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ISIS Bans Math and Social Studies For Children

Empiric Re:US is next? (929 comments)

"I would hold that all three of your choices are opinion..."

So, I think the question is, if we take all possible opinions on an issue, is at least one of them fact?

I would say yes.

10 hours ago
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ISIS Bans Math and Social Studies For Children

Empiric Re:US is next? (929 comments)

"You can't have a fact unless it's falsifiable."

On this particular point, I disagree...

One of these propositions is true, and therefore a fact:

1. Mozart was a better composer than Bach.
2. Bach was a better composer than Mozart.
3. Either Mozart or Bach was a better composer than a given randomly-selected High School band student.

None of these are falsifiable. There is no objective test for them, as musical taste is (insofar as we are aware) not scientifically resolvable.

To be clear, though, outside of that, my post was -meant- to agree with and summarize the broader content of your post. You apparently understand the difference between "not scientific" and "anti-scientific" better than most "pro-science" people, including scientists, do, or are willing to be honest about. And you also have a much more real-world awareness of the fact that many subject domains aren't addressable by scientific method, yet people still validly hold that there are ultimately ideas that are true within them, regardless of formal testability--politics and economics, to name a couple.

The recent Dawkins/Hitchens/Tyson/etc. movement to cast every human endeavor within the context of scientific method, and judge everything on that basis, is really a rehash of the philosophically-dead Logical Positivism movement. It doesn't work, and it can't work. And I don't think we have any fundamental disagreement.

yesterday
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ISIS Bans Math and Social Studies For Children

Empiric Re:US is next? (929 comments)

In short:

Unfalsifiable does not mean false.

A standard claim by people who should (and usually do) know better.

2 days ago
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Siberian Discovery Suggests Almost All Dinosaurs Were Feathered

Empiric Re:Dang... (139 comments)

"The Bible, however, is immutable, and the literalists have to resort to increasingly contorted explanations for how the Genesis account could be factually correct."

Good parroting of the popular Dawkins-driven line, but simply vastly historically incorrect as the sequence of events. Origen of Alexandria (one of the "Fathers of the Church", that is, one shaping core positions at the very earliest foundation of Christianity) was arguing for allegorical interpretation of Genesis in the second century A.D.

The notion that science comes along and "shows religion incorrect" is fanciful nonsense. It may show particular interpretations to be so, but compatible ones have existed from the start. In fact, the majority of those founding all branches of the sciences were theists.

Here's a few. You probably will recognize quite a few of them, particularly starting with with the "1701-" section.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...

about 2 months ago
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How Astronauts Took the Most Important Photo In Space History

Empiric Re:Oh America (108 comments)

Addendum:

Jesus said to them, "When you make the two one, and when you make the inside like the outside and the outside like the inside, and the above like the below, and when you make the male and the female one and the same, so that the male not be male nor the female female; and when you fashion eyes in the place of an eye, and a hand in place of a hand, and a foot in place of a foot, and a likeness in place of a likeness; then will you enter the kingdom."

--Thomas

about 9 months ago
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How Astronauts Took the Most Important Photo In Space History

Empiric Re:Oh America (108 comments)

For the more esoterically-oriented out there, more relevant would be that he realized he was indifferentiable from an animal, a situation for which adding clothing would be a natural attempt to differentiate oneself.

Which, with his newly acquired cognitive range, would have presented rather troubling implications for himself and his surroundings regarding things outside the garden.

Implications which, I might add, persist for some right through to the present day.

about 9 months ago
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Genome of Neandertals Reveals Inbreeding

Empiric Re:We're all the same... (109 comments)

I'm persistently surprised also by how often evolutionary biologists seem oblivious to the notion of a "birth defect".

Note that I am not saying that evolution didn't happen. I'm saying that species categorization and the "evidence" for them have become so scientifically loose that the claims are unfalsifiable.

about 9 months ago
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The Software Inferno

Empiric Re:Rob Bell is missing a few things (109 comments)

It does speak of it, but it does not necessarily specify the "eternal hell if you don't believe" stance that some denominations have promulgated.

There are several possibilities that are not at all easily dismissed by reference to scripture itself...

1. That it is spoken of allegorically
2. That it references "destruction of the soul" rather than "suffering of the soul" (per Christ's use of "destroy the soul in hell")
3. That it is a temporary, not permanent state
4. That it is the final dispensation of the truly evil, not simply on the basis of non-belief (otherwise a review of one's actions from the "Book of Life" seems rather superfluous)

I would exercise extreme caution in stating that one -knows- what God will do, as this is in a sense us telling God what he has to do, on a judgment that is explicitly stated to be made by him in the future (the "Last Judgment"--not a "Show Trial"), but...

I'd suggest taking a look at Conditionalism and its associated Annihilationism as stances that are quite harmonious with scripture, and address some arguments regarding "fairness"--one could say that atheists in general ultimately get exactly what they expect (and demand), per their own worldview.

about 9 months ago
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The Software Inferno

Empiric Re:Always a little creepy (109 comments)

I'm guessing that the majority here on Slashdot know his verse only from the "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here" line used in the text adventure game "Zork"...

about 9 months ago
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The Software Inferno

Empiric Re:Always a little creepy (109 comments)

Yes... and there's a similar challenge produced by the influence of Milton's "Paradise Lost".

These two are a major source of what the general public -thinks- they know about historical Christianity.

about 9 months ago
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The Software Inferno

Empiric Re:Always a little creepy (109 comments)

And not even an actual religion at that. Dante's works, though well-known, are extensive fictionalized extrapolations from the religion upon which they are based. It is more like religious "fan fiction" than religion, IMHO.

about 9 months ago
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NSA Has No Clue As To Scope of Snowden's Data Trove

Empiric Re:They have *worse* to hide? (383 comments)

And even if he did use "higher-ups" logins, that doesn't demonstrate the had them illicitly. "Need this sooner than I can get you official access, here's my login, underling, get it done now" has to be in the Top 10 most-common management directives to IT in a bureaucratic (e.g. government) organization.

about 9 months ago
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UK Men Arrested For Anti-Semitic Tweets After Football Game

Empiric Re:Perhaps not (598 comments)

Though I am neither Catholic nor do I want to defend the Inquisition in any way, it is not clear that atheism per se was much of a target. The Inquisition was apparently much more interested in suppressing -other forms of theism-, than direct non-belief.

In fact, when it did happen, people making anti-religion statements were typically accused as "Protestants"!

Most of them were in no sense Protestants...Irreligious sentiments, drunken mockery, anticlerical expressions, were all captiously classified by the inquisitors (or by those who denounced the cases) as 'Lutheran.'...

If looked at from the perspective of the Inquisition's political objectives rather than theological ones, this makes sense--a competing political party is a much more "dangerous" thing in all forms of politics than those not participating.

Your "get murdered" characterization is a bit of an oversimplification as well, there was opportunity to recant and only a very small percentage of times were the "crimes" considered to be worthy of the death penalty in the first place, but I'll leave that aside...

about 9 months ago
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Cobalt-60, and Lessons From a Mexican Theft

Empiric Re:They Dont Call It Goblin Metal for Nothing. (174 comments)

Er, kobold metal, per the original etymology, as one might guess from the word.

We don't want to unfairly give goblins a worse name than they already have, now...

about 9 months ago
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Wikipedia's Lamest Edit Wars

Empiric Re:Next up: Slashdot's lamest submissions (219 comments)

Curious, in that although I was made quite aware of the "correct" punctuation in school here in the U.S., I refuse to use it as it is the absolute antithesis of "logical".

The end-quote ends the sentence's subsection of the word or phrase quoted, the period indicates the end of the entire sentence.

The "correct" punctuation is the logical equivalent of doing this in code...

if (instances == 0) IncrementInstances(;)

Which is entirely illogical. Surely someone could throw together a formal argument for this on the basis of Set Theory. The small box goes inside the large box--it shouldn't be "correct" for it to need to protrude out one side.

about 9 months ago
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New Documentary Chronicles Road Tripping Scientists Promoting Reason

Empiric Re:Reason (674 comments)

And, retraction: The evidence I stated was presented to you without challenge or acknowledgement, was actually presented via links to Black Parrot as the next respondent to my original post.

I suppose this calls for refinement of my stance of empirical perception being the absolute bedrock of all knowledge...

about 9 months ago
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New Documentary Chronicles Road Tripping Scientists Promoting Reason

Empiric Re:Reason (674 comments)

I'm asking *you* to tell me why the God hypothesis is worthwhile, when infinitely many other hypotheses that are equally (un)supported are not. (I presume you'd agree that it's not worth seriously considering the existence of a teapot orbiting the sun).

Because it is simply not the case they are equally supported. The "Solar Teapot" has no track record of successfully predicting any future events whatsoever. People who die do not see the Solar Teapot appearing before them, or if you do not accept the validity of this perception, we are not left to wonder why human neurology is such that we see the Solar Teapot upon brain failure--because we don't. There are no records of people willingly being put to death rather than recant their claimed experiences during the (non)visit to Earth of the Solar Teapot. It is simply not the case that all religions are equally plausible--and, I might add, as someone who has studied nearly all of them, it strikes me as the height of intellectual laziness to simply declare equivalency of plausibility by default.

There are infinitely many potentially true things, and you only have finite time to consider them. How do you distinguish between the potentially true things you consider, and the ones that you don't?

I would say that this has been driven by my perception of plausibility and relative significance of the subject matter. Many people have an interest in philosophical issues per se, given their scope of applicability, thus their potential "significance". Religion overlaps to a high degree with this domain of inquiry. There may indeed be an unbridgeable gap in terms of focus selection here between us, though, in that I have had what I would consider "compelling spiritual events", so that from my perspective, I -am- "following the evidence". To be fair, I did not have any until some 15 years into my participation in my religion, and previous to that, one could fairly say my selection was largely driven by cultural influence, rather than experience. As you have not had such an experience as those that have formed my degree of certainty, I cannot fault your focus being elsewhere based on your personal experience. What I can say is that, since you mention "limited time", I suggest that you consider the possibility that that factor is self-imposed, and that by default your worldview will make that time limited. If at a given point in time you wish to continue consideration, it by definition my be done in a context that allows continued consideration.

Relativity was prompted by the observation that the speed of light is constant in all directions. String theory was prompted by the observation that two extremely well supported models produce nonsensical results when combined.

Observations "prompt" a great number of possible explanations. What I'd like to know is how you know a hypothesis is testable before it is conceptualized, so that we know (per your apparent criteria) whether it should not even be conceptualized in the first place--because it's not testable by definition before tests are determined, and tests cannot be determined for a hypothesis before it exists. If Einstein "followed the evidence" (in some sort of abstractly pure sense) from the start, he would not have made any revisions to the model--as he did. Also, the predominate scope of evidence would lead one to staying with the Newtonian system. If he "followed the testable evidence", the theory would not have taken the form it did, as aspects of Relativity were still being tested decades after it was proposed. You seem to be glossing over a lot of missteps in the history of science and inferential conjectures that end up being fruitful, to present a hyper-simplified systematic model that doesn't represent the reality of the actual process of science, but does (hopefully) meet your actual overarching objective--exclusion of "religion" at any cost. I would suggest Thomas Kuhn for a more encompassing, real-world appraisal of what science "is" and how it proceeds.

Sure, but until you have something testable, it's just speculation.

Which of the Interpretations of QM (Copenhagen, Everett, etc.), then, are "speculation"? Are they science?

But they were all still wrong! What kind of hubris does it take to make you think that your eyes don't lie, when everyone else's eyes do?

I think you may misunderstand my argument here. If my sense data is unreliable, then so is my perception of people around me saying they saw something else. If I do not have a basis to think my original perception was correct, I do not have a basis to think there are actually-existing people around me forming the challenge to my perception. Direct empirical perception to me is the bedrock of knowledge. If one cannot rely on that being true, one can rely on nothing being true. In fact, I would say it is, for all practical purposes, impossible for multiple people to directly observe an event and hold different stances as to what basically (perceptually) happened, without one side of the question simply lying. If this is not the case, there is no "truth", and certainly no functional science, if "observe the results of the test" is a fundamentally unreliable step in the experimental process.

about 9 months ago
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New Documentary Chronicles Road Tripping Scientists Promoting Reason

Empiric Re:Reason (674 comments)

Right. But the issue is not how English is, it is how reality is.

about 9 months ago
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New Documentary Chronicles Road Tripping Scientists Promoting Reason

Empiric Re:Reason (674 comments)

God on the other hand is not needed to explain any natural phenomena. If there is a phenomenon we cannot currently explain, saying "god did it" does not actually increase our understanding.

You seem rather persistent in insisting that what you consider "necessary" or "worthwhile" is objectively so, demonstrated simply because you say it is. The scope of "worthwhile" is tautologically defined by the reality you already accept--if it is an extension of philosophical naturalism, it is worthwhile, if it is not, it is not worthwhile. You don't see this stance as rather... limiting?

To address the simple form of the claim directly, it is simply untrue that knowing "God did it" tells us nothing. At minimum, it tells us God did it. This is just a variant of the persistent "god of the gaps" argument that steadfastly refuses to acknowledge we do not have to choose between something's proximate and less-proximate causes, and if we determine a proximate cause, the less-proximate ones do not cease to exist or become irrelevant. Knowing that Hiroshima was destroyed by nuclear fission, and describing that physics process precisely, does not negate, nor make unimportant, the less-proximate cause of Truman ordering it.

It matters if you care about accuracy. If I weigh an object, and get 5 kilos, then you weigh the same object and get 8 kilos, we'd throw away the scale. It's not a reliable tool.

So, your answer is to conjecture up some countervailing experiences? My experiences are consistent with many others' as per the expectations of the religion. If there is disparity, you haven't demonstrated it. Indeed, my religion is quite careful to "test all things" (per the Apostle Paul's statement) regarding experiential claims that have objections based on logical consistency with the religion's premises.

On the other hand, if you ask your deity how old the Earth is, and a Hindu asks his deity how old the Earth is, you'll get different answers.

So what? You get "different answers" asking anything from any diverse group, whether it be in politics, art, or for that matter, physics. From this we infer none of the positions is correct?

Not at all. That was not a claim that religion is false because I have not seen evidence. That was an invitation for you to present evidence.

Remarkable, given it was presented in this very thread, to you. You neither challenged the evidence nor acknowledged it. "Not seeing it", however, seems remarkably unlikely.

You posted a peer reviewed paper supporting the existence of subjective experiences during extreme hypoxia. That is entirely consistent with a naturalistic explanation of consciousness.

This is categorization, not explanation. You have not explained how or why hypoxia results in these specific experiences, consistently.

Again, just because the scientific method can't address a question doesn't mean it's OK to make things up.

Which, ironically, is precisely what you just did. Conjecturing and asserting your conjecture regarding the writings is true.

You don't. You follow the evidence. You observe the world and make a model of it based on those observations. Then you look for predictions made by that model, and see if they match further observations.

Again, selective application of criteria that are unworkable in broader application outside religion (to put it less-tactfully, "hypocrisy"). "The evidence" is for the dominant model of the time, in science in particular. For it to expand, someone has to propose a model contrary to the known evidence, and initially, their hypothesis-formation is highly speculative. This is precisely how we came to accept Einstein's Relativity. This will be how we will determine whether String Theory is ultimately correct. This is how we will determine which of the Interpretations of QM is correct--and one of them is, and none of them are differentiable by testing.

What if a billion people claimed to see Bill shoot Steve? And another billion people claimed to see Steve shoot Bill? And yet another people claimed that Andy shot both Steve and Bill? And another billion people claimed that no one shot anyone at all?

Then people are correct or incorrect based purely and exclusively on whether or not they are correct, based on what actually happened. Conjecturing what might have happened, or noting a lack of knowledge as to what happened, does not alter what happened. If someone saw what happened, they know what happened, regardless of the lack of knowledge of others.

Wouldn't you start to doubt that your eyes are a reliable instrument for observing reality?

No. If my direct empirically-derived direct-experience knowledge is questionable, my experience of others who have no reason to know, telling me otherwise, is equally questionable on the same perceptual basis. It is more questionable when adding the fact they'd have no reason to have experienced the actuality of the situation.

Your personal subjective experience of God cannot be a valid experiment because billions of people have done the same experiment and gotten different results.

You are saying they did, or did not, get validating results? Triangulating doesn't work forever, eventually you need to have a position.

about 9 months ago
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New Documentary Chronicles Road Tripping Scientists Promoting Reason

Empiric Re:Reason (674 comments)

I'm saying that you can't use observation X as evidence to support your explanation of observation X.

Yes, you can, in this and every topic. If my explanation is that gasoline burns when ignited, and I observe burning gasoline, that is support of the premise that it is doing so because I ignited it. You'll have to clarify what weird twists of logic make religion a special-case contrary to what everyone does with everything every day.

How does one keep score on fulfilled prophetic claims? Like, how does, say, the Bible stack up against Nostradamus or the Koran?

Pretty-much exactly as your own brain says it does when you aren't typing the opposite of what your own brain says. You have a link giving specific prophecies and approximations of the very-remote likelihood of the occurring by chance. Again, if you assert there is something comparable in other religions, start with the very basic step of providing something to compare with. I have to assume you aren't because you know yourself you couldn't produce anything from every other religion that is comparable. I do not have to give you an algebraic equation to calculate a "prophecy score" for it to be heuristically valid that it is not comparable.

To answer broadly, though, the bible is much more specific and more accurate that Nostradamus could be claimed to be by the most charitable assessment. The Koran is largely the same prophecies by the same prophets, so it is much closer (and no, two things having some correct things does not mean they are equally correct). I would say that the predictions regarding the control of monetary transactions and the political alliances between Islam and what is now Russia and China currently put it ahead by this metric.

The fact that people believe in something hard enough to die for it also isn't really very strong evidence that it's true. Are we saying that Islam is getting more plausible by the day?

This is why I specified "contemporaries". If you were actually around to know the events first-or-second-hand, you would know whether you are intentionally dying for what you know to be a lie. Most would choose not to under those circumstances, if they in fact knew one way or the other. That is what differentiates it from Islamic martyrdom. If 100 Muslims claimed that Mohammed showed up personally at the Dome of the Rock a month ago, and would willingly die rather than deny it, with no apparent gain if they were lying, that would indeed carry considerable argumentative weight.

about 9 months ago

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