Re: Thoughts and Perceptions

From: Ned Wolpert (
Date: Thu Apr 18 2002 - 15:01:16 BST

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    Subject: Re: Thoughts and Perceptions
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    > Date: Thu, 18 Apr 2002 00:34:29 -0400
    > From: "Wade T.Smith" <>
    > > For me, personally as opposed to generally, facts are quite relative.
    > The facts are not relative, you are.

    Perhaps I'm not using my vocabulary as I should... let me rephrase...
    Facts are deemed true by the individual. We (humans) base our ideas
    and ideologies on facts that we deemed true. I understand that for
    you in this discussion, a fact is not personal opinion... it is a
    trait of the universe. I agree that reality works that way. The
    problem I have with all this is that the word 'fact' is a word that we
    (humans) made up to draw a line in the sand. Sometimes this word does
    infact describe the 'universal truth of an objective reality' and
    sometimes it doesn't. A fact is relative to me, and more
    specifically, my point of view. What troubles me is that a fact is
    also limited by my lack of detail when I discuss facts. This lack of
    detail helps our (human) communication by applying to the fact to the
    subject at hand (gravity gets you down) but the lack of detail can
    miss some important issues. (gravity kills)
    > > This is, in fact, the 'fact' I was looking for.
    > Your search is over, then.

    Well, interesting enough one would think so, yes.
    > A condition of objective reality is indeed a fact. However, the
    > requirements to determine objectivity are, alas, in contention.
    > People cannot be objective. This is sad, but true.

    Yes... and the basis of my point that one needs to be careful about
    the language that describes what a 'fact' is... the word is defined in
    human terms, not terms that the rest of the universe cares about. The
    universe is very relative. We humans have limited understanding of
    the universe, and science shows the detail of our limited
    understanding. There is one model to describe how huge quanities of
    matter (suns, black holes) relate and another for small (standard
    model for partical physics) matter. The grand unification theorm is
    still yet to be completed (which is a matter of opinion. :-) but it
    should be obvious to the casual observer that things should work in
    one way. And forgive me, but that one way is relative to the
    observer. (Again, I invoke Eienstin's special relativity here, not
    the human mind)

    > Thus, no astrology believer will ever deny the 'objectivity' of their
    > belief system. And, feel free to replace 'astrology' with anything you
    > like from any cult.
    > Science is not a system of memes, but a system of removing the
    > subjectivity of the human observer from the measurement. It is objective
    > as objective can get with human agents as part of the mix.

    I didn't not mean to imply that science was a 'system of memes',
    rather subject to the same memetic forces as everything else. The
    scientific process is an attempt to validate theories and create
    models to describe the natural world; and the scientific process
    assists in reduction of bunk. However, nothing is foolproof.

    > Science finds nothing objective about astrology.
    > Therefore, astrology is a subjective declaration about the universe, and
    > not factual.

    Factual in the eyes of science. And this distinction is important to
    me. Not because I think science is 'wrong' but because within science
    one needs to be aware of political issues that tend to push certain
    ideas and models forward and hold other ideas back. Back in my
    graduate school days, I was quite aware of the political process as a
    student, as well as the scientific process I was following. (I was a
    computational chemist) Obviously, the political side didn't change the
    results from the scientific process, rather it minimized the impact of
    those same results, and what becomes publishable.

    > If the universe backs up your story, it's a fact, yup.
    > If it don't, it ain't.

    Nicely pragmatic and to the point. Reminds me of when Howard Bloom
    was discussing about how many cultures/religions have as religious
    doctrine that 'one should not kill another human' and then start
    deciding on who fits this 'human' category.

    .....if the universe I observe backs up my story, its a fact...

    > PS- "Is it a fact that the Earth is round?" Last I heard, it was an
    > oblate spheroid. And we've seen it from out there a ways.

    Again, my poor vocabulary gets the best of me. :-)

    - --

    Ned Wolpert <> 4e75

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