May 2008

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Comments

mdc

Actually, evolution is a scientific theory. That means it hasn't been proven wrong yet, but it could be. Gravity is a scientific fact (or law). Quit harping on evolution. Just because you can't remember your 12th birthday doesn't make evolution not real.

Jerry McLellan

"Evolution is a scientific fact. Truth is unavailable. Hallucinations fill the void."

I was with you until you got to this. I like the Lego castle analogy from another post. Not only are scientists constantly pulling bricks out of the castle, they are replacing them with better bricks as they come available, making the castle even stronger.

The whole "truth" of evolution may not be available, but the scientific community is constantly striving to reach it.

It is my understanding that we "think" in patterns, and when our brains don't have a full picture, our brains fill in the gaps. Is this hallucination? Unfortunately, much of our religion works this way. "I don't know why (fill in the blank) happens, therefore God must have done it." Using your logic, God is a hallucination. If science is hallucinated, and God is hallucinated, aren't we all just a part of the Matrix?

George Gooney

Man this global warming is killing me. I'm freezing my ass off.

Dwai Lahiri

Hi Scott,

Interesting thoughts there. Seems like 'almost' everytime I visit your blog, I come across something that I was discussing with some "antagonists" online (or otherwise).
:)

The realities we interpret are apparently just "conditioned" programmatic interpretation of our sensory data (5% of all the sensory data at that) by our Left-brain's interpreter module.

A very interesting article in this matter --

http://medhajournal.com/columns/indic-classics-and-bio-cultures/the-biocultural-paradigm-the-neural-connection-between-science-and-mysticism.html

would shed some insight into why is it that different people interpret realities in different ways.

Also, raising the question -- is there any "Ultimate reality"?

Regards,

Dwai

WuShu Fitz

OK, Scott, you are a great cartoonist and humorist, but stick to that or take some courses in science and philosophy before trying to redefine a term like scientific fact. Evolution is a theory that seeks to explain observation. For now its the best that we have and much better than the several Hebraic myths of creation in the bible. I would not call it a fact. You could say its a fact that they have found fossilized bones that are similar to humans, but our explanation of them is a theory. Nothing wrong with theory. Electro-magnetic theory allows me to send this to you, so it works, but it could be superceded by other theories in the future.

concatenator

What is 'scientific fact'? Just some predictable, repeatable phenomenon. Doesn't mean we understand it completely, just that we have grasped enough of it to manipulate it to certain ends of our own. And even while it seems to be working to that extent of meeting our goals, it is probably creating unexpected unpredictable side effects to other things we are not watching. Which is why 99% of scientific 'facts' can only be observed/demonstrated independently under the extreme conditions of the lab. Show me a quark right here in broad daylight, and I'll eat my words.

Yes, theories (not hallucinations) fill the void. Its a hallucination only if you search for the truth, and think you found it.

I don't think most of us are even being practical, just wishful.

Our only aim in life is to not look like an idiot.

How do I know you're writing this blog? It could be some intern you hired when you got tired of blogging every day. That's one theory. Another is this is really Scott Adams himself. I just go with the theory that allows me to respond with comments without feeling like an idiot.

The Concatenator


Stargoat

Wow. The levels of vitriol in some of these responses reaches the point of impressive. But the defense of the indefensible typically requires that most unique stench of defensiveness, willful ignorance, and just plain zealotry. So being the fool I am, I find I must contribute.

As theories, facts, and truths are social constructs, they must be interpreted as such. Or to put it otherwise, there is no verifiable proof of the existence of a higher power, despite it being the chief occupation of humanity for the past ten thousand years. There has been nothing but support for the Theory of Evolution, despite the desperate attacks against it for the past one hundred fifty years. The rational mind, regardless of calling it fact, theory, or truth, can only interpret these conclusions one way.

Sam D

Scott and humble masses there is a decent book out on how the mind works with things like memory and time: “Stumbling on Happiness” by Daniel Gilbert. I listened to it on my ipod, and I think it was available on audible if you are so inclined.

Plod

The principal difference between scientific fact and any other bollocks floating around claiming to be the truth, is that the scientists are at least making an effort to look for "la verité", and not just taking for granted stuff that has been spoon-fed to them from an ideological tenet or any other man-made pile of baboon poo!

Joshua

I've noticed that Scott, that 30% of your blog readers are dopes, 40% are pompous asses, and 20% "normal"

THe other 10% pecent?
Half are Europeans who always posts "Just like you Americans, blah blah blah"
And the other half just post "Well, I have no free will anyway...." months after that blog entry passed.

Sam Thornton

All truth is relative. Or so my cousin tells me.

brian

Alright,

So our consciousness - the part of you that sits behind those eyes and believes it is in control - is in a constant state of receiving input and predicting what will happen next. Comparing the predictions with the next set of received inputs.

We direct our various outer appendages to do things, they do them, and then our brain receives the input and compares what it thought should have happened to what actually happened (based on sensory input). We have a working memory of only a couple seconds - and we can only process 2 or 3 things simultaneously (I suspect we have different states, in Fight or Flight mode, more parts of our awareness come on line). This is consciousness. Actively working on trying to make our inputs match expected and predicted patterns. Our subconsciousness is working also in there, with larger bigger patterns over larger time scales.

We have "free-will" if only in the sense that we are in a state of constantly requesting our bodies and sections of the brain to do things, and comparing the results to what we perceived. There is no higher meaning, there are no Gods - we are complicated animals and we strive to piece the pieces together so that all the patterns are aligned. (or not - based on brain chemistry).

There are certain states - meditation is a state where you are bringing the expected and the actual closer together, making a finer loop. Meditate in a stance, with a mantra, staring at a flame in a dark room - you are effectively controlling your inputs with the ocular input completely rewired to the side of the brain that experiences time, and can overload it.

So far, I've not seen one research paper or book on intelligence that doesn't support this view. This is how we "work". Throw in the current research on addictions - where a part of your brain is deciding what it needs and is telling the movement center what to do, our consciousness just riding along - pattern recognition is somehow "good" in our brains, so even though we know we shouldn't smoke that crack, we do - because we know where that path will lead.

Does this make any sense to anyone else though? It has taken quite a few reworks to see this pattern.

Bri

Dalebert

Many scientists feel they have to show more confidence than they really have in the specific theory of Natural Selection. I think they're very confident of evolution but realize there are holes (so far) in Natural Selection and the fossil record. The reason they feel this burning need is because they have to argue with Creationists who have FAITH. Unfortunately, by showing such confidence, they're not being very scientific. Both sides are really obnoxious and pushy, if you ask me. I don't think the world is coming to an end if some parents, due to their religious beliefs, manage to prevent their kids being taught something that directly contradicts their religion, however silly their religious beliefs may be.

Mark

Excellent post! Now I don't know what I'm living for... I'll get back to you on that one.

Paul H.

If I just double-posted, please delete one of them.

Paul H.

"Truth is unavailable."

Truth is everywhere, always. It can't be unavailable. It is, however, ungraspable.

The truth can't be understood because understanding involves conceptualization. A concept is a different part of reality than whatever it represents.

If I represent chairs by the number 1, and cars by the number 2, and horses by the number 3, it makes sense that adding chairs to cars equals horses.

Of course, concepts are extremely useful and practical in everyday life. My concept of a car doesn't come close to the reality of what my car is, my understanding of a clock doesn't come near describing a clock, and my concept of time doesn't match what time is. However, with a clock and my car, I can get to work on time. It's all too easy to forget to see the concepts for what they are, and that I'm living in an illusory world I create; while the real world is always present.

Dalebert

The wisest among us have always known that the one true religion has been perverted; that the pope was meant to be a descendant of St. Peter, who was actually a rabbit.

whatever

I used to think you were an intelligent person. This entry is the last I read from this blog.

mike

There's an interesting article by Asimov called "The Relativity of Wrong" you might enjoy reading some time.

In summary - we were wrong when we thought the earth was flat, we were wrong when we thought the earth was spherical, and we're probably wrong now thinking of it as an ellipsoid... but which of those was more wrong.

And that is the essence of science - we're always wrong, but we're hopefully approaching the "truth."

Jason Dumler

You know, we may be programmed for what's practical, but that doesn't mean we always go with it. It's not very practical to have the realization that what I'm seeing is not the universe out there, but rather a three dimensional reconstruction of the universe in my head, based on sensory input that can be easily fooled. It's not very practical to walk around with the realization that there are thousands of things my eyes aren't seeing, and my brain is just filling in the empty spaces with what it thinks is the right stuff. It's very distracting.

It's even more distracting to realize that something could be sitting in my kitchen with me, but it could be so alien and different that my brain would be incapable of recreating it in the three dimensional reconstruction. That's not very practical at all.

To Bob - you have a better chance of Scott Adams emailing you than pretty much any other famous person. I personally know of instances where he's emailed people with non-canned responses that actually had something to do with their emails or posts.

kash

The world of our sense is transient, anything and everything perceived by our senses will change. Why try to grasp on to something that is "not going to be there" anyway. What is that, that which does not change with time ?

Science, as we know today is "pattern recognition" of these transient phenomenon. It sees a pattern in the external world perceived by our senses, sees if it is repeatable and then tries to capture it with an underlying theorem. It then tries to extrapolate the theorem beyond the original patterns, and if unsuccesfull comes up with newer, more comprehensive "pattern recognitions".

All creatures in nature, including humans, are constantly trying to get to a "better state" which mostly constitutes a less insecure and more pleasurable state. This is the pattern we observe "today". It is possible that this same pattern has existed and resulted in creatures evolving from a lower to a higher form. What is that state that one is seeking where one reaches the culmination of this search.?

Kash

craig

You made a mistake.

Any scientist will tell you that evolution is a theory (an explanation or interpretation of facts) not a fact which is why it is called the theory of evolution. Other than that good post

G. H. Diel

Amen.

Palaeobill

Given that you have the time and money, I have a suggestion for you. Go to college and take a science degree. Any one will do. Then perhaps you will stop talking crap.

Lamark

A bit OTT, but in response to Chris and Notralph below. Measurements of skeletons from before the Black Death show that people from the middle ages were of similar height to modern humans from about 40 years ago. After the Black Death average heights dropped off dramatically. ( data was from britain only)

There's a lot of reasons why some ( not all) suits of armour you may see in museums are small, yes, some were made to show off the craftsmans' work, some were also made for young nobles who were still growing. All in all I'd tend to believe direct bone measurements over indirect assumptions based on door sizes.

Of course average heights have risen in the last 40 years, so I guess strictly speaking people from the middle ages were smaller than people living today.

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