Prayer Partner
  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by mererdog

  1. Of course. I have made that point several times in this thread. Being skeptical of skepticism is good. It is easy to become unwilling and/or unable to see new information about a subject fairly. It is hard to realize that it has happened to you. The urge to think of ourselves as fair and open-minded makes it painful to look at our prejudices directly. I often have to remind myself that I do not know that Bigfoot does not exist. I simply habe a strong opinion that is not directly contradicted by the evidence that has been available to me up to this point.
  2. So, what I am actually doing is discussing applied epistemology. I am talking about the limits of knowledge, the difference between opinion and fact. Far from attempting to justify what is not there, I am warning against the dangers of using lack of knowledge to justify belief that something is not there. I am a proponent of doubt. I am a salesman for lack of certainty. This is the skeptical position, which is my default position on most subjects. Moral issues are my skeptical blind-spot.
  3. Well, that's just it. Either the placebo was not a placebo, or there was some other factor involved. As such, simply crediting the placebo would prevent learning the actual cause. As an example, I saw a study where fake acupuncture was more effective at pain management than actual acupuncture. Digging into the details, I find that the difference is most easily attributed to patient expectations produced when signing consent forms. The fake acupuncture recipients were given a long list of fake potential side-effecfs for the treatment, while the recipients of the real acupuncture were not. Not only were they more likely to think their treatment was effective, but they were more likely to think they needed to quit the study early due to the fake acupuncture giving them dry mouth. By understanding that the placebo is not the cause, we have the opportunity to learn how to get the desired effect without the placebo.
  4. You were replying to me. I said knowledge. You now say you weren't talking about the same thing as me. And this is my bad?
  5. A placebo has no therapeutic effect. If it works, its not a placebo. If an actual placebo seems to work, it is because of some other variable. The reason this matters is that isolating the variables that are producing the desired results is how we refine our treatments to make them more effective.
  6. If I can be wrong to believe Mutt and Jeff while not believing the Bible, does that not suggest that you can be wrong to believe the Bible but not the Qur'an? If we accept as a given that belief based on subjective experience is inherently problematic and leads to many incorrect beliefs, how can we justify any certainty in such beliefs? In other words, since we know that witness testimony has led to many false imprisonments, why do we still imprison people based on witness testimonies? I think the answer is that we tend to think of this stuff as someone else's weakness. "I discern. You jump to conclusions." "I spot lies. You reject truths."
  7. This is not accurate. Placebos don't "work." The placebo effect is a measure of the difference between correlation and causality: people getting better due to something other than the given treatment, like natural remission cycles. And large scale meta-analysis has consistantly shown the effect to be way smaller than the number you used.
  8. Well, no. Not all experience is reproducible, thus not all knowledge is verifiable. It can be proven to me without me being able to prove it to you. Even if I am a scientist. Additionally, the fact that research has not been published does not prove it does not exist, nor does the fact that I do not know something has been published prove it has not been published. Bottom line: Ignorance proves nothing. To use lack of information as a basis for inference is simply a bad idea.
  9. The fundamental flaw in this argument is the word "we." I don't know the limits of your knowledge. I don't know the limits of Dan's. Dan doesn't know the limits of mine. Making a claim of the "We don't know" format asserts the unspoken assumption that others cannot know stuff that I don't. When the context doesn't give the "we" a fairly specific meaning, I can't help but hear the claim as "I am not open to new information." Just so you know, this is one of the ones that drives me crazy on the Ancient Aliens shows. They will say "We don't know how this could be done without modern tools," when I have personally seen multiple demonstratioms of it being done without modern tools. In those cases it is clear to me that "We" don't know because "We" don't want to, you know?
  10. No. I am stating that they cannot be. We take a lot on trust, reflexively, without realizing we are doing it. We use correlation to tease out an understanding of causation, despite the inherent logical problems. We latch on tightly to preconceptions and summarily dismiss what does not fit. We count white swans and assume it tells us something about black swans. And it works. It produces results. Except when it doesn't. But we rarely count misses, because we are too busy counting hits.
  11. What objective evidence of the speed of light have you personally seen? You did the laser experiment? Calibrated the electronics? Or are you trusting what you read in a book?
  12. You grok the difference between measuring the speed of a horse and measuring the speed of horse? You see the important difference between measuring sensor input and measuring sensor output? I forget. How many white swans do we have to record to prove that all swans are white? A lot of fundamental cosmological conundrums make more sense if c varies. But scientific heresy makes you no friends...
  13. The thing is that you don't get to the answer without the inferences. This means the answer is inherently interpretive, thus not objective. The bottom line is that we have not measured the speed of light. We have measured other things and inferred the speed of light from those measurements. This is how we deal with things we cannot interact with directly, whether things really big, things really small, or things in other time periods. Indirect evidence. Subjective proof. Without it, science does not work. Yet when religons use indirect evidence and subjective proof, they are often ridiculed. Not simply for making bad inferences, but for relying on inference at all. See my point yet?
  14. No. I don't care whether you use a capital letter. I got annoyed when you said that not using the capital letter is an insult against atheists. Because I don't capitalize the word and I am not insulting atheists by doing so. You understand that it is annoying to get accused of doing stuff you aren't doing? You understand that it is personally insulting to have people use their lack of understanding of what you are doing to cast aspersions against your character?
  15. Why? What is it about our relationship that makes you interpret my actions in the least flattering way possible? Why do you expect the worst from me? I have endeavored to treat you fairly. I have gone out of my way to be nice to you when you have been deliberately mean to me. I have extended olive branch after olive branch. But I keep getting cast as the villain. Why? Is it somehow more comfortable to assume I am an abusive liar than to assume I was just teasing you because I mistakenly thought you would be amused? The emoticon is smiling. It is a crooked smile, but it is a smile. A smile can be sarcastic, but I was not being sarcastic.
  16. Sure. But by basing the meter on a physical object, you have an objective, verifiable standard. You can hold things up to the stick and ask "How do these things compare?" Basing the the meter on its relationship to c means you can do no direct comparison. Instead, you have to build on a pile of inferences. "This is true, so I infer that must be true. Since I infer that is true, I also infer the other is true. Therefore, I conclude that this physical object I am attempting to measure compares to c in this way." Any bad inference in the chain destroys the accuracy of the conclusion. The more complex the chain, the easier it is for bad inferences to hide. And the more people who make the same bad inference, the harder it is for anyone to notice it is a bad inference. A dozen people using the same warped meter stick to measure something a dozen times does not provide a more accurate measurement than one guy using a straight meter stick once. But if you cant tell the stick is bent, it will look accurate.
  17. The smiling winky face was an attempt to show that I was attempting a little ribbing between friends. I thought we were friends. I am not being treated as such, so I suppose I was wrong. Thank you for clarifying. I'll keep that in mind in the future.
  18. Ok. I have a meter stick. I can point to it and say "That is a meter." When you use meters in your measurements, that is ,essentially, my basis for comparison. This is how I, and the majority of the world, define a meter. Change the length of a meter and you have to change everyone's speedometerss, you know? The relationship to c is used as the basis for the meter because it is assumed to be a constant that has been accurately measured (within reasonable tolerances). These assumptions let the math line up so that the common definition and the scientific definition match up. As such, our definitions can only match by the degree to which those assumptions are accurate. If it turns out that the assumptions are exceedingly wrong, my definition will be the one that survives. In other words, the measurement is only accurate by definition if we use a definition that assumes the measurement is accurate. And most people don't. You implied people were liars simply because they said something that you do not believe is true. I was trying to point to the existence of honest disagreement. I attempted to do it in a lighthearted manner, by reminding you of a subject that we have had an honest disagreement over. When we look at the same evidence, we become convinced of different things. This is part of the human condition. Some of us believe things that aren't true and some of us won't believe things that are true. And we all have a level of confidence in our beliefs despite the conclusove proof that we are all capable of being wrong without knowing it. Once again, this is a part of the human condition. Not "Them" but "Us".
  19. I dont think it is fair to call it fraudulent. Most people who advertise Reiki honestly believe it works.
  20. Riding through Georgia today, a billboard says- Beyond A Reasonable Doubt JESUS IS ALIVE
  22. From the wiki link you provided- "Consequently, accurate measurements of the speed of light yield an accurate realization of the metre rather than an accurate value of c." Lets say I define a meter as the distance from my head to my feet. I measure the distance from my head to my feet and come up with 3 inches. So a meter is now defined by me as 3 inches. Does this mean my measurement is accurate, by definition? No. Lets say I define a dog as a horse. A horse is still a horse and a still a dog. The only thing that changes is how well I can communicate about dogs and horses with others. so, pretend we discover that light actually travels twice as fast as currently measured. So, by definition, a meter is two meter sticks long. This means only half a liter fits in a one liter jug. It means, in other words, that not everyone is using the same basis of comparison in their measurements, creating a situation with competing definitions and a lack of mutual understanding.
  23. You have an opinion about something you saw? It happens.
  24. "All art is unstable. Its meaning is not necessarily that implied by the author, There is no authoritative active voice. There are only multiple readings." - David Bowie
  25. The number is not concrete, it is an abstraction. It is also not non-subjective. It also may not be very accurate. Personally, I'm not able to check it for myself. You?