Politics, God and Religion vs. Science

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Messages 12841 - 12860 of total 22369 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Mar 26, 2013 - 02:49pm PT
How far down the line can we predict the outcome? Where might the model fail, and why? Where are the limits of probabalism?

The question as stated is meaningless because it presumes an unattainable 100% accuracy rate.


What's meaningless is your assumption that I was hoping for a 100% accuracy rate.

Put differently, at what point down the line would prababilism cease to provide meaningful (i.e., useful) results. You could interpret this many ways, but if probable conclusions could be drawn from antecedent factors - do this and that happens a majority of the time - it's hard to imagine this wouldn't be useful.

JL
Ward Trotter

Trad climber
Mar 26, 2013 - 03:48pm PT
It holds that in the absence of certainty, probably probability is the best criterion

I am assuming the quote above is probably the more or less working definition of probalism.?

Since the absence of certainty is probably the status quo condition of the human mind, probalism appears to be one of the main features of human experience and of exploration of the physical world.
Probability thinking works fairly well in that context...probably most of the time. Just ask stockbrokers and poker players.

In science. Same thing.
A prediction is put forth in the form of a theory , then tested, and if the prediction holds , then an element of certainty has been determined. That percentage of the result which remains undetermined becomes addressed in the next series of theories and tests.(that is , if the grant money hasn't run out)
Of course there are implacable uncertainties that seemingly cannot be overcome.
Perhaps the condition of uncertainty is built into the universe. The sine qua non of all that exists. (That last line is better spoken in a reverb echo chamber)

Hitherto , biological life , including humans, have only been able to carve out little arenas of apparent certainty. Maybe this is what life is: these organisms munching there way to and from reliable certainties, surrounded by a mostly implacably uncertain universe. Lol.


jstan

climber
Mar 26, 2013 - 04:25pm PT
The future is, in a number of ways, pretty clear.

People and their behaviors are fairly malleable. I don't have to talk about corporate spending on marketing campaigns, the reliance political parties place on fear and anger to lock down the minds of supporters or on the importance Jefferson gave to public education. You just have to look at the great success rate we have with toilet training children. Only a very few of us are 17 year old rock climbers. There the toilet training rate is lower than average, but hey. No one is perfect.

Human behavior is what is termed an "extrinsic variable." Such variables respond in concert with other factors. Like the pressure in a volume of gas depends upon the number of moles, and the temperature. In many ways we are like a gas and we become even more so as our density increases. We undergo ever more frequent collisions with each other, making anger an increasingly salable emotion.

(Emotion is welded at the hip to the desire for survival. When you have put people into an emotional state, they become your slave.)

What about the future? Jeff Hawkins tells of a conference he attended devoted to study of the brain. There were 36,000 attendees, all working on the brain. We did not even need to know about Obama's recently announced Federal initiative to understand the brain better, to know that this area of study will become an order of magnitude larger than was the voyage to the moon. Perhaps two orders larger. And don't forget that we now can gather data showing all the sites people are visiting on the internet. And that companies know exactly to whom to direct their advertising. In future a great deal more will be known as to why people do what they do,

We can't quantify human behavior?

We are already.

Edit:
Perhaps the condition of uncertainty is built into the universe.

When you look at how the quantum is becoming more and more at the center of nature, you have to see the trend. We humans love certainty as we feel it assures our personal survival. We have contempt for animals because we have certainty and they don't.

The universe does not have a to do list with us anywhere on it.

We need to get comfortable with that.
cintune

climber
The Utility Muffin Research Kitchen
Mar 26, 2013 - 04:25pm PT
Funny how these things pop up at the most appropriate times:

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2013/03/brain-scans-predict-which-criminals-will-reoffend/
Ward Trotter

Trad climber
Mar 26, 2013 - 04:51pm PT
We can't quantify human behavior?

We are already.

I don't think there is anything new here. The examples you have alluded to: the high-tech tracking of data on people to ascertain their motives and inclinations, is merely a new and glitzy form of what had transpired in earlier periods.

Business and political leaders use to automatically determine the state of mind of the great unwashed masses long before modern communications. They were able to do this because of a greater uniformity of habits , attitudes, morals, and racial and ethnic identity in any given region.

Now human societies are much more diverse and multifarious ,lacking in the same predictable uniformity and continuity. This inchoate state of affairs is leading to an increased use of high tech means of tracking the public.
This tracking is carried out by the usual suspects : those with vested interest in knowing what
their fellows humans are up to. Even scientists, with no apparent ambition for world domination , are spending late nights dialing- in the populace.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------


We humans love certainty as we feel it assures our personal survival. We have contempt for animals because we have certainty and they don't.

I think that certainty is hard wired into living things, especially if they possess a nervous system capable of storing information.
A lizard knows his fly meal is more certain if he remains motionless. This probability calculation is hard wired into the lizard's DNA.
With other animals it usually .takes the form of a learned behavior. A bear usually learns from its mother that where there is a buzzing sound, or sweet smell, there Is a probable certainty of some honey.
Certainty is the meat of living things. Success is built upon certainty. Certainty is a repeating variable. It is always sought after.
Uncertainty is usually feared and avoided.
Humans appear to be the only animal overly preoccupied with uncertainty, real or imagined.
Don Paul

Big Wall climber
Colombia, South America
Mar 26, 2013 - 04:51pm PT
cintune that's very interesting but I don't like the way the researchers framed the study. They make the inmates do a test that measures their ability to control their impulses. Then they measure brain activity in a center of the brain I dont know about, the anterior cingulate cortex. More activity means more control. So far so good. But then they want to predict whether prisoners will commit more crimes after they are released. So they have a second correlation between impulse control and recidivism. So they want to prove that they can do a brain scan and tell whether a person will commit a crime. I dont like this idea at all since the application would be very unfair. Sorry, we can't let you out of jail just yet, according to your medical exam, you're still too impulsive.

By the way if anyone doesn't know about the interplay between the frontal cortex and the amygdala, it's interesting to read about. The amygdala is the reptilian, Homer Simpson part of the brain, and the frontal cortex is the part that reins it in. This other thing, the anterior cingulate cortex, I had never heard of.

Update/edit: I couldn't resist googling this, and got this from wikipedia: "A widely publicized study by the University College London demonstrated a correlation between larger development of the ACC and left political orientation versus larger development of the amygdala in right political orientation."
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Mar 26, 2013 - 05:22pm PT
We can't quantify human behavior?

We are already.


And because quantifying leads to predicting outcomes, in the scientific model, it follows that behavior is predictable. Some "hard" physicalists might even say that if we had all the relevant data, we could predict a person's behavior down to the smallest nuance.

We can't do it yet, so the question becomes - moving up from the quantum to the meta, where do our predictions start to crumble, and do they crumble because the measurements are no longer relevant past a certain level of complexity, or is it just a momentary set back in the data stream, that once we get the required figures, the game is ON.

I have to chuckle at the absurdity of this later belief, knowing that whoever proposes it has never had a GF or a wife - or a husband as it were.

But seriously, another way to put this question is: where does the intrinsic (basic nature) end and extrinsic begin.

"Intrinsic characteristics are those which an object has by its very nature, regardless of its situation or circumstances. Extrinsic characteristics are those which an object has solely in relationship to other objects and/or its environment.

For example, a person may be intrinsically male, but extrinsically an engineer."

Hard physicalist might say that the extrinsic is simply an unknown intrinsic value, for the lack of sufficient data. For if we really had all the facts and figures on the "male," we could predict him being an engineer since we live in a strictly mechanistic and determined world, with that side order of chaos and randomness (which are themselves intrinsic factors??).


JL
MH2

climber
Mar 26, 2013 - 07:06pm PT
In many ways we are like a gas


And if everyone, or say 80% of us, would please own and carry a cell phone a modestly powerful computer could keep track of our positions and momenta. Such information has been collected and studied and a person's day-to-day behavior is alarmingly predictable.

Malemute

Ice climber
the ghost
Mar 26, 2013 - 07:58pm PT
In many ways we are like a gas
Brownian motion / Drunkard's walk
BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Mar 26, 2013 - 08:17pm PT
Some "hard" physicalists might even say that if we had all the relevant data, we could predict a person's behavior down to the smallest nuance.

Name one. Just one who isn't a crank.

You have always been hostile to science and quantifying things, John. Study of things that can only measured qualitatively IS useful.

There are a number of chaotic, turbulent, and non-linear systems which cannot be solved repeatedly. This doesn't mean that the description is not useful. It can be incredibly useful. There are other things that we don't qualify at all, such as happiness. That is your realm I assume.

You go on and on with this, John (By the way, my name is Mark, and most of you know it), hammering it in as if quantitative study is the only way to accomplish anything, but that is not the case.

Political campaigns break every logical rule in the book, but are quite effective. Steering the masses towards an untrue future is a refined science now. Your little jabs at quantitative science, which you usually slip in as the first sentence, is nothing more than a strawman, and you should know better. The truth is the truth. There is no reason for you to attack science in that manner. It degrades the level of discourse.

Just look at all of the lies that we believed about going to war in Iraq. Do you think that if everyone had put their critical thinking caps on, asked for better proof, that we would have gone to war? I hope not.
Malemute

Ice climber
the ghost
Mar 26, 2013 - 08:20pm PT
There is no reason for you to attack science in that manner
He does it, so he must have a reason.
Perhaps he is afraid of death.
Norton

Social climber
the Wastelands
Mar 26, 2013 - 08:24pm PT
Just look at all of the lies that we believed about going to war in Iraq. Do you think that if everyone had put their critical thinking caps on, asked for better proof, that we would have gone to war?

yes, we still would have invaded Iraq

because a totally informed population does not make any legislation or war decisions

we are a Representative Democracy, and Bush/Cheney were determined to invade Iraq, regardless of whether the public believed their justifications or not

making some ME people "pay" for 9/11 was their agenda and Iraq was the chosen vehicle
BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Mar 26, 2013 - 08:24pm PT
It bugs me. It is often framed in an ad-hominem or strawman fashion.

He also feels free to insult people.

If we frame this as even a semiformal debate, we should all obey the rules, and if not, explain why.
cintune

climber
The Utility Muffin Research Kitchen
Mar 26, 2013 - 08:26pm PT
Sorry, we can't let you out of jail just yet, according to your medical exam, you're still too impulsive.



Good point.
BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Mar 26, 2013 - 08:32pm PT
Cintune,

Neuroscience is just now getting the tools to examine the brain in function.

Some things can be statistically shown. There is nothing wrong with probability as long as you describe your methods. Political Polls, for example, are useful but rarely precise. If something becomes useful, it will go into the quiver until something better replaces it.

As for neuroscience, now that we have the tools to probe for answers, people are studying all sorts of things. Like anything new, it will probably take a while and some refinements to be truly accurate.

The problem is that we don't have a practicing neuroscientist here, or at least nobody has stood up to comment.

Some things can be directly connected to anatomy. Some things cannot. For the moment.
jogill

climber
Colorado
Mar 26, 2013 - 08:42pm PT
Corgi Goes For A Hike


Undisputed qualia . . .


;>)
Paul Martzen

Trad climber
Fresno
Mar 26, 2013 - 08:53pm PT
From a large scale perspective, human behavior is exactly predictable and we are all exactly identical. We are born, we live for awhile and then we will die, all the while contained to the earth. Like ants scurrying on the ground, from a distance we are impossible to distinguish one from another.

When we look close enough, then we start seeing differences in behavior and personality between one person and another. Maybe we could see similar differences if we looked close enough at ants, or bacteria, or bolts in a box. From a small scale perspective there can be large differences between one bolt and another within the same batch. Thus testing a sample of bolts can be important. Now I am not saying you are all a bunch of bolts....some of you.....

At a personal scale we have to be unpredictable to a certain extent. One we would be totally bored if we were exactly predictable. Two, as carnivores we try to predict the behavior of other animals so that we can eat them and enslave them. We try to be unpredictable to those who might eat or enslave us. At least, I think that is part of the deal. Think of the famous characters who were assassinated more easily because they had predictable routines.
Norton

Social climber
the Wastelands
Mar 26, 2013 - 09:05pm PT
well,

I am going to have neuro surgery in 14 days

on my spine, two hour procedure to remove enough of a vertebra to make room for a nerve that is being pushed on and causing me constant pain

and yes, I am damn thankful that science deals in tested truths and no BS and will help me

I have to say that it angers me to hear people denigrate "science" as somehow lacking because it does not concern itself with the subjective, the spiritual, etc


and after reading and reading everything I could get my hands on about the "spiritual", I still have to say, "where is the beef"?

science rules, my spine says so, and no amount of trained mind control makes the pain go away
WBraun

climber
Mar 26, 2013 - 09:15pm PT
Only ignorant men with poor fund of knowledge think "science" is independent from God .......
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Mar 26, 2013 - 09:21pm PT
BASE (Mark), I don't think your reading comprehension is that sharp, or else you gloss over things without thought or consideration. I have never attacked science. Only scientism as a "favored nation" kind of approach, as if any one mode of inquiry has an exclusive on truth. The curious part of this is that people skilled with facts and figures rarely grasp this, and you end up with Freymanesqe snide quips at other camps based on caricatures and cartoon version of same.

You insist that only a crank would claim that probabilism, if fully informed by ALL the relative data, can predict human behavior or other things. But probalism works wonderfully in all kinds of ways. My question was pretty basic: Where, exactly, does it start to break down, and why? We all know about non-linear, chaotic and random factors, so this cannot so easily be explaind away as all that.

The thing that is not being copped here is that a ground-up physicalist is basically a determinist. That means there for all physical realities there is ALWAYS, at least in theory, a predictable, linear series of eventualites that preceeded the arising of any and all things. Of course it is not neat and tidy and simplistic as cascading dominoes, but in this model, nothing arises that is totally disconnected either the past of the linear sequence itself. Things can topple in from the side but there are physical things or forces and the result and connection are clear. We don't see singularities in the middle of a sequence anymore than we see someone striking a match and producing water, say, or cotton candy. What follows from dragging a sulpher tipped match across a striker is a flame, and the sequence is linear and clear.

Now, taking this a step further, a physicalist will insist that experience is itself a physical process. My contention is that if this is as advertised, and if as a hard physicalist/determinist and you are sticking with a bottom-up model of how things arise, then you can hardly say that human behavior lies outside the realm of your physicalist/determinist mode. It follows from this that if we had all the data, we COULD predict human behavior.

Mark says this is crackpot, but what he fails to do is to show why hard physicalism/determinism fails somewhere, as it must if the predictions themselves fail. Cintune made the same error is insisting that any expectation for 100% accuracy was a meaningless part of inquiry, while providing no insight why this is so beyond the standard non-linear, chaos, randomness rap, which might make a priori predictions impossible, but a linear sequence would appear, the thinking goes, should we reverse engineer things after the fact. Al the way down, says physicalism/determinism, key things would be connected in some manner of a linear chain, meaning at no time could you trace the appearence of water back to the matchstick. If water showed up it would be owing to the kid with the hose.

So in this light maybe the question is: what exists in the physical world (including experience) that after the fact, you cannot reverse engineer to antecedent causes or factors?

JL
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