August 17, 2011

Incuriosity

Hatched by Dafydd

I am irked to report that I just finished watching what I believe to be the premier episode of a Discovery Channel series rather inaptly titled Curiosity.

As per the title of this post, truth in advertising should compel them to change the name to Incuriosity -- because that's what was on parade in episode one, "Did God Create the Universe?" In the enticing blurb sent by the show creators themselves to the Discovery Channel, thence to the various cable and satellite television carriers, two more questions were added: "How was the world created, and can the laws of nature co-exist with a belief in God?"

Full disclosure: I have been a true agnostic my entire life. By "true agnostic," I mean that I neither believe nor disbelieve in God; but I believe it to be a vital question, and I'm willing to draw either conclusion based upon evidence... evidence which has so far failed to persuade me to either side. But I am not a believer; neither am I an atheist.

The host was the completely unbiased Stephen Hawking (yes, that is a joke), a devout atheist who just published a book last year, the Grand Design, in which Hawking and his co-author, physicist Leonard Mlodinow, conclude that our universe -- mass-energy, space, and time itself -- could have arisen out of nothingness according to "the laws of nature," which the television show takes not only to be immutable but to predate the existence of our universe.

It's a neat trick. Perhaps mathematical verities can be said to exist in a larger "meta-universe," inside of which (and according to its mathematical meta-laws) universes spring into existence. But does Hawking, et al, argue that physical constants likewise pre-exist in a meta-universe that contains no mass, no energy, no physical space, and no linear time? By "physical constants," I mean constants like the speed of light in a vacuum, Planck's constant for the ratio of an electron's energy and the frequency of its electromagnetic wave, the elementary charge carried by a proton, the mass of an electron, or the magnetic constant of magnetic permeability in a vacuum. Change any of those measured values (which certainly ought to qualify as "laws of nature"), and I suspect the universe would be dramatically different from ours.

Which leaves a lot of room for an omniscient, omnipotent deity to manipulate a desired universe by setting the physical constants to specific values and perhaps even tweaking other "laws of nature," such as the inverse-square law. Lots of room for deistic choice there!

The episode of Curiosity never gets around to answering the third question they asked, likely because it's so easy to answer: Of course the laws of nature can co-exist with a belief in God; billions of people believe in God, yet that does not prevent the laws of nature from functioning.

I believe what they meant to ask was, "can belief in God co-exist with the ability to make important scientific discoveries?" But they never answered that question, either. (Psst... the answer is likewise Yes; there is a sizeable minority of important, productive, widely respected, and frequently sourced scientists who also happen to be religious.)

Perhaps the question is, "Can a person generate good science using magical thinking?" That question is completely circular, alas, as the definition of "magical thinking" is undefined. You see the problem? (However, it is reasonable to state that anyone who rejects the well-established theory of evolution by natural selection is either woefully ignorant or else rejects scientific thinking altogether -- and that includes two people I quite admire.)

This episode is riddled with overt and covert examples of "epistemic closure;" my brazenly simplistic definition of the term in popular usage (vice its meaning in formal logic) is, going to an intellectual smorgasborg and eating nothing but the Swedish meatballs. In this case, not a single scientist or scientific argument opposing the motion was ever presented; it wasn't an exploration, it was a stern lecture by a very self-satisfied and fully enclosed partisan. The narrator, who is portraying Hawking himself, does nothing but flog his theme, that God is not only unnecessary but impossible, announcing (but never arguing) that this claim is proved by "the laws of nature." He argues that once those laws are set up, then a universe can spring into existence ex nihilio without direct intervention by a sentient deity. But that's a pretty big "once"!

Several questions occurred to me while watching the entertainment:

  • Does Hawking presuppose that we already know all the "laws of nature?"
  • Do proponents of Hawkism believe that the statement "incessant Godly intervention is not required for science to function" necessarily implies that "God does not exist?"
  • Do Hawklings believe that the only reason people believe in God is to explain the alleged "gaps" in science? That if those gaps are satisfactorally explained in the context of what we currently believe to be the "laws of nature," then there is no other reason, moral or spiritual, to care whether or not God exists?

The episode presents one (1) argument that attempts to show that there cannot have been any Creator of the Universe:

  1. By the current, very well founded theories of cosmology, during the Big Bang that created our universe, all three "ingredients" -- mass-energy, space, and time -- sprang into existence ex nihilio.
  2. Thus, outside the expanding sphere of the Big Bang, time in particular does not exist.
  3. By definition, any Creator must have existed outside the Big Bang in order to have caused the Big Bang.
  4. Therefore, the Creator must have existed outside time itself.
  5. But that means the Creator would have had no time in which to pull off such a creation, because time was not moving where the Creator would have to have been "standing."
  6. Therefore, the universe could not have had any Creator, and there is no God.

So my fourth question is:

  • Does any Hawkling honestly believe this argument is anything but sheer sophistry?

I agree, it's logically impossible that a putative Creator of the Universe could have existed at a point of spacetime that is contained within the expanding sphere of the Big Bang; He would be creating himself, a.k.a., pulling Himself up by his own jockstrap. Therefore, if He exists at all, He must exist outside that sphere in order to be the One who created it.

(Although, a pseudo-Creator could exist, one who is neither omnipotent or omniscient but fully finite and completely contained within the Big-Bang sphere; but a being who is so powerful, intelligent, and knowledgeable that mere human beings cannot distinguish betwee this being -- call him "Gid" -- and an actual theistic God by any scientific measurement. See below.)

Duh. We all get it. It's hardly a revelation.

And this point was patently obvious even to those benighted teleologists who, because they lived a long time ago, must necessarily be stupider than contemporary atheists. Shockingly enough, even those ancient arguments for the existence of God envisioned Him as outside spacetime.

So to argue that a God who exists outside of spacetime cannot possibly exist because he would have to be outside of spacetime is not just circular, it's positively weird. It's as if some bozo with a book argues that "There can't be life on other planets, because it would have to be living on other planets!" Heavy, man.

The inability to logically disprove the existence of God is the obverse of the coin of reason; let's take the reverse side of the coin, the equally firm inability to prove that God exists: You cannot use knowledge gaps to argue that God hides in every hole not yet filled in by physics or biology.

This is called the "God in the Gaps" argument. The episode of Curiosity did a good job of shooting down the God in the Gaps; kudos. But that's hardly surprising, since doing so perfectly accords with their atheist viewpoint. (Of course, even atheists can be right once in a while.)

Obviously we have had many knowledge gaps throughout human history; the vast majority have been filled in, to greater or lesser extent, as science marches forward. But even for those gaps that still gape, nobody has ever proven that the gaps are unresolvable. The most reasonable assumption is that, given time, they too will be resolved. (Francis S. Collins, staunch Christian and also the head of the Human Genome Project, makes a wonderful argument for this point in his seminal book the Language of God.)

This is the strongest logical argument for theism, yet it is flawed, I think it fair to say that nobody has logically proven the existence of God. But by the reverse side of the coin, neither has anybody logically proven the non-existence of God. It's just one of those questions that cannot be answered mathematically.

But let's get back to my questions:

  • All of the proponents of atheism rely upon the unproven, unprovable claim that the "laws of nature" are immutable and cannot be superceded under any circumstance; even God would be incapable of parting a small body of water or stopping the Earth's rotation for a while, then restarting it. Do they really believe this? What makes them believe it -- that they haven't personally witnessed any miraculous exceptions?

Well heck; maybe God is better at hiding than atheists are at finding. Ever consider that?

I personally have never witnessed such a miraculous manifestation, and I would never claim that it ever happened. But neither would I claim it hasn't happened, for a very scientific reason: The "laws of nature" are almost certainly more complex than we imagine today; and for all we know, they may contain built-in exceptions to what we believe to be "immutable" rules... just as quantum mechanics introduced built-in exceptions to what nineteenth-century scientists would have insisted were immutable rules about the conservation of mass or the nature of time.

Perhaps a completely finite superbeing -- Gid, from a few paragraphs up -- has a deeper understanding of the "laws of nature" and can manipulate them to produce effects that, to us, are indistinguishable from magic and miracle. The proper scientific response would be to admit that as near as makes no scientific difference, Gid is God; if measurement cannot tell them apart, if Gid can do everything human beings can imagine as a test of "Godness," then by what scientific argument could a scientist reject the existence of God? If nobody can tell the difference between Gid and God, and if Gid exists, then the correct scientific answer to the question, "Does God exist?", would have to be, "Available evidence indicates that He does." Science does not recognize spooky distinctions between two things that are identical via all known measurements.

And if some scientist were to state that such Gid-manifestations cannot possibly be due to magic or miracle, but must instead be due to as-yet undiscovered physical laws, he would not be speaking from science but rather from a religious faith, as a true believer in the First Church of Fundamentalist Materialism. (I myself would say just what he said; but I would be honest about it being faith-based, not scientific.)

What is the point of Gid? Gid's existence is not prohibited by any known "law of nature." He cannot violate physical laws; he just knows them much more thoroughly than do mere mortals. He is not infinite in any way but completely finite; just so much more powerful and smart than we that human beings cannot trip him up. He does not stand outside the universe but is full contained within the spacetime sphere created by the Big Bang. He is presumably mortal himself; at least, being a creature of this universe, when (if) it collapses back to a mathematical point again (called the "Big Crunch"), Gid would die then, if he hasn't already kicked the celestial bucket.

Therefore, we have this amusing conundrum -- which emphatically was not discussed (or even hinted at!) in the episode.

The Gid-God Syllogism

  1. We define a superbeing as a finite, living creature who is sufficiently more power powerful and intelligent than human beings that he can fool us into believing he can do and know anything God can do or know.
  2. Assuming we are not alone in the universe, thus that other civilizations exist that may be millions of years more advanced than we, it is not only possible but very plausible that at least one superbeing exists, whom we shall call Gid.
  3. Since we humans cannot (be definition) distinguish between a superbeing and the theistic God by any scientific test or measurement known to Man, we must conclude that scientifically, Gid is God.
  4. Therefore, as far as scientific inquiry can tell, God not only can exist but likely does exist in this universe.

Sadly, this sort of truly intriguing speculation was entirely absent from this episode of Curiosity; throughout, it was insultingly childish, devoid of intellectual meat or honest debate, more likely to make eyes roll than to make converts. But it could have been so much more, had they just consulted a few science-fiction writers, instead of just one fearful atheist.

The next episode (which I have already recorded on DVR but not yet watched) is about what an alien invasion would be like, could we survive, and what should be our response.

I don't know whether Stephen Hawking is involved in every episode or just the first; but I'm afraid if it's the former, then we're in for another clunker: For Stephen Hawking does believe in life on other planets... but he is terrified of what might happen were we to be visited by aliens; so frightened that he argues strenuously against any attempt to contact alien species:

"If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn't turn out well for the Native Americans," he said.

Prof Hawking thinks that, rather than actively trying to communicate with extra-terrestrials, humans should do everything possible to avoid contact.

He explained: "We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn't want to meet."

Worst of all, the alien could be as squirmy a liberal as Stephen Hawking! Wouldn't that be a pseudopod to the head?

I suspect I'm in for a bumpy flight when I watch episode two, if I ever do. If it's as bad as one, I sincerely doubt I'll ever see three.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 17, 2011, at the time of 1:14 PM

Comments

The following hissed in response by: LarryD

It seems Hawking would be very shocked to discover that the idea of "sentient life on other planets" has been considered for centuries in the West even by Theologians. And, of course it's been in popular culture for at least a couple of generations now. I mean, sheesh, Star Trek was created back during the sixties.

Now, in a First Contact situation, we do have to worry about what the aliens may be after. And they may be well advised to worry about us, as well.

Since Juedo-Christianity holds that Creation is comprehensible by humanity, it should be obvious that is compatible with science, where does Hawking think the scientific method was invented, anyway?

By the way look up Godel's Incompleteness Theorems. There exist some questions that mathematics can never prove

The above hissed in response by: LarryD [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 17, 2011 2:42 PM

The following hissed in response by: mdgiles

So.
Why are you surprised?
I've grown increasingly frustrated with anything that purports to be a rational program on any kind of Earth science; as - without fail - somewhere in the program - even in places where there is no reason for it to be - we will receive a bulletin from the "Church of AGW". Trust me. If it's a program on ancient animal life, we'll be told how the dinosaurs managed to wipe themselves out via "Global Warming". For some reason we're never supposed to notice that the dinosaurs (and our mammalian ancestors) managed to survive for 160 million years in a world that was, on average, degrees warmer than it is now.

The above hissed in response by: mdgiles [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 18, 2011 8:53 AM

The following hissed in response by: MikeR

Huh. Especially bizarre given that one of Hawkings last comments in his earlier book was, "Is this internal logic so compelling that the universe decided to create itself?" (paraphrased). I took it at the time to be an admission that any such idea is silly. Which it is.
Dafydd, your arguments are correct, but they are well known to any religious child, certainly to any educated religious adult. Atheists can be pretty ignorant about this stuff, thinking that they are smarter than anyone who preceded them.

As to hiding from aliens, equally silly. We already can see planets around nearby star systems. A couple of additional orders of magnitude sensitivity and we'll be able to tell if they are habitable, and indeed to know if they are emitting radio and TV frequencies, and other stuff I haven't thought of. Presumably advanced aliens would be more competent. Better to hope they're friendly, or don't have interstellar travel.

The above hissed in response by: MikeR [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 18, 2011 12:02 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh

Et al:

Brad Linaweaver and I once collaborated on a tetralogy of SF novels "based" on the Doom video games. I put based in quotation marks because, while the plot of the first book (in which we were just getting our feet wet, never having novelized a game before) was taken fairly directly from the game, for books 2-4, we simply wrote pure space opera with only a miniscule connection to the supposed source. (That's why readers like the last three books best -- and gamers can only stand to read the first.)

But the logic of the game itself compelled us to have an interstellar war, and Brad and I made the conscious decision to come up with an actually logical rationale for such a thing to come about.

I daresay I'm much more qualified to speak on the topic than is Stephen Hawking, for all his degrees and awards: He knows far less about science fiction than I know about physics.

I cannot tell you how Brad and I struggled to come up with any plausible reason why one technological civilization would ever attack another one on another planet. Try it sometime!

The main source of international conflict on Earth has always been a fight over resources and room; but if one has routine and ready access to space, resources are so abundant as to be nearly valueless, save for the utilitarian needs; and there is such a staggering amount of room that even Daniel Boone would feel lonely.

For every planet that has sentient life, there are thousands that do not; some will have some combination of flora, fauna, and microorganisma (I know that's not a real classification but should be clear in context); other planets will be barren but still possess a wealth of minerals, crystals, and other useful chemicals.

In addition, there are likely many times more asteroids than full-sized planets, some condensed from minerals, others various varieties of frozen gases or liquids -- including more water than anyone could possibly need, for you V fans.

Isn't it far easier for an alien civilization to exploit resources not protected or guarded by sentient beings, who might, after all, find a way to fight back effectively? If one has interstellar travel -- a must for interstellar conflict! -- then one has an almost limitless larder at one's backdoor, without the necessity of subduing or ousting any residents.

So what's left? Some kooky religion that requires conquest? But religions too arise from scarcity; and in the post-economic environment of the entire galaxy, it's hard to imagine such a dangerous and destructive religion lasting very long without bringing about its own destruction. After all, nobody can rely upon always being the biggest baddie on a playground of three hundred billion stars sprinkled across eight trillion cubit lightyears. (And even that's restricting ourselves to just one of 170 billion galaxies! If aliens have intergalactic travel, I doubt they would even notice our existence.)

Heck, with natural and artifactual resources everywhere, on uninhabited planets and regions of space, it's even hard to come up with items worth trading for! The only valuable items that spring to mind are:

  • Technology
  • Art, music, literature
  • New philosophies
  • Food recipes readily adaptable to one's own nutritional needs
  • Personal servants, who likely would charge an arm and a tentacle for the status that such a servant would confer upon his employer: "I'm so rich, I can afford to hire a valet! I just wish he wouldn't be so demanding..."

Such intellectual creations would be the only media of exchange, since they are the only new things under the suns.

Far more likely than interstellar conflict is interstellar snubbing: Aliens, who have probably met many different alien civilizations already, would likely see ours as nothing more than "mostly harmless." They would no more want to go slumming on Earth than you or I would enjoy hanging out with remote African pigmy tribes who had never heard of the wheel.

All right, maybe we'd be visited by alien anthropologists (though probably just grad students); but they would likely try to stay out of sight, so as not to spook the primitives.

We would be astonishly lucky to encounter an alien race that cared enough even to tell us that alien races existed!

Dafydd

The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 18, 2011 1:58 PM

The following hissed in response by: jls

Dafydd- Thank you for the review.

A small bone to pick. I welcome the famous Gid back to the Big Lizards lair but i sense an error in the syllogism:

Since we humans cannot (be definition) distinguish between a superbeing and the theistic God by any scientific test or measurement known to Man, we must conclude that scientifically, Gid is God.


Therefore, as far as scientific inquiry can tell, God not only can exist but likely does exist in this universe.

I was tracking along fine until the "Gid is God" FUBAR. The fact that two different things are not distinguishable does not make them the same thing. They are two different things but not distinguishable with a limited perspective. For example: A square and a cube are indistinguishable from a single perspective but they are not the same thing.

On the larger point. Mans perspective is limited to the existing space time continuum. Presumable God's is not. Is it even reasonable to suspect that man could grasp the concept of a creator that exists outside of time?

Perhaps a thought experiment: If we created a simulated world with a computer program and populated it with sentient simulated beings. What features would this world have to have in order for the simulated beings to "prove" our "the creators" existence?

The above hissed in response by: jls [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 18, 2011 3:39 PM

The following hissed in response by: seePea

jts commented:

They are two different things but not distinguishable with a limited perspective.

My understanding is that Dafydd's point was that if the limit is extremely close to limitless, than we may as well consider it limitless.
Think epsilon.
of if you prefer, the math that
.99999999999999999999999999999... does equal 1

The above hissed in response by: seePea [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 18, 2011 6:43 PM

The following hissed in response by: seePea

Why would aliens come? Well, even in a huge real estate environment like our galaxy wouldn't it still be "location, location , location" ?

The above hissed in response by: seePea [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 18, 2011 6:45 PM

The following hissed in response by: jls

seePea-

My reading was that Dafydd was postulating a super being that was sufficiency advanced and capable that we as humans were not able to differentiate between Gid the imposter and the real God.

From this postulate he concluded that scientifically, Gid is God. The key word here is scientifically. This bit of sophistry allows him to say that if science can't distinguish the imposter from the real than they must be the same. He is correct to say that scientifically the two are the same (or indistinguishable) but he errs when he goes on to say without qualification that Gid is God. Scientifically indistinguishable isn't the same as identical. Science approaches truth but it does reveal truth.

As for .99999... equaling 1. A defining characteristic of the number 1 is that any number multiplied by 1 equals itself. Under this definition .999999... doesn't qualify. I will grant you that depending on the purpose we are free to treat them as the same and get functional equivalency.

Dafydd may be saying that Gid is actually close to God’s power but I heard him say that Gid was only advanced enough to fool us mere mortals. Not a god like actuality.

The above hissed in response by: jls [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 18, 2011 8:23 PM

The following hissed in response by: seePea

jts: do you agree that math is a science? if you do, then .999... does equal 1.

My favorite proof is the following

    x = 0.999...
10x = 9.999...
Subtract the two paired items
10x - 1x = 9x
9.999... - 0.999...= 9.000...
Resulting in 9x = 9.000...., solving for x, x=1

lots more proofs are here.
So if Gid is that powerful, Gid could equal G0d.
At least , that is my understanding of Daffyd. Personally, I do believe in a Creator and as to the when the 'natural laws' were given reign is something that could be argued about.

The above hissed in response by: seePea [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 18, 2011 9:23 PM

The following hissed in response by: kentuckydan

Saying that the existence of God is something you don't know IMO is more intellectual honest and stating that one does not believe in God period while rejecting the reality that, that stand is as much of a belief system as it's antithesis

The above hissed in response by: kentuckydan [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 18, 2011 9:48 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh

Jls, seaPea:

Every statement within the Gid-God Syllogism is meant to be parsed entirely within the realm of scientific reasoning, not within the realm of the spiritual or religious, whether or not I use the adjective; I try to eschew verbosity.

When you make the statement that Gid is not God, you are making a metaphysical statement, not a logical or scientific one.

You're also pulling a fast one: The only reason you feel comfortable insisting that Gid is not God is that you're reading it on this blog -- then applying the external information that I just invented Gid, obtained by noticing that no Gid had actually appeared, just my hypothetical. (Actually I didn't; we discussed Gid extensively in a Philosophy of Religion class I took at university mumblety-mumble years ago.)

But if you met a real-life Gid, by definition, you yourself could not tell the difference between Him and God. You would be confronted by a being who called Himself God, who could do everything you imagine God could do, who knew everything you could imagine God knowing.

On what basis do you "know" He's a fake? How do you know He's not the real God?

You would know no more than the rest of us.

Back to the syllogism; here's some annotation:

  1. Scientists themselves argue that if two things cannot be distinguished by any known scientific test or measurement, then as far as science is concerned, they are the same thing.
  2. Gid and God cannot be distinguished by any known scientific test or measurement (by definition).
  3. Thus, as far as science is concerned, Gid and God are the same thing (see 1).
  4. If any intelligent life exists elsewhere within the galaxy besides Earth, then Gid is very likely to exist. (It wouldn't take much advancement over us; a scant ten thousand years of additional technological and scientific innovation would probably do the trick.)
  5. Therefore, solely within the realm of science, since Gid is very likely to exist, God is very likely to exist (see 3).

Although it's a big puckish, I am making a serious point: If we are not alone in Universe (or in the galaxy), then there is very probably at least one being whom we mere humans cannot distinguish from God. (For a visual-arts rendering, think of the Q in Star Trek.)

Thus, far from science being able to prove that there is no God in this universe, well-informed speculation implies that something indistinguishable from God does exist -- not just "could exist" -- in this universe.

Until the scientific community faces up to this syllogism and either (a) accepts it, or (b) demonstrates why the logic fails, it has no authority to make lofty pronouncements equating science with atheism.

Nota bene: Being human, I myself would not be able to distinguish Gid from God; hence I would say that Gid is, as near as makes no difference, God.

But I have not sworn fealty to God; so don't expect me to join the Heavenly Crusade.

I don't accept the very concept of kings or princes; aristocracy flies in the face of liberty and equal justice. So unless God is willing to run for election, I won't follow Him <g>.

Dafydd

The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 18, 2011 10:55 PM

The following hissed in response by: jls

Dafydd-

Scientists themselves argue that if two things cannot be distinguished by any known scientific test or measurement, then as far as science is concerned, they are the same thing.

Perhaps we have a different notion of Scientific Method. My notion:

We form an hypothesis and make a prediction about reality based on the hypothesis being true.


We engage reality by performing a test and then compare the test results to the predicted outcome.

We modify our hypothesis as required to conform to our newly discovered reality and repeat the procedure.

The net of this process is that we can never conclude that "Gid is God" or any other scientific assertion. We simply fashion an hypothesis that is ever closer to reality by subjecting it to different tests/perspectives.

There is a fundamental difference between “We can’t tell the difference” and “they are the same”. The first recognizes that our perspectives are limited and our hypothesis are contingent. The second suggests the process has ended and there are no further tests possible. The first is a science based argument the second is faith based.

Nota bene: Being human, I myself would not be able to distinguish Gid from God; hence I would say that Gid is, as near as makes no difference, God.

I have no problem with this statement as long as the “as near as makes no difference” implies a purpose and limits the equivalency. It does not make them the same except for the limited purpose. If your intention is to imply "as near as makes no difference for any possible purpose" then i would say that your assertion exceeds your limited (being human) perspective and is not supportable.

-Jls

The above hissed in response by: jls [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 19, 2011 2:01 PM

The following hissed in response by: seePea

that was an "L"? sorry , thought it was "jTs".
Anyway, jls wrote:

There is a fundamental difference between “We can’t tell the difference” and “they are the same”. The first recognizes that our perspectives are limited and our hypothesis are contingent. The second suggests the process has ended and there are no further tests possible. The first is a science based argument the second is faith based.
So you are not accepting math being a science? or are you disputing 1=.999... despite all the proofs showed at the purplemath ( & other) sites.
Either way is ok, but it should be acknowledged that this fundamental difference does not universally fit


The above hissed in response by: seePea [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 19, 2011 6:03 PM

The following hissed in response by: jls

seePea-

I think of math as being a tool of science but i have no issue calling it science if you prefer.

As too the .xx.... notation to indicate an infinite string of repeating characters. I don't find it particularly interesting. It seems to me that one would have to look to the purpose that the tool was being used to determine it's utility. The idea that infinity plus 1 equals infinity strikes a pedantic cord in me. I don't see how it sets any principal that would suggest a square is the same as a cube. (Two different things that appear the same from a limited perspective)

The above hissed in response by: jls [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 19, 2011 8:13 PM

The following hissed in response by: seePea

Dafydd , did you watch part 2 ?

The above hissed in response by: seePea [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 25, 2011 6:58 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh

SeePea:

Oh yes, I did. (You mean the show about the alien invasion, I deduce.)

I made a paltry few notes; I might still write a short blogpost about it; but it was more or less just what I expected: One brief mention that, oh yeah, there's really no reason why aliens would invade us; then the rest of the show was about how devastating it will be when the aliens invade us.

The good news is they consulted with a couple of science-fiction writers. The bad news is that I've never heard of either of them -- which means they're basically phonies: Charles Gannon, PhD, and David Bartell. I Amazoned them; one of them has about 1.25 books out, and the other is a Kindler.

At least the episode avoided suggesting that the invaders might attack because they're so furious about global warming: "You will be greenilated; Republicans are futile. Exterminate! Exterminate!" (That's the Borg after assimilating Algore and a Dalek.)

Dafydd

The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 25, 2011 10:27 PM

Post a comment

Thanks for hissing in, . Now you can slither in with a comment, o wise. (sign out)

(If you haven't hissed a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Hang loose; don't shed your skin!)


Remember me unto the end of days?


© 2005-2009 by Dafydd ab Hugh - All Rights Reserved