When Conspiracists Psychoanalyze

LilWabbit

Senior Member
Really? Intuition is reliable? Even more than that, it's as reliable as science? Some intuitions may be reliable, just as a stopped clock, the big problem being you then need a means to tell which among the innumerable intuitions are the reliable ones. That is to say, science.

I didn't discuss intuition as a generic vague quality in my response to your question but a very specific type of abstract awareness of a mind-independent reality or an epistemological question. So therefore it's already a derailment for us to discuss 'intuition' and what 'intuition' means or doesn't mean. Rather, you should address my specific response and pinpoint errors in it.

Most scientists base their whole work on this cognitive faculty (awareness of a mind-independent reality as an obvious truth). How can such a faculty, when fully alert, then be considered less reliable than the entire domain of inquiry based on it.

Btw: we're drifting much off-topic. This exchange would be better moved to rambles I think.

You're probably right, albeit this does relate to the psychology of a skeptic as stated in the initial fallacy.

The burden to prove that there are no other reliable means to acquire knowledge besides science is on the claimant/upholder of this philosophical belief (i.e. scientism) which assumes without evidence the relative unreliability of all other means of inquiry. There's basis to say some other means of inquiry -- such as fuzzy logic, blind belief or intuition when intuition is defined as a cursory first impression on things -- are generally less reliable. But not the specific type of abstract awareness of reality or 'intuition' I referred to in my response.

Unless of course you demonstrate those particular abstract experiences (of a mind-independent reality and your epistemological question) aren't reliable.
 
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deirdre

Senior Member.
use anecdotal evidence

Article:

Bin Laden's global financial reach detailed


September 26, 2001
i'm iffy that one article is evidence of what mainstream view is.

Article:
Indeed, it began on the very day of bin Laden's greatest triumph. At first glance, the 9/11 assault looked like a stunning win for al-Qaeda, a ragtag band of jihadists who had bloodied the nose of the world's only superpower.

...
Editor's Note: Peter Bergen, CNN's national security analyst, is the director of the national security studies program at the New America Foundation. His latest book is "The Longest War: The Enduring Conflict Between America and al-Qaeda." This article first appeared at Time.com.


or even two
Article:
The story of how a small but influential cadre of Saudi officials supported a ragtag band of operatives from Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida terrorist network in 2001 has quickly become one of the most diplomatically delicate and anger-inducing pieces of the 9/11 narrative.


or three.
Article:
FP: . I think we have consistently described certainly the Taliban or AQ or ISIS as "ragtag group of" fill in the blank, and it diminishes from a consciousness level, what that threat might be. Because they don't look like us, they live differently than us.
 
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Aaron3

New Member
I'm very familiar with Fran Shure's arguments about cognitive dissonance. The idea that Americans are psychologically unable to accept the notion that their government could do something as bad as 9/11 has been massively debunked by history. Currently something like 20-30% of Americans believe a baby-eating cabal stole an election. And another 30% think that America is little more than a systemically racist genocidal settler patriarchy. Doesn't seem like it's hard at all for Americans to think ill of their government. So the aging Truthers have to come to terms with the fact that their whole movement failed to convince most people of anything and the absence of deathbed confessions gets louder and louder.
 

Vattic

New Member
Which other reliable means of acquiring knowledge would you suggest?
Depending on who you ask mathematics is or isn't a science.

I get the feeling that all this turns on how reliable it needs to be to count as reliable. As reliable as science in the long run? Not much if anything in my opinion.
 

LilWabbit

Senior Member
Depending on who you ask mathematics is or isn't a science.

I get the feeling that all this turns on how reliable it needs to be to count as reliable. As reliable as science in the long run? Not much if anything in my opinion.

Mathematical truth isn't a scientific truth in that it doesn't require observation for verification/falsification. It's a good example of a non-scientific field of inquiry into reliable truths about inferences regarding purely intellectual constructs. Some science relies on mathematics as a tool but this fact doesn't equate mathematics with science.

To recap, the epistemologically untrained (skeptic or not) often fail to realize that our consciousness experiencing and understanding profound mathematical, philosophical, political, ethical and even aesthetic ideas are abstract 'observations', sometimes compelling sensations of what is real similar to physical observations except for their abstraction. They can be consistent, repeatable, inter-subjective (objective) and dispassionate observations in much the same way physical scientific observations are. Sometimes even more so. One such abstract observation is us being aware that this is an epistemological discussion. Another one is us being aware that there's a world outside my imagination that is independent from it despite the fact that theoretically it could be just an amazingly persistent and consistent dream.

A sane and rational investigator may justifiably accept them as truths but only after examining them carefully and after they meet the foregoing epistemological standards. These abstract experiences are so real and so mundane in our everyday life that sometimes we forget they are actually 'metaphysical' in the sense that they haven't been successfully reduced to known physical properties. Scientifically we may say that they may or may not be successfully reduced to neuroscientific properties in the future. But that's another debate and speculation.

Which brings us back to the Skeptic's Paradox or the Materialist's Paradox, depending on which of these theories it's applied to. The paradox does not really concern the ‘moderate skeptic/agnostic/materialist’ who simply honestly acknowledges not consciously knowing things beyond the ken of physical science or immediate observations to exist while not ruling out the possibility of knowing in the future. The 'strong' skeptic, however, is usually either an unwitting or a conscious proponent (a swankier word for 'believer') of a positive philosophical claim, better known as empiricism and/or scientism. That is, the belief that only what is scientifically provable or physically observable is reliably knowable.

Which is simply not true as demonstrated earlier.

Logically, to make a positive claim on reliable knowledge being restricted to the domain of science, is to pronounce a blind metaphysical belief in a universe where any other possible domain of inquiry outside science and physical observation is forever bound to be inaccessible to reliable knowledge. Scientifically, however, there is no possible way to know such a sweeping truth about all reality. It's purely speculative. Such a notion resides principally in the realm of philosophy, unapproachable by science.

Scientism is just another scientifically unfalsifiable and unverifiable philosophical theory, often motivated by an understandable historical yet emotional aversion to the intrusive preachiness of fanatics and superstitious believers, insisting that you blindly swallow evidently absurd, and even harmful, ideas as truth, while judging you fiercely for their rejection.

Against this backdrop scientism is understandable and a logical counter-reaction. But in so doing it allows the pendulum to swing to another epistemological extreme and ending up becoming another belief-system.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
Depending on who you ask mathematics is or isn't a science.
Mathematics is the science of (abstract) structures of thought.

When we look at reality, our brain tries to make sense of it by recognizing structure: for example, similar objects can be counted. Mathematics is a method to talk precisely about those structures, and to "prefabricate" insights that always apply to structures with certain properties.

Computer science is related to mathematics in that it deals with abstract processes.
They're both sub-fields of philosophy, in that they examine aspects of how we think.

When precise thinking is needed, but people avoid mathematics, that's usually a sign of underlying issues with that endeavour: there's a structure to their thinking that's supposed to stay hidden.
 

LilWabbit

Senior Member
Mathematics is the science of (abstract) structures of thought.

Article:
Mathematics is certainly a science in the broad sense of "systematic and formulated knowledge", but most people use "science" to refer only to the natural sciences. Since mathematics provides the language in which the natural sciences aspire to describe and analyse the universe, there is a natural link between mathematics and the natural sciences. Indeed schools, universities, and government agencies usually lump them together. (1) On the other hand, most mathematicians do not consider themselves to be scientists and vice versa. So is mathematics a natural science? (2)The natural sciences investigate the physical universe but mathematics does not, so mathematics is not really a natural science.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
The natural sciences investigate the physical universe but mathematics does not, so mathematics is not really a natural science.
Yes. I disagree with that, for the reasons stated. The structure of the physical universe is part of the physical universe.
 

LilWabbit

Senior Member
Yes. I disagree with that, for the reasons stated. The structure of the natural universe is part of the natural universe.

I think it's a false dichotomy to argue 'this definition is science' but 'the other is not'. It just depends in which sense we speak about science. If we speak about science in the overly generic sense of any systematic methodology of pursuing knowledge, then all sorts of things can be considered science. But this definition also suffers from blurry boundaries.

If, on the other hand, we talk about science in its historical context of how it emerged into a powerful domain of inquiry, the fundamental methodology of natural sciences (the systematic and integrated use of hypothesis-formulation, logical deduction and empirical observation) offers the basic model.
 

henrikmorsing

New Member
The world is super complex and there is rarely a simple explanation of anything, this is is my claim at least. What yourself might see as simple (mathematics, phography, etc), can be completely out of range for others. Yes there is conspiracies, but not all events are. Yes there are many unexplained phenomena, but it does not mean it it's not at trivial or natural thing. And, just because you don't understand something, does not mean it is not understood by someone else. Sometimes the simple explanation is the best one, but it can also be too simple. It's not that simple at all. The way I approach complex topics or tasks, is to break it down to elements I understand well, and try to build on that with new knowledge. One step at a time. That goes also when explaining something to others. Start with what they already understand well and build on that. Off course "understand" is a subjective term, so sometimes the discussion is about that, what we mean by "understand".
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
If, on the other hand, we talk about science in its historical context of how it emerged into a powerful domain of inquiry, the fundamental methodology of natural sciences (the systematic and integrated use of hypothesis-formulation, logical deduction and empirical observation) offers the basic model.
citation needed

in the "historical context", universities have always included mathematics and liberal arts among their areas of inquiry.

hypothesis-formulation and logical deduction are fundamental methodologies of mathematics, they originate in that field

don't build a "no true scotsman" fallacy with your "powerful domain of inquiry" rhetoric
 

LilWabbit

Senior Member
in the "historical context", universities have always included mathematics and liberal arts among their areas of inquiry.

Also philosophy. None of these facts render classical philosophy, mathematics or liberal arts as science in the sense understood when we talk about natural sciences.

hypothesis-formulation and logical deduction are fundamental methodologies of mathematics, they originate in that field

Not hypothesis-formulation but logical deduction, yes. Logical deduction, alone, doesn't make anything a science without the empirical component. Citation is needed to demonstrate the far more extraordinary claim (rather than my obvious statement) that science, in order to be a proper science, doesn't require the empirical component.
 

FatPhil

Senior Member.
I think it's a false dichotomy to argue 'this definition is science' but 'the other is not'. It just depends in which sense we speak about science. If we speak about science in the overly generic sense of any systematic methodology of pursuing knowledge, then all sorts of things can be considered science. But this definition also suffers from blurry boundaries.

If, on the other hand, we talk about science in its historical context of how it emerged into a powerful domain of inquiry, the fundamental methodology of natural sciences (the systematic and integrated use of hypothesis-formulation, logical deduction and empirical observation) offers the basic model.
Indeed. I'm at my core a pure mathematician, who will often be heard distancing maths from science in what appears to be a clear binary: it's not at one extreme edge of science - it's outside science. Clearly my default is to view science as natural science, which I flavour with liberal lashings of Popper and Bayes. However, when I encounter some definitions of science that deviate from that, I definitely don't consider them wrong, I will happily include mathematics in that fold. Different definitions can be useful in different contexts for different reasons. Dogmatically sticking to your own definition and rejecting others does nothing to help advance the discourse. This is why I like the logical distinction between axioms and postulates. I am prepared to put my postulates to one side, and run with yours - valid deductions will still be arrived at, as long as we do the process correctly.

This took far too long to find, possibly because I'd forgotten who'd said it, but the pith of it resonated and is relevant here. A philosophy prof, who had expected me to already be familiar with it, and thus it would be good common ground from where we could work, brought up this article during a late night discussion, and it touches upon how cleanly-defined, or otherwise, science is or should be. Here's the pith:
The remedy for all this confusion is simple: We must abandon the idea that science is distinct from the rest of human rationality. When you are adhering to the highest standards of logic and evidence, you are thinking scientifically. And when you’re not, you’re not.
Content from External Source
-- https://www.samharris.org/blog/our-narrow-definition-of-science
The difference between the science vs. philosophy dichotomy-or-not, and the maths vs. science one is mostly unimportant.

Were I to put my mathematician's hat on again, and desperately want to emphasise the separation, perhaps the wider field that contains both science and mathematics should be called "rationality". After all, you're not a true philosopher unless you've introduced new terminology, or at least mangled the old terminology!
 
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Mendel

Senior Member.
Also philosophy. None of these facts render classical philosophy, mathematics or liberal arts as science in the sense understood when we talk about natural sciences.
Thanks, your distinction between "science" and "natural sciences" supports my point.
Just say "natural sciences" when you mean that.

Not hypothesis-formulation but logical deduction, yes.
Fermat's Last Theorem may be the most famous hypothesis ever.

in order to be a proper science,
there's the "no true scotsman" I expected
 

LilWabbit

Senior Member
Thanks, your distinction between "science" and "natural sciences" supports my point.

Not your ignorant implication that science (yes, proper science, no moving of goal posts) need not have an empirical component which you happily ignored when pointed out. And instead thought invoking the True Scotsman goal-post analogy to my argument would obfuscate your blatant error.

Fermat's Last Theorem is a theorem. Math has lots of theorems. Not hypotheses which usually belong to science.
 

LilWabbit

Senior Member
Up until 1994 it was nothing more than a conjecture. Which is a hypothesis, to be proven.

In pure math people rarely talk about hypotheses (I've never heard, in fact) and you shouldn't mix mathematical proofs with scientific proofs. Totally different. Open up a thread and we can go deeper into these differences. They're not trivial.
 
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FatPhil

Senior Member.
In pure math people rarely talk about hypotheses (I've never heard, in fact)

Grrr - you were warned there's someone who identifies as a pure mathematician in this thread! The Riemann Hypothesis, with its extended and generalised forms, is literally one of the biggest things in pure maths. So much swings on it. It'll be an interesting result either way when it is finally resolved. It's even one of the few Millennium Prize problems from the Clay Institute - worth a sweet million if you get there first, alongside the Poincare Conjecture (the only one that's been proved, by Perelman 2 decades back), the Birch Swinnerton Dyer Conjecture, a solution to Navier Stokes (which is an odd one out, there's no reason to expect a solution to even exist), and P vs. NP.

RH and Generalized RH implications include
* Almost every deep question on primes
* Ranks of elliptic curves, Orders of class groups
* Quadratic forms (eg. Bhargava & Conway-Schneeberger style)
* Maximal orders of elements in permutation groups
* Running times for primality tests
* Thousands of results proved assuming the truth of RH and GRH
Content from External Source
-- Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OPGaSuhp7Tk
about 48 minutes in (emphasis in original)

Being non-experimental, there's very little difference between "conjecture" and "hypothesis" in mathematics - so "conjectures" fall into the same category as @Mendel's "hypotheses", they can have the same level of heuristic support, if you reject the importance of hypotheses, you must also reject the conjectures too. You don't want to go there, you'll see several references to important examples of those in this very post.
 

LilWabbit

Senior Member
Grrr - you were warned there's someone who identifies as a pure mathematician in this thread! The Riemann Hypothesis, with its extended and generalised forms, is literally one of the biggest things in pure maths.

But is it common to use the term "hypothesis" in pure math beyond the Riemann Hypothesis? It's common in natural science. Most of the pure mathematicians I've hung out and conversed with on the philosophical foundations of mathematics and formal logic (my training, we do have hypotheses in formal logic but it's quite different from a scientific hypothesis) do not refer to 'conjectures' as 'hypotheses'.

Article:
In mathematics, a hypothesis is an unproven statement which is supported by all the available data and by many weaker results. An unproven mathematical statement is usually called a “conjecture, and while experimentation can sometimes produce millions of examples to support a conjecture, usually nothing short of a proof can convince experts in the field. But when a conjecture is supported not only but all the available data but also by numerous weaker results, it is upgraded in label to a hypothesis. The most famous conjecture in mathematics is the Riemann hypothesis, which despite many attempts at a proof, is supported by many related results. The convexity conjecture, on the other hand, is considered “incompatible” with the nn-tuples conjecture and more results appear to support the latter, thus neither is upgraded to hypothesis.


And to repeat the pertinent point before veering entirely off topic, pure mathematical proof doesn't require empirical observation but logical deduction. Science does in order to be considered well-founded. 'Scientism' as an epistemological belief in the skeptic's psyche is usually a strongly empiricist philosophy
 
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FatPhil

Senior Member.
But is it common to use the term "hypothesis" in pure math beyond the Riemann Hypothesis? It's common in natural science. Most of the pure mathematicians I've hung out and conversed with on the philosophical foundations of mathematics and formal logic (my training, we do have hypotheses in formal logic but it's quite different from a scientific hypothesis) do not refer to 'conjectures' as 'hypotheses'.

Article:
In mathematics, a hypothesis is an unproven statement which is supported by all the available data and by many weaker results. An unproven mathematical statement is usually called a “conjecture, and while experimentation can sometimes produce millions of examples to support a conjecture, usually nothing short of a proof can convince experts in the field. But when a conjecture is supported not only but all the available data but also by numerous weaker results, it is upgraded in label to a hypothesis. The most famous conjecture in mathematics is the Riemann hypothesis, which despite many attempts at a proof, is supported by many related results. The convexity conjecture, on the other hand, is considered “incompatible” with the nn-tuples conjecture and more results appear to support the latter, thus neither is upgraded to hypothesis.


And to repeat the pertinent point before veering entirely off topic, pure mathematical proof doesn't require empirical observation but logical deduction. Science does in order to be considered well-founded. 'Scientism' as an epistemological belief in the skeptic's psyche is usually a strongly empiricist philosophy

Nowadays we do generally call them conjectures, but Riemann's has long standing. To be honest, the only other one with the name hypothesis that I can think of is the Continuum Hypothesis in set theory (there's no cardinality between that of the naturals and the reals). There are only two primes not of the form 6n+/-1. I've found counter-examples to your presumption, theoretically my work is done.

However, @Mendel was explicitly referring to conjectures, using the word "conjectures". His explication of his point contained the word hypotheses, and you jumping on that was definitely an unnecessary derailing of the thread. He knew what he was saying, I knew what he was saying. What were you digging for?
 

LilWabbit

Senior Member
Nowadays we do generally call them conjectures, but Riemann's has long standing. To be honest, the only other one with the name hypothesis that I can think of is the Continuum Hypothesis in set theory (there's no cardinality between that of the naturals and the reals). There are only two primes not of the form 6n+/-1. I've found counter-examples to your presumption, theoretically my work is done.

Thanks, useful clarification and not in disagreement with my earlier point on it being a rarity.

However, @Mendel was explicitly referring to conjectures, using the word "conjectures".

He was conflating mathematical conjecture with a hypothesis which is incorrect as demonstrated in the previous citation. There are many mathematical conjectures that are not mathematical hypotheses. But all (the few) mathematical hypotheses are also mathematical conjectures. The former is a subset of the latter. As a mathematician you know full well that precision matters.

His explication of his point contained the word hypotheses, and you jumping on that was definitely an unnecessary derailing of the thread. He knew what he was saying, I knew what he was saying. What were you digging for?

The derailment occurred earlier when he introduced a far more generic and blurry definition of science as an exclusive one (the false dichotomy between definitions of science, remember, which you agreed to being unnecessary and unhelpful) as if it had any bearing on the earlier points made on scientism as an unwitting or conscious assumption in many a skeptic's psyche. An assumption in which empirical evidence is considered a fundamental standard for reliable knowledge. Hence any reference to a 'science' where it's not employed as a standard is irrelevant and a derailment unless purporting to demonstrate that pure math needs no physical observation to produce reliable knowledge. Which I agree with 100 %.

Anyway, clarifying what we mean by science when we discuss the psychology of the skeptic regarding it the supreme standard of knowledge is, on second thought, not off-topic at all.
 
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