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Monday, December 08, 2014

The perils of philosophy

John Wright challenges the concept of IQ:
Since I am apparently one of those self deceived idiots, allow me to say that the predictive ability of people who do well on one kind of intellectual test to do well on another kind of intellectual test is not science. It is not the empirical measurement of an observable reality.

I could with even greater accuracy predict that the winners of beauty pageants will be shapely women who are in favor of world peace.

I can also predict she will wear a crown and carry a bouquet.

No matter how accurate such a prediction, it is not science. Beauty is not a thing that can be measured and neither is the degree of craving for world peace.

It is (at best) confirming a correlation. This is not the same as Newton determining the laws of gravity from which accurate descriptions of falling apples and orbiting planets can be deduced mathematically. 
Such are the perils of a philosopher wading out into the perilous waters of science. What is not observable about an intellectual test? What is less empirical about a percentage of correct answers than a quantity of inches or a measure of weight? And, of course, the science of intelligence goes far beyond people taking two or more intellectual tests. It is no less scientific than any other branch of genetic science, in which the birth of a baby with blue eyes can be predicted or the disease of a child yet unconceived can be anticipated on the basis of his parents' genetics.

Science does not require precisely defined measurements to be science. It need only be observable, testable, and repeatable. The fact that it is harder to agree upon a measure for intelligence than one for height does not mean that intelligence is not observable or that the predictive model is unreliable. John appears to be erroneously targeting the fuzzy metric presently used to quantify intelligence and thinking this is sufficient to call the entire science into question.

Would he also claim that weight does not exist or is unscientific? After all, it is even harder to predict the adult weight of a baby than his IQ on the basis of his parents. As other commenters have pointed out, we have a pretty good idea of the heritability of g, so how can it be reasonably asserted that there is no use of the scientific process being utilized? We have seen and observed a considerable number of relevant hypotheses being tested, both formally and informally, after all.

And beauty, at least in some of its forms, can be measured, as the picture below demonstrates.

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341 Comments:

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Blogger Vincent Castrillo December 08, 2014 4:06 PM  

Love John C. but perhaps using Newton as "hard evidence" isn't the best idea considering his theories of gravity are probably just as challenged as IQ issues.

Blogger Vincent Castrillo December 08, 2014 4:09 PM  

He almost proves your point with that example.

1)Solid foundation to build on.
2)Lots of data and evidence to support it
3)Could certainly be built upon and fine tuned.

......Still science and still a great workable theory so that you at least know to move out of the way when a piano is falling from the sky.

Blogger Markku December 08, 2014 4:18 PM  

No matter how accurate such a prediction, it is not science.

The prediction is not. But when you test the prediction according to the scientific method, it is.

Blogger Markku December 08, 2014 4:24 PM  

Also, Newton's laws are unambiguously wrong. Not just in relativistic speeds, but in ANY speeds. Granted, the error is negligible in non-relativistic speeds, but it is there.

Blogger Markku December 08, 2014 4:26 PM  

But, Newton's laws are good enough for most practical purposes.

Just like IQ.

Anonymous Giraffe December 08, 2014 4:28 PM  

Someone should ask PZ Meyers if science can measure IQ or female beauty.

Anonymous Jill December 08, 2014 4:30 PM  

Science deals in stats, but there is still something poetically attractive about those rare human mavericks that don't fit the numbers.

Anonymous roo_ster December 08, 2014 4:34 PM  

Francis galton to the white courtesy phone...

Blogger Conan the Cimmerian, King of Aquilonia December 08, 2014 4:34 PM  

Well, I can tell you that the broad on the far right is hotter than her chubby sister on the far left.

I can also tell you that 99.9 out of 100 men agree. The .1 is either PZ Meyers, McRapey, or one of their blog regulars.

Blogger jdwalker December 08, 2014 4:35 PM  

Off topic and VD might have gotten around to commenting on it at one point with the posts about gamergate, but I would be curious to get his and others' thoughts on the times article about college video game teams and competitions, and what it might mean for the video game industry to get linked to colleges and organizations like the NCAA

Blogger Northern Hamlet December 08, 2014 4:36 PM  

VD,

From my understanding: You support prediction with empirical data as a definition of science here, yet support Kuhn's concept of revolutions elsewhere. If I recall correctly, Kuhn's work rejects falsification and prediction as a definition for science. There appears to be an issue then.

Also: I don't see that you addressed Wright's concern that correlation doesn't equal causality. We might rename your test "The Beauty and Freedom test" and call it a day... After purging the uglies of course.

Blogger Markku December 08, 2014 4:38 PM  

Also: I don't see that you addressed Wright's concern that correlation doesn't equal causality.

Because it is irrelevant, obviously. The issue was, is it science.

Blogger Mr.MantraMan December 08, 2014 4:42 PM  

Mr. Wright hates Mendel, so let us move on and ask the leftoids to prove how much they love science.

Maybe if the Left were more honest and just announce what is taboo about human biology I could take them seriously, but as of now they are basically at the same scientific level as Australian Aborigines who think a camera will steal their souls.

Anonymous VD December 08, 2014 4:43 PM  

You support prediction with empirical data as a definition of science here, yet support Kuhn's concept of revolutions elsewhere..

Yes. The fact that Kuhn is correct about the problems and limits of professional science as practiced says nothing about the legitimacy of referring to a common definition of science.

There appears to be an issue then.

And yet there is not.

I don't see that you addressed Wright's concern that correlation doesn't equal causality.

There is nothing to address. Correlation is not causality. Correlation is the clue that suggests where we start looking for casaulity.

Blogger Markku December 08, 2014 4:45 PM  

I am aware, though, that there is an older definition of science that is not the same as the modern one. Especially now that I'm reading Shedd's Dogmatic Theology. Which argues that physics isn't as truly science as mathematics, logic and theology.

Anonymous VD December 08, 2014 4:46 PM  

Love John C.

Most of us here do. And being Men of the Right, we are perfectly capable of disagreeing with each other on a wide range of subjects without it reducing our respect for the other in the slightest.

Blogger Cederq December 08, 2014 4:46 PM  

Conan, but, you would forsake the chubby one, due to a computer sim of what a beauty she may be by under almost perfect res-constructive surgery?

Blogger Northern Hamlet December 08, 2014 4:52 PM  

Markku,

I disagree. He highlights correlation as the issue, which is by chance related to the fuzziness.

It is (at best) confirming a correlation. This is not the same as Newton determining the laws of gravity from which accurate descriptions of falling apples and orbiting planets can be deduced mathematically.

This is the reason I brought up Kuhn, given VD's past comments on him. You can't gave your logical positivism and Kuhn too.

Blogger Markku December 08, 2014 4:53 PM  

...and theology.

...I could have explained, but I was entertained by how controversial a sentence that was after I wrote it.

Blogger CarpeOro December 08, 2014 4:56 PM  

"Conan, but, you would forsake the chubby one, due to a computer sim of what a beauty she may be by under almost perfect res-constructive surgery? "

He may not reject, but letting her know if she exercised a bit more and threw out the donuts she'd be more desirable is eminently more truthful. The gap in beauty is not insurmountable but it is there. Lying to her serves no one's better interest in the end.

Anonymous Cail Corishev December 08, 2014 4:58 PM  

Plenty of science is done without ever distilling it down to scientific laws -- mathematical formulas that represent what happens in nature. Gravity existed and could be studied and understood long before anyone suggested the Law of Gravity. Intelligence exists and can be studied and greatly understood even though we don't (yet?) have Laws to describe its effects.

If someday we can say that gene ABC contributes 1.5 IQ points and gene XYZ contributes 2.3 IQ points and a hundred other genes have some positive or negative effect, and someone comes up with a formula into which you can plug someone's genome and get his IQ plus-or-minus a few points, we might call that the Law of IQ. That won't necessarily mean we'll understand IQ any better than we do now, though, or that it will be any more scientific.

Blogger Northern Hamlet December 08, 2014 4:58 PM  

VD or Markku,

Might you know a good philosophical work exploring how one knows when correlations becomes causation?

Blogger Markku December 08, 2014 4:58 PM  

This is the reason I brought up Kuhn, given VD's past comments on him. You can't gave your logical positivism and Kuhn too.

The only relevant question is, what do the majority of people who are knowledgeable on the topic, mean, when they say a particular term. Like "science". The views of people who were involved with the history of that meaning is irrelevant. Right now, the accepted meaning is one that allows science based on correlation.

Blogger Markku December 08, 2014 5:00 PM  

Might you know a good philosophical work exploring how one knows when correlations becomes causation?

No, but you phrase the question correctly: Science couldn't POSSIBLY address that question. Only philosophy can.

Blogger Markku December 08, 2014 5:05 PM  

In principle, it is easy. You exhaustively prove all correlation-based explanations false, and you are only left with causation.

But how do you know you have even thought of all the possibilities? Well, that question is in the area of philosophy.

Blogger Heuristics December 08, 2014 5:09 PM  

What people call 'science' would be better described as magic. Then it would be possible to have an actual definition for what it is.

Blogger Markku December 08, 2014 5:12 PM  

If that was to me, then note that I specified: "who are knowledgeable on the topic".

Blogger Northern Hamlet December 08, 2014 5:13 PM  

Markku,

Right now, the accepted meaning is one that allows science based on correlation.

Fair point. However, the next words out of my mouth are almost "but why correlation and not some other random criteria? It's all fun and games until Sam Harris shows up with his simplistic correlations." Athiesm = reason = science!

Anyway, you win. I was incorrect about the relevant bit.

Blogger John Wright December 08, 2014 5:18 PM  

"What is not observable about an intellectual test?"

There is no substance being measured as a multitude of magnitudes.

If one student scores a 91 and another scores 100 on a given written test, what does the second student have nine more of than the first?

What is the unit measure measuring?

"Science does not require precisely defined measurements to be science."

Unless you are expanding the definition of 'science' to include disciplined speculations about non-empirical entities, such as matters of ethics, laws and economics, I would have to disagree respectfully. Any entity which can be examined empirically must have physical reality, and, aside from Heisenberg uncertainty considerations, can be measured by comparing it to a unit measure.

Here there is no unit measure and nothing to compare it with.

"It need only be observable, testable, and repeatable."

An IQ test fills none of these three definitions, unless you are counting what a student fills in on a test questionnaire as 'observable.' I draw your attention to my analogy to a beauty queen who craves world peace: It is observable that she will answer the question in such a fashion, it can be put to the test by holding a pageant and asking the contestants, and it is repeatable by holding future pageants. Does that make it science, by your definition?

"John appears to be erroneously targeting the fuzzy metric presently used to quantify intelligence and thinking this is sufficient to call the entire science into question."

I truly wish people would stop telling me what I appear to be saying, and would stop putting words in my mouth. I said nothing about the metric. I say that qualities by their very nature cannot be quantified.

To be a 'quantity' means to be the multiple of a magnitude, so that, for example, six pounds of weight are six times one pound of weight, whereas a diamond (Moh hardness number of 10) is not ten times as hard as talc. You have misunderstood my point.

"Would he also claim that weight does not exist or is unscientific? After all, it is even harder to predict the adult weight of a baby than his IQ on the basis of his parents."

Irrelevant. The argument is whether science consists of something more than predictability.

"And beauty, at least in some of its forms, can be measured"

Irrelevant and false. Measuring the ratio of cheekbones to lips and such is not measuring degrees or units of beauty. There is still a qualitative judgment call being made as to what constitutes beauty.

Blogger Markku December 08, 2014 5:18 PM  

but why correlation and not some other random criteria?

Correlation is not part of the criteria. It simply happens to be ALLOWED by the methodology.

It also just so happens that anything I can think of, such that it would make sense to apply the scientific method to it, involves correlation. Except in the exact sciences, in the old definition. Geometry and such. In them, the findings follow logically from axioms.

But that is merely a correlation; it is incidental to the definition.

---

As for Sam Harris: You'd have to show the actual science for that claimed correlation. You can't simply postulate that it can be proven.

Blogger Markku December 08, 2014 5:21 PM  

I truly wish people would stop telling me what I appear to be saying, and would stop putting words in my mouth.

These two are two opposite things, though.

Blogger Markku December 08, 2014 5:21 PM  

"John IS saying..." is saying something about John.

"John appears to be saying..." is saying something about Vox.

Blogger HaroldC December 08, 2014 5:26 PM  

Some people just have problems with probability. To say that water melts or freezes at 0 degrees Celsius at one atmosphere depending on its prior state is not to say that all the water molecules in such circumstances will melt or freeze at 0 degrees. But it is a question of probability. A small number of water molecules will change their state at a slightly higher or lower temperature but that fact does not in any way change the average melting/freezing point or the fact that 99% plus of water molecules will change their state.

Blogger David December 08, 2014 5:26 PM  

They are all that matters to us who live in the macro world.

Anonymous Daniel December 08, 2014 5:32 PM  

Any entity which can be examined empirically must have physical reality, and, aside from Heisenberg uncertainty considerations, can be measured by comparing it to a unit measure.

I'm okay with that. At least it would get biology off of the list of sciences...and I guess economics on the list of hard sciences. What is a fundamental unit of biology, after all?

Blogger Max Johnson December 08, 2014 5:33 PM  

Glad to see come here and kick ass.

Anonymous karsten December 08, 2014 5:33 PM  

I have to say, I find the first image, pre-"Mask," to be much more attractive than the post-mask image. I think it's partly a tribal preference, myself being Prussian. I imagine that Gauls, for example, might prefer the post-mask face.

Blogger Markku December 08, 2014 5:35 PM  

Karsten: Can you swear, cross your heart and hope to die, that you are not a female?

Anonymous PhillipGeorge©2014 December 08, 2014 5:35 PM  

Religion trumps philosophy; philosophy trumps science.

See VD in a chaotic system it is impossible to know enough to predict specific outcomes. In a complex of competing chaotic systems it becomes less than impossible. It even looks foolish.

It's the limits of induction and deduction. Chaos evades precise investigation. Its like a cloak to another world. A good science fiction writer might like to tackle white noise one day.

So all of America's genii are Humpty Dumpty broken.

eg. Vitamin D levels through multiple generations against other key performance factors. Lamarck was substantially right.

Blogger John Wright December 08, 2014 5:36 PM  

@Mr.MantraMan

To the contrary, I love Mendel, precisely because he introduced into what otherwise was merely an unscientific discipline of botany the predictive numerical model needed to make it actually be a science, not merely a discipline.

And what he did is precisely what is missing in IQ tests. There is nothing being measured.

A correlation between one type of test and another type of test, and even a correlation between how well one's parents did on the test and how well you do is not science.

@Makku

Sir, I think you misunderstand my point if you think the correlation argument is irrelevant. I am arguing that finding a correlation between two things about which one makes a judgment call is not science.

Let me use a second example: Suppose I study the habits and talents and interests of twins. Do you agree that since twins are born on the same day and hour, their astrology charts will be the same? Do you agree that I will find just as much correlation between their habits and talents and interests as so-called twin studies have shown?

My conclusion that it is the influence of stars and planets, however, is not scientific. There are three things I am not doing (1) I have not defined 'influence' nor can I measure it (2) I have not controlled for any variables (3) The terms 'talent' and 'interest' are not empirical entities that can be measured empirically.

This is not a question of a fuzzy metric nor of an inexact measurement of a physical entity. This is a question of making marks on a piece of paper, making a judgment call about a non physical entity, and then treating the number of marks on the paper as if they were physical entities controlled by physical laws.

All you are showing is a correlation. Smart people have smart kids? Fine. The statement is true, but it is not science. Saying 95.53262% of smart people have smart kids does not make it science.

Makku, you and I may be talking at cross purposes. Do you consider pollsters who predict the outcomes of elections to be doing "science"? I do not.

I propose the following statements:

1. Science is empirical.
2. Empiricism is the theory of knowledge which says that knowledge comes through the apprehension of the senses.
3. The senses apprehend physical objects only, matter and energy occupy time and space, having duration and extension.

With which of these three statements do you disagree?

Because if all three are true, it follows logically that, as in a beauty contest or a chessgame, a theory of astrology or an accurate prediction of the outcome of an election, if there is no physical object being measured, there is no empirical fact being brought into knowledge, hence no empirical theory being proved or disproved, no empirical statement being made, ergo no science being done.

Blogger JCclimber December 08, 2014 5:36 PM  

"If one student scores a 91 and another scores 100 on a given written test, what does the second student have nine more of than the first?"

A repeatedly demonstrated ability to rapidly & correctly recognize and categorize patterns, and then communicate that correct categorization to other humans using the testing rules.

Tie it in with some MRI and other brain activity scanning techniques, and we can really begin to predict ability to correctly recognize and categorize patterns, by seeing the patterns of brain activity and location and timing.

It would be very interesting to follow this field as they work on capturing the intensity and speed of the brain lighting up by region. Especially when they can track glial cell activation levels at the individual level.

Anonymous Scintan December 08, 2014 5:37 PM  

Well, I can tell you that the broad on the far right is hotter than her chubby sister on the far left.

The broad on the right has the eye circles removed, which is something independent of face shape.

So, yeah, if you rig the pics, you can get a more generally favorable response. Fashion magazines have been doing that for a long time. That's not scientific sculpting, though. That's airbrushing blemishes.

Blogger Markku December 08, 2014 5:49 PM  

I disagree that the "empirical" in point 1, and "empiricism" in point 2, are the same thing, but rather that the argument is based on equivocation.

Empiricism is a particular philosophy of science. It is not implied merely by applying the scientific method.

This is what "empirical" means:

Empirical evidence (also empirical data, sense experience, empirical knowledge, or the a posteriori) is a source of knowledge acquired by means of observation or experimentation.

Empiricism makes further claims about the nature of reality.

--

As for your beauty contest example, yes, I would say it is unequivocally science IF the scientific method was applied correctly. Same for the polls, with the same caveat. Granted, especially the former would be such a useless scientific finding that everyone would be more likely to point and laugh at the scientist, than write it down in the annals of science.

--

My turn: Do you explicitly claim that your claim in the original post is true of science, as the word is currently understood by people trafficing in the field, or merely true in the older definition, which as I mentioned I can right now see in the way Shedd talks about science in Dogmatic Theology?

Blogger John Wright December 08, 2014 5:53 PM  

Makku, since I have no idea who Shedd is or what he has said about Dogmatic Theology, I cannot answer the question. As to who is trafficking in the field, again, there are many social scientists and economists who claim their disciplines are science, and they are using the word imprecisely, and in some cases, deceitfully.

I am willing to agree that if exit polls and beauty contests are science, so too are IQ tests. I merely add that this is an awkward definition of the word science, and includes far too much that should perhaps be called by another name, lest the unwary be deceived into thinking one is talking about material reality rather than a set of expectations about human behavior, judgment calls, assessments of imponderables, and so on.

Blogger Markku December 08, 2014 5:59 PM  

Well, it was just an example. I happen to be reading a 100 year old book right now, and it happens to be talking about science in a different way than any modern scientist would.

With the old definition, only things that follow by necessity - things that are absolutely certain knowledge if science was applied correctly - are 100% science. Geometry would be one example. As you deviate from that certainty, it becomes LESS of science. Shedd argues that physics is not 100% science. After all, Newton was wrong, and yet there was nothing wrong with his methodology. Only in the set of data available to him. His mistake was inherent in the type of science itself, namely physics. Biology and sociology, Shedd argues, are even less science.

However, modern science would rather say that they are QUALITATIVELY, not quantitatively different. Some sciences are hard sciences, some are soft sciences.

Anonymous Eric the Red December 08, 2014 6:05 PM  

Mr. Wright seems to be hung up on metrics. However, he should explore this even further, right down to its depths, and see if he still has a logical basis to stand on. Consider, for example, what is a Celsius unit? What does it really measure? Isn't is just an arbitrary subdivision of an equally arbitrary scale? Does a unit of temperature fit into the body of what is normally called "science"?

I'd respectfully suggest that Mr. Wright start re-checking his assumptions.

Blogger wrf3 December 08, 2014 6:07 PM  

John C. Wright asked: What is the unit measure measuring?

That's the beauty of neural networks. We don't have to know what is being measured for them to be successful.

Consider the mundane case of sexing chickens. From The Mystery of Expertise:
WHEN CHICKEN HATCHLINGS are born, large commercial hatcheries usually set about dividing them into males and females, and the practice of distinguishing gender is known as chick sexing. ... The problem is that the task is famously difficult: Male and female chicks look exactly alike.

Well, almost exactly. The Japanese invented a method of sexing chicks known as vent sexing, by which experts could rapidly ascertain the sex of one-day-old hatchlings. ... The mystery was that no one could explain exactly how it was done. It was somehow based on very subtle visual cues, but the professional sexers could not say what those cues were. They would look at the chick's rear (where the vent is) and simply seem to know the correct bin to throw it in.

And this is how the professionals taught the student sexers. The master would stand over the apprentice and watch. The student would pick up a chick, examine its rear, and toss it into one bin or the other. The master would give feedback: yes or no. After weeks of this activity, the student's brain was trained to a masterful — albeit unconscious — level.



Blogger Markku December 08, 2014 6:07 PM  

In this case, the scientific form of the claim would be: "In the present population and the present educational system, there is 0.8 correlation between IQ and success in education*."

The unscientific form of the claim would be "IQ predicts educational success".

With the former claim, it is as exact as any. Problems only arise if you substitute the latter. But with the former claim, with the exact amount of variance known, everyone should be allowed to use this piece of data as they see fit. Including with regards to whom they accept as a student.


*As defined in the paper. Probably some formula that takes grades and dropout rates, at least, as inputs.

Blogger John Wright December 08, 2014 6:09 PM  

"Such are the perils of a philosopher wading out into the perilous waters of science."

I must raise a Spocklike eyebrow. Scientists do science but they do not know what it is. Philosophers study the nature of things, their definitions and so on. Note that defining what science is, everyone here, even those making quips, are making some sort of philosophical comment or argument. No one has referred to a single empirical experiment for authority.

Because defining science not something that can be done by observation or experiment. Asking "What is science?" is a question like "What is truth?"

So, with all due respect, no, I am not venturing into any unfamiliar deeps. There are my home waters. It is the scientist who does science but who lacks the basic philosophical knowledge to know why and how what he does works who is lost here.

Blogger Max Johnson December 08, 2014 6:12 PM  

Wright 1
Vox. 0

Blogger Markku December 08, 2014 6:12 PM  

Asking "What is science?" is a question like "What is truth?"

Truth is not a term of art. Science is. Terms of art can be redefined by convention. Which is exactly what has happened.

Blogger Max Johnson December 08, 2014 6:14 PM  

Zing!

Blogger Markku December 08, 2014 6:15 PM  

Wright 1
Vox. 0


http://www.flamewarriorsguide.com/warriorshtm/bigdogmetoo.htm

Anonymous VD December 08, 2014 6:17 PM  

If one student scores a 91 and another scores 100 on a given written test, what does the second student have nine more of than the first?

Correct answers.

It is observable that she will answer the question in such a fashion, it can be put to the test by holding a pageant and asking the contestants, and it is repeatable by holding future pageants. Does that make it science, by your definition?

If you've formulated a hypothesis to which the behavior is relevant, certainly. We consider it science when we test hypotheses about fish eating and bears defecating. There is no reason why beauty queen behavior is necessarily invalidated.

I truly wish people would stop telling me what I appear to be saying, and would stop putting words in my mouth

Then you must be more specific. I did not put any words in your mouth, I was merely addressing my best estimate of what I thought you were saying.

I said nothing about the metric. I say that qualities by their very nature cannot be quantified.

Were you referring to IQ or intelligence here? "the predictive ability of people who do well on one kind of intellectual test to do well on another kind of intellectual test is not science. It is not the empirical measurement of an observable reality."

Now, intelligence is a quality. You mantain it cannot be quantified. Speed is a quality. Do you similarly maintain "fast" cannot be quantified? Alive is a quality ? Can it be quantified?

Irrelevant and false. Measuring the ratio of cheekbones to lips and such is not measuring degrees or units of beauty. There is still a qualitative judgment call being made as to what constitutes beauty.

It's neither irrelevant nor false. The fact that we have not yet reached universal agreement concerning units of beauty does not mean they are impossible. The "meter" did not exist prior to 1668, and yet the quality of length was quantifiable.


Blogger wrf3 December 08, 2014 6:20 PM  

Eric the Red wrote: Mr. Wright seems to be hung up on metrics.
Yes and no. He wants to know what, exactly, is being measured by an IQ test. There's nothing wrong with that. The problem that he runs into is that it's possible to measure something without knowing exactly what is being measured (cf. my previous post).

Does a unit of temperature fit into the body of what is normally called "science"?
Sure. Temperature is an average of the momentum (mass times velocity) of particles in a given volume. Something at absolute zero has no momentum (well, there are quantum fluctuations, but we typically ignore them). The more momentum, the higher the temperature.

Anonymous VD December 08, 2014 6:21 PM  

So, with all due respect, no, I am not venturing into any unfamiliar deeps. There are my home waters. It is the scientist who does science but who lacks the basic philosophical knowledge to know why and how what he does works who is lost here.

We shall see. You're correct, of course, I've heard the same from many a scientist who wanders deeper into philosophy than he is genuinely prepared to go.

But I am neither a scientist nor a philosopher. I am a game designer, a rather less common beast.

Anonymous kfg December 08, 2014 6:24 PM  

"And beauty, at least in some of its forms, can be measured, as the picture below demonstrates."

The argument I used in supporting Mr. Wright's premise against his "beauty is subjective" adversary, although because it is actually somewhat at odds with Wright's philos9phical approach, I'm not sure the support was appreciated.

As for the IQ issue, the last time 'round I found myself between the jaws of Mr. Wright on one side, and Markku on the other, crushed between because I agreed with each of them - to a degree, although I can't help but note that my position agreed with the report of Mr. Pournelle, so I wasn't in particularly bad company.

Blogger Markku December 08, 2014 6:26 PM  

what, exactly, is being measured by an IQ test.

Average time required by reliably solve a new, mental problem.

But, since we don't have an infinite amount of time and infinite amount of problems, we have to take SAMPLES. This introduces an amount of unreliability to the "benchmark score" given by the test, and what the actual value would be, given the infinites.

However, if a person does a reasonably small amount of IQ tests over his lifetime, the variances turn out to be small enough that we can conclude that the reliability is good enough. Like Newtonian physics in most circumstances.

But, we COULD in theory get to the absolute truth of the matter too. And that is, if we were able to perfectly model the neural network of the individual brain, and understand how its structure works. Then we could see the absolute truth about how efficiently it will solve a random problem. So, the truth is out there. But at present, our means of measuring it are slightly crude.

Anonymous Eric the Red December 08, 2014 6:29 PM  

Re wrf3....

Thank you for expanding on and proving my point.

Anonymous VD December 08, 2014 6:31 PM  

And what he did is precisely what is missing in IQ tests. There is nothing being measured.

Of course something is being measured. What is being measured is the RELATIVE status of one human's cognitive capacity in comparison with the mean. All IQ tests are intrinsically relative, since "the median raw score of the norming sample is defined as IQ 100".

The problem that he runs into is that it's possible to measure something without knowing exactly what is being measured

The question is if science can be performed with only a relative standard or if it must be an external, material one. But if a relative standard provides the basis of a successful predictive model, that is a strong indication that there IS an external material standard present, even if we cannot see it.

Blogger wrf3 December 08, 2014 6:34 PM  

Vox wrote: But if a relative standard provides the basis of a successful predictive model, that is a strong indication that there IS an external material standard present, even if we cannot see it.

You just waved the red cape in front of the bull.

I'm going to grab me some popcorn.

Anybody else want some?

Blogger Mindstorm December 08, 2014 6:35 PM  

Is ergodicity scientific? If not, why?

Blogger Markku December 08, 2014 6:40 PM  

Ergodicity of what? The world, or a particular system? If a particular system, then it is a scientific claim that the system is ergodic if it has been demonstrated by the scientific method.

If the world, then I wouldn't know. Someone would have to show me the relevant attempts at applying the scientific method, for me to make a judgement.

OpenID luagha December 08, 2014 6:42 PM  

"Now, intelligence is a quality. You mantain it cannot be quantified..."

One of the problems in the past was the tendency, whenever a new 'intelligence test' came out, was to say, "That's not intelligence!" And then proceed to redefine what intelligence was, making testing at it a moving target.

In retaliation, the testers came up with 'types' of intelligence that could be better defined and were harder to be redefined verbally, like 'spatial reasoning.'

A 'spatial reasoning' test puts tests that require the facility of spatial reasoning before a subject, and measures success, failure, and time taken. The questions can be easily examined to make sure that they are relevant to the subject being tested.

Blogger Mindstorm December 08, 2014 6:54 PM  

A particular system. I gave an example of a quality that cannot be quantified (either it exists for a system or it doesn't) yet is still scientific.

Blogger frigger611 December 08, 2014 7:00 PM  

I have to go with Vox on this one. To say that something is unquantifiable is not the same as saying that it does not exist in quantities.

Anonymous Big Bill December 08, 2014 7:04 PM  

And for those of you who want to see the transformation in Youtube video form, go here:

http://www.beautyanalysis.com/featured/youtube-photoshop-surgeon/

Anonymous Ephirius December 08, 2014 7:07 PM  

"I have to go with Vox on this one. To say that something is unquantifiable is not the same as saying that it does not exist in quantities."

Could you provide an example of a quantity which cannot be quantified?

-
"The problem that he runs into is that it's possible to measure something without knowing exactly what is being measured "

Indeed, it is. But it is meaningless. Your example of chicken sexers permits us to know what is being measured (accuracy). The idea of extrapolating meanings, however, is what I have heard referred to as the Epidemiologist's Fallacy: http://wmbriggs.com/blog/?p=8108

Without knowing what you are measuring, you ensure a fall into the fallacy. This is a problem the plagues modern scholarship and pop science.

Anonymous VD December 08, 2014 7:17 PM  

Indeed, it is. But it is meaningless.

No, it would be meaningless if it couldn't be usefully connected to various externally quantifiable measures. Which was my original point about the idiocy of denying the reality of intelligence and IQ as its current functional measure.

You have to be really, really functionally stupid to admit a 50 IQ individual into a surgical program or an elite university. We know, we observe, we see that IQ is both SUCCESSFULLY PREDICTIVE and RELIABLE.

And we have about 40 solid years of empirical evidence concerning what happens when its existence is denied. And from a philosophical perspective, if we resort to simple logic, the mere fact that the Left is vehemently insistent that IQ does not matter should be sufficient to prove that it not only exists, but matters very much indeed.

Anonymous MendoScot December 08, 2014 7:17 PM  

I propose the following statements:

1. Science is empirical.
2. Empiricism is the theory of knowledge which says that knowledge comes through the apprehension of the senses.
3. The senses apprehend physical objects only, matter and energy occupy time and space, having duration and extension.

With which of these three statements do you disagree?


The first. Science is not empirical, nor rational, and positively not logical.

So leaving the above aside, in this field we are viewing the strange ability of IQ to predict the future. An entirely different animal from the correlation of past events, which is the mere tool that we use to establish the law.

Blogger Markku December 08, 2014 7:19 PM  

Let's say I have a display adapter. Which I do.

IQ test is like me running a benchmark on the adapter. It gives me a number, which tells me the general efficiency of that adapter. It is good enough that I can make informed decisions about whether it is worth my money, or if I should choose some other adapter.

But it comes with pitfalls. When a benchmark is only just released, it is at its most reliable. But, immediately, manufacturers start cheating. Now they know what's in the benchmark, and they start optimizing their drivers so that they would perform better in that benchmark. But, obviously, that doesn't help the customer at all. The customer is interested in the actual efficiency, not achieving a higher number. This is equivalent to taking a large amount of IQ tests. You start seeing patterns in them.

The ACTUAL intelligence, though, is like the display adapter manufacturer's perspective of the product. They know the schematics and firmware to the detail. They would be equipped, at least in theory, to give an answer to how the product would perform in any imaginable task.

Still, benchmarks are good enough. And they have an intimate connection, although not perfect 1:1, with the real quality being measured.

Blogger Thordaddy December 08, 2014 7:22 PM  

Science requires redundant phenomena, nothing more, nothing less. Is real IQ a singularity or a redundant phenomenon?

Anonymous DT December 08, 2014 7:22 PM  

I can predict the winners of beauty pageants...
Beauty cannot be measured...


Pick one and only one.

Blogger Panzerdude December 08, 2014 7:24 PM  

Does it not follow from John's logic that how well a student does on a test is not indicative of how well the student knows the subject, but only correlates?

But if most students that do well on tests in fact know the subject material better than those who do not do well, then it is perfectly acceptable to predict that high scoring students will end up knowing the material better than low scoring students.

And, since the scoring of the tests is objective and measurable, then this seems to fall outside the realm of strictly correlation. There must be some causation, i.e. IQ, study habits, discipline, etc., that best explains what type of person will typically get high scores.

If analyzing the various possible causations shows that IQ has the largest impact on test scores, then it follows, IQ is the greatest cause of higher test scores and is not like "beauty" or "desire" (in the sense these are unmeasurable) but is in fact a measurable human trait, like height and weight.

This would then be a scientific observation, i.e. observable, testable and repeatable.

Blogger Mindstorm December 08, 2014 7:28 PM  

Come on, potential energy also requires a reference level which might be arbitrary. This objection to IQ is not valid.

Blogger Markku December 08, 2014 7:28 PM  

There must be some causation, i.e. IQ, study habits, discipline, etc., that best explains what type of person will typically get high scores.

Yes, but that is the very nature of correlation. Very rarely, if ever, is there correlation without SOME causation path between the two. Often it is that a third factor has a causal relationship with the two, between which we have detected correlation. But it could be even more complex than that.

Correlation merely tells us that there is a causal relation somewhere. It could be direct or indirect.

Anonymous dc red dogs December 08, 2014 7:29 PM  

If one reads a lot about Newton, Galileo, Einstein - including their often (in the case of Newton and Einstein) relatively low IQ mistakes in math (Newton - misstated the rather simple product rule in the virtuoso calculus that he invented, Einstein, a mediocre at best conception of statistics, not to mention frequent - or so I have read - blunders in his calculations - and Galileo never quite understood what I, with the advantage of the last ten generations of mathematicians, call big delta little epsilon, which had not been invented yet, so one gives him a pass for that), and when one thinks about how good they - Einstein, Galileo, and Newton - were at what they did - whatever it is called - one begins to think of them as philosophers who dabbled in science, not as scientists. The fact that their philosophy was in each case undistinguished or unoriginal means nothing - many unusually talented popular musicians can only produce music that impresses the sort of people who do not really like music. They are still musicians.
So my take from this thread is J Wright and the Theologian Shedd are correct. There is no data out there that tells us that a single scientist has ever relied on his high IQ to realize a single major triumph. It has always been divine inspiration or nothing.
Interesting science or a drudge's observations. Sydney or the bush.

Blogger wrf3 December 08, 2014 7:30 PM  

Ephirius wrote: Indeed, it is. But it is meaningless. Your example of chicken sexers permits us to know what is being measured (accuracy). ... Without knowing what you are measuring, you ensure a fall into the (Epidemiologist's) fallacy.

Measuring the sex of chickens without knowing exactly what aspects of the chicken are being measured is no different than measuring aspects of intelligence -- such as the ability to solve new problems and to communicate effectively -- without knowing exactly what aspects of the human are being measured.

Blogger frigger611 December 08, 2014 7:30 PM  

Could you provide an example of a quantity which cannot be quantified?

Yes, thank you.

I have many thoughts per day buzzing around inside my brain. Certainly these thoughts are a finite number, which exist as some quantity. But they are unquantifiable.

Electricity can be used to power a motor. We can measure aspects of this phenomenon, this "flow of electrons." But we do not count the actual number of electrons involved, (nor can we) - but we still admit, still acknowledge that they must exist in some quantity in order to power the motor.

I'm going for Thai food now.

Anonymous MendoScot December 08, 2014 7:31 PM  

Does it not follow from John's logic that how well a student does on a test is not indicative of how well the student knows the subject, but only correlates?

As a teacher I must with considerable regret confirm that this hypothesis is entirely consistent with my empirical observation.

But until I can mash up their brains, it is not SCIENCE!

Blogger RobertT December 08, 2014 7:32 PM  

I think he's got a point but he didn't make it. There's more to it than IQ. Einstein was different. Galileo was different. Leonardo da Vinci was different. But most of the geniuses I've met are unlikely to accomplish anything besides mindless arguing and tying their shoes.

Anonymous Bah December 08, 2014 7:32 PM  

Shouldn't you both be writing something to sell rather than engaging in unprofitable pissing contests?

Blogger John Wright December 08, 2014 7:35 PM  

I am more than happy to check my assumptions. It is what philosophers do. Here they are again:



1. Science is empirical.
2. Empiricism is the theory of knowledge which says that knowledge comes through the apprehension of the senses.
3. The senses apprehend physical objects only, matter and energy occupy time and space, having duration and extension.

These things could be stated more technically, but time does not permit.

I will say, just to forestall further misunderstanding, that a judgment of an imponderable based on something seen is not empirical knowledge. Only the factual statements about the things seen are empirical, the things that are not imponderable.

The reason why I am using beauty as an example is not because beauty is subjective (I for one do not believe it is) but I do hold that it is imponderable. It is like athletic ability, or possessing common sense, or intelligence, or having a truthful character. All these are imponderables.

The argument that beauty will one say be measurable is false and irrelevant. It is false because what is being measured when the proportion of a face is measured is inches and their ratios to each other, not units of beauty.

There is no such thing as units of beauty.

It is irrelevant because if there were units of beauty, these units would be measured by some empirical means, a callosometer, not by taking a poll of the opinion of beauty contest judges, nor a poll of the common man.

Here is two assumptions I am not making, and I willing to entertain any argument to prove them:
1. If it is predictable, that makes it science
2. If I can stick an arbitrary number on it, that makes it science.

Blogger wrf3 December 08, 2014 7:37 PM  

luagha wrote: One of the problems in the past was the tendency, whenever a new 'intelligence test' came out, was to say, "That's not intelligence!" And then proceed to redefine what intelligence was, making testing at it a moving target.

Indeed. We see this in artificial intelligence all the time. A computer is programmed to do something that only humans did before and all of a sudden what the computer does isn't intelligence. A machine that can beat a grandmaster at chess? Not intelligence. A computer that can best humans at Jeopardy? Nope, not intelligence. A car that can drive itself? Not intelligence, either. A machine that can out-diagnose a doctor? Absolutely not intelligence.

Eventually, we won't have any place to run to.

Anonymous Ephirius December 08, 2014 7:40 PM  

"No, it would be meaningless if it couldn't be usefully connected to various externally quantifiable measures. Which was my original point about the idiocy of denying the reality of intelligence and IQ as its current functional measure.

You have to be really, really functionally stupid to admit a 50 IQ individual into a surgical program or an elite university. We know, we observe, we see that IQ is both SUCCESSFULLY PREDICTIVE and RELIABLE."


I never said it was -useless-. I agree that, especially on the lowest extreme, IQ generally matches what we perceive to be intelligence. But IQ is not intelligence. Just as the mathematics behind the facial transformation above is not beauty. It approximates what people perceive because it is correlated, but they are not interchangeable.

This may seem like a small point, but confusing X with a test that correlates to X with some accuracy can lead to some bizarre outcomes (like the results that show up in Peer Reviewed research ceaselessly published by universities). Intelligence, like beauty, is not quantifiable. IQ and mathematical proportions of human faces are still quantifiable and useful. But they remain (potentially very) uncertain approximations of correlations to the things we really care about, and should be approached with caution. The fact that they are so pronounced on the edges (at 50 IQ, as you suggest), is understandable given that they are correlated.

Blogger Markku December 08, 2014 7:42 PM  

A machine that can beat a grandmaster at chess? Not intelligence. A computer that can best humans at Jeopardy? Nope, not intelligence. A car that can drive itself? Not intelligence, either. A machine that can out-diagnose a doctor? Absolutely not intelligence.

I agree with all of those sentences. In idiot-savant, it is the savant that modifies the idiot, not vice versa. Idiocy is the baseline. Savant is the perk.

So, even with human beings, we call it intelligence only if it's general.

Blogger wrf3 December 08, 2014 7:46 PM  

Ephirius wrote: Intelligence, like beauty, is not quantifiable.

I'd like to see the proof of that, please.

Anonymous Ephirius December 08, 2014 7:46 PM  

"I have many thoughts per day buzzing around inside my brain. Certainly these thoughts are a finite number, which exist as some quantity. But they are unquantifiable."

Just because you lack the resources to quantify something does not make that thing unquantifiable. A thing must be impossible to quantify in principle to earn the distinction.

Say, for instance, your current level of satisfaction with life. Approximations might be offered, surveys filled out, and statistics sent through a blender of regressions until small P values appear on the other end, but satisfaction with life is still unquantifiable. It does not exist in quantities and cannot be measured.

Anonymous Ephirius December 08, 2014 7:47 PM  

"I'd like to see the proof of that, please."

A logical proof?

Blogger wrf3 December 08, 2014 7:48 PM  

Markku wrote: So, even with human beings, we call it intelligence only if it's general.

But, even then, when we do achieve general artificial intelligence (and it's only a matter of time), there will still be some who will try to move the goalposts.

Blogger wrf3 December 08, 2014 7:49 PM  

Ephirius asked: A logical proof?

That would be better than an illogical one. But I'll take what I can get.

Anonymous kfg December 08, 2014 7:49 PM  

"Very rarely, if ever, is there correlation without SOME causation path between the two."

Very few people who haven't eaten in the past couple of years rob banks.

Anonymous MendoScot December 08, 2014 7:49 PM  

I will say, just to forestall further misunderstanding, that a judgment of an imponderable based on something seen is not empirical knowledge. Only the factual statements about the things seen are empirical, the things that are not imponderable.

And thus you reject causality which, as you know, is not empirical.

Blogger Markku December 08, 2014 7:50 PM  

there will still be some who will try to move the goalposts.

If the word remains "intelligence" and the goalposts move, then I agree. It is genuine goalpost moving.

But if the battleground becomes "sentience", then that is a whole another battleground. It's not moving the goalposts, but going to another field.

Anonymous dc red dogs December 08, 2014 7:50 PM  

Robert T - Galileo and Einstein were, in fact, different. But it was not just high IQ. High IQ gets you, at best, a John von Neumann or a puzzle writer like Erdos or one of these 150 plus IQ Caltech grads running around selling boring books on the "multiverse". To understand the world well enough to do real science, high IQ is not enough. The humility and diligence needed to understand God's world are necessary. Otherwise mindless arguing and fancy tying of shoes are pretty much all you get. SO what IQ tests measure correlates to the tying of shoes and mindless arguing, not to real scientific advances. That is why I agree with Mr Wright. Of course IQ tests will single out the ninety percent or so of humanity who, even with the best philosophic training, can not do useful and complicated science. If the thread is just about that, then I did not understand this thread very well.

Blogger Mr.MantraMan December 08, 2014 7:52 PM  

"g" exists but I will have to leave it to Arthur Jensen to debate that. But the allure of the Blank Slate Theory now there is the new age Fountain of Youth to be chased after. I can easily understand jews taking to that fraud since it is basically a secular version of their end times stories of enlightened elite guiding the lesser into full humanity, same goes for the Christian mystic, but what is really obnoxious are the science loving kids of the left who are basically stating a belief in something with less proof than the existence of the Easter Bunny.

Blogger Markku December 08, 2014 7:52 PM  

"Very rarely, if ever, is there correlation without SOME causation path between the two."

Very few people who haven't eaten in the past couple of years rob banks.


I don't know if you are agreeing or disagreeing with me here, but this is an example of the simplest indirect causation, namely causal relationship with being dead, with the two other factors.

Anonymous Ephirius December 08, 2014 7:54 PM  

"That would be better than an illogical one. But I'll take what I can get."

Some use the term "proof" to mean evidence. I was unsure of your meaning. I guess I should apologize for asking for clarity?

I don't have a logical proof handy for the unquantifiable nature of beauty or intelligence (or truth or goodness, for that matter). Why do you suppose they are quantifiable when no quantities have been proposed?

Anonymous Porphyry December 08, 2014 7:54 PM  

In my opinion the most pertinent question is whether the conclusions we draw about IQ have anything to do with Intelligence as a coherent conceptual whole. One thing to keep in mind is that it's quite tempting in these situations to just re-identify a concept with its mostly closely correlated metric, and that that is incorrect. It would be insane to claim that IQ is not correlated to some degree with intelligence (thus we can make scientifc arguments about intelligence) but to say that IQ is scientific evidence for intelligence is to say that we are observing a proper part of intelligence which is as per Mr. Wright impossible.

Anonymous VD December 08, 2014 7:55 PM  

Shouldn't you both be writing something to sell rather than engaging in unprofitable pissing contests?

John JUST published a book. Go buy it and read it; it is fantastic. I am in the final stages of releasing an excellent military science fiction anthology that features most of the best writers of that genre today.

This is simply one way we relax and amuse ourselves.



Anonymous kfg December 08, 2014 7:57 PM  

" . . .this is an example of the simplest indirect causation . . ."

As it was intended to be.

Anonymous MendoScot December 08, 2014 7:57 PM  

This is simply one way we relax and amuse ourselves.

Amen.

And yet, and yet...

Anonymous kfg December 08, 2014 8:02 PM  

"And yet, and yet..."

. . . the finest play has purpose.

Anonymous Ezra December 08, 2014 8:06 PM  

So ultimately, this is an argument of definition, for both "science" and "intelligence". If a quality is conceptual only and without definite sensory measurement using units of magnitude it is not science? Or said differently, if it's not math anchored in physical reality, it's not science? I'm not sure this can make it past semantics, but the discussion is still very interesting. Whether IQ is useless and whether it is science are two different arguments as well.

Anonymous Porphyry December 08, 2014 8:16 PM  

"if it's not math anchored in physical reality" I would go even further to suggest that the object of study must have an immediate causal relation with a physical property. Otherwise it's not science. ( the intellect follows mathematical rules and is anchored in the physical)

Anonymous Aeoli Pera December 08, 2014 8:18 PM  

Mr. Wright,

I'd be very interested to debate you on this subject, although I understand you are busy debating with most of the Ilk (A.K.A. Vox Popoli regulars), and writing books for demanding customers, and so forth. Would you be interested in a bit of focused correspondence?

Anonymous Aeoli Pera December 08, 2014 8:27 PM  

Mr. Wright,

I should mention that my heart is in better shape since the last time I made a fuss.

Anonymous Mike M. December 08, 2014 8:33 PM  

IQ tests measure raw cognitive ability pretty well. What they don't measure well is insight and innovation. A real genius doesn't work outside the box...he doesn't notice there ever WAS a box.

Anonymous Porphyry December 08, 2014 8:36 PM  

"he doesn't notice there ever WAS a box." boxes only exist within the hive-mind. Independence is the root of creativity, and for that matter genius.

Blogger wrf3 December 08, 2014 8:37 PM  

Ephirius wrote: I guess I should apologize for asking for clarity?

;-)

I don't have a logical proof handy for the unquantifiable nature of beauty or intelligence (or truth or goodness, for that matter). Why do you suppose they are quantifiable when no quantities have been proposed?

I think they are quantifiable, at least in theory, because of the way the brain works. Your senses take in data, convert them to some internal form (we can call them bits), the data is massaged (e.g. line recognition, shadow recognition, etc...) and then pattern matching operations take place. Eventually, if some neurons fire (because the input weights are greater than a threshold), you say "this is most beautiful, that is kinda beautiful, and over there is just plain ugly." That is, your brain quantifies beauty through an immense chain of calculations.

Now, your brain is not my brain, so my neurons will have different thresholds for firing, so my notion of beauty will likely be different from yours. But that's ok, beauty is no different in principle from IQ. We collect a lot of data points, do the curve fitting, and come up with a scale. Like IQ, it won't be perfect, because there is so much variation between individuals but, and this is the important point, it's close enough because even if individuals act randomly, the aggregate of random behavior has non-random properties (regression to the mean).

Anonymous Ephirius December 08, 2014 8:59 PM  

@wrf3:

I'm not inclined to believe in the sort of naturalistic scientism that holds, among other things, human brains as merely meat machines. Your analogy to a computer is merely that; an analogy. Useful for some things; horribly insufficient for others, much like the ancient view of the human body in humors or the medieval view as a machine.

The brain and the mind are distinct. I recommend Edward Feser's wonderful "Philosophy of Mind" on the subject. This article is also good if you'd rather not read a book. The theme is free will, but the content revolves around what the mind and brain are: tofspot.blogspot.com/2012/01/humanism-in-danger.html

Given that, I still hold that intelligence, beauty, truth, and goodness are all unquantifiable (in the scientific sense) and not fundamentally branches of physical science.

Anonymous Mudz December 08, 2014 9:12 PM  

Indeed. We see this in artificial intelligence all the time. A computer is programmed to do something that only humans did before and all of a sudden what the computer does isn't intelligence. A machine that can beat a grandmaster at chess? Not intelligence. A computer that can best humans at Jeopardy? Nope, not intelligence. A car that can drive itself? Not intelligence, either. A machine that can out-diagnose a doctor? Absolutely not intelligence.

Eventually, we won't have any place to run to.


Why are you running in the first place? Looks kind of silly when nothing's chasing you.

None of that is intelligence. If a rock falls on a Spartan warrior despite all his military discipline and martial training and kills him, it won't be because it out-smarted him.

When you develop a tool to perform a task, the idea is to make a tool that out-performs a human. It's a product of *our* intelligence, not it's own. It has absolutely no idea what it's doing, we're the only ones that care or even apprehend if it produces a check-mate.

Anonymous Salt December 08, 2014 9:14 PM  

No one has referred to a single empirical experiment for authority.

Mao did, and repeatedly provided evidence it comes from the barrel of a gun.

Anonymous zen0 December 08, 2014 9:27 PM  

When you develop a tool to perform a task, the idea is to make a tool that out-performs a human. It's a product of *our* intelligence, not it's own. It has absolutely no idea what it's doing, we're the only ones that care or even apprehend if it produces a check-mate.

Kasparov could have defeated Big Blue by pulling the plug on the bitch. THAT'S intelligence. Soon there will be tactical Electro-Magnetic Pulse devices that will disable all those bastards, if there are not already some being used now.

Anonymous The other skeptic December 08, 2014 9:33 PM  

Very rarely, if ever, is there correlation without SOME causation path between the two.

At the very least, correlation requires explanation!

Anonymous Ephirius December 08, 2014 9:40 PM  

"Very rarely, if ever, is there correlation without SOME causation path between the two.

At the very least, correlation requires explanation!"

Not as often as you might think: http://www.correlated.org/

Anonymous Science Meets Philosophy December 08, 2014 9:46 PM  

> At the very least, correlation requires explanation!

And an extraordinary correlation requires an extraordinary explanation!

Billions and Billions.

Blogger John Wright December 08, 2014 9:50 PM  

"And thus you reject causality which, as you know, is not empirical"

Please do not assume I hold only empirical proofs to be true. Obviously that is not so, if, for no other reason, the sentence 'only empirical proofs are true' is a non-empirical statement, hence not true.

Rather, I humbly suggest that the theory of cause and effect is a metaphysical statement. It is a category of thought we bring to bear without which we cannot interpret the empirical data.

Cause and effect is a presupposition of empiricism, but it is not itself a physical nor empirical theory.

Anonymous Jonathan December 08, 2014 9:54 PM  

At the very least, correlation requires explanation!

And ... wins the thread. You don't get to look at the mountainous body of correlations and just say "who f*cking cares"; that's just intellectually dishonest.

A) Correlation does not imply causation
B) Correlation demands an explanation

I think Aristotle might have had something to say about balancing these propositions

Blogger Markku December 08, 2014 9:56 PM  

Not as often as you might think: http://www.correlated.org/

The methodology is complete bullshit. It uses way too small a sample to correlate a large number of variables, and then picks the strongest correlation value, as explained here.

But this is really just picking the largest statistical error among all the errors caused by the small sample.

For this to even stumble in the general direction of science, the two most promising variables would then have to be tested again another day. Only if the correlation is persistent, could it be shown to be an actual correlation.

Anonymous Jonathan December 08, 2014 9:57 PM  

Rather, I humbly suggest that the theory of cause and effect is a metaphysical statement

Since theories about things are not, themselves, the things about which one is theorizing wouldn't this make all statements about anything metaphysical? You surely can't be saying that. Or maybe all of Aristotle's works should have been titled "The Metaphysics".

Anonymous The other skeptic December 08, 2014 9:57 PM  

Not as often as you might think: Correlated.org

Did you do that deliberately?

In general, 46 percent of people say they would get their son circumcized. But among those whose favorite Hanukkah song is by Adam Sandler, 66 percent say they would get their son circumcized.

Anonymous Jonathan December 08, 2014 10:02 PM  

Consider the two following categories:

A) Scientific knowledge
B) Non-scientific knowledge

Now, consider two other categories:

A) Tall
B) Short

I submit that the distinction between the first two categories is similar to the distinction between the latter two. Any place you draw the line is going to be arbitrary, yet, the functions placed in the respective categories are describing things that are functionally different on a continuum.

In other words, no, science is not analytically demarcated by "falsificationism" or "sense experience".

Anonymous Ephirius December 08, 2014 10:04 PM  

"Did you do that deliberately?"

What? Post to a humor website (with intentionally faulty data collection methods) on correlation in the midst of a discussion on correlations? Yes, I did do that. To be perfectly honest with you, I didn't expect such a negative reaction. I thought it was all more lighthearted.

Anonymous Nate Winchester December 08, 2014 10:04 PM  

A computer is programmed to do something that only humans did before and all of a sudden what the computer does isn't intelligence. A machine that can beat a grandmaster at chess? Not intelligence. A computer that can best humans at Jeopardy? Nope, not intelligence. A car that can drive itself? Not intelligence, either. A machine that can out-diagnose a doctor? Absolutely not intelligence.

Eventually, we won't have any place to run to.


To steal from... I think it was Terry Pratchett:
Create a machine that can invent boredom, even after you've specifically programmed it to never be bored.

Or create one that can cheat at a game, in spite of a hard code that says to follow the rules.

Anonymous Ephirius December 08, 2014 10:06 PM  

"A) Correlation does not imply causation
B) Correlation demands an explanation"

Another way to put it is this:

A) Correlation does not logically imply causation
B) Correlation does imply causation in the vernacular use of "imply"

Anonymous Jonathan December 08, 2014 10:06 PM  

Maybe things get more science-y the more the units of measurement are of something immediately physical. Of course one might say "correct answers" correspond to specific brain states but that would be going all Daniel Dennett in these comment sections.*

Is that even allowed?

It's also very inferential.

Anonymous Porphyry December 08, 2014 10:07 PM  

@Jonathan how can you possibly be serious? Have you spent too much time around SJW and think science= scholarly? Or are you just a lunatic?

Blogger wrf3 December 08, 2014 10:07 PM  

Nate wrote: To steal from... I think it was Terry Pratchett...

Or, give a machine the knowledge of good and evil then tell it that everything is improvable.

Anonymous Porphyry December 08, 2014 10:09 PM  

"Is that even allowed?" NO! When has anyone ever gone up to something and said eh I think that we used 10% more science to solve this one, ergo the results we get will be far more concrete.

Blogger pyrrhus December 08, 2014 10:12 PM  

John is quite simply wrong, and extremely wrong, but I respect him so I do not comment on his blog.

Blogger wrf3 December 08, 2014 10:12 PM  

Jonathan wrote: Maybe things get more science-y the more the units of measurement are of something immediately physical.

Is the fine structure constant science-y enough for you? It's the ratio of two physical measurements and is therefore dimensionless. It's just a number that's fundamental to the way the universe works.

Anonymous Porphyry December 08, 2014 10:12 PM  

how so?

Blogger John Wright December 08, 2014 10:19 PM  

"Since theories about things are not, themselves, the things about which one is theorizing wouldn't this make all statements about anything metaphysical?"

I cannot make heads nor tails of this statement, sorry.

Is clarification of this point needed? I was not saying cause and effect is metaphysical because it is a theory, I was saying it is metaphysical because it is true in this and every other possible universe: whereas, by their very nature, empirical statements are and must be contingent upon evidence.

Let me try again:

1. Statement contingent upon sense evidence = Empirical
2. Statement necessarily true no matter what the sense evidence shows = Metaphysical

Do you understand the distinction? I am using these terms in the way they have been understood to be used by all educated men for the last two thousand years or so, so you can look them up in any sound dictionary if you have doubts.

Cause and effect is a category of thought. It is logically prior to any contingent statements based on sense impressions.

Indeed, if there is no cause and effect, there are no sense impressions, because there is no necessary reason for the impressions to be caused by sensed objects or events.

So while the conclusion that sense impressions exist can come into a baby's mind after the experience of sense impressions, the category itself is logically prior.

Blogger Markku December 08, 2014 10:22 PM  

At the very least, correlation requires explanation!

I don't think so. I think that is a red herring. The undeniable fact is that if we get a data point that is quite simple to acquire, the IQ, we can predict educational success with quite staggering 0.8 correlation. I mean, that is USEFUL information right there.

Now, I'm pretty sure I do know the explanation. But that is mere conjecture. It is unscientific. And that will allow the critic to do some weapons-grade handwaving and cause the dullard to think that the whole enterprise is unscientific, and think himself safe in his anti-intellectualism. But it isn't. The correlation value that we have is completely unrelated to the quality of the explanation.

But with that said, here it is: I think the correlation results from the ability of the brain to subconsciously sift through possible answers, before presenting the promising one to the conscious mind. The conscious mind will then do final quality control until accepting it. The brain with high intelligence in a particular area (verbal, logical or spatial) will do it faster for any problem in that area. And this ability is as useful in an IQ test as it is in studies.

Anonymous karsten December 08, 2014 10:25 PM  

"Karsten: Can you swear, cross your heart and hope to die, that you are not a female?"

What the hell? Isn't this taking the "No true Scotsman" fallacy to a spectacular new level?

But for what it's worth, yes, I'm a hetero white male, with whatever the swearing, heart-crossing, and death-wishing you want.

Anonymous Jonathan December 08, 2014 10:25 PM  

@ Porphyry

Have you spent too much time around SJW and think science= scholarly?

Nowhere did I imply that science=scholarly. Not sure how familiar you are with philosophy but probably my primary influence is WVO Quine who was not openly political but who was quite known to be very politically reactionary.

I am simply responding to the dispute about what constitutes knowledge and science. Wright considers science as something that is directly physically measurable and Vox seems to think that science refers to reproducible results. Obviously, where one draws the line in assigning the categories does not affect the results.

As someone smart once said "the map is not the territory" ...

Blogger Markku December 08, 2014 10:26 PM  

What the hell? Isn't this taking the "No true Scotsman" fallacy to a spectacular new level?

No, just checking. I found it so spectacularly counterintuitive that an actual male would prefer the real face to the modified one. But if you say you are one, I'll believe it.

Anonymous Porphyry December 08, 2014 10:30 PM  

I actually find the first one more attractive. But that's prolly cause I have pointy elbow syndrome with regards to facial inconsistencies. At first blush i would pick the second but after a few seconds it feels like looking at frankenstein

Blogger wrf3 December 08, 2014 10:30 PM  

Markku wrote: I found it so spectacularly counterintuitive that an actual male would prefer the real face to the modified one.

Appropriate?

Blogger Markku December 08, 2014 10:33 PM  

Nope, it's not about that. I meant what I said, and no further. No value judgement about Karsten involved. It's just that it seemed like the name could be either male or female, and the message could have been written by a female who is SO sure that she sees what men see, and didn't want to voluntarily give away the fact that she is female because it would have been used for microinvalidations.

Blogger wrf3 December 08, 2014 10:33 PM  

John Wright wrote: Cause and effect is a category of thought. It is logically prior to any contingent statements based on sense impressions. Indeed, if there is no cause and effect, there are no sense impressions...

If there is no cause and effect, there are no thoughts, either.

Anonymous Porphyry December 08, 2014 10:34 PM  

"probably my primary influence is WVO Quine" Yeah you and I are so far apart metaphysically that there's no point in having a discussion about science. But I am curious how you deal with the fact that you use your senses to find a framework for knowledge which is not in itself a sensory quality?

Anonymous Jonathan December 08, 2014 10:35 PM  

I mean, that is USEFUL information right there.

Taking us right back to the Latin "scientia" simply meaning "knowledge". Knowledge, then, simply means the ability to make predictions about events and a prediction model is more scientia if it has more predictive value.

Anonymous Jonathan December 08, 2014 10:38 PM  

@ wrf3

If there is no cause and effect, there are no thoughts, either.

You do understand that this is hotly disputed, right? I mean, if thoughts are simply an effect in the brain of external causes then there is no such thing as freedom of thought/will. Basically, you are stating that mind is reducible to physical brain states - again, going all Daniel Dennett in the VP comment sections.

Anonymous Porphyry December 08, 2014 10:39 PM  

@Jonathan "Now the one of these is apprehensible by thought with the aid of reasoning, since it is ever uniformly existent; whereas the other is an object of opinion with the aid of unreasoning sensation, since it becomes and perishes and is never really existent."

Blogger frigger611 December 08, 2014 10:40 PM  

"Just because you lack the resources to quantify something does not make that thing unquantifiable. A thing must be impossible to quantify in principle to earn the distinction." - Ephirius

I beg your pardon, but if we "lack the resources to quantify something" then IT DOES IN FACT mean that that something is unquantifiable, by definition. Maybe 100 years from now we'll gain some new technology that allows us to quantify the currently unquantifiable - but we won't know that til we get there! And until we get there, the subject remains unquantifiable.

As for your second part - "A thing must be impossible to quantify in principle to earn the distinction" - I have to ask, who made you the maker of the rules?

By the way, I have immense respect for the intellects of both Vox and Mr. Wright. I salute you both for showing us that sometimes there is disagreement between men, even among those we assume might be in perfect agreement. Kudos to both for publicly allowing this exchange, it is the mark of true gentlemen.

Anonymous Jonathan December 08, 2014 10:43 PM  

@ Porphyry

"probably my primary influence is WVO Quine" Yeah you and I are so far apart metaphysically

You are assuming that metaphysics is a distinct *thing*.

@ wrf3

I am not saying you're wrong, just pointing out the implications of your position. If I had the answer that synthesized all this I would be the greatest philosopher in history, which I'm not

Anonymous automatthew December 08, 2014 10:45 PM  

Markku: I think the correlation results from the ability of the brain to subconsciously sift through possible answers, before presenting the promising one to the conscious mind. The conscious mind will then do final quality control until accepting it. The brain with high intelligence in a particular area (verbal, logical or spatial) will do it faster for any problem in that area.

I agree. This matches my experience and my theorizing about that experience.

Blogger John Wright December 08, 2014 10:45 PM  

"John is quite simply wrong, and extremely wrong, but I respect him so I do not comment on his blog."

Ah, so you do not respect me enough to show me where I have erred, but are content to see me drowning in the mud of falsehood, helplessly.

Well, this is not my blog. Show me the error here:

Which of these statements is wrong?
1. Science is empirical.
2. Empiricism is the theory of knowledge which says that knowledge comes through the apprehension of the senses.
3. The senses apprehend physical objects only, matter and energy occupy time and space, having duration and extension.

Let me add one more:
4. Physical objects are quantifiable. Anything that by its nature is unquantifiable is not a physical object.

If all four statements are correct, and if imponderables such as beauty or athletic ability or wisdom or cunning or the time it takes to solve a given math problem cannot by their very nature be reduced to an unit measure or 'quanta' them they are not physical objects properly so called, hence no open to inspection by empirical evidence alone, hence not science, which confines itself to factual statements about empirical evidence alone, or predictive deductions therefrom.

Here is two assumptions I am not making, and I willing to entertain any argument to prove them:
1. If it is predictable, that makes it science.

I reject this on the ground of logic: just because all science deals with predictable quantities, it does not necessarily follow that predictable QUALITIES are part of science. But I will hear an argument to proof the case, if any man makes it.

2. If I can stick an arbitrary number on it, that makes it science.

It is the same logical error again. Just because all science deals with quantifiable objects, it does not follow that putting a number of the instances when an imponderable is seen makes that imponderable a quantity rather than a quality.

An easy way to understand the distinction is this: a quantity can be meaningfully halved or doubled. Half an yard is one foot and a half; two yards is a fathom. But half an ugly is not a half-ugly. "Twice as wise" or "three times as beautiful" does not mean anything, except as a metaphor.

Blogger John Wright December 08, 2014 10:46 PM  

Suppose for the sake of argument that I find a town called Gingertown in which every single redheaded female will select red as her favorite color on a questionnaire.

The correlation is one hundred percent. I can with a high degree of certainty predict when color a commercial product any woman of that town will buy, for all products where the color is the deciding factor rather than the price of convenience or whatnot.

Is that a scientific discovery? Is that science?

Is that the same thing Newton does when he discovers the law of nature, that is, the underlying unity of proportion between the quantifiable forces and motions of apples and cannonballs and the orbits of planets?

If so, what rule of nature have we discovered here in Gingertown? What is the thing being measured? If Batgirl moves to Gingertown and her favorite color is black, is the scientific discovery invalidated? (Kept in mind her hair color is red on when in her crimefighting togs: otherwise she is a brunette.)

Keep in mind what I am not arguing. I am not saying some people are not more skilled at some or many types and species of mental efforts than others. I am not saying this skill at brainwork is not inheritable. I am not saying Libras do not tend to have artistic temperaments, or that babies born with Saturn in conjunction are wise before their years. I am certainly not saying that one can predict with a high degree of accuracy that people who do well on word quizzes and aptitude tests will have an aptitude for coursework of the same kind, or even similar kind.

I am saying it is about a scientific as predicting the answers to the quiz questioned asked of beauty contest winners. You can correlate that as well, and render predictions with a high degree of accuracy. I predict the girls in numbers higher than the general population will desire world peace.

Anonymous Porphyry December 08, 2014 10:47 PM  

"You are assuming that metaphysics is a distinct *thing*." Precisely, not doing so is self defeating,because it denies absolutely true propositions.

Blogger wrf3 December 08, 2014 10:47 PM  

Jonathan asked: You do understand that this is hotly disputed, right?
Sure.

I mean, if thoughts are simply an effect in the brain of external causes then there is no such thing as freedom of thought/will.
And? Since I'm one of the resident Calvinists ("For He says to Moses, 'I will have compassion on whom I have compassion, and mercy on whom I have mercy.' It therefore depends not on human will or effort...") that doesn't bother me in the least.

Does it bother you?

Anonymous automatthew December 08, 2014 10:47 PM  

Original photo of the blonde girl has an Eastern Baltic look to me. She's attractive enough, but I prefer the longer-faced nordic look. Perhaps karsten's preference is merely racial affinity.

Anonymous Mudz December 08, 2014 10:50 PM  

@ wrf3

If there is no cause and effect, there are no thoughts, either.

Out of curiosity, why not? I'd be interested in seeing how you would reason it out.

Don't believe in acausal events?

Anonymous Jonathan December 08, 2014 10:52 PM  

1. Science is empirical.

Maybe the distinction between the empirical and the non-empirical is not analytical.

Blogger Markku December 08, 2014 10:54 PM  

All those examples CAN be science, as long as the CLAIM being presented is accurate and the method in getting the correlation was scientific.

What I mean is, if the claim involves "as long as the demographics don't significantly change", then it is a scientific claim. It's not a particularly useful claim since you would have figured it out so trivially just by common sense, but that has no bearing on the claim's scientificness.

Same thing with Newton. His formulas were just flat out wrong. At ALL speeds. But they were still close enough to be useful. Except when you get to relativistic speeds, which is a similar event as batgirl arriving in the island. It changes something significant about the body of data which was generalized into the formula.

Anonymous Ephirius December 08, 2014 10:56 PM  

"As for your second part - "A thing must be impossible to quantify in principle to earn the distinction" - I have to ask, who made you the maker of the rules? "

The definition of the word! All I've relied on in any argument about it is the definition!

"impossible to express or measure in terms of quantity."

If a thing is impossible to express in terms of quantity, then it doesn't matter what happens in 100 years. Impossible is impossible is impossible.

We are using two different definitions, clearly. The one I use is out of the Oxford dictionary. It also makes quite a lot of sense etymologically.

OpenID shallowthoughtswithgeoff December 08, 2014 10:56 PM  


Ephirius wrote: Intelligence, like beauty, is not quantifiable.

wrf: I'd like to see the proof of that, please.



I think of it this way:

Jesus presupposes that external fruit is a metric of faith in Matthew 7:16-20.
He immediately goes on to explain that, nevertheless, certain external works that correlate with faith, may do so so well that they even deceive those who do them in the place of faithful adherence to his person and teachings (Matthew 7:21-23). The same relation can be seen in Matthew 6:1-18 (about generosity, prayer, and fasting).

By analogy, beauty is experienced by the human mind in ways that are quantifiable and those quantifications correlate with beauty but are not the same things as beauty, just as good works on the outside correlate with faith but are A) not certain markers of faith and B) are not the exact same thing.

So logical proof (or probabilistic argument):
1. Jesus understands reality at a high enough level to serve as a heuristic for wise worldview formation.
2. Jesus observes that faith and good works correlate.
3. Jesus observes that certain good works are not necessarily signs of faith and are not the same thing as the will of his Father.
4. One can therefore infer that other matters of correlation to philosophical transcendentals (like faith and good works to goodness above) have similar relationships to observable reality.
5. Based on 4, beauty, though correlated to quantifiable features is not reducible to those features.

This makes sense if, ultimately, beauty really exists as a feature of the godhead. Instantiations of beauty are true beauty, but beauty itself is immeasurable.

But I'm working on physics homework and thus I'm probably wrong.

Blogger Markku December 08, 2014 11:00 PM  

Similarly, if education becomes just surviving in the Jungle Boogie of the classroom, and involves little or no studies but success is determined in how credibly you can play victim, then that is a similar change as the demographics of the island changing. The science becomes irrelevant, because it was tested against different kind of education.

But if the education changes back to actual studying, then it becomes relevant again.

Blogger wrf3 December 08, 2014 11:02 PM  

Mudz asked: Out of curiosity, why not? I'd be interested in seeing how you would reason it out.

If you would be so kind, look here.

Don't believe in acausal events?
Should I? Can you show me one? You might, for example, point to a quantum effect, such as whether or not a given photon will reflect off of water -- and from our point of view it's utterly random with no prior cause -- but I'm perfectly happy to say that God caused it.

Anonymous karsten December 08, 2014 11:04 PM  

"Original photo of the blonde girl has an Eastern Baltic look to me. She's attractive enough, but I prefer the longer-faced nordic look. Perhaps karsten's preference is merely racial affinity."

Yes, that was my own speculation in my original post. I've always preferred rounder faces to oval ones, and my family is Prussian going way back.

Since testosterone is one of the prime mechanisms for elongating the face, an argument could be made that rounder faces are more feminine (more estrogen, less testosterone = rounder face). But I've never really been impelled to look that deeply into it. I just take it as inherited aesthetic hardwiring. Goodness knows that it's not an aesthetic taste that's culturally reinforced, given the Tribe's Semitic preferences in Hollywood casting, nor by the Semitic AND homo choices of the fashion world.

Anonymous zen0 December 08, 2014 11:05 PM  

This makes sense if, ultimately, beauty really exists as a feature of the godhead. Instantiations of beauty are true beauty, but beauty itself is immeasurable.

For example?

Anonymous Jonathan December 08, 2014 11:09 PM  

@ wrf3

Don't believe in acausal events?
Should I? Can you show me one?


You do understand you're jerking his chain, right? Demonstrating a-causality is a contradiction in terms.

Blogger Markku December 08, 2014 11:11 PM  

but I'm perfectly happy to say that God caused it.

Or God's quantum field equations have a REALLY good pseudo-random number generator.

Anonymous Jonathan December 08, 2014 11:13 PM  

Or God's quantum field equations have a REALLY good pseudo-random number generator.

At large enough n I have faith that all sequences eventually become random.

Anonymous Mudz December 08, 2014 11:17 PM  

If you would be so kind, look here.

Since "The Physical Nature of Thought" linked to nothing, and you provided no argument, I shall take this as a tacit admission that your argument was without substance.

I would have preferred something a little more forth-right, but I'll accept it as a grudging surrender.

Should I? Can you show me one? You might, for example, point to a quantum effect, such as whether or not a given photon will reflect off of water -- and from our point of view it's utterly random with no prior cause -- but I'm perfectly happy to say that God caused it.

Sorry, you weren't clever enough. Because you've just accepted the premise that events that seem acausal from our POV, can still have causes. In fact, you have asserted that all the significant arguments you've put forward of 'acausal events' were false, because you've directly contradicted the example you used for them.

You can assert 'God caused it' if you like. Being a whimsical answer isn't enough to make me need to refute it. First Cause is perfectly valid.

You can no longer assert 'acausal events' anymore as a fundamental indisputable truth of the cosmos, and have contradicted all of your previous and future arguments to that effect.

Try and arbitrarily back-track. I dare you.

You know you're trapped in a false-hood either way. Not that your arguments were particularly valid to begin with.

Blogger frigger611 December 08, 2014 11:18 PM  

I must say, a lot of the rancor here seems to be misplaced.

No one is holding a monopoly on the "real science." Most of the argument here seems to hinge on differences between deductive and inductive reasoning. Both are used in science, but for different reasons.

Both induction and deduction are valid tools. I think many assumptions are made about people and their potentials to achieve based on IQ - this is a proper use of induction that leads us to an hypothesis. Now we can move on to the next stage...

But in order to arrive at a proof - one that is replicable and falsifiable, employing means of deduction - well, that's a much taller order, and we're not quite there yet.

Of course I could be wrong. But then I never expected to see Vox and Wright and us commenters going so many rounds around the mulberry bush. Methinks our premises or definitions need some finer tuning.

Anonymous Porphyry December 08, 2014 11:20 PM  

@ Markku after getting my posting deleted twice I gave up on trying to actually parse what you were saying. But essentially my question was that if you deny that continued observation of a specific property and its essential consequences is science? then what do you hold as science?

Blogger wrf3 December 08, 2014 11:22 PM  

John Wright claimed: 4. Physical objects are quantifiable. Anything that by its nature is unquantifiable is not a physical object.

We can certainly count physical objects. But what about the behavior of a physical object? Suppose a single ball is dropped on a Galton board. We cannot predict where a single ball will end up, but if many balls are dropped, a "normal" distribution results. Is any part of the path of the ball from the top of the bottom of the board unphysical?

How about the reflection of light off of water? We absolutely cannot predict if an individual photon will be reflected off of a water molecule or absorbed. Is any part of the behavior of a photon unphysical?

Anonymous Porphyry December 08, 2014 11:22 PM  

"But in order to arrive at a proof - one that is replicable and falsifiable, employing means of deduction - well, that's a much taller order, and we're not quite there yet. " No the distinction I and I suspect the one that Mr. Wright is making is the distinction between induction and science.

Blogger Markku December 08, 2014 11:24 PM  

I suspect that you have misunderstood something, because I haven't yet denied any particular thing as being science in this thread. Rather, I attempted to argue that all of John's examples were indeed science, as long as you make the claim being proven accurately.

That is, you explicitly mention the boundary conditions of what you have demonstrated.

Blogger Markku December 08, 2014 11:26 PM  

BTW, I know it's annoying, and only Google could do something about it, but personally I always do ctrl+a ctrl+c before posting, in order to copy the message to clipboard. If it disappears, I can simply paste and post again.

Anonymous No True Scientist December 08, 2014 11:29 PM  

Bullsh*t baffles brains.

The philosophical stance of laborers.
The tactical EMP of the underclasses

Blogger Markku December 08, 2014 11:30 PM  

John's examples are useless by design. They are applying the scientific method to something that plain common sense would have told you with much less effort. But usefulness doesn't make something scientific or uselessness unscientific, it merely affects how likely it is to be actually applied by someone to some real world situation.

Blogger frigger611 December 08, 2014 11:32 PM  

Mr. Wright said:

"Let me add one more:
4. Physical objects are quantifiable. Anything that by its nature is unquantifiable is not a physical object."

What about particles for which we have no physical specimen, but for which we evidence of existence? The Higgs-Boson and bigfoot tracks in the mud both, as examples.

What about photons of light? They have attributes of both waves and particles. We can observe them, measure their intensity, but we cannot "count" numbers of photons in a given sample, we cannot "contain" one as a specimen. In fact, just admitting the validity of Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle makes quantifying just one attribute of a particle (velocity) accurately means that we cannot accurately quantify another, (mass).

Quantification, you see, is a real problem sometimes.

I am not trying to be cheeky, just honestly am interested in your thoughts here. Perhaps you are referring more to the macro-physical realm, Newtonian stuff v. Quantum stuff, but still it's all very science-y.

Blogger frigger611 December 08, 2014 11:33 PM  

wrf3 I guess we were on the same page...

Anonymous Porphyry December 08, 2014 11:37 PM  

@markku Precisely all the examples that John gave you contradicted aforementioned definition, so i was a asking for your defintition.

Anonymous Jonathan December 08, 2014 11:38 PM  

@ Mudz

Since "The Physical Nature of Thought" linked to nothing

That some thought is physical seems pretty indisputable. Isn't the onus on you to demonstrate that some thought is non-physical? Or maybe not. Come to think of it, "physical" and "non-physical" are logically distinct, therefore, in application they are axiomatically distinct. Therefore, thoughts must either be entirely physical or entirely non-physical, they cannot be some of both or you are violating the law of non-contradiction.

So, is thought physical? Or is it non-physical?

Blogger Markku December 08, 2014 11:39 PM  

My definition is that science is the entire body of knowledge acquired by applying the scientific method, as defined in any encyclopedia.

Blogger wrf3 December 08, 2014 11:39 PM  

Mudz wrote: Since "The Physical Nature of Thought" linked to nothing, and you provided no argument, I shall take this as a tacit admission that your argument was without substance.

Or, you could wonder if I made a mistake when copying and pasting the link. It's here.

... but I'll accept it as a grudging surrender.
Surrender? To you? I think not.

Because you've just accepted the premise that events that seem acausal from our POV, can still have causes.
Do you think you're telling me something I don't already know?

In fact, you have asserted that all the significant arguments you've put forward of 'acausal events' were false, because you've directly contradicted the example you used for them.
Not at all. Quantum mechanics shows that either acausality is true (a photon is absorbed or reflected off of water with no prior cause -- see Conway's "Free Will Theorem"), or superdeterminism is true. Either way it doesn't help you. If superdeterminism is true, you don't have free will. If superdeterminism is false, you still don't have free will, because you don't control the laws of physics.

Try and arbitrarily back-track. I dare you.
I can't help it if you don't understand quantum mechanics.






Blogger frigger611 December 08, 2014 11:43 PM  

"No the distinction I and I suspect the one that Mr. Wright is making is the distinction between induction and science."

Not seeing this.

Again, induction is a valid scientific tool - the rancor I am witnessing is more "I'm right, he's wrong, because real science dictates X and does not suppose Y and blah blah blah"

Sorry if that seems dismissive, but I've not seen (apart from my post) any distinctions made between induction v. science or induction v. deduction, etc.

Anonymous The other skeptic December 08, 2014 11:43 PM  

I am sure that lots of those wannabe female rangers will be good looking as well.

But perhaps not after they complete the trials. They are going to have to reduce the requirements if they don't want to look like a bunch of sexist dipshits.

Anonymous Jonathan December 08, 2014 11:43 PM  

Quantification, you see, is a real problem sometimes.

This is a very much underestimated problem with empiricism because the things being quantified are assumed given when they are very much disputable.

Blogger JaimeInTexas December 08, 2014 11:43 PM  

Vox, correct me if I am wrong but is it not your proposition that statistics is not science?

And, correlation is a statistical game, is it not?

Blogger Markku December 08, 2014 11:45 PM  

So, wrf3, when Paul speaks of "in the body or out of the body" in 2Co 12:2, what do you think "out of the body" would actually mean? Since you hold that consciousness can be reduced to a configuration and state of the brain. (Which I don't.)

What would actually take place "in the world out there", when someone is out of the body?

Anonymous Porphyry December 08, 2014 11:47 PM  

"My definition is that science is the entire body of knowledge acquired by applying the scientific method, as defined in any encyclopedia." Then science is a method rather than an art? And a person who is a good scientist is just someone's who's practiced the method or is coincidentally good at one of it's steps? If true I have to say I find that definition extraordinarily unappealing.

Anonymous Porphyry December 08, 2014 11:49 PM  

"Not seeing this." hence the bickering over deriving results from correlation rather than causation

Blogger Markku December 08, 2014 11:51 PM  

And a person who is a good scientist is just someone's who's practiced the method or is coincidentally good at one of it's steps?

I wouldn't use that expression, "good scientist", because it is ambiguous. Does it mean that he is good at doing science, or someone who uses science for good? If you forced me to take a pick, I would go with your unappealing definition. Anyone who doesn't make mistakes in his methodology is a good scientist, no matter how trivial and useless his scientific output is. He can be RELIED on. Don't need to babysit his methodology.

If we took him from his menial work and put him to a useful project, we could be confident that he doesn't screw the project up with stupid mistakes.

Anonymous Porphyry December 08, 2014 11:54 PM  

@Markku So what was Einstein besides a genius? (congrats you win, if you bite the bullet on this one.)

Anonymous Jonathan December 08, 2014 11:54 PM  

@ Porphyry

Then science is a method rather than an art?

If science is not a method then science is rhetorical, not dialectical ... or maybe the distinction between the rhetorical and a dialectical is a synthetic one as opposed to an analytic one.

Blogger wrf3 December 08, 2014 11:55 PM  

Markku asked: what do you think "out of the body" would actually mean?
I don't know. I've never had the experience of a vision like that. The closest I've ever come is flying in a dream. I neither flew, nor left my body which was asleep in my bed, even though I might describe it that way.

What would actually take place "in the world out there", when someone is out of the body?

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him”. When we both put on the imperishable, then perhaps we'll be closer to an answer.

Anonymous Porphyry December 08, 2014 11:57 PM  

"If science is not a method then science is rhetorical, not dialectical ... or maybe the distinction between the rhetorical and a dialectical is a synthetic one as opposed to an analytic one." In my opinion human beings cannot follow methods, ergo every category of natural human action is an art

Anonymous Jonathan December 08, 2014 11:57 PM  

@ Marrku

Anyone who doesn't make mistakes in his methodology is a good scientist, no matter how trivial and useless his scientific output is

Isn't this how we get "publish or perish"? Also, doesn't the logic of this reasoning render science trivial over time?

"The smallest world is the most durable" - Nietzsche

Blogger frigger611 December 08, 2014 11:58 PM  

but I've not seen (apart from my post) any distinctions made between induction v. science or induction v. deduction, etc.

Well, I gotta call myself out on this one. I went back to the beginning of the comment section and I notice PhilipGeorge did indeed mention this.

-1 for me then.

Blogger Markku December 08, 2014 11:59 PM  

The mind-body problem, in wrf3's terminology, I see thus:

Is the brain a computer, or a thin client? Does it merely interface with the physical wetware, with the mainframe being in some other form of existence, dimension or whatever you want to call it (that can then quite simply go "out of the body" by simply abandoning the thin client for a while), or is the brain the totality of it?

I'm leaning on the thin client, due to the possibility of being conscious apart from the body. It is just so much more intuitive if that is the case.

OpenID shallowthoughtswithgeoff December 08, 2014 11:59 PM  

zen0,
For example what?
I probably should have been more clear what I meant by beauty.
I take truth, goodness, and beauty to be different aspects of the order of God in creation.
Truth: Order apprehended by the intellect.
Goodness: Order conformed to by the will.
Beauty: Order apprehended by rightly formed affections.

If God really is beauty itself (this is disputed by some theologians), then it doesn't change the fact that certain features of reality really are beautiful. So, a family living together for goodness and overcoming trials with fidelity and grace is truly beautiful. This is harder to quantify than the metrics of a beautiful face, but it is still order apprehended by the affections.

Similarly, certain features of, even a physically unattractive person can create charisma or gravitas that makes people want to be around them. One can measure responses of people to such traits, but the traits themselves are not necessarily measurable (though social scientists claim to be able to measure them.)

So though certain traits of beauty are observable and can have metrics attached to them, the boundless nature of deity (who is beauty for the sake of argument) remains unavailable to scientific instrument.

Even truth, though it can be tested using logic, cannot be weighed. And beauty outside of its sexual instantiations, is harder to measure because rightly formed affections are hard to come by.

Blogger wrf3 December 09, 2014 12:00 AM  

Porphyry wrote: Then science is a method rather than an art?

Yes. But there's an art to the application of the method.

[I think I'm channeling Knuth here in his intro to "The Art of Computer Programming". But it's too late to go look it up... How did it get to be midnight already?]

Anonymous Jonathan December 09, 2014 12:01 AM  

In my opinion human beings cannot follow methods

Wait, what? Someone contact the dictionary people and let them know that the term "method" is meaningless.

Also, I need to hunt down my Algebra teacher and kick his ass.

Anonymous Toby Temple December 09, 2014 12:01 AM  

If superdeterminism is false, you still don't have free will, because you don't control the laws of physics.

And now we're back to the free will debate!

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