0799: "Stephen Hawking"

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Aster Selene
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Re: "Stephen Hawking" discussion (#799)

Postby Aster Selene » Thu Sep 30, 2010 1:42 am UTC

Now that I think about it, the next comic is #800.

EVERYONE. GO PREPARE.

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Re: "Stephen Hawking" discussion (#799)

Postby Kyrn » Thu Sep 30, 2010 2:38 am UTC

jc wrote:
kingworks wrote:So, aside from the 'central core of mathematics,' Theoretical Physics sounds a lot like a religion.


Actually, there's a major difference. If some experimentalists find ways to test current theories of Theoretical Physics, and find violations of those theories, the physicists will shrug, and start developing theories that take the new observations into account. This is what happened with the Michelson-Morley experiments, for example, leading to Relativity and Quantum Mechanics.

If some experimentalists were to find exceptions to the theories of major religions, however, the results would be different. The religious people would hunt down the the experimentalists, jail or kill them, then hunt down all their publications and destroy them. They wouldn't develop new theories; they'd do everything in their power to suppress and exterminate the supporters of competing theories.

If we want a better world, we're probably better off following the scientific approach than the religious approach. Thus, thousands of years of religious "development" never produced any cures for diseases, improved crops, central heating, etc. It only took a few centuries of science to produce such improvements in our lives. If we want our descendants to live better lives, it's obvious who has the better record of delivering improvements.

Historically, the main effect that religions have had is to deliver misery to most of the population. And they're done this on the authority of their God, without even presenting any evidence that such a God exists.


I have one thing to say. When religious people are using the scientific method in determining what the bible is saying, WTF are you all complaining about? Some of us are trying to convince others that the Bible isn't accurate, without curbfootstomping on their beliefs that the bible reflects reality (which is why you can't dismiss the bible outright, just as you can't dismiss past experimental evidence outright unless you can figure out what might have went wrong and what it means).

For relevance, this whole argument stems from some of us trying to relate the Bible to current believed history of the Universe, so I'm relating this point back to that. If you are going to argue otherwise, there is no argument here, I believe that if you are just going to throw away our current knowledge of the history of the Universe, then you are wrong, regardless of it being religion or science. (And yes, there are scientists who ignore newfound evidence in the past as well.)

Sofie wrote:You don't need to be an expert on astrology, flat earth theory etc to disbelieve it. The burden of proof is on the one with the crazy idea, everyone else has better things to spend their time on.


Alternatively, one can consider everything true until proven false, just as one is considered innocent until proven guilty. If there is no reason to disbelieve it, then why disbelieve it?
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Re: "Stephen Hawking" discussion (#799)

Postby FourTael » Thu Sep 30, 2010 3:17 am UTC

My sister came by the other day and she talked about what people called "teapot agnostics". Basically, there MAY be a teapot orbiting Saturn.

Here's the thing, though: 100 years ago: Gravity may cause curvatures in space-time.

Seriously, the problem with disbelief is that it makes you stop looking. Think about how close the Theory of Relativity was to not being proven.

Science is perfect and ideal. Scientists are not.

(For the record, I say the same thing about religion and the religious)

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Re: "Stephen Hawking" discussion (#799)

Postby Sofie » Thu Sep 30, 2010 3:39 am UTC

Disbelieving =/= disproving, if you think "obviously it doesn't make sense to me" is a valid reason for disregarding an idea, then quite frankly you're neither a scientist nor a philosopher. You're some guy talking out of his ass.
Technically you can't disprove anything. There's no evidence or reason for God existing, and (depending on how you define God / religion) it's not self-consistent either. By those, God makes as much sense as Santa Claus. You don't need to know the names of his reindeer to know that reindeer can't fly, couldn't possibly reach all the kids without time travel, and looks awfully like your parents anyway. Feel free to try explaining them, but you're adding complexity to an already overly complex theory, which usually doesn't work very well.
By the way, crazy is one of those things that are absolutely relative. Since overall, the percentage of atheists is ~5-30% depending on the specific country and source of information, burden of proof still rests on the atheists.
And there's plenty of good reasoning for why God doesn't exist.
Alternatively, one can consider everything true until proven false, just as one is considered innocent until proven guilty. If there is no reason to disbelieve it, then why disbelieve it?
Because it's useless, and some people might make bad choices based on that false belief. I'd rather not try tailoring my life to please a billion different deities :lol:

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Re: "Stephen Hawking" discussion (#799)

Postby Aster Selene » Thu Sep 30, 2010 3:55 am UTC

Guys.
Seriously.

This is getting ridiculous.

I personally think both sides are being stupid, even the side I would normally take the side of (oh god tautology).

In my opinion, the people here arguing that science and religion are mutually exclusive are bugging me the most.

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Re: "Stephen Hawking" discussion (#799)

Postby psyEDk » Thu Sep 30, 2010 4:07 am UTC

MJZimmer88 wrote:MAAAAATT DAMONNNN


this.
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Re: "Stephen Hawking" discussion (#799)

Postby Arariel » Thu Sep 30, 2010 4:15 am UTC

Kyrn wrote:Alternatively, one can consider everything true until proven false, just as one is considered innocent until proven guilty. If there is no reason to disbelieve it, then why disbelieve it?

Please tell me I'm not the only one who thinks this logic is horribly flawed.

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Re: "Stephen Hawking" discussion (#799)

Postby FourTael » Thu Sep 30, 2010 4:21 am UTC

Aster Selene wrote:In my opinion, the people here arguing that science and religion are mutually exclusive are bugging me the most.


Just thought I'd point this out. Also this.

So, yeah. Seriously. Just thought I'd help you out there. Of course, I'd probably help out most if I just didn't argue about this anymore.

And so I won't!

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Re: "Stephen Hawking" discussion (#799)

Postby Aster Selene » Thu Sep 30, 2010 4:23 am UTC

FourTael wrote:
Aster Selene wrote:In my opinion, the people here arguing that science and religion are mutually exclusive are bugging me the most.


Just thought I'd point this out. Also this.

So, yeah. Seriously. Just thought I'd help you out there. Of course, I'd probably help out most if I just didn't argue about this anymore.

And so I won't!


THANK YOU FOR UNDERSTANDING.

Seriously, people are just ignoring me and continuing with the pointless argument…

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Re: "Stephen Hawking" discussion (#799)

Postby Kyrn » Thu Sep 30, 2010 5:05 am UTC

Sofie wrote:And there's plenty of good reasoning for why God doesn't exist.

There is no way to prove God doesn't exist. Reasoning means nothing without proof, as any scientist would tell you.

Sofie wrote:
Alternatively, one can consider everything true until proven false, just as one is considered innocent until proven guilty. If there is no reason to disbelieve it, then why disbelieve it?
Because it's useless, and some people might make bad choices based on that false belief. I'd rather not try tailoring my life to please a billion different deities :lol:


Religion provides a purpose in life. Science does not. Religion differentiates between "good" and "bad", Science does not. Just as some people might make bad choices based on Religion, some people might also make bad choices based on Science. Just as some people might make good choices based on Science, some people might make good choices based on Religion.

Not to mention Religion doesn't force you to please a billion different deities. Christianity for instance only ask you to please one.
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Re: "Stephen Hawking" discussion (#799)

Postby Aster Selene » Thu Sep 30, 2010 5:12 am UTC

-sigh-

Please...don't make me force my mega-rant in my way of trying to get you guys to stop. Because the next person is going to say that there is proof that God doesn't exist and the next person is going to say that said proof is unusable for some reason and it's going to start all over again.

Just...stop it.

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Re: "Stephen Hawking" discussion (#799)

Postby JohnofArc » Thu Sep 30, 2010 6:01 am UTC

Aster Selene wrote:-sigh-

Please...don't make me force my mega-rant in my way of trying to get you guys to stop. Because the next person is going to say that there is proof that God doesn't exist and the next person is going to say that said proof is unusable for some reason and it's going to start all over again.

Just...stop it.

I'm tempted to say it just to see what your mega rant would be

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Re: "Stephen Hawking" discussion (#799)

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Sep 30, 2010 6:12 am UTC

Arariel wrote:
Kyrn wrote:Alternatively, one can consider everything true until proven false, just as one is considered innocent until proven guilty. If there is no reason to disbelieve it, then why disbelieve it?

Please tell me I'm not the only one who thinks this logic is horribly flawed.

The way it's stated yes it is obviously horribly flawed. However, I think Kyrn was gesturing somewhere in the right direction: one can (and I argue, should) take all beliefs as justified unless there are reasons against them. I already argued this at length in the Atheists thread so I'll try to be more brief here:

Someone has some belief. You disagree with that belief. Can you show that person any reason why their belief must be false? This is more than showing that their supposed reasons for their belief are unsound; that just shows that it isn't certainly true. Defending against their argument "for" is not necessarily the same as successfully landing an argument "against".

If you have no good arguments against, then (as far as either of you know) their belief is justified. That doesn't mean that you have to believe what they believe. Just like the failure of their argument "for" doesn't prove their belief false, neither does lack of successful argument "against" prove their argument true. You're just back to the default state: both their belief and your disbelief are justified, until one of you can successfully argue counter to the other person's beliefs (which, again, is more than merely diffusing the other's arguments).

In other words, it makes sense to assume all beliefs are epistemically possible (but contingent) until they are show to be certainly true or false.


On the more general subject of whether "science" and "religion" are at odds with each other, that depends greatly on what you mean by both "science" and "religion".

* If you mean by both "science" and "religion" some particular bodies of factual claims, then they are often prima facie at odds; but since the religious "facts" are so interpretable, and scientific "facts" change so often, you might be able to eventually massage the two bodies of claims together into something consistent with each other. Or maybe not. I don't much see why you would want to bother trying. This seems to be what the conversation here is focused on.

* If you mean by "science" the domain of inquiry concerning what is true or real and by "religion" the domain of inquiry concerning what is good or moral, then the two are clearly orthogonal to each other and so not in conflict because they are not putting forth answers to the same types of questions. However, this distinction is problematic because many religions make plenty of factual claims, and there are plenty of non-religious ethical systems which make normative claims. So unless you want to call the story of how the primordial deities Apsu and Tiamat mingled their waters at the creation of the world "science", and a utilitarian account of felicific calculus "religion", this distinction doesn't really work.

* If you mean by "science" a method of critically evaluating mathematical models of reality on the basis of their correspondence to empirical observations, and by "religion" a method of evaluating answers to questions of what is true or good by appealing to faith, authority, or tradition, then yes, the two are very much at odds. The scientific method is by its very nature critical: it does not accept appeals to faith at all, as an appeal to faith is tantamount to "I can't give you a reason, it just seems true to me" (which isn't much of an appeal to anything at all); and it accepts appeals to authority or tradition only inasmuch as those authorities or traditions are backed by some kind of reasons beyond faith themselves (in which case, it's really only accepting appeal to those reasons, by proxy). This distinction leaves out something which we don't have a nice simple name for: non-religious, critical investigation into moral questions, which is neither science per se nor religion, but it's on the same "side" as science in being opposed to the defining characteristic of religion: appeals to faith.
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Re: "Stephen Hawking" discussion (#799)

Postby Aster Selene » Thu Sep 30, 2010 6:43 am UTC

I mean "science" as an application of the fundamental laws of the universe (as in, say, the topics covered in Stephen Hawking's books) and "religion" in the sense of in what sense it influences and provides a backstory for this world. As in, whether one can accept both faith in a deity and follow the rules of physics/logic at the same time.

But enough of that.

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Re: "Stephen Hawking" discussion (#799)

Postby ijuin » Thu Sep 30, 2010 7:07 am UTC

Monika wrote:
The1exile wrote:A friend of mine went to a formal dinner where someone pennied stephen hawking's soup. I don't exactly condone that behaviour, but I nevertheless doff my cap to that man (and his descendants, now banned for 100 years).

He did what with a penny and Hawking's soup? Image

Pennying somebody's soup is not a common custom where I was raised. Can anybody give a more detailed description of what it entails beyond simply putting a penny into someone's soup?

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Re: "Stephen Hawking" discussion (#799)

Postby Aster Selene » Thu Sep 30, 2010 7:09 am UTC

ijuin wrote:Pennying somebody's soup is not a common custom where I was raised. Can anybody give a more detailed description of what it entails beyond simply putting a penny into someone's soup?


I tried some google-fu and I can't find it; maybe it's not what we think it is. Google returns nothing for (with quotes) "pennying soup".

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Re: "Stephen Hawking" discussion (#799)

Postby littlelj » Thu Sep 30, 2010 8:22 am UTC

ijuin wrote:
Monika wrote:
The1exile wrote:A friend of mine went to a formal dinner where someone pennied stephen hawking's soup. I don't exactly condone that behaviour, but I nevertheless doff my cap to that man (and his descendants, now banned for 100 years).

He did what with a penny and Hawking's soup? Image

Pennying somebody's soup is not a common custom where I was raised. Can anybody give a more detailed description of what it entails beyond simply putting a penny into someone's soup?

AHEM.

If you "penny" somebody's something, typically their drink, they are obliged to down it in one. This is a British tradition (and specifically Oxford where Hawking was an undergraduate and Cambridge where he is a professor) where you are preventing the Queen (whose face is on the penny) from drowning in the wine. It's like a loyal toast.

Rules of pennying vary between institutions. Typically, however:
(1) one is not permitted to cover one's glass
(2) a glass can only be pennied when its owner is touching it
(3) if you penny a glass that already has a penny in it, you have to drain it yourself

Pennying non-alcoholic things varies also. In my era a pennied plate of food, esp pudding (AmEng: dessert), had to be eaten without cutlery, whether it be cake (easy), ice cream (hard) or creme brulee (virtually impossible). I have seen a phaal pennied. Painful!

So pennying Hawking's soup means obliging him to eat it either without cutlery, or all in one go. Either way, brave beyond brave!! Formal dinner ("hall") is a proper Harry-Potter-style gowned occasion with Grace in Latin (sometimes sung, depending on the college and the occasion) and waiters.

If you Googled "penny soup" or "pennying soup" you would not have found this - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pennying - which would have given you a clue.

Edited for piss-poor formatting.
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Re: "Stephen Hawking" discussion (#799)

Postby Aster Selene » Thu Sep 30, 2010 8:34 am UTC

Ah. Well, being an American, I'd never have guessed that ^^

I find whomever did that to be both cruel and brave.

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Re: "Stephen Hawking" discussion (#799)

Postby markfiend » Thu Sep 30, 2010 8:38 am UTC

FourTael wrote:I can't answer them because they do not apply. Again, you do not know enough about religion to be debating religion. The fact that you asked those questions proves that because those questions do not apply.

The fact that you can't (or won't) answer is telling. Why do the questions not apply? That doesn't make sense.

What do you mean when you say "god" and why should I believe in one?
FourTael wrote:Edit: Perhaps a better way of stating it would be this: Why is it that light is unaffected by external factors? Your question falls along the lines of that question, only in a different subject.

Light is not unaffected by external factors. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravitational_lens
JohnofArc wrote:Uh, woah. Calm down

OK, yeah, I deserved that. :mrgreen: I will try.
JohnofArc wrote:However, you can't disprove the concept of theism, or even more specifically the idea of god, by individually attacking simple stories, mostly since things like genesis 1-10 are not universal to theism.

Fine. So you're retreating to "I believe in a god that you can't disprove". While on the other hand other believers (not on this thread) are saying "my god doesn't want gay people to get married or for women to have abortions." Now I do not want to argue the pros and cons of either gay marriage or abortion in this thread, but believers in general can't have it both ways.
JohnofArc wrote:(the ontological argument, the argument from design, pascal's wager, the pragmatic argument, etc...)

The ontological argument fails because it's just playing silly word-games. It's a circular argument that could equally be applied to Santa Claus.
The argument from design, well, which particular version do you mean? If it's from biological design, Darwin knocked that one over 150 years ago. If it's some kind of "fine-tuning of universal constants" argument, you need to demonstrate that life (in its broadest sense) would be impossible under any other circumstances.
Pascal's Wager is easily defeated. What if you pick the wrong god? It also assumes that god wouldn't see through your ruse: "WHAT, YOU ONLY BELIEVED IN ME JUST IN CASE YOU WENT TO HELL FOR NOT BELIEVING? KABLAMM!" Furthermore, it assumes that belief is a voluntary act, that one can simply "decide to believe", which is not the case.
The pragmatic argument may (or may not) demonstrate the rationality of theistic belief, but has nothing to say on the actual existence of a deity.

This is the problem as I see it:

When forced to defend god-beliefs to atheists, believers generally retreat to the kind of god that is not amenable to disproof -- Spinoza's god for example -- but when you've retreated that far you may as well admit that what you're calling "God" is what everyone else is calling "the Universe" and just have done with it. But hey, if you want to deify the universe, knock yourself out, and for what it's worth I do have some sympathy for this position.

But at the same time, you have other believers saying that their god makes specific demands of people, even of people that don't share the god-belief.

This is why I'm trying to get theists to defend their position coherently. What does "god" even mean? And why should I take the concept seriously when believers can't even agree among themselves about what it's supposed to be? Once we've got that straight, then (and only then) we can move on to questions about what such an entity (assuming, for the sake of argument, that it exists) might want from humanity.
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Re: "Stephen Hawking" discussion (#799)

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Sep 30, 2010 9:25 am UTC

Aster Selene wrote:I mean "science" as an application of the fundamental laws of the universe (as in, say, the topics covered in Stephen Hawking's books) and "religion" in the sense of in what sense it influences and provides a backstory for this world. As in, whether one can accept both faith in a deity and follow the rules of physics/logic at the same time.


Science does not apply the fundamental laws of the universe; it seeks to discover them. The laws of physics (and logic even more so) apply themselves, to everything, always, and with irresistible authority. If anything ever violates some principle that was called a law of physics (or logic), that just means it wasn't really a law, because those kinds of laws by their nature cannot be broken. That would be, by definition, impossible. The laws of physics define physical possibility and the laws of logic define logical possibility. So obviously everybody, religious or not, faithful or not, theistic or not, "follows the rules of physics/logic".

That aside, your phrase "in what sense [religion] influences and provides a backstory for this world" is unclear to me. It sounds like you're defining religion as the social phenomenon, of people congregating in churches and reading the Bible and singing praises to God and all that, maybe the social welface function it provided. In that's the case, let me ask you this. My friends and I use to have these weekly get-togethers (on Sunday no less) where we would talk about the latest books or academic (i.e. scientific) articles we had read, discuss and debate various philosophical or scientific issues, sing karaoke and listen to nerdy music (including the likes of M.C. Hawking)... and a lot of the folks who came to this were pretty poor kids who didn't eat well, so those of us who were better off would buy food enough for the whole party, and after befriending these people, try to help them out in life, get them enrolled at the community college or things like that. Most of us were atheists. Would you call our group a religion?

There's another, similar thing that still happens, though I don't go to this (people smoke there and I can't stand smoke). Once a week again (though this is on Mondays), a house nearby the local university buys rice and beans enough to feed a house full of people up to capacity, invites anyone who wants to come, and people sing, play instruments, rap, read poetry, tell stories or jokes, and generally entertain, comfort, and take care of each other. There's not the philosophical/educational element that my old gathering used to have, but still. Would you call that a religion?
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Re: "Stephen Hawking" discussion (#799)

Postby amodelqueso » Thu Sep 30, 2010 1:10 pm UTC

Maybe they just misunderstood his inflection when he said -- wait, I feel bad for that one a bit.

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Re: "Stephen Hawking" discussion (#799)

Postby estysoccer » Thu Sep 30, 2010 1:40 pm UTC

I really appreciate this comic, because it goes to show that, technically, argument from authority ("Because HE said so!!!") is really the weakest form of argument among humans.

But in theology it is the strongest form. God CANNOT lie simply because a lie would would be a weakness and there is no weakness in God. Pretty interesting...

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Re: "Stephen Hawking" discussion (#799)

Postby Afrael » Thu Sep 30, 2010 1:48 pm UTC

FourTael wrote:My sister came by the other day and she talked about what people called "teapot agnostics". Basically, there MAY be a teapot orbiting Saturn.

For reference, that would be Russell's teapot. See also the article about the only true goddess, may her hooves never be shod.

My favorite part is the one about the dragon. Our physics teacher was the first who I heard about it from.

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Re: "Stephen Hawking" discussion (#799)

Postby jc » Thu Sep 30, 2010 2:09 pm UTC

Kyrn wrote:Religion provides a purpose in life. Science does not. Religion differentiates between "good" and "bad", Science does not..


Which is all the reason one needs to choose science and reject religion. History shows clearly that the primary "purpose" that religion provides is an excuse to oppress, torture and kill other people. Yes, religion may have beneficial effects on a few people's private lives; I've known a few people for which this seems to be true. A few religious people even work at beneficial public charities. But the overwhelmingly visible effect of religion is the ongoing social disasters perpetrated by followers of religion on other people.

This tends to be true even with the religious operations that are on their face beneficial. Thus, religious medical ministries tend to perform short-term good such as mitigating diseases. But they also usually block access to birth control, which in the longer term serves primarily to maximize the number of people who are poor, hungry, sick and miserable. Then they beg for more support to help those people, deny them birth control, and your contributions make the problem still worse. So, while the religious claim to choose "good", their actions usually show that they've chosen "bad".

If you seriously study the actual history of religions, you won't want to have anything to do with them.

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Re: "Stephen Hawking" discussion (#799)

Postby markfiend » Thu Sep 30, 2010 2:50 pm UTC

Kyrn wrote:I have one thing to say. When religious people are using the scientific method in determining what the bible is saying, WTF are you all complaining about?

That there's no point. There's so little point of contact between the mythology and the science that you have to massively distort one or the other to make them fit. It holds up to no serious scrutiny. As I kept repeating earlier in the thread, the account in Genesis 1 says that plants were created before the Sun...

Or am I misunderstanding you? Are you saying that people have used the scientific method to analyse the Old Testament? Sure, biblical scholars using source criticism have proposed various mechanisms of its formation. The Documentary hypothesis is one mainstream view of the provenance of the documents that come down to us today.

But if you open that can of worms, you get a different set of theists alleging literal Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch. :sigh:
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Re: "Stephen Hawking" discussion (#799)

Postby michael24easilybored » Thu Sep 30, 2010 3:22 pm UTC

joee wrote:
glasnt wrote:HI JOEE


HAPPY BIRTHDAY CRACK BOOM GLASNT

Poor Stephen Hawking. This comic makes me sad. No one will go see a movie with him


I used to work in the Vue Cinema in Cambridge and I can confirm that Stephen Hawking has lots of people to go see movies with. He also utters a few mild swear words when someone has left a load of rubbish bags in front of the disabled lift, which to be honest is quite amusing to hear someone of his stature say :)

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Re: "Stephen Hawking" discussion (#799)

Postby DorkRawk » Thu Sep 30, 2010 4:59 pm UTC

Kyrn wrote:Alternatively, one can consider everything true until proven false, just as one is considered innocent until proven guilty. If there is no reason to disbelieve it, then why disbelieve it?


This is aptly known as the Argument From Ignorance (argumentum ad ignorantiam, if you want to sound even smarter and Latinyer) and is a well known logical fallacy.

This type of thinking tends to quickly loose favor with religious types who soon realize that it makes Flying Spaghetti Monsterism just as valid as their own belief system.

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Re: "Stephen Hawking" discussion (#799)

Postby Rackum » Thu Sep 30, 2010 6:48 pm UTC

DorkRawk wrote:
Kyrn wrote:Alternatively, one can consider everything true until proven false, just as one is considered innocent until proven guilty. If there is no reason to disbelieve it, then why disbelieve it?


This is aptly known as the Argument From Ignorance (argumentum ad ignorantiam, if you want to sound even smarter and Latinyer) and is a well known logical fallacy.

This type of thinking tends to quickly loose favor with religious types who soon realize that it makes Flying Spaghetti Monsterism just as valid as their own belief system.


That's not quite true. It is similar to the argument from ignorance but there is a subtle, yet important, difference. Kyrn's position does not necessitate that any idea not proven false must be true while the argument from ignorance is the assertion that something is necessarily true because it has not been proven false.

Unless I've misunderstood his position, in which case you would be correct.

Edit: On a side note, it seems there are those in this thread that are using the other form of the argumentum ad ignorantiam in declaring that something must be false because it has never been proven true. Just an observation.

But back on topic ... I'd go see a movie with Stephen Hawking and then we'd go get drunk and pick up women after it was over. I bet he's a badass wingman.

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Re: "Stephen Hawking" discussion (#799)

Postby tesseraktik » Thu Sep 30, 2010 6:53 pm UTC

michael24easilybored wrote:I used to work in the Vue Cinema in Cambridge and I can confirm that Stephen Hawking has lots of people to go see movies with. He also utters a few mild swear words when someone has left a load of rubbish bags in front of the disabled lift, which to be honest is quite amusing to hear someone of his stature say :)
That's actually very refreshing; many of us try to hide our natural reactions for fear of appearing vulgar, and yet Stephen Hawking makes a conscious effort to curse every now and then!
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++$_ wrote:What's a "degree"?

EDIT: I looked it up on Wikipedia. Apparently it's some ancient Babylonian unit for angles :/

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Re: "Stephen Hawking" discussion (#799)

Postby Aster Selene » Thu Sep 30, 2010 8:08 pm UTC

I left to go to school and I came back and you're all back to arguing again.

Seriously. No matter what point you make, the other will counter it, and it will just go on. Why can't you all accept you're wrong to some degree and forget trying to state your point that Christianity is stupid and wrong and nonsensical or that atheists are elitists who can't accept religion no matter what?

You're just making each other more pissed off.

On the other hand, movie with Hawking - I'd kill for that.

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Re: "Stephen Hawking" discussion (#799)

Postby ircmaxell » Thu Sep 30, 2010 8:23 pm UTC

jc wrote:The history of science is full of examples that might help explain that. For instance, consider the "luminous (a)ether" theory of how light works. Aside from the name and a cursory description, this theory is no longer taught outside history-of-science classes. It was discarded when Einstein published his papers.

You sometimes read that Einstein showed that the ether doesn't exist, but this is inaccurate. What he really showed was that the ether is unnecessary to explain the behavior of light. This is similar to the observation that science doesn't disprove the existence of any god or gods; it merely shows a way of understanding the universe that works better than any of the religious theories that have tried to explain the universe. So, by Occam's Razor, both the ether and God should simply be ignored as irrelevant.

Actually, not quite (based upon my understanding). Einstein proved that there are no special reference frames. Aether requires a special reference frame by its very definition. So by implication Einstein proved that aether can't exist (for if it did, it would be a preferred reference frame and hence violate --and accordingly disprove-- Special Relativity).

jc wrote:It's easy to understand why people might take the same attitude towards understanding religious theories. A cursory glance shows that this would soak up a lot of one's lifespan to reach any understanding. And it would add little if anything that's actually useful in our world, since what testing we can do of religious theories (e.g., the creation myths) shows that those parts are always badly wrong. Given our finite lifespan, the obvious approach is to dismiss religion as not worth the effort to learn in detail. If the testable parts are so badly wrong, the obvious heuristic is to dismiss the whole thing as probably equally wrong, and ignore it.

I must say, that's a great summary of the viewpoint... It's politically neutral, and gets the point across why a fair number of intelligent people dismiss organized religions...

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Re: "Stephen Hawking" discussion (#799)

Postby tesseraktik » Thu Sep 30, 2010 8:40 pm UTC

ircmaxell wrote:Actually, not quite. Einstein proved that there are no special reference frames. Aether requires a special reference frame by its very definition. So by implication Einstein proved that aether can't exist (for if it did, it would be a preferred reference frame and hence violate --and accordingly disprove-- Special Relativity).
Couldn't you just do something akin to what Lorentz did, and claim there is an aether and that things [measuring rods and light clocks very much included] get contracted as they move through it due to aetheric weirdness? I doubt the end result would be pretty, but it doesn't seem impossible.
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++$_ wrote:What's a "degree"?

EDIT: I looked it up on Wikipedia. Apparently it's some ancient Babylonian unit for angles :/

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Re: "Stephen Hawking" discussion (#799)

Postby markfiend » Thu Sep 30, 2010 8:47 pm UTC

Aster Selene wrote:I left to go to school and I came back and you're all back to arguing again.

Seriously. No matter what point you make, the other will counter it, and it will just go on. Why can't you all accept you're wrong to some degree and forget trying to state your point that Christianity is stupid and wrong and nonsensical or that atheists are elitists who can't accept religion no matter what?

You're just making each other more pissed off.

But.. But... But... Someone is wrong on the Internet! ;-)
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Re: "Stephen Hawking" discussion (#799)

Postby ircmaxell » Thu Sep 30, 2010 8:53 pm UTC

tesseraktik wrote:Couldn't you just do something akin to what Lorentz did, and claim there is an aether and that things [measuring rods and light clocks very much included] get contracted as they move through it due to aetheric weirdness? I doubt the end result would be pretty, but it doesn't seem impossible.


Well, that would imply that there's a universal reference frame...

Think about this thought experiment:

You're sitting at perfect rest with respect to the aether. You watch a car drive towards you at about 0.9c. You notice the length contraction. To you, it's due to the aetheric weirdness...

But now look at the viewpoint of the person in the car. To them, they are sitting still and you are moving towards them at 0.9c. So to them, your length must be contracted (otherwise Special Relativity doesn't hold). But you're at rest with respect to the aether and therefore don't have any aetheric weirdness causing anything to happen to you.

So therefore there are only one of two possibilities. Either there is no aether and hence no special reference frame, or Special Relativity is wrong...

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Re: "Stephen Hawking" discussion (#799)

Postby bmonk » Thu Sep 30, 2010 9:46 pm UTC

I would reply, but in response to recent pleas, I will refrain.
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Re: "Stephen Hawking" discussion (#799)

Postby tesseraktik » Thu Sep 30, 2010 9:55 pm UTC

ircmaxell wrote:
tesseraktik wrote:Couldn't you just do something akin to what Lorentz did, and claim there is an aether and that things [measuring rods and light clocks very much included] get contracted as they move through it due to aetheric weirdness? I doubt the end result would be pretty, but it doesn't seem impossible.


Well, that would imply that there's a universal reference frame...
It would imply that there's a universal reference frame, but it wouldn't give us a means of distinguishing it, or - for that matter - any reason for distinguishing it. To quote Wikipedia: "Today [Lorentz ether theory] is often treated as some sort of "Lorentzian" or "neo-Lorentzian" interpretation of special relativity. The introduction of length contraction and time dilation for all phenomena in a "preferred" frame of reference (which plays the role of Lorentz's immobile aether), leads to the complete Lorentz transformation. Because of the same mathematical formalism it is not possible to distinguish between LET and SR by experiment. However, in LET the existence of an undetectable ether is assumed and the validity of the relativity principle seems to be only coincidental, which is one reason why SR is commonly preferred over LET. Another important reason for preferring SR is that the new understanding of space and time was also fundamental for the development of general relativity."

So, really, there are two arguments against LET:

1) Occam's razor
2) Special relativity led to the development of general relativity, which has in turn beenincredibly successful

However, Occam's razor doesn't actually disprove anything; it's just a handy rule of thumb, so that doesn't disprove LET.
As for the second argument: You might be able to retcon a theory of gravitation based on aetheric weirdness that is not experimentally distinguishable from general relativity, and in which LET holds as an approximation in whatever the aether equivalent of flat space-time would be; I just don't think anybody has bothered to try it, as they expect it would be a lot of work that wouldn't really lead anywhere.

ircmaxell wrote:Think about this thought experiment:

You're sitting at perfect rest with respect to the aether. You watch a car drive towards you at about 0.9c. You notice the length contraction. To you, it's due to the aetheric weirdness...

But now look at the viewpoint of the person in the car. To them, they are sitting still and you are moving towards them at 0.9c. So to them, your length must be contracted (otherwise Special Relativity doesn't hold). But you're at rest with respect to the aether and therefore don't have any aetheric weirdness causing anything to happen to you.

So therefore there are only one of two possibilities. Either there is no aether and hence no special reference frame, or Special Relativity is wrong...
The person in the car would actually think I was contracted, due simply to the fact that his/her light clocks would contract due to aetheric weirdness to a factor of sqrt(1-v2/c2) its rest length, giving rise to the same amount of time dilation as in special relativity. Then, when he or she measured me using light pulses and their own clocks, they'd be all "Whoa; he's contracted!"

Archaic science - It works, bitches!
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++$_ wrote:What's a "degree"?

EDIT: I looked it up on Wikipedia. Apparently it's some ancient Babylonian unit for angles :/

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Re: "Stephen Hawking" discussion (#799)

Postby Mazuku » Thu Sep 30, 2010 9:57 pm UTC

I find it fasinating that a thread about Stephen Hawking just wanting to go the pictures with some friends but they assume he was making some profound statement instead and just run off to tell people about it turned into a theology vs science thread.

The moral of the story?
Steven needs to upgrade his text to speech equipment BADLY!
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Re: "Stephen Hawking" discussion (#799)

Postby dirtydanwojo » Thu Sep 30, 2010 9:58 pm UTC

Hey, guys?


Why do we care how the universe was formed? What practical use would we have for that information?

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Re: "Stephen Hawking" discussion (#799)

Postby Aster Selene » Thu Sep 30, 2010 10:20 pm UTC

Reading A Briefer History of Time might help this argument - Hawking discusses this issue in detail.

Edit elaboration: The physics one, not the religious.

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Re: "Stephen Hawking" discussion (#799)

Postby Kaijyuu » Fri Oct 01, 2010 1:00 am UTC

I went "aww :(" at the comic.

Somehow this thread is even more pitiful and sad.
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