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Reversing alders razor.

keithprosser
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4/24/2016 10:42:50 AM
Posted: 7 months ago
Alder wrote that some people avoid debating topics that have no testable element. Turning that around, is it worth debating something that can be determined by experiment? For example would there be any point debating whether women are better drivers than men? Either they are or they ain't, and the result of a debate vote won't change which it is. So is 'redlA's razor' any use?
user13579
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4/24/2016 10:44:55 AM
Posted: 7 months ago
Alder's razor has no testable element!
Science in a nutshell:
"Facts are neither true nor false. They simply are."
"All scientific knowledge is provisional. Even facts are provisional."
"We can be absolutely certain that we have a moon, we can be absolutely certain that water is made out of H2O, and we can be absolutely certain that the Earth is a sphere!"
"Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty -- some most unsure, some nearly sure, none absolutely certain."
user13579
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4/24/2016 11:10:34 AM
Posted: 7 months ago
At 4/24/2016 10:42:50 AM, keithprosser wrote:
Alder wrote that some people avoid debating topics that have no testable element. Turning that around, is it worth debating something that can be determined by experiment? For example would there be any point debating whether women are better drivers than men? Either they are or they ain't, and the result of a debate vote won't change which it is. So is 'redlA's razor' any use?

What does it mean to be better (i.e., "more good")? Isn't that a subjective statement?
Science in a nutshell:
"Facts are neither true nor false. They simply are."
"All scientific knowledge is provisional. Even facts are provisional."
"We can be absolutely certain that we have a moon, we can be absolutely certain that water is made out of H2O, and we can be absolutely certain that the Earth is a sphere!"
"Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty -- some most unsure, some nearly sure, none absolutely certain."
keithprosser
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4/24/2016 12:52:07 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
If it was made specific, say which sex had fewer accidents per 1000 miles then there is nothing to debate - we just look up the stats. An example of reverse -Adler!

If we leave better undefined then it is likely no conclusion can be reached. If that makes the debate pointless and you don't want to carry on that would be Adler's razor in action. I propse a further razor. 'Debates about adlers razor are not worth having unless it's raining and you have nothing better to do'. You can guess the weather outside.
user13579
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4/24/2016 1:04:06 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
Every scientific theory is testable. But they are also debatable, because they are also falsifiable. We just assume that they're true for now, but they can really be false. We can debate whether they are true or false.
Science in a nutshell:
"Facts are neither true nor false. They simply are."
"All scientific knowledge is provisional. Even facts are provisional."
"We can be absolutely certain that we have a moon, we can be absolutely certain that water is made out of H2O, and we can be absolutely certain that the Earth is a sphere!"
"Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty -- some most unsure, some nearly sure, none absolutely certain."
user13579
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4/24/2016 1:17:46 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
just because something can be settled by experiment doesn't mean it is settled by experiment! There is not a single scientific theory that is settled by experiment, because they can only be proven false. As soon as a scientific theory is proven false, it's no longer a scientific theory! But a scientific theory can be proven false, i.e. there exists some experimental outcome that can prove it false.

But in meantime, a scientific theory can be debated as to whether it is true or false! It might be extremely unlikely for it to be false, but it can still be debated!
Science in a nutshell:
"Facts are neither true nor false. They simply are."
"All scientific knowledge is provisional. Even facts are provisional."
"We can be absolutely certain that we have a moon, we can be absolutely certain that water is made out of H2O, and we can be absolutely certain that the Earth is a sphere!"
"Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty -- some most unsure, some nearly sure, none absolutely certain."
keithprosser
Posts: 2,042
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4/24/2016 1:42:30 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
But suppose a skiled debater opposing, say, the law of gravity is up against a novice supporting it. The outcome of the debate has no relevance to reality. Scientific theorirs can be discussed, but true debates vshould be limited to social and political issues. It makes sense for the us senate to debate funding a search for life on Mars but not whether there is life on Mars.
user13579
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4/24/2016 2:01:02 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
At 4/24/2016 1:42:30 PM, keithprosser wrote:
But suppose a skiled debater opposing, say, the law of gravity is up against a novice supporting it. The outcome of the debate has no relevance to reality. Scientific theorirs can be discussed, but true debates vshould be limited to social and political issues. It makes sense for the us senate to debate funding a search for life on Mars but not whether there is life on Mars.

Debating the "law" (theory) of gravity (which one? General Relativity?) has extreme relevance to reality. Because there is actually more than one theory of gravity. We actually don't know whether GR is true or false. It can be falsified! By assuming GR is false, one can develop another theory of gravity right now! The debate would have to be between competing theories of gravity and each side showing the advantages and disadvantages of each theory. Right now, GR is basically crushing all opposing theories in such "debates".
Science in a nutshell:
"Facts are neither true nor false. They simply are."
"All scientific knowledge is provisional. Even facts are provisional."
"We can be absolutely certain that we have a moon, we can be absolutely certain that water is made out of H2O, and we can be absolutely certain that the Earth is a sphere!"
"Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty -- some most unsure, some nearly sure, none absolutely certain."
user13579
Posts: 822
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4/24/2016 2:26:56 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
General Relativity is as popular as it is because it had to "win" debates against other theories. Debating is used to determine which theories "should" be assumed to be true because we don't actually know which ones are true but we can't assume they're all true.
Science in a nutshell:
"Facts are neither true nor false. They simply are."
"All scientific knowledge is provisional. Even facts are provisional."
"We can be absolutely certain that we have a moon, we can be absolutely certain that water is made out of H2O, and we can be absolutely certain that the Earth is a sphere!"
"Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty -- some most unsure, some nearly sure, none absolutely certain."
user13579
Posts: 822
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4/24/2016 2:46:15 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
Debates about social/political issues tend to be debates about subjective value judgments. Subjective statements are neither true nor false and can never be proven true or false. Logic won't help you in a debate about something subjective. Only rhetoric will.
Science in a nutshell:
"Facts are neither true nor false. They simply are."
"All scientific knowledge is provisional. Even facts are provisional."
"We can be absolutely certain that we have a moon, we can be absolutely certain that water is made out of H2O, and we can be absolutely certain that the Earth is a sphere!"
"Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty -- some most unsure, some nearly sure, none absolutely certain."
keithprosser
Posts: 2,042
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4/24/2016 3:14:21 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
There are of course at least two sorts of debate. There is the competitive/adversarial type where the goal is simply to win the debate and the 'dialectic' debate where the object is to establish the truth.
It would be nice if the 'debate' side of ddo was for competitive debates and the forums for more dialectic debate. As I have no ambition to be a politician or a court-room lawyer I am not into competitive debating at all, so I stick to the forums. Unfortunately most forum debates are pretty adversarial too, but such is life!
So is this debate adversarial or dialectic?
user13579
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4/24/2016 3:46:42 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
What exactly are we even debating? "is it worth debating something that can be determined by experiment?" "Worth" by what measure?
Science in a nutshell:
"Facts are neither true nor false. They simply are."
"All scientific knowledge is provisional. Even facts are provisional."
"We can be absolutely certain that we have a moon, we can be absolutely certain that water is made out of H2O, and we can be absolutely certain that the Earth is a sphere!"
"Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty -- some most unsure, some nearly sure, none absolutely certain."
keithprosser
Posts: 2,042
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4/24/2016 4:24:47 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
I think an important aspect of philosophy is to expose assumptions and ambiguities, such as what does real or exists actally mean, so asking what worth means is fair game!
So suppose we were to debate 'gravity is always attractive'. It would take a master debater to win that is wasn't, but its conceivable it could happen. Of course the laws of physics are going to be bound by the result of a debate on ddo so that debate was surely not worth the effort. Indeed it might be even worse if it led people to believe the world is other than it is. Can you think of a justification for such a debate?
user13579
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4/24/2016 4:41:38 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
At 4/24/2016 4:24:47 PM, keithprosser wrote:
I think an important aspect of philosophy is to expose assumptions and ambiguities, such as what does real or exists actally mean, so asking what worth means is fair game!
So suppose we were to debate 'gravity is always attractive'. It would take a master debater to win that is wasn't, but its conceivable it could happen. Of course the laws of physics are going to be bound by the result of a debate on ddo so that debate was surely not worth the effort. Indeed it might be even worse if it led people to believe the world is other than it is. Can you think of a justification for such a debate?

"Gravity is always attractive" sounds unfalsifiable, actually. Any failure of it to match observation can be explained away by saying the gravitational force was not present. Something unfalsifiable cannot be settled by experiment. You want a statement that can be settled by experiment, right?
Science in a nutshell:
"Facts are neither true nor false. They simply are."
"All scientific knowledge is provisional. Even facts are provisional."
"We can be absolutely certain that we have a moon, we can be absolutely certain that water is made out of H2O, and we can be absolutely certain that the Earth is a sphere!"
"Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty -- some most unsure, some nearly sure, none absolutely certain."
user13579
Posts: 822
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4/24/2016 9:32:41 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
You would need to make a falsifiable statement first. Something like "every mass attracts every other mass, and we are calling the cause of that attraction gravity". That would be falsifiable, because if your calculations ("observations") show that there are two masses that aren't attracting each other, then you have proven that theory false. If "every mass attracts every other mass, and we are calling the cause of that attraction gravity" is true, then "gravity is always attractive" follows. The only problem is that "every mass attracts every other mass, and we are calling the cause of that attraction gravity" can never be proven true! It can only be proven false. And even if it was proven false, that would not actually prove "gravity is always attractive" is false! If you find two masses that do not attract each other, you could just say that gravity isn't universal!
Science in a nutshell:
"Facts are neither true nor false. They simply are."
"All scientific knowledge is provisional. Even facts are provisional."
"We can be absolutely certain that we have a moon, we can be absolutely certain that water is made out of H2O, and we can be absolutely certain that the Earth is a sphere!"
"Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty -- some most unsure, some nearly sure, none absolutely certain."
user13579
Posts: 822
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4/25/2016 7:11:16 AM
Posted: 7 months ago
So you want to debate "Every mass attracts every other mass (and we are calling that attraction the gravitational force aka "gravity")"? That sounds relevant to reality, especially since there is really not a completely solid explanation for why that even happens or how "fast" that force "travels".
Science in a nutshell:
"Facts are neither true nor false. They simply are."
"All scientific knowledge is provisional. Even facts are provisional."
"We can be absolutely certain that we have a moon, we can be absolutely certain that water is made out of H2O, and we can be absolutely certain that the Earth is a sphere!"
"Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty -- some most unsure, some nearly sure, none absolutely certain."
keithprosser
Posts: 2,042
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4/25/2016 7:50:06 AM
Posted: 7 months ago
I would day that you would win almost any competitive debate against me ie get the most votes by a wide margin!

My point is that regardless of who gets the most votes gravity will be exactly the same afyr the debate as it was before. Some good might come if it if the skilled debate happened to be arfing for the true nature of gravity, but what if thatcwasnt the case? And if the true nature of gravity is unknown, what happened was no more than an exercise to sharpen ones rhetorical skills.

Alders razor does not say that certain debates can't happen because they are logically inconsistent nor that debates have to be worth having. Would a debate on 'gravity is always attractive,' (you may take pro or con) against me be worth having given that you win either way?
keithprosser
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4/25/2016 7:57:57 AM
Posted: 7 months ago
Postscript-: sorry for the typo over load above. Im using my phone on a dodgy link. Considering I am in Harar Ethiopia it is sobering how connected the world is now.
user13579
Posts: 822
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4/25/2016 8:13:31 AM
Posted: 7 months ago
At 4/25/2016 7:50:06 AM, keithprosser wrote:
Alders razor does not say that certain debates can't happen because they are logically inconsistent nor that debates have to be worth having. Would a debate on 'gravity is always attractive,' (you may take pro or con) against me be worth having given that you win either way?

"Gravity is always attractive" is not falsifiable. It's meaningless. If I calculate that there are two masses that affect each other as though there were no gravity, then I could just say that gravity doesn't affect everything, but is always attractive when it does affect things. Only falsifiable statements can be settled by experiment. "Gravity is always attractive" cannot be settled by experiment. By Alder's razor it is not worth debating! Unfalsifiable statements are essentially meaningless statements, and that's why they're not worth debating. Alder's razor is just another way of saying unfalsifiable statements are not worth debating.

So, my answer is no.
Science in a nutshell:
"Facts are neither true nor false. They simply are."
"All scientific knowledge is provisional. Even facts are provisional."
"We can be absolutely certain that we have a moon, we can be absolutely certain that water is made out of H2O, and we can be absolutely certain that the Earth is a sphere!"
"Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty -- some most unsure, some nearly sure, none absolutely certain."
keithprosser
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4/25/2016 9:03:52 AM
Posted: 7 months ago
That would seem to validate alders razor. People have so much fun 'proving' it is paradoxical they miss if it is any sort of logical proposition it's more like a tautology or truism: pointless debates are pointless.
An appropriate place to end our chat, perhaps?
user13579
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4/25/2016 9:15:08 AM
Posted: 7 months ago
You wanted me to assume Alder's razor, so I did. I assumed Alder's razor is true, and that means "gravity is always attractive" would not be worth debating. The problem is this also leads to a contradiction if Alder's razor is assumed to be true (see other thread).
Science in a nutshell:
"Facts are neither true nor false. They simply are."
"All scientific knowledge is provisional. Even facts are provisional."
"We can be absolutely certain that we have a moon, we can be absolutely certain that water is made out of H2O, and we can be absolutely certain that the Earth is a sphere!"
"Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty -- some most unsure, some nearly sure, none absolutely certain."
user13579
Posts: 822
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4/25/2016 9:48:50 AM
Posted: 7 months ago
Unfalsifiable statements cannot be settled by experiment, but not all statements that cannot be settled by experiment are unfalsifiable! Careful. For example, "Reality is not real." is just plain false (i.e., it is not unfalsifiable), but it cannot be settled by experiment.
Science in a nutshell:
"Facts are neither true nor false. They simply are."
"All scientific knowledge is provisional. Even facts are provisional."
"We can be absolutely certain that we have a moon, we can be absolutely certain that water is made out of H2O, and we can be absolutely certain that the Earth is a sphere!"
"Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty -- some most unsure, some nearly sure, none absolutely certain."
user13579
Posts: 822
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4/25/2016 9:55:20 AM
Posted: 7 months ago
How about "This sentence is false" cannot be settled by experiment. It is clearly worth debating. Is it falsifiable?
Science in a nutshell:
"Facts are neither true nor false. They simply are."
"All scientific knowledge is provisional. Even facts are provisional."
"We can be absolutely certain that we have a moon, we can be absolutely certain that water is made out of H2O, and we can be absolutely certain that the Earth is a sphere!"
"Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty -- some most unsure, some nearly sure, none absolutely certain."
keithprosser
Posts: 2,042
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4/25/2016 10:07:28 AM
Posted: 7 months ago
I didn't mean to ask you to assume alder is true. Adler is not a logical proposition. It is rule for identifying futile debates. Keith's razor is 'debates with 3 word topics are not worth debating'. Both Adler and my razor divide debates into 2 categories - worthwhile and not worth while. But I think it is clear my razor would get it wrong most of the time!

According to Adler, many people behave as if his razor was right. Of course they don't consciously think of adlers razor and apply it... They just avoid debates with no testable resolution.

At the top of this thread I suggest a rule that might identify what debates are worth having and which aren't which a debater or debate organiser might consider applying. If you want to pick and chose between debates you now have three rules you might or might not want to apply. Or of course you can choose according to any other rule or none. What razor do you use to choose which debates to join?
user13579
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4/25/2016 10:12:58 AM
Posted: 7 months ago
I can say that unfalsifiable statements are not worth debating. That's actually not the same thing as Alder's razor, because some statements that cannot be settled by experiment are not unfalsifiable. Now I have to make sure my first statement doesn't contradict itself. lol.
Science in a nutshell:
"Facts are neither true nor false. They simply are."
"All scientific knowledge is provisional. Even facts are provisional."
"We can be absolutely certain that we have a moon, we can be absolutely certain that water is made out of H2O, and we can be absolutely certain that the Earth is a sphere!"
"Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty -- some most unsure, some nearly sure, none absolutely certain."
user13579
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4/25/2016 10:20:05 AM
Posted: 7 months ago
Like unsolved problems in math. For example, "the axioms of ZF set theory are consistent" cannot be settled by experiment. It is worth debating because we don't know if it's true or false yet. Alder's razor would say it's not worth debating, but it is clearly worth debating.
Science in a nutshell:
"Facts are neither true nor false. They simply are."
"All scientific knowledge is provisional. Even facts are provisional."
"We can be absolutely certain that we have a moon, we can be absolutely certain that water is made out of H2O, and we can be absolutely certain that the Earth is a sphere!"
"Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty -- some most unsure, some nearly sure, none absolutely certain."
keithprosser
Posts: 2,042
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4/25/2016 10:38:49 AM
Posted: 7 months ago
User13579's razor is a name that won't catch on.
No danger of your razor being paradoxical. If it turns out a debate on your razor is not worth while then such a debate would only be futile, not paradoxical. Razors aren't propositions.
Even Occam's razor is only pragmatically useful. If a rival of newton had suggested general relativity it would have been rejected by Occam's razor in the light of 17th century knowledge despite it being nearer the truth than newtons theory.
user13579
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4/25/2016 10:53:04 AM
Posted: 7 months ago
Still, Alder's razor has flaws to it. We can't debate unsolved problems in math because they can't be settled by experiment! By that reasoning, nobody should develop any more mathematics. I guess philosophy is pointless too, because none of it can be settled by experiment.
Science in a nutshell:
"Facts are neither true nor false. They simply are."
"All scientific knowledge is provisional. Even facts are provisional."
"We can be absolutely certain that we have a moon, we can be absolutely certain that water is made out of H2O, and we can be absolutely certain that the Earth is a sphere!"
"Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty -- some most unsure, some nearly sure, none absolutely certain."
user13579
Posts: 822
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4/25/2016 10:54:11 AM
Posted: 7 months ago
We should shut down this thread because it can't be settled by experiment! That's the problem with Alder's razor.
Science in a nutshell:
"Facts are neither true nor false. They simply are."
"All scientific knowledge is provisional. Even facts are provisional."
"We can be absolutely certain that we have a moon, we can be absolutely certain that water is made out of H2O, and we can be absolutely certain that the Earth is a sphere!"
"Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty -- some most unsure, some nearly sure, none absolutely certain."
keithprosser
Posts: 2,042
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4/25/2016 11:47:18 AM
Posted: 7 months ago
Alder would not agree this thread be shut down, at least not on the basis of the principle his name is attached to. Alder 's article is all about why debates with no testable consequences are worthwhile. He thinks people who apply the criterion ' a debate with no testable consequences is not worth having' are wrong. Some how that has mutated and a lot of people think that alder advocated that criteron, or he claimed it was a grand logical principle like the modus ponens. Out of context that is how 'allders razor' appears but its the complete opposite of the truth.