but practical experience is messy and often counter intuitive. Noether was also instrumental in conservation, which falls out of symmetries, and we adopt conservation of energy, of angular momentum, and so on yet I wonder if like silicon doped with atoms, conservation gets interesting when it breaks down? Or rather when it is doped?
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

  26. #13286
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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    I listened to a program about the amazing mathematician Noether who helped Einstein with symmetries that lead to gauge theories. When people talk about maths u derlying the universe, as if maths came first, like an archetype, they are in effect referring To Noether’s work. I believe the symmetries idea underpins the standard model we use for the moment. I kind of remember her name in Topology when I was a student more then fifty years ago now, and i am surprised her name has not come up before in this thread. Well it has now!
    Nina Byers goes into Emmy Noether and her contribution to the conceptual structures of the mathematics in modern physics in detail in her paper "E. Noether’s Discovery of the Deep Connection Between Symmetries and Conservation Laws" in 1998.

    https://arxiv.org/abs/physics/9807044v2
    Though the general theory of relativity was completed in 1915, there remained unresolved problems. In particular, the principle of local energy conservation was a vexing issue. In the general theory, energy is not conserved locally as it is in classical field theories - Newtonian gravity, electromagnetism, hydrodynamics, etc.. Energy conservation in the general theory has been perplexing many people for decades. In the early days, Hilbert wrote about this problem as ‘the failure of the energy theorem’. In a correspondence with Klein [3], he asserted that this ‘failure’ is a characteristic feature of the general theory, and that instead of ‘proper energy theorems’ one had ‘improper energy theorems’ in such a theory. This conjecture was clarified, quantified and proved correct by Emmy Noether.
    Interesting caveat that.

  27. #13287
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaurieAG View Post
    Nina Byers goes into Emmy Noether and her contribution to the conceptual structures of the mathematics in modern physics in detail in her paper "E. Noether’s Discovery of the Deep Connection Between Symmetries and Conservation Laws" in 1998.

    https://arxiv.org/abs/physics/9807044v2


    Interesting caveat that.
    Conservation is an example of the elegance i mentioned, it’s appealing, but if it “leaks” in transformations such as mass to energy, or even momentum to heat, that might be the trick that makes everything work, (in our model of reality). Or it might mean we can never simplify to local in any real situation. I find it is like postulatiing that there is no infinity, thinking of Zeno again, only large numbers in big equations that only seem simplified as approximations. The approximations hide the interesting stuff that allow reality to function.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    The approximations hide the interesting stuff that allow reality to function.
    Yes I think there's a lot of truth to your perspective here. Consider, then, how ironic it is that many physicists regard their search for unifying theories (and higher symmetries) as a search for a "theory of everything." I concur that when we find deeper and deeper understandings, complete with more abstract idealizations, we will continue to discover that these theories are just a kind of scaffolding upon which to simplify and understand phenomena that could never actually be perceived by entities obeying said theories. Hence does reality elude the effort to reduce everything to a theory, because, as you say, what is most important in the reality will always be what is slipping through the cracks of these theories of not-quite-everything. It has been said that if reality was simple enough for us to understand it, we couldn't exist, but what's puzzling is why reality is close to being simple enough for us to understand it! It's as if it needed to more complex than we can understand in detail, but also needed to be simple enough to make us feel like we were understanding it, and in some cases, make remarkably accurate predictions of what we have never observed before.

    If one takes a "multiverse" perspective, one holds there are realities too simple to produce intelligent life (and there aren't people having this discussion in those realities because there aren't people at all), and there are realities so far from anything comprehendable that there is no survival advantage offered to intelligence (and so there aren't people having this discussion in those realities either). I find multiverse "explanations" wanting, but in any event, what is perhaps perfectly logical is the statement that only in a reality that is close to obeying symmetries, but not completely obeying them, could you have people having this discussion.
    Last edited by Ken G; 2019-Sep-13 at 12:24 AM.

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    Further on that point, it seems quite plausible to me that symmetries are like tools that we create to fit the job at hand. Two of the places we find Noether's symmetries are space and time, where as said above, symmetry under spatial translation through space gives us conservation of linear momentum, symmetry under rotations within space gives us conservation of angular momentum, and symmetry under time translation gives us conservation of energy. But in the spirit of MDR thinking, it is rather easy to conclude that spatial translation, rotation, and the concept of time, are all mental constructs that simply do not exist at all independently from how we think about them, and would not exist at all in a universe with no intelligence to create and contemplate those ideas. Do atoms need space between them to do what they do, or do they just do what they do and we imagine the space? Do events need to occur in a time order, or do they just have complex relationships that we interpret as time order? The more I ponder these notions, the more clear it seems to me that our minds are adding all these concepts to a reality that is likely nothing like that at all, if it even makes sense to talk about how reality is without the context of a mind to say it (which of course it doesn't!).

    So if time and space are tools, like a fork that we eat with or a wheel we put on a cart, is it so surprising they exhibit good symmetries that make them easier to manipulate and understand? And is it so surprising that their symmetries don't hold up absolutely when looked at more closely? It is still perhaps surprising that these simple tools work at all, and it is still surprising that sometimes to find the places where the symmetries break down you have to look so closely that advanced technology is required, but on the whole, I'd say it makes more sense to say that Occam's Razor is not a principle that scientists use because it works, it is a principle that more or less defines the process of thinking. And of course that includes the process of creating an MDR.

    If one needs Occam's Razor to create an MDR by virtue of the limitations of our minds, then the result of that process, the discoveries of science, will necessarily end up looking surprisingly simple. Call it MDR evolution.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    Further on that point, it seems quite plausible to me that symmetries are like tools that we create to fit the job at hand. Two of the places we find Noether's symmetries are space and time, where as said above, symmetry under spatial translation through space gives us conservation of linear momentum, symmetry under rotations within space gives us conservation of angular momentum, and symmetry under time translation gives us conservation of energy. But in the spirit of MDR thinking, it is rather easy to conclude that spatial translation, rotation, and the concept of time, are all mental constructs that simply do not exist at all independently from how we think about them, and would not exist at all in a universe with no intelligence to create and contemplate those ideas....
    And is it so surprising that their symmetries don't hold up absolutely when looked at more closely?
    And doesn't GR support this argument since, IIRC, the conservation laws are local but not, perhaps, universal?
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

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