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Thread: the 'no miracles' argument for scientific realism- any thoughts?

  1. #61
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    Quote Originally Posted by gzhpcu View Post
    I believe in an independent reality as I see no viable alternative.
    That might mean you cannot imagine an alternative that you could believe in. But there are alternatives and it's really impossible to devise a test. I can understand that belief but I can't know if it's right.
    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

  2. #62
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    Isn't the only alternative just having everything that I perceive magically appear in my mind without cause? After all, if there is a cause that I don't know about then that cause isn't in my mind so it must be external to it.

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    as i understand it (and it is quite possible that i have not understood correctly- but honestly i am trying), KenG's 'models model' requires one to accept (believe? prove?) the following as a default position:

    1. One must embrace radical skepticism.. but yet not take it to its logical conclusion of solipsism.
    2. One must accept the idea that all future scientific theories will be replaced- despite the fact that this 'pessimistic meta-induction' is based on induction.
    3. One must accept that no successive scientific theories will resemble each other in any way - e.g. mathematically, despite for example newton and einstein giving approximately similar results at low velocities.
    4. One must accept the idea that a model can be a model without it actually being a model of anything.
    5. One must accept that models are just models of models etc ad infinitum without ever correlating in any way to some deeper level of what a realist would call 'reality'
    6. One must accept that an infinite number of nested explanations/models does actually provide some explanation.
    7. One must accept the circular argument that these models of models are good scientific theories only because if they weren't good- we couldn't call them scientific theories.
    8. One accepts that the universe will continue even if all minds within it are extinguished- even though this is not a 'scientific' theory as it can never be falsified.
    9. One must accept that the 'scientific method' is preferred over religious belief even though, to a religious person- their own belief-structure-models may provide more utility to them.
    10. One must accept the fact we can never know anything at all about what a realist would call 'reality'. Even qualia such as 'redness' -which a realist would say exist only within a mind - may actually be a feature of the universe.
    "It's only a model....?" :-)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3dZl3yfGpc

  4. #64
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    Quote Originally Posted by plant View Post
    1. Please stop conflating 'naive realism' with 'structural scientific realism'... and religious belief with the 'philosophy of science'.
    I am doing no such thing, everything I said applies to "structural scientific realism". It's naive, but more to the point, I gave evidence from actual science as to why it's naive. I grow tired of being the only one who ever supplies any actual evidence from science!

    Also, every time I referred to "belief without evidence," it applied to structural scientific realism (which is an oxymoron). If you wish to address my points, then actually address them. I just gave evidence. Have you any counterevidence, or not?
    2. what exactly did you mean by your statement: 'the ultimate irony... in realist arguments... embracing the biggest miracle of all: that as the intelligence of great apes improved via random natural selection, it did so in a way that allowed these extra-intelligent great apes, above all the other species on the planet, to acquire an understanding of reality as it actually is. Surely you can't be serious that you think that evolution occurs via 'random chance'???
    Everyone knows evolution occurs via random chance. Don't tell me you equate random chance with the idea that everything has an equal probability of happening? That isn't how random chance works. So what are you talking about now? You are trying to involve scientific theories, but getting them wrong.
    I really have no idea what you are saying here. Are you saying that to 'accept'/believe the theory of evolution is to accept miracles?
    Um, I guess if you take what I actually said, and replace it with something completely different, you might get that. So the question is, why do you feel so compelled to replace what I actually say?

    Again: accepting any scientific theory means we regard it as our best current model. That's what "accept" means in science. It certainly doesn't mean "believe it is how things actually work." That should really be obvious from even the most cursory examination of scientific history, yet realists just don't seem to get this message. To see how badly off is the realist perspective, all you need to do is take your sentence above, and replace where you said "accept" with the scientifically accurate "regard as our best current model." Go ahead and do that, and see if your statement makes any sense whatsoever. Why would regarding something as the best current model require a miracle? This is a valuable exercise for all realists, the belief in miracles is when you equate the scientific term "accept" with the religious term "believe," an equation that realists just love to do, as you just did.
    Or are you trying to say that a human philosopher of science is no better than an ape's concept of 'reality' because only the cleverest people are anti-realists .. and that anyone who doesn't accept your 'models model' is the intellectual equivalent of an ape?
    Once again, your need to completely change everything I say. How on Earth did you get that? Read what I said again, please. Are you going to have any actual evidence, or aren't you?
    Now that is an ad hominem attack if i ever heard one... or maybe an ad homonid attack
    I'll give you credit for the pun, but the logic was awful. You are actually accusing me of an ad hominem attack based on something that is not ever remotely close to anything I ever said. Stick to my words, you don't need to change them unless you cannot argue against them.
    3. You have not explained your foolproof, logical escape from your solipsism.
    Nothing I said is solipsism. I just don't think you can understand, the realist veil forces you to miss everything I'm saying. I just presented an argument, with actual evidence. You just changed everything I said so you could object to it That's just a fact, it's what just happened. If you can't see that, how can you imagine you understand reality as it actually is?
    4. Can you explain to me how an infinity of nested 'models' ('theories'?) can explain anything?
    Who said anything about an infinity of models? You are talking nonsense. If you want to understand how models explain things, I recommend you study the scientific method.
    In addition, given you feel scientific theories never get closer to any underlying reality.. surely the 'errors' of an inaccurate model (of an inaccurate model (of an inaccurate model ))) would multiply? Why should these models be infinite in only 1 direction?
    I've no idea where you get this "infinity" from, I never said anything like that. But it's obvious that one can lay out any set of models in a string from less to more accurate. So what else do you think you're asking here?
    5. I still don't think you have addressed this issue of circularity in your arguments:

    The circular reasoning that our models are successful only because we choose models that are successful (and not because they partially - e.g. mathematically..map to an external reality) does not convince me.
    If you think that's circular logic, there's not much I can say, other than that it reminds me of the claim that Darwinian evolution is circular reasoning, because "survival of the fittest" means that whatever survives is what we call the fittest. All I can say is, it represents a complete lack of understanding of what an explanation is.
    Why is this scientific theory good/predictive/has explanatory power? Because if it wasn't we wouldn't call it a good scientific theory.
    Why did humans evolve to become intelligent? Because the ones that didn't, didn't survive. Circular logic? No. Apparently humans did not evolve to understand what circular logic actually is!
    Last edited by Ken G; 2017-Oct-25 at 01:26 PM.

  5. #65
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck View Post
    Isn't the only alternative just having everything that I perceive magically appear in my mind without cause? After all, if there is a cause that I don't know about then that cause isn't in my mind so it must be external to it.
    Even cause and effect is an assumption. It's a model that explains a lot of experience. If the universe is predetermined clockwork, the cause is just the previous state. That's just another model. If we have genuine agency uniquely then we change the future on a whim which might not have a simple cause. If there are other invisible agencies, we get theism although there is no required reason why these agencies would care about us. You can assume a cause for your thoughts but it's impossible to test between various causes.
    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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    KenG... you have stated "Everyone knows evolution occurs via random chance." Really??????

    well, clearly this is not true and shows a total lack of understanding of evolution by natural selection.

    certainly there is some 'randomness' in the underlying mutation although if one has ever read anything in the biological sciences one would know this is in no way 'random' as a mathematician would understand it.

    due to changing environmental conditions, traits are selected in a totally non-random way.

    can you clarify what you mean?
    Last edited by plant; 2017-Oct-25 at 01:45 PM.
    "It's only a model....?" :-)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3dZl3yfGpc

  7. #67
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    In any case, the original thread of this post was to discuss the idea of the 'no miracles' argument for scientific realism.
    Now clearly, Keng, you are not a fan of scientific realism hence there probably isn't much more you can contribute to this discussion... except to keep saying "it's all models, made in my mind". Maybe so.
    I was hoping we could 'accept for the sake of argument' for the purposes of this thread what i would call a moderate scientific realist position that our scientifc theories are approximately correct because they do in some way, map on to an external reality.
    I was hoping to explore some thoughts for/against however this thread seems to have been hijacked (i really do mean that in a nice way) by an anti-realist meta-discussion which shut down the discussion before it ever began.
    "It's only a model....?" :-)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3dZl3yfGpc

  8. #68
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    Quote Originally Posted by plant View Post
    as i understand it (and it is quite possible that i have not understood correctly- but honestly i am trying), KenG's 'models model' requires one to accept (believe? prove?) the following as a default position:
    Generally speaking, you can tell when you have not understood when you have either changed what I said, or taken it and applied fallacious reasoning to it. I'll show you:
    1. One must embrace radical skepticism.. but yet not take it to its logical conclusion of solipsism.
    I have indeed advocated embracing skepticism, and said why. Your fallacy is to claim that solipsism is a "logical conclusion". Solipsism involves redefinition of the term "know" to become something that is impossible to do. I said quite explicitly, in black and white above, why I don't see any point in defining our word "know" to mean something we cannot do, because it seems to preclude "scientific knowledge." So what I said above is that, instead, we should define knowledge to be something we can actually acquire, banishing belief without evidence from the sphere of knowledge. So if you stick to what I actually say, you see I made it intentionally obvious that solipsism is not its "logical conclusion."
    2. One must accept the idea that all future scientific theories will be replaced- despite the fact that this 'pessimistic meta-induction' is based on induction.
    Again, you will note above where I explicitly said that if humans go extinct, we will cease to replace our scientific theories. So your claim is fallacious. However, it is quite a basic aspect of the scientific method to expect that they will require replacing, as this is what motivates scientific discovery. The alternative, to expect they won't, is the death of scientific inquiry, and falls into the error of dogma, as any scientist should know. Sadly, it's a constant challenge to think scientifically-- when the human animal is so predisposed to dogmatic faith.
    3. One must accept that no successive scientific theories will resemble each other in any way - e.g. mathematically, despite for example newton and einstein giving approximately similar results at low velocities.
    The strawman fallacy in that logic is so obvious I don't even need to point it out. Certainly I never said any such thing, so it's yet another example of needing to change what I say in order to be able to object to it. Why do you find that so necessary? Because you have no argument otherwise?
    4. One must accept the idea that a model can be a model without it actually being a model of anything.
    This is obviously true. One can apply models just fine without that added language, it demonstrably adds nothing to our ability to use and test models.
    5. One must accept that models are just models of models etc ad infinitum without ever correlating in any way to some deeper level of what a realist would call 'reality'
    The "ad infinitum" comes from you, actually we have only a finite list of models at our disposal, obviously. But yes, one can accept what you just said and be scientific because that's what is testable, or one can add personal beliefs and no longer be scientific because they are not, that's just how science works.
    6. One must accept that an infinite number of nested explanations/models does actually provide some explanation.
    Models provide explanations, that should really be obvious if you understand what an explanation is.
    7. One must accept the circular argument that these models of models are good scientific theories only because if they weren't good- we couldn't call them scientific theories.
    Your fallacy, not mine. What I said is that models are good theories if they agree with observations and convey a sense of understanding. Which they do, without believing they are models "of" anything other than other models. This is simply a fact, one can use models in exactly the same way in the manner I just said, and no one has provided a shred of evidence to the contrary. Will they? My best models predict: no.
    8. One accepts that the universe will continue even if all minds within it are extinguished- even though this is not a 'scientific' theory as it can never be falsified.
    The reason we accept that scientific theory is the same as usual: it explains the baby's experience playing "peek-a-boo." Pretty much the first theory, actually, no puzzle there at all.
    9. One must accept that the 'scientific method' is preferred over religious belief even though, to a religious person- their own belief-structure-models may provide more utility to them.
    Where did I say the scientific method is preferred to choosing beliefs? Go ahead, scan all my posts, I dare you. And stop making stuff up! Again: all I ever ask the realist to do is notice they are choosing personal beliefs that has no connection with doing science and does not change or improve any scientific theory. If they admit that, my work is done.
    10. One must accept the fact we can never know anything at all about what a realist would call 'reality'. Even qualia such as 'redness' -which a realist would say exist only within a mind - may actually be a feature of the universe.
    Let's fix this into something that at least resembles what I said. I have no more interest in what a realist calls "reality" than what a religious faith calls god, that's up to them. So let's remove that irrelevant part of what you just said, so it becomes "we can never know anything at all about reality." Now it's only completely wrong for two reasons, instead of three. The first is what I said already: you are claiming the scientist must define the term "know," and the related concept of "knowledge", such that he/she cannot do it or have it. That would be silly. What the scientist actually must do is find a meaning for these words that is actually consistent with the scientific method, as I explained above. Hint: realists don't do that, and "structural" realists have noticed that, so they bend over backward to pretend they are, without actually doing it. The second wrong thing in how you framed it is that you are requiring we use the realist version of the "reality" concept, which is quite unrealistic. The scientific version is much more realistic: what the scientist means by reality is a model, and you can tell because we add modifiers to it to generate other models like "external reality" and "objective reality", and so on. The existence of modifiers like that should have made it really obvious that "reality" is a model, but the message didn't get across to realists, and that's why realists invariably do not agree on which reality they are being realist about, as I pointed out above (and no counterargument was forthcoming, yet again).

    So if we correct those three errors in what you just said it becomes:
    10) We must accept (if we respond to evidence) that the knowledge we acquire and use to hone the model we call reality is based on constant testing, a process that does not end and is not supposed to end, and we can use these ever-improving models to acquire an ever-advancing understanding of a constantly-changing model we call "reality," without ever needing to enter into the personal faith that this "reality" is the way things actually are, in some absolute sense that ignores every part of the beginning of this sentence. We may choose to enter into this personal faith if we find subjective value in that choice, but we should not kid ourselves that we are doing anything else, and we should certainly not claim that this choice is an example of scientific thinking.
    Last edited by Ken G; 2017-Oct-25 at 02:09 PM.

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    ... and no i don't think that circular arguments are good arguments...
    are you telling me you are a fan of the anthropic principle as an explanation for anything?
    or are only certain circular arguments 'kosher'?

    why does the universe have such and such properties?
    because if it did not, we wouldn't be here to ask the question.

    how is that circularity any different to the view that ....our best scientific theories are approximately correct, because if they weren't, we wouldn't call them scientific theories?
    "It's only a model....?" :-)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3dZl3yfGpc

  10. #70
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    Quote Originally Posted by plant View Post
    In any case, the original thread of this post was to discuss the idea of the 'no miracles' argument for scientific realism.
    Now clearly, Keng, you are not a fan of scientific realism hence there probably isn't much more you can contribute to this discussion...
    Another logical fallacy. Unbelievably, you are actually claiming that if someone is not a "fan" of realism in the context of science ("scientific realism" is an oxymoron, but there can be realism applied to science), then they cannot present logical arguments that show why realism is the acceptance of miracles, not the rejection of them. Yet I have shown your syllogism is false, by being no fan of realism, and also presenting logical arguments that realism at its core involves the embracing of a miracle: the miracle that when great apes evolved to have increased intelligence, they acquired the ability to no longer make models, but instead to know reality very close to how it actually is. To maintain belief in that miracle, one must intentionally ignore:
    1) that superintelligent aliens whose minds evolved way past our own could look at our understanding of reality the way we look at the family dog's,
    2) that the entire history of science has been to arrive at theories that seemed so profound and so accurate that they were commonly accepted as the absolute truth right up until they were falsified and replaced by conceptually vastly different theories, which then seemed so profound and so accurate that they were commonly accepted as the absolute truth, and
    3) that the process of doing science always involves being skeptical of what you already know, allowing you to acquire what you regard as "knowledge" that is "true" in a relative and conditional, but not absolute, sense.
    I was hoping to explore some thoughts for/against however this thread seems to have been hijacked (i really do mean that in a nice way) by an anti-realist meta-discussion which shut down the discussion before it ever began.
    It's a shame you regard the presenting of evidence that shows quite conclusively, and almost completely in the absence of countering evidence, that realism is not based on a "no miracles" argument, as a "hijack" of a thread that asks if realism can base itself on the concept of "no miracles"! It sounds to me like your inability to support the initial thesis is causing you to take your ball and go home.
    Last edited by Ken G; 2017-Oct-25 at 02:20 PM.

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    1. how does solipsism redefine the word 'knowledge'? All i can see is you redefining the word knowledge when it suits your argument.
    2. your defense of induction is not particularly logical. Science gets better because that's what science does. (i am paraphrasing)
    9. my bad.. i thought you would preference the scientfic method over choosing religious beliefs. i thought it was implied in your previous statements.
    "It's only a model....?" :-)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3dZl3yfGpc

  12. #72
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    Quote Originally Posted by plant View Post
    ... and no i don't think that circular arguments are good arguments...
    You have no examples of circular arguments to point to, for I have made none. You have had to change my words every time. This should be regarded as a fact, all you have to do is look at what is written above, it's plain as day.
    are you telling me you are a fan of the anthropic principle as an explanation for anything?
    I think you are confused about what an "explanation" is. It involves using a model to that correctly predicts the data you are trying to explain, while unifying a number of disparate elements you might not have seen the connections between without that explanation. What we call "understanding" is this same combination of predictive power with the connection to things we feel we already understand. So the anthropic principle is certainly an explanation, just not the one people sometimes think it is. The anthropic principle is included in the requirement that every law of physics we discover must be consistent with what we already know, and we already know we are here. That is an explanation of why laws of physics are consistent with our being here, but it is a very simple one, it stems directly from the process we use to identify laws. It is the realists that turn the anthropic principle into a problem: they say that there is a "fine tuning problem" because how would the laws know to allow us to be here? The nonrealist has no trouble at all with this, because the nonrealist regards the laws as creations of our minds, so obviously we had to be here to do that. Another irony-- you think the anthropic principle is fallacious logic, but if you drop your realism, you see it is trivial logic.
    why does the universe have such and such properties?
    You think realism gives an answer to that? No, it doesn't.
    how is that circularity any different to the view that ....our best scientific theories are approximately correct, because if they weren't, we wouldn't call them scientific theories?
    The anthropic principle is trivial, and correct. Somehow you equate "trivial" with "wrong," that's quite a feat!

  13. #73
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    Quote Originally Posted by plant View Post
    1. how does solipsism redefine the word 'knowledge'?
    You are still not listening. Solipsism doesn't redefine "knowledge," that's what's wrong with it. It is science that redefines knowledge. That should be obvious: science defines knowledge as the output of the scientific method and calls it "scientific knowledge." This is a science forum, for crying out loud, I shouldn't even have to say this!
    All i can see is you redefining the word knowledge when it suits your argument.
    Well, if by defining knowledge the way science does, I am "suiting" my argument, all I can say is, yes, exactly.

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    you also are yet to explain your odd 'ideas about evolution being random 'as everybody knows'.

    and since when is 'as everybody knows' a good logical argument?
    Last edited by plant; 2017-Oct-25 at 02:54 PM.
    "It's only a model....?" :-)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3dZl3yfGpc

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    Is there any way to tell the difference between science and miracles? If I repeat either someone else's experiment or a previous experiment of my own and get the same results, how do I know that those past experiments were really done? It could be that doing an experiment not only produces the immediate results but changes my mental model to include a consistent past. If it does, my next test might produce wildly different results but I'd still see them as consistent with past results, just as I do now. Is there any way to test this, or is the effectiveness of science just one more untestable belief among many?

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    Quote Originally Posted by plant View Post
    you also are yet to explain your odd 'ideas about evolution being random 'as everybody knows'.
    Yes, everybody knows that evolution is a random process. It's called genetics. The result of the random mixture of genes is subjected to a host of environmental selection effects to determine which genes successfully propagate. It's quite complicated, a lot is understood, a lot isn't. But I have no idea what aspect of that well-known situation you think is either controversial or relevant to your realist belief system.
    and since when is 'as everybody knows' a good logical argument?
    When there isn't time to teach you evolution.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck View Post
    Is there any way to tell the difference between science and miracles? If I repeat either someone else's experiment or a previous experiment of my own and get the same results, how do I know that those past experiments were really done?
    This relates to what I was saying about about the scientific meaning of "knowing." You have to start with that before your question can be answered. The upshot is, if you use some scientifically irrelevant meaning like "could not possibly be wrong about", then the answer is always you can't know anything, and there is no such thing as knowledge that isn't self-deception. Since that's a scientifically useless meaning of "knowing" and "knowledge," we don't use it. Instead, we mean "it is the best tested model we have, which has given good results in the past." One of the models that has given good results in the past is the model that says the past exists, and another is to expect to get good results in the future. That's it, there's nothing more than that to "knowing" in the scientific sense.
    It could be that doing an experiment not only produces the immediate results but changes my mental model to include a consistent past.
    Certainly that model might prove useful someday. The issue is, has it proved useful yet? Apparently not, which is why no one uses it.
    Is there any way to test this, or is the effectiveness of science just one more untestable belief among many?
    If one mischaracterizes science completely, one might think that "belief in science" is some kind of necessary assumption. It is not. Science is not a belief, it is a choice. A belief is what we hold to be true because we wish to, but we cannot produce evidence to support it. Science is the choice to follow the evidence. That's it, it's a choice, you don't have to "believe in" science, you either make the choice to follow the evidence, or you do not make that choice. The evidence says that choosing science gives you the best chance of success. You still have to choose to follow the evidence-- or not. But you never have to "believe in evidence," expressly because what you believe is found to have little bearing on the outcome of your choice.

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    What counts as evidence? How do we tell which models have been tested in the past? How do we know what the results were if something was tested? All we have are our current memories and models. How do we test them for accuracy? Do we just assume accuracy without evidence? Do we say that our memories are accurate because we currently have memories of memories being accurate?

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    Quote Originally Posted by plant View Post
    KenG... you have stated "Everyone knows evolution occurs via random chance." Really??????

    well, clearly this is not true and shows a total lack of understanding of evolution by natural selection.

    certainly there is some 'randomness' in the underlying mutation although if one has ever read anything in the biological sciences one would know this is in no way 'random' as a mathematician would understand it.

    due to changing environmental conditions, traits are selected in a totally non-random way.

    can you clarify what you mean?
    sorry but the variation in DNA is random, then some changes confer the ability or luck to reproduce etc. That is the normal explanation of evolution. If there were no random changes, evolution would stop .
    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 Chuck View Post
    What counts as evidence? How do we tell which models have been tested in the past? How do we know what the results were if something was tested? All we have are our current memories and models. How do we test them for accuracy? Do we just assume accuracy without evidence? Do we say that our memories are accurate because we currently have memories of memories being accurate?
    You are onto the right trail, we use consensus, but the answer to those tricky questions is that you cannot test, we assume our memories and history are evidence and we move on. That's why I call myself agnostic. If we are being played, we cannot test that.
    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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    How do we know that we have consensus? Our current memories might make it seem like we do but it seems that they can never be tested for accuracy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck View Post
    What counts as evidence?
    An important question indeed, and one that every scientific subfield spends quite a considerable amount of time (centuries?) wrestling with.
    How do we tell which models have been tested in the past?
    We consult the historical record. That's all part of choosing science.
    How do we know what the results were if something was tested?
    Same answer. Unless you are falling back into some impossible meaning of "know" that scientists don't use.
    All we have are our current memories and models.
    Correct, along with the considerable annals of papers and data archives that all sciences rely on constantly. And that's what we use to do science, our brains, our memories, and our archives. Like it or lump it, that's science.
    How do we test them for accuracy?
    Via experimental verification. Most sciences have a fairly good record of corroborating their key results. One possible exception is medical research-- there might be too much stress on new results and not enough on corroboration of old results, it's a pretty big problem in that subfield.
    Do we just assume accuracy without evidence?
    Nope, unless you take an equally impossible meaning for "evidence" as you do for "know."
    Do we say that our memories are accurate because we currently have memories of memories being accurate?
    Yes. Don't tell me you are another one who confuses the fallacy of circular reasoning with perfectly logical internally consistent reasoning? The fallacy of circular reasoning is actually the fallacy of hiding the use of an assumption or axiom in a proof and claiming that it stems from the other assumptions in the proof. Internally consistent reasoning is simply using the same axioms consistently throughout. Please notice the difference! The scientist does not conclude that historical records count as evidence, the scientist uses historical records as evidence and finds that it works out well to do so. It's just consistent use of the scientific axioms. Science isn't all things to all people, and no one forces you to use it-- even Steve Jobs was allowed to seek alternative treatments for a cancer that science knows quite well how to treat. He was allowed to not choose science, and he was allowed to die for his choice. So it goes with science-- no one offered any logical proofs that Steve Jobs was killing himself, it was simply the demonstrated outcome.
    Last edited by Ken G; 2017-Oct-25 at 11:16 PM.

  23. #83
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    Can't a memory be consistent with current observation but still be incorrect?

  24. #84
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    Any model can be incorrect, even memory. The choice to use well-tested models is the choice to do science, that's all.

  25. #85
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    But we don't have access to the tests. We don't have access to the writings of others. All we have are our own current memories and mental models.

  26. #86
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    Actually, we have "access" to writings of others just as much as we have "access" to our own current memories, because those are just two different types of models we have access to, and that is how we use our own word "access". We have not found it particularly useful to distinguish them in any fundamental way-- our memories are slightly unreliable, written documents are slightly unreliable, and the combination of both is slightly unreliable also. Science is all about navigating slight unreliability, it's nothing new. Certainly none of this presents any fundamental difficulties for science, and if someone expected that they would some thousands of years ago, it seems they were wrong.
    Last edited by Ken G; 2017-Oct-26 at 03:22 AM.

  27. #87
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    I thought I had my own mental model of the writings of others, not their actual writings. And why think that the uncertainties are small? We can't compare our mental models with anything else to check them.

  28. #88
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    well thanks KenG for offering to kensplain evolution and genetics to me. I do have a background in biological sciences and have had a paper published in the Lancet on pharmacogenomics... so i don't think i will be needing your help. But to help you i offer this non-technical account which you should be able to understand:

    https://www.livescience.com/48103-ev...ot-random.html
    Last edited by plant; 2017-Oct-26 at 05:33 AM.
    "It's only a model....?" :-)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3dZl3yfGpc

  29. #89
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    Closed pending moderator discussion. I suggest partaking members take a few hours to cool down.

    plant, that was a particularly insulting post, and embarrassingly so because you are attacking a straw man. Ken says that the mutations that are the basis for change in DNA are random, and they are. The changes that are fixed in the genome in the selection process of evolution is most definitely not random, but again, that's not the part he's talking about. So, more reading, less insulting, please. Infraction issued.

    Again, everyone please cool down, and if the post you are about to submit is an angry response, please consider waiting a few hours and see if you still feel the same urge to post it.

    Thread reopened.
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  30. #90
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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    That might mean you cannot imagine an alternative that you could believe in. But there are alternatives and it's really impossible to devise a test. I can understand that belief but I can't know if it's right.
    What other alternatives with a similar probability?

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