Saturday, July 04, 2009

What do you think?

"Any fact claim unsupported by empirical evidence can justly be treated as a product of the imagination."

Is this a fair statement? If it is not, what is the objection?

36 comments:

Gideon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Evo said...

Not being able to disprove flying, fire breathing dragons is not a fact claim. It is only a statement about what I *can't* do. Your objection would mean that if I say there are none, then it is only a product of my imagination that there are no flying, fire-breathing dragons.

The fact claim is "God exists, and he is Yahweh". It is not supported by empirical evidence and therefore can be treated exactly like flying, fire-breathing dragons. If not, what is the objection?

Next!

John Evo said...

Oh...

If it's fact, then there is already consensus. So, then, where is the controversy?

Facts are not such due to consensus or lack of it. Consensus is irrelevant to facts.

That said, I can assure you that there is no consensus for any of the claims you have made on your blog, my blog or anywhere else. Worldwide, roughly 1/3 of all people support some form of Christianity. Hardly a consensus. Then within the so-called "Christians", how many of them believe as you do (for instance) that Hell is simply a way of saying "dead and cut off from God's eternal love"? I'd guess less than 1/3 of them. The "consensus" continues to weaken.

But, I quibble with you. As I said, consensus has nothing to do with facts.

PhillyChief said...

No, it's not fair due to your extravagant atheist demand of empirical evidence, not that you would accept any anyway if there were any (which I'm not saying necessarily that there is or isn't any), because you're an atheist, and mean, too.

There, I saved cl from having to comment. :)

John Evo said...

But Phileon,

I'm not demanding anything! We all agree that empirical evidence is good, at least for some things, and all I'm noting is that without it we can fairly treat claims as imaginary.

Next!

Gideon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cephus said...

So long as you reword your statement something along the lines of:

"Any statement claimed to be a fact but unsupported by empirical evidence..."

If it is a factual claim, than that makes it a fact and ought to be treated as such. If it is a claim that purports to be a fact, then it can be tested to see if it is, in fact, a fact. If the claimant doesn't provide a means to test the claim, then it is entirely safe to reject the claim until such means is presented.

John Evo said...

Bottom line: John won't be convinced.

True. Not without evidence. And I won't go around and around about what "evidence" is.

Gideon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
NAL said...

Gidget:

Actually, Eratosthenes (ca 200 BC) had proof. (That was before the Middle Ages.)

Thorum said...

Not only is it a fair statement but it is an undisputable truth.

John Evo said...

Thorum, many will *argue* with you about that statement but, the funny thing is, they *live* according to it in nearly every other aspect of their lives other than their own particular superstitious belief.

cl said...

"Any [truth] claim unsupported by empirical evidence can justly be treated as a product of the imagination." (brackets mine)

Sure, it can, but should it? What if people three hundred years ago had adopted this closed-minded attitude about huge, flying rocks in space? The first folks who posited asteroids were thought to be a bit strange, and the naysayers of their time sound much like y'all: "There's no evidence for huge, flying rocks in space," they cried, yet the evidence was always before us and we couldn't debate it without them.

John Evo said...

Sure, it can, but should it? What if people three hundred years ago had adopted this closed-minded attitude about huge, flying rocks in space?

First, I'm not sure I can figure out your motive for bracketing the word "truth" in favor of the word I chose - "factual". Enlighten us (if I'm not asking too much of you).

Second, yes - at some point in the past, prior to the evidence being put forward, people would indeed have been justified in treating such claims as imagination.

Otherwise, shouldn't people of those times been *no more* justified in accepting that rocks were flying in space as they would that the little dots of lights in the night skies were actually distant animal eyes, or that the flying rocks were actually spirits? Where do you draw the line? You draw it at empirical evidence.

PhillyChief said...

What you describe, cl, happens every time there's some new scientific theory, yet it gets worked out, doesn't it? How? Because eventually if the crazy sounding idea builds enough supportive evidence, then despite how crazy it sounds, it has to be accepted. In contrast to that, should an idea be supported not by evidence but by some faith based reason and it's wrong, well by what exactly does a follower see that error? How many centuries did it take for an apology to Gallileo?

Now which system is close-minded?

Thorum said...

Mr. Evo, I found a hilarious must-see vidoe for you:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xfqht0LEOWQ
Good, eh? ;)

cl said...

Evo said, "First, I'm not sure I can figure out your motive for bracketing the word "truth" in favor of the word I chose - "factual". Enlighten us (if I'm not asking too much of you)."

It's called using the right words, my little snickerdoodle. Factual claims are supported by empirical evidence, hence your phrase "factual claims unsupported by empirical evidence" is paradoxical.

As for the meat of it, so.. as far as the asteroid analogy goes, we clearly agree that ideas without evidence aren't necessarily imagined, inferior or untrue, don't we?

Evo said, "You draw it at empirical evidence."

Of course, babycakes. Problem is, you're sitting here claiming ideas without empirical evidence should be dismissed ("considered imagination" as you put it). This attitude ignores things like theoretical evidence when it's perfectly reasonable that those who posited the existence of asteroids before the empirical evidence became available based their arguments on sound deductive principles - much like Eratosthenes and the countless other brilliant minds who worked with the raw clay of ideas and observations.

Philly said, "How many centuries did it take for an apology to Gallileo? Now which system is close-minded?"

I've never claimed religion wasn't closed-minded, tootsie-pop. I'm claiming a closed-minded attitude can express itself equally in atheists, as we can easily see here. Incidentally, as with your post on legalism gone awry, we're in agreement re Galileo.

Philly said, "..eventually if the crazy sounding idea builds enough supportive evidence, then despite how crazy it sounds, it has to be accepted."

Indeed, and on that note there's hope for you yet.

John Evo said...

It's called using the right words, my little snickerdoodle. Factual claims are supported by empirical evidence, hence your phrase "factual claims unsupported by empirical evidence" is paradoxical.

Well, I have to admit, you got your wordplay partially right on this one, cl. But you took unnecessary liberty. You could have simply changed the word to "fact" claim, rather than "truth" claim. I prefer "fact", not if its all the same to you that is.

The rest of what you had to say, both to me and to Philly, is completely worthy of my usual response to you.

...

cl said...

You said, "The rest of what you had to say, both to me and to Philly, is completely worthy of my usual response to you."

Of course. It's cogent.

John Evo said...

Why thank you, cl. :)

cl said...

So Evo, who do you think was more likely to make a valid contribution to asteroid theory in the 1700's - the person who simply chalked asteroids up as "imagination" because future discoveries hadn't yet been made? Or the person who kept an open mind and continued to think critically about asteroids?

PhillyChief said...

Astronomers like Tycho couldn't have had a basis for their hypotheses without empirical evidence.

Try again, jackass.

cl said...

Philly,

You said, "Astronomers like Tycho couldn't have had a basis for their hypotheses without empirical evidence."

And you think I'm the jackass?

PhillyChief said...

Tycho Brahe's work paved the way for the eventual discovery of asteroids. He didn't accept that celestial objects were tiny things close to Earth and proved they weren't with parallax. His recordings of movements lead to Kepler's orbital calculations and the theory that there should be something between Mars and Jupiter. As people looked for this planet there, they eventually found Ceres and other "planets" and after working out their movements realized these were something else.

Intuitive leaps start from empirical evidence and are eventually supported by empirical evidence. Until they are, yes, they may be mere imaginations and they may be largely dismissed as unwarranted. It depends on a lot of things, like whether the hypothesis can be tested and whether employing the hypothesis works to make accurate predictions.

Choosing to ignore such factors and simply accepting an imaginative hypothesis on faith is not being open-minded, nor is dismissing such a thing in light of the failure to live up to such factors being close-minded, and that doesn't change if the unwarranted hypothesis ends up eventually being validated. The ends don't justify the means.

cl said...

Philly,

Like Evo, SI and the rest of your team, you claim to be rationalists, which means making conclusions based on evidence and/or logic, right?

Yet, in the absence of empirical evidence, you say we should conclude an idea to be imagination. You betray your own worldview by forming conclusions without evidence.

You say truth claims without empirical evidence should be considered imagination, yet many of today's foundational scientific observations lacked empirical evidence at one time. I submit that if scientists took your closed-minded approach, such could retard science possibly as bad as religion. Really, denial remains denial whether dressed in a white robe or black. What's the difference between yourself making a claim without evidence and some priest doing the same?

Your first paragraph is good enough for me.

Your second paragraph is either poorly-worded and/or borderline contradictory, as you say "intuitive leaps" both start from and end with empirical evidence.

You said, "..simply accepting an imaginative hypothesis on faith is not being open-minded,"

I agree, and that's not what I do.

You said, "..nor is dismissing such a thing in light of the failure to live up to such factors being close-minded,"

That depends on the person dismissing and why they're doing it. In the case of yourself, Evo and SI, I believe your dismissals are among the most intellectually rigid and closed-minded than you realize. Yours are especially immature.

When we refuse to even look at evidence, for example, we are being closed-minded.

PhillyChief said...

An "intuitive leap" is a label applied after the leap is shown to be successful. Before that, it's simply a hypothesis or an imagination.

When we refuse to even look at evidence, for example, we are being closed-minded.

One would have to be presented with evidence first before they could even have the option of refusing it, which makes charging people who you haven't been given evidence as "closed-minded" absurdly unwarranted. However, the hypothesis that if given evidence, Evo, SI or I would refuse to look at it is easily testable. ;)

cl said...

You've not addressed my charge: in the absence of empirical evidence, you say we should conclude an idea to be imagination, but by definition such a conclusion is irrational, hence you betray your principles by forming conclusions without evidence. Why?

You blathered, "An "intuitive leap" is a label applied after the leap is shown to be successful. Before that, it's simply a hypothesis or an imagination."

I didn't ask about any "intuitive leaps."

You continued, "..the hypothesis that if given evidence, Evo, SI or I would refuse to look at it is easily testable."

Indeed, and you're all confirming that hypothesis. SI made a minute effort on one data point offered. You and Evo have ignored all four.

PhillyChief said...

Why would the conclusion be irrational? No supporting evidence, then imagination pending arrival of supporting evidence.

I didn't ask about any "intuitive leaps.".
What's this "blathering" about then - "Your second paragraph is either poorly-worded and/or borderline contradictory, as you say "intuitive leaps" both start from and end with empirical evidence."

Please point me to this evidence I've allegedly refused to look at.

cl said...

PhillyChief,

"Why would the conclusion be irrational?" (PC)

Would it have been rational to say asteroids were imaginary 400 years ago? Why or why not?

"What's this 'blathering' about then?" (PC)

Oh, that blathering? That blathering was about the contradictory nature of your argument. Providing me with your own personal definition of intuitive leaps doesn't resolve the dilemma: you claim they start with empirical evidence and are eventually supported by empirical evidence, yet intuition, by definition - and an "intuitive leap" by extension - does not start with empirical evidence. It comes from within and is entirely subjective.

Now pray tell Philly, by what misguided logic are you claiming "intuitive leaps start with empirical evidence," then calling me a jack-ass?

"Please point me to this evidence I've allegedly refused to look at." (PC)

I have. It's on my blog, as well as SI's thread "The Existence of God." If you can't find my blog, there's now a link to it on the sidebar of your own.

PhillyChief said...

Oh, well if refusing to go to your blog means I'm "closed-minded" then ok. As for evidence on SI's blog, maybe you have us all mixed up? I don't always read what you have to say to others, especially when it's some LOOOONG 'well you said here, and I said here, then you said..." comment, so if you offered something to SI or someone else and it was for me to read as well, you should say so. Please provide the necessary links and I'll go look.

I've explained "intuitive leaps" already, and unless anyone else expresses some trouble following my explanation, I'll consider that done. There's only so much time I can afford to the deliberately obtuse.

cl said...

You said, "Please provide the necessary links and I'll go look."

Been there, done that. There's a link on every comment I leave here. I told you the arguments were on my blog. I'm not gonna resubmit them here, only to have you then complain about verbosity, junior. No need to twist your arm. If you don't want to look at the arguments, don't.

Your explanation of intuitive leaps doesn't resolve the contradiction or the weakness in your epistemology. You say we should reject all ideas without empirical support, yet many of today's standard facts once lacked empirical support, and the reason they don't anymore is not because of the people who simply rejected them as imaginary because there wasn't solid empirical evidence at the time.

Just promise me you'll remain an online entertainer, because an abundance of your ilk in the laboratory would retard science just as bad as hardheaded priests. Should we consider dark matter imaginary?

PhillyChief said...

Curious reaction for someone who wanted his evidence looked at, but not, of course, for someone who just wants his blog visited.

cl said...

I don't care if you visit the blog or not. Just address the arguments, mouth. Here, there, anywhere..

PhillyChief said...

When I used to work where they sold beer, many times when asking for ID I'd get a response like, "oh it's in my car" and then when seemingly going to get it, they'd never return. I never once encountered a kid who merely insisted it existed but refused to present it while insisting something was wrong with me for not selling him the beer.

cl said...

Philly,

I already saw your analogy and told you how it failed: upon denying the first ID, the patron the supplies the clerk with three more ID's. The clerk then calls the patron names and walks away. That's the accurate analogy here.

My point stands. Those who adopt the philosophy Evo suggests were those that laughed at asteroids, telephones and space travel and considered them imaginary.

PhillyChief said...

Actually, your point still wallows in the mud because it never had a leg to stand on.