May 2008

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Comments

Mark

(interestingly, the process of genesis is actually the same order that we believe evolution happens)

Sorry, couldn't help myself.

WHAT??????

So day and night came after? Stars turned up after the sun? Man was created last? All the beasts of the field came along before birds (who were around in the time of the dinosaurs). insects before flowering plants?

Either my bible is hella different from yours or you've got a really weird science book.

Mark

Tenelus, point 1 is fine, just an interpretation of abiogenesis. Not evolution, though.

As to point 2, to requote Terry Pratchett, If there is no spoon, why is there soup?

Space is the distance between bodies. When something happens to body A, body B doesn't find out about it until some time later. Space is the delay. Time is what stops everything happening at once. So if we don't perceive everything all at once, in what sense does time not exist? When we aren't all in the same place, in what sense does space not exist?

Our *explanation* of space or time may be merely a convenient lie (convenient in that it explains what we could expect to happen, a lie in that it isn't actually the way it does it), but it doesn't mean the elements of reality doesn't exist.

Bob

If the theory is true, them I am a genius capable of arguing all the sides of the argument and finding 5000 web links to support them, which by the way I must have put there since I invented the internet, oh what the heck, make that the whole world.

Now all the random thoughts in my floating brain which pass themselves of as separate human beings are going to proceed to call themselves geniuses.

Rick in China

I believe evolution is very likely and consider it to be the closest explanation of our existence as I currently understand. I do not believe it to be fact, because it has not been completely proven, hence being a theory.

That being said, if cosmologists universally agreed upon something such as their floating-brain theory and believed it was far more likely than evolution, I would not simply accept it as fact. It would require the cosmologists to not only make a convincing argument to other cosmologists, but make a convincing argument which battles that of respected groundworking evolutionists and changes their perceptions and acceptance, as well as, more importantly, an argument which changes my own. If they can convince eachother that has no impact on me - if they can convince me, then, well, obviously I'd be forced to follow my own understanding and altar my beliefs to that which makes most sense to me.

Tenelus

Mark:
1: Out of the Christians, the only ones who believe that the Genesis story means that the earth was created in 6 Days in the order stated (interestingly, the process of genesis is actually the same order that we believe evolution happens) are the 7th day adventists and possibly the baptists and AOG, Catholics, Wesleyans, Methodists etc, etc, all believe that genesis was written to say why the world was created and by whom. The most important part of genesis is the words 'let us create man in our own image'. The Jews may still take it literally, but anyway, my point is that a belief that the world was created (creationism) does not mean that what created the world didn't do it in the form of evolution.

2: I was hoping that you had looked into the theory that Scott had presented a little deeper, the idea is that time (And space, probably) are non existent, therefore the idea of cause and effect are null. They aren't the first to think about it either, the earliest philosophy that we know of (in ionia) was about that very issue, the conclusions are two possibilities: time is an illusion, or that there must be something beyond time (still having it as an illusion to us, really). The idea that time is an illusion is what this 'new' theory is about, and it is entirely plausible, but we can't really argue it, because once you get rid of that, no facts can exist, and there is no argument. The other option is that a god exists, and it is the thing that is beyond time, it doesn't need a cause, because cause and effect mean nothing beyond time, it also doesn't occupy space. You can argue that God is not interested in his creation, or that he doesn't have a will, or that Jesus, or Zeus, or Ganesha are not God or gods, but the fact that God, as the thing beyond time, exists, is really the only logical argument.
- tenelus@gmail.com

Graham

Hell, if I was a free floating brain drifting in the cosmos I'd be imaging a better reality than this!

All you other free floating brains get the hell out of my way!

Free William

I dont believe any scientific theory is fact. That is why we call them 'Theories'.

This article and the comments I bothered to read are a clear indication as to why it would be better for scientists to stick to observation and experiment and leave philosophy to others...LOL

AFailedScientist

Probably too late for anyone to read, but here goes...

What this cosmological theory apparently says is that the universe(s) can potentially exist in an infinite number of possible states. Some (a Vanishly small proportion in fact, to use a Dennettism) will necessarily be some kind of "brain-sized" simulation. In that simulation, and you can get scared when you think of the number of alternative possibilities, the world we live in appears to us - whatever we then are - be what it is. This is for all I know theoretically possible. Similarly you cannot disprove that the universe as we perceive it is not a giant computer simulation created last Thursday. Nevertheless, in our universe - however instantiated - there are physical laws that govern the observed behaviour. That behaviour, imagined or not, is composed of events that can be empirically observed, and from which theories can be generated and outcomes predicted. On that basis, evolution is a superior explanation (being highly probable to be correct) as compared to the alternatives within the universe we perceive. So the answer is, no.

Now, you can, if you wish, accept that we are in fact in that simulation. This cannot perhaps be disproved absolutely, other than to note that the probability of that "brain-state" existing might well be lower than a universe that has followed a simple evolutionary process based on nothing more than a load of basic atoms starting out pretty much at random.

This is because, even if there are an infinite number of universes, then the Vast majority of them would start out disordered.

st512

Nope. I would not be able to follow there arguments anyway. So I would stick to my intuition and guess that they got something wrong.

Scott

It's a catch 22 situation. If the theory of my existance as a floating brain with all of these false memories were true then my memory of them proving it true would also be false.

The only way to find out if it really is true or not would be to somehow break free of the false memories and be able to perceive reality as the floating brain. Then again, who knows? Maybe that's what happens when we "die".

Joshua Jacobsen

The biggest problem with science is that too many people want to be Albert Einstein or Charles Darwin. Too few are trying to be Jack Kilby or Philo Farnsworth.

Theory is kinda cool and all, but the field of science needs a lot more engineering and a lot less day dreaming, imo.

Malek

Isn't this similar to Descartes' "Meditations on First Philosophy?" Cosmologists are simply reworking older theories that have been universally rejected by a thinking populace, right?

Anthony Howe

I wager 500 quatloos for evolution.

Mark

[O.K. I get it now. (Sometimes I'm slow)

Traffic to your website. You evil man. You hold personal gain in higher esteem then seeking for the truth...

Capitalist!

Posted by: BobNL]

I have no problem with him doing this (well, I do, but that's MY problem, so it's not really fair to tell Scott off about it). What I DO have a problem and I CAN pin on Scott is that he occasionally complains that he doesn't understand why people don't like him, he's only trying to show us a different way of thinking.

Well, if he's trolling for hits, he shouldn't be complaining when people react flamishly to the troll. That's the ENTIRE POINT OF A TROLL.

And as to "different ways of thinking", he still hasn't acknowledged that his idea of gravity just being things getting bigger doesn't explain how orbital mechanics work (or, indeed, why orbitals aren't all decaying spirals ...), so he's not too hot on grounding his ideas in reality.

Trollish, in other words. But hearing a dumb idea does help you work out what your theory REALLY means because unless it's really dumb (the expanding object one had a lot going for it, so wasn't really dumb), you have to work out WHY it's wrong, rather than the wrongness being obvious. And that helps you understand your theory better.

Mark

[There used to be a consensus about the earth being flat not so long ago, wasn't it ?

Posted by: pierre]

Define "flat", pierre.

The table I'm typing on is "flat" but that would mean slightly bent as far as geopotential surfaces are concerned. If I get up close, I can see ridges, so it isn't *really* flat but undulating or ridged, so even a "flat table" isn't.

My garden is, I would say, flat, but it does go down one end (still flat) and if I look close enough, I know it ISN'T flat. But for kicking a ball around, it's flat. Now, since I know that the earth doesn't continue down beyond my garden forever, I know (even if I can't see it) that it turns up at some point (so it can't be flat, can it). I know that the land doesn't keep going higher the other end, so it must turn down.

So even on a flat floodplain, you know that "the earth" isn't flat. It doesn't make much difference to your everyday life, though.

In the first world war, artillery shot a long way, but it wasn't necessary to account for the earths curvature. In the second world war, it started to be important for the big coastal guns. For ICMB's, the curvature of the earth is hugely important. But it still doesn't affect how you walk to the shops, does it.

3,000BC they knew the earth was round. But since it's only recently that mattered, it was merely just an esoteric piece of science. So "people" still worked as if it was a flat earth.

someguy

This is an example of a physicist's favorite sport, mathturbation.

Rick

Paragraph three, sentence two:

"Nobody in the field believes that this is the way things really work, however."

Infotainment apparently still means that you latch onto what you like, and discard what you don't. Kinda like interpreting the Bible.

wernman

If the floating brain theory is more likely then evolution, how much more evidence do you need for creation? Proof ad absurdum...

rabbitpirate

Surely if the free-floating brain theory turns out to be correct then all scientific theories would be called into question, including evolution, as reality itself would be in question. Nothing we see around us could be taken as real, would would have to start again from a whole new perspective.

That said the question of "how did the free-floating brains come to be" would still exist and evolution would be a perfectly valid theory to explain this.

Joelle

I have to say that if scientists did manage to prove that evolution was infinitly improbable compared to the floating braiin theory or the creationists theory, or any other ridiculous theory out there then I would be willing to seriously consider it, but they would have to be able to show me some pretty convincing evidence. Quite frankly I would be willing to believe in the coming of the great handkerchief if that could be proven. Personally, I think human beings are too unevolved to really get any of it right quite yet, so whatever seems the least inane is what I ascribe to at the moment.

eD

YES! Thank you, thank you uncle Scott.

C'mon you monkeys...

So much going on out there, leaves us hanging in the air
And it's all that we can do to face each day and see it though

Life's a dance, put on your dancing shoes (you monkeys), take a chance

Steve Winwood 1988


A Wart

If one set of scientists proved the existance of GOD and another set of scientists proved there is no God, would we disappear in a puff of logic.
I'd like to believe that I am a free floating Brain in the cosmos making my life up as I go along, but then again I must also believe that I am mentally deranged because instead of humping in the playboy mansion, I am here typing at my made up desk, therfore if I am sane then I have proved that I am not a free floating free thinking brain but a pre programmed moist robot, and therfore GOD does exist and he's a bastard, because only sleazy bastards get to hump in the playboy mansion, or my grip on reality has gone a this is punishment and I am a preprogrammed free floating brain and GOD is still a sleaxy bastard. I will never think again or thank GOD unless of course I get to hump in the playboy mansion.

simon

"infinitely more likely " is not "most likely to be correct "

It is infinatly more likly that a person found dead died or a road traffic acident (the most likely cause of death in the US/UK) , but the EVIDENCE of a hole in thier forhead means that a gunshot IS more likely to be correct.

Science shouldnt be bound by senatics

Johnboy

This is what's known in the business as a 'thought experiment'. Basically, present a hypothetical scenario based on the Universe as (we think) we understand it, replacing one key established theory with another. Does it explain what we see? Does it say anything new about it that established theories don't? is it rationale? Does it make anything that we think we already know seem impossible or irrational or needing a rethink? Basically, if it says nothing new and would take a huge leap off the beaten path to get there anyway, then it's probably no good.

In other words, at this stage at least, what we're talking about is a theoretical 'brain toy'. Be interesting to see where it goes, if anywhere.

Anfauglir

"(Cosmologists posit) the idea that your existence and consciousness is far more likely to be a free-floating brain created instantly by random fluctuations of the universe, and imbued with false memories of your past.
.....
If cosmologists someday reached a consensus that free-floating brains are infinitely more likely than our current notion of reality....."


If cosmologists reached that consensus, would that not mean that I was, in fact, a brain created instantly with that false memory? That there were, in fact, no such thing as cosmologists (they being just a false memory) - so how could they reach a consensus if they did not exist?

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