Doubt

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Lance Kennedy
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Doubt

Postby Lance Kennedy » Thu Sep 28, 2017 10:19 pm

Mathematics involves proof. Science does not. This means that every scientific conclusion will involve a small seed of doubt. However, should we let that seed of doubt force us into making unscientific compromise ?

Just finished reading chapter 15 of Bill Nye latest book, and he discusses the dangers of admitting too much doubt. Is there doubt about the side effects of vaccines ? That men walked on the moon ? Global warming ? And so on.

My thesis is that if the element of doubt is sufficiently small, we should be prepared to be strong in expressing the view that the preponderance of evidence leads to. I do not want to admit that the speed of light is not absolute, since the evidence would suggest a vanishingly small probability that anything can go faster. So I am prepared to say that nothing can go faster than light.

If someone asks me to be less than sure in my statements, when the element of doubt is very small, my view is that this puts them in the wrong.

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Re: Doubt

Postby Poodle » Thu Sep 28, 2017 10:30 pm

Since it is impossible to prove that what we think of as universal constants - the speed of light in vacuo is a good example - are, indeed, universal constants, then some doubt is necessary. However, the universe as we know it still appears to operate with those constants. If anyone asked me to be less than sure, then I would ask said person to provide evidence rather than philosophical fantasy for a good reason for doubt and then tell said person where to get off.
The requirement for evidence for any claim is as binding on drainheads as it is on anyone else.
Yes, I agree with you. Lance.

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Re: Doubt

Postby Lance Kennedy » Thu Sep 28, 2017 10:41 pm

Thank you for that, Poodle.

The question remains, how much doubt requires you to acknowledge it ?

In law, they have "beyond reasonable doubt ". I read an article once that included an estimate that 20% of everyone in prison is there for a crime he or she did not commit. Of course, that person might have committed other crimes, but is 20% wrongful imprisonment acceptable ? Reasonable doubt appears to carry a strong likelihood of unjust conviction.

If I am in a debate on this forum, and someone expresses a claim that I would regard to have a probability no more than 1 in a million, am I justified in expressing the view that this is wrong ? Should I be required to admit to the doubt that exists, even if it is tiny ?

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Re: Doubt

Postby Poodle » Thu Sep 28, 2017 10:54 pm

Lance Kennedy wrote:... If I am in a debate on this forum, and someone expresses a claim that I would regard to have a probability no more than 1 in a million, am I justified in expressing the view that this is wrong ? ...


If there is doubt, how would one go about assessing any probability? If something burns in all 100,000 cases in which it was set alight, is there any good reason to assume that it won't happen ever again? Or next time and then not again for 1000 years? There are questions to be asked of the universe, certainly. Whether it's going to be wonky tomorrow is probably not one of them, as the very method you used to formulate the question makes it just possible that the universe had NEVER been as you envisioned it. That way lies insanity.

EDIT: Newtonian mechanics is not 'correct'. But it works damn well here.

EDIT2: Yes, you'd be justified. It's your view you're expressing.

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Re: Doubt

Postby Matthew Ellard » Fri Sep 29, 2017 12:08 am

My only contribution in this thread is making sure I'm using the right words. I just double checked and found this useful definition. which supports your opening statement.

" A scientific law is the description of an observed phenomenon. It doesn't explain why the phenomenon exists or what causes it. The explanation of a phenomenon is called a scientific theory. It is a misconception that theories turn into laws with enough research."
https://www.livescience.com/21457-what- ... c-law.html

In regards to assessing which of a number of alternative theories (hypothesss) is the most probable explanation for a phenomena......
"We are to admit no more causes of natural things than such as are both true and sufficient to explain their appearances." (Issac Newton)

""when you have two competing theories that make exactly the same predictions, the simpler one is the better."

"We could still imagine that there is a set of laws that determines events completely for some supernatural being, who could observe the present state of the universe without disturbing it. However, such models of the universe are not of much interest to us mortals. It seems better to employ the principle known as Occam's razor and cut out all the features of the theory that cannot be observed." (Stephen Hawking)

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Re: Doubt

Postby Confidencia » Sat Sep 30, 2017 8:24 pm

Lance Kennedy wrote:
If I am in a debate on this forum, and someone expresses a claim that I would regard to have a probability no more than 1 in a million, am I justified in expressing the view that this is wrong ? Should I be required to admit to the doubt that exists, even if it is tiny ?


Such a question only goes to show your ignorance.
Wether the probability is 1 in a million or 1 in a billion, an emotional reaction born of ignorance or inadvertance can never be justified.

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Re: Doubt

Postby Poodle » Sat Sep 30, 2017 10:01 pm

Confidencia wrote:
Lance Kennedy wrote:
If I am in a debate on this forum, and someone expresses a claim that I would regard to have a probability no more than 1 in a million, am I justified in expressing the view that this is wrong ? Should I be required to admit to the doubt that exists, even if it is tiny ?


Such a question only goes to show your ignorance.
Wether the probability is 1 in a million or 1 in a billion, an emotional reaction born of ignorance or inadvertance can never be justified.


Such a response serves only to demonstrate your lamentable reading skills, Confidencia. Lance said "...a claim that I would regard to have a probability no more than 1 in a million ..." whereas you base your response on a general acceptance of probability. I regard the probability of your response being based upon careful consideration of the question to be just about one in a million so, to answer Lance's question, I would say no - you don't have to admit to doubt. At those kinds of odds, you'd spend your entire life admitting doubt.

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Re: Doubt

Postby xouper » Sun Oct 01, 2017 10:05 am

Lance Kennedy wrote:Mathematics involves proof. Science does not. This means that every scientific conclusion will involve a small seed of doubt. However, should we let that seed of doubt force us into making unscientific compromise ?

Just finished reading chapter 15 of Bill Nye latest book, and he discusses the dangers of admitting too much doubt. Is there doubt about the side effects of vaccines ? That men walked on the moon ? Global warming ? And so on.

My thesis is that if the element of doubt is sufficiently small, we should be prepared to be strong in expressing the view that the preponderance of evidence leads to. I do not want to admit that the speed of light is not absolute, since the evidence would suggest a vanishingly small probability that anything can go faster. So I am prepared to say that nothing can go faster than light.

If someone asks me to be less than sure in my statements, when the element of doubt is very small, my view is that this puts them in the wrong.


Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

It depends on the context and what point you are trying to argue.

Consider this famous observation by Clarke:

Arthur C. Clarke wrote:If an elderly but distinguished scientist says that something is possible, he is almost certainly right; but if he says that it is impossible, he is very probably wrong.


  • Sidebar: Please note that observation is presented only as an observation, not an argument. (Which means if you try to dismiss this as an "argument by slogan", you are missing the point, because it is not meant to be an argument of any kind.)


Sometimes Clarke's observation applies, sometimes not.

When it doesn't apply, you better be able to give convincing evidence for the claim something is impossible.

But when it does apply, I suspect Clarke was referring "experts" who said things like:

  • "Rail travel at high speed is not possible because passengers, unable to breathe, would die of asphyxia." — Dr. Dionysius Lardner, 1830.

  • "X-rays will prove to be a hoax." — Lord Kelvin, President of the Royal Society, 1883.

  • "Flight by machines heavier than air is unpractical and insignificant, if not utterly impossible." — Simon Newcomb, 18th century.

  • "Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible." — Lord Kelvin, British mathematician and physicist, president of the British Royal Society, 1895.

  • "There will never be a bigger plane built." — A Boeing engineer, after the first flight of the 247, a twin engine plane that holds ten people.

  • "There is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable. It would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will." — Albert Einstein, 1932.

  • "A rocket will never be able to leave the Earth’s atmosphere." — New York Times, 1936.

  • "To place a man in a multi-stage rocket and project him into the controlling gravitational field of the moon where the passengers can make scientific observations, perhaps land alive, and then return to earth – all that constitutes a wild dream worthy of Jules Verne. I am bold enough to say that such a man-made voyage will never occur regardless of all future advances." — inventor Lee De Forest, 1926.

  • "Nothing can go faster than the speed of light." — anonymous ;)

OK, maybe the speed of light is an absolute limit, but I am not willing to bet my life there is no way around that limit, especially since there are scientists actually working on that very thing. More on that later.

Whenever I find myself saying, "that's not possible," I have learned to stop and question myself, how certain am I that it's really impossible, or is it more the case that I am experiencing a lack of imagination how it might be possible. It is a common logical fallacy to think that just because I cannot imagine how something might be possible, therefore it must be impossible.

I assume you know this one:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_ignorance

Many times in my life people have told me something was not possible, and I believed them. And then later found out they were wrong.

This is why I am suspicious of claims that something is impossible, and why I am so hesitant to make such a claim myself.

You might enjoy this short story by Isaac Asimov (if you haven't already read it):

http://www.teoti.com/books-poetry/148751-not-final-a-short-story-by-isaac-asimov.html

Now, granted, that is just fiction, but it cleverly illustrates the point I am making here, that one must be careful when declaring something is not possible. In other words, I am cautioning against making the same mistake that Prosser made near the end of that story when he said, "That's final!"

So to answer your question, Lance, it depends on the context.

In New Zealand, for example, it can be said that million-to-one odds happen more than four times a day, on average.

If you are trying to convince your neighbor he will not win the PowerBall lottery, then you might have a good point. (292 million-to-one is quite a long shot gamble.)

However, if you are trying to show that no one will ever win the PowerBall lottery, then you don't have a good point.

It all depends on the context.

If you are trying to dissuade scientists from trying to find a way around the speed of light, then you don't have a good point.

If you are making an argument similar in form to Prosser's that such technology will never exist, then you don't have a good point.

If you are trying to refute a claim about alien craft, then it is not sufficient to show it is improbable.

However, an improbability can be used to raise the bar regarding what kind of evidence the claimant must show, but it does not refute the claim.

Sometimes in making a claim that something is impossible, it includes the claim that the laws of physics would have to be violated, which is a separate claim that needs to be justified.

For example, in Asimov's story, Prosser was wrong, and it did not take a "change in the laws of physics as understood" to do what he said was impossible. It merely required thinking outside the box. Yes, that was fiction, but it is an excellent illustration of my point.

Einstein was wrong about controlled fission, but it did not take a "change in the laws of physics as understood" to do what he said was impossible.

So when someone says something is impossible (which is an absolute claim), I am entitled to ask how they know that.

When someone says something violates the laws of physics, I am entitled to ask how they know that. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn't. I am willing to be persuaded by sufficient evidence.

Example: Suppose I drop a stone in mid-air and it hovers there, you might be tempted to say it can't do that without violating the laws of physics. But what really happened is that you were simply unaware how it was done and that it did not require any laws of physics to be violated.

Another counter-example: The chance of an asteroid hitting the Earth and causing catastrophic damage is "vanishingly small", to use your phrase. Does that mean you can legitimately say it will never happen?

No.

I don't think you can get any reputable scientist to agree with you on that particular example.

So to answer your question, Lance, sometimes yes, sometimes no.

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Re: Doubt

Postby Confidencia » Sun Oct 01, 2017 12:12 pm

Poodle wrote:
Confidencia wrote:
Lance Kennedy wrote:
If I am in a debate on this forum, and someone expresses a claim that I would regard to have a probability no more than 1 in a million, am I justified in expressing the view that this is wrong ? Should I be required to admit to the doubt that exists, even if it is tiny ?


Such a question only goes to show your ignorance.
Wether the probability is 1 in a million or 1 in a billion, an emotional reaction born of ignorance or inadvertance can never be justified.


Such a response serves only to demonstrate your lamentable reading skills, Confidencia. Lance said "...a claim that I would regard to have a probability no more than 1 in a million ..." whereas you base your response on a general acceptance of probability. I regard the probability of your response being based upon careful consideration of the question to be just about one in a million so, to answer Lance's question, I would say no - you don't have to admit to doubt. At those kinds of odds, you'd spend your entire life admitting doubt.



The problem with ignorance is that in itself it is indefinitely institutional. What is the chance of one becoming associated via name sake to a state that is most prominent in ones character poo-dull?

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Re: Doubt

Postby Confidencia » Sun Oct 01, 2017 12:24 pm

xouper wrote:
Lance Kennedy wrote:Mathematics involves proof. Science does not. This means that every scientific conclusion will involve a small seed of doubt. However, should we let that seed of doubt force us into making unscientific compromise ?

Just finished reading chapter 15 of Bill Nye latest book, and he discusses the dangers of admitting too much doubt. Is there doubt about the side effects of vaccines ? That men walked on the moon ? Global warming ? And so on.

My thesis is that if the element of doubt is sufficiently small, we should be prepared to be strong in expressing the view that the preponderance of evidence leads to. I do not want to admit that the speed of light is not absolute, since the evidence would suggest a vanishingly small probability that anything can go faster. So I am prepared to say that nothing can go faster than light.

If someone asks me to be less than sure in my statements, when the element of doubt is very small, my view is that this puts them in the wrong.


Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

It depends on the context and what point you are trying to argue.

Consider this famous observation by Clarke:

Arthur C. Clarke wrote:If an elderly but distinguished scientist says that something is possible, he is almost certainly right; but if he says that it is impossible, he is very probably wrong.


  • Sidebar: Please note that observation is presented only as an observation, not an argument. (Which means if you try to dismiss this as an "argument by slogan", you are missing the point, because it is not meant to be an argument of any kind.)


Sometimes Clarke's observation applies, sometimes not.

When it doesn't apply, you better be able to give convincing evidence for the claim something is impossible.

But when it does apply, I suspect Clarke was referring "experts" who said things like:

  • "Rail travel at high speed is not possible because passengers, unable to breathe, would die of asphyxia." — Dr. Dionysius Lardner, 1830.

  • "X-rays will prove to be a hoax." — Lord Kelvin, President of the Royal Society, 1883.

  • "Flight by machines heavier than air is unpractical and insignificant, if not utterly impossible." — Simon Newcomb, 18th century.

  • "Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible." — Lord Kelvin, British mathematician and physicist, president of the British Royal Society, 1895.

  • "There will never be a bigger plane built." — A Boeing engineer, after the first flight of the 247, a twin engine plane that holds ten people.

  • "There is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable. It would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will." — Albert Einstein, 1932.

  • "A rocket will never be able to leave the Earth’s atmosphere." — New York Times, 1936.

  • "To place a man in a multi-stage rocket and project him into the controlling gravitational field of the moon where the passengers can make scientific observations, perhaps land alive, and then return to earth – all that constitutes a wild dream worthy of Jules Verne. I am bold enough to say that such a man-made voyage will never occur regardless of all future advances." — inventor Lee De Forest, 1926.

  • "Nothing can go faster than the speed of light." — anonymous ;)

OK, maybe the speed of light is an absolute limit, but I am not willing to bet my life there is no way around that limit, especially since there are scientists actually working on that very thing. More on that later.

Whenever I find myself saying, "that's not possible," I have learned to stop and question myself, how certain am I that it's really impossible, or is it more the case that I am experiencing a lack of imagination how it might be possible. It is a common logical fallacy to think that just because I cannot imagine how something might be possible, therefore it must be impossible.

I assume you know this one:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_ignorance

Many times in my life people have told me something was not possible, and I believed them. And then later found out they were wrong.

This is why I am suspicious of claims that something is impossible, and why I am so hesitant to make such a claim myself.

You might enjoy this short story by Isaac Asimov (if you haven't already read it):

http://www.teoti.com/books-poetry/148751-not-final-a-short-story-by-isaac-asimov.html

Now, granted, that is just fiction, but it cleverly illustrates the point I am making here, that one must be careful when declaring something is not possible. In other words, I am cautioning against making the same mistake that Prosser made near the end of that story when he said, "That's final!"

So to answer your question, Lance, it depends on the context.

In New Zealand, for example, it can be said that million-to-one odds happen more than four times a day, on average.

If you are trying to convince your neighbor he will not win the PowerBall lottery, then you might have a good point. (292 million-to-one is quite a long shot gamble.)

However, if you are trying to show that no one will ever win the PowerBall lottery, then you don't have a good point.

It all depends on the context.

If you are trying to dissuade scientists from trying to find a way around the speed of light, then you don't have a good point.

If you are making an argument similar in form to Prosser's that such technology will never exist, then you don't have a good point.

If you are trying to refute a claim about alien craft, then it is not sufficient to show it is improbable.

However, an improbability can be used to raise the bar regarding what kind of evidence the claimant must show, but it does not refute the claim.

Sometimes in making a claim that something is impossible, it includes the claim that the laws of physics would have to be violated, which is a separate claim that needs to be justified.

For example, in Asimov's story, Prosser was wrong, and it did not take a "change in the laws of physics as understood" to do what he said was impossible. It merely required thinking outside the box. Yes, that was fiction, but it is an excellent illustration of my point.

Einstein was wrong about controlled fission, but it did not take a "change in the laws of physics as understood" to do what he said was impossible.

So when someone says something is impossible (which is an absolute claim), I am entitled to ask how they know that.

When someone says something violates the laws of physics, I am entitled to ask how they know that. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn't. I am willing to be persuaded by sufficient evidence.

Example: Suppose I drop a stone in mid-air and it hovers there, you might be tempted to say it can't do that without violating the laws of physics. But what really happened is that you were simply unaware how it was done and that it did not require any laws of physics to be violated.

Another counter-example: The chance of an asteroid hitting the Earth and causing catastrophic damage is "vanishingly small", to use your phrase. Does that mean you can legitimately say it will never happen?

No.

I don't think you can get any reputable scientist to agree with you on that particular example.

So to answer your question, Lance, sometimes yes, sometimes no.



From the perspective of the mind whatever you say will be both right and wrong. In any given moment in time on any given subject in space there will always be those for it and those against it. This is the true state of affairs and the fact of the matter. The question is can you argue with the fact, the answer is categorically and absolutely not.

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Re: Doubt

Postby Poodle » Sun Oct 01, 2017 2:58 pm

Confidencia wrote:
Poodle wrote:
Confidencia wrote:
Lance Kennedy wrote:
If I am in a debate on this forum, and someone expresses a claim that I would regard to have a probability no more than 1 in a million, am I justified in expressing the view that this is wrong ? Should I be required to admit to the doubt that exists, even if it is tiny ?


Such a question only goes to show your ignorance.
Wether the probability is 1 in a million or 1 in a billion, an emotional reaction born of ignorance or inadvertance can never be justified.


Such a response serves only to demonstrate your lamentable reading skills, Confidencia. Lance said "...a claim that I would regard to have a probability no more than 1 in a million ..." whereas you base your response on a general acceptance of probability. I regard the probability of your response being based upon careful consideration of the question to be just about one in a million so, to answer Lance's question, I would say no - you don't have to admit to doubt. At those kinds of odds, you'd spend your entire life admitting doubt.



The problem with ignorance is that in itself it is indefinitely institutional. What is the chance of one becoming associated via name sake to a state that is most prominent in ones character poo-dull?


Quite a good chance, con.

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Re: Doubt

Postby Confidencia » Sun Oct 01, 2017 3:04 pm

Poodle wrote:
Confidencia wrote:
Poodle wrote:
Confidencia wrote:
Lance Kennedy wrote:
If I am in a debate on this forum, and someone expresses a claim that I would regard to have a probability no more than 1 in a million, am I justified in expressing the view that this is wrong ? Should I be required to admit to the doubt that exists, even if it is tiny ?


Such a question only goes to show your ignorance.
Wether the probability is 1 in a million or 1 in a billion, an emotional reaction born of ignorance or inadvertance can never be justified.


Such a response serves only to demonstrate your lamentable reading skills, Confidencia. Lance said "...a claim that I would regard to have a probability no more than 1 in a million ..." whereas you base your response on a general acceptance of probability. I regard the probability of your response being based upon careful consideration of the question to be just about one in a million so, to answer Lance's question, I would say no - you don't have to admit to doubt. At those kinds of odds, you'd spend your entire life admitting doubt.



The problem with ignorance is that in itself it is indefinitely institutional. What is the chance of one becoming associated via name sake to a state that is most prominent in ones character poo-dull?


Quite a good chance, con.


In your case and context I'm inclined to agree.

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Re: Doubt

Postby Lance Kennedy » Sun Oct 01, 2017 7:53 pm

The distinction I draw is between that which is consistent with science versus that which breaks the laws of physics.

If someone tells me that cancer may become totally curable, I have no problem with that idea since there is nothing in science to bar it. If someone tells me that we will reverse the laws of thermodynamics, I will treat that idea with the contempt it deserves.

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Re: Doubt

Postby xouper » Sun Oct 01, 2017 8:26 pm

Lance Kennedy wrote:The distinction I draw is between that which is consistent with science versus that which breaks the laws of physics.


That's a good distinction.

That wasn't clear from your opening post, so thanks for the clarification.

Referring to the example in your opening post, I assume you know that the hypothetical proposals for bypassing the speed of light do not involve breaking any laws of physics. Such a possibility appears to be completely consistent with science. Otherwise there wouldn't be any scientists working on the problem (or so I assume).

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Re: Doubt

Postby Lance Kennedy » Sun Oct 01, 2017 9:09 pm

There are two reasons why exceeding the speed of light through space appears unlikely in the extreme.

1. Einstein's equations (which have been confirmed by experiment), showing that to accelerate to light speed requires an increase in mass that will reach infinity at light speed.

2. The search for anything faster than light, which has been intense and fruitless. There was, several decades back, an idea that basic particles that were created already going faster than light, would not have to accelerate past the barrier, and thus would not be subject to that limitation. These hypothetical particles were named tachyons. But despite intensive searching, no such particle has been found. The only thing found faster than light is the expansion of space itself. This is not prohibited.

There has, as you know, also been a big effort by theoretical physicists, to find a method in theory of exceeding light speed. Every such effort has proved fruitless. The end result of all this is that most physicists regard the speed limit as a law of the universe.

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Re: Doubt

Postby xouper » Sun Oct 01, 2017 10:00 pm

Lance Kennedy wrote: . . . The only thing found faster than light is the expansion of space itself. This is not prohibited.


Bingo. We have a winner.

That is in fact the basis for one of the FTL proposals scientists have been working on.

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Re: Doubt

Postby Lance Kennedy » Sun Oct 01, 2017 10:04 pm

Yes, and it does not work.

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Re: Doubt

Postby xouper » Sun Oct 01, 2017 10:20 pm

Lance Kennedy wrote:Yes, and it does not work.


How do you know it will never work?

We've had this conversation in another thread, and if I recall correctly, you said someone showed that the Alcubierre Drive requires more energy than exists in the entire universe.

Except other scientists have since shown that is not necessarily the case.

Also, if you were referring to Ford and Roman, note that their conclusion is based on a certain conjecture, which may or not be true.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcubierre_drive wrote:If certain quantum inequalities conjectured by Ford and Roman hold,[19] the energy requirements for some warp drives may be unfeasibly large . . . an amount orders of magnitude greater than the estimated mass of the observable universe.

Counterarguments to these apparent problems have also been offered.[1]

. . . In 2012, physicist Harold White and collaborators announced that modifying the geometry of exotic matter could reduce the mass–energy requirements . . . to . . . ~700 kg or less . .


Again, I caution against making the same error as Prosser. Just because you lack the imagination to see how it can be done, does not mean it can never be done.

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Re: Doubt

Postby Lance Kennedy » Sun Oct 01, 2017 10:36 pm

Well, Xouper, let us just say the discussion is still under way. Based on what has happened to other ideas for FTL, my bet is on this one collapsing also.

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Re: Doubt

Postby xouper » Sun Oct 01, 2017 10:58 pm

Lance Kennedy wrote:Well, Xouper, let us just say the discussion is still under way.


That's fair. I will accept that.


Lance Kennedy wrote: Based on what has happened to other ideas for FTL, my bet is on this one collapsing also.


You may be right. Or maybe not.

I would not be willing to take either side of that bet.

It seems to me it is still an open question.

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Re: Doubt

Postby Matthew Ellard » Sun Oct 01, 2017 11:48 pm

This is getting ridiculous and we need to actually work through some examples on how the scientific method works.

Observation : When a wing with a curved top moves through air, it causes the wing to lift upwards.

Hypothesis one : The air forced over the larger top wing surface, reduces in pressure, causing the higher pressure air beneath the wing to push the wing upwards. This has been observed before and can be repeated.

Hypothesis Two : Magic Leprechauns invented by aliens in a another galaxy, recovered from a black hole, love to lift wings moving through air and are trained to remove any evidence they even exist.


Assessment of probability for each alternative hypotheses
"We are to admit no more causes of natural things, than such as are both true and sufficient to explain their appearances." (Issac Newton)

1) The first hypothesis does not require any additional external secondary theories. The nature of the things being observed, themselves, can repeatedly be shown to cause the observed phenomena. The second hypothesis requires the addition of external mechanisms that themselves need to be proven. The first hypothesis is more probable.

"Whenever possible, substitute constructions out of known entities for inferences to unknown entities." (Betrand Russell)

2) The magic Leprechauns, alien scientists and recovery from a black hole, in Hypothesis Two are all unknown and need to be proven things themselves, however their characteristics do not fit into the known existing science framework and thus their existence requires that the existing known framework of science is discredited. The entire framework of science would need to be built up again from scratch for Hypothesis two to be considered, Hypothesis Two is the less probable hypothesis.

Can the hypothesis be falsified and if not, it has no meaning (Karl Popper)

3) For hypothesis Two, how can I falsify the existence of magic Leprechauns that remove any evidence that they existed? However, for hypothesis one, every step of the hypothesis concerning pressure and wing movement can tested and falsified.

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Re: Doubt

Postby Lance Kennedy » Sun Oct 01, 2017 11:57 pm

xouper wrote:

Lance Kennedy wrote: Based on what has happened to other ideas for FTL, my bet is on this one collapsing also.


You may be right. Or maybe not.

I would not be willing to take either side of that bet.

It seems to me it is still an open question.


The widely accepted belief among physicists is that light is the absolute speed limit through space. Oodles of evidence has been gathered which supports this view. A rather way out idea which involves unknown qualities such as enormous amounts of energy has been proposed as a maybe way round the normal belief. For this idea to work requires lots of tweaking of physics. The odds on the bet against FTL are going to be way way better than the odds for.

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Re: Doubt

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Mon Oct 02, 2017 12:00 am

"I would not be willing to take either side of that bet. " //// Reminds me of that dumb guy in dumber and dumberer when his love object said he had a one in a million chance of hooking up with her. He gave the Xouper response.
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Re: Doubt

Postby Matthew Ellard » Mon Oct 02, 2017 12:36 am

Radar inversion layer.jpg
Observation : An unknown ground radar return disappears when an aircraft flies through its location.

Hypothesis One : The ground reading was caused by a known existing inversion layer reflecting ground objects and the reflection stopped or became unstable if aircraft flew through the reflection's location.

Hypothesis Two : Ground radar, but not airborne radar, picked up unknown aliens, using an unknown technology that "gets around" E=MC2 and mass inertia, came to Washington DC and flew their spaceships around in a random manner, and disappeared when aircraft flew in their direction or shimmered away like reflections in a pool of water. These aircraft left no trace.

Now for application of probability according to the Scientific Method
"We are to admit no more causes of natural things, than such as are both true and sufficient to explain their appearances." (Issac Newton)

The Second hypothesis requires the existence of several new layers of physics to exist that do not fit into the known framework of physics. The first hypothesis is a common observed phenomena, which can be repeated and only requires the object being observed. The First hypothesis is more probable.

"Whenever possible, substitute constructions out of known entities for inferences to unknown entities." (Betrand Russell)

The second hypothesis is predicated on several layers of unknown entities and technologies. Therefore the first hypothesis is more probable.

Can the hypothesis be falsified and if not, it has no meaning (Karl Popper)

The second hypothesis cannot be falsified as it is predicated on "How do you know aliens can't do this?" and thus can be fundamentally dismissed as a hypothesis.
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Re: Doubt

Postby Matthew Ellard » Mon Oct 02, 2017 12:43 am

Lance. I don't think you have to worry about probability at all. Xouper's "hypothesis" cannot be falsified and is not a hypothesis at all. Xouper is simply playing the, "Yes but..." game.

I'm dying for Xouper to show how his hypothesis "how do you know alien scientists can't invent this?" hypothesis can be falsified. :D
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wf-sGqBsWv4

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Re: Doubt

Postby Lance Kennedy » Mon Oct 02, 2017 12:47 am

Matt

I do appreciate your post on what makes a good hypothesis. So thanks for that. It is good rational thinking.

The problem is that there are lots of people who have not evolved to the point where they can think rationally.

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Re: Doubt

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Mon Oct 02, 2017 12:54 am

Yes........a great/necessary reminder. Thanks Matt.
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Re: Doubt

Postby xouper » Mon Oct 02, 2017 12:56 am

Matthew Ellard wrote:This is getting ridiculous and we need to actually work through some examples on how the scientific method works.

Observation : When a wing with a curved top moves through air, it causes the wing to lift upwards.

Hypothesis one : The air forced over the larger top wing surface, reduces in pressure, causing the higher pressure air beneath the wing to push the wing upwards. This has been observed before and can be repeated.

Hypothesis Two : Magic Leprechauns invented by aliens in a another galaxy, recovered from a black hole, love to lift wings moving through air and are trained to remove any evidence they even exist.


That's a clever caricature of an example, but is not at all similar to anything I have been talking about.

No one has proposed anything like your second hypothesis. But it makes a nice straw man.


Sidebar: Your first hypothesis is also not correct.

That's a myth that gets taught in some schools by people who do not know what they are talking about. It sounds reasonable but it is wrong.

While it's true that the air pressure over the top is lower, that is not why the wing generates lift.

A propeller is also a wing, but it does not create thrust by getting sucked forward due to lower air pressure out front, but rather by pushing air backwards.

Same for an airplane wing, it generates lift by pushing air downward, and not by being sucked upwards.

Do the math and you will see that the pressure differential is not enough to generate the required lift.

This can also be demonstrated with wings (or propellers) that are totally flat and do not have any curvature at all.

Same for airfoils that are symmetrical top and bottom, like on certain airplanes, meaning that the wing is the same shape upside down.

And speaking of flying upside down, a conventional wing can also fly upside down despite that the curve is now on the bottom and the flat is on top.

Sorry, but Bernoulli does not explain how those wings generate lift.

Here's an experiment you can try: Put a model helicopter (or small quad-copter or drone) on a scale that is, say twice the diameter as the outside diameter of the vehicle (or helicopter rotor).

Make note of the weight of the helicopter or drone.

Now hover the drone a mere inch above the scale and make note of the weight it indicates.

The two numbers should be equal if you did the experiment correctly.

This demonstrates that the wing generates lift by pushing air downward.

Lift is explained by Newton's Law, not Bernoulli's Law.

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Re: Doubt

Postby Matthew Ellard » Mon Oct 02, 2017 12:56 am

Lance Kennedy wrote:Matt I do appreciate your post on what makes a good hypothesis. So thanks for that. It is good rational thinking.


I know this sounds strange, but we use this same logic in law. A barrister or solicitor is not allowed to infer anything to a jury ("how do you know aliens didn't murdered him"). A barrister must say exactly what the claim is ("I put it to you..... that at 8PM you carried this knife and plunged it into his back with intent to kill")

If a specific claim is not made, then there is nothing for the opposing party to argue against. This is the legal version of Poppers falsifiability.

That is why Jo 753 and Richard Crist never once tried to set out a working hypothesis for their "aliens did it" claim
:D

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Re: Doubt

Postby Matthew Ellard » Mon Oct 02, 2017 12:58 am

xouper wrote:"How do you know alien's didn't invent a way to get around E=MC2

Get back to us when you can show us how to falsify your hypothesis. :lol:

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Re: Doubt

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Mon Oct 02, 2017 1:03 am

To be a little bit more exact....the curved wing does generate lift from the lower air pressure that is generated....it just gets swamped by the upward pressure created by angle of attack. Another example of any issue that is caused by many factors: too many people will over focus on one element rather than more consider the whole.

Proof: put a curved surface on a flat table....move air over it.... lift will be created.

I think Xouper may be mostly correct on this....but I have never heard of a flat propeller.....not on airplanes anyway.
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Re: Doubt

Postby xouper » Mon Oct 02, 2017 1:05 am

Matthew Ellard wrote:Lance. I don't think you have to worry about probability at all. Xouper's "hypothesis" cannot be falsified and is not a hypothesis at all. Xouper is simply playing the, "Yes but..." game.


You have constructed a nice straw man to defeat. And defeat it you did.

But that does not defeat my argument because I did not make the argument you described.

What I argued was something else entirely.

You made the claim that FTL is not ever possible. I showed how your claim is wrong.

Furthermore, Lance has agreed that your claim is wrong.

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Re: Doubt

Postby xouper » Mon Oct 02, 2017 1:10 am

Matthew Ellard wrote:
xouper wrote:"How do you know alien's didn't invent a way to get around E=MC2

Get back to us when you can show us how to falsify your hypothesis. :lol:


I did not make a hypothesis, so there is nothing to falsify.

That was a question to you to justify your own claim.

You claimed that FTL will never be possible. So where is your evidence for your claim? You have none.

Claim rejected for lack of evidence.

This is a skeptic forum where it is reasonable to ask for claims to be supported with evidence.

No evidence for your claim?

Busted.

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Re: Doubt

Postby Matthew Ellard » Mon Oct 02, 2017 1:16 am

xouper wrote: I did not make a hypothesis, so there is nothing to falsify.
That's right. You were trolling the UFO thread where Jo 753 and Richard Christ were claiming aliens. Sometime you said you were contributing. Other times that you weren't contributing just to keep trolling.

Thanks for admitting to be useless to that thread.

Go away.
:lol:

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Re: Doubt

Postby xouper » Mon Oct 02, 2017 1:33 am

Matthew Ellard wrote:
xouper wrote: I did not make a hypothesis, so there is nothing to falsify.
That's right. You were trolling the UFO thread where Jo 753 and Richard Christ were claiming aliens. Sometime you said you were contributing. Other times that you weren't contributing just to keep trolling.

Thanks for admitting to be useless to that thread.

Go away.
:lol:


No.

This is a skeptic forum and when you make a claim, I am entitled to ask for evidence for your claim. That is not trolling by any definition of the term. That is doing what this forum was intended for.

You claimed FTL is impossible.

I asked for evidence.

You gave none.

You have none.

Busted.

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Re: Doubt

Postby Lance Kennedy » Mon Oct 02, 2017 2:03 am

The funny thing is that I agree with both Matt and Xouper on the FTL thing, though my opinion swings more in Matt's favor.

Xouper likes to be tricky. He knows damn well that FTL is very unlikely, but insists there may still be a chance. I agree with that, but put the chance at a million to 1 against. I am sure Matt will not disagree with me. But the thing is that a million to 1 against is pretty damn close to saying impossible. So I really think Xouper is just being difficult.

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Re: Doubt

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Mon Oct 02, 2017 2:09 am

Hypo: 2+2=4.

Xouper Denial: You can't prove it might not ever be something else.

Note: hyperinflation of space is not an object moving thru space. I know.... words can be tricky. Especially if you want to argue one in a million is a chance worth even the utterance.
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Re: Doubt

Postby xouper » Mon Oct 02, 2017 2:13 am

Lance Kennedy wrote:The funny thing is that I agree with both Matt and Xouper on the FTL thing, though my opinion swings more in Matt's favor.

Xouper likes to be tricky. He knows damn well that FTL is very unlikely, but insists there may still be a chance. I agree with that, but put the chance at a million to 1 against. I am sure Matt will not disagree with me. But the thing is that a million to 1 against is pretty damn close to saying impossible. So I really think Xouper is just being difficult.


You said that already.

And I already explained my objection in my first post in this thread, but you have not said anything to counter any of it.

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Re: Doubt

Postby xouper » Mon Oct 02, 2017 2:20 am

bobbo_the_Pragmatist wrote:Hypo: 2+2=4.

Xouper Denial: You can't prove it might not ever be something else.


Booboo is an expert at making straw men.

That "hypo" is not actually a hypothesis, it is merely a tautology derived from the axioms and definitions of arithmetic.

Too bad booboo cannot refute the argument I actually made. Instead he has to make up straw men to shoot down.

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Re: Doubt

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Mon Oct 02, 2017 2:22 am

xouper wrote:And I already explained my objection in my first post in this thread, but you have not said anything to counter any of it.

What Lance and everyone else has said across this forum is: " But the thing is that a million to 1 against is pretty damn close to saying impossible. So I really think Xouper is just being difficult."

..........and you refuse to concextualize the comments yourself by adding "As far as is currently known..." or "If Einstein and the body of Science as currently understood is correct, then...."

Oooooops........I uttered.
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