Jan 24 2017

More Evidence Autism Rates Not Truly Increasing

Published by under autism
Comments: 448

autism-organicOne of the pillars of the anti-vaccine movement over the last two decades is that we are in the midst of an “autism epidemic” because autism incidence has dramatically increased over this time. This increase calls for an explanation, which, of course, they believe must have something to do with vaccines.

Like all beliefs and movements disconnected from real science, this is a simplistic and invalid approach to a complex science, in this case epidemiology.

In medicine we are very interested in how disease rates change over historical time, and among various locations and demographics. Such information provides critical clues to the etiology (causes) of disease and the effects of various risk factors and treatments. There are many things that can change the incidence (new diagnoses over time) and prevalence (number of people with a diagnosis at any one point in time) of a disease, including the way we make and record such diagnoses.

This is always the critical question when following disease incidence over time – are there any artifacts in how we are collecting data. Are the changes in the numbers reflecting a real biological change in the population, or just a change in the behavior of physicians?

Those who warn about an “autism epidemic” are not asking these questions. They are taking the numbers at face value, because they serve a rhetorical purpose.

Meanwhile, scientists have been asking the right questions. What they have found is that, over the last few decades, diagnostic patterns of autism have indeed changed. They have identified a few specific changes that would lead to an increase in the incidence of autism diagnoses without any change biologically in the true incidence of the condition.

First, awareness of autism has dramatically increased, among parents, teachers, and doctors. Increased awareness leads to increased diagnoses. Because autism is more and more covered by state-provided services, there is also an incentive to seek out the diagnosis.

The diagnostic criteria have also been broadened. This is the most common artifact affecting incidence numbers. Whenever we make changes to the criteria necessary to establish a diagnosis, it can have a dramatic affect on the incidence.

There is also something called diagnostic substitution. In the past children with the same constellation of symptoms would have been labeled as having a language disorder, or a non-specific developmental disorder, and now they are diagnosed with autism.

So, epidemiologists have done a number of studies, using different methods, to evaluate the true incidence of autism. One way to get at this is to compare patient populations over time using the exact same diagnostic criteria. You can even look back in time if you have adequate records. One such study, published in 2015, found:

In 2010 there were an estimated 52 million cases of ASDs, equating to a prevalence of 7.6 per 1000 or one in 132 persons. After accounting for methodological variations, there was no clear evidence of a change in prevalence for autistic disorder or other ASDs between 1990 and 2010. Worldwide, there was little regional variation in the prevalence of ASDs.

A 2006 review of studies looking at diagnostic behavior found:

The recorded prevalence of autism has increased considerably in recent years. This reflects greater recognition, with changes in diagnostic practice associated with more trained diagnosticians; broadening of diagnostic criteria to include a spectrum of disorder; a greater willingness by parents and educationalists to accept the label (in part because of entitlement to services); and better recording systems, among other factors.

A 2013 study found that there are spatial clusters in autism diagnoses, meaning that if a family lives near another family with a member diagnosed with autism they were more likely to also have sought a diagnosis. The pattern did not just follow physical closeness, but social networking.

A 2009 study found significant diagnostic substitution accounting for 25% of the increase in autism diagnoses.

There is similar evidence from other countries. A 2015 Danish study found that 60% of the increase in autism diagnoses could be specifically accounted for by changes in diagnostic patterns.

Now a new study out of Australia adds to the pile of evidence by taking a slightly different approach to the question. They reviewed records of 1252 children from 2000-2009, over a time when consistent diagnostic methods were used, and found that over time the severity of diagnoses had decreased. This means that doctors were diagnoses less severe cases with autism. This, of course, would result in a significant increase in the incidence of new diagnoses.

Conclusion

Taken together the literature clearly demonstrates that the majority of the increase in autism diagnoses can be accounted for by loosening the diagnostic criteria, increased surveillance, and diagnostic substitution. It is possible these factors account for 100% of the increase, which is suggested by those studies that find a stable incidence over time when consistent diagnostic methods are used.

The data is not able to completely rule out that there is also a small real increase in the incidence of autism, but a real increase is not necessary to explain the data.

What is clearly true is that there is no autism epidemic, and therefore any attempts to explain the non-existent epidemic are doomed to failure.

448 responses so far

448 Responses to “More Evidence Autism Rates Not Truly Increasing”

  1. DanDanNoodleson 24 Jan 2017 at 8:51 am

    What is really aggravating about the people who politicize autism to grind an axe is that it isn’t just enough for them to say it is increasing. They also have to paint being autistic as this horrible, horrible thing, almost worse than dying. (And not even “almost” in the case of the anti-vaxers.)

    15 years ago, when my son was diagnosed was Asperger’s (as it was called then), I started reading up on it. As I did so, I started to cry, because everything I was reading was me. I had spent 30+ years being first the weird kid, and then an isolated teenager, and then that guy at the party who stood off by himself and was hard to talk to. It was the first time I ever realized that I wasn’t just a misfit. I can’t even begin to describe how freeing it was.

    I’m much, much better at social interactions now, because I know how to compensate for my “shortcomings”. Being labeled as ASD is one of the best things that ever happened to me.

  2. alhillon 24 Jan 2017 at 9:42 am

    Can the same be said for issues such as ADHD, OCD, depresssion, etc. They are just better recognized and understood by all. And the definition has broadened in each new addition of DSM?

  3. SteveAon 24 Jan 2017 at 9:51 am

    DanDanNoodles

    I can’t remember if I’ve told this story here before, so apologies if you’ve heard it before.

    The ex-editor and founder of a well-known humour periodical in the UK has a brother who was always known as being a bit of an ‘odd ball’. He was quite withdrawn and had very particular ways. Quite the eccentric. One evening the editor was watching a TV documentary about, the then ‘new’ thing called Asperger’s. All of a sudden the penny dropped, and he realised that the condition described his brother perfectly. He was about to phone his brother to tell him to watch the show, when the phone rang – it was his brother calling to tell him about this incredible documentary he was watching…

    I would guess the brother’s reaction was similar to yours.

  4. cosmicaugon 24 Jan 2017 at 10:12 am

    On the subject of a TV documentary about Asperger syndrome, this one seemed revealing to me:
    https://youtu.be/u0PiO4qTxnU

    (A small part might be missing).

  5. Rogue Medicon 24 Jan 2017 at 11:39 am

    Jenny McCarthy has it all wrong.

    We obviously need to lower the price of organic foods to prevent autism.

    Even better, we could make sales of organic products illegal, thus causing the rate of autism to plummet.

    Maybe we can get President Bush (43) to promote

    Renounce broccoli to stop autism!

    Take that, RFK,Jr.

    .

  6. CowCookieon 24 Jan 2017 at 1:17 pm

    According to Gallup, the rate of uninsured has fallen by about 6 points since the individual mandate took effect. Have we seen any evidence yet that other illnesses are getting diagnosed more frequently because more people with insurance has increased contacts with health care providers? I wouldn’t expect a huge increase because the plan aimed to enroll two groups that would be less likely to affect the statistics: 1) people with pre-existing conditions whose illnesses have already been identified and 2) so-called “young invincibles” who are at the state in life when they’re less likely to be identified with a condition. But there may still have been some increase because of greater opportunities for diagnosis. Has anyone looked into whether this happened?

  7. michaelegnoron 24 Jan 2017 at 6:05 pm

    Steven:

    [“Taken together the literature clearly demonstrates that the majority of the increase in autism diagnoses can be accounted for by loosening the diagnostic criteria, increased surveillance, and diagnostic substitution. It is possible these factors account for 100% of the increase, which is suggested by those studies that find a stable incidence over time when consistent diagnostic methods are used.

    The data is not able to completely rule out that there is also a small real increase in the incidence of autism, but a real increase is not necessary to explain the data.

    What is clearly true is that there is no autism epidemic, and therefore any attempts to explain the non-existent epidemic are doomed to failure.”]

    Taken together the literature clearly demonstrates that the majority of the increase in global temperatures can be accounted for by loosening the measurement criteria, increased surveillance, and data substitution. It is possible these factors account for 100% of the increase, which is suggested by those studies that find a stable incidence over time when consistent methods are used [i.e. the Pause].

    The data is not able to completely rule out that there is also a small real increase in the temperature, but a real increase is not necessary to explain the data.

    What is clearly true is that there is no anthropogenic global warming, and therefore any attempts to explain the non-existent warming are doomed to failure.

    Actually, the autism rates have increased by 0.01%, with a margin of error of 0.1%, so, with Monte Carlo data analysis, the earth is doomed!

  8. michaelegnoron 24 Jan 2017 at 6:10 pm

    The difference in rigor between Steven’s analysis of the autism data, which I think is correct, and his analysis of the global warming data, which is incorrect, is hilarious.

    Steven: you’re not a real Skeptic if you’re only skeptical of viewpoints that you’re biased against.

  9. Ivan Groznyon 24 Jan 2017 at 6:28 pm

    “According to Gallup, the rate of uninsured has fallen by about 6 points since the individual mandate took effect. Have we seen any evidence yet that other illnesses are getting diagnosed more frequently because more people with insurance has increased contacts with health care providers?”

    The world does not necessarily revolves around the USA. The study SN comments on here is from Australia, covering the period 2001-2009. So, it’s from before Obamacare, and in another country.

  10. hardnoseon 24 Jan 2017 at 6:46 pm

    If they really wanted to know if autism is increasing or not, they could compare the autism rates in various age groups.

    If autism is more common in children than adults, that could mean it actually is increasing.

  11. hardnoseon 24 Jan 2017 at 7:02 pm

    They should be considering whether or not the rate of extreme disabling autism has increased or not.

  12. cozyingon 24 Jan 2017 at 7:16 pm

    Hardnose,

    “They should be considering whether or not the rate of extreme disabling autism has increased or not.”

    Yes this is a question that they could ask, however is it a useful comparison?

    Is asking a more specific statistical question about a subset of a population more likely to generate a statistically significant result?

    I think it is. Is that a good thing? What would it mean?

    If you did show that there are more extreme cases does that weaken or strengthen a conspiracy about autism rates increasing?

    In my opinion I think it would weaken the conspiracy. It’s also an example of moving the goalpost. If autism rates overall aren’t increasing, which was the original claim, why would a more specific question about a subset of that populaion teach us?

  13. bachfiendon 24 Jan 2017 at 8:13 pm

    Michael,

    Your argument that the increase in global lower atmospheric temperature is only apparent and not real doesn’t explain why the oceans are also warming. And more importantly, why the Arctic ice volume is also decreasing. Both of which are indicative that the Earth is warming.

  14. Willyon 24 Jan 2017 at 8:15 pm

    hardnose:

    “If they really wanted to know if autism is increasing or not, they could compare the autism rates in various age groups.”

    “They should be considering whether or not the rate of extreme disabling autism has increased or not.”

    I’m just so sure that both of your above thoughts are oh-so original and that no one in the field has ever even considered your points before. What a shame that you have chosen a career field where you aren’t able to make such earth-shattering observations in your field of expertise.

    I’ll ask again: What is your religious belief? Why do you continue to refuse to be specific about answering that simple question?

    (Here’s hint, fool. Read the posts above from Dan-Dan Noodles and Steve A; do they speak to age differences and rates of diagnoses?

    FOOL!!!

  15. RickKon 24 Jan 2017 at 8:19 pm

    Bach, please don’t allow Egnor to derail this thread too. This is about autism.

    Hardnose, “they” have studied autism rates in adults. The rates are comparable to rates in children.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21536975

    There is no epidemic.

  16. cozyingon 24 Jan 2017 at 8:35 pm

    Willy,

    I completely disagree with this approach. Hardnose is totally allowed to say things that you disagree with. But when you personally attack him, going so far as to mock his life choices and career, that’s not very logical.

    Look in detail at what’s happening, someone says something you disagree with, so you insult them and use flawed arguments to fight them. Isn’t that interesting?

    Isn’t that exactly what’s happening from hardnose’s perspective?

  17. Willyon 24 Jan 2017 at 9:25 pm

    cozying: Find the flaws in my post regarding his “suggestions” about what autism researchers should do. Do you find either of his “ideas” to be sensible? Original? Informed? Do you really think autism researchers haven’t thought to examine the rates of “severity” or to compare autism rates vs age? What did I say that was wrong–or inappropriate? What did I say that was “flawed”???? This is simple stuff, cozying, so please respond with specifics.

    As for my question about his religious beliefs, I’ve asked him that questions a number of times–all stemming from a post relevant to his beliefs. He refuses to answer, aside from silly babble about “information”.

    I suggest you not comment when you haven’t a clue about what you are commenting about. Isn’t that “interesting”? IOW, STFU!!!

  18. cozyingon 24 Jan 2017 at 9:42 pm

    Willy,

    All of those things you summarized just now are problematic if not outright illogical. Upon rereading what you said, there actually isn’t a single argument in it. You don’t back up or give evidence for your claims. You use appeals to common sense. You use offensive words and acronyms though so that means you are right?

    Asking someone what their religious beliefs are is inappropriate. People are allowed to believe whatever they want. You clearly just want to know what his beliefs are so you can explain away all his disagreeing behavior as motivated reasoning. This is prejudiced. It doesn’t matter if hardnose is religious or not. He’s allowed to disagree with you.

    Instead of addressing what he said and formulating an argument, you asked leading questions and used personal attacks. That’s illogical.

    You assume there must be something wrong with your opponent, his religiosity or intelligence is now in question. Because smart atheists never disagree with you?

  19. BillyJoe7on 24 Jan 2017 at 10:39 pm

    cozy, please stop trying to be the blog policegirl, it’s getting oh so tiring.

  20. cozyingon 24 Jan 2017 at 11:00 pm

    Please stop standing idly by while people advocate for prejudice and use offensive language. Oh wait…
    You do that too.

    Btw did you know that it’s unconstitutional in most professional contexts to ask someone what their religion is? Why do you think that is? Is this an atheism blog? No. So attack what they are saying not who they are and what they believe.

  21. hardnoseon 25 Jan 2017 at 8:51 am

    “If autism rates overall aren’t increasing, which was the original claim, why would a more specific question about a subset of that populaion teach us?”

    SN (and the mainstream news in general) says that diagnosis of autism is increasing, but autism has not increased.

    However, maybe diagnosis of ASD in general is increasing, while (possibly) diagnosis of severe autism has been stable.

    We don’t know. It is possible that severe autism (not just diagnosis) has actually increased. It would be very useful to know that. It would be useful to discriminate between ASD patients who can function and those who are actually disabled.

    The ASD diagnosis may have extended dramatically to include Asperger’s Syndrome, for example. This syndrome may have been very common all along, since these people are just an extension of normal personality variation.

    If it turns out that actual severe autism has increased (not just rates of diagnosis), that would indicate something in the environment has changed.

    Increasing population and increasing industrialization have obviously affected the environment.

    Of course the CDC won’t bother trying to figure this out. They are only interested in telling us, again, that everything is safe.

  22. hardnoseon 25 Jan 2017 at 8:54 am

    @cozying: “But when you personally attack him, going so far as to mock his life choices and career, that’s not very logical.”

    They have been doing that for years. To me, it just shows that they feel threatened by ideas that don’t fit perfectly into their little mainstream belief system.

  23. Willyon 25 Jan 2017 at 9:43 am

    cozyingv: What specifically did I say that “mock(ed) his life choices and career”?

    hn routinely bashes atheism, yet never specifies what he believes. Asking him to state his belief is unreasonable why?

    hn: keep telling yourself people herein are “threatened” by you.

  24. SteveAon 25 Jan 2017 at 10:14 am

    If HN is anything like the mental picture I’ve been building of him, the most threatening thing about him will be his BO.

  25. SteveAon 25 Jan 2017 at 10:32 am

    HN

    Apologies for my last remark. I couldn’t resist, but it was mean.

    For all your annoying ways, you do at least keep it civil.

  26. Marshallon 25 Jan 2017 at 11:34 am

    Hardnose: you suffer from one of the worst case of motivated reasoning I have ever seen, right behind Kent Hovind and Ken Ham, both of whom I assume you adore.

    > “However, maybe diagnosis of ASD in general is increasing, while (possibly) diagnosis of severe autism has been stable.
    We don’t know.”

    You are only asking this question because you are searching really hard for a possible path to your motivated conclusion, that vaccines cause autism. It’s an absurdly stupid “what if” question that would only be asked by someone with such motivated reasoning.

    You then you then make some absurd logical jumps that are again motivated. Increased severe autism diagnosis means “something” in the environment has changd and, becuase “increasing industrialization” is “something,” then “maybe” that’s the cause. The “severe autism” hypothesis is utterly unfounded and you have no reason to believe that it’s true.

  27. cozyingon 25 Jan 2017 at 12:10 pm

    Willy,

    cozyingv: What specifically did I say that “mock(ed) his life choices and career”?
    hn routinely bashes atheism, yet never specifies what he believes. Asking him to state his belief is unreasonable why?

    It’s pretty hard to imagine that when you said your comments on HN’s expertise and career choices that you weren’t being sarcastic. I think the multiple instances of “fool” may have given it away, on the small chance that we didn’t notice the sarcastic condescending tone.

    People are allowed to routinely bash atheism. They are allowed to express dissenting views. As for your question on asking him his beliefs. I feel like I already explained it. Do you ever hear people on SGU ask someone what their religious beliefs are before they start an interview or discussion about them? The SGU once interviewed someone who was a theist and a skeptic, and got a huge backlash for it, do you remember Steven’s response? Is this an atheism blog? Is it necessary to know what hardnose believes to respond to what he wrote?

    Doesn’t it seem very much like you are actively seeking out information so that you can justify your prejudice against hardnose?

    I mean for all this stuff I hear about the “trolls like me” from the choir on here, they sure don’t use abusive language. Even SteveA, who thinks he knows better than the 17 intel agencies’ repeated conclusions, has admitted that HN keeps it civil. (While ironically and consistently keeping it uncivil himself)

    I have to wonder who the real trolls are, or if these mythical trolls even exist.

    Either way, if you really care about skepticism and critical thinking, what are you doing using arguments/language like that? Isn’t it funny that in a community based on these ideals, that an “illogical foolish troll” receives illogical arguments and personal attacks? Didn’t he just prove you aren’t who you claim to be?

    I personally believe that if hardnose received polite responses and didn’t provoke a community of skeptics to personally attack him, that maybe the world would be a better place. Maybe he would even move on and find a new blog of people to trigger.

  28. Marshallon 25 Jan 2017 at 12:27 pm

    Willy,

    People were polite to Hardnose for a while. However, he would repeatedly continue making specific, disproven points over and over (HN: “X happens because Y.” People: “Y is false, here is lots of evidence.” HN: “because Y is true…”), to the point that it became too frustrating to attempt to educate him on basic matters of logic and the scientific process. Any evidence that goes contrary to his viewpoint is dismissed as “materialist” and therefore narrow-minded, because it assumes that only the “material” matters…whatever he means by that. After a while, your patience with his total ignoramus replies wears thin, and it becomes harder not to shout.

  29. hardnoseon 25 Jan 2017 at 12:48 pm

    “hn routinely bashes atheism, yet never specifies what he believes.”

    I don’t “bash” atheism, I just don’t agree with it.

    So you want me to specific a definite belief? I guess you never heard of skepticism. We don’t speculate beyond the evidence that we have.

  30. hardnoseon 25 Jan 2017 at 12:49 pm

    @cozying: “Is this an atheism blog?”

    Yes.

  31. cozyingon 25 Jan 2017 at 12:50 pm

    Marshall,

    This “materialist” thing has come up before. Hardnose says materialistic science can’t prove his claims, the community erroneously says actually yes science has disproved the afterlife and other nonsense. Playing to his false metaphysical framework. Actually modern science isn’t materialism. There are tons of problems with that approach so now we lean towards realism. This isn’t to say that non-materialistic neuroscience is legit. I’m just saying actually the community frequently over corrects and makes other errors.

  32. cozyingon 25 Jan 2017 at 12:52 pm

    hardnose,

    It deeply saddens me that you believe this is an atheism blog. It’s the stated intention of the author that it’s about science and critical thinking. Also I have read many of his responses to you, and he has never asked you what your beliefs are, or insulted religious people just for believing something different.

  33. hardnoseon 25 Jan 2017 at 1:04 pm

    “it became too frustrating to attempt to educate him on basic matters of logic and the scientific process.”

    That’s funny, that describes how I feel about you-all.

  34. hardnoseon 25 Jan 2017 at 1:17 pm

    “It deeply saddens me that you believe this is an atheism blog. It’s the stated intention of the author that it’s about science and critical thinking. Also I have read many of his responses to you, and he has never asked you what your beliefs are, or insulted religious people just for believing something different.”

    All the regular commenters are atheists, and so is the author.

    SN does not insult anyone and he is very different from the commenters. However he is an activist ideologue. That’s fine, I just feel I have a right to point out what is going on.

  35. hardnoseon 25 Jan 2017 at 1:18 pm

    They took the label “skeptic” and assigned it a very different meaning.

  36. cozyingon 25 Jan 2017 at 1:39 pm

    hardnose,

    “They took the label “skeptic” and assigned it a very different meaning.”

    Well. Should we use the original old school meaning? The ancient skeptics?

    Decades ago, the founders of this movement chose a label. They did it somewhat arbitrarily, but they chose something that kinda applied to what they believed.

    Languages change over time, so does the meaning of words, the same label can mean two different things. There is nothing wrong with that.

    Skeptics, as in members of this movement, are one thing.

    Skeptics, as in members of the ancient philosophy, are another.

    And skeptics, as how it’s used in pop culture, are people who just doubt things and offer contrarian perspectives.

    It’s probably very useful to note that you are now trying to parse out the meaning of skeptic. It’s not really useful, it doesn’t even matter. We could be called “hardnoses” it’s just a label, that comes with etymological baggage.

    It’s “skeptical” to doubt the evidence that autism rates aren’t increasing. But it’s not a position that this movement considers to be valid.

  37. RickKon 25 Jan 2017 at 7:47 pm

    “It’s “skeptical” to doubt the evidence that autism rates aren’t increasing. But it’s not a position that this movement considers to be valid.”

    Perhaps I’m misinterpreting all those negatives. Are you suggesting that the mainstream opinion is that autism rates aren’t increasing? Are you suggesting that the mass audience of Dr. Oz and Oprah think there is no autism epidemic?

    Are you suggesting, like hardnose, that the only true skeptical position is whatever opposes Steve Novella’s opinion?

  38. cozyingon 25 Jan 2017 at 8:50 pm

    Rickk,

    If you look closely, there is only one negative in my recent sentence about autism rates you quoted: “aren’t.” Words like ‘skeptical’ and ‘doubt’ aren’t influenced by the language rules of negation.

    It means exactly what it says: It’s “skeptical” – – to doubt – – the evidence that autism rates aren’t increasing. The word “skeptical” is clearly being used in a misleading way intentionally, and not representing the label of this movement. Notice how the first part of my comment established some of the various meanings of the word.

    Hardnose continually uses various definitions of the word (quite a few words actually) in different contexts without really specifying what he is exactly referring to.

    I was simply saying that yes by some definitions skepticism is just to doubt. So you can be skeptical, and doubt the evidence that shows autism rates are not increasing. But you aren’t being a diligent member of this specific community; also referred to as skeptics.

    The context of this argument is in the first line of the above article. SN clearly describes that increasing autism rates were a pillar of the anti vax movement. There is a lot of research and data that has shown this is not the case. So no I don’t think we are in an Autism epidemic. I am fully aware that this is a hot issue that is presented another way entirely in the media.

    Hardnose and others have suggested asking the question another way, like “is there more severe cases of autism.” This is just an example of moving the goalpost. First they said the overall rates were skyrocketing because of vaccines. Now they are saying well maybe if we ask a question that’s more vulnerable to p hacking, we can still get partial credit.

  39. tmac57on 25 Jan 2017 at 8:56 pm

    “Words like ‘skeptical’ and ‘doubt’ aren’t influenced by the language rules of negation.”

    You like ice cream!

    I am skeptical you like ice cream!

    I doubt you like ice cream!

  40. tmac57on 25 Jan 2017 at 9:04 pm

    I sometimes get not confused when statements aren’t indecipherable or can’t be
    misuninterpreted.

  41. Willyon 25 Jan 2017 at 10:43 pm

    Cozying: My congrats on picking up on my (not in the least bit subtle) scorn and sarcasm for hn (and, now, for you). My, what a sharp cookie you are. Are you a Rhode’s scholar? Surely you must be.
    I’ll notice that you didn’t provide any evidence that I mocked hn’s “life choices” (which you dishonestly described as “expertise”) or his “career”. You instead wandered off those topics. Hell’s bells, I don’t even know what hn’s career choice is.

    Tell ya, what, cozying. Take the time to review a number of previous threads. While you MIGHT be able to find one or two in which he agrees with the point of the thread, you’ll need to look pretty hard for those times. He almost invariably disagrees with everything. He knows more than medical doctors, agriculture experts, climate scientists, psychiatrists—anything “mainstream”. He likes “alternative” science. You know, homeopathy and ESP…

    As for your claim that “the community erroneously says actually yes science has disproved the afterlife and other nonsense.”, I say horsepuckey. Show me where “the community” has said anything like that. You can’t.

    When did I say it wasn’t OK to “bash atheism”? You seem quite dense. I did say that hn frequently bashes atheism, but has refused (until a few hours ago) to reveal his particular beliefs. Can you grasp the difference? I’m thinking you can’t.

    Now go back and be a hall monitor somewhere.

    hn: CONGRATS on coming out (finally) as (apparently)an atheist!!! I’m proud of you, my boy!!
    Per the OED, atheism is: “Disbelief in, or denial of, the existence of a god.” So, since you don’t accept a god (lacking evidence), can we identify you as an atheist? As in A-theist—not a theist? As you said: “We don’t speculate beyond the evidence that we have.” Clearly, you do not believe in a specific god or gods. Be clear—are you a theist?

  42. BillyJoe7on 25 Jan 2017 at 11:00 pm

    cozy,

    “I personally believe that if hardnose received polite responses and didn’t provoke a community of skeptics to personally attack him, that maybe the world would be a better place. Maybe he would even move on and find a new blog of people to trigger”

    That’s only because you are new here.

    The troll has been around for years, and we are long past polite responses to his garbage. This is how it goes: He prints garbage. We point out that it is garbage and why it is garbage. He does not respond to the points we make. He repeats the same garbage in another thread. A good example is his charge against the CDC. In a previous thread he made a garbage claim about what the CDC say about vaccines and autoimmune disease. I quoted what they actually say on their website. The troll ignored that correction completely. The troll posts the same garbage about the CDC here in this thread.

    The troll is an ignorant, agenda driven idiot. Period.

    It is also not true that Steven Novella has not written abusively about the troll. Of course, it depends on your defintion of abuse and SN’s intent, but there have been many occasions in recent times where SN has shot him directly between the eyes no holds barred for his idiocy. Of course the troll has a history of abusive language directed against his host. Atone point I asked him to try that on Jerry Coyne’s blog and see how long he will be allowed to keep posting there. I don’t understand your defense of this obvious fool and it is interesting that you have treated him with kid gloves here, a courtesy you have not extended to others on this blog.

  43. cozyingon 25 Jan 2017 at 11:31 pm

    Willy,

    You are an intelligent critical thinker right? You love skepticism and things like logic right? I genuinely ask and do not intend sarcasm.

    Why is it then that your comments are filled with personal attacks and insults. Cruel admissions of scorn and ridicule. Examples of fallacious reasoning…?

    For example, actually hardnose isn’t all those nasty things you claim with zero evidence. You cannot possibly know his motivations, religious beliefs, or intentions.

    All he is to us skeptics is words on a screen. You don’t know him personally. You never met him. He could be a bot. Maybe it’s an early experimental troll bot.

    These words on a screen that you are freaking out at, happen to be serving a really interesting purpose. They are showing everyone who reads your comments just how subjective and illogical you are. This is especially relevant since you are on a blog dedicated to skepticism and critical thinking.

    Billy,

    Yep everyone for months now has been telling how hardnose always gets patiently dealt with and has things explained to him. I have yet to see that. On the other hand I see a lot of personal attacks and insults to pretty mainstream/pop culture claims he makes.

    I also completely disagree that you think SN deals with him in a disrespectful way. I’ve read every reply from the last few months and he is always super patient and kind. He doesn’t use personal attacks or illogical nonsense to fight him.

  44. BillyJoe7on 25 Jan 2017 at 11:33 pm

    cozy,

    “I was simply saying that yes by some definitions skepticism is just to doubt. So you can be skeptical, and doubt the evidence that shows autism rates are not increasing. But you aren’t being a diligent member of this specific community; also referred to as skeptics”

    So what is your defintion of scepticism as it applies to “this specific community”?
    Actually, the troll comes pretty close here:

    hn: “I guess you never heard of skepticism. We don’t speculate beyond the evidence that we have”

    I said pretty close but, actually, he is off by a mile. To put it in a positive light, scepticism is believing in something to the degree consistent with the evidence. If there is zero evidence for something, the degree of belief is zero. If the degree of evidence is 97%, then the degree of belief is 97%. If the evidence is a mixed bag, we withhold judgement. The troll clearly does not operate this way. He dismisses the mainstream view despite all the evidence and accepts the alternative without any evidence.

    “the community erroneously says actually yes science has disproved the afterlife and other nonsense”

    I agree with Willy:

    Willy: “As for your claim that “the community erroneously says actually yes science has disproved the afterlife and other nonsense.”, I say horsepuckey. Show me where “the community” has said anything like that. You can’t”

    Back up your BS claim. Please. 🙂

    The troll: “All the regular commenters are atheists”

    All the regular commenters are atheists.
    The troll is a regular commenter.
    Therefore the troll is an atheist. 😉
    Of course it’s a BS charge that this blog is an atheism promoting blog

  45. cozyingon 25 Jan 2017 at 11:43 pm

    Billy,

    I refer to you to the “santa myth” comment section. Hardnose says basic stuff like the afterlife can’t be disproven, science = materialism and people come in, on after another to say that yes science has disproved the afterlife, god and other things.

  46. BillyJoe7on 25 Jan 2017 at 11:50 pm

    cozy,

    “Yep everyone for months now has been telling how hardnose always gets patiently dealt with and has things explained to him. I have yet to see that’

    Didn’t I just say that? The troll has been around for years. You’ve been around for months. You have missed the history of our interactions with him (and I use the word “interaction” loosely as it applies to the troll).

    “I also completely disagree that you think SN deals with him in a disrespectful way. I’ve read every reply from the last few months and he is always super patient and kind. He doesn’t use personal attacks or illogical nonsense to fight him”

    That is your interpretation. I’m happy for SN to agree with you if he feels the need, but my impression is different. If I had the time I could show you many examples but, then I guess we’d just disagree on how to characterise his words. And, just to be clear, in case it isn’t: I am not accusing SN of doing this, I am applauding him for it. The troll knows no limits to his trolling behaviour. He is illogical. He dismisses the evidence-based consensus views on everything. He believes in non-evidence based garbage almost without question. And, despite his claimed qualifications, he is unable to understand or learn anything. There is a limit to everyone’s patience.

  47. BillyJoe7on 26 Jan 2017 at 12:06 am

    cozy,

    You will need to do better than that.

    Unless my reading or memory is deficient, nobody said that, and I read every comment.
    If you disagree, you will need to back this up with direct quotes.
    I think you have merely misinterpreted what was said.

    For my own part, I said that particle physics disproves gods and afterlives…provided QFT is correct…and there is no evidence to suggest that it is NOT correct, and lots of evidence to believe that it IS correct. QFT is consistent with every experiment ever done in particle physics.

  48. hardnoseon 26 Jan 2017 at 12:20 am

    The reason they consider me a troll here is because I am coming from a different perspective, and they don’t like that. They want this to be an exclusive club, believers only allowed.

    Our society is deeply divided along several lines, and you could see some of these divisions in the recent election.

    When I think about any of the prevailing controversies, I try to see both sides. I don’t just think “Oh those guys are morons, I don’t have to listen to them.” But that is what a lot of people do, and certainly that is what the “skeptics” here do.

    This country (I am talking about the USA) is probably in trouble because of the divisiveness. Maybe not, maybe it has always been sort of the same. But it is the first time in my life that millions of people seem terrified of their own president.

    The community represented here overlaps with some of the political tribes. Not all progressives are atheists, but they tend to at least hate organized traditional religions. Some are very spiritual, some are just not very interested in that stuff.

    Well, anyway, I am not sure how to simplify all this but I’ll try.

    Why am I here? Because I love taking abuse? Because I just like to fight?

    No, in real life I actually try to get along with everyone.

    But my real life has also included a long-term goal, and it involved trying to understand some of the divisions. Why are some people absolutely sure there is a god who cares about them, while others are absolutely sure there isn’t?

    That was an important question to me. I don’t mean the question of whether there really is a god that cares about anyone or not — that, I think, is answered only by personal experience. I mean the question of why some people are so sure of one thing, while others are so sure of the opposite.

    And I also wanted to understand the difference between “right-wing” and “left-wing.” They can’t both be correct. Is one correct and the other wrong? Are they each partly correct?

    The conclusions I came to usually were that both sides are right and both sides are wrong, and the truth is something in between, or something different.

    And most importantly, this all resulted in my not looking down at anyone. Of course, like anyone, I can fall into looking down at someone for some reason. But overall, in general, I do not see any group as a bunch of morons.

    The little clique you have here, it seems to me, is very ego-centered. By that I mean, belonging to the atheist club gives a sense of superiority. I have very very often seen posts and comments here that say or imply what a bunch of idiots those anti-vaxers are, or those homeopaths, or those parapsychologists, etc.

    There is never, I have literally never seen here, any attempt to see where they are coming from. No, they are just a bunch of morons with nothing useful to say. The Other Side is picked on and condemned.

    But I do often see where the Other Side is coming from.

    I actually try to see where everyone is coming from. I no longer have reverence for the highly educated experts and authorities. That is why some of you here hate me so much. To me, the “ordinary” person who voted for Trump because they love reality TV … wait .. I can’t exactly say I respect that person. Trying to.

    Well trying, trying to sympathize with the various perspectives. I can’t stand some of the things that either side says. But what I really hate is the condescension and contempt I see coming from the liberal/progressive side. Yes there is contempt from the other side also, but it isn’t condescending.

    The condescending contempt is what I guess I really hate. Sheer hatred that is directed at people, often just because of how they are labeled.

    So I guess I hate the hatred that people feel because they think the Other Side is hateful. And those same people usually see themselves on the side of Love and Light. Or, in the case of this blog, on the side of Science and Education.

    No, there is no answer, no formula for success. You will never conquer Nature, as far as I am concerned. But that is your quest. SN seems to work very hard as an evangelist for Progress and Science.

    Maybe I should just let you all have your comforting beliefs. My passion is just trying to understand conflicting points of view. And, also, genuine respect for the “ordinary” person.

  49. hardnoseon 26 Jan 2017 at 12:21 am

    “I said that particle physics disproves gods and afterlives…provided QFT is correct”

    That is one of the silliest comments I have seen here.

  50. BillyJoe7on 26 Jan 2017 at 1:10 am

    cozy,

    Well look at that, I’ve just provoked the troll into making more than his usual dismissive one-line comments.

    But look at the content:
    Full of stawman characterisations of other commenters here. Not a word of truth in the whole damn comment. A complete mis-representation of the commenters here and what they are about. Accusations made numerous times previously and refuted. And ignored. And repeated robotically at every opportunity.

    He claims to be the only one looking at the “other view”. BS. Steven Novella does this all the time, and so do most of the commenters here. The real problem is that he is unable to evaluate these views. He is unable to distinguish BS from substance. And he is simply lying about his attitude. He dismisses the scientific view despite the evidence, and accepts the alternative view without question (and I exaggerate only slightly)

    The troll: “The conclusions I came to usually were that both sides are right and both sides are wrong, and the truth is something in between, or something different”

    😀

    This is a joke.
    I am reminded of a xkcd comic:
    https://www.explainxkcd.com/wiki/index.php/774:_Atheists

    He simply is too ignorant and motivated to distinguish science from BS. Period.

  51. cozyingon 26 Jan 2017 at 1:22 am

    hardnose,

    Thank you for sharing your perspective. Honestly. I don’t agree with most of it, but that’s okay, I think you did a decent job of explaining some of your thoughts and your approach. I will think about what you wrote.

  52. BillyJoe7on 26 Jan 2017 at 1:24 am

    cozy,

    Here we go…

    The troll: “That is one of the silliest comments I have seen here”

    And, as if on queue, the troll supplies yet another example of his ignorant one-liners.
    This has come up on many occasions in the past.
    My response has been to supply numerous links together with explanations.

    And every single time, the troll simply dismissed the links and explanations with that ignorant one-liner.

    – Makes a BS one-line comment.
    – Has that BS comment corrected at length.
    – Ignores the correction.
    – Repeats the same BS on-line comment on another thread.

    And repeat, and repeat, and repeat…

  53. BillyJoe7on 26 Jan 2017 at 1:26 am

    cozy to the troll: “I will think about what you wrote”

    Incredible.
    You are giving credit where NONE is deserved.

  54. cozyingon 26 Jan 2017 at 1:29 am

    Billy,

    I’m an atheist and I happen to agree that QFT doesn’t/won’t disprove gods/afterlife. I really don’t understand how it can be possible. It doesn’t matter how awesome your theory is, there can always be some higher level abstract argument that there is some god out there. Falsifiability is the issue here, not scientific precision. But I’ll check out your links if you provide them. I welcome the possibility that I’m wrong.

  55. chikoppion 26 Jan 2017 at 1:30 am

    FOUL! Penalty card!

    [hardnose] The condescending contempt is what I guess I really hate. Sheer hatred that is directed at people, often just because of how they are labeled.

    Unless they are experts who agree with scientific consensus, in which case they are categorically disparaged as “materialists” and universally derided as being complacent, complicit, or ignorant.

    No, there is no answer, no formula for success. You will never conquer Nature, as far as I am concerned. But that is your quest. SN seems to work very hard as an evangelist for Progress and Science.

    Steve is an evangelist for for science. That is the purpose of this blog. If you don’t believe the scientific method is an effective epistemology for progressing our understanding of nature you are going to be disappointed.

    Maybe I should just let you all have your comforting beliefs. My passion is just trying to understand conflicting points of view. And, also, genuine respect for the “ordinary” person.

    If you ever actually engaged in a discussion of ‘conflicting points of view’ I would applaud it. But you don’t. When you misrepresent a theory or line of evidence, are corrected, do not acknowledge the correction, and then repeat the misrepresentation ad infinitum, that is not an attempt to understand.

    You’ve made it quite clear you do not accept the limits or validity of scientific inquiry. Where scientific methodology conflicts with your pre-determined conclusions you dismiss it as necessarily invalid. Instead, you subject everyone to a litany of discredited research and fringe theories that you hastily Google in an attempt to justify evidence-free assertions.

    You are here to assert YOUR point of view and to categorically deny any conflicting position.

  56. cozyingon 26 Jan 2017 at 1:54 am

    chikoppi,

    You assume that his behavior is consistent with what he actually believes. I would caution you against that, and ask you to reread what he wrote especially about politics and partisanship.

    There is another possibility given the same evidence: that he doesn’t believe the things he says, like at all. That he sees himself as playing the role of the outsider. He wrote of wanting to understand, of having problems with people who speak with confidence, and he wonders why we stopped talking to each other and instead began vilifying each other.

    I think that it’s more likely that he sees an insulated community that is filled with people who praise science fanatically, and he wants them to know there is other people out there who think he exact opposite and are just as certain as we are.

    If you note. His long comment is actually not all that bad. Logically speaking. It’s not filled with the usual fallacies and tropes he employs. It’s pretty decent by comparison. I still disagree with most of it, but I can’t deny it’s clarity. I don’t trust it. But I trust it way more than his average one liners. It’s got some internal consistency to it and a voice. It’s the voice of an old white man I’m guessing, who spends too much time on Facebook, alternative and Fox News.

    He is like me in a lot of ways. I feel like he took the voice of the average Facebook commenter. While I tried to take a more respectful pedantic voice. We both saw the same type problems, approached them differently. I think he really needs to go check out the work on the back fire effect though and group cohesion. If he really thinks that he is doing a good job by playing that role, he is mistaken. He just makes the commenters more polarized, and more against the mainstream rhetoric, without actually knowing what they are talking about. Like Willy is on response 4 or something. Still hasn’t realized it’s not the goal of this blog to insult people.

  57. bachfiendon 26 Jan 2017 at 1:58 am

    Hardnose,

    You’re a troll because you make unsupported assertions. Your critics make arguments explaining why your assertions are fallacious. You fail to explain why the arguments are wrong, or even respond to them. And then you come back making the same unsupported assertions. Repeatedly.

  58. chikoppion 26 Jan 2017 at 3:11 am

    [cozying] You assume that his behavior is consistent with what he actually believes. I would caution you against that, and ask you to reread what he wrote especially about politics and partisanship.

    There is another possibility given the same evidence: that he doesn’t believe the things he says, like at all. That he sees himself as playing the role of the outsider. He wrote of wanting to understand, of having problems with people who speak with confidence, and he wonders why we stopped talking to each other and instead began vilifying each other.

    OPTION 1: His beliefs are consistent with his actions. My response stands.

    OPTION 2: His beliefs are inconsistent with his actions.

    hardnose 1) vilifies or impugns any contradictory position, 2) obfuscates and obstructs dialog despite repeated attempts to engage in constrictive conversation.

    I can only assess and respond to his actions and must accept his statements as true assertions of his beliefs. If you prefer to take a different approach, I wish you much success in your efforts.

  59. BillyJoe7on 26 Jan 2017 at 5:13 am

    cozy,

    “I’m an atheist and I happen to agree that QFT doesn’t/won’t disprove gods/afterlife. I really don’t understand how it can be possible. It doesn’t matter how awesome your theory is, there can always be some higher level abstract argument that there is some god out there

    Of course…and this is covered in the links.
    Of course there could be a “higher level of abstract argument”.
    Of course QFT could be wrong.

    We could be in a matrix.
    We could be a computer simulation.
    We could have popped into existence a second ago with memories of events that never happened.

    God could exist.
    Faeries could exist.

    Any goddamn thing is possible.

    The point is:
    Why entertain these possibilities?
    Is it just to be an accommodationist as far as gods and religion are concerned?
    Is it just to engage in philosophical masturbation?

    Certainly it is not science or scepticism – belief in proportion to the evidence for that belief.

    But the troll didn’t ever bother to read the links before delivering his one-line dismissal. I even summarised the arguments which he also didn’t ever bother to read, or understand, or respond to, before delivering his ignorant one-liner.

    The troll is totally ignorant of QM, but is happy to dismiss it all with a wave of the hand.

    I will try to find the links.

  60. BillyJoe7on 26 Jan 2017 at 5:21 am

    Setting the stage.

    The argument:

    http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2010/09/23/the-laws-underlying-the-physics-of-everyday-life-are-completely-understood/

    Correcting misunderstandings of the argument:

    http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2010/09/29/seriously-the-laws-underlying-the-physics-of-everyday-life-really-are-completely-understood/

    Summarizing the argument in view of the misunderstandings:

    http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2010/10/01/one-last-stab/

  61. BillyJoe7on 26 Jan 2017 at 5:38 am

    A mathematical representation of the argument:

    http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2013/01/04/the-world-of-everyday-experience-in-one-equation/

    Applying the argument to telepathy:

    https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2008/02/18/telekinesis-and-quantum-field-theory/

    Applying the argument to the afterlife:

    http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2011/05/23/physics-and-the-immortality-of-the-soul/

  62. BillyJoe7on 26 Jan 2017 at 5:39 am

    A summary in slides:

    https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2015/04/21/quantum-field-theory-and-the-limits-of-knowledge/

  63. SteveAon 26 Jan 2017 at 7:56 am

    BJ7

    You beat me to it…

    HN: “The conclusions I came to usually were that both sides are right and both sides are wrong, and the truth is something in between, or something different.”

    This cracked me up. I’m still laughing now.

    And to reiterate what others have said, the distaste shown towards HN has been hard-earned over many, many years. He’s like a human goldfish, he swims back into every thread with his mind wiped clean of anything that went before…

  64. Kabboron 26 Jan 2017 at 9:01 am

    Quick question about the term ‘epidemic’ for those in the medical community, or otherwise well situated to answer.

    Is the term epidemic solely used to describe a spreading or increase in incidence of something like a disease, or could it be used to describe a disease that is widespread but at a consistent level of occurrence?
    For example, ‘the flu’ gets around every year (I know it is a whole host of viruses). Does it constitute an epidemic, or is it only if it is unusually harmful or widespread within a given timeframe for it to be discussed in those terms?

    I am curious to know if there could be legitimate application of the word epidemic in the case of a disorder or ailment that is considered at an unacceptable level, even if it is not increasing.

  65. cozyingon 26 Jan 2017 at 9:44 am

    SteveA,

    “He’s like a human goldfish, he swims back into every thread with his mind wiped clean of anything that went before…

    Ignoring the personal attacks…. As critical thinkers and skeptics we are taught to question common myths like this and not just blindly repeat them. There have been multiple studies that have shown goldfish can remember things for days, even months.

    Chikoppi,

    I think hardnose doesn’t believe what he says in those quick one liners. I think it’s useful to pursue this approach based on the evidence in his long post.

    If hardnose really does see himself as filling the role of an outside in an insulated community. If he really does worry about people becoming more fanatical and blindly confident, then he should know that by playing the stereotypical outsider he actually just makes this community more united in their hatred of outsiders. If he needs evidence he just needs to look at the responses to his words. Even the most rational commenters have said things along the lines of justifying the abusive treatment he has received.

    If he cares about divisions between groups in this country, then he’s going about the problem the wrong way. It would be like during the election, going into Trump echo chambers on the internet, and writing stereotypical pro-Hilary one liners. The community would laugh at you, and defend the horrible things others said about you, because you are clearly an outsider deserving ridicule.

  66. cozyingon 26 Jan 2017 at 10:41 am

    Billy,

    Sean Carroll is not a philosopher. This might not seem like a big deal to you, and you might even laugh at this point, but let me explain. The existence of god/afterlife is what is known as an unfalsifiable hypothesis. The modern scientific method is not a old as you might think. Philosophers of science completely revolutionized it in the 50s and 60s. Before this time, scientists relied on inductivism not empirical falsification. Using the current scientific method, you cannot disprove an unfalsifiable.

    There’s lots of popular physics personalities that write popular books, host tv shows, that have a lot to say about the nature of reality. They also happen to ignore the decades of accomplishments from other fields that have worked on these problems. Physics needs philosophers for this precise reason. Just like anthropology doesn’t help you address claims of the unfalsifiable nature of the afterlife, neither does physics.

    Carroll is also an atheist. He’s on record being against any kind of reconciliation between science and religion. He’s written on the subject for mainstream audiences quite extensively.

    The problem remains, he hasn’t written anything that counters what hardcore intellectual theists have to say about these issues. Even in a world where QFT is mastered by physicists, there will still be spiritual intellectuals. It’s just like Sam Harris on the moral landscape, he ignored literally centuries of work by philosophers on those same exact issues. That’s pretty inexcusable. Or it’s like Neil de grasse Tyson saying philosophy is a joke.

    From the afterlife link:

    Very roughly speaking, when most people think about an immaterial soul that persists after death, they have in mind some sort of blob of spirit energy that takes up residence near our brain, and drives around our body like a soccer mom driving an SUV. The questions are these: what form does that spirit energy take, and how does it interact with our ordinary atoms? Not only is new physics required, but dramatically new physics. Within QFT, there can’t be a new collection of “spirit particles” and “spirit forces” that interact with our regular atoms, because we would have detected them in existing experiments. Ockham’s razor is not on your side here, since you have to posit a completely new realm of reality obeying very different rules than the ones we know.

    So that right there is a typical problem that these “scientism” approaches all have. He clearly describes, and this is present in all his work on religion, a specific type of religious belief, I think it’s a straw man, but obviously he and others would argue: um no, tons of people believe this version. It actually doesn’t matter how many people have that perception of souls and afterlife, you still haven’t tackled the issues of falsifiability and intellectual theism.

    It kinda seems like to me that he has never heard of realism. His approach is basically hardcore materialism, he says look there cannot be any other particles/forces interacting with matter because we would have seen them. The intellectual theistic arguments haven’t bothered tackling the issue from this perspective for quite some time. Yes Descartes and his followers have tried to explain dualism and the mind body problem. Others, that as skeptics we choose so often to ignore, have not. They hold that god created the whole system, that he has the kind of grand vision that allows him to see the deterministic path we all walk, that he is in another dimension…. and on and on. Notice how Carroll isn’t a string theorist, string theory allows for many higher dimensions that we haven’t begun to understand yet. But there are many popular new age deepak chopra-esque approaches that Carrolll never addresses. God is the universe. The QFT field could just be a manifestation of god. We are god, and the universe. This is all just a complex illusion with consistent rules.

  67. mumadaddon 26 Jan 2017 at 11:28 am

    “But there are many popular new age deepak chopra-esque approaches that Carrolll never addresses. God is the universe. The QFT field could just be a manifestation of god. We are god, and the universe. This is all just a complex illusion with consistent rules.”

    There are both falsifiable and unfalsifiable formulations of god. You may want to tackle the unfalsifiable versions, but it doesn’t mean the other ones aren’t held in common belief. I, and I imagine BJ7, raised the falsifiable versions merely in response to your blanket statement that god is unfalsifiable.

    I do think I get the angle you’ve come at this from: your position seems to be more that there is an unfalsifiable core at the centre of any conception of god, and/or the falsifications can always be explained away in some manner (though this, in my opinion, has to involve sloppy reasoning and inconsistent definititions). My point, in the example of the POE, was meant to address a self-contained conception of god that is omniscient, omnipotent, and perfectly good. The observation of natural evil falsifies *this* conception of god.

    Nowhere did I state or imply that this argument was part of some mission statement for skepticism or atheism. However, I do see the value in tackling the conception of god held by ordinary people, because these beliefs can cause direct harm. You are free to take on the Pope, but it’s ridiculous to say that arguments that don’t directly address theologians are a waste of time.

  68. Pete Aon 26 Jan 2017 at 11:32 am

    [hardnose] The reason they consider me a troll here is because I am coming from a different perspective, and they don’t like that. They want this to be an exclusive club, believers only allowed.

    I have stated — more than sufficient times — that I was indoctrinated with, and truly believed in, many of the things [different perspectives] that the two of have in common. Therefore, I am most definitely not a True Believer in any “exclusive club”.

    If you believe that this website is, or wants to be, an “exclusive club” then why are we wasting our time writing comments here? E.g., I have never, and I shall never, waste my time writing comments on a theistic website, such as those of the Discovery Institute, including the Evolution News & Views blog:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Egnor

  69. mumadaddon 26 Jan 2017 at 12:16 pm

    Cozying, does this make it any clearer:

    Either it is the case that there exists a God who is all powerful and created the universe 6000 years ago.

    OR, it is not the case that there exists a God who is all powerful and created the universe 6000 years ago.

    This is a true dichotomy which captures all possibilities: either x exists or it doesn’t.

    The observation that the universe is billions of years old falsifies this god. It doesn’t matter that it doesn’t falsify a god who created the universe billions of years ago — falsifying any element is sufficient to negate the proposition.

    You can formulate many of the god concepts in which people believe in this way.

  70. tmac57on 26 Jan 2017 at 12:43 pm

    Looks like this thread went off the topic about after this:

    # BillyJoe7on 25 Jan 2017 at 11:33 pm

    That was the last mention of autism made.

    25 comments ensued.

  71. cozyingon 26 Jan 2017 at 1:38 pm

    Mumadadd,

    Either it is the case that there exists a God who is all powerful and created the universe 6000 years ago.

    OR, it is not the case that there exists a God who is all powerful and created the universe 6000 years ago.

    This is a true dichotomy which captures all possibilities: either x exists or it doesn’t.

    The observation that the universe is billions of years old falsifies this god. It doesn’t matter that it doesn’t falsify a god who created the universe billions of years ago — falsifying any element is sufficient to negate the proposition.

    You can formulate many of the god concepts in which people believe in this way.

    Okay no… so you start with a deeply flawed false dichotomy.

    Actually basically no hardcore intellectual theists / religious philosophers really specifically believe the earth was created 6k years ago.

    Even if they did, that dichotomy is wrong for other reasons.

    Example:

    either it is the case that disease is caused by unknown processes or beings, who have their origin on mount Olympus or in the subterranean caves near by.

    Or

    It is not the case that disease is caused by unknown processes or beings, who have their origin on mount Olympus or in the subterranean caves near by.

    Therefore if we prove that no one lives on mount Olympus, and that there is no Hades, then therefore disease can’t possibly be caused by unknown processes or beings.

    Therefore pathogenic microbes don’t exist, neither do viruses, genetic anomalies or poisons.

    This vaguely relates to the discussion on autism rates, because actually there are many possible causes for in the increase, decrease or stagnation of autism rates. Framing the question and their concerns into specific dichotomies is flawed and doesn’t convince them.

    Anti vaxers falsely claimed for years that the rates were skyrocketing because of one specific cause which has since been debunked. Now they move into new avenues, that smaller and smaller subsets when looked at with very specific statistical analysis, have increasing rates. They can always keep doing this because like the other example, the claim is hard to disprove.

    Even with perfect data, they can say: well actually the rates were going up, then the big pharma stepped in and altered the data, reworded the broad definition of autism we were using into a more specific term. Because at the core they aren’t talking about autism rates correlating with vaccines, they are talking about a grand conspiracy that’s hard to disprove.

  72. mumadaddon 26 Jan 2017 at 1:55 pm

    A or not A is not a false dichotomy.

    Your example:

    “either it is the case that disease is caused by unknown processes or beings, who have their origin on mount Olympus or in the subterranean caves near by.

    Or

    It is not the case that disease is caused by unknown processes or beings, who have their origin on mount Olympus or in the subterranean caves near by.

    Therefore if we prove that no one lives on mount Olympus, and that there is no Hades, then therefore disease can’t possibly be caused by unknown processes or beings.

    Therefore pathogenic microbes don’t exist, neither do viruses, genetic anomalies or poisons.”

    Doesn’t make any sense. It’s like this:

    A or not A; B therefore not D.

    And moving the goalposts is not a valid way to counter falsification.

  73. mumadaddon 26 Jan 2017 at 2:04 pm

    “Okay no… so you start with a deeply flawed false dichotomy.”

    I addressed this in the post prior to the one you quoted above. I think you may have missed.

  74. cozying disclaimeron 26 Jan 2017 at 2:05 pm

    Warning: cozying has been known to be pedantic, uncharitable, and condescending.
    If you choose to interact with cozying please be aware that they will act in an arrogant manner and are likely to mischaracterize, play the victim, justify their own offensive behavior, and bring up past grievances. A successful resolution with this commentator is unlikely.

  75. mumadaddon 26 Jan 2017 at 2:08 pm

    I quoted the wrong passage above. It should have been this:

    “Actually basically no hardcore intellectual theists / religious philosophers really specifically believe the earth was created 6k years ago.”

    That’s what I meant to say I’d addressed previously.

  76. mumadaddon 26 Jan 2017 at 2:11 pm

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evidential_apologetics

    There is a school of apologetics called ‘evidential apologetics’.

    As you can imagine, as it concerns evidence (at least in part), it deals in falsifiable claims (again, at least in part). Are these not hard core intellectual enough to count?

  77. cozyingon 26 Jan 2017 at 2:18 pm

    mumadadd,

    I think if you look closely the two dichotomies are logically equivalent.

    You claimed god either did, or did not, create the world 6k years ago. And that proof the earth is older falsifies god.

    I claimed that disease either is, or isn’t caused by unknown beings who live on mount Olympus. And that proof no one lives there falsifies disease is caused by unknown beings.

    It’s logically equivalent. All I did was replace god, with pathogenic things causing illness, and living on mount Olympus with 6k years ago. You can quibble over the details and say mine is more complex and different. But I got my point across.

    Showing the earth is older than 6k years doesn’t falsify god. It only falsifies that claim and your specific definition and framing of god which literally no modern religious philosopher would stand by. It’s a straw man and a false dichotomy.

  78. mumadaddon 26 Jan 2017 at 2:31 pm

    “You claimed god either did, or did not, create the world 6k years ago. And that proof the earth is older falsifies god.”

    No, I didn’t. I presented a dichotomy:

    Either A (it is the case that there exists a God who is all powerful and created the universe 6000 years ago)

    OR, not A.

    The observation that the universe is billions of years old is consistent only with [not A].

    “I claimed that disease either is, or isn’t caused by unknown beings who live on mount Olympus. And that proof no one lives there falsifies disease is caused by unknown beings.”

    No, you didn’t. You said:

    Either A: (it is the case that disease is caused by unknown processes or beings, who have their origin on mount Olympus or in the subterranean caves near by.)

    Or

    Not A

    [1] Therefore if we prove that no one lives on mount Olympus, and that there is no Hades, then therefore [2] disease can’t possibly be caused by unknown processes or beings.

    [3] Therefore pathogenic microbes don’t exist, neither do viruses, genetic anomalies or poisons.”

    The observation [1] is consistent with both A and not A. The conclusion [2] does not follow from either A or not A. The conclusion [3] does not follow from conclusion [2].

  79. Pete Aon 26 Jan 2017 at 2:41 pm

    mumadadd, With your opponent, you are
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flogging_a_dead_horse

  80. cozyingon 26 Jan 2017 at 2:45 pm

    Mummadadd,

    You are arbitrarily defining the different claims and the boundaries around them.

    blockquote>either it is the case that disease is caused by unknown processes or beings, who have their origin on mount Olympus or in the subterranean caves near by.

    Or

    It is not the case that disease is caused by unknown processes or beings, who have their origin on mount Olympus or in the subterranean caves near by.

    Therefore if we prove that no one lives on mount Olympus, and that there is no Hades, then therefore disease can’t possibly be caused by unknown processes or beings.

    Therefore pathogenic microbes don’t exist, neither do viruses, genetic anomalies or poisons.

    In order for an example to be logically equivalent it doesn’t have to have all the exact same elements represent in the exact same way. The logic is equivalent, not the content. Obviously I added more words to mine then were present in your original example. But the logical equivalence is there.

    Here is a more ideal example:

    It is the case that || unknown beings {god}|| – ||cause illnesses {created the world},|| – || by exerting their influence from mount Olympus and subterranean caves near by {6k years ago}. ||

    Therefore if no one lives on mount Olympus and hades doesn’t exist we just falsified pathogens.

  81. Kabboron 26 Jan 2017 at 3:01 pm

    Either A: My foot is comfortable and there is a faery successfully taking care of my foot comfort needs.
    Or not A: My foot is not comfortable and there is not a faery successfully taking care of my foot comfort needs.

    My foot is not comfortable, and therefore: There is not a faery successfully taking care of my foot comfort needs. The conclusion does not say there is no faery.

    Mumaddad’s logic states: There is no god that created the earth 6000 years ago. The conclusion does not state that there is no god.

    This is of course assuming that all lines of evidence of the universe prior to 6000 years ago was not deliberately and explicitly created to fool us lousy mortals. Just like there could be a faery that is only tricking me about my foot discomfort and that the first foot is actually perfectly comfortable thanks to the faery.

  82. Pete Aon 26 Jan 2017 at 3:04 pm

    Please write a cogent, rather than a gobbledegook reply.

  83. Kabboron 26 Jan 2017 at 3:08 pm

    Ah boo, that is all I’m good at. 🙂 I must decline your request.

  84. mumadaddon 26 Jan 2017 at 3:13 pm

    cozying, the difference is that in my dichotomy, the observation falsifies A, or is consistent on with not A; in yours it does not.

    A:

    It is the case that || {1}unknown beings || – ||cause{2} illnesses || – || by exerting their influence from mount Olympus and {3} subterranean caves near by . ||

    Therefore if no one lives on mount Olympus and {4} hades doesn’t exist we just falsified pathogens.

    1. It isn’t stated in A that the unknown beings are people, so “no one lives on mount Olympus” is consistent with both A and not A.

    2. Are you equating pathogens and illness? This isn’t stated in A.

    3. Even if we’re charitable and state that you meant ‘people’ when you said beings, what about the subterranean caves??

    4. Hades isn’t mentioned in A; it’s non-existence is cosistent with A and not A.

    Whereas, in my dichotomy, a universe that is billions of years old is excluded by A only.

  85. Pete Aon 26 Jan 2017 at 3:15 pm

    Kabbor, My comment was not aimed at you, it was aimed at the ‘knower of all things’ who wrote the comment that preceded yours.

    My humble apologies.

  86. cozyingon 26 Jan 2017 at 3:15 pm

    Kabbor,

    Mumaddad’s logic states: There is no god that created the earth 6000 years ago. The conclusion does not state that there is no god.

    I don’t really know if your response is agreeing or disagreeing with me. Mummadadd explicitly used his example to show that god doesn’t exist. Not that the world wasn’t created by one 6k years ago.

    This is a true dichotomy which captures all possibilities: either x exists or it doesn’t. The observation that the universe is billions of years old falsifies this god. It doesn’t matter that it doesn’t falsify a god who created the universe billions of years ago — falsifying any element is sufficient to negate the proposition.

    The proposition he is referring to is the existence of god.

  87. mumadaddon 26 Jan 2017 at 3:16 pm

    typo: the difference is that in my dichotomy, the observation falsifies A, or is consistent only with not A; in yours it does not.

  88. mumadaddon 26 Jan 2017 at 3:24 pm

    “2. Are you equating pathogens and illness? This isn’t stated in A. ”

    Actually, I retract this — pathogens being subset of all illness…

  89. cozyingon 26 Jan 2017 at 3:25 pm

    mumadadd,

    **** A more ideal example that considers your new points:

    It is the case that || unknown beings {god}|| – ||cause illnesses {created the world},|| – || by exerting their influence from mount Olympus and subterranean caves near by {6k years ago}. ||

    Therefore if no unknown beings {god} are found on mount Olympus {if the earth is found be older than 6k years}, then unknown beings {god} cannot exist.

    In this case yes. I am saying that microbes are by definition unknowing beings that cause illnesses. The fact that they are not Zeus and hades has nothing to do with their unknown nature or their disease causing potential. Just like how god not creating the world has nothing to say about the world being created by natural cosmological principles. The world was still created by something some cause of events and forces.

  90. Kabboron 26 Jan 2017 at 3:28 pm

    Pete A,

    I was pretty sure it wasn’t aimed at me but I couldn’t resist jumping in front of that comment for comedic effect.

  91. cozyingon 26 Jan 2017 at 3:30 pm

    Mumadadd,

    “Therefore if no unknown beings {god} are found on mount Olympus {if the earth is found be older than 6k years}, then unknown beings {god} cannot exist. ”

    This can also be worded as: “if no evidence of exertion of this influence is found on mount Olympus then these unknown beings cannot exist.”

  92. mumadaddon 26 Jan 2017 at 3:34 pm

    Therefore if no unknown beings {god} are found on mount Olympus {if the earth is found be older than 6k years}, then unknown beings {god} cannot exist.

    No — it would be: if no unknown beings are found on mount Olympus, then illness doesn’t exist. Sort of — you’ve still left the door open to other causes of illness by not stating “unknown beings, and only unknown beings, cause illnesses”

  93. Pete Aon 26 Jan 2017 at 3:39 pm

    Kabbor,

    Thank you — much appreciated.

    If you and I ever have an argument, will it be the five-minute argument, or the full half-hour? (Monty Python sketch).

  94. BillyJoe7on 26 Jan 2017 at 3:48 pm

    cozy,

    Let me make mumdadd’s point perfectly clear:

    Either A or B

    A: [There is a god who created the world 6000 years ago]
    B: It is not the case that [There is a god who created the world 6000 years ago]

    It is worse though:

    A: [There is a god who interacts with the world]
    B: It is not the case that [There is a god who interacts with the world]

    Sean Carroll has shown that B is true.

    It you want to believe in a god who does not interact with the world, fine. Sean Carroll has not falsified that god and he says so. He also says “so what?”. If that’s the sort of god you believe in, fine. Others can believe in faeries for the same reason. Or that the universe popped into existence one second ago. But what really is the point of such arguments other than philosophical masturbation.

    And that directly goes to your defence of philosophy above. It that sort of argument is what you are using philosophy for, then so much the worse for you and your use and abuse of philosophy. It’s not even philosophy. It is theology, otherwise referred to as “Sophisticated Philosophy” because only theologians get off on it, and it bears no resemblance to what people actually believe their god to be – that sort of god has been falsified (with all those caveats mentioned previously).

    God as the nebulous “The Ground of All Being” is a bullshit Sophisticated Theological argument not even worth addressing. Like faeries and universes one second old.

  95. cozyingon 26 Jan 2017 at 3:49 pm

    mumadadd,

    ****** A more ideal example that considers your new points:

    It is the case that || unknown beings {god}|| – ||cause illnesses {created the world},|| – || by exerting their influence from mount Olympus and subterranean caves nearby {6k years ago}. ||

    If no evidence of exertion of this influence is found on mount Olympus and caves nearby, and new discoveries demonstrate that it would be impossible to orchestrate such and endeavor from this place then these unknown beings cannot exist.

    K now that this has been done to death. Please explain and justify your original dichotomy in light of this. Please tell me how you disproved god. An unfalsifiable concept.

  96. mumadaddon 26 Jan 2017 at 3:50 pm

    cozying,

    To bring this back on topic, if an antivaxxer believes proposition A (Autism is caused predominently by thimerosal in childhood vaccines), then the observation that removing thimerosal from childhood vaccines does not affect autism incidence totally falsifies A. That should, logically, win the argument and an admission of defeat from the antvaxxer, but if the antivaxxer was convinced by other factors (their conspiracy mindset, anecdotal experience, whatever) they may well shift the goalposts and find another way to justify their antivax stance. But this in no way suggests that their original belief was unfalsifiable.

    Do you see the parallel?

  97. BillyJoe7on 26 Jan 2017 at 3:53 pm

    “Sophisticated Philosophy Theology”

  98. Pete Aon 26 Jan 2017 at 4:02 pm

    There is nothing “sophisticated” about Sophist Theology.

  99. mumadaddon 26 Jan 2017 at 4:05 pm

    “Please tell me how you disproved god. An unfalsifiable concept.”

    I am not saying I’ve I disproved god! To reiterate my first comment on this topic, whether or not god is falsifiable depends on how you define god. If you hold a definition of god that includes ‘created the universe 6000 years ago’ or ‘sent himself in mortal form, as this specific historical figure, to die for our sins, then rose from the dead and ascended to heaven in front of these specific individuals at this specific time and place’ or has an almost endless list of supposed interactions with reality, then your god can be falsified.

    I understand that people can be slippery when defending core beliefs, and can easily drop whatever component of it that has just been falsified, but this is dishonest.

    I also freely admit that there are completetely unfalsifiable god concepts out there, but I don’t think they comprise the bulk of the beliefs held by the mainstream religious. If you, or anyone else, puts forward an unfalsifiable version of god, I’m happy to respond with arguments appropriate to that version, and they are of course much different.

    I genuinely don’t know how to make it simpler than the toy example I gave above.

  100. cozyingon 26 Jan 2017 at 4:13 pm

    Billy,

    “A: [There is a god who interacts with the world]
B: It is not the case that [There is a god who interacts with the world]
    Sean Carroll has shown that B is true.”

    Do you really think that? Do you think that all of philosophy is just a joke now? All those epistemologists and metaphysicians are just out of work? So I can tell you that I believe Sean Carroll has not contributed much of anything to the philosophical discussion of these issues. Philosophers have known about these discoveries for like 50 years. See the history of logical positivism.

    God doesn’t have to interact using these forces and particles. He doesn’t really have to interact at all. He could just be waiting to meet me in heaven. Maybe at the moment of my death my consciousness is uploaded to the heaven mainframe, located in another dimension. Settle down. It could be a copy not my consciousness and therefore not interacted with in any way in this dimension. What then? Did Carroll solve this issue and all the possible scenarios?

    What about the many dimensions of string theory? Can they hide / allow for a god or other hidden forces? Notice how Carroll works on astronomy, dark matter and not m theory? Do you think that has influenced his materialistic understanding and framing of these issues?

  101. RickKon 26 Jan 2017 at 4:25 pm

    “Do you really think that all philosophy is just a joke now?”

    Not all philosophy involves God.

    It is a very real and highly likely probability that all theology, all theories and speculation and assertions about God are no more meaningful than Professor Lupin’s Defense Against the Dark Arts class.

    Which do you think is more likely, Cozying – that the Abrahamic God of the Bible exists, or that there is no supernatural intelligent deity at all? Given the preponderance of high-quality evidence, which of those two extremes is the more likely?

  102. RickKon 26 Jan 2017 at 4:27 pm

    Darn, apologies to Bachfiend. I begged him to not contribute to thread derailment, and then I contributed to it myself.

    #WorthlessAndWeak

  103. cozyingon 26 Jan 2017 at 4:51 pm

    mumadadd,

    “If you, or anyone else, puts forward an unfalsifiable version of god, I’m happy to respond with arguments appropriate to that version, and they are of course much different.”

    Okay. My god is one who created the universe. Now she didn’t actually create it. She just created the conditions for it to be created. So whatever any scientific system says that caused or created the universe. She created the thing before that, that very thing or the conditions. Which ever one is harder to explain, that’s what she did.

    For example. In the case of the Big Bang. She didn’t create the initial energy that became matter and anti matter or whatever. But she created the conditions for this to take place. If you show that the conditions were actually natural and explainable by physics which some have, she instead created those laws themselves or the conditions for the those laws to exist.

    She is also omniscient and omnipotent but she doesn’t care about prayers or acting when we call her. She has a deterministic view. A grand view of the universe. For her time doesn’t exist linearly. She can see all of time. She can travel to any point in time and do anything she wants. You don’t see her or have any evidence of her existence because she can simply travel back and delete any such revelations. It is unknown if she can travel through time or if she just has a grand view of history that prevents her from making any mistakes.

    She cherishes the secrecy of her existence above all else, so only the most devote and intelligent can truly find their way to her.

    So you can either start by trying to frame those claims into falsifiable chunks and knocking them down. Or note that yeah there are lots of different elements of different belief systems that are just unfalsifiable. I’ve heard many religious people tell me that it literally doesn’t matter that there is no proof for god, that it just makes it so much more special and that this is why we need “faith.”

  104. mumadaddon 26 Jan 2017 at 4:59 pm

    “So you can either start by trying to frame those claims into falsifiable chunks and knocking them down. Or note that yeah there are lots of different elements of different belief systems that are just unfalsifiable.”

    Yes, that all seems unfalsifiable. My response would be:

    – Occam’s razor
    – You are trying to explain a mystery by appealing to a more complicated mystery

  105. Steven Novellaon 26 Jan 2017 at 5:00 pm

    Michael – I am a neurologist. I can read the primary literature and come to an independent expert opinion about whether or not autism rates are truly increasing. I check my conclusions with more narrow experts and they agree.

    I am not a climatologist. I cannot read the primary climate science literature and come to an independent expert opinion about whether or not average global temperature is increasing and what role human activity is playing. I therefore rely entirely on the consensus of expert opinion. I am confident that I can critically read various opinions and discern what the consensus of expert opinion is, and it is clear that the consensus is that (with 95% confidence) global temperatures are increasing due, at least in part, to human release of CO2 into the atmosphere.

    You are also not a climate scientist, but you apparently have the hubris of replacing the consensus of expert opinion with your own ill-informed opinion.

    Further, you falsely accuse me of having a bias on this issue, without any evidence to back that up, except for the fact that it serves your own biased narrative. You don’t know my politics. In fact, I have no ideological dog in this hunt. I do not care, ideologically, if man-made global warming is real or not. If it were scientific fraud, the result of pathological science, that would, in fact, fit right in with my skeptical advocacy.

    If I could look at the arguments and the evidence and truly feel as if global warming were a hoax, and that I could defend that position with logic and evidence, that would be awesome fuel for my skeptical writings.

    That is something that most of my ill-informed and biased critics never get. If I could genuinely support the conclusion that some mainstream science belief were wrong (or a fringe belief were true), or even just overhyped or misleading, that would be a major skeptical topic for me.

    My only real bias or motivation is that it is really important for me to make coherent, logical, and evidence-based arguments that I can reasonably defend. My skeptical outreach depends on it.

    You just don’t get it, because even still you simply have no idea what scientific skepticism is really about. It’s just too removed from your world view.

  106. Steve Crosson 26 Jan 2017 at 5:25 pm

    It is a very real and highly likely probability that all theology, all theories and speculation and assertions about God are no more meaningful than Professor Lupin’s Defense Against the Dark Arts class.

    Wait … what the hell??

    How am I supposed to get rid of this damn boggart?

  107. hardnoseon 26 Jan 2017 at 7:20 pm

    @cozying: “What about the many dimensions of string theory? Can they hide / allow for a god or other hidden forces? Notice how Carroll works on astronomy, dark matter and not m theory? Do you think that has influenced his materialistic understanding and framing of these issues?”

    Yes.

  108. Kabboron 26 Jan 2017 at 7:43 pm

    Pete A.

    Growing up I watched a couple Monty Python movies but wasn’t really exposed to the tv show. Just watched that sketch and it was entertaining. Seems like it could be recreated to poke fun at the internet at large; contrasting the concepts of abuse vs arguments vs contrarianism etc. I thought it was going more in that direction at first.

    In answer to your question: I can’t afford the full half hour, fiscally or emotionally.

  109. Kabboron 26 Jan 2017 at 7:44 pm

    fiscally -> financially. A very important correction to a very important post.

  110. michaelegnoron 26 Jan 2017 at 7:48 pm

    Steven,

    You have been completely silent about the plainly hysterical claims made routinely by climate nuts. Ross Pomeroy, who believes in AGW and who I’m sure you know, has a good post on this

    (http://www.realclearscience.com/blog/2017/01/23/a_skeptical_journalists_view_on_climate_models.html)

    Pomeroy:

    {“as a skeptic, and as a firm advocate of science, I simply cannot accept the following claims without some level of incredulity:

    “The next few decades offer a brief window of opportunity to minimize large-scale and potentially catastrophic climate change that will extend longer than the entire history of human civilization thus far.”

    “The forest as we know it would effectively be gone.”

    “We will have very few humans on the planet because of lack of habitat.”

    Each of the preceding statements are bold, apocalyptic claims concerning climate change, and there are many more like them littered across the Internet. But just because they are widespread and originate from respectable, legitimate scientists, that does not mean I can simply switch off my skepticism. I must subject these claims to the same scrutiny that I would acupuncture, chiropractic, or demons. And when I do, I can only conclude that most claims of catastrophic, apocalyptic climate change are bogus.”}

    The fact is that climate scientists are routinely making insane claims on a par with the most dishonest homeopaths and faith healers. In fact, the climate apocalyptics are worse than the other frauds, because their claims are much more grandiose (no homeopath claims the world will end if we don’t use his product) and because climate scientists use public money to make their fraudulent claims.

    The few scientists who have the integrity and courage to stand up to these frauds–Judith Curry, Roger Pielke Jr, Bjorn Lomborg, Patrick Michaels, Freeman Dyson, Richard Lindzen, Will Happer (the last two are friends of mine)– are treated with exclusion, slander and contempt by warmists.

    You have never criticized these crazy claims, the shoddy science, the obvious manipulation of data, rigging of peer review (explicitly admitted in climate gate), criminal evasion of FOIA, etc.

    It makes a mockery of your claims to Skepticism. When this climate scan collapses, the damage to science and scientists will by incalculable, and richly deserved.

    You bring shame on the scientific profession, and shame on “Skeptics”, to so gullibly accept such obvious scientific fraud.

  111. hardnoseon 26 Jan 2017 at 7:52 pm

    “I think that it’s more likely that he sees an insulated community that is filled with people who praise science fanatically, and he wants them to know there is other people out there who think he exact opposite and are just as certain as we are.”

    No, cozying, I might have said it wrong. I have explained it TIRELESSLY at this blog and to be honest I am tired of explaining it.

    But you never saw all my other explanations, so …

    I am NOT AT ALL against science! That is NOT what I complain about, EVER. I am against the misunderstandings of science that I see here all the time.

  112. hardnoseon 26 Jan 2017 at 7:56 pm

    “The troll is totally ignorant of QM, but is happy to dismiss it all with a wave of the hand.”

    I’ll assume by “the troll” you meant me. Someone said QM proves there is no afterlife, or something like that. It doesn’t, that is stupid. Sorry, but it is. The stupidest people are the ones who think they are so darn smart.

  113. hardnoseon 26 Jan 2017 at 8:05 pm

    @cozying:

    “His [Sean Carroll’s] approach is basically hardcore materialism, he says look there cannot be any other particles/forces interacting with matter because we would have seen them.”

    He has a tiny little mind.

  114. hardnoseon 26 Jan 2017 at 8:05 pm

    “string theory allows for many higher dimensions that we haven’t begun to understand yet.”

    Yes.

  115. hardnoseon 26 Jan 2017 at 8:08 pm

    @mumadadd:

    “I do see the value in tackling the conception of god held by ordinary people”

    There is no value in that, it’s a waste of time. Ordinary people don’t believe what they say they believe anyway. Their beliefs can’t be expressed in words.

  116. TheGorillaon 26 Jan 2017 at 8:24 pm

    “God as the nebulous “The Ground of All Being” is a bullshit Sophisticated Theological argument not even worth addressing.”

    BillyJoe,

    You say this so confidently despite its patent falsehood. Maybe you ought to tell all those atheist Philosophers of Religion that their field is actually theology and that any serious engagement with theistic arguments is a waste of time. Or instead, maybe you should use your so highly valued evidence-based thinking to realize that 1) perhaps you should defer to the experts on topics you aren’t trained in and b) perhaps you should not say such aggressive things about fields you have no knowledge of – it’s not like your lack of knowledge here is opaque to you.

    Also, I hate to be the one to break this to you, but that’s been the monotheistic god concept for centuries and centuries. Pretty sure that Catholicism isn’t exactly some fringe religious system – if you want a contemporary example.

  117. bachfiendon 26 Jan 2017 at 8:37 pm

    Michael,

    Since Steve Novella has given permission to respond to you on AGW in a thread on autism, I should note that one of the earliest comments on the article by Ross Pomeroy you’ve linked to makes exactly the point I’ve been making for a long time.

    The Arctic ice volume and mass is decreasing. The last major glaciation ended around 12,000 years ago because, owing to the Milankovitch cycles, the Arctic summer was occurring when the Earth was closest to the Sun (by about 5 million kilometres or 3%, meaning solar input was 6% greater) causing a rapid melt of Arctic ice and snow, reducing albedo and causing increasing increasing warming.

    Now, 12,000 years later, the Arctic summer is occurring when the Earth is furthest from the Sun. Arctic ice and snow should be increasing, increasing albedo and causing cooling.

    Not only is the Earth warming, but Arctic ice is decreasing. Once the Arctic becomes ice free just in September (regardless of whether it’s by 2030 or 2050 (which is decades), then there will be open ocean, which absorbs rather than reflecting solar energy causing increasing Arctic melting and increasing warming. A positive feedback loop.

    Once the Arctic is largely summer ice free, then by definition, we’re out of the current ice age (with ice simultaneously present at both poles). And it has been considerably warmer in the Earth’s past history – such as the Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum 55 mya, due to a natural release of greenhouse gases of similar magnitude to that we’d achieve if we burn all known reserves of fossil fuels, but over 25,000 years instead of the current centuries. And which was 7 K warmer.

    Once the Arctic becomes summer ice free, there’s no easy way of replacing the ice – unless we try geoengineering with the massive injection of SO2 into the upper atmosphere to mimic large volcanic eruptions, which has consequences too.

    The fact remains – there’s already a certain amount of global warming already locked in. There isn’t much time left to prevent atmospheric CO2 levels increasing. Stabilising emissions of CO2 at current levels, which is going to be difficult to achieve what with China and India undergoing increasing industrialisation, will just allow atmospheric CO2 levels to continue to increase, causing increasing warming.

    I don’t think that we’ve got decades to act. I think we’ve already missed the boat owing to ‘sceptics’ such as you. Congratulations.

    I was bemused you’d quoted Pomeroy as being sceptical about the existence of demons. You aren’t as sceptical as you think, with your acceptance of demons as the cause of evil and suffering.

  118. hardnoseon 26 Jan 2017 at 8:41 pm

    “She cherishes the secrecy of her existence above all else, so only the most devote and intelligent can truly find their way to her.”

    cozying,

    God (gods, goddesses, whatever) are only a secret for western educated rationalists. For all the rest of the world, in all times and places, people did not routinely block super-physical information from conscious awareness. They didn’t need convoluted theological arguments, because they perceived these things all the time everywhere.

  119. hardnoseon 26 Jan 2017 at 8:46 pm

    @ME,

    What is the point of arguing against the climate change scientists? Is it because you love industrial pollution and you want it to continue?

    Climate change is the only environmental danger the “skeptics” here are concerned about. They don’t care about the toxic food, air and water, or the poison drugs. Everything is perfectly safe, according to the CDC, and that’s enough proof for them.

    But at least they admit that industry and technology are causing some kind of damage.

    I can’t understand what your motive could be.

  120. cozyingon 26 Jan 2017 at 10:37 pm

    Hardnose,

    “I can’t understand what your motive could be.”

    Our motive is try to find out the truth. Last night you expressed a concern for understanding why things are the way they are. Why people are afraid of their president for example. Is it not possible that misinformation is on the rise and that we live in a post-truth world? Would it not be helpful to have a set of rules to help guide us through this storm? Should those rules not be based on science and critical thinking?

  121. bachfiendon 27 Jan 2017 at 3:26 am

    Hardnose,

    Your usual straw man argument. No one is claiming that vaccines, therapeutic agents or GM foods are without risks. It’s just that we think that their benefits, judged on a case by case basis, outweigh the risks, often considerably. And we think that the so-called evidence you’re presenting isn’t convincing.

    You might be right (after all, a broken clock is right twice a day), but you need to come up with better evidence.

  122. SteveAon 27 Jan 2017 at 4:47 am

    Cozying

    Re: Goldfish.

    I just ‘knew’ you’d take the bait on that one. I don’t think the pedant in you can actually help it.

    It’s like throwing grain to a chicken. As soon as it hits the dirt, you come a runnin’ and a squawkin’.

    Any normal person would have taken it as a figure of speech, but you…

  123. Steve Crosson 27 Jan 2017 at 6:28 am

    cozying,

    Pretty sure HN was directiing the motive question to ME. Look at the salutation and the pronouns.

    Skeptics = “they”

    MichaelEgnor = “your”

    In essence, he was asking a typical hardnose question, reflective of HN’s world view. In other words, hardnose thinks it is appropriate to base your beliefs based on your desired outcome. So, less pollution, medical issues, etc. are all good things. Therefore AGW must be true.

    In fairness to hardnose, it is a pretty funny question to ask MichaelEgnor, since ME clearly bases his own beliefs solely on whether he likes the end result. Apparently, it is more important to ME to believe the evil liberal, atheist, commie democrats to be wrong, than it is to save the world.

  124. BillyJoe7on 27 Jan 2017 at 6:32 am

    cozy,

    “Do you really think that? Do you think that all of philosophy is just a joke now? All those epistemologists and metaphysicians are just out of work? So I can tell you that I believe Sean Carroll has not contributed much of anything to the philosophical discussion of these issues.”

    You probably didn’t see my correction: “Sophisticated philosophy Theology”. So I’ll forgive you that one. The subject is theology. It is crap. You might as well study faeryology.

    “God doesn’t have to interact using these forces and particles. He doesn’t really have to interact at all. He could just be waiting to meet me in heaven. Maybe at the moment of my death my consciousness is uploaded to the heaven mainframe, located in another dimension

    You didn’t actually read those links did you? Otherwise you wouldn’t have to ask.
    In fact it seems you didn’t read my comment either, because I already answered this. Hint: You might as well take seriously the idea that the universe started one second ago. You might as well take seriously the idea of a brain in a vat. Or The Matrix. But what exactly is the point.

    “Did Carroll solve this issue and all the possible scenarios?”

    You tell me. You’ve read the links haven’t you?
    Hint: He did not consider these ideas worth the paper they’re written on. See above.

    “What about the many dimensions of string theory? Can they hide / allow for a god or other hidden forces? Notice how Carroll works on astronomy, dark matter and not m theory? Do you think that has influenced his materialistic understanding and framing of these issues?”

    You really want me to take seriously the idea that you just made up about god hiding in the dimensions of string theory? Really? What about my garden faery? Can I also play this game? Can I ask you to take seriously my idea that she slips in and out of another dimension to escape detection?

  125. BillyJoe7on 27 Jan 2017 at 6:37 am

    ….and your reply to mumadadd which is about a page long describing a god that is unfalsifiable”
    Why didn’t you just say: what about the deistic god
    Could it be because we already accepted that the deisitc god is unfalsifiable. And the brain in a vat. And the matrix. And the one second old universe.

    What is the point of this philosophical masturbation?
    For a bit of fun maybe, but serously…

  126. BillyJoe7on 27 Jan 2017 at 6:42 am

    TheGorilla,

    Not worth responding to you because you flit in and out like a butterfly and it’s a bit touch and go whether you will end up reading it.
    Anyway, it seems you also missed my correction.

  127. BillyJoe7on 27 Jan 2017 at 6:45 am

    ….but, if you really do take seriously the “Sophisticated Theologians” idea of god as “The Ground of Being” so much the worse for you.

  128. BillyJoe7on 27 Jan 2017 at 6:59 am

    And I see the troll, after avoiding responding to those links about half a dozen times, now jumps on cozy’s woebegotten bandwagon….so funny.

    And how’s this:

    The troll: “Someone said QM proves there is no afterlife, or something like that. It doesn’t, that is stupid. Sorry, but it is. The stupidest people are the ones who think they are so darn smart”

    Proof that he has still, after all this time, never read the links to which he responds. With a wave of his hands he dismisses an argument he has not even read and would not understand if he did. The arrogance of ignorance. The hubris of Dunning-Kruger. Imagine for a moment an exchange between the troll and a physicists about QFT. Talk about a one second universe! Too funny.

  129. Bill Openthalton 27 Jan 2017 at 7:02 am

    cozying —

    I’ve heard many religious people tell me that it literally doesn’t matter that there is no proof for god, that it just makes it so much more special and that this is why we need “faith.”

    That’s perfectly fine as long as their religion is personal, i.e. something that affects only them. The moment religion is used to request (or worse, force) other humans to behave in a certain way, the existence of, and the claims about the $DEITY should be provable. Otherwise it is just one human imposing its will on another human. If you cannot prove your claims about your $DEITY, why should I believe you?

    In general, any claims that do not have sufficient proof should not be used to determine how other humans can behave. If such claims are part of the morality (more-or-less codified rules) of a society, people who do not heed them risk being evicted from that society. This is how societies operate — one has to follow their rules to be a member.

    Obviously, even if claims are scientifically proved, societies can decide to ignore them, but then they risk disappearing.

  130. BillyJoe7on 27 Jan 2017 at 7:10 am

    Bill,

    It is also BS, because the first opportunity they get they’re co-opting science in defense of their gods.

  131. Bill Openthalton 27 Jan 2017 at 7:11 am

    BillyJoe7 —

    Like faeries and universes one second old.

    Are you perchance a Last Thursdayist?

  132. Pete Aon 27 Jan 2017 at 8:04 am

    Please note that “string theory” is not a theory, it is a hypothesis.

  133. cozyingon 27 Jan 2017 at 8:42 am

    Billy,

    Didn’t you or someone, once say something, about how we can spot a troll by number of sequential posts in a row without replies? 🙂

    I’m an atheist. I was just making the point that Carroll isn’t a philosopher. He is also not a string theorist. Yes I did read the links. It’s not as simple as: dismissing all the other ideas that aren’t materialistic.

    If he was a string theorist he would have very different ideas about the ways in which matter can be interacted with. He wouldn’t bother with writing about how there cannot be a soul because we know about all forces and particles that exist that would have an effect. He would make a different argument. M theory came about for very specific reasons, yes it hasn’t been confirmed and is hard to test. But there are very good reasons it is worth pursuing, there are many people working on it because it addresses some problems that other physics approaches cannot. I’m interested if the Carroll people know about m theory and how they feel about. If you think think it’s a joke tell me about it.

    This happens a lot. Very smart people like us are persuaded by other smart people. How many people do you think took Neil de grasse Tyson seriously when he said all of philosophy is basically useless? How many people read the moral landscape and thought it was profound, without realizing the centuries of work on ethics and morality by philosophers that Harris never mentions? Or kaku on neuroscience?

    When an expert in one field ventures into another to write popular books for a mainstream audience there are always massive problems. Carroll doesn’t make a single mention of higher dimensions. That’s a problem. Something interacting from a higher dimension on us would be impossible to detect using the technology we have now. The fact that most physicists take these issues seriously, and he doesn’t, is a red flag. (Again if you think higher dimensions and string theory is a joke please explain why)

    The fact that he makes no mention of logical positivism probably means he never heard of it, its problems, and why it failed. He gives a very detailed explanation of materialism from scratch like he’s inventing it. It’s been thoroughly discussed and abandoned by philosophers (of science), not because philosophy is a waste of time and people just make stuff up, but because they found numerous problems with it. New discoveries changed how they perceived the world. Philosophers now think that realism is the way to go about science. There’s many reasons for this.

    On theology, people here have said multiple times now that it’s okay to just attack the foolish arguments religious people make. I don’t think that’s good enough, even if ppl you know use NDEs as evidence. There are some really well polished theist arguments out there, that are worth reading. Some of the more abstract ones really get to the heart of the issue. Ockham’ razor was first invented as a tool to defend god, if you need a simple explanation then god is a pretty elegant solution. Physicists are still working on a theory of everything so elegant and simple that could written on a t shirt. Why can’t that be god, or why didn’t god write that at the birth of the universe? I know the razor is also about cutting down assumptions. But the point remains, the cognitive virus is in us all. Someone will definitely say that, write a book about it and make money off the idea, the day after the theory of everything is found. When we just address stuff like NDEs and how implausible it is that god made the world 6k years ago, we are just patching holes, not really stoping the bullets or seeing the gun that fired them. I think we have a problem when we express absolute confidence that science is the best thing ever and that religion is a total joke. We should start with a more empathic approach, acknowledge the good points people make

    There are probably always going to be spiritual people and fake remnants of religion everywhere. Go to your local gym, check out the yoga classes, learn the origin of yoga, listen to the teachers talk about chakras and enlightenment. And that’s just yoga, a fun thing your aunt goes to in order to work out. There’s studies that show it’s benefits on the body, athletes do it. It’s ubiquitous. There’s also Whole Foods. Your local library holds meetings about all sorts of woo nonsense. There’s a psychic down the street. It’s okay fellow skeptics people just go there for advice and to hangout. It’s fun, you can even have parties where you invite a psychic and they does readings on all your fiends.
    ***
    This relates to autism rates because the argument that “look autism rates are on the rise” is just a symptom, a hole to be patched up. The disease is a massively complex grand conspiracy. the government has been hiding the real info. Vaccines were made from monkey DNA and contain retro viruses. This led to so many pandemics. Healthy people didn’t get polio, my grandma never got the shot and she didn’t get polio, all you need is a good diet of Fresh organic veggies and you won’t get sick. All of these things are just symptoms.

    The issue at the heart of it is people are scared, they love their kids, kids cry when stabbed with needles. Doctors cause pain. Why? Why did I never hear about autism when I was a kid? This must be a new thing, it came out of no where. It must be on the rise. What caused this? Wait monkey DNA, unethical experimentation, failed trials, wait the government admits that there are side effects and sometimes people die from bad reactions to these shots and get paid? What the heck is going on here?!

  134. mumadaddon 27 Jan 2017 at 8:55 am

    “Ockham’ razor was first invented as a tool to defend god, if you need a simple explanation then god is a pretty elegant solution. ”

    Either you’ve misunderstood occams razor or the definition has shifted (I don’t have time to check right now). We should favour the explanation that introduces the fewest new assumptions. God does not fit the bill here — the intentional act of a conscious being creating the universe requires a whole bunch of assumptions that can’t be evidenced.

  135. cozyingon 27 Jan 2017 at 8:58 am

    Mumadadd,

    Not my point at all. I even wrote “I know the razor is also about cutting down assumptions”

    But yes it was invented as a god argument look it up.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occam's_razor

  136. hardnoseon 27 Jan 2017 at 9:08 am

    “Go to your local gym, check out the yoga classes, learn the origin of yoga, listen to the teachers talk about chakras and enlightenment. And that’s just yoga, a fun thing your aunt goes to in order to work out.”

    Having never experienced yoga, you would not understand. You think it’s possible to look at these things from the outside and judge them as “nothing but” this or that. You have absolutely no idea. None.

  137. cozyingon 27 Jan 2017 at 9:16 am

    Hardnose,

    Unjustified assumption: “having never experienced…”

    Yeah well I have actually done yoga. Casual yoga like I described and you defended. Not the Indian spiritual practice that it’s a corrupted form of. My kundalini was not lit. My third eye remains closed. Good luck defending the spiritual merits of a corrupt, out of context, pseudo spiritual belief system. Modern yoga has very little to do with its religious origins.

    The rest of what you said is an appeal to mystery coupled with I guess spiritual condescension. I guess you have been touched by the heart of god and I’m just blind. Thank you for showing me the way.

  138. TheGorillaon 27 Jan 2017 at 10:50 am

    Billy Joe

    You could try a response instead of just vague remarks about how dumb ideas you don’t understand are?

  139. Steve Crosson 27 Jan 2017 at 11:44 am

    cozying,

    Kudos. I know that I’ve killed a herd of horses complaining about your tone (at least when applied to fellow skeptics), but I have to admit that your latest comment (about theist arguments) was polite, respectful, and most of all, constructive.

    Of course, since I agree with a lot of what you say, it is probably a lot easier for me to admit that. I do think it is a bit optimistic to declare that even a well defined god can be disproven. We still, eventually, might be able to find the black swan. Even so, the more well defined a god, the easier it will be to be justified in declaring it highly, highly, highly unlikely — and therefore not worthy of belief.

    On the other hand, I think “unfalsifiable” concepts should fall into exactly the same category. With literally an infinite number of hypotheses that can be defined in such a way as to be unfalsifiable, and therefore no possible method to choose among them, the odds are really stacked against any one of them ever to be proven true.

    I think you give unfalsifiable beliefs way more deference than they deserve. It something is unfalsifiable, it is also unjustifiable. If we respect any belief simply because it can not be proven false, then we open the floodgates to everything.

    It is far better, and simpler, to deal with every conceivable hypothesis in exactly the same way. Explain to (or convince) the believer that without evidence, there is no way to tell one unsubstantiated belief from any other, and therefore no reason to prefer one over any other. It doesn’t make any practical difference whether the belief is actually falsifiable or not. Lack of evidence is always lack of evidence.

    As skeptics, our primary concern should always be that there is sufficient good evidence to justify our conclusion. Unless both sides can agree on that as a mandatory starting condition, there can be no progress in any debate.

  140. hardnoseon 27 Jan 2017 at 11:45 am

    “Good luck defending the spiritual merits of a corrupt, out of context, pseudo spiritual belief system. Modern yoga has very little to do with its religious origins.”

    Yoga is for a lifetime. You don’t take one class at the Y and expect to be enlightened.

    “I guess you have been touched by the heart of god and I’m just blind. Thank you for showing me the way.”

    I don’t want to show anyone the way to anything. Every one of us is blind to something, and we all learn something in this life. Feeling part of the Infinitely Intelligent Universe is not for everyone. It doesn’t leave a lot of room for the ego.

  141. RickKon 27 Jan 2017 at 11:50 am

    Cozying said: “if you need a simple explanation then god is a pretty elegant solution.”

    Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. First, define what you mean by “god”. If your definition of “god” is a logical incongruity or impossibility, then god is not an elegant solution at all. It’s a “simplistic” explanation, not a simple explanation – “simplistic” meaning without real depth or meaning.

    So… what’s your definition of god? If god is a simple and elegant solution, you should be able to answer that without links or multiple paragraphs.

  142. hardnoseon 27 Jan 2017 at 11:51 am

    To all you “Skeptics” —

    If an angel stood in front of you and spoke directly to you, you would say it was a hallucination.

    If the person next to you saw and heard the same angel, you would say it was a coincidence.

    If a whole crowd of people saw and heard the same angel, you would say it was mass hysteria.

    If a scientist did a controlled experiment showing that some people communicate with angels, you would say the experiment was poor quality, or not replicated.

    If the experiment was replicated successfully a hundred times, but one attempt (by Wiseman) failed, you would say replication failed.

    You are not scientific skeptics, you are evangelists for atheism.

  143. Steven Novellaon 27 Jan 2017 at 12:12 pm

    Michael – your attempts at portraying yourself as a skeptic on this issue is not compelling. You are, in fact, extremely gullible on this issue.

    Why did you not give the next paragraph in Pomeroy’s article:

    “That is not to say that climate change isn’t real. It absolutely is. A basic education in Earth’s carbon cycle is more than sufficient to convince any ardent skeptic of that irrefutable fact. The planet is warming and humans are the primary drivers.”

    That is all I am saying, that this is the consensus of scientists. I have never made or endorsed predictions of what will happen when. I have, in fact, acknowledged uncertainty in this area, and for the same reasons Pomeroy states. I remain agnostic toward the question of how well we can predict specifically what will happen and when.

    My clear position has been, uncertainty doesn’t really matter. The range of possibilities are all bad enough and probable enough that it is worth taking some measures now – and not crazy measures, but at least picking the low-hanging fruit and accelerating the deployment of technologies that we know have advantages.

    You don’t seem to acknowledge what Pomeroy calls an “irrefutable fact.” You cherry pick the most extreme predictions and harp on those because it suits your narrative.

    And – here comes the gullible part – you accept uncritically the propaganda of free-market ideologues and fossil fuel industry apologists.

    The e-mails contained no smoking guns, only the usual background chatter one would expect among scientists. Multiple investigations have concluded this. What you have apparently swallowed wholesale is nothing but anomaly hunting in order to produce propaganda. It is exactly like the alleged “CDC whistleblower” non-scandal that anti-vaxxers are using to argue that all of vaccine science is suspect.

    Your acceptance of this propaganda is gullible and the result of extreme motivated reasoning. That you portray your gullibility as skepticism is sad.

  144. Steve Crosson 27 Jan 2017 at 12:22 pm

    hardnose,

    For the first three situations, depending on the particular details, you’re probably right. Extraordinary claims do require extraordinary evidence.

    Situation four would be interesting, and highly suggestive, but hardly conclusive. It is still an extraordinary claim because nothing similar (and verified) has ever been demonstrated in recorded history.

    Situation five, well yes, one replication did indeed fail in your little scenario. But the odds are very high indeed that the 100 successful experiments would be vastly more influential than one miss.

    You might want to find some real world comparable situations. The name Shapiro springs to mind.

  145. Steven Novellaon 27 Jan 2017 at 12:23 pm

    HN – If you are truly attempting to engage as you profess then you are failing miserably. People here conclude you are a troll not because you disagree, but because you are living in your own narrative which appears to be impervious to reality.

    You have your beliefs about “skeptics” and nothing we actually do affects your beliefs.

    You presume to stand above us and tell us how we are all doing it wrong, while simultaneously condemning people who stand above other people and tell them they are doing it wrong. You know what that makes you.

    You make pronouncements about what we believe and how we behave on a blog that itself directly contradicts your pronouncements. You are standing in the middle of the evidence that proves you wrong and appear oblivious.

    When someone makes a claim, we investigate and analyze. You cannot criticize the meat of our analysis, so you dismiss it with broad statements that are demonstrably false and assumptions about our motivations and our process.

    Please provide an example of any instance of me personally or skeptics generally denying a phenomenon that was demonstrated by the vast majority of rigorous research, including independent replications, because we cherry picked a few negative studies. This means you also have to address our substantive criticisms, something which you never seem to be able to do.

  146. Kabboron 27 Jan 2017 at 12:24 pm

    hardnose,

    I for one am really tired of how many angels are harassing me about their existence. “Cut it out, you don’t exist!” I tell them while they float around me speaking in Latin. I don’t even speak Latin, and they just sound like they are trying to do Harry Potter magic. It’s embarrassing really.

  147. cozyingon 27 Jan 2017 at 12:48 pm

    Steve Cross,

    Kudos. I know that I’ve killed a herd of horses complaining…

    More like dug up and flogged the entire countryside surrounding a glue factory. Haha. I totally acknowledge that we can find the black swan, but I still firmly believe that a hypothesis is only valid if it can be falsified. It doesn’t really matter to me if you can prove something, only if you can disprove it. For the foreseeable future there will always be god arguments that cannot be disproven. And that’s okay, science doesn’t deal with proving things, that’s math, it deals with disproving things.

    Likelihood is a whole other thing. Yes for sure it’s unlikely that that the Abrahamic god is legit. Just study the religions of the world, what’s the probability that that one specific conception of god is legit? But with this same world religions perspective you could also fallaciously argue that the probability of any one god existing is pretty high. Why else would independent groups come to the same kind of spiritual beliefs?

    It’s these types of arguments that are really convincing to a lot of people. Even some atheists say that the merit: in the soothing ability of prayer, or pet heaven, or a phone booth where you can pretend to call your dead relatives, is self-evident and worthwhile. I personally think having real conversations, getting professional counseling is probably more useful in the long run. Just like how hardnose sees a world filled with different types of know-it-alls who don’t talk to each other, he concludes that both sides must be wrong and there must be some truth in the middle ground. I guess some religion has to be correct too by this logic? It can’t be fanatical religiosity with its proponents, but it can’t be atheism either, has to be something in the middle.

    We have a very specific definition of evidence though. Other people don’t agree with our methods, and there are a lot of them. Clearly a majority. You can either say “that’s not good evidence go away” or maybe try to explain why that type of evidence isn’t as good as other types. When someone doesn’t have the same definition of a word, you shouldn’t just keep using that same word. Most people you know find the mainstream narrative to be true, if there is a big stink about something, then there must be something to it. If other people fanatically believe something we don’t, they can’t be completely wrong, there must be something there.

    Hardnose,

    All I can say is the thing you are defending as “yoga” is a marketed popular trend. If you look at the history of yoga and it’s origins you will see what I’m talking about. For you to claim that that there is spiritual/religious significance in yoga you have to really loosely define your terms. It’s would be like saying that because tea is so special and revered in some cultures, has mystical origins, healing powers, that when I go to Starbucks I’m pursuing a spiritual enlightenment. Wait….what am I saying? There are people that actually think this!

    If an angel stood in front of you and spoke directly to you, you would say it was a hallucination.

    If an angel spoke to you in a cave, you would write a book about it, go out amass an army, march across the land murdering everyone who denied it, refused to leave, or convert. Hundreds of years later your most fanatical unstable followers, would read your line about sowing fear in the hearts of your enemies, and blow themselves up taking nonbelievers with them.

    Rickk,

    So… what’s your definition of god? If god is a simple and elegant solution, you should be able to answer that without links or multiple paragraphs.

    I feel like you are not actually reading what I write, but searching for theism in it. But I’ll play along. My god is: Everything. Yep that’s it, one word. Good luck disproving it, and explaining its inelegance.

  148. Pete Aon 27 Jan 2017 at 1:55 pm

    “My god is: Everything. Yep that’s it, one word. Good luck disproving it, and explaining its inelegance.”

    An excellent illustration of the nutbaggery of theology, which I call Sophist Theology.

    It is frequently stated that it is impossible to prove a negative. This always makes me laugh because every positive statement/argument can be reworded as a negative statement/argument and vice versa — if, and only if, the original statement/argument is logically sound. This is why truth tables are fundamental to the design of both electronic logic circuitry and computer algorithms.

    Sophist Theology is all about using philosophy to the max in order to define the unknowable in terms that are fundamentally flawed, therefore untestable; and using wilful obscurantism to the max in order to deflect all criticism away from the fundamental logical flaw(s).

    Theology is the equivalent of the (spoof) long-winded mathematical proofs of things such as 1=2. The actual divide by zero error in the ‘proof’ is craftily hidden from the readers by using very familiar — therefore believable / believed without question — rhetoric.

    Theology boils down to: Colorless green ideas sleep furiously. Grammatically faultless, but semantically nonsensical.

  149. cozyingon 27 Jan 2017 at 2:48 pm

    Pete A,

    It is frequently stated that it is impossible to prove a negative. This always makes me laugh because every positive statement/argument can be reworded as a negative statement/argument and vice versa — if, and only if, the original statement/argument is logically sound. This is why truth tables are fundamental to the design of both electronic logic circuitry and computer algorithms.

    You see me as something I’m not. I was using these arguments to illustrate a point. But as usual you saw a threat, overcorrected and made numerous critical errors.

    Actually falsifiability has nothing to do with the logical negativity that you are referring to. Literally nothing at all. You are talking about added a “not” in front of a word, to make a sentence mean the opposite. I’m talking about how some claims cannot be disproven. You literally cannot disprove an unfalsifiable claim, its right there in the definition. I suggest you google falsifiability and learn about it. It’s pretty central to any modern scientific experiment, all hypotheses have to be falsifiable in order to be considered valid.

    There are tons of logically sound statements that are extremely problematic. These are known as paradoxes look it up. “This statement is false,” breaks your cute little truth tables doesn’t it? Oh what are you going to tell me that doesn’t apply because it’s not logically sound…. Because of problems like this that you seem completely unaware of entirely different areas of mathematics had to be invented. You can’t use finite math to solve all types of problems.

    You might be the best computer programmer in the world and use finite math, and logic tables everyday. You could even be a prof that teaches this stuff everyday. But you just proved my point about non experts venturing into areas they know nothing about. Instead of a physicist rewriting materialism, we now have an example of a computer scientist rewriting theology, epistemology and metaphysics.

  150. Pete Aon 27 Jan 2017 at 2:56 pm

    “You see me as something I’m not. I was using these arguments to illustrate a point. But as usual you saw a threat, overcorrected and made numerous critical errors.”

    FFS! I was agreeing with your statement, and amplifying it! Please get your head out of your ass.

  151. cozyingon 27 Jan 2017 at 3:00 pm

    Someone who agrees with me doesn’t misrepresent “falsifiable” with “negative.”

    You can disprove simple negatives all day, with finite math and truth tables.

    You cannot disprove even the simplest unfalsifiable.

    You claim to agree with me. I very much disagree with everything you have said. It’s out of context and incorrect. You don’t capture the spirit of what I said or acknowledge what I’m actually talking about. So no thank you. Please don’t “agree” with me, I don’t need you on my side.

  152. Steve Crosson 27 Jan 2017 at 3:05 pm

    cozying,

    We have a very specific definition of evidence though. Other people don’t agree with our methods, and there are a lot of them. Clearly a majority. You can either say “that’s not good evidence go away” or maybe try to explain why that type of evidence isn’t as good as other types.

    I guess I’m not explaining well. I agree that we need to “try to explain why that type of evidence isn’t as good as other types.” but that is really no different than explaining that NO evidence isn’t as good as real evidence. In each case, we need to teach how to recognize good evidence when compared to bad (or no) evidence.

    Please don’t think I’m trying to pretend this is easy. I completely agree with your comments about how and why people believe things. I just think that the fundamental approach is going to pretty similar regardless of who you are speaking with.

    The fundamental problem is always the same. We need to help them recognize the importance of good evidence as a necessary step in reliably determining the TRUTH (to a reasonable degree of certainty and any other skeptical caveats 🙂 ). It is the best and only way that we know that has a proven track record of success.

    The details will vary , but the important point that must first be established is that neither “no evidence” nor “bad evidence” is a reliable path to success. In other words, help them understand that whatever method they are currently using, it is not a reliable method to determine the truth and it is very easy to get mislead.

    Once past that philosophical hump, then we can work on the details on why some evidence is better than other. But the point I’m trying to get at is that it really doesn’t matter how they arrived at their original belief once they understand that the methods they used to get there were unreliable.

    It also doesn’t really matter whether their original beliefs were technically falsifiable or not. In either event, they were not verifiable because they did not have any evidence to support their claims. Which is really all that I’m looking for as a skeptic.

    Obviously, falsifiability is important and will always need to be taken into consideration by scientists and philosophers, but for the vast majority of the public, I think it can safely be considered an esoteric abstraction that very probably had nothing to do with how they acquired their beliefs in the first place. And I think it is a mistake to give unfalsifiable claims any more deference or credibility than any other evidence-free belief.

    Which is really the essence of the point I’m trying to make. There are good and bad reasons to believe something. Unfalsifiability is a bad one and shouldn’t be treated as somehow “special” and we shouldn’t treat it with kid gloves. It is just one more way that people try to make claims without any good evidence.

  153. Pete Aon 27 Jan 2017 at 3:10 pm

    You claim to know me better than I know myself. You are hopelessly wrong, and your opinions are based in both wishful thinking and zero evidence.

    I don’t give a rat’s arse what you think of me. However, your false accusations and assumptions are occasionally very amusing 🙂

  154. BillyJoe7on 27 Jan 2017 at 3:38 pm

    cozy,

    More later, but you really shouldn’t give theology the respect it does not deserve. And calling “everything (we do not yet understand)” god is one of the biggest cop outs ever. I reject your label.
    And the troll: No, I said “verbal diarrhoea is spurts”…and his ass is pointed in your direction now. The troll has an ego piled higher than his BS…Angels? Angels??? Jesus, what about garden faeries? My garden faery leaves his angels for dead.

    gorilla,

    Really? God as the “Ground of All Being” is just about the stupidest idea ever. I can’t begin to imagine ho you would attempt to defend it. But go ahead or go away, I don’t mind. This is “Sophisticated Theology” defined as “Refined Bullshit”.

  155. cozyingon 27 Jan 2017 at 3:42 pm

    Steve Cross,

    Unfalsifiability is a bad one and shouldn’t be treated as somehow “special” and we shouldn’t treat it with kid gloves. It is just one more way that people try to make claims without any good evidence.

    Well for you that might be true. You understand this concept. Others do not. Some people here don’t. They equate it with disproving a negative or claim that god can be falsified. I mean, that was like how we got here now, to this point in the discussion was due to people claiming that yep god is disproven, falsifiable, Carroll’s reinventing of materialism plus QFT disproves all gods and the afterlife. Etc. I’m sure if we took a poll people here would still tell me that science can disprove god.

    So actually I think that we need to slow down and look closer at the nature of the claim and what evidence can actually do to it. In the case of god your evidence doesn’t do much to disprove him,
    it only helps to knock down weak claims people make.

    If that’s what you think religion is, then sure you win, you disproved god in your narrative. Religious people will not be terribly swayed, especially not hardcore ones or intellectuals. Your average priest can tell you that evidence is either all around you, it’s all of creation, a warm hug, a kitten’s soft purring. Or that it doesn’t really matter, we have to take it on faith.

    You aren’t the least bit uncomfortable with the fact that your approach does nothing to address those claims? What about the fact that many spiritual intellectuals will actually concede all of your points but still believe?

    To me personally, that’s hella disconcerting.

    I’m not trying to use little kid gloves either. You know me, I can hit hard. I’m just trying to look at it from their perspective. I’m not losing ground by acknowledging the unfalsifiable nature of their claims, in fact it helps me because then I can explain that a great many things are unfalsifiable and it doesn’t help or make them legit. I personally like to use arguments about how theism is just incompatible with reality, explains less as science explains more. I also find that a lot of religious people don’t really know the Bible, or about other contradictory belief systems. But one thing I don’t do is say that it’s a scientific fact that god doesn’t exist. Because it’s wrong, and it’s ineffective.

  156. hardnoseon 27 Jan 2017 at 3:46 pm

    “Please provide an example of any instance of me personally or skeptics generally denying a phenomenon that was demonstrated by the vast majority of rigorous research, including independent replications, because we cherry picked a few negative studies.”

    Daryl Bem’s precognition experiments, which were replicated all over the world in various labs. There was one failed experiment (by Wiseman, as usual) and that made all the headlines.

    Bem’s research was published in a mainstream psychology journal, and they were high quality experiments done by a very experienced scientist. He was NOT a believer in psi, just became curious and decided to investigate.

    Yet “Skeptics” insisted the experiments were no good, or fake, Bem was a lousy scientist, etc., etc. There was no mention of the successful replications.

    I don’t remember when you wrote about this, but I’m pretty sure it was covered here or at SBM. And there was nothing fair about how it was covered. But that’s what got into the mainstream news, as usual.

    This is just one example.

  157. hardnoseon 27 Jan 2017 at 3:49 pm

    The same thing has been done to all the prominent alternative scientists. It does not matter what their qualifications are, the “Skeptics” call them ignorant. They are extremely careful with their experiments, knowing they will be attacked and nitpicked. But they are attacked anyway, no matter how careful, no matter how conclusive their results.

  158. Pete Aon 27 Jan 2017 at 3:55 pm

    “alternative scientists” Alternative truths, e.g., homeopathy!

  159. Steve Crosson 27 Jan 2017 at 4:11 pm

    I’m not losing ground by acknowledging the unfalsifiable nature of their claims, in fact it helps me because then I can explain that a great many things are unfalsifiable and it doesn’t help or make them legit.

    Pretty much my whole point.

    Sure, we need to understand their perspective, but while I’ll agree we will be more likely to be persuasive if we are are polite and respectful (haha, I know, but it is still true), that doesn’t mean we should respect bad arguments — ever.

    And while I wouldn’t flat out tell someone that I could prove that god didn’t exist, I would make it clear that there is also no reliable evidence that she does. If they disagree, then we can discuss how their “evidence” is able to differentiate between the infinite number of possible gods and how can we tell if it is really true, etc.

    Perhaps I’m wrong, but you seem to be willing to just make the above point I quoted and then just move on to greener pastures. I feel that gives them a metaphorical bunker to hide in, and we wind up with people like hardnose and his “you can’t prove I’m wrong mantra”.

    My preference is to push back strongly and at least make them try to explain why their evidence-free claim is superior to anyone else’s. Obviously in my typically polite and friendly manner ;).

  160. mumadaddon 27 Jan 2017 at 4:12 pm

    cozying,

    “I’m not losing ground by acknowledging the unfalsifiable nature of their claims, in fact it helps me because then I can explain that a great many things are unfalsifiable and it doesn’t help or make them legit. I personally like to use arguments about how theism is just incompatible with reality, explains less as science explains more.”

    You’ve contradicted yourself here — science can only test falsifiable hypotheses, as you have stated repeatedly. So by that logic, science cannot explain the unfalsifiable claims of religion, but then you say that “theism……….explains less as science explains more”, which would have to mean that you were talking about falsifiable claims — right? So which is it?

  161. cozyingon 27 Jan 2017 at 4:26 pm

    mumadadd,

    You really need to stop just looking for things to fight about. I only say this because you are not good at it, not because I’m afraid. The most recent example is pretty obvious. I didn’t contradict myself. I still firmly believe that science can’t disprove god. Saying that theism explains less as science explains more is not contradicting that. It’s a pretty well known concept, theism used to explain things a certain way, disease, the solar system. We now know those things are false and have a system that explains the same phenomena much better. Now go over your own writing your false dichotomy with those same hypercritical eyes and find the mistakes.

  162. mumadaddon 27 Jan 2017 at 4:28 pm

    My last post wasn’t clear. Let me try again.

    “I personally like to use arguments about how theism is just incompatible with reality, explains less as science explains more.”

    If science can explain theistic claims, then those theistic claims would have to be falsifiable.

    This isn’t me saying ‘gotcha’, or trying to trip you up — I just wanted to point out that you’re implicitly conceding that theism can be falsifiable.

  163. Pete Aon 27 Jan 2017 at 4:34 pm

    As I’ve said previously
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flogging_a_dead_horse

    “cozying” is occasionally correct in the same way that a broken 12-hour clock is correct twice per day.

    Her forte is her endless constructions of straw men, followed by her obvious confusion over why some of them fail to ignite during her relentless attempts to set them on fire. Her straw-manning of me was as hilarious as it was pathetic.

    “[cozying] My stated and accomplished goal was to show that a god of skepticism like you [Steve Cross] bleeds troll blood.”

    To which I replied: “Words fail me.”

  164. cozyingon 27 Jan 2017 at 4:35 pm

    mumadadd,

    Look at the context of that quote. I’m talking about arguments I like to use against theism. I’m not talking about falsifiability there. It’s about explanatory power. Yes theism has elements that are falsifiable, I never said otherwise, there are claims that can be disproven. Unlike you I didn’t take this to claim that I disproved god because I can prove the earth is older than 6k years. The core of theism cannot be disproven. This says nothing about explaining things in reality. Science explains much more of the natural world, our daily reality, then theism. We can now cure diseases instead of just praying and hope things get better. Our models for disease explain and make useful predictions based on those discoveries. Theism as time goes on explains less and less, and makes few and very inaccurate predictions.

  165. cozyingon 27 Jan 2017 at 4:38 pm

    Pete A,

    You are a cheerleader, if you had a useful argument you would use it instead of stuff like that. You choose to not fight, you choose to ignore my counter of what you said.

    You equated unfalsifiablity with the logical negation of a statement. It’s right there for anyone to read. I’m sorry but where is my straw man? That happened. I countered. You used an escape hatch argument and ran, now you are back rehashing stuff from another thread instead of challenging my counter.

  166. Pete Aon 27 Jan 2017 at 5:18 pm

    “Pete A, You are a cheerleader…”

    You are hopelessly mistaken. Yet another of your not-based-in-evidence straw-man ‘arguments’.

  167. bachfiendon 27 Jan 2017 at 5:51 pm

    Hardnose,

    You claim that Darryl Bern’s precognition experiment has been replicated in labs all over the world. Care to link to some of them?

    You also claim that there was only one attempted replication which failed – the one by Wiseman. Steve Novella had a thread on August 29, 2012 on precognition which featured a second attempted replication, larger in size than Bern’s study, which was also negative.

    He also noted that the journal which published Bern’s paper declined to publish three negative replication studies (which is a failure of journals generally, which want to publish positive findings).

    Daryl Bern’s methodology isn’t as good as you believe. It’s dead easy to find his guide to his research students on how to go about a research study, which includes dodgy practices such as excluding data if they don’t fit the hypothesis being tested.

    We don’t criticise the scientists you praise for being ignorant. We criticise them because they’re wrong (assuming that you’ve actually understood what they’re saying – which is often doubtful).

    You on the other hand…

  168. Pete Aon 27 Jan 2017 at 6:35 pm

    bachfiend,

    Did you mean Daryl Bem?
    https://www.theguardian.com/science/head-quarters/2016/oct/31/did-a-memory-experiment-really-show-evidence-for-psychic-abilities
    http://skepdic.com/precog.html

  169. hardnoseon 27 Jan 2017 at 6:42 pm

    “his guide to his research students on how to go about a research study, which includes dodgy practices such as excluding data if they don’t fit the hypothesis being tested.”

    That is a ridiculous statement bachfiend, I’m sure you read it on some “Skeptical” website. Why not say where you got that ludicrous information?

    There is NO respectable researcher who feels free to exclude data that contradicts their hypothesis. Whoever said it (Randi, Hyman, Wiseman, whoever) was lying.

    It is not a “dodgy” practice, it would be a complete contradiction of everything that (honest) researchers spend their life trying to accomplish.

  170. hardnoseon 27 Jan 2017 at 6:44 pm

    “We don’t criticise the scientists you praise for being ignorant. We criticise them because they’re wrong (assuming that you’ve actually understood what they’re saying – which is often doubtful).”

    Oh yeah, try to win the argument by saying I don’t understand anything. That’s real logical and grown up.

  171. Pete Aon 27 Jan 2017 at 6:45 pm

    http://americanloons.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/488-daryl-bem.html
    http://americanloons.blogspot.co.uk/2010/12/119-michael-egnor.html

  172. chikoppion 27 Jan 2017 at 6:49 pm

    “Alternative Scientists.”

    Of all the nonsense that gets littered about, this might be my favorite.

    Every existing scientific theory was once a minority outsider perspective that eventually overturned the status quo. The distinction between adoption and rejection was determined by the availability of consistent, replicable results from rigorous, methodologically sound research.

    The history of science IS a history of the scientific community following the evidence wherever it may lead and updating theoretical models as needed to conform to verifiable observations.

    There are no “alternative scientists” and no “alternative scientific method.” There are, however, plenty of hacks and charlatans eager to foist garbage research in support of their pet hypotheses. If the hypothesis were legitimate it would be no problem to produce ample amounts of reliable and quantitative data, easily and consistently replicable.

  173. hardnoseon 27 Jan 2017 at 7:32 pm

    Bem is not stupid or ignorant, and he had no reason for being deceptive. He already had a long successful career in mainstream psychology.

    Wiseman, on the other hand, is a professional debunker, and his whole career depends on that.

  174. hardnoseon 27 Jan 2017 at 7:36 pm

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4706048/

    Meta analysis of 90 successful replications of Bem’s precognition research.

    You won’t see that mentioned on Wikipedia or Skepdic.

  175. hardnoseon 27 Jan 2017 at 7:48 pm

    Then, as another example, there is Montagnier’s research on DNA teleportation. The organized Skeptics and debunkers accused him of not knowing how to do research. Montagnier won a Nobel prize for co-discovering HIV, yet these amateurs know more than he does, of course.

    Scientists are increasingly discovering things that seem very strange, especially to “materialists” (or whatever you prefer to call yourselves today).

    Montagnier’s research shows that information can be stored in water. This is something the NESS bloggers constantly say is not possible.

    You are all stuck in a very outdated view of reality. And you just don’t ever want to let go. And it is REALLY UNFORTUNATE that you have taken over Wikipedia.

  176. bachfiendon 27 Jan 2017 at 8:21 pm

    Hardnose,

    “‘His guide to his research students on how to go about a research study, which includes dodgy practices such as excluding data if they don’t fit the hypothesis being tested’.

    This is a ridiculous statement bachfiend. I’m sure you read it on some’Skeptical’ website. Why not say where you got that ludicrous information?”

    It was actually from Daryl Bem’s website from his article ‘writing the empirical journal article’. On page 2 when he’s talking about the data:

    ‘Examine them from every angle. Analyse the sexes separately. Make up new composite indexes. If a datum suggests a new hypothesis, try to find additional evidence for it elsewhere in the data. If you see dim traces of interesting patterns, try to reorganise the data to bring them into bolder relief. If there are participants you don’t like, or trials, observers, or interviewers who gave you anomalous results, drop them (temporarily) [hopefully not putting them back only after the study is published]. Go on a fishing expedition for something – anything – interesting’.

    I’m also not impressed by the meta-analysis of ‘replications’ of Bem’s study. It was written by Bem defending Bem. And his review article includes studies from 2001 to 2013, so some had to precede Bem’s study in 2011, meaning that they can’t be replications, using the same or similar methods. Unless the pre-2011 researchers were ‘blessed’ with precognition (lol!).

  177. hardnoseon 27 Jan 2017 at 8:37 pm

    “If there are participants you don’t like, or trials, observers, or interviewers who gave you anomalous results, drop them (temporarily) [hopefully not putting them back only after the study is published].”

    You obviously misunderstood. I also wonder why you couldn’t include the link.

    He says “drop them (TEMPORARILY).” He says, very explicitly, to put them back BEFORE trying to publish!

    I would have to see the context. This seems like sensible advice for students. You should examine your data from every angle and look for interesting patterns, but that has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with the procedures you follow for publishing!

    Every researcher knows you don’t publish the results of your fishing expeditions! But they might give you ideas for future research!

    I don’t how you managed to misconstrue this so completely. Again, I would have to see the context.

  178. hardnoseon 27 Jan 2017 at 8:40 pm

    I know that the “skeptics” and debunkers go over this kind of research with a magnifying glass, nitpicking everything, taking out of context, and doing everything possible to make it look bad. Then they spread their “analysis” all over the internet, where it gets even more garbled, like a game of telephone, until finally you wind up with complete nonsense.

    No academic advisor tells their students to publish their fishing expeditions. Especially not in writing where anyone could see it! This is an insane accusation.

  179. Steve Crosson 27 Jan 2017 at 8:45 pm

    hardnose,

    I’ve asked before but you never can give a good answer. If any of this stuff is real, why can’t they actually do something constructive with it?

    People have literally been “studying” this stuff for hundreds of years. But instead of learning more and more, like every other branch of real science, they just keep chasing the same faint ( actually, invisible) signal.

    If there really is an effect, why can’t they refine their techniques or perhaps develop some instrumentation? Or even just learn to harness what they already think they know?

    It literally would not require any more accuracy, reliability or dependability than what they already claim to have with a 0.05 P value. Just a few percentage point increase in the odds would allow them to make a guaranteed fortune in any casino with games like craps or blackjack. They are fools for not at least trying. The winnings could fund a hell of a lot more Psi research if nothing else.

    For that matter, the mere indisputable fact that NO ONE EVER has managed to beat a casino for any extended length of time should be a pretty good indication that precognition does not occur naturally.

  180. cozyingon 27 Jan 2017 at 8:49 pm

    hardnose,

    You are all stuck in a very outdated view of reality. And you just don’t ever want to let go. And it is REALLY UNFORTUNATE that you have taken over Wikipedia

    Let’s examine these claims closely. Let’s see if you are right. In fact for the sake of argument let’s assume you are 100% correct hardnose.

    If precognition exists, why doesn’t a precognitive person walk into a casino and drop all their money on the roulette table?

    Most casinos have no real limits on the individual numbers. You could walk in and drop the value of your house and all your possessions on a number get a fantastically high payout. You could then repeat the process with your winnings until the casino went bankrupt.

    You could predict stocks, make billions in a few hours, online starting with almost nothing. There is a stock today that will be worth ten times it’s value tomorrow. You don’t even have to buy stocks as a precog. You could just bet using the options market. You could bet on the exact time and date that a stock with change and make more money than purchasing stocks. This is much more likely a legit precog pulling off. There is no law, regulation or pitt boss to stop you.

    If precog abilities are real and naturally occurring in the human population shouldn’t we hear amazing stories of precogs that do amazing feats like this all the time?

    Why wasn’t anyone proudly announced that they could predict lotto numbers? If I was a precog I would win a few lotteries and donate the money, make a massive public thing about it.

    Why has no one passed the million dollar challenge? Why has no one used these abilities consistently enough to prevent disasters? Why do professional psychics make so many incorrect predictions every year?

    What’s more likely, that precognition doesn’t exist; or that all these things are not observed in a world where it does?

    Bem is not stupid or ignorant, and he had no reason for being deceptive. He already had a long successful career in mainstream psychology.

    People do not have to stupid to be deceptive, or more importantly, wrong. You can be very smart and deceive yourself quite easily without wanting to, and with the purest of intentions. There’s many flaws in human cognition that allow for this to happen.

    There are examples of people with much more successful careers that go on to pursue pseudoscience. There are nobel prize winners that believe the craziest things without evidence.

    Hardnose, you have a very inconsistent way of applying your logic. You appeal to authority when it suits you, but you ignore the scientific consensus of other scientific authorities when it works for you. The CDC is a monster. But this one quack is legit and he knows more than all the other scientists, and failed replications, that disagree with him.

    I know you feel like we are all fanatical skeptics who can’t see the light, but dude why are you clearly being so deceptive?

    Summary of failed experiments:
    http://www.csicop.org/si/show/failure_to_replicate_results_of_bem_parapsychology_experiments_published_by

  181. hardnoseon 27 Jan 2017 at 9:00 pm

    Your comment is ridiculous cozying. The research does NOT show that people infallibly predict the future. Of course, since you haven’t read it you wouldn’t know.

  182. hardnoseon 27 Jan 2017 at 9:03 pm

    “Hardnose, you have a very inconsistent way of applying your logic. You appeal to authority when it suits you, but you ignore the scientific consensus of other scientific authorities when it works for you. The CDC is a monster. But this one quack is legit and he knows more than all the other scientists, and failed replications, that disagree with him.”

    Some authorities make sense and seem trustworthy, others don’t. We all have to make decisions about which authorities to trust.

    The CDC, FDA, EPA, for example, do not seem trustworthy any more.

    Interesting that you have labeled Bem a quack. I doubt you know anything about him aside from what skepdic and csicop have degreed. Oh and don’t forget Susan Blackmore (I would guess she is your role model).

  183. cozyingon 27 Jan 2017 at 9:26 pm

    Hardnose,

    Actually I have read multiple studies on this topic and the failed replications. Like 4 years ago. I know it’s not perfect. But even if you could bias the roulette wheel from 48.6% black to let’s say 51%. You would make enough money over time to bankrupt. A small change like that would also absolutely wreak high frequency trading and other things. You would make millions in a few days.

  184. bachfiendon 27 Jan 2017 at 9:34 pm

    Hardnose,

    I have told you where to find Daryl Bem’s article. You complain that you’d have to read it in context to see whether what Bem has written is reasonable or not, so why don’t you go and read it? I don’t provide links because I do all my browsing on an iPad and it doesn’t allow (or I don’t know how) links on comments.

    It’s not explicit that Bem advises restoring anomalous data into studies before publication or repeating studies after going on fishing expeditions in one study (or even whether it’s allowable to include the old suggestive data of one study into new studies).

    If you can’t see the problems with Bem’s advice, then I can’t help you.

  185. bachfiendon 27 Jan 2017 at 9:49 pm

    I’ll summarise hardnose’s worldview.

    The only studies that deserve to be considered to be attempting replication of studies hardnose likes (because they agree with his worldview) are if they agree with the original studies’ findings – otherwise they can be ignored.

    Authorities are trustworthy only if they appear to agree with hardnose. If they disagree, then they’re untrustworthy.

  186. Steve Crosson 27 Jan 2017 at 9:58 pm

    hardnose,

    I already said that you don’t have to be any where near perfect to beat a casino. You only need a very, very, very slight improvement to gain a substantial advantage over the casinos. The casinos currently make BILLIONS over the long haul with a house advantage of only 1% or so with games like craps and blackjack.

    IF Bem’s results are as significant as he claims, then many people already have this ability. Why isn’t anyone beating the casinos?

  187. tb29607on 27 Jan 2017 at 10:13 pm

    What Bern is advocating is data mining, pure and simple. Data mining is not consistent with the scientific process and is entirely flawed in concept and approach.

    In contrast, if you have a large data set and ask questions of it, that is an entirely different and valid method of research. The distinction between data mining and querying a data set is important.

    For some of the more tenuous findings, I think back to one of my older medical school attendings who said, “if you need fancy statistics or repeat studies to prove something works, it ain’t that good regardless if you are right”.

    I am for dedicating our efforts towards finding new things that do not need statistics or repeat studies to prove their worth. Please stop thinking about precognition and the like. Start thinking about the next parachute, which has never needed a study to prove it’s worth (although if HN and cozying want to volunteer for a double blinded, randomized, cross-over trial I will fund it).

  188. bachfiendon 27 Jan 2017 at 10:23 pm

    Steve,

    I’m actually a psychic. I’ve got a 100% record of beating the casino. I beat the casino in baccarat twice winning $20 and $2.50 respectively attending a conference held at a hotel-casino in Hobart (and promptly decided that this was going to be the last time I was going to gamble).

    I wasn’t psychic enough to realise that it was a bad idea to use the phone in the hotel room losing the $22.50 (and more) in a few local phone calls at the exhorbitant prices the hotel charged for each.

    It’s easy to get significant results of small size in small studies just by chance. Large results in large studies just don’t occur.

  189. hardnoseon 27 Jan 2017 at 10:24 pm

    If everyone has some slight degree of ESP, to varying degrees, then they would work against each other. Some people do better than others at using their intuition for gambling. But, as I said, there would still be everyone else also trying to win.

    Also, ESP and intuition are not things you can easily turn on to help you make money. But aside from that, if precognition and psi research results are valid, there is no reason to suspect the ESP of one person would reliably outweigh that of another person.

  190. Steve Crosson 27 Jan 2017 at 10:30 pm

    hardnose,

    Wrong answer. You almost never play against another person. You play against randomly shuffled cards or perhaps dice. If you try to claim that people somehow psychically control the physical cards or dice, then how can one dealer always manage to be better than a much larger number of players.

    It is called Special Pleading and you are spectacularly bad at it.

  191. cozyingon 27 Jan 2017 at 11:38 pm

    tb29607,

    I am for dedicating our efforts towards finding new things that do not need statistics or repeat studies to prove their worth.

    Yeah so this is not a process that works, or even really exists today. All the low hanging fruit are gone. The majority of experiments that are being pursued today rely heavily on a nuanced understanding of statistics. There are not so many self evident experimental findings today.

    Seems kinda like you have this romantic old school understanding of science. How about how the Higgs boson took years to discover. Is that not important enough for you? Many trials. Many collisions. They redid the exact same experiment over and over till they reached statistical significance and certainty that they had something. Their experiment was replicated many times, and studied by thousands of physicists over 15 years. It’s being redone as we speak with higher precision and better technology. You have a medical background? Well the development of new drugs and therapies is also a slow and nuanced process that relies heavily upon stats and replication. From theoretical origins > chemical models > cell cultures > rat models > chimps > human trials. That’s a lot of stats and slow not obvious research.

    Also from what you vaguely described there would be no difference between data mining and querying a set of data. Pseudoscientists also just ask questions of large data sets. Running multiple analyses on the same set of data is by definition asking different questions. When astronomers look for tiny anomalies in the Kepler data set, they are data mining. They don’t run experiments. There is a massive difference between this type of preliminary hypothesis forming, and an actual experiment. Data mining is fine for looking for possible things to investigate further, it’s not fine to do what Bem does tho and claim it’s a legit experiment.

  192. BillyJoe7on 27 Jan 2017 at 11:51 pm

    th and sc,

    You both beat me to it.

    DATA MINING!

    I have previously linked to Bem’s website, quoted the relevant passage, and made that exact point – he is advocating data mining. And all ignored by his fanboy here on this blog. It was a complete waste of my effort as far as the troll was concerned. He refuses to learn anything.

    SPECIAL PLEADING!

    Bullseye!
    Yeah, cry babies all. Boo hoo. My dowsing failed because there was a sceptic in the room. Boo hoo. My psychic abilities weren’t active today. Boo hoo. There must be some electromagnetic interference. Boo hoo. My psychic abilities can’t be tested. Boo hoo.

    The troll has shown time and again that he doesn’t understand logical fallacies, or clincial trial methodology, and that he will never learn – because then he would have to agree with all of us that Bem and his “research” and all his other alternatives are cracked.

  193. cozyingon 28 Jan 2017 at 12:23 am

    Billy still waiting on that evidence / counter argument on QFT and Carroll

  194. Steven Novellaon 28 Jan 2017 at 6:44 am

    HN – I knew you would go for that example. Perhaps I am psychic.

    Bem’s research was terrible. Bem actually wrote a book chapter about how to get positive results from research. It was a manual on how to p-hack. Seriously. If you think he is a good scientist you simply don’t know what you are talking about.

    You did not address my criticisms, because you did not read, understand, or remember them.

    Many scientists analyzed Bem’s results and found that his analysis was flawed and showed signs of publication bias. He was cherry picking data to eek out razor thin results.

    Finally, there was not just one failed replication by Wiseman. Wiseman’s paper included independent replications by French and Ritchie. So that is three independent replications.

    And – the original journal eventually published another 7 failed independent replications. So that is at least 10, and there are others. They conclude:

    “Across 7 experiments (N = 3,289), we replicate the procedure of Experiments 8 and 9 from Bem (2011), which had originally demonstrated retroactive facilitation of recall. We failed to replicate that finding. We further conduct a meta-analysis of all replication attempts of these experiments and find that the average effect size (d = 0.04) is no different from 0.”

    I will provide you links since you apparently cannot Google.

    So, HN, how is it there are more than 10 failed replications, and you thought there was only 1? You falsely conclude from your false premise that we are biased against psi. But who has the bias here?

    http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0033423
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22924750

  195. BillyJoe7on 28 Jan 2017 at 8:17 am

    cozy,

    “The existence of god/afterlife is what is known as an unfalsifiable hypothesis”

    No, the existence of deistic gods is an unfalsifiable hypothesis.
    Theistic gods interact with the universe, therefore theistic gods are falsifiable.
    Sean Carroll has shown that there are no particles or forces through which gods could possibly interact with the particles and forces that constitute our everyday lives.

    “Using the current scientific method, you cannot disprove an unfalsifiable”

    Understood. But you need to first demonstrate that something IS unfalsifiable before you can say it cannot be disproved because it is unfalsifiable. Theistic gods do not qualify. By definition, theistic gods interact with our everyday lives and are, therefore, by definition, falsifiable.

    “Carroll is also an atheist. He’s on record being against any kind of reconciliation between science and religion”

    I think you mischaracterise his position. He is not “against” accommodationism, as much as driven inevitably in that direction. And he has explained why.

    “The problem remains, he hasn’t written anything that counters what hardcore intellectual theists have to say about these issues”

    Well, I’m sorry but what the “hardcore intellectual theists” have to say is what is known as “sophisticated theology” defined as “refined bullshit”. Are you or The Gorilla going to tell me what they mean by the “ground of all being”? Or do I have to read all the books of these “Sophisticated Theologians” describing an entity that has not even been demonstrated to exist. If I write a book describing the characteristics of the garden variety faeries, are you going to read it when the existence of garden faeries has yet to be demonstrated? I’m guessing you won’t take my book seriously. That’s my attitude towards books on theology. And even then, they’re struggling to get past the deistic god to the theistic personal god of the vast majority of believers.

    “[Sean Carroll]…would argue…tons of people believe this version. It actually doesn’t matter how many people have that perception of souls and afterlife, you still haven’t tackled the issues of falsifiability and intellectual theism.”

    It too damn right matters. If what the intellectual theists sophisticated theologians say about gods makes no contact with what non-theologians mean when they talk about their gods, then they are talking bullshit.

    “[Sean Carroll] says look there cannot be any other particles/forces interacting with matter because we would have seen them. The intellectual theistic arguments haven’t bothered tackling the issue from this perspective for quite some time.”

    Do you mean “haven’t bothered” to tackle the “issue” (like the troll with a dismissive wave of the hand), or do you mean “are unable to” tackle the “problem”. The problem will not go away, so tackle it they must to retain any credibility.

    “They hold that god created the whole system, that he has the kind of grand vision that allows him to see the deterministic path we all walk”

    I am surprised you find this arguments worth raising. The Ground of All Being? Just another way of saying:
    “I don’t have a clue, so I’ll try bullshitting those sorry-assed believers, who don’t know the first thing about gods. Hell, I’ll even make like I’m talking about their god by talking all refined like so they won’t have a clue what I’m saying. Just nod in agreeance you sorry-assed suckers”.
    Like Sokal – except that the sophisticated theologians have actually hoaxed themselves as well.

    “that he is in another dimension…. and on and on. Notice how Carroll isn’t a string theorist, string theory allows for many higher dimensions that we haven’t begun to understand yet. But there are many popular new age deepak chopra-esque approaches that Carrolll never addresses. God is the universe. The QFT field could just be a manifestation of god. We are god, and the universe. This is all just a complex illusion with consistent rules”

    I don’t believe it, cozy. I don’t believe that you actually take this nonsence seriously. Sean Carroll quite rightly dismisses these hypotheses as not worthy of consideration.
    Really? – there might be some undefined higher dimension…hiding, by some unknown mechanism…some unknown higher entity…that directs the universe by some unknown mechanism? Do you really take this shit seriously? As opposed to formulating hypotheses based on what we know (five particles and four forces, QM, and General relativity) and what we know about what we don’t know (the regimes in which yet to be discovered particles and forces cannot reside)?

    “Notice how Carroll isn’t a string theorist, string theory allows for many higher dimensions that we haven’t begun to understand yet”

    Sean Carroll is turned on by string theory. The role of string or M theory is to resolve the present tension between QM and Relativity; to solve the problem of quantum gravity; to be that elusive theory of everything. It’s not an excuse for gods to sneak back into the equation from which they seem, for all intests and purposes, to have been excluded.

  196. BillyJoe7on 28 Jan 2017 at 8:19 am

    …um, sorry, that was a bit long.

  197. cozyingon 28 Jan 2017 at 10:04 am

    Billy,

    No, the existence of deistic gods is an unfalsifiable hypothesis. Theistic gods interact with the universe, therefore theistic gods are falsifiable. Sean Carroll has shown that there are no particles or forces through which gods could possibly interact with the particles and forces that constitute our everyday lives.

    Your argument starts with these claims. All I have to do is show they are wrong and everything that comes after is therefore flawed.

    My argument is not based on some ridiculous theistic god that cannot interact with the world. This is a straw man. I specifically said many times that all you need is an unknown mechanism such as a being acting from a higher dimension, or nonlinear time perception or a copy of a consciousness. Things of that nature do not break Carroll’s materialistic argument.

    Most physicists today believe that there are many higher dimensions. Carroll makes no mention of them. But he also makes no mention of the long philosophical history of materialism and reinvents it from scratch, so this shouldn’t surprise us. The fact that throughout your counter you refer to my position as theistic god is wrong. A god interacting with the world with an unknown mechanism is undetectable, and doesn’t break Carroll’s weak materialism.

    Well, I’m sorry but what the “hardcore intellectual theists” have to say is what is known as “sophisticated theology” defined as “refined bullshit”. Are you or The Gorilla going to tell me what they mean by the “ground of all being”?

    Carroll is not a philosopher. Please explain to me how someone who writes about religion/metaphysics for a popular audience, has more to say on the topic than people with the relevant background? Carroll seems unaware of the fact that many philosophers of science do not support materialism like he clearly does. They lean towards realism. Scientific models work. But they do not actually show us reality, just a representation of it.

    Carroll has never seen an atom. Neither have you. All we have is print outs or screens in labs telling us that yes the subatomic particles we launched at this thing called an atom have all bounced off in this specific way, there is a core it seems at the center of this thing we call an atom.

    At the end of the day you have not directly observed anything. Not even the words on this screen. The light is being generated inside the screen, travels to your retina, that light is then transduced from an em wave into electro-chemical activity. That signal then travels to your thalamus. From there this information is sprayed across your cortex for further processing. You then interpret what you seen as words on a screen. And only because you can read. If you didn’t acquire this skill, it would just be weird squiggles.

    You think this all irrelevant right? I’m a sophist idiot right? But philosophers don’t agree, and this is why people like Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow believe in model-dependent realism AND NOT in materialism. Are those not real physicists?

    Sorry but I’m gonna trust people who actually do their homework. People who do basic things like Google “materialism” and “logical positivism” and learn why those systems failed to explain everything in the world. I’m not going to take the world of some atheist physicist who is biased to the point of refusing to lecture at religious universities. Carroll writes on religion for the lowest common denominator, the masses, he’s not challenging what philosophers have been talking about for decades, and he contradicts other specialists in his own field.

    So you agree that higher dimensions and m theory is possible? Then you explain to me how a being acting from a higher dimension with an unknown mechanism doesn’t break Carroll’s materialism?

  198. Pete Aon 28 Jan 2017 at 11:12 am

    “Then you explain to me how a being acting from a higher dimension with an unknown mechanism doesn’t break Carroll’s materialism?”

    What exactly do you mean by “acting”?

  199. mumadaddon 28 Jan 2017 at 11:44 am

    cozying,

    If we have an experimentally verified model of reality that explains all observations, then there is no need to posit some unknown entity acting via unknown mechanisms — there is no effect to explain. Sure, you can come up with some unfalsifiable construct that could act within reality according and make it look like our model behaved exactly as we expected, but use is that?

  200. mumadaddon 28 Jan 2017 at 11:45 am

    Sorry, left in an extraneous ‘according’.

    cozying,

    If we have an experimentally verified model of reality that explains all observations, then there is no need to posit some unknown entity acting via unknown mechanisms — there is no effect to explain. Sure, you can come up with some unfalsifiable construct that could act within reality and make it look like our model behaved exactly as we expected, but use is that?

  201. mumadaddon 28 Jan 2017 at 11:58 am

    cozying, a side question — I am quite interested in learning more about the philosophy of science; can you recommend a good book (for a layperson) on this topic?

  202. cozyingon 28 Jan 2017 at 12:05 pm

    Pete A,

    I left it intentionally vague. The point is not what this hypothetical being is doing or acting upon. The point is that such an “action” is undetectable using Carroll’s materialism. It simultaneously doesn’t contradict any of his materialism claims, and means he can’t possible be correct. All possible mechanisms of interacting with matter would have to be known to defend his claims.

    If this being can act outside of the boundaries that we have. Like the apparent linearity of time, and the rigidness of the three spatial dimensions. Then they could act in all sorts of ways that could directly influence our reality. These machinations would be undetectable by Carroll’s materialism, but would directly pull the strings from behind the scenes.

    Even in a world more conducive to Carroll’s materialism. One where QFT was definitively outlined and understood. The would still be undetectables, known unknowns and unknown unknowns. Even if you have a set of laws that completely explain all materialistic properties, that doesn’t exclude the possibility of another set of laws that can be used to influence the behavior of matter. For example, classic mechanics was used to explain the revolution of an electron around an atom just like a planet around a sun. That formulation of the problem solved some things, explained some things but was problematic and eventually completely revised. Electrons are now described as probabilistic clouds around atoms.

    Even if you had a perfect system that completely explained the movement of an electron around an atom. Which some have described as theoretically impossible. That system would not explain various other things an electron can do and it’s applications. Chemical reactions, the photoelectric effect, circuitry. To explain these other properties of electrons we need different models, areas of science and perspectives.

    There can always be a higher dimension explanation too. If those higher level perspectives of an electron were understood, there would be many wonderful applications and properties of the electron that are now thought to be impossible.

    Theologians and spiritual writers of a more ideal scientific world with someone of these discoveries would still point to that and argue that their god uses those methods to interact with the world in an undetectable way. I know this fallacious, but my point is that no sorry you can’t disprove this god. Doesn’t matter what Carroll says.

    Mumadadd,

    If we have an experimentally verified model of reality that explains all observations, then there is no need to posit some unknown entity acting via unknown mechanisms — there is no effect to explain.

    Such a model is probably just flat out impossible. It’s also unscientific if you are claiming it’s perfect, exactly because it can’t be disproven. A perfect theory cannot be falsified by definition of its perfection. God as “everything” is also a perfect explanation, that explains the entirety of existence with the least possible assumptions, that can’t be falsified.

    If it’s not perfect then it doesn’t explain everything. Many people have worked on problems like this and mathematical proofs to show a rigorous foundation for the simplest things and come up short. This isn’t just sophist theology nonsense, there are real world applications and attempts to approach these problems. See Whitehead’s foundation of math and Gödel’s incompleteness theorem.

    There is always something new to discover, fundamental uncertainty and problems with even the best models. Remember how we got here. You and others explicitly stated that you showed a falsified god and that could use science to disprove him. I said nope.

    Side answer: I don’t really know many books on the subject for a general audience. The history of science course from the great courses is good. You could check out the wikipage on philosophy of science maybe that will help you find what you want to learn about specifically. I would recommend some stuff by Karl Popper, maybe start with the wikipage there too. Maybe, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn.

  203. Pete Aon 28 Jan 2017 at 12:07 pm

    mumadadd,

    That’s why I asked “What exactly do you mean by ‘acting’”? An action produces an effect.

    I know exactly how radio receivers etc. work — there is no need for me to invoke the possibility of higher dimensions and/or god(s).

    My television system can, of course, be tuned to receive God: The God Channel. Which is orders of magnitude easier to explain than how radio receivers work!

  204. mumadaddon 28 Jan 2017 at 12:11 pm

    “A perfect theory cannot be falsified by definition of its perfection.”

    Wait, what? What definition of perfect are you using here? A ‘perfect’ theory should make perfectly accurate predictions and perfectly account for existing data — so there are observations that could falsify it, just like any other scientific theory. I don’t see what you’re driving at here — care to clarify?

  205. mumadaddon 28 Jan 2017 at 12:16 pm

    “God as “everything” is also a perfect explanation, that explains the entirety of existence with the least possible assumptions, that can’t be falsified. ”

    This isn’t an explanation, it’s simply relabeling ‘everything’ as ‘god’ — zero explanatory power.

  206. mumadaddon 28 Jan 2017 at 12:21 pm

    Pete A,

    “I know exactly how radio receivers etc. work — there is no need for me to invoke the possibility of higher dimensions and/or god(s).”

    Exactly — why posit something that is not required?

  207. cozyingon 28 Jan 2017 at 12:36 pm

    Pete A,

    “I know exactly how radio receivers etc work…”

    No, you understand one of the many real-world applications of the electromagnetic theory of light. A crude application of a theory, is not the same as understanding “exactly” how something works. Physicists could make the most revolutionary discovery tomorrow in that same theory, and your radio transmitter would still work the same way it has for decades.

    mumadadd,

    K so, don’t get mad at me tho for explaining it in detail. In order to explain the world and all observations without error, a model would have to be perfect. A model that explains everything perfectly, isn’t falsifiable. This is because it’s perfect, and by definition has no errors or mistakes, explains everything, and cannot be disproven. If it’s not perfect, then it doesn’t explain everything. Yes it’s circular logic but I’m using it to make a point. God as everything is also perfect. Explains everything by definition. What do you mean this lacks explanatory power? I just told you it’s perfect and god is everything. I explained the whole universe to you. Now just because we can’t use that to explain string theory doesn’t mean it’s god’s fault, god isn’t going to tell us everything and do all the work for us.

    There is no current scientific theory that explains everything, or even a promising approach. Quantum mechanics and relativity are incompatible. Each explains a lot of the world but they can’t be used perfectly together they have incompatible concepts at their foundation.

    When a really close to ideal theory emerges it will be framed in a way that it can be falsified with experimental observation.

  208. chikoppion 28 Jan 2017 at 12:39 pm

    [cozying] Such a model is probably just flat out impossible. It’s also unscientific if you are claiming it’s perfect, exactly because it can’t be disproven. A perfect theory cannot be falsified by definition of its perfection. God as “everything” is also a perfect explanation, that explains the entirety of existence with the least possible assumptions, that can’t be falsified.

    If it’s not perfect then it doesn’t explain everything.

    I’ve always been perplexed that this rhetorical slight of hand should pass as substantive.

    If ‘existence’ is synonymous with ‘god’ then ‘god’ is not an answer to any question asked about ‘existence.’ Either the same questions remain unanswered or one can simply transfer all the supposed properties of ‘god’ to ‘existence’ and have the supposed conclusions without any intervening step.

    It’s the equivalent of, “Why? Stop asking questions, that’s why!”

  209. mumadaddon 28 Jan 2017 at 12:59 pm

    “K so, don’t get mad at me tho for explaining it in detail. In order to explain the world and all observations without error, a model would have to be perfect. A model that explains everything perfectly, isn’t falsifiable. This is because it’s perfect, and by definition has no errors or mistakes, explains everything, and cannot be disproven. If it’s not perfect, then it doesn’t explain everything.”

    Colour me perplexed… You haven’t explained in detail but restated your premise. Why is a perfect model any less susceptible to falsification? You seem to be saying that it won’t be falsified if it is perfect, but that is clearly not the same as being unfalsifiable.

    “God as everything is also perfect. Explains everything by definition. What do you mean this lacks explanatory power? I just told you it’s perfect and god is everything.”

    Again, you’ve lost me. Simply stating that god is everything, and that explains everything, adds nothing at all to what we know about ‘everything’, it simply relabels it as god.

  210. Pete Aon 28 Jan 2017 at 1:05 pm

    cozying,

    Thank you very much for your reply to me regarding why you left intentionally vague the meaning of “action”. I’m very familial with the concept of: known knowns; known unknowns; and unknown unknowns — which was an essential part of my career, especially for fixing obscure intermittent faults in complex systems. I’ve mentioned this to help explain my unusual way(s) of thinking about things.

    I completely understand your last paragraph “Theologians and spiritual writers… I know this [is] fallacious, but my point is that no sorry you can’t disprove this god. …”

    When I started having doubts about my religious beliefs, I tried to find theological arguments to sure them up. I spent tens of thousands of hours reading, watching videos of debates, and listening to podcasts. I couldn’t find any good evidence or convincing arguments to support my beliefs, so I slowly abandoned them and became an atheist (a non-believer), which was a long, painful, and deeply humiliating process.

    I am sorry for being disrespectful towards you. I sometimes mistake genuinely knowledgeable people as belonging to the group of authoritarian indoctrinators who made my life a living hell since my early childhood. My defence mechanism is coming across as being a feisty old git — it takes me a very long time to trust someone.

  211. Charonon 28 Jan 2017 at 1:31 pm

    cozying,

    Carroll does actually spend quite a lot of time interacting with philosophers. He writes, of course, from his own perspective, which is that of a physicist. For what it’s worth, he thinks a lot more highly of philosophy than most physicists do. (Generally physicists point out that philosophers are still arguing about the same things they argued about two thousand years ago, and in the meantime physics was invented and figured out pretty much everything. Simplistic, to be sure, but you can perhaps see where they’re coming from…)

    I’m genuinely curious about why you think “extra dimensions” suddenly make Carroll’s argument of non-interaction invalid. I really don’t get it. Carroll is well aware of theories including more than 3+1 dimensions, and indeed we know QFT is _the_ low-energy effective theory of any possible broader theory. Okay, I’m not a string theorist, but I do have a PhD in physics, so I’m assuming if your argument isn’t obvious to me, it’s not obvious to most people.

    Also, let me echo mumadadd and say that what scientists mean by “explanatory power” is the ability to predict things. Explain past effects, including those that weren’t used to generate your theory, and predict new effects based on the theory. Theories of gods fall into two categories: 1) no explanatory power (“god works in mysterious ways”), or 2) proved incorrect.

  212. Charonon 28 Jan 2017 at 1:42 pm

    cozying:

    A model that explains everything perfectly, isn’t falsifiable. This is because it’s perfect, and by definition has no errors or mistakes, explains everything, and cannot be disproven.

    I realize mumadadd already said this too, but… from the way you’re talking, cozying, you’re not a scientist, and don’t appear to understand science at the lay science enthusiast level either. That’s fine – there’s probably a lot you could teach me about philosophy, for example – but it means you have difficulty communicating on scientific topics when you use words that science uses.

    If a theory makes predictions that can be tested, it’s falsifiable. There’s a big difference between falsifiable and falsified. A perfect theory would never be falsified, but if it had any explanatory power (see previous post), it would be falsifiable.

    Perhaps your confusion is related to a dilemma facing physics these days. The reason we’re having such a hard time coming up with the next better theory of fundamental physics (string theory, loop quantum gravity, …?) is because we’ve been so successful already in coming up with theories that explain all observations we’ve been able to make. The Standard Model + GR (the “Core Theory”) explains all data we’ve been able to collect, with the possible exceptions of dark matter and dark energy. Coming up with a better theory that’s falsifiable is tough, not because those theories are perfect necessarily, but because the theories we already have are so darn good.

    Good enough to disprove noticeable supernatural interactions with humans, incidentally.

  213. Charonon 28 Jan 2017 at 2:04 pm

    I admit I skipped a good portion of this thread in the middle, but did cozying ever talk about actually reading Carroll, or are they just replying to our comments about his writing? Because he goes into great detail about why you don’t need to worry about unknown interactions (glancing at my copy of The Big Picture, it’s chapter 23). The possibility for unknown particles certainly exists, but his point is that we know they can’t affect our everyday lives. The interactions must necessarily be too weak for that.

    Incidentally, this applies to particles that have been predicted but not observed (selectrons, neutralinos, axions, etc.). Whether or not they do exist, they don’t affect human-scale stuff. But the niftier part is that the proof works on particles nobody’s ever even thought to dream up. Assuming QFT is correct, but 1) all experimental and theoretical evidence says it is, within its domain of validity, and 2) this was a caveat given from the beginning of this thread.

    cozying, you also seem to be worried about establishing probabilities of 0 or 1 (proving things with absolute uncertainty), which again suggests a background in math or philosophy, but not science. We don’t do that in science. When I say “no gods exist”, I’m not claiming p=0. I’m claiming p=epsilon, where epsilon << 1 is dependent on which god model we're talking about, but is really freaking small for all of them that could have any effect on the world.

    Yes, there are supernatural theories that are not falsifiable because they predict no effects on the world, but then you're in Invisible Pink Unicorn territory.

  214. Steve Crosson 28 Jan 2017 at 2:09 pm

    cozying,

    Are you absolutely sure you’re not hardnose? Kidding … kidding. But seriously, your explanation sounds an awful lot like his “you can’t prove I’m wrong therefore I might be right” BS, not to mention God of the gaps. Or, to be more charitable, there might be magic that we can’t detect.

    Sure, it is conceivable that such a god could exist, but what difference could it possibly make if we literally have no possible way to detect its influence. It is a completely useless philosophical position, and indistinguishable from deism.

    We all agree that science never claims absolute certainty about anything, but for all practical purposes, every theistic claim or prediction ever made has been invalidated. Not necessarily proven to be wrong per se, but, at a minimum, that a natural explanation is equal to or better than a supernatural claim. Sure, there are still some mysteries to be solved, but with a track record of 100% science vs. 0% magic, that doesn’t seem likely to change.

    Even when we acknowledge the possibility of discovering smoking gun evidence in the future, so what? Out of an infinite possible number of hypothetical future events, none of them can or should have any influence on decisions we make today or knowledge we claim to have.

    I am not a physicist, but I believe that what Sean Carroll is saying that based on what we know now, there is no reason to suspect that anything else is necessary or possible from our human perspective. There is simply no room in the model for a currently unknown force or mechanism that we will be able to detect in our reality. Not without fundamentally altering the rules and thus creating a different reality. And assuming we even still existed, how could we possibly be able to detect that any change had occurred?

    That’s really the crux of the issue. If we are unable to detect this interaction, then it is completely irrelevant. “God’s” rules are simply the rules of nature. We can’t know if we are in the Matrix, a holographic simulation. our own solipsistic minds or perhaps “reality”. There is no possible way to know.

    And thus it is simply philosophical navel gazing, perhaps interesting but ultimately useless. And certainly not a position worthy of respect or deference. It may be unfalsifiable, but so are an infinite number of different speculations.

    It is certainly not a position that a skeptic should take seriously. Not if you define skeptic as one who apportions belief according to the evidence — there is none. And as I said earlier, all evidence-free assertions are equally unconvincing. Falsifiability is a meaningless distraction.

  215. cozyingon 28 Jan 2017 at 2:11 pm

    Chikoppi,

    If ‘existence’ is synonymous with ‘god’ then ‘god’ is not an answer to any question asked about ‘existence.’ Either the same questions remain unanswered or one can simply transfer all the supposed properties of ‘god’ to ‘existence’ and have the supposed conclusions without any intervening step.

    My original point is not to spread theism but to explain that some fallacious arguments have considerable influence over people and that god can’t be definitively falsified.

    If a scientific theory exists that: explains all observations, has no mistakes, and accounts for everything, then it’s a perfect model of existence. A perfect model can’t be disproven, only things with errors, make incorrect predictions and that fail to consider significant unknowns, can be disproven. Science doesn’t strive to create perfect models, all scientific theories are falsifiable. That’s not a weakness but actually a strength. Counterintuitive I know. We are taught that explaining more and more is better and that maybe one day we can explain everything perfectly. But that’s not the case even with simple foundational concepts. See history of math and godel.

    God as everything is a perfect theory. It’s also more semantically complex and vague than you described. ‘Everything’ could be used as a pronoun or a noun. When I originally told Rickk what my god was, I left it intentionally vague so I could wiggle out of semantic restrictions like this, you can argue that what said originally wasn’t grammatically correct. It could mean ‘all things’ or just something that’s ‘really important.’ I didn’t pick ‘god = everything’ randomly. God is the alpha and omega, sound familiar? It’s also a deepakism because it’s that whole “we are the universe” thing. It’s also compatible with some more scientific nonsense, like Sagan’s “we are the universe becoming aware of itself,” or the anthropic principle, oh snap I stepped on hollowed ground, here comes the rage, chill I love Sagan too.

    God and existence do not have to be synonymous.

    God could be a complex theoretical model, something like string theory or QFT. This theory wouldn’t be a real thing, but it would explain everything. That could be god = everything, thereby satisfying the definition of great importance. Or god could be stuff itself. Or both theory and stuff. The definition of a simple word like ‘everything’ has significant wiggle room. It says “all things” so is a theory not a ‘thing?’ Are things only physical? Is not ‘love’ a thing?

    You say that god as stuff can’t be compatible. I say idealism. Monism.

    mumadadd,

    Why is a perfect model any less susceptible to falsification? You seem to be saying that it won’t be falsified if it is perfect, but that is clearly not the same as being unfalsifiable.

    Falsification means that something can be disproven. It’s a way of framing scientific questions. Some things, like god, can’t be framed in a way that falsifies them completely. Yes you can show that prayer doesn’t heal. You haven’t shown that god doesn’t exist, just that he doesn’t always heal people when they pray, the fickle omnipotent jerk. But those people who do get better with prayer. Or statistical anomalies. They can always be used by theists as examples of god’s power. I know it’s fallacious and ignoring the plausibility. But this is what happens. Same thing with god creating the universe or something like evolution. You can show that evolution is legit, but you can’t show that god didn’t have anything to do with creation. There is always some hidden unknown theists can point to or an argument about initial conditions. If they can’t make those arguments they use more and more abstract ones that sound more and more like QFT and string theory. And even if Those are outlined they will go beyond that and say monistic arguments or that god existed in another universe chilled for a bit, murdered everyone as he is known to do on occasion, then made ours. If multiple universes are definitively demonstrated then they will think of some other stuff that I’m currently incapable of fathoming. The principle here is it’s an unfalsifiable concept, there can always be some god out there.

    A perfect theory is unfalsifiable for slightly different reasons. You cannot disprove a perfect theory. There is nothing wrong with it. No evidence will show its flawed because it explains all evidence.

    My ‘god is: everything,’ argument is perfect. It explains everything. Explanations like this also happen to explain nothing, which is a slight problem.

    Pete A,

    Yeah no problem. I know what I’m facing, I’m here for the struggle.

    Charon,

    I’m genuinely curious about why you think “extra dimensions” suddenly make Carroll’s argument of non-interaction invalid.

    Sure. But first please explain to me how a being acting from a higher dimension, outside or our linear perception of time and not bounded by the spatial dimensions, can be detected by Carroll’s theory?

    He says that nothing can possibly interact with matter supernaturally because we already know all the possible particles and forces that can act on matter. How would you detect influences from a higher dimension?

    For example, how would we see the malicious influence, on a modern day physics experiment, from an advanced civilization, one that understands string theory and QFT and can apply it to time travel or manipulate matter. How would we know using current experimental methods that they aren’t messing with us?

    It’s not just sophist nonsense. If you can’t detect that, then there are unknowns. If there are unknowns, then Carroll is wrong when he said all possible forces and particles that can interact with matter are known. What’s more complex and interesting than all of this, is the problems that come up
    if Carroll is right. All those classic problems with materialism that he just flat out isn’t aware of at all.

    Charon as physicist, I would be curious if you ever heard of model dependent realism and if you think materialism is legit.

  216. Steve Crosson 28 Jan 2017 at 2:44 pm

    cozying,

    A perfect model can’t be disproven, only things with errors, make incorrect predictions and that fail to consider significant unknowns, can be disproven. Science doesn’t strive to create perfect models, all scientific theories are falsifiable.

    Sorry, this is just wrong. A perfect model Won’t be disproven because it is perfect, but that is not at all the same thing as unfalsifiable.

    Of course science strives to create perfect models. The reason we make them falsifiable is so that we can determine IF they are correct, and perfect is always at least a possibility.

  217. cozyingon 28 Jan 2017 at 3:00 pm

    So admittedly I messed up, I should have just googled the best critiques of his books. Would have saved me a lot of time:

    Carroll confidently defines many concepts, including belief and consciousness, as if 2,500 years of philosophy have yielded little relevant to the subject; he dismisses the task of drawing careful distinctions and heeding subtleties as “ontologically fastidious”. All he finds in philosophical literature are a few interesting puzzles. It’s like getting a whirlwind tour of a city from a tour guide who doesn’t live there, but enthusiastically gives you capsule descriptions of favourite sites.

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v533/n7601/full/533034a.html

    It’s the same exact thing as Kaku writing on neuroscience, Tyson talking about philosophy or whatever the other examples I used earlier were. Being an expert in one field doesn’t mean you have anything useful to say about another field. You can sell books tho.

    As skeptics and critical thinkers we always have to realize that our intelligence and expertise has limitations and is context dependent.

    If you think I’m wrong and that Carroll didn’t just write like he was reinventing materialism, then I don’t know what to tell you. I sincerely tried my best to show you the massive problems, and internal inconsistencies.

    How about that big ‘IF’ I didn’t even touch on yet: if QFT is real. What if it isn’t? Isn’t that the logical equivalent of me saying ‘if god is real, then I’m right?’ Oh it’s because it’s a scientific theory it’s different? It’s actually not, both arguments appeal to CURRENTLY unprovable concepts. God might never be provable fine sure, but QFT might be wrong too. Is basing a takedown of all religions, and ignoring the mountain of work on the same issues, on a currently unproved concept, a good idea? Is that how we make good arguments? Do you honestly think that a book on a complex topic like this, written by a complete outsider who clearly didn’t do his homework, is worth anything?

    K last argument: whatever you are an expert in. Physics or computer science or atheism. Whatever you have a really good understanding of. I want you to give me a list of multiple books written by outsiders, people not in your field, that are written for the public, that you think are good representations of your field.

    So if you are into neuroscience tell me if Kaku’s book is legit. If you are into moral philosophy tell me what Sam Harris’ moral landscape has contributed to your field. If you are a physicist tell me books written by non physicists (for the general public) that do a good job of explaining complex issues and have contributed something to your field of expertise.

  218. cozyingon 28 Jan 2017 at 3:21 pm

    Steve Cross,

    Sorry, this is just wrong. A perfect model Won’t be disproven because it is perfect, but that is not at all the same thing as unfalsifiable.
    Of course science strives to create perfect models. The reason we make them falsifiable is so that we can determine IF they are correct, and perfect is always at least a possibility.

    Perfect models are probably impossible. They fly in the face of model-dependent realism and decades of discussions in philosophy of science, that many other famous physicists take very seriously, unlike Carroll. They require some kind of really sad world that I wouldn’t want to live in. Where there is no mystery, everything is known, and new discoveries are impossible.

    Think that’s wrong too? Ask yourself how a perfect model is possible in a world with discoveries left to be made? Isn’t there always the potential that evidence will emerge that will contradict your model? If your model is perfect then nothing can disprove it, no new contradictory evidence is possible, discussion ends, world sad.

    Science does definitely not strive to create perfect models. Please with all due respect, go read the wikipage on falsifiability it will clear a lot of this up. Popper developed his system that we use now for hypothesis testing, to counter pseudoscience, things like psychoanalysis and astrology. The perfection of a theory is not a good thing. Psychoanalysis is internally consistent and explains everything perfectly from the perspective of their system. God as everything also explains everything, just because something doesn’t specifically explain everything or anything from all perspectives doesn’t mean it’s not perfect. Perfection and explanatory power are completely different things.

    What’s really problematic for me personally is how we have multiple people here (Basically no one agrees with me) advocating for dogmatic scientism. Multiple people now have told me that science strives for perfect theories, and that god is disproven. That’s completely against the modern scientific method tho? So what exactly are you all talking about?

    Isn’t you promoting Sean Carroll as someone who knows something about metaphysics, kinda like hardnose putting forth all his fake experts to support his arguments?

  219. mumadaddon 28 Jan 2017 at 3:22 pm

    “Being an expert in one field doesn’t mean you have anything useful to say about another field.”

    Being an expert in a field that makes claims about the nature of reality is only meaningful if that field has a good epistemology.

  220. mumadaddon 28 Jan 2017 at 3:30 pm

    “If your model is perfect then nothing can disprove it, no new contradictory evidence is possible, discussion ends, world sad.”

    But it can still be falsified in principle. E.g. even if our phylogenetic model of ancestry makes perfect predictions about what fossil evidence should be found where, horses in the Cambrian strata would still falsify it.

  221. mumadaddon 28 Jan 2017 at 3:36 pm

    “Multiple people now have told me that science strives for perfect theories, and that god is disproven.”

    Nobody has told you that god is disproven. To quote a latecomer who perfectly echoed my, and BJ7’s, point:

    “Theories of gods fall into two categories: 1) no explanatory power (“god works in mysterious ways”), or 2) proved incorrect.”

    1 = unfalsifiable
    2 = already falsified (so obviously falisfiable)

    We all clearly admit that falsifiable god concepts exist.

  222. cozyingon 28 Jan 2017 at 3:36 pm

    Mumadadd,

    “But it can still be falsified in principle. E.g. even if our phylogenetic model of ancestry makes perfect predictions about what fossil evidence should be found where, horses in the Cambrian strata would still falsify it.”

    So let’s assume that happened. We did find horse fossils there. Would the model that came after that discovery, that explained everything perfectly before + the new information, be more perfect?

    If so then your original model was not perfect. Perfect models cannot be disproven. Perfect means free of errors and defects. If your model didn’t see the horses then it wasn’t perfect it had an error. Things that have errors are not pe Text.

  223. cozyingon 28 Jan 2017 at 3:39 pm

    Still waiting on that list of books from your given field of expertise. That were written by non experts for a general audience. That you find do a good job of explaining complex issues and that contributed something to your field. Consider this an open challenge to the community.

  224. bachfiendon 28 Jan 2017 at 3:45 pm

    Golly, this thread has completely derailed from its original topic of autism.

    If Nick Bostrom is correct, and there’s at least a 20% chance we’re actually living in a computer simulation, wouldn’t that make the God hypothesis completely unfalsifiable? The computer programmer creating the computer simulation would certainly be considered to be a God. Or if there’s a God in the physical universe we’d have no way of knowing.

    Professor David Johnson, the philosopher who did the Great Courses series on metaphysics, argued convincingly (hopefully in humour) that our living in a computer simulation would explain a lot of things, including Einstein’s ‘spooky action at a distance’ in which measurement of a quantum property, such as the electron spin, determines the complementary quantum property of a paired particle at a distance sufficient that information must have travelled faster than the velocity of light. If we’re living in a hard drive of a computer, then there’s no enormous distances involved.

    It’s a similar idea to Philip Jose Farmer’s science fiction ‘World of Tiers’ series, in which Lords create pocket universes, and in which a human Kickaha accidentally enters one pocket universe and is later told by its Lord that the Earth is also situated in a pocket universe – that if a spaceship is sent out of the solar system it would hit a barrier at twice the distance of Pluto and be destroyed, that the billions of galaxies with their billions of stars is just an illusion – and that the Earth’s pocket universe is a perfect copy of the Lords’ home universe, including the barrier at twice the distance of Pluto and the illusion of galaxies and stars, and that the Lords also live in a created pocket Universe too. So they set out to create their own pocket universes too.

  225. mumadaddon 28 Jan 2017 at 3:51 pm

    “So let’s assume that happened. We did find horse fossils there. Would the model that came after that discovery, that explained everything perfectly before + the new information, be more perfect?”

    A perfect model would be falsifiable but withstand all attempts to falsify it. The point is that there are observations that could falsify it, if they happened. You might as well say that the theory of gravity is unfalsifiable because it’s never contradicted.

    PS. “We all clearly admit that falsifiable god concepts exist.” Should have read: We all clearly admit that unfalsifiable god concepts exist.

  226. Steve Crosson 28 Jan 2017 at 3:58 pm

    cozying,

    I’ll concede some of what you say about the relative merits of different perspectives, but seriously, some of your comments are just playing semantic games.

    Falsifiability has nothing to do with whether a hypothesis actually is false. It just has to be testable to see if it is either true or false. In either event, the principle always applies.

    And again, as a self proclaimed skeptic, why do you care? Just because we can’t rule something out, there is still no good reason to believe in it without some affirmative evidence. I’ve been trying to get a cup of Earl Grey out of Russell’s Teapot all day long, but I’m still thirsty.

  227. chikoppion 28 Jan 2017 at 4:01 pm

    [cozying] My original point is not to spread theism but to explain that some fallacious arguments have considerable influence over people and that god can’t be definitively falsified.

    Yes, and my point is that many of those ‘definitions’ are nothing more than tautologies that make no actual claims of knowledge. They are the homeopathic version of theology.

  228. chikoppion 28 Jan 2017 at 4:11 pm

    You say that god as stuff can’t be compatible. I say idealism. Monism.

    See above.

  229. cozyingon 28 Jan 2017 at 4:33 pm

    mumadadd,

    A perfect model would be falsifiable but withstand all attempts to falsify it. The point is that there are observations that could falsify it, if they happened. You might as well say that the theory of gravity is unfalsifiable because it’s never contradicted.

    Again, perfection is defined as having no errors or flaws. A model that explains things perfectly is equivalent to a model that explains without flaws or errors. If your model fails to predict, and explain new contradictory evidence, than it has errors. Therefore is imperfect. If you don’t agree then you have a definition of perfection that isn’t in a dictionary.

    If we assume you are right, your logic is also internally inconsistent. You start by saying a “perfect model” but then say it fails to explain new evidence. Okay so the new model that emerges that explains the old stuff perfectly plus accommodates the new evidence, that model by your own definition is therefore ”more perfect.” Something cannot be more perfect than something else. Perfect means without flaws or errors. So even if you had a different definition for perfection it would be a meaningless word. Or mean something like “more ideal.”

    The theory of gravity is framed in a way that makes it falsifiable. This has nothing to do with its perfection. It’s not perfect, we can’t reconcile, relativity with quantum mechanics because of gravity. Our theory of gravity is incomplete and therefore not perfect. Now is it a pretty ideal, kick ass theory? Yes.

    Steve Cross,

    Falsifiability has nothing to do with whether a hypothesis actually is false. It just has to be testable to see if it is either true or false. In either event, the principle always applies.
    And again, as a self proclaimed skeptic, why do you care? Just because we can’t rule something out, there is still no good reason to believe in it without some affirmative evidence.

    First I never said anything about if hypotheses are “actually” false. My point has always been that some claims are unfalsifiable. You and others have spent quite a bit of time trying to tell me I’m wrong or that it doesn’t matter.

    I’ve made it clear why I care. I tried explaining that you can’t disprove god, people told me they could. Those same people now say they never said those things. They told me Sean Carroll proved it. Still waiting on that retort to my latest arguments about him btw. If you agree with me then please tell me the difference between billy and Charon promoting Carroll and hardnose promoting his fake experts.

    Chikoppi,

    Yes, and my point is that many of those ‘definitions’ are nothing more than tautologies that make no actual claims of knowledge. They are the homeopathic version of theology.

    Well some other tautologies are not so obvious and fool skeptics. See Carroll’s materialism and anthropic principle. I can’t think of a single book by a non expert for the masses that is decent. I’ve read a lot of them. I spend a lot of time reading nonfiction. Earlier in my life I read books by non experts on specialized topics. They are mostly all now thoroughly debunked all over the internet. Except godel Escher and Bach, I can’t seem to find a good retort to hofstadder.

  230. mumadaddon 28 Jan 2017 at 4:48 pm

    “If we assume you are right, your logic is also internally inconsistent. You start by saying a “perfect model” but then say it fails to explain new evidence.”

    I can’t believe you don’t understand this, because I don’t think that you’re not clever.

    Do we really need to make this into another long-winded exchange a la dichotomies, or can you just admit that you’re wrong?

  231. chikoppion 28 Jan 2017 at 5:12 pm

    [cozying] I can’t seem to find a good retort to hofstadder.

    It will take longer than you expect.

    😉

  232. Steve Crosson 28 Jan 2017 at 5:19 pm

    My point has always been that some claims are unfalsifiable. You and others have spent quite a bit of time trying to tell me I’m wrong or that it doesn’t matter.

    Oh come on. No one has EVER denied that some claims are unfalsifilable. In fact, on more than one occasion, people have explicitly agreed that it is possible to define an unfalsifiable deity.

    Some people have said that a God defined with testable claims is capable of being falsified — and also that many such definition have effectively been falsified. And some people have quoted Sean Carroll to declare that definitions of God that include “detectable” interactions have been effectively falsified because no mechanism has been identified or is even still possible at our current level of understanding.

    I think I’m the only person that made the claim that unfalsifiable claims can be safely ignored because they are irrelevant. No idea if anyone else agrees with me.

    I think that this is a very fair summary of the comments, but I’m willing to be corrected.

    It seems to me that the topic under discussion is (or at least should be) is whether a god defined as having a detectable influence on the world is falsifiable.

  233. mumadaddon 28 Jan 2017 at 5:22 pm

    chikoppi,

    I’m looking for an audiobook/course that will help me understand your exchange with cozying — what would you recommend?

  234. mumadaddon 28 Jan 2017 at 5:29 pm

    “I think I’m the only person that made the claim that unfalsifiable claims can be safely ignored because they are irrelevant. No idea if anyone else agrees with me.”

    I agree..ee..ee..ish… I’m wary of falsifications that lie beyond our ability to test, e.g. string theory.

  235. mumadaddon 28 Jan 2017 at 5:33 pm

    “Jebus favours the meek,”

    Is a bit different to string theory.

  236. Steve Crosson 28 Jan 2017 at 5:46 pm

    Mumadadd,

    I’m not trying to imply that unfalsifiable claims are necessarily always irrelevant to the world, although (in re-reading my posts) I really did a bad job of explaining that. I’m just (trying) to say that unfalsifiable pretty much implies/guarantees no detectable (i.e. testable) interaction with the world, thus it is literally impossible to have any evidence justifying belief or recommended action based on anyone’s belief in an unfalsifiable hypothesis.

    I’m fine with setting String Theory or anything else on the shelf till further notice. Just not gonna let it influence my beliefs or choices right now. In other words, it pointless to spend time considering unknown possibilities. It’s is also not a “get out of jail free card” for anyone to hide behind. Which has always been my main concern. In essence, those theories are not (yet) worthy of respect or rebuttal.

    We don’t know what we don’t know, but I prefer to base my beliefs that I have evidence for.

  237. mumadaddon 28 Jan 2017 at 6:26 pm

    Steve Cross — Roger unnecessary clarification. 😉

  238. chikoppion 28 Jan 2017 at 6:28 pm

    Definitions in the form of “god is ______” (A=B) are tautologies when (B) is necessarily true.

    These definitions are meaningless, or at best poetic, because they include no claim of knowledge. To say “god is all things” tells me nothing substantive about either ‘god’ or about ‘all things.’

    Definitions including paradoxical qualities, such as “god is unknowable” can likewise be ignored for lack of a claim of knowledge.

    Definitions that do include knowledge claims fall into two categories, epistemologically falsifiable and hypothetically falsifiable. The first category includes those qualities that can be investigated, such as “god lives in a hut on Mount Olympus.” The second category includes qualities that are falsifiable (it’s either true or it isn’t), but we have no means of testing, such as “god is an eternal will and without form or cause.”

    The problem with hypothetically falsifiable claims is that it’s an all-or-nothing proposition. If the standard for belief is that a claim can’t be falsified then one is forced to adopt a great many beliefs on that premise, many of which are going to be contradictory or mutually exclusive.

    It’s possible to construct a dis-provable definition, but that definition isn’t going to be of much, if any, value.

    Hofstadder’s Law is that something always takes longer than you expect, even after taking into account Hofstadder’s Law (it’s a joke!).

  239. Pete Aon 28 Jan 2017 at 6:31 pm

    “In essence, those theories…”

    No disrespect intended whatsoever:
    In essence, those tentative hypotheses

  240. chikoppion 28 Jan 2017 at 6:37 pm

    Hm, sorry. “A non-dis-provable definition.”

  241. mumadaddon 28 Jan 2017 at 6:39 pm

    Chikoppi, when you say “Hofstadder”, do you mean this guy?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_Hofstadter

  242. chikoppion 28 Jan 2017 at 6:48 pm

    Yes, I was assuming “Gödel, Escher, Bach” referenced Hofstadter (sorry, I missed the spelling error!).

  243. mumadaddon 28 Jan 2017 at 7:00 pm

    chikoppi,

    “(sorry, I missed the spelling error!).”

    Same spelling mistake twice and from two different people — Just wanted to make sure I hadn’t misspent an Audible credit. 🙂

  244. Steve Crosson 28 Jan 2017 at 7:03 pm

    Pete A,

    Doh!!! … I hate it when other people do that, and even more when I do it.

    Thanks

  245. hardnoseon 28 Jan 2017 at 7:38 pm

    The idea that the universe is made of digital information has been around a long time, since the beginning of computer science. There is nothing ridiculous or pseudoscientific about it. It makes sense to me. It also helps explain why nature seems so intelligent.

    Any time I said here at this blog that I believe the universe is made of information (not little bits of “matter”), everyone said how ridiculous and stupid to believe that. Probably just because I said it. But lots of scientific people think it is plausible.

    It also happens to agree with what most parapsychologists and holistic scientists believe.

    The Matrix movies were inspired by the idea, but turned it into something silly.

  246. hardnoseon 28 Jan 2017 at 7:43 pm

    @Steve Cross:

    “Wrong answer. You almost never play against another person. You play against randomly shuffled cards or perhaps dice. If you try to claim that people somehow psychically control the physical cards or dice, then how can one dealer always manage to be better than a much larger number of players.”

    I think everyone might have slight ESP, and some may have more than slight ESP. But I also don’t think it is under conscious control, most of the time.

    Bem’s experiments showed that people can have a slight glimpse of the very near future, but it was all subconscious. The subjects were not consciously trying to have precognition.

    I think maybe some professional psychics are real, but most are mostly fake. That would explain why psychics have not closed down the casino business.

    Maybe some people do get some slight advantage in casinos, lotteries, and the stock market. But your odds for those things range from bad to abysmal, so the advantage would not count very much.

  247. hardnoseon 28 Jan 2017 at 7:44 pm

    @bachfiend:

    “I have told you where to find Daryl Bem’s article. You complain that you’d have to read it in context to see whether what Bem has written is reasonable or not, so why don’t you go and read it?”

    I have no idea where you said it is, if you ever said.

  248. hardnoseon 28 Jan 2017 at 7:50 pm

    SN,

    I linked to a meta analysis of 90 successful precognition experiments. And there were many more before Bem ever tried it.

    It’s easy to make a replication attempt fail — just make sure it’s under-powered.

    However, maybe Wiseman is not as dishonest as some parapsychologists claim. A “meta experiment” was done where Wiseman used exactly the same protocol as a parapsychologist, and her experiment succeeded while his failed.

    In parapsychology, you cannot control for experimenter effects. So that is a big problem, and who knows if anyone will ever figure out a way around it.

    Some parapsychologists now make extensive use of automated experiments, and maybe that helps somewhat.

  249. mumadaddon 28 Jan 2017 at 7:51 pm

    “The Matrix movies were inspired by the idea, but turned it into something silly.”

    That is going on my gravestone. I’ve been trying to come up with really stupid and irrelevant epitaphs, and nothing I’ve been able to come up with rivals this.

  250. cozyingon 28 Jan 2017 at 7:51 pm

    I guess my problems with Hofstadter is that he A) indirectly gave birth to David chalmers, b) started a school of belief that hasn’t contributed much of anything in decades despite being super prestigious c) has a fanatical following. D) His books are such a chore to read. I feel like it’s a recruitment process. If you have the patience to stick with GEB you are probably crazy, and by the end you will do whatever to justify that reading that giant tome.

    But he’s also like a non expert. He didn’t study math, he studied physics. His dad was a novel prize winner. But still. He doesn’t have a background in Gödel’s incompleteness theory and it shows. Literally every analogy in that book is wrong. And the entire book is analogies. He’s so obsessed with analogies he has lecture on them online. He basically argues that the incompleteness Theorem and self referential loops are that make consciousness so special. saved you like 2k pages. I can’t believe it won a Pulitzer either. Blows my mind.

  251. mumadaddon 28 Jan 2017 at 7:52 pm

    Oh no! I was mistaken:

    “In parapsychology, you cannot control for experimenter effects.”

  252. bachfiendon 28 Jan 2017 at 8:05 pm

    Hardnose,

    No, the Matrix films weren’t inspired by the idea that the universe is composed of digital information.

    Did you actually see the films? Did you actually understand them? The idea behind the films is that there’s a real physical universe, and that computers have taken over imprisoning humanity in vats and feeding computer generated virtual realities.

    It’s a different scenario to the idea that we could be living in a computer simulation of a universe. People not being physical beings in vats but rather digital data on a computer hard drive.

    It’s just nonsense to claim that the universe doesn’t consist of little bits of ‘matter’, so you’re free to replace it with the idea that it’s composed of ‘information’ (and you need to define what ‘information’ means – and stick to that definition throughout.

    Particles might not physically exist until their wave functions collapse – by interacting (which is what is meant by quantum events needing to be ‘observed’) with the rest of the universe. But as far as we are concerned, the universe is composed of little bits of matter since we’re part of the universe and observing it – resulting in collapse of wave functions.

  253. Pete Aon 28 Jan 2017 at 8:09 pm

    Steve Cross,

    You have no idea how much I hate it when those who are working on tentative hypotheses have the audacity to disrespect science and its methods to the extent of naming their conclusions, for which they are desperately hunting for supporting premises let alone empirical evidence, “string theory” and “M-theory”. Such behaviour is the very definition of pseudoscience and its methods:
    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Pseudoscience
    http://skepdic.com/pseudosc.html

  254. mumadaddon 28 Jan 2017 at 8:14 pm

    The only film hardnose understands is Fightclub, and his whole philosophy is based on it. We should all just see that modern life is killing us, the man has his finger in our eye, and the only way to survive is to subvert Big Pharma by wasting your time fixating on teenage fantasies and sustaining yourself by making soap products from human fat (a secret that is suppressed by the government).

    If you can’t do that, just try to apply the mindset when you encounter science.

  255. Pete Aon 28 Jan 2017 at 8:19 pm

    “In parapsychology, you cannot control for experimenter effects. So that is a big problem, and who knows if anyone will ever figure out a way around it.”

    Those who actually possess parapsychological powers would easily be able to figure it out!

  256. hardnoseon 28 Jan 2017 at 8:31 pm

    bachfiend,

    I saw the Matrix and I know what those movies are about. Living in a computer simulation is the same idea as the universe being a digital program. The movies just gave the idea a materialist twist.

  257. Pete Aon 28 Jan 2017 at 8:33 pm

    As to when it will be figured out: ask a genuine, rather than a fake, psychic.

  258. chikoppion 28 Jan 2017 at 8:51 pm

    The idea that the universe is made of digital information has been around a long time, since the beginning of computer science (1). There is nothing ridiculous or pseudoscientific about it (2). It makes sense to me (3). It also helps explain why nature seems so intelligent (4).

    Any time I said here at this blog that I believe the universe is made of information (not little bits of “matter”), everyone said how ridiculous and stupid to believe that. Probably just because I said it. But lots of scientific people think it is plausible (5).

    It also happens to agree with what most parapsychologists and holistic scientists believe (6).
    The Matrix movies were inspired by the idea, but turned it into something silly (7).

    1) So have many competing hypotheses. Persistence of an idea has no bearing on reality.

    2) Define the hypothesis and state an experiment to test it that is methodologically sound.

    3) Lots of hypotheses ‘make sense,’ but are nonetheless false.

    4) Appeal to consequence.

    5) Plausible is not factual. Opinions are not evidence.

    6) “Holistic scientists.” I’ll add that one to the special pleading pile. (Also, appeal to consequence again.)

    7) I thought the Matrix series was fun too, but it’s science fiction.

    It’s fine to state that you like the hypothesis. It’s another thing entirely to assert that it is true or even likely true without having proceeded via the scientific method.

  259. hardnoseon 28 Jan 2017 at 8:52 pm

    Digital physics: https://www.wired.com/2002/12/holytech/

  260. cozyingon 28 Jan 2017 at 9:08 pm

    HN,

    No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.
    -Albert Einstein

    The problem with psi is that 10,000 weak experimental results are not as significant as one rigorous failed replication. You clearly think that’s unfair. Well, if you wanted to convinced of something totally wild and crazy, we will call this proposition X, what would it take? It could be anything, x just has to be something you don’t believe.

    In order for us to convince you that you that X is true, what type of evidence would you require? Would you require extraordinary evidence?

    Would you be satisfied with 10,000 successful experiments that show an effect so small and suspicious that it might not exist? Would you be happy if we told you there was no real applications for X, that no one could use X in a way to help themselves benefit from the properties of x?

    Would you be convinced that despite decades of supposed evidence and research into X, that the effect is no closer to being understood? That there are no grants for such research? That the majority of mainstream scientists to study X don’t believe X is real? That the true believers in X can’t demonstrate it to other people?

    If I believe in X so much, but I can’t show you it, and I have no good evidence that is capable of changing your mind. What does that mean? Assuming you are a rational person.

    So tell us what it would take to convince you that you are wrong about X. Or anything else really. Tell me how we could go about changing your mind.

    I firmly believe that you can’t answer these questions. Because from what I’ve seen, you have a very inconsistent way of resolving these problems.

    You have a set of rules that are applied against the people you hate, and another set that is used to benefit the people you like. In order to build any kind of system to understand the world you need logically consistent rules. If you disagree please explain why.

    All you have to do to prove me and others wrong is to please tell me what it would take to show you that you are wrong about X.

  261. hardnoseon 28 Jan 2017 at 9:17 pm

    “The problem with psi is that 10,000 weak experimental results are not as significant as one rigorous failed replication.”

    First, there are many experimental results that are not weak.

    Second, you obviously have not experience with experimental science. Researchers do not accept the null hypothesis simply because an experiment failed. And you cannot expect everyone to agree on what experiments are “rigorous” or not.

    Debunkers like Wiseman know this, but they know that most of the general public, and news outlets, do not. People think that if an experiment does not find an effect, that means there is no effect. No, it means that the experiment failed to find an effect, whether or not there is one.

    Experimenters try to make sure their experiments have enough power to find the effect if it exists. But evaluating power involves a lot of guesswork.

    So, in other words, your statement is entirely wrong. You have been claiming to have studied many things, but obviously research methodology was not one of them.

  262. hardnoseon 28 Jan 2017 at 9:19 pm

    “Would you be happy if we told you there was no real applications for X, that no one could use X in a way to help themselves benefit from the properties of x?”

    Basic research and applied research are two different things. You seem not to know that.

  263. hardnoseon 28 Jan 2017 at 9:24 pm

    And “paranormal” phenomena are not “wild and crazy” to the people who believe in them and experience them. They are only wild and crazy for “materialist” “skeptics.

    The “skeptics” advocate changing how statistics are done, to make it harder for “wild and crazy” things like psi to be found statistically reliable. They want to include a plausibility factor — so if, in their opinion, something is not plausible, they adjust the statistics accordingly.

  264. cozyingon 28 Jan 2017 at 9:24 pm

    Answer the question. What would it take to show you that X is real? Tell me. If you are open to having your mind changed on a topic please explain to me how I would do it. What kind of arguments and evidence will convince you that X is real?

  265. mumadaddon 28 Jan 2017 at 9:25 pm

    hn,

    “I think everyone might have slight ESP, and some may have more than slight ESP. But I also don’t think it is under conscious control, most of the time.”

    You are making me mourn my youth — stop that! Wait, was that a psychic interaction?! I guess, if cognitive biases don’t exist, and quantum physics and parallel universes.

    Also, we don’t know everything…

  266. hardnoseon 28 Jan 2017 at 9:26 pm

    “What kind of arguments and evidence will convince you that X is real?”

    I get convinced about things all the time. I look at the evidence, read about it, find out what people have experienced and what they think. Your question is stupid.

  267. cozyingon 28 Jan 2017 at 9:31 pm

    Okay my question is stupid but let’s pretend it’s not just for the sake of argument.

    Well what kind of evidence do you think is convincing?

    What kind of personal experiences are important?

    What kind of people’s opinions do you value?

  268. chikoppion 28 Jan 2017 at 9:37 pm

    [hardnose] Digital physics: https://www.wired.com/2002/12/holytech/

    If smaller worlds have smaller worlds running within them, however, there has to be a platform that runs the first among them. If the universe is a computer, where is it running? Fredkin says that all this work happens on the “Other.” The Other, he says, could be another universe, another dimension, another something. It’s just not in this universe, and so he doesn’t care too much about it. In other words, he punts. David Deutsch has a different theory. “The universality of computation is the most profound thing in the universe,” he says. Since computation is absolutely independent of the “hardware” it runs on, studying it can tell us nothing about the nature or existence of that platform. Deutsch concludes it does not exist: “The universe is not a program running somewhere else. It is a universal computer, and there is nothing outside of it.”

    Yep. Here’s my problem with the hypothesis.

    “Information” isn’t a thing. Information describes a thing. If 1 describes “existence” and 0 describes “non-existence” then what is it that is being described? Waves in a field(s)? Fine, then the field is the fundamental platform and the “information” is merely a description of it.

    Also, the hypothesis itself is suspiciously close to a tautology. “Stuff exists or it doesn’t and if it does it interacts with other stuff and things change according to rules.” Yep. Calling it “computation” adds no explanatory power.

    Further, nowhere in this hypothesis is the prerequisite of “intelligence.” A computational process running on a platform need be neither self-aware nor oriented toward a particular goal.

    It’s a fun conjecture, or analogy, but it’s far from a fait accompli.

  269. hardnoseon 28 Jan 2017 at 9:38 pm

    I can’t pretend the question isn’t stupid, and the answers are obvious so I don’t know what you are getting at.

    I am a scientist and I value scientific evidence. It is often difficult to interpret evidence and there is no simple formula for deciding what is true.

    I also value the opinions of experts, but I am a skeptic and don’t believe things simply because an expert said it.

    Many things have not been studied scientifically and many things can’t be. We’re supposed to be open-minded and try to judge opinions fairly, when there is no conclusive evidence for either side.

    The things that people experience also count, as far as I’m concerned, and my own experiences also count.

    The idea at this blog is that ultimately we should let experts decide for us what is true. That is not what I do.

  270. hardnoseon 28 Jan 2017 at 9:40 pm

    chikoppi,

    Information is relationships. The idea is that there is no ultimate “stuff.” Everything is ultimately made out of relationships.

    That makes sense to me.

  271. mumadaddon 28 Jan 2017 at 9:45 pm

    “Information is relationships. The idea is that there is no ultimate “stuff.” Everything is ultimately made out of relationships.”

    Relationships between or of what???

  272. cozyingon 28 Jan 2017 at 9:45 pm

    Chikoppi,

    I think you kinda messed up here. Information is definitely a thing not just a description. Right? Or else this is not a problem:
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_hole_information_paradox

  273. Steve Crosson 28 Jan 2017 at 9:54 pm

    hardnose,

    Sorry, but still Special Pleading. I understand the appeal of the idea. I’ve been reading SF and Fantasy since grade school, and I really, really wish it was real. But regardless of whether or not psi powers are plausible, there is just no evidence.

    Besides the problems I’ve already mentioned regarding the failure of researchers to make any progress at all after thousands of years of looking, even if some very slight powers did exist, they are so weak and undependable as to be useless.

    And that is a showstopper. Even a very slight and very intermittent precognition ability (or pretty much any conceivable psi power) would be a significant selection advantage. You’ve already agreed that natural selection plays a role in evolution.

    With billions of people swapping genes over thousands of generations, a psi power strong enough to be detected in experiments would also be strong enough to provide an evolutionary advantage. So why aren’t these powers becoming more prevalent and/or stronger? Or both?

    Over the course of an entire lifetime, even a very tiny, very intermittent psi power would give enough of an advantage that most of the people carrying the appropriate genes would out compete and out breed the competition.

    This is just as likely if not more so if you accept Shapiro’s hypothesis about Natural Genetic Engineering (NGE) and your own oft stated belief that evolution has a “direction” or tendency towards an ultimate goal.

  274. hardnoseon 28 Jan 2017 at 10:00 pm

    “So why aren’t these powers becoming more prevalent and/or stronger? Or both?”

    Good vision should provide an evolutionary advantage. So why isn’t vision becoming better?

  275. Steve Crosson 28 Jan 2017 at 10:03 pm

    Vision is easily compensated for with glasses. There is no comparable corrective for psi powers.

  276. chikoppion 28 Jan 2017 at 10:06 pm

    [hardnose] Information is relationships. The idea is that there is no ultimate “stuff.” Everything is ultimately made out of relationships.

    That makes sense to me.

    I think you’re championing an abstract notion, though I can understand the appeal of it.

    For there to be a “relationship” there have to be two or more “things.” Note, by “things” I don’t mean objects. Two points (or peaks of a wave) in a field would suffice.

    Absent those points there would be no relationship. Absent the field there would be no points. “Information” is a description of the two points and the relationship between them, which is ultimately a description of some subset of the field (fundamental platform).

    I understand both the strong and weak versions of the hypothesis and I think it is a useful conceptual tool, but I don’t think it is an explanatory theory from which conclusions can drawn.

  277. chikoppion 28 Jan 2017 at 10:18 pm

    [cozying] I think you kinda messed up here. Information is definitely a thing not just a description. Right? Or else this is not a problem: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_hole_information_paradox

    Hawking radiation is above my pay grade, but from what I understand “information” in this context is a description of (or analogous to) the wave function. The wave function is a thing (a wave propagating in a field).

    [https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_hole_information_paradox] There are various ideas about how the paradox is solved. Since the 1997 proposal of the AdS/CFT correspondence, the predominant belief among physicists is that information is preserved and that Hawking radiation is not precisely thermal but receives quantum corrections. Other possibilities include the information being contained in a Planckian remnant left over at the end of Hawking radiation or a modification of the laws of quantum mechanics to allow for non-unitary time evolution.

    In July 2004, Stephen Hawking published a paper presenting a theory that quantum perturbations of the event horizon could allow information to escape from a black hole, which would resolve the information paradox. His argument assumes the unitarity of the AdS/CFT correspondence which implies that an AdS black hole that is dual to a thermal conformal field theory. When announcing his result, Hawking also conceded the 1997 bet, paying Preskill with a baseball encyclopedia “from which information can be retrieved at will.”

  278. cozyingon 28 Jan 2017 at 10:25 pm

    Yeah I dunno either. I’ve just heard a lot about information lately. And how it’s the core of all things.

  279. Steve Crosson 28 Jan 2017 at 10:42 pm

    hardnose,

    In fairness, the vision/glasses thing is a very incomplete answer.

    A better answer is that evolution operates on the principle of “good enough”. At this stage, even dramatically better vision would be unlikely to provide much of a survival advantage. It is really a very small part of the “total package” that gives us our place in the food chain. By the same token, poor vision isn’t necessarily a big disadvantage.

    True psi powers are in a different ball park. People already think they have “hunches” and “feelings”, etc. As far as we can tell, they are mostly a combination of subconscious “background processing” and coincidence coupled with confirmation bias.

    But if there actually were a legitimate increase in their accuracy and/or frequency, that would be a pretty big deal. Just a handle of “lucky guesses” throughout the course of your life could make a huge difference if those “guesses” are the result of subconscious processing that has access to more and better, even future, information.

  280. BillyJoe7on 29 Jan 2017 at 2:23 am

    cozy,

    “My argument is not based on some ridiculous theistic god that cannot interact with the world”

    First, let me clarify this bit:

    I have not claimed that god (unspecified as to whether he is deistic or non-deistic) is falsifiable – because it is true of one (non-deistic) but not the other (deistic): A deistic god (a god that does not interact with the world) is clearly an unfalsifiable god – exactly because of the fact that he does not interact with the world. A non-deistic god IS falsifiable – exactly because of the fact that he does interact with the world.

    Sean Carroll’s claim is that telekinesis, telepathy, and gods that interact with the world are not only falsifiable but have been falsified. When he makes this claim he has a number of caveats of qualifiers. It is unfair to quote him saying an interventionist god has been falsified without mentioning the caveat that came with it: “If QFT is correct”. Above you asked “But what if QFT is wrong?” Covered. If QFT is wrong his claim is wrong. But – in over fifty years of research and experimentation, there has never been a single result that indicates that QFT is wrong.

    “I specifically said many times that all you need is an unknown mechanism such as a being acting from a higher dimension, or nonlinear time perception or a copy of a consciousness”

    Already answered. It is possible that there is an unknown entity from an unknown dimension using an unknown mechanism? Anything is possible. But Sean Carroll claims that such an entity still cannot interact with the elementary particles that constitute our everyday lives…provided QFT is correct. The are only five particles and four forces. There may be particles and forces not yetr discovered, but these are not able to affect our everyday lives. SC explains why this is so. I assume you have read and understood his explanation. If you can find a particle physicists who disagrees with this statement, I would be interested in reading it, but….

    Sean Carroll says that nothing he is saying about particle physics is controversial. He could be lying, but that seems unlikely. He has written a book on the topic and he has tested his ideas prior to writing his book, so it seems very unlikely that he is wrong and that what he claims IS controversial.
    So…it doesn’t matter characteristics these gods have, or what powers they have, they cannot interact in our everday lives, because the only way of doing so is via a new particle or force interacting with those particles and forces that we know about = and that has been excluded (if QFT is correct, and QFT has a 50 year perfect track record so far).

    “Most physicists today believe that there are many higher dimensions”

    But it doesn’t matter. A god living in the extra dimensions of string theory (am I allowed to laugh?) still cannot interact in our everyday lives because…(see above)

    “Carroll is not a philosopher”

    That’s a little unfair. He discusses his ideas with philosophers and has debated theologists more than once, each time leaving them looking clueless in my opinion. But, no, he is not a philosopher. But he doesn’t need to be. The argument from particle physics does not depend on a knowledge of, let alone expertise in, philosophy. It depends on expertise in particle physics which, I hope you will agree, he has in spades.

    Also, it was a cheap shot to compare me to the troll, who makes a virtue of rejecting experts when it suits him and accepting all sorts of nonsense from fringe dwellers when it suits him. Also, I am not blindly accepting everything he says. I’m really just reporting what he says, and I am happy to read a contrary view from a similarly qualifed particle physicist.

    “Carroll seems unaware of the fact that many philosophers of science do not support materialism like he clearly does. They lean towards realism. Scientific models work. But they do not actually show us reality, just a representation of it”

    His argument does not depend on materialism. It’s the cold hard results of research and experimentation in particle physics. If QFT works, it works, regardles of whether it is materialist or model dependant realism. Yes, Sean Carroll is a materialist, but it’s irrelevant to his argument. I can’t find him referencing model-dependent realism, but the two need not be mutually exclusive.

    “So you agree that higher dimensions and m theory is possible? Then you explain to me how a being acting from a higher dimension with an unknown mechanism doesn’t break Carroll’s materialism?”

    What do you mean by “higher” dimensions? My understanding is that these 6 or 7 extra dimensions are “wrapped up” in the other four. In any case, by what logic did you arrrive at idea that gods could live there. Have string theorists found anything to support this, or is this just wild, unjustified, ad hoc, speculation?

  281. BillyJoe7on 29 Jan 2017 at 2:30 am

    …please excuse the several typos, but I think my meaning is clear so I won’t bother correcting them (unlike the “Sophisticated Philospher” blunder which I did correct but still managed to get TheGorilla all hot and bothered)

  282. SteveAon 29 Jan 2017 at 3:24 am

    Steve Cross: “I think I’m the only person that made the claim that unfalsifiable claims can be safely ignored because they are irrelevant. No idea if anyone else agrees with me.”

    I’ll stick my hand up for this. I think I said pretty much the same in the ‘Santa’ thread. The pot plant in the next room might be the corporeal manifestation of the god that just magicked us all into existence a second ago. No way of proving or disproving it. Do I want to go and worship it? Nah, don’t think I’ll bother.

    Steve Cross: “But if there actually were a legitimate increase in their accuracy and/or frequency, that would be a pretty big deal. Just a handle of “lucky guesses” throughout the course of your life could make a huge difference if those “guesses” are the result of subconscious processing that has access to more and better, even future, information.”

    Didn’t Larry Niven postulate someone with a ‘luck’ gene in ‘Ringworld’?

    …yes, he did: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teela_Brown

    Well done Wikipedia, well done.

  283. BillyJoe7on 29 Jan 2017 at 3:38 am

    Poor old Hofstadter, his name is always being mispelt (come on, I did this deliberately), even by his fans. I read GEB many many years ago. I do actually remember enjoying the read. But it was a long time ago, and I don’t know if I would still feel the same way now (I do not intend to re-read it 😀 )
    There was also “The Mind’s I”, and “Mathemagical Themas”.

  284. mumadaddon 29 Jan 2017 at 3:54 am

    I just downloaded Surfaces and Essences: Analogy as the Fuel and Fire of Thinking on audio — it’s 33 hours long (!). Sounds interesting though.

  285. Steve Crosson 29 Jan 2017 at 8:22 am

    SteveA,

    Nice catch. As I recall, the expedition leader selected Teela Brown specifically because she would help the exploration trip be successful. Only to realize later that what was lucky for Teela could easily be very unlucky for her companions.

    Still, Teela (plus any descendants) DID benefit from her luck, thus providing a selective advantage. Therefore my point to hardnose is scientifically proven. 😉

  286. Pete Aon 29 Jan 2017 at 9:49 am

    Information is to reality what a map is to the terrain — these relationships are far from being isomorphic.

    Conversely, if we define the universe to be “information” then “reality” must be a subset of it. This sort of makes sense because humans can detect only a small subset of that which we already know actually exists. What’s it like, to be a fish? We can’t experience it, and fish can’t tell us what it’s like to be a fish.

    The problem I have with defining the universe as information is twofold:
    1) It seems to be nothing other than swapping the established meanings of the terms “reality” and “information”.

    2) Information cannot travel faster than the speed of light in a vacuum, which strongly implies that the universe cannot possible be “connectedness” or “intelligent”.

    I can understand why apologists for Intelligent Design Creationism promote the universe as being information and connected intelligence. I cannot understand why the commentator “hardnose”, a scientist, is promoting it here without discussing its yet-to-be-resolved many problems — such as its signal-to-noise ratio, error rate, and time delay.

  287. hardnoseon 29 Jan 2017 at 9:59 am

    Higher order dimensions.

  288. Pete Aon 29 Jan 2017 at 10:13 am

    “Higher order dimensions.”

    Show me evidence of their existence, without which your ‘argument’ is an argument from ignorance:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_ignorance

    BTW: The detection and confirmation of gravitational waves serves as an exemplar for how to confirm minuscule effects. The model used in this research could easily be adapted to confirm minuscule ‘psi’ effects, if the effects actually exist.

  289. Steve Crosson 29 Jan 2017 at 10:49 am

    Pete A,

    Calling hardnose a “scientist” is pretty generous. To my knowledge, he has only ever claimed to be a programmer/IT person.

    Speaking as someone with 40 plus years experience in the field, I can honestly say that computer science is only tangentially related to what most of us would consider real science. As should be obvious from hn’s frequent and egregious misconceptions about what scientists do and how they do it.

    Sure, laymen can indeed learn the methods of science if they want to, but probably won’t be able to if their entire world view is tainted by confimation bias and motivated reasoning.

  290. cozyingon 29 Jan 2017 at 10:51 am

    Carroll supporters,

    Did you read the review I posted? Or other negative reviews of his book? Notice any themes?

    I sure did notice a lot of people mentioning the fact that he isn’t an expert, and that he glosses over centuries of relevant work on the subject. They claim he does a really bad job of defining his terms, uses his expertise to try to answer questions well outside his area of study. Uses inappropriate terms, reinvents concepts that are centuries old. His most profound thoughts sound like empty platitudes. Hmm. Kinda sounds like reviews of the moral landscape, or pigliucci responding to Tyson.

    Also I’m still waiting on that list of popular books by non experts, that contribute something to a field you know very well. I only ask because I can’t think of a single good example.

    Billy,

    If QFT works, it works, regardles of whether it is materialist or model dependant realism. Yes, Sean Carroll is a materialist, but it’s irrelevant to his argument. I can’t find him referencing model-dependent realism, but the two need not be mutually exclusive.

    This is flat-out wrong, all anyone has to do is google materialism then realism to see that you haven’t even done the most basic amount of investigating. You aren’t even slightly familiar with the concepts you are casually discussing, kinda like your hero Carroll.

    Just because Carroll has a cute name for his made-up reinvented belief system, “poetic naturalism,” doesn’t mean that it’s not just a form of materialism. You supporters gave and outlined many times very basic materialistic arguments. I read the links to his blog where he outlines the same pretty simple arguments. He literally says we know of all forces and particles that can interact with matter, therefore spirit particles or gods influence is impossible. That is like philosophy 101, first class on materialism. It’s a very simple argument. I’m not trying to be mean I’m just saying stop telling me that it’s not materialism, maybe instead of taking a non-expert’s word on these things go do 15 seconds of fact checking and figure it out for yourself.

    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/physicalism/

    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/scientific-realism/

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Model-dependent_realism

    One of those systems says that the underlying reality is physical. The other says there are uncertainties, scientific models work, but they don’t necessarily explain or see the underlying reality. Realism is pretty consistent with the history of science, allows much more wiggle room for the more abstract theories, doesn’t exclude the possibility of emergent phenomena, allows for a world that is filled with uncertainty and allows for discoveries to continually happen. Carroll’s materialism is akin to a perfect theory. If all forces and particles are known then, nothing new can happen. If your theory is truly perfect than no evidence will ever refute it. That means by definition, that a higher dimensional influence cannot interfere with your modern day experiments in an undetectable way. Which I think is pretty inconceivable for anyone with the most casual understanding of science fiction. In order for you Carroll supporters to be right you need 0 uncertainty in the world. You need tone absolutely sure that you know of every particle, every subtle force and possible interaction, and every property of every known particle. Then you need to know for a fact that there is no combination or emergent property, that isn’t seen at that basic level, that will break your theory.

  291. Pete Aon 29 Jan 2017 at 11:23 am

    Steve Cross,

    hardnose has stated more than once that he is a scientist. I can neither prove nor disprove his claim. He doesn’t seem to understand my sense of humour, which is fair enough. He doesn’t seem to understand that I am NOT a reductionist, materialist, skeptic; nor does he seem to care that I find his labelling extremely pathetic — I don’t find it insulting, simply because he is not even wrong.
    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Not_even_wrong

  292. Steve Crosson 29 Jan 2017 at 11:39 am

    Pete A,

    I didn’t mean to say that hardnose doesn’t pretend to be a scientist — just that he has never given anyone a reason to believe he fulfills the requirements. I’m pretty sure that he believes himself to be very scientific.

  293. Pete Aon 29 Jan 2017 at 12:05 pm

    Steve Cross,

    hardnose has made it abundantly clear to the readers of this website that he is indeed a scientist — an alternative scientist — but he lacks the knowledge, seniority, authority, and influence of senior scientists, such as Dean Radin, who are working for and/or affiliated to the Discovery Institute, its affiliates, and its campaigns:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discovery_Institute_intelligent_design_campaigns
    http://americanloons.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/1046-dean-radin.html

  294. Steve Crosson 29 Jan 2017 at 12:12 pm

    Pete A,

    Pretty sure we’re in violent agreement 😉 😉 😉

  295. Pete Aon 29 Jan 2017 at 12:25 pm

    Steve Cross, You owe me a new keyboard 🙂

  296. hardnoseon 29 Jan 2017 at 12:58 pm

    I spent 4 years getting a PhD in cognitive psychology. So I learned research methodology and did a lot of experiments. Then I went back to being a computer programmer.

  297. Pete Aon 29 Jan 2017 at 1:26 pm

    “I spent 4 years getting a PhD in cognitive psychology. So I learned research methodology and did a lot of experiments. Then I went back to being a computer programmer.”

    Why am I not in the least bit surprised.

  298. hardnoseon 29 Jan 2017 at 1:36 pm

    I wanted to be a parapsychologist, but I contacted one of them and she told me it was not a good way to make money. I like making money, so that was that.

  299. Pete Aon 29 Jan 2017 at 1:43 pm

    “I wanted to be a parapsychologist…” Oops, You wasted 4 years getting a PhD in cognitive psychology.

    Stick to being a computer programmer because nobody will sue you for the human misery caused by your buffer overrun errors etc.

  300. hardnoseon 29 Jan 2017 at 1:49 pm

    I don’t think parapsychologists get sued either.

    It wasn’t wasted, I still might be a parapsychologist some day. Also, I learned to love statistics.

  301. hardnoseon 29 Jan 2017 at 1:53 pm

    @Pete A

    “He doesn’t seem to understand that I am NOT a reductionist, materialist, skeptic”

    Then what are you doing here? TROLL!!

  302. hardnoseon 29 Jan 2017 at 2:05 pm

    @Steve Cross: Just a handle of “lucky guesses” throughout the course of your life could make a huge difference if those “guesses” are the result of subconscious processing that has access to more and better, even future, information.

    The person with better ESP might get very rich, but rich people don’t necessarily have more children.

    In earlier times, yes the rich guys probably had more children. So maybe better ESP was selected for back then, who knows.

    But ESP can also be a disadvantage because maybe it distracts from the physical senses.

    So I think your evolution argument is lame.

  303. Pete Aon 29 Jan 2017 at 2:11 pm

    “[hardnose] Also, I learned to love statistics.”

    It seems, from your years of commenting on this website, that your love of logical fallacies and cognitive biases far outweighs your love of statistics.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fallacies
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cognitive_biases

    It does not in the least bit surprise me that you failed to learn and to properly comprehend those lists during your wasted 4 years getting a PhD in cognitive psychology.

  304. Pete Aon 29 Jan 2017 at 2:24 pm

    @Pete A
    “He doesn’t seem to understand that I am NOT a reductionist, materialist, skeptic”
    Then what are you doing here? TROLL!!

    Thank you! And I sincerely apologise for falsely claiming that you do not understand my sense of humour. On this occasion, you have made it obvious that you do 🙂

    If you carry on, you will be on my list of people who owe me a new keyboard!

  305. Steve Crosson 29 Jan 2017 at 2:41 pm

    This:

    The person with better ESP might get very rich, but rich people don’t necessarily have more children.
    In earlier times, yes the rich guys probably had more children. So maybe better ESP was selected for back then, who knows.
    But ESP can also be a disadvantage because maybe it distracts from the physical senses.

    = This:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_pleading

    I’ll be the first to agree that my point about evolution is hardly conclusive — merely suggestive.

    However, according to your logic, the reason psi powers aren’t common is because they aren’t useful.

  306. BillyJoe7on 29 Jan 2017 at 3:09 pm

    cozy,

    Okay, this conversation is heading down the path it usually does so we might as well leave it there.
    When you say things like this:

    “I’m not trying to be mean I’m just saying stop telling me that it’s not materialism”

    There is no point in saying you are not trying to be mean when that is exactly what you are doing even if you don’t mean to. Your statement implies that I have repeatedly said that what he says is not materialism. But I have not said this even once. I said it doesn’t matter if it is consistent with materialism. But – though it’s irrelevant to our discussion – there is a form of model dependent realism that is compatible with materialism. But no big deal, Sean Carroll is a materialist. I don’t know his views on model dependent realism. That’s all I said.

    I am quite happy to read a deconstruction by a particle physicist of Sean Carrol’s ideas, if you have a reference. But I am not interested in gods that hide in the curled up dimensions of string theory the purpose of which was to solve the problem of quantum gravity.

  307. BillyJoe7on 29 Jan 2017 at 3:41 pm

    Cozy,

    I’m taking you at your word that you have read the links I provided, but the following indicates that you have not understood what he is saying.

    “Carroll’s materialism is akin to a perfect theory. If all forces and particles are known then, nothing new can happen”

    Carroll does not say “all forces and particles are known”.
    I have not said that Carroll said this. I said the exact opposite. Carroll is very careful to say that he is not saying this and he repeats it several times, so that there can be no misunderstanding about what he is saying. The second link I provided is him dealing with these misunderstandings.

    Yet here you are misrepresenting him despite all his efforts to be completely clear on this point.

  308. cozyingon 29 Jan 2017 at 3:51 pm

    I clearly gave the quote were you said it’s not materialism, and that materialism and realism aren’t mutually exclusive. I’m not being mean. You just keep repeating false claims over and over again. Clearly not learning anything from the discussion and not checking the links. All you did is repeat your blind worship of Carroll. You refused multiple directly challenges I made. Multiple questions I asked in bold face. These elements of your behavior are identical to HN’s, the only difference between you and him as that you happen to believe in dogmatic scientism and he does not.

    Carroll is not a classically trained philosophers, he’s a physicist. His world view is constrained. To him everything is just a physics problem. This is problematic, and is the reason why his version of the Ten Commandments and his thoughts on morality are an absolute joke. I contextualized this phenomenon for you. No nonexperts ever have much of anything profound to say, esp when talking to the masses. Sam Harris, Tyson insulting philosophy. Etc.

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v533/n7601/full/533034a.html

  309. BillyJoe7on 29 Jan 2017 at 4:08 pm

    cozy,

    This is really incredible.

    You provide a direct quote of what I said where it is clear that I did not say what you said I said. I follow up to make this even clearer and you simply double down and insist that I am saying what I clearly did not say. What exactly is the point of doing that.

    Same with Sean Carroll. He clearly and explicitly is not saying what you said he is saying and he makes this even clearer by repeating it several times. But you still misrepresent him.

    This is truly a waste of our time.

  310. cozyingon 29 Jan 2017 at 4:15 pm

    If QFT works, it works, regardles of whether it is materialist or model dependant realism. Yes, Sean Carroll is a materialist, but it’s irrelevant to his argument. I can’t find him referencing model-dependent realism, but the two need not be mutually exclusive.

    Yeah so in my last reply before this one there were no direct quotes. That’s the quote right there.

    Materialism and realism are mutually exclusive. Look it up.

  311. cozyingon 29 Jan 2017 at 4:25 pm

    Atheism and theism need not be mutually exclusive.
    Monism and dualism need not be mutually exclusive.
    A campfire can be lit underwater. Rocks are not solid. Sean Carroll has something meaningful to contribute to metaphysics. HN is a critical thinker. The moon is made of cheese.

  312. Steve Crosson 29 Jan 2017 at 4:45 pm

    cozying,

    I was composing this while the two of you were making a few more comments which I just now read, but I’m going to post it anyway because I honestly can’t see your side on this. What am I missing?

    *****

    Trying hard not to be a cheerleader here, but I’m having difficulty interpreting this:

    [Billy]If QFT works, it works, regardles of whether it is materialist or model dependant realism. Yes, Sean Carroll is a materialist, but it’s irrelevant to his argument. I can’t find him referencing model-dependent realism, but the two need not be mutually exclusive.

    as meaning this: “I clearly gave the quote were you said it’s not materialism, and that materialism and realism aren’t mutually exclusive.”

    Also, immediately after the above quote from Billy, you said “This is flat-out wrong, all anyone has to do is google materialism then realism to see that you haven’t even done the most basic amount of investigating.”

    To which BillyJoe7 responded, “But – though it’s irrelevant to our discussion – there is a form of model dependent realism that is compatible with materialism”.

    Which you seem to have completely ignored. You could have asked for more information on the specific example he was talking about.

    Again, with all due respect, it seems like you are not really reading his words carefully. And, IMHO, this is why people get frustrated.

    At this stage, what does it really matter anyway? We ALL seem to agree that some definitions of god are unfalsifiable. And I think we also all agree that at least some definitions can be and have been effectively falsified. We just don’t seem to agree on where the line should be.

    But, for all practical purposes, this is never going to be an effective argument to use on a theist anyway. As the saying goes: “you can’t reason someone out of a position they didn’t reason themselves into”.

    Far more useful to try to neutralize any claims they make that are falsifiable, and then attack the unfalsifiable parts as completely without merit.

  313. cozyingon 29 Jan 2017 at 5:08 pm

    My points are simple
    A) Carroll is not a philosopher. Arguments that fall under this category:
    -his lack of awareness of many other people who have worked on this same problem for centuries. If you don’t think old school philosophy has anything to contribute then how about just the last few decades of philosophy of science? Why did logical positivism fail? What are some problems with this materialistic approach? Why are none of these things mentioned by Carroll?
    -his acts like he is reinventing concepts that have been around for centuries, gives them new names, essentially reinventing the wheel.
    -a diligent thinker would reference the experts in the given field he is a nonexpert in. Why doesn’t Carroll use some of the good arguments other physicalists have used in the last few decades? (Hint: he never read them)

    B) Carroll is a physicist.
    Arguments that fall into this category.
    -significant bias towards his world view. For example like the book reviewer mentioned, for Carroll defines time as “that thing physicists measure” and insists that it doesn’t matter that time only flows one way for us in the practical world, because it can flow either way in the physics equation. Cute. Too bad people first mentioned this 100 years ago and has nothing to do with the macro world.
    -Carroll wants to redefine morality, tell me god doesn’t exist, and other things, but he also doesn’t see how important it is to define time clearly and in different contexts. For example. Take his definition, I can stab someone and claim that I did it because they were punching me in the face and threatening to kill me. The fact that their struggling happened after the initial unprovoked stabbing is purely irrelevant with Carroll’s definition of time.

    C) Carroll writing on morality and god is just like other non experts writing other books on things they know nothing about. I asked like 5 times now, for a list of books, written by non-experts, for the general public, that have something meaningful to contribute to the academic discussion of literally any topic.. There are no such books. No expert is going to endorse the work of a non expert on their field. I mean there might be some exceptions none of which I can think of. But I can think of many books written by non experts that are laughed at by the experts.

  314. Steve Crosson 29 Jan 2017 at 5:31 pm

    cozy,

    Ummm … not really the question I asked or the point I was trying to make.

    I’m pretty sure that in my very first comment on this subject (deistic unfalsifiability) I stated that I would not make the claim that gods were falsifiable. I really don’t think this is an effective strategy when dealing with theists. I don’t really have a dog in this hunt.

    Regarding Sean Carroll, I’ll stipulate that you make some good points, but then why muddy the waters by insisting that BJ7 said “it’s not materialism” when he clearly said no such thing.

    And then you objected to him saying “materialism and realism aren’t mutually exclusive”, but failed to respond when he claimed to have an example that was.

    The problem as I see it is, you can make a hundred great points but when you double down on stuff that is clearly false, you lose credibility and make it much harder to get your point across — even if it is right.

  315. Steve Crosson 29 Jan 2017 at 5:32 pm

    errr … “an example which supported his claim”

  316. bachfiendon 29 Jan 2017 at 5:34 pm

    Cozying,

    I suppose you mean ‘the Big Picture’? I suppose I should read it before coming to a conclusion (or at least read the sample Amazon provides to see if it interests me – life is too short to read all the books out there).

  317. CKavaon 29 Jan 2017 at 6:53 pm

    [hardnose] Also, I learned to love statistics.

    Out of all the things I’ve heard you claim this is one of the most remarkable.

    Given your endorsement of Bem’s p-hacking advice in this thread, your misreading of the results/defence of highly problematic studies (e.g. Seralini) and your endorsement of parapsychology- a field widely reviled for the abuse of statistics (e.g. Dean Radin)- I have to wonder what kind of statistics it is you love?

    Taking you at your word, maybe you got your PhD back in the 70s/80s and received the same kind of advice that Bem offers? That might help explain things.

  318. CKavaon 29 Jan 2017 at 6:54 pm

    Oops… I’ll try that again.

    [hardnose] Also, I learned to love statistics.

    Out of all the things I’ve heard you claim this is one of the most remarkable.
    Given your endorsement of Bem’s p-hacking advice in this thread, your misreading of the results/defence of highly problematic studies (e.g. Seralini) and your endorsement of parapsychology- a field widely reviled for the abuse of statistics (e.g. Dean Radin)- I have to wonder what kind of statistics it is you love?

    Taking you at your word, maybe you got your PhD back in the 70s/80s and received the same kind of advice that Bem offers? That might help explain things.

  319. Steve Crosson 29 Jan 2017 at 7:04 pm

    CKava,

    Pretty sure this is the reason:

    There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies and statistics.

    Hardnose desires to be equally fluent in all three.

  320. hardnoseon 29 Jan 2017 at 7:19 pm

    “Given your endorsement of Bem’s p-hacking advice in this thread”

    Whoever it was never explained where he found that, so I never saw the actual article.

    The out of context quote sounded like advice to students about how to get ideas for future experiments. You look at your data all different ways.

    No research advisor would EVER tell student this is how to get publications. The two things are exact opposites! To publish research, all your tests have to be planned in advance! You don’t go on a fishing expedition and try to publish it.

    Show me where Bem said that, I am sure it was taken out of context and misunderstood. All part of the organized materialists’ crusade against him, and all parapsychologists.

  321. Steve Crosson 29 Jan 2017 at 7:31 pm

    [hardnose] Show me where Bem said that, I am sure it was taken out of context and misunderstood. All part of the organized materialists’ crusade against him, and all parapsychologists.

    bachfiend on 27 Jan 2017 at 8:21 pm

    It was actually from Daryl Bem’s website from his article ‘writing the empirical journal article’. On page 2 when he’s talking about the data:
    ‘Examine them from every angle. Analyse the sexes separately. Make up new composite indexes. If a datum suggests a new hypothesis, try to find additional evidence for it elsewhere in the data. If you see dim traces of interesting patterns, try to reorganise the data to bring them into bolder relief. If there are participants you don’t like, or trials, observers, or interviewers who gave you anomalous results, drop them (temporarily) [hopefully not putting them back only after the study is published]. Go on a fishing expedition for something – anything – interesting’.

    Speaking of lies, hardnose clearly read this because he replied in minutes, (hardnose on 27 Jan 2017 at 8:37 pm) and references bach’s comment.

  322. hardnoseon 29 Jan 2017 at 7:34 pm

    He is obviously talking about how to get ideas for future experiments. But I still have no idea where to find it on his website. It’s like pulling teeth trying to get you to say where it is.

  323. Steve Crosson 29 Jan 2017 at 7:36 pm

    Seriously??????

    Bachfiend gave the name of the article in the very first line!!!!!!

    This says VOLUMES are your ability to do research.

  324. Steve Crosson 29 Jan 2017 at 7:37 pm

    damn non-existent edit button ….

    ABOUT your ability to do research

  325. Steve Crosson 29 Jan 2017 at 7:47 pm

    [hardnose] He is obviously talking about how to get ideas for future experiments.

    [bem] If there are participants you don’t like, or trials, observers, or interviewers who gave you anomalous results, drop them (temporarily) [hopefully not putting them back only after the study is published].

    Comprehension FAIL

    Clearly no need to put OLD RESULTS back into a FUTURE study.

  326. hardnoseon 29 Jan 2017 at 7:47 pm

    “No, this is not immoral. The rules of scientific and statistical inference that we overlearn in graduate school apply to the “Context of Justification.” They tell us what we can conclude in the articles we write for public consumption, and they give our readers criteria for deciding whether or not to believe us. But in the “Context of Discovery,” there are no formal rules, only heuristics or strategies. How does one discover a new phenomenon? Smell a good idea? Have a brilliant insight into behavior? Create a new theory? In the confining context of an empirical study, there is only one strategy for discovery: exploring
    the data.”

    Of course you completely misunderstood, as I said. The creative aspect of research is different from the strict rules for designing and analyzing experiments.

    Following all the rules correctly is NOT the hard part of research. The hard part is having good ideas that can be translated into experiments. That is what he is talking about — this is so obvious. “Skeptics” have probably been combing through everything he ever wrote, looking for things to take out of context.

  327. hardnoseon 29 Jan 2017 at 7:48 pm

    “hopefully not putting them back only after the study is published”

    He SAID you put them back BEFORE the study is published! What is wrong with you?

  328. hardnoseon 29 Jan 2017 at 7:50 pm

    THE CONTEXT OF DISCOVERY.

    Which of course you know nothing about. Nothing needs to be discovered, Sean Carroll has explained it all.

  329. Steve Crosson 29 Jan 2017 at 7:51 pm

    The point is that he is CLEARLY talking about P-hacking the CURRENT study — not getting ideas for future studies — which is what bachfiend said and you denied.

  330. hardnoseon 29 Jan 2017 at 7:52 pm

    YOU ARE WRONG.

  331. hardnoseon 29 Jan 2017 at 7:55 pm

    He does not recommend p-hacking and did not do it in the precognition experiments. Before accusing someone of cheating, you should have some evidence, and of course you don’t.

    The precognition experiments had a definite hypothesis, based on previous research. The result confirmed the hypothesis. It was NOT a discovery project.

  332. Steve Crosson 29 Jan 2017 at 7:55 pm

    Sorry, but the way it is worded, it is impossible to interpret any other way. He advocates fishing through all of your current data until you find something interesting.

  333. Steve Crosson 29 Jan 2017 at 7:59 pm

    Bem’s precognition hypothesis most definitely appear to have been generated by previous experiments — which were apparently P-hacked, thus perfectly explaining why they are so damn difficult to replicate.

  334. CKavaon 29 Jan 2017 at 8:00 pm

    The fact that you are unaware of this article and yet claim to have looked critically into Bem’s research is extremely telling. After a one minute google here is the article: http://dbem.ws/WritingArticle.pdf

    Bachfiend told you the article name, the location, and the page number for the quote, and yet you couldn’t find it. The title of the article the advice appears in is ‘Writing the Empirical Journal Article’ and as the name implies the entire piece is geared around preparing an article for publication, thus your attempt to imply that the advice offered was not presented in the context of publishing research is simply false.

    But even if it was the case, what Bem advises is not good practice at any time. It is recommending p-hacking and conducting data fishing. Bem does not recommend that the student should consider the need to correct for multiple comparisons or be aware of the extremely problematic nature of conducting endless subgroup analyses rather he acknowledges that following his recommendations could lead to “spurious findings” but that he prefers to err on the “side of discovery”.

    Also, what you correctly describe above as good practice is something which Bem outright dismisses:

    The conventional view of the research process is that we first derive a set of hypotheses from a theory, design and conduct a study to test these hypotheses, analyze the data to see if they were confirmed or disconfirmed, and then chronicle this sequence of events in the journal article. If this is how our enterprise actually proceeded, we could write most of the article before we collected the data… But this is not how our enterprise actually proceeds. Psychology is more exciting than that…

    For anyone that claims to ‘love statistics’ Bem’s research and the article in which he provides his research advice is a horror show.

  335. hardnoseon 29 Jan 2017 at 8:05 pm

    “Sorry, but the way it is worded, it is impossible to interpret any other way. He advocates fishing through all of your current data until you find something interesting.”

    No, that is how you misinterpret it because you know nothing about experimental research, and because you do not want to think he is an honest scientist.

    If you read his precognition paper http://dbem.ws/FeelingFuture.pdf you will not see evidence of what you are accusing. There were clear and unambiguous results, and certainly no need for deception. And he had absolutely no motivation to be deceptive! Unlike the “skeptics” who are desperate to discredit him.

  336. hardnoseon 29 Jan 2017 at 8:09 pm

    “the goal of this research program was to develop well controlled demonstrations of psi that could be replicated by independent investigators. The research strategy was to design experiments and employ statistical procedures that were as simple, as transparent, and as familiar as possible. First, the experimental procedures were based on simple, well-established psychological effects that would be familiar to most readers of this journal.”

  337. Steve Crosson 29 Jan 2017 at 8:12 pm

    I never said he was either honest or dishonest. Impossible to know. But his own words confirm he is a terrible scientist.

  338. hardnoseon 29 Jan 2017 at 8:17 pm

    “But his own words confirm he is a terrible scientist.”

    You misinterpreted what he said. I am tired of explaining it.

    Good scientists are creative and curious. Unlike most of you here. They don’t just throw their data into a statistics program and accept whatever it churns out.

    I was told in graduate school to LOOK AT YOUR DATA, ALL DIFFERENT WAYS. I was told this by professors who were obsessive about doing everything correctly.

    NO research professor would ever put in writing advice on how to be deceptive.

    YOU GOT IT COMPLETELY WRONG.

  339. hardnoseon 29 Jan 2017 at 8:19 pm

    I’m sure there are dishonest researchers, but I am VERY SURE that none of them post articles on their website on how to be sleazy.

  340. Steve Crosson 29 Jan 2017 at 8:21 pm

    the goal of this research program was to develop well controlled demonstrations of psi that could be replicated by independent investigators. The research strategy was to design experiments and employ statistical procedures that were as simple, as transparent, and as familiar as possible. First, the experimental procedures were based on simple, well-established psychological effects that would be familiar to most readers of this journal.

    Lots of people fail to meet their goals. If the effect was as real as you claim, it would be far more widely replicated. Seriously, this is Nobel caliber stuff if true. The big discoveries are always the ones that get recognized and rewarded — if they turn out to be true.

    There is no conceivable reason that other researchers would try to ignore this. No one would take the chance of being proven wrong in the future if they thought there was any chance that Bem’s results were real. But, as Steve N. said, the research is crap and has not been convincingly replicated.

  341. hardnoseon 29 Jan 2017 at 8:24 pm

    After that precognition research was published in a respected mainstream journal, the “skeptical” debunkers went nuts trying to find something wrong with it.

    Bem made his experiments and analysis as simple as possible. He knew the “skeptics” would go over it with a microscope looking for anything slightly suspicious.

    It’s all pretty clear and simple and unambiguous. He even carefully explains the pilot studies that failed, so you will know he didn’t just do a hundred experiments and publish the ones that happened to succeed.

  342. hardnoseon 29 Jan 2017 at 8:25 pm

    “If the effect was as real as you claim, it would be far more widely replicated.”

    90 successful replications, in many different labs all over the world.

    And before Bem’s research, precognition had been well established.

  343. hardnoseon 29 Jan 2017 at 8:26 pm

    “But, as Steve N. said, the research is crap”

    Steve N. who has probably never done a psychology experiment in his life.

  344. hardnoseon 29 Jan 2017 at 8:30 pm

    “Seriously, this is Nobel caliber stuff if true.”

    It is not the least bit surprising for anyone familiar with parapsychology.

    But what is nice about Bem’s experiments is they use well-known psychology protocols. And the subjects don’t know what is being tested, so their conscious mind does not interfere.

  345. Steve Crosson 29 Jan 2017 at 8:34 pm

    “90 successful replications, in many different labs all over the world.”

    Yet not one person has EVER managed to do anything at all the least bit useful with the “knowledge” gained from these experiments.

    No wonder parapsychology pays so poorly.

  346. hardnoseon 29 Jan 2017 at 8:49 pm

    “Yet not one person has EVER managed to do anything at all the least bit useful with the “knowledge” gained from these experiments.”

    That is completely irrelevant to what we were talking about. Your statement the precognition research was crap and was never replicated was wrong.

  347. Steve Crosson 29 Jan 2017 at 8:53 pm

    But what is nice about Bem’s experiments is they use well-known psychology protocols. And the subjects don’t know what is being tested, so their conscious mind does not interfere.

    BFD. In my own college psych classes, every student was expected to “volunteer” for as many studies as possible. That is, if we wanted a good grade. It was certainly not an official policy, but no one was willing to take a chance. But the end result was that we all knew that the stated reason was never what was really being studied. It became a game to try to guess the real purpose of the experiment. More than a few smart ass college kids would get a kick out of trying to mess with the data.

    Which is probably one reason so many psych studies aren’t able to be replicated.

  348. hardnoseon 29 Jan 2017 at 9:02 pm

    If the subjects found out what was being tested, that would not make them perform any better.

  349. hardnoseon 29 Jan 2017 at 9:02 pm

    And I just found out where you got your misinformation from — csicop, where else!

  350. CKavaon 29 Jan 2017 at 9:11 pm

    Shockingly, hardnose is both misrepresenting the quality of Bem’s original research and the status of the ‘replications’.

    There are numerous methodological issues with Bem’s original paper and there are clear indications that researchers-degrees-of-freedom were utilised that skewed the results. Bem’s paper has not only failed multiple failed replications but has been used in a number of subsequent papers as a case study for demonstrating the improper use of statistical analysis in psychology.

    The meta-analysis that hardnose is touting is also severely flawed. Not only does it contain ‘replications’ that appeared prior to the experiments they are supposed to ‘replicate’ but it again applies extremely dubious statistical methods. And even if you ignore all of the widely noted statistical problems, Hardnose’s enthusiasm is not even supported by the actual meta-analysis, as rather than finding “90 successful replications, in many different labs all over the world”, the meta-analysis actually reported:

    Only 18 statistically significant precognition effects have been observed in the last 14 years, by just 7 different labs, as the meta-analysis by Bem, Tressoldi, Rabeyron, and Duggan reveals. 72 studies reveal no effect.

    (Source: http://daniellakens.blogspot.jp/2014/05/a-pre-publication-peer-review-of-meta.html)

    Hardnose, as ever, is replacing critical inquiry with ideological commitment and just parroting Bem & co.’s exaggerations. Again, I see no evidence of a love of statistics…

  351. Steve Crosson 29 Jan 2017 at 9:15 pm

    “If the subjects found out what was being tested, that would not make them perform any better.”

    Sorry, didn’t mean to imply that this particular problem had anything at all to do with Bem’s expertiments. Just a general comment on the difficulty of getting high quality pysch studies. On average, they have a terrible track record for replication.

    HaHa. Haven’t been to csicop for quite while. Sorry to break it to you, but the problems with Bem’s “research” are well known and widespread.

  352. Steve Crosson 29 Jan 2017 at 9:22 pm

    CKava,

    Bachfiend already mentioned some of your points, especially about the “pre-research”. But, of course, hardnose blythly ignores everything that contradicts his narrative.

    He’s the poster child for cognitive bias and motivated reasoning who also “loves” statistics.

  353. hardnoseon 29 Jan 2017 at 9:28 pm

    Notices that CSICOP didn’t find anything wrong with the two retroactive priming experiments.

    http://www.csicop.org/specialarticles/show/back_from_the_future

  354. hardnoseon 29 Jan 2017 at 9:38 pm

    “Only 18 statistically significant precognition effects have been observed in the last 14 years, by just 7 different labs, as the meta-analysis by Bem, Tressoldi, Rabeyron, and Duggan reveals. 72 studies reveal no effect.”

    I don’t know where you got that from.

  355. CKavaon 29 Jan 2017 at 9:42 pm

    Re-read my post more carefully.

  356. hardnoseon 29 Jan 2017 at 9:53 pm

    The failed replication attempt by Ritchie and Wiseman (2012) was NOT retroactive priming. It was the experiment that had the weakest effect.

    WHY didn’t they try to replicate the retroactive priming experiment??

  357. hardnoseon 29 Jan 2017 at 9:55 pm

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daryl_Bem

    “The most recent meta analysis, published in the end of 2015, supports Bem’s precognition claims.”

    Strange, even wikipedia admits precognition has been replicated.

  358. Steve Crosson 29 Jan 2017 at 10:11 pm

    Somehow, I just KNEW you were going to say that. Clearly, precognition is true.

    Of course, it is the same damn flawed meta-analysis authored by Bem. No conflict of interest there.

    And the 10 or 12 lines immediately above all either failed to replicate or identified serious methodological errors or both.

    But by all means, cherry pick the one outlier that supports your preferred narrative.

  359. hardnoseon 29 Jan 2017 at 10:20 pm

    Wiseman should have tried to replicate retroactive priming. I guess he was afraid it would succeed.

  360. bachfiendon 29 Jan 2017 at 10:21 pm

    Hardnose,

    You’ve got a funny idea as to what ‘replication’ is. A meta-analysis of studies done before Bem’s study in 2011 isn’t replication. Replication is repeating a study using the same methodology in order to see if the results are repeated.

    At best, Bem is attempting to replicate some previous studies.

    The wikipedia isn’t perfect. The references to the quote ‘the most recent meta analysis, published in the end of 2015, supports Bem’s precognition claims’ (45, 46 and 47), include Bem’s meta analysis, a chapter in a book not available on line and an article written by Michael Duggan, a co-author of Bem’s meta analysis.

    You’re rather busy going down the rabbit hole with your confusion as to what words, and even your sources, actually mean that you’re in danger of disappearing up your ar*e.

  361. hardnoseon 29 Jan 2017 at 10:22 pm

    But I really have to admit — I HATE it when a meta analysis uses the total N to calculate p values. The Ns should be averaged.

  362. hardnoseon 29 Jan 2017 at 10:23 pm

    “You’re rather busy going down the rabbit hole with your confusion as to what words, and even your sources, actually mean that you’re in danger of disappearing up your ar*e.”

    I am not the only one in that danger here.

  363. CKavaon 29 Jan 2017 at 11:03 pm

    From the Ritchie & Wiseman paper…

    Bem’s Experiments 8 and 9 involved an alleged retroactive facilitation of recall. The current study reports three pre-registered, independent attempts to replicate the ninth experiment, which was chosen for two reasons. First, it obtained the largest effect size of all nine experiments (d = .42). This was more than double the effect size of the eighth experiment (d = .19), which had a similar design. Second, Bem stated that it would prove among the easiest of the experiments to replicate successfully.

    So doing the study that Bem recommended becomes a point of criticism… wonderful illustration of motivated reasoning in action.

  364. cozyingon 30 Jan 2017 at 12:05 am

    Hardnose can’t explain how he comes to conclusions about things. I asked. He said some vague things about reading studies and listening to what people say.

    But he couldn’t tell me what evidence it would take to convince him that he is wrong about something. Literally anything.

    If you can’t change your mind, then you are here not to talk, but to preach.

  365. hardnoseon 30 Jan 2017 at 10:07 am

    “But he couldn’t tell me what evidence it would take to convince him that he is wrong about something.”

    It’s impossible to tell what you are asking. It would depend on what it was. You are being crazy, I hope you realize.

  366. hardnoseon 30 Jan 2017 at 10:08 am

    They never tried retroactive priming. And CSICOP couldn’t find anything wrong with the retroactive priming experiments.

  367. cozyingon 30 Jan 2017 at 10:41 am

    “It’s impossible to tell what you are asking. It would depend on what it was. You are being crazy, I hope you realize.”

    Yeah see there you go, exactly what I mean. You need to know what the question is before you will tell me what evidence it would take to convince you. That’s not how critical thinking works. You need consistent rules before you get started.

    You have different standards for psi. You use apeals to authority and common sense for psi. But then refuse the authority consensus on other topics.

    You should be able to tell me what evidence it would take to convince you of something. It doesn’t matter what specifically that thing is. Standards of evidence and arguments should be the same, if they are not then you aren’t a skeptic or a critical thinker.

    What would it take to convince you psi isn’t real?
    What would it take to convince you GMOs are safe?

  368. Steve Crosson 30 Jan 2017 at 10:50 am

    It’s impossible to tell what you are asking. It would depend on what it was. You are being crazy, I hope you realize.

    See … this is why no one believes you know anything at all about science. We are basicially talking about falsifiability — which has been thouroughly discussed in this thread and many others.

    If you can’t even understand how to tell if you might be wrong, how can you possibly know if you are right about something?

    Pick any of your pet hypotheses. What about the “intelligent universe”. What type of information or test result would convince you that it is probably not correct, or at least not the most likely possibility?

    Homeopathy?? Chiropractic?? NGE??

    In every instance, you simply repeat something along the lines of “you can’t PROVE it is wrong, scientists have made mistakes in the past, therefore I might be right”. You unquestioningly accept anecdotal evidence without making any effort to determine if the anecdotes are representative of all the data, or have been misinterpreted, or are simply wrong.

    You have no interest in even TRYING to find out if your ideas might be wrong. Like evey other ideologue, you simply can’t admit it to yourself.

    I dare you to try to prove me wrong. Prove you understand the concept. Make a list of observations, which, IF MADE, would call your hypothesis into question.

  369. Steve Crosson 30 Jan 2017 at 10:52 am

    Ummm … I seem to have been typing while cozying was. Didn’t see her comment before I hit enter.

    Oh well, we seem to have said pretty much the same thing — not that it is likely to do much good.

  370. cozyingon 30 Jan 2017 at 10:53 am

    Respect.

  371. CKavaon 30 Jan 2017 at 12:11 pm

    @harnose: Err… so I guess it doesn’t matter now that Ritchie, Wiseman & French did the experiment Bem recommended?

    And no sorry the CSICOP report did not find no issue, it explained clearly that there were indications of uncorrected multiple comparisons and selective trimming of ‘outliers’. Given the shambolic nature of the other experiments reported there is absolutely no reason to give Bem the benefit of the doubt, he just doesn’t provide enough detail for anyone to thoroughly check his claims. Ft jay you would grab onto this is not surprising but again it demonstrates you have absolutely no ‘love’ for proper statistical analysis.

  372. hardnoseon 30 Jan 2017 at 12:17 pm

    There are no fixed rules for accepting null. When research is motivated by money or ideology I am skeptical of the results.

    I also consider anecdotal evidence because I do not think all human beings are delusional idiots. I don’t care what Kahneman and Tversky said, a lot of their experiments are garbage.

    No, anecdotal evidence doesn’t prove something is true or not, but it is stupid to ignore it.

    You would be surprised how easy it is to contrive an experiment that does not show what it pretends to show.

  373. Pete Aon 30 Jan 2017 at 12:22 pm

    The comments by HN remind me of this article (and the rest of the website Skeptical About Skeptics):
    “Suppressed Science” on Skeptics
    http://www.skepticalaboutskeptics.org/examining-skeptics/editorial-suppressed-science-on-skeptics/

    NB: I found that website via a link in the article Skepticism by The Parapsychological Association:
    http://parapsych.org/section/49/skepticism.aspx

  374. cozyingon 30 Jan 2017 at 12:36 pm

    Hardnose,

    So you don’t trust anything. You just argued that specialists can’t be trusted because they are motivated by money or ideology. That famous researchers are a joke. And that experiments can be contrived to show misleading results.

    Okay cool. So given all of that, how can you know anything? Seriously how can you know that anything is actually real or that everyone around you isn’t lying to you?

    Also someone like you who has so much mistrust, how is is consistent that you spew specific articles and pseudoscientists as legit?

    You just said experiments can be crafted to show misleading results and that people are motivated by ideologies. Are pseudo scientists not motivated by ideology? Are you not motivated by an ideology that can’t even define what legit ‘evidence’ is?

    If you can’t agree with this community as to what it would take to convince you of something, then why are you here? We are not extreme skeptics who mistrust, deny and doubt everything.

  375. hardnoseon 30 Jan 2017 at 12:41 pm

    “You just argued that specialists can’t be trusted because they are motivated by money or ideology.”

    Interesting how you completely twisted what I said into something idiotic.

    This is what I said: “When research is motivated by money or ideology I am skeptical of the results.”

    Calm down, you have lost any ability to think clearly.

  376. hardnoseon 30 Jan 2017 at 12:42 pm

    “You just said experiments can be crafted to show misleading results and that people are motivated by ideologies. Are pseudo scientists not motivated by ideology?”

    Anyone can be motivated by an ideology, and often it’s subconscious.

  377. Steve Crosson 30 Jan 2017 at 12:43 pm

    [hardnose] No, anecdotal evidence doesn’t prove something is true or not, but it is stupid to ignore it.

    Where exactly do I suggest that anyone ignore anecdotal evidence:

    You unquestioningly accept anecdotal evidence without making any effort to determine if the anecdotes are representative of all the data, or have been misinterpreted, or are simply wrong.

    I simply said that it must be examined honestly to determine if it is meaningful.

  378. hardnoseon 30 Jan 2017 at 12:43 pm

    “We are not extreme skeptics who mistrust, deny and doubt everything.”

    Right, you are pseudo-skeptics.

    Doubting everything does not mean believing nothing. Real skeptics are suspicious and careful about the ideas they accept as (probably) true.

  379. Steve Crosson 30 Jan 2017 at 12:44 pm

    @hardnose,

    “Anyone can be motivated by an ideology, and often it’s subconscious.”

    Even you????

  380. Steve Crosson 30 Jan 2017 at 12:53 pm

    @hardnose,

    Real skeptics are suspicious and careful about the ideas they accept as (probably) true.

    Exactly correct. So why is it that you never seriously question your own beliefs?

    I notice that you STILL haven’t been able to provide even one example of the type of evidence that would cause you to do so.

  381. cozyingon 30 Jan 2017 at 12:56 pm

    Yep I’m a pseudo skeptic, because I think psi research has shown no convincing results.

    You are a true skeptic because you doubt mainstream scientific consensus.

    We are all fakes compared to you. This is why you put forth personal stories as evidence, and believe that humans are not easily fooled despite mountains of research.

    How did we get to computer technology? Did we rely on unscientific processes like intuition and subjectivity? Do you think computers exist? Because if you do you have to believe in the methodology that got us here. You know, those methods you say are a joke?

  382. cozyingon 30 Jan 2017 at 12:59 pm

    All you have to do to prove yourself to everyone here, is to say what would convince you that you are wrong.

  383. hardnoseon 30 Jan 2017 at 1:54 pm

    “How did we get to computer technology?”

    Technology has been evolving over thousands of years. Modern computers evolved from calculating devices and also from automated weaving looms. Insights from mathematics led to using boolean algebra. And of course, electronic circuits.

    Materialist ideology was not involved.

  384. hardnoseon 30 Jan 2017 at 1:54 pm

    “say what would convince you that you are wrong.”

    Wrong ABOUT WHAT?

  385. hardnoseon 30 Jan 2017 at 1:57 pm

    For example, here is what would NOT convince me that parapsychology is all wrong:

    A mixture of positive and negative results.

    Anecdotal experiences for and against.

    Dogmatic statements from materialists who “know” all paranormal phenomena are delusions and hallucinations.

  386. chikoppion 30 Jan 2017 at 2:17 pm

    The objective is not to prove a negative, but to achieve positive validation of a hypothesis that is methodologically and statistically sound.

    The standard is not sufficient evidence to disbelieve, but rather substantially sufficient evidence to believe. The default position is suspension of belief.

  387. hardnoseon 30 Jan 2017 at 2:42 pm

    “The default position is suspension of belief.”

    That’s why I don’t believe in materialism.

  388. cozyingon 30 Jan 2017 at 3:04 pm

    “Technology has been evolving over thousands of years. Modern computers evolved from calculating devices and also from automated weaving looms. Insights from mathematics led to using boolean algebra. And of course, electronic circuits.”

    Wow so we have come a long way from weaving looms and abacuses. The consilience of many different fields was required to give us modern computers. Chemistry, material sciences, physics, mathematics, and engineering all have to come together to solve many different problems and produce a modern iPhone. Even psychologists were used to make UIs more user friendly and intuitive.

    The thing all these areas have in common is consistent logical rules. They had to all speak a common language, use science the same way, have shared definitions for things like “evidence” and “anecdote.”

    You don’t have to believe in materialism for modern science to work. Scientific realism works too. If the fundamental nature of reality isn’t matter, that’s okay, science doesn’t stop working the day that discovery is made.

    In either worldview there is no reliable evidence for Psi. You can point to all the experiments you want. You still can’t demonstrate to anyone in a meaningful way. Your special pleading arguments aside, I can always point to my system of thought and say look this gave us concrete findings and applicable technology.

    Your system has been around for a while and not given us anything. Every single psi product or technology turns out to be a joke.

    Now look you could be right. Psi could be real. We could all be wrong. But we made the best possible decision, with the best possible evidence we had at the time, and using the best possible reasoning systems.

  389. cozyingon 30 Jan 2017 at 3:09 pm

    Conversely, you argue for psi using some of the worst possible evidence, and using very inconsistent logic. Logic so problematic that you can’t answer the question: what would it take to convince you that you are wrong? You demand to know what specifically I’m asking. The point is that it doesn’t matter, the rules should be the same for all types of questions. Or at least there should be some pretty core principles that outline such a decision process. You have no core principles, at the center of your cognitive process is either just hatred for us or this sophist idealism that doubts literally everything indiscriminately.

  390. hardnoseon 30 Jan 2017 at 3:13 pm

    “The thing all these areas have in common is consistent logical rules.”

    So now you’re trying to tell me I don’t like logical rules.

    You are completely incoherent.

  391. Steve Crosson 30 Jan 2017 at 3:19 pm

    “So now you’re trying to tell me I don’t like logical rules.”

    Fair enough. You’ve always claimed to like them (and statistics). You just don’t USE THEM

  392. cozyingon 30 Jan 2017 at 3:22 pm

    Yeah I know. It’s especially ironic since he claims to be a computer programmer. Explain to me how a computer program with inconsistent logic, definitions and rules works?

  393. cozyingon 30 Jan 2017 at 3:25 pm

    Either experts have something meaningful to contribute, or they don’t.

    You can’t simultaneously say that your psi expert is legit, but other scientists are liars, motivated by ideology and seeking grant money. Does that not apply to psi researchers? Are they immune from deception and shameless self promotion?

  394. chikoppion 30 Jan 2017 at 3:27 pm

    [hardnose] That’s why I don’t believe in materialism.

    So you hold no beliefs with respect to metaphysical ontology then, correct? Or are you about to finally stop running from the question and elucidate an objective standard of evidence?

  395. Steven Novellaon 30 Jan 2017 at 4:23 pm

    HN – so you have nothing to say about why you lied about the number of failed replications. Nor did you acknowledge that your ad-hominem assumptions about why we remain skeptical of psi were not fair.

    That, of course, is part of what makes you a troll.

    The paper discussing the 90 replications was by Bem – so hardly independent or objective. I also read the entire paper, it is not convincing for many reasons.

    I linked to a meta-analysis that showed no overall significance to the results. Bem’s database is, in fact, negative until you do a bunch of fancy statistical maneuvering.

    Here is also a good review of why scientists remain skeptical of psi: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4034337/

  396. hardnoseon 30 Jan 2017 at 5:06 pm

    “You can’t simultaneously say that your psi expert is legit, but other scientists are liars, motivated by ideology and seeking grant money. Does that not apply to psi researchers?”

    cozying,

    You are the one with a logic problem.

    I never said ALL other scientists are “liars, motivated by ideology and seeking grant money.”

    I never said NO psi researchers are “liars, motivated by ideology and seeking grant money.”

    Did you ever learn about Venn diagrams?

  397. Steve Crosson 30 Jan 2017 at 5:48 pm

    Ummm … speaking of embarrassing failures of logic:

    Cozying did NOT use either of the words ALL or NO, yet hardnose inserted both of those terms into his straw man.

    Hardnose, on the other hand, has indeed accused many of the researchers he disagrees with of dishonety while adamantly defending people like Bem.

    So, to recapz;

    Cozying: Absolutely correct (and honest)
    Hardnose: Completely wrong (and a liar)

  398. cozyingon 30 Jan 2017 at 5:50 pm

    From the paper SN linked, in response to Carroll supporters telling me repeatedly that science proves things and on perfect theories:

    It cannot ever prove or disprove a theory. In fact, unlike mathematical theorems, scientific theories are never proven. They can only be supported by evidence and must always be subjected to scientific skepticism.

    A former colleague of mine once wrote very eloquently: “Science is not about finding the truth at all, but about finding better ways of being wrong” (Schofield, 2013). Not only does our present understanding fail to explain everything about the universe, we must accept that we will never explain everything. Importantly, this also means that we must always remain skeptical of any claims but especially our own.

    Believe me yet?

    Hardnose,

    Yeah actually you can see in the quote that I didn’t include “all.” I don’t speak in absolutes to prevent this exact thing. My point stands. You defend your experts, you say they are so famous and have no reason to lie. You even go so far to say: this paper was published in nature you can’t challenge it. You spammed “nature” repeatedly.

    You use appeals to authority when it suits you. But our experts that speak against your claims are not legit authorities.

    When your papers are in journals significantly less prominent than nature, you never mention it. When we mention it, you lose your mind. You claim there is a grand conspiracy in the scientific community that prevents your experts from getting in the best journals because we are materialists.

    When we point out actually your meta analysis was run by the same person that wants us to believe in his research. You say nothing.

    When we point out the journal that published his work also published multiple failed replications of his work. You say nothing.

  399. Steve Crosson 30 Jan 2017 at 5:50 pm

    Well crap … starting to feel some sympathy for TheGorilla when typing on a phone keyboard.

    Please excuse the typos.

  400. cozyingon 30 Jan 2017 at 5:57 pm

    Steve Cross,

    Respect. Once again.

  401. Steve Crosson 30 Jan 2017 at 6:02 pm

    cozying,

    Don’t get used to it. I’m sure I’ll have a case of foot-in-mouth disease soon enough.

  402. cozyingon 30 Jan 2017 at 6:06 pm

    Nah we just need a common enemy and we will be fine. Lol

  403. cozyingon 30 Jan 2017 at 6:06 pm

    Group cohesion woo woot.

  404. Steve Crosson 30 Jan 2017 at 6:15 pm

    cozying,

    In fairness to everyone involved, it really isn’t nice to gang up on anyone — either hardnose or you.
    But sometimes it is difficult to not get annoyed. I think you might be getting a better appreciation of how tedious hardnose can be. And also, perhaps, maybe an understanding of why so many people were surprised when you insisted on defending him.

    In principle, I think we should all strive for civility. In practice, not so easy.

  405. hardnoseon 30 Jan 2017 at 6:47 pm

    I actually didn’t like the Bem meta analysis. It should include a table showing how many experiments reached significance and how many did not. Instead, you have to search all over to figure it out. And, as I said before, he combines all the Ns into one giant N, and gets an insanely small p value. Even if everyone does this, it is still dumb and possibly intentionally deceptive.

    On the other hand — Bem did not build his career either on defending parapsychology or debunking it. I don’t see an obvious motivation for him to be deceptive. Like James Randi, he was a magician who looked for loopholes in parapsychology experiments. But unlike Randi, he became curious and read the literature.

    Randi, Wiseman, Blackmore, etc., built their careers on debunking psychics and parapsychology. So I am skeptical about their opinions.

    I am skeptical about Bem also. But I have been interested in parapsychology my whole life, and he is far from the only researcher who got positive psi results.

  406. hardnoseon 30 Jan 2017 at 6:48 pm

    cozying sometimes disagrees with some commenters here.

    I sometimes disagree with some (or most) commenters here.

    cozying and I sometimes disagree.

    What does the Venn diagram look like?

  407. Pete Aon 30 Jan 2017 at 7:08 pm

    The Venn Diagram of Irrational Nonsense:
    http://crispian-jago.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/the-venn-diagram-of-irrational-nonsense.html

  408. Steve Crosson 30 Jan 2017 at 7:26 pm

    I just drew a Venn diagram consisting of :

    True Statements

    Logical Statements

    Hardnose’s Statements

    Wow … look at that!! The third circle doesn’t even touch the other two.

  409. Steve Crosson 30 Jan 2017 at 7:29 pm

    Pete A,

    I looked at the middle of the diagram, got a picture of Tom Cruise in my head — and can’t stop laughing.

  410. cozyingon 30 Jan 2017 at 7:47 pm

    So the professional debunkers, are not to be trusted?

    If you want to make an argument against debunkers like Randi then let’s look at his body of work and put it into context.

    People who examine these issues as outsiders need to really do their homework. It’s very hard to critique science as a magician. But I would like to ask you if you think Randi has made some good contributions? Do you think people like Uri Geller are actually capable of psi?

  411. hardnoseon 30 Jan 2017 at 8:01 pm

    “But I would like to ask you if you think Randi has made some good contributions? Do you think people like Uri Geller are actually capable of psi?”

    Yes we need debunkers, and most professional psychics are probably mostly fake.

    But Randi has gone way beyond being a debunker. His whole ego, his whole career, has been tied up with showing that nothing “paranormal” can ever happen.

    I don’t have a definite opinion on Uri Geller. Lots of people swear they had to get all new keys after watching him on TV, because all of them were bent.

    I don’t assume all those people are idiots. I just do not know. I had no personal experience like that.

    I do think that somehow when Randi is around, (real) psychics lose their abilities. No idea why or how that happens, but it seems to.

    But I have no opinion on specific cases that I have no experience with. If I had watched Geller on TV and then had to get all new keys, I would not think it was just an illusion.

  412. Pete Aon 30 Jan 2017 at 8:59 pm

    “[hardnose] If I had watched Geller on TV and then had to get all new keys, I would not think it was just an illusion.”

    I understand what you mean. Here’s what puzzles me though: how come nothing in the television receivers got bent: components that bend (and fail) much more easily than cutlery and keys? In the days of colour CRT televisions, even a tiny bend in the electron guns or the shadow mask would cause a severe degradation in the picture quality.

    I can honestly say that, at this particular moment in time, that none of my cutlery and none of my keys are bent, because if they were then I would’ve noticed. But, I have never carefully inspected each and every item to determine whether or not it is visibly bent. If I was expecting one or more items to be bent after watching Geller on the TV then it is quite likely I would discover items that are bent, then jump to the false conclusion that they were not bent before I watched Geller on TV. I would inadvertently commit the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post_hoc_ergo_propter_hoc

    I think this fallacy is a far more likely explanation than the explanation that Geller somehow caused my items to bend while I was watching him on TV.

    Do you think I’m being reasonable or unreasonable?

  413. Pete Aon 30 Jan 2017 at 9:00 pm

    Oops, apologies for the bold tag.

  414. hardnoseon 30 Jan 2017 at 9:03 pm

    “Do you think I’m being reasonable or unreasonable?”

    I don’t know, no real opinion on the whole thing.

    It is mysterious how so many people can be absolutely sure Geller really could do what he said, while so many others are sure he can’t.

    Is he just a really good illusionist? That Randi caught cheating?

    But the same kind of thing happened with Randi and scientists who were investigating something Randi did not believe in. When Randi was there, nothing happened. When he wasn’t there, it did.

  415. bachfiendon 30 Jan 2017 at 9:05 pm

    Hardnose,

    ‘Lots of people swear they had to get all new keys after watching him on TV because all of them were bent’.

    Reference please. Besides it being rather implausible – how exactly does the force necessary to bend metal travel from Uri Geller’s mind to a house perhaps several thousand kilometres away (does it ride the television signal?) – if it were true then why hasn’t the military paid him a fortune to sabotage Iran’s and North Korea’s nuclear programmes?

    I suspect if anyone did replace any keys after watching Uri Geller it was because they had one or two keys already bent from opening a stiff lock, were motivated to look at their keys and realised they were bent and decided to replace them.

    ‘I do think that somehow when Randi is around, (real) psychics lose their abilities’. Don’t ell Randi that. He’d be able to claim the $1 million prize since he would have to have paranormal powers to do that.

  416. hardnoseon 30 Jan 2017 at 9:10 pm

    The idea is that everyone has paranormal powers, but mostly not conscious.

  417. Pete Aon 30 Jan 2017 at 9:47 pm

    “The idea is that everyone has paranormal powers, but mostly not conscious.”

    Each GPS satellite has its low-bitrate data encoded with a unique high-bitrate pseudo-random sequence, this unique sequence is the satellite’s PRN, which is known to all the GPS receivers for the purpose of decoding the spread-spectrum GPS signal into the low-bitrate data.

    This system is remarkably similar to the ‘psi’ experiments that attempt to detect minute influences in computer-generated random sequences. However, GPS has never shown any ‘psi’ influences / anomalies — if it does then it will be decommissioned because it would render the system unsafe for navigation, and useless as a UTC reference standard.

    I strongly suggest that the reason for the difference is because GPS was designed properly, whereas the ‘psi’ experiments contain methodological flaws.

  418. hardnoseon 30 Jan 2017 at 9:54 pm

    I don’t know. It’s hard to believe those Princeton engineers could have been that stupid. But, as I said, I don’t know.

  419. Pete Aon 30 Jan 2017 at 10:15 pm

    Most of my career involved pseudo-random sequence generators for various purposes. In most of the applications, if just one single bit had been anomalous, it would’ve raised a major system alarm. The systems were running continuously for years, some of them for decades. The few times that the alarms were raised were each traceable to inevitable catastrophic component failure — hence the deployment of at least dual-redundant (often multiple-redundent) system architectures.

  420. hardnoseon 30 Jan 2017 at 10:18 pm

    Ok, well, I will consider your information whenever I read about RNGs in parapsychology.

  421. Pete Aon 30 Jan 2017 at 10:47 pm

    hardnose,

    When I had access to the real-time logs from multiple network nodes (which each records even single-bit errors and dozens of performance parameters) I data-mined the logs to the extend of ‘torturing the data until it confessed!’ because I believed in ‘psi’ effects. I was unable to find anything therefore I was forced to conclude that: If ‘psi’ effects are real then they do not influence either analog or digital electronic systems.

    I wish I had found something to confirm my belief because I would’ve loved to turn it into a research project, even if unpaid for doing it.

  422. BillyJoe7on 31 Jan 2017 at 4:30 am

    cozy,

    “From the paper SN linked, in response to Carroll supporters telling me repeatedly that science proves things and on perfect theories”

    Honestly, cozy, you should quit. You have lost this argument. You have either not read or not understood what Sean Carroll is saying, even after repeated corrections. Read the second link where he explains where people misunderstood what he said. You are totally in there. You should read those links again alongside what you claim SC said. Your error is so obvious it’s ridiculous. If you want to criticise people like Sean Carroll, Neil de Grasse Tyson, Douglas Hofstadter etc etc (probaby Richard Dawkins also hey?), you need at least to give them the courtesy of reading and criticising what they are actually saying.

  423. BillyJoe7on 31 Jan 2017 at 4:33 am

    Sorry, forgot this bit:

    “It cannot ever prove or disprove a theory. In fact, unlike mathematical theorems, scientific theories are never proven. They can only be supported by evidence and must always be subjected to scientific skepticism.

    A former colleague of mine once wrote very eloquently: “Science is not about finding the truth at all, but about finding better ways of being wrong” (Schofield, 2013). Not only does our present understanding fail to explain everything about the universe, we must accept that we will never explain everything. Importantly, this also means that we must always remain skeptical of any claims but especially our own.”

    Read those links. Sean Carroll would be in complete agreement with the above quote.
    You simply refuse to understand what he is saying.

  424. BillyJoe7on 31 Jan 2017 at 4:47 am

    Special pleading.

    “I do think that somehow when Randi is around, (real) psychics lose their abilities”

    😀

    “When Randi was there, nothing happened. When he wasn’t there, it did”

    Here are a couple of possible reasons:
    – They did not try to cheat when Randi was around because they know they would have been found out.
    – Randi made sure the esperiments were properly double blinded.

  425. Steven Novellaon 31 Jan 2017 at 7:04 am

    HN – You don’t have to be stupid. That is your flawed premise. Statistics is really hard and counterintuitive. Subtle flaws will creep in unless you are meticulous about avoid them.

    You really have to pay more attention to what I write here. Here is just one example:
    http://lesswrong.com/lw/7jm/statistical_error_in_half_of_neuroscience_papers/

    Half of neuroscience papers published in peer-reviewed journals contained an obvious statistical error. It’s obvious when you know what it is. The researchers were not stupid, the peer-reviewers were not stupid. The system is simply not designed to weed out such things sufficiently. Science is still a work in progress.

    Most published studies come to the wrong conclusion. Really let that sink in.

  426. SteveAon 31 Jan 2017 at 8:24 am

    I think it’s been fairly well established that there’s no real point in trying to reason with HN (other than for entertainment value or exercise).

    He will look at a statement like ‘Most published studies come to the wrong conclusion’ and come to his own conclusion that all studies that do not support ESP are wrong.

  427. cozyingon 31 Jan 2017 at 9:59 am

    Billy,

    Yes multiple people, including you argued for the perfection of scientific theories. They said that science is working towards having perfect theories that explain everything.

    Carroll’s materialism is an example of a perfect theory. Or the eventual QFT discoveries it depends on. He literally says that supernatural things are impossible because all particles and forces that can interact are known. That’s a statement for 100% certainty.

    All anyone has to do to point out a flaw in Carroll’s theory is to say: actually dude if there is even the slightest uncertainty you are wrong. Which is what I did. Science doesn’t have 100% certainty or perfect theories. Perfect theories aren’t even scientific. which I got laughed at for saying.

    An currently unknown force, a higher dimensional unknown process, anything like this and Carroll’s system breaks. For you to argue against this “uncertainty” problem you have to rely on perfection. And perfectly complete scientific theories. I gave examples how such attempts have failed, godel demonstrated that the foundation of mathematics can’t be definitively shown to be complete.

    There’s a pretty big problem in Carroll’s work that I only became aware of in the negative book reviews. He defines time only once in the big picture. As that thing physicists measure. He goes on to explain that time can actually flow either way, that it’s only an illusion it flows one way for us. He then goes on to write about morality.

    If that’s how you define time, then you can’t have a system of morality. I gave an example of a problem. Basically if you really believe time goes either way, you can’t have cause and effect, all the classic morality problems become pointless. You might think oh this is a small quibble, no the point is that a philosopher, or even a causal writer on morality, would not define time this way. Only someone obsessed with physics and their worldview would think something like that is appropriate. It’s also why his Ten Commandments and other things are hilarious.

    On contextualization. You were challenged multiple times to provide a list of books by non experts, written for the general public, that contribute something meaningful to academia. I only asked because I can’t think of a single example. Non experts write books all the time that sell, doesn’t mean they are worth the paper they are written on.

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v533/n7601/full/533034a.html

    Pigliucci on Tyson’s view of philosophy:
    https://scientiasalon.wordpress.com/2014/05/12/neil-degrasse-tyson-and-the-value-of-philosophy/

  428. mumadaddon 31 Jan 2017 at 10:34 am

    “There’s a pretty big problem in Carroll’s work that I only became aware of in the negative book reviews. He defines time only once in the big picture. As that thing physicists measure. He goes on to explain that time can actually flow either way, that it’s only an illusion it flows one way for us.”

    I won’t say you’re wrong because I haven’t read any of SC’s books. However, I have recently listened to his Great Courses lecture series, Mysteries of the Universe — Time and the direction of time being “illusory” does not fit with what he expresses there — namely that the direction of time is caused by entropy.

  429. tb29607on 31 Jan 2017 at 10:54 am

    mumadadd,

    I am glad you mentioned entropy. Last I read, traveling backwards in time and the second law of thermodynamics were incompatible.

  430. cozyingon 31 Jan 2017 at 11:05 am

    Billy,

    If you want to criticise people like Sean Carroll, Neil de Grasse Tyson, Douglas Hofstadter etc etc (probaby Richard Dawkins also hey?), you need at least to give them the courtesy of reading and criticising what they are actually saying.

    I gave my arguments against Carroll. There isn’t a single moral philosopher that will take his work seriously. Kind of like the work of Sam Harris on morality. That’s a physicist and a neuroscientist who did not do the most basic amount of research, before setting out to write a takedown of an entire field. Read the ambitious goals of their work. Carroll set out to redefine morality, disprove god and all possible supernatural phenomena. Harris had similar goals. He wanted to throw away all the work on morality and start from scratch using science. He makes all the critical errors that philosophers have worked so hard to avoid for the last few decades. You know how as skeptics we have a list of fallacies, and it’s very easy to spot a non skeptic? Philosophers also have rules like that, in the moral landscape, Harris breaks them all.

    I gave the link to Pigliucci’s response to Tyson on philosophy. I think the most telling detail of the entire exchange is Tyson’s response. He acknowledges all of the points against him but refuses to change his mind or apologize for saying philosophy is useless and has been replaced. Meanwhile philosophy of science gave birth to the modern scientific method, and philosophers work with scientists everyday.

    Hofstadter gave birth to David Chalmers. If that’s not enough for you then I guess look at all the failed predictions Hofstadter made. One example, he wrote an extensive argument for how a computer would never beat a human expert at chess. Because humans have this self referential loop based on Gödel’s incompleteness theorem that enables their consciousness to go beyond the basic abilities of computational systems. At the time he wrote this, there were multiple people working on problems like this in math and attempting to determine if it would be possible. In fact people much earlier were working on this problem, and chess computer games were being sold to the general public 5 years before he wrote this prediction. Just over a decade later, Kasparov lost his first game to deep blue. He flat out said that computers would never beat chess grandmasters. His argument was insane. So yes Hofstadter is a pseudo intellectual with millions of books sold and a department at a university all to himself. He’s had many grad students, the most famous of which is David chalmers. I’m sure many of them go on to do mediocre things in other fields. Some of them might even do amazing things, but the leader of that intellectual cult has more than a few critical flaws that he passes down to his students.

    I never said a single thing about Dawkins, you just brought that up now, but I guess I’ll explain why he isn’t an example like Carroll. Dawkins is an expert on evolution. His most famous books on that topic are written for the general public, so they aren’t perfect and have to be simplified. I would say that his popular books have very little impact on experts researching evolution. Dawkins is also an pretty famous atheist. He’s been a part of many different organizations that have an atheism/humanist bent to them. I do think that his books on atheism have had a pretty significant impact on skepticism, critical thinking, science promoting, atheism and humanism. I think the guy is more than causally sexist. His comments on feminism are just sad, he conflates left wing radicals with a movement that seeks rights for women equal to those of men. But all that aside, I can’t deny that he has had an impact on atheism and promoters of science and critical thinking.

    On entropy Carroll wrote,

    “Like entropy, consciousness is a concept that we invent to give ourselves more useful and efficient descriptions of the world.”

    Hmm. Guess thermodynamics ain’t no big deal.

    Mumadadd,

    About the great courses. I never said that Carroll doesn’t have something useful to say about his area of expertise. Not a single time.

    I’m talking about how he defined time in the book the big picture. Where he writes about morality.

  431. mumadaddon 31 Jan 2017 at 11:34 am

    “I’m talking about how he defined time in the book the big picture.”

    Ah, okay! I didn’t know ‘the big picture’ was a book title as you didn’t capitalize/italicise or put inverted commas around it.

    “Harris had similar goals. He wanted to throw away all the work on morality and start from scratch using science. He makes all the critical errors that philosophers have worked so hard to avoid for the last few decades.”

    Do you care to elaborate on this? Or point me in the right direction if not? I am genuinely interested in moral philosophy and was impressed with The Moral Landscape — I’d like to understand any substantive criticism of it too.

    On perfect theories — “actually dude if there is even the slightest uncertainty you are wrong. Which is what I did. Science doesn’t have 100% certainty or perfect theories.”

    Okay, science doesn’t deal in certainty and theories, by definition, can always by falsified by conflicting observations. But why does this apply any less to a theory that does perfectly explain all observations? Is it suddenly not scientific because it’s too good? I don’t see a problem in principle with us developing perfect physics theories. I think you’re conflating the way science works in practice now (constant revision and tweaking), with what science could be in principle.

  432. RickKon 31 Jan 2017 at 12:45 pm

    hn said: “I don’t have a definite opinion on Uri Geller. Lots of people swear they had to get all new keys after watching him on TV, because all of them were bent.”

    Lots of people were fooled. Jeez – you can’t just watch Geller videos and make up your own mind?

    I remember very clearly as a kid watching Geller on TV. My grandparents saying “isn’t that amazing”, but I distinctly remember thinking “Well, you can’t really see the key bend – as he exposes the key it’s already bent. And why does he keep moving his fingers over it? Why not just hold the key by one end and make it bend so we can see what’s happening?” Even to a little kid, it just didn’t feel right.

    Watch the videos, then watch Randi do the same thing. There’s a youtube out there somewhere of Randi on some morning talk show doing a Geller-esque slight-of-hand key bend.

    For that matter, listen to Banachek talk about what he and his partner did in Project Alpha to fool serious investigators.

    If you can’t make up your mind about Uri Geller, then it’s because you simply don’t want to. And that is motivated reasoning.

  433. cozyingon 31 Jan 2017 at 1:09 pm

    Mumadadd,

    Moral landscape critique,

    http://www.barnesandnoble.com/review/the-moral-landscape

    Learn about the is-ought problem, not just what Harris says about it.

    https://mobile.nytimes.com/2010/10/03/books/review/Appiah-t.html

    Basically every person with a background in moral philosophy to review the book challenged what Harris wrote. Learn about utilitarianism it’s a school of moral philosophy that has been saying things similar to what Harris says, but for a couple centuries. The last few decades of work on utilitarianism are light years beyond what Harris has to say. Like Carroll, Harris makes no reference to the mountain of relevant work on the subject. If he does mention it, he just brushes it all aside as unscientific and unimportant, just like Carroll.

    Is it suddenly not scientific because it’s too good? I don’t see a problem in principle with us developing perfect physics theories. I think you’re conflating the way science works in practice now (constant revision and tweaking), with what science could be in principle.

    Perfect physics theories do not exist. There is good reason to assume they are impossible and will never exist.

    If a normal theory suddenly attains ‘perfection’ it’s no longer science, not because it’s too good but just because it’s not compatible with the scientific method. If that’s too tautological for you then I can just say that perfection is fundamentally different from scientific theory. Science doesn’t prove things or concern itself with building perfect systems. Science fully embraces error and uncertainty.

    A perfect theory is not just too good. It’s disprovable, has no error and explains everything perfectly. That goes against hundreds of years of experimentation and accomplishments in science. It also requires very specific metaphysical constraints. You need materialism or some system that is perfectly reductionist such that it has no potential for error or uncertainty. This is because your theory can only be flawless if you are directly observing the fundamental nature of reality with it. It’s easy to see how a particle physicist comes to conclusions like this. But any neuroscientist or string theorist would have some different conclusions. People in other disciplines know that we do not observe reality directly. No one has ever directly observed an atom. Reality around us is a construct, created by our brain. Given those assumptions it’s pretty unlikely that a perfect physics theory will ever exist. Don’t forget that people once thought atoms explained everything. Then their models had problems, subatomic particles were discovered. Quantum mechanics then explained so much, but for the last 100 years it has refused all attempts to be reconciled with relativity. So we have two awesome theories about the fundamental nature of reality, that both explain so much, but can’t be used to explain what the other explains. The math is incompatible, the assumptions are different and each system literally breaks when it tries to explain things outside its scope.

    It’s curious to me how we are forced to have this convo about basic concepts in science. Clearly Carroll does not do a job of explaining these things to his readers. If Carroll was good at navigating these metaphysical waters, he wouldn’t leave you with this absolute confidence in dogmatic scientism. And filled with all these incorrect ideas about the nature of science.

    HN,

    Your comments on Uri Geller are consistent with other things you have said. Especially with the long comment where you explained your motivations.

    You believe in nothing. For you a personal story about some bent keys has to be taken seriously. Even more seriously than all the science that says something like that is impossible. You don’t believe in the scientific method, you have inconsistent definitions for evidence and expertise.

    For you any opinion is valid. Any personal story has to do taken seriously.

  434. chikoppion 31 Jan 2017 at 1:46 pm

    [cozying] A perfect theory is not just too good. It’s disprovable, has no error and explains everything perfectly. That goes against hundreds of years of experimentation and accomplishments in science. It also requires very specific metaphysical constraints. You need materialism or some system that is perfectly reductionist such that it has no potential for error or uncertainty.

    I think maybe not everyone is using the same meaning of the word ‘perfect.’

    cozying seems to be referring to perfect fidelity, whereby a theory can predict the outcome of a specific event in exacting detail, no matter the complexity.

    Others seem to be referring to perfect modeling.

    Most theories don’t aspire to perfect fidelity. Theories can incorporate uncertainty and are considered accurate so long as the cause and magnitude of the uncertainty is recognized in the model (e.g., radioactive decay).

    We may find that the current theory of radioactive decay is never contradicted (unlikely, but entertain the thought for a moment). The theory might then be called a perfectly accurate model, even though it cannot predict the exact details of when, say, a carbon-14 isotope will decay into nitrogen-14.

    I’m not arguing any point here, just highlighting that people might be talking past one another.

  435. mumadaddon 31 Jan 2017 at 1:49 pm

    “If a normal theory suddenly attains ‘perfection’ it’s no longer science, not because it’s too good but just because it’s not compatible with the scientific method. If that’s too tautological for you then I can just say that perfection is fundamentally different from scientific theory. Science doesn’t prove things or concern itself with building perfect systems. Science fully embraces error and uncertainty.”

    Scientific theories go through a constant process of refinement in order to fit the existing data and improve predictive power. When I say ‘perfect’ I mean the theory has reached a point at which there are no inconsistent observations that require further modification of the theory. There probably are some real world examples of theories like this. This doesn’t mean we are metaphysically certain that they will never be falsified, and they remain falsifiable in that they make specific predictions that, if broken, falsify the theory.

    It may well be that we reach the end of time without actual falsification of one of these theories. But the theory was still derived through the scientific method, and remained falsifiable.

    At the point at which the final modification is made to such a theory, exactly what do you think happens to switch it from science to something else?

  436. Pete Aon 31 Jan 2017 at 1:50 pm

    mumadadd, I’m not trying to be argumentative for the sake of it…

    Currently, the measurement uncertainty/error in our state-of-the-art measuring equipment is tens of orders of magnitude greater than the Planck length (~1.6E-35 metres) and the Planck time (~5.4E-44 seconds). I suggest, therefore, that we are a very long way off from deriving a testable, let alone a falsifiable, theory of everything.

    This is the reason why I strongly object to hypotheses that rely on explaining our current observations by adding one or more — untestable and unfalsifiable — dimensions to the currently known 3+1 dimensions of space-time. Such hypotheses are Tooth Fairy science or Fairy Tale science:
    http://skepdic.com/toothfairyscience.html

    You could measure how much money the Tooth Fairy leaves under the pillow, whether she leaves more cash for the first or last tooth, whether the payoff is greater if you leave the tooth in a plastic baggie versus wrapped in Kleenex. You can get all kinds of good data that is reproducible and statistically significant. Yes, you have learned something. But you haven’t learned what you think you’ve learned, because you haven’t bothered to establish whether the Tooth Fairy really exists. — Dr. Harriet Hall, MD.

  437. mumadaddon 31 Jan 2017 at 1:50 pm

    Chikoppi, I think you are right. I have defined what I mean by perfect in my last post.

  438. RickKon 31 Jan 2017 at 1:51 pm

    Cozying said to hn: “For you any opinion is valid.”

    Not entirely true. Based on hardnose’s many posts, the more an opinion is shared among many experts in a given field, the less valid it is.

  439. cozyingon 31 Jan 2017 at 2:20 pm

    chikoppi,

    cozying seems to be referring to perfect fidelity, whereby a theory can predict the outcome of a specific event in exacting detail, no matter the complexity.
    Others seem to be referring to perfect modeling.

    This is my exact point except in the wrong direction. There is actually no practical difference between perfect modeling and a perfect theory, if we are both talking about science and physics then there is no difference. If we talk talking about math then yes there are perfectly provable things and imperfect models that clash with the harsh reality.

    Physics theories lead to the creation of models. If your really amazing model doesn’t work properly the underlying theory is shown to have errors. This has been borne out throughout the history of science and led to new models and theories. If your theory has errors then the derived models have errors.

    Perfection means without flaws or errors. If your model of particle physics is currently really accurate, but fails to account or explain new discoveries. Then it was not a model without errors or flaws and therefore not perfect.

    Perfect modeling is by definition impossible. A model is a simplified, idealized version of something used to explain some variables. The best models we have do not explain everything. However some of them bring errors to zero and have no uncertainty. Those models fail horribly when compared with real world data, literally every time. The best models we have fully embrace statistical error and uncertainty. Those models map reality quite well. But not perfectly.

    For this discussion we don’t need to distinguish the difference between models and theories. My point is that there no perfect model or theory. And that there will likely never be one.

    Their point is that science strives to build perfect theories. Carroll’s materialism relies on the supposed flawlessness of an unconfirmed theory, QFT. If there is any uncertainty in this future QFT then Carroll is wrong. If there is no uncertainty and all forces and particles are known, then it’s not science by definition. Science has error, uncertainty and fully embraces these things.

    I’m not talking past the Carroll supporters. They have previously said that perfect theories were possible and that science strives for perfection. They got these flawed notions because Carroll himself probably doesn’t understand the nature of science. If he does understand, then he doesn’t help his readers understand these concepts. Instead he gives them false confidence and leaves them with dogmatic scientism.

    The metaphysical underpinnings are important. Physics isn’t math. Physics deal with reality, if you are claiming a perfect theory then you require a specific metaphysical perspective. Anything other than a perfect representation of reality, means your theory isn’t perfect and is open to being challenged.

  440. cozyingon 31 Jan 2017 at 3:29 pm

    You can argue all you want about these specific things now. But the point is Carroll makes specific arguments that are either a total jok, or require specific things. For him to say that all particles and forces are known and therefore supernatural intercession onto physical reality is impossible, means certain things. It means that his appeal to QFT, an unconfirmed theory is pretty suspicious. Even if that is demonstrated to be a good theory, he also requires absolute certainty. If there is any error or new force that is found to influence particles then he is wrong. The only way he can be right is by having an absolutely perfect theory that directly describes the underlying nature of reality.

  441. BillyJoe7on 31 Jan 2017 at 4:00 pm

    cozy,

    At this point what you are doing is indistiguishable from lying.

    Read the second link where Sean Carroll explains how people misunderstand and misrepresent what he is saying. You are totally in there. You misunderstand and misrepresent what he is saying. But, worse, you’ve doubled down on this misunderstanding and misrepresenting even after being invited to re-read that second link where he makes this absolutely clear. He specifically contradicts what you accuse him of. You’ve now extended that to what the has said about time. You again misunderstand and misrepresent what he is saying. In the equations of QM, time is reversible. Time emerges with direction at the macroscopic level because of the low entropy of the early universe. You pull out a single word like “illusion” and think you have a gotcha moment, whereas all you have is a gross misunderstanding.

  442. BillyJoe7on 31 Jan 2017 at 4:02 pm

    ..no, cozy, you are the joke, and that has been amply demonstrated in this thread.

  443. cozyingon 31 Jan 2017 at 4:19 pm

    Billy,

    Literally every intellectual accuses their critics of misunderstanding them.

    I have the original things he said. I read them and understood his argument. I read numerous critical reviews of his book. I’ve read passages from the book that are relevant to my argument.

    I’m not going to read every cute little counter that he writes about his critics. The link your referring to does not explain my counters. If you think it does then I don’t know what to tell you.

  444. cozyingon 31 Jan 2017 at 5:18 pm

    Billy,

    Okay so the second link is a great example of Carroll’s condescending tone. He bashes his critical doesn’t even tackle the real arguments just new age nonsense. If you are lumping me in with that garbage I’m sorry but you didn’t read a single thing I wrote.

    Not once did I mention the nonsense arguments that Carroll chooses to tackle. Part 3 comes close but his counter is a joke. He chooses to focus on “consciousness” instead of the actual problem with his scientism.

    He argues that the laws of everyday phenomena are understood and therefore no new discovery will be relevant and influence our understanding of that. Is not consciousness an everyday phenomenon that is still not understood? I’m not arguing for new age stuff. I’m simply saying that one day it could be possible that a new discovery in consciousness research dramatically changes our everyday life. Augmented cybernetic reality, uploading and downloading memories, google hooked up to your brain, AI augmented intelligence. These are all plausible discoveries and accomplishments that will drastically alter our understanding of everyday phenomena.

    These are just the conceivable ones, there are many unknown unknowns out there that could change the way we see reality. If the history of science has shown us anything, it’s that with these discoveries the way we talk and think about our everyday life is altered forever.

    I thought you were referring to the third link this whole time. I thought that was the crux of the argument. Guess what? Blog posts by a non-philosopher on metaphysics are about as valuable as Bem’s research.

    You’ve clearly been inspired by his work to spew many falsehoods. Like how science can disprove god. Wait no, an unconfirmed physics theory, if proven, will disprove all gods and afterlives. You’ve said that science works for perfection. Insulted me for making basic claims about the nature of science that you can fact check in 5 seconds.

    So your “corrections” are actually further out of date from the blog post I was referring to and attacking.

    2010:
    If you were to ask a contemporary scientist why a table is solid, they would give you an explanation that comes down to the properties of the molecules of which it is made, which in turn reflect a combination of the size of the atoms as determined by quantum mechanics, and the electrostatic interaction between those atoms.

    But — here’s the important part — one thousand years from now, you will still hear precisely that same story.

    2011 on spirit particles:
    So any respectable scientist who took this idea seriously would be asking — what form does that interaction take? Is it local in spacetime? Does the soul respect gauge invariance and Lorentz invariance? Does the soul have a Hamiltonian? Do the interactions preserve unitarity and conservation of information?

    Carroll clearly states that a table will not stop being a solid and that future findings will only prove his materialism more and more correct. In reference to the first part of that quote. For a neutrino a table is not perceived as solid. To a higher dimensional process a table isn’t a solid.

    Tables appear to be solid, when we humans push on them with our hands, we get a nerve signal that we have encountered a solid and feel a force pushing back, countering our attempts crush the table. The table is a construct in your head, your brain creates this reality, you don’t directly observe the table, photons bounce off of it and hit your retina. That signal is transduced from an em wave to a chemical reaction to be interpreted by your brain.

    This is an important distinction because it makes use of findings in neuroscience not just physics. This interpretation also explains many things about our everyday life that the basic science version does not. For example, optical illusions, cognitive errors, and other problems with perception. These are discoveries that radically changed our understanding of the world around us and led to many other great discoveries.

    On Carroll’s specific materialism argument you will notice that he makes not one mention of higher dimensions or m theory. Why is that? Isn’t that curious?

    Wouldn’t recognizing the existence of higher dimensions, and being able to use them to casually get things done, dramatically change our understanding of the solidness of tables? If we could exploit string theory or make use of higher dimensional processes, wouldn’t a table become something else entirely? If the protons are actually vibrating hyper dimensional strings, wouldn’t that be interesting? Wouldn’t the constitutes of the table no longer be Simple 3+1 dimensional particles? Wouldn’t that change the solidness of the table? What about a hyper intelligent AI that can use applications of these theories to transcend space and time, would a table still appear solid to them?

  445. Pete Aon 31 Jan 2017 at 5:31 pm

    I do not begin to understand “the low entropy of the early universe“. Before it cooled enough to form particles, and before the particles started to form galaxies, how can this be described as a state of its lowest / low entropy?

    I can assure you that my entropy is increasing, and that I’m not far off the time at which it will rapidly increase towards the level that it was before I was conceived!

  446. BillyJoe7on 31 Jan 2017 at 10:31 pm

    cozy,

    Just give up. You just don’t get it. Your criticism of his quote about the solidlity of tables is ludicrous, completely missing his point. Here you are criticising a particle physicist about particle physics and you talk about people talking outside their fields of expertise. Pretty funny.

    Still waiting for a link to a particle physicist criticising SC’s view on particle physics.

  447. cozyingon 31 Jan 2017 at 11:50 pm

    Indisputable facts about Carroll:
    1 He is a career physicist
    2 He is not a philosopher
    3 He is therefore not an expert of metaphysics or morality.
    4 He has written a book against theism, arguing for a new materialism and moral system based on his experience as a physicist
    5 He writes on these topics for the general public
    6 His work on these areas has not had any impact on the experts in those respective fields
    7 experts in those fields have written scathing reviews of his work
    8 experts in his own field do not hold his metaphysical position
    9 m theory counters his basic materialism, if you notice he makes no mention of higher dimensions in any of his blog posts on morality or metaphysics
    10 His argument requires an unconfirmed QF theory to be true and flawless. Any uncertainty means by definition that an unknown force or being could interact with matter.

    Anyways the contextualization is everything in this case. Experts venture outside their area of expertise and write best selling books all the time. Pseudo intellectuals, innocent, well-meaning and naive people read them and parrot the ideas. Then when they get hit with counters known to any expert in the respective field they freak out. Tyson and pigliucci, the response to the moral landscape and the other examples I gave earlier illustrate this phenomenon conclusively.

    Yeah so I never said a single thing about how Sean Carroll doesn’t know things inside his field.

    Go read his writings on morality. Or on metaphysics. That’s clearly what I was attacking. Not just me. Every single person with a background in philosophy to write a book review said the same things. Exactly like the reviews of Harris’ the moral landscape. Both of these morality non-experts chose to write about this topic without making reference to a mountain of recent work on the subject. They could have consulted philosophers I’m sure someone at their universities would have loved to help them navigate the tricky metaphysics.

    I never challenged what Carroll wrote on particle physics. I challenged the argument he made based on it. He made very specific metaphysical claims. You need a philosophical background to critique those claims, a phd in physics won’t help.

    The problem Carroll supporters have is that if you give any ground on this you’ve demonstrated major critical errors. You’ve put forth a total outsider as an expert on atheism and how science disproves god. I’m an atheist too, but I know things you do not. You believe that science builds perfect theories and that that it can disprove god. I know about falsifiability and how perfection and completeness are probably impossible. They are also not the goal of science. Science doesn’t prove things, that’s mathematics. I got insulted for making claims that can be fact checked.

    Like look at that exchange with one of the commenters, who claimed to have a phd in physics. I answered his specific questions, asked some of my own. I asked him for the name of a book written by a non-physicist, for the general public, that had an impact on his field. No response. I asked varied forms of that question 6 times total. No one even tried to answer.

    It is hardly surprising, therefore, that Carroll’s philosophical conclusions sound profound but leave us with disappointingly empty propositions, such as, “Morality exists only insofar as we make it so, and other people might not pass judgments in the same way that we do.” Outlining his own moral approach, Carroll offers a poetic naturalist’s version of the Ten Commandments, the “Ten Considerations”: greetings-card-like homilies such as “It Takes All Kinds”

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v533/n7601/full/533034a.html

  448. BillyJoe7on 01 Feb 2017 at 6:56 am

    Really, cozy, give it a rest.
    Everyone who has read those links can see for themselves that you have misrepresented him.
    I am over this.

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