Particular facts from general laws.

How does science work? And what's all this about quantum mechanics?

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chaz wyman
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Re: Particular facts from general laws.

Post by chaz wyman »

Notvacka wrote:
Kuznetzova wrote:
Kuznetzova wrote:I happen to think Big Bang cosmology is flaky nonsense. Wonder if there are others. I expect philosophers should know the answers from science are dubious and flaky.
It's not nonsense. Big Bang cosmology describes the history of the universe in a way that is consistent with the observational data at hand. So far, so good. The problem is that the earliest universe, before inflation, as proposed by the theory, can't contain or express our natural laws, leaving scientists with the metaphysical question of why there are laws in the first place, and why we have these particular laws, rather than some other laws.

The multiverse is a metaphysical speculation, providing a possible answer, and as such it's philosophy, rather than science. There is nothing wrong with Big Bang cosmology, you just need to observe what part of the theory is actual science and what part is metaphysics.
In a very important sense, there was nothing wrong with any of the historical of cosmologies, as they all were consistent with the observations as far as they went. There have been times where improvements have been made and old cosmologies set aside in favour of new one. Ands there have been times when alternative cosmologies offered that fit the observations or saved the appearances less than the foregoing.

For example Copernicus' system was much less efficient than Ptolemy's, adding over a dozen more epicycles to account for the anomalies that moving the sun to the centre of the universe caused, as he demanded perfect Aristotelian circles.
An alternate system which placed the inner planets around the sun whilst keeping the sun going round the earth helped a little was offered, but it was not until Kepler thought up ellipses that things got easier with the sun in the middle. But even Kepler was hampered with his obsession with Platonic solids which he had to set aside.

What we learn from, the process ought to be that any given cosmology is designed not only to 'save the appearances', but also to respect prevailing assumptions as much as possible. One major reason that the atheistic Hoyle resisted the BB in favour of the Steady State hypothesis, is the fact that he thought it more attractive to Christians.

The upshot of all this is that we ought to accept that for any given moment in history the prevailing cosmology is only a contingency based on the accommodation of observations, and an interpretation that respects the prevailing assumptions about the nature of the universe - both of which can change invalidating that cosmology.
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Kuznetzova
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Re: Particular facts from general laws.

Post by Kuznetzova »

The "philosophers" on this forum make these dry, non-committal musings about science and knowledge. When pressed with the tough questions, they squeal the words "Religion!" and/or "God!" as if to terminate the conversation long enough to scamper away with their tail between their legs.

Meanwhile, the physicists and cosmologists run around in public, declaring (with an arrogant impunity) that the particulars of our universe originate from "quantum fluctuations". They further assert that all the laws and constants of our universe are arbitrary, random selections from a random point in a so-called multiverse.

And not a single "philosopher" here has the chutzpah nor the intellectual acumen to challenge them. It's sad. It really is.
chaz wyman
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Re: Particular facts from general laws.

Post by chaz wyman »

Kuznetzova wrote:The "philosophers" on this forum make these dry, non-committal musings about science and knowledge. When pressed with the tough questions, they squeal the words "Religion!" and/or "God!" as if to terminate the conversation long enough to scamper away with their tail between their legs.

Meanwhile, the physicists and cosmologists run around in public, declaring (with an arrogant impunity) that the particulars of our universe originate from "quantum fluctuations". They further assert that all the laws and constants of our universe are arbitrary, random selections from a random point in a so-called multiverse.

And not a single "philosopher" here has the chutzpah nor the intellectual acumen to challenge them. It's sad. It really is.
Perhaps you need to find a Forum which best suits you. One that accepts complete ignorance of human history and philosophy for example?
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Notvacka
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Re: Particular facts from general laws.

Post by Notvacka »

Kuznetzova wrote:The "philosophers" on this forum make these dry, non-committal musings about science and knowledge. When pressed with the tough questions, they squeal the words "Religion!" and/or "God!" as if to terminate the conversation long enough to scamper away with their tail between their legs.

Meanwhile, the physicists and cosmologists run around in public, declaring (with an arrogant impunity) that the particulars of our universe originate from "quantum fluctuations". They further assert that all the laws and constants of our universe are arbitrary, random selections from a random point in a so-called multiverse.

And not a single "philosopher" here has the chutzpah nor the intellectual acumen to challenge them. It's sad. It really is.
Actually, I prefer (my notion of) God to the Multiverse myslef. However, God is hardly a scientific answer. So, what are you upset about? That scientists speculate about things beyond the measurable? Where do you encounter this "arrogant impunity" anyway? Asserting that the laws and constants of our universe are arbitrary is a default position, since the alternative would be teleological. The Multiverse is a scientific metaphysical speculation, while God is a religious metaphysical speculation. There is no knowledge to be had.
Felasco
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Re: Particular facts from general laws.

Post by Felasco »

Kuznetzova wrote:And not a single "philosopher" here has the chutzpah nor the intellectual acumen to challenge them. It's sad. It really is.
On a science forum, I had the privilege of a long discussion with a physics expert who works at the Fermi Lab.

His posts kept making the point that there is no god, that reality is merely the function of random mechanical forces etc.

When I challenged his ability to know such a thing, he got exasperated and declared he would not be dragged in to a theological argument, as if I was hijacking his science thread with religion. :-)

His authority on the subject of physics was impressive and unquestionable, and he was a good guy, but when he ventured beyond his area of expertise he quickly got in to trouble, such as not grasping that a claim there is no god is actually a theological argument.

It was interesting, because his faith in the random mechanical forces theory was so complete that he mistook this theory to be an obvious fact, much like those who feel it's self evident that the Bible contains the final answer to every question.

I had the chutzpah to challenge a physics expert on a science forum, and I believe the intellectual acumen to address the theological issues he was raising, but they banned me anyway. :-) The experience was very similar to being banned from the leading Catholic forum for challenging that group consensus.

Philosophy is sort of a unique endeavor, where challenging is not only welcomed, but considered essential.

In most other arenas, people like to claim they are doing philosophy, but what they're really doing is gathering with like minded people to validate their belief systems, give each other pats on the back, proclaim their group's superiority to other groups etc.
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Kuznetzova
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Re: Particular facts from general laws.

Post by Kuznetzova »

Felasco wrote: When I challenged his ability to know such a thing, he got exasperated and declared he would not be dragged in to a theological argument, as if I was hijacking his science thread with religion. :-)
Thank you for posting in this thread, Felasco. Your response is like a breath of clean cool fresh air.
And thank you for challenging the scientists on this issue.

I will point out that you did not mention any god, any "God", or any teleology, but merely pressed him with: "How do you know that?" I bet he did more than get exasperated. I would bet he locked up, blue-screened, and core dumped on you. That you were later banned from the forum indicates this is probably true.

His posts kept making the point that there is no god, that reality is merely the function of random mechanical forces etc.

When I challenged his ability to know such a thing, he got exasperated and declared he would not be dragged in to a theological argument, as if I was hijacking his science thread with religion. :-)
YES!

It was interesting, because his faith in the random mechanical forces theory was so complete that he mistook this theory to be an obvious fact, much like those who feel it's self evident that the Bible contains the final answer to every question.
Absolutely.
Philosophy is sort of a unique endeavor, where challenging is not only welcomed, but considered essential.
"Shut up and stop asking me hard questions!"

In most other arenas, people like to claim they are doing philosophy, but what they're really doing is gathering with like minded people to validate their belief systems, give each other pats on the back, proclaim their group's superiority to other groups etc.
Beautiful, Felasco. Beautiful.
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Kuznetzova
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Re: Particular facts from general laws.

Post by Kuznetzova »

So what can we conclude about this topic? That we have atheistic scientists running around and declaring something to be true because any alternative would makes them uncomfortable? "The alternative makes me uncomfortable, so I will dismiss it and anyone who keeps asking me for the basis of my knowledge will be ostracized and banned from my presence" What is that called? "Argumentum ad Discomfortum"?

I will re-direct the reader's of this thread back to its original title. Namely, Particular facts from general laws. The question before us philosophers, is how can particular facts ever be embodied or "come-to-exist" or "originate" in a universe which is run completely be symmetrical and mathematical law?

There is no room in that situation, or realm-of-existence, or universe-spatial-extension, for the origin nor the emergence of any particulars. Particulars are the asymmetric clumping of early galaxies. In other words, something somewhere broke symmetry. If our universe was completely symmetrical, lacking any particulars, and lacking all irregularities, all virtual particles would re-combine and annihilate each other back into the non-existence from which they sprang. They did not. Something or someone broke ranks. Many many virtual particles did not re-combine and annihilate. Why? What's the deal there?

The scientists play it off as "quantum fluctuations", adding, if I may say so , a deus ex machina into the early universe. When pressed for the origin of these particular fluctuations, they backslide once again, declaring that all six rolls of quantum dice must come up in the quantum multiverse. All possible initial fluctuations take place in a quantum multiverse. When you roll a die, all six results happen in some universe, because the universe splits every time a random event takes place.

Philosophers, being philosophers, should immediately recognize that the scientist is playing a sort of silly semantic game here. It is the same sort of silly game that is invoked when pressed to explain the paradoxes of time travel. So the scientists say whenever a time traveller tunnels, the universe splits into two branches, with the year containing the time traveller and the year which took place without him being there.

That something broke ranks in the early universe cannot be denied. Look around you. You are sitting in a room existing in a universe with particulars. A stable universe with stable laws. The objects in the room around you are in a particular configuration. Trace the causes and effects back to the beginning.

What was the source of these particulars? Be a real philosopher and face this question head on. Do not dodge it. Do not flee from it with quantum arm-waving. Face it. Discuss it.
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Kuznetzova
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Re: Particular facts from general laws.

Post by Kuznetzova »

Kuznetzova: Why does the universe contain clumpiness in certain parts and not others?

Max Tegmark: Because when the universe was very small, there were quantum fluctuations. After a period of rapid inflation, those irregularities were stretched to enormous distances.

Kuznetzova: What was fluctuating?

Max Tegmark: A quantum field.

Kuznetzova: A quantum field was fluctuating?

Max Tegmark: Yes.

Kuznetzova: Why was it fluctuating?

Max Tegmark: Our universe has four dimensions, three spatial and one of time. So the quantum fields fluctuate here.

Kuznetzova: But why does our universe have four dimensions and filled up with a quantum field? Why a quantum field?

Max Tegmark: Because all structures that exist mathematically also exist physically.

Kuznetzova: Sorry, could you repeat your answer again? I couldn't hear you over the sound of my Bullshit Alarm going off.
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Notvacka
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Re: Particular facts from general laws.

Post by Notvacka »

Kuznetzova wrote:I will re-direct the reader's of this thread back to its original title. Namely, Particular facts from general laws. The question before us philosophers, is how can particular facts ever be embodied or "come-to-exist" or "originate" in a universe which is run completely be symmetrical and mathematical law?
I will repeat my original answer then. You have it backwards. What's amazing is that the workings of the universe can indeed be described by general laws. Physics is about finding and formulating those laws. How come there are laws in the first place? That's the main metaphysical question.
Kuznetzova wrote:What was the source of these particulars? Be a real philosopher and face this question head on. Do not dodge it. Do not flee from it with quantum arm-waving. Face it. Discuss it.
There is no way to know! Is that head on enough for you? There is no knowledge to be had! Accept it! The Multiverse is a speculation based upon the assumption that we exist for no reason, while God is a speculation based upon the assumption that we exist for a reason. You choose.
Metazoan
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Re: Particular facts from general laws.

Post by Metazoan »

Hi Kuznetzova,

An interesting thread.

You propose a good question and then the most plausible answer that we currently have.

You then rage against this answer using all the logical fallacies and dodgy rhetoric that you can.

It is difficult for me to come to any other conclusion that this is the very answer you subconsciously believe but cannot consciously accept. (I'm 99% sure of this ;-))

No one is taking up the challenge because you are the multiverse's biggest proponent in this thread.
Kuznetzova wrote:Max Tegmark: Because all structures that exist mathematically also exist physically.

Kuznetzova: Sorry, could you repeat your answer again? I couldn't hear you over the sound of my Bullshit Alarm going off.
No, that was your cognitive dissonance alarm going off.

Is this the Max Tegmark you are misquoting and taking out of context? http://arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/9704009v2
Max Tegmark wrote:The only postulate in this theory is that all structures that exist mathematically exist also physically, by which we mean that in those complex enough to contain self-aware substructures (SASs), these SASs will subjectively perceive themselves as existing in a physically "real" world.
I just had a glance at wiki and I think this is the tee shirt guy, I didn't realise. Hey Max, I think the answer can't be printed because the tee shirt needs to be blank.

Like Max is going to be reading this :-)
Metazoan
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Re: Particular facts from general laws.

Post by Metazoan »

Hi Notvacka,

I have been fascinated by the stuff you have been writing on consciousness. In particular these bits (grabbed from other threads as well):-
Notvacka wrote: The Multiverse is a speculation based upon the assumption that we exist for no reason, while God is a speculation based upon the assumption that we exist for a reason.
To me this is backwards. The multiverse is a consequence of reason and deduction, and God is, by most (loudest) people's definition, an irrational concept.

Should I read you as meaning 'purpose'?

If that is the case, I think there would be a purpose in both cases.
Notvacka wrote:There is no knowledge to be had! Accept it!
I will not argue with this as I am an agnostic, but surely, if consciousness ever becomes logically decidable then that will be enough. Once you push God outside of this circle, whether she exists or not will become irrelevant. You will exist and be unreachable by any actual God.
Notvacka wrote:Actually, I prefer (my notion of) God to the Multiverse myslef.
If you push the exploration of consciousness too far, are you not afraid that you may have to sacrifice your notion of God? There is no 'Philosophy of Philosophy' section here, but are you sure what would happen if you actually find an answer?

Do you really want to take a bite from that apple? What if paradise was simply ignorance? But, of course, you can't know that until you take a bite ;-)

And when you do take a bite you see that you had no choice, you were always going to take that bite.
Notvacka wrote: It's already perfectly possible to philosophically conclude that there is some phyhsical process behind consciousness.
I lost my ability to be a realist some years ago, not that I think I will ever make it back to the real world but I would be interested to hear you expand on this.
Notvacka wrote: Anyway, a complete, scientific, reductionist explanation of consciousness still wouldn't explain consciousness as it is, as experienced from within itself, that is.
This has to be the quote of the year for me.

Have you thought about how you would even start on this one? It's a bit like newspeak to me, I don't have the means to begin to express such concepts.

My reductionist view of existence is simply: nothing = everything. Or everything = nothing if you prefer.

This helps not a jot as far as comprehension is concerned.

What tools do we need to develop to make such concepts accessible?

The only one that has helped me so far is a vegetable.

Oh, and Seurat, of course.
Metazoan
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Re: Particular facts from general laws.

Post by Metazoan »

Hi Chaz,

While I was here I thought I would say congratulations.
chaz wyman
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Re: Particular facts from general laws.

Post by chaz wyman »

Metazoan wrote:Hi Chaz,

While I was here I thought I would say congratulations.
You are the only one who noticed, so far.
I've been trying for that accolade for quite a while - must have far too much time on my hands.
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Notvacka
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Re: Particular facts from general laws.

Post by Notvacka »

Hi, Metazoan,
Metazoan wrote:
Notvacka wrote: The Multiverse is a speculation based upon the assumption that we exist for no reason, while God is a speculation based upon the assumption that we exist for a reason.
To me this is backwards. The multiverse is a consequence of reason and deduction, and God is, by most (loudest) people's definition, an irrational concept.)

Should I read you as meaning 'purpose'?
Yes, "reason" means "purpose" in this context.

As for backwards, if I understand you right, yes, the multiverse is a (pretty much foregone) conclusion, indeed reached through reason and deduction, after assuming that there is no reason (purpose) behind our existence. (Teleology being anathema to the scientific approach.)

God (vaguely defined) is not an irrational concept, but a (pretty much foregone) conclusion, easily reached through reason and deduction after assuming that there must be some reason (purpose) behind our existence. (Teleology being essential to the religious approach.)
Metazoan wrote:If that is the case, I think there would be a purpose in both cases.
Where do you find purpose in the multiverse?
Metazoan wrote:I will not argue with this as I am an agnostic, but surely, if consciousness ever becomes logically decidable then that will be enough. Once you push God outside of this circle, whether she exists or not will become irrelevant. You will exist and be unreachable by any actual God.
I'm not at all certain that I understand what you mean here, but I don't think "logically decidable" is the sledgehammer you perceive it to be. Any logic is subject to its axioms to begin with, and if a reductionist explanation of (human) consciusness would ever become available, making creation of an artificial consciousness possible, it would still not be logically decidable in an absolute sense.
Metazoan wrote:If you push the exploration of consciousness too far, are you not afraid that you may have to sacrifice your notion of God? There is no 'Philosophy of Philosophy' section here, but are you sure what would happen if you actually find an answer?
Again, I'm not certain that I understand what you mean. Of course I'm not sure what would happen if I actually found an answer. (Not being sure what kind of answer you imply, or even exactly what question you refer to.) As a general agnostic, I'm pretty certain about being uncertain. :)
Metazoan wrote:And when you do take a bite you see that you had no choice, you were always going to take that bite.
I don't believe choices exist in reality; I see no difference between predetermination and postdetermination. Everything that is determined at some point is determined.
Metazoan wrote:
Notvacka wrote: It's already perfectly possible to philosophically conclude that there is some phyhsical process behind consciousness.
I lost my ability to be a realist some years ago, not that I think I will ever make it back to the real world but I would be interested to hear you expand on this.
Unfortunately, the "philosophical conclusion" I describe as "perfectly possible" is little more than a concession to the implied premises of the discussion at hand. Unless there is some physical process behind (human) consciousness, I see no hope of ever, even in theory, reaching a reductionist explanation of it. Being certainly uncertain about what that process is, and not really being a realist myself, I'd go for something even more vague, like, consciousness has something to do with processes in the brain. Sorry.
Metazoan wrote:
Notvacka wrote: Anyway, a complete, scientific, reductionist explanation of consciousness still wouldn't explain consciousness as it is, as experienced from within itself, that is.
This has to be the quote of the year for me.
Happy to provide. :) 8)
Metazoan wrote:Have you thought about how you would even start on this one? It's a bit like newspeak to me, I don't have the means to begin to express such concepts.
It simply means that we experience consciousness. We are conscious. That's how we know what consciousness is. From within. It's pure subjectivity. That's what consciousness is: A subjective experience. We can't observe consciousness from the outside. What we can observe is other beings (other humans) displaying what appears to be conscous behaviour.

At the very most, the scientific, reductionist method would allow us (in theory) to describe the workings of the brain in its finest detail, thus enabling us (again, very much in theory) to reproduce those processes artificially, at best creating something that would display what would seem like conscious behaviour to us.

While this would raise all sorts of philosophical (particularly ethical) issues, we still wouldn't know anything more about consciousness than we already do.
chaz wyman
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Re: Particular facts from general laws.

Post by chaz wyman »

Notvacka wrote: The Multiverse is a speculation based upon the assumption that we exist for no reason, while God is a speculation based upon the assumption that we exist for a reason.
.[/quote]

The Multiverse bears no conviction about purpose in any sense. It is designed to answer particular questions about hypothetical situations in QM.
God is a speculation based on a range of assumptions, not exclusively concerned with humans existing for a reason.
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