Ponderings of Insomnia

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EndGame

Ponderings of Insomnia
« on: March 27, 2006, 05:33:02 PM »
I find all of this very interesting.

I see it as an expansion of a concept I have long been interested in: What constitutes proof and truth?

I have always had a problem with accepting current notions ever since I realised how much science and belief have changed over merely the last few hundred years. Often something that is Fact one day often falls out of favour over time.

The Flat Earth issue interests me as there is no direct way to say that the statement "The Earth Is Round" is fact. It is not something small enough to hold in your hand and look at from all angles. Things on a Planetary scale do not seem to fit easily into human comprehension, in my experience. Hell, try as I might I still don't feel that I can truly comprehend the distance in miles between London and Washington DC. Thus I cannot comprehend the sheer scale of the Earth, even if it were flat and I only have to think about 2 Dimensions.

A global conspiracy? Perhaps it is interesting to consider it as a common belief. Any single wide-spread religion could be considered the same way. Can you prove or disprove 'God'? Of course not, people have been trying both ways for Millennia. I have trouble directly believing in the Moon Landings. Not because the 'Pictures Are Fake' or anything, but simply because: I see no proof. If I could point a telescope at the moon right now and see the landing struts of the Lunar Module, it would do for me. Something I can see first hand with my own eyes. My mind can comprehend something on that level. But as it stands all I have is film and photographs and they do nothing for me.

The same is true with Flat Earth. I have been told the Theory of Gravity and how it works at a Planetary Level with Spherical Objects. However, they have no way of proving it to me. All I have is people telling me what the 'truth' is and backing it up with meaningless data. I don't think it helps that Science like that is taught to you at an age where you accept it, but don't really understand it.

As each day goes by, I get on with my life. Do I think the world is Round? Or perhaps Flat? Do I believe in Creationism? Maybe Evolution?

Can I say that: "Hey, it doesn't effect me. Why should I care? Why should I waste my time thinking about it?"

I can't say that, although it is mostly true.

It doesn't effect me. My life would be no different if the World was revealed to be Flat.

Why should I care? Well, really, I shouldn't. Truth is always in the eye of the beholder. I ball is only round to me because that is what my senses are telling me. My senses are not sensitive enough to tell me whether the Earth is flat or a sphere so large that I cannot perceive the overall shape.

Why should I waste my time thinking about it? That is the part I can't handle. My mind is open to all possibilities. I often end up thinking over different concepts and ideas, looking at the Universe through a variety of lenses. Rarely a bored moment.

Do I believe the Earth is Round or Flat? I don't know. I don't really care. Things like this are interesting to consider, but I doubt they will ever be proven to me. Which is why, despite enjoying entertaining thoughts like this, I will never be a member of this board's community: Nothing will ever come of it.

Do not accept things at face value. That is boring.

Do not question everything automatically. Think it over first. Too many people are rebelling against common ideas for the sake of it.

And please: If you ever consider typing 'You moron, the Earth is Round, everyone knows that!' then please consider what you 'Know'. It is an interesting exercise.

I don't know how many of you out there truly believe the Earth is Flat, many of the posters I have read seem to be coming from a similar point of view to my own. Those who truly believe it is flat seem to do so on Faith, something I could never really accept as a factor into my thoughts on Truth.

This long ramble is ending now, at 2:30am GMT and I am tired. There is no real point to anything I said above, it is just out of boredom. But hey, perhaps some discussion may arise.

I hope so.

Enjoy it.

Re: Ponderings of Insomnia
« Reply #1 on: March 28, 2006, 07:47:04 AM »
Quote from: "EndGame"
I find all of this very interesting.

I see it as an expansion of a concept I have long been interested in: What constitutes proof and truth?

Come up with an idea of how the world works.  Extrapolate the ramifications of said idea.  If all observable evidence does not agree with said idea, said idea is false.
nd that, my liege, is how we know the Earth to be banana shaped.

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Erasmus

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Re: Ponderings of Insomnia
« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2006, 11:01:24 AM »
Quote from: "Pesto"
Quote from: "EndGame"
What constitutes proof and truth?

Come up with an idea of how the world works.  Extrapolate the ramifications of said idea.  If all observable evidence does not agree with said idea, said idea is false.


That's a nice idea of refutation, but he's looking for positive proof.

I don't know how related this is, EndGame, but consider the first-order formula B(x) := "x has a beard."  Now it's clearly the case that this is true of some people, and false of others.  But where do we draw the line?  You see, it's also the case that many people have hair on their faces, but do not have beards.  That is,

  ~forall(x) H(x) ==> B(x)

where H(x) := "x has hair on his face".  Now here's the problem.  Is there any x such that H(x) and ~B(x), such that if you add one more hair to x's face, then B(x)?  Seems to me, no.  

So we have this perfectly reasonable formula B(x) which doesn't really seem to be propositional for any assignment of the variable x.  What's the deal?

I think the deal is that the universe is not a formal system, so words like "truth" and "proof" don't apply to it in the formal logic sense.

What do you think?
Why did the chicken cross the Möbius strip?

Re: Ponderings of Insomnia
« Reply #3 on: March 28, 2006, 11:04:42 AM »
Quote from: "EndGame"
I have trouble directly believing in the Moon Landings. Not because the 'Pictures Are Fake' or anything, but simply because: I see no proof. If I could point a telescope at the moon right now and see the landing struts of the Lunar Module, it would do for me. Something I can see first hand with my own eyes.

theres an americain flag on the moon

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Erasmus

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Ponderings of Insomnia
« Reply #4 on: March 28, 2006, 11:43:25 AM »
EndGame: you'll get over it.

There's a thread somewhere where I describe four kinds of relationships that people can have with mathematics: practical, constructive, creative, and anxious.  If I were to describe similar relationships people can have to science, you would fall into the anxious category.

Basically, while your epistemic quandry is well-founded, it's not really worth your time.

For one thing, why are you willing to trust what your eyes tell you, but not what a history book tells you?  Turns out your brain translates the world into experience in a fairly obtuse fashion.  Not everything you see is real, and not everything that is real is visibile to you.

What evidence do you have that under the hood of your car is an engine?  Just memories; memories can be false, and often are.  What evidence do you have that there's no purple dragon hovering over your shoulder?  If you turn to look, it will disappear.  What evidence do you have that the wall in the background is the color it appears to be?  You're not really seeing the wall; your brain is making an assumption about what it looks like.

For another thing, there are plenty of aspects of the world that you have no direct access to.  Do you believe in subatomic particles, or distant galaxies?  Like you said, you don't have to; it won't affect your life.  That being said, you might as well believe in them, at least in the interim, since they give you a slightly greater understanding (even if potentially false) of what's going on around you.

To make a long story short, there is no proof or truth in the real world, but that doesn't mean that everything you believe is entirely on faith.  There is a degree to which any new claim is consistent with your existing beliefs and with your observations of the world.  You can use reasonable, if not always rational, methods to sort through claims and find the ones that you want to accept.  In the end, of course, you do have to make some "irrational" assumptions:

1)  Induction is a good way to get knowledge, because it has usually worked in the past.
2)  Seeing is believing, but what somebody else saw is pretty good too.
3)  Theories are good to the extent that they make testable predictions, but barring that, judge them on parsimony.

Hmm... those are the only ones that come to mind at present, but it seems that you can get a lot of science done if you're willing to accept those assumptions.

My last point is that, as interesting as these are to think about, you shouldn't let them affect your life; apples will still fall to the ground whether you believe in gravity or not.

-Erasmus
Why did the chicken cross the Möbius strip?

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joffenz

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Ponderings of Insomnia
« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2006, 07:51:48 AM »
Quote from: "Erasmus"
: practical, constructive, creative, and anxious.


You left out "detestful" :D

Quote from: "Erasmus"

For one thing, why are you willing to trust what your eyes tell you, but not what a history book tells you?  Turns out your brain translates the world into experience in a fairly obtuse fashion.  Not everything you see is real, and not everything that is real is visibile to you.


That's true. I mean, think of optical illusions. Your eyes appear to tell you one thing, but the truth is actually another. Now history books, which are usually based on witness accounts, historical documents, photographics evidence, etc and are checked for mistakes by editors and are widely agreed with by the majority of people, should surely be considered just as reliable as your eyes.

Ponderings of Insomnia
« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2006, 09:44:01 AM »
Quote from: "cheesejoff"


Quote from: "Erasmus"

For one thing, why are you willing to trust what your eyes tell you, but not what a history book tells you?  Turns out your brain translates the world into experience in a fairly obtuse fashion.  Not everything you see is real, and not everything that is real is visibile to you.


That's true. I mean, think of optical illusions. Your eyes appear to tell you one thing, but the truth is actually another. Now history books, which are usually based on witness accounts(Yes but some times no scratch that, most of the time these sources a bias think of hitlers speeches bias, campain posters bias, anything that say 'we will win because we a superior' or somthing along those lines bias-grim), historical documents, photographics evidence(although photographs can be doctored before those were invented it was paintings and paintings cant be changed once there painted-grim), etc and are checked for mistakes by editors and are widely agreed with by the majority of people, should surely be considered just as reliable as your eyes.

The point there is if you can trust your eyes why not the eyes of others.
-grim