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Saturday, 05 August 2017


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Big Al's ideas are migraine-inducing to the vast majority of mere humans. Even what he referred to as his "biggest blunder" turned out to be part of reality as we currently observe it to be.

I need to take my headache meds now and take a nap ...

Nap time is right! Post lunch, pre dinner.

David, you don't have to understand the theories to use disc players and readers (lasers) or Global Positioning Satellites (relativistic calculations) among other things. Just try to keep in mind the scientific method is the most reliable way we have to learn about the objective universe.

"Just try to keep in mind the scientific method is the most reliable way we have to learn about the objective universe"

... and that the scientific method is incomplete as a means of learning about the objective universe, because the very formal, logical, system in which scientific statements and proofs are made is itself incomplete: -

That'll stop you being a materialist and joining Bob & co (not that you need much stopping in that direction), but it won't help with your Nietzscherean "my will defies reason" thing, which will mean sometimes "country-bumpkin" just isn't quite enough.


"Most reliable" isn't perfect, but it's a helluva lot better than motivated cognition including politics, philosophy and religion.

I'm sure a certain young know-it-all will be along to bask in your (self-confessed) ignorance and fill the gaping hole in your education. However, until such time as that happens, the following little rhyme may help.

There's a wonderful family called Ein,
There's Gert, and there's Ep and there's Ein.
Gert's poems are bunk, Ep's statues are junk,
And no-one can understand Ein.

Very good Richard but shouldn't that have been

There's a wonderful family called Stein

You got that exactly wrong Loz. That is not what Godel's mathematical proofs tell us. His incompleteness theorem says that any sufficiently powerful formal system will indeed produce paradoxes and all mathematical truths will not be provable within that system. So much for the labors of Whitehead and Russell. What it does not prove is that there is no formal system that cannot produce a given truth. The incompleteness lies with a rule driven system but since there are an infinite number of formal systems there are no truths not provable by some alternative formal system.

In any event trying to equate number theory with science in general is a bit of a stretch. We never lived in a deterministic universe. It rather reminds me of those souls who believe that the Laws of Thermodynamics and the concept of entropy prove that life could not exist without a god. Nope.

"What it does not prove is that there is no formal system that cannot produce a given truth. The incompleteness lies with a rule driven system but since there are an infinite number of formal systems there are no truths not provable by some alternative formal system."

That is garbage. It shows you've missed the entire point of Godel's proofs.

For any formal system you choose there's always a truth it can't prove. So it doesn't matter that there are infinite formal systems, each one is deficient in the truth and proof department.

Another way of looking at it is the infinity of unprovable truths is greater than the infinity of formal systems. That is, in fact, a restatement of Godel's proof.


Duh! Thanks for the correction Aus. Your timely words prevented young Pompous from horning in, and for that I'm extremely grateful.

You are most welcome Richard. In my old service we had a lower deck expression for such as Pompous but as this is a refined site I shall forgo the use of it.

One infinity can be larger than another only if it is uncountable as compared to one that is countable. The distinction makes no practical difference outside of math. It's all unicorn hunting anyway. The scientific method is what we have for now and the foreseeable future.

It all starts by lining up the subject matter(s) with the natural numbers.

So let us say formal system F1 is assigned to 1, formal system F2 is assigned to 2, etc. for all formal systems.

Then we note that due to Gödel's proofs, for F1 there exists a truth T1 that is not provable in F1 (at least a truth, but there may more than one, but we'll give you the benefit of the doubt and say there is only one truth). Unprovable truth T1 shown in bold in the below table ...


So then you try to trump the truth T1 by using another formal system F2, which proves T1. But by Gödel's proof, there exists another truth T2 that is unprovable in F2. Unprovable truth T2 shown in bold in the below table ...

Number.....Formal.....Unprovable.....Previously unprovable truth
...........System.....Truth..........but now proved
1..........F1.........None, moved ->.T1 (proved by F2)

And so with each new formal system Fn you use to prove truth Tn-1, you yield up another unprovable truth Tn. Unprovable truth Tn shown in bold in the below table ...

Number.....Formal.....Unprovable.....Previously unprovable truth
...........System.....Truth..........but now proved
1..........F1.........None, moved ->.T1 (proved by F2)
2..........F2.........None, moved ->.T2 (proved by F3)
n-1........Fn-1.......None, moved ->.Tn-1

No matter how hard you prove each successive unproven truth with a new formal system, for any natural number in the sequence of natural numbers there will always be a surplus unproven truth.

Therefore, there exists truth and form that is unprovable and unformulatable in a formal, logical system.

In other words, there exists matter, dynamics, and truth that cannot be modelled, predicted, proven, or otherwise formulated by the scientific method.

So Materialists and Mechanists - those who believe that the matter and dynamics of the world will yield to scientific method - have been fucked since 1931.

It's just that it's taking time to sink in.


So what's the alternative to materialism? Should we start having seances to call on spirits for scientific truths? The scientific method took somewhere around 180,000 years to emerge in our species. The universe will likely contain nothing but cold spheroids before we discover all rule based systems, not that it would be an elegant solution to anything. So yeah, we're fucked, just not necessarily the way you imagine.

Just rein the authoritarian streak in scientists in, that's all I'm after.

The "puzzle joy" of science is just that*, but when the folks who've got a hold of it are wielding it like a Saxon battle axe, we're in trouble.

The alternative to materialism lies in acknowledging that materialism is an idea. So better off studying ideas: What are ideas, how are they described, worked with, grammatically valid, proven, formed? Once you've got a grip of that, science comes out in the wash.

In fact, the ultimate red face is the observation that materialism, which broadly states that reality is made up only of matter, is itself an idea, and thereby is immediately a contradiction - there exists something that is not material, the idea of materialism!

When, or if, matter were ever to cease to exist, the idea of it would continue - so which is the more tangible reality, matter or ideas?

Seen this way, matter is really just a label in an equation, an idea itself - and with a contradiction built in (and nothing wrong with that, after all, Godel's proof shows that the concept of numbers has a contradiction built in, but we're alright working with numbers - imagine not working with them, would make science a tad tricky!).


* but it's still not as great as the "puzzle joy" of pure logic and ideas.


Science is the opposite of authoritarianism. It is communal since peer review is integral to the process. If scientists know something you don't they won't necessarily lord it over you. Without brains where would ideas reside?

And since the corruption of AGW so-called science, peer review has fallen into disrepute as well!

Exaggerated rhetoric is fun, isn't it?

See this is the truth about science once you get to the edge, and you've got Schroedinger AND non-linear dynamics all kicking off at the same time ...

Rogue waves. And the scientists just can't line their ducks up, each faculty disagrees with the others. It's not as if this is rocket science, we're talking boats and ocean waves! They've been at this one since before Aristotle, and it's still got them foxed.

Scientific method, my arse. That Aristotle has got a lot to answer for, I tell you. Should've listened to his teacher a bit more, getting all those funny material ideas.

Yes it is (fun).


My submission for a Python sketch ... "The dawn of science"

Amphitheatre type scene, Python crew minus John Cleese sat around dressed in Greek robes, throwing bits of paper at each other and jabbering like school kids.

Plato (Cleese) arrives, sashaying in with scrolls under his arm, "Right, silence please, simmer down".

"Ok, first things first, homework?"

They crowd up and place their homework on the stone plinth, but not Aristotle (Eric Idle).

"Ahem", Plato clears his voice, sighs, lowers his head, as he addresses his classroom's serial underperformer, "Err, no homework from you today, Aristotle?". Sniggers and stifled mockery from the rest of class. "Shut up!" he barks, silencing the mass.

"Well, err, well, errrm", stammers Aristotle. At this moment a mangy, mongrel hound scampers by catching Aristotle's attention, "There he is, little bastard!", says Aristotle, jumping to his feet as if to give chase, commotion again as the dog darts around the students who try to catch him but he gets away.

"What's wrong with the bloody dog?", asks Plato, "Silence, SILENCE!"

"We'll, err, well, you see," mutters Aristotle, "Well, the, err, the dog ate my homework".

There is a pause.

"Bloody hell!" cries Plato, "That's terrible luck!". A rumble of approval goes round the classroom, assorted students pat Aristotle on the back in a consoling way, shaking their heads at the misfortune of it. Aristotle tries to stare crestfallen at the ground, doing his best to act along with his deceit.

It is apparent that due to the ancientness of the setting, no-one in the history of mankind has used this excuse yet. Aristotle can scarcely believe his luck.

"Aaah well", says Plato, perhaps sensing that all is not quite as it is appears to be, but not quite knowing what the ruse is that Aristotle has pulled, "Never mind", Aristotle shrugs smiling, making to sit down duly excused of his homework, "So why not tell us what you wrote?"

"What!?", claims Aristotle, alarmed. "Yeees!", shout his classmates in unison, not because they're sussed his ruse, but because they genuinely want him to have the chance to show off his homework.

Plato, on his way to being savvy but not quite there yet, raises his eyebrows in anticipation at the nervous looking Aristotle.

"We'll," Aristotle is really on the ropes now, "It was actually..", "Yes?", cuts in Plato, a hint of impatience coming through, "We'll it was, it was, it was actually, an, an," pause, "an idea".

Gasp of amazement from everyone, Plato leaps, " An IDEA?! Are you sure!"

Aristotle is over his head now, and the students are gathering around him, hating for the idea.

"Shh, shhh, shhh", demands Plato. Clasping his hands in front of Aristotle as if to pull it out of him, " Tell us, tell us the idea!"

"Oh, well, it was nothing really", Aristotle mumbles, Plato clenches his fist, "Oh well, what it was", "Yes", "Was matter". "Matter, what's the matter?" asks Plato, uncomprehending. "Well, the idea is that there's this thing called matter, like tables and chairs and stones", he raps his knuckles on the stone plinth, "And that's all there is, there are no ideas".

There is along pause while Plato and Aristotle's classmates digest this.

Plato breaks the silence, "You mean apart from the fact that matter is itself an idea. And your idea is an idea". A slight pause and a stifled laugh, then more, until the whole class is on the floor. Some are rapping their knuckles on the stone seats, some on their foreheads and rolling their eyes.

Plato's shoulder have sunk to the ground, but he plucks an object from the chest by the plinth, in a weary "I've done this before" sort of way, and places it on Aristotle's head.

He points to the corner. Aristotle walks thereto, dunce's cap in place.


Brilliant! That started my day with a laugh, perhaps you should think of a new career, Lawrence, give up the computer-thingies and start again as a comedy writer.

Lawrence the 'luvvie'?

If you start a comedy troupe consider me for the Terry Gilliam spot.

It occurs to me that the sketch has no way for the audience to know who Plato is.

I suggest a sign at the entrance to the amphitheatre past which Plato walks on his way into the class, on which the camera filming the sketch lingers. The sign reads: -

The theory of ideas - lectures by Plato.

This month's lecture: Occam's razor*

* not on Sundays, alternate Mondays only, cancelled if the temperature gets above 30 degrees (health & safety), or if the Persians get within 5 miles of the border (unless Greece is in an alliance with Sparta)

Hat tip to the climate science modellers and AGW alarmists!


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