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Author Topic:   Peanut Gallery
Coyote
Member (Idle past 1426 days)
Posts: 6117
Joined: 01-12-2008


Message 586 of 1725 (593600)
11-28-2010 1:32 AM
Reply to: Message 585 by xongsmith
11-28-2010 1:13 AM


Re: update
bluegenes writes:

If you want logical constructs, examine this:

1) Human beings can and do invent supernatural beings.

2) The human imagination is the only known source of supernatural-being-concepts known to science.

Tentative conclusion or Theory: All supernatural beings are figments of the human imagination.

xongsmith writes:

I am STILL thinking, that for any theory to be a truly strong theory, it must provide something new in its field of endeavor. I am thinking the above box of bluegenes statements still adds nothing new to the existing body of knowledge.

You are probably correct that this adds nothing new to the existing body of knowledge.

But that's not a problem! This theory doesn't have to be a "truly strong theory" -- it just needs to provide an accurate description of a given data set. That's good enough for much of science, isn't it?

In the present case, this little theory accurately describes a particular data set and leads to the conclusion that supernatural beings have not been shown to exist outside of human imagination.

As is the case with all science, if new data come along this theory can be revised to incorporate that new data. But for now, the evidence does not lead one to conclude that this little theory is incorrect.


Religious belief does not constitute scientific evidence, nor does it convey scientific knowledge.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 585 by xongsmith, posted 11-28-2010 1:13 AM xongsmith has seen this message but not replied

Straggler
Member (Idle past 289 days)
Posts: 10332
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 587 of 1725 (593624)
11-28-2010 6:30 AM
Reply to: Message 584 by xongsmith
11-27-2010 11:58 PM


Re: Belief As Evidence
X writes:

Think of the 4 blind guys reporting on what an elephant is. One has only touched the trunk, one the ear, one the leg and the last the tail. They have 4 different beliefs of what the evidence for an elephant is. And these 4 beliefs are contradictory with each other, like a bluegenes-type referee would be arguing. A bluegenes-type referee might make the claim that the elephant probably doesn't exist at all because of these contradictions.

No. A "Bluegenes-type referee" would seek confirmation that each of the blind men had actually experienced something real rather than imagined. Even if putting the tangible pieces together and coming up with "elephant" has not yet been achieved it should be possible to confirm that the actual pieces exist shouldn't it?

What is the equivalent to the pieces of elephant in the case of supernatural entities? We don't have any pieces. All we have is human belief. Whether documented or otherwise.

Once again belief is being cited as a form of evidence albeit in a convuluted manner.

Edited by Straggler, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 584 by xongsmith, posted 11-27-2010 11:58 PM xongsmith has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 588 by xongsmith, posted 11-28-2010 12:07 PM Straggler has replied

xongsmith
Member
Posts: 2244
From: massachusetts US
Joined: 01-01-2009
Member Rating: 3.7


Message 588 of 1725 (593660)
11-28-2010 12:07 PM
Reply to: Message 587 by Straggler
11-28-2010 6:30 AM


Re: Belief As Evidence
Straggler asks:
A "Bluegenes-type referee" would seek confirmation that each of the blind men had actually experienced something real rather than imagined. Even if putting the tangible pieces together and coming up with "elephant" has not yet been achieved it should be possible to confirm that the actual pieces exist shouldn't it?

Ah, as my friend said, analogies never work, and this is the part of the analogy that doesn't work. I'm not sure how to change the analogy. Later in this thread I did bring up taking a DNA sample, which cannot be done for any of these "world religions".

Once again belief is being cited as a form of evidence albeit in a convoluted manner.

But it is not the specific description of the belief that is being cited as a form of evidence for each of these. I agree that this is a very weak argument and has all of the earmarks of grasping at straws, but I was just trying to explain a RAZD-type of point of view that there may existing documentation of *something* that later on, under the lens of rigorous scientific investigation, will turn out not be wholly a figment of human imagination.

Currently I am not going to go through life behaving as if this will indeed turn out to be the case, but I can understand that there are many people who behave as if it was possible.

A "Bluegenes-type referee" would seek confirmation that each of the blind men had actually experienced something real rather than imagined.

I am thinking now that all the bluegenes-type referee has to go on, as the story is presented to us, is the subjective testimony of each blind man. He could seek confirmation how? By investigating the matter further. So, until the matter has been investigated further, any conclusion of what an elephant is, or if it even exists, will have to WAIT. It is not time yet to announce a "theory" about the elephant. Wouldn't this be the line of argument a RAZD-type referee would take? The bluegenes-type referee will jump up and down and complain that it has been investigated plenty enough already and have a good point.


- xongsmith, 5.7d

This message is a reply to:
 Message 587 by Straggler, posted 11-28-2010 6:30 AM Straggler has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 589 by Straggler, posted 11-28-2010 1:16 PM xongsmith has replied

Straggler
Member (Idle past 289 days)
Posts: 10332
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 589 of 1725 (593672)
11-28-2010 1:16 PM
Reply to: Message 588 by xongsmith
11-28-2010 12:07 PM


Re: Belief As Evidence
Other than the belief that something supernatural has been experienced what is it that distinguishes one supernatural concept from any other? However you phrase this your argument and your anology amounts to nothing more than saying that if people believe something it is more likely to be true than if nobody believes in it.

Belief as evidence.

X writes:

It is not time yet to announce a "theory" about the elephant.

Your entire anology relies on presupposing the existence of said elephant. It is only analogous if we presuppose that those who claim supernatural experiences have actually experienced something supernatural. But ALL of the evidence indicates that commonality of human psychology is the reason for any commonality of experience and none of the evidence suggests anything else.

Question: Why should experiences attributed by humans to supernatural causes be considered as evidence of the actual existence of supernatural entities rather than evidence of fluctuations in the matrix (for example)?

This is not a rhetorical question.

X writes:

I am thinking now that all the bluegenes-type referee has to go on, as the story is presented to us, is the subjective testimony of each blind man.

Subjective evidence? In a thread about the existence of deities? No Xongsmith. This has been ruled out by RAZD in no uncertain terms. Subjective "Evidence" - Surely Not? (Message 450)

X writes:

Currently I am not going to go through life behaving as if this will indeed turn out to be the case, but I can understand that there are many people who behave as if it was possible.

Nobody denies the possibility in a philosophic sense. What we question is why anyone thinks that gods even possibly exist on any evidential basis.

Edited by Straggler, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 588 by xongsmith, posted 11-28-2010 12:07 PM xongsmith has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 593 by xongsmith, posted 11-28-2010 3:54 PM Straggler has replied
 Message 596 by xongsmith, posted 11-29-2010 1:31 AM Straggler has replied

Blue Jay
Member (Idle past 2018 days)
Posts: 2843
From: You couldn't pronounce it with your mouthparts
Joined: 02-04-2008


(1)
Message 590 of 1725 (593673)
11-28-2010 1:24 PM
Reply to: Message 559 by Modulous
11-25-2010 8:53 PM


Stuck on falsifiability
Hi, Modulous.

Modulous writes:

Much of RAZD's view seems to be that as long as an alternative hypothesis exists that cannot be ruled out, you cannot say you have a high confidence theory. RAZD's problem seems to be that his alternative is unfalsifiable.

I'm generally in the empiricist/objectivist camp with you and Straggler, but I'm not able to get Bluegenes' idea to work out in my mind. This issue of falsifiability is the central problem for me.

Is it possible for a theory to meet the criterion of falsifiability when the only alternative explanations are not falsifiable?

In principle, it would allow a few people interested in validating Bluegenes' theory to invent a few gods, then, using only these data points, conclude that all supernatural beings are the product of human imagination, because these are the only gods who sources were known.

All the other god concepts would be relegated to a "we don't know the source" bin. But, given the attributes of supernature, isn't the "we don't know the source" bin where we would expect all genuinely supernatural beings to go?

So, wouldn't the only way to refute Bluegenes' theory be to somehow demonstrate something that most of us argue is untestable, and thus, indemonstrable?

I'm perfectly willing to stipulate that humans do make up supernatural things. Science fiction and fantasy novelists do it all the time. I'm rather convinced that the Easter Bunny is made up, a relic of ancient bestiaries that thought all animals existed for moral lessons and symbolism.

I'm just concerned with the justification of the universal inductive conclusion in this case because of the unfalsifiable nature of the only alternatives.

Unlike before, I'm open to a change in my position now, but I'm still stuck on this one point.


-Bluejay (a.k.a. Mantis, Thylacosmilus)

Darwin loves you.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 559 by Modulous, posted 11-25-2010 8:53 PM Modulous has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 591 by Straggler, posted 11-28-2010 1:44 PM Blue Jay has replied
 Message 594 by Modulous, posted 11-28-2010 4:16 PM Blue Jay has replied

Straggler
Member (Idle past 289 days)
Posts: 10332
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 591 of 1725 (593674)
11-28-2010 1:44 PM
Reply to: Message 590 by Blue Jay
11-28-2010 1:24 PM


Re: Stuck on falsifiability
I think the key difference between the two sides in this whole thing is that one sides sees a claim for "plenty of evidence" in favour of a theory pertaining to human imagination and the other sees this same statement as a claim of "plenty of evidence" that supernatural entities do not exist. These are quite different, even if obviously related, claims.

One's criteria for falsification will depend on which of those two intepretations of the theory one takes. Although Bluegene's himself undoubtably is talking about human imagination as the source of such concept rather than any explicit denial of existence.

Bluegenes argument would be falsified by the discovery of any non-human source of supernatural concepts. If we discovered an alien civilisation that demonstrated belief in empirically unknowable entities it would be falsified. Or (to continue the science fiction type example) if a race of genetically modified intelligent chimps started displaying signs of worship it would also be arguably falsified.

But we have been through this before: Message 187. Up and down thread.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 590 by Blue Jay, posted 11-28-2010 1:24 PM Blue Jay has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 592 by Blue Jay, posted 11-28-2010 2:01 PM Straggler has replied

Blue Jay
Member (Idle past 2018 days)
Posts: 2843
From: You couldn't pronounce it with your mouthparts
Joined: 02-04-2008


(1)
Message 592 of 1725 (593677)
11-28-2010 2:01 PM
Reply to: Message 591 by Straggler
11-28-2010 1:44 PM


Re: Stuck on falsifiability
Hi, Straggler.

Straggler writes:

If we discovered an alien civilisation that demonstrated belief in empirically unknowable entities it would be falsified. Or (to continue the science fiction type example) if a race of genetically modified intelligent chimps started displaying signs of worship it would also be arguably falsified.

This has the feel of a semantic loophole. I don't think the word "human" is the important part of this argument. Is there any good reason to distinguish alien imagination from human imagination?

Also, since we have yet to encounter aliens or genetically modified chimpanzees, we can hardly claim to have the ability to test Bluegenes' theory against them as alternatives.

So, these alternatives are just as unfalsifiable as any others that have been brought up.


-Bluejay (a.k.a. Mantis, Thylacosmilus)

Darwin loves you.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 591 by Straggler, posted 11-28-2010 1:44 PM Straggler has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 597 by Straggler, posted 11-29-2010 8:06 AM Blue Jay has replied

xongsmith
Member
Posts: 2244
From: massachusetts US
Joined: 01-01-2009
Member Rating: 3.7


Message 593 of 1725 (593683)
11-28-2010 3:54 PM
Reply to: Message 589 by Straggler
11-28-2010 1:16 PM


Re: Belief As Evidence
Straggler again, with the chiffarobes & bedsprings:
your analogy amounts to nothing more than saying that if people believe something, it is more likely to be true than if nobody believes in it.

Just what do you mean by "it"?

Do you not understand that each belief of all of these worldly religions is already false on arrival, but they are all possibly on to something we cant say yet?

Just what do you mean by "it"?

Edited by xongsmith, : Upsidedown 'n'


- xongsmith, 5.7d

This message is a reply to:
 Message 589 by Straggler, posted 11-28-2010 1:16 PM Straggler has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 602 by Straggler, posted 11-29-2010 12:53 PM xongsmith has not replied

Modulous
Member (Idle past 1424 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 594 of 1725 (593687)
11-28-2010 4:16 PM
Reply to: Message 590 by Blue Jay
11-28-2010 1:24 PM


Re: Stuck on falsifiability
Is it possible for a theory to meet the criterion of falsifiability when the only alternative explanations are not falsifiable?

Maybe not - but in bluegenes' case, some of the alternative explanations are falsifiable. Sure, we can't falsify the omphalistic god - but the honest young earth creator might well be as good as falsified. Likewise the spirit that will kill you for raising this objection in 2 minutes is falsifiable as well (hopefully it will be falsified too!).

Granted, we're used to thinking of supernatural entities as being unfalsifiable, but I think that is an artefact of the falsified. That is: those supernatural entities that are falsifiable have been falsified so all that is left is the unfalsifiable. Call it a memetic selection process, if you will. Survival of the unfalsified Most 'sensible' people only believe in the unfalsifiable supernatural beings...it's quite reassuring to know you'll never be proven wrong, I'd wager.

RAZD likes the god of basically no defined properties. The ultimate model in unfalsifiability.

All the other god concepts would be relegated to a "we don't know the source" bin. But, given the attributes of supernature, isn't the "we don't know the source" bin where we would expect all genuinely supernatural beings to go?

If I burned some heather and Hecate appeared in my living room - I'd say we had some pretty good evidence of another source of supernatural concepts: ie., the experience of real supernatural beings. It doesn't matter if we don't know the nature of the supernatural realm - we do know that the source is more than 'human imagination' if we could learn some scientifically supported information about a supernatural entity of some kind.

I'm perfectly willing to stipulate that humans do make up supernatural things. Science fiction and fantasy novelists do it all the time. I'm rather convinced that the Easter Bunny is made up, a relic of ancient bestiaries that thought all animals existed for moral lessons and symbolism.

I'm just concerned with the justification of the universal inductive conclusion in this case because of the unfalsifiable nature of the only alternatives.

Unlike before, I'm open to a change in my position now, but I'm still stuck on this one point.

I agree that as it stands - there are some interesting and potentially persuasive philosophical angles for attack along the lines of your thinking. I can certainly see them in my mental landscape - unformed arguments that haven't been fully explored and I was hoping someone like RAZD might concentrate on them.

RAZD's best hope is to try and show that it is a weak induction somehow. I've tried a few times myself and have been unable to muster a good argument that it is, as per the memetic selection concept outlined above.

Even so - I think, when we start adding in the evidence from cognitive psychology and evolution we end up giving ourselves a more confident position from which to make the induction. I think I might be able to falsify bluegenes' theory, but only if we carefully stipulate what the human imagination actually is. For instance, is it our imagination that means we cannot help 'falling for' optical illusions? Seeing movement where none exists? I say that strictly, it is not imagination. The 'sense' of 'otherworldly presences' may well not be imagination but some kind of cognitive illusion (as optical illusions technically are) - though many properties of the beings 'present' might be 'imaginary'.

This therefore, may satisfy the 'common cause for religion' alternative hypothesis of RAZD's without this common cause necessarily being either imagination or supernatural. But I don't think bluegenes would argue all that much with this and point out it is really a semantic rebuttal and that careful constructions of his theory would remove this difficulty (I think bluegenes is using imagination more broadly than is common).

Edited by Modulous, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 590 by Blue Jay, posted 11-28-2010 1:24 PM Blue Jay has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 595 by Blue Jay, posted 11-29-2010 1:24 AM Modulous has replied

Blue Jay
Member (Idle past 2018 days)
Posts: 2843
From: You couldn't pronounce it with your mouthparts
Joined: 02-04-2008


Message 595 of 1725 (593744)
11-29-2010 1:24 AM
Reply to: Message 594 by Modulous
11-28-2010 4:16 PM


Re: Stuck on falsifiability
Hi, Modulous.

Thanks for the response.

Modulous writes:

Maybe not - but in bluegenes' case, some of the alternative explanations are falsifiable.

So the question would have to be an approach of one-by-one elimination of many god concepts. And then, at a certain point, a pattern of eliminations can be justifiably extrapolated to whatever god concepts remain using inductive reasoning.

So, if we find a pattern of lightning bolts in the absence of Thunderbirds, Thors or Zeuses, we can predict that we probably also won't find any Indras or Marduks either, and thereby conclude inductively that the phenomenon of thunderbolts is independent from deities.

-----

Modulous writes:

RAZD's best hope is to try and show that it is a weak induction somehow.

Where my above example might be seen as a weak induction is where we take the conclusion, "thunderbolts are not thrown by Thor," and make it into, "Thor does not exist."

However, if thunderbolts are the only evidence of Thor's existence, then the two conclusions may not be so different. I still tend to think they are different, though, simply because using the evidence that Thor doesn't throw thunderbolts to conclude that Thor doesn't exist seems to be based on the premise that Thor was invented to explain lightning, and not that lightning was simply attributed to Thor.

Obviously, if there were many phenomena associated with Thor, and Thor was found to not be involved in any of them, the induction would seemingly become less weak. The question is then whether or not Bluegenes has presented sufficient evidence. I haven't followed the Great Debate closely enough to know how much evidence Bluegenes has presented, but I would probably require more evidence than Bluegenes would before I would consider this objective completed.

Still, I may not now have much of an objection to Bluegenes calling it a theory. I still don't personally consider it a theory, but I'm starting to see it as one of those things that can just be let go in conversation.

-----

Modulous writes:

Likewise the spirit that will kill you for raising this objection in 2 minutes is falsifiable as well (hopefully it will be falsified too!).

Oh, it killed me: you can be sure of that. However, you and I will never be aware of that, because we now exist in an alternate reality in which the event---which was real---never happened.

See? Even quantum immortality is on RAZD's side! You'll never win!


-Bluejay (a.k.a. Mantis, Thylacosmilus)

Darwin loves you.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 594 by Modulous, posted 11-28-2010 4:16 PM Modulous has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 599 by Modulous, posted 11-29-2010 11:03 AM Blue Jay has replied

xongsmith
Member
Posts: 2244
From: massachusetts US
Joined: 01-01-2009
Member Rating: 3.7


Message 596 of 1725 (593745)
11-29-2010 1:31 AM
Reply to: Message 589 by Straggler
11-28-2010 1:16 PM


Re: Evidence as Belief
Straggler writes:

Question: Why should experiences attributed by humans to supernatural causes be considered as evidence of the actual existence of supernatural entities rather than evidence of fluctuations in the matrix (for example)?

This is not a rhetorical question.

Indeed, why should they? Why not the matrix?

If it comes to light that we are all in this matrix, fluctuations in the matrix would falsify bluegenes' theory, wouldn't they? IF there is a real matrix, then the source is not human imagination. Machine imagination?

Modulous also brought up another concept which moves the source from imagination to defective sensor equipment developed over the years of evolution that tend to give a built-in tendency to see what aint there. He added that this is just a semantical issue that can be tidied up in a reconstruction of bluegenes' statements. Which would mean tidying up is in order.

Straggler writes:

X writes:

I am thinking now that all the bluegenes-type referee has to go on, as the story is presented to us, is the subjective testimony of each blind man.

Subjective evidence? In a thread about the existence of deities? No Xongsmith. This has been ruled out by RAZD in no uncertain terms. Subjective "Evidence" - Surely Not? (Message 450)

Hey, we aren't still under RAZDbot's Rules of Order here, are we?

In the story, which I've already admitted is a bad analogy, the referee gets to hear only what each blind says they detected. The referee does not have any other evidence. Yes, I guess the story does presuppose the existence of something that the local village people around have termed an "elephant", so again, the analogy doesn't work.

Getting back to the issue, you write:

But ALL of the evidence indicates that commonality of human psychology is the reason for any commonality of experience and none of the evidence suggests anything else.

You and I and bluegenes and Modulous and many others here are in this camp. I might want to rephrase it:

ALL of the hard scientific evidence known to date indicates that commonality of human psychology is the only reason for any commonality of experiences labeled by humans as "supernatural" and none of the evidence suggests anything else.


- xongsmith, 5.7d

This message is a reply to:
 Message 589 by Straggler, posted 11-28-2010 1:16 PM Straggler has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 603 by Straggler, posted 11-29-2010 1:02 PM xongsmith has not replied

Straggler
Member (Idle past 289 days)
Posts: 10332
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 597 of 1725 (593758)
11-29-2010 8:06 AM
Reply to: Message 592 by Blue Jay
11-28-2010 2:01 PM


Re: Stuck on falsifiability
The point is that like any naturalistic explanation bluegenes wholly naturalistic explanation can be falsified by either naturalistic or supernaturalistic alternatives.

But nobody starts yelling that evolutionary biology has failed to take into account un-evidenced omphalistic possibilities. So what exactly is the difference here?

Bluejay writes:

This has the feel of a semantic loophole. I don't think the word "human" is the important part of this argument.

Without the word "human" in there what evidence are we talking about?

I think the word "human" is absolutely key to all of this. All of the evidence in question pertains to human history, psychology, anthropology, neurology etc. etc. The fact that you think it a "semantic loophole" just highlights the completely different worlds from which you and I are coming at this question.

Blujay writes:

Is there any good reason to distinguish alien imagination from human imagination?

I think if we found theistic aliens it would pose some serious questions. We know that humans are predisposed to anthropomorphasising mindless physical processes and seeking meaning and reason in terms of conscious intent when there isn't any.

Maybe this is a necessary feature of intelligent creative lifeforms? Or maybe it provides a more objective basis on which to consider the god question. Either way it is not irrelevant at all.

Blujay writes:

Also, since we have yet to encounter aliens or genetically modified chimpanzees, we can hardly claim to have the ability to test Bluegenes' theory against them as alternatives.

Current technological limitations are not grounds for declaring a theory "unfalsifiable". And in the meantime you could just present an entity which is widely considered to be supernatural and which actually exists couldn't you? Just to mix tings up a bit.

BluJay writes:

So, these alternatives are just as unfalsifiable as any others that have been brought up.

No.

Edited by Straggler, : Spelling typos


This message is a reply to:
 Message 592 by Blue Jay, posted 11-28-2010 2:01 PM Blue Jay has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 598 by Blue Jay, posted 11-29-2010 10:03 AM Straggler has replied

Blue Jay
Member (Idle past 2018 days)
Posts: 2843
From: You couldn't pronounce it with your mouthparts
Joined: 02-04-2008


(1)
Message 598 of 1725 (593768)
11-29-2010 10:03 AM
Reply to: Message 597 by Straggler
11-29-2010 8:06 AM


Re: Stuck on falsifiability
Hi, Straggler.

Straggler writes:

The point is that like any naturalistic explanation bluegenes wholly naturalistic explanation can be falsified by either naturalistic or supernaturalistic alternatives.

But nobody starts yelling that evolutionary biology has failed to take into account un-evidenced omphalistic possibilities. So what exactly is the difference here?

The difference is that Bluegenes theory isn't just a theory that happens to have a supernatural alternative: it's a theory that's explicitly about supernature. I don't understand why you think this shouldn't make a difference.

-----

Straggler writes:

I think if we found theistic aliens it would pose some serious questions.

I agree. Actually, I think it would be interesting whether or not the aliens had theistic beliefs. There are a whole lot of interesting and important questions we could then ask about the existence and nature of spirituality, or the phenomena of intelligence and belief, etc.

But, right now, all of this is just hypothetical. How can a hypothetical deity that may or may not have been imagined up by a hypothetical race of aliens be part of the construction of a "high-confidence theory"?

Review what an application of the scientific method in relation to this would look like:

Observations: All gods for which we know the source come from human imagination.

Prediction: Aliens will not imagine gods, because they do not have human imagination.

Experiment: Discover aliens, document any supernatural and/or theistic beliefs that they have.

Conclusion: Theism is unique to humans.

You can't seriously claim to have done this. So, until such time as this experiment can be run, your version of Bluegenes' theory can only attain the status that General Relativity had before it was shown that gravity bends light. And that status was simply not "theory."

So, if Bluegenes' theory is really a theory, then it isn't because of what hypothetical aliens may or may not imagine.

Edited by Bluejay, : Questions require question marks.


-Bluejay (a.k.a. Mantis, Thylacosmilus)

Darwin loves you.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 597 by Straggler, posted 11-29-2010 8:06 AM Straggler has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 600 by Straggler, posted 11-29-2010 12:48 PM Blue Jay has replied
 Message 609 by RAZD, posted 11-29-2010 9:41 PM Blue Jay has seen this message but not replied

Modulous
Member (Idle past 1424 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 599 of 1725 (593774)
11-29-2010 11:03 AM
Reply to: Message 595 by Blue Jay
11-29-2010 1:24 AM


Psychology, Agency Detection and Magic Hammers
Where my above example might be seen as a weak induction is where we take the conclusion, "thunderbolts are not thrown by Thor," and make it into, "Thor does not exist."

What is Thor?

I would suggest that an entity is defined by its properties. If we define Thor to be the God that is the cause of Thunder/Lightning which he does by creating giant sparks like those seen coming off an anvil using Mjöllnir (his hammer), then that being does not exist if we accept that thunder is caused by rapid expansion of rapidly heated air as a result of an electrical discharge....

So where Thor is 'the cause of thunder' and is a conscious being wielding a magic hammer - I think we can rule out Thor.

Of course, as with any theory we can make ad hoc modifications, to make sure it isn't falsified. Thor is the being that causes electricity to be or some such nonsense for example. This can be done with perfectly scientific theories too, There is modification, and there is hopelessness. Eventually, if you've modified your theory so that it is an unfalsifiable reflection of the scientific one - parsimony dictates the one with magic hammers in it has to go.

Indeed the 'only known source' section of bluegenes argument is really an argument of parsimony: why appeal to unknown sources and entities to explain something that can be done without them?

Still, I may not now have much of an objection to Bluegenes calling it a theory. I still don't personally consider it a theory, but I'm starting to see it as one of those things that can just be let go in conversation.

Bluegenes' theory is very simplistic - but that's largely due, I think, to the insufficiency of the objections so far presented. It need not be complicated if the main objection is 'but its a theory not a fact' or 'you have to falsify the unfalsifiable before you can have a theory' or more recently 'you have to prove that imaginary being you have identified is actually real before you can use it as evidence that the being is merely imaginary'!

There is however, a field of investigation in science which have all sorts of hypothesis and the like, which can be simplified into bluegenes' theory. Try looking up The Cognitive Science of Religion.

quote:
The view that religious beliefs and practices should be understood as nonfunctional but as produced by human cognitive mechanisms that are functional outside of the context of religion. Examples of this are the hyperactive agent detection device and minimally counterintuitive concepts. The cognitive byproduct explanation of religion is an application of the concept of exaptation explored by Stephen Jay Gould among others.

or Evolutionary psychology of religion.

If a man once mistook his wife for a hat, I think it's reasonable to conclude that mankind can mistake intensely emotional experiences as being the presence or gift of disembodied agents.

Edited by Modulous, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 595 by Blue Jay, posted 11-29-2010 1:24 AM Blue Jay has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 601 by Blue Jay, posted 11-29-2010 12:48 PM Modulous has replied

Straggler
Member (Idle past 289 days)
Posts: 10332
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 600 of 1725 (593780)
11-29-2010 12:48 PM
Reply to: Message 598 by Blue Jay
11-29-2010 10:03 AM


Re: Stuck on falsifiability
Bluejay writes:

The difference is that Bluegenes theory isn't just a theory that happens to have a supernatural alternative: it's a theory that's explicitly about supernature. I don't understand why you think this shouldn't make a difference.

The difference is one of emphasis alone. Not principle. As we have been through before: Message 184

What exactly do you think the fundamental difference is between concluding evolution over omphalism on the basis of positive evidence and concluding, again on the basis of positive evidence, that supernatural concepts are sourced from human imagination rather than being caused by the actual existence of supernatural entities? In both cases we have a highly positively evidenced naturalistic explanation for an observable phenomenon Vs a baseless proposition.

So rather than keep expressing bewilderment at me not seeing any difference why don’t you spell out what the difference is? I think that if you try actually to spell out this difference you will find it a lot more difficult to identify than you are assuming to be the case. Because the difference is one of emphasis and not principle.

Bluejay writes:

So, if Bluegenes' theory is really a theory, then it isn't because of what hypothetical aliens may or may not imagine.

The fact that you are talking about “hypothetical” falsifications is simply testament to the fact that nothing has yet been presented to falsify bluegenes theory. A single supernatural concept the source of which can be traced back to somewhere other than human imagination will suffice.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 598 by Blue Jay, posted 11-29-2010 10:03 AM Blue Jay has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 604 by Blue Jay, posted 11-29-2010 1:22 PM Straggler has replied
 Message 607 by xongsmith, posted 11-29-2010 2:22 PM Straggler has replied

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