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Medical Practice, Biological Science, and the Power of a “Differential Diagnosis”

Because science is a search for causes, its practitioners are ethically bound to keep an open mind about the nature of those causes. The whole point of investigating any given phenomenon is to find a reasonable answer to the question, “why is this happening?” or “why did it happen?” In that spirit, the researcher develops a rigorous methodology that will address a narrowly-focused problem and facilitate the process of finding the most plausible solution, regardless of whose interests might be served. This is just as true for the practice of medicine as it is for the study of life’s origins.

If, for example, a physician is about to decide on the appropriate therapy for his patient, he will, if he is competent, perform what is known as a differential diagnosis. The strategy is to identify at least two possible causes of a given medical problem, weigh the evidence for each against the other, and choose the one which best explains the data. In other words, the diagnosis determines the therapeutic response. When this process is reversed, that is, when available therapies or technologies determine the diagnosis, personal agendas override the scientific method. If any form of institutional bias prompts the physician to ignore a potential cause, the practice of medicine has been fatally compromised.

Consider the fashionable problem of carpal tunnel syndrome. Medical professionals understand that this condition is the result of dysfunction in the median nerve at the wrist. The appropriate question from a diagnostic standpoint is, therefore, “what is troubling this nerve?” According to conventional wisdom, the nerve is compressed as it passes under a ligament at the wrist, which would indicate a physical or structural problem. Not so fast. Dr. John Sarno, professor of rehabilitative medicine, insists that CTS is a mind/body (psychosomatic) problem caused by stress. Negative emotions in the unconscious mind produce the symptoms to distract the sufferer from one or more intolerable psychological conflicts. If CTS was truly a structural problem, Sarno reasonably asks, “Why is it that millions of men and women who pounded typewriters since the beginning of the twentieth century never developed it?” Or again, if the body is producing the symptoms, why have countless sufferers been cured of the malady by recognizing the mind as its source and acting on that information through a step-by-step process of self-analysis?

Most physicians, by virtue of their training as “body mechanics,” are not professionally equipped to perform a differential diagnosis for this kind of condition. They either do not understand or refuse to accept the reality: The mind can be, and often is, the source of a physical symptom. To press the point even further, disharmonious domestic relationships or competitive professional environments are often responsible for a cluster of symptoms known as “fibromyalgia.” Sadly, mind/body disorders are seldom treated properly because the medical establishment no longer takes mind/body medicine seriously, assuming that all problems are structural problems. As a result, they don’t ask the critical question: Structural pain or psychosomatic pain? In many cases, patients are doing physical therapy for a perceived mechanical problem when the time would be more profitably spent dealing with their emotional conflicts.

Just as millions must endure unnecessary physical suffering because scientists do not always apply a differential diagnosis in the medical arena, millions more must endure mental suffering because Darwinist ideologues, and their Christian Darwinist lapdogs, refuse to conduct a differential diagnosis in the biological realm. The problem is how to best explain the origin and variety of life on our planet? The question for the differential diagnosis is clear: Undirected Natural Processes or Directed Intelligent Design? While ID scientists consider the strength for both arguments and draw an inference to design, anti-ID partisans resort to methodological naturalism, an arbitrary rule of science that bans design arguments from the arena of competitive ideas. It is very easy to win a contest when you are the only competitor. Similarly, it is very easy to diagnose a cause when only one cause is eligible for consideration.

But this reluctance to keep an open mind about alternative possibilities strikes at the very foundation of the scientific enterprise. To investigate nature rightly is to sit humbly at her feet so that she can reveal her secrets—recognizing that she is the teacher and we are the students–delegating to her the task of scrutinizing our intellectual convictions so that they may be tested, sifted, or fine-tuned—-asking about the truth rather than indulging in the illusion that we have already attained it.

“Go to the pine if you want to learn about the pine, or to the bamboo if you want to learn about the bamboo. And in doing so, you must leave your subjective preoccupation with yourself. Otherwise you impose yourself on the object and do not learn.— Matsuo Basho

ID scientists engage Darwinists and TEs with a similar challenge: Go to the DNA molecule if you want to learn about the DNA molecule. Observe its behavior and ask yourself, “Why is this happening?” Test your atheistic doubts or your religious presumptions against the facts in evidence. Study those facts, submit to the data, and conduct a differential diagnosis. Build your theories on the evidence. Don’t try to squeeze, pound, jam, or hammer out the evidence into your rigid theoretical mold and cry out in futility, “fit, damn you, fit.”

Clearly, institutional bias can cloud judgment in any area or specialty. Like the structuralist physicians who ignore scientific evidence that points to the mind as a cause for physical symptoms, materialist Darwinists (and Christian Darwinists) ignore scientific evidence that points to the mind as a cause for biological design. In both cases, the analyst subordinates truth to convention, which is the hallmark of anti-intellectual partisanship.

Still, there is a difference. To ignore evidence is irresponsible, but to forbid its expression is evil. In the latter case, anti-ID zealots have, by virtue of their exclusionary rule, decided that nature should not be allowed to reveal all her secrets. Methodological naturalism, the surrogate enforcer of intellectual tyranny, declares that nature’s testimony, because of its possible religious implications, is inadmissible and may not be heard. As Basho might put it, devotees of evolutionary biology are imposing themselves and their subjective preoccuptations on the object. Insofar as they arrogantly and presumptuously assume the role of teacher and reduce nature to the role of student, they render themselves and everyone under their influence, uneducable.

The problem of institutional bias is an old one, but it has become manifest once again. According to the National Academy of Science, the Kansas Board of Education, and a number of other institutions, the job of science “is to provide plausible natural explanations for natural phenomena.” Even a Pennsylvania judge weighed in on the matter, issuing the mindless verdict that non-natural explanations are impermissible for science. For the secular minded, there will be no differential diagnosis because the differential component has been taken off the table.

At this point, nature objects to this reversal of roles and reasserts her rightful place as a teacher. The “stones cry out” by asking a few questions: What are we to make of the fact that these same rule makers who limit science to the study of “natural causes” have no problem with Big bang cosmology, which also has religious implications and also hints at a non-natural cause? Why is the differential diagnosis acceptable in the cosmological sphere and unacceptable in the biological sphere? If cosmological fine-tuning is acceptable as a scientific concept, why is biological fine-tuning not acceptable as a scientific concept?

Indeed, if one is to rule out a differential diagnosis on the grounds that science is limited to “natural causes,” he should at least be able to explain this exclusion in a rational way. How do we define nature and what is a natural cause? Darwinists (and the TEs that follow them) say, apparently without embarrassment, that a natural cause is one that occurs or can be found “in nature.” In that case, how do we distinguish bombs from earthquakes—or burglars from tornados–or the humanly-produced artifacts found in ancient Pompei from the unhuman volcano that buried them? If all these causes are of the same kind, then there is no way to discern one from the other. On the other hand, if we finally confess the difference between the intelligent causes and natural causes indicated, how can we call then “natural” as if they were all of the same kind? The intellectual dictators who crafted this cuckoo formula have no answers. How can they presume to enforce a standard that they can’t even define?

It is an interesting social phenomenon that Darwinists and most TEs suffer from what C.S. Lewis once called “the horror and neglect of the obvious.” In fact, biological design really is obvious, which explains why evolutionary biologists feel the need to remind themselves to forget it. This is a violation of the scientific method and the legitimate exercise of reason. One cannot search for a cause and, at the same time, disdain the object of the search. To sincerely ask about the “why” from a scientific perspective is to honestly weigh the alternative explanations to find the most plausible solution, regardless of whose interests might be served.

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122 Responses to Medical Practice, Biological Science, and the Power of a “Differential Diagnosis”

  1. Nice article SB, thanks.

  2. Nice article StephenB,

    It should be footnoted that to the extent Darwinian reasoning has influenced medical diagnostics, it has led to much ‘medical malpractice’ in the past:

    Evolution’s “vestigial organ” argument debunked
    Excerpt: “The appendix, like the once ‘vestigial’ tonsils and adenoids, is a lymphoid organ (part of the body’s immune system) which makes antibodies against infections in the digestive system. Believing it to be a useless evolutionary ‘left over,’ many surgeons once removed even the healthy appendix whenever they were in the abdominal cavity. Today, removal of a healthy appendix under most circumstances would be considered medical malpractice” (David Menton, Ph.D., “The Human Tail, and Other Tales of Evolution,” St. Louis MetroVoice , January 1994, Vol. 4, No. 1).
    “Doctors once thought tonsils were simply useless evolutionary leftovers and took them out thinking that it could do no harm. Today there is considerable evidence that there are more troubles in the upper respiratory tract after tonsil removal than before, and doctors generally agree that simple enlargement of tonsils is hardly an indication for surgery” (J.D. Ratcliff, Your Body and How it Works, 1975, p. 137).
    The tailbone, properly known as the coccyx, is another supposed example of a vestigial structure that has been found to have a valuable function—especially regarding the ability to sit comfortably. Many people who have had this bone removed have great difficulty sitting.
    http://www.ucg.org/science/god.....-debunked/

    International HoloGenomics Society – “Junk DNA Diseases”
    Excerpt: uncounted millions of people died miserable deaths while scientists were looking for the “gene” causing their illnesses – and were not even supposed to look anywhere but under the lamp illuminating only 1.3% of the genome (the genes).”
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-357177

    Let’s not forget euthanasia, abortion, forced sterilization and genocide, which all can be traced to Darwinism:

    How Darwin’s Theory Changed the World – Rejection of Judeo-Christian values
    Excerpt: Weikart explains how accepting Darwinist dogma shifted society’s thinking on human life: “Before Darwinism burst onto the scene in the mid-nineteenth century, the idea of the sanctity of human life was dominant in European thought and law (though, as with all ethical principles, not always followed in practice). Judeo-Christian ethics proscribed the killing of innocent human life, and the Christian churches explicitly forbade murder, infanticide, abortion, and even suicide.
    “The sanctity of human life became enshrined in classical liberal human rights ideology as ‘the right to life,’ which according to John Locke and the United States Declaration of Independence, was one of the supreme rights of every individual” (p. 75).
    Only in the late nineteenth and especially the early twentieth century did significant debate erupt over issues relating to the sanctity of human life, especially infanticide, euthanasia, abortion, and suicide. It was no mere coincidence that these contentious issues emerged at the same time that Darwinism was gaining in influence. Darwinism played an important role in this debate, for it altered many people’s conceptions of the importance and value of human life, as well as the significance of death” (ibid.).
    http://www.gnmagazine.org/issu.....-world.htm

    From Darwin To Hitler – Richard Weikart – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_5EwYpLD6A

    Can Darwinists Condemn Hitler and Remain Consistent with Their Darwinism? – Richard Weikart -October 27, 2011
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....52331.html

    How Evolutionary Ethics Influenced Hitler and Why It Matters – Richard Weikart: – January 2012
    http://www.credomag.com/2012/0.....t-matters/

    At 1,200,000, Abortion is the leading cause of deaths each year in the USA – graph
    http://sphotos.xx.fbcdn.net/hp.....3487_n.jpg

    If Darwinists want to say all this ethical implications are just a thing of the past will someone please inform Peter Singer professor of bioethics at Princeton University:

    Australia Awards Infanticide Backer Peter Singer Its Highest Honor – 2012
    Excerpt: Singer is best known for advocating the ethical propriety of infanticide. But that isn’t nearly the limit of his odious advocacy. Here is a partial list of some other notable Singer bon mots:

    - Singer supports using cognitively disabled people in medical experiments instead of animals that have a higher “quality of life.”

    - Singer does not believe humans reach “full moral status” until after the age of two.Singer supports non-voluntary euthanasia of human “non-persons.”

    - Singer has defended bestiality.

    - Singer started the “Great Ape Project” that would establish a “community of equals” among humans, gorillas, bonobos, chimpanzees, and orangutans.

    - Singer supports health-care rationing based on “quality of life.”

    – Singer has questioned whether “the continuance of our species is justifiable,” since it will result in suffering.

    – Singer believes “speciesism” — viewing humans as having greater value than animals — is akin to racism.

    Whereas ID on the other hand, offers a completely different perspective on the human body as a starting assumption for doctors to work with:

    Intelligent Design and Medical Research – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/7906908

  3. Despite the seeming full time job Darwinists have in labeling everything they don’t understand in the human body as vestigial or junk the plain fact is that The Human Body is simply amazing:

    The Human Body – You Are Amazing – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5246456

    Human Anatomy – Impressive Transparent Visualization – Fearfully and Wonderfully Made – video
    http://vimeo.com/26011909

    One Body – (Harvard) animation – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDMLq6eqEM4

    Fearfully and Wonderfully Made – Glimpses At Human Development In The Womb – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4249713

    The Baby In The Womb (for full video, please follow link in description)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CPPkXe8KUg0

    Alexander Tsiaras: Conception to birth — visualized – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKyljukBE70

    Mathematician Alexander Tsiaras on Human Development: “It’s a Mystery, It’s Magic, It’s Divinity” – March 2012
    Excerpt: ‘The magic of the mechanisms inside each genetic structure saying exactly where that nerve cell should go, the complexity of these, the mathematical models on how these things are indeed done, are beyond human comprehension. Even though I am a mathematician, I look at this with the marvel of how do these instruction sets not make these mistakes as they build what is us. It’s a mystery, it’s magic, it’s divinity.’
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....57741.html

    (Psalms 139:14)
    I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

    Fearfully and Wonderfully Made – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5289335/

    Fearfully and Wonderfully Made – Dr. David Menton – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Kt3Kk8mtlo

  4. @ba

    Singer supports health-care rationing based on “quality of life.”

    This one sticks out from everything else in the list. Is there a better criteria than this to use for rationing healthcare?

  5. As someone who once treated carpal tunnel syndrome regularly I might quibble on some details above, but the general point is well made.

    My (hopefully helpful) quibbles would be firstly that insisting a condition is either physical or psychological is an example of the kind of compartmentalisation of knowledge you’re making. The real question is “What is the interaction between mind, body and anything else involved that explains this problem best?” That means refusing to allow the physically-minded to treat the mind as an off-limits black-box, but equally refusing to let the psychologically-inclined to treat the body as a black box.

    Fybromyalgia is an interesting case in point. I don’t think I ever met a sufferer who wasn’t functioning abnormally in the psychological sense. But in doing some studies with cutting-edge pain physiologists, I discovered that the neurological response to pain in fybromyalgia sufferers is very different to that in normal subjects. In other words, the pain is a neurophysical abnormality.

    Physicians tended to say the patients were nuts (mind is a black box, and we don’t do minds); psychiatrists tended to say the pain was a purely psychological manifestation (body is a black box – we don’t do bodies). As a result, the condition is poorly understood by anybody.

    My specialist field was chronic back pain, where the demarcation problem was severe – the traditional view of orthopods, rheumatologists, physiotherapists, chiropractors etc was biomechanical: something’s broken, so let’s operate, manipulate or use anti-inflammatories. The emerging truth was that the issue is primarily neurophysiological, but that’s a completely different paradigm with different management and, most importantly, a different mental model.

    In fact, back pain mainly becomes a psychological problem because of erroneous, or conflicting, mental models of what’s going on.

    You’d think that everyone would be pleased to learn from other approaches. But in human activity, defending turf is usually more important.

  6. Steve:

    Thought-provoking, as usual.

    KF

  7. JC:

    In a fundamentally amoral context driven by evolutionary materialist nihilism and its fellow travellers, “quality of life” is subject to the usual might and manipulation make ‘right’ tactics that are ever so familiar from so many things happening in the name of reform and progress. (Note where that “progress is going, here.)

    Coming out the back-end of that is the notorious concept, life unworthy of life. Let’s put it in the original German: “Lebensunwertes Leben.”

    I hope that makes the point.

    This is the concept that then grounds the Schaeffer-Koop cascade: abortion, infanticide, so-called voluntary euthanasia, patently involuntary euthanasia, genocide of targetted groups.

    The USA is at the so-called voluntary euthanasia threshold now.

    Resemblance to Rom 1:18 – 32 is NOT coincidental.

    Medical care needs to be rationed, as do all finite resources in a world of scarcity.

    A much wiser approach is one that is economic through some sort of insurance market, modified by a Pareto extension based on a common fund used to relieve the needs of the destitute or the ones caught up in catastrophic costs. But, rationing based on faceless bureaucrats unaccountable to the public, and “overseen” by habitually deceitful pols and media corrupted by an amoral agenda, is a recipe for disaster.

    Singer is a warning-sign on where that is headed.

    And, I find that a pivotal issue is that we have increasingly become unable to reason morally on sound first principles. The recent UD debate over whether people could accept that torturing innocent babies for fun is self-evidently evil, speaks volumes on the sort of moral numbness and willful blindness that now affects especially the USA.

    The same destructive and suicidal trend is fast spreading across our whole civilisation.

    Even here, just this week I sat in as a stakeholder on a culture policy.

    In the theme group looking at self worth etc, it was being resisted that the issue is pivotal that by virtue of our nature endowed by our Creator, we have moral worth, and that this worth must be reciprocally recognised. (This is the only sound basis for moral reasoning; if you doubt me, try to build another, that is what is at stake in these debates over origins science etc.)

    Then, when I pointed out that as a matter of historical fact, in the pivotal passage in Locke’s second treatise on civil gov’t where he grounds what would become modern democracy, he cited Canon Richard Hooker on how the golden rule arises from that reciprocal duty, that too was resisted.

    One key point we all must face is that evolutionary materialist atheism undermines morality through its inherent, inescapable amorality. This opens the door to nihilist ruthless factions who equate morality with power games and seek to gain power to do as they will. Liberty — per “my right to swing my arm ends where your nose begins” — is not freedom to do as one pleases; that is license leading to that anarchy that calls forth despotism in the name of restoring order.

    Our civilisation is playing with serious fire.

    KF

    PS: Here is that cite, with a bit of introduction and some continuation in Hooker:

    objective morality is grounded in the roots of our nature and in the moral Creator behind those roots. Richard Hooker, in his Ecclesiastical Polity sums this view up in a key passage cited by Locke in his Second Treatise on Civil Government, Ch 2 Sect. 5, to justify liberty and justice in government:

    . . . if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man’s hands, as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire which is undoubtedly in other men . . . my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant . . . [[Hooker then continues, citing Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics, Bk 8:] as namely, That because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in any thing extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like . . . ] [[Eccl. Polity,preface, Bk I, “ch.” 8, p.80, cf. here.

    We cannot say we have not been warned on the fire we are playing with.

  8. Of related interest to the mind body question, and its relation to medical diagnostics, is the burgeoning field of epigenetics:

    The Mysterious Epigenome. What lies beyond DNA – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RpXs8uShFMo

    A little known fact, a fact that is very antagonistic to the genetic reductionism model of neo-Darwinism, is that, besides environmental factors, even our thoughts and feelings can ‘epigenetically’ control the gene expression of our bodies:

    Anxiety May Shorten Your Cell Life – July 12, 2012
    Excerpt: These studies had the advantage of large data sets involving thousands of participants.
    If the correlations remain robust in similar studies, it would indicate that mental states and lifestyle choices can produce epigenetic effects on our genes.
    http://crev.info/2012/07/anxie.....cell-life/

    The following studies are more bold in claiming mental states and lifestyle choices influence the genome:

    Genie In Your Genes – video
    http://www.genieinyourgenes.com/ggtrailer.html

    Upgrade Your Brain
    Excerpt: The Research; In his book The Genie in Your Genes (Elite Books, 2009), researcher Dawson Church, PhD, explains the relationship between thought and belief patterns and the expression of healing- or disease-related genes. “Your body reads your mind,” Church says. “Science is discovering that while we may have a fixed set of genes in our chromosomes, which of those genes is active has a great deal to do with our subjective experiences, and how we process them.”
    One recent study conducted at Ohio University demonstrates vividly the effect of mental stress on healing. Researchers gave married couples small suction blisters on their skin, after which they were instructed to discuss either a neutral topic or a topic of dispute for half an hour. Researchers then monitored the production of three wound-repair proteins in the subjects’ bodies for the next several weeks, and found that the blisters healed 40 percent slower in those who’d had especially sarcastic, argumentative conversations than those who’d had neutral ones.
    http://experiencelife.com/arti.....our-brain/

    Genie In Your Genes – Book
    Book review: First of all, if you are a newcomer to Dawson Church’s writing, you need to know that his facts are unimpeachable – they were stringently peer-reviewed before publication. What is more, when Church makes categorical statements, he provides research to corroborate them.
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/produ.....1600700225

    And though, as Darwinists would hold, many epigenetic (histone) markers on the genome, which were gathered through the life cycle of a organism, are generally ‘wiped clean’ during reproduction, some epigenetic effects are, in fact, found to carry forward transgenerationally:

    Epigenetics: Feast, Famine, and Fatness – 2009
    Excerpt: In the last five to ten years, there has been more and more evidence showing there is a non-genetic part that can be passed down to children and even grandchildren. As of this summer there are over 100 scientific articles documenting non-DNA inheritance, also called transgenerational epigenetics (1)
    http://www.precisionnutrition......nd-fatness

    Histone-modifying proteins, not histones, remain associated with DNA through replication – August 23, 2012
    Excerpt: A study of Drosophila embryos,, found that parental methylated histones are not transferred to daughter DNA. Rather, after DNA replication, new nucleosomes are assembled from newly synthesized unmodified histones. “Essentially, all histones are going away during DNA replication and new histones, which are not modified, are coming in,”,,
    “What this paper tells us,” he continues, “is that these histone modifying proteins somehow are able to withstand the passage of the DNA replication machinery. They remained seated on their responsive binding sites, and in all likelihood they will re-establish histone modification and finalize the chromatin structure that allows either activation or repression of the target gene.”
    http://phys.org/news/2012-08-h.....ation.html

    Moreover, some epigenetic effects, completely contrary to what the Central Dogma of neo-Darwinism would hold, are found to makes changes all the way down to the genome itself:

    Does the central dogma still stand? – Koonin EV. – 23 August 2012
    Excerpt: Thus, there is non-negligible flow of information from proteins to the genome in modern cells, in a direct violation of the Central Dogma of molecular biology. The prion-mediated heredity that violates the Central Dogma appears to be a specific, most radical manifestation of the widespread assimilation of protein (epigenetic) variation into genetic variation. The epigenetic variation precedes and facilitates genetic adaptation through a general ‘look-ahead effect’ of phenotypic mutations.,,,
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22913395

    Materialists are infamous for holding that we are merely ‘victims of our genes’ and that we really have no control of what we do in life (genetic determinism). This following video humorously reveals the bankruptcy that atheists have in trying to ground beliefs within such a materialistic, ‘genetic determinism’, worldview;

    John Cleese – The Scientists – humorous video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-M-vnmejwXo

  9. Supplemental notes:

    Materialism of the Gaps – Michael Egnor (Neurosurgeon) – January 29, 2009
    Excerpt: The evidence that some aspects of the mind are immaterial is overwhelming. It’s notable that many of the leading neuroscientists — Sherrington, Penfield, Eccles, Libet — were dualists. Dualism of some sort is the most reasonable scientific framework to apply to the mind-brain problem, because, unlike dogmatic materialism, it just follows the evidence.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....15901.html

    “As I remarked earlier, this may present an “insuperable” difficulty for some scientists of materialists bent, but the fact remains, and is demonstrated by research, that non-material mind acts on material brain.” Sir John Eccles – Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1963

    Do Conscious Thoughts Cause Behavior? -Roy F. Baumeister, E. J. Masicampo, and Kathleen D. Vohs – 2010
    Excerpt: The evidence for conscious causation of behavior is profound, extensive, adaptive, multifaceted, and empirically strong.
    http://carlsonschool.umn.edu/assets/165663.pdf

  10. UB @1, thanks for the kind words.

  11. BA77, thank you. I continue to be amazed at your ability to summon, apparently at will, so much relevant and illuminating scientific research. You have contributed another important dimension to the mind/body problem.

  12. Jon, thank you for your comments. The breadth of your background is impressive. According to Dr. Sarno and several other experts in this field, several factors come into play:

    [a] Most chronic pain is psychosomatic.

    [b] Very few doctors are qualified to make the appropriate diagnosis.

    [c] If the mind is the source of the problem, and it usually is, the patient cannot get better if he doesn’t accept that diagnosis and take the appropriate action (disciplined and systematic self-analysis).

    [d] Only 10-15% of patients can accept the diagnosis even if they are fortunate enough to find a doctor to provide it.

  13. KF, you are right. Our civilization is playing with fire. We must return to a sane civil policy. Everything turns on recognizing the inherent dignity of the human person and (am I still allowed to say this?) the SOURCE of that dignity—God, the Creator.

  14. You have contributed another important dimension to the mind/body problem.

    How many dimensions were there before?

  15. Mung @ 14,

    Perhaps I should have said that BA contributed to our understanding of another important dimension of the mind/body problem. To me, his ability to internalize the results of all that research constitutes a preternatural gift of some kind.

  16. StephenB

    I could see myself coming to blows with Dr Sarno… but mainly because I now think the “psychosomatic” language is an oversimplification, since it implies that the mind is the source of the disease, or at least of the symptoms, which is another example of reductionism.

    I would rather say that the body and mind are closely connected – and the connections go via the spinal cord and then the brain, which is where pain actually happens.

    Chronic pain (ie neuropathic pain), in my view, is usually more to do with the spinal cord than the higher brain (though some people’s brains seem to be in their spine somewhere!). Chronicity is affected by physical conditioning, and that is influenced by beliefs about the pain. But there’s a genetic (or maybe epigenetic – that didn’t exist when I was at work!) element too.

    So severe back pain is often caused by a genuine disc injury (in my case from lifting a bass amplifier in my ill-spent youth). Why do some become chronic? Not because the physical injury persists, but because a pain loop forms. Why is that? Sometimes because people tell them they’ll never get better and will have to avoid exercise – but exercise is the best way of avoiding chronicity. But sometimes, as in my case, that pain loop gets reactivated from time to timeby purely physical mishap for a few weeks and it’s easy to be fooled that there’s a new physical injury. It’s also true, as Sarno suggests, that you can become both a psychological and physical cripple if you treat yoursef, or are treated, wrong.

    Why am I telling you all this? Well, mainly because I don’t get to talk about it much 4 years on from retirement, but also because it underlines the need for a genuinely holistic approach to medicine (as opposed to “New Age” type holism). And it shows, as C S Lewis said, that whatever scientific theory you work on, it’s only a fragment of the truth that happens to fit your worldview. Sobering for scientists and especially doctors!

  17. Jon, let’s consider the evidence:

    Sarno’s methods (and those who follow him) have generated cure rates at about 80% for those who accept the diagnosis, and it would likely be higher if everyone followed the recommended protocol. The solution works because the cause of the symptoms, the mind, has been identified.

    On the other hand, specialists from various branches of physical medicine have a dismal record in treating the problem of chronic pain because they continue to assume structural causes. The improvement rate for those who do not visit a back pain specialist is about the same as those who are treated.

    Interestingly, the x-ray and MRI often tell a story that doesn’t necessarily reflect the dynamic in play. Those who register advanced degenerative changes often experience no pain whatsoever while those who register mild changes are often in agony. That should be instructive. Usually, the origin of the problem is not physical.

    Surgery does not help these difficulties in the long run and often makes things worse. Exercise, while valuable in other contexts, seldom has anything to do with the problem. The human body is not that delicate.

    Temporary improvements often occur because of the placebo effect and, later on, the problem comes back or else the brain places it in another part of the body in order to continue its strategy of distraction. Physical problems due to structural issues do not just jump around from one place to another.

    One hundred years ago, there was no such thing as a “repetitive strain” injury. Millions of people pounded on a heavy-handed Remington typewriter eight hours a day for thirty years and experienced no adverse effects. Now, we are being asked to believe that the a few hours of light tapping on a computer keyboard for a few months can create a burden too severe for the body to tolerate. Ridiculous!

  18. StephenB

    Agree with paragraphs 2-4. My experience exactly – and therein lies the greatest parallel with Neo-Darwinism. “There must be a physical injury, because we only consider physical injuries”. There is a long history of physicalism – but also a long history of mentalism, both with patchy records of success.

    The new (and to me exciting) kid on the block is neurophysiology, which can help integrate the undoubted physical elements (“your disc prolapsed”) with key mental concepts (“the pain is real but not indicative of harm, fear is an important factor, your mental attitudes and physical approach will make a huge difference”) with the hope of effective treatment too. That pain that has been allowed to become very chronic is a global ailment requiring psychological input I don’t doubt.

    Para 1 – I’m not actually familiar with Sarno, but learned to be skeptical about individual units’ claims of success rates years ago. Especially with a subjective symptom like pain. Charismatic practitioners have high success rates that never seem to transfer to others. Related to that is the interesting question of unintended consequences (ie the wrong theory working). In any case, 80% of the 10-15% who accept the diagnosis is around 10%, which isn’t such a great success rate.

    In back pain I got used to dealing with people who’d been told all kinds of mutually incompatible nonsense by different types of people, but who’d had good results because, for example, the false explanation got them exercising normally instead of fearing their pain and deconditioning.

    So does the theory matter? Less than one would think, but my attitude is the closer one gets to how things are actually working, the less problems occur down the line. Telling someone they’ve got 6 discs “out” is fine until someone invents MRI and finds (a) it’s not true or (b) that it’s true but doesn’t help the problem.

    So is the purely psychosomatic approach helpful because it’s true, or because it leads to the right activity?

    Last para is possibly true, but by no means conclusive. The first rule in medicine is that things happen to individuals, not the whole species. For 25 years I handled annual flu outbreaks without being vaccinated, and only got ill once. There’s some lesson to learn there, but it isn’t that flu is imaginary. Similarly, some large percentage of people will never get Ca bronchus, or chronic lung disease, however much they smoke: but smoking still kills.

    So “Does RSI exist?” requires analysis of its first description to see if that was valid, analysis of current diagnosis to see if it’s being misapplied, social analysis to see if it’s become a fashionable thing to get, or even a standard excuse to get out of inhuman working conditions. So it exists – but what is it?

  19. of semi-related interest:

    The Population Control Holocaust – 2012
    Excerpt:,,, the belief that the human race is a horde of vermin whose unconstrained aspirations and appetites endanger the natural order, and that tyrannical measures are necessary to constrain humanity. The founding prophet of modern antihumanism is Thomas Malthus (1766-1834), who offered a pseudoscientific basis for the idea that human reproduction always outruns available resources. Following this pessimistic and inaccurate assessment of the capacity of human ingenuity to develop new resources, Malthus advocated oppressive policies that led to the starvation of millions in India and Ireland.
    While Malthus’s argument that human population growth invariably leads to famine and poverty is plainly at odds with the historical evidence, which shows global living standards rising with population growth, it nonetheless persisted and even gained strength among intellectuals and political leaders in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Its most pernicious manifestation in recent decades has been the doctrine of population control, famously advocated by ecologist Paul Ehrlich, whose bestselling 1968 antihumanist tract The Population Bomb has served as the bible of neo-Malthusianism. In this book, Ehrlich warned of overpopulation and advocated that the American government adopt stringent population control measures, both domestically and for the Third World countries that received American foreign aid. (Ehrlich, it should be noted, is the mentor of and frequent collaborator with John Holdren, President Obama’s science advisor.),,,
    http://www.thenewatlantis.com/.....-holocaust

  20. Jon, I am very surprised at your reaction to the information presented here. If our roles had been reversed, I would have already asked you for more information and hurried to the library to read more comprehensibly on the subject. I would have wanted to learn about the multiple doctors from all over the U.S. who have interrupted their practice so they could fly to New York and study with John Sarno. I would have already devoured one of Sarno’s books. At the very least, I would have Googled his name to get a brief description of his accomplishments.

    It would have only take five seconds to get to this paragraph:

    “Sarno’s books describe two follow-up surveys of his TMS patients. The first in 1982 interviewed 177 patients selected randomly from those Sarno treated in the preceding three years. 76% stated that they were leading normal and effectively pain-free lives. A second follow-up study in 1987 restricted the population surveyed to those with herniated discs identified on CT-scans, and 88% of the 109 randomly selected patients stated that they were free of pain one to three years after TMS treatment.

    In 2007, David Schechter (a medical doctor and former student and research assistant of Sarno) published a peer-reviewed study of TMS treatment showing a 54% success rate for chronic back pain. The average pain duration for the study’s patients was 9 years. In terms of statistical significance and success rate, the study outperformed similar studies of other psychological interventions for chronic back pain.”

    Or this:

    “On February 14, 2012, John Sarno, MD appeared before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, and Pensions to address ‘Pain in America: Exploring Challenges to Relief’. The committee was chaired by Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) who was very supportive of the mind-body connection espoused by Dr. Sarno’s treatment approach to pain. In fact Senator Harkin describes his own successful experience with pain relief from reading Dr. Sarno’s books. Senator Harkin relates how his niece’s chronic pain symptomatology from fibromyalgia resolved after reading Dr. Sarno’s books as well.”

  21. StephenB

    I’m not passing judgement from this side of the Atlantic. I don’t know enough to do so.

    But after a few decades in the profession, much of it dealing with patients with controversial conditions, who often had seen controversial practitoners, I’ve seen a lot, often gone against the mainstream and learned the place of healthy skepticism. Got some good results, too, though I says it myself as shouldn’t.

    One rule of thumb I developed is that if the first dozen pages of Google hits for a “non-accepted” controversial therapy are full of advertisements and testimonials to it, it’s not that “non-accepted” and I should look at the one gainsayer for information.

    Interestingly there’s only one skeptic on the first Google page if I search “John Sarno”, who has some quite interesting stuff on pain science… which still supports the point of your original post about blinkered establishments… only like all generalisations, they’re generalisations.

  22. Jon, if you get the chance, read “The Divided Mind,” by John Sarno. In addition to his own exposition, several other physicians recount their experiences in the context of what they have learned after having been trained by him. In the meantime, check out the brief Wikipedia article. If you are open to the evidence, I think you will eventually be persuaded.

  23. Stephen

    Sure thing. But I trust you’ll take the same advice yourself, eg here.

    Proverbs 18.17 relates!

  24. 24
    critical rationalist

    StephanB

    The question for the differential diagnosis is clear: Undirected Natural Processes or Directed Intelligent Design? While ID scientists consider the strength for both arguments and draw an inference to design, anti-ID partisans resort to methodological naturalism, an arbitrary rule of science that bans design arguments from the arena of competitive ideas. It is very easy to win a contest when you are the only competitor. Similarly, it is very easy to diagnose a cause when only one cause is eligible for consideration.

    Perhaps you missed my comment on this same issue from the anti-reality thread….

    For example, it’s unlikely that anyone has performed research to determine if eating a square meter of grass each day for a week would cure the common cold. Why is this? Is it because it’s logically impossible? No. Is it because it’s unfalsifiable? No, this would be trivial to test. Is it because is “non-natural” or “non-material”? No.

    Why then is it unlikely to be the subject of research? Because we lack an explanation as to how and why eating a square meter of grass each day for a week would cure the common cold. As such, we discard it, a priori, before we even test it.

    [...]

    Without an explanation it’s a theory-less, mere logical possibility, which we cannot test for errors using observations. As such we discard it. And we do this for a near infinite number of mere possibilities every day across every field of science.

    Now, if you’d like to move from the abstract to present some sort of explanation as to how the designer did it, the origin of the knowledge it used to do it, etc, *then* we would have something more than a mere possibility.

    But this will not occur for reasons that are obvious.

    So, if anyone is being reluctance here, it is ID proponents.

  25. Jon, I read as much as I could on Todd Hargrove, visiting two blogs where he comments. He agrees that Sarno’s methods work, but he doesn’t agree with Sarno’s explanation about why they work. That doesn’t seem reasonable to me.

    If Sarno’s diagnosis was incorrect, his therapy wouldn’t suffice. That is why so many of Todd’s readers often interrupt his critique to praise Sarno and tell their stories of liberation. It also explains why so many studies confirm the efficacy of Sarno’s strategies.

    On the other hand, I am not aware of any long-term studies that would confirm the efficacy of Todd’s approach (or those of Patrick Wall/Ronald Melzack). I admire their independent thinking and their descriptions of phenomena, but I have no reason to believe that they can make people better.

  26. 26
    critical rationalist

    StephanB: Clearly, institutional bias can cloud judgment in any area or specialty. Like the structuralist physicians who ignore scientific evidence that points to the mind as a cause for physical symptoms, materialist Darwinists (and Christian Darwinists) ignore scientific evidence that points to the mind as a cause for biological design. In both cases, the analyst subordinates truth to convention, which is the hallmark of anti-intellectual partisanship.

    First and most importantly, disagreement over the role evidence plays in the growth of knowledge does not constitute ignoring evidence. Surely, you can do better than this?

    Second, apparently I’m not a “material Darwinist” (whatever that means) as Darwinism falls under the same umbrella theory of knowledge that includes how knowledge is created in minds. No ignoring evidence here either.

    Third, asserting design or the appearance of it is some kind of immutable primitive that cannot be explained isn’t anti-intellectual?

    StephanB: Still, there is a difference. To ignore evidence is irresponsible, but to forbid its expression is evil. In the latter case, anti-ID zealots have, by virtue of their exclusionary rule, decided that nature should not be allowed to reveal all her secrets.

    Again, see above. To forbid questions about the designer as taboo or claiming we cannot make progress in regards to details of the designer would not be evil?

    Furthermore, if you claim there are just some “secrets” about the designer that cannot be revealed, it’s unclear how is this is any different from saying the designer is inexplicable, yet can effect us.

    I do not think proponents of such a view have though out the consequence of such a claim. From the same comment on the earlier thread.

    If we really do reside in a finite bubble of explicably, which exists in an island in a sea of of inexplicability, the inside of this bubble cannot be explicable either. This is because the inside is supposedly dependent what occurs in this inexplicable realm. Any assumption that the world is inexplicable leads to bad explanations. That is, no theory about what exists beyond this bubble can be any better than “Zeus rules” there. And, given the dependency above (this realm supposedly effects us), this also means there can be no better expiation that “Zeus rules” inside this bubble as well.

    In other words, our everyday experience in this bubble would only appear explicable if we carefully refrain from asking specific questions.

    Of course, just because something is a bad explanation this doesn’t necessarily mean it is might not be true.

    But, if we assume this is indeed true, for the sake of criticism, and that all observations should conform to it, this leads to the following question: “If bad explanations are indeed true, then how do you explain our ability to know anything?”

    However if, on the other hand, Cornelius means that Darwinism is nothing more than veering atoms, rather than a process that genuinely creates knowledge via emergence, then he’s attacking a strawman via an outdated definition of materialism.

  27. Critical rationalist:

    Now, if you’d like to move from the abstract to present some sort of explanation as to how the designer did it, the origin of the knowledge it used to do it, etc, *then* we would have something more than a mere possibility.

    A scientific inference to design does not require a description of the designer’s mechanism. When, for example, the archeologist draws an inference about the design in an ancient hunter’s spear, ruling out natural causes such as wind, air, and erosion, he need not explain the process by which spear was designed. Those are the two logical choices: undirected naturalistic process vs. directed intelligent design.

  28. critical rationalist:

    First and most importantly, disagreement over the role evidence plays in the growth of knowledge does not constitute ignoring evidence. Surely, you can do better than this?

    Methodological naturalism, as practiced by Darwinists, rules out all evidence for biological design in the name of science.

    Of course, just because something is a bad explanation doesn’t necessarily mean it might not be true.

    What is your definition of a bad explanation?

  29. Stephen B

    On the other hand, I am not aware of any long-term studies that would confirm the efficacy of Todd’s approach (or those of Patrick Wall/Ronald Melzack). I admire their independent thinking and their descriptions of phenomena, but I have no reason to believe that they can make people better.

    That’s fine, Stephen, I appreciate your position. I, on the other hand, do have reason to believe they can make people better, because I used them and they did. But you have no reason to believe me. After all my patients didn’t post testimonials on the web, and I wasn’t an accomplished self-publicist, being a mere state-funded practitioner rather than depending on fee-paying patients.

    Mind you, I’ve never heard of Todd before, who is just a random blogger representing an entire worldwide medical/physiological field of pain science. To assess that you’d need to start with some basic grounding in the anatomy and physiology, read the specialist literature and controlled studies, attend a few conferences, meet some pain consultants. I was particularly impressed by the research of one of the guys who taught me, on his spare-time work on people suffering traumatic amputations in the Sierra Leone civil war.

    If Sarno’s diagnosis was incorrect, his therapy wouldn’t suffice.

    You clearly haven’t had much experience of the history and philosophy of medicine, then! If Sarno’s diagnosis is right, it will mean we will have to rehabilitate Freudian Psychoanalysis, which was already well on the way to being debunked as myth when I studied social psychology in 1973, because that’s his psychological model. Come back, Oedipus complex! All is forgiven!

  30. Jon, I understand that you are committed to a certain treatment model and I don’t doubt that you have had some success with it. My guess is that you did a spectacular job with the information that was available to you. What we are discussing, though, is the approach that works best. The evidence–and there is plenty of it– is on the side of Sarno’s methods. I encourage you to follow up with the requisite reading.

    Responding to your objection, I don’t think that adopting Sarno’s approach would signal a return to Freudian psychoanalysis or atheistic paradigms. To recognize the existence and power of the unconscious mind is simply to face a incontestable fact. You seem to be arguing that we should forget about that fact simply because Freud’s was an atheist and wrong about other things.

    In any case, Sarno draws on Charcot, Freud, Breuer, Adler, Alexander, Walters and others. Each was right about some things; each was wrong about many other things. More to the point, Sarno has achieved the breakthrough that no one else could achieve by studying the relevant literature, employing the empirical method, and, most of all, being a good detective.

    You speak of experience and I agree that it is important. We must all learn from our mistakes and make adjustments as we go. Institutional bias is a killer because it encourages misplaced loyalty and causes people to “double down” when they should be changing. In keeping with that point, I learn much more from those who have had forty years worth of experience than from those who have had one year’s experience forty times.

  31. 31
    critical rationalist

    CR: First and most importantly, disagreement over the role evidence plays in the growth of knowledge does not constitute ignoring evidence. Surely, you can do better than this?

    SB: Methodological naturalism, as practiced by Darwinists, rules out all evidence for biological design in the name of science.

    Again, surely you can do better than this? It is logically possible that some highly advanced alien civilization billions of years older than our planet could have designed the biosphere. Yet, we’ve discarded this as well for the same reasons I’ve illustrated. It’s an explanation-less theory.

    Furthermore, a designer is not ruled out, but discarded along with an infinite number of other logically possible, but yet to be conceived explanations. Un-conceived theories are explanation-less because, well, un-conceived theories cannot have explanations.

    So, it’s not evidence that is discarded, but bad or explanation-less theories for that evidence.

    SB: Of course, just because something is a bad explanation doesn’t necessarily mean it might not be true.

    CR: What is your definition of a bad explanation?

    Good explanations include not only being predictive, testable, etc. They are also provide a long chain of independent, hard to details which are difficult to vary without effecting the entire theory.

    From the Wikipedia entry on Explanatory Power

    Physicist David Deutsch offers a criterion for a good explanation that he says may be just as important to scientific progress as learning to reject appeals to authority, and adopting formal empiricism and falsifiability. To Deutsch, these aspects of a good explanation, and more, are contained in any theory that is specific and “hard to vary”. He believes that this criterion helps eliminate “bad explanations” which continuously add justifications, and can otherwise avoid ever being truly falsified.

    Deutsch takes examples from Greek mythology. He describes how very specific, and even somewhat falsifiable theories were provided to explain how the gods’ sadness caused the seasons. Alternatively, Deutsch points out, one could have just as easily explained the seasons as resulting from the gods’ happiness – making it a bad explanation, since it is so easy to arbitrarily change details.[1] Without Deutsch’s criteria, the ‘Greek gods explanation’ could have just kept adding justifications. This same criterion, of being “hard to vary”, may be what makes the modern explanation for the seasons a good one: none of the details – about the earth rotating around the sun at a certain angle in a certain orbit – can be easily modified without changing the theory’s coherence.

    An “abstract designer with no limitations” is easily varied because it retreats from any of the details that makes a designer a good explanation in the first place. It’s only connected to design is the claim of being a designer, which a form of justificationism.

  32. CR:

    It is logically possible that some highly advanced alien civilization billions of years older than our planet could have designed the biosphere. Yet, we’ve discarded this as well for the same reasons I’ve illustrated. It’s an explanation-less theory.

    Your claim about what is logically possible has nothing at all to do with the fact that methodological naturalism rules out evidence for design even before the evidence has had a chance to speak..

    Furthermore, a designer is not ruled out, but discarded along with an infinite number of other logically possible, but yet to be conceived explanations. Un-conceived theories are explanation-less because, well, un-conceived theories cannot have explanations

    To say that something has not been ruled out but has merely been discarded is like saying that something has not been abolished but has merely been expunged. In any case, everyone knows what design means, especially the methodological naturalists who rule it out.

    Good explanations include not only being predictive, testable, etc. They are also provide a long chain of independent, hard to details which are difficult to vary without effecting the entire theory.

    I didn’t ask you to define a good explanation, which is obvious enough. I asked you to define a bad explanation since you said that a bad explanation could also be true.

  33. I learn much more from those who have had forty years worth of experience than from those who have had one year’s experience forty times.

    Ah! That explains why you have little to learn from me. I only spent 35 years of professional development, and approximately 1/4 million consultations, gaining my experience. I defer.

  34. critical rationalist shoots down evolutionism:

    Good explanations include not only being predictive, testable, etc. They are also provide a long chain of independent, hard to details which are difficult to vary without effecting the entire theory.

    Evolutionism doesn’t make any predictions, it is not testable and doesn’t have any details.

  35. Physicist David Deutsch offers a criterion for a good explanation that he says may be just as important to scientific progress as learning to reject appeals to authority, and adopting formal empiricism and falsifiability.

    Intelligent Design is based on empiricism and can be falsified. Therefor it is a good explanation.

  36. LOL:

    Physicist David Deutsch offers a criterion for a good explanation that he says may be just as important to scientific progress as learning to reject appeals to authority

    Says the man who appeals to the authority of David Deutsch. :)

    Dream Machine by Rivka Galchen May 2, 2011
    Excerpt: “Deutsch is nearly alone in this conviction that quantum computing and Many Worlds are inextricably bound, though many (especially around Oxford) concede that the construction of a sizable and stable quantum computer might be evidence in favor of the Everett interpretation.”
    http://www.newyorker.com/repor.....ct_galchen

    Note:

    Does Quantum Physics Make it Easier to Believe in God? July 2012 – Stephen M. Barr – professor of physics at the University of Delaware.
    Excerpt: The upshot is this: If the mathematics of quantum mechanics is right (as most fundamental physicists believe), and if materialism is right, one is forced to accept the Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics. And that is awfully heavy baggage for materialism to carry.
    If, on the other hand, we accept the more traditional understanding of quantum mechanics that goes back to von Neumann, one is led by its logic (as Wigner and Peierls were) to the conclusion that not everything is just matter in motion, and that in particular there is something about the human mind that transcends matter and its laws. It then becomes possible to take seriously certain questions that materialism had ruled out of court: If the human mind transcends matter to some extent, could there not exist minds that transcend the physical universe altogether? And might there not even exist an ultimate Mind?
    http://www.bigquestionsonline......elieve-god

    Quantum brains: The oRules – Richard A. Mould – 2004
    Department of Physics and Astronomy, State University of New York,
    Excerpt page 9: Traditional quantum mechanics is not completely grounded in observation inasmuch as it does not include an observer. The epistemological approach of Copenhagen does not give the observer a role that is sufficient for him to realize the full empirical potential of the theory; and as a result, this model encourages bizarre speculations such as the many-world interpretation of Everett or the cat paradox of Schrödinger. However, when rules are written that allow a conscious observer to be given an ontologically complete role in the system, these empirical distortions disappear. It is only because of the incompleteness of the epistemological model by itself that these fanciful excursions seem plausible3. note 3: Physical theory should be made to accommodate the phenomena, not the other way around. Everett goes the other way around when he creates imaginary phenomenon to accommodate traditional quantum mechanics. If the oRules were adopted in place of the Born rule, these flights of fantasy would not be possible.
    http://ms.cc.sunysb.edu/~rmoul.....oRules.pdf

    In the following video, at the 37:00 minute mark, Anton Zeilinger, a leading researcher in quantum teleportation with many breakthroughs under his belt, humorously reflects on just how deeply determinism has been undermined by quantum mechanics by saying such a deep lack of determinism may provide some of us a loop hole when they meet God on judgment day.

    Prof Anton Zeilinger speaks on quantum physics. at UCT – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3ZPWW5NOrw

    Personally, I feel that such a deep undermining of determinism by quantum mechanics, far from providing a ‘loop hole’ on judgement day, actually restores free will to its rightful place in the grand scheme of things, thus making God’s final judgments on men’s souls all the more fully binding since man truly is a ‘free moral agent’ as Theism has always maintained. And to solidify this theistic claim for how reality is constructed, the following study came along a few months after I had seen Dr. Zeilinger’s video:

    Can quantum theory be improved? – July 23, 2012
    Excerpt: Being correct 50% of the time when calling heads or tails on a coin toss won’t impress anyone. So when quantum theory predicts that an entangled particle will reach one of two detectors with just a 50% probability, many physicists have naturally sought better predictions. The predictive power of quantum theory is, in this case, equal to a random guess. Building on nearly a century of investigative work on this topic, a team of physicists has recently performed an experiment whose results show that, despite its imperfections, quantum theory still seems to be the optimal way to predict measurement outcomes.,
    However, in the new paper, the physicists have experimentally demonstrated that there cannot exist any alternative theory that increases the predictive probability of quantum theory by more than 0.165, with the only assumption being that measurement (*conscious observation) parameters can be chosen independently (free choice, free will, assumption) of the other parameters of the theory.,,,
    ,, the experimental results provide the tightest constraints yet on alternatives to quantum theory. The findings imply that quantum theory is close to optimal in terms of its predictive power, even when the predictions are completely random.
    http://phys.org/news/2012-07-quantum-theory.html

    So just as I had suspected after watching Dr. Zeilinger’s video, it is found that a required assumption of ‘free will’ in quantum mechanics is what necessarily drives the completely random (non-deterministic) aspect of quantum mechanics. Moreover, it was shown in the paper that one cannot ever improve the predictive power of quantum mechanics by ever removing free will as a starting assumption in Quantum Mechanics!

    Henry Stapp on the Conscious Choice and the Non-Local Quantum Entangled Effects – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJN01s1gOqA

    of note:

    What does the term “measurement” mean in quantum mechanics?
    “Measurement” or “observation” in a quantum mechanics context are really just other ways of saying that the observer is interacting with the quantum system and measuring the result in toto.
    http://boards.straightdope.com.....p?t=597846

    Needless to say, finding ‘free will conscious observation’ to be ‘built into’ our best description of foundational reality, quantum mechanics, as a starting assumption, ‘free will observation’ which is indeed the driving aspect of randomness in quantum mechanics, is VERY antithetical to the entire materialistic philosophy which demands that a ‘non-telological randomness’ be the driving force of creativity in Darwinian evolution! In fact the primary source of randomness for the ‘materialistic universe’ is found to be very destructive supermassive Blackholes. Which begs the question, could these two very different sources of randomness found in Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity, respectively, be one of the primary reasons for their failure to be unified?

    Verse and music:

    –Deuteronomy 30:15-16, 19-20
    “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil,
    in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways,
    and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments,
    that you may live and multiply;
    and the LORD your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess…
    I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you,
    that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing;
    therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live;
    that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice,
    and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your
    days.”

    Evanescence – The Other Side (Lyric Video)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HiIvtRg7-Lc

  37. 37
    critical rationalist

    @StephenB

    We’re not making much progress here, so I’ll try to summarize where we seem to diverge.

    You seem to be saying that “material Darwinists” are actively ignoring/discarding evidence. You also seem to be saying that science is excluding design as a cause of the biosphere because science is excludes non-material causes. In addition, you seem to be suggesting this results in evidence that normally would “speak” for itself being somehow silenced.

    On the other hand, I’m saying that evidence doesn’t “say” anything as we cannot extrapolate observations without first putting them into an explanatory framework. So, observations are not ruled out or discarded. Rather, they do not tell us anything – one way or the other – without a good explanation. Furthermore, science is about advancing our ability to solve problems by correcting errors in our explanatory theories about how the world works. As such, explanation-less logical possibilities, material or otherwise, are discarded as they neither explain how the world works, actually solve problems or present an opportunity to be found in error.

    So, we are “methodological explainers”, which happen to discard non-natural causes because they are explicitly claimed to be inexplicable or it is implied.

  38. 38
    critical rationalist

    [CR:] Of course, just because something is a bad explanation doesn’t necessarily mean it might not be true.

    [SB]: What is your definition of a bad explanation?

    CR: Good explanations include not only being predictive, testable, etc. [t]hey are also provide a long chain of independent, hard to details which are difficult to vary without effecting the entire theory.

    To Deutsch, [] aspects of a good explanation, [such as learning to reject appeals to authority, and adopting formal empiricism and falsifiability] and more, are contained in any theory that is specific and “hard to vary”. He believes that this criterion helps eliminate “bad explanations”which continuously add justifications, and can otherwise avoid ever being truly falsified.

    Deutsch takes examples from Greek mythology. He describes how very specific, and even somewhat falsifiable theories were provided to explain how the gods’ sadness caused the seasons. Alternatively, Deutsch points out, one could have just as easily explained the seasons as resulting from the gods’ happiness – making it a bad explanation, since it is so easy to arbitrarily change details.

    CR: An “abstract designer with no limitations” is easily varied because it retreats from any of the details that makes a designer a good explanation in the first place. It’s only connected to design is the claim of being a designer, which a form of justificationism.

    SB: I didn’t ask you to define a good explanation….

    I gave examples of both. The contrast between the two is part of the definition.

    … which is obvious enough.

    So, everyone has always agreed about what constitutes a good explanation, the role good explanation play in the growth of knowledge and where it is applicable?

    I asked you to define a bad explanation since you said that a bad explanation could also be true.

    From the Wikipedia entry on Critical Rationalism

    William Warren Bartley compared critical rationalism to the very general philosophical approach to knowledge which he called “justificationism”. Most justificationists do not know that they are justificationists. Justificationism is what Popper called a “subjectivist” view of truth, in which the question of whether some statement is true, is confused with the question of whether it can be justified (established, proven, verified, warranted, made well-founded, made reliable, grounded, supported, legitimated, based on evidence) in some way.

    We can say the same about bad explanations.

    It’s logically possible and might be true that eating a square foot of grass every day for a week could cure the common cold. Yet, we discard it a priori because we lack an explanation as to why doing either of these things would cure the common cold. And we do this every day for an infinite number of logical possibilities, in every field of science.

    What do I mean by discarded?

    If someone who had contracted the common cold found themselves in an environment that resulted in them eating a square foot of it each day for a week for a reason unrelated to attempting to cure their cold, (such as grass was all that was available to eat), their cold was cured, and this could be reproduced in other independent experiments, this would represent the creation of non-explanatory knowledge, (a useful rule of thumb.) However, whenever information is useful, there is an explanation for why it is useful even if it isn’t explicit. This would be explanatory knowledge in the form of a good explanation.

    Again, explanation-less logical possibilities, material or otherwise, are discarded as they neither explain how the world works, actually solve problems or present an opportunity to be found in error.

  39. 39
    critical rationalist

    Joe:

    Physicist David Deutsch offers a criterion for a good explanation that he says may be just as important to scientific progress as learning to reject appeals to authority, and adopting formal empiricism and falsifiability.

    Intelligent Design is based on empiricism and can be falsified. Therefor it is a good explanation.

    Except Joe does not actually quote what Deutsch’s criterion is, let alone how elaborate on how ID meets that criterion.

    Deutsch goes on to say…

    To Deutsch, these aspects of a good explanation, and more, are contained in any theory that is specific and “hard to vary”. He believes that this criterion helps eliminate “bad explanations” which continuously add justifications, and can otherwise avoid ever being truly falsified.[1]

    Joe’s comment represents the sort of thinking Deutsch’s criterion is designed to address.

  40. critical rationalist- thank you for continuing to prove that you are clueless and desperate.

  41. 41
    critical rationalist

    Joe: thank you for continuing to prove that you are clueless and desperate.

    Just in case it’s not painfully clear….

    Summary of Deutsch’s criteria: Explanations are not good merely because they make predictions that are empirically falsifiable. Explanations are good because they entail those things *and* are hard to vary without effecting the entire theory.

    Joe’s response:

    Intelligent Design is based on empiricism and can be falsified. Therefor it is a good explanation.

    So, apparently, Joe didn’t actually read Deutsch’s criteria, didn’t comprehend Deutsch’s criteria, or his claim does not actually reflect Deutsch’s criteria – in which case he’s merely trying to selectively quote the wiki entry to make it appear as if it does.

    The latter would represent intentionally presenting a blatant (and transparent) falsehood.

  42. ‘I tentatively accept the consequences of such a theory, including that I would also be a multiversal object, which includes at least 10^500 versions of myself’ – Scott – Many Worlds proponent and follower of Deutsch’s criteria
    http://darwins-god.blogspot.co.....8409346277

    So much for Deutsch’s criteria of separating good explanations from bad explanations! :)

  43. CR:

    Deutsch points out, one could have just as easily explained the seasons as resulting from the gods’ happiness – making it a bad explanation, since it is so easy to arbitrarily change details.

    By that standard, a bad definition is one that is a little too facile—a little too ready to morph its way out of being falsified. That sounds exactly like the ever-changing paradigm of neo-Darwinism, which remains in a perpetual state of damage control, reinventing and rehabilitating itself each time new evidence disconfirms old claims. It certainly doesn’t apply to the unchanging ID paradigm, which, unlike the moving target of neo-Darwinism, can easily be falsified by a demonstrable evolutionary pathway.

    William Warren Bartley compared critical rationalism to the very general philosophical approach to knowledge which he called “justificationism”. Most justificationists do not know that they are justificationists. Justificationism is what Popper called a “subjectivist” view of truth, in which the question of whether some statement is true, is confused with the question of whether it can be justified (established, proven, verified, warranted, made well-founded, made reliable, grounded, supported, legitimated, based on evidence) in some way.

    Truth isn’t nearly as hard to find as Bartley or Popper make out. Even if we grant critical rationalism, though, which I emphatically do not, ID comes out better than Darwinism. In that spirit, let’s put on our CR hat and add a step or two to justify the belief component:

    It is reasonable to believe that the best available explanation of any fact is true.

    Biodiversity is a fact.

    ID explains biodiversity

    Darwinism doesn’t explain it as well

    Therefore, it is reasonable to believe that ID is true

    Meanwhile, show me how you subject Darwinism to the same test of critical rationalism that you continually apply to ID. Raise all the objections to Darwinism that a true and consistent critical rationalist would pose.

    Again, explanation-less logical possibilities, material or otherwise, are discarded as they neither explain how the world works, actually solve problems or present an opportunity to be found in error.

    The argument for design is not “explanation-less.” Design is simply the act of forming matter so that it serves some function. Everyone knows what that means. Methodological naturalists do not discard the logical possibility of design because they don’t think it constitutes an explanation. They discard it because they would prefer not to consider the evidence that supports it.

  44. StephanB

    Sorry to stick my oar in but I just noticed something that I’d like to hear more about:

    ID explains biodiversity

    What is the explanation? Contrasted with the evolutionary explanation.

  45. Jerad asked in regards to biodiversity:

    “What is the explanation? Contrasted with the evolutionary explanation.”

    Top Down Design contrasted to Bottom Up Evolution explains the biodiversity we see for life much better:

    Evolutionists Are Losing Ground Badly: Both Pattern and Process Contradict the Aging Theory – Cornelius Hunter – July 2012
    Excerpt: Contradictory patterns in biology include the abrupt appearance of so many forms and the diversity explosions followed by a winnowing of diversity in the fossil record. It looks more like the inverse of an evolutionary tree with bursts of new species which then die off over time.
    http://darwins-god.blogspot.co.....badly.html

    “The sweep of anatomical diversity reached a maximum right after the initial diversification of multicellular animals. The later history of life proceeded by elimination not expansion.”
    Stephen J. Gould, Harvard, Wonderful Life, 1989, p.46

    A. L. Hughes’s New Non-Darwinian Mechanism of Adaption Was Discovered and Published in Detail by an ID Geneticist 25 Years Ago – Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig – December 2011
    Excerpt: The original species had a greater genetic potential to adapt to all possible environments. In the course of time this broad capacity for adaptation has been steadily reduced in the respective habitats by the accumulation of slightly deleterious alleles (as well as total losses of genetic functions redundant for a habitat), with the exception, of course, of that part which was necessary for coping with a species’ particular environment….By mutative reduction of the genetic potential, modifications became “heritable”. — As strange as it may at first sound, however, this has nothing to do with the inheritance of acquired characteristics. For the characteristics were not acquired evolutionarily, but existed from the very beginning due to the greater adaptability. In many species only the genetic functions necessary for coping with the corresponding environment have been preserved from this adaptability potential. The “remainder” has been lost by mutations (accumulation of slightly disadvantageous alleles) — in the formation of secondary species.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....53881.html

    The Cambrian’s Many Forms
    Excerpt: “It appears that organisms displayed “rampant” within-species variation “in the ‘warm afterglow’ of the Cambrian explosion,” Hughes said, but not later. “No one has shown this convincingly before, and that’s why this is so important.”"From an evolutionary perspective, the more variable a species is, the more raw material natural selection has to operate on,”….(Yet Surprisingly)….”There’s hardly any variation in the post-Cambrian,” he said. “Even the presence or absence or the kind of ornamentation on the head shield varies within these Cambrian trilobites and doesn’t vary in the post-Cambrian trilobites.” University of Chicago paleontologist Mark Webster; article on the “surprising and unexplained” loss of variation and diversity for trilobites over the 270 million year time span that trilobites were found in the fossil record, prior to their total extinction from the fossil record about 250 million years ago.
    http://www.terradaily.com/repo.....s_999.html

    In fact, the loss of morphological traits over time, for all organisms found in the fossil record, was/is so consistent that it was made into a ‘scientific law’:

    Dollo’s law and the death and resurrection of genes:
    Excerpt: “As the history of animal life was traced in the fossil record during the 19th century, it was observed that once an anatomical feature was lost in the course of evolution it never staged a return. This observation became canonized as Dollo’s law, after its propounder, and is taken as a general statement that evolution is irreversible.”
    http://www.pnas.org/content/91.....l.pdf+html

    Dollo’s Law was further verified to the molecular level here:

    Dollo’s law, the symmetry of time, and the edge of evolution – Michael Behe
    Excerpt: We predict that future investigations, like ours, will support a molecular version of Dollo’s law:,,, Dr. Behe comments on the finding of the study, “The old, organismal, time-asymmetric Dollo’s law supposedly blocked off just the past to Darwinian processes, for arbitrary reasons. A Dollo’s law in the molecular sense of Bridgham et al (2009), however, is time-symmetric. A time-symmetric law will substantially block both the past and the future.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....f_tim.html

    Evolutionary Adaptations Can Be Reversed, but Rarely – May 2011
    Excerpt: They found that a very small percentage of evolutionary adaptations in a drug-resistance gene can be reversed, but only if the adaptations involve fewer than four discrete genetic mutations. (If reverting to a previous function, which is advantageous, is so constrained, what does this say about gaining a completely novel function, which may be advantageous, which requires many more mutations?)
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....162538.htm

    Some Further Research On Dollo’s Law – Wolf-Ekkehard Lonnig – November 2010
    http://www.globalsciencebooks......)1-21o.pdf

    Further facts that conforms to the principle of genetic entropy:

    “According to a ‘law’ formulated by E. D. Cope in 1871, the body size of organisms in a peculiar evolutionary lineage tends to increase. But Cope’s rule has failed the most comprehensive test applied to it yet.”
    Stephen Gould, Harvard, Nature, V.385, 1/16/97

    Another way Top Down Design explains biodiversity much better than the Bottom Up materialistic theory of Darwinism, is in the cooperative symbiotic relationships of life forms we find that are unexpected, even antagonistic, to the entire ‘survival of the fittest’, survival of the ‘selfish gene’, evolutionary scenario: i.e. the overall principle of long term balanced symbiosis is a very anti-random chance fact which pervades the entire ecology of our planet and points powerfully to the intentional craftsmanship of a Designer. Most people are familiar with the oxygen and carbon dioxide symbiotic relationship between animals and plants,,,

    God’s Creation – Symbiotic (Cooperative) Relationships – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4023110

    Intelligent Design – Symbiosis and the Golden Ratio – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4669633

  46. ,, but fewer people are aware that symbiotic (cooperative) relationships are far more extensive than that. Here are a few examples::

    Symbiosis: A Surprising Tale of Species Cooperation – David Gonzales – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2AM3ARs9MMg

    Commensalism symbiosis of (cleaner) fish – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4a1WprYCeY

    Here are a few irreducibly complex ‘surprises’ of the symbiotic relationships between bees and flowers

    Wild Orchids of Israel: Seduction of the Long-horned Bee (Irreducible Complexity) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFftHXbjEQA

    Hammer Orchid and Wasps – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hv4n85-SqxQ

    Of related note:

    Thank God for Flowers – Hugh Ross – August 2010
    Excerpt: Paleontologist Kevin Boyce and climate modeler Jung-Eun Lee,,, recently discovered that flowering plants contribute much more than romance and beauty to humanity’s wellbeing. They uncovered evidence suggesting that without flowering plants, human civilization would not even be possible. Boyce and Lee found that a world without angiosperms (flowering plants) would not only be drab and uninspiring but would also be much drier and hotter and lacking in species diversity. The researchers noted that angiosperms transpire water to the atmosphere about four times more efficiently than other species of plants.
    http://www.reasons.org/thank-god-flowers

    Symbiosis, if ‘coincidental’ cooperations can be called symbiosis at that level, even extends all the way down to the chemical level of elements and physics level of universal constants:

    Michael Denton: Remarkable Coincidences in Photosynthesis – podcast
    http://www.idthefuture.com/201....._coin.html

    Michael Denton – We Are Stardust – Uncanny Balance Of The Elements – and Atheist Fred Hoyle’s conversion from atheism to being a Deist/Theist – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4003877

    Indeed, symbiotic relationships are found right at the start of life on the early earth. i.e. Evidence for ‘sulfate reducing’ bacteria has been discovered alongside the evidence for photosynthetic bacteria in the earliest sedimentary rocks found on earth:

    When Did Life First Appear on Earth? – Fazale Rana – December 2010
    Excerpt: The primary evidence for 3.8 billion-year-old life consists of carbonaceous deposits, such as graphite, found in rock formations in western Greenland. These deposits display an enrichment of the carbon-12 isotope. Other chemical signatures from these formations that have been interpreted as biological remnants include uranium/thorium fractionation and banded iron formations. Recently, a team from Australia argued that the dolomite in these formations also reflects biological activity, specifically that of sulfate-reducing bacteria.
    http://www.reasons.org/when-di.....pear-earth

    On the third page of this following site there is a illustration that shows some of the interdependent, ‘life-enabling’, biogeochemical complexity of different types of bacterial life on early Earth.,,,

    Microbial Mat Ecology – Image on page 92 (third page down)
    http://www.dsls.usra.edu/biolo.....nit2.2.pdf

  47. This symbiotic relationship found at the base level of bacterial level of life on earth makes higher life possible on earth:

    The Microbial Engines That Drive Earth’s Biogeochemical Cycles – Falkowski 2008
    Excerpt: Microbial life can easily live without us; we, however, cannot survive without the global catalysis and environmental transformations it provides. – Paul G. Falkowski – Professor Geological Sciences – Rutgers

    Biologically mediated cycles for hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, sulfur, and iron – image of interdependent ‘biogeochemical’ web
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cont......large.jpg

    As a side issue to these complex interdependent biogeochemical relationships, of the ‘simplest’ bacteria on Earth, that provide the foundation for a ‘friendly’ environment on Earth that is hospitable to higher lifeforms above them to eventually appear on earth, it is interesting to note man’s failure to build a miniature, self-enclosed, ecology in which humans could live for any extended periods of time.

    Biosphere 2 – What Went Wrong?
    Excerpt: Other Problems
    Biosphere II’s water systems became polluted with too many nutrients. The crew had to clean their water by running it over mats of algae, which they later dried and stored.
    Also, as a symptom of further atmospheric imbalances, the level of dinitrogen oxide became dangerously high. At these levels, there was a risk of brain damage due to a reduction in the synthesis of vitamin B12.
    http://biology.kenyon.edu/slon.....wrong.html

    Of related note:

    The Creation of Minerals:
    Excerpt: Thanks to the way life was introduced on Earth, the early 250 mineral species have exploded to the present 4,300 known mineral species. And because of this abundance, humans possessed all the necessary mineral resources to easily launch and sustain global, high-technology civilization.
    http://www.reasons.org/The-Creation-of-Minerals

    Finding pervasive symbiotic relationships between higher life forms, and finding lower life to sustain higher life on earth with no benefit to itself, is simply completely unexpected from a Darwinian perspective:

    Richard Dawkins interview with a ‘Darwinian’ physician goes off track – video
    Excerpt: “I am amazed, Richard, that what we call metazoans, multi-celled organisms, have actually been able to evolve, and the reason [for amazement] is that bacteria and viruses replicate so quickly — a few hours sometimes, they can reproduce themselves — that they can evolve very, very quickly. And we’re stuck with twenty years at least between generations. How is it that we resist infection when they can evolve so quickly to find ways around our defenses?”
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....62031.html

    Related notes:

    Doug Axe: Lignin & the Coherent Design of the Ecosystem – podcast
    Excerpt: Lignin provides a paradoxical case for the Darwinian method of evolution, but fits perfectly into a design oriented scientific paradigm. Thirty percent of non-fossil organic carbon on the planet is lignin, so in a Darwinian world, something should have developed the ability to consume lignin–but it hasn’t. Lignin binds together and protects plant cellulose, which is vital to all types of large plant life; “The peculiar properties of lignin therefore make perfect sense when seen as part of a coherent design for the entire ecosystem of our planet.”
    http://www.idthefuture.com/201.....ent_d.html

    Darwinists tried, and failed, to overturn the Lignin egnigma outlined by Axe and Gauger:

    Lignin: The Enigma Remains – Ann Gauger – July 2012
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....61821.html

    A few more related notes:

    Roots and Microbes: Bringing a Complex Underground Ecology Into the Lab – August 2012
    Excerpt: As many as 120 different types of bacteria might reside inside the root of a single plant, Dangl says, and the composition of that community is distinct from the microbial population in the local soil. “We want to know the molecular rules that guide the assembly of a community of microbes on the roots that helps a plant grow. Ecologists see this as a 120-variable problem.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....132440.htm

    Some Trees ‘Farm’ Bacteria to Help Supply Nutrients – July 2010
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....172332.htm

    Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi Design
    Excerpt: The mutual relationship between vascular plants (flowering plants) and arbuscular mycorrihizal fungi (AMF) is the most prevalent known plant symbiosis. Vascular plants provide sites all along their root systems where colonies of AMF can assemble and feed on the nutrients supplied by the plants. In return, the AMF supply phosphorus, nitrogen, and carbon in molecular forms that the vascular plants can readily assimilate. The (overwhelming) challenge for evolutionary models is how to explain by natural means the simultaneous appearance of both vascular plants and AMF.
    http://www.reasons.org/Arbuscu.....ngiDesign2

  48. Verse and music:

    John 1:3-4
    Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.

    Creation Calls — are you listening? Music by Brian Doerksen
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LwGvfdtI2c0

    Johnny Cash and Rosanne Cash – September When It Comes – song about life and mortality
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2WilM6ljUg

  49. 49
    critical rationalist

    SB: What is your definition of a bad explanation?

    CR: Good explanations include not only being predictive, testable, etc. They are also provide a long chain of independent, hard to details which are difficult to vary without effecting the entire theory.

    [references examples of both bad and good explanations]

    SB: I didn’t ask you to define a good explanation….

    CR: I gave examples of both. The contrast between the two is part of the definition.

    Deutsch points out, one could have just as easily explained the seasons as resulting from the gods’ happiness – making it a bad explanation, since it is so easy to arbitrarily change details.

    StephanB: By that standard, a bad definition is one that is a little too facile—a little too ready to morph its way out of being falsified.

    By referencing just that paragraph, It’s unclear if you are actually interested in discussing what Deutsch means by a bad explanation. Again, the contrast between good and bad explanations is key to understanding it, which is why I initially referenced both good and bad explanations. IOW, you seem to have gone from complaining that you “didn’t ask for” the definition of a good explanation, which is key to understanding the criteria, to simply ignoring it when provided anyway.

  50. 50
    critical rationalist

    SB: that sounds exactly like the ever-changing paradigm of neo-Darwinism, which remains in a perpetual state of damage control, reinventing and rehabilitating itself each time new evidence disconfirms old claims. It certainly doesn’t apply to the unchanging ID paradigm, which, unlike the moving target of neo-Darwinism, can easily be falsified by a demonstrable evolutionary pathway.

    All theories are incomplete and contain errors to some degree. As such, good explanations are those in which the errors they contain can be found and discarded. Good theories can be expanded to explain more phenomena and only be modified in a non ad-hoc fashion. This is how knowledge grows. So, theories are “good” because they allow us to make progress.

    However, if you think “good” theories are those that are “complete” and cannot be found in error, then your objection to Darwinism isn’t about evidence but based on epistemology.

    Truth isn’t nearly as hard to find as Bartley or Popper make out. Even if we grant critical rationalism, though, which I emphatically do not, ID comes out better than Darwinism. In that spirit, let’s put on our CR hat and add a step or two to justify the belief component:

    First, while this might just be a confusion of terms, people wearing a “CR” hat do not seek to justify anything, as justification is impossible. This is explicitly what Deutsch’s criteria seeks to avoid.

    Wikipedia Entry: To Deutsch, these aspects of a good explanation, and more, are contained in any theory that is specific and “hard to vary”. He believes that this criterion helps eliminate “bad explanations” which continuously add justifications, and can otherwise avoid ever being truly falsified.[1]

    SB: [P01] It is reasonable to believe that the best available explanation of any fact is true.

    [P02] Biodiversity is a fact.

    [P03] ID explains biodiversity

    [P04] Darwinism doesn’t explain it as well

    [C01] Therefore, it is reasonable to believe that ID is true

    Again, you seem to be confused about Critical Rationalism.

    For example, in regards to [P01] the best explanation is the one that has withstood the most rational criticism. Good explanations are most vulnerable to rational criticism, so they remain despite having had the greatest potential to be corrected or even completely discarded. However, if your explanation is the only one remaining because that cannot be rationally criticized, then what have we accomplished?

    Being only defined as abstract and without any defined limitations, ID’s designer could have created any sort of biodiversity. Nothing would necessary. The biodiversity we observe must be “just what the designer must have wanted.”

    This is variable in the same sense that the Greek gods could have just as caused the seasons by being happy, sad, exacting vengeance, etc. They were only related to seasons by the myth itself. No hard to vary chain of explanations for how the gods actually caused seasons was provided. As such, it could be reduced to a form of jusitificationsm.

    IOW, Greek gods caused the seasons because they were the justification for seasons, not because they were the best explanation for seasons. Being based on justification, rather than a hard to vary chain of explanations, made the theory easy to vary, without actually making progress about gods. Regardless of predictions and empirical observations, the gods could have still caused the seasons by being angry, happy, sad, etc. All that was accomplished was changing the outcome that resulted: the specifics about the seasons.

    ID suffers the same problem. Being based on justification, rather than a hard to vary chain of explanations, makes the theory easy to vary, without actually making progress about the designer(s). Regardless of predictions and empirical observations, the designer(s) could have still caused the biosphere because they were bored, creative, lonely, righteous, etc.. All that was accomplished was changing the outcome that resulted: the specific biodiversity we observe.

    As for being a better explanation, ID does not explain how the knowledge used to build the biodiversity we observe was created. Darwinism does.

    All logically conceivable transformations of matter can be classified in the following three ways: transformations that are prohibited by the laws of physics, spontaneous transformations (such as the formation of stars) or transformations which are possible when the requisite knowledge of how to perform them are present.

    Biological adaptations are transformations of matter of the latter category. Specifically, they occur when the requisite knowledge of how to perform them are present in an organism’s genome. Darwinism explains how this knowledge is created, as if falls under the umbrella of our current, best explanation for the growth of knowledge.

    Any theory of an organism’s improvement raises the following question: how is the knowledge of how to make that improvement created? Was it already present in some form at the beginning? A theory that it was represents creationism. Did it just happen? If so, the theory represents spontaneous generation – such an example is found in Lamarckism, which assumed we still see simple creatures (such as mice) today because a continuous stream of simple creatures is being spontaneously generated.

    But each of these represent fundamental errors. Knowledge, both explanatory and non-explanatory, must first be conjectured and then tested. This is what Darwin’s theory presented from the start. Genetic variation, in the form of conjecture, occurs independent of the problem to be solved. Then natural selection discards the variations that are less capable of causing themselves to be present in future generations. The result is non-explanatory knowledge.

  51. 51
    critical rationalist

    SB: Meanwhile, show me how you subject Darwinism to the same test of critical rationalism that you continually apply to ID. Raise all the objections to Darwinism that a true and consistent critical rationalist would pose.

    See above. Darwinism is hard to vary in that any examples of knowing being created in any other way would be inconsistent with it.

    For example if the most complex forms of life appeared simultaneously with the least complex or in the order of most to least complex, and this could not be explained in a non-ad hoc way, this would falsify Darwinism as adaptations cannot be built until the knowledge of how to build them is first created. This is a hard to vary explanation.

    We can say the same about an organism that exhibited only, or mostly, favorable mutations, as predicted by Lamarckism, or if they spontaneous appeared, in the absence of knowledge. Or if an organism’s offspring was observed with new, complex adaptations, for any purpose, for which there were no precursors in it’s parent. Or if a organism was born with a complex adaptation that is useful for it’s survival today, but was not selected by selection pressure in it’s proposed ancestry, such as the ability to detect and utilize internet weather forecasts to determine when to hibernate.

    All of these things would falsify evolutionary theory, in that a fundamentally new explanation for knowledge used to build these adaptations would be required.

    SB: The argument for design is not “explanation-less.” Design is simply the act of forming matter so that it serves some function. Everyone knows what that means.

    Again, this doesn’t explain the concrete biodiversity we observe. Rather, it is a justification for it.

    Methodological naturalists do not discard the logical possibility of design because they don’t think it constitutes an explanation. They discard it because they would prefer not to consider the evidence that supports it.

    You seem to be ignoring entire sections of my comments, as evidence cannot say anything on it’s own. As such, anyone’s preference cannot make something that is impossible is possible. Nor can anyone’s preference cause a theory to explain how the world works, actually solve problems or present an opportunity to be found in error, when it does not.

    CR: On the other hand, I’m saying that evidence doesn’t “say” anything as we cannot extrapolate observations without first putting them into an explanatory framework. So, observations are not ruled out or discarded. Rather, they do not tell us anything – one way or the other – without a good explanation. Furthermore, science is about advancing our ability to solve problems by correcting errors in our explanatory theories about how the world works. As such, explanation-less logical possibilities, material or otherwise, are discarded as they neither explain how the world works, actually solve problems or present an opportunity to be found in error.

    So, we are “methodological explainers”, which happen to discard non-natural causes because they are explicitly claimed to be inexplicable or it is implied.

  52. –CR:

    “Again, the contrast between good and bad explanations is key to understanding it, which is why I initially referenced both good and bad explanations.”

    I understand Deutsch’s account of a good explanation, I just don’t agree with it. Let me make this easy for you. A good scientific explanation is one that corresponds to the truth, plain and simple. If it brings us closer to understanding how things really work, it is a good explanation. If it misleads us about reality, or about the way things work, it is a bad explanation.

  53. CR:

    Being only defined as abstract and without any defined limitations, ID’s designer could have created any sort of biodiversity. Nothing would necessary. The biodiversity we observe must be “just what the designer must have wanted.”

    ID’s designer could, indeed, have created any sort of biodiversity. To design is to be free to choose which form the design will take. This is where Darwinists get confused. They think that a law can take the place of an intelligent agent. It cannot. A law can only do what it does. It cannot choose to do anything novel or creative. If it could, it would not be a law.

    This is variable in the same sense that the Greek gods could have just as caused the seasons by being happy, sad, exacting vengeance, etc. They were only related to seasons by the myth itself. No hard to vary chain of explanations for how the gods actually caused seasons was provided. As such, it could be reduced to a form of jusitificationsm.

    You are confusing the unpredictable, creative act of designing a law with the way the law predictably operates. You must learn to make this distinction since the failure to do so informs many of your errors. ID is NOT consistent with a frivolous, irrational God that changes His mind every five minutes. ID is consistent with a rational God that designs a rational and ordered universe. That you would make an error of this magnitude indicates that you do not understand any of the arguments being made.

    As for being a better explanation, ID does not explain how the knowledge used to build the biodiversity we observe was created. Darwinism does.

    ID is a better explanation that Darwinism because it comes closer to identifying the true cause of biodiversity. It need not explain “how knowledge was used” to obtain the result. The archeologist doesn’t have to explain how an ancient hunter designed his spear to know that it wasn’t the product of wind, air, and erosion. It is impossible to know “how” a creative act occurs because each creative act is different from every other creative act. Darwinists do not understand this because they think every act occurs as a result of a natural law.

  54. CR:

    So, we are “methodological explainers”, which happen to discard non-natural causes because they are explicitly claimed to be inexplicable or it is implied.

    Clearly, you do not understand the meaning of “methodological naturalism.” If you will not accept the definition presented in our FAQ, then consult the NAS or any other Darwinist source to learn about it so that we can have a rational discussion.

  55. Pardon SB, this is an uncontroversial point which CR nevertheless refuses to integrate into his narrative:

    As for being a better explanation, ID does not explain how the knowledge used to build the biodiversity we observe was created. Darwinism does.

    Darwinian evolution functions as a result of recorded information. As a consequence, it is entirely dependent on the material requirements of recorded information. Darwinism cannot be the source of those material requirements, and hence, it cannot be an explanation for them. To continually say that it is – is to say that a thing that does not exist can cause something to happen, and can be an explanation of it happening.

  56. 56
    critical rationalist

    SB: I understand Deutsch’s account of a good explanation, I just don’t agree with it.

    Then why bother asking me to define a bad explanation when a reference was given? Why bother quoting only part of an explanation you do not agree with?

    SB: Let me make this easy for you. A good scientific explanation is one that corresponds to the truth, plain and simple. If it brings us closer to understanding how things really work, it is a good explanation. If it misleads us about reality, or about the way things work, it is a bad explanation.

    That would be a great definition if you hadn’t left out the part where you explain how we can positively prove anything is true via observations. In the absence of such an explanation, we’re left with rational criticism. As such, good explanations are those that can be criticized.

  57. UB @55. yes, that’s right. Darwinian processes cannot be the source for the requisite material requirements of recorded information. That is an excellent way of putting it. And yes, that point is both uncontroversial and incontestable.

  58. 58
    critical rationalist

    CR: Being only defined as abstract and without any defined limitations, ID’s designer could have created any sort of biodiversity. Nothing would necessary. The biodiversity we observe must be “just what the designer must have wanted.”

    SB: IID’s designer could, indeed, have created any sort of biodiversity. To design is to be free to choose which form the design will take.

    What we observe is one specific set of biodiversity rather than some other diversify. ID does not explain why *this* particular diversity, rather than some other diversity. “ That’s just what the designer must have wanted” isn’t a good explanation. Darwinism is.

    SB: This is where Darwinists get confused. They think that a law can take the place of an intelligent agent. It cannot. A law can only do what it does. It cannot choose to do anything novel or creative. If it could, it would not be a law.

    Darwinism creates non-explanatory knowledge. See #50.

    CR: This is variable in the same sense that the Greek gods could have just as caused the seasons by being happy, sad, exacting vengeance, etc. They were only related to seasons by the myth itself. No hard to vary chain of explanations for how the gods actually caused seasons was provided. As such, it could be reduced to a form of jusitificationsm.

    SB: You are confusing the unpredictable, creative act of designing a law with the way the law predictably operates. You must learn to make this distinction since the failure to do so informs many of your errors. ID is NOT consistent with a frivolous, irrational God that changes His mind every five minutes. ID is consistent with a rational God that designs a rational and ordered universe. That you would make an error of this magnitude indicates that you do not understand any of the arguments being made.

    No, i’m not, as the Greeks could have accounted for seasons by a variation of any other annual action, yet still assert something completely different is going on, in reality.

    In the actual myth, Persephone, the goddess of spring, was abducted by Hades and entered into a forced marriage contract. She escaped, but is magically compelled *every year*. This makes her mother, Demeter sad, causing winter. However, this could be replaced with any other annual action. For example. rather than being magically compelled, Persephone could intentionally return each year to take revenge on Hades, cooling his domain with spring air, venting it to the surface to create summer. Furthermore, if the Greeks had known that seasons are out of phase in each hemisphere, they could have simply varied their myth in that Demeter’s sadness makes it cold *in her vincenity* rather than everywhere on earth, etc. This is possible because the gods are only related to seasons though the myth itself.

    This is in contrast to our current explanation of the seasons, which represents a long chain of, independently formed, hard to vary explanations across multiple fields. The earth’s rotation is titled in respect to it’s orbit around the sun. A spinning sphere retains it’s tilt. Surfaces titled away from radiant heat are headed less. Along, with out theories of photons, the origin of star light (nuclear fusion), etc. There is no easy way to vary this explanation without significantly impacting it’s ability to explain the seasons. If one of these links were falsified its proponents would have no where go.

    So, our explanation for the seasons is good not only because it makes predictions that are falsifiable, but because it’s hard to vary, which makes the key difference.

    SB: ID is a better explanation that Darwinism because it comes closer to identifying the true cause of biodiversity.

    So, it’s a better explanation because you know it’s true? How might you know this? Do you have a solution to the problem of induction?

  59. 59
    critical rationalist

    CR: So, we are “methodological explainers”, which happen to discard non-natural causes because they are explicitly claimed to be inexplicable or it is implied.

    SB: Clearly, you do not understand the meaning of “methodological naturalism.” If you will not accept the definition presented in our FAQ, then consult the NAS or any other Darwinist source to learn about it so that we can have a rational discussion.

    I understand it quite well. My point is that “methodological explainers” entails “methodological naturalism” as non-natural causes are claimed or implied to be inexplicable. Furthermore, it discards natural logical possibilities that lack explanations as well.

  60. CR:

    That would be a great definition if you hadn’t left out the part where you explain how we can positively prove anything is true via observations. In the absence of such an explanation, we’re left with rational criticism. As such, good explanations are those that can be criticized.

    .

    No, this is where your concept fails. You must distinguish between the definition of a good explanation (one that corresponds to reality) with the methods for arriving at it (induction, deduction, abduction, realism, empiricism, rationalism, critical rationalism etc). In other words, you must distinguish between the “end” (an interpretation that corresponds as closely as possible with the way things really are) and the “means” to that end (the process to arrive at our goal). You are defining a good explanation as one that has been roundly criticized. But if it has been roundly criticized and still misleads us, then it is a bad explanation. You are so hung up on the process, you have lost track of the reason for applying it. In other words, you confuse the means with the end.

    Then why bother asking me to define a bad explanation when a reference was given? Why bother quoting only part of an explanation you do not agree with?

    I was hoping to illuminate your mind through the Socratic method so that you would understand the difference between a purpose (learning a truth about nature insofar as we can) and a process (the methodology by which we learn about the truth). I wanted you to understand which element is supposed to be in the service of the other.

  61. I was hoping to illuminate your mind through the Socratic method so that you would understand the difference between a purpose (learning a truth about nature insofar as we can) and a process (the methodology by which we learn about the truth). I wanted you to understand which element is supposed to be in the service of the other.

    Well Said!

    If I become a critical rationalist without having all examined all the criticisms of if along with the alternatives and the criticisms of them, would that just not be in the spirit of the entire enterprise?

  62. 62
    critical rationalist

    StephanB,

    You are confusing good explanations with true explanations, as good explanations can be false.

    For example, It’s logically possible that some abstract designer with no defined limitations could have created the universe 10 minutes ago for some inexplicable reason, using some some inexplicable means. If this were the case, you wouldn’t have authored the comment I’m responding to. Rather, it would have actually have been the designer that authored it when he created the world we observe 10 minutes ago. This could be true, but it would be a bad explanation because it suggests the universe was created in a way that interferes with our ability to correct errors.

    What ID is essentially appealing to is the idea that the biosphere is created in such a way that a theory of biological complexity impossible (some abstract designer with no defined limitations created it). But this would be like claiming atoms were created in a way that makes atomic theory impossible or objects were created in such a way that makes theories about falling apples and orbiting planets impossible.

    I was hoping to illuminate your mind through the Socratic method so that you would understand the difference between a purpose (learning a truth about nature insofar as we can) and a process (the methodology by which we learn about the truth). I wanted you to understand which element is supposed to be in the service of the other.

    Pickup a copy of “The Beginning of Infinity” and read the chapter titled “A Dream of Socrates”. It contains a hypothetical conversation between Socrates and Hermes which illustrates the logical problems with inductivism and justificationism using the Socratic method.

  63. Mung @49:

    If I become a critical rationalist without having examined all the criticisms of if along with the alternatives and the criticisms of them, would that just not be in the spirit of the entire enterprise?

    That’s a good observation. I was sort of hinting at that when I asked CR to apply the same intense scrutiny to Darwinism. But, alas, he couldn’t find a single thing to criticize. Perhaps we should coin a new phrase: “selective critical rationalism.”

  64. I’d wager that we’re just an experiment. He’s just trying to falsify some theories he has and we’re only enforcing them.

  65. 65
    critical rationalist

    Mung, If I become a critical rationalist without having examined all the criticisms of if along with the alternatives and the criticisms of them, would that just not be in the spirit of the entire enterprise?

    Becoming a critical rationalist entails not looking for positive support for theories but looking for incompatible evidence. So, if you think criticism is looking for evidence that proves Darwinism is true, you are not a a critical rationales. Rather, we look for observations that would be inconsistent with our theories.

    SB: That’s a good observation. I was sort of hinting at that when I asked CR to apply the same intense scrutiny to Darwinism. But, alas, he couldn’t find a single thing to criticize. Perhaps we should coin a new phrase: “selective critical rationalism.”

    The Dream of Socrates chapter I referenced represents just such a criticism at length. As does the summary presented in comment #51

    Let me guess, you omitted comment #51 as we’ll because you’re using the Socratic method?

  66. Becoming a critical rationalist entails not looking for positive support for theories but looking for incompatible evidence.

    What is the theory of critical rationalism and what evidence would be incompatible with that theory?

  67. So, if you think criticism is looking for evidence that proves Darwinism is true, you are not a a critical rationales.

    On the contrary. You accept that Darwinism is true, and we’re left wondering why? What was the incompatible evidence you discovered in your analysis of the theory?

  68. 68
    critical rationalist

    On the contrary. You accept that Darwinism is true, and we’re left wondering why? What was the incompatible evidence you discovered in your analysis of the theory?

    Is there something about “You are confusing good explanations with true explanations, as good explanations can be false.” that you do not understand?

    I accept that Darwinians is the best explanation because it has withstood significant criticism. This includes criticism in the light of the rest of our current, best explanations, including our universal theory of how knowledge is created. Darwinism explains an aspect of how the world works, actually solve problems and presents an opportunity to be found in error.

    Acting as if it is true because it a good explanation and actually solves problems does not mean that I think it has been proven to be true via observations. Your continued responses suggest you simply cannot recognize your conception of human knowledge as an idea that would be subject to criticism.

    Why don’t you start with the Wikipedia entry here

    Then read the following essay here.

    Here’s a pertinent quote…

    3. Responses to the dilemma of the infinite regress versus dogmatism

    In the light of the dilemma of the infinite regress versus dogmatism, we can discern three attitudes towards positions: relativism, “true belief” and critical rationalism [Note 3]

    Relativists tend to be disappointed justificationists who realise that positive justification cannot be achieved. From this premise they proceed to the conclusion that all positions are pretty much the same and none can really claim to be better than any other. There is no such thing as the truth, no way to get nearer to the truth and there is no such thing as a rational position.

    True believers embrace justificationism. They insist that some positions are better than others though they accept that there is no logical way to establish a positive justification for an belief. They accept that we make our choice regardless of reason: “Here I stand!”. Most forms of rationalism up to date have, at rock bottom, shared this attitude with the irrationalists and other dogmatists because they share the theory of justificationism.

    According to the critical rationalists, the exponents of critical preference, no position can be positively justified but it is quite likely that one (or more) will turn out to be better than others in the light of critical discussion and tests. This type of rationality holds all its positions and propositions open to criticism and a standard objection to this stance is that it is empty; just holding our positions open to criticism provides no guidance as to what position we should adopt in any particular situation. This criticism misses its mark for two reasons. First, critical rationalism is not a position. It is not directed at solving the kind of problems that are solved by fixing on a position. It is concerned with the way that such positions are adopted, criticised, defended and relinquished. Second, Bartley did provide guidance on adopting positions; we may adopt the position that to this moment has stood up to criticism most effectively. Of course this is no help for people who seek stronger reasons for belief, but that is a problem for them, and it does not undermine the logic of critical preference.

  69. 69
    critical rationalist

    What is the theory of critical rationalism and what evidence would be incompatible with that theory?

    See above. Someone formulating a “principle of induction” that actually works, in practice, would be inconsistent with Critical Rationalism.

    For detailed arguments see Popper’s The logic of Scientific Discovery

  70. critical rationalist:

    Is there something about “You are confusing good explanations with true explanations, as good explanations can be false.” that you do not understand?

    yes.

    True explanations cannot be false. Good explanations can be false.

    Despite the fact that true explanations cannot be false, the best explanation cannot be a true explanation but can at best be a good explanation (an explanation which may in fact be false).

    Darwinism is not a true explanation, it’s just a good explanation (it may be false). The best we can hope for is a good explanation (which may be false), as true explanations are not possible.

    The best explanation cannot be a true explanation.

    Am I at least in the ballpark?

    I accept that Darwinians is the best explanation because it has withstood significant criticism.

    Withstands significant criticism is the new criterion?

    Ptolemy comes to mind.

    What were the alternative theories (to Darwinism) that you considered, and why were they rejected in favor of the Darwinian theory?

    What was the incompatible evidence that you discovered in your analysis of the Darwinian theory?

    You are silent on that. Why?

    Your continued responses suggest you simply cannot recognize your conception of human knowledge as an idea that would be subject to criticism.

    This statement is false, but so what? There is no evidence that you are willing to modify your beliefs in the presence of countervailing evidence.

    In other words, there is no evidence that you actually practice what you preach.

  71. CR: “I accept that Darwinians is the best explanation because it has withstood significant criticism.”

    That’s really very funny. Darwinism has been stripped bare and exposed for the sham that it is. No one in that camp has ever provided a shred of evidence to support that paradigm. Indeed, we have asked its supporters thousands of times to make the case. They don’t have enough courage or intellectual integrity to even try. You cannot do it. No one can.

  72. 72
    critical rationalist

    SB: No one in that camp has ever provided a shred of evidence to support that paradigm. [..] you cannot do it. No one can.

    I see you still haven’t actually put on your Critical Rationalism hat.

    Evidence cannot positively support theories due to the problem of induction. Rather, we look for inconsistent evidence, correct the theory when specific details of how it operates are found and we do so in a non-ad-hoc manner. So, you objections are based Darwinists not having done something that is impossible and could never be done – for any theory, not just Darwinism.

    Of course, being open to criticism, feel free to formulate a “principle of induction” that actually does work, in practice.

    Note: saying “everyone knows we use induction since…”, or “we need induction to know anything” is just another form of justificationism, which doesn’t actually address the criticism.

    “Idea X is not justified” is a bad criticism as it is applicable to all ideas.

  73. CR: “Evidence cannot positively support theories due to the problem of induction.”

    This phony business about the “problem of induction” is a lot of nonsense. It stems from the philosophical ignorance of David Hume, who didn’t understand how efficient causality works. He even denied causality itself. This was Karl Popper’s role model. People who use this tactic are just looking for ways to avoid the evidence. We use induction every day of our lives. Critical rationalism is a refuge for those who would prefer not to be rational, presumably because they don’t want to go where evidence and rationality would take them.

    In any case, ID operates by abduction, not induction. Historical science is different from laboratory science. So all your protests in that context are irrelevant. Meanwhile, as I pointed out, and as you just demonstrated, you cannot make a rational case for Darwinism, which you accept without question–a very strange position for someone who calls himself a “critical” rationalist.

  74. Steve, in the modern sense that induction refers to arguments that evidence supports but does not demonstrate the conclusion abduction is a form of induction. KF

  75. KF, thanks for the comment. Yes, that is true in the sense that a past condition is “inferred” from a present clue (causes now in operation). My emphasis was on the distinction the Steve Meyer makes between [a] pure induction–establishing a universal law or principle from repeated observations of the same phenomena vs [b] inferring unseen facts, events, or causes from the past from clues or facts in the present. But I affirm your point, which is well taken.

    The broader issue is to challenge CR’s claim that induction as a whole is not a legitimate form of scientific reasoning and also that an attack on induction is not, strictly speaking and in every sense, exactly the same thing as an attack on abduction.

  76. 76
    critical rationalist

    Mung: True explanations cannot be false.

    Correct, but there are an infinite number of explanations that are compatible with the same empirical evidence. For example, SB could have authored the comment I was replying to or some designer could have. One of those explanations could be true, despite the evidence being compatible with both explanations.

    Mung: Despite the fact that true explanations cannot be false, the best explanation cannot be a true explanation but can at best be a good explanation (an explanation which may in fact be false).

    We cannot prove that the best explanation is a true explanation due to the problem of induction. Nor can we actually construct a true explanation, in practice, as they are always incomplete. However, logically speaking, one singular statement can contradict a universal statement, but no number of singular statements can entail it. Finding errors in our theory is a good thing because that’s how knowledge grows. In some cases, this means discarding the entire theory. In other cases, this means modifying the theory by conjecturing where the error is, conjecturing a non-ad-hoc solution and criticizing it. And there are cases such as Newton’s law of motion, which we still use, despite it being replaced by GR, because the results it give are approximate enough to GR to solve a specific range of problems, such as launching space craft.

    IOW, finding observations inconsistent with our theories are how *all* problems start in the first place. That’s because all observations are theory laden. So, this is the norm, not the exception. This is what I mean when I said theories are tested by observations, not derived from them. Observations were incomparable with some theory we previously held in the first place, about other observations etc.

    Mung: Darwinism is not a true explanation, it’s just a good explanation (it may be false). The best we can hope for is a good explanation (which may be false), as true explanations are not possible.

    All theories contain errors to some degree and are incomplete. So, Darwinism is not true in this sense. But, neither are any other theories either. So, we already know Darwinism contains errors. We know other mechanisms will be discovered. Etc. Finding errors in our theories is how we make progress.

    Mung The best explanation cannot be a true explanation.

    Problems are soluble. Problems are enviable. We will always just be scratching the surface of problems to solve, just as any room number in Hilbert’s infinite hotel is always at the beginning of all room numbers.

    Mung: Withstands significant criticism is the new criterion?

    Deutsch’s criteria is part of the criticism. In addition to being a good explanation, any explanation that entails a married bachelor does not withstand criticism. Any explanation that is not internally consistent does not withstand criticism, etc. Theories that conflict with the rest of our, current, best explanations indicates there one of them is in error, which creates a better problem to solve, Etc. Actually solving problems is part of the criteria. This is rational criticism. This is our current, best explanation for the growth of knowledge.

    Finding errors in our theories is an opportunity to make progress! So, we actively look for ways to find them. Knowing that a particular set of details of theory X is false is progress.

  77. 77
    critical rationalist

    What were the alternative theories (to Darwinism) that you considered, and why were they rejected in favor of the Darwinian theory?

    First, you still seem to be confused about Critical Rationalism. They were not rejected “in favor” of darwinism. They were discarded due to criticism, which leaves Darwinism our current, best conceived theory has withstood criticism. Even if no evidence inconsistent with Darwinism was found, some better yet to be conceived future theory could take its place if that theory better explain all of the same observations as Darwinism or explained all of the same the same observations just as well as Darwinism, while also explaining more phenomena.

    What conceived theories that are compatible with the same evidence have I criticized, in addition to Darwinism? Three of the most prominent are Creationism, Intelligent Design and Lamarckianism.

    First, they are more incomplete than Darwinism. Specifically, the fundamental flaw in each of them is the same fundamental flaw in pre-enlightenment, authoritative conceptions of human knowledge: its account of how the knowledge in adaptations could be created is either missing, supernatural or illogical.

    Supernatural accounts are explicitly inexplicable. The creator “just was”, complete with the knowledge of how to build biological adaptations, already present. However, one could more economically state that organisms “just a appeared”, complete with the knowledge of how to build their own biological adaptations, already present.

    Intelligent design has no account for how this knowledge was created, rather it pushes the problem into some unexplained realm under the guise that we cannot make any progress about the designer. A theory about biological complexity impossible because it assumes it was created by an intelligent an agent for with we can know nothing about. This is question begging. Of course, one make the same assumption about atoms or the movement of objects, then claim atomic theory or the movement of objects was impossible as well.

    Lamarckianism is a mixture of “use and disuse”, which does not explain how the knowledge of how the knowledge used to build a longer Giraffe neck was created, and proposed the spontaneous generation of knowledge as the knowledge of how to build mice supposedly spontaneous generated out of rags and other rubbish in dark corners.

    However, in the case of Darwinism, we can make progress of “the designer”. This is because have a good explanation for how non-explanatory knowledge is genuinely created through imperfect variation of biological replicators that are random to any specific problem to solve, along with discarding of errors in those variations by natural selection. Nor have we observed inconsistent evidence that the knowledge of how to build biological adaptations is explanatory in that it has significant reach. Rather it is non-explanation and has limited reach.

    Additional inconsistent evidence is outlined in #51

  78. 78
    critical rationalist

    SB: This phony business about the “problem of induction” is a lot of nonsense.

    “a lot of nonsense”? That’s quite a sophisticated argument you have there.

    SB: He even denied causality itself

    Reference please?

    SB: This was Karl Popper’s role model.

    Genetic fallacy? Also…

    “Einstein’s influence on my thinking has been immense. I might even say that what I have done is mainly to make explicit certain points which are implicit in the work of Einstein. … The Einsteinian revolution has influenced my own views deeply: I feel I would never had arrived at them without him.
    - Karl Popper

    “What impressed me most was Einstein’s own clear statement that he would regard his theory as untenable if it should fail in certain tests. … Thus I arrived, by the end of 1919, at the conclusion that the scientific attitude was the critical attitude, which did not look for verifications but for crucial tests; tests which could refute the theory tested, though they could never establish it.
    - Karl Popper

    A theory can thus be recognized as erroneous [unrichtig] if there is a logical error in its deductions, or as incorrect [unzutreffend] if a fact is not in agreement with its consequences. But the truth of a theory can never be proven. For one never knows that even in the future no experience will be encountered which contradicts its consequences; and still other systems of thought are always conceivable which are capable of joining together the same given facts.

    - Albert Einstein.

    SB: People who use this tactic are just looking for ways to avoid the evidence.

    No, I’ve already addressed this. Einstein addressed this in his above quote. “and still other systems of thought are always conceivable which are capable of joining together the same given facts.”

    SB: We use induction every day of our lives.

    Which is essentially more justificationism. Again, I realize this is what your experience leads you to think. The question is, are we actually using induction? All you need to do is present a logical argument as to how induction is actually possible, which would refute CR. By all means, enlighten us.

    Note that I’m not objecting to the use of non-naive induction, I’m suggesting that non-naive induction is impossible because we cannot derive theories from observations. From a previous comment…

    Nor have you directly responded to the idea that we derive theories from observations. Should I take this as acceptance or rejection? Your arguments seem to imply this is the case, but you can easily clear this up with an explicit response.

    For example, here’s an expanded version of Bertrand Russell’s story of the farmer and the chicken, which illustrates the above issue.

    A flock of anthropomorphic chickens has observed a farmer who fed them every day like clockwork since they were chicks. They extrapolate these observations to conclude the farmer will continue to feed them. One day the farmer starts feeding them even more corn that usual. This observation further reinforces their conclusion they will continue to be fed. However, not long after, the farmer puts them in cages and sends them off to slaughter.

    In other words, mere observations alone are inadequate to justify conclusions. This is the problem of induction.

    … but then I move beyond naive induction with additional criticism

    CR: However, if we’re not careful we’ll miss (or knowingly accept) a more fundamental misconception [of induction] illustrated in this story. Specifically, that it’s even possible extrapolate observations without first placing them in a explanatory framework.

    Before any of these anthropomorphic chickens could have induced a false prediction, they must first had in mind a false explanatory theory of the farmers behavior, such as thinking he had benevolent feelings towards chickens. However, had the chickens guessed a different explanation, such as the farmer was fattening them up for slaughter, they would have extrapolated observations of his actions differently. In other words, how we form predictions depends on our underlying explanation. According to the benevolent-farmer theory, observations of being fed even more corn suggested the chickens were more likely to continue being fed, while the fattening-up theory suggested this same observation was an omen of imminent slaughter.

    So, again, unless you can explain we can extrapolate observations without first putting them into an explanatory framework, then theories are not derived from observations.

    SB: Critical rationalism is a refuge for those who would prefer not to be rational, presumably because they don’t want to go where evidence and rationality would take them.

    is it? Again…

    CR: …anyone’s preference cannot make something that is logically impossible is possible. Nor can anyone’s preference cause a theory to explain how the world works, actually solve problems or present an opportunity to be found in error, when it does not.

    Is there something about this you do not understand?

    SB: In any case, ID operates by abduction, not induction.

    Can you summarize this adductive argument?

    SB: The broader issue is to challenge CR’s claim that induction as a whole is not a legitimate form of scientific reasoning and also that an attack on induction is not, strictly speaking and in every sense, exactly the same thing as an attack on abduction.

    Basic logic tells us that deductive reasoning is the only valid form. One singular statement can disprove a universal theory. However, no number of singular statements can entail such a theory.

    But, again, being open to rational criticism, feel free to present a “principle of induction” that actually works in practice.

  79. CR:

    Note that I’m not objecting to the use of non-naive induction, I’m suggesting that non-naive induction is impossible because we cannot derive theories from observations.

    It is not a question of naïve or non-naïve arguments. There are strong inductive arguments and weak inductive arguments.

    Here is a strong inductive argument:

    [a] A website on the internet is currently featuring 20 articles

    [b] 18 of those articles were selected at random and found to be pro-ID

    [c] Probably all of the articles are pro-ID

    What is your rationale for saying that the conclusion of this strong inductive argument is not reasonable or that it cannot be based on observation?

    For example, here’s an expanded version of Bertrand Russell’s story of the farmer and the chicken, which illustrates the above issue.

    Russell’s example constitutes a weak inductive argument. It does not show that inductions are invalid. Like Hume, Russell was an atheist and sought to militate against reason. He, too, had his problems with causality. Atheists don’t like causality because it leads to a first cause. They abandon reason and evidence because they don’t like where it leads.

    In other words, mere observations alone are inadequate to justify conclusions. This is the problem of induction.

    No, the strength or weakness of an inductive argument is based on other factors. There is no problem of induction except for those who accept Hume’s premise that belief in causality is unwarranted.

    In other words, mere observations alone are inadequate to justify conclusions. This is the problem of induction.

    There is no problem of induction. There is only a problem with people who wage war against reason. (Speaking of which, I am still waiting for you to tell me how you scrutinized Darwinism and put it under a critical searchlight with Critical Rationalism).

    David Hume is the father of modern irrational skepticism and the first source of most of your misguided ideas. He denies causality, and, by extension, the validity of inductive reasoning. For him, the notion of cause and effect is just a mental habit of association. You asked for a quote, so here is one of many:

    “When we look about us towards external objects, and consider the operation of causes, we are never able, in a single instance, to discover any power or necessary connection; any quality, which binds the effect to the cause, and renders the one an infallible consequence of the other.”

    According to Hume, we often assume that one thing causes another, but it may well be that one thing does not cause the other. We may use it on a daily basis, but we don’t know anything about what is really happening. This is your father, philosophically speaking, and the man most responsible for the way you think, so you should get to know him. All those nonsensical notions about “Critical Realism” or the so-called “problem of induction,” stem from Hume’s denial of rationality and his followers’ attempts to live with some kind of an irrational substitute. If you show any interest in learning about the reason for Hume’s error, I will be happy to share that information with you.

    Meanwhile, I think it would be more profitable to focus on the origins of your error than the errors themselves, since I don’t think you can appreciate the problems with the latter without understanding the significance of the former. We need to discuss the connection between Hume’s error and your current ideas, unless, of course, you agree with Hume’s denial of causality outright, in which case, we can get right at the root of your confusion.

  80. There is no problem of induction. There is only a problem with people who wage war against reason.

    :)

  81. 81
    critical rationalist

    CR:Note that I’m not objecting to the use of non-naive induction, I’m suggesting that non-naive induction is impossible because we cannot derive theories from observations.

    SB: It is not a question of naïve or non-naïve arguments. There are strong inductive arguments and weak inductive arguments.

    [a] A website on the internet is currently featuring 20 articles

    [b] 18 of those articles were selected at random and found to be pro-ID

    [c] Probably all of the articles are pro-ID

    What is your rationale for saying that the conclusion of this strong inductive argument is not reasonable or that it cannot be based on observation?

    Quibbling over terminology does not explain how inductive arguments are actually possible, in practice. Nor does substituting “true” for “probable” solve the problem of induction.

    Again, see the second half of the Russell’s Chicken example, which you completely ignored.

    For example, let’s say it actually was not a pro-ID website. Before you could have calculated an any sort of probability, you must have first had in mind an explanatory theory, such as websites that are about biological origins are either entirely (or mostly) pro-id or not.

    If past observations do not imply anything about future observations, they no more imply probability than truth. Your subjective experience might lead you to think otherwise, but that doesn’t mean that’s what actually happens in practice.

    Specifically, you seem to be suggesting that evidence looks like ….

    A is q, b is q, c is q, […] |= every x is q (or probably is q)

    Therefore you think we can can, in a sense, “get a theory ” by induction or that a theory can be a conclusion.

    However, the evidence always looks like….

    a is o or p or q or r …

    b is o or p or q or r …

    C is o or p or q or r …

    etc.

    For induction to be a knowledge creating method we can actually use in practice, it has to offer a way to pick between o, p, q, r, etc. It needs to provide guidance for that step of the process first via observations. But it doesn’t. This is the step that is missing.

    SB: [Hume] even denied causality itself

    CR: Reference please?

    SB:

    Hume: “When we look about us towards external objects, and consider the operation of causes, we are never able, in a single instance, to discover any power or necessary connection; any quality, which binds the effect to the cause, and renders the one an infallible consequence of the other.”

    That’s not denying causality. You are conflating denying causality with an inability for us to actually observe those causes using our senses, which is supposedly how induction works.

    Again, I’m suggesting that no one has formulated a “principle of induction” that actually works, in practice – which we can actually use to explain the growth of human knowledge.

    SB: Meanwhile, I think it would be more profitable to focus on the origins of your error than the errors themselves, since I don’t think you can appreciate the problems with the latter without understanding the significance of the former.

    Unless you have some other quote, it’s not clear that Hume actually was in error.

    SB: All those nonsensical notions about “Critical Realism” or the so-called “problem of induction,” stem from Hume’s denial of rationality and his followers’ attempts to live with some kind of an irrational substitute.

    How is justificationism rational? From the following essay.

    3. Responses to the dilemma of the infinite regress versus dogmatism

    In the light of the dilemma of the infinite regress versus dogmatism, we can discern three attitudes towards positions: relativism, “true belief” and critical rationalism [Note 3]

    Relativists tend to be disappointed justificationists who realise that positive justification cannot be achieved. From this premise they proceed to the conclusion that all positions are pretty much the same and none can really claim to be better than any other. There is no such thing as the truth, no way to get nearer to the truth and there is no such thing as a rational position.

    True believers embrace justificationism. They insist that some positions are better than others though they accept that there is no logical way to establish a positive justification for an belief. They accept that we make our choice regardless of reason: “Here I stand!”. Most forms of rationalism up to date have, at rock bottom, shared this attitude with the irrationalists and other dogmatists because they share the theory of justificationism.

    According to the critical rationalists, the exponents of critical preference, no position can be positively justified but it is quite likely that one (or more) will turn out to be better than others in the light of critical discussion and tests. This type of rationality holds all its positions and propositions open to criticism and a standard objection to this stance is that it is empty; just holding our positions open to criticism provides no guidance as to what position we should adopt in any particular situation. This criticism misses its mark for two reasons. First, critical rationalism is not a position. It is not directed at solving the kind of problems that are solved by fixing on a position. It is concerned with the way that such positions are adopted, criticised, defended and relinquished. Second, Bartley did provide guidance on adopting positions; we may adopt the position that to this moment has stood up to criticism most effectively. Of course this is no help for people who seek stronger reasons for belief, but that is a problem for them, and it does not undermine the logic of critical preference.

  82. 82
    critical rationalist

    Furthermore IIRC, your argument specifically refers to the transfer of information in a material universe.

    This parochial as “materialism” is regularly abused to represent some sort of false dichotomy of “supernatural” or natural, which is simply outdated. Darwinism is just one such example, as knowledge is created and emerges from arrangements of matter.

  83. 83
    critical rationalist

    The above was a response to another thread. Please ignore.

  84. CR:

    Again, see the second half of the Russell’s Chicken example, which you completely ignored.

    I didn’t ignore it. His argument doesn’t invalidate causality. It is an example of a weak inductive argument. Part of reason’s task is to know a strong argument from a weak argument. A chicken cannot reasonably count on being fed forever. That is not the same thing as the laws of nature ceasing to exist. Russell is not a good philosopher. He is the same person who, after hearing about the argument for an uncaused cause, wanted to know what caused the uncaused cause. You are reading the wrong people.

    For example, let’s say it actually was not a pro-ID website. Before you could have calculated an any sort of probability, you must have first had in mind an explanatory theory, such as websites that are about biological origins are either entirely (or mostly) pro-id or not.

    I will make it easier with the classic example:

    This cooler contains 30 cans.

    25 cans selected at random were found to be Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR).

    Probably all the cans are PBR.

    This is a good, strong inductive argument.

    Specifically, you seem to be suggesting that evidence looks like…….

    Enough already. What is wrong with the argument?

    Unless you have some other quote, it’s not clear that Hume actually was in error.

    I have many such quotes. In discussing the action of billiard balls, Hume argues that “…there is not, in any single, particular instance of cause and effect, any thing which can suggest the idea of power or necessary connection.” He is saying that we cannot be certain that causality exists. This is what is in back of the denial of induction. If we can’t be sure about the law of causation, then we can’t be sure that inductive reasoning is valid. This is the foundation for your philosophy.

    I have probably not observed more than a hundred pigs in my life. In each case, I witnessed an interesting phenomenon: the pig could not fly. On the strength of that modest sample size, and on the testimony of many other observers, I am going to go out on a limb and say that pigs cannot fly.

    Is that an airtight argument? No. It is logically possible, though highly unlikely, that a pig exists in this (or some other universe) that can fly. Is it a good and reasonable inductive argument? Absolutely. According to the hard evidence, it is probably true that no pig can fly. It is also probably true that the more pigs I find in this compromised condition, the greater is the probability that I am right.

    Am I going to be persuaded by irrational atheist partisans like David Hume or Bertrand Russell who claim, without embarrassment, that my argument is not reasonable because tomorrow the universe may become chaotic–or because there is no certain “connection” between the law of gravity and the pig’s limitations–or because I have not observed all the pigs–or because the pig, having grown accustomed to being fed, suddenly became someone’s meal and, as a result, lost confidence in his ability to draw conclusions from observational evidence? Not likely.

    Will I put up with men of that ilk (and their nonsense) so that I can help them find their way back to rationality? Yes, and I can always hope that when they make that return, they will reconsider the evidence for ID with their renewed minds. Meanwhile, I must call things by their right name. Our culture is being destroyed by materialist Darwinism, which survives only through the epistemology of irrational hyper-skepticism. This, by the way, is why I seldom discuss science with Darwinists. What is the point of analyzing evidence with those who cannot interpret it in a rational way?

  85. I have many such quotes.

    Then you must post them all, else all you have is a weak inductive argument.

    ;)

  86. Unless you have some other quote, it’s not clear that Hume actually was in error.

    gasp. You’re not using induction are you?

  87. 87
    critical rationalist

    StephanB.

    You’re not actually addressing the substance of my comments. And you seem to be bound and determined to misrepresent Hume.

    For example, is there something about the following you are having difficulty with?

    CR: That’s not denying causality. You are conflating denying causality with an inability for us to actually observe those causes using our senses, which is supposedly how induction works.

    While being unable to observe causes might entail denying causality, it does not *necessary* entail denying causality.

    “When we look about us towards external objects, and consider the operation of causes, we are never able, in a single instance, to discover any power or necessary connection; any quality, which binds the effect to the cause, and renders the one an infalliable consequence of the other. We only find, that the one does actually, in fact, follow the other. The impule of one billiard-ball is attended with motion in the second. This is the whole that appears to the outward senses. The mind feels no sentiment or inward impression from this succession of objects; Consequently, there is not, in any single, particular instance of cause and effect, any thing which can suggest the idea of power or necessary connection.” David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. Section VII. Compare Favorably Popper’s note that the common-sense ideas of “events” and “causes” are mainly qualitative. Open Universe 10-11.

    A universal theory can be found in error with a single statement. However, no number of singular statements can entail such a theory.

    Saying an argument is a “good, strong inductive argument” is only relevant to the extent that inductivism is actually valid form of reasoning. If merely meeting the definition is your criteria, then this is justificationism.

    While it may subjectively appear to you that we use induction every day, “What’s wrong” is that no one has actually formulated a “principle of induction” that actually works, in practice.

    Note: I’m not denying that human knowledge has grown or claiming that bridges created by inductivists need to be rebuilt. I’m saying our best, current explanation for this knowledge is critical rationalism.

    Note: “Idea x isn’t justified” is a bad criticism because it applies to all ideas.

  88. CR:

    You’re not actually addressing the substance of my comments.

    I address them, follow up on them, and continue to clarify them as you pose objections. I will follow up again:

    While being unable to observe causes might entail denying causality, it does not *necessary* entail denying causality

    For Hume, it is to QUESTION causality’s ontological existence–it is to DENY our ability to be certain about it in an epistemological sense–it is to DENY our ability to apprehend it. To deny the certainly of causality as an apriori first principle of right reason is to deny the validity of inductive reasoning, which depends on that certainty. Hume questioned the validity of inductive reasoning BECAUSE he first questioned the certainty of causality. I don’t know how I can possibly make things any more clear than that. This is the source of the mythical “problem of induction,” which, as I say, is not really a problem for the reasons indicated.

    Meanwhile, my reciprocal question concerning the following inductive argument persists:

    [a] This cooler contains 30 cans.

    [b] 25 cans selected at random were found to be Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR).

    [c] Probably all the cans are PBR.

    You write about the “problem of induction.” Very well, then, what is the problem with that argument? Clearly, you think that it fails. Why?

    Also, I am still waiting for you to tell me how you employed critical rationalism to put Darwinism through a stringent intellectual test.

    All your other issues about “justification,”"subjectivism” et al are derivative. They need to be addressed only if Hume was right, but they are irrelevant and nonsensical if Hume was wrong. That is why I don’t want to invest time on the derivative question when the fundamental question is left hanging. That is why you need to probe this territory with me. You need to tell me if you agree with Hume’s claim that we cannot be certain that effects are connected with causes.

  89. 89
    critical rationalist

    CR: You’re not actually addressing the substance of my comments.

    SB: I address them, follow up on them, and continue to clarify them as you pose objections.

    Then what of the following?

    CR: Specifically, you seem to be suggesting that evidence looks like ….

    A is q, b is q, c is q, […] |= every x is q (or probably is q)

    Therefore you think we can can, in a sense, “get a theory ” by induction or that a theory can be a conclusion.

    However, the evidence always [actually] looks like….

    a is o or p or q or r …

    b is o or p or q or r …

    C is o or p or q or r …

    etc.

    For induction to be a knowledge creating method we can actually use in practice, it has to offer a way to pick between o, p, q, r, etc. It needs to provide guidance for that step of the process first via observations. But it doesn’t. This is the step that is missing.

    Had you addressed this, you would have revealed the guidance that induction supposedly provides for that step (and become quite famous for doing so).

    Kindly point out where you provided it.

  90. 90
    critical rationalist

    For Hume, it is to QUESTION causality’s ontological existence–it is to DENY our ability to be certain about it in an epistemological sense–it is to DENY our ability to apprehend it.

    Again, you are attempting to conflate denying there are specific causes for phenomnia, in reality, and the inability to observe what those specific causes are, though our senses.

    Critical Rationalism is an explanatory theory of the growth of knowledge. Explanations solve problems.

    To deny the certainly of causality as an apriori first principle of right reason is to deny the validity of inductive reasoning, which depends on that certainty. Hume questioned the validity of inductive reasoning BECAUSE he first questioned the certainty of causality.

    The phrase “the certainty of causality”, as you are using it here, is unnecessarily ambiguous.

    I don’t know how I can possibly make things any more clear than that. This is the source of the mythical “problem of induction,” which, as I say, is not really a problem for the reasons indicated.

    Make the phrase “the certainty of causality” less ambiguous.

    See the following informal notes for a reference the relevance of Hume in CR

    Furthermore, If, for the sake of argument, we assume that is what *Hume* meant, assuming CR is “a lot of nonsense” would be committing the genetic fallacy, as no one has formulated a “principle of induction” that actually works in practice.

    SB: Very well, then, what is the problem with that argument? Clearly, you think that it fails. Why?

    The argument…..

    [a] This cooler contains 30 cans.

    [b] 25 cans selected at random were found to be Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR).

    [c] Probably all the cans are PBR.

    Before you could have calculated a probability, you would have had to *first* have a specific theory in mind, such as one person bought all of the beer and, in doing so, bought all of the same kind. This is not present in observations from [b] alone. In the absence of such a theory, no such probability calculus could be made. So, you merely thought you were using induction. This is the psychological problem of induction.

    There are two kinds of unknowability.

    The first kind of unknowability are scenarios where the outcome is completely random and all possible outcomes are known. An example of this is Russian Roulette. As long as you know all of the possible outcomes, we can use probability to make choices about it. For example, if for some horrible reason, one had to choose between different versions of Russian Roulette with specific yet variable number of chambers, bullets and trigger pulls, one could use game theory to determine which variation would be most favorable. This is a valid use of probability in that it yields approximately true conclusions most of the time.

    On the other hand, any piece of evidence is compatible with many theories. This includes an infinite number of theories that have yet to be proposed. You cannot assign probabilities to un-conceived theories, because those probabilities would be based on the details of which have been yet to be conceived. As such, the use of probability is invalid in the case of forming universal theories, rather than discerning between specific conclusions that following from such a theory, regardless of what our subjective experience might lead us to conclude. IOW, it does not withstand rational criticism.

    Furthermore, inductivism doesn’t tell us what we should observe or why those observations are relevant because all we have are observations at the outset. Until we devise a test, we do not know what observations to make. And without at least one theory, we have no way to devise a test that might result in observations that conflict with that particular theory.

  91. 91
    critical rationalist

    There is no problem of induction. There is only a problem with people who wage war against reason.

    This is a false dilemma, which has apparently lead you to the conclusion that I deny reason or I am “at ware” with rationality, which is also false. Critical Rationalism is an explanation for the growth of knowledge, in practice, which is itself the result of rational criticism. This includes detailed descriptions of what induction is and when it would be valid, etc.

    As such, not only did Popper point out no one has actually formulated a “principle of induction” that actually works in practice, but he also pointed out that it’s not necessary to explain the growth of knowledge. Furthermore, Poppper separated Hume’s logical problem of induction with Hume’s psychological problem of induction. Specifically, he addresses the question: why do we have expectations of which we have great confidence? How does this actually work, in practice? When we rationally criticize these expectations, a clear “principle of induction” that actually provides guidance is not found there in any reliably, identifiable sense.

    To summarize, it ends up that induction is not only impossible in the case of certainty, but is unreliable regards to probability except in very specific, well defined applications. But this is does not represent an insurmountable problem reason and progress, in practice, as deduction does offer us certainty in modus tollens.

    By dissolving justificationism itself, the critical rationalist regards knowledge and rationality, reason and science, as neither foundational nor infallible, but nevertheless does not think we must therefore all be relativists. Knowledge and truth still exist, just not in the way we thought.

    With that cleared up, unless you are genuinely interested in addressing the actual substance of my comments, then I do not think further discussion will be productive.

  92. With that cleared up, unless you are genuinely interested in addressing the actual substance of my comments, then I do not think further discussion will be productive.

    Does this mean that you will never disclose why you think that Darwinism “survives” the severe and ongoing scrutiny of critical rationalism even though there is no evidence to support it?

  93. SB: For Hume, [the strategy] is to QUESTION causality’s ontological existence–it is to DENY our ability to be certain about it in an epistemological sense–it is to DENY our ability to apprehend it.

    CR: Again, you are attempting to conflate denying there are specific causes for phenomnia, in reality, and the inability to observe what those specific causes are, though our senses.

    Obviously, you have trouble following the meaning of verbs. [a] To question the existence of causality is not to deny the existence of causality, [b] To deny our ability to be certain about causality is not to deny the existence of causality, [c] To deny our ability to apprehend causality is not to deny causality. Their is no conflation.
    This brings us to the destructive consequences of Hume’s error: To deny our ability to be certain about causality is sufficient to invalidate the principle of induction. Does this help, or should I use capital letters again?

  94. 94
    critical rationalist

    CR: To summarize, it ends up that induction is not only impossible in the case of certainty, but is unreliable regards to probability except in very specific, well defined applications. But this is does not represent an insurmountable problem reason and progress, in practice, as deduction does offer us certainty in modus tollens.

    By dissolving justificationism itself, the critical rationalist regards knowledge and rationality, reason and science, as neither foundational nor infallible, but nevertheless does not think we must therefore all be relativists. Knowledge and truth still exist, just not in the way we thought.

    CR: With that cleared up, unless you are genuinely interested in addressing the actual substance of my comments, then I do not think further discussion will be productive.

    SB: Does this mean that you will never disclose why you think that Darwinism “survives” the severe and ongoing scrutiny of critical rationalism even though there is no evidence to support it?

    Your might as well have asked…

    Does this mean that you will never disclose why you think that Darwinism “survives” the severe and ongoing scrutiny of critical rationalism even though there is no evidence to [justify] it?

    … which indicates you are no more genuinely interested in addressing the actual substance of my comments now, than you were then, or when you dismissed it from the start as “nonsense”.

  95. 95
    critical rationalist

    SB: For Hume, [the strategy] is to QUESTION causality’s ontological existence–it is to DENY our ability to be certain about it in an epistemological sense–it is to DENY our ability to apprehend it.

    CR: Again, you are attempting to conflate denying there are specific causes for phenomnia, in reality, and the inability to observe what those specific causes are, though our senses.

    SB: Obviously, you have trouble following the meaning of verbs.

    To be clear, I have no problem with the meaning of verbs. Your ability to construct a syntactically valid sentence containing verbs does not necessitate their meaning actually reflects Hume’s position.

    Specifically, your use of the phrase “the strategy” in brackets suggests you are interpreting Hume’s writings based on some underlying theory or goal that is not explicit in any of his quotes provided as of yet. Is this the case? If so, what do you think this underlying goal is and why?

    Furthermore, are you projecting the same assumption in regards to critical rationalism? If so, why wouldn’t this represent an instance of the genetic fallacy? Please be specific.

  96. I wonder if when my cat yowls at me he has some theory of probability that allows him to calculate that he will probably get fed.

  97. critical rationalist:

    Before you could have calculated a probability, you would have had to *first* have a specific theory in mind, such as one person bought all of the beer and, in doing so, bought all of the same kind.

    This is false.

    Given the information that there are 30 cans.

    Given the information that 25 random draws returns a PBR.

    Assume the remaining 5 cans are not PBR.

    Given that assumption, we can calculate the probability of drawing 25/30 at random without getting a non PBR.

    Someone else do the math, lol.

    Assume only 1 can is not PBR.

    Given that assumption, we can calculate the probability of drawing 25/30 at random without getting the one non-PBR.

    None of this requires any theory about beer purchasing.

  98. 98
    critical rationalist

    CR: Before you could have calculated a probability, you would have had to *first* have a specific theory in mind, such as one person bought all of the beer and, in doing so, bought all of the same kind.

    Mung: This is false.

    Language can be so imprecise. It’s easy to be confused or misrepresented, especially in areas where we are unfamiliar and/or all too familiar.

    Before induction can actually be employed in a way that is actually useful, in practice, we need to define it. An inductive argument is reliable if it yields approximately true conclusions most of the time. Would you agree?

    If so, let’s try to apply it

    Given the information that there are 30 cans.

    Given the information that 25 random draws returns a PBR.

    Assume the remaining 5 cans are not PBR.

    Given that assumption, we can calculate the probability of drawing 25/30 at random without getting a non PBR.

    First, your use of the term “information” in this context is imprecise. Inductivism is about observations and information is not limited to observations. This is part of the physiological problem of induction in that subjective experience of actually employing inductivism does not actually withstand rational criticism.

    Second, where – in the form of a guiding inductive principle – did the assumption that all the remaining cans would all be PRB come? Did you have it a priori (before) you calculated a probability or a postori (after)?

    A. Did you have it a priori and from *those* observations alone? If so, your probability calculation didn’t actually solve a problem. You already knew the rest of the cans were PBRs.

    B. Did you have it a priori but selected it at random? If so, then why would you expect employing random selection at this step would yield approximately true conclusions *most* of the time? So, while it might be true that you can calculate “a probability”, it’s unclear what you have actually accomplished if it is not reliable, in practice.

    C. Did you have it a priori, but it wasn’t selected at random and did not come from *those* observations, then where did it come from? Why you might think otherwise, based on your subjective experience, it comes from some kind of theory.

    For example, when a human purchaser buys beer to fill a cooler they often buy a six or 12 pack of the same type, rather than a number of individual cans, as it is cheaper and more convenient for the purchaser to cary, etc. Our limitations are part of the theory itself.

    30 cans of beer = 5 six-packs. If you have already picked 25 cans, then you only have 5 cans left, which is smaller that the smallest group typically available in my area (a six-pack). As such, you would have already sampled from each of the five hypothetical six-packs, which would be inconclusive with the theory that one of the six-packs could be a different brand. So, even if six different people bought each six pack, they should all still be PBRs.

    However, if the “person” who put the beer in the cooler was abstract and had no defined limitations, cost and convenience would be irrelevant.

    The same observations could also be explained by 30 individual people put their favorite brand of beer in the cooler in the form of a single can. How would that effect your probability calculation?

    Or it could be that there were more or less cans of beer in the cooler at some point earlier in the day, but it just happened to contain 30 at the time you sampled it. How would this effect your probability calculations?

    Note that the same observations can be explained by different theories, each of which indicates the cooler was stocked in significantly different ways, in reality. Induction doesn’t give us the guidance we need to pick one.

    IOW, with the exception of very specific cases, people may subjectively experience what they think is inductivsm – in practice, but this does not withstand rational criticism.

    We always approach observations with some sort of theory in mind, which people often confuse with induction. They merely think they are using it to actually solve problems.

  99. CR:

    … which indicates you are no more genuinely interested in addressing the actual substance of my comments now, than you were then, or when you dismissed it from the start as “nonsense”

    I addressed all your claims by showing that they are false and why they are false. They are false because they stem from the misguided notion that inferential reasoning is impossible, which, in turn, stems from Hume’s irrational doubts about the connection between causes and effects.

    Hume’s argument is as follows: Since we derive all our ideas from past experiences, we cannot have any valid ideas about future events. In other words, our observations of the past cannot give us any information about the future. He also denied that there is any NECESSARY connection between cause and effect. In his assessment, we observe only repeated instances, we cannot observe or experience any” power “ that actually causes events to happen. As he puts it, events are merely “loose and separate”—not “joint and connected.” In Hume’s judgment, then, we have no guarantee that a pear tree will continue to produce pears or that an apple tree might not someday produce an ear of corn.

    As I explained to you, though, this assumption is illogical because it violates the logical Law of Identity, which states that a thing is what it is and nothing else. Further, any actions of that thing form part of its identity. The way it acts is an expression of what it is. Thus, to deny any connection between a thing, its actions, or its consequences, is to assert that the thing is not what it is; it is to deny the law of identity. A pear tree will never produce corn because if it did, it would not be what it is, it would be something else. Thus, Hume’s assumption (and by extension, Popper’s assumption) that our observations about past events cannot give us information about future events is false. Further, his assumption that the validity of inductive reasoning depends on observation is false. The validity of inductive reasoning depends on the Law of Identity (and the Law of Non-Contradiction. Critical Rationalism seeks to solve a problem that doesn’t exist and, as a result, creates unnecessary problems of its own.

    By dissolving justificationism itself, the critical rationalist regards knowledge and rationality, reason and science, as neither foundational nor infallible, but nevertheless does not think we must therefore all be relativists. Knowledge and truth still exist, just not in the way we thought.</blockquote
    There is no reason to “dissolve” justificationism because there is no problem with justificationism, just as there is no problem with inductive reasoning.. Rational people “justify” their claims with arguments. Irrational people look for alternatives to rational arguments.

    Before you could have calculated a probability, you would have had to *first* have a specific theory in mind, such as one person bought all of the beer and, in doing so, bought all of the same kind.

    No, that isn’t true. You really ought to take a course in statistical inference, you really should. If you tried to sell you misguided ideas about the “problem of induction” to any professional gambler, or to any casino owner, or to the Pew Research Group, or to any organization that studies trends, they would laugh you out of the house.

    Meanwhile, my question for you persists: Why do you subject Intelligent Design Theory to the scrutiny of Critical Rationalim and exempt Darwinism from that same standard? If you have, indeed, subjected Darwinism to that standard, tell me how and when you did it?

  100. CR:

    By dissolving justificationism itself, the critical rationalist regards knowledge and rationality, reason and science, as neither foundational nor infallible, but nevertheless does not think we must therefore all be relativists. Knowledge and truth still exist, just not in the way we thought.

    There is no reason to “dissolve” justificationism because there is no problem with justificationism, just as there is no problem with inductive reasoning.. Rational people “justify” their claims with arguments. Irrational people look for alternatives to rational arguments.

    Before you could have calculated a probability, you would have had to *first* have a specific theory in mind, such as one person bought all of the beer and, in doing so, bought all of the same kind.

    No, that isn’t true. You really ought to take a course in statistical inference, you really should. If you tried to sell you misguided ideas about the “problem of induction” to any professional gambler, or to any casino owner, or to the Pew Research Group, or to any organization that studies trends, they would laugh you out of the house.

    Meanwhile, my question for you persists: Why do you subject Intelligent Design Theory to the scrutiny of Critical Rationalim and exempt Darwinism from that same standard? If you have, indeed, subjected Darwinism to that standard, tell me how and when you did it?

  101. CR,

    Do the math.

    No knowledge of beer purchases required.

    For all we know the beer could have been donated by PBR.

  102. If you tried to sell you misguided ideas about the “problem of induction” to any professional gambler, or to any casino owner, or to the Pew Research Group, or to any organization that studies trends, they would laugh you out of the house.

    I wonder if CR is willing to put his money where his mouth is.

    We can call it the beer can challenge.

    1. He gets to fill the cooler. He gets to choose whether to use 0 to 5 cans of non PBR. Up to him.

    2. He pays me anytime I retrieve a can from the cooler that is not PBR up to and including the 25th can.

    3. If after the 25th can I pull out a can that is not PBR I pay him. If it is PBR he pays me.

    Now it’s just a matter of seeing how much he’s willing to play for.

  103. 103
    critical rationalist

    SB: As I explained to you, though, this assumption is illogical because it violates the logical Law of Identity, which states that a thing is what it is and nothing else.

    Again, see Goodman’s new Riddle of induction, which was included in the above reference on Hume and Popper.

    If you’re having difficulty undersigning the relevance, here’s a excerpt from the first of a series of posts debunking Dykes’ supposed “debunking” of Popper.

    The problem of induction a problem that’s been covered from every conceivable angle ad nauseam from both the psychological and logical ends, and most epistemologists either have put the problem aside to work on other problems (‘what, exactly, is the nature of this inductive method?’) or accepted that induction just doesn’t work. Dykes, however, asserts that “Induction does not depend for its validity on observation, but on the Law of Identity” and then goes on to explain by use of quoting H.W.B. Joseph that

    A thing, to be at all, must be something, and can only be what it is. To assert a causal connexion between a and x implies that a acts as it does because it is what it is; because, in fact, it is a. So long therefore as it is a, it must act thus; and to assert that it may act otherwise on a subsequent occasion is to assert that what is a is something else than the a which it is declared to be.

    The language is a bit arcane for my tastes, so please forgive me if I attempt to simplify what Joseph says:

    In order for a thing to be it must be what it is. Asserting a causal connection between a and x implies that a acts as it does because it is a. If it is a, it must act as a; and to assert that it may act not as a is to assert that a is not a.

    Dykes says that “Existence implies identity” Take this as a given. What follows from that? If, for instance, all emeralds were grue (to use one of the most infamous examples), then all emeralds would be, in fact, grue. ‘Grue’ simply means that “Green before December 5th, 2015, blue after December 5th, 2015.” By saying, “It is not possible to exist without being something, and a thing can only be what it is: A is A,”Dykes is missing out on the fact that universals may have identities that vary over time: Acorns grow into oak trees; eggs hatch into chickens; caterpillars turn into butterflies; children grow into adults; electrons switch immediately from ‘up spin’ to ‘down spin.’ There is change in the universe, and at times it is quite difficult to demarcate between two different identities, or learn if they are in fact an identity, while at other times the switch is drastic and unpredictable.

    The possibility remains that, like oak trees and good wine, emeralds may ‘biologically’ age quite gracefully over time, or have a chemical switch triggered by some radioactive decay, thereby developing a nice blue sheen on December 5th, 2015 (or any other date for that matter). This possibility should instill a major doubt of any sort of inductive method. Once one admits that possibility, as the possibilities that the emerald may be ‘grorange,’ or ‘grack,’ or ‘grown,’ then any certainties we may have had by accumulating instances that corroborate the theory that all emeralds are green will be for naught: we have also corroborated an infinite number of unintuitive theories that may also be true. Therefore, when Dykes says “Thus to deny any connection between a thing, its actions, and their consequences, is to assert that the thing is not what it is; it is to defy the Law of Identity,” (¶ 10) I am happy to take him at his word: these counterfactuals do not defy the Law of Identity simply because the Law of Identity is a truism: if emeralds were to be grue (or any other Goodman-predicate), then emeralds would in fact be grue. However, we do not know with the limited available evidence whether or not emeralds are grue, green, grack, grown, grorange, …

    Thus, I feel like a pedant to explain something some obvious to the Randian: You cannot make emeralds green by declaring that A=A.

  104. 104
    critical rationalist

    CR: You’re not actually addressing the substance of my comments.

    SB: I address them, follow up on them, and continue to clarify them as you pose objections. I will follow up again:

    Then what of this reply ….

    SB: You really ought to take a course in statistical inference, you really should. If you tried to sell you misguided ideas about the “problem of induction” to any professional gambler, or to any casino owner, or to the Pew Research Group, or to any organization that studies trends, they would laugh you out of the house.

    … when I’ve already addressed these scenarios?

    CR: There are two kinds of unknowability.

    The first kind of unknowability are scenarios where the outcome is completely random and all possible outcomes are known. An example of this is Russian Roulette. As long as you know all of the possible outcomes, we can use probability to make choices about it. For example, if for some horrible reason, one had to choose between different versions of Russian Roulette with specific yet variable number of chambers, bullets and trigger pulls, one could use game theory to determine which variation would be most favorable. This is a valid use of probability in that it yields approximately true conclusions most of the time.

    […]

    CR: To summarize, it ends up that induction is not only impossible in the case of certainty, but is unreliable regards to probability except in very specific, well defined applications. But this is does not represent an insurmountable problem reason and progress, in practice, as deduction does offer us certainty in modus tollens.

    Gambling is just one such well defined application as the outcome is completely random and all possible outcomes are known. I clearly pointed this out. However, the means by which beer coolers are stocked, in practice, is not random, as I’ve illustrated.

    Are you hoping that others, such as Mung, will not notice I’ve addressed this difference, in detail? Or perhaps you’re assuming induction should be reliable in all scenarios because it you’ve merely observed it being reliable in specific scenarios, or you merely think you’ve been using it reliably, when you have not. But this would be assuming the future should resemble the past.

    So, again, it seems that you are not genuinely interested in addressing the substance of my comments, or you have fallen prey to the very issue we’re discussing.

  105. 105
    critical rationalist

    Mung,

    If you think all we can do is appeal to statistics in the case of the contents of beer coolers, then you are ignoring the fact that beer coolers are not stocked at random, in practice. In doing so, you leaving valuable theoretical information the table, that we can use to make progress, in practice.

    This is why casino’s make every effort to ensure cards are randomly shuffled and counting is prohibited, dice are perfectly weighted, playing surfaces are as uniform as possible, etc. Players that could identify some consistently applied non-randomly details in the above could use it to calculate significantly better odds in their favor than those who could not. And they could do it reliably, as described above.

    Or they could conjecture some theory about a non-random flaw in how a game works, then test it to via observations by trying to exploit it.

    So, the flaw in your thinking here is that I wouldn’t take the bet because I think induction is false. Rather, it’s precisely because I think induction is false that I *would* take the bet.

    We have non-random theories of how beer coolers are stocked, in practice, which lead us to conclude it would be a good bet to take. However, if the cooler was filled randomly, then it would be a form of gambling. Unless you observed the cooler being stocked, at which point you would know it’s contents, then any assumption on your part on how the cooler was stocked is part of a theory you used to calculate any sort of probability. Are you at a party? Are you at a casino? Etc.

    IOW, you’re appealing to the outcome, rather than the explanation for the outcome. You’re assuming that because you’ve observed induction working “here” then it should work “there”. However, this does not survive rational criticism.

  106. critical rationalist:

    However, the means by which beer coolers are stocked, in practice, is not random, as I’ve illustrated.

    I said I’d allow you to stock the cooler. Stock it in a random manner, a non-random manner, it really doesn’t matter.

    It doesn’t change the probabilities unless it interferes with my ability to draw a random sample.

    Are you willing to put your money where your mouth is?

    We’ll specify the size of the cooler and add ice and water and your choice of 30 cans.

    If I draw out 25 cans in a row of PBR, I am willing to put a significant wager on what the 26th can will be. Are you?

    As we see, when it comes to putting your claims to an empirical test, you shy away.

  107. cr,

    I only need one case in which induction works. If you give the right odds to a gambler they will take the bet every time. Why is that?

  108. –CR;

    ‘The possibility remains that, like oak trees and good wine, emeralds may ‘biologically’ age quite gracefully over time, or have a chemical switch triggered by some radioactive decay, thereby developing a nice blue sheen on December 5th, 2015 (or any other date for that matter).”

    All this is irrelevant. What matters for the Law of Identity is that a thing’s nature produces predictable effects, which means that we can, in that context, have valid knowledge about the future based on past observations and experiences, refuting Hume and legitimizing inferential reasoning. All your other references follow Hume’s mistakes. What matters is that the validity inductive reasoning is based on the Law of Identity and is not based on observations. You show no evidence of grasping this point or even being willing to address it. What is your position on this matter? Please be precise.

    Also, Dykes is, by no stretch of the imagination, the only one who recognized Hume’s mistakes. Google “Little Errors in the Beginning,” by Mortimer J. Adler.

    CR:

    “Gambling is just one such well defined application as the outcome is completely random and all possible outcomes are known. I clearly pointed this out. However, the means by which beer coolers are stocked, in practice, is not random, as I’ve illustrated.”

    Are you saying that, for the statistics used in gambling scenarios, or for the Pew Research Center there is no “problem of induction,” and that we may “justify” our conclusions using that method, but with the example of the beer cans, we may not, in the same way, use statistics with the same confidence or justify our conclusions?

    Please be precise and forthcoming, answering the questions as asked.

    Also, I ask you again (the sixth time?)

    Why do you subject Intelligent Design Theory to the scrutiny of Critical Rationalism and exempt Darwinism from that same standard? If you have, indeed, subjected Darwinism to that standard, tell me how and when you did it?

  109. Mortimer J. Adler

    ah yes

  110. The argument…..

    [a] This cooler contains 30 cans.

    [b] 25 cans selected at random were found to be Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR).

    [c] Probably all the cans are PBR.

    CR:

    Before you could have calculated a probability, you would have had to *first* have a specific theory in mind, such as one person bought all of the beer and, in doing so, bought all of the same kind. This is not present in observations from [b] alone. In the absence of such a theory, no such probability calculus could be made. So, you merely thought you were using induction. This is the psychological problem of induction.

    I am amazed that you would allow your ideology of critical rationalism to so cloud your judgment that you would deny the logical validity of this conclusion. There is really nothing else to say.

  111. 111
    critical rationalist

    CR: So, the flaw in your thinking here is that I wouldn’t take the bet because I think induction is false. Rather, it’s precisely because I think induction is false that I *would* take the bet.

    Mung: If I draw out 25 cans in a row of PBR, I am willing to put a significant wager on what the 26th can will be. Are you? As we see, when it comes to putting your claims to an empirical test, you shy away.

    Mung,

    I fear you’re unable to grasp the issue here and that no further discussion will be useful.

    Again, a can being a PBR or not-PBR with known random stocking and known random picking is gambling. This represents one valid form of probability because the system is random all of the options (how many cans, PBR not-PBR, etc) are known. This is the first kind if unknowability, in which probability is valid. I’ve already defined this, in detail.

    An example of this is Russian Roulette. As long as you know all of the possible outcomes, we can use probability to make choices about it. For example, if for some horrible reason, one had to choose between different versions of Russian Roulette with specific yet variable number of chambers, bullets and trigger pulls, one could use game theory to determine which variation would be most favorable.

    Probability in this case means determining which bet is better between other potential bets, such as having picked 20 PBRs at random and all 10 remaining cans being PBRs as well, or having picked 10 PBRs at random, and all 20 remaining cans being PBRs as well, etc. This is they first kind of unknowability in which probability is valid.

    But, again, an inductive argument is only reliable if it yields approximately true conclusions most of the time. Why do you think continually selecting the 26th can at randomly from a randomly stocked cooler would actually return a PBR most of the time?

    This is not the same as using probability to determine which bet, among others, are better. You are confusing the two.

  112. 112
    critical rationalist

    CR: So, the flaw in your thinking here is that I wouldn’t take the bet because I think induction is false. Rather, it’s precisely because I think induction is false that I *would* take the bet.

    Mung: If I draw out 25 cans in a row of PBR, I am willing to put a significant wager on what the 26th can will be. Are you? As we see, when it comes to putting your claims to an empirical test, you shy away.

    Mung,

    I fear you’re unable to grasp the issue here and that no further discussion will be useful.

    Again, a can being a PBR or not-PBR with known random stocking and known random picking is gambling. This represents one valid form of probability because the system is random all of the options (how many cans, PBR not-PBR, etc) are known. This is the first kind if unknowability, in which probability is valid. I’ve already defined this, in detail.

    An example of this is Russian Roulette. As long as you know all of the possible outcomes, we can use probability to make choices about it. For example, if for some horrible reason, one had to choose between different versions of Russian Roulette with specific yet variable number of chambers, bullets and trigger pulls, one could use game theory to determine which variation would be most favorable.

    Probability in this case means determining which bet is better between other potential bets, such as having picked 20 PBRs at random and all 10 remaining cans being PBRs as well, or having picked 10 PBRs at random, and all 20 remaining cans being PBRs as well, etc. This is they first kind of unknowability in which probability is valid.

    But, again, an inductive argument is only reliable if it yields approximately true conclusions most of the time. Why do you think continually selecting the 26th can at randomly from a randomly stocked cooler would actually return a PBR most of the time?

    This is not the same as using probability to determine which bet, among others, are better. You are confusing the two.

  113. 113
    critical rationalist

    SB: All this is irrelevant.

    “All this is irrelevant.” does not actually address my points. You have simply stopped responding to rational criticism.

    Until such time, future discussion will likely be unproductive.

    I am amazed that you would allow your ideology of critical rationalism to so cloud your judgment that you would deny the logical validity of this conclusion. There is really nothing else to say.

    Which, again, ignores the different kinds of unknowability. Again, are you hoping that others, such as Mung, will not notice the difference between the two, as I’ve outlined, in detail?

    If you think the question of whether we can or have actually used induction in any reliable, identifiable sense is irrelevant, then there is nothing more to say.

  114. Until such time, future discussion will likely be unproductive.

    CR,

    Considering your marked inability to follow an argument, and your refusal to subject your ideas to empirical criticism, you’re probably correct.

  115. –CR:

    “All this is irrelevant.” does not actually address my points. You have simply stopped responding to rational criticism.”

    That is a demonstrably false statement. I explained WHY the comments about change were irrelevant and followed up with a question to you. You simply read the phrase “All this is irrelevant,” and ignored the reasons for my saying so in a futile attempt to escape refutation.

    The Law of Identity, on which the principle of induction is based, allows for changes if those changes are part of a things nature, which means that past observations can still be used to give us information about future events, which, in turn, allow us to draw inferences. If it is part of an acorns nature to morph into a tree, then past observations of acorns morphing can be used to predict future acorns morphing, just as past observations of an apple tree producing apples can be used to predict future apple trees producing apples.

    Further, I asked you to take a position on the subject: Does the legitimacy of inductive reasoning depend on observation, as Hume (and, by extension, Popper) falsely claimed, or does it depend on the Law of Identity, as I explained? You evaded that question because you must either concede my point or admit that you believe that the validity of inductive reasoning is based on observation, a claim that I can easily refute. So, you avoid the question entirely–just as you avoid my question about gambling and “justification”–just as you avoid my question about why you don’t apply critical rationalism to challenge the claims of Darwinism–just as you avoid the question about why you don’t apply critical rationalism to challenge the claims of critical rationalism. It is quite odd that someone who purports to believe in the principle of rational scrutiny would so strenously avoid rational scrutiny.

  116. 116
    critical rationalist

    StephanB,

    Is there something about the following that you do not understand?

    By saying, “It is not possible to exist without being something, and a thing can only be what it is: A is A,”Dykes is missing out on the fact that universals may have identities that vary over time: Acorns grow into oak trees; eggs hatch into chickens; caterpillars turn into butterflies; children grow into adults; electrons switch immediately from ‘up spin’ to ‘down spin.’ There is change in the universe, and at times it is quite difficult to demarcate between two different identities, or learn if they are in fact an identity, while at other times the switch is drastic and unpredictable.

    Neither, Hume or Popper are denying things have specific identities. The question is, how do we know gain knowledge about those identities using merely observations given these changes? How does this work, in practice?

    Example? I’ve already provided you one, which you’ve completely ignored.

    Goodman’s New Riddle of Induction

    Definition: Object x is grue at time t if and only if x is green at time t and t 2100.

    The following inference both follow the pattern of simple enumerative induction:

    - All emeralds observed to date have been green. Therefore, all emeralds are green (at all times).
    - All emeralds observed to date have been grue. Therefore, all emeralds are grue (at all times).

    Note: The conclusion of these arguments cannot both be true. The second predicts that any emerald observed after the year 2100 will be blue at that time, while the green hypothesis predicts that they will be green at that time. One of these predictions will be false.

    Remark: The idea that Newton’s theory of motion may be true when stated in French, but false when stated in English is absurd. However, we don’t have this kind of language dependence in the grue example, for each hypothesis says the same thing in the color and the grolor languages. It is the language dependence of inductive inference that is at issue, although this dependence is equally unacceptable.

    Argument: The inference is reliable in the first instance, but not in the second. There are as many inferences like the second as there are the first. Therefore, simple enumerative induction is unreliable in most cases.

    You are conflating the idea that things do not have identities with our ably to obtain knowledge about those identities or determine when they are at work, in comparison to some other identify, in a reliable way using observations alone. Emeralds have identities. Yet, no number of past observations can tell us if Emeralds are green or grue until 2015. And that’s just one example.

    This is the same sort of argument you made regarding Hume and causes. Neither of which are *necessarily* implied by the problem of induction itself.

    Furthermore, you have yet to provide the missing step which induction would need to provide guidance before we could actually reliably employ it, in practice. In the absence of this step, it’s unclear how we could identify if induction is actually being used. This doesn’t mean that induction wouldn’t have an identity, in reality, but you have failed to define it in a way that it can be identified using enumerative induction.

    For example, what our experience that that the sun rises every 24 hours as long as humans have been around to experience it. Therefore we should expect it to do so again tomorrow.

    Let’s ignore observations that the sun doesn’t always rise every 24 hours at the poles and may rise as often as every 40 minutes or not at all if you are in orbit around the earth.

    Stars have identities. Some will turn into red giants or go supernova, in reality. The question is how do we know what kind of star our sun is?

    Currently, our explanation for how the sun works is that it’s a giant fusion reactor that converts hydrogen to helium. Given it’s size and consumption rate, we expect it to eventually turn into a red giant and boil away the oceans in about a billion years. A few billion years later, it may even expand to the point where it will consume the earth completely. This is all based on the explanation of how our sun works, not based on past observations. We have “seen” red giants and even stars in transitional forms of becoming one, which collaborate our explanation of how stars work, but no one has observed a star of the class of our sun actually become a red giant. This is because human beings haven’t existed long enough to make those observations. We’ve seen what are the remains of supernovas and even stars going supernova. But our current assumption that our sun will not go supernova tomorrow, and therefore not rise, is based on our explanation of how stars work, not a number of repeated singular observations.

    If our theory is wrong, then the sun might not rise tomorrow.

    If the sun actually worked based on some other explanation, such as it contained X amount of fuel Y and burns it at rate Z, which would cause it to wink out in 4.57 billion years, we wouldn’t expect the sun to rise tomorrow. This is because we think it’s already been around for roughly 4.57 billion years. Again, this would not be based merely on a succession of singular observations of it having done so in the past, but on a different theory about how stars work, which would also be compatible with the same limited window of observations we’ve made so far.

  117. 117
    critical rationalist

    SB: Further, I asked you to take a position on the subject: Does the legitimacy of inductive reasoning depend on observation, as Hume (and, by extension, Popper) falsely claimed, or does it depend on the Law of Identity, as I explained?

    This is a false dilemma. That things have identities, in reality, would be necessary for induction to work. However, Hume and Popper do not claim otherwise.

    Nor does A=A fill in the missing step in induction, providing the guidance required for induction to be employed reliably. In the absence of this step, it’s unclear how induction can actually be applied, in practice.

    Again, Critical Rationalism is a universal explanatory theory for the growth of knowledge. It’s unclear how Law of Identity actually solves the problem of induction in this context. Nor have you responded to Goodman’s New riddle of Induction as outlined above, which is relevant to your response.

  118. 118
    critical rationalist

    CR: “All this is irrelevant.” does not actually address my points. You have simply stopped responding to rational criticism.

    Until such time, future discussion will likely be unproductive.

    Mung: Considering your marked inability to follow an argument, and your refusal to subject your ideas to empirical criticism, you’re probably correct.

    Are you denying there are different kinds of unknowability? Neither of you have addressed this.

    Are you denying that Goodman’s new riddle of induction is relevant in regard to the law of identity? Both of you keep ignoring it as well.

    Are you denying that my argument isn’t about discarding empirical criticism, but the specific point in the process where empirical criticism is employed, in practice?

    Are you denying these are observed instances where criticism has gone unaddressed?

    IOW, you seem to be denying something, yet you haven’t come out and explicitly said what it is, exactly, you are denying.

  119. What could be more entertaining than this?– a skeptic citing philosophers who try to use inductive reasoning as a means for invalidating inductive reasoning? You have to love it.

  120. 120
    critical rationalist

    What could be more entertaining than this?– a skeptic citing philosophers who try to use inductive reasoning as a means for invalidating inductive reasoning? You have to love it.

    What’s more entertaining?

    The fact that you are either incapable or unwilling to define inductive reasoning to the extent that you can reliably identify when you, or anyone else, are actually using it. This is just such an example, as I’m using deduction.

    Optical illusions refute the idea that our subjective experiences are always correct. One example is Shepard’s Tables. The vertical table looks longer than the horizontal, but when you superimpose a line of equal length over both tables, as a form of criticism, our subjective experience fails that criticism. Yet when you take away the superimposed measurement lines, our subjective experience that the vertical table is longer returns. And it does so even though we *know* it’s wrong.

    IOW, even though might think subjective experience provides positive support that inductive reasoning is a rational explanation for the growth of knowledge, this does not survive rational criticism.

    Explanations for the growth of human knowledge are ideas. And our current, best explanation is critical rationalism. LIke all other ideas, It contains errors to some degree and is incomplete. And like all other ideas, we can make progress by using deduction to find those errors. It is not static. Nor is it based on justificationism

    Problems are solvable. Problems are inevitable. Our theory of the grown in human knowledge is no exception. As such, the above examples are observations that are incompatible with inductivism, rather than positively support critical rationalism.

    But, by all means, feel free to actually address the above criticisms. However, “Idea x is not justified” is a bad criticism as it can be applied equally to all ideas.

    So, again, If you think the question of whether it is even possible to use induction or that we actually use induction in any reliable, identifiable sense on a case by case basis is irrelevant, then there is nothing more to say.

  121. Critical Rationalist, you are operating with an incomplete set of facts. If you will not read “Little Errors in the Beginning,” by Adler, then Google “The Old Riddle of Induction, — Warrant and Proper Function,” by Alvin Plantinga. Right around p. 124 he deals with both Hume’s error and Goodman’s derivative error.

  122. 122
    critical rationalist

    What do we get from Plantinga? Just was you would expect.

    “Instead the crucial question is this: which properties are the ones a properly functioning adult human being in our circumstance will in fact project? Here I shall only gesture toward the truth, rather than develop an articulated theory; but the broad outline of the answer, in so far as the properties Goodman considers, is not hard to see. Property functioning…”

    For Plantinga, this is par for the course. Apparently, human beings can make progress because God made us in just the right way so that we could. We can boil this down to we can make progress because “that’s just what God must have wanted”.

    Again, to summarize Popper,

    … it ends up that induction is not only impossible in the case of certainty, but is unreliable regards to probability except in very specific, well defined applications. But this is does not represent an insurmountable problem reason and progress, in practice, as deduction does offer us certainty in modus tollens.

    Plantina later goes on to describe what is essentially indistinguishable from CR in the form of developing “concepts”, “getting the idea” that read red refers to the color of a ball, which is conjecture, etc. He just calls it induction and glosses over the issue.

    From an earlier comment,

    Furthermore, you have yet to provide the missing step which induction would need to provide guidance before we could actually reliably employ it, in practice. In the absence of this step, it’s unclear how we could identify if induction is actually being used. This doesn’t mean that induction wouldn’t have an identity, in reality, but you have failed to define it in a way that it can be identified using enumerative induction.

    What identifiable, reliable step does Plantinga provide that provides guidance based on observations at this point? He basically says “whatever properly functioning properly functioning people do”. If this is induction, then apparently anything is properly human beings do is induction. It’s magic.

    In other words, “What property functioning people do” is a whole so big you can drive critical rationalism right through it without a scratch.

    IOW, this sort of retreat doesn’t actually address the issue.

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