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 Post subject: The Bind of Science Against Joseph Smith's Visions
PostPosted: Sat Feb 17, 2018 10:41 am 
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This site is a catcher for the claims of Joseph Smith because of the underlying strata of scientific information Smith could not possibly have known, and which is quite apparent to us now. The Quantum physics demonstrates fundamentally that the literalism and "realism" of Joseph Smith's "heavenly visitors" appearing and re-appearing and continually instructing him in so many variegated issues that was on his mind. The part that catches the eye is the desire for the actual "physical" atoms, which are not even real until we make them such through participation and observation. If I remember my quantum reading however, it is not only a conscious observer that forces the reality, but any kind of observer, be it conscious or just an apparatus set up to measure. The key is the measurement, not the consciousness, something apparently Deepak Chopra is caught up in.

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/arc ... ty/479559/

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 Post subject: Re: The Bind of Science Against Joseph Smith's Visions
PostPosted: Sat Feb 17, 2018 11:39 am 
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I believe that Mormonism would die a quick death were it not for family and social pressure as well as the fincial might the church now commands after years of parasitically taking money from its members. There is nothing to it other than some made up state of mind, that is incredibly overpriced. Everything it offers can be had elsewhere for a lot less cost.

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 Post subject: Re: The Bind of Science Against Joseph Smith's Visions
PostPosted: Sat Feb 17, 2018 12:35 pm 
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I think he’s wrong on the physics. I think you are, too. I don’t think it’s correct that atoms don’t exist until we interact with them.

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 Post subject: Re: The Bind of Science Against Joseph Smith's Visions
PostPosted: Sat Feb 17, 2018 12:50 pm 
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If the worst that could be said of Smith's claims was that they weren't quantum mechanical, Mormonism would be fine.

I feel it my duty to warn non-physicists about drawing general conclusions from quantum mechanics. Quantum mechanics definitely does imply, all right, that reality isn't much like what humans experience. In fact it implies that reality is something hard for us to even imagine. And that's the problem.

If a lay person reads something about quantum mechanics, they don't have much choice but to interpret what they read as meaning something they can imagine. If they are told that quantum mechanics contradicts their experience, then they imagine something unlike their experience. In other words, they imagine some fantasy.

But quantum mechanics doesn't differ from our experience by being more like our fantasies. Unreliable as our experience is as a guide to fundamental reality, our experience is still a lot more informed about reality than our fantasy is. So if reading about quantum mechanics makes you reject commmon sense from experience in favor of some wild thing you can imagine, you will actually be farther from the truth than if you had just stuck with experiential common sense.

Unless you're really prepared to learn a lot of math and physics, the best thing I think you can do to revise your world view to take quantum mechanics into account is to put an asterisk at the end of whatever your common sense tells you, and add a footnote that just says, "On atomic scales, things are weird." That's not adequate as a scientific understanding of quantum mechanics, but I really think it's going to be better than anything else you might imagine without getting into the math.

The reason you need the math to do more than that isn't actually that quantum mechanics is so mathematically complicated. It can be insanely complicated, but the startling quantum phenomena like superposition and entanglement and uncertainty can all be illustrated perfectly well with two-by-two matrices. So if you can remember that much math from high school, you can get the straight dope. The problem is that there's no way to translate the simple math into ordinary words that doesn't just sound absurd. Not cool and New Agey but really nonsensical.

So if you don't look at the math, your choices are nonsense or falsehood. If you're up for mutliplication by two-by-two matrices, on the other hand, then you can easily learn just as much about the basic quantum phenomena as I know. If they make sense to you, please let me know.


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 Post subject: Re: The Bind of Science Against Joseph Smith's Visions
PostPosted: Sat Feb 17, 2018 1:46 pm 
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Hi PG. I think you are worrying about a problem that doesn't really exist here, as there are quite a few people who regularly participate who have already "learned quite a lot of math and physics"! Rather than having you feel a "duty to warn non-physicists," it would be great to just hear your thoughts and opinions--we have had some great conversations here related to your field in which physicists and non-physicists alike have participated.
pg wrote:
The problem is that there's no way to translate the simple math into ordinary words that doesn't just sound absurd. Not cool and New Agey but really nonsensical.

I will have to disagree with you quite strongly on this. Threads concerning such topics, including much of the math behind them, come up frequently, and people not only find quite logical and accurate ways to describe the math, but they also manage to have very interesting conversations thereof.

These types of threads have always been favorites of mine; I think you will find that the opportunity to hear from other specialists in various related fields is quite rewarding.
pg wrote:
So if you don't look at the math, your choices are nonsense or falsehood.
Again, I don't agree with that at all, but under the circumstances, how can I disagree with preferring to always look at the math?!!


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 Post subject: Re: The Bind of Science Against Joseph Smith's Visions
PostPosted: Sat Feb 17, 2018 2:49 pm 
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I may well have been over-reacting to Philo Sofee's post.

Lemmie wrote:
Threads concerning such topics, including much of the math behind them, come up frequently, and people not only find quite logical and accurate ways to describe the math, but they also manage to have very interesting conversations thereof.

That sounds great. Can you by any chance link to any of them, or just recall some key words? Searching the forum for "quantum mechanics" doesn't turn up anything that seems based on math. The forum refuses to search for just "quantum" because the word is too frequent. That's a bad sign right there, if you ask me.

I tried a few other likely suspects, like "entanglement", "superposition", "Heisenberg", "Pauli", "Schrödinger". There were a couple of relevant posts on some of these, but the only thing I could really see in them is that DrW seems to be pretty well informed. I didn't find any real discussions of quantum mechanics itself.

If it's a pain to dig up an old post, do you perhaps just remember any interesting content? What is there that one can sensibly say about entanglement?


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 Post subject: Re: The Bind of Science Against Joseph Smith's Visions
PostPosted: Sat Feb 17, 2018 8:02 pm 
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What is there that one can sensibly say about entanglement?

The dualism leads to serious problems while attempting to grasp wholism (the whole) makes more sense, although the logic is four fold instead of three fold, hence the problem of dealing with things holistically and attempting to define something in whole by its part. It's where, I suspect, some of the weirdness in quantum comes from.

In dualism you go with either/or. In Wholism you have no choice but to go with also/and, because contradictions are reconciled in the whole, hence the thinking isn't logical if you are talking about it dualistically. Wholism transcends contradictions to include them into a single unit. It's why it gets mystical sounding, because it's not our everyday experience. At least that's what I have read about trying to describe stuff like this.

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 Post subject: Re: The Bind of Science Against Joseph Smith's Visions
PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 8:52 am 
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In some ways and in a certain sense quantum mechanics does allow things to have contradictory properties simultaneously, like being alive versus dead. But at least as far as I can see, QM doesn't do this by reconciling the contradiction within any larger whole. Dead and alive are still contradictory states, and to the extent that you are one, you cannot be the other. Quantum mechanics just allows you to sit on the fence, in a weird kind of way, about which of the contradictory options to take. The extent to which you are one or the other doesn't have to be all or nothing.

If what you take from that is that quantum mechanics turns every binary question into a continuous spectrum, though, then that's right in one way but in another it's exactly the opposite. Where we expect a continuous spectrum of possibilities, QM gives us digital steps. You can be zero or one, and you can sit on the fence between zero and one; but you can never actually be one-and-a-half, or anything else except exactly one or zero. A quantum pixel can only fence-sit until you actually look at its color. When you do, you always see black or white. There are no shades of gray. That's the "quantum" in quantum mechanics. It doesn't sound so holistic to me.

Maybe learning about quantum mechanics is a bit like earning about Mormonism, if you've never been Mormon. You hear Mormons have no paid clergy, no closed canon of Scripture, and a wide range of accepted beliefs; so you get the idea they're a free-wheeling group that is all about rejecting authority.

Would you ever be wrong. Well, ideas about quantum mechanics that you get from reading popular books can be wrong like that, too, even if what the books actually say is not wrong.

What does it mean for logic to be four fold or three fold?


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 Post subject: Re: The Bind of Science Against Joseph Smith's Visions
PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 9:18 am 
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Physics Guy wrote:
Maybe learning about quantum mechanics is a bit like earning about Mormonism, if you've never been Mormon.


I very much doubt this. But I'm open to reading about how Mormonism is as opaque to the layperson as quantum mechanics. Please make your argument.


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 Post subject: Re: The Bind of Science Against Joseph Smith's Visions
PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 10:56 am 
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pg wrote:
Well, ideas about quantum mechanics that you get from reading popular books can be wrong like that, too, even if what the books actually say is not wrong.

:rolleyes: Well I suppose your reliance on the wholly inadequate search function here may have led you to believe that popular books are the only source people here use, but you would be wrong. Feel free to recommend more robust reading, it would be great to have some recommendations from your field.
pg wrote:
That sounds great. Can you by any chance link to any of them, or just recall some key words? Searching the forum for "quantum mechanics" doesn't turn up anything that seems based on math. The forum refuses to search for just "quantum" because the word is too frequent. That's a bad sign right there, if you ask me.

It's a sign that the search function is weak, because quite a few ordinary words inserted into the function come back as "too frequent." It's a bad sign that you thought it was unique to the word quantum, if you ask me. :wink:

And no, I won't do a search for you, :rolleyes: but I will teach you how. Go to google, put in your search terms, and follow it with "site:mormondiscussions.com". Alternatively, if you really need to use the search function here, try putting an asterisk within a word, in place of a single letter, such as "quan*um," making sure that the asterisk placement doesn't allow a short word to form. For example, replacing "grandson" with "gran*son," will result in the "son" part registering as a separate word and skew your search. Also, I've noticed that recently, the search function here seems to limit its responses to posts made only within the last year or so. I know other fora are sometimes explicit that in-house searches will only be done within that timeframe, perhaps it is an element of php code.


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 Post subject: Re: The Bind of Science Against Joseph Smith's Visions
PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 11:03 am 
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Morley wrote:
Physics Guy wrote:
Maybe learning about quantum mechanics is a bit like earning about Mormonism, if you've never been Mormon.


I very much doubt this. But I'm open to reading about how Mormonism is as opaque to the layperson as quantum mechanics. Please make your argument.

He could have a point. Maybe it's not quite to scale in comparison, but that milk before meat, lyin' for the Lord approach could be working better than we thought.


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 Post subject: Re: The Bind of Science Against Joseph Smith's Visions
PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 11:10 am 
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Lemmie wrote:
pg wrote:
That sounds great. Can you by any chance link to any of them, or just recall some key words? Searching the forum for "quantum mechanics" doesn't turn up anything that seems based on math. The forum refuses to search for just "quantum" because the word is too frequent. That's a bad sign right there, if you ask me.

It's a sign that the search function is weak, because quite a few ordinary words inserted into the function come back as "too frequent." It's a bad sign that you thought it was unique to the word quantum, if you ask me. :wink:

And no, I won't do a search for you, :rolleyes: but I will teach you how. Go to google, put in your search terms, and follow it with "site:mormondiscussions.com". Alternatively, if you really need to use the search function here, try putting an asterisk within a word, in place of a single letter, such as "quan*um," making sure that the asterisk placement doesn't allow a short word to form. For example, replacing "grandson" with "gran*son," will result in the "son" part registering as a separate word and skew your search. Also, I've noticed that recently, the search function here seems to limit its responses to posts made only within the last year or so. I know other fora are sometimes explicit that in-house searches will only be done within that timeframe, perhaps it is an element of php code.

Quickly checked out Lemmie's 'wildcard method' with the search string < quan*um > and came up with 109 matches (without specifying an author).

So there 's that.

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 Post subject: Re: The Bind of Science Against Joseph Smith's Visions
PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 11:32 am 
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To offer a slightly different opinion, I appreciated Physics Guy's first post in the thread and thought it did a good job explaining the common problems that come from trying to make sense of QM intuitively without the math. I'm reminded of a podcast where Sean Carroll was discussing QM with the host who had recently invited Laurence Krauss on to talk about big picture science-y stuff. Each time the host offered up his own intuited understanding of Krauss' attempt to deconstruct complex ideas into symbols that anyone could grasp Carroll would patiently point out that not only was it wrong to think of it that way, but essentially echo what Physics Guy was pointing out - we're not wired for QM and what we are wired for makes us leap to inaccurate conclusions. The math isn't a step up into more discrete and fine-grained understanding, its the only understanding we have. And even very smart, informed people are prone to fall back into the trap of interpretation. Outside of Physics Guy, DrW, perhaps Chap and lemmie I'm not sure who is really on top of the subject from what I've read and I've been here a while.

That said, to lemmie's point it probably wouldn't hurt to offer up an example or source that expands on the better way to use the math to get to a better understanding. I think most of us know we're dummies but want to take the edge off of flying the dummy flag to high in public. :)

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 Post subject: Re: The Bind of Science Against Joseph Smith's Visions
PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 12:00 pm 
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I think it might help if Philo went back and edited his first post. I think there is at least one line of his thoughts that doesn't exist because it is not being observed.


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 Post subject: Re: The Bind of Science Against Joseph Smith's Visions
PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 12:01 pm 
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I think most of us know we're dummies but want to take the edge off of flying the dummy flag to high in public. :)

:lol: Ain't that the truth! I've never read so much hermeneutics and philosophy in my life as when I came here and started reading threads on such topics. When posters like MrStak, Kish, Symmachus and DrW get going it can take hours to get through a thread (to my great delight, I might add). And that is just a few of the names from whom I have learned a great deal. That's what is great about our forum, though. We are all dummies who admit it, but who are happy to share our tiny little corners of interest.


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 Post subject: Re: The Bind of Science Against Joseph Smith's Visions
PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 12:01 pm 
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huckelberry wrote:
I think it might help if Philo went back and edited his first post. I think there is at least one line of his thoughts that doesn't exist because it is not being observed.

:lol:


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 Post subject: Re: The Bind of Science Against Joseph Smith's Visions
PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 1:57 pm 
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honorentheos wrote:
To offer a slightly different opinion, I appreciated Physics Guy's first post in the thread and thought it did a good job explaining the common problems that come from trying to make sense of QM intuitively without the math. I'm reminded of a podcast where Sean Carroll was discussing QM with the host who had recently invited Laurence Krauss on to talk about big picture science-y stuff. Each time the host offered up his own intuited understanding of Krauss' attempt to deconstruct complex ideas into symbols that anyone could grasp Carroll would patiently point out that not only was it wrong to think of it that way, but essentially echo what Physics Guy was pointing out - we're not wired for QM and what we are wired for makes us leap to inaccurate conclusions. The math isn't a step up into more discrete and fine-grained understanding, its the only understanding we have. And even very smart, informed people are prone to fall back into the trap of interpretation. Outside of Physics Guy, DrW, perhaps Chap and lemmie I'm not sure who is really on top of the subject from what I've read and I've been here a while.

That said, to lemmie's point it probably wouldn't hurt to offer up an example or source that expands on the better way to use the math to get to a better understanding. I think most of us know we're dummies but want to take the edge off of flying the dummy flag to high in public. :)


I thought this source was pretty good for us laypeople: https://www.amazon.com/How-Teach-Quantu ... B002ZJCQT2 It's called "How to Teach Quantum Physics to Your Dog."

I've read a fair amount about Quantum Physics, but I've never wanted to do the math myself. I learned matrix arithmetic 40 years ago and haven't used it since. It's always worked for me to simply accept that, at the sizes of subatomic particles, the universe doesn't operate by the same rules as it does when we talk about trains or snakes. It will be cool if someday I get a super fast quantum computer on my desktop, but quantum physics doesn't tell me anything important about how I would interact with such a computer.

I got in an argument about pilot wave theory with a buddy a couple of weeks ago. He announced that pilot wave theory resolves everything spooky about quantum mechanics. His big attraction to the theory was that it "made sense" to him. I kept asking him why the universe was required to "make sense to Derek." He didn't really have an answer.

I have a brain that evolved to are a really good hunter-gatherer on the plains of Africa, where it was important to analyze things like lions, where the game animals were, and were I could find water. It seems silly to expect the universe to conform to what "makes sense" to that brain when we are talking about portions of the universe that I can't observe.

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 Post subject: Re: The Bind of Science Against Joseph Smith's Visions
PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 2:24 pm 
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On some level, the universe has to make sense to you because that is the only way you can have knowledge of it. Your choices are between incomprehensible madness and coherence. That's not to say every aspect of the universe will submit to coherent explanation, but that you have no choice but to optimistically act like it will. It's also not to say that counter-intuitive things can't be true. They can, but they ultimately must make sense to be believed.


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 Post subject: Re: The Bind of Science Against Joseph Smith's Visions
PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 2:52 pm 
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But isn't the issue here about more than mere belief or coherence? That it's about utility and the predictive power of understanding? And that QM sits in one of those places where it's often misused to make claims about the universe beyond belief to lend an air of scientific support to otherwise unsupportable claims on the grounds it makes sense to someone while propping up some preconception they have about life, the universe and everything? And in that sense what Res said is on point in that most of us lack the need to understand QM to get through an average day even if modern 21st century tech makes use of it. I don't imagine the numbers are impressive when it comes to the percentage of people who could accurately describe the mechanisms involved in making a toilet flush, yet thank goodness that isn't mandatory to making use of one. Yet I'd bet the percentage of people who wrongly think they know how a toilet works is probably shocking highly.

Point being, there seems to be a healthy third option to coherence and incomprehensible madness (or a subset of coherence, perhaps) that includes accepting we should be skeptical of our own explanations. Especially when they are running counter to the direction of expert opinion or the main body of specialists in a given field. Maybe there are a gifted few blessed to naturally carry the tools needed to grasp and synthesize accurate world modeling into their existing thinking but most of us aren't made that way.

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 Post subject: Re: The Bind of Science Against Joseph Smith's Visions
PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 3:41 pm 
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EAllusion wrote:
On some level, the universe has to make sense to you because that is the only way you can have knowledge of it. Your choices are between incomprehensible madness and coherence. That's not to say every aspect of the universe will submit to coherent explanation, but that you have no choice but to optimistically act like it will. It's also not to say that counter-intuitive things can't be true. They can, but they ultimately must make sense to be believed.


I disagree. You know what makes no sense to me at all: the speed of light. My hunter-gatherer brain has zero experience with something that has a maximum speed limit. It has no experience with things that contract in length as they go faster. With things that get heavier as they go faster. With time that slows down as I speed up. My brain wasn't built to comprehend all that.

I've worked through the math. I've read lots of books. I can assume the speed of light as an absolute limit and then do the math for all of the results listed above. But the limit itself makes no sense to me. It just is.

My inability to make sense of an absolute limit on speed doesn't leave me with incomprehensible madness. I can simply acknowledge that there is no law of physics that says "everything in the universe must be comprehensible to Res Ipsa."

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 Post subject: Re: The Bind of Science Against Joseph Smith's Visions
PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 3:42 pm 
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honorentheos wrote:
But isn't the issue here about more than mere belief or coherence? That it's about utility and the predictive power of understanding? And that QM sits in one of those places where it's often misused to make claims about the universe beyond belief to lend an air of scientific support to otherwise unsupportable claims on the grounds it makes sense to someone while propping up some preconception they have about life, the universe and everything? And in that sense what Res said is on point in that most of us lack the need to understand QM to get through an average day even if modern 21st century tech makes use of it. I don't imagine the numbers are impressive when it comes to the percentage of people who could accurately describe the mechanisms involved in making a toilet flush, yet thank goodness that isn't mandatory to making use of one. Yet I'd bet the percentage of people who wrongly think they know how a toilet works is probably shocking highly.

Point being, there seems to be a healthy third option to coherence and incomprehensible madness (or a subset of coherence, perhaps) that includes accepting we should be skeptical of our own explanations. Especially when they are running counter to the direction of expert opinion or the main body of specialists in a given field. Maybe there are a gifted few blessed to naturally carry the tools needed to grasp and synthesize accurate world modeling into their existing thinking but most of us aren't made that way.


Yeah, that's pretty much how I think about it.

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