1063: "Kill Hitler"

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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby J Thomas » Fri Jun 08, 2012 2:30 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
J Thomas wrote:Well see, you are saying that I do not know enough to have an opinion on this topic.
No, I am saying you do not know enough to reasonably think your alternative theory, which contradicts known (or at least believed and well-studied) science, deserves the time and attention of real scientists.

You can have an opinion on anything, you just need to temper the strength of your opinion with awareness of how ignorant you are about the topic.

As complete non-experts in neutrino physics, it is reasonable for both of us to defer to the scientific consensus, formed by people who actually are experts in the field. The difference is that I am actually doing this, while you are insisting your different opinion is superior to what real scientists believe.


OK, this is progress. You admit that you do not understand the subject and that you are making an argument from authority, from people you trust whose work you do not understand.

So, imagine that I presented you with an alternative theory. Is there any reason to think you would understand it and be in a position to judge it? No. If I tell you my alternative theory you will be baffled, and you can only argue that since I have an alternative theory that makes me a physics crank.

But the rules of this game don't require me to present you with an alternative theory which is right or wrong. I say that physicists should consider alternatives. If I present five alternative theories, and four of them are not currently disprovable, that gives us five total theories that fit the current data. I don't have to prove the currently dominant theory wrong. If I were to criticize the standard theory, I would only have to show that it is more specific than current data requires. Every specific claim that is not supported by the data is an opportunity for an alternative theory which is just as good.

It could be an interesting game. But where do you fit into the game? You are a kibitzer, shouting insults from the peanut gallery. I may or may no be qualified to propose alternatives. But you are not qualified to judge them, or me, or well anything really. Except for your esthetic judgement.
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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Jun 08, 2012 2:36 pm UTC

J Thomas wrote:OK, this is progress. You admit that you do not understand the subject and that you are making an argument from authority, from people you trust whose work you do not understand.
But note that my argument isn't exactly that your "theory" is wrong, but rather that you have no reason to expect real scientists (or anyone else) to take your theory seriously, given your ignorance on the topic combined with your unwillingness to find out more.

In other words, I am not judging your theory per se, I am judging your insistence that anyone should care. And while I admittedly don't have enough experience to judge the merits of your theory itself, I maintain that I *do* have enough experience to judge your level of expertise, since I moderate the science forum and have gotten pretty good at recognizing the hallmarks of crankhood.

(of course, for me to be "baffled" by your explanation, you'd actually have to come up with a real explanation in the first place, rather than simply calling the accepted one a fad and expecting anyone else to care about your uneducated opinion)
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In addition, though, I would also argue that I have a much greater understanding of the science behind it than you do, since for example anyone completely unfamiliar with Noether clearly hasn't done enough research on conservation laws to reasonably claim that those laws are routinely broken...
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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby J Thomas » Fri Jun 08, 2012 3:00 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
J Thomas wrote:OK, this is progress. You admit that you do not understand the subject and that you are making an argument from authority, from people you trust whose work you do not understand.
But note that my argument isn't exactly that your "theory" is wrong, but rather that you have no reason to expect real scientists (or anyone else) to take your theory seriously, given your ignorance on the topic combined with your unwillingness to find out more.

In other words, I am not judging your theory per se, I am judging your insistence that anyone should care.

(of course, for me to be "baffled" by your explanation, you'd actually have to come up with a real explanation in the first place, rather than simply calling the accepted one a fad and expecting anyone else to care about your uneducated opinion)


OK, it's legitimate for you to have that opinion.

So, how come you care so much about it? You keep trolling me as if you want to keep on arguing it indefinitely. For somebody who doesn't care you sure are investing a lot of time.

In addition, though, I would also argue that I have a much greater understanding of the science behind it than you do, since for example anyone completely unfamiliar with Noether clearly hasn't done enough research on conservation laws to reasonably claim that those laws are routinely broken...


I'm not unfamiliar with Noether. I just didn't understand why you had your particular opinion about it, and I didn't realize that was what you were talking about until I saw the reference. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounds to me as if your stand is "Conservation laws are beautiful and convenient, therefore the real world must work that way". Did I miss your emphasis?
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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Jun 08, 2012 4:00 pm UTC

J Thomas wrote:You keep trolling me as if you want to keep on arguing it indefinitely.
I'm not trolling you. I'm hoping there's some chance I and others might convince you that it's ridiculous for you to expect anyone to take your ideas seriously when you're unwilling to flesh them out or learn enough background information to evaluate them yourself.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounds to me as if your stand is "Conservation laws are beautiful and convenient, therefore the real world must work that way".
You're wrong, and have persisted in being wrong despite my repeated attempts to correct you. But what the hell, I'll try again:

Conservation laws are beautiful and convenient and have billions of observations that confirm them, therefore it would be stupid for us to throw them out based on a few observations that appear to an amateur to indicate violations of those laws.

I have never said anything whatsoever about how the real world "must work". I have even explicitly said that the real world may indeed not work the way we currently think it does. Reread the end of that post, if you still can't understand the difference between what I'm arguing and what you continue to think I'm arguing.
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Yes, it may be the case that energy is not conserved, and it may be the case that physical laws change with location, time, and orientation. But if either of those is the case, one indication of it would be observations that can't be accounted for by simply positing another type of particle. In other words, it would have to be an apparent violation that was not so perfectly predictable and systematic that it can mathematically be treated as though there's some little quantum "thing" that goes between one violation and another which is exactly an equal and opposite reaction.

Quantum theories are by some accounts the most successful in history, and one fundamental characteristic is its notion that there are particles flying around to mediate every force in the universe, and thus all changes of energy and momentum. So it is natural to expect additional such transfers to also involve particles. (Thus the belief many people have in gravitons.) Positing neutrinos (and then predicting and successfully detecting them, don't forget) then seems a completely reasonable thing to do when there turns out to be some additional energy that disappears in one place and then after a very nearly lightspeed delay reappears in another.
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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby chenille » Fri Jun 08, 2012 4:21 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:Yes, it may be the case that energy is not conserved, and it may be the case that physical laws change with location, time, and orientation.

Just as an aside, it turns out energy conservation isn't perfect. To start with it's tricky to define the total in curved spacetime. However you might try, though, you run into the problem that the energy density of photons drops faster than matter in an expanding universe, because the redshift drops the frequency. This is of course what you would expect from Noether's theorem: an expanding universe is not quite time-symmetric, so it makes sense that energy might not be quite conserved, though both work on a local scale.

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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby J Thomas » Fri Jun 08, 2012 6:19 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
J Thomas wrote:You keep trolling me as if you want to keep on arguing it indefinitely.
I'm not trolling you. I'm hoping there's some chance I and others might convince you that it's ridiculous for you to expect anyone to take your ideas seriously when you're unwilling to flesh them out or learn enough background information to evaluate them yourself.


OK, but I haven't asked you to take seriously a particular alternate hypothesis about neutrinos. Here's what I was saying:

Can you be affected by things you can't exactly measure?



The only way we ever observe anything is by their consequences, so if something has observable consequences, it is observable.



No, the consequences are observable. Or maybe that's the consequences of the consequences that are observable? Or the consequences of the consequences of the consequences? Maybe it's turtles all the way down.

The more elaborate the indirection, the more likely you are to get silly results. So for example, neutrinos are almost undetectable. Every now and then something happens that you can assume would not have happened unless a neutrino intervened at precisely the right moment, so that's your evidence that a neutrino was there. But people calculated the number of neutrinos they expected to see from the sun, and they didn't get that number. They got about half as mny. They could have assumed this meant there was something about the sun they didn't know. But instead they assumed that the sun's neutrinos oscillate between a form that is rarely detectable and a form that is completely undetectable. And the fact that at any given time half of the neutrinos are completely undetectable has profound implications. It's possible that all this is clearly the right way to think about it when you have enough background information. But from where I sit it looks like assumption piled on top of assumption. The observable consequences are too far removed from the hypothetical causes.


Neutrinos are only an example of the problem. If you don't like that example, use another example. I tolerated you passionately defending the neutrino concept, though I don't see why you care so much. Previously I had explained that I have a lot of doubts about Scientology but I'm not willing to learn enough about it to find out for sure whether they're right. And I may have used the astrology example -- I tend to believe that astrology is bullshit, but I have not studied astrology carefully enough to say I fully understand it. If you had the faith in astrology that you have in physics, you might easily tell me that no astrologers will take me seriously until I show them an alternative version of astrology that works better than their astrology. And I would accept that people who have spent their lives studying the details of astrology are not going to take me seriously. ;)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounds to me as if your stand is "Conservation laws are beautiful and convenient, therefore the real world must work that way".
You're wrong, and have persisted in being wrong despite my repeated attempts to correct you. But what the hell, I'll try again:

Conservation laws are beautiful and convenient and have billions of observations that confirm them, therefore it would be stupid for us to throw them out based on a few observations that appear to an amateur to indicate violations of those laws.


You don't understand science. That's OK, a lot of people don't.

You believe in a law that says a particular sort of thing can't happen. Let's call the thing that can't happen X. The law says X can't happen. If you had a law that said there can never be a white crow, it would be easy to get billions of observations that confirm that law. Everything that you look at that is not a white crow is a confirmation. Grow ten billion bacteria in a test tube and none of them are white crows, so that's ten billion observations that tell you there are no white crows. But if you find a single white crow then your law is not right.

If you find a single example of your conservation law being violated, then the conservation law is not correct as it stands and needs some sort of modification. What sort of modification? That depends on the examples.

Yes, it may be the case that energy is not conserved, and it may be the case that physical laws change with location, time, and orientation. But if either of those is the case, one indication of it would be observations that can't be accounted for by simply positing another type of particle. In other words, it would have to be an apparent violation that was not so perfectly predictable and systematic that it can mathematically be treated as though there's some little quantum "thing" that goes between one violation and another which is exactly an equal and opposite reaction.


Perhaps that's the best way to think of it. Perhaps that model will go a hundred years without a serious challenge. Still I find it humorous. People assumed conservation laws were true. Then they found specific examples where conservation laws were definitely violated. So they assumed undetectable particles to account for the difference, and then when they detected more examples where conservation laws were violated they announced that those were detections of the undetectable particles. You have to admit that's funny. Right?
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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Jun 08, 2012 11:09 pm UTC

J Thomas wrote:You believe in a law that says a particular sort of thing can't happen. Let's call the thing that can't happen X. The law says X can't happen. If you had a law that said there can never be a white crow, it would be easy to get billions of observations that confirm that law. Everything that you look at that is not a white crow is a confirmation. Grow ten billion bacteria in a test tube and none of them are white crows, so that's ten billion observations that tell you there are no white crows. But if you find a single white crow then your law is not right.
That's a poor analogy, because observations of bacteria aren't the sorts of things capable of testing the claim, "all crows are black". Billions and billions of observations of *crows*, on the other hand, would be pretty weighty evidence in favor of that claim. And therefore coming across a single white crow-looking thing wouldn't reasonably be enough to entirely throw out the theory. For one thing, any biologist worth a damn would want to first make sure the thing really was a crow.

If you find a single example of your conservation law being violated, then the conservation law is not correct as it stands and needs some sort of modification.
As with the crow, you're begging the question in your hypothetical. Just as an honest-to-goodness actual genuine white crow would disprove the "all crows are black" theory, of course an honest-to-goodness actual genuine violation of a conservation law would disprove the "energy is conserved (locally)" theory.

My point to you, though, is that what looks to you like a violation turns out not to be if we make the ridiculously simple modification of adding an energetic particle to our model. Scientists have a choice of (at least) two alternatives: change the model so now it has neutrinos, or change the model so it no longer has conservation of energy or time-symmetry.

And you're seriously suggesting that they should give equal weight to both of these modifications? And you think *I'm* the one who doesn't understand science?

People assumed conservation laws were true. Then they found specific examples where conservation laws were definitely violated. So they assumed undetectable particles to account for the difference, and then when they detected more examples where conservation laws were violated they announced that those were detections of the undetectable particles. You have to admit that's funny. Right?
About as funny as positing photons to account for "violations" of the conservation of energy in electrons. Which is to say, not really all that hilarious.

And once again, undetected is not the same as undetectable. Furthermore, what a detection event should look like was *predicted* based on existing theory. Then observations were made that fit the predictions, confirming the theory. It's not like they just had two random violations of energy conservation and decided to use the same imaginary particle to account for both of them. For one thing, neutrino formation and neutrino detection are too closely coupled for this to really be the kind of hand-wavey ad hoc explanation you seem so keen on pretending it is.
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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby J Thomas » Sat Jun 09, 2012 12:10 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
J Thomas wrote:You believe in a law that says a particular sort of thing can't happen. Let's call the thing that can't happen X. The law says X can't happen. If you had a law that said there can never be a white crow, it would be easy to get billions of observations that confirm that law. Everything that you look at that is not a white crow is a confirmation. Grow ten billion bacteria in a test tube and none of them are white crows, so that's ten billion observations that tell you there are no white crows. But if you find a single white crow then your law is not right.
That's a poor analogy, because observations of bacteria aren't the sorts of things capable of testing the claim, "all crows are black". Billions and billions of observations of *crows*, on the other hand, would be pretty weighty evidence in favor of that claim. And therefore coming across a single white crow-looking thing wouldn't reasonably be enough to entirely throw out the theory. For one thing, any biologist worth a damn would want to first make sure the thing really was a crow.


Well see, you are coming up against a definitional problem. When you say there are no white crows, a confirming instance of that is something which is not a white crow. You could look at crows that are not white, sure. And yet aren't white things that aren't crows also confirming instances? None of the crows are white. None of the white things are crows. Equivalent. And when you get right down to it, everything which is not a white crow is also an example of something which is not a white crow.

This probably sounds snarky, but there's a serious point under it. So for example, if you want to say that cigarettes don't cause cancer, and you find a man who smokes cigarettes and does not have cancer, how many times can you count him as a confirming instance? He doesn't have cancer today. If he still doesn't have cancer tomorrow that's another confirming instance. If he doesn't have cancer day after tomorrow that's a third one.

Similarly with your idea about conservation laws. If you find some circumstances where conservation laws have held locally before, and you check again under those same circumstances, you can probably rack up billions of observations where conservation laws hold. Except -- how many billions of observations do we have of conservation laws holding, versus billions of assumptions that conservation laws must have held?

If you find a single example of your conservation law being violated, then the conservation law is not correct as it stands and needs some sort of modification.
As with the crow, you're begging the question in your hypothetical. Just as an honest-to-goodness actual genuine white crow would disprove the "all crows are black" theory, of course an honest-to-goodness actual genuine violation of a conservation law would disprove the "energy is conserved (locally)" theory.

My point to you, though, is that what looks to you like a violation turns out not to be if we make the ridiculously simple modification of adding an energetic particle to our model. Scientists have a choice of (at least) two alternatives: change the model so now it has neutrinos, or change the model so it no longer has conservation of energy or time-symmetry.

And you're seriously suggesting that they should give equal weight to both of these modifications? And you think *I'm* the one who doesn't understand science?


Well see, you are probably adding a couple of criteria to science that I don't. I expect one is economy of thought. I expect you think that science should use the single theory that is compatible with the data and which requires them to do the least amount of thinking. Why consider a second idea you have to think about, when you already have one that's good enough? But I say it's better when you have at least two theories in mind, because that motivates you to come up with experiments that you might not think to do otherwise.

And I expect you figure that when one theory is elegant and it fits a lot of different things together, then you should use that one. I agree that an elegant theory deserves special attention, and it particularly deserves lots of attempts to find conditions where it fails. Better if you can find a second elegant theory to compare it against, because two theories breed more experiments than one. Failing a second elegant theory then get by with one or more less-elegant ones.

It's easy for human beings to get caught up in a theory and believe it, to the point that they accidentally look for confirming instances instead of counterexamples. That belief is a deadly thing. In things like economics and politics it can cause tremendous suffering. In science it only stifles progress which is not so bad maybe....

People assumed conservation laws were true. Then they found specific examples where conservation laws were definitely violated. So they assumed undetectable particles to account for the difference, and then when they detected more examples where conservation laws were violated they announced that those were detections of the undetectable particles. You have to admit that's funny. Right?
About as funny as positing photons to account for "violations" of the conservation of energy in electrons. Which is to say, not really all that hilarious.

And once again, undetected is not the same as undetectable.


Once again, the only way to detect neutrinos is by observing the presence of nuclear reactions which are known to violate conservation laws. What is detected is violation of conservation. This is assumed to represent the presence of a particle which can be detected in no other way.

It isn't wrong to make up this hypothesis and use it. What's wrong is failing to come up with any alternative to play it against.
Last edited by J Thomas on Sat Jun 09, 2012 12:26 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby gmalivuk » Sat Jun 09, 2012 12:25 am UTC

J Thomas wrote:Well see, you are coming up against a definitional problem. When you say there are no white crows, a confirming instance of that is something which is not a white crow. You could look at crows that are not white, sure. And yet aren't white things that aren't crows also confirming instances? None of the crows are white. None of the white things are crows. Equivalent. And when you get right down to it, everything which is not a white crow is also an example of something which is not a white crow.

This probably sounds snarky, but there's a serious point under it. So for example, if you want to say that cigarettes don't cause cancer, and you find a man who smokes cigarettes and does not have cancer, how many times can you count him as a confirming instance? He doesn't have cancer today. If he still doesn't have cancer tomorrow that's another confirming instance. If he doesn't have cancer day after tomorrow that's a third one.

Similarly with your idea about conservation laws. If you find some circumstances where conservation laws have held locally before, and you check again under those same circumstances, you can probably rack up billions of observations where conservation laws hold. Except -- how many billions of observations do we have of conservation laws holding, versus billions of assumptions that conservation laws must have held?
Fine, take my billions to mean billions of (at least mostly) independent observations, and I suspect it's still true. An individual's cancer diagnosis today is extremely highly correlated with that same individual's diagnosis tomorrow, so the second of those observations doesn't actually give you much additional information.

It isn't wrong to make up this hypothesis and use it. What's wrong is failing to come up with any alternative to play it against.
This has been done, they just haven't bothered (or publicized bothering) with such outlandish alternatives as you're proposing. But every experiment to test a hypothesis involves at least two alternatives: the hypothesis is true or the hypothesis is not true.
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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby J Thomas » Sat Jun 09, 2012 12:53 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
J Thomas wrote:It isn't wrong to make up this hypothesis and use it. What's wrong is failing to come up with any alternative to play it against.
This has been done, they just haven't bothered (or publicized bothering) with such outlandish alternatives as you're proposing. But every experiment to test a hypothesis involves at least two alternatives: the hypothesis is true or the hypothesis is not true.


The hypothesis "The hypothesis is not true" is useless. It gives you no idea at all what to look for. Far better to have two hypotheses which both predict the things which are known, but which predict different outcomes which are not known yet.

If you even have two hypotheses which predict the same things but which seem different, that can help some. If you at least have two different mental models, you are somewhat less likely to get stuck.
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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby gmalivuk » Sat Jun 09, 2012 3:27 am UTC

J Thomas wrote:The hypothesis "The hypothesis is not true" is useless.
No it isn't. If that one turns out to be true, it's time to start looking at more detailed alternative hypotheses.

And anyway, what is your own "hypothesis" but "conservation of energy is not true"?
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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby ijuin » Sun Jun 10, 2012 4:39 am UTC

Most importantly, J Thomas has not given us any concrete reason why his hypotheses should carry more weight than idle speculation. Why should we follow his proposed ideas instead of others? If sticking with the "commonly accepted" ideas is appeal to authority or appeal to popularity, then I don't really see why his ideas are something other than "appeal against authority" (i.e. "appeal to authority" is flawed, therefore ideas held due to it are to be blanket rejected).

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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby J Thomas » Sun Jun 10, 2012 8:33 am UTC

ijuin wrote:Most importantly, J Thomas has not given us any concrete reason why his hypotheses should carry more weight than idle speculation. Why should we follow his proposed ideas instead of others? If sticking with the "commonly accepted" ideas is appeal to authority or appeal to popularity, then I don't really see why his ideas are something other than "appeal against authority" (i.e. "appeal to authority" is flawed, therefore ideas held due to it are to be blanket rejected).


I will repeat this at least once more.

Science works better when you have two or more hypotheses which are compatible with the available data. When you have only one, it's easy to interpret everything in terms of that one.

People -- including some established physicsts -- talk as if the neutrino theory is established and there is no alternative. If this is true, it is a bad thing. If it is false, if they do consider other hypotheses, why do they talk as if they do not?

It is certainly possible to develop an alternative theory based on the idea that the conservation laws which are observed to be violated, are actually violated. Look at the patterns in the ways they are violated and go from there. With two competing theories we would then have stimulus to find experiments that would distinguish between them.

This may not be the best alternative approach -- I don't know what others are available -- but it is one good approach. I'd welcome other alternatives too.

I do not say that the current neutrino approach is wrong. As far as I know it has not yet been disproven. The recent experiments which disproved a big variety of neutrino theories have not disproven them all, but tend to suggest that neutrinos cannot travel at lightspeed and must have some mass etc. I don't say everybody should abandon the remaining neutrino theories which have not yet been disproved. I say that considering other viable alternatives also, is an improvement.

I have no idea why this is so hard for a few people here to understand. Except I guess almost no matter what simple obvious idea gets proposed, there are always a few people who just don't get it. This is probably valuable also. Just as it's useful for a hunting group to have a few members who are color-blind so they can see past color-based camouflage, it's useful for society to have a few people who fail to understand a few things at random, since they might make new discoveries when others are blinded by the obvious.
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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby Camoceltic » Sun Jun 10, 2012 9:06 am UTC

Why kill Hitler, when you can kidnap him and all the other evil people while they're babies and put them in the Evil Baby Orphanage, where they'll be raised to be good people and not genocidal maniacs?

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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby Zamfir » Sun Jun 10, 2012 10:10 am UTC

J Thomas wrote:It is certainly possible to develop an alternative theory based on the idea that the conservation laws which are observed to be violated, are actually violated. Look at the patterns in the ways they are violated and go from there. With two competing theories we would then have stimulus to find experiments that would distinguish between them.


When people did this, they called the patterns 'neutrinos', and you are apparently not happy with it.

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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby curtis95112 » Sun Jun 10, 2012 2:44 pm UTC

J Thomas wrote:People -- including some established physicsts -- talk as if the neutrino theory is established and there is no alternative. If this is true, it is a bad thing. If it is false, if they do consider other hypotheses, why do they talk as if they do not?


Because you don't talk to laymen when you're discussing highly complex mathematical ideas that haven't been packaged into an easy-to-understand pop science analogy.
Why haven't they been packaged? Because they didn't work. Because none turned out to be half as good as neutrinos.

'For heaven's sake, neutrinos are a BIG THING. 3 Nobels have been awarded in relation to neutrinos. Showing that they don't actually exist is guaranteed to secure another one. Disproving a BIG THING is what every single scientist in the world longs for. I can tell you for certain, without knowing much details about modern physics research, that at least a dozen alternatives to neutrinos were studied quite thoroughly (thoroughly enough to be proven wrong or useless), and that at least a thousand alternative theories have been speculated by the experts. None of them made their way through the net of falsification that science is.

Nobody talked to you about these alternative theories because you simply weren't worth talking to. You cannot offer any insights that a talented high school student can't.

By the way, having no alternatives isn't necessarily bad. Or do you think the lack of competitors to evolution is bad? (Heck I wish there weren't any competitors. But that's politics, not science.)
Mighty Jalapeno wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:
Роберт wrote:Sure, but at least they hit the intended target that time.

Well, if you shoot enough people, you're bound to get the right one eventually.

Thats the best description of the USA ever.

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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby J Thomas » Sun Jun 10, 2012 3:27 pm UTC

curtis95112 wrote:
J Thomas wrote:People -- including some established physicsts -- talk as if the neutrino theory is established and there is no alternative. If this is true, it is a bad thing. If it is false, if they do consider other hypotheses, why do they talk as if they do not?


Because you don't talk to laymen when you're discussing highly complex mathematical ideas that haven't been packaged into an easy-to-understand pop science analogy.
Why haven't they been packaged? Because they didn't work. Because none turned out to be half as good as neutrinos.


Well, that makes sense. How did you find out?

I can tell you for certain, without knowing much details about modern physics research, that at least a dozen alternatives to neutrinos were studied quite thoroughly (thoroughly enough to be proven wrong or useless), and that at least a thousand alternative theories have been speculated by the experts. None of them made their way through the net of falsification that science is.


Great! So, you don't know much details about modern physics research. How did you count the thousand alternatives? Did you research it, or did you only assume it?

By the way, having no alternatives isn't necessarily bad. Or do you think the lack of competitors to evolution is bad? (Heck I wish there weren't any competitors. But that's politics, not science.)


There are some competing evolutionary theories. There are open questions -- how much have organisms evolved in ways that let them evolved faster? Is there an optimal rate of evolution that can be satisficed by genetic mechanisms? How does the "no free lunch" idea apply? Perhaps in some way each population is preadapted to evolve in some dimensions more than others. More ready to adapt along lines that have been fruitful before.

It's hard to make alternatives to the general principle that in some particular environment, different genes can result in different survival and reproduction, and different reproduction results in a change in gene frequencies, and mutations happen. But note that there are times and places where that principle does not apply as well as other times and places. When a single obligately-sexual randomly-mating population is spread over multiple environments that select for contrary traits, they can go a long time without adapting to any of those environments. Will they evolve sub-populations that don't interbreed much? Maybe. Will they do that reliably? Who knows?

Meiotic drive can result in populations that become less fit -- the population size shrinks -- even while individuals with lower survival rates increase in the population. The genes that reduce survival spread through the population even while the population tends toward extinction.

It's hard to find an alternative to the general principle, but that principle can apply in a big variety of ways. Evolution happens a lot, but even in experimental settings designed to watch the evolution of asexual bacteria cloned from a single cell in a rigidly controlled environment, there's a whole lot of room for random changes that keep the result from being very reproducible.

I'm afraid that competing theories for evolution would be a lot like competing theories for statistical mechanics. You might possibly come up with a competing theory for ideal gases, or for actual gases, but your competing theory is going to wind up being a theory that the label "statistical mechanics" will apply to. It would be interesting if somebody could come up with something dramatically different. I haven't been able to imagine a way to do that, though.
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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby curtis95112 » Sun Jun 10, 2012 5:06 pm UTC

J Thomas wrote:
curtis95112 wrote:
J Thomas wrote:People -- including some established physicsts -- talk as if the neutrino theory is established and there is no alternative. If this is true, it is a bad thing. If it is false, if they do consider other hypotheses, why do they talk as if they do not?


Because you don't talk to laymen when you're discussing highly complex mathematical ideas that haven't been packaged into an easy-to-understand pop science analogy.
Why haven't they been packaged? Because they didn't work. Because none turned out to be half as good as neutrinos.


Well, that makes sense. How did you find out?

I can tell you for certain, without knowing much details about modern physics research, that at least a dozen alternatives to neutrinos were studied quite thoroughly (thoroughly enough to be proven wrong or useless), and that at least a thousand alternative theories have been speculated by the experts. None of them made their way through the net of falsification that science is.


Great! So, you don't know much details about modern physics research. How did you count the thousand alternatives? Did you research it, or did you only assume it?


I assumed it. A thousand is a lower bound. Mostly because dreaming up alternative theories is what these people are really good at. The point is that your not being informed of alternate is because you're a layperson. But you're right in that I can't confirm that number without asking someone actually involved in this.

By the way, having no alternatives isn't necessarily bad. Or do you think the lack of competitors to evolution is bad? (Heck I wish there weren't any competitors. But that's politics, not science.)


There are some competing evolutionary theories. There are open questions -- how much have organisms evolved in ways that let them evolved faster? Is there an optimal rate of evolution that can be satisficed by genetic mechanisms? How does the "no free lunch" idea apply? Perhaps in some way each population is preadapted to evolve in some dimensions more than others. More ready to adapt along lines that have been fruitful before.

It's hard to make alternatives to the general principle that in some particular environment, different genes can result in different survival and reproduction, and different reproduction results in a change in gene frequencies, and mutations happen. But note that there are times and places where that principle does not apply as well as other times and places. When a single obligately-sexual randomly-mating population is spread over multiple environments that select for contrary traits, they can go a long time without adapting to any of those environments. Will they evolve sub-populations that don't interbreed much? Maybe. Will they do that reliably? Who knows?

Meiotic drive can result in populations that become less fit -- the population size shrinks -- even while individuals with lower survival rates increase in the population. The genes that reduce survival spread through the population even while the population tends toward extinction.

It's hard to find an alternative to the general principle, but that principle can apply in a big variety of ways. Evolution happens a lot, but even in experimental settings designed to watch the evolution of asexual bacteria cloned from a single cell in a rigidly controlled environment, there's a whole lot of room for random changes that keep the result from being very reproducible.

I'm afraid that competing theories for evolution would be a lot like competing theories for statistical mechanics. You might possibly come up with a competing theory for ideal gases, or for actual gases, but your competing theory is going to wind up being a theory that the label "statistical mechanics" will apply to. It would be interesting if somebody could come up with something dramatically different. I haven't been able to imagine a way to do that, though.


You mean like competing theories for neutrinos would look enormously like barely detectable particles carrying away energy? Yeah sure. It's hard to make alternatives to the general principle that when energy apparently disappears, something's carried it away.

Science takes the path of least resistance. It's much more reasonable to think there's something yet undiscovered than it is to think that the foundations of our (extremely successful, I might add) physics are wrong. You mentioned epicycles earlier on. Guess what, they weren't bad science. The motivations might not have been very pure, but either way, it was a reasonable answer based on the information they had at the time. Of course, we don't use epicycles any more. And not just because they're inelegant and computationally expensive. It's because we have observations that no variation of epicycles can explain within the Ptolemaic model (phases of Venus).
We don't have such observations for neutrinos. There are concrete predictions that have so far been borne out by experiments. Your only argument against neutrinos is that conservation of energy (and thus invariance under time) might not always hold.

What does your model (if you have one) explain better than the neutrino model? Is it in any way superior? Considering you also have the burden to explain why it's well nigh impossible to create detectable amounts of energy? You'd expect someone would have created a perpetual motion machine by now.
Mighty Jalapeno wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:
Роберт wrote:Sure, but at least they hit the intended target that time.

Well, if you shoot enough people, you're bound to get the right one eventually.

Thats the best description of the USA ever.

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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby J Thomas » Sun Jun 10, 2012 7:00 pm UTC

curtis95112 wrote:
J Thomas wrote:
curtis95112 wrote:
J Thomas wrote:People -- including some established physicsts -- talk as if the neutrino theory is established and there is no alternative. If this is true, it is a bad thing. If it is false, if they do consider other hypotheses, why do they talk as if they do not?


Because you don't talk to laymen when you're discussing highly complex mathematical ideas that haven't been packaged into an easy-to-understand pop science analogy.
Why haven't they been packaged? Because they didn't work. Because none turned out to be half as good as neutrinos.


Well, that makes sense. How did you find out?

I can tell you for certain, without knowing much details about modern physics research, that at least a dozen alternatives to neutrinos were studied quite thoroughly (thoroughly enough to be proven wrong or useless), and that at least a thousand alternative theories have been speculated by the experts. None of them made their way through the net of falsification that science is.


Great! So, you don't know much details about modern physics research. How did you count the thousand alternatives? Did you research it, or did you only assume it?


I assumed it. A thousand is a lower bound. Mostly because dreaming up alternative theories is what these people are really good at. The point is that your not being informed of alternate is because you're a layperson. But you're right in that I can't confirm that number without asking someone actually involved in this.


OK. I don't know and you don't know either. You assume that because these are smart scientists they cover all the bases, without actually telling anybody much about that. You could be right. My point was that sometimes people do jump to unwarranted conclusions, and I gave this as an example. If you don't like this example you could use another.

By the way, having no alternatives isn't necessarily bad. Or do you think the lack of competitors to evolution is bad? (Heck I wish there weren't any competitors. But that's politics, not science.)


Spoiler:
There are some competing evolutionary theories. There are open questions -- how much have organisms evolved in ways that let them evolved faster? Is there an optimal rate of evolution that can be satisficed by genetic mechanisms? How does the "no free lunch" idea apply? Perhaps in some way each population is preadapted to evolve in some dimensions more than others. More ready to adapt along lines that have been fruitful before.

It's hard to make alternatives to the general principle that in some particular environment, different genes can result in different survival and reproduction, and different reproduction results in a change in gene frequencies, and mutations happen. But note that there are times and places where that principle does not apply as well as other times and places. When a single obligately-sexual randomly-mating population is spread over multiple environments that select for contrary traits, they can go a long time without adapting to any of those environments. Will they evolve sub-populations that don't interbreed much? Maybe. Will they do that reliably? Who knows?

Meiotic drive can result in populations that become less fit -- the population size shrinks -- even while individuals with lower survival rates increase in the population. The genes that reduce survival spread through the population even while the population tends toward extinction.


It's hard to find an alternative to the general principle, but that principle can apply in a big variety of ways. Evolution happens a lot, but even in experimental settings designed to watch the evolution of asexual bacteria cloned from a single cell in a rigidly controlled environment, there's a whole lot of room for random changes that keep the result from being very reproducible.

I'm afraid that competing theories for evolution would be a lot like competing theories for statistical mechanics. You might possibly come up with a competing theory for ideal gases, or for actual gases, but your competing theory is going to wind up being a theory that the label "statistical mechanics" will apply to. It would be interesting if somebody could come up with something dramatically different. I haven't been able to imagine a way to do that, though.


You mean like competing theories for neutrinos would look enormously like barely detectable particles carrying away energy? Yeah sure. It's hard to make alternatives to the general principle that when energy apparently disappears, something's carried it away.


I like the way you think. There are technical reasons why the equivalence you make does not really hold, but it's a good line of attack. If you'd like to discuss the details, either here or privately, I'm willing. This has gotten a long way from Kill Hitler.

Science takes the path of least resistance. It's much more reasonable to think there's something yet undiscovered than it is to think that the foundations of our (extremely successful, I might add) physics are wrong.


It's only natural for scientists to take the path of least resistance. Often this has good results. It is not in any way scientific, but real scientists do do it, and it is usually not catastrophic.

You mentioned epicycles earlier on. Guess what, they weren't bad science. The motivations might not have been very pure, but either way, it was a reasonable answer based on the information they had at the time.


It was a failure of imagination. We can't expect people to be imaginative all the time. No point in blaming people for not thinking of new ideas that in hindsight turned out to be useful.

.... Your only argument against neutrinos is that conservation of energy (and thus invariance under time) might not always hold.


I have never made an argument against neutrinos. The neutrino idea has been refined to be compatible with whatever data arrived. My complaint is only that some reasonable alternatives are not getting any attention. I hear three different arguments that this is wrong. The first is that there no possible alternative can fit the data. The second is that alternatives are being continually proposed, but none of them have fit the data yet. The third is that the neutrino theory when expressed mathematically is itself an alternative, that neutrinos do not mean what any layman might think they mean but mean something completely different.

What does your model (if you have one) explain better than the neutrino model? Is it in any way superior? Considering you also have the burden to explain why it's well nigh impossible to create detectable amounts of energy? You'd expect someone would have created a perpetual motion machine by now.


I have no such burden. I would have that burden if I was a physics crank who claimed that all existing models are wrong and I had the right model.

But since you ask, I'm willing to speculate. There's the question what speed neutrinos travel at. I think it might turn out to be lightspeed, because if it's any other speed then varying motion of the source should result in varying arrival times. In the supernova example, the detected neutrinos arrived wihin a few seconds of each other, after traveling well over a hundred thousand lightyears. Tiny differences in speed would add up to considerable smearing out over such a long distance. If it was only a little smearing -- a whole lot of neutrinos got produced at almost the same time, and traveled all at the same speed and arrived in the same distribution they were produced -- then OK, that peak was barely detectable. If they got smeared out, then the very peak might be observable and also the background should be higher than usual for a time before and after that peak. Maybe more data will show the difference between those. Currently neutrino theory is not decided about the speed, whether it's slower or faster than lightspeed.

There's the question whether neutrinos are subject to gravity. You can make a prediction based on theory, but I don't see that there's any data. I haven't noticed that there's data about any fundamental uncharged particle except photons. All the uncharged particles that are known to be subject to gravity are composite ones that contain charges. Could gravity be somehow closely related to electric charge? No good data yet, only theory. I have some trouble imagining gravitons interacting with photons to get the known results, but that's just me. Photons mediate charge, so maybe none of the other fundamental uncharged particles are affected by gravity, or maybe only neutrinos aren't. Or maybe neutrinos are too. So, if neutrinos can just come right out of black holes, that would have pretty big implications. It would mean that black holes aren't quite as black as they are assumed. A lot of theory would need to be rethought. If neutrinos are affected by gravity then likely gravity is separate from charge, which would also be an interesting result. I have no idea how to test the effect of gravity on neutrinos, but something might turn up.

It's possible that the data will turn out incompatible with any neutrino theory, or the neutrino concept might have to be changed enough to require something very different from the standard model. Isn't it too soon to tell about that? Not that my little sketches have any value in themselves. But when the data is not yet available, having a beautiful theory is not truly a good substitute.
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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Jun 11, 2012 1:38 pm UTC

J Thomas wrote:OK. I don't know and you don't know either.
This in no way means your guess (that they have considered zero alternatives) is anywhere near as reasonable as his.

My point was that sometimes people do jump to unwarranted conclusions, and I gave this as an example. If you don't like this example you could use another.
If this is your point, then it's up to *you* to give another example.

Currently neutrino theory is not decided about the speed, whether it's slower or faster than lightspeed.
Theory is definitely decided: they are not faster than light. The one bit of data that looked like they might be has since been resolved.

There's the question whether neutrinos are subject to gravity. You can make a prediction based on theory, but I don't see that there's any data. I haven't noticed that there's data about any fundamental uncharged particle except photons. All the uncharged particles that are known to be subject to gravity are composite ones that contain charges. Could gravity be somehow closely related to electric charge? No good data yet, only theory. I have some trouble imagining gravitons interacting with photons to get the known results, but that's just me. Photons mediate charge, so maybe none of the other fundamental uncharged particles are affected by gravity, or maybe only neutrinos aren't.
This entire paragraph is just more of your ignorance making you think questions are more open than they really are. It's not just because of theory that we think gravity and charge are separate (which is to say, independent at the universe's current energy levels).

And again, unless we find actual data against the belief that gravity curves space (and thus affects every kind of particle), it's not an alternative worth spending time and energy on. Just as "maybe aliens put the fossils there" is not a worthy alternative to evolutionary theory.

So, if neutrinos can just come right out of black holes, that would have pretty big implications. It would mean that black holes aren't quite as black as they are assumed. A lot of theory would need to be rethought.
Hawking radiation is already a thing, so black holes haven't been completely black in theory for nearly 40 years.
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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby J Thomas » Mon Jun 11, 2012 3:03 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
J Thomas wrote:My point was that sometimes people do jump to unwarranted conclusions, and I gave this as an example. If you don't like this example you could use another.
If this is your point, then it's up to *you* to give another example.


Sure, and that's not very closely connected to this wild tangent you are pursuing so intently. Why are you being so antagonistic?

Currently neutrino theory is not decided about the speed, whether it's slower or faster than lightspeed.
Theory is definitely decided: they are not faster than light. The one bit of data that looked like they might be has since been resolved.


Yes, theory is definitely decided that they are not faster than light. There are reputable physicists who have theories that neutrinos are faster than light, but they are not the consensus. The experiment you refer to would put neutrinos only a tiny bit faster than light, which wouldn't make much sense anyway. We'd be hard put to come up with theories to make that seem natural. Most likely if it turned out that way the theory would be revised to show that light normally travels slightly slower than lightspeed. There's still the question whether neutrinos travel at lightspeed or slower than light. Current theory says that they must have mass and therefore must travel slower than lightspeed. I argue that it will probably turn out that they must all travel at very close to the same speed, but this is more in the nature of a bet than a full-fledged theory.

How do you measure their mass? The usual way to measure mass is to apply a force and see how much that force is resisted. But we have no experimental forces that apply to neutrinos, and mostly no way to measure their resistance to natural forces. So we assume the mass of neutrinos by measuring the mass lost when they are created and assuming that is the mass the neutrinos carry away.

The last I heard, when speed of neutrinos gets measured, lightspeed is within the error bounds. A little faster than light is within the error bounds too.

It's not just because of theory that we think gravity and charge are separate (which is to say, independent at the universe's current energy levels).


It's highly conditioned by theory. You sure can't say it's just because of data.

And again, unless we find actual data against the belief that gravity curves space (and thus affects every kind of particle), it's not an alternative worth spending time and energy on. Just as "maybe aliens put the fossils there" is not a worthy alternative to evolutionary theory.


See, this is another example where we disagree about philosophy of science. You have one hypothesis that more-or-less fits part of the data, and you say that there is no point considering any other alternative. Do the people who believe in "gravitons" think that what gravitons do is curve space? Regardless of your theory, it's still true that no uncharged particles have ever been observed to be affected by gravity, except composite particles that are composed of combinations of charged ones. (Isn't it? I suppose I could have missed that news.) And light, which is considered to be the particle that mediates electric force.

If an opportunity comes up to detect whether an uncharged primary particle is affected by gravity, shouldn't that opportunity be taken? You talk like it's important to do the minimum thinking. Ignore any unlikely hypotheses because you think they're unlikely. I say that's completely unscientific, although it happens in science a lot.

So, if neutrinos can just come right out of black holes, that would have pretty big implications. It would mean that black holes aren't quite as black as they are assumed. A lot of theory would need to be rethought.
Hawking radiation is already a thing, so black holes haven't been completely black in theory for nearly 40 years.


Sure, but if the neutrinos can just go right in and right out, that would make a great big difference. Unfortunately, we don't observe black holes being suddenly created or destroyed, so I'm unclear how to tell whether it happens. Maybe someday if the experimental guys get real good at detecting the angles neutrinos come from, they might detect gravitational lensing?
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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Jun 11, 2012 3:33 pm UTC

J Thomas wrote:You have one hypothesis that more-or-less fits part of the data, and you say that there is no point considering any other alternative.
No, I say that there is no point in spending an inordinate amount of time on wacky alternatives like "aliens put the fossils there" or "gravity affects everything in space and time except neutrinos".
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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby J Thomas » Mon Jun 11, 2012 4:58 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
J Thomas wrote:You have one hypothesis that more-or-less fits part of the data, and you say that there is no point considering any other alternative.
No, I say that there is no point in spending an inordinate amount of time on wacky alternatives like "aliens put the fossils there" or "gravity affects everything in space and time except neutrinos".


Oh, OK. That's fine. I completely agree with that. Except, "Gravity only affects charged particles" is not wacky. There's no data that refutes it, as far as I know. It doesn't fit the standard model, but so what?

And it doesn't take an inordinate amount of time to consider it. It would be possible to put in a whole lot of time developing all the details that might go along with a theory like that. But why bother? That would be going way beyond the data. And when we develop complicated theories that go way beyond the data, what good does it do us? Enough to develop competing theories that fit the known data, and use them to help design experiments to test among them.

I started to get the idea maybe you're an engineer. Engineers don't need two theories where one will do. Use one proven theory to design something that will work. Then if you have the luxury of lots of testing, twerk the details to make it work better, because there are always lots of things the theory couldn't take into account. If you don't have that luxury, then overdesign. Use generous safety margins following accepted practice and then run what tests you can in case there night be indications that your structure will fall down.

I've known EEs who used rules built on classical physics, because it worked well enough. Some of them sweared by Maxwell. Others sweared at Maxwell and believed they knew better, and pointed to arguments that his work was worthless. http://www.ivorcatt.com/2804.htm But it doesn't matter whether they passionately believe or disbelieve some scientific or pseudo-scientific theory. It doesn't make much difference so long as scientists ignore them.
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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Jun 11, 2012 5:57 pm UTC

J Thomas wrote:Except, "Gravity only affects charged particles" is not wacky. There's no data that refutes it, as far as I know. It doesn't fit the standard model, but so what?
It's wacky because there is no aspect of modern or classical physics that would allow this to be the case. We'd have to completely rewrite physics, which is stupid to do without any evidence for it.

And it doesn't take an inordinate amount of time to consider it.
Exactly. Which is why it's easily plausible that scientists have indeed considered (and then rejected) literally thousands of alternatives.

I started to get the idea maybe you're an engineer.
Not even remotely close.

But even if you were correct, that doesn't explain all of the other people in this thread who disagree with you. Are they all engineers, too? What about the actual, practicing physicists? Are they also all secretly engineers?

The thing you're missing is that a hypothesis can be rejected without specifically testing for it, and for reasons other than data that explicitly disproves it. This is where occam comes in: the simplest explanation that fits the existing data isn't necessarily the truest one, but it is still to be preferred. "Aliens left their fossils there" and "dead things left their fossils there" both explain the existence and location of fossils, but this doesn't mean we should try to come up with lots of extra experiments specifically to try and distinguish between these two explanations. We can reject the alien one (at least in the sense of deciding not to spend any time on it) because it requires too many additional assumptions to be the preferred theory.
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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby J Thomas » Mon Jun 11, 2012 8:26 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
J Thomas wrote:
The thing you're missing is that a hypothesis can be rejected without specifically testing for it, and for reasons other than data that explicitly disproves it.


Data that implicitly disproves it is OK too. But you have to be careful now much your theory turns into self-fulfilling prophecy.

This is where occam comes in: the simplest explanation that fits the existing data isn't necessarily the truest one, but it is still to be preferred.


It's OK for you to prefer whatever you want to. But when scientists reject hypotheses on esthetic grounds, that's a mistake.

"Aliens left their fossils there" and "dead things left their fossils there" both explain the existence and location of fossils, but this doesn't mean we should try to come up with lots of extra experiments specifically to try and distinguish between these two explanations. We can reject the alien one (at least in the sense of deciding not to spend any time on it) because it requires too many additional assumptions to be the preferred theory.


People used to use fossils to judge the plausibility of evolution. But we've gotten past that now. The evolutionary meme is true by definition. When genes change their frequency in a population, evolution is occurring because that's what evolution is. When a population is in an environment that changes a gene's frequency, the population will evolve because that's what it means for a population to evolve. Given genes that have different fitness in a given environment, the rate of evolution will on average be proportional to the variance in fitness, which itself will tend to be proportional to the variance of the genome. The more variable the genes in the population, the more difference in fitness there will be and the faster the gene frequencies will shift -- resulting in a less-diverse population that can only change slower. In the absence of variance in fitness, populations change by sheer mutation pressure and random loss, plus whatever genetic mechanisms they have available to uncover hidden variability or jigger mutation rates etc.

It's all true by definition, and there is nothing that populations can do that is incompatible with it. It is unfalsifiable because it is not a scientific law but a way to organize our thinking about population changes.

Fossils have a lot of issues. Bony parts tend to reflect an animal's ecological niche. The animals can evolve considerably without changing their bones. And sometimes different climates can result in a degree of morphological change without requiring a genetic change. Paleontologists do their best with what they have. The discovery of fossil DNA will bring some useful improvements on all that, in some cases.

Fossils are a historical thing, like most of geology. Historical questions are in general harder to answer. Like, political scientist could consider the questions, who is likely to think he benefits if a US president is assassinated. Who is likely to actually carry it out? Who in fact does benefit? These sorts of questions can have abstract answers that might tend to fit particular groups at particular time, and over a very long time the validity could be tested. But the question "Was Warren Harding murdered?" is very different. He could be dug up and tested by toxicologists etc, but political scientists might not have a lot of useful data about it.

You can use evolutionary theory to make up JustSo stories about fossils. It can organize your thinking in pleasant ways. You can come up with stories that seem to you to be far better than any competing stories. There isn't going to be a lot of definitive validation.

So OK, fundamentalist Christians can say that the universe was created 6000 years ago with all the fossils in it, that the Devil put the fossils there to deceive people and test their faith. That's a natural argument to make because they study the claims from 1800 years ago that the Devil started previous religions whose god was born of a virgin at the winter solstice and died and was reborn at the spring equinox to redeem the sins of mankind, and the Devil did that to deceive people and test their faith -- he knew how to do it because the Devil can do time-travel or maybe is independent of time like God is. The Devil isn't an additional assumption for them, they've already assumed him. But since the Devil can do anything he wants, this theory is no falsifiable. Christians can use it to organize their thinking.

About aliens, Fred Hoyle proposed a theory of panspermia. He thought life on earth came from elsewhere. That could be. It looks like we got prokaryotes living on earth soon after there was liquid water here. But if you look at the genetic code, it looks like a gray code which was likely evolved. And the details of the code suggest our 20-amino-acid 3-base code may have developed out of a 15-amino-acid 2-base code. And before we even made proteins, we perhaps had life that was based mostly on nucleic acids. RNA can make enzymes, though not as flexibly as protein, and some of our central constructs, for example the structures that read RNA to make proteins, are largely made of RNA that has a lot of little protein modifications. People want to believe that we have had billions of years of prokaryotes with proteins, leaving very little time to evolve everything out of nucleic acids, build a 2-base code, convert it to a 3-base code, and then have a very long time with prokaryotes evolving furiously without much multicellular result. Then suddenly we got eukaryotes and multicellular eukaryotes and here we are. It's plausible that eukaryotes were around for a long time before they showed up in the fossil record, and maybe they were trying out multicellular models for a long time before those got into the fossil record too. But it's possible Hoyle might be right, and prokaryotes might have arrived here soon after they could survive, and perhaps eukaryotes arrived separately. It's a historical question. Possibly we might find some sort of life in comets or something, which might tend to support it.

It isn't really important which theory we believe about the origin of life. There isn't enough data to fill in many details, and what data there is leads to a lot of guesswork. When the evidence is thin, why choose? Maybe aliens brought life here, and then eukaryotic life. Maybe in a reasonably short time we ourselves could design a sort of spore that had a chance to survive a 10,000 year journey to alpha centauri and possibly colonize something when it arrived. Is there something like that already growing here, that very occasionally gets blown into the upper stratosphere and then all the way out? I don't know. Probably a few things.

Lots of things are like that. People are making elaborate theories about the history of the universe based on what must have happened according to the laws of physics, when the laws of physics are not well understood yet. Maybe a bit premature. But it's kind of encouraging that they can come up with something that kind of hangs together, assuming the laws of physics have changed according to a pattern.

OK, so you aren't an engineer. My next guess is something in the humanities.
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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Jun 11, 2012 8:58 pm UTC

J Thomas wrote:Data that implicitly disproves it is OK too. But you have to be careful now much your theory turns into self-fulfilling prophecy.
I think you miss my point, which is that there are reasons to reject certain hypotheses that are completely independent of any observations anyone has ever made. It can be reasonable to reject a hypothesis even if no data has ever been found that explicitly or implicitly disproves it, because fitting with observation is not the only criterion we use to judge explanations.

J Thomas wrote:It's OK for you to prefer whatever you want to. But when scientists reject hypotheses on esthetic grounds, that's a mistake.
I explicitly stated that I'm using "reject" in the sense of deciding not to spend time specifically testing those hypotheses, not in the sense of deciding it couldn't possibly in any way turn out to be true.

As to the rest of your post, with rambling about evolution and fossils: wut?

You seemed to miss the point, so I'll try making it again. When trying to explain the existence and location of fossils, we have (at least) two alternative hypotheses:
1) Aliens painstakingly put each fossil exactly where we discovered it in relatively recent history, making sure it roughly matches the history of life on earth as surmised via genetic and other evidence, making sure isotope ratios correspond to what we'd expect after millions or billions of years, and so on.
2) Fossils are the remnants of living things that died millions or billions of years ago, formed when their organic materials were replaced by minerals that now hold very nearly the same form as the original.

Both of these hypotheses perfectly explain our observations so far (namely the locations and descriptions of fossils). Both of them are in principle testable (1 could be corroborated if we find other evidence of alien visitation, for example, or disconfirmed if we continue failing to find any other evidence, despite reasonably expecting to do so after enough investigation). Both of them make predictions with far-reaching implications for our place in the universe.

And yet any rational person should reject hypothesis 1 out of hand, without ever wasting time devising experiments that would specifically differentiate between hypothesis 1 and hypothesis 2, because hypothesis one is patently absurd (given our other beliefs about the universe) and not worth any serious scientist's time.
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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby Pfhorrest » Mon Jun 11, 2012 9:30 pm UTC

Just a random note on evolution here.

The theory of evolution is not just the idea that succeeding generations of organisms inherit traits from their parents with variations and that some of those variations contribute to fitness to survive in a given environment. That is just an observed fact, which was well known and obvious to people long before Darwin's time. The inheritance-with-variation part is the foundation of much of agriculture (breeding any kind of plants or animals), and the "some things are more fit to survive than others" part is just patently obvious.

That observed fact is to the theory of evolution what the observed fact of apples falling off trees is to the theory of gravity. What Darwin proposed which was novel, and which is the falsifiable prediction of the theory of evolution, is that that mechanism of inheritance with variation, combined with selection from those variations by the natural environment, is sufficient to explain the present diversity of life, without need for any kind of design.

This is why you see Creationists trying to falsify evolution by pointing out things that they claim could not have arisen by that mechanism, such as the eye. Nobody (with half an education at least) denies that that mechanism is in play. What the deniers deny, and what the theory of the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection is all about, is that that mechanism is sufficient to explain all life as we know it, given some initial organism and copious amounts of time; that natural selection is enough to explain the origin of species.
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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby J Thomas » Mon Jun 11, 2012 11:38 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:Just a random note on evolution here.

The theory of evolution is not just the idea that succeeding generations of organisms inherit traits from their parents with variations and that some of those variations contribute to fitness to survive in a given environment. That is just an observed fact, which was well known and obvious to people long before Darwin's time. The inheritance-with-variation part is the foundation of much of agriculture (breeding any kind of plants or animals), and the "some things are more fit to survive than others" part is just patently obvious.


You say it's obvious. But in fact, it is true.

That observed fact is to the theory of evolution what the observed fact of apples falling off trees is to the theory of gravity. What Darwin proposed which was novel, and which is the falsifiable prediction of the theory of evolution, is that that mechanism of inheritance with variation, combined with selection from those variations by the natural environment, is sufficient to explain the present diversity of life, without need for any kind of design.


Darwin and Wallace did propose that. They provided some suggestive anecdotal evidence that tended vaguely to support it. They did not actually have a theory that could make sense of the idea, being stuck with a sort of "blending" inheritance. To my way of thinking, the important part was evolution. The idea that it could account for one particular example, changes in eukaryotic life on earth in the last 200 million years or so, is far less important.

This is why you see Creationists trying to falsify evolution by pointing out things that they claim could not have arisen by that mechanism, such as the eye. Nobody (with half an education at least) denies that that mechanism is in play. What the deniers deny, and what the theory of the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection is all about, is that that mechanism is sufficient to explain all life as we know it, given some initial organism and copious amounts of time; that natural selection is enough to explain the origin of species.


Darwin's approach required vast amounts of time, vast mutation rates, and vast amounts of selection. It turns out that evolution can go much faster and much cheaper because of the way our genetics works. Darwin didn't know that and so his argument was iffy for complicated results. Creationists have a tendency to argue against Darwin as if he was the prophet of evolution, and his work the source document. They tend not to realize that the theory of evolution has itself evolved considerably since his time.
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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby curtis95112 » Tue Jun 12, 2012 1:12 pm UTC

J Thomas wrote:Darwin's approach required vast amounts of time, vast mutation rates, and vast amounts of selection. It turns out that evolution can go much faster and much cheaper because of the way our genetics works. Darwin didn't know that and so his argument was iffy for complicated results. Creationists have a tendency to argue against Darwin as if he was the prophet of evolution, and his work the source document. They tend not to realize that the theory of evolution has itself evolved considerably since his time.


You make it sound like creationists actually read Darwin. And that they're honestly mistaken.

Also, Hoyle's panspermia is kind of a low in his career.

J Thomas, this argument is is spiraling everywhere and nowhere (I am also at fault). Could you give a short summary of your position for us? Just the bare bones, independent of any specific theory or incident. Maybe we can get back to killing Hitler in a short time.
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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby JudeMorrigan » Tue Jun 12, 2012 1:23 pm UTC

curtis95112 wrote:You make it sound like creationists actually read Darwin. And that they're honestly mistaken.

I've certainly met creationists who'll [selectively] quote Darwin. These quotes tend to be presented as gotchas, with the clear implication that if Darwin was wrong about anything, evolution as a whole is bunk. Whether the mistake is honest or not I couldn't say, but they really do seem to act as if they think that scientists consider On the Origin of Species to be Holy Writ.

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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby curtis95112 » Tue Jun 12, 2012 1:39 pm UTC

JudeMorrigan wrote:
curtis95112 wrote:You make it sound like creationists actually read Darwin. And that they're honestly mistaken.

I've certainly met creationists who'll [selectively] quote Darwin. These quotes tend to be presented as gotchas, with the clear implication that if Darwin was wrong about anything, evolution as a whole is bunk. Whether the mistake is honest or not I couldn't say, but they really do seem to act as if they think that scientists consider On the Origin of Species to be Holy Writ.


quoting book =/> having read said book

That being said, I think I did go a bit far saying that. The vast majority of creationists are honestly mistaken. The leadership, on the other hand... And the leadership hand out the gotchas.
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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Jun 12, 2012 1:52 pm UTC

It is pretty funny when they harp on the eye in particular, though, because Darwin himself gave a possible explanation of how that could have evolved, on like the next page after commenting that it might seem like a particularly hard-to-evolve structure.
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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby J Thomas » Tue Jun 12, 2012 2:38 pm UTC

curtis95112 wrote:
J Thomas wrote:Darwin's approach required vast amounts of time, vast mutation rates, and vast amounts of selection. It turns out that evolution can go much faster and much cheaper because of the way our genetics works. Darwin didn't know that and so his argument was iffy for complicated results. Creationists have a tendency to argue against Darwin as if he was the prophet of evolution, and his work the source document. They tend not to realize that the theory of evolution has itself evolved considerably since his time.


You make it sound like creationists actually read Darwin. And that they're honestly mistaken.


I think some of them read Darwin the way they'd read the Koran. It's hard for me to judge their honesty, since they use a different kind of argument, that verges on a different kind of logic. It looks to me like their thinking fits the legal tradition better than the scientific tradition. Possibly that's only because I'm less familiar with legal logic. But what I see is:

1. In science we want to find the truth. In law the intention is to win the argument.
2. In science presenting false data is one of the worst things you can do. In law, it is the opponent's responsibility to show your data is false. If he can show you intended to present false information then each conspirator can be punished for perjury, but first the opponent must prove you knew it was wrong when you presented it.
3. In science there is no need to jump to conclusions. If multiple hypotheses fit the available data, there is no need to choose among them. In law, a jury or judge must make a decision on always-inadequate data, or else the process misfires. I've read that in Scotland there is a possible outcome of "not proven" but that's only Scotland.

If you talk to a creationist in front of an audience, and his goal is to persuade the audience that he is right and you are wrong, and he himself believes that either you are right and he is wrong or else he is right and you are wrong, and he thinks it's OK for him to say anything that furthers his case -- that it's your responsibility to prove him wrong.... If that's the game he's playing, what does it mean for him to cheat at it?

Also, Hoyle's panspermia is kind of a low in his career.


Yes, there's no solid data and there was even less in his time. Today it looks kind of implausible that so very much fundamental evolution would happen so quickly, particularly including the transition from nonlife to self-replicating molecules, followed by the invention of transcription for proteins. That is considerably easier if it happened somewhere else over a longer time. Like, perhaps in some zone around the sun before the planets formed. Or -- somewhere else. But there's no solid data. Still Hoyle was the one who insisted on trying out alternatives to the Big Bang theory, and he got a lot of ridicule for that before they looked hard enough for evidence against it that it could be firmly rejected. Now everybody knows that the Big Bang is true and there is no possible alternative. They mostly knew that before they spent so much effort trying to disprove Hoyle, but eventually they were able to find the proof. Was presenting an alternative to the Big Bang a lower point?

J Thomas, this argument is is spiraling everywhere and nowhere (I am also at fault). Could you give a short summary of your position for us? Just the bare bones, independent of any specific theory or incident. Maybe we can get back to killing Hitler in a short time.


My position on science is that all hypotheses that have not been disproven should be considered tentatively true. Any test that can eliminate some of them is worth doing, no matter how unlikely or ridiculous some people believe those hypotheses are.

If you disagree, then spend ten to twenty hours playing the following card game:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eleusis_%28card_game%29

The dealer makes up a secret rule and doesn't tell anybody. Like for example, red card on black, black on red, plus odd card on even and even card on odd. Then the rest of the players play their cards and the dealer tells them whether each card plays or not. The object of the game is to guess the rule.

In my experience, most players concentrate on choosing cards that will play, and not on choosing cards that tell them the most about what the rule is. So with the above rule, after a few false starts they might settle on

4C 5D 6S 7H 8C 9D 10S JH QC KD 2S

And if at this point somebody plays 4H everybody will laugh at him because they all know the right card to play next is 3H. He should have known that wouldn't play.

If people play around you the way they've played around me, it won't take you 10 hours to see my point. It's a fun game, too.
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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Jun 12, 2012 3:20 pm UTC

J Thomas wrote:Any test that can eliminate some of them is worth doing, no matter how unlikely or ridiculous some people believe those hypotheses are.
In a perfect world, sure. The problem I (and all actual scientists) have with this assertion, though, is that no one has infinite time.

If I can spend my day running a test to distinguish between reasonable hypothesis A and reasonable hypothesis B, or I can run a test that could only distinguish between A and completely ridiculous on par with aliens planting all the fossils hypothesis C, the one that distinguishes between A and B is by far the more useful one to do. Every time.

The unlikelihood of C compared with B means the A/C test is far less likely to provide any new information than the A/B test, so the expected return on my time and effort is much lower for that test than the other. So the burden falls to you to explain why the second test as much worth doing as the first one, despite the lower expected return.
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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby J Thomas » Tue Jun 12, 2012 3:46 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
J Thomas wrote:Any test that can eliminate some of them is worth doing, no matter how unlikely or ridiculous some people believe those hypotheses are.
In a perfect world, sure. The problem I (and all actual scientists) have with this assertion, though, is that no one has infinite time.

If I can spend my day running a test to distinguish between reasonable hypothesis A and reasonable hypothesis B, or I can run a test that could only distinguish between A and completely ridiculous on par with aliens planting all the fossils hypothesis C, the one that distinguishes between A and B is by far the more useful one to do. Every time.

The unlikelihood of C compared with B means the A/C test is far less likely to provide any new information than the A/B test, so the expected return on my time and effort is much lower for that test than the other. So the burden falls to you to explain why the second test as much worth doing as the first one, despite the lower expected return.


What you say makes sense. Particularly for a humanities major.

The problem is, that before the experiment has been done you are not qualified to say which of A B and C are reasonable.

So for example, if somebody were to say that observed violations of conservation laws happened because invisible elves were carrying away everything that appears to be lost, that would seem like a ridiculous idea that would not be worth any testing at all. But when we call the elves neutrinos then it sounds much more plausible.

Do the cheapest, easiest experiment first. That might change your opinion about what experiment is worth doing next.
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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby Radical_Initiator » Tue Jun 12, 2012 4:18 pm UTC

J Thomas wrote:Particularly for a humanities major.


Stop doing this. Please. It's not making your case for you.

J Thomas wrote:The problem is, that before the experiment has been done you are not qualified to say which of A B and C are reasonable.

So for example, if somebody were to say that observed violations of conservation laws happened because invisible elves were carrying away everything that appears to be lost, that would seem like a ridiculous idea that would not be worth any testing at all. But when we call the elves neutrinos then it sounds much more plausible.

Do the cheapest, easiest experiment first. That might change your opinion about what experiment is worth doing next.


The qualification to say that an experiment is, before other evidence, less or more likely to obtain significant results comes largely from experience (as I'm sure others have said). gmalivuk isn't actually saying that he has such qualifications in this specific field; he's merely asserting that others do. And is it foolproof? Not at all. But the matter of resources is not something you should shrug off so lightly. "Do the cheapest, easiest experiment first." In some fields, even the cheapest, easiest experiment is profoundly difficult and expensive (that should be abundantly clear from the talk of neutrinos). And quite often, as experience would point out, the cheapest and easiest experiments are the ones that refute the hypotheses that provide the least new information, that propel us only a minuscule distance toward understanding the truth. Dozens of these tests would be required to make the same headway in understanding that one test of the Standard Model could. If funding were not an obstacle and time were not a constant adversary, your methods would be quite nice to work on. But resources are always limited. Those limitations don't suggest parsimony, they require it.

Also, when you say all competing hypotheses that have not been unproven should be considered tentatively true, should they be considered tentatively equally true? The measure of a scientific model is often in its predictive power. Relativity isn't lauded simply because it refutes the aether. Other ideas could do that. Relativity is lauded because the consequences of it can be tested, and often when they are tested, they are corroborated by the evidence. String theory, on the other hand, gets a bad reputation not because it's not a lovely theory; in many ways, I believe (this isn't specifically my field), it's a mathematically elegant theory that could be correct. But what predictions can it make? Can we test them? If we simply play all day at guessing what a model isn't, we'll never be able to use what a model is.
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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Jun 12, 2012 4:24 pm UTC

J Thomas wrote:What you say makes sense. Particularly for a humanities major.
And all the practicing scientists who would say the same thing? (Math major as well, btw.)

The problem is, that before the experiment has been done you are not qualified to say which of A B and C are reasonable.
No, because no experiment is done in a vacuum, and thus there is always at least some notion of the prior probability of a given thing. Since we haven't encountered any evidence whatsoever for alien visitation, it's irrational to be very confident that that's the correct explanation for fossils.

But when we call the elves neutrinos then it sounds much more plausible.
Yes, in part because we don't ascribe any additional characteristics or make any additional assumptions about neutrinos apart from their energy and momentum. The reason it's more absurd when we call them elves is because that concept carries all kinds of baggage that's completely unjustified by any observation.

Do the cheapest, easiest experiment first. That might change your opinion about what experiment is worth doing next.
Sure, but it would take an awful lot of anomalous results in the reasonable experiments before alien fossils or nuclear elves become the hypotheses most worth testing next.

Radical_Initiator wrote:Stop doing this. Please. It's not making your case for you.
He's convinced I'm trolling him, so apparently sees fit to respond in kind.

Also, when you say all competing hypotheses that have not been unproven should be considered tentatively true, should they be considered tentatively equally true?
This is kind of the crux of the issue. Just as spherical earth and flat earth are false but not equally false, we could say that two hypotheses are "tentatively true" but not equally so. And in fact I'd extend the comparison to say that claiming they are tentatively equally true makes you the wrongest person around.
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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby curtis95112 » Tue Jun 12, 2012 4:28 pm UTC

J Thomas wrote:My position on science is that all hypotheses that have not been disproven should be considered tentatively true. Any test that can eliminate some of them is worth doing, no matter how unlikely or ridiculous some people believe those hypotheses are.


I hypothesize that some blue bottle will be affected by gravity 5% less than other objects of the same mass.
This should be considered tentatively true.
I expect you to measure the acceleration of every blue bottle that comes in your way. After all, it's very cheap and easy to test, and every test rules out one hypothesis (that this specific bottle is affected less).

I'm a bit disturbed by your law-bashing. I'm quite sure that in law, if the data supports multiple hypotheses (guilty and innocent), the decision is "not guilty". Not "innocent", "not guilty". Presumption of innocence and everything. Also, presenting false data is one of the worst things in law as well as science. Of course you have to be caught, and then it has to be proven intentional, but that applies in science too (If you're looking for punishment that is. Again, presumption of innocence.)
In law, the intention is not to "win the argument". No more than in science it is to publish lots of papers in high-impact journals. Individual motivations may vary, but the point is to reliably differentiate the guilty from the innocence. That's how and why the system is set up. Getting well-trained people to try and win, while having a judge moderate their actions is a working system. That doesn't mean the point is to win.

And I'm quite sure Hoyle wasn't ridiculed for proposing the steady state theory. It had quite a number of supporters in its time.
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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby J Thomas » Tue Jun 12, 2012 6:25 pm UTC

curtis95112 wrote:
J Thomas wrote:My position on science is that all hypotheses that have not been disproven should be considered tentatively true. Any test that can eliminate some of them is worth doing, no matter how unlikely or ridiculous some people believe those hypotheses are.


I hypothesize that some blue bottle will be affected by gravity 5% less than other objects of the same mass.
This should be considered tentatively true.
I expect you to measure the acceleration of every blue bottle that comes in your way. After all, it's very cheap and easy to test, and every test rules out one hypothesis (that this specific bottle is affected less).


You hypothesize that there is a single exception, and all you hypothesize about that exception is that it looks like a blue bottle and it is affected less by gravity but has the same mass when subject to other forces. The only way for me to test that is to weigh each blue bottle I find, and also subject it to electromagnetic force, and look for an anomaly. But since the chance is very small that the bottle I test is the one that is anomalous, this is an extremely expensive test.

I tell you what. When I notice empty blue bottles I might sometimes heft them. Sideways versus up and down and see whether I notice a difference. Meanwhile, see if you can find more information about which bottle it is. Maybe you can figure out a way to zero in on the right one, and then if you're right you'll have something real interesting.

I'm a bit disturbed by your law-bashing. I'm quite sure that in law, if the data supports multiple hypotheses (guilty and innocent), the decision is "not guilty". Not "innocent", "not guilty". Presumption of innocence and everything.


So is it innocent until proven guilty, or is it not guilty, not innocent, and no double jeopardy? My point here is that the rules are different from science. You have an obligation to come up with a judgement in a reasonable time even though the evidence is usually inadequate. In science there is no obligation whatsoever to make a conclusion until the evidence supports a conclusion.

Also, presenting false data is one of the worst things in law as well as science. Of course you have to be caught, and then it has to be proven intentional, but that applies in science too (If you're looking for punishment that is. Again, presumption of innocence.)


You could be right. My impression is that it's considered OK to present wrong or irrelevant precedents if you think you can get away with it, and a jury won't know the difference and won't mind but a judge will usually be offended if he thinks you're insulting his intelligence.

In law, the intention is not to "win the argument". No more than in science it is to publish lots of papers in high-impact journals. Individual motivations may vary, but the point is to reliably differentiate the guilty from the innocence. That's how and why the system is set up. Getting well-trained people to try and win, while having a judge moderate their actions is a working system. That doesn't mean the point is to win.


I have the impression that under Napoleonic law all members of the court have the responsibility to find the truth and act on it, but under adversarial law the purpose of the adversaries is to win, and if one adversary simply does a better job of presenting his case that counts for a lot in the outcome.

But I didn't mean to start yet another digression into yet another distantly-related topic. To me it's very much a side issue how idealistic our lawyers are in creating justice as opposed to providing for their customers.
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gmalivuk
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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Jun 12, 2012 6:36 pm UTC

J Thomas wrote:You hypothesize that there is a single exception, and all you hypothesize about that exception is that it looks like a blue bottle and it is affected less by gravity but has the same mass when subject to other forces. The only way for me to test that is to weigh each blue bottle I find, and also subject it to electromagnetic force, and look for an anomaly. But since the chance is very small that the bottle I test is the one that is anomalous, this is an extremely expensive test.
What does probability have to do with it? Weighing an individual blue bottle is cheap, and on your account each of the individual hypotheses (this blue bottle is the unusual one) is worth testing.

By pointing out that testing *all* of them is expensive and time consuming, you're really just making our point for us: testing absurd hypotheses in their entirety is often expensive and time consuming and thus not worth doing. Because the expected informational payoff is so incredibly low compared to the required effort.

Now note, of course, that it's entirely possible to stumble across the alleged anomaly without ever wasting time testing for it. If I happen to be using blue bottles in some entirely unrelated experiment, and notice that one isn't affected by gravity as much as I'd expect, I have managed to confirm the wacky hypothesis without ever wasting time studying it.

And your wacky neutrinos-aren't-real hypothesis is the same way. Discrepancies from how we expect "real" things to behave in situations where we (perhaps mistakenly) believe there are neutrinos can show up without anyone needing to actually seriously test the hypothesis that neutrinos aren't a real thing. Just like apparent velocity discrepancies showed up without anyone wasting time designing a test specifically to determine whether neutrinos might travel faster than light. After that was the correct time to investigate further and try to figure out what was really going on, not before.
Last edited by gmalivuk on Tue Jun 12, 2012 6:43 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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