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Comment: Re:Scientific Belief (Score 1) 600 600

You seem to have some funny interpretations of the words "think" and "believe". This is hindering our ability to communicate with one another. For instance, I interpreted your first question as a petty insult. Thus, my answer might not make any sense, as I'm not entirely certain of the definitions you are using.

I was claiming that in Descartes "I think therefore I am" is not a fundamental belief, as you claimed, and tried to explain why. There is of course more: when I say "You don't think, do you?" strictly Cartesian answer would be that this is impossible, because he maintains that every human is endowed with thinking facilities. Belief is then in his scheme of things of secondary importance compared to thinking, as far as we are concerned with true knowledge of things. Which is different from your thoughts on the subject:

Ok. Now, my question to you is simply: do you believe in this or do you think that?

I would say that both thought and belief are fundamental in their own ways. If you have no thought, then you cannot reason how the world might behave, and therefore have nothing to believe in. If you have no belief... none whatsoever... then you cannot believe what your own senses tell you, and you have no foundation upon which to reason. This principle expands further to not being able to believe anything which might confirm or deny the results of your reasoning. Thus, a being without belief is unable to reason, and a being without reason lacks belief. That is what I think.

where, if I understand it at all, both belief and thought cannot do one without other. Now back to Descartes:

... one can believe in anything at all

There are a great many things out there that people believe in. Some exist in an absolute sense, while others do not. This is the quest of science, to ascertain the difference. There is no clear indication if this is a finite task.

In the Cartesian project this task would be endless.

(This is also why fiction such as The Matrix, or certain Star Trek episodes featuring the holodeck have such appeal. They ask us to re-examine our most basic beliefs, if only for a moment. If one can suspend disbelief in those contexts, anything is possible. In the context of fiction, that is quite desirable.)

In Matrix there is that pill-choice given, and the Cartesian way would be to choose going down the rabbit hole and figure out how the system works.

I hold, though, that all logic must be based upon fundamental axioms. If the axioms we choose are true, and our logic is sound, then we may deduce further truth. If our axioms are false, then we have no assurance that we will gain truth through reason. Any attempt to build a framework of reason that is not built upon axioms will either be tautological (hidden axioms), or self-contradictory. Thus correct belief with thought leads to further correct belief. No amount of thought will lead to truth if our core beliefs are wrong. That is what I believe.

Cartesian position is here much more radical: mathematics works regardless whether I believe [in] it or not, thus it is the way toward certainty.

Comment: Re:42 (Score 1) 600 600

As a programmer I laugh when people want to simply throw more hardware at a problem when software is really the key. I do agree that there is some point where simulation of large physical processes at an atomic level will be a reality, and not to far off.

But isn't it true that the current state-of-the-art scientific computations are driven primarily by the use of bigger and faster hardwer, not so much by the algorithmic development?

Comment: Re:42 (Score 1) 600 600

You can't get superfluid out of fermions, unless of course they first don't combine into bosons first.

Which makes it an emergent property. It is a property of the interaction between the fermions (Helium-3) and not a property of the fermions.

He3 is a bound state of electrons and nuclei, their mutual interaction, right? So He3 is an emergent phenomena.
Nuclei are then emergent phenomena of interaction of protons and neutrons; each proton is emergent phenomena
of interacting quarks and gluons, so, in short, since whenever you put things together they tend to interact,
the conclusion is that every thing is an emergent phenomena. Which is fine, except what's then scientific value
of the concept of emergent phenomena?

Comment: Re:Scientific Belief (Score 1) 600 600

What a witty retort. Care to elaborate, or was my statement merely uncomfortable?

You say that "I think therefore I am" is fundamental belief. Then you elaborate further
that there are all kinds of belief but eventually even the best founded scientific truths are
still deep down beliefs, certainly rational, practical, whatever, but beliefs nevertheless.

Ok. Now, my question to you is simply: do you believe in this or do you think that?

If you believe in all this, well then, my reply is that one can believe in anything at all.

If you think that, (and indeed it looks like it since you use argumentation, examples, etc),
so then, according to Descartes, thinking is fundamental, not belief, because even
if you think "absolutely everything without exception is belief"
there is still thinking that led you to say that, and therefore, "I think therefore I am"
cannot be belief at the most fundamental level.

Comment: Re:Scientific Belief (Score 1) 600 600

Belief is for those that lack knowledge.

Not so.

Start with fundamental belief. "I think, therefore I am." This is a rational belief, but it is only a belief. The universe would need to be extraordinarily weird for this one to not be true. But it is still a belief.

Every scientific "fact" is a belief. These are educated beliefs, based upon scientific principles, observations, and methods. Yet they are still beliefs. Various scientific beliefs are challenged and changed on a daily basis. Knowledge of what science says still requires belief in those ideas. Action based on these beliefs is still a form of faith, even if it is entirely non-religious.

This article itself is on the cutting edge of doubting particular scientific ideas. It is a weakened belief in the status quo, and an exploration of an alternate theory. That's how science works.

Science cannot be separated from belief. To do so becomes fanaticism or fiction, and ceases to be science.

You don't think, do you?

Comment: Re:I do believe in souls (Score 1) 600 600

The soul is a metaphor, not a physical object. So it exists, the way any other metaphor exists.

Correct. I.E. It doesn't, except as a story for the weak-minded who can't handle the truth.

Obligatory quote here is

I want the truth!
You can't handle the truth!

Comment: Re:Hold up. (Score 1) 600 600

A religious person is foolish for believing in something they can't see that doesn't help them consistently and accurately predict things they can observe.

Dude, observe this fact: belief, including religious, is not based on consistent and accurate prediction of observational facts.

Comment: Re:Hold up. (Score 1) 600 600

Considering that we have evolved all these different sensory organs to help us survive, I'm sure that if perceiving a 4th dimension granted any biological advantage at all, we would be able to perceive it. Sorry to be anthropic about it but my field is biology not physics, lol.

Descartes answered that one long time ago: we percieve it with the mind's eye.
Wait a minute, you ask, is it not this "eye" product of biological evolution as well?
I'm confused now. Or maybe you are.
Or is it just that this eye is not biological at all?

Comment: Re:Hold up. (Score 1) 600 600

It doesn't mean we live in a 27 dimension manifold.

Doesn't mean we don't. ;-)

All direct observations to date point to a 3D universe.

Ummm ... hang on a second. Won't any direct observation we make as 3D critters point to a 3D universe? Isn't that sort of inherent to us being only able to perceive 3D?

I'm not sure how we'd do any direct observations in any other dimensions. (Honestly, not a flame, I'm genuinely puzzled by how we could see anything else and every now and then something like this hurts my head)

First you'd have to explain what you mean by "direct" observation.
Generally, in physics there are no "direct" observations unless they are not at some point turned into
mathematical quantities. You mull then these quantities around, formulate models, then they, models
I mind you, not any "direct" observations, seem as if we live not in 3d space+time, but in 4d space-time, say.
You test models for things that must be true if your model is true, and find new things from the model.
Finally you conclude that your model is more accurate in describing things you see than what you "directly"
see. You then begin to see the world differently.

Comment: Re:42 (Score 1) 600 600

No it isn't. Another example of an emergent property is the super fluidity of liquid helium. It is a property of a system that is not a property of its components nor immediately obvious from the properties of those components, but that arises when a large number of those parts interact as a system.

Just because you don't understand a word does not make it technobabble. Jargon yes, babble no.

Isn't that just Bose-Einstein condensation, and has to do with very cool gas of weakly interacting
bosons that get localized in the momentum space and thus spread their positions?
So: superfluidity has something to do with boson nature of particles. You can't get superfluid out of
fermions, unless of course they first don't combine into bosons first.

Comment: Re:42 (Score 1) 600 600


Emergent properties are phenomena which are a product of the characteristics of the set of entities which are interacting with each other and the structure of that interaction.

Is then motion of planets around the sun according to Newton's laws an emergent phenomena?

A water molecule doesn't have a snowflake hiding in it, nor does it have some quality of "snowflakeness".

There is something akin to "snowflakeness" that every water molecule posesses, which is
that ~120 degree angle between O and two H's. That's important for snowflake shapes,
and there would have been no snowflakes as we know them if this angle were, say, 180 degrees.

Take a bunch of water molecules, have them interact with each other in the right environment, and you get snowflakes.

No technobabble needed.

So you won't say "snowflakeness", you'll say "emergence". That helps a lot.

The irony of your position is that if you accept that snowflakes are an emergent phenomena,
then this particular emergence might as well be called just that: snowflakeness of water.

Comment: Re:42 (Score 1) 600 600

[...] Your brain is a machine. It can be understood, decompiled, analyzed, improved and reimplemented. You're already an AI running on appropriate (and at some point in future becoming outdated) hardware.

Unless you believe in souls. Do you believe in souls?

So you believe in machines?

Comment: Re:Retraction != Fraud (Score 1) 229 229


Peer reviewers can't check everything, especially when the conclusion results from elaborate analysis of data from complex apparatus. Sometimes you detect bonehead mistakes, but usually your focus is more on clarity than correctness: do the authors explain their methods and reasoning in enough detail that someone else can repeat the research?

Yes, I agree with you here about referee's role, but not about authors role. It is necessary but not sufficient to explain methodology so anybody could repeat it. It is necessary also that if repeated the measurement from the paper, the same results are obtained. The one of many reasons is also so that other people do not have to repeat often expensive measurements.

But this is not fraud, and perhaps it's even healthy. Better to get crazy results out there than bury them in notebooks: sometimes they turn out to be major discoveries.

So for instance, when some not sufficiently checked results for medical treatments get published, you'd say that this is perhaps healthy?

Absolutely yes! It is the physician's responsibility to avoid basing treatments on results that haven't been independently confirmed. It is the researcher's responsibility to publish: how else will you get that independent confirmation?

In science there is no such thing as "independent confirmation". The whole point of publishing an academic scientific paper is to have an independently obtained results that are claimed in the paper. Imagine only that we have to "independently check" results obtained in particle accelerators.

Recall how the "neutrinos faster than speed of light" claim ended: not by imaginary independent checks but by finding the error in measurement, which, among other things, saved work and money of people to further the research in the direction that is now very likely would have led nowhere. If someone is still crazy enough to study speed of neutrinos in order to prove that they are faster than light and then finds that they are indeed faster than light, well that still would not make the previous measurements correct.
How about claims? Would that not confirm at least the claims of the former paper? Yes, but the science is not about claiming claims.

Other researchers need to know what they should attempt to confirm or falsify.

I disagree, and this has to do also with the referee's role: one of the reason the referees are not supposed to confirm or falsify results of the paper they refer is exactly because it is understood and expected that the authors have tried to do so themselves, to the extent that the field is requiring.

We're talking about the science of the journals here. This is raw "source code", checked to some degree, but not debugged. The debugging takes place in the community: if you don't publish, your results will never get properly debugged.

So from my responses so far now is hopefully crystal clear why your approach to doing science and the view of the role of scientific journals is not only non-scientific, but also socially dangerous.

Never say you know a man until you have divided an inheritance with him.