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Forum » SpaceEngine » Off-topic Discussions » Totally off-topic thread (Talk about anything.)
Totally off-topic thread
SpyroDate: Sunday, 14.04.2013, 12:51 | Message # 1066
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I know exactly how this conversation of speech is going to go:






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midtskogenDate: Sunday, 14.04.2013, 19:00 | Message # 1067
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There is a story, related by Herodotus, that pharaoh Psamtik (mid 7th century BC) wished to learn which of men were the first in this world. So he came up with an experiment to find the answer. He took two newborn babies and gave them to a shepherd with the instructions to feed them and to keep them isolated making sure that nobody would say a word in their presence. The shepherd should do so until one of them began to utter an intelligible word, and then the pharaoh was to be informed of what word it was.

The shepherd did as instructed and when two years had passed, one of the children repeatedly spoke "bekos". The pharaoh was informed and he then investigated what language would have such a word. And it turned out that "bekos" was Phrygian for "bread". The Egyptians then had to acknowledge that the Phrygians were the most ancient people, older than the Egyptians themselves.

The scientific method nearly 3000 years ago wasn't too bad, perhaps. I just see a couple of issues with the premises for the reasoning in the experiment. And possibly with the ethics.





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HarbingerDawnDate: Sunday, 14.04.2013, 19:15 | Message # 1068
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Quote (midtskogen)
The scientific method nearly 3000 years ago wasn't too bad, perhaps.

If your hypothesis relies on an undemonstrated premise to reach a conclusion, then that's pretty bad.





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midtskogenDate: Sunday, 14.04.2013, 19:26 | Message # 1069
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If your hypothesis relies on an undemonstrated premise to reach a conclusion, then that's pretty bad.

All hypotheses do. Those premises are called axioms.

At least the Egyptians used and respected science to settle a very political issue. To say in hindsight that the premises or methods were wrong is science too.





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HarbingerDawnDate: Sunday, 14.04.2013, 19:48 | Message # 1070
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To say in hindsight that the premises or methods were wrong is science too.

In what way is whether we are using scientific principles right now at all relevant to whether they were being fully employed in the case in question?

Quote (midtskogen)
All hypotheses do.

I hypothesize that you have no hair. That hypothesis does not seem to rely on any undemonstrated premise as a necessity for allowing a conclusion to be reached (unless you bring some really crazy stuff like solipsism into question).





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midtskogenDate: Sunday, 14.04.2013, 20:39 | Message # 1071
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In what way is whether we are using scientific principles right now at all relevant to whether they were being fully employed in the case in question?

Science and its principles evolve. I don't believe that there is a nature given set of right scientific principles that we of the modern age finally have discovered independently. Today's principles are built on the experience of former principles, and so will new principles of the future. And I regard this evolution as a scientific principle itself.

The observation that the pharaoh made was that a child who had never heard a spoken word said the Phrygian word for "bread". The premises or axioms that you need to conclude that Phrygians therefore were the first are most important, and it's already presupposed in the hypothesis itself, that there was a first man, that man isn't a result of evolution, a view that existed into the fairly recent history of science. Second, that language is congenital. Which might not be a silly assumption as it seems now if you already assume that man didn't evolve.

Quote (HarbingerDawn)
I hypothesize that you have no hair. That hypothesis does not seem to rely on any undemonstrated premise as a necessity for allowing a conclusion to be reached

You need some kind of observations to show that your hypothesis is right, and from those observation to reach a conclusion you will need premises. But even the hypothesis itself can presuppose things, like on the philosophical level that solipsism is false. The hypothesis also assumes that I am a living being capable of growing hair, not a computer program.





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HarbingerDawnDate: Sunday, 14.04.2013, 21:22 | Message # 1072
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But even the hypothesis itself can presuppose things, like on the philosophical level that solipsism is false.

For all practical purposes, solipsism should be treated as false unless it is proven true, and even then a very strong case could be made for treating it as false.

Quote (midtskogen)
The hypothesis also assumes that I am a living being capable of growing hair, not a computer program.

No it does not. The capacity of something to grow hair is not required in order assess whether that something has hair. My keyboard is incapable of growing hair, yet it has no hair. If you are a computer program, then you have no hair, and my hypothesis would be correct.

Quote (midtskogen)
I don't believe that there is a nature given set of right scientific principles that we of the modern age finally have discovered independently.

Nor do I.

Quote (midtskogen)
Today's principles are built on the experience of former principles, and so will new principles of the future.

Following this logic, you could follow the development of scientific ideology back to a point where hardly any rational person would call it "science", yet still make some strange argument that it really is such. We must assess how scientific something is by the principles of science as best as we understand them.

EDIT: Also, some principles of science are just obvious logical conclusions that anyone at any point in history could have deduced, so science does not necessary evolve to include every principle it has; it can happen within a single individual, at least to an extent. The evolution on science only affects the broader practice of science in society.

Quote (midtskogen)
The premises or axioms that you need to conclude that Phrygians therefore were the first are most important, and it's already presupposed in the hypothesis itself, that there was a first man, that man isn't a result of evolution, a view that existed into the fairly recent history of science. Second, that language is congenital. Which might not be a silly assumption as it seems now if you already assume that man didn't evolve.

It does not matter how "silly" or "sensible" the assumptions may have been to them. My point was that they made assumptions. They accepted that something was true - a great many somethings, which you have described - when none of those assumptions were actually demonstrated to be true. That is very contrary to the fundamental nature of true scientific investigation. Thus I argue that while they may have applied SOME methods of science in that story, overall it was pretty unscientific.





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Edited by HarbingerDawn - Sunday, 14.04.2013, 21:38
 
NovaSiliskoDate: Sunday, 14.04.2013, 21:25 | Message # 1073
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Only on this forum... tongue
 
HarbingerDawnDate: Sunday, 14.04.2013, 21:30 | Message # 1074
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Only on this forum...

Indeed, it's why I like this place smile





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DoctorOfSpaceDate: Sunday, 14.04.2013, 21:35 | Message # 1075
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Only on this forum..






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midtskogenDate: Sunday, 14.04.2013, 22:05 | Message # 1076
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If you are a computer program, then you have no hair, and my hypothesis would be correct.

And in order to conclude that, a premise is that computer programs can't grow hair. By definition or whatever. An axiom.

Quote (HarbingerDawn)
Following this logic, you could follow the development of scientific ideology back to a point where hardly any rational person would call it "science"

Ultimately, science and philosophy are the same, and philosophy goes back as far as man has been able to reason about his existence. Your definition of "science" might be more contemporary coloured than mine. Could we then follow your logic and say that sufficiently far into the future hardly any rational person would call what we have today "science"?

Quote (HarbingerDawn)
Thus I argue that while they may have applied SOME methods of science in that story, overall it was pretty unscientific.

If you feed a method with garbage, it just means that you get garbage out, not that the method is unscientific. The biggest problem with the method in this case, however, isn't that the premises were wrong (garbage). Much more that the result was far from statistically significant (just one child and the story doesn't say anything about the second child). By today's standards we can therefore call the method "unscientific", but not for the premises used for the conclusion.

Quote (NovaSilisko)
Only on this forum...

The topic on speech impediments and linguistic evolution reminded me of this story, and I wanted to share it since there might be many science minded people here. Quod erat demonstrandum.





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Edited by midtskogen - Sunday, 14.04.2013, 22:06
 
HarbingerDawnDate: Sunday, 14.04.2013, 22:52 | Message # 1077
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Quote (midtskogen)
And in order to conclude that, a premise is that computer programs can't grow hair.

Ok, then if you as a computer program can grow hair then my hypothesis would be proven false. The point is that I don't have to assume anything that has not been demonstrated in order to reach a conclusion, other than solipsism being false, which is an exceptional case.

Quote (midtskogen)
Could we then follow your logic and say that sufficiently far into the future hardly any rational person would call what we have today "science"?

It's certainly conceivable, though I can't say for sure without knowing what kind of further developments of principles and methods science is capable of making. And if science did radically change in the future and become a superior truth-seeking mechanism to what we have today, then I would not begrudge anyone in the future who decided that what we currently call science doesn't fully qualify as science.





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midtskogenDate: Monday, 15.04.2013, 07:53 | Message # 1078
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Your definition of "scientific hypothesis" seems to differ slightly with contemporary use, which is an educated guess, that a hypothesis needs to be backed up with substantial empirical evidence. It's not just any statement pulled out of thin air. On the other hand Newton wrote "hypotheses non fingo", and he seems to declare that "scientific hypothesis" is an oxymoron ("hypotheses in philosophia experimentali locum non habent")

Quote (HarbingerDawn)
For all practical purposes, solipsism should be treated as false unless it is proven true, and even then a very strong case could be made for treating it as false.

I think solipsism is a position that ultimately must be based on faith, and equally the position that it is false. In order to reason about anything at all, you need to start out with some things unproven, but in my view you can reason more and more interestingly from the position that solipsism is false.





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Edited by midtskogen - Monday, 15.04.2013, 07:59
 
HarbingerDawnDate: Monday, 15.04.2013, 08:06 | Message # 1079
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Quote (midtskogen)
Your definition of "scientific hypothesis" seems to differ slightly with contemporary use, which is an educated guess, that a hypothesis needs to be backed up with substantial empirical evidence.

In this case my hypothesis was a "common" one, not a "scientific" one. I guess I should have made that clear since we were talking in the context of scientific methodology. My bad. But it seems to me that there will be cases in which a hypothesis will have to be a shot in the dark with no particular reason to believe that it is true, so that seems scientifically valid to me as well, provided you don't make undemonstrated assumptions.

Quote (midtskogen)
In order to reason about anything at all, you need to start out with some things unproven, but in my view you can reason more and more interestingly from the position that solipsism is false.

You exist in a world that has a set of rules and consequences. This is true regardless of whether solipsism is true or false. So even if it were true you could still not ignore the rules of the reality in which you exist, and as such would still need to act as if solipsism were false. So it's not just a question of better reasoning, it's a matter of necessity to assume that solipsism is false, since you need to act that way in any case. (If some of that didn't make much sense it's because we've reached my knowledge/ignorance boundary and begun crossing onto the ignorance side of the border).





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DoctorOfSpaceDate: Monday, 15.04.2013, 08:08 | Message # 1080
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