Recommended Posts

mererdog   

So, the dice experiment.....

A few years back, I was proofreading a set of proposals for classroom activities teaching critical thinking and basic scientific theory. One was for a way to teach odds to kids. Part of it read-

"If the first few flips are all heads or all tails, have the children keep flipping until the expected result is reached."

That is a  copy and paste  of a copy and paste of the original.  

When I read that bit I was momentarily delighted by a vision of a classroom full of elderly kindergartners who just want to see tails so they can go home and go to sleep. I know that's a lot of words for just one sentence, but that is a very strong period at the end of it, and  I believe it will hold.

Share this post


Link to post
mererdog   

Sure. Humans are very good at spotting patterns. Its a survival trait that allows us to do important things like spot predators and prey despite camouflage. The problem is that since it is better to see a tiger that isn't there than it is to fail to see a hungry tiger, we see patterns in what is just random noise.

So, how do you tell the difference between patterns and noise? How do you tell the difference between the fair die and the rigged die, when all you can observe are the outcomes of the rolls? When you don't know all the natural laws, how can you know there isn't one that makes  knowing some of the others impossible?

And, you know, I don't want you getting eaten by a tiger. That goes without saying, I would hope? And, yes, you can be wrong, and we all know we can be wrong, so that ain't a good surprise party. So my goal is not to prove you wrong or even make you doubt yourself. 

But here's the rub. Reason is useless on its own. Inferring from observation won't give you a reason to get up in the morning or give you any clue what to do with your life. For that, you need emotions. Passion. Likes and dislikes. Attraction and revulsion. Hormones and pheremones. All the other messy bits of the human condition, you know?

So when you spot the tiger, it is your emotions that insist there is no reason to double-check. It is your emotions that decide when you are certain, you see? Not your reason. The more sure you are, the more irrational you are being, regardless of the subject (He said very irrationally). 

 

Make sense?

Edited by mererdog

Share this post


Link to post
17 minutes ago, mererdog said:

Sure. Humans are very good at spotting patterns. Its a survival trait that allows us to do important things like spot predators and prey despite camouflage. The problem is that since it is better to see a tiger that isn't there than it is to fail to see a hungry tiger, we see patterns in what is just random noise.

So, how do you tell the difference between patterns and noise? How do you tell the difference between the fair die and the rigged die, when all you can observe are the outcomes of the rolls? When you don't know all the natural laws, how can you know there isn't one that makes  knowing some of the others impossible?

And, you know, I don't want you getting eaten by a tiger. That goes without saying, I would hope? And, yes, you can be wrong, and we all know we can be wrong, so that ain't a good surprise party. So my goal is not to prove you wrong or even make you doubt yourself. 

But here's the rub. Reason is useless on its own. Inferring from observation won't give you a reason to get up in the morning or give you any clue what to do with your life. For that, you need emotions. Passion. Likes and dislikes. Attraction and revulsion. Hormones and pheremones. All the other messy bits of the human condition, you know?

So when you spot the tiger, it is your emotions that insist there is no reason to double-check. It is your emotions that decide when you are certain, you see? Not your reason. The more sure you are, the more irrational you are being, regardless of the subject (He said very irrationally). 

 

Make sense?

An understandable position.  Give me some time to think about it, eh?

Share this post


Link to post
mererdog   
12 minutes ago, cuchulain said:

An understandable position.  Give me some time to think about it, eh?

Of course.

Share this post


Link to post

I amend my previous thoughts to include the possibility that there is a natural law which prevents us from knowing certain things.  I do not accede that this natural law exists, much in the way I do not accede that God exists, merely that it is possible.  However, the possibility does not necessitate action.  We act merely with our current level of knowledge, and thus until it is proven to me that there is indeed a natural law capable of withholding certain knowledge from humankind, I will act as though it does not exist.  I will continue to seek knowledge with the understanding that all knowledge is attainable, until it is proven otherwise to me. :)

Share this post


Link to post
mererdog   

In other words, since you don't see a tiger, you will simply act as if there isn't one, until such time as you do see one. Hopefully that won't get you eaten. Another way to do it is to remain cognizant of the possibility that there is a tiger, and hedge your bets accordingly. It is more likely to produce wasted effort, but also less likely to get you eaten. ;) 

Share this post


Link to post
1 hour ago, mererdog said:

In other words, since you don't see a tiger, you will simply act as if there isn't one, until such time as you do see one. Hopefully that won't get you eaten. Another way to do it is to remain cognizant of the possibility that there is a tiger, and hedge your bets accordingly. It is more likely to produce wasted effort, but also less likely to get you eaten. ;) 

We all die, friend.  Live while you have the opportunity.  If I hedged my bets by all the possibilities, I would not be doing much living, but rather more planning for what possibilities might exist.  For instance, in the religious context, which God would I follow?  All of them, since they are all technically possible?  That alone would take an enormous amount of time.  Or a more simple analogy would be that I own a car I don't want to have wrecked, and it could be wrecked at any time sitting in my parking lot, so should I sit outside watching and waiting?  Nah, I will just drive the car and take all due precautions that are reasonable to avoid a wreck.  I guess you could call taking those precautions hedging the bet, but I at least have evidence that car wrecks do happen, whereas I have no evidence of a law of nature that exists that prevents us from being capable of knowing certain things.  Just my opinion, of course.

Share this post


Link to post
mererdog   
On 6/29/2016 at 2:59 PM, cuchulain said:

We all die, friend.

You can't prove that. To do so would involve proving that there are no differences between us that prevent some of us from dying. That would require counting to infinity.

 

On 6/29/2016 at 2:59 PM, cuchulain said:

 whereas I have no evidence of a law of nature that exists that prevents us from being capable of knowing certain things.

Here is evidence of one. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncertainty_principle

Quick question: If no human had ever had eyes, would any human ever realize that they couldn't see colors?

Edited by mererdog

Share this post


Link to post
mark 45   
50 minutes ago, mererdog said:

You can't prove that. To do so would involve proving that there are no differences between us that prevent some of us from dying. That would require counting to infinity.

 

Here is evidence of one. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncertainty_principle

Quick question: If no human had ever had eyes, would any human ever realize that they couldn't see colors?

quick answer,most males are color blind,and may not see certain colors,but they have eyes.and most males do not realize they are color blind till someone points it out. 

Share this post


Link to post
mererdog   
6 minutes ago, mark 45 said:

quick answer,most males are color blind,and may not see certain colors,but they have eyes.and most males do not realize they are color blind till someone points it out. 

The question is whether you could figure it out if there was no one to tell you...

Share this post


Link to post

The question isn't really about colors and vision for me, but more about frames of reference.  Would a human born into a society where eyes did not exist for their species be able to perceive that they lacked the ability?  If I am wrong, please correct me.  You are suggesting that we as humans perhaps lack an ability to see the world around us in a complete enough manner to form conclusions about everything.  That there are specifically gaps in our abilities which limit our ability to know?  I am not suggesting we form conclusions about everything.  Rather, the stoic point of view is that we should gain as much knowledge as possible and act on the knowledge we have.  It is fruitless(imo) and perhaps impossible to act on knowledge we do not have.  There are specific circumstances and instances where there are exceptions to this rule, I have no doubt, but in general I cannot act on knowledge that I do not have.  Therefore, I view it as fruitless to believe in a deity, or higher power if you will, without evidence that I can accept that this deity or higher power exists.  Perhaps there were world making fairies before anything else, and they are our creators.  The lack of definitive proof against such a concept does not necessitate that I act as though that were in fact the truth.  Rather, the lack of proof that that particular circumstance were the truth urges me to act as though that were a possibility still unproven and so to continue to act in accordance with what I already know.

Share this post


Link to post
mererdog   
20 hours ago, cuchulain said:

The question isn't really about colors and vision for me, but more about frames of reference.  Would a human born into a society where eyes did not exist for their species be able to perceive that they lacked the ability?  If I am wrong, please correct me.

It is the same sort of question I have been asking. Limits of knowledge, how we know what we know, and whether we actually know what we think we know- these subjects are more easily approached by sidling up to them, rather than approaching them directly. The truth is a coward and runs away when he sees you coming, you see? Or is it that we run from the truth when it gets to close? One of those, definitely. But the key word in the question is "realize" not "perceive". That will probably sound like hair-splitting, but it is important.

Anyway, you may not have realized it, but you are using fewer universal declarations in your faith statements. Less all and more some, you know? That makes it easier to be right regardless of the truth. A form of bet hedging, see?

 

 

Edited by mererdog

Share this post


Link to post

I would like to think I wasn't that worried about being right over the truth, but it may be true.  Something else for me to look into.  I don't currently believe that to be hedging a bet so much as understanding that I may indeed be wrong, regardless of believing I am speaking the truth.  I have come to understand that I make errors frequently, and so try not to make those errors in substantial statements, rather I use words like may be, or might.  Then again, perhaps it is exactly hedging a bet.  

I probably come off as arrogant often enough to be seen as arrogant.  It is something of a defense mechanism for me from past experience, and I try to curb that in.  I certainly don't intend anyone to think I KNOW the answers 100%, and if that has become the case, this is the correction of that.  I speculate the answers, and choose the most logical one to me at the time.  Sometimes information changes, or the information I have changes, and I change my mind.  I suppose that is hedging the bet.  

Share this post


Link to post
mererdog   
19 hours ago, cuchulain said:

I would like to think I wasn't that worried about being right over the truth, but it may be true.  Something else for me to look into.  I don't currently believe that to be hedging a bet so much as understanding that I may indeed be wrong, regardless of believing I am speaking the truth.

When we believe that we may be wrong, we respond by taking steps to limit the consequences of being wrong. This is hedging. It isn't a matter of being worried about being right over the truth, but of trying to align yourself as closely to the truth as possible when you cannot be completely certain what the truth is. Using "some" instead of all "all" in those situations becomes the verbal equivelant of bringing a sweater just in case the weather changes.

You say "  I speculate the answers, and choose the most logical one to me at the time. "

I ask "How do you tell the difference between doing that and picking the answer that speaks most to your emotions? Because the answer I want to be true always seems logical, and we humans are really, really good at manufacturing logical-seeming yet completely fallacious excuses for why we should get what we want. 

You feel me?

Share this post


Link to post
4 hours ago, mererdog said:

When we believe that we may be wrong, we respond by taking steps to limit the consequences of being wrong. This is hedging. It isn't a matter of being worried about being right over the truth, but of trying to align yourself as closely to the truth as possible when you cannot be completely certain what the truth is. Using "some" instead of all "all" in those situations becomes the verbal equivelant of bringing a sweater just in case the weather changes.

You say "  I speculate the answers, and choose the most logical one to me at the time. "

I ask "How do you tell the difference between doing that and picking the answer that speaks most to your emotions? Because the answer I want to be true always seems logical, and we humans are really, really good at manufacturing logical-seeming yet completely fallacious excuses for why we should get what we want. 

You feel me?

I get it.  But I do not believe we as humans are COMPLETELY fallacious.  That would indicate we were wrong all the time.  I believe we as humans are rights sometimes and wrong sometimes.  In terms of detaching emotion from my decisions, it is difficult and sometimes I fail.  Stoicism for me is a path to attempt, but chances are good that I won't succeed completely at it.  I suppose in this way I am alike with other philosophies that believe in seeking the unattainable perfection.  The way I separate emotion from decisions is varied.  I imagine I am the other person involved, perhaps, to see things from a different perspective.  I consider the consequences of my actions and the reasons I am taking them and try to decide if I would be doing the same thing without an emotional attachment.  Sometimes I think about problems like math equations, and simply remove all emotion from the decision making process.  As I said, I haven't perfected my system by any means and sometimes I fail.  I am always looking for new ways to improve as well.  

Share this post


Link to post
mererdog   
1 hour ago, cuchulain said:

I get it.  But I do not believe we as humans are COMPLETELY fallacious.  That would indicate we were wrong all the time.

Well, no, it wouldn't mean that. You can arrive at the right answer with logic but you can also arrive there with fallacy. I believe the expression "right for the wrong reasons" paints the picture pretty well.

The converse is also true, where logic leads to wrong answers when you have sound reasoning but incomplete facts. So sometimes we need reason to see where emotion led us astray, but sometimes we need a gut reaction to tell us something must be wrong with our reasoning.

So, no, no one is completely irrational, anymore than anyone is completely rational. We all carry both sets of tools, and although individuals tend to favor one or the other, the species thrives by striking a sort of precarious balance between the extremes...

Share this post


Link to post
On 7/5/2016 at 2:08 PM, mererdog said:

The question is whether you could figure it out if there was no one to tell you...

Bees see further into the ultra-violet spectrum than we can.  Humanity did figure it out.

:mellow:

Share this post


Link to post
mererdog   
1 hour ago, Jonathan H. B. Lobl said:

Bees see further into the ultra-violet spectrum than we can.  Humanity did figure it out.

:mellow: 

Yes. But we have eyes. We are able to see, and to compare our personal experiences of sight with each other. People are able to make simple observations about how light is effected by things like prisms and form complex theories for why light behaves as observed. Using more and more sophisticated methods to test those theories leads to more and more sophisticated theories designed to explain new observations. If no one can see the prism in the first place, what chain of events leads to us having any understanding of wavelengths in the visible spectrum, never mind wavelengths outside of it?

Share this post


Link to post
21 hours ago, mererdog said:

Yes. But we have eyes. We are able to see, and to compare our personal experiences of sight with each other. People are able to make simple observations about how light is effected by things like prisms and form complex theories for why light behaves as observed. Using more and more sophisticated methods to test those theories leads to more and more sophisticated theories designed to explain new observations. If no one can see the prism in the first place, what chain of events leads to us having any understanding of wavelengths in the visible spectrum, never mind wavelengths outside of it?

Yes.  We have eyes and minds and the ability to build on discoveries.  Your point?

:mellow:

Share this post


Link to post
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.