The Instigator
Umasi93
Con (against)
Losing
17 Points
The Contender
Tatarize
Pro (for)
Winning
30 Points

When a tree falls in a lonely forest, and nothing is near by to hear it, it still makes a sound.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/29/2008 Category: Science
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,895 times Debate No: 4534
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (17)
Votes (13)

 

Umasi93

Con

The idea that a tree falling and making a noise without their being any way to prove this event happened is purely speculative.

http://en.wikipedia.org...
Tatarize

Pro

A large part of our ability to speculate on events is our ability to extrapolate from previous events. Nobody has encountered a silent tree fall. Therefore, even without an observer we should assume that it makes noise.

It may have once been an acceptable model to conclude that there cannot be sound without anybody to hear it. However we now understand what sound is and how it propagates. Sound is a particle/pressure/heat wave rapidly moving through a large group of particles. For example, lightning causes thunder by rapidly heating the air it travels through. This causing it to explode outward which, in turn, causes a pressure wave (sound). This is why exploding things in general create large amounts of sound (move a large amount of air).

Now in the example of a tree falling. The instant before it collides with the ground it will cause the remaining air between the tree and ground to rapidly move and cause a soundwave. Tree falls by the laws of science create soundwaves. For a tree to fall, with or without an observer and not make a sound would require a unilateral negation of the laws of physics only when there is no observer.

Further, even without initially being there to hear the sound. Careful observations of the dust at the ground of the sight could show clear signs of rapidly moving air towards the end of the fall not otherwise directly affected by the tree. Thusly, one could have evidence that a sound was produced even without an observer.

Next, allow me to quickly note that there are great numbers of sounds produced consistently which are observerless. If I were to blow on a dog whistle, you wouldn't hear anything. Does it make a sound? Quite certainly! The sound can easily be measured and quantified by a number of devices.

At the very least, and for these reasons, anybody claiming that trees falling does not make a sound (even in an observerless setting) must assume the burden of proof in this regard. Why doesn't it make a sound? As I have aptly shown that sound is the logical conclusion of a tree falling, setting this conclusion asunder would take a remarkable argument indeed.
Debate Round No. 1
Umasi93

Con

I originally went against the notion of a tree falling and making a noise because sound as it is understood will not occur.

Sound -the sensation produced by stimulation of the organs of hearing by vibrations transmitted through the air or other medium.

Under this definition of sound, no noise occurred cause their was nothing to pick up the sound.

further, that dust could have been caused by anything :]

so In conclusion even if the conditions for sound were present no sound happened since no body capable of hearing was around to hear it.

George Berkeley responded to this question with something that sums it up.

"to be[the sound and the tree creating the sound] is to be perceived"
Tatarize

Pro

>>Sound -the sensation produced by stimulation of the organs of hearing by vibrations transmitted through the air or other medium.

Hardly. Sound is a particle/pressure wave regardless of anything sensing it. Do the stars shine when the sun is up? Does the sun shine when my eyes are closed? Does Jupiter exist if I don't know where it is?

Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away. Likewise, when you don't see, feel, taste, or smell it... it doesn't lack the characteristics it possesses. I understand the philosophical underpinnings of the argument, but to me it has always seemed the peak of egoism to say that if I never perceived it... it didn't fricking happen.
Debate Round No. 2
Umasi93

Con

For my last argument I will like to say that all those examples are in the end irrelevant.

Just in case Ill say this is about sound. the purpose of sound like said is to be heard. getting out of philosophy and going into grammar sound means something that is capable of being heard. This definition of it relies on how you interpret the literal meaning of capable.

I hope that those reviewing this article will agree with me when I say that since that pressure wave is not capable of being heard therefore it cannot be called a sound. these sound waves will not actually sound like anything.

Sound was coined to describe what is heard. If nothing is heard then no sound happened. Sound is not an essence and is a perception not an actual law of physics.

thanks for your input on this debate Tatarize. :]
Tatarize

Pro

>>the purpose of sound like said is to be heard.

And the purpose of light is to be seen? And yet, we cannot see the light of many galaxies unless we focus an amazing piece at the right part of the sky for a long time. Sound doesn't have a discrete purpose. Sound is a wave of particles clacking against each other like one of those click-clack metal ball toys. There's a lot of useful information in those waves and we've evolved ears to detect such sounds. The ear is to detect sound. The sound is not to be detected by the ear. It's a flipped up bit of nonsense.

>>getting out of philosophy and going into grammar sound means something that is capable of being heard.

Certainly it is capable of being heard. If a tree falls in outer space, and nobody is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Categorically no. Because there can be no sound in outer space. However there can be sound within an atmosphere and trees are well known to produce sounds. What is the difference between these two hypotheticals? The existence of atmosphere. It is the existence of atmosphere rather than existence of hearers to judge whether sound is made or not.

Do electric fields exist? There are organs on sharks which allow them to detect electric fields. Humans lack these. So Humans are electric-field blind and cannot detect them. Do they therefore not exist?

>>Sound was coined to describe what is heard.

Our ears are well evolved to detect sound, you make it seem as though we invented sound by the very nature of being human and egoistic.

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I could go on and on, but simply because we are bad at detecting something or don't detect it does not imply that that doesn't exist. We are limited not only in our perception of things but in the interpretation of those things we do perceive. The philosophy that suggests that those things which aren't detected aren't real is a very narrow view of the world hardly a step above solipsism.
Debate Round No. 3
17 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Tony_B 8 years ago
Tony_B
I agree that sound can be defined as a particle/pressure/heat wave moving through a medium. However, does this also apply to radio/GSM/Blue tooth etc signals which also by definition obey the same propagation laws? Would you deem it fit to tune your Radio into an appropriate "sound"?
If not, then at what frequency does a 'sound wave' transform into a 'radio wave'. Are they expecting the application of a minimal discernable signal to gauge whether the sound waves reaching us are acceptable? if they do then you could imagine a distance from the tree that you could jump between the sound existing and not according to the CON. In reality the sound waves generated by the energy of the tree falling would reach people (no matter how far), however the attenuation of the signal would be so high that it would not be consciously detected by anyones ears.
It is for this reason I think it is the statement itself that is flawed, in that it does not specify whether it is questioning the 'audible sound' resulting from the tree falling.
Posted by gahbage 8 years ago
gahbage
So Con, according to your reasoning, if I cannot sense an incredibly high-pitched ringing, is it still there?
Posted by camelunfiltered 8 years ago
camelunfiltered
The fact that a person was not there during the incident does not stop the tree from transmitting vibrations through the air and creating sound when falling. The speculative and philosophical arguments are irrelevant. It is purely scientific fact.
Posted by Zerosmelt 8 years ago
Zerosmelt
that isn't to say that i in anyway agree with umasi's statement:
"events exist only because they are capable of being perceived."

I would certainly assert that the tree did fall, and that it did create particle vibrations.

its just that if said vibrations are never heard, sensed, or detected then there was no sound. sound much like color is an illusion. which doesn't mean its not real. Its just a way of interpreting external physical information. For example nothing in the world is actually red. there are photons that are emitted from certain objects at a specific frequency and when Humans collect these photons in their retinas we interpret this frequency as red. but the said object is not actually red.

I would argue that sound works in just the same way. It is a phenomenological sensation for interpreting physical information. this is evidenced by the fact that some people's brains are cross wired in such a way that they hear colors or see sounds...
Posted by Zerosmelt 8 years ago
Zerosmelt
a tree falling in the woods with no one to hear it cannot make a sound since sound is inherently a phenomenological characteristic. Existing only in our minds. The tree may make air molecules vibrate... but it could not make a sound.
Posted by CP 8 years ago
CP
nice work tatarize. I came into this debate disagreeing with your stance, but you cleverly pulled me over to your side.
Posted by Umasi93 8 years ago
Umasi93
Your entitled to your own view on what an exists but to me.
Sound exists solely as an event, and events exist only because they are capable of being perceived.

please don't be angry or frustrated at me for not agreeing with you on this.
Posted by Umasi93 8 years ago
Umasi93
owell, I the end it seems no one understood what I meant. To me sound is a event that happens when those waves everyone likes reach a living things ears.

Just like time is not a reality but a concept. So is sound as it wouldent exist if it werent for living things.
Posted by Umasi93 8 years ago
Umasi93
Puck, Im not saying that pressure waves didnt happen, Im saying that sound, in its definition and general purpose of the word didnt.
Posted by Puck 8 years ago
Puck
"But just to put it out their how can you prove that any change in pressure creating a sound wave."

Proof is not required as it is based on physical laws. It will occur without observation. Simply because I can not set foot on the moon or see it at midday does not stop it influencing tides. Likewise when a tree falls, the creation of waves of air pressure will still occur. To argue otherwise is to argue for a solipsist existence where nothing can be known but what occurs in ones own mind.
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