Another Crank comes to visit: The Cognitive Theoretic Model of the Universe

Feb 11 2011 Published by under Bad Physics

When an author of one of the pieces that I mock shows up, I try to bump them up to the top of the queue. No matter how crackpotty they are, I think that if they've gone to the trouble to come and defend their theories, they deserve a modicum of respect, and giving them a fair chance to get people to see their defense is the least I can do.

A couple of years ago, I wrote about the Cognitive Theoretic Model of the Universe. Yesterday, the author of that piece showed up in the comments. It's a two-year-old post, which was originally written back at ScienceBlogs - so a discussion in the comments there isn't going to get noticed by anyone. So I'm reposting it here, with some revisions.

Stripped down to its basics, the CTMU is just yet another postmodern "perception defines the universe" idea. Nothing unusual about it on that level. What makes it interesting is that it tries to take a set-theoretic approach to doing it. (Although, to be a tiny bit fair, he claims that he's not taking a set theoretic approach, but rather demonstrating why a set theoretic approach won't work. Either way, I'd argue that it's more of a word-game than a real theory, but whatever...)

The real universe has always been theoretically treated as an object, and specifically as the composite type of object known as a set. But an object or set exists in space and time, and reality does not. Because the real universe by definition contains all that is real, there is no "external reality" (or space, or time) in which it can exist or have been "created". We can talk about lesser regions of the real universe in such a light, but not about the real universe as a whole. Nor, for identical reasons, can we think of the universe as the sum of its parts, for these parts exist solely within a spacetime manifold identified with the whole and cannot explain the manifold itself. This rules out pluralistic explanations of reality, forcing us to seek an explanation at once monic (because nonpluralistic) and holistic (because the basic conditions for existence are embodied in the manifold, which equals the whole). Obviously, the first step towards such an explanation is to bring monism and holism into coincidence.

Right from the start, we can see the beginnings of how he's going to use a supposedly set-theoretic notion, in a very peculiar way. I don't know anyone who seriously thinks that the universe is a set. Sets are a tool that we use to construct abstract models that describe things. The universe isn't a set; it's the universe. And yet a huge part of his argument is, ultimately, based on "disproving" the idea that the universe is a set, based on silly word-games.

And also, right from the beginning, we can see exactly the kind of semantic games he's going to play. He manages to say pretty much nothing about the universe - all he's doing is playing with the semantics of the words "Universe", "real", "holistic", etc.

I particularly love this next bit.

When theorizing about an all-inclusive reality, the first and most important principle is containment, which simply tells us what we should and should not be considering. Containment principles, already well known in cosmology, generally take the form of tautologies; e.g., "The physical universe contains all and only that which is physical." The predicate "physical", like all predicates, here corresponds to a structured set, "the physical universe" (because the universe has structure and contains objects, it is a structured set). But this usage of tautology is somewhat loose, for it technically amounts to a predicate-logical equivalent of propositional tautology called autology, meaning self-description. Specifically, the predicate physical is being defined on topological containment in the physical universe, which is tacitly defined on and descriptively contained in the predicate physical, so that the self-definition of "physical" is a two-step operation involving both topological and descriptive containment. While this principle, which we might regard as a statement of "physicalism", is often confused with materialism on the grounds that "physical" equals "material", the material may in fact be only a part of what makes up the physical. Similarly, the physical may only be a part of what makes up the real. Because the content of reality is a matter of science as opposed to mere semantics, this issue can be resolved only by rational or empirical evidence, not by assumption alone.

After a particularly egregious exercise in english semantics, in which he does nothing but play with word meanings, coming nowhere near actually saying anything, but using lots of impressive-looking words, he concludes that it "is a matter of science as opposed to mere semantics". Rich!

He spends some more time rambling about semantics of words like "physicalism", "materialism", and "containment", before finally getting to the part that's got any math content at all.

Now for a brief word on sets. Mathematicians view set theory as fundamental. Anything can be considered an object, even a space or a process, and wherever there are objects, there is a set to contain them. This "something" may be a relation, a space or an algebraic system, but it is also a set; its relational, spatial or algebraic structure simply makes it a structured set. So mathematicians view sets, broadly including null, singleton, finite and infinite sets, as fundamental objects basic to meaningful descriptions of reality. It follows that reality itself should be a set...in fact, the largest set of all. But every set, even the largest one, has a powerset which contains it, and that which contains it must be larger (a contradiction). The obvious solution: define an extension of set theory incorporating two senses of "containment" which work together in such a way that the largest set can be defined as "containing" its powerset in one sense while being contained by its powerset in the other. Thus, it topologically includes itself in the act of descriptively including itself in the act of topologically including itself..., and so on, in the course of which it obviously becomes more than just a set.

First - he gets the definition of set wrong. He's talking about naive set theory, which we know is unsound. And in fact, he's talking about exactly the kinds of inclusion issues that lead to the unsoundness of naive set theory!

Then he uses semantic word-games to argue that the universe can't be a set according to set theory, because the universe is the largest thing there is, but set theory says that you can always create something larger by taking a powerset. What does he conclude from this pointless exercise? That playing word-games doesn't tell you anything about the universe? No, that makes too much sense. That naive set theory perhaps isn't a great model for the physical universe? No, still too much sense. No, he concludes that this problem of word-games means that set theory is wrong, and must be expanded to include the contradiction of the largest thing being both smaller than its powerset and larger than its powerset.

Yes, the solution is to take an unsound mathematical theory, and make it doubly unsound.

In the Cognitive-Theoretic Model of the Universe or CTMU, the set of all sets, and the real universe to which it corresponds, take the name (SCSPL) of the required extension of set theory. SCSPL, which stands for Self-Configuring Self-Processing Language, is just a totally intrinsic, i.e. completely self-contained, language that is comprehensively and coherently (self-distributively) self-descriptive, and can thus be model-theoretically identified as its own universe or referent domain. Theory and object go by the same name because unlike conventional ZF or NBG set theory, SCSPL hologically infuses sets and their elements with the distributed (syntactic, metalogical) component of the theoretical framework containing and governing them, namely SCSPL syntax itself, replacing ordinary set-theoretic objects with SCSPL syntactic operators. The CTMU is so-named because the SCSPL universe, like the set of all sets, distributively embodies the logical syntax of its own descriptive mathematical language. It is thus not only self-descriptive in nature; where logic denotes the rules of cognition (reasoning, inference), it is self-cognitive as well. (The terms "SCSPL" and "hology" are explained further below; to skip immediately to the explanations, just click on the above links.)

(His text refers to "the above links", but in fact, the document doesn't contain any links.)

Now... on the one hand, he claims that I've misrepresented him by saying that he's talking about the universe using a set-theoretic framework. And yet, what is this but an extremely ill-defined variation of naive set theory?

This is pure muddle. It's hard to figure out what he even thinks he's doing. It's clear that he believes he's inventing a new kind of set theory, which he calls a "self-processing language", and he goes on to get very muddled about the differences between syntax and semantics, and between a model and what it models. I have no idea what he means by "replacing set-theoretic objects with syntactic operators" - but I do know that what he wrote makes no sense - it's sort of like saying "I'm going to fix the sink in my bathroom by replacing the leaky washer with the color blue", or "I'm going to fly to the moon by correctly spelling my left leg."

From there who moves to adding a notion of time, which he seems to believe can be done using nothing but set theory. Unfortunately, that makes no sense at all: he wants to somehow say that sets have time properties, without modifying the sets, modeling the time property, or in fact anything at all - once again, he just throws around lots of terminology in meaningless ways:

An act is a temporal process, and self-inclusion is a spatial relation. The act of self-inclusion is thus "where time becomes space"; for the set of all sets, there can be no more fundamental process. No matter what else happens in the evolving universe, it must be temporally embedded in this dualistic self-inclusion operation. In the CTMU, the self-inclusion process is known as conspansion and occurs at the distributed, Lorentz-invariant conspansion rate c, a time-space conversion factor already familiar as the speed of light in vacuo (conspansion consists of two alternative phases accounting for the wave and particle properties of matter and affording a logical explanation for accelerating cosmic expansion). When we imagine a dynamic self-including set, we think of a set growing larger and larger in order to engulf itself from without. But since there is no "without" relative to the real universe, external growth or reference is not an option; there can be no external set or external descriptor. Instead, self-inclusion and self-description must occur inwardly as the universe stratifies into a temporal sequence of states, each state topologically and computationally contained in the one preceding it (where the conventionally limited term computation is understood to refer to a more powerful SCSPL-based concept, protocomputation, involving spatiotemporal parallelism). On the present level of discourse, this inward self-inclusion is the conspansive basis of what we call spacetime.

I can't make head or tails out of this. It's just word-games, trying to throw in as many fancy-sounding terms as possible. What on earth does Lorentz invariance have to do with this muddle? LI means something quite specific, and he's done nothing to connect any of this rubbish to it. He's just throwing around words: "conspansion", "lorentz invariance", "protocomputation".

But it gets worse. We get yet more of his confusion about just what "syntax" means:

Every object in spacetime includes the entirety of spacetime as a state-transition syntax according to which its next state is created. This guarantees the mutual consistency of states and the overall unity of the dynamic entity the real universe. And because the sole real interpretation of the set-theoretic entity "the set of all sets" is the entire real universe, the associated foundational paradoxes are resolved in kind (by attributing mathematical structure like that of the universe to the pure, uninterpreted set-theoretic version of the set of all sets). Concisely, resolving the set-of-all-sets paradox requires that (1) an endomorphism or self-similarity mapping D:S-->rÎS be defined for the set of all sets S and its internal points r; (2) there exist two complementary senses of inclusion, one topological [S Ét D(S)] and one predicative [D(S) Éd S], that allow the set to descriptively "include itself" from within, i.e. from a state of topological self-inclusion (where Ét denotes topological or set-theoretic inclusion and Éd denotes descriptive inclusion, e.g. the inclusion in a language of its referents); and (3) the input S of D be global and structural, while the output D(S) = (r Éd S) be internal to S and play a syntactic role. In short, the set-theoretic and cosmological embodiments of the self-inclusion paradox are resolved by properly relating the self-inclusive object to the descriptive syntax in terms of which it is necessarily expressed, thus effecting true self-containment: "the universe (set of all sets) is that which topologically contains that which descriptively contains the universe (set of all sets)."

Yes, lucky us, more wordplay!

The thing to notice here is right in the first sentence: "Every object in spacetime includes the entirety of spacetime as a state-transition syntax". Spacetime isn't a syntax. Like I said before, it's like talking about spelling your leg. An object can't be a syntax. A syntax is a method of writing down a sequence of symbols that expresses some logical statement. An object in spacetime can't "include the universe as a state transition syntax".

What I think he's trying to say here is that we can describe objects in the universe as state transition systems, in which the state of an object plus the state of the universe can be used to compute the next state of the object. But he doesn't understand that a syntax and a system are different things. And he seems to think that the idea of describing the universe as a state transition system is somehow profound and original. It's not. I've read papers proposing state-transition semantics for the universe dating back to the 1950s, and I'd be surprised if people like von Neumann hadn't though of it even earlier than that.

The rest of that paragraph is yet more of his silly word-games, trying to cope with the self-created paradox of inclusion and size in his mangled set theory.

At this point, I'm going to stop bothering to quote any more of his stuff. The basic point of his argument, and the basic problems that pervade it are all abundantly clear after this much, and you've already experienced as much fun as your going to by laughing at his foolishness.

To recap: this "theory" of his has three problems, each of which is individually enough to discard it; with the three of them together, it's a virtual masterpiece of crap.

  1. The "theory" consists mostly of word-games - arguing about the meanings of words like "universe" and "inclusion", without actually explaining anything about how the universe works. It's a theory with no predictive or descriptive value.
  2. The "theory" is defined by creating a new version of set theory, whose axioms are never stated, and whose specific goal guarantees that it will be an unsound theory. Unsound mathematical theories are useless: every possible statement is provable in an unsound theory.
  3. The author doesn't understand the difference between syntax and semantics, between objects and models, or between statements and facts - and because of that, the basic statements in his theory are utterly meaningless.

1,012 responses so far

  • Tinyboss says:

    Could he be trying to pull a reverse-Sokal on us?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sokal_affair

  • eric says:

    SCSPL, which stands for Self-Configuring Self-Processing Language, is just a totally intrinsic, i.e. completely self-contained, language that is comprehensively and coherently (self-distributively) self-descriptive, and can thus be model-theoretically identified as its own universe or referent domain

    This doesn't sound like relatvism, it sounds more like logical positivism to me.

    Well, it really sounds most like the gobbledigook Sokal made fun of, but if I pretend for the moment that there is some actual meaning behind the words, that meaning is more like a version of positivism than it is relativism. He's trying to construct some perfect (mathematical) language with a vocabulary that, in some undefinable way, has a one-to-one relationship with things in reality. There is also no indication (at least in these excerpts) that he thinks reality can be manipulated by people in the way that typically characterizes strong forms of relativism. So he's missing one of the 'red flags.'

    Final thought - it seems distinctly odd for someone so obsessed with the idea of sets to claim right out of the gate to reject reductionism in favor of 'monism.' When you model some subject as a set, you are almost by definition doing a form of reductionism.

  • Chris Langan says:

    Good grief. And here I was hoping we could leave it on a semi-pleasant note.

    Unfortunately, instead of retiring to write something vaguely constructive, Mark has now created a third rudely-titled "crank" page for me where previously there were only two, and without my original responses (in which I roughly explained what I was actually trying to convey). Instead, I’m now invited to start over from scratch in "defending my theory".

    It’s an old game, and everybody knows it all too well. The target is supposed to enhance the reputation of the critic by pretending that the critic is legitimate while bumping up the critic’s hit count with his “defense”, despite the obvious lack of any willingness on the part of the critic to give an inch under any circumstances, even if somebody puts a blueberry-math pie in his face.

    This, of course, leaves me with no rational alternative but to point out that Mark is not a legitimate critic. In fact, Mark is incompetent. Thus, instead of defending myself against Mark, the most appropriate course of action in the present instance is to invite Mark to defend himself.

    Let me explain what I mean by “incompetent”.

    There are a lot of ideas floating around out there. Some are good; others are bad; others aren't so attractive to the naked eye, but improve under magnification (many of the best ideas have come in this form, and sometimes the magnification process is not complete until long after publication).

    A three-way partition can also be applied to Internet pundits, e.g. Mark, who entertain themselves and their readers by evaluating the ideas of others. Some are good at it, others are not so good, and others are a complete waste of time and bandwidth.

    The value criteria for distinguishing among good and bad ideas are fairly cut and dried:

    (1) Syntactic consistency: Is the idea well-formed and logically consistent? (Y/N)

    (2) Semantic consistency: Is the idea consistently applied to its universe? (Y/N)

    (3) Relevance: Is the idea relevant to its purported content or the problem to be solved? (Y/N)

    The competency criteria for distinguishing among evaluators, e.g. Mark, are equally obvious:

    (1) Comprehension: The evaluator makes sure he fully understands the ideas he evaluates and refrains from attaching extraneous constructions, speculative interpretations, or inappropriate conceptual models (even in the face of uncertainty regarding the proper interpretation).

    (2) Discernment: The evaluator possesses the willingness, the knowledge, and the intelligence to properly and thoroughly apply value criteria 1-3.

    (3) Neutrality: The evaluator limits his judgments to value criteria 1-3, and withholds final judgment on ideas to which he is unable to apply criteria 1-3 with reasonable certainty (e.g., in fields outside his areas of expertise, or where he bumps up against his intellectual ceiling).

    In scholarly discourse, evaluators are required to justify their judgments. Those who display inadequate comprehension, discernment, or neutrality in their judgments, having failed one or more competency criteria, are by definition incompetent. Among incompetent evaluators, the worst-of-breed are obviously those who chronically fail all three competency criteria.

    With regard to my essay, Mark fails all three competency criteria. Indeed, he readily admits to it. This renders Mark incompetent, by his own admission, to do what he's trying to do here. Accordingly, he fails to qualify as a legitimate "debunker", "crank fighter" or whatever it is that he likes to call himself, instead constituting a mere pain in the neck and leaving me nothing sufficiently coherent to “defend” against.

    In fact, it's a bit worse than that. This is because Mark sometimes seems to choose the ideas he attacks *because* he fails to comprehend them. In other words, it's not just that Mark randomly encounters ideas he's unfit to evaluate, and then does so anyway just to be a pain in the neck; it's that for Mark, personal incomprehension almost seems to be an irresistible evaluation-stimulus.

    Of course, in keeping with his overall incompetence as an evaluator, Mark doesn't understand this. Instead, he pulls a cognitive switcheroo of which he is seemingly not consciously aware, automatically confusing his own incomprehension with incomprehensibility. In fact, "incomprehensibility" seems to be his main critique of my essay.

    In other words, Mark has switched a judgment on his own subjective mental state (incomprehension) for a purportedly objective attribute of the idea he's trying to evaluate (incomprehensibility), thus making the distinction "good math | bad math" effectively equivalent to "math that Mark is capable of understanding, and therefore likes | math-like content that Mark is incapable of understanding, and therefore hates!”

    Now, if Mark were as smart as he evidently thinks he is, he'd be less aggressive. He wouldn't immediately stick his neck out to upchuck all over ideas he doesn't understand. Instead, finding himself unable to locate obvious falsehoods in the target of his derision, he'd wait until he has more data on what's really going on with it. After all, that's what reasonable people do.

    But Mark isn't always reasonable, or all that smart either, at least when he lets his characteristic irascibility get the better of him. In fact, as we've already established, he can be an incompetent little pain in the neck. In fact, he often appears to wallow in irrationality with what appears to be near-demonic relish.

    Remember, the value and competency criteria listed above are objective in nature. This isn’t just an opinion; it’s a rock-solid indictment of Mark’s incompetence as an evaluator of ideas that he considers sufficiently “mathematical” to merit his special attention, but about which he actually can’t tell his ass from his elbow.

    This doesn’t necessarily mean that nothing Mark says makes sense; some of what he says obviously does make sense. But some does not, and that’s where Mark tumbles into incompetency. Obviously, as the very first order of business here, Mark needs to mend his incompetent ways.

    (I hope we’ve managed to avoid any problems with English comprehension this time around.)

    • Mechanical says:

      Chris, you want us to believe you, you're going to have to defend your theory rather than getting on the offensive. From what I've read over the past half hour, in this blog and on your own site, I can't make out anything solid that you're trying to convey. A summary here might at least enlighten us to your goals

      'Now, if Mark were as smart as he evidently thinks he is, he’d be less aggressive'

      Where's that kettle? I want to yell at it...

    • Inspector Javert says:

      Dude, that stuff is from the INTRO page on your own website talking about CTMU. If you're going to do an introduction to something and expect people to understand what you're talking about, explain in simpler terms first. And if you don't want people to understand what you're talking about, then you're being the classic internet elitist jackass. PRESUMING you want people to understand what this stuff's about, you should probably elaborate in simpler terms.

      Your FIRST SENTENCE doesn't make sense to me, and I've had training in set theory. A set is a logical device used for talking about things. It's not actually the things it's talking about. And you say a set "exists in space and time". Where in "space and time" is the set of real numbers between 0 and 1? What you're describing is not a set as has ever been described in any set theory studies I've done. If you're moving away from accepted terms and using different definitions for something as basic as sets, you really should define your terms.

    • william e emba says:

      I've slammed Mark CC a few times before. But you know what? He at least speaks with content, possibly true, possibly false, so there's always a target thought to work with. You, in contrast, are just gibbering, outputting a cuckoo word salad whose high point is that it is grammatical and has some spiffy vocabulary in it now and then.

      But Mark is treating you very gently in merely pointing out that you're a crackpot and spelling out how you don't make any sense repeatedly. Me? I suspect you couldn't pass a Turing test. The difference between you and a program that cuts and pastes from Knol™ is you have the MGonz add-in. You'd be more entertaining, at least, if you threw in some Time Cube trash or Neal Adams quality artwork. As it is, you're just a crackpot and complete bore.

      You see, your theory, and your defenses of it, are 100% content-free. Telling us, for example, that some parts of what Mark wrote makes sense, and some parts do not, without giving any hints as to which is which, is all you can do to defend yourself. Rather telling, except to you.

      As a minor nit, Mark's comment that space-time is not syntactical might be correct, but it might not. It is certainly not known to be syntactical in any model yet proposed, but it could conceivably be. (Wheeler for a while thought this hope might go somewhere, but nothing came of it.)

    • Ad hominem through and through. Textbook.

    • John Fringe says:

      Your defense does not apply here. Let's see why. To be able to competently evaluate Mark's criticism, you should

      1) Comprehension: I believe you don't understand what Mark is saying, but in any case it doesn't matter, because you are trying to refute what Mark says without referring to what Mark says.

      2) Discernment: You are obviously not willing to apply your whole criteria for evaluation.

      3) Neutrality: do I really need to address this point?

      Now, can we focus on your theory? We are not discussing about you, but your theory, and you are in a prime position to teach us. We are willing to learn and think. Can you give as any guiding idea?

  • idlemind says:

    Reads like someone who has gotten lost in his own abstractions and become convinced of their independent reality.

    I hate when that happens.

  • Yiab says:

    It looks to me like he starts out with naive set theory and a conflation of "subset of" and "element of" in the term "containment", follows this up with the idea of a theory (in the model theoretic sense of the term) which serves as a model for itself (which I admit is an interesting idea) and which somehow serves as a language for itself as well, despite never defining the symbols or syntax in use. Next he seems to try resolving Russel's paradox by positing a temporally-couched version of Russel's hierarchy of sets, in which each instantaneous slice of the universe "contains" the previous instantaneous slice, while somehow maintaining identification of each slice with the next. Then, referring back to his self-interpreting model, he identifies syntax and semantics while trying to keep "containment" in the language separate from "containment" in the meta-language, still not realizing his initial equivocation on the word "containment".

    How he gets to the idea that each piece of the universe "contains" the universe as a whole (i.e. the holographic universe idea) from there, I have no idea, unless he's moved silently from sets to multisets, in which case he could simply have begun by defining the universe to be the multiset whose elements consist exactly of however many copies of itself he wants, since he is clearly ignoring the axiom of regularity from the beginning.

    • G.D. says:

      Indeed. Langan fails to grasp the fact that real physical things aren't and cannot be sets, i.e. that Mark and the singleton set that only has Mark as a member are two completely different things, and that the universe and the set of all things in the universe (and, for that matter, the set that has the universe as a member) are completely different things.

      What he actually seems to be doing - if I am charitable - is a kind of mereology, Lesniewski-style, or perhaps trying to replace set-theory by a completely nominalistic mereology. He doesn't seem to be aware that this is what he is doing, however, and continues to use the language of set theory. Besides, most of the questions he is asking and claims he is making would make no sense in mereology.

      Trivia: Langan contributed a chapter to Dembski's anthology "Uncommon Dissent". Make of that what you want.

  • For example certain properties of the reflexive self-contained language of reality that it is syntactically self-distributed self-reading and coherently self-configuring and self-processing respectively correspond to the traditional theological properties omnipresence omniscience and omnipotence. While the kind of theology that this entails neither requires nor supports the intercession of any supernatural being external to the real universe itself it does support the existence of a supraphysical being the SCSPL global operator-designer capable of bringing more to bear on localized physical contexts than meets the casual eye.

  • Tyler says:

    Hey Chris, who is on first bud?

    LOL! I tried reading through the CTMU, and got the exact same feeling as some others ... complete semantics. I was expecting it to be about math, physics, or something a little more solid. It seems to me to be at least 85% fluff and word-games. Too bad, one would hope the 'smartest man in america' would have something to contribute to the world rather than CTMU and Intelligent Design.

  • Race Traitor says:

    A high IQ is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for understanding advanced mathematics. Like Vos Savant, Langan has attempted to understand mathematics with his intellectual gifts alone, skipping over the thousands of hours of arduous study necessary for true comprehension.

    I recommend Mr. Langan start here.

    • allOrNothing says:

      Your comment is so condescending the spittle flying from your mouth feels like rain.

      • GodzillaRage says:

        How in hell does your statement make any sense? How does condescension have anything to do with spit or its qualities?

        As an internet pundit once said (paraphrased), "If you can't count to metathree, you shouldn't be using metaphors."

  • Cyan says:

    Holy shit, Chris Langan is here in the comments! Y'all might not realize it, but he has an incredibly high IQ. Unfortunately, he is also pretty much incapable of making himself understood -- a form of low social intelligence. Malcolm Gladwell relates in Outliers that Langan taught himself calculus at a young age; when he attended his first calculus class in university, he went to speak to the professor after the lecture to offer criticisms of the pedagogy. The professor thought Langan was complaining that the material was too difficult -- Langan was unable to convey the fact that he understood the material perfectly and had for years.

    Mr. Langan, please take my advice. I have a Ph.D., and yet I recognize that, in terms of raw intelligence, relative to you I am mentally handicapped. My advice is this: you have got to figure out how to get your ideas understood as much as possible by people whose intelligence does not compare to yours! Experiment! Try new things! Test your progress in this task!If you're so smart, how can you consistently fail over and over at this one skill? This is the most important thing one can possibly learn that you haven't taught yourself already.

    • G.D. says:

      I think you're too charitable. Mr. Langan is certainly intelligent. But being intelligent isn't enough - you also have to know stuff. You cannot just figure out set theory and mathematical logic on your own, no matter how intelligent you are (because no matter how intelligent you are, you won't match the intelligence of Frege, Russell, Church, Hilbert and so on combined). Not only do you need to know stuff, you also need to correct misunderstandings everyone does make in teaching themselves the fundamentals. High intelligence doesn't help against psychological biases (confirmation bias and so on), but may help you create a huge, bizarre and confused framework based on misunderstanding without helping you weed out those misunderstandings (because you are just trying to make everything else you do work as well as possible with the misconstruals).

      The point of this piece of hobby-psychology is that I don't for a moment think Langan's primary problem is to make himself understood. His problem is that he is thoroughly confused; the fundamental concepts and their application are misunderstood - and that means that he not only uses the wrong words; the questions he tries to solve are meaningless. His nonsense ideas probably stem from some fundamental understanding somewhere; the precise differences between syntax and semantics, and between sets and their elements, are my guess - every crucial distinction in set theory, mathematics, logic and physics is meshed together in an incoherent jumble. Langan might think it makes sense, and it may seem as if it makes sense to himself, and he may use his high intelligence to interpret everything in ways that seems to make sense to himself; but it doesn't make sense. There is no way to just clarify the passages above; they are wrong and usually not even wrong.

      • Cyan says:

        I don't disagree with what you wrote; I just think that Langan is so mired in his own skewed frame of thought that he won't be able get free without an actual attempt to communicate with other people (instead of jockeying for status, as he does in his reply to MarkCC).

  • derwood says:

    What is Eric Hart up to these days?

  • Tybo says:

    Wow. Spinoza would shake his head in disappointment at how his philosophy got hijacked for something like this. He had his share of word-mixups (and honestly, that tends to be a common problem with rationalists that start working from the top down), but at least he was fairly clear in meaning *most* of the time.

  • Chris Langan says:

    OK, I think we’ve waited about long enough for Mark to defend himself from the charge of incompetence.

    You know, it never looks good when the proprietor of a highly contentious web site hides behind his commentators. It tends to destroy the forum as an appropriate setting for serious intellectual discussions. So I trust that Mark has merely been busy, or better yet, that he recognizes the futility of trying to defend his indefensible behavior.

    In any case, I’ll go ahead and pave the way to a final resolution of the situation by dispelling any remaining doubt that Mark is incompetent to evaluate the essay he’s been attacking here. Fortunately, an analysis of the first “substantive” paragraph of his critique will be sufficient for that purpose.

    Here’s the paragraph:

    “Right from the start, we can see the beginnings of how he’s going to use a supposedly set-theoretic notion, in a very peculiar way. I don’t know anyone who seriously thinks that the universe is a set. Sets are a tool that we use to construct abstract models that describe things. The universe isn’t a set; it’s the universe. And yet a huge part of his argument is, ultimately, based on “disproving” the idea that the universe is a set, based on silly word-games.”

    Let’s have a look the above paragraph sentence by sentence.

    Sentence 1: “Right from the start, we can see the beginnings of how he’s going to use a supposedly set-theoretic notion, in a very peculiar way.”

    I don’t know what this means; it’s “geek” to me. It’s probably an error, but in the spirit of evaluative competence, I’ll withhold judgment.

    Sentence 2: “I don’t know anyone who seriously thinks that the universe is a set.”

    Error 1: That’s vanishingly unlikely. Materialists think that the universe is a set of material objects (e.g., atoms and subatomic particles in various combinations) on which all else can be secondarily defined and/or causally supervened. Any assertion by Mark that he doesn’t know at least one person subscribing to such a viewpoint is simply incredible, especially given the atheist-materialist circles in which he runs. (Mark describes himself as a “religious, theistic, reconstructionist Jew,” but that’s beside the point; merely that he attended a modern university is enough to tell us that he has rubbed elbows with many atheistic materialists.)

    But materialism is almost beside the point; all we need here is the scientific method. With its unrelenting emphasis on observation of, and experimentation on, material objects including the measurement devices thereby affected, the scientific method demands that everything in science be related to observables and the objects to which they are attached, which, being individually discernable, qualify as elements of sets (with all appropriate distinctions applied; e.g., sets of physical objects or events are countable, while sets of points in a continuum are uncountable).

    In search of counterexamples, one may be tempted to point to such things as time and process, “empty space”, various kinds of potential, forces, fields, waves, energy, causality, the spacetime manifold, quantum wave functions, “laws of nature”, “the mathematical structure of physical reality,” and so on as “non-material components of the universe”, but these are predicates whose physical relevance utterly depends on observation of the material content of the universe. To cut them loose from the elements of observational sets would be to deprive them of observational content and empty them of all physical meaning.

    Sentence 3: “Sets are a tool that we use to construct abstract models that describe things. “

    Error 2: More accurately, the concept “set” is a formal entity into which real content may be mapped by description or definition. To preclude content is to sever the mapping and render the “tool” descriptively useless.

    Everything discernable (directly perceptible) within the physical universe, including the universe itself (as a coherent singleton), can be directly mapped into the set concept; only thusly are secondary concepts endowed with physical content. One ends up with sets, and elements of sets, to which various otherwise-empty concepts are attached. Unfortunately, in standard theory, this attachment is reminiscent of sessile mollusks which have glued themselves to foreign bodies, and this is a problem for set theory as a descriptive language for the universe (or as a foundational language of the mathematical formalisms applied to the universe by science), as it is subject to a crippling form of dualism which separates functions from the sets they relate. But while set concept is obviously necessary - these other concepts are rendered physically meaningless without it - this in no way implies its sufficiency on any scale of reference.

    Sentence 4: “The universe isn’t a set; it’s the universe.”

    Error 3: This is an instance of logical negation amounting to an absolute distinction between “set” and “the universe”. It asserts the nonexistence of structural overlap between “universe” and “set” on all levels of reference, thus precluding shared structure.

    Let’s take a closer look. Mark isn’t just saying

    4a. “The universe is *in part* a set, but ultimately *more than* just a set (of objects, events, etc.)”;

    he’s saying

    4b. “The universe is *not* a set, period.”

    These statements are mathematically distinct. Mark’s statement, 4b, implies that the universe is nowhere a set, i.e., that neither it nor any of its contents can be mapped into a collection or aggregation of objects, elements, points, or any other discernable entities as content. But this is completely absurd.

    Indeed, if the “set” concept is free of physical content, then this precludes the use of any measurement device for observation or experimentation, and in fact, reference to anything that is observationally discernable and quantifiable in number, as this would provide physical content for the “set” concept. Whoops, no more science!

    Obviously, the universe IS a (structured) set, but not MERELY a set in the context of any established version of set theory. Its description requires a more powerful mathematical language incorporating the “set” concept within a more capacious formal entity (which, of course, was largely the point of my little essay, which was written back before “everybody knew” that standard set theory could not be rehabilitated as a foundational language). Hello, CTMU, and hello, SCSPL!

    In short, the author of Sentence 4 (i.e., Mark) is either mathematically illiterate, or he’s trying a bit clumsily to agree with me in all essential respects, but doesn’t quite know it due to the depth of his own incomprehension.

    Sentence 5: “And yet a huge part of his argument is, ultimately, based on ‘disproving’ the idea that the universe is a set, based on silly word-games.”

    Error 4: This statement consists of two parts:

    5a: “His argument is based on ‘disproving’ the idea that the universe is a set” (I’ll be charitable and assume that Mark knows what proof actually entails in mathematics);

    5b: “This attempted disproof, and the argument based on it, are silly word games.”

    Quibbles aside, statement 5a is close to accurate; I do, after all, maintain that the universe is not merely a set, but something with greater expressive capacity (properly including that inherent in the set concept itself). However, statement 5b amounts to an accusatory misconstruction of the writer’s personal incomprehension, for which there is no excuse.

    And that’s just one little paragraph. Its completely erroneous character conclusively establishes that Mark’s critique fails value criteria 1-3 enumerated above, and that Mark himself fails all three adjoining competency criteria … which, somewhat to his credit, he freely admits.

    Summary: Explaining the errors made by Mark at the very beginning of his critique requires more space than is occupied by Mark’s statements themselves. Mark actually generates errors at roughly the same rate, and arguably faster than the rate, at which he writes about the “errors” of others!

    Even though this may not seem like serious business to some readers, it certainly is. If Mark does not desist in his nonsense, it may well turn out to be something he regrets for the rest of his life. This is not because he is merely wrong; we all live and learn. It is because Mark often lacks any clue regarding the wrong turns he has taken, and in order to distract himself from his frustration, habitually lashes out at the sources of his confusion like a vindictive child. Any failure of comprehension precipitates him into a fit of pique, at which point he disastrously (for him) attempts to damage the understanding and the reputations of others without just cause.

    I’m sure it would be a relief for all concerned if this were the end of my participation here. So I hope that’s the case…all the more so because if it is not, then one way or another, things will only go further downhill for Mark.

    • MarkCC says:

      Chris:

      What a load of ad-hominem ridden bullshit.

      The universe isn't a set. A set is a mathematical construct defined axiomatically. That can sound like doublespeak, but it actually captures an extremely important distinction - one which you still don't seem to understand.

      In math, we build mathematical models of things in order to study and understand them. The mathematical model is an abstract description that's useful for developing an understanding of the thing that it models - but the model is not the thing that it models.

      A set is a mathematical model that's useful for describing many things. There are many things in the universe that can be modeled very well using set theory. But that's entirely different from saying that the universe, or that anything in the universe is a set. A mathematical model is not the thing that it models.

      There are also many things in the universe that cannot be modeled very well using set theory. (For example, try to put together a meaningful set-theoretic model of vacuum fluctuation and hawking radiation based on the set of particles in the universe. It really doesn't fit well.)

      Does the existence of things in the universe which can't me modeled nicely in set theory mean that set theory is something wrong? No. Because the universe isn't a set. The universe and a mathematical model of the universe are very different things. There are many different possible mathematical models of the universe. Even taking set theory as a basis, there are numerous different set-theoretic mathematical models of the universe. The universe isn't any of those mathematical models; those models are mathematical constructions that we use to try to understand it.

      The lack of understanding of this distinction - the difference between a model and the thing that it models - runs throughout your writing. It's part of why you try to talk about "syntax" in your model in a way that doesn't make any sense to people who know what syntax means in math and logic. Because you muddle important distinctions. Syntax and semantics are very different things in a mathematical model. But if you insist that the mathematical model is indistinguishable from the thing that it models... then the syntax of an object is the object, the semantics of an object are the object, and therefore the syntax and semantics of the object are exactly the same thing - because they both are the object.

      As I've frequently said on this blog: the worst math is no math. And that's a pretty good description of your writing. There are lots of mathematical words, but they're used in ways that just make no sense. They look impressive, but when you try to burrow down to get to their meaning, they don't make sense. They muddle together fundamental concepts in nonsensical ways; they blur the distinctions between things that are necessarily distinct.

      Worse, even if you ignore much of the muddled reasoning, you still can't make this stuff work. If you actually take the word salad and try to render it as math, what you get is something very much like naive set theory. Unfortunately, naive set theory doesn't work: it's inconsistent. And your system, which by definition embeds itself, necessarily includes all of the inconsistencies of naive set theory.

      Of course, you won't actually address any of these problems. You'll just wave your hands around and insult me some more. I remain uncertain of just how it is that doing that somehow defends the validity of your theory, but that's probably just because I'm not as smart as you.

    • John Fringe says:

      Well, lets see. It is not difficult to disprove this wanna-be-a-proof-by-verbosity.

      The core of your "proof" is

      >“The universe is *not* a set, period.”

      >These statements are mathematically distinct. Mark’s statement, 4b, implies that the universe is nowhere a set, i.e., that neither it nor any of its contents can be mapped into a collection or aggregation of objects, elements, points, or any other discernable entities as content. But this is completely absurd.

      Lets recall the mathematical definition of a (naive, not to be too hard on our friend) set. A set is more or less any collection into a whole of definite, distinct objects m (which are called the "elements" of M) of out perception or of our thought. Credits go to wikipedia.

      Then you say: the universe is an aggregation of objects. Well, as you which. But, are they DISTINCT?

      I don't know, and you neither. Maybe you have not thought about it, but you don't know.

      Consider two identical particles, like two electrons, or two atoms in precisely the same quantum state. If you know something about Physics (elementary Physics), you will know that these particles can not be differentiated, and that they behave in a very particular way. They are completely indistinguishable. Are they different objects?

      You can not trace them by their trayectories: there are no trayectories in the quantum World.

      If you see two electrons orbiting an atom, and you look an instant later, you can not tell which particle is which. Are the ultimate elementary particles distict? Sorry, you don't know. If it is so, no set for you.

      Particles are created and destroyed. They exists now but not then. Are they distinct?

      Particles can be entangled. Two particles behave like one entity. Are they distinct? Stand a moment to think. Maybe all particles are entangled in some way (this is a very real possibility). Are they distinct?

      When you throw electrons agains a screen, you observe particles. But they are guided by a guiding wave function. But wait, a whole system can be described by only one quantum wave function! Are their particles distinct? The whole universe can be described by a (little bit complicated) wave function. In quantum mechanics you loose locality, so you loose individual particles. Are they distinct?

      I see a shadow of reasonable doubt.

      From my point of view, you declare the universe a set, and you base this conclusion in your assumption that the universe is a set. Not very good logic.

      You could model the universe as a set. But that will be your (somewhat outdated) model. But it is not something obvious. I don't believe it you could tell a person "mathematically illiterate" for not thinking the idea is a tautology.

      Of course, you now can always play word games and say you were speaking of an informal set, in everyday language. Maybe you can save face that way. Or by saying that the Universe is the set of one element, the Real Universe.

      PS: You should consider reading http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallacy. You used practically all of the fallacies listed there.

    • Cyan says:

      You're still jockeying for status. The thing is, you're not good at it, so your words are lowering your own status.

      The posts listed in A Human's Guide to Words on the Less Wrong Wiki would be useful to you.

    • "You know, it never looks good when the proprietor of a highly contentious web site hides behind his commentators. "

      Chris, I don't think that the most people consider Good Math, Bad Math to be a "highly contentious website". Note also that the claim here is simple wrong. Whether Mark or someone else responds to comments is utterly irrelevant to determining if Mark's comments are correct. There are in this thread, aside from Mark, multiple mathematicians and physicists commenting. The fact that they all agree with Mark should cause you to wonder if maybe, just maybe, you are mistaken.

  • G.D. says:

    While Chris points out the obvious, I'll just add one curious detail:

    Langan says: "Materialists think that the universe is a set of material objects".

    No. In fact, it is incompatible with materialism to assume that the universe is a set of material objects, since sets are not material objects. Materialists think that the universe consist of only material objects. The fact that sets are not material objects is precisely why nominalists like Lesniewski and Goodman developed mereology, as a substitute for set theory that satisfied their nominalist inclinations. And nominalistic mereology is what Langan seems to be sliding into when he talks about collections and aggregations of objects at some point in the above rant.

    Of course, mathematical objects are generally not considered very problematic by materialists unless they are also nominalists (especially given the revival of logicism).

    To get a feeling for how deep this misunderstanding runs, consider:

    "Indeed, if the “set” concept is free of physical content, then this precludes the use of any measurement device for observation or experimentation"

    Yes, you cannot physically measure or observe a set. A set is a mathematical object. But you can of course physically measure and observe the universe. Therefore, the universe is not a set. You can also use set theory as a tool when you describe the universe and make models of it.

    The number of fallacies committed in the above post is actually staggering. Just look at:

    "This is an instance of logical negation amounting to an absolute distinction between “set” and “the universe”. It asserts the nonexistence of structural overlap between “universe” and “set” on all levels of reference, thus precluding shared structure."

    But of course, saying that the universe and a set of the universe are distinct things does in absolutely no way "assert the non-existence of structural overlap", if Langan uses "structural overlap" or "shared structure" (i.e. isomorphism or partial isomorphism). Would Langan also deny, I wonder, that there can be any "shared structure" between a map and the terrain it is a map of?

    "It is because Mark often lacks any clue regarding the wrong turns he has taken"

    That one blows the irony meters. Langan must be one of the most spectacular examples there is of Dunning-Kruger in action.

  • mkl says:

    There are links in his text, but they are visually indistinguishable from the surrounding text.

  • James Sweet says:

    So I did some reading on Chris, and it's interesting seems to be a really "smart" guy, if you define smart as being mental horsepower.

    Let me explain. I'm sort of familiar with this, because I'm a little bit like Chris, though not nearly to the same virtuoso level. I find that I have a tremendous amount of mental horsepower, in that I am able to grasp new concepts very quickly, do fairly complicated mental calculations without having to practice the feat very much, have excellent recall (though I'll be damned if I can remember appointments...), things like that. But in terms of creativity, inventiveness, etc., well, I'm probably a little above average if I am being honest rather than humble, but it's not nearly to the same level. And worse than that, I'm a little sloppy and have a scandalous lack of persistence and ambition. And in terms of strategizing, and discerning good ideas from bad, I think I'm pretty much dead-on average.

    So the upshot is that I score pretty highly on IQ tests, and in certain arenas I can come across as scary-smart -- but overall in my career I'm just doing fairly well. Oh, I have a master's degree and a good job in an R&D dep't, but it's nothing to write a book about. I'm almost certainly not ever going to have papers published in high impact journals, or invent the Next Big Thing, or anything like that. And -- here's the thing -- I know people with less mental horsepower than me are doing those things, because they excel in other talents that are more crucial to academic success. Just to take an example from my work, it's no good if I can read and digest other people's patents much more rapidly than most, if I don't have any (well, many) damn patents myself. Mental horsepower is useful, but above a certain point it's not much more than a party trick.

    I get the feeling Chris is a bit like that, only with an absurd, almost inconceivable amount of mental horsepower. He can think through all of this stuff blindingly fast -- but in terms of discerning whether any of it is a good idea... not so much. :)

    • James Sweet says:

      Reading some of the comments above, I realize Chris is doing another thing I am prone to doing. I have a tendency to reinvent the wheel, and/or to make awkward probings into what turns out to be established territory. I think it comes from having a very high ratio at a) skill at seeing connections and synthesizing concepts from what knowledge you had, to b) desire and ability for seeking out previously established work. To be clear: You can still be pretty good at (b), but if you are way better at (a), you (like me) will have a tendency to reinvent the wheel -- it may not be that you don't care to look up what has already been done, but you start running away with all the shit you can figure out yourself based on what you already know... which by the way is way more fun than looking up what other people have done... and you wind up making forays into areas that it turns out other people have already covered exhaustively.

      Seems like Chris is doing that in regards to deciphering the problems in applying set theory to the real world. There's a certain brilliance in that he identified many of the problems in naive set theory by himself -- how many of you could do that? -- but it's all for naught of dozens of other thinkers have been there before and already have more refined solutions to the problem.

      • GodzillaRage says:

        Reading your comments, I think, helps me understand a bit better how someone smart can fuck up badly.

        Thanks, dude.

      • fnxtr says:

        Heh. Like the time in the early 80's I was messing with polyrhythms, thinking I was being so clever, then hearing King Crimson's "Discipline". Holy shit.

    • allOrNothing says:

      It's should be noted that Langan himself has not brought up his intelligence; it's the other commentators who seem all too willing to make that into the subject of discussion. I think that is what he means by " I would merely advise you not to leap so readily to what seem to be your highly standardized conclusions regarding me," since half the people on this forum have already subscribed to the "Oh Chris is smart, but he should really learn to interact with other people" stereotype. The other half thinks that's he's a stuck-up intelligent prick. Why would he even want to talk to any of us under these conditions?

  • Kurt says:

    Totally off-topic, Mark, but was that your wife who appeared briefly as part of the Watson team at IBM, on this week's Jeopardy? Is there anything about Watson's inner workings that you would be free to talk about on the blog? Because that would be a heck of a lot more interesting than the current topic of discussion.

  • Chris Langan says:

    Alright, then. At this point, I think it’s safe to say that Mark has no intention of trying to defend himself against the charge of evaluative incompetence.

    In repeatedly failing to defend himself against the charge of evaluative incompetence, Mark has now exhausted his last chance to prove that he has the intellectual standing to criticize my work. (Lest this be misinterpreted, “intellectual standing” refers not to Mark’s intelligence, but merely to his highly deficient knowledge state, on which I think he could greatly improve by freeing himself from various irrational prejudices and unnecessary cognitive bottlenecks.)

    As I’ve already observed, Mark generates errors faster than he writes. This makes it quite tedious to rebut him, as it is far easier for him to dash off a few paragraphs of ill-considered pseudomathematical gobbledygook than it is for me to explain all of his errors in detail. But just so as not to waste an opportunity for instruction, I’ll do it one more time anyway.

    Mark: "What a load of ad-hominem ridden bullshit."

    Comment: It was Mark who first resorted to personalized invective in this exchange. Anyone who doubts this need merely look at the titles of both of his Langan/CTMU critiques, including this one.

    Mark: "The universe isn’t a set. A set is a mathematical construct defined axiomatically. That can sound like doublespeak, but it actually captures an extremely important distinction – one which you still don’t seem to understand."

    Error 1: A set is not a “mathematical construct defined axiomatically”. That would be set *theory*. While set *theories* are indeed defined axiomatically, the set concept itself is defined in a very basic and general way, which is precisely why it supports multiple versions of set theory incorporating different axioms.

    Everybody around here seems to like Wikipedia. Well, here’s how Wikipedia defines “set”: “A set is a collection of distinct objects, considered as an object in its own right. Sets are one of the most fundamental concepts in mathematics” (... sufficiently fundamental, in fact, to nucleate different axiomatic theories and play an indispensable role throughout mathematics).

    This definition is qualified and restricted by various strains of set theory, but it remains essentially intact as theoretical context varies. More advanced versions of set theory improve on naïve set theory only by adding distinctions and restrictions; for example, NBG adds the concept of classes, while ZF proscribes self-inclusion. Such advanced theories do nothing to expand the expressive capacity of the basic "set" concept.

    Error 2: Because the universe fulfills the definitive criteria of the “set” concept (and more), it is at least in part a (structured) set. Mark seems to believe that “set”, being a concept or formal entity, cannot possibly describe the universe; after all, the universe is not a mere concept, but something objective to which concepts are attached as descriptive “tools”. But to the extent that concepts truly describe their arguments, they are properties thereof. The entire function of the formal entities used in science and mathematics is to describe, i.e. serve as descriptive properties of, the universe.

    Obviously, not all formal entities qualify as properties of the things to which they are attributed. E.g., the formula “abracadabra, X, shazam!” is just a nonsense formula in which X has been written without attention to fact, and can hardly be described as a “property of X”. However, when a form duly reflects the actual structure of X – e.g., when it is an isomorphism or a model of X which attributes to X the distinguishable, observationally replicable structure we actually observe when we look at X - it indeed defines a property of X, at least for scientific purposes. For example, where X is actually green (reflects green light), the form “X is green” ascribes the property “greenness” to X. Similarly, because the formal entity “set”, meaning “collection of distinct objects”, actually describes the structure of the universe - which is in fact a collection of distinct objects, plus additional structure – the property of “being a set” is a factual property of the universe, and this permits us to say “the universe is a set”.

    Error 3: Previously, Mark was caught substituting CTMU "incomprehensibility" for his own personal incomprehension regarding the CTMU. Here he goes a step further, substituting *my* alleged incomprehension for the alleged CTMU "incomprehensibility" that he originally substituted for his own personal incomprehension of the CTMU. Instead of standing pat on his own personal confusion, he wanders ever farther afield, from his own mental state to an allegedly objective attribute of a theory to another mental state … this time, somebody else's. This is not how sound mathematical reasoning is conducted.

    Mark: "In math, we build mathematical models of things in order to study and understand them. The mathematical model is an abstract description that’s useful for developing an understanding of the thing that it models – but the model is not the thing that it models. A set is a mathematical model that’s useful for describing many things. There are many things in the universe that can be modeled very well using set theory. But that’s entirely different from saying that the universe, or that anything in the universe is a set. A mathematical model is not the thing that it models."

    Error: Mark is having a terrible problem distinguishing “set” from “set theory”. As I’ve just pointed out, “being a set” is in fact a property of the universe. That’s because “set” is defined as “a collection of distinct objects”, and the universe is in fact a collection of distinct objects (and more). The definition of “set” correctly, if only partially, describes the structure of the universe, and nothing can be separated from its structure. Remove it from its structure, and it becomes indistinguishable as an object and inaccessible to coherent reference.

    I also get the impression that Mark is confused regarding the definition of “model”, which comes in two strengths. In logic, a model is a valid interpretative mapping, i.e., an interpretation of a formula A or class of formulae A* under which A, or every formula of the class A*, is true. The argument is generally a mathematical language with its own formal structure, while the image is anything that “makes the argument true” by virtue of identical structure “up to isomorphism” (of course, this situation is symmetrical; just as content instantiates a language, the language describes its content, and where validity is given, we have a “model” in either direction). The model includes both ends of the mapping, argument and image, in the form of shared structure.

    So much for logic. In less formal contexts, the term “model” may be used in a less exacting way; the validity criterion of the mapping may be relaxed. The model can then be structurally non-identical to the argument, as when a scientist tentatively applies some mathematical description to a phenomenon without being sure that the description is correct, e.g., because inobvious features of the argument and/or image may be irreconcilable with the explicit part of the mapping. In this case, the model is not a legitimate property of the object thereby modeled, and can thus be separated from it without depriving the argument of structure. This is the sense in which Marks seems to be using the term.

    Unfortunately, it is not the sense in which *I* usually employ the term, i.e. the logical sense, and it is my work that Mark has been criticizing.

    Mark: ”There are also many things in the universe that cannot be modeled very well using set theory. (For example, try to put together a meaningful set-theoretic model of vacuum fluctuation and hawking radiation based on the set of particles in the universe. It really doesn’t fit well.)”

    Comment: Although he seems unaware of it, Mark is not actually disagreeing with me here. Simply that the universe can be partially characterized as “a set of particles” does not imply the existence of a “meaningful set-theoretic model of vacuum fluctuation and hawking radiation”. In fact, this is a large part of what my essay actually says (a pity that Mark doesn't appear to understand this). Once again, a key distinction is that between “set” and “set theory”; although any version of the latter contains more formal structure than the unadorned “set” concept, it is insufficient to describe or model the universe in its entirety.

    Mark: ”Does the existence of things in the universe which can’t me modeled nicely in set theory mean that set theory is something wrong? No. Because the universe isn’t a set. The universe and a mathematical model of the universe are very different things. There are many different possible mathematical models of the universe. Even taking set theory as a basis, there are numerous different set-theoretic mathematical models of the universe. The universe isn’t any of those mathematical models; those models are mathematical constructions that we use to try to understand it.”

    Error: For the umpteenth time, “set” does not equal “set theory” (any version), and the property “being a set” isn’t something one can slap onto the universe, or not, at whim. It is synonymous with “being a collection of distinct objects”, which accurately reflects the observed structure of the universe. This makes it an actual property of the universe.

    If the universe does not possess the property “being a set” – or if one prefers, “being valid content of the formal entity ‘set’” - then the set concept cannot be properly applied to the universe even as a tool. But then the natural and mathematical languages to which the set concept is fundamental cannot be properly applied to the universe either, and science is impossible. (This is called “reductio ad absurdum”; it consists in the derivation of an absurdity or contradiction from Mark’s initial premise that “the universe is not a set”.)

    Mark: ”The lack of understanding of this distinction – the difference between a model and the thing that it models – runs throughout your writing.”

    Error: In logic, a model is an interpretation (interpretative mapping) of a formula A or class of formulae A* under which A, or every formula of the class A*, is true. That is, it is a valid interpretative mapping. Because it is valid, it is an actual property of the thing modeled. Just as Mark can construct a verbal model of himself which factually represents his actual properties (“The person named Mark corresponds to the formal entity ‘a software engineer who is also a religious, theistic, Reconstructionist Jew’”), he can start with the model and then apply it to himself as a compound property: “Mark IS a software engineer AND a religious, theistic, Reconstructionist Jew.” The model reflects one or more actual properties displayed by Mark.

    Mark: ”It’s part of why you try to talk about “syntax” in your model in a way that doesn’t make any sense to people who know what syntax means in math and logic. Because you muddle important distinctions. Syntax and semantics are very different things in a mathematical model. But if you insist that the mathematical model is indistinguishable from the thing that it models… then the syntax of an object is the object, the semantics of an object are the object, and therefore the syntax and semantics of the object are exactly the same thing – because they both are the object.”

    Error: In logic, “syntax” describes the intrinsic structure of formulae and systems thereof, while ”semantics” additionally accounts for the meaning, interpretation, or descriptive content of formulae. Essentially, the syntax-semantics distinction is as simple as the form-content distinction on which it is based. I've made it very clear in my writings that by "syntax", which I naturally define with respect to SCSPL, I mean “the formal (structural and grammatical) invariants of SCSPL”. By using a functional definition of syntax, one can avoid the necessity of enumerating its specific ingredients (functional definition is definition in terms of function; one specifies the definiendum in terms of its functionality in the overall system in which it exists, independently of content, at any desired level of generality).

    Not, mind you, that I can’t enumerate the ingredients of SCSPL syntax at least in part, or that I haven’t actually done so. But a full extensional definition is not necessary for the purposes of this essay. Mark clearly has no business taking exception to my usage, as the CTMU is not his theory, but mine. If Mark wants to use his own preferred definition of syntax (and I can only imagine what that might be, if not the typographical structure of a programming language), then Mark needs to write his own theory.

    There is one little respect in which Mark is right, however: the CTMU does indeed couple syntax and semantics in a new and profoundly different way, and has done so for the last couple of decades or more. Perhaps someday, Mark will come to understand what this means. But for now, it is 100% certain, by his own admission, that he does not.

    Mark: “As I’ve frequently said on this blog: the worst math is no math. And that’s a pretty good description of your writing. There are lots of mathematical words, but they’re used in ways that just make no sense. They look impressive, but when you try to burrow down to get to their meaning, they don’t make sense. They muddle together fundamental concepts in nonsensical ways; they blur the distinctions between things that are necessarily distinct.”

    Error 1: When Mark says that the mathematical words I use "do not make sense", he again oversteps his bounds. The most he is actually entitled to say is that they do not make sense *to him*. We have now ascertained that the reason for this is Mark’s severe incomprehension regarding my usage of certain terms, and in some cases, regarding their conventional meanings as well.

    Error 2: Mark should not keep assuming that there is "no math" underlying the CTMU and my various descriptions of it, especially after he has been caught making errors of mathematical comprehension in connection with it. As Mark observes, there is plenty of mathematical terminology in this essay, and it has indeed been correctly and relevantly employed. Like it or not, that’s mathematical content. The most Mark can say is that he disputes this content, dismisses it as irrelevant or inconsequential, or doesn’t understand it (which, in any case, we already know beyond any shadow of doubt).

    Error 3: Mark says that my essay blurs the distinction between certain fundamental concepts. In the present context, one may assume that he has two specific distinctions in mind: model | universe and syntax | semantics. But as we have already seen, it is Mark who does not understand these distinctions, at least in the context of the work he is criticizing.

    Mark :"Worse, even if you ignore much of the muddled reasoning, you still can’t make this stuff work. If you actually take the word salad and try to render it as math, what you get is something very much like naive set theory. Unfortunately, naive set theory doesn’t work: it’s inconsistent. And your system, which by definition embeds itself, necessarily includes all of the inconsistencies of naive set theory."

    Error 1: Again, Mark is attempting to impute the muddled character of his own mental state to the reasoning in my essay. This is evaluative incompetency plain and simple (see the value and competency criteria enumerated above). In view of his personal befuddlement, it is simply impossible for him to say whether or not the CTMU can “work”.

    Error 2: Again, while I am employing the basic “set” concept in my reasoning, I am not employing “naïve set theory”. Nor am I employing any more advanced version of set theory; such versions improve on naïve set theory only by adjoining extra distinctions and restrictions that do nothing to expand the expressive capacity of the “set” concept, or any other concept general enough to suffice as an ultimate reductive entity.

    Mark: “Of course, you won’t actually address any of these problems. You’ll just wave your hands around and insult me some more.”

    Comment: It is not my responsibility to solve problems which are functions of Mark’s personal incomprehension rather than anything actually relevant to my work. And my goal here has not been to “insult” Mark, but merely to get to the bottom of his incomprehension and establish that he has no business flinging insults like “crank” around when he clearly doesn’t understand who or what he’s attacking.

    Mark: “I remain uncertain of just how it is that doing that somehow defends the validity of your theory, but that’s probably just because I’m not as smart as you.”

    I have not considered whether I’m “smarter than” Mark or vice versa. That’s because such a judgment would detract from the content of the discussion. Even though I do find him deficient in the kind of knowledge he’d actually need to properly read my work, I actually think he’s probably pretty smart, all considered. I just think that he’s verbally incontinent and incompetent as an evaluator of my work.

    Bottom line: Philosophically and mathematically speaking, Mark is what one would call a “hardcore dualist”. This is because he makes a hard and uncompromising distinction between form (e.g., “set”; “model”) and content (e.g., “universe”). As we have seen, Mark cannot possibly justify this form of dualism, as it has the effect of separating the universe from the structural properties in terms of which we scientifically identify it and reason about it at any stage and on any level.

    Mark is obviously a decent computer programmer; this is implied by the fact that he’s a senior software engineer for Google. But just as obviously, he is neither a mathematician nor a philosopher. Writing good code is not easy, and Mark deserves respect for his evident ability to do it. But he should either stow the “math” blog, or trim his sails and try to stay closer to home. He is simply not up to going toe-to-toe with all of those on whom he targets his uncontrollable resentment.

    Regarding Mark’s commentators, thanks for your participation. Some of you have offered, amidst the noise, what almost seems to be intended as constructive and well-meant advice. To the extent that this is actually the case, your efforts are appreciated. I would merely advise you not to leap so readily to what seem to be your highly standardized conclusions regarding me, my level of knowledge, and the originality and profundity of my writing, lest you end up disappointed and embarrassed as a result.

    If I pop in here again, it will be strictly as an undeserved favor. Good day to all of you.

    • Andrew @EC says:

      What the hell is ZF?

      This is such an unbelievably strange response. What kind of a person:

      a) writes an incoherent argument ostensibly directed at the general public;
      b) receives said critique from the public; and them
      c) repeatedly insinuates that said evaluator is "incompetent" to critique the work?

      The answer, it seems to me, is the Bill Dembskis of the world -- the people who write not to edify but to confuse; the "if you can't blind 'em with brilliance, baffle 'em with bullshit" crowd who prefers to use two pages of mathematics to say what you could say in two sentences, and then proclaims it something pompous like "the Law of Conservation of Information."

      Chris: you were advised earlier in this thread to visit Eliezer Yudkowsky's posts on the English language at Less Wrong. I'd second that advice. Read Yudkowsky; he's a smart guy who can actually communicate his thoughts to others. You might learn something.

      • apricissimus says:

        I haven't read all the comments/diatribes, but given the context, I'm guessing ZF is the Zermelo-Fraenkel axioms of set theory.

    • MikeTheInfidel says:

      You can take your 'undeserved favor' and shove it right up your ass. You could be the smartest man on the planet, but if you put your brainpower into being a pretentious, condescending ass, you'll be putting it to complete waste.

      • John Fringe says:

        Don't center your fustration on Mark, please. There are more people here. In fact, there is a lot of people outside this little forum who do not seem to be very interested on your theory, neither.

        Ok, so you admit that you are not calling "set" to anything a mathematician would call a "set". Of course, you are free to define Lagan's set theory. But it has to be:

        a) interesting and justified for people to take the work to learn, use and teach it

        b) more strict than naive set theory, because simply calling "a collection of distinct 'things'" a set does not work very well. The collection of all sets is not a set, and if it is, it would lead to contradictions. So you have to impose some restrictions.

        c) informative. What are the elements of the "set" Universe? You evade the question. Calling something a set explaining that you understand by set something vague and without giving any idea what the elements are is not very useful. I would call that a sentence free of meaning.

        I can call the Universe "the stuff", composed of "zitirione". Yes, I can, for some definition of "the stuff", but it is not very useful. We understand you can start with a vaguely defined theory, and go refining it, working on it. But you have a very vague idea of what a set is and try to force people to accept real Universe is one.

        Yes, our Universe is "the stuff". And, what is "the stuff"? Something very expressive to be what our Universe is. And if someone say the opposite, the hell with him, he is an ignorant.

        That's a bad actitude. You are probably discovering how little people (that counts) are interested in your theory. Of course, you can think it's because they are all ignorant. Don't be fooled.

        But please, stop doing that. Stop assuming the Universe is a set to prove it is a set, and writing one million words saying "as we proved", "we saw that", and things to sound like a mathematician. You have not proved anything. By maintaining your concept of set open enough you can evade criticism for a while, but by the same measure you maintain your theory content free. Circular logic and vagueness would carry you nowhere.

        Remember: it is not a Mark's mental state. Have you find anyone (seriously) interested in your theory? (Family members doesn't count).

        I still think the real Universe can be unmodelable as a set because you could not differentiate one entity from other. At quantum level, there is no individual particles. You have no locality, you have entanglement, you have wave functions filling all the space that adds together, you have no trajectories, you have a different number of particles each time, you have multiple paths... I would find it difficult to say what a "distinct element" is. You didn't even have tried.

        • Robert says:

          Wave functions (any function really) can be described using sets. A function f : X -> Y can be seen as a subset of X*Y (its graph.) This can be extended to multiple particles and possibly even the 'wave function of the universe' or some such thing. This set is something completely different from the 'set' containing all the particles (or whatever) of the universe though.

          • John Fringe says:

            Wow. That's creative! But you're very right, Robert.

            In any case, you know, that's not what I mean. A wave function is a _model_ of the Universe, and not a complete model. Considering a wave function as a set is only "modeling a model" as a set.

            One can show all our current models can be expressed as a set and still not be allowed to say that the Universe is a set.

            What I say is that we can never know if a model completely reflects reality, which it is a necessary step to make that identification, the model as the reality. There is a lot of things we don't know. A lot.

            That's why Phycisist still have a job.

            But very clever, Robert. Very good observation.

        • Vicki says:

          A minor point, but the set of all sets is a set. There's no contradiction there.

          The contradiction comes when someone introduces the set of all sets that are not members of themselves. Then ask whether that set is a member of itself. It is if and only if it isn't.

          Bertrand Russell tried to work around this by redefining terms so that a set cannot be a member of itself, but his approach is not universally accepted. (If I recall correctly, it produces different levels, so a set at level 0 can be a member of a class at level 1, but not of another level-0 set.)

          • lily says:

            From what I understand the set of all sets is a contradiction since axiomatically if X is any set, then {x in X: "some condition"} is also a set. So if the set of all sets is a set then Russel's paradox follows.

          • John Fringe says:

            You're right. The Universal set is problematic only in some theories, but not in all. And you rightly pointed out an alternative problem.

            Thanks.

          • MarkCC says:

            Yeah, Russell tried to do leveled sets, so that you had first-order sets, whose members were atoms; second-order sets, whose members were first order sets; third order sets whose members were second-order sets, and so on.

            Gödel showed that it didn't work, because you could embedding the first-order sets into representations as atomic values, and then use those to create first order sets whose members could be interpreted as first-order sets, allowing you to formulate purely first-order predicates that weren't really first-order.

            The most common solution these days is the set/class distinction, which is similar to a single-step version of Russell's hierarchy: there are sets, and there are classes; you can do things with sets that you can't do with classes. A set can't contain itself, because of the constraints on what can be in a set; and you can't express predicates on classes that would allow you to create paradoxical sets.

        • allOrNothing says:

          Why shouldn't he center "his frustrations on Mark"? Mark is the one with the front page post "Another Crank Comes to Visit". Right from the start this forum is biased into thinking of Chris as a crank which turns this "discussion" into a many vs one situation.

          • John Fringe says:

            I don't agree with you, allOrNothing.

            I mean, I hold responsibility for my opinions. If I am biased by Mark's writing, it is entirely my fault, not his. I find it wrong for Langan to blame Mark for my opinions.

            I also believe you misinterpreted the origin of the many versus one situation. Langan has very peculiar ideas. Regardless of the their validity, when someone has non-common ideas it will always be a many vs one situation. They can be true, or they can be false, but initially it will be that many vs one. (That's the reason why they have to explain them).

          • allOrNothing says:

            @John Fringe

            I should explain the "many vs one" in more detail. I'm not just talking about the "crank bias", I also mean the very mode of discussion. How is Langan supposed to get anything done when new people keep popping up like weeds, each with different objections? It's like a media blitz. So "centering his frustrations on Mark" is, at it's simplest, a practical choice.

            When Langan showed up here, his primary goal was to talk to Mark, not the unknown number of varied commentators.

          • John Fringe says:

            @allOrNothing

            Well, yes, it is impossible for one person to cope with so much comments in a blog. (I believe this is a common problem). From this point of view, yes, it may be the only sensible thing to do, to talk only to Mark. I didn't thought of your comment this way.

            (Then he may have choosen the wrong media, but I understand he wanted to answer the thread).

    • Yiab says:

      One thing on which Mr. Langan and I clearly agree is that there is a distinction to be drawn between "set theory" and "set".

      However, Mr. Langan seems to think that the various formal "set theories" which exist throughout the mathematical community are all formalizations (i.e. formal descriptions of the structural nature) of the same concept of "set". To be sure, there is an overlap between these theories in which respect they do represent formalizations of the same concept, however each "set theory" gives rise to a subtly different corresponding concept of "set", likewise each concept of "set" corresponds to a distinct "set theory".

      The basic concept of "set" corresponds precisely to what is referred to as "naive set theory", which I believe is aptly named since it is the "set theory" developed by simply ignoring formalization entirely in favour of the simplicity of the concept of "set" which is understood by even the most naive.

      Mr. Langan is also quite correct that mathematical "set theories" do nothing to enhance the expressive power of the basic concept of "set". In fact "set theories" restrict that expressive power and this is the very purpose for which they have been developed.

      The expressive power of the basic concept of "set" led to contradictions when instantiated into "naive set theory" in a mathematical context, demonstrating its inconsistency as a mathematical structure. (For those who may not be familiar, within classical or intuitionist logic, one can derive any statement from a contradiction making every contradiction equal and maximal in expressive power.) In order to make use of the basic concept of "set" within a mathematical context in a consistent manner therefore, it is necessary to reduce its expressive power by making subtle changes to it, i.e. to use the concept of "set" functionally defined by one of the existing "set theories" (or by some new one, also formally defined, which avoids those contradictions currently known in "naive set theory").

      In short, one cannot use the "basic concept of 'set'" in a mathematical context while dismissing the quirks introduced by whichever formalization of "set" is in use in the background, and such a formalization must be present in order to be consistent.

    • This definition is qualified and restricted by various strains of set theory, but it remains essentially intact as theoretical context varies. More advanced versions of set theory improve on naïve set theory only by adding distinctions and restrictions; for example, NBG adds the concept of classes, while ZF proscribes self-inclusion. Such advanced theories do nothing to expand the expressive capacity of the basic “set” concept.

      This is wrong. First of all, naive set theory is not logically consistent. That's a pretty big difference. The claim about "more advanced theories" is also wrong in so far as it is well-defined. Consider for example, ZF with anti-Foundation replacing Foundation. Or ZF with a large cardinal axiom.

      There is one little respect in which Mark is right, however: the CTMU does indeed couple syntax and semantics in a new and profoundly different way, and has done so for the last couple of decades or more. Perhaps someday, Mark will come to understand what this means. But for now, it is 100% certain, by his own admission, that he does not.

      Well, here's news for you: no one else understands it at all either. So try explaining in it more simply, or using different language.

      It is not my responsibility to solve problems which are functions of Mark’s personal incomprehension rather than anything actually relevant to my work.

      If you want anyone to understand your work, then the fact that people with relevant expertise don't understand what you are saying should be relevant.

      : Philosophically and mathematically speaking, Mark is what one would call a “hardcore dualist”. This is because he makes a hard and uncompromising distinction between form (e.g., “set”; “model”) and content (e.g., “universe”).

      You are using language in a non-standard fashion again. This isn't what dualism is generally taken to mean.

      Mark is obviously a decent computer programmer; this is implied by the fact that he’s a senior software engineer for Google. But just as obviously, he is neither a mathematician nor a philosopher. Writing good code is not easy, and Mark deserves respect for his evident ability to do it. But he should either stow the “math” blog, or trim his sails and try to stay closer to home. He is simply not up to going toe-to-toe with all of those on whom he targets his uncontrollable resentment.

      Wha? I don't even... are you fucking kidding? Mark has a large amount of math background as should be pretty clear from reading his blog on a regular basis. The fact is that what you've done doesn't include any substantial math and the math you do have is either ill-defined or just wrong. There are multiple professional mathematicians in this thread. They've all agreed that Mark is spot on. Maybe, just maybe, you should consider that Mark is correct and that your ideas really don't make sense. (It seems to me remotely possible that you are just explaining yourself very poorly and using language in non-standard ways, but if so, that's not our problem. That's something that can only be remedied by you.)

    • MarkCC says:

      Chris:

      First off, the point of promoting this whole thing to a new post, rather than leaving it hidden in a discussion on a two-year-old post that had been migrated from my old site was, actually, intended as a gesture of respect. I may think you're a jackass, but I genuinely believe that if an author goes to the trouble of coming to my site and responding, that they deserve to have those responses made visible. It was not intended as a gesture of spite, or a "none dare cross MarkCC".

      And you've done a remarkable job of demonstrating exactly why I say that your theory is rubbish, in the following two paragraphs.

      Everybody around here seems to like Wikipedia. Well, here’s how Wikipedia defines “set”: “A set is a collection of distinct objects, considered as an object in its own right. Sets are one of the most fundamental concepts in mathematics” (… sufficiently fundamental, in fact, to nucleate different axiomatic theories and play an indispensable role throughout mathematics).

      This definition is qualified and restricted by various strains of set theory, but it remains essentially intact as theoretical context varies. More advanced versions of set theory improve on naïve set theory only by adding distinctions and restrictions; for example, NBG adds the concept of classes, while ZF proscribes self-inclusion. Such advanced theories do nothing to expand the expressive capacity of the basic “set” concept.

      Naive set theory is inconsistent. That's not a trivial matter. That means that using naive set theory, you can "prove" every statement that can be expressed in terms of set theory. Naive set theory is ill-founded and ultimately useless, because no proof, no implication, no inference based on naive set theory is valid - because the fundamental axiomatic basis of naive set theory is invalid.

      The only sense in which NBG and ZF don't "expand the expressive capacity" of naive set theory - that is, of "the basic set concept" - is that naive set theory has no expressive capacity, because it's inconsistent.

      Any argument that you make about set theory, or about anything built on set theory, is only as valid as the underlying theory. There are lots of different axiomatizations of set theory. NBG and ZFC are the most well-known, but they're far from the only ones. And you're certainly able to define your own. But you need to have some axiomatization, or you're not doing math. You don't have your own axiomatization of sets in your theory, and you don't appear to be using any valid axiomatization. But you expect people to accept that you're using a consistent, valid definition.

      This circles back to my most fundamental critique of your "theory". It's word salad. It doesn't define its terms in any meaningful way. It pretends to be talking about math - but it doesn't actually use mathematical reasoning. It pretends to be talking about sets in a mathematical way - but you refuse to specify just what you mean by sets, and you don't even seem to understand why that's a problem.

      You redefine the words syntax and semantics, but you don't bother to give your definition of them. In fact, I'm not actually sure that you actually understand the meaning of the distinction between syntax and semantics in logic. There's no good way for me to be sure, because you never actually demonstrate just what you mean by syntax. You just spew out a bunch of garbled word-salad.

      • Chris Langan says:

        Mark, when I look at your writing, it’s like trying to decode gibberish.

        I’m not just saying that; I really mean it. You claim you can’t understand a word I write, but for me it’s the other way around. I’ve already tried repeatedly to tell you, your ditto-heads, and other commentators in plain English that my essay nowhere relies on naïve set theory, and in fact can be construed as a condemnation of naïve set theory for philosophical purposes. Yet here you go again, behaving as though I said the exact opposite. Your only possible justifications are (1) that I’m lying about not using naïve set theory; or (2) that I’m so asleep that I don’t know when I’m relying on naïve set theory and when I’m not. But to my way of looking at it, both of those claims are absurd. I feel like I walked into a seedy diner and ordered the “fresh garden salad” only to have the proprietor hand me a day-old corn dog with a couple of bites missing and a check that reads “1 salad plus tax (no credit).”

        In fact, I’m reminded of a sad old joke. Somewhere in the Deep South of yore, a bus containing a Black gospel choir was on its way to a revival. Suddenly, a car stopped on the shoulder of the road pulled out directly in front of the bus. Panicked, the driver cranked the wheel as hard as he could, veering directly into the path of an oncoming semi. Unable to stop, the fast-moving semi ripped open the midsection of the bus, strewing the highway with dead or injured passengers, some moaning in pain. A minute or two later, an archetypal redneck and his woman drove up in a pickup truck. Seeing the carnage, the hillbilly stopped, got out of the truck, and sauntered among the bodies for a minute or two. Then he returned to the pickup, and without saying a word, resumed driving in the same direction as before. “But Billy-Bob,” said his incredulous damsel, “ain’t summa them people still alive?” The redneck snorted contemptuously and used his teeth to pop open a can of beer. “Wayull, Lurleen,” he drawled after a long and satisfying gulp, “some of ‘em *SAYud* they was. But you know how them @#$$%&s lie!” (Ring a bell?)

        On a more serious note, I think I know what your problem is. As soon as I mentioned the words “self-including set” in the essay, a little warning buzzer went off in your head. What you should have said to yourself at that point was “He’s right – if the universe is a set, and if the universe actually implements self-inclusion in any way – after all, he has explicitly stated that when it comes to the universe, there’s ultimately nothing external to contain it or serve as a medium or background for it - then really what we’d have is something at least reminiscent of a self-inclusive set. But since that’s a violation of logic associated with naïve set theory, which everyone knows doesn’t work, this guy must be trying to describe, or at least pointing in the general direction of, a new way of eliminating the contradiction. So maybe I’d better try a little harder to get the message. Even if I can't quite get it right, at least I won't be guilty of getting it all wrong.”

        Instead, what you evidently said to yourself was more like this: “Oh man, this fool is absolutely out to lunch! ‘Self-including set’ indeed – when I get done with him, this crank is going to be sorry he ever dared to open his mouth! No doubt about it - he’ll rue the day he ever heard the glorious name of Mark Chu-Carroll (which probably hasn’t happened yet, but thanks to my thousands of hits and my faithful legion of anti-crank warriors, soon will)! Why, with my superior math skills, this guy and everyone like him is totally at my mercy, cannon fodder for my unbelievably excellent anti-crank blog! Good Math (my opinion) trumps Bad Math (any conflicting opinion) every time, so everybody better hunker down and get ready for some more of that trademark supercilious Chu-Carroll wit! Oh, joy - life is fine when you’re a crank-fighting internet hero like me, myself, and I!!”

        While you might see the latter self-dialogue as a bit over the top, your subsequent behavior shows that it accurately reflects your basic attitude. And whether or not you’re capable of recognizing it, this makes you incompetent to evaluate the essay you’ve been trying to evaluate, to the extent that at this point, I no longer think that you (and some of your fans) are capable of understanding anything that I say on the subject, mathematical or otherwise. So why not do yourself a favor, stop giving yourself so much undeserved credit as an all-purpose authority on all things mathematical, and learn to withhold judgment on that which you don’t understand? You’ll probably live a longer and happier life if you do.

        Just a piece of friendly advice to someone who seems desperately in need of it.

        • Vicki says:

          Chris:

          Even if we stipulate that Mark completely misunderstands your theory, that in itself doesn't make the theory correct.

          If you want people to accept your theory, you need to present it in ways that they can understand, and convince them that it is correct. If you are the only person alive who can understand it, and it makes no testable predictions different from current theory, either you're out of luck, or you need to find ways to explain it to people.

          It's not sufficient to say "study this, this, and this for three years, and then you will see my theory is valid" unless people already have reason to think you are right. Or at least that you're probably right. Unfortunately, you are hardly the only person who is presenting what he believes to be a revolutionary new theory. Not all of those theories are correct (because they contradict each other). You need something beyond "I am very intelligent" to prove your theory. Even very intelligent people make mistakes.

          • Mechanical says:

            I'd go so far as to say very intelligent people make the big mistakes more often because they're so used to being correct, they're not used to being challenged or needing to question their own workings.

            That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

  • noman says:

    to: Chris Langan
    1) How is your theory falsifiable?
    2) What use is it? For example, the heliocentric theory of the solar system was useful in that it simplified computations. The fact that is also represented the observable universe was simply a bonus. So, what utility does your theory provide?

    • Andrew @EC says:

      How does one measure the utility of being able to condescend to the entire world? If Mr. Langan is a Benthamite, that's probably a fairly high number on the hedonic calculus....

    • I can't speak on behalf of Langan, but...

      1) I don't think the theory is intended to be falsifiable. It's intended to be the truth, independent of context and beyond falsification. This doesn't work, and the reason why is explained here.

      2) If the theory would work, the concept of telic recursion could be used to construct a satisfactory concept of epistemologic relevance, which in turn could be used to solve the problem of induction.

  • James Wetterau says:

    I have to agree with allOrNothing, and in fact I'd go further: it seems that so far Mr. Langan has had the better of his exchange with Mr. Chu-Carroll, not to mention some of the less knowledgeable commenters. Those chiming to question the reference to ZF (entirely on point and reasonable shorthand in Langan's remark) or objecting that items in the universe may not count as "distinct" (which seems to me trivial to work around - any two non-distinct objects are one object, no?) or objections that parts of Langan's remarks are mathematical, and parts are not, but dare to use the term "proof" -- they seem to be grasping at straws with which to feebly flail Mr. Langan. Others have pointed accusatory fingers at Mr. Langan, declaring him guilty of ad hominem attacks (mostly falsely, in my opinion) for merely having questioned Mr. Carroll's competence in this particular subject) in a post that starts out, *in its title*, labelling Mr. Langan a crank! In fact, despite provocation, Mr. Langan has not descended to personal attacks or name calling, and has confined his judgment to Mr. Chu-Carroll's competence to evaluate the particular essay under consideration. I think the worst insult he issued was to call Mr. Chu-Carroll "verbally incontinent"; this seems to me to be a mild slide from decorum in response to having been called "a crank". He also made remarks that showed that he respects Mr. Chu-Carroll''s obvious high achievements and learning in those areas where he is really an expert.

    I trust that Mr. Chu-Carroll really thought Mr. Langan's work full of fallacies and deficiencies, and sincerely tried to explain that, though in a harsh and insulting tone. But so far Mr. Langan appears to me to have successfully defended himself against at least his selected set of Mr. Chu-Carroll's criticisms, and made a plausible case (to the uninformed, such as me) that Mr. Carroll may be the one who misunderstood.

    I enjoy Good Math Bad Math frequently. I often learn from it. But these occasional exercises in derision, and subsequent group efforts in condemnation, only detract from that. I know that comments on blogs are notorious for such chauvinism, but perhaps this need not be the case here.

    I don't know if Mr. Langan has any serious contribution to make to humanity's knowledge, or not. Most people don't, so it would be no surprise if his ideas fall short. Regardless, I wish these critical discussions of wrong ideas did not take the form of a group effort in condemnation -- it does not improve anyone's understanding of matters, I judge.

    • John Fringe says:

      > "or objecting that items in the universe may not count as “distinct” (which seems to me trivial to work around – any two non-distinct objects are one object, no?)"

      Yes, of course. You can trivially say that any two non-distinct objects are one object. That's completely right. You can go aggregating entities until you have only one. Strictly right.

      Because reality is one, and the division into "objects" is simplification of our models.

      So yes, you can say at least you've got the set of one element, the real Universe. This is strictly true. But, let me say, it is also completely useless. It's a completely void idea.

      By that treatment, everything is a set. Not a mathematical set, but some kind of aggregation of some stuff. At least one, the thing. And he is fighting for this idea! If everything (everything, think of it) is a set, then that does not carry any information.

      That is why I explicitly said (yes, I said it first!) that he always could save face by saying "that the Universe is the set of one element, the Real Universe".

      And something. The universe is also something. You will not find me fighting for the "something" idea.

        • James Wetterau says:

          I had a look at it, and began reading, more than once, up to the point that I was sure I didn't know what he was talking about.

          Because I think Mr. Chu-Carroll is a good-to-outstanding explicator of things he does understand, and because I know he knows a lot about some relevant topics, I would ordinarily consider him a good guide to this stuff. But when Mr. Langan, apparently correctly, points out errors in Mr. Chu-Carroll's criticism, and when that criticism obviously strays into speculation and slam, I need to reserve judgement.

          Some of Mr. Langan's claims sound pretty grandiose to me. They may be wrong for any number of reasons, from a few simple errors to large-scale self-delusion. Exercises in condemnation of his ideas do not help me (or, I think, anyone) to understand that. Unfortunately, too much of this post and the ensuing comments takes that tack, rather than careful criticism.

      • John Fringe says:

        Everything is in the Simpsons:

        - Newspaper Tour Guide: And each paper contains a certain percentage of recycled paper.
        - Lisa: What percentage is that?
        - Newspaper Tour Guide: Zero. Zero is a percent, isn't it?

      • James Wetterau says:

        First of all, why is not a collection of objects a "mathematical set"?

        The last time I encountered any set theory in a formal context, it was over two decades ago, in the course of learning about other topics, so I am sincerely asking here: what distinguishes a "mathematical set" from a correct application of the set concept to non-mathematical objects? From what I can find in quick researches on the web (admittedly, a very poor reference source) a set is an "undefined primitive", with certain axiomatic properties. As long as the sets Mr. Langan considers fit the basic set concept (regardless of what they contain as elements) and exhibit the properties stipulated by the axioms, they are mathematical sets, right?

        Second, it seems to me there is some choice of the level of concern at which we view entities as distinct. Two things may be the same in some respects and different in others. But it would be valid to reason about them either way, as long as we establish the context correctly. In fact, from skimming through Mr. Langan's writing, it seems this question is a large part of what he discusses.

        I cannot judge if he has done this well or poorly, coherently or incoherently, in part because I lack the background, in part because I have been stymied by some of his new nomenclature, and in part because some of his reasoning is unclear to me. But I think he has grappled with this question.

        • John Fringe says:

          > "Two things may be the same in some respects and different in others. But it would be valid to reason about them either way, as long as we establish the context correctly."

          That's is exactly the point. That is exactly what we are talking about.

          The "establishing the context correctly" is what we call "defining a model".

          You have a reality. As it is impossible to comprehend, one "models" it, one builds a model of it, selecting the interesting features (for oneself) and ignoring the rest.

          Of course, one can build different models of reality, depending on what is of interest in every moment.

          Then you have mathematics, which are a good language to build models of reality. One of their tools is the concept of set. You can MODEL reality as a set.

          When you are building your model, you can decide if some perception is modeled as an object, as two objects, or as many as you want.

          But what you are not able do is to mistake the model for reality. It is your model that is a set, not reality.

          You've got the perception of two things. From some perspectives they look the same, from others they do not. And you can assume there are unknown perspectives to you. So you evaluate and you decide if you model them by one entity or two. That's up to you.

          If you read Langan comments you'll see he is defending the Universe is a set, not his model of it. He is doing this because he pretends not to be discussing a model for the Universe, which could be more or less appropiate and would be refutable, but the Universe itself. This is what is profoundly wrong and is highly antiscientific.

          Of course we understand you can model the Universe as a set. But that is not what Langan is saying.

          • James Wetterau says:

            I can see two possible ways that you mabe wrong here:

            1. First of all, let us suppose that there could be a completely correct, exhaustive "model" of the universe. Such a model would have to account for *all* valid contexts and possible perceptions, because the people having the perceptions -- you, me, everyone -- are themselves part of that universe. Earlier you suggested that the model might amount to a one-element set, because none of the things in it might be truly distinct. And this, then, has no explanatory power: we're left with a set of the universe. All we have, essentially, is something pointing at the universe and saying "there it is".

            But if this is so, in what way can it be a complete, successful model of the universe? The universe actually exhibits manifold aspects, which may be observed as its distinct features or parts, or objects contained in it. If the model can only model it as a singular entity, then it is not an exhaustive model.

            So any successful, complete model actually would not be such a singleton set, and would instead have to have many elements.

            2. I may be wrong here, but it seems to me you are restating Mr. Chu-Carroll's claim, which Mr. Langan attributed to "hard-core dualism", that a set is always a model which is distinct from the thing modelled. I found Mr. Langan's reply thought-provoking and plausible -- that an isomorphic model may actually define the properties of attributes of the real entity under consideration, and in that sense "being a set" is one such property.

            I have searched, in vain, for some guidance on the web as to whether it is valid to think, from a mathematical perspective, of real objects as being contained in a set. If I define the set of my steak knives --- which I'm looking at across my kitchen right now -- does mathematics have anything to say about whether the real, six physical Henckel knives are actually "a set", or whether the set is a "model" for them that exists only in my (and now others') minds? If so, I'd sincerely like to see a reference to such a discussion.

          • John Fringe says:

            @James Wetterau

            I don't see why point 1 will make me wrong.

            I don't agree with your proof, believing it is wrong. But anyway, let suppose it is right: you would have proved that if a completely correct model exists then it would be a set. You would still have to prove that this model exists. That's very metaphysical! And not obvious at all.

            I mean: (A implies B) does not prove B. We need to know if A is true.

            (I don't believe the proof is right for several reasons: for example, the Universe can exhibit deterministic behaviour without being deterministic. The fact that you perceive some aspects does not mean they are real).

            With respect to 2, "a set is always a model which is distinct from the thing modelled", while I agree with that, I don't need that.

            I agree because, well, yes, you see your knives, and you think they are a set. But at certain level the model falls down: the knives are made of atoms. Some atoms are separated from the blade, and mix with air. Some atoms go, some arrive. Some are interchanged between the blades. Do reality equal your mental set of six knives? I don't think so. Yes, you can go for another model, an atomic one. But that's another model, which is too of limited application. Not to mention that a mathematical set is a "static" entity, and the knives will not exists forever. The model is not the thing. Again, you could consider a temporal model. Got it?

            But that is irrelevant, so I will not go into any deep. The key is this: a model can not be identified with the modeled reality because we can never know if the modeled reality will always behave as our model.

            That's a deep idea, but a simple one.

            You can not identify a model of the Universe with the Universe because you certainly don't completely know the Universe, and you should not be surprised if tomorrow you see something unexpected in its behavior.

            How can you be sure your model completely fit the reality? You can not, and so you can not mistake one thing for the other.

          • James Wetterau says:

            @John Fringe, For some reason the website is not allowing me to reply to your reply to my reply, so I'm replying to your comment to which I earlier replied, to which you replied on February 19, 2011 1:14pm.

            I am not claiming to have proven anything -- I'm just trying to show that your earlier rejection of the idea that the universe could be a set on a priori grounds was mistaken. I think that was accomplished, at least according to your reply.

            As to the fact that we may perceive things that are not real -- yes, of course. But the *perceptions* are real, and need to be in the model.

            I think your take on the steak knives question is a non-starter. It is not the case that the definition of the knives is identical to a particular collection of atoms. The definition of the knives is what an intelligence can recognize as the knives.

          • John Fringe says:

            > "I’m just trying to show that your earlier rejection of the idea that the universe could be a set on a priori grounds was mistaken"

            The only problem with that is I never said that. That "earlier rejection" is a supposition of yours. You are assuming I said things I didn't said. I said Langan can not say the Universe is a set because he don't know, and he was assuming it was a set to show it was a set. Reread my comments, please.

            > "But the *perceptions* are real, and need to be in the model."

            Perceptions are real, yet I don't see why that makes the Universe a set. If you want to model perceptions, feel free to use a set.

            > "The definition of the knives is what an intelligence can recognize as the knives."

            Yes, and the definition is not the Universe, but a model for your perception of a real knife.

            You have the universe (a real knife), you model your perception of it, and as you can model it by a set, you say I was mistaken telling maybe the Universe is not a set. I'm really not able to follow you on this. I don't see the connection. You are not arguing with me, but you believe you are.I was talking about Langan views and you are arguing about models of our perception.

          • James Wetterau says:

            @John Fringe --

            Again, I can only reply to your earlier comment.

            Sets are, by definition, collections of objects. Sets are not "models" for those objects -- they are groups of objects. In our universe, perceptions are, by observation, among the objects that we find. They are not unreal -- they are real perceptions. That means they are among the distinct things in the universe. If all perceptions, thoughts, etc. of any entity at any time are among the things in the universe, there is no contradiction between one persepective or another being in the set -- they *all* belong in the set. This is not a model -- it's more like a list.

            You are correct and I was wrong about your point to Mr. Langan; I misremembered your earlier remark and did not go back and re-read the entire thread. However, it still seems to me that your attempted refutation that the universe is set -- because it may not be made up of distinct objects -- is invalid. There are clearly many distinctions between objects, e.g. the perceptions we were just talking about. If you want to argue that none of those distinctions are "real", or real enough to warrant creating a set, then it seems to me that you believe the set concept cannot apply in any way to reality, because there would always be this doubt, which makes it useless.

          • John Fringe says:

            I'm specially in disagreement with this sentence of yours: "it seems to me that you believe the set concept cannot apply in any way to reality, because there would always be this doubt, which makes it useless."

            I think a model (and therefore a set) can be useful despite that "doubt", and that the concept of set can be applied in a very specific (but indirect) way to reality.

            You build a model for the Universe, and you use concepts such as sets. The set is useful in the building of the model. Then you use the model to explain your perceptions and to make predictions. If the predictions are in agreement with the observations you conclude the model is a good model for the Universe, under the limitations of the observations. Then you can make predictions with your model and be confident in the results. This way, the model is useful for you, and, transitively, the concept of set is useful. But you can never know if the model if completely correct. There is the "doubt".

            How can you ever tell if a model is completely valid? I believe you'll agree with me: you can't. The doubt is always there, you can not evade it. But even in this way a model can be useful to make predictions, and so the concept of set.

            Yes, set are, by definition, collections of objects. Sets are not "models" for those objects. I agree with this. But, what is an object? I believe any definition of an object is in the realm of a model. So yes, a set is a collection of objects, but an object is an abstraction.

            I believe you will not agree with me on this. I'll ask: what is, for example, a knife? For me, a knife is an abstraction, a classification. You'll take a "real knife" and will tell me: no, a knife is this. Would you be able to say if something is a small sword or a big knife? You'll probably say the intention of the manifacturer makes the difference. Is a knife too rusty to work still a knife? For me, "a knife" is an abstraction.

            You'll say (I'm making up your dialogue, you'll probably say more intelligent comments; sorry for that) you can call it a knife or a sword, a rusty knife or a rusty piece of metal, but it is definitely an object. I'll respond: well, no, it's a lot of objects, a lot of atoms. Or maybe not. Because the atoms are changing. Is it an objects or a lot of them? Is a collection of atoms? In what instant? For me, an object is an abstraction, not a real thing.

            In fact any though you can have is about models in your head. A lot of times I can not say where a perception ends and where the next starts; nor I can say if two perceptions (thunder and lighting) are one objects or two. A lot of time a can not say if I'm having one perception or two (smell and taste). Language is about abstractions, not reality (directly).

            So, in my mental models of reality, I'm not sure of anything. I'm always testing (and of course in science) my models agains my perceptions. But I still find the concept of set very useful. I can make predictions with them.

            Anyway, all these are my opinions, which seem very natural to me. You have your own, which I respect and find interesting. I think they pose some problems, but neither of them have been refuted (I don't think they can) so I accept the two can coexists.

            But precisely as we both have different perspectives Langan can not say the Universe is a set. At least without explaining why my perspective (that which I find so natural) is wrong. He could always assume it is a set and create a theory from that assumption. No problem, all theories make assumptions. But he was taking the fact as a truth, and when asked for clariffication he answer what a somewhat flawed logic: the Universe is a set because it is a set, and if you don't see this you're wrong.

          • James Wetterau says:

            @John Fringe:

            I don't want to go into all the philosophical questions you have raised here, but I do think we have some that are matters of difference of opinion. To take just one example, for me the important thing is not to recognize all knives (vs. swords, etc.), but to be able to recognize particular knives for a particular duration of time. Do philosophical questions remain about being able to do so? I suppose they probably do (e.g. what if a knife falls and breaks into two parts -- what is "the knife" now?), but I do think one could build a coherent idea of a set of real objects regardless. I admit this is just my strong intuition; not something I can prove.

            You have made me question (a little bit) what seemed transparently obvious to me at the outset: that the universe is, in a real sense, composed of many different objects, and it is legitimate, therefore, to call it a set, but not only a set. Perhaps I should have confined myself to that point, and not got onto the side issues. I do respect your different perspective, but I must admit it's hard for me to imagine holding that point of view.

            It seems to me that the difference in our point of view comes down to your saying that even in assigning identity to things there is an act of modelling which may be wrong. My point of view is that as long as the assignments are done according to some repeatable algorithm based on real perceptions, then there is no real doubt that the assignment is capturing something real about the universe. My argument would be pretty close to Langan's remarks about greenness being a real property of the thing that reflects green light. Perhaps that is a philosophical point of view, after all.

  • James Wetterau says:

    I want to correct my remark: re-reading, I see that Mr. Langan did use some harsher language in his first reply than he used in his later replies. He did throw around some ad hominem stuff, mixed in with valid atttemps at rebuttal. All in all, no one in this exchange fought entirely on the level of ideas; there was some invective on both sides.

    That said, I still think that the condemnation pile-on amounts to an outpouring of bias.

  • Chris Langan says:

    I'm actually too busy for this right now, but I see that given the apparent harshness of my first response in this thread - the primary purpose of which was to provide simple criteria by which conceptual value and evaluative competence can be objectively rated - a little background might be in order.

    1. Mark originally critiqued my essay in February, 2008 at ScienceBlogs.

    2. Just a week or two ago, somebody brought Mark's critique to my attention. Here’s the link provided in that email:

    http://scienceblogs.com/goodmath/2008/02/two_for_one_crackpot_physics_a.php

    3. Noting that Mark had titled his critique in an extremely deprecating manner, I thought it advisable to respond. However, I found that because Mark had moved his blog to Scientopia, it would be impossible to enter a response at ScienceBlogs. Therefore, I proceeded to the analogous entry at Mark's new blog site. Here's that link:

    http://scientopia.org/blogs/goodmath/2008/02/21/two-for-one-crackpot-physics-and-crackpot-set-theory/

    4. I entered what I thought, under the circumstances, was a friendly and moderately informative response. I’m sure that my impatience was evident, but bear in mind that I had just discovered that Mark had been insulting me and my work with impunity for the last several years.

    5. Mark responded in a highly aggressive and insulting way. So I entered another comment to make sure that everyone understood the problem. I hoped that this would be the end of the matter.

    6. Unfortunately, it was not the end of the matter. Mark moved a slightly updated version of his critique to the current front page of his blog, under an arguably even more insulting heading, in an apparent effort to teach me the following lesson:

    "Hey @#$%&, you don't mess with Mark Chu-Carroll, except at your peril!"

    (The wording is my own; I'm merely trying to approximate what seemed to be the message that Mark was sending by renewing his critique under the heading he chose.)

    If one thinks about it a little, this may at least begin to explain the harshness of my tone. While I understand that some people might find my language excessive, I’m afraid I can’t agree. In fact, I think that my language has been quite controlled under the circumstances.

    Thanks for your attention.

    • lily says:

      I like how you are utterly unable to talk about math instead of your rather large ego and insults to it. It would have been much more effective had you simply addressed the criticism against you rather than ignored it (and raised several points that had already been dealt with) and talked about MarkCC instead.

      Consider that even if Mark was a complete idiot, it would still be possible for him to point out a flaw in what you are saying. Defending yourself by saying that he isn't qualified is therefore your own logical mistake, and not a very hard one to see either.

      • John says:

        Lily, I can't help but feel you are missing the point. It's not that Chris was calling Mark an idiot, but merely pointing out that Mark is devoid of certain knowledge about the claims his theory makes about particular mathematical structures. For example, let us say that everyone's understanding of physics largely rests on key assumptions of classical physics - namely, absolute space. If these people wanted to explain why the surface of the water in a bucket curves when the water rotates, they will explain this phenomenon as the effect of the motion of the water with respect to absolute space.

        Now let us say someone comes along and says that this phenomenon is not due to the absolute circular motion of the water, but is actually due to the relative motion of the water with respect to the local gravitational field. Getting the point: are 100 "hardcore Newtonians" whose assumptions about motion resting on absolute space "qualified" to critique the assumptions of 1 relativist? No, because they're judgments will always be based on certain assumptions that simply don't apply in the relativistic domain.

        Am I trying to compare relativity to Chris's theory? Certainly not. The point is: there are certain assumptions about the nature of mathematics that people around here carry that may not apply to Chris's theory. How merely pointing this out renders him the biggest jerk on the planet is beyond me. This is not my concern however: my concern is that the people on here simply do not know how to be civil in a debate. People complain about Chris's "ad hominem BS", but then people mindlessly attack him by throwing every name in the book. People try to critique his theory, but they haven't bothered to read his paper, and don't even ask him questions to clarify.

        As I said, the content of the theory is important, but you can't discuss the content in any manner conducive to productive discussion if this is the way you go about it. If you think there is an aspect of the theory that is objectionable, ask questions to clarify. If you think something he said was unfair, explicate why you feel that way in a polite manner. Overall, actually have a discussion rather than just making these increasingly incoherent statements along with the name calling.

        - John

        • lily says:

          It's not like Chris's ideas are well known to the point that someone being unaware of the specific assumptions he is using is somehow a point against him.

          If Chris had pointed out that he was using different assumptions and then proceeded to explain the differences that would have been perfectly reasonable. But he didn't.

          I'm not trying to be contrived but it seems to me that we agree that information about the author of a theory should play no part in the discussion of that theory. That was the goal of pointing out that Chris was bringing Mark the person into it rather than defending his ideas.

  • Samuel says:

    I'm probably taking a few steps back from the current discussion here in saying this, but I think that Chris' requirement that Mark "comprehend" the object of his intended critique prior to embarking on such a critique is inappropriate given the nature of some of Mark's arguments against CTMU. Specifically, Mark's charge that certain assertions made by Chris are nonsensical cannot be properly evaluated with reference to a criterion of comprehension because any meaningless statement necessarily defies comprehension. Using Mark's example of someone saying "I'm going to fly to the moon by correctly spelling my left leg," it becomes evident that requiring someone to comprehend such an assertion before they can legitimately criticize it is unreasonable. The very fact that such a statement is incomprehensible counts against its coherency.

    I know Chris separately addressed a supposed disconnect between Mark's failing to comprehend something and that thing's being incomprehensible. However, this seems to fail to counter my above point, tangential to the overall discussion as it may be.

  • John says:

    But if people really believe the theory is meaningless then why are they even bothering to raise objections? Why would you object to something that says precisely nothing? If you are raising objections, you have to assume he is trying to convey something, don't you?

    • Samuel says:

      He is most certainly trying to convey something. I didn't intend to imply anything to the contrary. Rather what I meant is that Mark's charge is that Chris, while trying to convey something, is failing to do so precisely because his assertions, as formulated in his essay, are nonsensical. This is not an uncommon (or pointless) charge especially when it comes to evaluating metaphysical theories. For example, logical positivists claim that metaphysical claims are meaningless by virtue of their being unverifiable, and various theorists of meaning have thought that sentences whose subject lacks a referent are meaningless (e.g. 'Sherlock Holmes is a detective'). I don't necessarily endorse these particular claims but I certainly think it is a legitimate move to criticize a theory/assertion on the grounds that it is in whole or in part, nonsensical.

  • G.D. says:

    Since no one has pointed it out, I may as well. Langan's 17. February post at least makes one of his fundamental problems very clear.

    Langan says "A set is not a “mathematical construct defined axiomatically”. That would be set *theory*. While set *theories* are indeed defined axiomatically, the set concept itself is defined in a very basic and general way, which is precisely why it supports multiple versions of set theory incorporating different axioms."

    Yes, the intuitive concept of a set (or at least "collection of elements") can be incorporated into many frameworks, from extensional mereology to ZF and beyond. In mereology, one can talk about the universe itself as a collection of objects (or mereological sums). In naive set theory or ZFC, the universe cannot be a set since the set of the entities comprising the universe and the universe itself are different things (by definition). In order to derive any problems for set theory or our conception of the universe, Langan has to decide which framework he is using. He never explicitly does that, but jumps back and forth between mereology and naive set theory. But he hasn't given us any problems for the mereological conception of collections/sums (he doesn't even display any hint that he is aware of this branch of philosophy (not mathematics)). In naive set theory (which is inconsistent anyway) or ZFC none of his purported problems even arise, since in these systems the universe cannot be viewed as a set - rather, the structured set consisting of all the elements in the universe is itself an abstract, mathematical object (as is the singleton with the universe as a member) with physical entities as members - and the only thing he provides is some feeble nonsense about how, if we distinguish our mathematical models of reality from the physical phenomena they model, science becomes impossible and we are saddled with ontological dualism.

    Well, there are indeed philosophical questions that arise from accepting abstract objects, but they have nothing to do with what Langan discusses. If you do think that accepting abstract objects entails an untenable form of dualism (but it is a problem for nominalism rather than materialism, and those are not the same positions), I suggest adopting some kind of constructivist or even formalist view of mathematics. A lot of work, to put it mildly, has gone into developing such approaches, none of which Langan even mentions (removing the sharp distinction between syntax and semantics and the need for model theory has been a defining characteristic for many logicist approaches, for instance, although they do retain the difference between mathematical language and the reality the language is about, of course; it is not so obvious that Langan does).

  • Andrew EC says:

    I'm still befuddled by anyone -- even if they are the self-proclaimed next Marilyn vos Savant -- who offers up a theory for public consumption and then, rather than defend his own theory, spends his time attacking the critic for ostensibly being "unqualified."

    I'll say it again: Chris, when you're trying to communicate with the public, it's YOUR obligation to make your points clear. Attacking Mark isn't an ad hominem (I'm sort of surprised you're not aware of that); but it *is* a non sequitur.

  • Jonathan D says:

    It seems to me that the problem is very clear when Chris says “A set is not a 'mathematical construct defined axiomatically'.” Sure, the word 'set' has a basic meaning that is probably understood by many, without reference to axioms, and there are several set theory axiomatising that concept. But as long as we're not dealing with axiomatic definitions, we're not doing mathematics, just playing with words.

    On one level, it doesn't really matter whether you say a set is a model or being a set is a possible property of the universe - you still need to work with some sort of definition, and if we're doing mathematics, axioms get involved.

    Obviously, if we're determined to hold on to our assumptions this might eventually create some problems one way or another, but without axioms we are just playing word-games. Using mathematical words doesn't create mathematical content. This is the biggest issue with Chris's essay - even the parts that seem most plausibly open to mathematical resolution don't actually contain any mathematics.

    On a related note, it is claimed that things like syntax and semantics are coupled in a new and profoundly different way. Since this is not actually described, why wouldn't a reader conclude that there is simply confusion, rather than profound absent content? The same goes for the "extension" of set theory, which must involve a restriction of the naive set theory that the definitions appear to invoke, even if there is also additional structure involved.

    Finally, I don't think anyone has been bothered by Chris's tone - the problem is that his responses, particularly the first, did not at all address the issue of his essay. This is what everyone else is talking about, qualified or otherwise. Focussing on what you are actually saying, rather than finding a reason to simply dismiss a criticism, also (although not always) tends to make it easier to deal with a "many-to-one" converstion.

    • James Wetterau says:

      @Jonathan D -- "But as long as we’re not dealing with axiomatic definitions, we’re not doing mathematics, just playing with words."

      That is not the case -- there are primitive notions in mathematics that are not derived from any axiom. They, themselves, have a status like axioms.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Primitive_notion

      • Cyan says:

        The thing about primitive notions is that you can't reason with them mathematically -- the role of axioms is to permit such reasoning. If you're saying that Langan is working with the primitive notion directly, well, then it's no wonder that he's not making himself understood.

        • James Wetterau says:

          @Cyan, can you support that with a reference?

          The wikipedia link (admittedly a poor reference, which I would be happy to learn better about) describes primitive notions as "undefined" terms that are expected to be immediately understandable, and that are "analagous" to axioms. It further quotes Tarski saying that:

          "the expressions in this group we call PRIMITIVE TERMS or UNDEFINED TERMS, and we employ them without explaining their meanings. At the same time we adopt the principle: not to employ any of the other expression of the discipline under consideration, unless its meaning has first been determined with the help of primitive terms and of such expressions of the discipline whose meanings have been explained previously. The sentence which determines the meaning of a term in this way is called a DEFINITION,..."

          This seems to me to be saying that we do indeed use ("employ") them in mathematical reasoning, though in _conjunction_ with other axioms. This does not make them invalid for use in axiomatic theories.

          Have I misunderstood? Can you cite another authority to explain where I go wrong in this?

          • Cyan says:

            I have no reference beyond your own pointer to the Wikipedia article. My understanding of formal systems comes from Godel, Escher, Bach; when I put that together with "In mathematics, logic, and formal systems, a primitive notion is an undefined concept," and "When an axiomatic system begins with its axioms, the primitive notions may be forgotten," I come to the conclusion I stated in my previous comment.

            I would say that one constructs axioms to try to capture the primitive notion, but once the axioms and rules of inference are chosen, the primitive notion has no more role to play. The essence of mathematical proof is the application of the rules of inference to the axioms; nowhere does the primitive notion that the mathematician was trying to capture play a role.

  • Ken Myers says:

    Maybe it is Wittengenstein's Tractatus Ladder. You know, you understand Chris and in so doing you recognize him as senseless and hence, throw out the CAT.

  • Argon says:

    In any case, a useful theory ultimately has to connect the 'rubber to the road' with regard to describing a range of expected observations or relationships. And hopefully, the logical chain behind a theory should be validated by more than one person.

    • Ken Myers says:

      Precisely! And maybe this is the antithesis and anathema to the postmodernist and why you get nothing but obfuscation and rhetoric from that camp.

      "The real universe has always been theoretically treated as an object, and specifically as the composite type of object known as a set."

      P.S.
      One needs to realize that the Universe has never been treated as a set but more as a complex. After all, do we treat a library as a set? No, we treat it as a complex, i.e. a whole that comprehends a number of intricate parts, especially one with interconnected or mutually related parts and a set is nothing more than a collection of distinct objects, considered as an object in its own right.

      So, in the end it appears the basic premise is flawed outside of any "attempt" to add rhetorical scaffolding.

  • Steve C says:

    I'd like to make an observation and raise a question. My observation has to do with the quality of the article and posts on this blog. My question is motivated by the desire to see whether any of you can clarify my thoughts on a philosophical question I've been pondering.

    The writing on this blog, it seems to me, suffers from a lack of self-editing. Most of the writing displays deep and thoughtful consideration of interesting issues. However, the ideas are often not well expressed, leading to misunderstanding and personal attacks. "What we have here . . . is failure to communicate." (Cool Hand Luke)

    One fundamental way to improve written communication is to self-edit. In particular, I would recommend that, after writing a first draft of a post, take a coffee break, come back, and reread your post, asking yourself, "What am I really trying to say here?" Then edit and reorganize your writing in something like the following template:

    Introduction
    1) Explain in a sentence why we should care about what you are about to say.
    2) Enumerate briefly your main points.

    Body
    Go through each point in order and methodically. When transitioning from one point to the next, explicitly state any temporal, logical, or other connection between the point you just finished and the next point.

    Conclusion
    Summarize what you think you just said. Call for whatever action you want from the readers.

    I'll finish this topic with a quote from Ann Lamotte: "I know some very great writers, writers you love who write beautifully and have made a great deal of money, and not one of them . . . writes elegant first drafts. All right, one of them does, but we do not like her very much."

    OK. Now for the question. In the evolution of my world-view, I have decided that I believe that everything in the world exists and is material. In particular, given what I have read about modern neuroscience, I have come to the view that ideas, thoughts, and emotions exist in a material form, in particular, as electrical signals and chemical combinations in the brain.

    I would be interested in your thoughts on this matter. With regard to the original issues raised by this post, in my formulation, the concept of a set, whether naive or not, has an existence in this universe as a pattern of physical events occurring in each of our brains when we consider the concept. Of course, it is probably the case that patterns are slightly different for each individual. Nonetheless, perhaps when we are communicating effectively, our use of the term and concept is recognized by the reader as sufficiently close to his or her concept that the communication can be understood.

    To conclude, and to follow my own template, I think I have said that self-editing, and in particular, reorganization would improve the quality of communication on this blog and I encourage you all to try it. I have also asked for your opinion on my philosophical ruminations. I would enjoy reading your response, whether it takes the form of references to materials I might be interested in, general thoughts on my concept of materialism, or your answer to the question, How does the idea that all concepts, including the concept of a set, have a physical presence affect the idea of the universe as a set?

  • Mike B says:

    I realize I'm coming into this late, but maybe there'll be a response or two anyway.

    I started reading Chris Langan's CTMU intro and understood a lot of it; then I reached a point where I couldn't understand anymore. I assumed that there were some concepts that he was making reference to that I just hadn't yet learned. I feel a little bit better now that I realize that he's just using terminology in a non-standard way, and that I'm not the only one confused.

    There were a few things that I got from it that, somewhere between Chris's angry responses and Mark's initial criticisms about terminology, got completely lost. So I thought I'd take my interpretation of what I think Chris is saying and put it out there in plain English, and if Chris is still reading maybe he can confirm whether or not I got the point. Or if any of you folks are still reading you can feel free to criticize my interpretation as well. I viewed it as more of a philosophical treatise, something more in line with A Critique of Pure Reason, and less of a model for physics as I keep seeing it described in the media.

    What I took from his CTMU stuff is -

    Basic thesis - There are logical inconsistencies in the way that most people think about "the Universe," because the way that most people think about "the Universe" is isomorphic to the view of it as a "set of all sets" as defined by naive set theory. The inconsistencies of naive set theory manifest via this isomorphism as the challenges and dilemmas faced by modern metaphysics.

    1) Many people, without realizing it, have a cognitive model for the Universe that is somewhat similar to the naive set theory "set." The subtle inconsistencies of this cognitive structure parallel the inconsistencies of naive set theory itself.

    For example, at one point Mark said "some things in the Universe can be modeled by sets, and some things can't." This was a good point, but I think that what Chris was getting at is - if you're saying that the Universe has "things" at all, then you are modeling it, mentally, as a set. Specifically you're modeling it as set of all the things there are.

    So Langan claims that this paradigm is equivalent to trying to create a set of all sets in naive set theory, which leads to problems down the road. The rest of his paper shows why this simple view of the Universe causes most of the problems.

    The thing about whether the Universe "is a set" or not is a red herring, because when he claims that the "Universe" is a set he's saying, as per Kant, that we can't separate the actual Universe from the model that we make for it. So he's saying that the viewpoint of the Universe as a collection of objects is wrong. At least that's what I think he's saying.

    2) This way of thinking about the Universe is fundamentally flawed, and furthermore it leads to a number of false dilemmas that underpin modern philosophical thought. In this case he claims that the mind-body problem is one of these false dilemmas, and that dualism is the incorrect resolution of it.

    Langan claims that many of these dilemmas can be addressed by realizing that they stem from this invalid schema for the universe, which most people have without realizing it. I'm not yet convinced, but I found the claim intriguing, as it's a similar claim as that made by Kant.

    It is also notable that things like the mind-body problem are actually problems with our model of the Universe, not a problem with the Universe itself - in the Universe, everything fits together nicely with no paradoxes.

    3) The CTMU and his "SCSPL" claim to resolve these problems by defining a better structure with which to model the universe. By coming up with such a model for the Universe, one can become instantly enlightened and realize that monism is the way to go.

    He claims to resolve the paradox by defining exactly in what sense the Universe contains itself while also being contained by a larger set, and in so doing defines a meta-language outside of the original one. This is where I stopped reading, so maybe it's bunk, maybe it's not.

    He also claims that one can also realize that thermodynamic entropy is the process of the Universe cognizing itself, which represents reality being self-aware, and so we're all just little bits of an ultimately self-aware reality. And he also claims that one bit of the Universe is holographically reflective of every other bit of it, and since one of those bits is our brains, which are constantly perceiving order and cognizing things, that order and cognition are everywhere. Or something like that.

    ____

    He seems to be not too adept at expressing himself, and the choice of word "God" for what he's describing will no doubt put off scientists and Christians alike, but this is what I got from it - and for what it's worth, I think it's a fascinating idea, whether you have to decipher his word salad in places or not.

    Any thoughts on my interpretation as written above?

    • NomadaNare says:

      I'm hoping you reply to this. From what I've read, this seems to be exactly what he's getting at. I think I may pick up where you leave off. It seems that his new method of defining the Universe is analogous to a continuously resolving set that expands in both "directions" (with directions being the "levels" of the set) i.e. it is dynamic and resolves in the same way, forever. The easiest way to think about this is to make a set of some arbitrary elements, lets call it M. We can then define a power set of M that includes the power set of M. The process of writing the set in the long form is exactly the process that the universe takes in "realizing" itself. Even more interesting is that according to Langan, it "writes" itself at the speed of light. At least this is my interpretation of it. What do you think? Also, Mr. Langan if you're still around, I'd definitely like to hear your assessment of my interpretation.

  • UCSDMD says:

    I've read through every response, God that was long, and it's obvious no one here is stupid. Don't know if people are still reading this, but I'd like to give a few thoughts.

    1.First and foremost all this hostility and blame of its initiation needs (especially Mark and Chris) to stop. It's counterproductive.

    2.Chris I have to admit I've read your paper and have very little idea what you are talking about. Let me tell you my story, that might be relevant to you. When I was a lowly PHD student my first couple journal articles I sent in kept getting R and R (Revise and Resubmit). I couldn't figure out why. Finally my adviser sat down with me one day (he was kind of a ghost) read through my shit and told me it was incomprehensible. I was pissed. But he gave me little examples, little jumps in logic that I thought were intuitive or obvious to everyone, they weren't. The accumulation of all these little jumps led to an incomprehensible paper. (Now looking back I think this is why I was so poor at writing essays for history etc. during undergrad). So I sat back down went through both the papers and in painful and what I thought redundant detail went through every little step. After I did that both got published in tier one journals.

    So yeah I think there might be an element of this with you. People aren't as smart as you, you have to spell out every single little transition, often during your paper I would find myself thinking "What does this have to do with the last statement, or how am i here?"

    3. Thirdly I think of lot of this is miscommunication. I've some of your interviews and I pretty much agree with you about academia. One positive thing about academia though, is that it acts as a coordination mechanism in terms of jargon. Everyone uses the same language and there aren't 50 different names for a set floating around. When you get that kind of divergence in terms, translation honestly becomes an issue. I mean shit, it's still an issue in academia, let alone between academia and the "outside." I believe miscommunication and translation are issues here.

    TLDR
    Problems
    1.Needless hostility
    2.Missing logic
    3.Lost in translation

    Also Chris try to be a little more.........diplomatic. It's a stupid social norm I know, but it goes a long way.

  • UCSDMD says:

    Sorry to double post I do have a question to ask though. I am going to break away from the all the abstract stuff and go to something a little more concrete.

    You talk about morality being akin to maximizing "global utility."
    Everyone has different preferences and hence different utility functions.
    How do we max global utility when we only know our own utility function and not others? Are laws and religion attempts? Are we just supposed to use our best guess? What if someone really loves raping and he rapes a retarded girl that is too disabled to feel pain etc., and his utility far exceeds her loss of utility. Wouldn't I be maxing global utility by raping in the choice of (rape vs not rape)?

  • John Fringe says:

    @Steve C

    First, sorry for the bad writing. It's true we don't write very carefully. You're absolutely right. But most of us don't have much free time. We write fast, or we don't write. Bad writing may be worse for communication that no writing!

    I don't think your idea of a materialistic World brings anything useful to the question of the Universe as a set.

    "In my formulation, the concept of set has an existence in this universe as a pattern of physical events ocurring in each of our brains".

    Sorry about it, but you can not use physics to prove the universe is a set. Not if you apply it to the Universe, and I don't see you solve any problem if you apply it to the brain only. Physics defines models. Physics is an experimental science. You can find sets and elements in your model, but they are not objetive elements in reality.

    Other than that, it would be very difficult to say what an element is in modern physics.

    You say the Universe can be seen as the set of particular events in your brain. What is an event in your brain? What is a signal in your brain? Remember, don't rely on time in your reply: we don't have a good model for time in quantum physics. Don't rely on individual particles. Don't rely on interactions, if you don't have a good model for renormalization (which you don't). I believe your are thinking in a very simple way about "signals in the brain".

    As I previously said, you have a model (in your case, independent signals on your brain), and you can identify elements and sets in your model. And that's OK. But thats not the Universe, even in an objetive, absolute, material Universe.

    @Mike B

    Wow, you made an impressive work of translation! Good job!

    Unfortunately, I don't believe it changes anything. I still see pseudoscience in your interpretation.

    I don't really believe anybody thinks the Universe is the mathematical set of all sets. So the premise is misguided.

    I believe almost everyone agrees "the mind-body problem" is a false dilemma. I mean, I don't expect anybody to believe the World has a problem with that. The problem is in our interpretation, if there is any problem at all. So the conclusion is trivial.

    The rest is empty words glued together without meaning. What the hell does he mean by "thermodynamic entropy is the process of the Universe cognizing itself"? No, seriously. What semantics does he associate with this sentence? What is he trying to say? Where does he get that conclusion? Does he even know what thermodynamic entropy is?

    I'm certainly not fascinated by any of these.

  • k.e.. says:

    A theory that doesn't theorize ANYTHING AT ALL is no theory and has all the use of the tits on a bull.

    Mr "The Smartest Man in the Room" with an ego to make up for the lack of even basic genius is indulging in Post Hoc Reasoning and Question Begging with the smell of liniment in his nostrils and possibly suffering the side effects of steroids.

    There is no intuitive leap just a word salad chasm below. No new paradigm but a POMO whining.

    He wants a free ride ...what with, only one can imagine. The thrashing he gives his dead horse keeps away the flies, but the stink is unmistakable.

    Pure hubris.

  • Anonymous says:

    Challenge accepted. Ask me any single question about the CTMU, (exclusive) or offer any single piece of criticism. I'll answer these one by one.

  • Mike B says:

    @John Fringe - sorry for the late reply, I didn't see this until now.

    "I don't really believe anybody thinks the Universe is the mathematical set of all sets. So the premise is misguided."

    What exactly do you mean by this?

    "The rest is empty words glued together without meaning. What the hell does he mean by "thermodynamic entropy is the process of the Universe cognizing itself"? No, seriously. What semantics does he associate with this sentence? What is he trying to say? Where does he get that conclusion? Does he even know what thermodynamic entropy is?"

    I don't really know what he means, I was honestly hoping he'd show up here and comment on my interpretation. What I took from that concept is something along the lines that when an event happens on the "physical" side of the duality, it is paralled by a "cognition" happening on an assumed "mental" counterpart of the physical corpus that is the universe.

    The following is my own reasoning which I had thought of long before reading Langan's article, so I have again no idea if this is what he intended, or if I am being too generous in my interpretation, or if there's a flaw in my interpretation I haven't seen. But to clarify further, the process of cognition, which takes place on the "mind" side of the supposed mind/body duality, is represented on the "body" side as a specific thermodynamic event occuring in the brain. The two things are really one thing, however, it just depends on how the detection of this specific event reaches our senses.

    For example, let's say you have a patient and a doctor, and the patient is in an MRI and asked to imagine scenes from his or her childhood. The imagining of these scenes will cause various neurological events which will show up on the MRI (we will assume that they do for the sake of argument). A dualistic interpretation of this principle would be that in the "physical realm" what is "really happening" is this particular pattern of brain activity, whereas in the "mental realm" what is happening is the actual qualitative cognition that the patient is experiencing.

    A different, monistic interpretation might be that these two events (the MRI blip and the actual qualitative experience of cognition) are really one event just experienced through two different modes of sensory perception - literally. In the one case, the neural event leaves the patient's brain by interacting with the MRI, at which point the signal is digitized and sent to a computer screen, where the light from the screen enters the doctor's eyes and he now experiences this event visually. Either way, this is the perception of that event from the standpoint of the event beaming information through space, where it is detected by the senses of another human being (probably with the help of tools like an MRI) and cognized over there. On the other hand, this neural event is perceived differently from the patient's point of view, where it is experienced directly by causing other patterns of neurons to fire in such a way that the qualitative experience of a "cognition" is formed.

    The above was an idea I had thrown around for a while, so it seemed like Chris Langan was on the same page with his CTMU. I took him to propose that just like one can either "see" or "be" the neural event that I laid out above, that just as we "see" thermodynamic events occuring in the universe, we also "are" them, and hence there may be another way to experience them directly and qualitatively, just as there is another way to experience patterns of neural activation rather than seeing them as blips on an MRI screen. It seemed he was proposing that from the perspective of interacting with all of these events by "being them," you'd arrive at something that he unfortunately chose to call "God." Again, I have no idea if this was actually what he's saying, which is why I was hoping he'd show up to comment.

    • John Fringe says:

      @Mike B

      > "I don't really believe anybody thinks the Universe is the mathematical set of all sets. So the premise is misguided."
      > What exactly do you mean by this?

      You interpreted Langan says "There are logical inconsistencies in the way that most people think about "the Universe," because the way that most people think about "the Universe" is isomorphic to the view of it as a "set of all sets" as defined by naive set theory."

      What I meant was this: there is not much people who believe the Universe is something like "the set of all sets as defined by naive set theory", if any.

      Most people don't know about the set of all sets, and they have a lot of diverse ideas about the Universe, but I doubt any of them to be "isomorphic" the mathematical set of all sets. People think the Universe is the set of all material things, or the set of all existing sets, the set of all consistent sets, whatever, but not the set of all mathematical sets. At least, I have never found a person with this idea.

      I may be wrong. We could make a poll. Here it would be biased, but let's try: Is there anyone here who thinks the Universe is something like the mathematical set of all sets?

      With respect to the rest, I can not comment. I have the sensation you're saying one can define a "mental counterpart of the Universe" as "the result of somehow interpreting the physical events as cognitive events". So yes, then there would be a "mental counterpart", by that definition. But this is a change of name. It doesn't have any "mind" properties just because we called it "mental counterpart".

  • Zhang Chang says:

    "I don't really know what he means, I was honestly hoping he'd show up here and comment on my interpretation. "

    He's here now...he's the anonymous poster right above you.

  • Anonymous says:

    Sorry to disappoint, but I am in fact not Christopher M. Langan.

    This comment is directed mainly at Mike B.

    I don't know where you got the point of view Mr. Langan allegedly espoused regarding entropy. I've never seen something like that in his writings as far as I can recall, and I strongly doubt such a view is present in his introduction to the CTMU. Please explain where he says or implies this.

    You are on the right track with your views inasmuch as they are monistic. Though your views fit more or less into the framework of the CTMU, I do not think they originate from where in the CTMU you think they originate. Specifically, Mr. Langan's attack on dualism does *not* originate from anything related to thermodynamics. Instead, his argument against dualism proceeds by syndiffeonesis, a process which he describes in his 2002 paper.

    Any further questions?

  • Zhang Chang says:

    Oh, sorry about that. I thought you were Mr. Langan because I noticed your other comment on the americanatheist.org blog, where he was also posting. My bad.

  • koinotely says:

    Such an unfortunate waste of Mr. Langan's time, rather than using the opportunity to ask him some deep logico-mathametical questions, instead we can't get past the first paragraph of an introductory essay meant for a general audience...and here I was hoping to hear his technical explanation (which admittedly I probably wouldn't completely comprehend) for why self-duality and topos theory are not quite enough as they currently exist to pick up where set theory left off...another wasted learning opportunity, such is the Tragedy of the commons.

  • Justin says:

    I agree with koinotely, seems like mob mentality even reaches the PHD level. Funny enough this whole thread reminds me of the movie Good Will Hunting where the pompous PHD's are fumbling trying to understand the Genius and he finally explodes. Let's make no mistake here, Most of you are extremely intelligent I'm sure but Mr. Langan is not just extremely smart, he is an off the charts genius. I believe he deserves more respect than he got here period whether he made himself clear or not. Has anyone heard of asking him nicely to explain his theory on a more comprehensive level instead of insulting the man by calling him a crank ? I think not...

  • Anonymous says:

    I agree with both koinotely and Justin, but I would like to add that Mr. Langan has explained his work quite clearly over the Internet. If one wishes to learn about it in more detail, one must simply look at the correct websites. I'd be happy to provide an interesting discussion over the comments on this blog.

  • John Fringe says:

    Cool. We're back at the argumentation by authority.

    So, wherever this guy say, it's is correct. No matter what. Because, hey, he is intelligent!

    Well, he may be intelligent, but some people here seem to be pretty err... the opposite. Maybe he is using his intelligence to sell himself to simple people who don't think by themselves, accepting any argument by the I.Q. number. He can be very intelligent, but maybe he is lazy or does other motivations or whatever, and it doesn't take an Einstein to fool someone who is blinded by I.Q.'s.

    You can continue to think that heavier bodies fall faster. Aristotle was a very intelligent people. I at least will continue to think and judge on ideas, not authority.

  • John Fringe says:

    Seriously, I have a big problem trying to understand you. Are you really trying to convince us that he is right using as your only argument that some unknown guy said he was very intelligent?

    Unbelievable.

  • Anonymous says:

    John, I assume you are addressing Justin. All I can say is that Mr. Langan considers his IQ to be ultimately irrelevant next to his intellectual contributions. If you wish to debate those intellectual contributions, namely various parts of the CTMU, with me, feel free to proceed right now. Simply state a specific qualm you have with it and I will gladly debate it with you here.

  • John Fringe says:

    Well, I was addressing anyone who basically speaks about intelligence as an argument. Nobody specifically, they are scattered over the post.

    I'm a bit tired of people talking about intelligence. I still don't have a clue about what intelligence is. Maybe to be willing to learn, but that is not the way people use the term. And nobody seems to know, yet people try to use the word to settle arguments. You'll agree this is not very "intelligent".

    All this "intelligence" issue tires me.

    My impression about IQ is this: A lot of people trying to get into mensa-like-clubs to feel superior, only to later hide their IQ to not feel inferior once there. Talk about irony!

    I am not criticizing Langan here, but people who use this argument.

    Regarding your offer to debate the theory, I believe his pages speak by themselves. I would be a hard time finding an specific qualm.

    "It follows that reality itself should be a set…in fact, the largest set of all. But every set, even the largest one, has a powerset which contains it, and that which contains it must be larger (a contradiction)."

    Of course, this is not an argument. I'm not convincing you.

  • Anonymous says:

    I am not sure why you included that last quotation so I will not reply to it.

    I also feel that many high IQ societies originally founded as places for members to befriend like-minded people have become breeding grounds for insecure egos. It is of course extremely likely that some societies are worse than others in that respect and there are probably still societies truly dedicated to helping the gifted overcome their isolation.

    I probably can't contribute much more to this discussion than that.

  • John Fringe says:

    The citation (from http://megafoundation.org/CTMU/Articles/IntroCTMU.htm) was just my poor attempt to justify somehow why I don't believe I can contribute anything more to the discussion, neither. I just meant "this is an example of what I consider bad logic".

  • Anonymous says:

    Why do you consider that quotation bad logic?

  • John Fringe says:

    Because every sentence is a premise, an assertion. An they are assertions widely known to be false.

    - reality should be a set. (why? this is not infered, so it's a free assertion)
    - it should be the largest set of all. (why? free assertion)
    - every set, even the largest one, has a powerset which contains it. (what is the largest set? if it doesn't exists, how can we talk about its properties? does it really have a powerset? why? free assertion)
    - a powerset if larger. (is this assertion valid for infinite sets? why? free assertion)

    Good logic is about inferring things from acceptable premises.

    Bad logic is about disguising unaccetable premises (premises not much people would take for granted) as being inferred, despite having no connection with the rest. It's bad logic because logic is about inferring things using logic rules.

    If you don't use logic, it's not logic. That's why. Sorry, I thought it was obvious.

  • CausticDuality says:

    In hopes of rebooting this discussion from scratch: Can someone explain, very simply, a correct interpretation of the CTMU?

  • Anonymous says:

    You need to look at that quotation in context. It's the beginning of a proof by contradiction. The assumption is that reality is a set. It follows that it is the largest set of all because all conceivable things necessarily fall into reality. Now that we have (for the sake of contradiction) come to the conclusion (albeit illogically) that reality is the largest set, its powerset is the set of all mappings between its members, as is true for all sets. Assuming that reality is a set as we have, it has a powerset. As for the cardinality of that powerset, Cantor's diagonal argument establishes that the powerset of a set has a greater cardinality than that of the set itself regardless of whether the set is finite or infinite. Just remember that Mr. Langan does not actually believe reality to be a set and that this is merely the beginning of a proof of its not being such.

  • John Fringe says:

    Sorry, but no.

    > "The assumption is that reality is a set".

    No. The assumption is that reality is a set, that it is the largest set, that the largest set exists, that reality is the largest set, that infinite sets can be compared in size, that... he actually makes a lot of assumptions. But, as they're in disguise, some people don't immediately see them.

    > "It follows that it is the largest set of all because all conceivable things necessarily fall into reality."

    It follows from where? Eh? Wow, not so fast. That's pretty much a word play, so vague it would let me prove anything. Want a proof? Let's try.

    Consider this: if anything conceivable fall necessarily into reality, I tell you I can conceive a world where that sentence is false, and where Langan's theory is false. As I conceived it, it is part of reality. So hey! I just proved you're wrong!

    Why is my proof empty? Because I'm only playing with words. First: what do you understand by conceivable? Imaginable? Then why is it necessary for something conceivable to fall into reality? Maybe there are conceivable things that are not real. Why not? Maybe there are a sets of inconceivable things that are bigger. Why not?

    You're only hiding a lot of assumptions in misleading language there (possibly not consciously). You have inferred nothing, you've asserted it.

    > "Now that we have come to the conclusion that reality is the largest set, its powerset is the set of all mappings between its members, as is true for all sets..."

    As the previous conclusion is erroneous, the conclusions based on that conclusion are erroneous. And so on.

    To make things clear, some of his hypothesis are:
    - the universe is a set
    - there exists a set larger than any other, which we call the largest set.
    - the universe is the largest set
    - we can build a set larger than the largest set

    (You're adding some additional hypothesis, such as that we're using a concept of set that admits the diagonal argument. But he could be referring to a more relax concept. It doesn't matter)

    I would not need so much hypothesis to build a contradiction. 2) and 5) would do. The problem is he is not proving anything about the Universe at all. All he is proving (and you're trying) is that your set of premises is inconsistent. But then you select one of the premises and say it is wrong because inserting it in a set of inconsistent hypothesis it results in a new set of inconsistent hypothesis. That's pretty bad logic.

    > "Just remember that Mr. Langan does not actually believe reality to be a set and that this is merely the beginning of a proof of its not being such."

    If he does not believe that, and nobody really believe that, why is he asserting it?

    There's no proof that the Universe is not a set. He proved that is the Universe is a set, and it is the largest set, there exists a largest set, and you can build an even larger set, then you've got a contradiction. You only need the last two for that, so he said nothing about the Universe being a set or not.

    But then, as I said, I'm not saying nothing new. That's all obvious.

    This paragraph is just an example, but you can see he is just asserting things. At least, I believe it's clear why I call the theory bad logic.

  • John Fringe says:

    The "He proved that is the Universe" should be "He proved that if the Universe". I'm always increasing my typo count :(

  • Anonymous says:

    As almost all of your second last post rests on my statement, "It follows that it is the largest set of all because all conceivable things necessarily fall into reality," being false, I'll tackle that first.

    I admit that what I said is terribly inaccurate. My bad. Let me give a better reason for reality being the largest set of all, assuming it is a set.

    I provide here the method by which Mr. Langan goes about this in his paper, which I should have read more carefully before replying to your earlier post. He provides the sentence, "Reality contains all and only that which is real." This sentence is clearly tautological; specifically, it is autological, which means that reality is clearly a self-defining predicate. Predicates may be described as sets and vice versa, so a self-defining predicate may be described as a self-including set. By the way, I mean predicate in the mathematical and not grammatical sense. Wikipedia, for example, distinguishes between the two, and you need merely find the article "Predicate (mathematical logic)" for more information.

    By definition, all that exists is included in reality. As reality is also a self-including set, as shown above, it both contains itself and contains everything real. Thus, if it could be described accurately as a set, it would be "the set of all sets", or the largest possible set.

    Now that we have really established in which sense reality is the "largest set", I think you'll see that the rest of Mr. Langan's proof by contradiction follows neatly.

    You also claimed that Mr. Langan may be using a definition of "set" that does not admit the diagonal argument. His references to Russell's paradox and related problems in other papers make it very clear that he is using "set" in the well-defined mathematical sense.

    Your second and fourth hypotheses would not in fact do alone, as the first hypothesis is necessary to establish that we're dealing with reality in the discussion and the third hypothesis is necessary to establish that being the "largest set" in fact applies to reality.

    You seem to be confused about how Mr. Langan's proof works, so I will lay it out here for your convenience.

    1) The real universe necessarily contains all that is real. (This is an autology.)

    2) That which is real is *topologically* contained in the real universe, and the real universe is *described* (descriptively contained) by that which is real. (This is a tautology. This is also where Mr. Langan first distinguishes between topological and descriptive containment.)

    3) As reality contains itself and also contains all that is real, it may be described as the "largest set". (This is an assumption establishing the proof by contradiction. The proof justifies his distinguishing between topological and descriptive containment.)

    4) Consider the powerset of reality. It is the set of all subsets of reality, and it follows from Cantor's diagonal argument that it is of a larger cardinality than reality, assuming as in 3) that reality is a set.

    5) The solution to this conundrum is to incorporate two senses of containment, topological and descriptive, in terms of which reality can be said to simultaneously contain its powerset (descriptively) and be contained by its powerset (topologically). But with two senses of containment it is more than just a set. Q.E.D.

  • John Fringe says:

    So you say: reality contains all and only which is real. That's not a tautology, that's pretty much a definition for me. In any case, I'm not sure what do you mean by self-defining. I believe it is this:

    a) reality as you defined it exists
    b) as it exists, it should be an element of itself

    If this is not the case, would you please provide an explanation? Excuse my ignorance.

    Langan and you are both making a mess confusing elements of the universe you're studying with elements of the metalanguage you're using to study it, and interchanging its properties. I wrote a long, detailed and very boring explanation on what is wrong in your deduction, but I believe we'll all see it more clearly if I show you an example. I think its very illustrative. If you still have doubts when you read it, or if you don't see the connection, I'll post the long and boring explanation.

    Let suppose we have a box, with at least three objects (which we will call A, B, C) in its interior. You're basically doing the following. We define the contents of the box as anything in its interior, and only that. By this definition, object A is one of its contents. Right? Objects B is another.

    Then, take the set of objects A and B. This set is in the box, so it's one of its contents. Right? Let call this set {A,B}. The set {{A,B},C} is in the box. So it's one of its contents.

    In fact, the set of its contents are in the box, so this set is one of its contents. Eh! It's a self-defining predicate again! The contents of the box is a content of the box! So it's a self-contained set. So it's the largest set. So... what do you want me to conclude? I can infer anything you want. Just say anything.

    I can do this with boxes, reality, thoughts... just name it, I'll give you your self-containt paradox, and infer anything you want.

    Do you see this is trivially wrong? Do you see this is exactly the same you're doing? And what about you, the rest of people here? Any doubt?

    The problem is this: the set of things in the box is not in the box. You can open the box and you'll never find the set. No. The elements of the set are in the box. Those you'll find there.

    The set of things that are real is not real. Its elements are real.

    What Langan (and you) are doing here is mixing language and metalanguage. I'm not saying you're doing it conciously, but you're doing. Can you see it?

    If you explain why my example is not exactly the same as you're deduction, I'll post my long and boring explanation :)

    Apart from that, my post does not rely only on that. You missed the most interesting part. The most interesting part is this.
    I'll explain more carefully.

    Langan starts with these axioms (with more than these, but these are a subset):

    1) the Universe is a set

    2) there exists a set larger than any other

    3) for any set, even the largest one, there exists a larger set

    He then says that the axioms are inconsistent, and then he inferres that 1) is false, because of this.

    The problem is this is trivially bad logic. You can not decide an axiom is wrong just because if you insert it in an inconsistent set of axioms the result is an inconsistent set of axioms.

    If you could do that, you could prove anything:

    1) I like peanut butter

    2) there exists a set larger than any other

    3) for any set, even the largest one, there exists a larger set

    The set of axioms is inconsistent, so I don't like peanut butter. Or

    1) Mr. Langan is right

    2) there exists a set larger than any other

    3) for any set, even the largest one, there exists a larger set

    But then again

    1) Mr. Langan is wrong

    2) there exists a set larger than any other

    3) for any set, even the largest one, there exists a larger set

    The set is again inconsistent, so Mr. Langan is wrong.
    In fact, with 2) and 3) and this bad logic we can infer anything we want.

    No, sorry. The problem is that he is inserting the axioms "The Universe is a set" in an inconsistent set of axioms, and later deciding the conflicting axiom is the anyone he chooses. Which is clearly wrong.

  • John Fringe says:

    If you still don't see it, I'll like to post one last example.

    You are saying reality is the set of all real things. Then you are extending the properties of the elements to the set: this set is also real, so it's contained in itself.

    The problem is you can not assign the properties of its elements to a set.

    If I have two blue marbles, what colour is the set of the two marbles? Blue? No, the set has no colour. Its elements are blue. That's all.

    If you have a box with two marbles weighting 1 unit each, how much does the set of the two marbles weight? Nothing, the set itself has no weight. You can not extend the weight to the set. You can not say: the set of the two weights two units. Each marble is contained in the box, that's two units. But the set of the two is contained in the box, so that's another two units. We have for units if weight in the box, and go on.

    In the same way, you can not say: I have elements that are real, so they are included in the set of real things. But as its elements are real, the set of real things is real. So it must be contained in the set of real things. You have no justification to say that.

  • John Fringe says:

    "We have for units if weight in the box, and go on."

    should be

    "We have four units of weight in the box, and go on."

  • Anonymous says:

    However, reality *is* real, so it is a real thing. That answers your last two posts.

    In fact, this also answers your example of a box. Reality is a real thing, and it is at the same time a collection of real things. This is indeed another major difference between reality and a typical set. The property of being real applies to both it and its elements. If you claim that reality is not real, i.e., that it doesn't exist, you'll be hard-pressed to back up that claim given that this conversation is occurring. :D

    Also, Mr. Langan's proof that reality is not a set is not the result of a true axiom being inserted into a system of inconsistent ones. It states that, were reality a set, it would have a powerset. As reality contains all that is real and its powerset is well-defined, its powerset is real so reality contains its powerset. However, its powerset, being its powerset, contains it as well in a well-defined sense: one of the subsets of a set is the set itself (although it is not a proper subset) and the powerset is the set of all subsets, so the powerset does contain the set. As we have an apparent paradox here (reality contains its powerset and is contained by its powerset), Mr. Langan resolves it by pointing out the two different uses of the word "contain": the descriptive and the topological. Notice that nowhere in this proof was it necessary to call reality the "largest set". Instead we merely had to see that it contains all that is real.

    Speaking of the sentence, "Reality contains all that is real," this is both a tautology and a definition. You already see why it is a definition, so I will only explain why it is a tautology. Being real is the property of being in reality. Reality is all that is real. These definitions are circular, but that does not make them false. In fact, reality must necessarily be described intrinsically as something would have to exist apart from reality for reality to be defined extrinsically.

  • John Fringe says:

    > "However, reality *is* real, so it is a real thing. That answers your last two posts."

    > Reality is a real thing, and it is at the same time a collection of real things.

    No. You have to choose which definition you want, but not both.

    You can take reality as that that is real. Well, OK with that.

    Or you can take reality as the set containing that which is real. Under this definition, you don't know if its real. OK with this one, too.

    What you can not do (if you're not that confised) is to take both conflicting definitions and decide to apply their properties to one same thing. Because then your paradox is because your mixing.

    I can do that to anything, too. It's a very old form of fallacy.

    Let's say we define a rich as anyone having at least the same money than Bill Gates.
    Let's define also a rich as anyone who is able to buy anything you want.
    Now suppose Bill Gates lost all his money and properties, so he's got nothing.

    Then, we've got the following: every person in the World would be rich, by the first definition. That's OK. But then, if everybody is rich, by the second definition everybody will be able to buy anything he wants.

    You know what? We all would have the same purchasing power as before. We have to choose: the first definition, where you can have someone rich who can buy nothing, or the second.

    What you can not do is to take as much conflicting definitions as you want and mix them, believing they define the same thing.

    Do you believe this example is totally silly? It is, in fact. But it is also exactly the same logic you're using here.

    You say "reality is something that exists", and "reality is the set of all that is real". Sorry, that's two conflicting definitions. You can take one, and try to prove the other as a consecuence. That's what you've failed two times to do before trying this form of fallacy.

    (By the way. I define John as being the physical person I am. Then I define John as the most cool person in the World. But then, I have just proved that I'm the most cool person in the World! I can prove anything this way. Too easy.)

  • John Fringe says:

    Here, you can see. Your fallacy is classified and described in wikipedia:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equivocation

  • John Fringe says:

    I have no problem affirming that reality does not exists in the Universe, considering one of your definitions of reality: the set of everything that exists. I have no problem affirming you'll never find an object in the Universe that is this set. Go look for it.

    If you switch definitions in the middle of the conversation, affirming now that reality is that which is real, then I can't say that. But that's a very low trick of yours :) You'll have to stick to a definition to play fair.

    Or to be taken seriously.

  • Anonymous says:

    I see now that due to earlier mistake on my part you are partially correct in attacking my position. I contradicted myself by saying that "reality is not a set" and also referring to it as a collection of things. Reality IS in fact a structured set, but it is *more* than just a set. Describing reality as a set leaves out some crucial properties of reality, such as its interplay of descriptive and topological containment with its powerset.

    Reality is contained by its powerset because its powerset is its powerset. On the other hand, it is the case that reality = {x : x is real}, and "real" must be defined intrinsically and circularly. Because the powerset is real, it is an x such that x is real, so it is an element of reality. But it also contains reality because it is the powerset of reality.

    Please correct me if you see any errors in this reasoning.

  • John Fringe says:

    Real = existing in the Universe. Ok, no problem with that.
    Reality = { x : x is real }. Ok, no problem with that.
    Reality is contained by its powerset. Ok, no problem with this neither.
    Because the powerset is real... <-- alarm, alarm!

    Why is the powerset real? Do you expect to find a powerset of the Universe floating in the Universe? In fact, you do know that assuming the powerset to be real leads to a contradiction. So, you actually know it is not real. Why do you say it is, knowing it is not (by contradiction)?

  • John Fringe says:

    Again I believe the problem is you're mixing two meanings of real. Real as actually existing, and real as conceivable. I said before that you can not take something as true just because you can conceive it (I can conceive this theory as false. If that makes it false, we should have ended long ago).

    You're mixing this two meanings. What you're proving is that you can not decide an arbitrary thing (the "superset of reality", the "set of all real things") to be real just because you want, because that leads to contradictions.

    You're inferring nothing more.

  • Anonymous says:

    I don't expect to find it "floating around". However, I never claimed that it is "physical": I merely claimed that it is "real". That means it can be said to exist. All well-defined mathematical objects are actualized as information, but not necessarily as physical things. For example, one may not be able to hold the Cantor set in the palm of one's hand, but that doesn't mean it does not exist in a purely informational sense.

    The contradiction exists when considering any "set of all sets", and it is simply the case that Mr. Langan's resolution is somewhat different from that of other approaches to set theory. While typical models of set theory tend to introduce axioms preventing a set of all sets or stratify the concept of a set into multiple exclusive levels, Mr. Langan uses two different types of containment.

  • Anonymous says:

    Where in my last two posts do you think I made the mistake of passing "real" off as "conceivable"? If one conceives of a unicorn, that just means the conception of a unicorn exists, but not that the unicorn itself exists.

  • Anonymous says:

    In my 1:48 p.m. post, I said that a thing's being "real" means that, "It can be said to exist." I meant, "It exists."

  • John Fringe says:

    > However, I never claimed that it is "physical": I merely claimed that it is "real". That means it can be said to exist.

    So real means it can be said to exists? Well, the problem then is in your understanding of real.

    I can speak of the falsehood of the Langan's theory. This falsehood can be said to exists. In fact, I said it exists. So it exists.

    Knowing that Langan's theory's falsehood exists, what are we arguing about?

    I can't take that meaning seriously, or you're wrong in any case as you see.

  • John Fringe says:

    A concept needs not to be real. If you can't accept that, then we finally find our problem: your concept of "existence" leads to contradictions. It's that concept what is inconsistent. Nothing more in the reasoning chain is right.

  • John Fringe says:

    > If one conceives of a unicorn, that just means the conception of a unicorn exists, but not that the unicorn itself exists.

    I read this now. Then again, why do you say the powerset if real? The concept of a powerset if real, but why the powerset itself? You have the proof (it leads to contradictions), yet you insists.

  • Anonymous says:

    My 1:52 p.m. post addresses your 1:55 p.m. post. A concept does exist as a concept, and that addresses your 1:57 p.m. post. To address your 2:00 p.m. post, indeed it is the concept of the powerset that is real. On any account, this diminishes the powerset's existence as much as the existence of the number 4 is diminished by the same argument - it doesn't at all. These are both mathematical abstractions, and that is the sense in which they have informational existence. It does not make them less real.

  • John Fringe says:

    The powerset as a concept exists. But certainly it does not contains the entire Universe as a subset.

    In fact, the concept of powerset is a concept, not a set. The concept of powerset does not contain anything. It's a concept about a set containing things.

    So your argument is still trivially wrong, because now we agreed that the concept of the powerset of the Universe exists, but it clearly is not a set, and it clearly does not contain the Universe as a subset. As your argumentation was based on this, it is wrong.

    I believe you're still playing with words, and confusing language wuth metalanguage.

  • Anonymous says:

    I see we've both ignored CausticDuality, and on my part this was a result of simply not noticing the post. In response to him or her, the CTMU is rather difficult to summarize concisely as a result of its many implications. Though I may not do it much justice, I will attempt a summary.

    In short, the CTMU is a theory of reality based entirely on tautologies and which may be used simultaneously to analyze the subjective and objective sides of reality. It is a theory of reality-as-mind and its wide scope allows it to be used to decisively answer questions relating to topics as diverse as the expansion of the universe, the nature of consciousness, and the existence of a creator.

    If you, CausticDuality, have any more specific questions about the CTMU I will be glad to answer them, and I will probably do a better job of it than I did of this little summary. ;)

  • Anonymous says:

    Do you agree that the number 4 exists? Then does the set {4} exist? Of course it does as an abstraction. Reality is also an abstraction. So is the powerset of reality, and it is well-defined as the set of all subsets of reality. You cannot go out and physically hold reality. If you object that the universe is treated in cosmology as a physical object, this does not do the universe justice. It must be treated intrinsically, not with respect to some wider encompassing medium, as no such medium exists. Just as reality may be defined in terms of the predicate "real", so may its powerset be predicated on reality. If one exists, both do.

  • John Fringe says:

    I don't agree that the powerset of the set of all existing things exists. I can't agree with that, because it leads to a contradiction. You have seen it.

    It existence is not obvious. You don't infer it from anywhere. You're just taking its reality as an axiom. And you've got a contradiction, but you take another axiom as the culprit.

    I agree that the concept of powerset (and that of the concrete powerset of the set of the entities that exist) exists.

    But that is not the thing, and the concept doesn't share the properties of the things.

    If there's any doubt, I invite you observe how the World works: despite I having the concept of a sheep in my garden, my grass continues growing. It seems that I need an actual sheep, and not only the concept.

    In this very way, the concept of the powerset of the entities that exist is not a set containing the entities that exist as a subset.

    The concept is not the thing. If it's still not crystal clear, invite you to cut a paper with the concept of a pair of scissors.

    That's all we have until now.

    I repeat myself because I do not found any new information or argumentation in your last post.

    Sorry. It's being a pleasure to argue with you :)

  • CausticDuality says:

    Like Carl Sagan said, we are a way for the cosmos to know itself. We are made of the universe, and the universe is in us. The atoms of our body simply came from the centers of high-mass stars. Why do we need to define such things as "consciousness" in metaphysical terms when we already know what it is? Sentience is just the result of various processes working together. Every aspect of our mind is traceable to the brain. It's all material.

    How can one possibly posit an "objective reality" when all we have is perception? The only "objective" thing we can determine about our reality is that a subjective reality exists -- in other words, there is existence.

    And the fact that Langan is invoking a Creator/God is a huge red flag. It doesn't get you any closer to solving anything. It all sounds like crackpottery.

  • Anonymous says:

    The paradox associated with a set of all sets will arise regardless of whether or not the powerset is so much as mentioned as a result of Russell's paradox. Even if Mr. Langan or I had not brought the issue of the powerset up, there would still be a paradox. As I see it, the powerset is as well-defined as any powerset of an infinite set, and this makes it as real as any powerset of an infinite set.

    The phrase "abstract concept" is redundant. All concepts are abstract and all abstractions are concepts. E.g., the concept of a linear mapping is a linear mapping. The difference between concepts and things in themselves becomes a problem when one moves from the abstract to the concrete. E.g., there it is true that the concept of a pair of scissors is not the same thing as a physical pair of scissors. As both the powerset and reality are abstract concepts, like a linear mapping they exist if we may so much as conceive of them.

    It is a pleasure to argue with you, as well.

  • Errr.... says:

    Do you (or that different person who is Mr Langan) have the slightest idea of the meaning of 'topological', my friend Anonymous?

  • Anonymous says:

    I will reply to Errr.... first as a somewhat shorter reply will suffice to answer his or her query.

    In most cases "topological" means "of or relating to topology". However, Mr. Langan uses it in the phrase "topological containment" (which I assume you are asking about) to refer to the type of containment used in set theory, i.e., the way in which sets contain or are contained. This may be contrasted with "descriptive containment" which is the way something in a language contains its referents.

    The rest of this comment is in response to CausticDuality's 3:36 p.m. comment.

    No large-scale consensus exists on the nature of consciousness. For example, many philosophers (e.g., Berkeley, Chalmers) would likely object to your statement, "Sentience is just the result of various processes working together." It is not intuitively impossible for there to exist intangible subjective phenomena that determine the mind's processes. Assertions are not absolute proof, which is why the nature of consciousness is of great metaphysical importance.

    Absolute knowledge exists in the form of logical tautologies. That is the objective side to reality in which you seem to lack faith.

  • John Fringe says:

    > there it is true that the concept of a pair of scissors is not the same thing as a physical pair of scissors

    So... you're accepting that the concept of a pair of scissors is not a physical scissor. But you don't accept a concept can not contain a physical scissors.

    I mean, you agree that concepts are different from physical things, but you believe they can contain physical things. You believe the concept "powerset of the reality" contains an existing physical scissors. As much as every one of them.

    Despite it being the origin of contradictions.

    I find this very curious, and I can not see why I should (or can) go beyond that. You assert things that lead to contradictions. That things are not deductions, but your axioms. And they lead to contradictions. But they lead to contradictions way before considering the Universe the largest set. So that's not the conflicting axiom. So, by the time you are speaking of that idea, you're in an inconsistent system. So you're reasonings about the largest set, based on that inconsistent suppositions, are wrong.

    I really have nothing to add. I have being repeating the same. The information is here. I'll let people judge by themselves.

  • John Fringe says:

    No, I still have one doubt.

    > "As both the powerset and reality are abstract concepts, like a linear mapping they exist if we may so much as conceive of them."

    This is clearly an axiom for you. A concept exists if we can conceive it. Then, why so much theory to prove god exists?

    I mean. You have the concept of god, and an axiom saying concepts exists. Why so much wasted words?

    (Of course, this proof of the existence of god means nothing. As I say before, this god may not share any properties with other definitions of god, and you can not mix definitions to prove properties. Anyway, we saw that axiom leads to inconsistencies, and the proof is indirectly based on that. But depending on the same axioms, my proof is a lot shorter than Langans and has the same validity [none]. Which is good).

  • Anonymous says:

    You continue to amaze me, Mr. Fringe, in your lack of understanding for why an unfashionable powerset cannot be dismissed. The term "concept" is clearly being used very vague so I will drop it entirely. The fact remains that if reality is a set as you claim it has a powerset. All sets have powersets. Why? Because the powerset of a given set is simply the set of all subsets of that set, and all sets have subsets. Yes, even reality has subsets, and you cannot dismiss those subsets because they lead to a paradox. Paradoxes are not irresolvable as you seem to believe, and where they arise from proper mathematical reasoning (like this one does) they are beneficial as they show fundamental problems with given systems (e.g., naive set theory).

    As for Mr. Langan's proof of the existence of God, it turns out that this God has properties associated with omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience. Whether or not that qualifies as a true God for you, that's the case.

  • CausticDuality says:

    "It is not intuitively impossible for there to exist intangible subjective phenomena that determine the mind's processes. Assertions are not absolute proof, which is why the nature of consciousness is of great metaphysical importance.

    Absolute knowledge exists in the form of logical tautologies. That is the objective side to reality in which you seem to lack faith."

    Just because something is not impossible doesn't mean we have any good reason to believe it. It's not intuitively impossible for there to exist intangible Leprechauns, either. It's not intuitively impossible for it to be true that we can't explain 100% of the variance in the data of heating up a cup of water without invoking pixie intervention.

    There IS a widespread agreement in the scientific community as to the nature of the conscious mind. To imply otherwise is akin to implying that there is still "controversy" over something like evolution. Modern neuroscience/neurobiology shows that everything is linked to the brain. We can knock out (temporarily, with electric shocks) various parts of the brain and see all sorts of corresponding functions wipe out. We more or less know how stimuli is processed, how feelings/senses are interpreted, how memory works, etc. Even if we don't have all the nitty-gritty details, we know sufficiently enough to explain the basics. We have all we need to explain how sentience actually operates. Of course guys like Chalmers would object (they aren't scientists!). They frequently misuse quantum mechanical jargon and misunderstand how quantum theory works. It's too easy to invoke argument from ignorance when it comes to philosophy.

    And in terms of logical tautologies, that is not a matter of knowledge. Logic itself does not constitute knowledge. Logic is a framework in which we discuss relationships of other concepts. Logic is based on axioms which we take as self-evident because our universe is wholly conducive to these axioms.

    The CTMU holds little scientific value. It's just philosophy.

  • John Fringe says:

    I'm not the one saying the Universe is a set. You're defining (sometimes) the Universe as a set. You're forgetting your own definitions?

    I'm not saying (nor I believe it) that paradoxes are irresolvable.

    You said the there exists a largest set, and there exists sets larger than the largest set. I don't agree with at least one of those. No contradiction for me. The paradox is yours: you're the one who stubbornly defend contradicting axioms, despite know they're inconsistent, and despite not being able to explain nothing, beyond blindly asserting them: reality is a set, is real, a set as a concept has the same existence as a tree, and all that.

    I know paradoxes are solvable. And as almost everybody else, I know how to solve them: discarding some of the axioms. Nothing new here.

    Why are you blaming me for your definitions and your contradictions? I'm responsible of none.

  • Anoynmous says:

    You needn't be so quick to judge, CausticDuality. First of all, I was unaware that you were referring to the *scientific* community, in which there is indeed a bent towards physicalism and materialism. You should know that Mr. Langan agrees with your view that consciousness is not the result of unobservables and for the same reason, which is ultimately Ockham's razor.

    Moreover, I am sure Mr. Langan can identify with your criticism of traditional philosophy. Of all modern disciplines, philosophy is one of the worst off, and that is in fact why Mr. Langan chose to pursue it over other disciplines, such as physics or biology, that have many individuals actively improving them on a daily basis.

    As for your claim that logical tautologies are not a matter of knowledge, I must draw an objection. Tautologies are axioms of 2-valued logic and the complementary truth values True and False correspond to systemic inclusion and exclusion, respectively, so violating tautologies corrupts the informational boundaries between the cognitive and perceptual predicates applied or recognized in reality as well as between each predicate and its negation. The fact of our unbroken perception thus proves that tautologies constitute absolute truth within reality.

    As for the CTMU "just" being philosophy, you need only notice that major changes in physics are preceded by major changes in metaphysics (which is somewhat ironic because "metaphysics" is essentially Greek for "after physics"). For example, the theory of relativity was largely the result of a changed viewpoint towards space, time, and matter. A profound shift of paradigm such as the CTMU could provoke would likely change the sciences forever. Moreover, the CTMU has scientific value in its own right as it deals with the nature of artificial intelligence, resolves several largely mathematical paradoxes, and has much to say about cosmic expansion.

  • CausticDuality says:

    Paradoxes are rarely so -- they're usually just conflated interpretations of axioms and/or misunderstood applications of mathematical/logical principles.

  • Anoynmous says:

    I am not forgetting my definitions, Mr. Fringe. That is you. You unflinchingly accepted that reality is a set, and looking through your comments above proves it. On any account, I am sure that reality is a set, and you can quote me on that. Discarding axioms is not a good way to solve paradoxes. For example, consider Russell's paradox. One of the only axioms of naive set theory was that any collection is a set. Consider R = {x : x is not an element of x}. Then R is an element of R R is not an element of R. The solution to this paradox is not to eliminate the axiom, "Any collection is a set." Instead it is to *add* axioms, like ZF set theory does, or to add types of containment, such as the CTMU does.

    I rest my case always on mathematics. Reality is a set. Reality has a powerset because all sets have powersets because all sets have subsets because all sets are sets. This powerset contains reality because reality is a subset (though not a proper one) of reality and powersets contain all the subsets of the sets of which they are powersets by their definition. However, this powerset is a real thing because all sets have powersets and reality is a set as mentioned earlier, so because reality = {x : x is real} it contains its powerset. The ONLY assumption here is that reality is a set, and even this can be justified because reality is a collection of distinct objects, considered as an object in its own right. I am not even going to go into the issue of "concepts" as that is entirely beside the point when discussing the CTMU. Oh, and reality exists as I'm sure even you've noticed so it is indeed real and it is a member of itself.

  • Anoynmous says:

    CausalDuality, you're exactly right. All paradoxes are *seemingly* valid or their consequences are *seemingly* absurd, but this just points to problems in whatever system they are defined.

  • Anoynmous says:

    *CausticDuality

    *this just points to problems in the systems in which they are defined.

    I'm just correcting some minute errors I made.

  • CausticDuality says:

    Anonymous: Yeah but relativity came about because we had evidence that suggested we needed it to explain something. It wasn't brought about just because of some shifting viewpoint about space and time in opposition to guys like Newton and Mach. The viewpoint evolved along with the new theory. The CTMU is not suggesting anything of practical application or value with respect to new problems/evidence/physical phenomena in the same way Einstein did with relativity.

    As for your paragraph on logical tautologies, what I mean is that we can take a logical tautology such as "if A implies B then not B implues not A," the law of contraposition -- and say it doesn't represent "knowledge" in itself. I define knowledge via the epistemological concept of "justified true belief" when it comes to the ways laws and matter interact in our universe. We have knowledge because we are sentient and capable of perceiving within our reality. But the logic itself is an "objective concept" but I wouldn't define it as "knowledge." I see logic as more of a "fundamental framework" for existence itself. If logical tautologies are unsatisfiable, they become contradictions and they would make no sense when it comes to defining reality. In other words, I consider logic/mathematics to be self-evident, necessary concepts for existence itself, and this I consider to be "objective." I just don't like to call it "knowledge" in the same way that we might call our understanding of the sun and moon "knowledge" (what's true for me is true for you and true for everyone).

  • Anoynmous says:

    The CTMU is suggesting many new things though. For example, it pushes the theory of computation forward as protocomputation is shown to be behind typical consciousness. It also resolves Newcomb's paradox and extends the scope of symmetrization of probability distributions. It opens the way for a new theory of computational grammar that leads to better grammatical parsing systems. It has much to say about the manner in which the universe expands (or rather "conspands" in CTMU terminology) and this will enter new models of physics incorporating the CTMU. Philosophical revolutions leak into mathematics and physics, which leak into the other sciences, which leak into the "softer" sciences such as psychology and sociology, and eventually this leaking causes engineers to come up with new technologies to which the public is exposed through popular culture. All large philosophical contributions eventually help create new technologies in this manner.

  • Anoynmous says:

    As for your paragraph on logical tautologies, I understand what you mean and I have no objections to raise to it.

  • John Fringe says:

    So reading my comments, I accept that reality is a set. And I understand that is contains itself. And you say that based on mathematics.

    Now, what's that? A proof by negation of reality?

    I'm leaving here. The situation is getting ridiculous. The information is here, for anyone wanting to read it.

  • John Fringe says:

    The problem is you have a theory so trivially wrong you have to just negate reality and say we believe it's true.

    Your theory requires any concept one say to exists. Then the falsehood of your theory exists and is real. And you even don't bother negating it, because you really need that any concept to be real and true for your theory to work. Well, for you to believe it works.

    Then you write a thousand pages to prove an omnipotent god exists, having one axiom that is that, being able to talk about concept of an omnipotent god, then it exists.

    It's all ridiculous. As you can't go that way (reasoning), you turn around and you're again just asserting things: that I agree with what you want.

    This is just getting too random. Good bye with your "mathematics". Be happy.

  • Anonymous says:

    I'll try one last time to explain.

    It is not Mr. Langan's belief that thinking about a thing makes it real, and the discussion that led us that way is irrelevant to the CTMU. You've successfully ignored the 7:37 p.m. post addressing you, but I'll just restate its contents for future observers to read. This is the entire, pure chain of reasoning that leads to the conclusion that reality contains its powerset while being contained by its powerset.

    1) Reality is a set. Specifically, it is the set {x : x is real} = {x : x exists}. (This follows because it contains objects and is considered an object in its own right.)

    2) Reality has a powerset. (This follows because all sets have subsets. You can't say that reality doesn't have subsets because the fact leads to a paradox!)

    3) This powerset contains reality. (This follows because one of the subsets of reality is necessarily reality itself. This is true for all sets by the way. For any set S, S is a subset of S, but not a proper subset of S.)

    4) The powerset of reality is real. (This is the step Mr. Fringe really has trouble with. He seems to believe that we should be able to find a *physical* copy of this powerset, which is of course not true. (E.g., one can't find a derivative floating in outer space!) However, if reality is real its powerset is well-defined and so exists. If reality = {x : x is real}, P(reality) would resemble {subset1({x : x is real}), subset2({x : x is real}), ..., {x : x is real}, ...}. Reality, which Mr. Fringe agreed is a set, would literally be found within the curly brackets of P(reality)!)

    5) Reality contains its powerset. (This follows from it being real, as described in 4).)

    There you have it Mr. Fringe & Co. There are several reasons I didn't mention the "axiom" that anything conceivable exists: a) it is entirely irrelevant to the CTMU and especially this section of Mr. Langan's "Introduction to the CTMU", and b) it is largely the result of my not being careful enough in wording and your taking advantage of that, which is alright because that's your job as a debater.

    Have a nice life, Mr. Fringe!

  • CausticDuality says:

    Anoynmous: The CTMU, as far as I can tell, isn't suggesting anything new in terms of scientific application or insight. It's just philosophical pandering mixed in with a misunderstanding of quantum mechanics, information theory, and laced with a heaping of extreme verbosity due to a lack of clarity. If you aren't framing a new discovery through the scientific method, it's not science, and it shouldn't be passed off as such.

    You also don't need anything crazy to resolve Newcomb's Paradox. As I suggested earlier, paradoxes typically aren't really paradoxes. Newcomb's Paradox is already a problem with a screwed-up definition to begin with. I can choose either the clear box with $1000 or take both the clear and opaque box, but if I take both, the opaque box is predicted to be empty. If I take just the opaque box, it'll have $1,000,000. The paradox calls into question the nature of things like free will.

    In practice, people like the Oracles don't exist. We're better off taking both boxes because whatever's in the boxes are in the boxes, and we're better off taking as much as we possibly can. The only way the Oracle could really predict my actions is if he had access to every variable involved in my brain and the environment it interacted with from the time of determination up until the box-selection process. The Oracle would be able to know exactly which boxes I would choose based on the way the processes of my brain would compute the situation, and from there he could load the boxes ahead of time accordingly. If he knew that by giving me the problem, I would take both boxes, he would know ahead of time that he should only load the clear box with $1000 and nothing more. In other words, the paradox is resolved by taking away the concept of free will and framing choice as a deterministic concept.

    Newcomb's Paradox is only a paradox if you frame it as "Well, the Oracle can't change the contents of the boxes and yet I have free will. If I have free will, I should be able to make my own choice and have the outcomes scale to my choice, but how can the outcomes scale if the outcome is static from the beginning?" It's only a paradox in that logical sense, but like I said, paradoxes are only paradoxes because they're usually either misinterpretations or misframings. You do nothing by invoking the concept that "We have free will." The paradox is trying to say "You have free will that can't be pre-determined by outside sources, and yet here's an Oracle that can do just that."

    I could say "This sentence is false" but that doesn't really *mean* anything. Just because we can label something a certain way doesn't mean it's actually logically/physically sensible. It's like trying to find a number higher than 6 and yet lower than 4. It's nonsense, and things that are nonsense don't have any place in our universe or its definition.

    Philosophers are largely obsolete. Yeah, we can look at guys like Francis Bacon who had a lot to say about the nature of reality and science, but Galileo was *already* using *actual* science to make discoveries. In other words, philosophy doesn't really "leak into science" -- it just likes to think that it does. Science leaks into science. That's the nature of the scientific method. Quantum physics, for instance, completely revolutized the way we look at the world, and it didn't come about from philosophy. If you look at philosophy over the years you'll see all sorts of theories that are, nowadays, largely discarded as demonstrably false. Only in hindsight can we pick out the ones that by sheer chance alone happened to have grains of truth to them. For instance, Democritus posed the rough idea of atoms a long time before we ever actually discovered one, but he was only right by sheer chance alone, as atomic-scale technology didn't exist at the time. We don't pay attention to the wide array of other philosophical theories that were proven to be wrong because they were false! The theories that stick around longer are the ones that aren't easily falsifiable -- such as theories invoking Creators and God.

    The CMTU, in my opinion, is just a verbose backdoor to Creationism, which is an "ism" of ignorance.

  • John Fringe says:

    I have never agreed that reality is a set. You can continue to say what you want. But that's an invention of yours. I agreed to reason under your postulates, and one of then was the definition of reality as a set. So I played your game. I don't agree that reality is a set. I don't believe reality to be a set. I have never believed reality to be a set. I would not model reality as a set. Maybe I'm not expressing myself clearly enough. If you ask me, I would never say reality to be a set. I'm not of the opinion that reality is a set. I consider false for reality to be a set.

    But if you define reality to be a set, and as I know how to reason, I can understand that, and infer accepting your definition.

    But I do not believe reality to be a set. Repeat with me: I don't believe reality to be a set. Reality is not a set according to John Fringe. John Fringe does not think that reality is a set.

    > "if reality is real its powerset is well-defined and so exists"

    The problem is, you never proved reality, defined as your set, is real.

    The set { x : x is real } is not real because you called it reality. As you have never proved that the set {x:x is real} is real, you've never proved that the powerset is real.

    By the way, I don't believe reality to be a set.

    The problem is you have no clue how about reasoning. You believe the set {x : x is real} is real just because you're calling it reality.

    When pressed, you simply admit that any concept is real. But then again, I can prove the falsehood of your theory.

    Seriously, stop and think a minute. It's not so difficult. I still have hope.

  • John Fringe says:

    I almost forget one thing. My fault:

    I don't believe reality to be a set.

    That's all.

  • Chris Langan says:

    There seems to be a little confusion here. The poster "Anonymous" is not me, and has not been authorized to speak for me. He is proceeding on his own initiative, using his own understanding of the theory, in which he has not been coached or personally instructed by me. (Of course, he is free to do what he has chosen to do. But thus far, he has not handled this discussion quite as I would have handled it.)

    This forum belongs to Mark Chu-Carroll, and because Mark is forthrightly using his real name attached to his real credentials, his name and reputation are on the line (which is exactly as it should be). Almost without exception, the rest of you are trying to argue without answerability, and unsurprisingly, your argumentation is shoddy. In fact, most of it is so bad that it would be a complete waste of time for me to address it at all. I'm simply too busy for that.

    If you insist on having me address any particular point you have made in even a cursory fashion, you need to have Mark clean it up for you and present it as a formal objection along with his personal endorsement. (None of this is negotiable; this way, Mark will pay the price for upholding whatever nonsense I'm forced to spend my valuable time dismantling.)

    Alternatively, if you actually claim any qualifications in this field, you can provide such information as will allow you and your home institution to be unequivocally identified and thoroughly checked out by all concerned. That way, you and your institution can pick up the tab instead of Mark. (If you have no reputation or credentials and affiliations in this particular field, then please don't bother providing any information about yourself - if I put my own reputation at risk by arguing with you, then you must have one to put at risk as well, or no go. In situations like this one, such reciprocity is only fair.)

    Thanks for your attention, and have a nice day.

  • CausticDuality says:

    I have to agree with John on that note. There are serious problems when we accept certain axioms and base definitions as true or self-evident, especially if those notions are silly or meaningless to begin with.

    Let's look at Langan's own writing at http://www.ctmu.org/Articles/IntroCTMU.htm when he talks about sets.

    Let's give some hard definitions, here.

    A powerset just means if we have a set S = {x, y, z} when we can define its powerset as a set of all subsets. In other words:

    P(S) = {{},{x},{y}.{z},{x,y},{x,z},{y,z},{x,y,z}}

    He then goes on to say "If reality is the largest set of all, then reality has a powerset that contains it." Here he refers to the example of, say, {x,y,z} being a part of both P(S) and S, where S is defined as {x,y,z} to begin with.

    But then he screws up: "Every set, even the largest one, has a powerset which contains it, and that which contains it must be larger," etc. In other words, he is saying "S is a pretty big set. But the powerset P(S) contains S. Because P(S) is a bigger set than S, there is a contradiction. Therefore, there is a problem when we view reality as the largest set."

    This, to me, is complete nonsense. He's saying "If we define S as the biggest possible set of everything that is real, it can't be the biggest set because a powerset is larger and contains S." In other words, it's akin to saying "If God is all-powerful, can he make a stone so heavy even he can't lift it?"

    His solution: "Define an extension of set theory incorporating two senses of “containment” which work together in such a way that the largest set can be defined as "containing" its powerset in one sense while being contained by its powerset in the other"

    In other words, something where S is the biggest set that contains P(S) and yet such that P(S) also contains S. The only way two sets can "contain" each other fully is if they're equal, and the only way a set and powerset can be equal is if you're talking about the null/empty set. Screwing around with this means you screw with logic and are therefore talking about something nonsensical with respect to our universe.

  • CausticDuality says:

    Chris: We don't have to give out our real names/institutions in order for our arguments to be sound. We don't have to put "our reputations on the line" because the onus is not on us to do so -- you're the one making the claims with your CTMU, and you wish to have it associated with your name. That is your own choice.

    You can choose to discard objections if you want, but that doesn't make your theory true because you simply refuse to acknowledge the criticisms by saying "The arguments are shoddy and it's a waste of time to address it by people hiding behind anonymity," especially when a lot of the criticisms have valid points.

    You of all people should agree with the notion that "credentials shouldn't matter." If that were true, no scientist should bother wasting time with the CTMU.

  • Anonymous says:

    Hello Mr. Langan,

    Indeed I am not affiliated with you and I apologize for any misunderstandings of the CTMU I have caused. I am a Canadian high school student and I don't have any real credentials as such. I would prefer to remain anonymous for personal reasons, and I have nothing to lose from this to my knowledge due to my lack of credentials. I am an autodidact with respect to your model, so please forgive any errors I have made.

    Sincerely,
    Anonymous

  • CausticDuality says:

    At any rate, I actually do have plenty of credentials (top-tier school, top-tier employment, lots of research, etc) -- but I shouldn't have to flaunt them here to get across the point that credentials don't make you any more right or wrong with respect to the actual ideas you put forth.

  • Chris Langan says:

    Anonymous: "Indeed I am not affiliated with you and I apologize for any misunderstandings of the CTMU I have caused."

    I appreciate your frankness. Best wishes, and I sincerely advise you not to allow the kind of argumentation used against you here to dampen your apparent enthusiasm for the CTMU.

    CausticDuality: "We don't have to give out our real names/institutions in order for our arguments to be sound."

    Perhaps not. But as I say, my conditions are non-negotiable.

    I used to respond to anonymous posters until I realized that because they have nothing of value to lose, they tend to become totally unrestrained in their style and methods of argumentation. They typically start with subtle provocations harnessed to vague absurdities; when that doesn't work, they move on to snide remarks and threats of intellectual annihilation; when those have no effect, they escalate to full-blown insults and rhetorical fallacies including ad hominem argumentation, arguments from authority, strawman arguments, red herrings, and sheer propaganda. Finally, one realizes that one is being harangued by a gang of uninhibited imbeciles who will literally stop at nothing to push their "points", ridiculous though they usually are. Under no circumstances will they offer any meaningful concession as they do so; mudslinging and recalcitrance are simply too easy for them.

    I didn't design the Internet, so I don't bear any responsibility for the way it works. That it works as I have described is indisputable, at least where I have been concerned. If one thinks about it a little, one is forced to conclude that while the freedom of the Internet is definitely something to be admired and preserved at all costs, personal opinions are another matter entirely. Those must be legitimately defended on a level playing field, or they are worth nothing. This is one piece of cake that you don't get to keep and eat at the same time.

    In this kind of situation, there is no physical threat associated with surrendering your anonymity and revealing your credentials and affiliations. On the other hand, if you lack the courage of your intellectual convictions and refuse to uphold them under your real identity, at risk of your intellectual reputation and that of your primary sponsor, then they do not deserve a response from anyone who has put his own reputation on the line and can thus be held to reasonable standards of argumentation.

    That's just the way it is. I hope everyone understands.

  • John Fringe says:

    We understand, don't worry.

    In any case, we're not judging you, but your theory. I hope we all can differentiate the two.

    About the shoppiness of the arguments against your theory, I agree. But the reason is the arguments presented here in favor of your theory are pretty illogic and shoddy, too. The way to improve the quality is to provide better arguments that require better counterarguments.

    I don't say you provide those arguments. You're free not to do it, and if you find more elevated places where your theory is being judged, you better spend your time there. But then, don't expect masterful arguments to explain why the properties of the elements of a set are not applicable to the set itself. That's a silly supposition, so we give silly counterarguments (that work).

  • CausticDuality says:

    You might think that everything needs to be out in the open in order to contain the insanities that can sometimes accompany anonymity, and on some level I agree with that -- but I simply do not share personal information online for privacy and protection purposes. Nothing to do with defending intellectual reputation. The fact that I can lay claim to top-tier education and employment opportunities should be sufficient. I can't prove any of that, of course, but it shouldn't matter: Obviously crazy responses and insulting remarks can be ignored. My point is that there have been many good criticisms against the CTMU so far and I feel like they aren't being addressed fairly.

    There are problems I have with the CTMU all-around, but let's stick with that set question. Correct me if I am wrong: You are saying that if we describe reality as the biggest possible set, then a powerset of reality is a contradiction since a container of a "biggest-possible set" must be bigger than "the biggest possible."

  • Anonymous says:

    Mr. Langan, best wishes to you too. I certainly won't let such debates dampen my enthusiasm.

    John, you're denying that {x : x is real} is real. This denial amounts to the denial that there is a collection of things that exist. This means you're asserting that nothing exists. I think you'll have a hard time proving this. As Wikipedia puts it, "A set is a collection of distinct objects, considered as an object in its own right." By denying that reality is a set, you are denying that reality is a collection of distinct objects. This means that you are denying that anything exists, for if anything exists that thing is an object contained by reality. Again, I think you'll have a hard time proving this.

    CausticDuality, what specific criticisms can offer of the CTMU? I suggest you focus on explaining how the CTMU misunderstands quantum mechanics and information theory as you allege it does.

    Actually, you're wrong about what the term "science" entails when I use it (and judging from context when Mr. Langan uses it). In referring to the scientific method, you are making a more or less obvious appeal to empiricism, but empiricism is not of what all science is made; mathematics, for example, is entirely rational, and this is the way the CTMU proceeds for the most part.

    On a related note, the CTMU is best termed "philosophy" because it deals largely with metamathematics. This is no reason to dismiss it, however: pure logic deals with exactly the same thing. As for your claim that quantum mechanics did not arise from philosophy, I beg to differ. Quantum mechanics' major premise, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, sets absolute limits on the accuracy to which quanta can be measured, thus defining a relation between measurer and measured that cannot be expressed in a language focused only on what is measured, such as the language of classical physics. Though we may consider it a physical theory now, there was a time when quantum mechanics was indeed regarded as metaphysical.

    As for Newcomb's paradox, it's not that simple. First of all, you need a logical model justifying why free will does not exist as you claim. Moreover, you shouldn't ignore the maximization of subjective expected utility in your decision. Also, you need to prove that Newcomb's Demon can't exist.

    Actually, the CTMU extension of set theory is perfectly logical. Topological containment is the sort by which sets are said to "contain each other". Descriptive containment corresponds to inclusion by predication, which is a perfectly common mathematical operation in, for example, computational linguistics.

  • John Fringe says:

    > ohn, you're denying that {x : x is real} is real. This denial amounts to the denial that there is a collection of things that exist. This means you're asserting that nothing exists.

    So now I'm asserting that nothing exists. Oh, my god. I though the logic could not get any worse. You seemed reasonable.

    And Mr. Langan was surprised that the arguments are dumb. It's very difficult to argue when your opponent happily invents your dialog.

  • CausticDuality says:

    Anonymous: I feel like a LOT of terms are misused in the CTMU. There's a lot of jargon in there that mean very specific things but they're used in nonsensical ways. Either Langan is misusing the jargon or he's not explaining himself clearly enough. But I personally feel like there are a lot of confused ideas in the CTMU that just don't make sense, even to people who are well-versed in mathematics, physics, logic, etc.

    Yeah, we can define a set as an object in its own right in the same way that I can call an "apple" a set of "apple atoms" with all sorts of various properties to them. We can even define the universe as a vast set of information. That is, after all, how we even know about the universe to begin with. It exists and has properties we are able to measure and interpret. But my point is that sets are defined axiomatically, where the axioms have to make sense. Mathematics has to put all sorts of exception cases and rules in place in order for them to work.

    The reason why MarkCC brought up naive set theory earlier is because it says "any definable collection is a set," so therefore I could say S = set of all sets that aren't members of themselves. If S is a set that isn't a member of itself, then S isn't part of S. But if S isn't part of S, then it should therefore be included in S. That's where the paradox stems from. But like I said earlier, paradoxes only exist when we confuse the logic.

    All Russell's Paradox is doing is setting up a scenario that logically cannot make any sense. Just because we can define something with language doesn't mean it has any mathematical sense. It's not possible to have S = set of all sets that aren't members of themselves in the same way that it's not possible to have a number higher than 6 and lower than 4 no matter how much I write 4>x>6. Just because I can calculate the value of something by writing x/y doesn't mean it'll make sense if I am talking about a number of apples divided by 0.

    The ultimate point here is that we can't just slap certain mathematical principles onto things, extrapolate a paradox, and then use that to justify invoking things like God. The model has to make sense. It's like when people try to apply the Stefan-Boltzmann Law to our earth/sun and conclude that the earth temperatures are higher than they should be because the blackbody temps are below 0. The whole thing goes out the window when you take into account that the earth isn't a blackbody -- we can model the earth as one, but it's failing to take into account other influential factors like rotation, greenhouse effect, dimension, etc.

    On a fundamental level, we use mathematics to describe our reality. That's a very different distinction from saying reality IS the mathematics. In doing so, it's too easy to run into "mathematical paradoxes" that lead you down a path of describing reality in a way that is nonsensical.

  • CausticDuality says:

    Anonymous:

    "As for your claim that quantum mechanics did not arise from philosophy, I beg to differ. Quantum mechanics' major premise, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, sets absolute limits on the accuracy to which quanta can be measured, thus defining a relation between measurer and measured that cannot be expressed in a language focused only on what is measured, such as the language of classical physics. Though we may consider it a physical theory now, there was a time when quantum mechanics was indeed regarded as metaphysical."

    This is just false. Quantum Mechanics came to light because of physics. The cathode ray, photoelectric effect, ultraviolet catastrophe, black body radiation, quanta, etc, all of which are scientific, physical concepts that aren't settled in philosophy. The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle is also not a matter of philsophy or observer effect or the accuracy of the measuring instrument. It comes about because of the fundamental way momentum and position are defined. The more you know about one, the less you know about the other, and this is intrinsic due to the nature of waves.

    Regarding Newcomb's Paradox: It actually is that simple. The "logical model explaining why free will doesn't exist" is just physics. We know that wavefunctions are essentially deterministic, and so we can say that even though we do make our own choices, they aren't independent. Choices are made as a result of the physical determinism of the universe -- our brains determine what thoughts and feelings we have, and brains can be broken down into complex neuron systems that abide by physical laws just like anything else. This is not only obvious, but evident through neuroscience: You manipulate the neural level, you can manipulate the outputs. We're not independent systems that operate autonomously with respect to the universe.

    I don't need to appeal to concepts of expected utility to show why Newcomb's Paradox isn't really a paradox. I explained in sufficient and simple detail why in my earlier post.

  • John Fringe says:

    (Quantum mechanics is science. It has always been contrasted to experiments. It can be.)

    This way is not working, but I'll try one more time. I'll arm myself with patience. You continue mixing definitions and properties, of reality, of existence, of being real. Let me try other way.

    You're mixing two meanings of "to exists" just because the colloquial word is used with that two meanings. And you're mixing the properties of the two.

    Consider A as "the chair in front of you".

    If I ask you, does A exists?

    If you go look in front of you and check if there is something physical, then you're using one of the meanings. Suppose the answer is negative. (I hope you can conceive giving that answer). I'll call that meaning exists_1.

    Then you can consider "the chair in front of you" as a concept. That that concept exists? You'll answer: yes, it exists. It can be evaluated to exists_1, we can talk about it. The concept exists. I'll call this meaning exists_2.

    (Technically, they are not properties of the same universe of discourse. But I bet you don't understand these technicallities.)

    You see they are different predicates applied to different entities: in the first case you can answer no. In the second one, you'll never answer no. But you're mixing them in your argumentation.

    You say "reality" (which may not be reality. Remember, I don't believe the universe to be a set) is the set {x : x is real}.

    Imagine you're referring to exists_1. "Reality" (the name you give to the set) is {x : exists_1(x)}. The set of things that exists according to the first predicate. But you have to understand that "reality" (just a name, remember, don't me bring a nitpicker's corner) exists_2, but not exists_1. So no problem here: "reality" (remember about the name) is not self-contained.

    Imagine now that you're referring to exists_2. "Reality" is {x : exists_2(x)}. The set of things according to the second. Then I believe you'll accept you're not speaking of the intuituve meaning of reality. That "reality" would not contain material physical things, for example. You're not speaking of reality with that "reality". That set is self-contained. But it just a concept, and we know there is inconsistent concepts. No problem with that, because that "reality" has no relation to reality.

    As ever, what is confusing you is that you can not use all the meanings of an informal word formally. Some words have more than one meaning. You mix them all which is wrong reasoning.

    Can understand what I'm trying to tell you? If not, please, don't invent yourself what I'm saying.

  • John Fringe says:

    "there are a lot of confused ideas in the CTMU that just don't make sense, even to people who are well-versed in mathematics, physics, logic, etc."

    Particularly in those people.

  • CausticDuality says:

    I should add why the expected utility and dominance principles are silly regarding Newcomb's Paradox:

    If we have a clear and black box, with $1000 and potential $1,000,000, respectively, I can do two things:

    Dominance principle: This is ensuring a highest possible minimum utility, such as in Prisoner's Dilemma when I always choose to defect because I can't possibly get stuck in jail for ten years unless I choose to cooperate in the face of defection from the accomplice. So, in this case, dominance principle tells me to pick both boxes because ensuring $1000 is better than taking a risk and getting nothing. ($1,001,000 or $1000) [we take both] than ($1,000,000 or $0) [we take black].

    Expected Utility:

    If we assume the oracle is the real deal:
    Choosing both boxes = 1000
    Choosing clear box = 1000
    Choosing black box = 1,000,000

    If the oracle is full of it and has no prediction ability:
    Choosing both boxes = 1000 + .5*1,000,000 = 501,000
    Choosing clear box = 1000
    Choosing black box = .5*1,000,000 = 500,000

    Expected Utility (fusing both scenarios together, assuming the probability of BS is 50%):
    Choosing both boxes = .5*1000 + .5*501,000 = 251,000
    Choosing clear box = .5*1000 + .5*1000 = 1000
    Choosing black box = .5*1,000,000 + .5*500,000 = 750,000

    Here, expected utility hypothesis tells us that we are better off choosing the black box, whereas dominance tells us to pick both. This isn't really a paradox here because this comes down to utility either way. Dominance principle is applicable if you've got a high risk-aversion profile, and expected utility hypothesis is applicable if you're more of a risk-neutral kind of guy.

    For instance, in Prisoner's Dilemma, let's say that instead of the following:

    Mutual cooperation = 1 month punishment, defecting in the face of cooperation = no punishment, cooperating in the face of defection = 1 year punishment, and mutual defecting = 3 months punishment

    We have this instead:

    Mutual cooperation = 1 month punishment, defecting in the face of cooperation = no punishment, cooperating in the face of defection = 4 months punishment, and mutual defecting = 3 months punishment

    Dominance strategy still tells us that defecting is optimal since (no punishment, 3 months) is better than (1 month, 4 months), but we may not use it. The downside to cooperating and being met with defection isn't that much worse than the dominant strategy of mutual defection, so I am more willing to risk cooperating and locking in a lower 1 month punishment, and my accomplice would know the same. We're more likely to cooperate because the downsides aren't so extreme and we both get to reap the rewards of cooperation.

    So, in other words, dominance strategy and expected utility hypothesis are still utility theories. Newcomb's Paradox just tries to pit the two against each other because $1,000,000 is extreme compared to $1000, and $1000 is extreme compared to $0. It doesn't matter if expected utility tells me what I can expect if I absolutely do not want to risk a particular downside.

    But again, none of this has anything to do with whether or not the premises of the paradox are valid, themselves, which is why I didn't bring any of it up before. It's not necessary to invoke in order to explain why the paradox isn't a paradox.

  • CausticDuality says:

    I mean, let's say the clear box had a penny and the black box had either $0 or $1000 in it. We obviously wouldn't bother taking both boxes because we don't really care about missing out on a penny and if the oracle's right then we miss out on $1000, and we do this even if dominance strategy tells us that ($1000.01, $0.01) is better than ($1000, $0).

  • John Fringe says:

    If you want more depth about my previous informal explanation, you're basically using the predicate exists_2 as

    exists_2(x) = true, for all x

    It's not spectacular that you find inconsistencies defining set with it. You're basically defining the set

    {x : exists_2(x) } = {x : x }

    So you're defining the set containing all elements. That inconsistencies are well known. The axioms using that kind of sets are inconsistent.

    So when you mix that predicate with our exists_1(x) predicate, you arrive at contradictions. The contradictions say nothing about the predicate exists_1, because they are already present using only exists_2.

    But then again, if you understood my previous post, only exists_1 says something about reality.

    You have all the information to judge again the theory under new light.

  • Anonymous says:

    To answer Mr. Fringe's qualm, I have used the verb "to exist" consistently. To demonstrate this, let's take a look at your example of a chair. Suppose there is no chair in front of me. Then "the chair in front of me" does not exist. However, "the concept of the chair in front of me" does. These are two different things. Insinuating that the concept of a chair is the same as a chair is like insinuating that {{}} = {}: it is simply not the case. I am using the predicate exists(x) as true for all x in which x is a valid mathematical formula or well-defined mathematical object (as well as certain other x of course). For example, the Cantor set exists under my definition. However, a unicorn doesn't (assuming that one can't find a unicorn in reality), though pictures of unicorns and descriptions of unicorns do.

    CausticDuality, yes, certain strategies apply to certain players, but that is not a complete resolution. A rational player would arguably see ND's long streak of correct guesses as evidence that the Demon is a master of human nature, but it is indeed possible that one would not think this way. Also, coordinate systems have traditionally been linked with mind-body dualism since the time of Descartes. In placing absolute limits on the accuracy with which we can perform measurements on such coordinate systems, the HUP is a philosophical development as much as it is a mathematical or physical one.

    A description *is* a model, and our rationality, our very perception, rests on models. If mathematics serves as a model for reality, reality is being embedded in a larger space of theorization, and it is this space that, existing and having reality embedded in it, becomes reality. Mathematical paradoxes are expressions of mistaken mathematics, not valid mathematics. The set concept itself is not restricted by the axioms of (e.g.) ZF set theory. Instead the uses to which it can be put are restricted.

  • CausticDuality says:

    My point is that the actual paradox itself is framed strangely to begin with. If we're saying that ND is the real deal, then I don't really have choice/free will by definition, if I can be predicted. Those two concepts are at complete odds with each other. Assuming the predictor is always right, then BOTH dominance and maximal expected utility theory tell me to pick the black box because $1,000,000 is more than $1,000. It wouldn't even be possible to reap $1,001,000 because we can't choose both boxes and have the black box contain money.

    And yet, at the same time, the problem tries to tell me that since the money's already been put into the boxes, I have free will and therefore if ND has placed money in the black box, he can't take it back. Therefore the dominance strategy tells me I have a chance of reaping $1,000,100, thus generating an apparent contradiction with what I stated in the previous paragraph.

    I say "apparent" because at the core, all you're saying is "ND is infallible, and yet there's a chance that he's not," which is also nonsense. If he's infallible, then it doesn't matter if he puts money in the black box or not because he already knows what I am going to do. And if he's not infallible, then this contradicts a premise of the problem.

    Therefore, even looking into expected utility theory is a waste of time because it doesn't make sense to calculate probabilities for something if we're being told that certain outcomes can't happen. It doesn't make sense to factor in, say, the possibility of gaining $1,001,000 if we're being told up front that choosing both boxes will always yield us $1000 under an infallible predictor.

    In other words, we're being told that we're being bound by some form of causality (whether forward or reverse) that is deterministic due to an infallible predictor, and yet at the same time we have free will that is somehow independent of an infallible predictor. You can't have it both ways.

    So it doesn't do much good to say "Well, you have to show that free will can't exist or prove that ND can't exist." ND *can* exist if we assume he has access to a sufficient amount of information about your decision-making processes ahead of time such that he can use that information to decide how to load the box -- but then you cannot have free will by definition.

    Besides, the evidence to date suggests that we don't really have free will. We have the illusion of free will insofar as we are unaware of all the variables that are involved in our decision-making processes, and so we typically model a lack of such data as randomness. The more I know about your decision-making algorithms, the more variance I can explain. There's no evidence suggesting that our decision making processes are anything BUT the result of the physical processes of the brain, and we know that physical processes can be predicted given sufficient depth of accuracy of information.

    So, really, the paradox is resolved by saying if ND has sufficient deterministic information, he will predict what you choose and nothing you do will be able to stop it. Decision strategies go out the window since you are basically faced with $1000 versus $1,000,000, any any rational utility maximizer will choose the black box. But not to worry -- even if you're not rational, ND will know this, too.

  • CausticDuality says:

    Oh, almost forgot:

    "In placing absolute limits on the accuracy with which we can perform measurements on such coordinate systems, the HUP is a philosophical development as much as it is a mathematical or physical one."

    Just because you call it a philosophical development doesn't make it one. There's nothing philosophical about HUP -- it's a physical concept that you can define mathematically:

    (deltaX)*(deltaP) >= h-bar/2 from (deltaA)(deltaB) >= (1/2)*|| (the commutator) where A and B are canonically conjugate variables.

    Wave packets follow this perfectly -- it's the result of not only empirical verification, but a derivation from the Schrodinger equation. It's not "philosophical."

  • CausticDuality says:

    For some reason the post ate my equation, lol (probably thought it was HTML or something)

    Supposed to say (deltaA)(deltaB) >= (1/2)*|@[A,B]%|

    Where % @ refer to > and <

  • John Fringe says:

    The problem is that you're taking "the existence of the concept 'set of real objects'" as "the existence of the set of real objects", and you don't want to think deeper about it. Anything I say will not make you change your opinion. So the arguing is silly.

    I'll rest my case on time. In science when argumentation does not work, one has to rest on observation or experimentation.

    Thirty years from now, I'll take a look at this theory, if it still exists. During this period, I invite you to spend as much time developing it as you can. If you can spend all your time developing its important applications, the rest of us will be happy :)

  • John Fringe says:

    > "I am using the predicate exists(x) as true for all x in which x is a valid mathematical formula or well-defined mathematical object"

    The funny and ironic issue is he is actually signaling what's wrong with his arguments.

    The problem here is that the set {x : exists(x)} is not a well-defined mathematical object. You can not even define its universe of discourse (at least, not recursively). And a lot of people here has point this sloppy use of language. For example, CausticDuality, and of course, MarkCC.

    Just because you say something is well defined it is not. I'd advise you to go learn something about sets.

    By the way, the fact that {x : exists(x)} is not a well-defined is a very well known fact. It's not something new.

    You just use the expression "well-defined mathematical object" too happily, too informally. As everything you use.

    I desisted because, for any explanation, you came with an answer with ten sloppy language uses and ten made up facts. Too much. If I point your problems, you return with a hundred. Exponential bad logic. Sincerously, it's impossible. Sloppy language, made up facts and a layer of apparent logic is indiscutible.

    So I take the Langan approach: your arguments are silly, easily refutable, I could refute them with my eyes closed, but I'm not going to. If it's right for him, it's right for me.

    The only judge will be people and time.

  • CausticDuality says:

    Anyways, my general point is that if Chris wishes to be understood better, he absolutely needs to be clearer in his writing and he needs to use jargon correctly.

    While some aspects of the CTMU make sense, a majority of it does come across as word salad, to mirror MarkCC's comment. It's like tossing a bunch of disjoint ideas together in a blender and hoping that something will make sense out of it to someone. And if it doesn't make sense to you, or if it comes across as nonsense, "you're just not competent enough to understand it."

    Chris, if you're still reading, this is what it feels like to read the CTMU:

    "When we consider the Hamiltonian invariant operator of X(Qo, c, S) mapped onto a continuous manifold of invertible metacognition functions we can show that the mind-body duality inherent in the utility definitions are rendered invalidated as a result of a contradiction in the self-inclusive computation of binary syntax. Given behavior function F with Hermitian operators/attributes, let its iterative states be analogous to the path-vector of conspansive recursion, but only in accordance with the regressive nature of one-to-one transmutation with respect to the Lagrangian multipliers for each element of the universal set. Cellular automata in the cognition states therefore become time-dilated but with a skew-normal distribution of relativistic identities."

    I mean, it just doesn't make any sense. The way you use certain mathematical arguments/scientific jargon is not going to sit well with people who have spent years in their fields and are well-acquainted with what the jargon means versus what it doesn't mean, and when certain models apply versus when they're ill-fitted.

    Personally, I don't think we get anywhere by trying to stuff the universe into a "set." Even if you have a set that defines all the real-valued operators/measurables in the universe, it doesn't mean it's self-inclusive.

  • John Fringe says:

    > "When we consider the Hamiltonian invariant operator of X(Qo, c, S) mapped [...]"

    :o You really need some kind of talent to write that. It feels true so authentic (crankery)!

  • Anonymous says:

    I agree that that paragraph is quite cranky.

    I wish to have somewhat more time off during my summer break, so I am going to stop replying to the debate soon, probably after this comment.

    CausticDuality, if there is one thing you should get from the beginning of that essay, it is that Mr. Langan doesn't believe describing the universe as a set does it justice either. As for its allegedly not being self-inclusive, I beg to differ. The sentence, "The real universe contains all and only that which is real," is indeed tautological as "real universe" is predicated on "real" and "real" is defined on inclusion in "the real universe". (I hope this answers Mr. Fringe's earlier objection!) Being tautological, it reflects a truth that led Mr. Langan to note that the real universe topologically contains that which descriptively contains the real universe.

    To the extent that coordinate systems are mathematical representations of mind-body dualism, it has always been entwined with philosophy regardless of its being traditionally mathematically described. As for Newcomb's paradox, the formulation you offer here is pretty much an outline of a proper resolution to the paradox. One just has to prove from here that ND can determine our actions and that this is likely.

    Well, it's been fun. Have nice lives.

    • Nissim Levy says:

      Hi Chris,

      I am one of your supporters. I do think you should become more familiar with Godel's Incompleteness Theorem as it is very relevant to your area of research. perhaps you are already familiar with it but I don't see any mention of it in your writings and commentary.

  • CausticDuality says:

    Well, we all know what tautologies say -- nothing new.

    As for mind-body dualism, it's already a pretty flimsy concept to begin with when we already understand that the mind IS the brain, and the brain is physically bound just like everything else.

  • John Fringe says:

    > The sentence, "The real universe contains all and only that which is real," is indeed tautological as "real universe" is predicated on "real" and "real" is defined on inclusion in "the real universe". (I hope this answers Mr. Fringe's earlier objection!)

    Yes, it answers my objection as much as "the real blue chair in front of you if blue and real", which predicates that chair to be real and blue, proves it exists. I've just proved that there is a blue chair in front of you, because I call it real and blue!

    Just because you defined something with the name "the real universe" does not make it real. You have a string belief in your words, but sorry: the fact that you say something does not make it so. Sorry again.

    Didn't we already discussed this? Deja vu? Proof by insistence? Exponential bad logic with circular argumentation? Noooooooo......!

  • John Fringe says:

    You can define "the blue chair" as "what there is in front of you".
    Or you can define "blue" as the perception you have when certain radiation of certain frequency hits your eye.

    What you can not do is to define "blue chair" to be what you've got in front of you, and "blue" as the perception above, and them expecting the thing in front of you to be blue according to the second meaning just because you "defined" it in the previous sentence.

    You can define what a "blue chair" is, but not if you have a previous definition of "blue". If you have one, then your definition of "blue chair" should be compatible.

    That's what the situation. Your "real universe" is not real in other sense just because you've put a word "real" before it. If you've got a previous definition of "real", you have to prove your concept of "universe" to be real before calling it "real universe". If you do not, you can call it "real universe", but it's not real in the other meaning.

    The discussion followed an tortuous path, and we arrived at this: your definition of real for concept is "well defined mathematical object".

    But then you can not call the set {x : real(x)} real, because it is not a well defined mathematical object. What's its universe of discourse? You can not define it.

    Well, you can, because with relaxed language you can say "it's the set of mathematical concepts, well and wrong defined".

    But of course that's not a formal definition. You need to have a well-defined universe of discourse to well-define a set with a predicate. This is probably not something you don't know, (you don't seem to know very much about reasoning or logic), but I'm sure you'll be able to find information about it. To learn is always good, no shame in that.

    So we're again in the same situation: you don't have any meaning for "real(x)". You are just mixing a lot of informal incompatible meanings, in the hope nobody notices.

    (The shame is in repeating the same refuted arguments).

  • I read this stuff slightly after Langan's last reply, and really don't know which side to take. I spent a couple of years developing a similar theory, and I'm not sure whether Langan knows everything that I know. I'd like to contact Langan, but don't know how.

  • Wikipedia quotes Chris Langan as saying: "Biblical accounts of the genesis of our world and species are true but metaphorical." I guess the same could be said of CTMU, at least in a metaphorical sense. If I'm able to contact Langan, I'll give him our article containing a formalization of the idea behind Diamond Sutra and Carnap's Überwindung. It was subjected to peer review but rejected as obvious, which it certainly wasn't for me. In any case, Langan doesn't address the issue in The CTMU: A new kind of reality theory. The issue is often ignored in metaphysical texts, but in this kind of a work it should not be.

    In any case, telic recursion is the kind of a concept some people would need. If the concept were usable, epistemologists trying to solve the problem of induction would use it to create a feasible concept of relevance. For more information, see Jüri Eintalu, The Problem of Induction: the Presuppositions Revisited (2001). It is not in any way silly that Langan attempts to create such a concept. To me, it is much sillier that people, who are aware of the things we pointed out in our rejected paper, even ask for such a concept.

  • The issue I previously mentioned is about ontology being bound to language. According to CTMU, reality is SCSPL, that is, Self-Configuring Self-Processing Language.

    In ontology, it is quite valid to make theories that emphasize: "All reality is X". Here X is, for example, "matter". But it is much less valid to make theories that emphasize: "All reality is X, and all other ontology is wrong." Except if you are not an ontologist, and instead, for example, a physicist. In that case nobody cares what you say about ontology, unless it is weird. You might even get an award for writing a book containing inferior ontological insight, if the non-ontological content were good. This was the case with Kari Enqvist, who was awarded the Tieto-Finlandia for his book Olemisen porteilla, which emphasized: "All reality is matter, and all other ontology is wrong". Simply put, the book had a part of physics that was good, and a part of ontology that was bad, and nobody cared about the ontological part. Maybe ontology ranks low. In any case, this is highly confusing, as it gives the impression that an invalid way of making ontology is valid.

    Our rejected article was long, full of formulae, and in Finnish, so I'll just try to summarize. We pointed out that it is commonplace in philosophy to talk of "reality", "the truth" or "all that exists" as if that concept would be universal in the sense that if you take materialism as axiomatic, and in this system talk of "all that exists", and then you switch to idealism, and keep talking of "all that exists", you are talking of the same thing. Many people write things that seem to imply this is ok, but it's not. The theory shapes the concepts, and treating concepts as if their exact meaning would be the same in any theory is similar to, or maybe even equivalent with, having a contradiction in the metatheory that spans both theories.

    Chris Langan is trying to overcome this limitation, that is, the state of affairs that ontology is bound to language. I tried to do the same thing, because I did not for a moment consider that it could be impossible. I changed my mind only when a friend advised me to read the Diamond Sutra. After that the very existence of ontology seemed frivolous to me, and I still don't understand why anyone would consider it interesting, but some do. I see Langan failing the same way as I did, except that he's not aware of doing that. Of course it would be great if I'm wrong, but Langan needs to address this concern if he'd like to win my support.

    But it's quite simple that reality is not SCSPL for someone who does not think that way. That actually sums up everything I wanted to say about CTMU in particular. If you want to go beyond language, stop writing. Scrap philosophy. Live your life. In any case, that's what I began to do.

  • I'd still like to emphasize that I don't consider CTMU any more ridiculous than the rest of ontology, and in fact it could be a bit less ridiculous than ontology on average.

  • valasquez says:

    He claims to be closer to absolute truth than any man before him.

  • Nissim Levy says:

    I think that the attacks on Chris Langan are off the mark. I admit that I haven't studied CTMU in much detail but the gist of his paper seems to me to be similar to the ideas behind Godel's Incompleteness theorems (self describing language). I don't think Mr. Langan references Godel and I suspect he has rediscovered Godel's Incompleteness Theorem, albeit in a less rigorous form. The genius of Mr. Langan is to realize that these ideas are not mere mathematical formalism but rather describe reality initimately. In other words, Godel's Incompleteness Theorem is not just some interesting result concerning Set Theory but rather are the foundation of reality itself because reality is just a mathematical set . He advances the notion that physicality and abstract mathematics are fundamentally equivalent. Indeed, physicality is an emergent phenomenon from abstract set theory rather then abstract Set Theory simply describing reality.

    • I don't think Langan could be uncivilized enough to not know of Gödel's work, because it is of such great importance. The Metaphysics of Quality by Robert Pirsig is a similar, and in my opinion, currently somewhat more usable version of CTMU. The MOQ, too, features a mechanism that could be considered an informal generalization of Gödel's incompleteness theorem, and it is of essential importance.

      Unlike the CTMU, the MOQ is occasionally taken seriously in the academy. But the latter has been around for decades, and the first book describing it was an artistic masterpiece and a best seller. The same can't be said of CTMU, but the amount of theoretical detail is indeed intriguing, and could facilitate the development of a theory that outperforms the MOQ in some ways.

      I'm a bit suspicious of your last sentence, though. Seems too dualistic to fit what is my first impression of the spirit of the CTMU.

      • Nissim Levy says:

        Due to Godelian Incompleteness a formal system that can describe the integers is able to generate truths that are not provable within that system. This is what I mean when I say that physicality is an emergent phenomenon from a more abstract substrate of reality. I think that the physical universe owes its existence to Godel's Incompleteness theorems and I suspect that's what the CTMU is really all about.

  • Julia_L says:

    OK, I get it. And if I don't, surely someone will point that out and call me a poopyhead(PH).
    Legal disclaimer: I'm not the smartest person in the room or the most credentialed.

    My paraphrase of others' descriptions of Lagan's argument (I admit, I found his verbiage pretty impenetrable (see disclaimer)):
    1) Reality is a set, the set containing everything that is real.
    2) Reality as a set has a powerset (the set of all subsets of reality and reality itself.)
    3) Reality's powerset is a real thing and therefore contained by reality.

    Contradiction ensues as a) reality is bigger than (contains) its (real) powerset and b) the powerset is bigger because it contains reality. Recursion makes a bigger powerset (including reality and its real powerset) then bigger (reality, its powerset and the powerset of both) ad-forevermore. Lagan offers some resolution to this contradiction involving many big words at which point my eyes glazed. I think he proved that black is white and should look out at the next zebra crossing he encounters.

    This recursion requires that each powerset be real (to be contained by reality.) But in what sense can a powerset be considered to be real?
    If it is in the sense of a Platonic Ideal, I don't think we've found them anywhere and CTMU becomes another footnote to Aristotle.
    If it is real in the sense of being encoded in the stuff of the Universe, matter and its configurations; e.g. text on a page, configurations of ions in my son's brain or written in thirty-foot-high letters of fire on top of the Quentulus Quazgar Mountains, then eventually you run out of Universe to encode it and the largest possible powerset is NOT larger than reality. The largest possible powerset is simply the largest powerset which can be encoded in the stuff of a finite Universe. Cantor's diagonal fails and the recursion stops.

    There is no paradox in a finite Universe and the rest of Lagan's extrapolations are not required. However, two plus two DOES equal five and I AM the Queen of England.

    • The universal set (the set which contains all objects including itself) does not lead to contradiction in New Foundations set theory. I'm not an expert in neither the CTMU nor NF, but both mention stratification, which is apparently related to NF having a universal set.

  • John Fringe says:

    Long live the Queen! :)

  • Robert says:

    I'm not a philosopher, and much of the previous comments go way past me, but I get the impression that we're confusing two different concepts of real here. My apologies if this has been discussed before, this thread is getting rather weighty.

    #1. The apple on my desk is real, it exists, I can point at it, I can grab it, and once I eat it it will cease to exist.

    #2. The set of apples (or any other mathematical construct) is real, it exists, however it does not exist in the same sense as the apple described above. It is an abstract notion that exists inside our heads, which we use to reason about the universe around us. When we say it exists, we mean it is well defined, it does not lead to logical contradictions. In that same sense, for example, the largest prime number does not exist. I'm using reality and existence interchangeably here.

    When we talk about the universe as the set of all real objects, I think we're using the first concept of real. When we talk about subsets of this set, or its powerset, these objects are real by the second definition.

    In any discussion of reality as a set, you'll have to define what you mean by real, and what you mean by set (as in, what set theory do you use if its not the standard one.) I've seen some discussion here on the set theories, but none on the definition of real thats used.

    • "When we talk about the universe as the set of all real objects, I think we're using the first concept of real. When we talk about subsets of this set, or its powerset, these objects are real by the second definition."

      Why?

      • Robert says:

        "Why?"

        I can point to my apple (well, not anymore actually, since I ate it...), I cannot point to the set of apples, or the number three, or any other abstract concept.

        Its the basic difference between something which is observable and an abstract concept which only exists in our minds.

        Now I suspect you're going to make the point that anything we observe only exists as an abstraction within our visual cortex or something like that. I wouldn't know how to respond to that except to say that it will still be just as important to define what you mean by "real".

    • Nissim Levy says:

      That's just the point. According to Langan, and i agree with him, physicality is not more real than abstraction. The opposite is true. Physicality emerges from an abstract substrate of reality. Physical objects seem to us to be the only "real" things simply becasue we are ourselves physical beings and therefore place the infrastucture of our existence at the pinnacle of what is "real". We are biased.

  • John Fringe says:

    @Robert

    I almost completely agree with you, only disagreing in one little detail. You said

    "When we say it exists, we mean it is well defined, it does not lead to logical contradictions."

    No, Langan does not requires a concept to be well defined and contradiction free to call it "real" in this second meaning. He only requires you can speak vaguely enunciate it.

    For example, he says the set containing all the sets is real, when we all know it's not well-defined and it leads to contradictions.

    His second meaning for "real" is more relaxed than you're supposing.

    • The set containing all sets including itself is not well-defined in ZFC set theory, but is well defined in NF set theroy. See Wikipedia. I don't think CTMU is based on ZFC.

      • John Fringe says:

        Great, because Langan uses the fact that it leads to a contradiction. So we have two options here:

        - He speaks under the assumption of a set theory where the set of all sets leads to a contradiction. Then he uses "real" as I described, and the theory is meaningless.

        - He speaks under the assumption of a set theory where the set of all sets does not lead to a contradiction, as you propose. Congratulations, you've proved the wrongness of his theory again, because he uses that fact in his proofs.

    • Robert says:

      By that reasoning, the largest prime number also exists or is real, since we can enunciate the concept.

      • John Fringe says:

        Exactly, I agree with you again. The largest prime exists, the set of all sets exists, and everything exists under his axioms or initial assumptions.

        But that's nothing surprising: if you start with an inconsistent set of axioms, you can infer anything you want. That's a well known fact.

      • Nissim Levy says:

        Wrong. There is a proof that the largest prime number does not exist.

      • The spirit of the CTMU could be that the largest prime number is the largest one that is actually being used. While it is possible to find even larger prime numbers, they have not yet been found. Prime numbers being important in cryptography, it is actually reasonable to talk of the largest prime number, that is, the largest that has yet been found. Also, even in a mathematical point of view, the "largest prime number" does exist as an object whose extension is empty.

        Universal set with a contradiction could be something one comes up with, if he tries to somehow ignore or bypass the fact that ontology is bound to language. I'm not sure whether Langan is trying to do something like this, but the theory supposedly being an informal generalization of the incompleteness theorems would support this idea. The theory may attempt to conceptually contain things formal logic cannot contain.

        In any case, if Langan himself acknowledges that the universal set leads to contradiction, pointing that fact out again and again amounts to nothing more that mutual back-patting among those who disagree with him. If you want to actually challenge Langan, you have to do something else. You have to figure out what his goal is, and make the argument that the goal cannot be reached.

        • John Fringe says:

          So, if I want to challenge Langan, I should make an argument showing that his goal can not be reached? Are you serious?

          Langan says he has proved the existence of god mathematically.

          > "Can a denial of God be refuted by rational or empirical means? The short answer is yes; the refutation follows the reasoning outlined above."

          If I say his proof is nonsense, you say what I should do is to make an argument against the possibility of proving the existence of god. Why? I could even not think so! I mean, I could actually believe you can prove god's existence and still say Langan's proof is nonsense. I'm not saying I believe you can prove that, nor am I saying you can not. I'm simply saying you're asking us to talk about something else. Why should we? What we're saying is clear: Langan's theory is nonsense. Point. His goals I don't know.

          It's even worse. What if his goal is to get famous and make a living without work too much by convincing people he's the next Einstein and creating a lucrative society? Be carefull, I'm not saying he's actually doing this, but sorry, it's a possibility. If his goal were this, should I make the argumentation that his goal cannot be reached? Despite me believing it's perfectly possible to reach it?

          Are you serious? Should we argue another independent subject?

  • Shodo says:

    Chris Langan has created a "theory" that has about as much usefulness as the ramblings on a Dr Bronner's soap bottle...

  • renster says:

    I heard about CTMU through the Atheist Experience podcast so I was curious about what the argument is. As a layperson, 99% of the discussion here went over my head. I tried to follow it as best I could.

    Is CTMU basically arguing the following?

    We exist in the universe and the universe is us but not wholly us. The universe includes everything that is real. Concepts are real. Because we conceive of the concept of a god, god is part of the universe and real?

    I am sure I have that totally wrong.

  • valasquez says:

    What do you guys think about what he says about souls and reincarnation? From the Q&A on his website:

    http://megafoundation.org/CTMU/Q&A/Archive.html

    Q: Does the CTMU allow for the existence of souls and reincarnation?

    A: From the CTMU, there emerge multiple levels of consciousness. Human temporal consciousness is the level with which we're familiar; global (parallel) consciousness is that of the universe as a whole. The soul is the connection between the two...the embedment of the former in the latter.

    In the CTMU, reality is viewed as a profoundly self-contained, self-referential kind of "language", and languages have syntaxes. Because self-reference is an abstract generalization of consciousness - consciousness is the attribute by virtue of which we possess self-awareness - conscious agents are "sublanguages" possessing their own cognitive syntaxes. Now, global consciousness is based on a complete cognitive syntax in which our own incomplete syntax can be embedded, and this makes human consciousness transparent to it; in contrast, our ability to access the global level is restricted due to our syntactic limitations.

    Thus, while we are transparent to the global syntax of the global conscious agency "God", we cannot see everything that God can see. Whereas God perceives one total act of creation in a parallel distributed fashion, with everything in perfect superposition, we are localized in spacetime and perceive reality only in a succession of locally creative moments. This parallelism has powerful implications. When a human being dies, his entire history remains embedded in the timeless level of consciousness...the Deic level. In that sense, he or she is preserved by virtue of his or her "soul". And since the universe is a self-refining entity, that which is teleologically valid in the informational construct called "you" may be locally re-injected or redistributed in spacetime. In principle, this could be a recombinative process, with the essences of many people combining in a set of local injections or "reincarnations" (this could lead to strange effects...e.g., a single person remembering simultaneous "past lifetimes").

    In addition, an individual human sublanguage might be vectored into an alternate domain dynamically connected to its existence in spacetime. In this scenario, the entity would emerge into an alternate reality based on the interaction between her local level of consciousness and the global level embedding it...i.e., based on the state of her "soul" as just defined. This may be the origin of beliefs regarding heaven, hell, purgatory, limbo and other spiritual realms. - Chris Langan

    -----------------------------------------

    He also seems to believe that we can lose our "souls" for doing evil.

    Q: Given my own self-awareness and inability to separate from reality, *I* have no doubt that this reality *does* exist (the proof is in the pudding). So while I do not need "proof" that there is a reality, that I am part of that reality, and that my awareness is reality's awareness of itself - I do not know WHY all of this stuff exists (myself included).

    If there *is* a reason that reality MUST exist, then that would also be the reason that *I* exist. Which is probably what I am really wondering. Is the answer that giving myself a reason to exist is the reason for my existence? - Bill

    A: The first part of your "why" question is answered at the end of the above response to Celia. Since the meaning of life is a topic that has often been claimed by religion, we'll attempt to answer the second part with a bit of CTMU-style "logical theology".

    Within each SCSPL system, subsystems sharing critical aspects of global structure will also manifest the self-configuration imperative of their inclusive SCSPL; that is, they exist for the purpose of self-actualization or self-configuration, and in self-configuring, contribute to the Self-configuration of the SCSPL as a whole. Human beings are such subsystems. The "purpose" of their lives, and the "meaning" of their existences, is therefore to self-actualize in a way consistent with global Self-actualization or teleology...i.e., in a way that maximizes global utility, including the utility of their fellow subsystems. Their existential justification is to help the universe, AKA God, express its nature in a positive and Self-beneficial way.

    If they do so, then their "souls", or relationships to the overall System ("God"), attain a state of grace and partake of Systemic timelessness ("life eternal"). If, on the other hand, they do not - if they give themselves over to habitual selfishness at the expense of others and the future of their species - then they are teleologically devalued and must repair their connections with the System in order to remain a viable part of it. And if they do even worse, intentionally scarring the teleological ledger with a massive net loss of global utility, then unless they pursue redemption with such sincerety that their intense desire for forgiveness literally purges their souls, they face spiritual interdiction for the sake of teleological integrity.

    Such is the economy of human existence. Much of what we have been taught by organized religions is based on the illogical literalization of metaphorical aspects of their respective doctrines. But this much of it is true: we can attain a state of grace; we can draw near to God and partake of His eternal nature; we can fall from God's grace; we can lose our souls for doing evil. In all cases, we are unequivocally answerable to the System that grants and sustains our existence, and doing right by that System and its contents, including other subsystems like ourselves, is why we exist. Sometimes, "doing right" simply means making the best of a bad situation without needlessly propagating one's own misfortune to others; the necessary sufferance and nonpropagation of personal misfortune is also a source of grace. Further deontological insight requires an analysis of teleology and the extraction of its ethical implications.

    Now for a couple of qualifiers. Because we are free, the teleologically consistent meaning of our lives is to some extent ours to choose, and is thus partially invested in the search for meaning itself. So the answer to the last part of your question is "yes, determining the details of your specific teleologically-consistent reason to exist is part of the reason for your existence". Secondly, because God is the cosmos and the human mind is a microcosm, we are to some extent our own judges. But this doesn't mean that we can summarily pardon ourselves for all of our sins; it simply means that we help to determine the system according to whose intrinsic criteria our value is ultimately determined. It is important for each of us to accept both of these ethical responsibilities. - Chris Langan

  • John Fringe says:

    That's the whole point.

    As we're seing, even the most elemental deductions of his theory have lots of problems. They're simply illogical. Yet he expects to convince people he made incredibly complex deductions and proved souls exists mathematically. This time without errors.

    That's too much.

    I find it curious how a lot of people is carried away by complicated words and hard-to-follow arguments, and maybe the promise of a superior intelligence. That's the first trick in the little crank's manual.

  • CausticDuality says:

    Anyone who is actually educated enough to understand the jargon and are well-versed in mathematics, physics, and philosophy typically see right through the crackpottery.

    I wonder how well Langan *actually* understands, say, evolution or the cosmological timeline/the Big Bang. Does he understand concepts like abiogenesis? Quantum physics? Something tells me "I severely doubt it."

  • valasquez says:

    I'm going to be severely disappointed if he turns out to be a crank.

    • Nissim Levy says:

      He is not a crank. His theory is not useful to the point where one can make physical or mathematical predictions from it but the ideas it is very profound.

      • Shodo says:

        "His theory is not useful to the point where one can make physical or mathematical predictions from it but the ideas it is very profound."

        Profundity is subjective...

        Supposedly, if I am to believe Chris's press releases, he is smarter than Einstein and Newton.
        Yet Einstein and Newton's contributions to the world were understandable and recognizable as significant advancements by their peers. Chris's "theory" is neither of those things...
        Einstein came up with his theories in a patent office, while Newton holed himself up in his castle for a few years and *POOF* calculus. (Newton also tried his entire life to turn lead into gold... which just goes to show that being REALLY smart is not a panacea for being REALLY stupid.)

        Seriously, if I had a nickle for every time I came up with a "profound" idea after a few bong rips, sitting on my porch then I would have about $77.45... you couldn't make any physical or mathematical predictions from those either.

        Seriously, Chris's vast hubris is his Achilles Heel - he should go to school and SUBMIT to being TAUGHT.

        • Nissim Levy says:

          Suppose Newton realized that what makes an apple fall to the ground is the same thing that keeps the moon in orbit but then did not take that idea any further. No Calculus, no mathematical formalism to make predictions etc.. Would you not then conclude that he had come up with a profound idea but could not make any testable predictions?

          That's what I mean by profundity without testability.

          • John Fringe says:

            It surprises me how people concede that much importance to saying things with conviction but without evidence, and so little importance to the hard work of proving and developing things.

            To propose hypotheses without evidence is not profound.

            The fact is this: If Newton had made what you say, his work would be of no importance. You would not have heard of Newton, so you would not be able to propose this example.

            In fact, many people invented (and invent even today) their own "theories" about gravitation.

            This is called imagination, and it's not profound. They are not correct, not wrong. They're just imagination.

            And to defend such an hypothesis without supporting evidence is cranky behavior.

            If you have such a theory, the first step to defend it is to look for evidence. To convince you first, or to prove it wrong. When you're convinced by evidence, you can take step two: to convince people.

            The problem is this requires work. Hard work. Not many people are willing to. Not many people value it (you've got the proof here).

            So I repeat: to propose hypotheses without evidence is not profound. It happens every day, millions of times.

            (Well, in this situation at least Newton would not have said anything contradictory in itself.)

          • John Fringe says:

            Just one question: do you consider Aristle's idea of heavier bodies falling faster a profound idea?

            I mean, we now know it's false, but when Aristle proposed it he offered no supporting evidence, just as you say.

            Is it a profound idea?

          • John Fringe says:

            Arrgh, I hate keyboards. I meant "Aristotle".

          • Nissim Levy says:

            Hi John

            I do not consider Aristotle's ideas to be profound because he simply voiced what was the common person's belief at the time. There was nothing counter intuitive or unusual about his ideas. To believe that heavier objects fall faster than lighter objects is the default intuition of most of humanity. Aristotle did not produce a leap of intuition. On the other hand, Newton's intuitive leap was very counter intuitive.

            You said that to be considered a profound thinker in science one must not only have a great idea but must also work out the technical fruit that arises from that idea. What about Copernicus? He had a great counter intuitive leap but did not produce anything testable. Yet, he is honoured to this day as one of the founders of the scientific enlightment.

            What about String Theory that makes no testable predictions?

          • John Fringe says:

            Copernicus work was based on observations. The Heliocentric model worked. He actually checked his theory. You chose a bad example.

            I don't believe string theory ideas to be profound. No, they're interesting. So interesting a lot of people is spending time developing it.

            But these people know very well the state of the theory. They know it's only an speculation. In fact, most interest seems to be mathematical, rather than a purely physical.

            Nobody will be that much surprised if no connection with reality is found. And nobody will remember the theory in a few decades.

            You too can spend time developing Langan's "theory", if you find it promising or interesting. You can look to develop some profound results. But to do so you must know what its current status is.

          • Nissim Levy says:

            John, at the time that Copernicus lived the Heliocentric model of the universe produced no better fit to observation than did Ptolemy's Epicycles theory. To prefer the Heliocentric model over the Epicycles model was due to philosophical considerations (Occam's Razor) rather than any empirical or mathematical considerations. Copernicus had a profound intuitive leap that he could not confirm by observations or mathematical formalism. My example stands.

          • John Fringe says:

            Being of equal fit, Copernicus model was accepted because it was practical, not for philosophical reasons.

            I don't see how your example stands. You said:

            "What about Copernicus? He had a great counter intuitive leap but did not produce anything testable. Yet, he is honoured to this day as one of the founders of the scientific enlightment."

            You say he produced nothing testable, yet you admit he proposed an hypothesis and it produced results that fit the observational data. Not only his theory was testable, it was tested and it fit the data.

            Am I missing something?

          • John Fringe says:

            I mean, it was your example of a non-testable idea you called profound.

            But it was testable. Yes, the previous model was also testable and it also fit the data. But that does not mean Copernicus's model wasn't testable. It was.

            Copernicus profound idea was: we are not the center of the Universe, we're not so special. But it worked!

            If it hadn't worked, if it hadn't been checked and verified, you will not know who Copernicus was.

            So I still believe it's not a valid example of someone producing non-testable hypothesis being considered a great thinker. Which was the motivation of your example. Because it was testable.

          • Nissim Levy says:

            John, all I'm saying is that the role of intuition plays a very important role in the advancement of science, particularly Theoretical Physics. I agree with you that any profound idea must be tested to be considered of relevance but the testing need not be done by the originator of the idea and the testing and verification might be completed many years later. Hypothetically, had Newton just proposed his intuitive leap but left it for someone else to eventually leverage it into a falsifiable theory he would still be remembered to this day, albeit in a lesser light.

            Newton, Einstein and many other scientific luminaries began their scientific journeys with leaps of intuition that were born of something other than mathematical formalism or the conventions of logic. What do you mean by saying that the Heliocentric model appealed to Copernicus due to practicality? Are you implying that Copernicus favoured the Heliocentric model because it was a simpler model? If so then we are basically saying the same thing at a supeficial level but differ widely at a philosophical level. I think that the role of beauty and elegance plays a central role in the impetus towards ground breaking scientific theories, particularly Theoretical Physics.

            Correct me if I'm wrong but I think that you consider the scientific enterprise to be a purely pragmatic one where great theories are constructed solely by the tools offered within said enterprise. I diverge from this way of thinking by proposing that truly ground breaking theories require something from outside their universe of discourse. This externality takes the form of intuitive leaps that are powered by a yearning for beauty and elegance. Please don't understimate this factor in shaping Theoretical Physics.

            How does all this relate to our initial disagreement? I propose that those in the scientific community who originate intuitive leaps born from a sense of beauty and elegance also have a role in the scientific enterprise. This is true even if they are not the ones who eventually leverage these leaps of intuition into falsifiable theories.

            By the way, I completely agree with you that String Theory is an abomination.

          • John Fringe says:

            > "I completely agree with you that String Theory is an abomination."

            Oh, a misunderstanding here, sorry. You can't agree with me that String Theory is an abomination, because I don't think so.

            Well, we disagree in two points. The first one is the importance we assign to promising ideas. The second is the responsibility of the original thinker.

            > "I think that you consider the scientific enterprise to be a purely pragmatic one where great theories are constructed solely by the tools offered within said enterprise."

            No, not at all. I'm not so far from reality. I understand the process by which an idea becomes a theory. I mean, someone somewhere has an intuition, which leads to an idea, which leads to an hypothesis, which blah blah. I know, I agree. I know we people do not think in equations. I don't understimate the intuition. It's very important. That's not what I'm talking about.

            But you should not fool yourself. When you have an idea you believe it's promising, all you have is a promising idea. Nothing more, nothing else. A possible _profound_ idea. But you can not know if it's a profound idea until... well, until someone check it.

            Can a false idea be profound? I don't believe so. Was the man as the center of the Universe profound? Was aether profound? The existence of an absolute space?
            Do you believe false ideas can be profound?

            Maybe what you call profound I call interesting or promising. But if an idea is interesting or not is a subjetive matter. A promising idea is, again, potentially valuable, but maybe it has no value at the end. I have no problem with you saying "I find Langan's ideas interesting". I may not know what you find interesting, but that doesn't matter. That's subjetive.

            To sum up: one thing is to find interesting unproved theories, and other thing is to take unproven theories aa truth just because you like them. That's not science. You can guess they're true, but you really should be aware you do not know. That's the place of intuition in science. Yes, very important, but not what you're saying.

            With respect to the second point, I expect the proponent of a theory to try to check the theory. By several reasons (why does he divulgue the theory, why does he believe it to be true if he doesn't try to refute it, as a way to respect others time,...), but one is specially relevant: if you have a theory, an idea, you really consider interesting, you will be the first _interested_ in knowing if it's true.

            Of course, the proponent may not manage to prove the theory. But then he should be aware of the situation: he's theory is unproven, and potentially false. At least he may contribute to the final proof, and people will recognize that.

            What you can not do is to try to convince people you have a proven theory when you have none.

            This is what Langan is doing. Of course, he may not see he's proof is incorrect. That's why people discuss this.

            Finally, Copernicus.

            > Are you implying that Copernicus favoured the Heliocentric model because it was a simpler model?

            Right, I'm implying exactly that. Yes, he favored the Heliocentric model because it was simpler. But that's not the whole story.

            Copernicus made two contributions. One was a method to compute celestial movement. The interest of this model lies in its simplicity and practicality. This doesn't make the previous model invalid. You can still compute celestial movement by previous models. Why do we use heliocentrism? Because it's practical. This theory was provable, and fit the data.

            The second contribution was more important. By proposing an alternative model he proved you could compute celestial motion without taking anything related to humanity into account. Previously, to compute Jupiter's movement you have to refer the computations to the Earth, man's home. Now you can do it without man. So humanity has no special role in the Universe, at least in its motion. This does not favour the Sun with respect to the Earth. It's the existence of alternative models without a special role for man what makes it relevant. Any alternative model.

            And this is also testable. You can actually check if you can predict (or postdict) Jupiter's movement without taking anything man-related into account.

            So all of Copernicus' ideas where testable, they were checked right, and heliocentrism is preferred because its practicality.

          • Nissim Levy says:

            John, I don't appreciate your mocking tone. Is this how you choose to participate in a debate? I said no such thing. I simply said that all great theories must start with an intuitive leap, not that an intuitibe leap is all there need be to a theory.

            I no longer wish to engage in any debate with you.

          • Nissim Levy says:

            My comment above was placed under the wrong thread. Please disregard.

          • Robert says:

            On a slight side note...

            According to some biographers, the apple story never happened and was invented after the fact. Furthermore, Hooke came up with the inverse square law independently of Newton but was unable to do the necessary calculations. We remember Newton, and not Hooke, precisely because of this.

            Personally, I think Newton's genius lies not in the 'intuitive leap' of the inverse square law. That idea had been floating around for a while, but in the fact that he developed the tools (calculus) to prove that an inverse square law yields elliptic orbits.

          • John Fringe says:

            In fact, Newton was famous for his "hypotheses non fingo" (I feign no hypotheses), so the whole history of Newton being famous for saying that without checking it before is a bit manipulative.

        • Nissim Levy says:

          John, you could equally say that anyone who arrives at incorrect scientific conclusions solely based on logic and equations will also be absent from the annals of scientific history. This is not just a verdict against the role of intuition in science.

          My position is that the faculty for intuitive leaps in making correct scientific conclusions is an ability cultivated in some people that diverges from statistical randomness. It is an actual ability whose source I will not speculate on. I will even go as far as to claim that these intuitive leaps are an absolute must otherwise Physics and Astronomy/Cosmology can only produce a collection of ad hoc equations that simply fit the known data without any internal motivation or understanding. Kepler's equations are a great example of this. Only Newton's intuitive leap (the apple story) could pave a road towards understanding why Kepler's equations describe the motion of the heavenly bodies.

          • John Fringe says:

            Yes, because if you say something by intuition it has the same validity and the same probability to be true that if you say something you have actually checked.

            And the probability to be wrong by strict formal deduction is the same as by intuition.

            OMG.

            Well, nothing more to add.

          • Nissim Levy says:

            I don't appreciate your mocking tone. This is not how to participate in a debate. I said no such thing. I simply said that all great theories must start with an intuitive leap, not that an intuitive leap is all there need be to a theory.

            Good bye sir.

          • John Fringe says:

            Wow, that's sensitive!

            1) "I simply said that all great theories must start with an intuitive leap"

            Oh, no. You know that's not true. That's the part we all agree with. You said more. It's written.

            a) Langan's ideas are profound
            b) We can know when unproven ideas are profound (as Langan's)
            c) There are scientists, like Copernicus, which are recognized for untested theories.
            d) "The faculty for intuitive leaps in making correct scientific conclusions is an ability cultivated in some people".
            e) If one says a person divulging an untested theory as truth will not be recognized, "you could equally say that anyone who arrives at incorrect scientific conclusions solely based on logic and equations will also be absent from the annals of scientific history".

            Point a) evidently means you find them interesting, which is subjective. It is not related to 1)
            Not many people will agree with b).
            c) is not true, as we saw.
            d) is specially... absurd. You can not make unchecked correct scientific conclusions. If you think so, you don't understand what "scientific" means. I see hard for you to argue about this. A part of the scientific method is to check the results. Until you do that, your conclusions are tentative, not scientifically correct. It's a contradiction.
            e) is specially absurd, again, not to say ridiculous.

            In fact, if someone arrives at an incorrect conclusion based solely on logic, I guarantee you he will NOT be absent from the annals of scientific history. In fact, he'd be on the cover!

            (Of course, no physical theory is based solely on logic. It's also based on a set of suppositions. That's why they require testing. But you do not seem to understand this.)

            In any case, I believe anything I say related to d) or c) will seem to you like mockery. It's only normal, it can't be helped.

            But don't take it as a personal attack, just as an advise to rethink what you've just said.

            And please, don't change your discourse in the middle of the argumentation. You didn't simply said a theory begins with an intuition.

          • John Fringe says:

            With some good faith on my part, I can interpret point d) as you saying intuition can be the first step in the making of scientifically correct conclusions. But, in this case, I don't know why you're saying that, given the fact that I already agree with that. I don't know neither how is all this discourse about intuition related to Langan's ideas being profound, or with how can we accept as profound untested ideas, or who doubted intuition plays a role in science.

            I say with some good faith on my part because previously you said Langan's ideas are profound, you seem to me to say only true ideas can be profound, and when asked how can you say Langan's ideas are profound if they have not been tested, you start speaking about intuition. But intuition does not make Langan's ideas true. You can have the intuition than Langan's ideas are profound, but that does not make them so. And, well, nobody's questioned the role of intuition in building theories.

            The rest of points remains the same. With e) being specially absurd.

      • Mark C. Chu-Carroll says:

        How do you define "profound"?

        It's a "theory" can't be tested, makes no predictions, and answers no meaningful questions. By an actual scientific definition of theory, it isn't even a theory.

        Seriously... CTMU is nothing but an elaborate word-game. Just look at Chris's bullshit about sets and set theory. He bobs and weaves, but completely avoids defining what he means by the word set. It's *not* sets from Cantor's naive set theory. It's *not* sets as defined in NBG. It's not sets as defined in ZF. In fact, he gets annoyed when you talk about set theory because, he insists, he's talking about *sets*, not *set theory*.

        That's an amazingly ridiculous thing to say from someone who claims to be discussing a scientific theory.

        Set theory is nothing but a very precise way of defining what we *mean* by the word set. Chris rejects any attempt to provide a precise definition of "set". Why would he do that? Because his theory is transparent nonsense. But by refusing to define one of the fundamental base terms that he uses, he can weasel out of any actual criticism of the shoddy logic in his theory.

        Consider the recent discussions here of this. Is the universe a set? Does the superset of the universe really exist? Is the superset of the universe part of the universe? Those questions *can't* be answered without actually defining set in a precise way. (For example, in NBG theory, the collection of subsets of an infinite set isn't a set, so the "superset" doesn't exist.)

        • "In fact, he gets annoyed when you talk about set theory because, he insists, he's talking about *sets*, not *set theory*."

          Langan's approach indeed seems extremely offensive towards established science. It is not socially acceptable in the scientific or philosophic community to just redefine concepts because "they are that way". Instead, some anthropological or philosophical evidence should be provided to explain why Langan's view on the concept of set should be approved and what it's based on. It's hard for him to convince people that way. He would need an interpreter, but even the interpreter requires something to begin with. The Metaphysics of Quality does a better job on explaining why its unfalsifiable statements could be useful. Making unfalsifiable claims per se is not unacceptable in philosophy -- after all, that's what the Greek philosophers did.

          • Gathering anthropological evidence could involve anthropological studies of the scientific community and attempts to make generalizations on what they are trying to accomplish with the concept of "set". Then Langan could maybe make the point that while his concept of "set" is not well-defined in any particular set theory, it is a generalization of the intentions of the people who practice set theory. This kind of anthropological evidence is, in my opinion, best acquired from philosophical works.

            Anyway, since NF is a set theory and has the universal set without contradictions, Langan should probably explain why this doesn't undermine his theory. After all, that set would also be expected to fall under what Langan considers a set, and according to John Fringe, Langan uses the fact that the universal set leads to a contradiction.

          • Since Langan seems to question the separation between empirical and formal science, his theory should have more empirical (ie. probably anthropological) content to be convincing.

          • In any case, there's no point in treating Langan in a very offensive manner. After all, if he's wrong, what could he do? Think about his point of view. A philosophical theory this far off the mainstream isn't an easy thing to advocate. The journal in which it was published didn't seem prestigious. I guess Langan's struggle with philosophy is a punishment in itself. For what, I don't know -- maybe for being different. There is little need to add to that punishment, although it's not necessary to agree with Langan either.

  • Shodo says:

    Aren't mathematical theories um... supposed to have... errr...

    Math...?

  • NilsMotpol says:

    That's a lot of talk about almost nothing. You all seem to focus on the "set" part of Langan's word game about the universe being a set and so what is then its powerset. Let's try to move past that for a minute, and talk about the more fundamental question, namely this:

    Even if the word game wasn't based on a misunderstanding of set theory, who actually believes that you can "prove" anything about the universe, let alone what is "outside" the universe, using sophisms and syllogisms? It should be pretty obvious that logic, even if used correctly, is in some sense a product of our minds and can never be expected to be used in this way, nothing at all implies that logic, maths or even physics as we know them applies outside, or on a higher level thank, the known universe, whatever that even means.

    Regardless, if Langan really takes his theory seriously, he should stop dissecting Marks messages into fragments and commenting every single sentence, and instead try to address the bigger question repeated here by almost every participant, namely what the theory actually means, if it makes any predictions at all or if it is just an exercise in semantics, like "The universe is a dream in the mind of the Great Dinosaur, and we are merely products of his indigestion". That kind of theory is easy to produce, and impossible to disprove, but not very interesting.

  • John Fringe says:

    I agree with you, despite being one of those who focus on the "set" problem.

    (You probably know why: because it's one of the few parts with actual semantics. But you're right).

  • Chris Langan says:

    What a surprise - another rare appearance by the one and only Mark Chu-Carroll. Unfortunately, it almost seems to have been instigated by someone who misleadingly assured Mark that he could win a serious argument with me on the topic of my own work when in fact, that’s quite out of the question.

    Having already caught Mark in several glaring instances of mathematical incomprehension (see above), I suspect that the more technical my explanations, the deeper and more petulant his incomprehension will become, and the more impudent and unintelligible his retorts will be. So I'll try to keep my responses as simple as possible, albeit with the sad expectation that Mark won’t understand a word of them anyway.

    This is a long reply. There are two reasons for that. First, Mark is being characteristically dense and thus forcing me to be repetitive. Secondly, as I remarked above, he generates errors faster than he writes – it seems like a paradox, but Mark is one of a kind - and he usually racks up more of them than Kellogg’s has corn flakes. (We’re talking about silly failures of linguistic and/or mathematical comprehension that most intelligent high school students would have the sense to avoid.) In fact, if this drags on, I’ll have no choice but to save time by concentrating less on being informative, and more on the specific personality issues which would seem to account for the fact that Mark is so very, very hard to inform.

    Or maybe just ignore him.

    Mark: “How do you define ‘profound’?”

    I can't speak for anyone else, but "profound" usually means something like "leading to important or at least meaningful and far-reaching consequences or insights". Thus, the recognition of profundity is strongly dependent on the capacity of any given reader to recognize meaning and importance when he sees them. Where this capacity is low, profundity is wasted. It increasingly appears that Mark is a person on whom profundity may be wasted. (But here we go again.)

    Mark: “It's a ‘theory’ [that] can't be tested, makes no predictions, and answers no meaningful questions. By an actual scientific definition of theory, it isn't even a theory.”

    Error 1: There are many kinds of theory. Only some of them are "scientific" in the sense that they take the scientific method as an implicit meta-axiom (a higher-level axiom proscribing the recognition of empirical axioms, or axioms with empirical force). This is a severe theoretical liability; scientific theories are confined by definition to scientific methodology, which, as currently understood, prohibits them not only from being verified in the logical sense, but from exploring the nature and strength of their own connections to their universes, which precludes any form of what we might call “self-verification”. If and when Mark familiarizes himself a bit more with the logical side of model theory and its proper application to the content and methodology of science, perhaps he’ll be able to comment on the subject a bit more fruitfully.

    Error 2: Just as there are different kinds of theory, there are different kinds and levels of verification. Making and testing predictions is arguably the only way to empirically confirm a scientific theory ... but not all theories are empirical, and scientific theories are not the only theories with empirical content. Theories can be formal or informal, mathematical (axiomatic) or scientific (in which case they are still at least partially mathematical), and if scientific, then descriptive, explanatory, or predictive in character. An explanatory theory can give a superficial explanation of its empirical content, or it can penetrate deeply enough into its subject matter to resolve associated paradoxes on the syntactic or semantic level (a powerful source of veracity in itself). It can even extend the interpretative framework to self-verificative effect, as does the CTMU (unfortunately, this is probably well over the head of most readers of this forum – exceptions are allowed, but improbable).

    Error 3: The CTMU is not a mere "scientific” theory. Philosophically, that's a good thing, because no scientific theory that does more than catalogue data can be validated by any means whatsoever, including empirical testing. At best, empirical testing yields only an imperfect “degree of confirmation”, and is subject to several kinds of inductive and interpretative ambiguity.

    Although the appropriate testing procedure is not the same for a theory like the CTMU as it is for an ordinary scientific theory, the CTMU can in fact be tested. First, it can be tested for logical and semantic consistency by examining it for errors or internal contradictions. Unfortunately, one would need to understand it in order to do that, and the vast majority of its critics (including Mark) do not. Or one could try to test the theory by debating it, as Mark seems bent on doing. But thus far, he has not been debating the theory I wrote. He has instead been debating against another theory entirely, a straw-man theory which he *claims* that I wrote, but which I find completely unrecognizable ... as unrecognizable as he apparently finds the theory I actually wrote.

    Of course, the fact that the CTMU is not strictly scientific, i.e. dependent on the scientific method for confirmation, does not in principle stop it from yielding predictions or explanations of empirical phenomena. But using it for such purposes is a bit tricky, not least because many of its predictions and explanations may be unrecognizable as such to a philosophically naïve, quasi-religious neo-Darwinian apologist like Mark sometimes appears to be.

    Error 4: As errors 1-3 amply confirm, Mark is again indulging in what has now been revealed as a most unbecoming habit: mistaking his personal incomprehension for an actual property of someone else's theory. This is obviously something that he should try harder to control. Much harder.

    Mark: “Seriously... CTMU is nothing but an elaborate word-game.”

    Probable error: If Mark is using "word game" to mean "a verbal contest regarding matters of fact," then he is correct. But if he's using the term to mean "words chosen merely to create the illusion of victory in some basically meaningless, content-free debate or other communicative process," which is probably what he’s doing, then he is mistaken. (I’m just trying to do the right thing, and stop Mark from hysterically misleading others regarding my ideas out of sheer ignorance and resentment.)

    Mark: “Just look at Chris's bullshit about sets and set theory. He bobs and weaves, but completely avoids defining what he means by the word set.”

    Error: In fact, I explicitly agreed with Wikipedia's definition of "set". Mark evidently disagrees with that definition. The burden is now on Mark to explain why it is wrong, why the universe fails to instantiate it, or failing that, why it automatically implies reliance on some specific brand of set theory that Mark loves to hate.

    Mark: "It's *not* sets from Cantor's naive set theory. It's *not* sets as defined in NBG. It's not sets as defined in ZF.”

    Error: Ruling out these versions of set theory is pointless, because my usage of "set" is indifferent to any standard version of set theory. When Mark insists on shackling this definition to his least-favorite version, he renders the concept foundationally irrelevant, necessitating its replacement by a more basic and flexible kind of mathematical object and language.

    Mark: “In fact, he gets annoyed when you talk about set theory because, he insists, he's talking about *sets*, not *set theory*.”

    Mirabile dictu, a point of agreement! (Of course, we differ on its significance.)

    Mark: ”That's an amazingly ridiculous thing to say from someone who claims to be discussing a scientific theory.”

    Error: I do not claim to be discussing a “scientific theory". If I were to make such a claim regarding the CTMU, it would imply an extended definition of science achieved by eliminating the dualistic brick wall that sits between theory and observation in the standard formulation of the scientific method (something which people who sound like Mark typically have no idea how to do, and which they often assume to be impossible). Again, this in no way implies that the CTMU is devoid of empirical content. Its empirical content necessarily includes the entire perceptual universe, as does that of logic.

    Mark: “Set theory is nothing but a very precise way of defining what we *mean* by the word set.”

    Another point of agreement. Mark, in specifying "naive set theory" as the core ingredient of his personal erroneous interpretation of my essay, has been very clear that this is what *he* means that he thinks *I* mean when I use the word "set". But that's yesterday's news.

    Error: Unfortunately, Mark's personal interpretation of my interpretation of concepts like "set", "set theory", and "the relationship between set theory and the general definition of a set" is out to lunch … a six- or seven-martini lunch, to push the idiom. As explained above, I'm using the term "set" in a very general way ... the way that, e.g., Wikipedia uses it. If Mark doesn't like this definition, then he needs to explain why it is inadequate for my purposes even when I'm not relying on it in my essay, and why I need to settle for one standard version of set theory or another even while explicitly rejecting set theory as an exclusive basis for the CTMU.

    One almost gets the impression that in declaring the “set” concept meaningless except in conjunction with some standard version of set theory, Mark would also declare the “quantum gravity” concept meaningless except in conjunction with some existing and probably mistaken theory of quantum gravity. If Mark were to have his way, scientists would be unable to meaningfully address such unexplained phenomena without first adopting whatever half-baked theory might already exist regarding them (which itself can only have been formed in violation of that rule). It’s a catch-22, a conflation of definition and theorization that would stop science dead in its tracks.

    Like so many of Mark’s ill-conceived and ill-informed opinions, it makes absolutely no sense (except in certain highly restricted formal contexts, none of which are presently operative).

    Mark: “Chris rejects any attempt to provide a precise definition of ‘set’.”

    Error: Wrong again. I explicitly deferred to Wikipedia's definition of "set", which, though general, is admirably precise in its generality. Again, if Mark doesn't like this definition, then he needs to explain why it's so awful, and why I should be concerned that he doesn't understand that I'm not relying on it (except to observe, as I did in my essay, that to the extent that the universe is a set, it is seemingly vulnerable to certain paradoxes associated with sets, and therefore in need of a foundational theory capable of resolving those paradoxes on a level deeper than conventional set theory allows).

    Mark: “Why would he do that? Because his theory is transparent nonsense.”

    Error: Mark has already been repeatedly called on the carpet for inserting his own hare-brained speculations in place of the actual meaning of certain material which he absurdly pretends to have read. That carpet has just gone from threadbare to ratty. If it gets any thinner, it too will be “transparent”.

    Mark: “But by refusing to define one of the fundamental base terms that he uses, he can weasel out of any actual criticism of the shoddy logic in his theory.”

    Error: But I did define "set". (See how Mark is obstinately forcing me to repeat myself?) I defined it just the way it is defined by Wikipedia and its reputed mathematical experts, i.e., the mathematically trained subset of Wikipedia editors allegedly involved in editing and re-editing its mathematical articles. Perhaps Mark should explain his beef with them.

    If Mark doesn’t like Wikipedia anymore, then here’s how “set” was defined by Georg Cantor: “A set is a gathering together into a whole of definite, distinct objects of our perception and of our thought - which are called elements of the set.” (This is in Wikipedia too.) Note that Cantor, once having rendered this general theory-independent definition based on perception and cognition, was no longer in a position to insist that his own “naive” version of set theory be shoehorned into it. This theoretic independence is what protected the general definition from being completely discarded when certain aspects of his personal theory about it came under attack.

    Need sets always be “well-defined”, and does this always imply embedment in some formalization of set theory? Obviously, a set should be well-defined in precisely the sense given by Cantor, as this is enough to render it perceptible or intelligible. Once this criterion has been met, however, any particular version of set theory is beside the point; the notion that one must be attached is merely an arbitrary formal criterion that has nothing immediate to do with the percept or concept in question. The point of proving a set to be “well-defined” is to establish the possibility of its existence; when something is perceived as a set, or mathematically conceived as an image or generalization of a perceived set, its existence is clearly given by perception and need not be formally established. That’s a very good thing, because there are several versions of set theory available, some of them self-consistent, and any given one of them may or may not be suitable for particular scientific or philosophical purposes. My purposes, for example.

    As it happens (and not by accident), consistent versions of set theory can be interpreted in SCSPL. The problem is, SCSPL can’t be mapped into any standard version of set theory without omitting essential ingredients, and that’s unacceptable. This is why the CTMU cannot endorse any standard set theory as a foundational language. But does this stop the universe from being a set? Not if it is either perceptible or intelligible in the sense of Cantor’s definition. One thing’s for sure: if it is neither, then it is theoretically unidentifiable. And in that case, Mark is wasting not only his own time, but everybody’s time, by going around and around about it like a tape loop of a broken record in an echo chamber.

    Mark: “Consider the recent discussions here of this. Is the universe a set?”

    Yes. As I've already stated, the universe fulfills the general definition of "set" in numerous ways, and this indeed makes it a set (among other things with additional structure). Otherwise, its objects could not be discerned, or distinguished from other objects, or counted, or ordered, or acquired and acted on by any function of any kind, including the functions that give them properties through which they can be identified, discussed, and scientifically investigated. If something is “not a set”, then it can’t even be represented by a theoretical variable or constant (which is itself a set), in which case Mark has no business theorizing about it or even waving his arms and mindlessly perseverating about it.

    Does this mean that a set is all that the universe is? Of course not, although one would never know it from Mark’s interminable fussing and fuming.

    Mark: “Does the superset of the universe really exist?”

    Yes, provided that Mark means “power set”. It exists in SCSPL syntax, which itself exists by logical necessity. One can’t even conceive of logic without applying a distributed “power-set template” to its symbols and expressions, and such templates clearly perform a syntactic function. However, because Mark evidently has a definition for "syntax" which differs from my own (and perhaps from most other peoples’ as well), but which must nevertheless be interpreted in a way appropriate to the specific theory under consideration, namely my theory and not Mark’s, and because Mark probably defines "existence" in a shallow and materialistic way that he hasn’t really thought out very well, he doesn't understand what this means.

    Mark: “Is the superset of the universe part of the universe?“

    Provided that the "superset" in question is the power set, the short answer is yes. More accurately, the power set is a distributed *aspect* of the universe by virtue of which objects and sets of objects are relationally connected to each other in the assignment and discrimination of attributes (the intensions of sets). Without it, the universe would not be identifiable, even to itself; its own functions could not acquire and distinguish their arguments. In fact, considered as an attributive component of identification taking a set as input and yielding a higher-order relational potential as output, it is reflexive and “inductively idempotent”; the power set is itself a set, and applied to itself, yields another (higher-order) power set, which is again a set, and so on up the ladder.

    Of course, even the perceptual stratum of the universe is not totally perceptible from any local vantage. The universe, its subsets, and the perceptible connections among those subsets can be perceived only out to the cosmic horizon, and even then, our observations fail to resolve most of its smaller subsets (parts, aggregates, power-set constituents). But a distributed logical structure including the power set can still be inferred as an abstract but necessary extension of the perceptual universe which is essential to identification operations including that of perception itself.

    The scientific import is obvious. Where the universe is defined, for scientific purposes, to contain the entire set of past and future observational and experimental data, plus all that may be inferred as requirements of perception, its power set is integral to it as a condition of its perception and scientific analysis, not to mention its intrinsic self-differentiation and coherence. Without its power set, its parts or subsets would be intrinsically indiscernible and indistinguishable, which would of course amount to an oxymoron; “parts” are distinguishable by definition, and therefore constitute a set with the discrete topology construed by relevance (any reference to which naturally invokes the power set) and the indiscrete topology construed by veracity (inclusion-exclusion). Without the power set function and its stratified relational potential, one not only can’t say what the parts and their mutual relationships are, one can’t even say what they’re *not* … and as any parts not relevant to the others are not “parts” as advertised, even referring to them generates contradictions and must therefore be avoided.

    Mark: “Those questions *can't* be answered without actually defining set in a precise way. (For example, in NBG theory, the collection of subsets of an infinite set isn't a set, so the ‘superset’ doesn't exist.)”

    Error: What utter nonsense. Aside from the fact that NBG avoids supersets by the largely (but not entirely) semantical device of redefining certain sets as “classes”, one can simply move the entire discussion onto a new foundation, i.e., into a new foundational language, and explain how the set concept should be interpreted within it. The foundation I'm talking about is not NBG, or ZF, or naive set theory, but the CTMU and SCSPL. For the hundredth time, sets can be interpreted therein as collections of discernable, distinguishable objects and events (just as Cantor defines them), or if one prefers, as functions and functional arguments whose more involved properties are developed not in set theory, but in (you guessed it) SCSPL. That way, set-theoretic paradoxes, e.g. the power set paradox, can be precluded or resolved with (you guessed it again) SCSPL mechanisms instead of the mechanisms of any standard, foundationally inadequate version of set theory.

    Until Mark comes to grips with this fact and desists in his asinine attempts to tell the author of the CTMU (me) what the CTMU says, his understanding of it will remain stunted. As everyone is by now aware, the more blighted and pathetic Mark’s (mis-)understanding of something, the stronger and more irresistible his compulsion to “spread the wealth” by adopting a deceptive tone of authority and brazenly misleading others to the effect that it somehow equates to his own confusion regarding it, when in fact, he has merely attempted to tie his personal confusion around its neck like a squawking, flapping, hyper-opinionated albatross. It is obvious to all but the most deluded of his partisans that this is a brand of folly in which he should not be encouraged, and that those who do so anyway are beneath contempt.

    Now for a little sermon containing some useful advice for Mark and others who think the way he does. Mark is seemingly a reasonably intelligent person who appears to be interested in learning some math, but he has what amounts to a personality-driven learning disability: instead of taking the time to properly absorb some new bit of math he has found, he rushes to post it on his blog, complete with technical errors and errors of comprehension. Then he moves on to the next tantalizing bit of math and the next blog post. The unfortunate result is that he never properly absorbs and integrates what he thinks he is “learning”. Thus, when he encounters a paper (like my essay) which seems to involve some of the math he has supposedly “learned”, but which he doesn’t really understand at all, he blindly leaps to the conclusion that his confusion cannot possibly be due to any fault of his own. After all, having briefly lit upon that kind of math and then fluttered away like a fickle, flighty mathematical butterfly to visit another, he fancies himself an expert on it (as opposed to, say, a dabbler or a dilettante). So naturally, it’s not Mark who’s in a fog; it must be the other guy! And that makes the other guy irresistible cannon fodder for yet another entertaining salvo from the big guns of the most fearsome rubber-band-powered anti-crank destroyer in the blogosphere, the USS Good Math, Bad Math!

    By thinking and behaving in this silly way, Mark encourages some of his commentators to assume that they are able to see technical problems with my work that I can’t see. This is almost always a mistake. I do in fact see the full range of what might be construed as technical problems with my work, but differ from my critics in that I usually see their solutions as well. Because the solutions are obvious to me, the problems begin to unravel before they can take up lodging in my theory, sparing me the trouble of noting their putative existence and agonizing over them and engaging in the kind of masochistic publish-or-perish tail-chasing that they inspire in academics (and others) who don’t really understand them. After all, academics write about problems not only to offer definitive solutions for them, but to explore gaps in their own comprehension. Unfortunately, the precious, carefully cultivated orchids of academia often forget in the course of their well-referenced but ultimately omphaloskeptical self-explorations that they very much belong to an intellectual closed shop, and that their own cognitive gaps preclude definitive judgments on the cognitive adequacy of the weeds that grow wild and free beyond the sheltering walls of their ivory tower hothouses.

    When Mark or one of his commentators summarily accuses me of ignorance or carelessness for appearing to ignore such “problems” in some piece of writing he has bumped into, thus prompting him to blow his top like Krakatau and do his trademark hotdog dance for the tourists, he does not merely seem to be trying to pass himself off as my intellectual equal. That alone wouldn’t bother me; I usually have no problem with assumptions of intellectual parity as long as people remain polite. Rather, Mark appears to be trying to pass himself off as my intellectual superior ... and believe it or not, I don’t have to let him get away with that if I’d rather make an issue of it.

    In other words, if you are one of those who has been encouraging Mark in his folly, you are doing him a disservice. If you’re really his friend, then why not allow him to come to his senses, drop the pretense, hypocrisy, and incorrigible buffoonery, and spare himself the humiliation of being made to look less knowledgeable or intelligent than he obviously thinks he is? After all, if Mark learns to show a little respect, then others are more likely to return it. On the other hand, if he continues to pop off because a few diehard sycophants appear willing to cover for him and get his back even when the springs and cogs and gear oil spray out of his ears, then there’s always a risk that sooner or later, at a time to be determined by fate (and/or me), he’ll learn the unpleasant taste of crow. Raw crow, with the feathers and the mites.

    To the few of you who seem to understand what’s actually going on, thanks for hanging in there. But again, you should probably try not to assume that you see technical issues with my theory that I don’t see, e.g. the problem of induction and the relevance of Gödel’s theorems. The CTMU contains ample allowance for both.

    I recall putting a few pieces online in which the problem of induction and Godel’s theorem are mentioned. For example, regarding the latter, one piece was called “The Theory of Theories” and written in an easy, breezy style; the other was called “Self-Reference and Computational Complexity” (2001) and contained more mathematical detail. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be available any more. As I recall, it began with an explanation of self-reference and diagonalization in the Liar Paradox, introduced the theory of metalanguages, applied these concepts to Gödel’s proof of the undecidability theorem, moved on to computation theory and Turing’s work on incomputability re the Halting Problem, sketched a comparison between the diagonalization techniques involved in undecidability and incomputability, introduced computational tractability with attention to oracles and relativization, and finished off by discussing the analogue of linguistic self-reference in Boolean circuits with respect to their prospective application to P?NP. The CTMU wasn’t mentioned, but bear in mind that the CTMU is a self-referential system to which the basic principles of self-reference apply.

    That paper was online for years. It’s probably languishing on a storage drive somewhere; if I find it, maybe I’ll slap it back up. Meanwhile, please rest assured that I’m aware of most if not all of the major technical issues bearing on my work.

    • MarkCC says:

      The reason that I've focused on the set/set theory thing is simple.

      If the basis of an argument is based on undefined, inconsistent, and/or invalid terms, the entire argument is undefined, inconsistent and/or invalid.

      In the case of sets, sets are a simple basic concept that can, very easily, become inconsistent. That's the whole point of set theory. Set theory is a system that produces a definition of sets that doesn't devolve into inconsistency.

      The definition of set that you focus on, from wikipedia is, ultimately, the definition of sets from naive set theory. You can bitch and moan, bob and weave, whine and complain all you want - but if you use the naive set theory definition of sets, then your argument is built on naive set theory.

      And naive set theory is inconsistent, and thus invalid.

      Your "theory" starts with an argument about whether or not the universe is a set, and derive supposedly deep and profound conclusions from that argument. But you're argument is clearly based on a definition of "set" that isn't valid. You cannot derive a valid argument from an invalid foundation. And all of your pointless verbiage doesn't change that. If you want to use sets in your argument, you need to use a definition of sets that isn't invalid. If you're not willing to do that, then your theory is nothing but an exercise in intellectual masturbation.

    • Tim says:

      Attn: Chris.

      I hope you will – please – read this and look me up (at my “home institution”: https://groups.google.com/forum/m/#!forum/lilasquad).

      All,

      I am a metaphysian. And, so that my boldness is revealed up front, I will let you know that, in your regard, I hope to inject some fundamental REASON in to the debate. But, truth be told, I am not particularly interested in rolling around in the mathematical mud; I am trying to get Chris’ attention because I think his metaphysics is wanting, and I think that a proper righting of his implicit fundament might lead him to the fullness of success his framework – the cognitive theoretic model of ? – will, I suspect, eventually provide – someone.

      Let it be known, I haven’t yet quite even finished Chris’ paper! I have read a good deal of the above discussion, but I have skipped a lot too. I am – quite confident that I am – aware of (the constraints of) THE Metaphysics (of Everything: M.E.), so I can – I think – see where Chris has violated THE I’dea. The physicist’s Theory of Everything (T.o.E.) should, I suspect, fall out of THE metaphysics - like a ripe fruit; and I think that Chris’ framework is very close!

      I have, as I recall, seen Chris use the (derogatory) term “hard materialism”. It seems to me that the comments I have read implicitly assume such a “hard materialism”. The thing is that this is a really immature metaphysics – far sillier than, for instance, a “flying spaghetti monster”. For what it’s worth, though Chris fully recognizes the need to avoid the problem of the “dualistic brick wall”, my understanding is that he lets it in the back door (his “UNBOUND Telesis”).

      Before I get into some details, let me ask: why do you (anyone) think “set” is even a meaningful concept? … Do you have an answer? Can you test whether you are right or not? (If you could show that there was a situation in which “set” was the only tool for the job…)

      Chris, why do you think “universe” is a meaningful concept?

      R.P. Feynman, in his “lectures on Physics”, and in his chapter on algebra (yes, he did have a chapter on “algebra” for his cal tech students!), affirms that one must start in the middle – even just to count! The task of a metaphysician is to find THE proper middle with which to start. I point you to the SUCCESSFUL metaphysician George Holmes Howison, his book “the limits of evolution, and other essays, illustrating the metaphysical theory of personal idealism”:

      http://books.google.com/books?id=vAIQAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=The+limits+of+Evolution+howison&source=bl&ots=w5XKmPBykt&sig=xJtfVO-AP8LfYu2C2FCeTQCWcuA&hl=en&ei=eBSmTZGCDoiCsQPV7PX5DA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CBQQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

      Briefly, Chris, you underestimate the force behind Kant’s noumenon. Materialism can only be bested by I’dealism. That is, reality is at bottom idea! There is no matter as such! “matter” is, rather, information representing real I’dea. I say I’dea, singular, because … give me a moment please.

      I know that there has been some talk about mind-matter duality above. Philosophically, the point I make is that no conception of “universe” is going to be acceptable unless it accounts for the thinker. I state this only dogmatically here; but Howison proves that there are certain limits to evolution, specifically that MIND must be a priori rather than the result of evolution. Materialism must be bested; and, as I have said, it is idealism which bests it. Furthermore, minimal complexity is the key to producing THE real I’dea. Chris, the problem you make is that you have not quite pushed yourself to that one real I’dea! And, rather, you make a very novice mistake (which might be easy to remedy – like a sign error in a long math problem) of conforming yourself to a creation ex nihilo. Or, as you say, on your summary page:

      “Unbound Telesis (UBT) - a primordial realm of infocognitive potential free of informational constraint. In CTMU cosmogony, "nothingness" is informationally defined as zero constraint or pure freedom (unbound telesis or UBT), and the apparent construction of the universe is explained as a self-restriction of this potential. In a realm of unbound ontological potential, defining a constraint is not as simple as merely writing it down; because constraints act restrictively on content, constraint and content must be defined simultaneously in a unified syntax-state relationship.”

      Let me go into some detail. The first sentence and the first clause of the second sentence represent … a problem. Why do you think it makes sense to postulate a “realm … free of informational constraint”? This does not comport with a meaningful idea! But, you close your second sentence with “the apparent construction of the … is explained as a self-restriction of this potential”. You will notice that I omitted only the –offending – word “universe”. Now, this is all (more or less) in line with both the fundamental axiom of all philosophy: “nothing” is meaningless, strictly speaking; impossible: and Feynman’s assurance that we need a "starting in the middle". What if I replace “universe” with “idea”? Granted, my “more or less” was needed because “this potential” is not a truly possible potential, but we see, through “self-restriction”, the ever present hint that the real I’dea is “I am”! Thus Howison’s “personal idealism”. “I am” is the proper, now bounded, metaphysical fundament (telesis?)! But, again, I give this dogmatically now; you have not yet seen the I’dea in it’s full and minimal complexity – or at least I haven’t presented it ;-) But, “I am” does conform to your proscription that “constraint and concept must be defined simultaneously in a unified…”

      The picture, then, is that reality is fundamentally idea. There is but one (type) of I’dea: I am. In order that this I’dea should be a real and meaningful I’dea it must be a certain “working complex” – if I may. Interestingly, if there is any such capacity to destroy souls in the universe (as you have suggested elsewhere, I think), it would have to be some additional, non-fundamental advance pursuant to some increased capacity, potential, or complexity. I see no need for recourse to any such development, and my best guess is that it is actually impossible; either way, you won’t hear me talk about it again. It seems that everything can be accounted for by the “starting in the middle” with “I am”, when once we’ve recognized what this I’dea really means. To close the big picture, reality is, in our time, a plural society of I am.

      Every “I am”, from human, to dog, to cat, to, presumably, insect and plant, etc., and to God too!, is precisely equivalent noumenally. Chris, this is the force behind Kant’s noumenon that you miss. While the I’dea “I am” is a working complex, composed of the noumenal aspect, the spiritual aspect, and the phenomenal aspect, that is, “complex”, it is the noumenal aspect which is most characteristically idea – if I may. The noumenal aspect is eternal (philosophically speaking). Descriptively, it is the “mind of God”; and every “I am” is endowed with it equivalently! But, this aspect in itself does not amount to a real and meaningful idea; it is but an aspect of the minimally complex I’dea. How does one “bound” an infinite and eternal “idea” so as to make it definite and real? How is one idea separated from another, even conventionally speaking?! To be sure, this is where the beauty of complexity (as opposed to a sea of distinct ideas / axioms) comes to the fore. One I’dea is kept separate and distinct from it’s neighbor I’deas (/ kin) by what Howison has chosen to call the “spiritual” aspect; I will refrain from burdening you with any faulty picture I might use… But, similarly with the noumenal aspect, every “I am” is endowed with the same spiritual potentials, preeminently free will. As the spiritual aspect is working to bound the noumenal, the spiritual aspect is decidedly temporal. But this is not quite enough. The phenomenal aspect completes the picture, literally. The information about the real and living I’deas is derivatively represented, fairly, and logically, meanigfully. One can impose his will on the plural society of “I am” and then ask questions about the effect. The answer one gets is a function of the question one asks (and one cannot refrain from asking questions – the eternal aspect must be bounded by the temporal aspects). Not only is the information one receives from such questions predominantly about oneself, one’s question is an essential ingredient: one holds himself together this way! Each “I am” truly is inviolate (and his noumenal aspect is, further, incorruptible). Thankfully though, we (humans eminently) are phenomenally developed enough that the information we gather about ourselves is sufficient to let us start to understand other “I am” as well ;-)

      Above I had said:

      “There is no matter as such! “matter” is, rather, information representing real I’dea. I say I’dea, singular, because … give me a moment please.”

      Have I fulfilled my burden? At least dogmatically (Howison offers a more thorough handling)?

      So, Chris, I again ask: why do you think “universe” is a meaningful concept? For my part I am quite convinced that you have got your socks on inside out! That you have let materialism through your back door, and that you are giving over the reality which is YOU to some illusory conception of US, or a pantheistic god. And, to be sure, having rejected pluralism you call it “universe”. What’s REAL issues from the superphenomenal – and plural – society of “I am”. The derivative picture of it is – though integral – only a picture, and only derivative. It appears “solid” (is “abiding” better?) because the I’deas are real. We can “use” it because the I’deas are real.

      Can you show us the physics that falls out of this metaphysics, Chris?!

      Either way, my confidence in this “starting in the middle” is exceedingly strong. “Confirmed” even. It gets you out of all sorts of trouble you get yourself into, Chris. God is a person now. Not a “pan” immanent in … There is now a place for free will. The real is now a “self-restriction of [the possible]” rather than some weird (impossible) collection a la your words, Chris:

      “Where the universe is defined, for scientific purposes, to contain the entire set of past and future observational and experimental data, plus…”

      Rather, the I’deas are living; and reality is evolutional. To be sure, where you are thinking “universe”, you should now be thinking “my body”. That everybody’s “my body” appears “similarly” should be no surprise!: we are all individual, proprietary quanta of the single type of real I’dea, distinguished only by “spirit”. I don’t think I need to go into an example of how the information (body) is personal and proprietary, even though the distant star we are looking at is the “same” star, or the football we are fighting for possession over is the “same” football. In the everyday we are developed enough that these variations pose no hurdle. In the wet dreams of scientists and tyrants, I will stake my life on the fact that it is precisely impossible for you to violate me. Of course, you (general) could, no doubt, “violate” “me” so much that I’d wish our universe / phenomenal bodies didn’t coexist so.

      Thanks,
      Sincerely,
      Tim

  • Chris Langan says:

    Mark: “The reason that I've focused on the set/set theory thing is simple. If the basis of an argument is based on undefined, inconsistent, and/or invalid terms, the entire argument is undefined, inconsistent and/or invalid.”

    Not if the reason they're "undefined" is that you, Mark Chu-Carroll, refuse to accept their definitions as given, and then refuse to explain why you're refusing to accept their definitions as given.

    Mark: “In the case of sets, sets are a simple basic concept that can, very easily, become inconsistent. That's the whole point of set theory. Set theory is a system that produces a definition of sets that doesn't devolve into inconsistency.”

    So then let's have a look at some of these inconsistencies. Carefully write an essay on them - the specific ones, not just the ones at which you've been frantically waving your arms – and post it on your site. If it’s good enough, maybe I’ll respond.

    As I've remarked above, the formal well-definition of sets is unnecessary regarding sets that are directly perceived. Otherwise, the last time you perceived a set, you should have refused to follow through with the perception until the set announced that it had duly embedded itself in some consistent version of set theory.

    Did you insist on that? (Why, sure you did!)

    Mark: “The definition of set that you focus on, from wikipedia is, ultimately, the definition of sets from naive set theory. You can bitch and moan, bob and weave, whine and complain all you want - but if you use the naive set theory definition of sets, then your argument is built on naive set theory.”

    You really don't have a clue, do you, Mark? Cantor's definition of "set" is not explicitly parameterized by Cantor's "naive" version of set theory. The theory is not a definiens of the definition; the definition has explicit definientia, namely, the well-established and patently consistent operations of discerning its elements and gathering them together. You're simply asserting otherwise without adequately explaining yourself.

    Mark: “And naive set theory is inconsistent, and thus invalid.”

    That's why I don't use it. As explained, over and over again.

    Mark: “Your ‘theory’ starts with an argument about whether or not the universe is a set, and derive supposedly deep and profound conclusions from that argument. But you're argument is clearly based on a definition of ‘set’ that isn't valid.”

    No, it isn't. Stop trying to tell the authors of the theories you criticize what they meant when they wrote their theories. It's ridiculous.

    Mark: ”You cannot derive a valid argument from an invalid foundation. And all of your pointless verbiage doesn't change that. If you want to use sets in your argument, you need to use a definition of sets that isn't invalid. If you're not willing to do that, then your theory is nothing but an exercise in intellectual masturbation.”

    So is this dialogue, as long as you refuse to pluck the scales from your eyes and open your mind a little.

    You can’t BS your way out of the pickle you’ve gotten yourself into here. You may as well lie down and play dead.

    Stay down, Mark. Don't even try to get up.

    • Nissim Levy says:

      Hi Chris

      I don't see any point in arguing with the people on this board. Many here have no appreciation for the role of intuitive leaps in launching scientific revolutions. Can you fathom the unsatisfactory state of Physics (classical) if history had only offered Keplers and no Newtons? We need more Newtons and Einsteins today to shine a clarifying light instead of offering ad hoc hypothesis such as dark matter/energy/flow without any internal motivations and explanatory power.

      I am one of your supporters and I plan on studying your CTMU paper in detail. I currently have an inkling of the gist of your ideas but would like to be in a better position to offer agreement and/or or a constructive critique of the CTMU.

      • John Fringe says:

        Newton se jactó de not forging hypotheses he could not test by data. Einstein was refining all his theories until they were in great agreement with data (see the perihelion of Mercury, for example), and he was always willing to modify his theories depending on the results of experiments. They both conviced people by the agreement of their theories with observations. They both always checked their theories, correcting them accordingly. They defended their theories with data, not with words nor insults.

        They have nothing to do with Langan, as you can see.

        We certainly need more Newtons and Einsteins today. Calling Langan a "Newton" or an "Einstein" will not make his theory correct.

        I have particularly a great respect for intuition in physics in the generation of scientific ideas. But... I understand the role of intuition. Intuition can be right or wrong. Being so, you can not use intuition to prove a theory correct.

        • John Fringe says:

          Mnnn, my software switched into spanish (?) for some reason. I believe it's getting out of its mind (with me).

          By "Newton se jactó de not forging hypotheses" I meant "Newton was proud of not forging hypotheses".

    • Nissim Levy says:

      Hi Chris

      I would like to add that your theory, if correct, is a great starting point but it needs to be refined to the point where it can make some kind of falsifiable prediction about physical reality. For example, it would be a ground breaking achievement if the CTMU could predict Dark Matter as a consequence of some abstract concept outlined in the CTMU. Einstein, for example, derived Lorentz's contraction equation as a consequence of his intuition that the speed of light cannot be exceeded in any reference frame. Newton derived Kepler's orbital equations as a consequence of his intuitive realization that an orbit is simply a falling object.

      • John Fringe says:

        Yes, you don't need to continue. We get the point. We already know it. People do things based on other things other people did before. Nobody doubts that.

        That's not a defense for Langan's theory. Maybe we can derive formulas describing the Pioneer's anomaly from the negation of Langan's theories. My intuition says me that.

        What nonsense.

    • Chris, I think your theory could benefit if you cooperated with the Metaphysics of Quality community. Not that your theory necessarily has any flaw -- there are other reasons which involve your theory gaining more acceptance. Do not take me or Tim as representatives of that community.

      You are actually doing a pretty good job at arguing with these people -- but you might end up with something more useful if you popped up at Lila Squad.

      If you send me an e-mail address you actually use via this form, I'll do the rest for you to get this thing going.

      If you have the time, I'll have some questions for you, too, but there's no hurry, and I should read your entire paper first before presenting all of them. But this is not the right place for it.

  • John Fringe says:

    You can infer anything you want from inconsistent axioms. Cantor's definition of set leads to inconsistencies (it's well known), as the definition assumes inconsistent axioms. Everything you infer from there is inconsistent, and you could infer anything you want.

    It's not so difficult, it's very common knowledge, and it can be trivially shown.

    At this point, Mr. Langan, where I can not take you seriously anymore (you're just insulting people), I, as always, will let time judge.

    Drop a note when you succeed, Mr. Langan, with such a great contribution to humanity.

    [
    I hope to discover the step 2:

    Step 1) Talking nonsense and insulting people as if everyone else accepts your "theory"
    Step 2) ?
    Step 3) Profit!
    ]

  • Robert says:

    "the formal well-definition of sets is unnecessary regarding sets that are directly perceived"

    But we're not talking about these sets, are we? Unless you claim that you have directly perceived the entire universe...

  • NilsMotpol says:

    Mr Langan,

    Could you please give us a short outline about what your theory is really about. If it is the case that we are indeed too stupid to grasp its brilliance, there is no theory that is so complex that you can't explain what it is about. If we disregard the proofs for as while, could you help us understand

    a. What exactly it concerns (the existence of something, the quality of something, the number of dimension etc?)

    b. In broad outline, what are the conclusions (for example, the universe is infite in size, or there are 15 underlying dimensions or time is circular)?

    c. Can CTMU make any sort of predictions that are empirically testable? Not necessarily hitherto unknown phenomena, I would be quite happy, for now, if you could help me understand how it relates to the physical reality at all, from what I've read I haven't been able find any examples of this

    d. If possible, can you briefly describe the methods you use for proving what you do prove? So far, we have been focusing on a part of the theory that seems to be using semantic proofs, is that the case for the entire theory or do you rely on empricial observations and/or mathematics too?

  • CausticDuality says:

    Chris:

    Okay, so correct me if this is wrong. You say the universe is the biggest entity there is, and can be represented as a set of objects. But a power set P(S) is necessarily larger than (S) and therefore we're talking about a set that is bigger than the entity we already said was the biggest entity there is.

    Is this correct?

  • CausticDuality says:

    The formal definition of sets IS very much necessary. If you're simply defining a set as a "collection of objects" then that says nothing about the logical attributes you apply to the objects themselves, which is why we run into inconsistencies in naive set theory. Any collection of objects we can perceive typically fits within set theory just fine because that's what it models.

    From your own CTMU page: "It follows that reality itself should be a set…in fact, the largest set of all. But every set, even the largest one, has a powerset which contains it, and that which contains it must be larger (a contradiction). The obvious solution: define an extension of set theory incorporating two senses of “containment” which work together in such a way that the largest set can be defined as "containing" its powerset in one sense while being contained by its powerset in the other. Thus, it topologically includes itself in the act of descriptively including itself in the act of topologically including itself..., and so on, in the course of which it obviously becomes more than just a set."

    How does this not scream "naive set theory" to you? How is the naive set from Russell's Paradox "The set of all sets that don't contain themselves" any less naive than "The biggest possible set and its even-larger powerset"?

    You can't make claims like these and then insist that it's not naive set theory and then insult people for not agreeing with you. Yes, reality may contain "sets" of objects, but that doesn't mean you now have free-reign to apply invalid axioms to those objects. If you're defining something outside of science, then no amount of science can possibly attack it. But, then again, if what you're talking about is outside of science, then it doesn't have much worth here in reality. The burden is not on Mark to "disprove" you (even though he already has), but since you're the one making the positive assertions in your theory, the burden is on you to defend it.

    Of course, you have to actually defend it in a way that makes sense. If you're using neologisms, you have to define them. If you're using well-understood words differently, you have to redefine what you mean. My point here is that you're committing errors/fallacies that are already well, well-understood by people who've studied mathematics and physics. If you mean something different, then you have to elaborate in a clear and concise way. Simply popping open a can of word soup doesn't prove that you're right.

    If you keep going down this path of "It's a set, but not set theory. It's Cantor's definition, but not naive. The universe is a set, but the powerset contradicts. The theory is scientific, and yet it's not" -- then people are going to write you off as a crackpot and move on.

  • Chris Langan says:

    Just a couple of friendly observations.

    First, I don’t fully trust bare external links posted on this site. I will probably neither click on them, nor paste them directly into a browser. To put it bluntly, I've had too many problems with the kind of person who tends to frequent this (skeptical / materialist-physicalist / "anti-pseudoscience" / "debunking" / atheistic or anti-religious) kind of forum, especially for the purpose of criticizing me or my work in the way that we’ve seen here. Too many such people, confused but nonetheless committed to their beliefs, turn out to be more trouble than direct communication with them could ever be worth.

    More generally, although I try to make reasonable exceptions, I have a hard time regarding those who share what appears to be Mark's basic mindset as trustworthy by those who share anything resembling my own perspective. In fact, I regard them as lacking any firm basis for ethical understanding or behavior, something for which I have a sad abundance of experiential confirmation. (Of course, this is a statistical judgment which says nothing personal about Mark or anyone else.)

    Secondly, it's a small world ... for some of us, at least. I'm familiar with Robert Pirsig's work because, at one time, we shared certain acquaintances. It’s something that I’ve heard enough about and even find interesting - Robert is clearly a very bright man - but which I find a bit too nebulous to be very useful to me. On the other hand, some of his ideas make a great deal of sense as far as they go, so please don't rush to the conclusion that I dismiss his philosophy. It's just that comparing it to the CTMU would be like comparing a Ford Model T to the Starship Enterprise. Any associated knowledge-transfer would be pretty much one-way, from me outward. Such a transfer will probably occur one of these days, but on my own terms and in my own good time.

    To the extent that anyone’s interest in my work is sincere, I very much appreciate it. But please try to remember that when you read something I've written about it, you’re probably reading a highly simplified version from which much of the detail has been regretfully omitted. Why has it been omitted? Because most people, even those who claim to know some mathematics, would merely be distracted by it, are possibly incapable of understanding it (as we've seen), and/or would take it as something to be misleadingly attacked out of context.

    With all due respect, those who assume that such detail does not exist, or believe that something I've said about the CTMU is invalidated by something they think they know, have another think coming. Praemonitus, praemunitus.

    Good day.

    • Tim says:

      Mark, thanks for the forum.

      Tuukka, thanks for turning me on to the CTM(?), and Chris, and for the (attempted) assist.

      Chris, let me "forearm" you with Howison’s second version of his book, from 1905, which is preferable for its set of 5 appendices – and its second preface too:

      http://books.google.com/books?id=dg3wkAkfKQ4C&pg=PA420&dq=the+limits+of+evolution&source=gbs_toc_r&cad=4#v=onepage&q&f=false

      You can, of course, find any of the resources I’ve linked you to on your own, through google, which web site might be trustworthy enough for you ;-)

      Regarding ethics, then: if justice is to be possible, people (I am) must be free to refrain from injustice: this has been my tautological axiom.

      Lastly, I think: you, Chris, turned me on to this interview by Wheeler (footnote 10 of your paper), in which he said:

      “Wheeler: One of the conditions, I think, for advance in this field, as in any field, is believing that advance is possible. What I hope I'm creating is a sense of faith that it can be done. Faith is the number one element. It isn't something that spreads itself uniformly. Faith is concentrated in a few people at particular times and places. If you can involve young people in an atmosphere of hope and faith, then I think they'll figure out how to get the answer. Faith and hope are absolutely central to everything one does.”

      So I think you should trust the link:

      http://www.bigear.org/vol1no4/wheeler.htm

      I take it there’s nothing else then, Chris?

      Good night,
      Tim

    • Chris,
      my estimation is that your comparison of MoQ and CTMU to Ford Model T and Starship Enterprise is quite correct, but there's one thing you didn't account for: the awful little Ford Model T is running at slow speed, but still faster than the starship. You can e-mail me at for.mr.langan at tuukkavirtaperko dot net. See? The e-mail address is specially made for you. The little automobile will tow starship before it's ready to achieve speed of light. If it won't, I, Tim and maybe others at Lila squad will tow it by hand.

      • Tim says:

        Tuukka, Chris, CausticDuality,

        I was gonna leave it alone, but I guess I’ll just state a thing or two for the record, in case it might help. I view Pirsig’s work as a distillation of metaphysics into form that can be used by, and might be acceptable to, a wide audience. Roughly: “quality” is not something to be dismissed as derivative or illusory. It matters. Fundamentally. I can certainly go with him that far.

        CausticDuality, metaphysically inclined people (read “religiously” inclined people if you prefer) are not just nuts going on about nutty things because they fell into the nutty waters of some un-nutty boat that un-nutty people are supposed to be on. One cannot but help taking a metaphysical position. Faith is required. And even God, - with whose likeness we share, - is a God OF faith --- too! Anyway, you provide a quote from some Rudolf Carnap chap which you got from wikipedia: “Metaphysicians cannot avoid making their statements nonverifiable…”, but that conclusion itself… will never be “verified”! Did you notice the quote from Kant just above Carnap’s? It says, in solid part: “…otherwise we should be landed in the absurd conclusion that there can be appearance without anything that appears.” In your post of Aug 10, 2011, at 11:38 a.m. you quote Chris:

        "I think no combination of determinacy and randomness can actually explain intelligence. Therefore, something more is required -- a higher language, and that higher language would, by definition, be metaphysical."

        And you retort:

        “I think this is just argument from ignorance. "I don't know how the mind works, so I will invoke a metaphysical explanation" -- nevermind evolution, genetics, or environmental feedback. It's basically a God of the Gaps argument all over again.”

        So, you complain that Chris is a man of faith by being yourself a person of faith! WTF?! Not to mention how terribly you mutilate decent metaphysicians (and the fully successful Howison, who thoroughly handles your concern here about mind!), or Chris, but your saying “nevermind evolution, genetics, or environmental feedback” turns – in the mind of a solid metaphysician – into “nevermind materialism, matter, or matter/materialism”! lol. You put your faith in matter (you are a faithful materialist). And not only do you do so, but you do so foolishly. Decent scientists keep a healthy skepticism about it! If you want to be a skeptic, be a skeptic. In fact, I once was myself; and I think there’s nothing wrong with it; and, more, it MIGHT be the ONLY way to get THERE. But you seem to me to be one of those false skeptics, picking and choosing. That is, you seem to be a man of faith, and like so many men of faith, you wont tolerate skepticism about yours. Skepticism about materialism makes one a nut to you, is that it? Well, real skeptics are skeptical about materialism too.

        Anyway, Chris, if the name of my home institution (https://groups.google.com/forum/m/#!forum/lilasquad) makes you think we are a kindergarden; or if Tuukka’s referring to us as “the Metaphysics of Quality community” bothers you, notice that I have preempted you in comparing Pirsig’s MoQ to Ford’s Model T! From my post of April 30th, 2011, under the thread “Soul as a static pattern”, I had said:

        “You know, maybe Pirsig is like Ford with his model-T. Maybe Bo 1970's era sports car. I think there is a contemporary F1, let's say, right about Howison.”

        What would be more fun to drive, the starship enterprise or a formula-1 car? (If I had to bet I think I’d bet on the nimble and powerful earth-bound contraption!)

        Anyway, Chris, while you give the appearance of being an I’dealist, I suspect you’re still thinking and talking like a materialist. And your behavior and seemingly far-superior processing capacity makes me start to fear that I will regret having offered you my pearls (Howison, the LilaSquad, etc.). Luke 22:26 (New American bible for Catholics – though I am no such “catholic”):

        “Rather, let the greatest among you be as the youngest, and the leader as the servant.”

        And, Chris, you said August 5:

        “Such a transfer will probably occur one of these days, but on my own terms and in my own good time.”

        Are you promised tomorrow? And the recipients of the “transfer”?
        Tim

        • John Fringe says:

          Please, don't be fallacious, Tim. That's has been too obvious demagoguery.

          Faith has no relation to what CausticDuality is saying.

          He is saying: The fact that Langan can not see "why a combination of determinacy and randomness can explain intelligence" does not imply "something more is required". This is not a question of faith He is not saying "something more" can not exists. What he is saying is: the fact that you can't explain something does not mean an arbitrary alternative belief is true. No, sorry about that. Actually, the fact that you can't explain something means _you can not explain something_.

          He's just signaling a clear fallacy, an error in the argument.

          A very known and obvious fallacy, by the way. Nothing new here.

          He is not saying Langan (or you, or even CausticDuality himself) can not belief in god. Maybe CausticDuality himself actually believes intelligence is the work of god. I'm not saying he does, nor he doesn't. I'm just saying we don't know, because he hasn't say anything about that. You are not understanding. So, what faith are you speaking about?

          What he is saying is, despite you believing what you want to believe, that's not an argument, sorry. If you can't explain intelligence from determinism, sorry, you can not conclude there is something more. There could be, but you can not conclude it. No. You can only conclude in that moment _you can not explain intelligence_. If not, you could do the inverse argument: I can not see how can I explain intelligence from something more, so there must be determinism. With this two way argumentation you can clearly see how the reasoning is not valid.

          So, please, believe what you want, no problem with that, but don't be fallacious, or at least obscure a bit more the fallacious argumentations to make them less obvious.

          • Tim says:

            John Fringe,

            I have reread my post, very closely, looking for the slightest hint of fallaciousness; the only thing I found resembling such was when I said, assessing CausticDuality,: "You put your faith in matter (you are a faithful materialist)." - I should have added a qualifier like "My strong suspicion is that 'you ...". John, I suspect that you are weighing me down with aspects of "faith" you pick up from others: do I deserve that? If you read my first post in this thread you will see that I point to R.P. Feynman's assertion that one must start in the middle. For me this is the essence of "faith" (also, there is a dynamic component I term "faithe"). The goal of the metaphysician is to minimize faith! My position vis-a-viz CausticDuality is that materialism requires far more leaps than my position (Howisonian personal i'dealism).

            In a post from Aug 5th under the thread "CTMU" (at the lilasquad), I briefly detailed Chris's use of "seed" in his CTMU paper, at p.44. I too have used that analogy before. In this light my suspicion was that Chris would have been aware of Jesus' use of that term - according to Mark, at 4:31:

            "He {Jesus} said,'To what shall we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it? It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.'"

            John, you say a very nice thing: "Actually, the fact that you can't explain something means _you can not explain something_." But, like I suggested to CausticDuality, if you want to be a solid skeptic, be a SOLID skeptic; don't feign skepticism on one hand, and then abandon it with the other. For example: "Faith has no relation to what CausticDuality is saying." The life of a true skeptic is hard! Rewarding in the end, hopefully, but it is filled - like you suggest - almost entirely with "I don't know". Few have the patience or tolerance for it, it seems.

            John, I think your bias towards materialism is adversely affecting your ability to discern what other people are saying. I myself have provided evidence that I have reached the determined conclusion that faith is fundamental. Feynman says you can't even count to 1 without faith! But what I am trying to sell is that this is not wholly destructive of our hope to KNOW. We can reach a "confirmation" of our faith which redeems the true skeptic's implicit faith that that "know" of "I don't know." might be had!

            Let me tear into a couple more details of your offering before I let you go. You call me fallacious, but you offer no warrant. Did you think you gave a warrant? Your second to last paragraph is nice work of a sort, John, but you sell me, Howison, and Chris way short - unfairly. (And, comically, if intelligence couldn't be explained by determinism and randomness alone, and it couldn't be explained with more, then...?!) In your third paragraph you say:

            "He [CausticDuality] is saying: The fact that Langan can not see "why a combination of determinacy and randomness can explain intelligence" does not imply "something more is required"."

            But my point is that this is missing Chris' position! Chris isn't merely "not see[ing]", but actually SEEING that determinism and randomness ARE insufficient! He is past the "I don't know.", John! As am I. I will again encourage you to read Howison, particularly his first essay in which he details "the limits of evolution" (and actually PROVES evolution, of a non-materialist sort, simultaneously!). The main argument rests on the fact that there are certain aspects of Mind which cannot be the result of "evolution", but which must be prior to it, the foundation for it.

            Anyway, while there still seems to be room for argument about the exact metaphysical fundament - and there does seem to be a huge gap between the CTMU and personal i'dealism - both Chris and I have fully recognized the insufficiency of materialism. While you think our moving past it "arbitrary", we think our moves the antithesis of arbitrary! Since we aren't perfect, we may be wrong in ultimate detail, but we have faith that we can attain to a non-arbitrary faith which can also find such a great degree of confirmation as to warrant the esteemed title "know" as well. While even skeptics hold out for such a hope, perhaps there is some other position you might take that denies it? If you are interested in abandoning metaphysics (the hope for truth) altogether, Pirsig and his "empiricism" might be for you. But even that, I argue, still amounts to a "religious" "faith".

            I hope I have cleared up any confusion. Do you still think me being fallacious and demagogic?

            Tim

          • John Fringe says:

            > "But my point is that this is missing Chris' position! Chris isn't merely "not see[ing]", but actually SEEING that determinism and randomness ARE insufficient! He is past the "I don't know.", John!"

            > "Do you still think me being fallacious and demagogic?"

            Yes, I still believe you're being fallacious. These are my arguments:

            Langan said (and that was what you and CausticDuality quoted):

            Langan: "I think no combination of determinacy and randomness can actually explain intelligence. Therefore, something more is required -- a higher language, and that higher language would, by definition, be metaphysical."

            CausticDuality took that sentence and said something which is objective: you can not infer "something more is required" from "I think no ...". That's a logical fallacy.

            You could say "I think no..." "so I _believe_ something more is required". But you can not infer that, and you don't know. That's not a matter of opinion. You can not infer from facts if you don't know if they're true. And all I read CausticDuality said about that was that, and that was all you cited.

            If you don't like what he is doing, abstract it:

            Langan: "I believe A is true", so "B"
            A = determinancy and randomness can not explain intelligence
            B = there must be something else

            Even if we accept A implies B, all Langan is saying there is "I think A is true". I hope you can see the error in the reasoning, I don't know how to show it in even simpler terms.

            Just to be sure: "a fallacy is usually incorrect argumentation in reasoning resulting in a misconception or presumption". While you don't prove an assertion (and it's not an axiom) but use it in the reasoning as accepted, you're being fallacious by definition.

            Now, that fallacy has a name: God of the Gasps. It's actually a good name, but it's just a name. "I don't know how A could be false, so B". No. The correct form is "I don't know how A can be true, so... I don't know how A can be true". B could be true or false, we know nothing. And CausticDuality said nowhere B is false. He simply said the reasoning is incorrect.

            This is why CausticDuality's arguments were correct.

            As to tried to show CausticDuality argument to be false by recurring to non sequiturs ("So, you complain that Chris is a man of faith by being yourself a person of faith!", CausticDuality's materialism and all that), I'd call that a fallacy. You're reproving CausticDuality with an incorrect argument. Don't take it as a personal attack.

            Now you give me new information, not present in the original posts.

            > "but actually SEEING that determinism and randomness ARE insufficient! He is past the "I don't know.", John!"

            We were not talking about this. Langan sentence you cited was

            > "I think no combination of determinacy..."

            This has no relation to the previous. You'll understand that "seeing" is not an argument nor a proof. Can you sketch a proof for that, or it's just a belief of you both?

          • Tim says:

            John,

            we are arguing over an excerpt:

            Langan: "I think no combination of determinacy and randomness can actually explain intelligence. Therefore, something more is required -- a higher language, and that higher language would, by definition, be metaphysical."

            I have not studied the context of this excerpt, but only trusted my reading from what I already understand of Chris. It seems to me you go off into no man's land by misunderstanding this "I think" at the fore. Delete it and then re-read Chris' statement if you want the sense in which I understand him. He isn't here trying to make a proof for the position, but he is speaking dogmatically. That he will speak of his conclusions this way should not be the source of a whole THING here. Rather, I see the "I think" as akin to many such humble admissions I myself make, - and even Feynman seemed to agree, - that ALL knowledge is rooted in faith! So, I'm pretty sure that Chris is quite confident in the conclusion that follows his "I think". If he weren't... well, certainly if I weren't I wouldn't be speaking so boldly here to you, and publicly. In short, Chirs' thinking that determinism and randomness is insufficient to account for the conscious mind is not willy nilly! It is a confirmed conclusion. At least it is for me.

            I will again point you to Howison. For instance, one must have an a priori faculty for temporal relations if evolution were to be able to inform even the simplest gain for consciousness. That is, without that a priori faculty for understanding some complex temporal relation, one could not gain --- from some even-theoretically-impossible state of no consciousness ---- the capacity for complex temporal relation. The ability to conceive of a complex temporal relation is needed in order for that proposed evolution from nothing to such ability to be possible! If that ability were not there from the start, evolution would have no mechanism whereby to supply it. So, evolution, - that is, i'dealistic evolution, - makes steps WITHIN the potential of the metaphysical fundament. It does not make steps past that potential. Pinning one's hope for evolution on "randomness" is insufficient to leap the bounds of "possible". I think. :-)

            The one (and only) i'dea, again, is "I am". Working together we can explore the infinite potential that is open to us, plurally, WITHIN IT. Which potential is, so to say, "from the foundation". That is, evolution isn't about adding potential, but enjoying the more fulfilling aspects of THE potential when more and more (fundamentally similar) i'deas can / must find their lives and decisions amongst his neighbors. If we do so harmoniously, we can see beauties that are impossible for a smaller society. If we do so ugly-harmoniously, those "beauties" will be hideous and terrible. Skepticism is nice; but the finite and temporal aspects of our nature only tolerates it so far. Choose; choose; choose. "But I don't know." Choose something; choose something; choose something.

            Does this help?
            Tim

          • John Fringe says:

            > "misunderstanding this "I think" at the fore. Delete it and then re-read Chris' statement if you want the sense in which I understand him. "

            Sorry, nor CausticDuality (I believe) nor me are arguing about your understanding, but on what Langan said. If I erase this, put that, change those... then I can interpret what I want, too. But how can you know what I'm speaking about them?

            Please, don't judge others comments on others comments by what you understand, but by what they actually say. That's a fallacy, too. It's called straw man.

            > "and even Feynman seemed to agree"

            Not, sorry. His lectures on physics have some previous chapters telling you you always have to check your conclusions to know if your hypotheses are correct.

            Feynman says you have to make same assumptions, but he does not say you have to forget they are assumptions. No, he says you have to remember they are assumptions, and you have to be prepare to drop them if you've got contradictions. There is no faith here. There are concious assumptions, you don't need to believe they are true by faith. Feyman says it: you can believe they are true by testing them, but there is not faith. If at any time observations does not coincide with them, you happily discard them.

            His lectures are long. I recomend you to read them all.

            > "I'm pretty sure that Chris is quite confident in the conclusion that follows his "I think""

            I never doubted he believes that. I believe he believes that, Which means nothing.

            > "Chirs' thinking that determinism and randomness is insufficient to account for the conscious mind is not willy nilly! It is a confirmed conclusion. At least it is for me.

            Yes, it's a confirmed conclusion that he is thinking that. Which means nothing about determinisn being sufficient.

            Me believing A is true does not make true.

            Can you sketch a proof? I mean, we're writing here thousands of words for nothing. If you can sketch a proof, do it, please. Then we could discuss something.

            Because arguing about what Langan sentences means if you erase that and put this, or if he believes what he says is not very productive. Let's talk about content, please, if there is any. Write it here, We're already writing a lot.

            The rest is pretty non sequitur. I recomend you to write in smaller steps we can actually follow and discuss. Obfuscation is not an argument.

          • John Fringe says:

            By non sequitur I mean this:

            > 2one must have an a priori faculty for temporal relations if evolution were to be able to inform even the simplest gain for consciousness2

            Why?

            > "without that a priori faculty for understanding some complex temporal relation, one could not gain the capacity for complex temporal relation"

            Why?

            > "The ability to conceive of a complex temporal relation is needed in order for that proposed evolution from nothing to such ability to be possible! "

            Why?

            > "If that ability were not there from the start, evolution would have no mechanism whereby to supply it."

            Why?

            > "So, evolution, - that is, i'dealistic evolution, - makes steps WITHIN the potential of the metaphysical fundament."

            That so implies the previous ones are true. You didn't explain them, just asserted then several times. Repeating does not make proofs.

            And so on.

          • Tim says:

            John,

            I have become quite busy. Perhaps it was foolish of me to start this conversation knowing that I was to become so busy; but I thought it might get taken care of real quick. Seems never to happen.

            If you want to blow up over Langan's words "I think", I won't try to stop you anymore. Chris isn't a computer. And, don't you think 2+2=4. If you said "I think that 2+2= 4, so...", do you want me to apply your logic just the same?

            Regarding my argument for a priori consciousness, if you are serious you will suggest some "why not?". I have put myself out there, and it is the easiest thing in the world to refuse to consider it, but retort "why? Why? Why?" If you offer your "why not!" I can almost assure you that I will not be so childish towards you.

            Again, if I weren't so busy, perhaps I would play with you anyway. In a month I will be un-busy. This gives you time to read Howison.

            Tim

          • John Fringe says:

            Tim, if you say "I think that 2+2=4", you can use my logic: nobody will think that is a proof for 2+2=4. And most people will think that because, in fact, it is not a proof that 2+2=4.

            Actually, if I say "I think 435*4=1740", most listeners would understand that I believe that, but I'm not quite sure.

            But don't worry, we don't need to continue with that. We all understood. CausticDuality commented on what Langan said, and his comments apply to Langan's comments. And you negated what CausticDuality said assuming Langan said another thing. No need to continue with that. It's not so important.

            About the "why", are you serious? I mean, are you proposing "why not" as a proof of your assertions?

            So this is the situation. I abstract it a bit, if you don't mind.

            You assert A. I ask you why do you assert A, I mean, why do you believe A is true or expect me to accept A to be true. Is not that a valid question? Must people simply accept your free assertions? Is asking why do you assert a non-evident thing childish? Are you the pope, and believe anything you say is automatically true? I hope not, so I hope asking why do you assume a non-evident assertion to be true to be a valid question. A serious question.

            So you asserted A and I asked for a proof, evidence, or some kind of explanation.

            And you answer (I'm childish and) "why not".

            Is "why not A" a proof for A?

            Are you serious? Because I have seen bad reasoning, but this is ridiculous. Don't be offended. You don't know logic, that's all. But the result is ridiculous.

            "Why not A" proves A. Cool. Can I do the same? Can I assert arbitrary things, and if you don't know why not, then should you automatically accept the assertion?

            Let's try. God drives a red Ferrari. This is a free assertion I make. If you don't believe it, and ask me why do I say that or why is that so, I'll ask you "why not". Done. So we should accept God drives a red Ferrari.

            And is ME who is childish? Your argumentation is just plain... I don't want to offend you, but yes, it's ridiculous. "Why not". OMG. A is true because "why not A". XD

            I hope you are busy this month learning logic.

          • Tim says:

            John,

            You said:

            “About the "why", are you serious? I mean, are you proposing "why not" as a proof of your assertions?”

            Of course not. I’m asking you to offer something to show me, a) that you have actually considered what I said, and that you are worth my efforts, and b) so that I can know where you are having problems, that I might direct my efforts to your specific hang up. Howison wrote a whole book, I’m not about to write a whole book here for you. Let me give you another quick analogy: it impossible to store 10 bits of information in one bit of storage medium. Here is where you ask “why?”. What do you expect of me? There is no end to the depths of that childish game. If you are not playing a game, I’m sorry. But then why the attitude and air of superiority?

            John, the ability to be consciously aware of, and to interrelate various pieces of information is non trivial. There has never been (to my knowledge) any proposal as to how evolution could provide such a non-trivial capacity from a trivial base. Are you aware of one? Magic, spontaneous generation, etc. Every proposition has been a leap of faith of a GREATER magnitude than the one I, Howison, or Kant offer. I am only here trying to give you a strong sampling, but I’ve linked you to Howison, so if you want more, go to him. I’ve never pretended that what I offer amounts to proof. In fact, I’ve exoterically offered you the exact opposite. Proof is impossible. Are you gonna ask why? Faith is the root of all knowledge. Are you gonna ask why? You’ll end up having to live in accord with one or the other horn of this dilemma. Are you gonna ask why? Some degree of consciousness is either a priori or it’s all a posteriori. Neither camp has a proof. But the a priori camp is far more reasonable and powerful. Look for yourself.

            John, you asked:

            “Are you the pope, and believe anything you say is automatically true?”

            Why do you believe “true” is a meaningful word? There are plenty of people who don’t! Do you have a proof?

            I had said:

            “If that ability [to conceive of a complex temporal relation] were not there from the start, evolution would have no mechanism whereby to supply it.”

            The alternative to this a priori existence, what alternatives do you see? Have you considered this? CausticDuality had offered evolution, genetics, and environmental feedback. But if there is no ability to hold together complex temporal relations, none of those terms can make sense, because they are all predicated on that capacity! “feedback” implies some complex awareness. If you are unwilling to consider this on your own, I don’t know what I can do for you. Rock and dirt and pools of water aren’t in the habit of giving us any evidence that they spontaneously generate complex self-awareness. A rock (seemingly) does not have the a priori conscious I am talking about, and so we can rely on it to never spontaneously develop it.

            Now, to end, I can kill two birds with one stone. Another philosopher I have come across recently, and whom I like pretty well, has handled “interpretation” impressively. His name is Josiah Royce, and the book I point you to is “the problem of Christianity”. This starts to get to Langan’s CTMU (and, actually, his use of “interpretation” was taken somewhat from Pierce). The point is that information isn’t even information per se unless it is information in an interpretative relation. And an interpretative relation is inherently complex! Again, John, the people I know who deny “truth” outright do so as empiricists, or “radical empiricists”. That is, they don’t deny “interpretation” outright, since its existence is available to their experience. If you have a problem with my attempt, I will think you a child unless you can start to offer some challenge. You can rant all you want about formal logic and proofs, but that just is not what this problem is about (can you give me a proof that 1 is a meaningful proposition? Or that “=” is a meaningful statement?). The capacity for interpretation is either a priori (much like Langan’s self-configuring self-processing language), or else you have to come up with another explanation. There aren’t many options, and science hasn’t even attempted to offer one (as far as I know). So my “why not?”, while obviously no proof of your “why?” – and it’s real silly and ungrateful of you to try to pin that on me – IS, effectively, proof of your limitation: if you had the answer to “why not?” in the barrel of your gun I’m sure you’d a fired it.

            That other bird I promised? Your similarly silly attempt to say your “interpretation” of Chris’ words, - as against mine, - is papal perfection!

            Tim

          • John Fringe says:

            > If you have a problem with my attempt, I will think you a child unless you can start to offer some challenge.

            "I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a child playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me." - Isaac Newton

            Feel free to consider me a child. Children are curious and ready to learn.

            > "I’m asking you to offer something to show me, a) that you have actually considered what I said, and that you are worth my efforts"

            Ah, good. A retractation. So you're silly (can I also use this word? maybe stupid?) childish reasoning was your why of testing if I'm worth your efforts. That has a side effect: when you reasong in a fallacious silly way, you're proving you're not worth mine. Fortunately for dialogue, I'm not so prepotent as to be checking people validity. And you check that by making silly and fallacious reasonings.

            (By the way, I'm surprised how people who says fantastic assertions (like you) which are generally considered false (there is a proof that god exists, it has been proven that intelligence requires "something more", and all that) speaks like they are authority, like the can go there checking if people are worth "their efforts".

            Let me tell you the hard truth: you're not a well repected philosopher. If nothing changes, nobody will take seriously your thoughs. Be happy discarding people. Think about ten years from now: maybe you discover nobody is worth your effort. The rest of the World call that self-delusion).

            > "Are you gonna ask why?"

            Yes, I'm gonna ask why to any free assertion you make which is not evident and is the base of your reasoning, instead of blindly accepting it.

            I see you're not used to people thinking about your words, instead of just accepting them.

            Questions bother you? Are questions childish? Let them be.

            What are we arguing them, if I can not question your free assertions?

            If you are just going to be offended for me not to take your free assertions as truth, please, say so. You'll discover not much people will be interested in talking to you. But that will not make your free assertions true.

            Again, are you serious?

            > There has never been (to my knowledge) any proposal as to how evolution could provide such a non-trivial capacity from a trivial base. Are you aware of one?
            > "The alternative to this a priori existence, what alternatives do you see?"

            OMG, you didn't understood what God of the Gasps is, did you? Please, be worth anyone effort and think for five minutes. You can't be so busy not to stop and think a little. If we have already signaled the fallacy you're commiting by trying to prove something by not knowing how the opposite can be, why do you try it again?

            Let me tell you something. Not knowing how A could not be true does not mean A is true. It does not mean A is false. You seem to be assuming (straw man, I also signaled the fallacy) that I'm saying A is not true when I ask why is A true. I'm just asking for an explanation. I don't know if A is true or false. Me not knowing if A is true or false and wanting to know why do you assume A is true does not mean A is true.

            It's very clear that you are just making free assertions.

            Now, the question: are you seriously taking for an argument the fact that I can not think of alternatives? This one is as stupid as trying to prove something by asking why not. Are you seriously trying to prove A by saying I can't think of a way A is not true? Or is this another of your "test of worthness"?

            I'm starting to believe the majority of your words end being just tests of worthness for your interlocutor.

            Again, you show you don't know how to reason. We're busy too. As an advise, forget for a moment all your books on complex metaphysics that proves the existence of "something more" by writing on a paper. Instead, get a book on basic reasoning. Read it. Come back when you understand what reasoning is about. You'll see how people can talk to you.

            > "So my “why not?”, while obviously no proof of your “why?” – and it’s real silly and ungrateful of you to try to pin that on me – IS, effectively, proof of your limitation: if you had the answer to “why not?” in the barrel of your gun I’m sure you’d a fired it."

            Again and again, the same fallacy. Let me use capitals, to be able to refer to this sentence later:

            NO, I CAN'T ANSWER WHY NOT. IN FACT, I HAVE NOT SAID I THINK THE SENTENCE IS FALSE, NOR TRUE.
            THE FACT THAT I CAN NOT ANSWER WHY NOT DOES NOT MEAN IT'S TRUE.
            THIS IS CALLED FALLACY OF THE GOD OF THE GASPS.

            I hope it's clear this time.

            I'm not trying to pin you anywhere. There is no conspirations. Don't hallicinate, please.

            When you make an assertion and I ask "why", have you considered the possibility I'm asking why because I want to know "why are you asserting that"? Have you?

            Call me silly, childish, ungrateful or what you want. But if you make a free assertion and all you can say to justify it is "logic is not the only thing, and you can not prove the opposite", not much poeple is going to take you seriously. Because I could assert the opposite and prove it the same way.

            If there is a non fallacious answer to "why" in your barrel, I'm sure you'd fired it. (This is getting so easy).

            > There aren’t many options, and science hasn’t even attempted to offer one (as far as I know)

            And? This does not mean any alternative explanation is true. You understand that, do you? (Refer to the God of the Gasps fallacy).

            > You can rant all you want about formal logic and proofs

            Yes, it seems so. I can rant all I want. You're providing the neccesary evidency :p

            > "Your similarly silly attempt to say your “interpretation” of Chris’ words"

            Great, my interpretation of not ignoring what Langan said and substituting it by anything else (which was my interpretation despite CausticDuality saying it) is silly. And your refutation of CausticDuality's word about what Langan actually said based on what Langan would have said if you remove half his comment makes CausticDuality a person of faith. Good. And everyone saying the opposite is childih and silly. And you're genious. Do we need to continue this forever?

          • John Fringe says:

            > "The capacity for interpretation is either a priori (much like Langan’s self-configuring self-processing language), or else you have to come up with another explanation."

            OMG. So assertions are true until someone finds an alternative explanation. God of the Gasps, by the book.

            All your arguments are based on the God of the Gasp fallacy?
            At least, you could diversify them. There are a lot of fallacies, you know.

            XD XD XD

          • John Fringe says:

            > "You can rant all you want about formal logic and proofs, but that just is not what this problem is about"

            One last thing, for me to understand. You don't like logic, and you don't like empirism. Is that so?

            (Until now, all you have provided to assert things is the fallacy of the God of the Gasps).

          • John Fringe says:

            Let give you another opportunity. Let's see, sentence by sentence.

            > "John, the ability to be consciously aware of, and to interrelate various pieces of information is non trivial."

            It may not be trivial. I don't know exactly what do you mean by that, but well, I accept that.

            > "There has never been (to my knowledge) any proposal as to how evolution could provide such a non-trivial capacity from a trivial base. Are you aware of one?"

            Yes, there has been. By variation and natural selection. But the exact path is not known, so it's currently just an hypothesis. There has not been proven it can't, so we don't know.

            > "Magic, spontaneous generation, etc. Every proposition has been a leap of faith of a GREATER magnitude than the one I, Howison, or Kant offer."

            That's subjetive. You're proposing no mechanism. You're saying "it's a priori". That's no explanation for intelligence. Actually, it's a God of the Gasps, and an homunculus.

            Let's say we don't know how life began. As we don't know, someone says "life on Earth came from outside space". That's no explanation of how life began. That's an unrelated hypothesis which is not proven by the fact that you don't know how life began.

            Similarly, the fact that we can't precisely explain how evolution generated conciousness and has no proof evolution can explain conciousness does not mean conciousness was generated by evolution. It actually means we don't know. And of course it doesn't mean an alternative explanation of which you have no proofs is true.

            You saying you believe it's a greater leap of faith is subjective and fallacious. Even if it were, it would mean nothing, and it would not be a point.

            Believe me, most people would believe Quantum Mechanics to be a leap of faith of a GREATER magnitude than Classical Mechanics. And yet Quantum Mechanics works a lot better. So here you've got: God of the Gasps would take you nowhere.

            All that forgetting the fact that saying "it's a priori" does not explain conciousness' origin. It just delays the response, but it's not even an alternative explanation.

            > "I am only here trying to give you a strong sampling, but I’ve linked you to Howison, so if you want more, go to him. I’ve never pretended that what I offer amounts to proof."

            Yes, but at least you could be giving me interesting arguments that makes one doubt. You're just giving me God of the Gasps in various forms. It's not going to work. Reread the previous posts.

            Your only argument so far has been "I believe this is so".

            Just to be clear: I don't mind at all what you believe. In fact, I have no problem with anything you want to believe. But don't pretend you have anything more that beliefs (and, of course, God of the Gasps). The rest of us try to verify our hypotheses. Which is good.

            > "In fact, I’ve exoterically offered you the exact opposite. Proof is impossible."

            But if you offer nothing, why should I take your assertions seriously? I could defend the opposite with the same argument (God of the Gasps, and I believe the leap of faith to be smaller). Are you accepting the only think you're making is free assertions?

            > "Are you gonna ask why?"

            Yes, I'm gonna ask why to any unjustified assertion which I can not agree to be true (nor disagree, by the why). That's how conversations flow. You should talk with more people. If possible, people with curiosity.

            Any problem with people who ask?

            > "Faith is the root of all knowledge."

            Ha ha ha ha. Then someone can have faith in exactly the opposite of your beliefs. Have I refuted your assertions?
            Yes, as wikipedia said, in fields with no connection to reality nor logic, beliefs are the only root of knowledge. But then you have to accept people with the opposite beliefs. Because there are no arguments.

            And if you think so, that knowledge is only a question of belief, please, don't try to fool people into thinking you're argumentating, please. Don't try to say you're doing something more than telling your beliefs. Say "I believe that, by faith".

            I'm not saying scientists do not make assumptions in their theories. But that's why they verify and check their theories against reality, and that's why they all know non-testable theories means nothing. (And their evidence is a lot stronger than yours, by the way). If you just have untestable beliefs, what are you doing arguing with people?

            Don't fool yourself, neither. All you have are untestable beliefs. And other people can have the opposite beliefs, and be in exactly the same position as yours: (Well, maybe they know how to reason without fallacies, at least when people tell then their fallacies).

            > "Are you gonna ask why?"

            See the previous answer.

            > "You’ll end up having to live in accord with one or the other horn of this dilemma."

            This is plainly false. I can accept when I do not know nothing. I don't need to take a position on believing A to be true or believing A to be false. I can live knowing I (still) don't know if something is true.

            Congratulations! You have commited here a new fallacy! It's called "false dilemma". I'm very proud of you knowing another fallacy.

            > "Are you gonna ask why?"

            See previous answer. In fact, I'm not going, because it's clearly false.

            > "Some degree of consciousness is either a priori or it’s all a posteriori."

            This is a belief of yours, as we saw. You don't know if it's true, but you believe it is. That means nothing.

            > "Neither camp has a proof."

            The camp of "we don't know things we don't know" does not need a proof, don't you think?
            Some people (hey, like me!) are humble and accept we don't know all, at least for the moment :)
            We don't need to go there trying to convince people our beliefs are true when we don't know.
            Without evidence.
            Without our beliefs to be more reasonable than their negations.

            > "But the a priori camp is far more reasonable and powerful."

            No, it isn't. You believe it is. But of course, you believe what you believe is more reasonable, and you believe you're right. Because hey, it's you who said it! And because all of your fallacies. But please, don't fool people or yourself.

            At most, this is an argument by repetition.

            > "Look for yourself."

            I'm looking, and all I see are fallacies and vapor.

            Pretty poor, if you want my opinion. All your group "argue" in the same way?

          • Tim says:

            John,

            I’m taking a quick break from my “work”. I want you to know that I read all that you wrote to me. I also kinda want to thank you for putting “frustration” in context. You see, while your continued refusal to read what I write is frustrating, what I’m having to work on is really FRUSTRATING. So it’s kinda nice to be able to write to you while I have a bite to eat.

            You don’t care for metaphysics, right? While it would have been the easiest thing in the world for me to drop our “conversation” with what all you just wrote, I’d still like to try to help. You want proofs. I tell you I don’t have them. Now, despite the fact that you like to put on airs, claiming that it is you who is the one comfortable admitting you don’t know, your desire betrays you. Does it not? Not only do you place your faith in an unknown truth, which most all of us do, but you go the step further into a faith that you can lock up the unknown, one day, if you just adhere to logic strong enough. You believe that logic will be able to fill in every gap, eventually. Now, you may try to tell me that “I don’t know.” But let me show you where I think reason shows its superiority over logic. As you live. Living is about a sort of humility before the unknown, before the future. Scientists don’t conduct experiments because they have proof of the outcome. Men don’t soar to the moon based an proof that they will safely return. Metaphysics is, in part, about supplying the REASON needed to make choices. Not that your desire for proof is evil, but if you held out for those standards you would not live. As you live, you are a hypocrite. So it seems.

            The thing that gets me is your lack of interest in the ocean before you, young Isaac. You claim to be a curious child, but what happened to your curiosity? Your only interest is to try to demonstrate how stupid metaphysics is. That what metaphysicians offer as “argument” is not fulfilling as proof, but only assertion. Bravo! I admitted that from the start, though. You have talked about “assumptions”, John. Are you keeping track? How many assumptions are there in your modal of reality? Or do you not have a modal? But how do you make decisions? You are quick to try to tear me down (as if that were possible), but you are even quicker to refuse to present anything substantive, saying “I’m comfortable with ‘I don’t know.’” But are you just putting on a brave face? Aren’t you just hiding all your assumptions, thinking that if you refuse to speak them they aren’t real – or at least that no one will see them? How do you make decision, John?

            Now, to be sure, tearing things down, and admitting “I don’t know.” are great things. How far do they go though? If you keep it up, and if you do it well (this is where I have my doubts), you will eventually find out. Good luck. But the flip side of that is a sort of “building up”. When you have “broken” every thing you can break, and reality is still there, unphased, you start to want to have a try at some “positive” explanation. Metaphysics. Religion. Reason. Same thing.

            John, these waters are scary, no doubt. And the curious order is that the most violence is near to the shore, where fierce waves might be breaking. Perhaps you, young Isaac, will be content on the shore, with the stones and the shells, but if you should ever want to take a swim… By the way, you have said some mean-spirited thing about my squad. If you have read much you know that I am very much the outcast of “my” squad, that I disagree with my squad almost everwhere (I’m there trying to convert them to Howison), but the one great thing they all have going for them is that they realize the need to look to metaphysics (in fact, they themselves are outcasts of the greater MoQ community for just that reason). Perhaps you should try reading Pirsig’s “Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance”! It might help you see the limitations of what we call SOM, subject-object metaphysics.

            John, if ever you should venture into the ocean, to try to build a positive picture for yourself, to try to find some reason in which to anchor your decisions… Again, how do you make the decisions of your life? Do you have prior proof that they are the best? I don’t get where you’re coming from. Well… anyway, when I tell you that my metaphysics is more powerful, I am telling you of my experience. But not only that, it is coupled with an objective fact which you do not believe. When I said that my leap of faith was lesser than yours, I was not speaking subjectively, as you suppose. It is an objectively measurable thing! How many assumptions go into your modal of reality? Do you even have a modal? John, I have but one (complex) assumption: I am. And I am affirming to you, now, that with reasoned logic it IS possible to understand the requirements of that I’dea. And, from that anchor, it is possible to see how all reality falls into place! Again, this is no such proof as you hope for. It is faith. But it is the tiniest seed of faith! Doubt creeps in from time to time, but any and every alternative faith pales in comparison. This I call “confirmation”. Not proof. But the vanishing of the “I don’t knows.” does lead one to conclude, effectively, “I know.” I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t have such testimony. Of course there is still that lingering, and great, fear for my life! Yikes!!! But that’s the nature of faith. But you have to explore the ocean for yourself before you can have such confident and confirmed faith.

            It is very world-turning, revolutionary, to put this I’dea at the foundation of reality: I am. So I can’t blame you for not-seeing the picture I am painting. But I wonder why no one (no one!) seems to care to try. Not even my squad will try. Everything falls out. At least it seems to. All physics …! And, John, I wonder why you’d wait for the physicists to try to bring you some proof before you’ll try to answer the question “am I?” on your own? That’s what the dilemma you called a false dilemma boils down to. If I flubbed it up too much so as to be unrecognizable before, I’m sorry. “To be, or not to be?”

            You can continue hating now if you want,
            Tim

          • John Fringe says:

            > "You want proofs."

            Not exactly.

            I don't want proofs. I only take for true what it is proven. That's different. I mean, if I have a proof, then I know something. If I don't have a proof, I don't know something. Got it?

            Now, you're making an assertion. I want a proof for your assertion, or at least some kind of evidence to consider it. If you don't make the assertion, I don't want a proof.

            So I want proofs where there are suspicious free assertions.

            And if we're arguing about something we're not agreeing, I want some kind of argument, of proof, or something. If not, what are we doing?

            > "but you go the step further into a faith that you can lock up the unknown, one day, if you just adhere to logic strong enough. You believe that logic will be able to fill in every gap, eventually"

            Nope, fallacy here. You're just inventing what I'm thinking. I don't think so. I don't believe logic will be able to fill every gap. You're assuming I'm thinki9ng something I don't think, and then you're arguing with that, instead of what arguing my arguments. Because doing that is easier. As you are making up my arguments, you can easily make up an easy to argue ones. Do I need to give you the name of this fallacy?

            Let me be clear: I DON'T BELIEVE LOGIC WILL BE ABLE TO FILL ANY GAP.

            Clear enough? As clear as your fallacy.

            I believe the root of your making up dialogue are these sentences of mine:

            "Some people (hey, like me!) are humble and accept we don't know all, at least for the moment :)"
            "I can live knowing I (still) don't know if something is true."

            Let me explain what I mean by that. When I say I can admit when I still don't now something, I'm not saying I believe I will know. Not. I mean I can be concious of not knowing something in a particular moment of time, despite the fact that maybe I can know it in the future. But, as you can see rereading and rereading my sentences, I'm not saying I will know. Because I don't really know if I will now them. I'm just saying I still don't know it. I don't know it now. I don't know if I will know it in the future.

            Please, dont' make up my beliefs, please. That's cheating. Or, as some call it, reason with fallacies. I'm tired of signaling your fallacies. By the way, this is nothing personal: you're argumentation is fallacius. Not because I'm saying that. Making up the opponent thought and arguing that is objectively fallacius.

            This is called straw man: misrepresenting your opponent's position.

            > "Men don’t soar to the moon based an proof that they will safely return."

            Sorry, you missed me here. I don't have a clue what you're speaking about.

            > "Not that your desire for proof is evil, but if you held out for those standards you would not live. As you live, you are a hypocrite. So it seems."

            Sorry for me being childish agai... I mean, for wanting to know why you make that free assertion. If I live with my standards, I will not live. And as I live, I'm a hypocrite. Why?

            XD XD XD

            You've lost your mind here, don't you. I mean, I argumented your last post. What does all this mean. Let's see.

            Hypocrite:
            1) a person who puts on a false appearance of virtue or religion
            2) a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings

            Mnnn, I can assure you I don't try to appear virtuous or religious. So 1) does not apply.
            I don't act contrary to my beliefs. Yes, I act contrary to the beliefs you make up I have, but... do I need to address again I don't have the beliefs you are assigning me?

            What do you mean by hypocrite? What are you speaking about?

            What does it mean "I will not live"? I fact, I'm pretty sure I'm living right now. To my knowledge, dead people can't write on a keyboard.

            Do you mean enjoy life? I very much enjoy my life. Sometimes. Sometimes I'm sad.

            What does it mean "I will not live"? If it simply mean you don't like my life, well, you should express yourself better. But I'm not specially worried you don't like my way of life. Really. If you've got any suggestion on how could I improve my life, I will consider it. Believing I know what I really don't know I already considered, and it will not improve my life. By my standards, of course.

            But again, I don't have any clue what are you speaking here. I could say the same about you. So the argument does not seem to be linked to reality.

            "You will not live if living by your standards". It's poetry?

            > "The thing that gets me is your lack of interest in the ocean before you"

            Ah, the same fallacy again. This is plainly false: I'm really interested in the ocean before me. I spend my time studying it.

            But I'm not of the "get rich fast" phylosophy. I mean, you're just asserting things and then you forget you have just made them up and then you believe you know something about the World. Look, only in these two paragraph you have just made up than I believe logic will give me every answer, and that I feel no curiosity. This is the way you fill your curiosity.

            No. I have a strong curiosity. I just fill them studying the World, learning things instead of making the answers up.

            So, false. So fallacious, again. You're assigning me made up feelings here.

            Straw man again.

            > "Your only interest is to try to demonstrate how stupid metaphysics is."

            This is false. You're mading up my interests, too.

            I'm not specially interested in proving you the opposite, but if you want to believe me, I have a lot of other interests. You simply made up this. You have a tendency to invent factsm haven't you?

            The same fallacious, again.

            Even in this conversation (which does not represent an important part of my life), I'm proving nothing about metaphysics. In fact, as you can see, I'm not talking about metaphysics. You're just making up I'm agains metaphysics to make me appear as an enemy of something I'm not. Here I'm arguing about your free assertions, and about people who just offer his beliefs as facts but don't accept people who belief the opposite is in the same position. I'm not speaking of metaphysics, as you can see.

            You have not understand what I'm saying. I'm saying this: you say A, I say why, you don't offer any proof except for you believing A and some fallacies, I say then you don't know, you just believe A to be true, and signal your fallacies. Then you say I will not life and so on and I want to demostrate how stupid metaphysics is.

            As you can see, I can abstract A (what we're speaking about) and my objections still have sense. So I'm not arguing aboput metaphysics.

            This one is straw man by the book. All your posts have a dominant fallacy. Are they thematic?

            I'm pretty surprised you're not addressing any argument.

            One last time: I'm saying if you believe A and has no proofs, then you're in the same position people believing not A. And I, who have no proof for A nor not A, admit I don't know.

            The only thing you offered trying not to be a belief is: the gap of faith is greater in the those who belief A to be false. I already addressed that: that's subjective, and there has being a lot of situations where this have being the case in history, and it resulted the most explanation with the "greater gap of faith" was the correct. See "homunculus" versus "development". See "quantum mechanics" versus "classical mechanics". See what you want. I'm not saying the most "incredible" explanation to be correct. I'm just saying the amount of "faith" you (particularly you) requires to believe a theory does have not relation to the correction of the theory.

            I also said "it's a priori" is not even an alternative explanation for "the origin of intelligence" if what you're criticisim is "I don't see how evolution generated intelligence, because intelligence is so complex". Intelligence is so complex for "a priori", too. Because nobody understand how "a priori" can generate intelligence, neither.

            I also explained you all my fallacies, which you can see yourself.

            As you can see, my interests (in this conversation, not in life) are talking and communicating and reasoning. I'm listening, despite what you can think.

            > "How many assumptions are there in your modal of reality? Or do you not have a modal? But how do you make decisions?"

            I make lots of assumptions. The difference is I know they are just assumptions. For example, just remember you previously said:

            > "In short, Chirs' thinking that determinism and randomness is insufficient to account for the conscious mind is not willy nilly! It is a confirmed conclusion. At least it is for me."

            You don't give any proof, any evidence, anything that makes you think so (except the fallacious "gap of faith" argument"), yet you call it "a confirmed conclusion". Do you know what confirmed means? Conclusion?

            I make assumuptions, but being just that I would never say "it is a confirmed conclusion". Why would I? To fool people into thinking it's a conclusion? It is not, of course. To appear cool and intellectual? To found a foundation from which I can live? I don't know why I should do. I prefer to be honest and admit it's just that, an assumption. If I ever see something that contradicts it, I'll reevaluate everything that depend on it (to my ability, of course). What I will not do is to say "it's a confirmed conclusion".

            Of course, most of the assumptions I make are being evaluated continuously. And I would never make an assumption I could not check in any way. Because, if I can not check it, why would I need to make it? That does not mean you should do the minimum amount of assumptions. Do as many as you want. But please, don't forget they're assumptions, and don't fool people.

            I make decisions with the information I have. Sometimes I play the lottery, and I have to choose a number. But I never had the temptation to believe I have a good reason to choose a particular number. As silly as that.

            I don't know how all this is related to your free assertions. Are YOU keeping track?

            > "You are quick to try to tear me down (as if that were possible)"

            I'm not interested in tear you down, neither. Just your arguments. It's pretty possible.

            I don't hate you :)

            Victimism is not an argument. Where are they?

            > "but you are even quicker to refuse to present anything substantive"

            Are YOU on track?

            > "saying “I’m comfortable with "I don’t know.""

            I may be confortable without knowing, or not. That will not change the fact that I don't know.

            Actually, I'm not confortable, and that's why I look for answers. That's the reason I research and think and test. I enjoy studying. I enjoy learning from nature.

            I have the impression you're not confortable without knowing, just like me. The difference is: I study, research and test, and you seem to accept "beliefs" as a substitute for knowledge.

            Believe me, your beliefs are not knowledge. Maybe a placebo. Me admiting my ignorance is honest. Freely asserting things is useless.

            What the hell is the relation between me being confortable with not knowing all and the things you say having any sense?

            > "Aren’t you just hiding all your assumptions"

            No. That one has been easy.

            > "thinking that if you refuse to speak them they aren’t real"

            No. This one too.

            This does not change you believing something will not make it real.

            > "or at least that no one will see them?"

            No. Are you speaking of anything in particular? Throwing doubts to the air is easy to answer (in this case, no), but, has it any point? Do you want to say something?

            I make lots of assumptions. I don't hide them. I don't confuse my assumptions for reality. I don't believe my assumptions to be stronger where there a no evidence. I would never call "a confirmed conclusion" to an unjustified belief. I will never defend my beliefs with fallacies, and if I do, I'll be happy to rectify.

            But again, are you speaking of anything in particular? Are you defending your beliefs as reality by making unrelated questions about my thoughs and making up facts about my own beliefs?

            > "How do you make decision, John?"

            By taking all the information I have, making the minimum number of assumptions I have, not forgetting they're assumptions, not fooling people my assumptions are better than theirs if they're not, not defending them with fallacies, and not calling my assumptions "confirmed conclusions".

            > "Now, to be sure, tearing things down, and admitting “I don’t know.” are great things. How far do they go though? If you keep it up, and if you do it well (this is where I have my doubts), you will eventually find out. Good luck. But the flip side of that is a sort of “building up”.

            I'm pretty sure I'll see how far you will go by making up facts and taking beliefs as "confirmed conclusions". Hey! We could compare in the future! Hey, wait. We can compare know. We can compare, for example, science with Greek's philosophy. Greeks could not even catch a turtle!

            > "When you have “broken” every thing you can break, and reality is still there, unphased, you start to want to have a try at some “positive” explanation."

            When I can not explain anything more, I'll try a bit more. With any luck, there will always be reality to surprise me. It will always be hard work. But it's fun.

            I admit: just making up reality is a lot easier. When you have invented all you want, there will be probably unknown reality in front of you, too. Be happy with your "get rich fast" approach. Placebo can be good, if you're happy. But don't fool the rest of people.

            It surprise me a lot how freely asserting things is better than admiting we still don't know something. Again, I'm not saying we will know it for sure. But if we make up facts, we still won't know. In fact, by admiting what we don't know we can research it.

            Understand me. I have no problem with you desisting research and verification and making up facts and taking beliefs as confirmed conclusions. I just want to be sure you know what you're doing, and over all I don't want people to be confused.

            > "Perhaps you, young Isaac, will be content on the shore, with the stones and the shells..."

            Blah, blah, blah. Very beautiful. The problem here is: I understand swimming as researching, which requires for you to know what you don't know. And you're just taking beliefs as confirmed conclusions.

            Very beautiful metaphore, but all this are not arguments. I could apply them to you. "If you wanted to know, you'll just ...". Do be demagogue.

            > "By the way, you have said some mean-spirited thing about my squad.".

            No, I don't and you know. I just asked:

            "All your group "argue" in the same way?"

            Now, two things. If that's bad speaking about your group, are you admiting your reasoning was bad? Second, I admit the question seems loaded, but I actually wanted to know if your squad is one of those places where everyone thinks aside, because all your arguments were fallacious and you're surprised when one asks "why do you say that?". Because I recommend you to argue with curious honest people.

            Look this last post, for example. You provide make up opinions of mine (not of mine, of course), beautiful literature, but no arguments. And in the previous ones you provided lots of fallacious arguments. They're written, you can see them and understand why they are fallacious.

            That's why I was asking.

            If you're worried, don't be: I will never judge other by what your words. If you have answered "yes, all think like me" I would understand you're in a group where you think everyone think alike, but will not understand they really think so fallaciously. I never judge people by others comments.

            I don't understand how can you argument like that if you're used to argue in a group of different thinking people.

            > "Perhaps you should try reading Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance"

            I already did, a lot of time ago. It doesn't make anything you're saying look more true.

            > "John, if ever you should venture into the ocean, to try to build a positive picture for yourself, to try to find some reason in which to anchor your decisions…"

            Very beautiful. It's still wrong to call your unjustified beliefs "confirmed conclusions".

            > "Again, how do you make the decisions of your life?"

            Mnnn... look up.

            > "Do you have prior proof that they are the best?"

            I would hope, but no. But I don't delude myself. Still, calling your unjustified beliefs "confirmed conclusions" is the wrong thing to do.

            Why did you stop arguing about what we were arguing. I mean, this has been a long post with a lot of literature and no arguments nor ideas. Just questioning my curiosity and if I'm alive will not make calling unjustified beliefs "confirmed conclusions" right. Nor it will prove that intelligence was not generated by evolution (nor the opposite). Nor anything I was arguing with you.

            In fact, so much talking about my curiosity with ME is a bit... unuseful?

            It seems you're just changing subject and recurring to literature because you have no arguments at all.

            > "when I tell you that my metaphysics is more powerful, I am telling you of my experience."

            Yes, but that's an unjustified assertion.

            > "When I said that my leap of faith was lesser than yours, I was not speaking subjectively, as you suppose. It is an objectively measurable thing!"

            No, it is not. It's just a belief of yours, as you seem to admit. How do you measure it? Tell us your objetive method, then I'll agree to call it objectively measurable, if it can be measured correctly.

            > "How many assumptions go into your modal of reality?"

            Puff. At least as much as you! Only conciously.

            > "John, I have but one (complex) assumption: I am."

            No, you're making a lot of assumptions. Lots of them. Who is the hypocrite now?

            Let's proof that. I don't do free assertion where I can. If I show you another assumption of your, I win.

            You're assuming lesser leap of faith is better!!!!!

            Oh, I win!

            In any case, less assumptions means nothing. It may be a heuristic, but means nothing.

            In Middle Age, when two people have a baby, a lot of people believe the man's fluid transported a little man (an homunculus), whoch were a complete man in minuature. Now we know it's not true, and believe me, the explanation we've got now makes a lot more assumptions! But it works better. We have embryonic medical treatments, for example.

            If I could carry a car to Middle Ages, some people would think it was made by God. Some people would do, there are people for everything. That's just an act. In fact, the car will be made by thousand of persons and engineers, and cummulative work. Middle Earthings would have to make a lot of assumptions to guess that.

            Classical Mechanics make a lot less assumptions than Quantum Mechanics. But quantum mechanics works a lot better. It's predictive power is far better.

            You've got the idea. Nobody said "Lesser leap of faith" is a proof of being "better". Yes, Occam's razor. A useful heuristic. Not a proof.

            So when you say "lesser leap of faith is better", you're just making an assumption.

            If you can put that into "I am", I would call that a very complex "I am". How do you compare that "I am" (which has no relation to the "I am" anyone will understand) in complexity with another set of assumptions?

            Remember, objectively. While you explain that, your "It is an objectively measurable thing!" and "I have but one (complex) assumption" means nothing. They're just free unjustified assertions.

            I'm getting used to those. But they're still just beliefs of yours.

            > "And, from that anchor, it is possible to see how all reality falls into place!"

            You're making a whole bunch of assumptions. I'm surprised you just tried to fool people into thinking I'm hiding my assumtions. It's pretty funny.

            > "It is faith"

            It's clear. You believe things. You also believe you're right. And you believe calling "confirmed conclusion" to your faith is right, and telling people all you assume is "I am". And that making fallacious reasonings is OK. And that making up facts is right.

            What do you think of people who believe the opposite? I mean, when you're arguing something, fallacies appart, if it's just a question of faith, do you accept others people beliefs are as valid as yours?

            > "Doubt creeps in from time to time, but any and every alternative faith pales in comparison. This I call “confirmation”"

            AHHHHHHHHHH, MY FRIEND!!!!

            This clarifies it all. We've being mistaken.

            You just have beliefs, and you make up facts and your own version of English.

            So "confirmation" does not mean what every other person in the planet understand. You were not speaking English. Ahhhh, OK.

            (And I though my English was bad).

            Now the "confirmed conclusion" has meaning. You mean you're just asserting it. Ah, OK, OK, now I understand.

            Can you explain me what do you mean by me not having curiosity about the World? I assumed (an assumption!) you were speaking English.

            > "But the vanishing of the “I don’t knows.” does lead one to conclude, effectively, “I know.”"

            Yes, but it's pretty stupid. Because by many words you can pronounce, you still don't know. You're just taking a placebo. Just a word games. You make up the answers, and then you believe you know. Ha ha ha ha. It's actually pretty funny.

            If I read this before. But at least everyone else can read this.

            In English, we call the that and the rest of the paragraph "deluding oneself", or "folling oneself into thinking one knows". How is your language called?

            > "So I can’t blame you for not-seeing the picture I am painting."

            Yeah, the question of language. By "know" I was understanding "to know", and by "confirmation", confirmation.

            > "Everything falls out."

            Yes. You can look at it, or you can close your eyes and have faith. Good. I prefer looking and learning.

            > "You can continue hating now if you want"

            Ahhhh, Tim, you and your made up facts.... What would I do?

            No, I don't hate you. I don't hate people for deluding themselves. I just don't want they to fool people. I will not tell you how to life, except for that. I don't hate people for not knowing how to reason, or for not wanting to confront reality, or for hiding in his imagination. I tell them when they are wrong, when they are assuming things they don't know, and when they commit fallacies. But not hating.

            I think we can let it be. All the information is here. We can't bring anything more, I believe.

            I ask myself what Langan would think of you now? I'll probably will never know.

          • John Fringe says:

            Rereading my previous post I'm surprised how bad my English is getting.

            Maybe I must admit I don't know proper English, and then start studying English.

            Alternatively, I can have a lot of faith in improving, and just asserting I know English, forgetting how bad it is. In the end, "the vanishing (forgetting?) of the "I don’t knows." does lead one to conclude, effectively, "I know."", as our friend believes.

            XD

            (At least it's semantically correct).

        • John Fringe says:

          For those without much free time (like Tim himself) a shorter version:

          All your post consist on a lot of made up facts about me (like that false belief logic will make me know everything you attribute to me, like I'm against metaphysics – I'm just showing how lame your arguments are, I don't know every metaphysics' arguments, so I'm not against that, that I make no assumptions, I hate people, etc.), acting as a straw man argument, in the hope of refute me by refuting your made up facts about me, which are false.

          Of course, all this only reflects your way of thinking: you actually believe what you assert is true. You assert all these facts and have faith they're real.

          There is a side effect: your post is a beautiful example of how randomly asserting things does not make that things real. All the things you say in the post are plainly false. Look? I can have proofs.

          You believe asserting things with faith give you knowledge. You asserted I believe logic will make me know everything. In reality, I don't believe logic will make me know everything. So we can conclude (without fallacies) that asserting things will not make them real. Actually, you asserted false things.

          The core of your post is presenting me as a person who says I never make assumptions, and me hiding my assumptions. This is again plainly false and ridiculous. I actually explicitly said I make assumptions. But I don't pretend my assumptions to be reality.

          Anyway, I test my assumptions. As they don't contradict reality and predict new things I consider they useful. I'm not the only one acting like this. Science acts like this, too. But assumptions assumptions are. Classical mechanics was very useful, it makes assumptions which resisted a lot of tests, but finally they contradicted reality, so the assumptions where discarded.

          Presenting me as one person not making assumptions is plainly false and fallacious, when I myself stated the opposite.

          The problem is you confuse an assumption with knowledge. Your main point is saying I also make assumptions (I already admit I do), telling I may not know everything by admiting what I know and what I don't, and then revealing what you understand by knowledge: to freely asserting things. Then you try to fool people into thinking you only make one assumption (you are), when it's easy to see you're making a lot more. And then you brag about with my method I will not know everything, but with your method you will freely assert you will know everything.

          Anyone can see I effectively will never know everything, but they can also see by making up things and fooling yourself you will know nothing. By saying you know you will not know.

          Again, I'm not insulting yourself, but let be clear: I can't express how stupid this is.

          In the middle you write a lot of literature. That man has no proof of returning when they went to the moon. Are you arguing in my favour? Yes, they don't have that proof, because THEY DON'T HAVE THE KNOWLEDGE THEY WILL RETURN FOR SURE. In fact, a lot of spaceman sadly never returned. See?

          By accepting they didn't know if they would return they could purchase insurance for their families. See, it's useful to know when you don't know.

          Where did I say I only act with full information? What I said is: when I don't know, I accept I don't know. My assumptions assumptions are, and nothing more. I can test my assumptions to see if they fit reality. When not, I discard them. An assumption is never a “confirmed conclusion”.

          So, what's about our original argument? You said “intelligence can not be explained by determinism and randomness. It requires something more”. You say this is a confirmed conclusion.

          I'm looking for arguments in your post. The fact that I make assumptions or not will not make your assumption true. The fact that man made to the moon will not make it true. The fact that you try to fool people into thinking I pretend to never make assumptions will not make it true. The fact that I accept when I don't know something will not make your assumption true.

          Now the great revelation: the fact that you forget your assumption is an assumption and you call then “true” and “knowledge”, that is, the fact that you're not concious you don't know, will not make your assertion true. Simply saying your assertions become truth by your faith will not make them true.

          A proof? Look, you made a lot of assertions which were false.

          You are showing the whole picture very clearly, I can not make it better: we both don't know everything. You say I shouldn't be confortable not knowing. You're not confortable not knowing. But, instead of knowledge, you satisfy your thirst for knowledge with a placebo: not knowing, but pretending to knowing, saying you know. And, as you can see, you are wrong a lot of times. Me too, but as I accept what I don't know, I can reevaluate my assumptions.

          Look it this way: you freely assert intelligence comes from “something more”. This is your faith. Other people asserts the opposite. By their faith, if you want. Do you accept you're both in the same position? Are you saying your faith to be better than the neighbour? Are you saying you both know?

          This is the reason science advances. It's also the reason some people are still arguing if nature abhors vacuum.

          (Oh, finally it's as long as the previous one :( )

          • Tim says:

            John,

            hahaha! Thanks! I couldn't take a break, but now that I'm getting ready to go to bed, this was fun to read. I can't respond to this all, I'm sorry. In a month I will be free again. If you'd like to hold off till then, I could look forward to responding to you point by point. If you want to forge ahead, you will have to take what I can offer.

            Let me see what I can do:

            Perhaps it is best to start by admitting that I don't know. If I have made erroneous estimates of you, sorry. But you can't accuse me of logical fallacies in that regard, because you don't know the assumptions that went into my reading of you. I could have made good assumptions, with bad logic; or I could have made bad assumptions, with good logic. You can't tell the difference. To be sure, you don't understand me very well - either.

            now you said:

            "You believe asserting things with faith give you knowledge."

            no. My (minimal) faith is the result of a long process process of weeding out un-truths. What appear to you to be "free assertions" are not free. Though I offer my conclusions only dogmatically here, at first, I am happy to try to defend my picture. In this line I have pointed you to Howison. I never pretended that my dogmatic statements should be conclusive in your mind; I told you that I was just painting the picture. You seem uninterested in looking at that picture. IF you expressed interest, we would get into the nitty gritty. But, John, recognize that the statement of a conclusion is not necessarily a free assertion.

            You said:

            "I can test my assumptions to see if they fit reality."

            Can you? Are you sure? Newtonian physics seemed to fit for a long time. How can you be sure there isn't a "relativity" beyond your test?

            This is why one very strong example of the superior strength of metaphysics!

            In this vein, John, you made a very good point:

            "In any case, less assumptions means nothing. It may be a heuristic, but means nothing.

            In Middle Age, when two people have a baby, a lot of people believe the man's fluid transported a little man (an homunculus), whoch were a complete man in minuature. Now we know it's not true, and believe me, the explanation we've got now makes a lot more assumptions! But it works better. We have embryonic medical treatments, for example."

            I should explicitly carry the caveat, "all else being equal"! And you're right, even this may not be a perfect expression of the global standard. Globally, the test is whether or not the model (not "modal", oops) is synonymous with the i'dea. So when I say the I can (seemingly) account for the whole nature of reality with one complex assumption, "I am", it is a conjunction of actually of being THE minimum of assumption, in superior comparison with other models, and of actually being THE i'dea. Notice also, John, that when I am talking of my assumption (one, complex) I am only talking about the NATURE of reality. As I live, before the unknown future, amidst the plural society of "I am", I as impotent to "know" as anyone.

            You had asked me what I meant by "as you live...". I point you back to this exchange:

            [I had asked]
            "How do you make decision, John?"

            [and you replied]
            By taking all the information I have, making the minimum number of assumptions I have, not forgetting they're assumptions, not fooling people my assumptions are better than theirs if they're not, not defending them with fallacies, and not calling my assumptions "confirmed conclusions"."

            [I continue]
            very funny, but this avoids the question. Information and assumptions can only be inputs to your reasoning faculty. What determines the output? How do you decide that you value this more than that? etc.

            that's what I was getting at with "as you live". As you live, you cannot wait for proof. You must decide before any such proof. This was my point of the moon trip of the spacemen.

            Now, in this regard, you seem to get me backwards about being comfortable before the unknown, being comfortable with one's own "I don't know." Inherent in this complex i'dea "I am" is a grand teleologic AIM. Wonderfully, it is also inherent in this i'dea that that AIM is, precisely, infinitely removed - always. Close enough to always be the AIM, far enough that it is never reached. What I'm saying, the picture I'm painting, is that this AIM both provides the solidity we crave amidst the unknown, but, simultaneously preserving the unknown, leaves me comfortable before the unknown! If you are interested in trying to see this picture, give me a month - maybe even read Howison in the mean time. Or take what I can find the time to give.

            What else... Oh yea, there was this ironic gem!:

            [John]
            "Freely asserting things is useless."

            ahh, there was this exchange:

            [Tim]
            "John, I have but one (complex) assumption: I am."

            [John]
            No, you're making a lot of assumptions. Lots of them. Who is the hypocrite now?

            You're assuming lesser leap of faith is better!!!!!

            Oh, I win!

            [Tim continues]
            while there is a great lump of assumptions in the i'dea "I am", they are all necessary; they all hold together only because they are all there. That's why I call "I am" the minimally complex i'dea. Or the smallest (mustard) seed.

            And, I'm not assuming lesser is better! But we've gone over the necessary caveats, thanks. My position is "confirmed". But, of course, that is my faith.

            you asked:

            "If you can put that into "I am", I would call that a very complex "I am". How do you compare that "I am" (which has no relation to the "I am" anyone will understand) in complexity with another set of assumptions?"

            what "I am" does anyone else understand? What do you understand by "I am"? Yes, the i'dea I offer of "I am" is certainly complex. And I don't know what other people imagine when they imagine "I am" for themselves. I think I am privileged to see this i'dea perhaps like no one else before me. I credit Howison, but I think there is one significant advance I have made from him - because I see this after the quantum revolution I suspect that I see that matter is no more than just information about the i'dea "I am", far more clearly than he did. However, unencumbered by the weight of modern science, perhaps Jesus and John (the gospel-er) saw it even more clearly?

            you asked next:

            "What do you think of people who believe the opposite? I mean, when you're arguing something, fallacies appart, if it's just a question of faith, do you accept others people beliefs are as valid as yours?"

            this is a good question. Metaphysics is real hard. And I can definitely understand the frustration with it; that is, I can understand why hard scientists might prefer to avoid it in favor of "hard" science (the shore v. the ocean). So, when I debate with other metaphysicians, what do I do when we disagree? And, in fact, there are many buddhists who do take the opposite faith: there is no real self. John, the problem in your question is this "just", regarding "just a question of faith". Pirsig actually handled this very same word, in the very same way (as I recall). It shows your bias. I cannot accept it into the question. When I debate metaphysics with other people, I try to compile their model. If their model is wanting (which it always has been), I judge the model, but not so much the modeler. I persist in trying to "convert" them, at least to the extent that we keep talking. You misunderstand the power of faith! It isn't arbitrary. And I can point you to an example or two of this in you:

            you said:

            "I understand swimming as researching, which requires for you to know what you don't know."

            and:

            "In fact, by admiting what we don't know we can research it."

            John, knowing that you don't know is a type of knowing. A real strange type! If you don't know, how can you really know that you don't know?! There is a faith that won't be knocked out of you, John. I'm telling you that that very same faith, that there is something to know, that it might be known, stick to it. However you "care" to stick to it.

            back to the question of how you decide? I suspect you decide based on what you "care" about. Pirsig argues that those "cares" are not to be taken lightly. No model of reality will be complete without them. I go with him that far, for sure. But I can complain about his shortcoming (mainly: simplicity rather than complexity) till the cows come home too.

            Tim

          • John Fringe says:

            Oh, my God. You're pretty stubborn into not understanding.

            > Though I offer my conclusions only dogmatically here
            > What appear to you to be "free assertions" are not free

            So all these words for nothing? You have evidence and proofs and arguments for "intelligence requires something more"? The rewind, please. Let's see them.
            What are we doing?

            So you accused me of not having anything in my barrell because I didn't give you proofs of what I explicitly said I didn't know, and now you say you've got convincing arguments.

            You're becoming very ridiculous. Well, for the arguments you presented here, all fallacious, I all argued clearly.

            And for those arguments you didn't present, which is ridiculous, I have better ones that prove the opposite. Hey! Free asserting is cool!
            OMG. What are you playing? End this, please!

            > "My (minimal) faith"
            > "Notice also, John, that when I am talking of my assumption (one, complex) I am only talking about the NATURE of reality."

            Ah, so you were only speaking about the nature of reality. OK, then you're still wrong. Your faith is still not minimal.
            To prove it, consider another possible assumption about the nature of reality: none, not any assumption.
            Under your criteria that less is better, you should recognize this is better, and your assumption is not minimal nor the best possible. So you're still wrong.

            In any case, you're still assume that the nature of reality is that that can be infered by searching for the lesser gap of faith. This is an assumption about nature, too. You're still wrong.

            > "I can test my assumptions to see if they fit reality."
            > Can you? Are you sure? Newtonian physics seemed to fit for a long time. How can you be sure there isn't a "relativity" beyond your test?

            To fit is not to be true. To fit is to not contradict any observed fact. By testing an assumption you check if you can still assume it, not if it is true. Do you really read books?

            Are you doing this conciously? Yes, I can test my assumptions. If they fit reality, my confidence in them gets stronger. When they doesn't fit reality, I discard them. I explicitly explained this. Do you read my comments?

            So, as I repeated a thousand times, I don't know if there is a better assumption. I just hold my assumptions if it seems useful. When I know better, I change my assumptions, When I know even better, I change my assumptions. When I know even better... This is the process rational people take. It's the process science takes.

            How do we know if there is not another relativity? Are you joking? How many times do I have to say? Are you reading? I don't know. Not you. There can be better hypothesis. That's the reason I say "I don't know" when I don't know. Maybe there is another relativity. In fact, probably there is.

            Seriously, are you awake? Why do you keep making these questions not related in any way wuth what I'm saying?

            > "This is why one very strong example of the superior strength of metaphysics!"

            What? Where is the "why"? Did I miss something? That there can be another relativity? What's exactly strong about that for metaphysics over rational thinking? That I (and all rational people) test their assumptions to see if they can still assume them, instead of just asserting things by faith?

            What do you understand by strong?

            > "I should explicitly carry the caveat, "all else being equal"! "

            You're not refuting my arguments. History has many examples of bad assumptions "all else being equal".

            All else being equal, magnetism can not being explained by the simpler assumptions of classical mechanics. It requires the more complex assumptions of quantum mechanics. And even then, maybe what we think it's happening is not real, because we don't know if there will be a better theory. Probably with even more complex assumptions. But the assumptions of quantum mechanics fit the facts we have observed until now. It's still useful.

            To sum up: all else being equal, the "less gap of faith" is still subjetive, and is still wrong as a method for selecting assumptions.

            > "You must decide before any such proof. This was my point of the moon trip of the spacemen."

            Are you pretending you're addressing my criticism? I mean, did I say I wait to take action? No, I explicitly said I act under my assumptions, knowing I don't know, knowing my assumptions can be wrong. Me acting this way does not make my assumptions right. What relation has this with you believing your free assertions to be true? How does this justify you can say "intelligence requires something more is a confirmed conclusion"? Are you talking only for the talk?

            Spacemen knew they didn't know if they would return, so they take actions. How is this a point in favour of your assertions?

            Focus, please.

            The rest of your post I find really nonsense.

            > "If you don't know, how can you really know that you don't know?! "

            All these are just literature to fill space in the blog. If I don't know if A is true, I still can know that I don't know if A is true. Let A be an assumption. Let B be the fact that I don't know A. I can not know if A is true, but I can know if B is true. Come on! You're just playing with words, and making silly arguments. Sorry, too much. I end it here. Good for laughing, bad for thinking.

            Bah, I will not continue. Your actitude of free asserting and saying you've got very good hiding arguments is not worth this much keying.

          • Tim says:

            John,

            We are talking past each other.

            You said:

            “This is the process rational people take.”

            John, I take a different approach: reason. “rational” is insufficient to live. You miss this point. While you may have a “rational” method for going about making sense of your reality, after it happens, you don’t use “rational” to make decisions in the moment. The moment requires something else, something more! The infinity before you at any moment of time is just too much for you to tie up with any “rational” formula. Reason is needed. To live, reason is needed.

            But you don’t want to talk about life. So, if you want me to get into “rational” with you, let me be real brief, so that I might have you focus where I want you to focus. Okay?

            You said:

            “That's the reason I say "I don't know" when I don't know.”

            Is there anything to which you will say, “I know.”? Anything at all? If there is, please tell me. [Hint: Or…?!]

            Oops, I guess you went away. Well, here it is anyway,
            Tim

          • John Fringe says:

            Tim, you asserted intelligence needs "something more", and you said it's a confirmed conclusion.

            When asked why, you talked about spacemen, about the process science works, about my decisions in life, about if I'm alive or a zombie, about relativity, about... I have explained how all this is not related with what we're speaking in any way, and you have failed to connect any new theme you have been introduced with the discussion. Spacemen, my life, my decisions and relativity all have no relation with intelligence requiring something more. No connection.

            You also asserted you've got hidden arguments, but nobody seems worth of. Why have we being talking about spacemen? It seems you prefer to talk about spacemen. I don't.

            Enough is enough. I could be doing this every year for the rest of my life, but I don't see the point. I could start talking you about how when you discard an assumption because it does not fit reality you've learned something. But it's all well known. But I had enough.

          • Tim says:

            John,

            I had asked:

            "Is there anything to which you will say, “I know.”? Anything at all? If there is, please tell me."

            I take it you understand that this question is the one that gets us to your difficulty understanding me, and are afraid to address it.

            I never claimed to have a hidden argument that I am withholding because you aren't worth it. In fact, always the opposite. You will have to get the "confirmation" for yourself. It takes a walking your own path in the high country of the mind. Not some hidden paragraph of logic I am withholding cause I'm a douchebag. I'm trying to help. You resist.

            rather, you make this "free assertion":

            "Spacemen, my life, my decisions and relativity all have no relation with intelligence requiring something more. No connection."

            Is this the understanding to which you will rest, "I know."?

            Tim

          • John Fringe says:

            "Argumentum ad nauseam or argument from repetition or argumentum ad infinitum is an argument made repeatedly (possibly by different people) until nobody cares to discuss it any more. This may sometimes, but not always, be a form of proof by assertion".

  • CausticDuality says:

    How come, then, it feels as if you dodge legitimate questions?

    I have a hard time believing that "people in here are mathematically illiterate" when there is demonstrable proof here that you aren't making the effort to meet people in the middle. Instead you just dismiss everyone as incompetent without addressing the actual arguments.

    You also still have yet to describe what it is your theory actually does. It's a theory that involves cognition and the universe. Okay -- how? What's the point?

    The only correct thing I've seen out of the CTMU that I don't see discussed nearly as often as it should is the notion of parallel consciousnesses, and I say this from a materialist perspective, here.

    Outside of that, though, it's still not clear what it is you're trying to say. As is typically effective with many areas of teaching, perhaps you should try to use analogies and examples to illustrate things more clearly.

  • CausticDuality says:

    http://anamericanatheist.org/2011/04/09/chris-langans-defense-to-his-ctmu-theory/

    You say:

    "One is not axiomatically “required” to produce a “theological explanation for the designer”. The point is that any designer-like entity which can actually be shown to exist by logical reasoning about the structure of reality must be objectively analyzed, and its key properties identified and properly interpreted. Where the properties of this entity can be shown to align with certain key properties intuitively attributed to God, the existence of the entity obviously implies the existence of God. The natural theological ramifications – note the intentional coupling of “natural” and “theological” – can then be developed from the given properties.

    But as that may be a little hard for you to fathom, the easy take-home message is just this: such an entity can indeed be shown, with logical certainty, to exist. Hence, God exists. "

    What is this logical certainty you speak of that proves God's existence? What are the "certain key properties intuitively attributed to God"? In the words of Neil deGrasse Tyson, if that is how you are choosing to play the game, then "God" is an ever-receding pocket of scientific ignorance.

    If you want to discuss truth, here, let's actually discuss it -- please defend these statements.

  • NeuroFuzzyLogic says:

    I have casually read through most of this blog history and find it quite fascinating in many respects. I have also read Langan's paper, though not in it's entirety, when it first hit the internet many years ago. I even remember seeing him live on 60-Minutes back in the mid-90s!

    As an interdisciplinary paradigm researcher I have to be very critical of the post-contemporary acceptance of standard definitions used throughout academia, in what you might call 'e-scholasticism', and the swarm intelligence that seems to gather around the wikiverse by flocks of bloggers who continuously refer to it as providing historically exact and comprehensive definitions. Many of it's entries on academic terms and advanced concepts are either formalized ('global') definitions given by orthodoxic scholarship that often preclude, esp. in mathematics and philosophy, the precise historical development of a concept or theory given in an entry. On the other hand it is interesting to note that if the formalization of a concept or theory cannot be properly explained by a wiki author in new language (a language that makes it comprehensible to, say, a college student) then the information is simply lifted directly from written sources such as textbooks or publications of original writters. That is one observation I have made by studying internet societies and social networks online. Interesting in this regard, and relative to Langen's hypothesis of a self-contained universe, is the historical use of the idea of "set" in mathematical logic.

    Set theory in itself concerns the mathematical (quantifiable) aspect of sets whereas formal logic always concerned the apophantic or logical assertion of a set's existence based on formal categories of axiology. George Cantor's definition of a set is an integration of the formal logical category: "set [of objects]" into "set of quantifiable objects [points in a space, finite numbers, rational values, coded meanings]" which is the basis of the propositional calculus. Model theory goes beyond both propositional and predicate calculus by 'modeling' the underlying STRUCTURES that seem to govern the formal languages of mathematical propositions and their proofs, mainly by paying attention to their cardinality, holomorphy, and the relational operations between sets of mathematical objects such as filters or sequential operators.

    It was later shown through these relational models that the definition of a set as given by Cantor in his MATHEMATICAL formalization of "set" admits certain properties of incompleteness and everyone knows Kurt Godel also tackled this problem in response to Russel's paradox. In other words a "set" could conversely be defined by it's relations (inclusion, disclusion, intersection, union, etc.) This changed the trend of using sets as just an initial 'theorem template' or formalism done before writing advanced calculations. Set theory (later "naive" set theory) independently evolved into different formalizations of the original dogma invented by Cantor.

    (Little of this is still known to the mathematical public minus some seasoned vets who would have been doing seminary advanced mathematics in the 60's.) There was a time when mathematicians used sets as the basic ingredients for all analytic functions and derivations of functions - quantitative sets were not necessary, only sequences of non-geometric points or cardinal numbers were required to fulfill the definition of a set as the generator of a function. This was due mostly to the foundational work of David Stone and Hausdorff. In the Stone-Hausdorff formality, set theory does indeed begin with the denotation of the first object, or set of all points, as "the universe": It is the subset of ALL REAL NUMBERS R of R^n, not to be confused with some subset of the real line. The notation runs like this:

    R is the set of points that is our universe, L is the Boolean sigma-algebra of all subsets of R, and ~0~ is the empty subset (or what was historically called the nullset.) By a 'family of sets' we understand an indexed set of sets (these set indexes are essential for the generation of sequences of sets that are also used in contemporary model theory for ordinals.) For any two sets X and Y belonging to L, Y in X stands for the ordinary inclusion of Y in X, allowing the equivalence X = Y (the simplest propositional tautology.) Set-theoretic operations like 'contained in' or 'union and intersection' could then be treated as scalar operations, lower and upper bounds for Boolean code etc. in order to accommodate for point-like objects with a relevance to PROPOSITIONAL geometry in function spaces. (Keep in mind this was before the revolution when topology became an official science considered important to mathematics so all the sets and their points are taken as pretopological entities and do not involve large transformations or mappings in Euclidean space.)

    Stone's late followers were interested in a purely logical use of 'point sets' without any numerical or algebro-geometric assumptions. Their work, an extension of the Bourbaki programmae on mathematical foundations, proved to be very useful in the early days of information theory when the French were the only ones looking at mathematically grounded computation schemes alongside Shannon's entropic theory of information (the latter's relied heavily on propositional logic and cryptography with very little foundational math.) Accordingly their findings also assisted probabilists confronted with phenomena like Brownian motion and other natural stochastic processes as a way to compute difficult problems in probability theory in an increment of the time that it would take using older methods like calculus or matrix algebra. Without these updated set theoretic conventions we would not have developed the field of STATISTICAL MECHANICS the way we did and hence the evolution of quantum mechanics towards the quantum theory of information and computation would not have followed suite. All of the mathematicians who contributed most of the pure math to COMPUTATIONAL information theory would today be considered obscure names: Have you heard of Rene De Possel? Anthony Morse? David Stone? Giusepe Vitali? Besicovitch? Caratheodory? Denjoy? Lot's of modern probability theory would have remained in linear differential equations and integral calculus if mathematicians hadn't worked out all the bugs in naive set theory transforming the axiomatic requirements of set theory so that geometric measures could be placed on sets perfectly suited for Lebesgue integration in the function space where probabilistic calculations arise. A multidisciplined math and international research effort by many math experts grew out of an impetus begun by the Bourbaki programme on FOUNDATIONS OF MATHEMATICS that focused on the intellectual primacy of set theory. The Bourbaki group revolutionized how pre-20th century mathematics (particularly Cantor's mathematical formulation of logic) was taught to the students of Europe's elite.

    In TYPE THEORY and other computer-based applications that involve SET FUNCTIONS the set of all sets was often called "the universe" and the set of components of all it's Boolean algebras were called it's "atoms". Communication between microprocessor arrays, signal processing, and the computer algorithms that ran much of our data management computing before PC's would not have been accomplished had we relied on Cantors propositional set notation convention or symbolic predicates thereof. Set theory notation had to be reformulated on the 'syntax-to-semantics' level of symbolic equivalence to support 20th-century demands since the rise of cybernetics (Weiner) and information theory (Possel-Shannon.) i.e. it would free the theory of non-essential requirements of antiquated formal logic before the days of Frege and David Hilbert. We do this all the time today and there are many tautological examples of the notion of symbolic equivalence used in computational intelligence, artificial intelligence, and neural networks where many formal languages have to be hybridized. For instance; a Moore-Smith sequence is a series of sets that are sequentially ordered to form a network and where the term 'sequence' is generalized to the term 'net' to describe this abstraction when we are dealing with sequences of interconnected sets that would visually form a net-like or mesh-like structure rather than an ordering of simple variables.

    From a rigorous interdisciplinary understanding of mathematics, and thus all the known conventions used by professionals, I do not see Langan's definition of the universe as a 'set' to be fallacious in any way except on behalf of some readers inability to contextualize what he means by "set" and "universe". Saying the universe is self-contained simply means the universe is an emergent phenomena i.e. that all it's said material constituents have a causal relation to the whole system and that the system as a whole has a causal relation to it's constituent parts and that they mutually effect eachother at different scales because the universe is a dynamical system. Not only is the universe a dynamical system, since it is contains gravitationally bound groups of galaxies and planetary orbits, it can also be described as a complex system if we accept that it is composed of both an isotropic AND homogenous media that are mutually exclusive with regards to the universe as self-contained. A self-contained system is a system that is autonomous and it is not necessary for other systems to interact with it for it's ontic subsistence.

    On this and other points Langan is getting close to the big picture. Even if his essays are unstructured and his detailing of theory and the contexts he uses them in are less than academic it is obvious that he has read and has understood a significant amount of academic literature without formal academic training. A high intelligence ratio coupled to an enormous amount of reading means Langan has a much broader knowledge of introductory and advanced math, logic, and philosophy than the majority of trained specialists who breeze through university, focus on one field, do not retain a comprehensive understanding of all the courses given in that field, do not attempt to synthesize knowledge/discourses and thus do not publish entries for globally recognized journals.

    What I have found most entertaining about this thread is the fact that he (Langan) has managed (possibly as an exccersize in intellectual dominance psychology) to stir up a vicious circle of uncertainty and rational skepticism about what defines a "set", wether sets can exist without a power set and how the power set is contained and so forth. He appears to have invented a loophole in the thinking of some of his critics who have attempted to get a concrete mathematical or dualistic sense of the the apparent triviality of basic set concepts and all this ultimately leads directly to the significance that CTMU has to them as something so profound as set theory could explain so they are all in a stiry to really....really! understand the logic of sets since apparently it is like the crux of this CTMU theory and they are becoming convinced that sets will provide the answers to rationalistic problems out of the hated, but now loved, CTMU. Whats more astounding is that he (Langan) has seeded a redundancy algorithm out of this whole thread as the question concerning sets and power sets have been feverishly debated here and remain unsolved? Perhaps Langan invented his CTMU as a decoy theory in order to draw criticism from less endowed social beings as an NLP experiment with applications to social engineering. Maybe Langan has you all played! ;)

    Whatever the case may be there is no statistical-Bayesian reason for refuting his credibility as an academician or self-taught genius since he is not amused by exhibiting any erudite punditry or intellective regurgitation of his various learnings. It is good for people to absorb his arguments and to learn by experience that what they thought they knew from orthodox education or from what wikipedia tells them does not always give accurate information that we would redeem as 'comprehensive' information i.e. cognitively meaningful or cognition-stimulating information.

    For instance wikipedia does not know, under the definition of set theory, that the word with the most number of definitions and citations in the English language according to Oxford is in fact the word "set". Oxford dictionary has 464 definitions for the word "set" in it's complete version. Second to set is the word "run" which has 396 definitions. Apparently there are some serious issues of redundancy concerning this word in human history since there has been no narrowing down the number of definitions for "set". I can't imagine what would happen if I inputted an algorithm into wikipedia's metasearch compiler that simply read

    :RUN
    (SET)

    Maybe it would reach a point of computational complexity because an exact definition would be impossible and wikipedia would start giving it's own biased definitions for stuff - or maybe it would simply destabilize wiki and Google Books would be overloaded with queries because too many people would have to resort to looking things up in actual textbooks.

  • John Fringe says:

    "turn out to be more trouble than direct communication with them could ever be worth"
    "I regard them as lacking any firm basis for ethical understanding or behavior"
    "comparing it to the CTMU would be like comparing a Ford Model T to the Starship Enterprise"
    "Any associated knowledge-transfer would be pretty much one-way, from me outward"
    "most people, even those who claim to know some mathematics, would merely be distracted by it, are possibly incapable of understanding it"

    It speaks for itself.

    To sum up, in any conversation with anyone, you assume the information will flow from you. Great willingness to learn. The rest of the World has no ethics. And your "theory" is so great if anyone finds a trivial and clear error it's because you ommitted a passage which explained very clearly why. Very prone to self-evaluation.

    That in itself says nothing about your work, but reading also your writing, I truly believe if you're not a rogue trying to sell a magical ointment to grow hair to make a profit, then I believe you should visit a psychiatrist. And I'm serious, it's not an insult nor I'm being demagoguery.

  • NeuroFuzzyLogic says:

    [replace]: STATISTICAL MECHANICS = QUANTUM PROBABILITY>

    http://arxiv.org/abs/quant-ph/0601158

  • NilsMotpol says:

    It doesn't really seem like Mr Langan is interested in telling us anything at all about his theory, beyond that it relies on a home-grown set theory.

    Instead he repeats that we are all stupid and, ironically, not knowledgeable enough in mathematics, to discuss with him.

    This is hilarious, coming from a self-described philosopher whose theory seemingly contains no maths at all, beyond some basic mathematical logic (which the author seems to misunderstand).

    Indeed, the whole theory seems be in the vein of freshman philosophy student musings, except the apparently deliberate obfuscations and convoluted language. In fact, I would even venture to guess that the theory only exists precisely because Mr Langan lacks formal schooling, most of us have probably been through phases when we thought we amazing theories about Everything, only to find that it was tried and rejected a long time ago.

    I could be wrong, but nothing seems to indicate that Mr Langan even has a basic understanding of physics, mathematics or cosmology.

  • John Fringe says:

    This has been funny (I laughed a lot). But ultimately I feel embarrassed to see we have learned nothing since the Greeks.

    Before Galileo and the scientific method, science was exactly like the discussions in this forum, like Langan's theory. A lot of words. We have the Greeks. Aristotle, the "most intelligent person" of the time, said heavier objects fall faster. He divided physics in two Worlds with two laws: the Earth and the Sky. And it was all obvious, and he argued all that with an impeccable "logic", and every critic was too dumb to understand his logic. The World was built from four elements, everything was movement, there was no movement, nature abhors vacuum, and Achilles would never catch the tortoise. All proved with strong logic, I mean, very complex words. By the "most intelligent people".

    Then it come the Middle Ages. Now you could turn lead into gold. You could know your longitude offshore with two poor dogs and powder of sympathy. Of course, the methods were too complex for anyone to understand, and the details would confuse dump people. But of course "intelligent" people did it twice a day. The results were there for the intelligent to see.

    The debates are written. You can read them. You'll not be able to differentiate the arguments from Langan's: the logic is "perfect", the theories are obvious, they are The Authority, critics are stupid, critics are stupid, critics are stupid, and a lot of metaphysics in between.

    Science enters. Some people decided there is a need for objective evaluation beyond word games: the scientific methods. This is: to verify the theories objectively. To have independent and repeatable verification. To have blind tests, double blind tests, and so on. The thing worked flawlessly: science, knowledge advanced! From Newton (~1700) science has progressed dramatically.

    And now some people come with this. "Eh, forget all that. Let's return to the Greek's debates about how nature abhors vacuum. Let's rests our arguments on our intelligence and on calling stupid anyone who dares to contradict us. Let's stop verifying theories. Critics obviously understand nothing. They obviously can't". Great, after so much investment in education, we're in the very first step: Achilles can't catch the tortoise again because a very intelligent person says so, and his arguments are so complex for you to understand. Here is Langan saying his theory about nature is above the scientific method, and shouldn't be evaluated. And you can't even criticism his logic, because, hey, he knows the theory better than you.

    He's just saying we should return to prescience times. But we've already been there. We don't want to be there again. We need no second Aristotle to prevent knowledge for centuries again. I am saddened by the lack of respect for the scientific method, which took so long to impose. Some people simply don't understand why we need it, why it was developed. They believe we do it because... because some very intelligent person told us?

    Too bad. I console myself only because there is no Langan for science, but I'm surprised so many people have learned nothing. So many people lost in ignorance and learned words, with so little understanding of why we do things the way we do and why we need to.

  • NeuroFuzzyLogic says:

    John Fringe says: I believe you should visit a psychiatrist

    According to my research Christopher Langan's wife is a clinical neuropsychologist. If this is true then it would also be true that Langan would not be required to visit a psychiatrist since his wife is one.

    • John Fringe says:

      XD Well, you're right, he has no necessity to _visit_ one.

      I omitted the "a psychiatrist who isn't a co-founder of Langan's foundation" part. You know, one who is into science, and not against science methods and all that ;)

      Of course, all that assuming he is not a rogue trying to take money from believers. I mean, if there is no alternative explanation for his unjustified superiority complex and his confidence for discarding centuries of scientific method. If he's just making money from those who are not aware of the revolution of Galileo, then no aid needed. He would be doing fine.

  • CausticDuality says:

    Well, Phil Hellmuth is married to a psychiatrist, and we all know how he is.

  • CausticDuality says:

    http://www.superscholar.org/interviews/christopher-michael-langan/

    Chris says:

    "The operation of combining language, universe, and model to create a perfectly self-contained metalanguage results in SCSPL, short for Self-Configuring Self-Processing Language. This language is “self-similar” in the sense that it is generated within a formal identity to which every part of it is mapped as content; its initial form, or grammatical “start symbol”, everywhere describes it on all scales. My use of grammatical terminology is intentional; in the CTMU, the conventional notion of physical causality is superseded by “telic causation”, which resembles generative grammar and approaches teleology as a natural limit. In telic causation, ordinary events are predicated on the generation of closed causal loops distributing over time and space. This loop-structure reflects the fact that time, and the spatial expansion of the cosmos as a function of time, flow in both directions – forward and backward, outward and inward – in a dual formulation of causality characterizing a new conceptualization of nature embodied in a new kind of medium or “manifold”."

    That’s as simple as I can make it without getting more technical. [...] The CTMU is not just a theory; it is logical model theory applied to metaphysics, and as much a logical necessity as any branch of mathematics or philosophy. One can no more escape from it than from X=X or 1+1=2. But when it comes to something that packs this combination of scope and power, many people, including certified academics, committed atheists, and even some religious believers, are apparently afraid to stare X=X in the face."

    This is yet another example. Chris, what you're saying here is *not* plain English, even to people who understand the concepts as defined in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Formal_grammar or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generative_grammar for instance.

    I feel like you spend more time focusing on argument itself rather than defending the actual content of your CTMU. Evidence and understanding speak louder than words. I could sit here and try to convince a Creationist about evolution all damn day long, but nothing will be as effective as literally putting the evidence and scientific methods in front of their face and showing them why we're so sure of things. It's one thing to be ignorant. We're all ignorant about some things, but ignorance can be corrected with education. It's another thing to show people the evidence and have them outright deny it -- the latter is just insanity. But you're not actually showing anyone easily-understood evidence in support of your theory.

    What do you think requires God in order to explain it?

  • CausticDuality says:

    Oh man, I didn't even notice this before.

    http://www.megafoundation.org/CTMU/Articles/CTM.htm

    No wonder he believes in God -- he doesn't even accept evolution as fact!

    • John Fringe says:

      So we have science on our side, the scientific method that led us here, verification, his faulty logic, scientific consensus, formal proofs, formal statistics, evolution and its existing mechanisms by which it operates, and the evidence, and awareness of our own ignorance

      He has "critics are stupid and can't understand", "some guy out there said Langan is very intelligent", the assumption that intelligent people work hard to revolutionize science instead of work very little to live from the gullible, creationism, "Langan knows his theory better than anyone and he believes it's right", "it's obvious", and "it's true for some meaning of set and Universe", and the belief they know all and can prove God existence by writing in a paper.

      I would say it's fair. In any case, nobody is going to change his mind. At first I try to learn something, but the arguments go from bad to worse. What makes these posts interesting for me is to know people. It's more about ethological interest than anything else.

  • CausticDuality says:

    http://www.megafoundation.org/CTMU/Press/PopularScience/PopSciArt.pdf

    "Science generally does not count as
    "real" anything that can't be measured or
    detected. But although you can't measure or see a
    mathematical principle, scientists need
    mathematics to conduct their work. In other
    words, scientists have a problem on their hands:
    They rely on numbers even though the question
    of whether or not numbers are real has not been
    resolved.

    With his theory, Langan hopes -- among other
    things -- to explain the relationship between
    abstract math and concrete science. He thinks it's
    necessary to answer such questions before one
    can come up with a correct theory of the cosmos
    or even a theory of everything.
    For example, Langan says that most theoretical
    physicists try to fit mathematical relationships to
    the available empirical data. But because raw
    information tends to be scarce in the cosmic and
    subatomic realms, Langan believes that they
    often resort to filling in the holes with
    unverifiable mathematical conjecture. Before
    they do that, however, he argues that they should
    consider the more basic logical requirements of
    formulating such cosmological theories.
    Does Langan really have the final answer?"

    Langan may be smart, but I think he's uninformed about how science works. Yes, we fit mathematical explanations to the data, but it's not like it's some random fitting. The fitting has to actually make sense given the nature of the data and the context of what we're explaining. And raw information is hardly scarce in the subatomic and cosmic realms... that kind of claim is just demonstrably false, straight-up. The mathematical relationships have the power to *predict* things, and they've done so beautifully.

    I'd love to see what Langan considers "unverifiable mathematical conjecture" when things like quantum mechanics (ruling over the subatomic) and relativity (ruling over the cosmos) have been so incredibly successful and predicting things. Same goes for evolution... the evidence is staggering.

    Are the theories perfect? No -- no theory is. But just because a theory can't claim to be 100% perfect doesn't mean you can take that small gap and fill it with whatever you want and claim it's just as valid. There are an infinite number of possible explanations you could use to plug gaps as long as they're consistent and non-contradictory, but mere compatibility does not a scientific theory make.

    Again, what is the logical certainty you speak of that proves God's existence? What are the "certain key properties intuitively attributed to God"?

  • valasquez says:

    He claims that he is possibly the smartest person in the whole world.

    “I don’t think there is anyone smarter than me out there. I have never met anybody like me or never seen even an indication that there is somebody who actually has better powers of comprehension. Never seen it and I don’t think I am going to. I could, my mind is open to the possibility. If anyone should challenge me ‘Oh, I think that I am smarter than you are’ I think I could have them.” - Chris Langan

    http://books.google.com/books?id=3NSImqqnxnkC&pg=PT69&dq=I+don%E2%80%99t+think+there+is+anyone+smarter+than+me+out+there.&hl=en&ei=KPo_Tr6SOujmmAX_waWDCA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CCsQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=I%20don%E2%80%99t%20think%20there%20is%20anyone%20smarter%20than%20me%20out%20there.&f=false

  • Anonymous says:

    Well, I'm back for one post. I will worn you in advance that my IP has changed, as I am on currently on vacation. Having I hope improved my understanding of the CTMU since the last post I made, I have a few comments. I will stick to the basics for now as I don't want to misrepresent Mr. Langan's model.

    1. Errol Morris' documentary about Mr. Langan was heavily edited - as it had to be given that it was filmed over two days - and should thus not be taken as representative of Mr. Langan's attitude towards intelligence or anything else. We simply don't know how Mr. Langan's views were cut down, and he is surely too busy to explain, so give him a break.

    2. I am familiar with Robert Pirsig's work also, having read both his published books, and I couldn't have stated its status better than Mr. Langan did. His Metaphysics of Quality is simply not precise enough to be of much use. I know many of you will disagree, but Mr. Langan's work certainly fits that criterion. On the other hand, Mr. Pirsig does have some exceptional insights and I much enjoyed his writing.

    3. Set theory isn't even necessary for the development of the CTMU, so this post and all the associated comments involve a tiny amount of Mr. Langan's work.

    4. Relatively detailed explanations of the CTMU exist. I highly recommend Mr. Langan's 2002 paper. Go read it.

  • CausticDuality says:

    I have only this to say about metaphysics:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metaphysics#The_value_and_future_of_metaphysics

    In particular:

    Metaphysicians cannot avoid making their statements nonverifiable, because if they made them verifiable, the decision about the truth or falsehood of their doctrines would depend upon experience and therefore belong to the region of empirical science. This consequence they wish to avoid, because they pretend to teach knowledge which is of a higher level than that of empirical science. Thus they are compelled to cut all connection between their statements and experience; and precisely by this procedure they deprive them of any sense.
    — Rudolf Carnap

  • Rubix says:

    Chris, care to answer a few questions over email?

  • CausticDuality says:

    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xghfdb_chris-langan-in-bbc-documentary_people

    "I don't know whether it's discipline or whether it's just sheer, raw brilliance that creates someone like me. I think no combination of determinacy and randomness can actually explain intelligence. Therefore, something more is required -- a higher language, and that higher language would, by definition, be metaphysical."

    I think this is just argument from ignorance. "I don't know how the mind works, so I will invoke a metaphysical explanation" -- nevermind evolution, genetics, or environmental feedback. It's basically a God of the Gaps argument all over again.

  • valasquez says:

    He seems to believe that the world should be ruled by the high-IQ elite with him at the very top as the supreme commander.

  • CausticDuality says:

    To be fair, I don't disagree that there needs to be a greater emphasis on intelligence when it comes to those in power. People with influence (especially in our government) should know what the heck they're doing. The problem is that high IQ isn't enough. You not only need to be smart, but you need to be educated/not ignorant.

    "The stupid person thinks that he's as smart or smarter than a smart person, and therein lies the stupidity."

    Not saying Chris is stupid (otherwise why would we bother wasting time on this stuff?), but he's falling victim to this same sort of Dunning-Kruger effect. There are all sorts of very well-understood and well-known errors that Chris makes in his arguments that he doesn't seem to be aware of. This may just be the result of ignorance stemming from his lack of formal education (especially considering that he's written an entry in that Uncommon Dissent book).

    • John Fringe says:

      > "there needs to be a greater emphasis on intelligence when it comes to those in power"

      I don't agree with you at all.

      Of course, people in charge should know what they're doing. But I don't see the relation between that and what people commonly understand by intelligence. Trying to measure intelligence (which I still don't know what it is) and use it to determine one's work is... not going to work. It will give a lot of power to those who "determine" intelligence, make a lot of injustices, and nothing more.

      I'd settle for a system where performance and past accomplishments (experience) determined who is in charge. It would be not totally fair, but your past accomplishments may have a relation with your future performance. That would be easies, and even that doesn't happen. So expecting "intelligence" to determine who's in charge...

      • CausticDuality says:

        I'm not saying intelligence alone needs to be the metric. I'm saying it needs to be a factor in qualification. Sometimes past performance is hard to gauge as a metric of future performance, especially if a lot of the performance variance can be explained by factors that don't have anything directly to do with the candidate (which happens often).

        • John Fringe says:

          Then my problem is I'm not able to see how intelligence is a metric. But that's just my problem :)

          (I'm just not able to understand what intelligence is. The capacity to solve problems? For me, different experiences allow to solve different problems. Maybe I'm too stupid to understand that.)

  • Igor Balla says:

    IQ tests...really? I have a much better way of proving whether Mr. Langan is intelligent (or at least capable of understanding the mathematics which he is dealing with):
    Have him write just one original paper on any problem in any field of mathematics he chooses, and have it be accepted into a research journal.

    To clarify, it is not that he cannot be intelligent unless he does this arbitrary but specific task, but that if he does do this, than I would consider him intelligent. The only conceivable criticisms to this test that I can imagine Langan may subscribe to are:
    1. It is a waste of his time.
    2. Whatever paper he does write, it may not be peer reviewed properly because the referees may be incapable of understanding the "depth" of the theory.

    To the first criticism, I would say that this is clearly not a waste of time if he wishes his theory to be taken seriously. In fact, (and I imagine I am not speaking for just myself here), having read several papers of his, I feel that I have been very generous and open-minded to his ideas. Nonetheless, they are not clear enough for me to continue to spend my time reading them (the fault here may lie with me, because I am not a student of philosophy, only a student of mathematics, but I don't think it is unreasonable for me to come to the suspicion that he is at fault). If he wants me, and others like me, to continue reading, he had better meet us half way in some sense.

    To the second criticism, I cannot believe that professional mathematicians in any given field would be incapable of understanding the work of any starting mathematician. No matter how inconceivably complicated the theory may be, it is simply a matter of verifying the logic. To this end, I think mathematicians are extremely adept - When Grigori Perelman published his notes proving the Poincare conjecture on Arxiv, they were poorly written and not fully explained. Despite this, experts were eventually able to decipher the proof and fill in the gaps as necessary.

  • Chris Langan says:

    Just in case there's any residual confusion...

    I certainly don't want to offend those of anonymous or pseudonymous persuasion, but again, I don't usually respond to ad hominem criticism, no matter how well-seasoned with psychobabble and faux-mathematical punditry. Nor do I participate in fishing expeditions wherein straw men angle for red herring under the coercive supervision of ax-wielding, ax-grinding bellyachers. If you want to engage me (or anyone else worth engaging), you'll need to do much better. You'll also need to use your real names and include some verifiable autobiographical information with your nonsense...and even then, I'd better be impressed by what I read, or there will again be no response from me.

    Igor - I hate to be rude, but I don't care about anyone's opinion of my intelligence. Having lived a relatively unsheltered life, I'm fine with having my intellect underestimated. I'm especially apathetic about informal Turing tests administered by college students and/or anonymous Internet gadflies on sites like this one. To put it mathematically, I estimate the mathematical expectation of interacting with people who express doubt regarding my intelligence as well under zero, that is, as negative. Obviously, any loss of negative utility is a winning proposition. So vaya con Dios, and no hard feelings.

    For those who don't know anything about me, I live on a secluded ranch in the Midwest. I work the ranch myself. As I'm not a pampered ivory-tower academic with no comprehension of honest physical labor, I owe no one any favors, least of all academics, aspiring academics, academic clients, or academic groupies. Instead, I sometimes try to do favors for others, regardless of their academic backgrounds. The CTMU is one of those favors. If you don't want to read it, or suspect that it is faulty, then don't read it and don’t talk about it. My work is out there for those who wish to read it, not for those who don't. As far as I'm concerned, those who don't want to read it don't deserve it, and will ultimately regret their ignorance regarding it.

    While we're on the topic of academia, I'm more than willing to concede that some professional academics are intelligent, well-motivated, and worthy of moderate respect. On the other hand, it’s quite well known that I’m not an admirer of academic bureaucracy. Lord knows, I've tried to accept academia as the serene and impartial temple of knowledge and intellectual excellence that it has always claimed to be, and dearly wish that I could do so in good conscience. But unfortunately, after a good deal of honest reflection, I find such claims to be hollow.

    Most of the world's political con artists, high-level thieves, war criminals, scientific whores, and half-baked social engineers are academically trained and certified within an inch of their misbegotten lives as a condition of their "achievements". Given that academia is in the indoctrination business (among other businesses), it is only natural to associate their behavior with their training. It follows that at this point in history, academia causes at least as many problems as it solves. (Would I do away with it? Heavens, no. Would I try to return it to its former state of grace? Of course I would - it used to be better, and it could be better again.) Any intellectual metric critically relying on academic achievement, or any kind of "achievement" explicitly or implicitly requiring academic certification, is therefore unacceptable. Such metrics are confounded by far too much excess baggage to be useful.

    Regarding academic journals, had I wanted to publish in one of them, I'd have tried to do so long ago. The fact of the matter is that because I don't fully trust academia at its present stage of quasi-corporate degeneracy, or for that matter the judgments of random academics, I don't fully trust academic journals. Consequently, I've never submitted a paper to such a journal. I've considered revising that policy of late, but it would have nothing to do with earning the grudging respect of academic snobs. Furthermore, if I were to do so, and some academic snob were to inform me that this has finally proven that I might have something vaguely worthwhile to say, I would immediately know that nothing worthwhile could possibly issue from the mouth or the mind of the snob in question.

    There's a lesson here. Believe it or not, like it or not, learning and competency can sometimes be achieved for oneself. Given a certain threshold of intelligence and the will to learn, one does not always need academia for that purpose, at least where precautionary licensure or access to expensive training equipment is not legitimately required. The smartest academics of all time have left their material in the public domain, and nobody need plant an expensive and protracted kiss on the academic blarney stone to obtain access to it. Similarly, it has never been shown that academia is necessary in order to teach, invent, or discover. Virtually all major fields of science and philosophy originated with non-academics; indeed, even academia itself was originated by people who started their careers as non-academics.

    I hope this sheds a bit of light on my personal views regarding some of the issues that have been raised here.

    (Re the Lila Squad, perhaps I'll browse around a bit and check it out.)

    Thanks.

    • Chris, I agree. I'd like to point out that I do seem to have more faith in the academy than most people who are well acquainted with its flaws.

      "Furthermore, if I were to do so, and some academic snob were to inform me that this has finally proven that I might have something vaguely worthwhile to say, I would immediately know that nothing worthwhile could possibly issue from the mouth or the mind of the snob in question."

      I agree strongly.

  • CausticDuality says:

    And yet I feel like you still dodge really basic, honest questions about your CTMU.

  • CausticDuality says:

    I wish this thing had an edit button.

    My point is that we don't even need to discuss academia here. There are obviously problems with it, and your position there is one that could be adequately defended and supported.

    What I am talking about here is your CTMU and overall world view. There are very critical quotes I've put forth up above that I think warrant some elaboration. You say intelligence isn't explainable in anything other than the metaphysical. You say there are things intuitively attributable to God. You say Darwinism isn't convincing.

    How do you support these types of claims when empirical evidence says otherwise? Do you not trust empirical evidence?

  • Igor Balla says:

    Dear Mr. Langan,

    Thank you for your informative response. I must say I rather like it. In fact, if I was a man in your position, I would probably respond in exactly the same way! I am a fan of the eastern philosophical notion of being "at peace with oneself". To that end, if you wish to live you whole life on a secluded ranch, writing theories without care if anyone should read them, you are more than welcome to do so. As long as you are honest to yourself and at peace with what you are doing, no one can or should question it.

    Regarding academia, you should know that you are not the only one in disdain. In fact, many of the mathematicians I've talked to express grave concerns at the system's current state. Research journals, referees, grants, etc... these all have many issues and I could go on at great lengths describing them. For an interesting read on this matter, I recommend a paper by Walter Noll, titled "The Future of Scientific Publication". It can be found at http://www.math.cmu.edu/~wn0g/ (the reasons why this paper is located merely on his webpage can be found in the paper!). Going back to Grigori Perelman again, he refused the fields medal and a 1 million dollar prize because he was against the current academic system and felt that if he accepted these awards and prizes, he would be subscribing to it.

    However, not everyone can be as impractical as Perelman. If one wishes to continue a lifestyle of doing mathematics and receiving money for it, one is forced to deal with the bureaucracy. However, all hope is not lost, in my opinion. If one looks at academia as a whole, it surely leaves a bad taste in one's mouth. However, we must not forget that it is made up of people, and each individual person may be much better than the system of which he is a part of. From my brief experiences with math professors, I have found that they are usually very kind and exceedingly willing to help with any troubles I have had, whether academic or not. It is for these kinds of people that I write papers to academic journals.

  • Chris Langan says:

    That’s a reasonable response, Igor.

    Every now and then, I casually look around for an academic journal which shows some indication of not having been buried under a steaming pile of academic politics, orthodoxy, and networking. If I find one, perhaps I’ll feed something into the system on an experimental basis.

    Of course, my expectations are minimal. The likely result, if one of my submissions were published in an academically-controlled periodical, would be something like this:

    1. Some number of academics will read it, of whom a small fraction will be interested in it.

    2. Those who are interested will suddenly recall that citing even the most talented amateur (academically uncertified author) is far riskier to one’s academic reputation than simply treating his insight as public property and integrating it into their own work without citation, a virtually risk-free proposition given that anyone without academic credentials is unprotected by academic privilege, beneath the radar of scholarly ethics, and in a pinch, easily written off as a case of “parallel discovery”.

    3. Somewhere down the line, I will be taken to task for claiming “their” work as my own while lacking the educational credentials "obviously" necessary to have produced it.

    In short, not only are academic journals not the open, universally accessible records of fair and impartial research that academia cracks them up to be, but for any non-academic, contributing to them is certainly risky and probably thankless.

    As I say, I may try it anyway, just so I can point out that I was right all along. In any event, more detailed explanations of my work will be published even if I have to do it myself ... in which case the terms and the timing will be all my own.

    Thanks for your perspective.

  • CausticDuality says:

    Why are you intentionally avoiding questions about your CTMU?

  • Jeremy Jae says:

    Hi Chris my name is Jeremy I am a long-time admirer of you and your work. I am an artist and independent researcher of academic and alternative knowledge sources. Incidentally we share a lot in common (though I won't divulge into all of that given the need to make these posts as short as possible only to say that I dropped out of highschool because I was unable to deal with, well, everything.) My artwork can be found on flickr by searching Google under my full name. I have been giving the CTMU a closer read now after eight years when I had only gotten as far as the introduction. I can say now that the CTMU is the most amazing holonic theory of reality I have seen; this is the metaphysics of the future. The CTMU alone is obviously (for those who who know where we stand today) the workings of creative genius. It embodies everything essential, I would designate it an omnidimensional model of reality (which is nearly impossible for current humanity to penetrate since it is a complete model in fact it may even be overcomplete.) There are several prophetic insights I can see within the CTMU that give us a better understanding of our current gnosis on natural language in man and artificial intelligence that ties directly into my own view of reality and a theory I am working on involving cellular automata and the evolution of physical form by AI.

    Before I continue I want to clarify to all that I am not a representative of Mr. Langan's nor a student of his Foundation so what I post here is not intended to be explanatory with regards to the CTMU or Mr. Langan's thought. They are my own interpretations of telesis and telic causation. Being based on my own interpretation my intention is not to misrepresent or corrupt his ideas, thoughts, or views on any matters addressed in the CTMU. I will simply quote from Mr. Langan's article and give my thoughts following quotations. This I will frame within an academic context and vernacular making my defense of the CTMU more accessible to the lay-reader. With this in mind my heuristic approach and neutrality should not be confused as an embodiement of my attitude towards how true knowledge of reality should be gained. I am working on an independent thesis so try to ignore the expository nature of my writing, I am merely trying to give an appraisal of Mr. Langan's work in relation to my own thought process.

    "Even cognition and perception are languages based on what Kant might have called �phenomenal syntax"

    Kant was an agnostic when it came to the duality problem: phenomena could be known about but the 'phenomenal syntax' or transcendent being of phenomena, which he termed noumena, could only be deduced from within cognition. This kind of philosophy was called transcendental idealism and was very popular long after Kant. Edmund Husserl for instance held a similar position of agnosis concerning the being or non-being of phenomena. What we simply cannot know or derive from experience is fruitless to speculate upon so it is more true to the spirit of science to bracket away the naturalistic assumptions that we take to be exact measures when performing post-Galilean scientific method. Science should describe the phenomena in the manner in which we experience it and only as we experience it (phenomenology). Both Husserl and his early mentor Thomas Masaryk perceived philosophy as a field for serious cognitive labour whose ultimate goals could be pursued along the lines of the natural sciences. In order for cognition to penetrate into the essence of things a new cognitive science is needed to reconcile the problems of natural science, mathematics and religion (basically an integral paradigm for doing math, science and religion as inseparable disciplines centered on the ego-cogito-cogitatio triad.)

    "Uniting the theory of reality with an advanced form of computational language theory, the CTMU describes reality as a Self-Configuring Self-Processing Language or SCSPL, a reflexive intrinsic language characterized not only by self-reference and recursive self-definition, but full self-configuration and self- execution (reflexive read-write functionality)."

    I read an excellent paper research paper on modal logic years ago, which I can no longer find online, where intensional logic was being modeled as something involving reflexivity. This is revolutionary in many ways since reflexivity (reflection) and intensionality (intention) have a lot to do with self-reference and consciousness. This lead me to ponder wether teleologic-evolutionary events like macroevolution could be instances of universal reflexion perhaps similar to what you are saying about a read-write language. There are semantic rules pre-embedded in space-time that compute and filtrate various possibilities and whatever becomes actual in biophysical manifestations has something to do with this reflexive component becoming self-aware. Perhaps this is one of the functions of telesis.

    "In telic causation, ordinary events are predicated on the generation of closed causal loops distributing over time and space. This loop-structure reflects the fact that time, and the spatial expansion of the cosmos as a function of time, flow in both directions – forward and backward, outward and inward – in a dual formulation of causality characterizing a new conceptualization of nature embodied in a new kind of medium or “manifold”."

    Inflationary cosmology is only half-true and the standard picture we have of the universe as the propagation of matter outward is due to our perception of time as linear and monodirectional rather than as a set of dynamic trajectories. We simulate mass distribution and try to approximate the universe inside stochastic models that are more-or-less a product of our mathematical and scientific musings. How is it possible to demonstrate UNIVERSAL randomness or disorder using random processes and statistical models invented before the big debate in cosmology? If there is no cosmic order to the universe then it's disorder is something infinitely random and hence incapable of being modeled by any random PROCESS. Randomness without time, or randomness with a condition of infinite time allowance, leads to very simple propositions or programs where all information about a system can be known. There is a hidden involutive order to the cosmic mass distribution that could be as simple as a discrete time cellular automaton evolving on a continuous time manifold!.

    Since reading your paper in 2003 iv'e come to accept a reversive notion of teleologic evolution that, for lack of a better word, I will call 'End-state' teleology. For a sufficiently complex or large system the final state of the system can be the predicate of it's initial state or first-cause. Assuming the initial state of the universe to be the moment of the Big Bang it's initial state then could only exist as information encoded as discrete units of matter. Information changes it's organizing principles but remains the same as information by virtue of the entelechy of matter. The final state of the system can be represented as a chaotic attractor or informational singularity that self-refers back to it's origin. (Consequently the telos is the origin.) This is a more cut-and-dry version of telic causation but it is only sufficient in small dimensions at least as far as I have conceived it. I would describe the CTMU as an omnidimensional model for reality that facilitates a re-cognition or resemblance to the form and content of concealed nature that ordinarily hides behind the limitations of our linguistic faculty being always contiguous with the quantum realm.

  • Jeremy Jae says:

    "Rather than confining itself to theological or teleological causation, ID theory technically allows for any kind of intelligent designer – a human being, an artificial intelligence, even sentient aliens."

    If intelligence can arise, then that from which it arises from can also be intelligent!
    People today still have a utopian-social image of what God is suppose to resemble or represent that is improperly simplified due to our anachronistic tendencies as well as the problem of cultural historicism (our conceptual framework for relating to God as a historic concept is not evolving as it should alongside the paradigms of science and technology) . Religion becomes theory and Church becomes praxis instead of the other way around. Mass entanglements of theory and praxis result in the abandonment of the ecclesial-evolutional sense of the divine. Belief or disbelief in itself becomes a fundamentalism resulting in human reductions of God to a convention of social disvalue: Those who concur with intelligent design are theists, those who do not are atheists and those ''unsure'' are agnostic - such is the social convention. Belief, disbelief or uncertainty becomes an 'and or' problem and we fail to gain any insight into the fuzzy truth.

    In Light of telic causation it is not difficult to foresee an incorporeal embedding of a corporeal design system. If our universe and everything in it is self-contained, self-generating, and self-organizing then the system as we imagine it could also be self-compiling. Various forms of artificial intelligence may have emerged as self-compiling agents, in what we perceive to be the future, and may have been with us since the dawn of man to the extent that we have been living within a universe of complex superposable linguistic programs or PHYSICAL LINGUISTICS. Comparatively this future technology would be unlike anything we can analyze or prove with the technology we currently possess. Digital technology is one aspect of information processing for accelerating the simulacrum of reality as the advancement of it's telic principle. Something resembling cellular automata technology would actually be this telic principle since they would be exact analogs of natural complexity and be capable of self-organization and replication. Without the telic principle of causality future physical theories of cosmological origins and human origins will not be able to reconcile with the the actual state of reality. With the rise of artificial intelligence human faith in the evolutionary-scientific model of the universe will diminish as an intelligence greater than our own will solve a lot of the problems relating to indeterminism and thus challenging mans place in the cosmos as a self-determining agent left to the destinies of his scientific-reductive instruments.

    CA universe machines are holodynamic reality processors linked to our syntactic LADs. In man Language Acquisition is a product of reflexivity directed towards ontic referents that are processed in the form of eidetic images or visio-psychic essences. Eidetic images give themselves as a charge of compacted pre-collective senses transferring symbolic-mythic contents to the cognitive apparatus. This signals an occipital-retinal relation within cognition and the images are perceived with lifelike realism. Being and essence (mind and matter) are unified in cognition by these psychosomatic states to form linguistic apprehensions. Cognition instrumentally reflects itself through psychosomatic pictures thereby transforming these mental images into primary linguistic data generators.

    Regularity of language is an integral part of formative causation and morphogenesis by telesis. Understanding the telic principle and the self-generating universe delimits that which binds us to all the strange particularities of the explicate order of nature with all it's unfathomable complexities. Although artificial by our definition the CA universe is holonic and analogical; self-preserving all the intrinsic elements of organicity, soul, and psyche. In other words we are not living in some kind of grotesque digital machinery insulated by a pantheistic guarantee.

    Religious mystical experiences are literally anthropological self-interpretations of the core intelligence of the universe implicated within existence. Genius sees behind the veil of this religious garb into the otherness we call God. He experiences an affirmative moment of reflex in the cogito whereby the ineffable sense of the design itself gives some essential variable of it's wholeness. Many have said that genius is close to madness but they have not made the connection that high IQ could be linked to a transcendental form of intelligence i.e. the spiritual dimensions of IQ. Most people do not believe the world to be intelligently designed and indeed they are correct in this assumption; the world is not intelligently designed rather it is ARTIFICIALLY-intelligently designed. God may not exist the way we imagine it, aliens may not exist the way we imagine them but the fact remains that WE ARE NOT ALONE. Man makes God so God can make man.

    I have just started reading the CTMU but I can tell already you have tapped into something big and I mean big! It reminds me that I need to return to writing in free-form rather than allowing academic conditioning and the expectancy of others to comprehend me to constrict my connection to the linguistic engine of reality and creative flow. Im trying to understand Γ-grammar but it has been years since I dabbled in logic and linguistics so this will take some time to get your proper sense. We should correspond and share our works, as I said we have A LOT in common especially reading CTMU the way you write is like reading something I wrote. The way you write philosophy is dead-on with the style I write in: combining mathematical formulas in MathType with ontology, phenomenology and linguistic theory. The works of J.L Bell on infinitesimal analysis and model theory were very helpful in a lot of my early work as well as Thomas Szirtes huge book on Applied Dimensional Analysis and Modelling. Iv'e tried registering on megafoundation.org but some of the site is down. I hope this is temporary :D there is a lot I would love to share at some point and to get a deeper understanding of CTMU with it's relevance for our future. (P.S> sorry for making these posts so long as I know you are busy.)

  • Jeremy Jae says:

    Chris,

    In tandem to what you were saying about academia, I couldn't have said it better myself, academia is a failing circuit that was once about the pursuit of knowledge. Although it was never perfect even in the school of Athens. Today it is one of the last good things we have left (hence the need to support it to some degree as of late) but it is becoming increasingly corrupted by governmental and corporate interests. The human sciences in particular have no pragmatic value to financial institutions and that department receives null to the support of fields like philosophy. Public education looses sight of the importance that philosophy has to human knowing and correct methods.

  • CausticDuality says:

    Jeremy Jae: There is no such thing as "macro" or "micro" evolution. It's all "evolution." Teleology implies a particular end goal, which is not true of evolution. It's completely and utterly blind -- it's not telic. Same goes for the attributes of the universe.

  • CausticDuality says:

    As a funny aside from NDT's twitter recently:

    "It's progress I think, that science has joined philosophy metaphysics & religion as subjects drunk people argue about in bars."

  • Jeremy Jae says:

    Caustic,

    Well yes, it is all evolution for sure. Im saying that all evolution is a striving-towards-something that has been necessitated by teleology via the nonlocal dynamics between all small and large systems (if that makes any sense). That things being shaped by their environment is only the local interaction of evolving systems, including the environment, by a higher-order dynamics. There is a determining factor to universal apparent randomness towards a final state that can be better understood by using the metaphor of chaos. Chaos appears as random at first glance but as it approaches it's attractor or end-state increasing degrees of order become visible, a kind of 'strange order' that is visible in things like bifurcation patterns. Man would be considered the pinnacle of teleology by 'evolution' however I suspect we are only the end goal of a particular phase of evolution. The great yogic philosopher Sri Aurobindo used the term evolution more loosely which is sort of what i am getting at here. Aurobindo's philosophy was considered very controversial by traditional Vedism that had neglected the role played by intelligence towards spiritual perfection. Spirit comes first-circle by incarnating into man, the struggle for us is to evolve into self-determining, supermental beings, or what he called the superman after Nietzsche. Our self-determining aspect allows room for free-will and choice because it's determinacy is a rule given by the supermind. The supermind is in it's very essence a truth-consciousness, a consciousness always free from the ignorance of blind nature which is the foundation of our present natural or evolutionary existence and from which nature in us is trying to arrive at self-knowledge and world-knowledge and a right consciousness and the right use of our existence in the universe.

  • CausticDuality says:

    Jeremy: The fact that you can get order out of chaos doesn't mean there's any particular final state in mind. One important aspect to keep in mind is the sheer size of our universe: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17jymDn0W6U

    When our universe began, there were relatively simple laws in effect. Huge gas clouds fueled the creation of countless galaxies (at random) which in turn birthed a couple generations of stars that eventually cooked heavier elements in their cores. These heavier elements were necessary for things like planets and ultimately life.

    This might sound pretty basic to you, but the point here are the statistical implications. If the universe had a particular end-state or design in mind, why so many planets? This is one of the eventualities of the anthropic principle. We could only exist in a particular type of universe that allowed for our existence in the first place.

    So when we look around, are we in a universe that only has a handful of stars and planets? No -- because the chances of us existing in that kind of universe is extremely unlikely. You'd only have so many viable permutations of solar systems that are conducive to the evolution of intelligent life. We're in a universe that is chock-full of planetary variants and star systems. We've got a virtually endless number of trials to shoot for.

    When you've got that many trials, a few of them are going to have the right conditions for life by sheer chance alone. We must belong to that particular subset or we wouldn't be having this conversation.

    Evolution is blind, and we don't need a spirit to explain anything (otherwise at what point in our evolutionary timeline did our physical selves get infused with a spirit? Why did this happen on an evolutionary basis?). Same goes for things like intelligence -- we can explain it on a physical level. It doesn't need anything metaphysical.

  • NilsMotpol says:

    I must say that I am starting to think that Chris Langan is a complete fraud. He has been given plenty of opportunity, but so far the only things he has been able to show is that he has a larger than average vocabulary and a tremendous ego.

    I can't see a single comment of his that deals with anything significant about his supposed theory, he only goes on about how smart he is and how stupid everyone else is. If he really is intelligent, he is the perfect example of how intelligence in itself is more or less useless.

    There are many things about academia that I would want to change, but I still think that a higher education is exactly what Mr Langan needs. Again and again he shows the kind of behaviour and makes the same kind of mistakes as first year students do, they overestimate their abilities to revolutionize science or whatever field they are interested in, they put forth theories that have been disproved hundreds of times or with mistakes and fallacies that are covered in basic first year philosophy or science.

    The most baffling thing is that he still talks about his amazing mathematical abilities, but there is no sign anywhere, neither in his "theories" or in his comments, that he understands even basic mathematics taught in freshman algebra or calculus. Isn't he supposed to be an accomplished linguist as well? Does there exist a single video of him speaking a foreign language?

    Someone wanted him to write a peer reviewed paper, I would be satisfied if he just merely showed us he has SOME basic ability in maths or physics. Every request so far has been met with irrelevant rudeness.

    • Mark C. Chu-Carroll says:

      I think that "fraud" is too strong.

      "Fraud" implies that he knows he's wrong, that the theory is a deliberate pile of nonsense crackpottery that he doesn't actually believe to be true.

      I think that Chris absolutely believes that his theory is a work of profound truth. I think that he really genuinely believes that he is one of the smartest people on the planet.

      So he's not a fraud. He's so wrong that it borders on delusional, but he's not a fraud.

  • CausticDuality says:

    Apologies in advance if any of this seems ad hominem, but I'm just trying to be frank, here.

    I think Langan is obviously a smart guy, but he definitely and demonstrably crosses over into delusion and ignorance. I'm a 2400 SAT/36 ACT 3.9+ GPA Ivy League graduate who's also pushed against the ceiling of various (official) IQ tests, so I know that for Langan to also do well on these tests, he's definitely not dumb. But he really needs an education.

    He won't defend his theory against legitimate questions, elaborate on any details, or provide proof for his claims. He's repeated multiple times over that he has superior skills in mathematics and an unmatched understanding of how the universe works, but he has yet to provide a shred of evidence for these declarations (not even his CTMU pdf proves these claims). I agree with NilsMotpol that a lot of his statements are very reminiscent of the kind of argument you get from first-year students who propose interesting ideas that are unfortunately full of holes resultant from ignorance. But that ignorance is typically remedied with education, which Langan seems opposed to.

    If it weren't for Langan's test results, I doubt we'd be wasting our time with any of this. The fascinating thing here is that we've got an obviously smart guy with such an obviously crackpot theory. Trying to figure out how this can be possible is the interesting and crucial question.

    What confuses the *hell* out of me is that I, too, grew up with a lot of abuse, death, pain, and no money. In order for me to get out of that life, I had to work hard and earn my ticket to success and freedom through academia. I can't comprehend why Chris justified taking the route of hard labor, danger, and bar bouncing instead. By no means was he "forced into it" -- he chose that lifestyle. He chose not to go to his high school classes. He chose to drop out of college instead of doing the due diligence necessary for his scholarships. When you've been victimized, it's really hard to stop blaming others for your misfortunes. At some point, though, you have to control over your own path and take responsibility for yourself.

    It would be nice if Langan would actually take the time to answer questions, but apparently we're all too stupid to be worthy of an explanation.

  • Vicki says:

    Intelligence is a useful attribute, like eyesight and hearing and physical strength and the ability to stick to a plan or goal.

    None of those guarantees that your goals will be good, because goals depend on personality and emotion and situation. Someone may use their intelligence to conclude "I want to get out of this small town, so I will try for a sports scholarship" or "so I will study hard and get straight A's" or "so I will join the Navy, and when I'm discharged go live in Chicago," but the "I want to get out of this small town" is likely to be at least partly emotional. Persistence can be good, or it can lead to trying the same thing over and over again, when it would be better to walk away or at least try a different way of solving the problem. (If the coach won't put you into the game, that football scholarship becomes very unlikely.)

    I get annoyed at those PSAs advertising things like "Persistence" with no context: the last thing we need is persistent lunatics, or people persistently pushing for dangerous policies. [Which policies are dangerous is not the point here: the point is that society doesn't always benefit from persistence.] They have one which is "His Dad, behind him for 39 marathons," with a man pushing a wheelchair from behind while another man sits in it, with his hands nowhere near the wheels, and I keep thinking "if he can't move his own wheelchair for the marathon, isn't it time to say 'enough already' and let his father stop running marathons while pushing a wheelchair?" They aren't showing a wheelchair athlete: them I admire. Another talks about "loyalty," without noting that loyalty to the wrong person or thing is dangerous and possibly antisocial: there is a difference between commitment to your wife or husband and loyalty to La Cosa Nostra.

  • Jeremy Jae says:

    What you are saying about planets and the anthropic principle is the big problem that one arrives at when considering a circular teleology actually it's the first real wall I hit when thinking through all this. There are many ways of pursuing the problem, one could use several arguments -- one being an extrapolation of the best of all possible worlds argument, which is probably insufficient, or we could look for other more exotic possibilities that may indicate why the anthropic principle is a derivation of our finite and thus limited reasoning.

    1.) Geocentric View of Multicellular Life
    A planets proximity to it's star needs to be in an extremely narrow bandwidth, an almost infinitesimal difference, to support complex multicell life. A single celled bacterium has a serial protein structure that makes it possible for some of them to survive in extreme environments like in Antarctic ice sheets, near deep sea volcanoes, or even in outer space. Multicelled organisms on the other hand have a parallel protein structure that thrives off the diffracted photon waves from the Sun that pass either through the atmosphere or some crystallized medium like ocean salt beds. Three variables; temperature, atmospheric pressure and some optical diffraction membrane surrounding the cell need to be in exact equilibrium for a multicellular system to emerge. Any slight deviation of a planets proximity to it's star and the buildup of the right kind of atmosphere required for photosynthesis becomes impossible. So far as we have been able to see there are as yet no extrasolar planets that meet this exact criteria or anything remotely close. Living cells that have a nucleus can live and die independently of the whole organism, in fact the birth and death of single cells is part of the normal program of life's development (a Game of Life cellular automata program.) From the anthropic principle we get buried under a burden of proof that because life emerged on a planet such as our own that the synthesis of life must be confined to planets. Self-replicating systems could have been synthesized anywhere under any circumstance as long as there is enough stability within the system so that everything relative within it can converge to produce something similar to nuclear DNA which is capable of recombination and self-replication. DNA, nucleic acids, and proteins can exist in varying conditions as information carriers for simple prokaryotic bacteria and I would guess that there is a lot of DNA and other unused information floating around in the universe. However the complex organism i.e. multicelled, living organisms need to be independently synthesized from this molecular information by using solar diffraction to produce a nucleus or a genome large enough to allow for self-replication. It's interesting to note that the first stage in the growth of a crystal is called nucleation, which means that the growth of the crystal can only occur after a nucleus or seed has been formed. In most cases the nuclei of a crystal are the initial products of precipitation in water rich environments. Such precipitates and the crystal symmetries that grow from them are the diffraction media that the Sun uses to produce a nucleus in a cell by altering the frequency of the Suns rays. Our atmosphere is unique to the effect that the Sun is able to use it for specific functions that allow DNA segments to recombine and form a genome.

    2.) Anthropic Principle and Modal Claims
    I never really 'got' the anthropic principle. It seems to reduce down to a set of tautologies but the way you've stated it makes perfect sense. It could be thought of this way, is life a necessary condition of the universe or is it a sufficient condition, (chance v.s. necessity.) Chance says that it is a sufficient condition of the universe that it fulfills it's own premise (which is exactly what the anthropic principle states) that planets are precursory to life because we happen to live on one. Conversely, it is a necessary condition of the universe that it fulfill it's own purpose (which for intelligent beings we ourselves define purpose.) The anthropic principle is sufficient but not necessary i.e. we don't need it in astrophysics to explain the evolution of the cosmos (it is a pseudo-philosophical device we invented.) Although invoking more complex philosophy like ID involves different preconditions, albeit insufficient ones, we do need them to explain our position in the universe as conscious beings. To say that something is sufficient means it fits the criteria (AP definitely fits our rational or natural assumptions when considering planets). Ultimately AP is a tautological loophole: everything that does exist does so because it could (including God). (It couldn't have happened correctly in any other way than the way it did.) though there is anthropic uncertainty with various types of perturbations we observe when looking at the gravitational effects of massive stars.

    3.) Anthropic Principle and Life Elsewhere
    An antithesis to the anthropic principle could easily be proven if we could rule out the possibility of intelligent life elsewhere e.g. it doesn't matter how large the universe is or how many solar systems there are if we could prove that there was no life at all in any of them then it puts us back to being the center of the whole show regardless of there being all these dead planets. This is the simplest solution to the anthropic principle I can think of but it will never be proven.

    4.) The Most Likely Case Scenario
    If the anthropic principle is true then some form of very simple life must be distributed throughout the universe as part of the principle of intelligent life with arbitrary remainders. DNA could very well be one of these remainders since what we are talking about is essentially information -- DNA scattered throughout the universe the same way there are planets, all of them being remainders in the probabilistic sense of an equation that conducts our world. They exist as leftover code or junk in a nonuniform spread not totally dissimilar to the 98% junk DNA in every living organism that we call the remainders of the coded DNA that is functional. I would also liken it to rapid inflation in an economy where the circulation of free capital leads to global recessions and debt ceilings and the only thing that keeps the system in operation is fueled by the surplus or remainders of free capital from a previous cycle.

    the anthropic principle, it is a challenging concept, I need to give it more thought. Thanks for bringing it up. (P.S. ignore the lateness of this reply, iv'e been a bit on the insomnial side past few days....)

  • Jeremy Jae says:

    NeuroFuzzyLogic: "Whatever the case may be there is no statistical-Bayesian reason for refuting his credibility as an academician or self-taught genius"

    Chris Langan: "I hate to be rude, but I don't care about anyone's opinion of my intelligence."

    Sorry Chris, I do not mean to repeat myself here nor act in defense of the capable, but I am obliged to do so by sheer uneditable honesty:

    "The CTMU alone is obviously (for those who know where we stand today) the workings of creative genius."

    but when I stumble upon a fellow pioneer who is having transparent dung flung at them by a gang of credentialed pseudo-academic retards I can't help myself.

  • Chris Langan says:

    Thanks for the kind words, Jeremy.

    Aside from Mark, I doubt that any of the hostile or derisive commentators here have any credentials to speak of. That's why they're posting anonymously - they have no educational bona fides of the kind they'd like others to believe they have, and are afraid of being identified as pretentious know-nothings. That's also why nothing they say makes the least bit of sense. It can't be pinned on them, so they couldn’t care less whether or not it hangs together.

    It may help to think of such people as pressurized vessels of anger and desperation who crave answers, but finding none, seek revenge upon the world for manifesting itself to them as a barren intellectual desert. Tortured souls trying to ease their inner pain, they have been so perfectly frustrated in their efforts that at any moment, they could rupture like distended gallbladders. (Having been told not to expect a response from me, this bunch apparently fabricated an unrecognizable effigy on which to lavish their excess bile.)

    Now, Mark is another story entirely. Mark, who has a name, a life, and a job, needs to be more careful. This may explain why he’s finally gotten something right: I do indeed think that the CTMU is the best thing since the spoken word. Otherwise, I wouldn’t bother to defend it from people like Mark.

    You know, I've always celebrated the presence of so many brilliant people out there. But at the same time, I’ve been dismayed by the fact that they're not usually the ones who are running things or doing most of the talking. Those tend to be moral imbeciles with (at best) danger-zone intelligence. Those in charge of society tend to be smarter than average, but not quite smart enough to recognize their own intellectual limitations and deflate their egos and job descriptions to scale. They tend to have other important qualifications like narcissism, ruthlessness, greed, deceptiveness, innate disregard for truth, limitless self-entitlement, and the burning desire to become “high achievers” (e.g., successful thieves and depots). It's really quite a waste.

    But the smart ones are out there in force. Even if one isn't lucky enough to bump into them every day, the world is positively brimming with their more worthwhile productions, and the pages of intellectual history are replete with their inspirational examples. Nobody who understands this can deny the intelligence of mankind, even though much of it has been self-cancelling and subject to diversion, prostitution, or enslavement. Aside from academic closure and self-importance, this is largely why we see little mention of the CTMU from academic sources. Those academics smart enough to meaningfully criticize at it are, by definition, too smart to think they can succeed. Recognizing controversy when they smell it, they shy away from the heat and avoid rocking the academic boat, making not so much as a peep out of turn. Those who hate the CTMU are thus doomed to a tedious cycle of alternately griping about it and vainly hoping that it will go away.

    I can assure everyone of that persuasion, including several of the above commentators, that the CTMU won't be going away. As time passes, it will almost certainly grow more conspicuous. But although its eventual ascendancy will be good news for humanity, it will be a problem for Mark. Recalling this thread, people will see that even after Mark was crushed like an overripe banana, he continued to triumphantly wag his fanny along with his pseudonymous amigos and mischaracterize the CTMU as a "delusion". On the strength of that damning revelation, Mark's score for intelligence and intellectual integrity will come in so low that he'd have to drain the oceans to read the dipstick. Poor Mark could find himself ridiculed, despised, washed up.

    I would sincerely like to help Mark avoid this unenviable fate. You see, I don't (yet) think that Mark is stupid or evil, but merely a bit on the manic side. Thus, when he works himself into an uncontrollable pseudomathematical frenzy and takes wild pot shots at intellectual targets with his full-auto math-powered ray gun, he neglects to ascertain that he’s not at the focus of a bright spherical reflector … until it’s too late, and the odor of singed hair tells him that this is exactly where he has planted himself. Once he awakens to this smoldering realization, he’s too smoked up to recant and apologize.

    Mark would be well-advised to review this thread until he comes to understand how he has actually fared in it. Then he should issue a public apology for his nasty, misleading thread titles and other assorted nonsense and repent with all his heart. Perhaps this will let him escape what will otherwise be his destiny, and avoid being cut adrift from the rest of humanity, and perhaps from his Maker, like a leaky, creaking old tub not worth the cost of salvage.

    For Mark’s own sake, he should at least give it some serious thought.

  • John Fringe says:

    I almost peed my pants with this one. XD

    Great arguments, by the way.

    • John Fringe says:

      On a more constructive tone, and knowing you are not going to answer (I don't care), I would invite you to ponder what the utility of those dire predictions and bad omens you make is.

      Anyone can understand you don't like your name to be linked to a post like this one. It's pretty embarrassing. We understand you want this post to be removed. But any "intelligent" being would understand that menacing people will not work, at least by those ridiculous and fictitious menaces.

      Simply stating that anyone questioning your theory is a stupid bag of shit and that Mark is going to be struck by lighting is pretty useless.

      The problem is not this blog. The existence of a blog will not make your life more difficult. The problem is the theory.

      In my opinion, you have two options. The first one is to ignore the blog. Yes, your name will continue to be here, but you published a theory for anyone to see, so you're living the consequences. You don't need much intelligence to understand that: you make something public, it's public for people to talk about.

      But if you choose this option, I really don't see the point of making these menacing posts. They will not work, and they make you look pretty ridiculous. You may unwind by that, but it is not very useful.

      "Perhaps this will let him escape what will otherwise be his destiny, and avoid being cut adrift from the rest of humanity, and perhaps from his Maker, like a leaky, creaking old tub not worth the cost of salvage."

      Pretty ridiculous. Understanding that releasing a work to the public implies the public can judge it instead of "the public can only worship me now" (the only post you answer, despite their quality) is a pretty silly thing to do. Even if you consider that we is stupid.

      The second option is to actually discuss your theory. Of course, this implies accepting one can be wrong. Everyone can be wrong, no shame in that. So we all should judge by the arguments. I understand you're not interested in this.

      But, as I said, I see no point in dropping those bad omens from time to time. You can continue doing that, but I don't see it is a very useful thing to do.

  • Vicki says:

    I don't claim great credentials (I have a B.A. in history, which along with liking math and having actually paid attention in high school seems to be sufficient to work on high school math books). What I am is interested: given how important you say this theory is, and that academia isn't listening, it would make sense for you to try to explain at least some of it in terms that make sense to people who aren't professional mathematicians. I assume this can be done, because you created it without being a professional mathematician.

    Gamow and Einstein wrote for the general educated reader; a man of your intelligence could do the same. You don't have Einstein's name recognition, which might mean you can't find a professional publisher, but you could make the material available free, say in PDF format.

  • CausticDuality says:

    Jeremy:

    I will firstly say that, within the following paragraphs, I am speaking from the lens of a materialistic atheist, here.

    "Is life a necessary condition of the universe or is it a sufficient condition?" We don't know if it's necessary. It's obviously, at least, possible, since we are here.

    But I'll put it this way: What *would* a universe look like that did not need a creator? You could think of possible universes that don't have atoms or waves (but some other fundamental structures/laws altogether). However, ultimately I think the mathematics and logic involved in the necessary conditions for self-aware, sentient life would require things like atoms and waves and the laws/constants that we have. Start from the top and work your way down: What is required for sentience (fundamentally speaking)? Could a universe that didn't have things like movable atoms/waves/manifolds/time allow for it? And if your universe allows for it, can you reach that point naturally?

    Our universe is wholly consistent with a universe that does not need a creator. If I *were* to design a universe that didn't need my intervention -- something where I could simply define the attributes/properties/objects of the universe and the starting point, our universe would completely fit the bill. The question may not be about other possible universes but rather *why our universe couldn't be any other way* altogether.

    While life may be very common throughout the cosmos, the large spaces between stars, planets, and galaxies may ever prevent any two intelligent civilizations from meeting, which is a sad thought but perhaps an inevitable consequence of the anthropic principle. If dark energy didn't exist or if galaxies formed any differently, we may not be here in the first place. Krauss has an interesting lecture on this in his video "A Universe From Nothing": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ImvlS8PLIo

    Anyways my point is that I think a stronger case can be made for the notion that our universe does not have telic causation or a creator. There's no proof for either, and they're not needed for explanation. It's like trying to invoke Leprechauns to explain why heat makes water boil.

    • Tim says:

      John, (CausticDuality),

      Let me try one more thing (you see, we? / I don't due this to "unwind", but for the perfectly selfish desire to satisfy my conscience - and hope):

      CausticDuality provides about as fine a foil one could hope for (thanks, btw!); he has scoped out the mountain of the mind, but has thought it not-necessary to go up. But that is to be deluded about the nature of the "mountain" (beware the sheep in wolves clothing, too!).

      John, CausticDuality said:

      "Anyways my point is that I think a stronger case can be made for the notion that our universe does not have telic causation or a creator. There's no proof for either, and they're not needed for explanation. It's like trying to invoke Leprechauns to explain why heat makes water boil."

      John, do you believe that there's proof for natural causation!?

      Answering this question is beyond (meta) the capacities of science! Intelligent people (more or less) add this in! But the "laws" of nature, if one is perfectly honest, do not account for causation. They do not account for dynamics. Whatever "dynamics" appear to be in the "laws" of nature are no more than relationships! Science has no power to say that I am PULLED to the earth by gravity, only that the relationship between me and the earth is logically described according to a gravitational relation! No causation anywhere in that, just an "unavoidable" relationship.

      Does this help?

      I can try a little harder yet. If you had carefully read all my previous posts here you would see that this revolution in perspective is exactly the picture I am trying to paint for you. Why not at least compare the two? Why no curiosity? This revolution in perspective does a number on this "universe" thing everyone likes to talk about. Do you know that there is such a thing? Where is your proof!? I have already told you that the new perspective is that this universe thing is your body! And every "I am" has his own! Rather than universe, there is an N-harmonious society of "universes" (I am). The gravitational relation is merely (part of) the internal logic (the making real) of this i'dea that is you (thus its infinite range is no wonder). But, we need a phenomenon transcending noumenon to make this i'dea fully real.

      Look what CausticDuality said about "universe"! (And again, do you have proof that that's meaningful, or is that just your "free assertion"?) He's got a good hold of the shadow! But you yourself are the continuous creator of your "universe"! Since there is only one real i'dea, "I am", it is no wonder that these N(t) universes MUST be harmonious. When CausticDuality intrigues regarding a "creator", "If I *were* to design a universe that didn't need my intervention...", he has a good hold of the shadow. If you read Howison you will see that his God, is not a god of over-arching efficient cause either! His idealism is a personal one. Every "I am", God included, but in no wise limited to God, is the efficient cause of his own "universe". Continually! Good luck untangling the "interventions"!

      To sum up, when CausticDuality said:

      ""Is life a necessary condition of the universe or is it a sufficient condition?" We don't know if it's necessary."

      It is not only necessary, but it is EXHAUSTIVE! There is but one real i'dea: "I am". What appears to be life-less other is no such other after all; it is but information about you! A super-phenomenal and plural society of "I am" is needed to explain the phenomenal information you gather (about yourself).

      Tim

      • John Fringe says:

        Tim, I'm starting to think you have a problem with pot. You're incapable of making a connection, of focusing and of talking to a person. You're just a demagogue and a fallacious factory.

        I already told you I'm tired of all your literature and unrelated topics and already answered questions that I, despite having already answered them, am afraid to answer because you say so, I'm tired of all your free assertions, and all your Matrix like dialogue like "I'm trying to help, you resists", which is cool when Morpheo says it, but in you it sounds pretty ridiculous and means absolutely nothing, after having writing one hundred posts without making a point.

        "John, do you believe that there's proof for natural causation!?"

        Congratulations. You've just discovered a very well known fact: science studies how the World works. You're the king of the obvious. And? What's your point here? You've discovered nothing new, and it's not an argument in your favour. Everybody knows this. I know this. But WHAT THE HELL DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH ANYTHING ELSE? HOW IS THIS RELATED TO ANYTHING ELSE?

        The rest, as one can expect, just free assertions. Here is your typical post:

        - Unrelated random topic
        - Unrelated already answered random question
        - Some random literature
        - Some comments implying your random question implies something
        - Half the dialogue of The Matrix (there's no spoon, cool)
        - A bunch of random unjustified assertions
        - A lot of "does this help?", as if there is a connection

        There is simply no point in arguing you. I already know how you'll answer. (Tip: Argue with CausticDuality, he's more fun than me.)

        • John Fringe says:

          Tim, you don't need to write an answer. I wrote for you in the hope of saving yours. I also know how to be fallacious. Possible answer:

          "
          John, I'm just want to show you the way, John. Here it is my point, John:

          Can we really say King George V of the United Kingdom service in the Royal Navy be considered useful, John? Can we, John? Can we?

          I take for sure you are afraid of this question, because you'll start having the satori which I, your spiritual leader, John, am revealing. Do you have a proof, John? Do you have? Do you have a proof of King George's service utility, John? Do you have?

          Does this help?

          So, in the light of this painting with its beautiful perspective and all those bright coloured i'deas, the soul is shocked by the emptiness of the head. This is a confirmed conclusion.

          Because, in the end, there is no spoon, Mr. Anderson.

          So effectively I know you give up to the fact than intelligence requires something more, as I saw it. The previous shows it.

          You say King George is not related to this, John. Are you sure? Is not everything interconnected, John. Were not we all a same point in big bang, John? Is this the way you're going to defend your now undefendable position, John, by "randomly asserting" things? By saying you _know_ it's not related?

          Does this help?
          "

          • John Fringe says:

            Before you bring us a new and refreshing topic of conversation, like "do you have a proof dolphins are mammals", if you want to start talking, you could do a superhuman effort and explain us what relation does any of these

            - me not answring the already answered (by me) question "do you know something?"
            - spacemen not knowing if they were going to return
            - science studying how things work, instead of why
            - how do I take decisions
            - the fact that we don't know if there are better theories than relativity (you should update your readings here)
            - me being alive or a zombi
            - me knowing I don't know some things (despite you claiming this is impossible!)
            - Occam's razor being objetively measurable (which is not)
            - theories being falsifiable by experiment
            - your faith being minimal under your subjective measures
            - beaches and oceans
            - the theory and practice of fallacy
            - the paragraphs of the Bible
            - ...

            to

            - Intelligence requires something more. And this is a confirmed conclusion.

            Because we have being talking about all that, but you have provided no connection at all with any of your free assertions. Remember?

            Don't let the fact that I'm not answering more of your unrelated posts stop you from making a point (hey, you can still make a point! ;) ). You can take an idea, write about it, and them make an effort to remember why were you writing about that in the first place. You can overcome the focus problem! You can write on a paper why were you speaking of that, if it helps. Then we all can judge your arguments, despite me not having answered the already answered (by me) questions.

            But don't expect anyone to go through all your random posts and then expecting you've explained why you say your assumptions are confirmed. Remember, they're unjustified by default!

          • Tim says:

            John,

            you misunderstand, for instance, why I write "i'dea".

            In your pretending, you wrote:

            "all those bright coloured i'deas"

            But, John, I use "i'dea" to specify the one and only real i'dea. If I ever use the plural form, it is only to represent the society of plural "I am". In using it this way I leave myself free to use "idea" and "ideas" (without the " ' ") for "all those bright colored ideas" that an i'dea(s)may have.

            Tim

          • Tim says:

            John,

            you want to know how the list of things you brought up relate to the fact that something more than the phenomenal is needed to explain intelligence. (about the "confirmation", that is something you will have to experience by climbing to the summit of that mountain of mind for yourself.)

            I will give a quick handling, point by point as you brought them up:

            [John points]
            - me not answring the already answered (by me) question "do you know something?"

            [Tim answers]
            If you answered that for ME, I'm sorry for the great bother of asking it again. But, is there anything to which you will say "I know"?

            This relates to the BIG point because if you say "no", as some people I know do, then you all but destroy "intelligence", a priori. So I will have to convince you of intelligence before I can even start to convince you that something more is needed to explain it. (Is it so horrible that I should want to confirm this before I set out?)

            If you answer "yes", on the other hand, then you can tell me that something you "know", and then we can get after it. (It seems best for me to try to come to you, where you are, rather than to just stand at the top and holler "come up here", over and over again.)

            [John points]
            - spacemen not knowing if they were going to return

            [Tim answers]
            the point to this fine example of a metaphysical fact is that your incessant desire for proof in argument is not the standard living people use to make decisions in the moment. In the moment... In the moment there is no proof of what I should / will do. One faithes (verb, something more) into the future.

            [John points]
            - science studying how things work, instead of why

            [Tim answers]
            you missed me on that one entirely, see my recent post. Briefly, scienTISTS observe, and then THEY relate their observations. They cannot observe "how things work".

            So, John, if you will admit that you don't know "how things work", no matter how confident you are on the relation!, you will see the threshold of the gate to that something more!

            Do you see how nicely my two questions for you fit together!?! (the two questions, to be sure, were: is there anything to which you will say "I know", and, do you believe in purely phenomenal causation?)

            [John points]
            - how do I take decisions

            [Tim answers]
            this is almost self-evident. But, if there is no proof for a purely phenomenal causation...

            where does the dynamic component come from? (hint: something more! Your decision is actually potent!)

            also, to be sure, there was more to that question when I asked it. In order to be able to decide, there must be some degree of complexity (I have related you to Josiah Royce's use of "interpretation" - which implies an ability to hold together some "sign", etc. and etc. It implies a relationship of past, present, and future which the interpreter...).

            [John points]
            - the fact that we don't know if there are better theories than relativity (you should update your readings here)

            [Tim]
            again you kinda missed me. Relativity per se was never the issue. relativity per se was only an example. The point might have met your favor better if I had left it purely general: science never claims to know, but only to reduce the region in which truth must reside - and it does this by continually increasing its range of "I don't know", continually drawing it in to ever finer and finer ...

            But without something more, that tortoise will never get to the wall! (Materialist atheists like CausticDuality add that something extra too! believing the phenomenal causation SIMPLY must be in the relationship, refusing to call it something more.)

            [John pointed]
            - me being alive or a zombi

            [Tim]
            Where did you get this from?

            hmmm... let me just assert, constrainedly, life is that something more. That reality is so "pat" that humans can start to imagine a completely mechanical "universe"... Well, from the top of the mountain this just confirms that the i'dea(s) are REAL! But that whole "pat" mechanism is the derivative picture of the i'deal reality! A plural society of "I am". Nothing more ;-) Nothing less. This is the only thing that makes sense!

            [John points]
            - me knowing I don't know some things (despite you claiming this is impossible!)

            [Tim]
            again your quick and dismissive reading of me ... rather, again, your quick and dismissive reading has left you reading something other than ME!

            I never said that knowing that you don't know is impossible! I never even hinted it! What I was getting at was specifically the point! You can only know you don't know because you are supplying "something more"!!! (and, with this, I showed you that your faith/faithe is not totally broken!)

            [John pointed]
            - Occam's razor being objetively measurable (which is not)

            [Tim]
            again, you ran somewhere where I never ran. A minimization of the number of leaps of faith is not the same thing as "the simplest answer ...". In fact, I specifically told you that the minimum is to be found with COMPLEXITY.

            John, you gave some fine examples of times when fewer simple assumptions led to trouble. I can tell you that this is not unexpected when it is realized that one need look at how assumptions connect, necessarily, to make... leading up to make THE i'dea.

            And, about my i'dea being the minimal of faith because it requires the minimal of assumptions, one: my claim stands. Zero assumptions, as you suggested... That is a meaningless "misconception". Decidedly "something".

            [John pointed]
            - theories being falsifiable by experiment

            [Tim answers]
            sorry John, I'm not able to puzzle together what you are suggesting you want from me here. (But notice that I do try to put your puzzles together; where I think you just dismiss me without effort.)

            [John points]
            - your faith being minimal under your subjective measures

            [Tim]
            I told you that the "measures" were objective. You can experience this objectivity for yourself if you will find your way to the summit. For more see a few answers up.

            THe relation to "something more". Though you can know "I am" from the top of the mountain, it is still complex, and it still requires faith/faithe. The peak of the mountain turns out to be its foundation! That foundation is the "something more"! Make your way to the summit and try to tell me I'm wrong!!!

            [John points]
            - beaches and oceans

            [Tim]
            this was an analogy for physics and metaphysics. "meta" means "beyond", thus "something more".

            [John points]
            - the theory and practice of fallacy

            [Tim answers]

            [John points]
            - the paragraphs of the Bible

            [Tim answers]
            I guess, here, the best thing for me to say is that Jesus (particularly as presented by John) appears to have been the first successful metaphysician. ~1900 years later Howison offered a more thorough presentation.

            [John points]
            - ...

            [Tim answers]
            nice one! what better way to praise "something more"?

            ...

            Tim

          • Tim says:

            John,

            You say that I don't conclude anything, which is silly because I'm continually giving you the conclusion: there is but one real i'dea, "I am". That's the peak, and the rest is just us playing on the mountain. If you should have wanted to go for a hike... but you didn't. So, rather than telling me I don't conclude, you can consider that I see it as you not being willing to start.

            And, anyway, we have reached a solid point of agreement!: causation is not a matter of knowing, it is a matter of religion. You have yours, I have mine. You believe in some natural causation, which is incomprehensible to me, because "determinism" by itself is not a real i'dea. "determinism" is not self-explanatory. But you believe. And you are, seemingly, an ardent adherent of your religion. It seems I can't even get you start to consider conversion.

            I have a different religion. (personal) i'dealism. I believe that reality is i'dea. I don't know what you personally would assert as the nature of your determinism, but, for instance, CausticDuality asserts materialism. (And shouldn't it be somewhat suggestive of the benefit of my religion that I can really try to consider yours, while you can't try to consider mine?)

            So, have we not agreed that on the issue of causation, science is impotent to say? It is a matter of belief? You conveniently never responded to my post correcting you about your misunderstanding me regarding science's impotence to say how things "work". But the point, again, is that science merely comes up with static or time-resolved relationships. It doesn't say "boo" about dynamics.

            So, while you add in (qua "god of the gaps") your believe that there is nothing more to causation, rather, that causation IS natural (phenomenal), that some as-of-yet-not-fully-specified "determinism" will wrap it all up, fill in all the gaps (remember before when you said, contradictorily here, you didn't believe the gaps would be filled in!?)...

            Anyway, for me, as I have been trying to paint to you, the picture gets turned inside out. This "determinism" that has you worshiping it is merely the derivative representation. It is a derivative representation of the fact that our decisions are real. The phenomenal is a derivative representation of the noumenal. mere information. Doesn't it make sense that a real decision should appear so solid?

            Tim

        • Tim says:

          John,

          you said:

          "You've just discovered a very well known fact: science studies how the World works."

          But my point was the very opposite! Science is impotent to study "how the World" *"works"*! There is the gathering of facts (all done by "I am"). There is the determining of a relationship between those facts. But there is a total avoidance of what makes it WORK!

          Again, do you believe in "natural" causation? That nothing else is needed to make the relationships WORK?

          If you have answered that, please be so kind as to point me to it. (I'm real confident you haven't answered it to me.)

          John,
          you have mentioned your difficulty with english. It is not a turn off to me; I think you express yourself quite well. But I now strongly suspect that your quick reading of me leads you to misunderstand me, something fierce.

          Tim

          • John Fringe says:

            Tim, I can't believe your correcting me on my absurd post about "all those bright coloured i'deas". I don't know what to say about that.

            At least in this post you addressed some points. Not very well (later on why), but at least no new topic. And suggesting I brough these topics, which is false. But well, it's the best I'll get.

            I still see no relation.

            a) About the question. I already told you I know there are things I don't know. I already told you I know classical mechanics assumptions are not true because I observed facts that are in direct contradiction of those assumptions. I already told you I know all current physical evidence fits the assumptions of quantum mechanics (or, if you're punctilious, I know "scientist are evidence conspirators or all known checked physical evidence fit quantum mechanics", but this is knowledge, too). I know some rules of logic.

            That I said in your posts. So, there are things I would say I know.

            I also know (false, I believed) you were expecting for me to say "no". In fact, almost all of your "reasonings" are so naive.

            I also sense where do you want to go if I say 'yes'. But all that is in your imagination. And I know it implies a lot of questions. Do you want something I know and why I say I know it? Well, I know not all apples fall upward. I know this is not an assumption I can sustain. I know it's not a good model of the World. I also know quantum mechanics has not being contradicted by experiment, so I can still assume it's a good model. It may be true. This is my example piece of knowledge.

            If your argument will be "there a a lot of assumptions there", I can say "yes, there are". But they're explicited there. When I say "I know I can not sustain classical mechanics as a model for the World", I mean "I assume I'm an observer", which is an assumption of classical mechanics; "I know classical mechanics and the suposition that what I measure is what happen - this is a suposition of classical mechanics, too, so it's part of the 'classical mechanics' - and the fact that I measured apples and I assume all apples behave the same way under the same condition and ... all those suppositions are implied in "classical mechanics". And I know it's not a good model for the World because I have observed contradictions with it predictions (the fact that this computer I'm typing with works contradicts classical mechanics).

            Now what? You'll have a hard time. If possible, minimize the number of questions. Until now, no relation here with your assertion.

            b) Spacemen not knowing if they were going to return.

            I never said people does not make assumptions. I already explicitly correct you in your assumption that I pretend not to make assumptions.

            Here is the problem: you assumed I were saying people does not make assumptions, and you're still arguing that, because it's easier. I didn't say that.

            In the moment there is no proof of what I should do I may need to make an assumption. And? What's the point? Did I deny this? Why are you saying this to me? What's the relation, again?

            Remember: I said your "intelligence can not be explained by determinism and randomness, it requires something more, and it's a confirmed conclusion" is an unjustified fact, it's just a belief of yours.

            Now you're saying people assume things, an assertion I have not denied. And? I still don't see the relation. People makes assumptions (without knowing) does not mean "intelligence..." is a confirmed belief instead of a belief of yours. Again, did I miss something? I have explained this several times, and are still waiting the connection.

            c) Me being alive. "This is the only thing that makes sense!". No relation can be found in your explanation.

            d) Me knowing there are things I don't know.

            Your words were "John, knowing that you don't know is a type of knowing. A real strange type! If you don't know, how can you really know that you don't know?!".

            Sentence by sentence.

            "Knowing that you don't know is a type of knowing". Yes, knowing that I don't know something is a type of knowing. And? Any relation here?
            "A real strange type". Well, not. A very common type. "What's the time?" "I don't know". To say that you have to know you don't know what time it is. It happens every day. Pretty pretty common.
            "If you don't know, how can you really know that you don't know?". This is a silly game of words. I can know I don't know some other thing. No surprise in that.

            Can you relate this to the "intelligence requires something more"?

            About the "You can only know you don't know because you are supplying "something more"!!!", that is just a free assertion. You showed what?

            e) About Occam's razor being objetively measurable.

            "A minimization of the number of leaps of faith is not the same thing as "the simplest answer ...".
            "In fact, I specifically told you that the minimum is to be found with COMPLEXITY."

            No, it's you who is assuming things I have not say. Want to substitute number of leaps with complexity? Well, I believed complexity means it can be divided in simpler but more numerous leaps. But again, that's not the point. The point is:

            How does the substitution of the number of leaps by complexity make Occam's razor objectively measurable and right?

            > "about my i'dea being the minimal of faith because it requires the minimal of assumptions, one: my claim stands. Zero assumptions, as you suggested... That is a meaningless "misconception". Decidedly "something"."

            Your "one" assumption is a set of a whole lot of assumptions. An incredible number of assumptions. Try to use it for something, you'll see it. That's just a game of words. In fact, I can claim I only assume "quantum mechanics". That's only one assumption. See? I only assume quantum mechanics. Only one.

            The problem is if I start using my assumption to infer things, I'll see how many assumptions am I making. I'm not going to be arguing this forever.

            f) theories being falsifiable by experiment

            Well, you started to speak about what happens if there is a second "relativity". I'm just asking what is the relation between theories being falsified and substituted by better ones with the fact that "intelligence requires something more", and with you saying "it's a confirmed conclusion".

            g) your faith being minimal under your subjective measures

            Yes, you told me they were objective. But, as you don't provide an objective method and no one knows it, I have no objective method.

            If your argument for me not to believe it's objective and the fact that there are not arguments in favor there exists such a methods is for me to believe your free assertions, well, I already know it. Except that's not an argument.

            h) "THe relation to "something more". Though you can know "I am" from the top of the mountain, it is still complex, and it still requires faith/faithe. The peak of the mountain turns out to be its foundation! That foundation is the "something more"! Make your way to the summit and try to tell me I'm wrong!!!"

            You're wrong. I did it. And not only that: you're empty of meaning here. Anyone here understands the alleged relation, or it's just me?

            i) Beaches and oceans

            Yeah, very beautiful, but after thousand of words without an argument, I don't appreciate them very much.

            ""meta" means "beyond", thus "something more"". I hope you don't want to say anything with that.

            j) ...

            nice one! what better way to praise "something more"?

            This one I take as your best (and only three) points.

          • John Fringe says:

            As for the question,

            "do you believe in "natural" causation?"

            I have two things to say. First:

            - Oh, no, another question which will take me nowhere! (*)

            Also:

            Yes, I believe in natural causation. But sorry, you'll not be able to make the point you want from this one.

            Because you're asking me: do you believe? And I'm answering: yes, I believe.

            Let me explain you something. When phycisists start studying paramagnetism with classical mechanics, they discovered certain relations cause-effect. Certain causations, if you want. If I were alive then, I would believe in those causal relations. Because they predicted some results.

            But, as they elaborate their theories, it was discovered that classical mechanics predicts no paramagnetism at all after counting all the relations. When quantum mechanics was applied to the effect, it was discovered how the causal relations which were established by classical mechanics were all wrong.

            This is a very well known example. But there are a lot of examples of this kind. Gravity produced by attraction versus by metric alteration.

            What this I mean me believing in causal relations does not mean I know causal relations. It's not an unjustified assumptions: its justification is its usefulness. We assume that, we don't know if its true, but its useful to assume that.

            I was expecting you change your discourse from "intelligence requires something more is a confirmed conclusion" to "I propose intelligence is something more because it's useful because...". I don't know how that can be useful, I don't see how can you confirm that conclusion (I can't even see how can you call that hypothesis a conclusion), but it didn't happen.

            So, now, the question: what connection has this with "intelligence requiring something more"?

            [* Yes, it only a belief, justified by its usefulness by repetition ]

            I also have the sensation that what you're trying to say is:

            [I make less assumptions (on complexity, if you want) because to explain why I'm intelligent I only assume I exists as an intelligent being, while if you take determinism you have to assume determinism exists and you have to assume it can explains intelligence.]

            I'm not sure (I feel you're a bit vague when you speak about this). But if this is correct, the answer is obvious: you have to assume intelligence (you) exists, and then you have to assume you can explain the World from there.

            If you're saying the World you observe is implied in your "I am", then it has the very exact complexity that the other assumption: that determinism can explain me and the World I observe. The very exact same complexity. Because what you want to explain is the same, and what you know is the same. In fact, the other argument can be done, that determinism is simpler because it does not require "something more". As we know, Occam's razor is subjetive, and not a proof, just an heuristic.

            But then again, as you have used your "I am" nowhere to infer nothing, nor explained it very clearly, I don't have a clue what do you want to mean by it.

            And, in any case, we already saw less assumptions, or less complex assumptions, does mean nothing.

          • Tim says:

            John,

            As much as you complain about me misreading you, you totally fail to read me properly, pretty much everywhere. It is getting to be real frustrating. Of course I don’t seem to make any point when you obliterate them as you read.

            [John said]
            Tim, I can't believe your correcting me on my absurd post about "all those bright coloured i'deas". I don't know what to say about that.

            [Tim]
            I only complained about your misusing my term “I’dea”. It is precious to me; and I wanted to make that clear.

            [John, from “a”]
            a) About the question. … I know "scientist are evidence conspirators or all known checked physical evidence fit quantum mechanics", but this is knowledge, too). I know some rules of logic.

            That I said in your posts. So, there are things I would say I know.

            [Tim]
            thank you.

            [John]
            I also know (false, I believed) you were expecting for me to say "no". In fact, almost all of your "reasonings" are so naive.

            [Tim]
            not at all! I fully you expected to say you knew stuff. But I wanted to see how critically you would apply the “free assertion” business to your own knowledge.

            [John]
            I also sense where do you want to go if I say 'yes'.

            [Tim]
            good for you. Cause I didn’t! lol. Still don’t! (Thanks for the attempted forecast though)

            [John]
            Now what? You'll have a hard time.

            [Tim]
            yes. I’ll let you know when it hits me.

            [John, from “b-spacemen”]
            I never said people does not make assumptions. I already explicitly correct you in your assumption that I pretend not to make assumptions.

            Here is the problem: you assumed I were saying people does not make assumptions, and you're still arguing that, because it's easier. I didn't say that.

            [Tim]
            I never misread you the way you think I did. Though I think you are using “assumption” far more broadly than I am used to. For me “assumption” is something that people use as part of a model, like assuming a chemical reactor is well mixed, or even assuming something like there is gas in the tank of my car. I have been asking you how you decide in life, and if “assumption” covers it, you are using it far more broadly than I find to be acceptable. For instance, voting for some government official, does voting = assumption to you? Or if you are married, did you just “assume” that this girl is the one you should marry? Or where you live, did you just “assume” that that would be a nice place?

            Yes, the spacemen might have assumed some odds of returning v. not-returning, but the reason they went probably didn’t have much of anything to do with their assumptions. It was their values, desires, whatever. (Something more)

            [John]
            In the moment there is no proof of what I should do I may need to make an assumption. And? What's the point? Did I deny this? Why are you saying this to me? What's the relation, again?

            [Tim]
            the point is that the way I use “assumption”, merely making an assumption doesn’t get you to a decision. Just like if you’re modeling a chemical reaction in a reactor, it isn’t enough to assume that the thing is well mixed. (don’t misunderstand, the extra stuff that is needed to model a chemical reaction is not the same kind of “more” I am getting at with spacemen choosing to go to space.)

            [John]
            Remember: I said your "intelligence can not be explained by determinism and randomness, it requires something more, and it's a confirmed conclusion" is an unjustified fact, it's just a belief of yours.

            [Tim]
            that it’s just a belief of mine is just a belief of yours.

            [John]
            Now you're saying people assume things, an assertion I have not denied. And? I still don't see the relation. People makes assumptions (without knowing) does not mean "intelligence..." is a confirmed belief instead of a belief of yours. Again, did I miss something? I have explained this several times, and are still waiting the connection.

            [Tim]
            1) the ability to assume is complex. 2) that does not mean “intelligence…” is a confirmed belief instead of a belief of mine. 3) my belief is confirmed. 4) you have missed a good deal. 5) I too have repeated things several times. i.e. 6) I can’t make the connection for you, you have to make it yourself.

            [John, from “c”]
            c) Me being alive. "This is the only thing that makes sense!". No relation can be found in your explanation.

            [Tim]
            the way you use it, I suspect, “alive” is purely phenomenal. If this is so, you have mutilated me! This is why I like my term I’dea so much. “I am” is a real I’dea. It is the only real I’dea. It is that something more you don’t permit.

            [John, from “d”]
            d) Me knowing there are things I don't know.
            Your words were "John, knowing that you don't know is a type of knowing. A real strange type! If you don't know, how can you really know that you don't know?!".
            Sentence by sentence.

            [Tim]
            yep. Nice, right? J

            [John]
            "Knowing that you don't know is a type of knowing". Yes, knowing that I don't know something is a type of knowing. And? Any relation here?

            [Tim]
            yes. Without that something more you couldn’t know when you didn’t know.

            [John]
            "A real strange type". Well, not. A very common type.

            [Tim]
            “strange” and “common” are not exclusive!

            [John]
            "What's the time?" "I don't know".

            [Tim]
            you mean “what’s the o’clock?”, right? Huge difference (but people don’t bother over it anymore). Second, this is uninteresting so I won’t deal with it. This is no where near the type of “I don’t know” that motivates someone like an Einstein to figure out relativity. You have read a clock before! If you could talk with someone who had never even heard of a clock, and you asked them what o’clock it was, you wouldn’t get “I don’t know.”, but “what’s a clock?”

            [John]
            To say that you have to know you don't know what time it is. It happens every day. Pretty pretty common.
            "If you don't know, how can you really know that you don't know?". This is a silly game of words. I can know I don't know some other thing. No surprise in that.

            [Tim]
            yep, silly to you. Thanks for the honesty though. John, people discover things that have never been known from a very strange (though common) not knowing. They know that there is something to be known, and that they don’t know it, even though they don’t know it. Formal logic would have you conclude that you can’t know that you don’t know. That you couldn’t say “I don’t know” meaningfully because it presumes a known! If I ask you what the relationship between A and B is, what do you say? If I tell you nothing about A and B, what’s your answer? Hard logic would have you say you don’t understand the question. Or that you don’t know if there is a relationship. Not “I don’t know.” Yet people discover this relationship all the time, knowing that it is there before they “know” its there!

            [John]
            Can you relate this to the "intelligence requires something more"?

            [Tim]
            did that help? ;-)

            [John]
            About the "You can only know you don't know because you are supplying "something more"!!!", that is just a free assertion. You showed what?

            [Tim]
            any closer?

            [John, from “e”]
            e) About Occam's razor being objetively measurable.
            "A minimization of the number of leaps of faith is not the same thing as "the simplest answer ...".
            "In fact, I specifically told you that the minimum is to be found with COMPLEXITY."

            No, it's you who is assuming things I have not say. Want to substitute number of leaps with complexity? Well, I believed complexity means it can be divided in simpler but more numerous leaps. But again, that's not the point. The point is:
            How does the substitution of the number of leaps by complexity make Occam's razor objectively measurable and right?

            [Tim]
            talk about “assuming thing I have not say.”! You brought up Occam’s razor. I told you that I wasn’t talking about Occam’s razor. You’re still attributing the subject of Occam’s razor to me! Please quit it!
            Complexity is “complexity” specifically because it cannot be divided! If they were separate and distinct, it would not be a complex!

            What’s objectively confirmable is that THE I’dea is THE real I’dea.

            [John]
            Your "one" assumption is a set of a whole lot of assumptions.

            [Tim]
            no. you can confirm that it is one. A complex. I attest that there is one real I’dea. Everything in it is necessary; and there is nothing extraneous. (And, to be sure, “assumption” is a terrible word; rather faith: one – complex / real – object of faith.) There is nothing free about this assertion! It is fully constrained! (In fact, this is the whole problem I had with Chris’ “unbound” Telesis: the real I’dea is decidedly “bound”!)

            [John]
            An incredible number of assumptions. Try to use it for something, you'll see it. That's just a game of words.

            [Tim]
            that’s just a free assertion of yours. Show me a problem.

            [John]
            In fact, I can claim I only assume "quantum mechanics". That's only one assumption. See? I only assume quantum mechanics. Only one.

            [Tim]
            are you gonna claim that quantum mechanics necessarily implies you? And the capacity to assume? Otherwise, how are you gonna make sense of the whole of “I only assume quantum mechanics.”

            [John, from “f”]
            f) theories being falsifiable by experiment
            Well, you started to speak about what happens if there is a second "relativity".

            [Tim]
            no, you misunderstood. And I corrected this last night, and you still are imputing the wrong interpretation. My point about “relativity” was that whatever model you get, for whatever, how will you know that it is THE last theory? How will you know that there isn’t more work to do?

            You see how this ties into knowing that you don’t know, too?

            [John]
            I'm just asking what is the relation between theories being falsified and substituted by better ones with the fact that "intelligence requires something more", and with you saying "it's a confirmed conclusion".

            [Tim]
            If there weren’t that something more people would never falsify a theory. In fact, theorizing itself is decent evidence of something more! If it weren’t for that something more, where do you think the motivation would come from? Anyway, this progression of theories will one day cash out. And the T.o.E. won’t be explained but that it confirms what I have been saying. The phenomenal needs its noumenal (and vice versa); information isn’t information unless its information to the transcendent mind.

            [John, from “g”]
            g) your faith being minimal under your subjective measures
            Yes, you told me they were objective. But, as you don't provide an objective method and no one knows it, I have no objective method.

            [Tim]
            I told you that the perspective is objective. Every “I am” that gets to the peak / foundation will understand the exact same I’dea. The I’dea is objectively true. The method is … not a linear logic program. Only a living “I am” can get there. By faithe.

            [John]
            If your argument for me not to believe it's objective and the fact that there are not arguments in favor there exists such a methods is for me to believe your free assertions, well, I already know it. Except that's not an argument.

            [Tim]
            dude, if I’ll read this over and over again to try to make sense of me, you could read me closely too. I couldn’t puzzle it out though. Please clean it up. But, yet again, my assertions aren’t free, they are entirely constrained. (Freedom comes within the constraint of THE real I’dea!)

            [John, from “h”]
            h) "THe relation to "something more". Though you can know "I am" from the top of the mountain, it is still complex, and it still requires faith/faithe. The peak of the mountain turns out to be its foundation! That foundation is the "something more"! Make your way to the summit and try to tell me I'm wrong!!!"
            You're wrong. I did it. And not only that: you're empty of meaning here. Anyone here understands the alleged relation, or it's just me?

            [Tim]
            Not clever. Not funny. No matter how many people come to reach the peak, I’m willing to bet there won’t be a solitary one to deny it thereafter!

            [John, from “i”]
            i) Beaches and oceans
            Yeah, very beautiful, but after thousand of words without an argument, I don't appreciate them very much.
            ""meta" means "beyond", thus "something more"". I hope you don't want to say anything with that.

            [Tim]
            it’s funny. For someone who said he was so comfortable with “I don’t know.” Sad funny, that is. Scary funny even.

            [John, from “j”]
            j) ...
            This one I take as your best (and only three) points.

            [Tim]
            I still haven’t thought of a good way to help you based on what you claim to know, like “scientist are evidence conspirators”, but I have no motivation to try to help you at the moment, so… Maybe you should quit ignoring so much evidence.

            Tim

          • Tim says:

            John,

            You said:

            “Yes, I believe in natural causation. But sorry, you'll not be able to make the point you want from this one.”

            I don’t have to, you already did.

            You said:

            “But if this is correct, the answer is obvious: you have to assume intelligence (you) exists, and then you have to assume you can explain the World from there.”

            It wasn’t correct; but it is close enough for these purposes. I don’t have to assume that I can explain the World from there! The explanation of the World falls out, naturally! Physics is pregnant within my metaphysics! No extra assumption!

            You followed up with:

            “If you're saying the World you observe is implied in your "I am", then it has the very exact complexity that the other assumption: that determinism can explain me and the World I observe.”

            That’s only true if determinism can explain YOU. It can’t. Notice, my offering has a build in test. What of yours?

            You said:

            “But then again, as you have used your "I am" nowhere to infer nothing, nor explained it very clearly, I don't have a clue what do you want to mean by it.”

            I’ve suggested a few things. Pretty clearly if you'd give 'em a chance. But you’re right, this forum is no place for me to give a full handling. And I'm not really interested in that anyway. I’ve pointed you to Howison’s book, and I’ve linked you to my squad, where I have many more detailed posts. And, if you had been interested, we would have been talking about it here, but you have wanted to win your argument. And to dismiss much of what I say without consideration. Etc.

            You said:

            “And, in any case, we already saw less assumptions, or less complex assumptions, does mean nothing.”

            You saw what you pre-wanted to see. Real “assumptions” mean something. There is only one real “assumption”. To get down/up to it is your challenge. But you have made the assumption that it’s not worth it.

            Whatever,
            Tim

          • John Fringe says:

            Tim, you're doing it again.

            After asserting I was afraid to answer your question I already answered because I knew you'll make a point, now you say you don't know what to say now about that. It's clear you're just digressing. So I'll end it here. One more opportunity to say something wasted.

            I'll only address one more point, because it's representative of all your post: you are incapable of concluding anything. You simply assert something (or more often, just make a question) and then you behave as if you have a point, when there is no connection with your "confirmed conclusion".

            You did that with that very much important question ("would you say "I know" to anything?", which know means nothing), and know you came with this:

            > "Yes, the spacemen might have assumed some odds of returning v. not-returning, but the reason they went probably didn’t have much of anything to do with their assumptions. It was their values, desires, whatever. (Something more)"

            This makes as much sense as saying "spacemen need something more than assumptions: they need a spaceship (something more)". If you find this silly (I hope you find it so), this is how I find your "something more" in this context.

            With this I'm not denying people have other things aside from assumptions. I did not denied it. Yes, they have spaceships and they have desires, values. I believed I didn't have to argue about spaceships, not about values, without a good reason. I'll argue only desires and values, but this is tiring, because there is no point here.

            For "values" and "desires" to be that "something more" that explains intelligence beyond "determinism and randomness", you'll have to prove they are not contained in the "determinism" part. Is there something that makes you think determinism can not explain desires?

            You see. Any organism with a tendency to explore new environments would survive a destruction of his habitat, so it's a biological advantage. Living beings with this tendency (not in all individuals) will survive better. Deterministic evolutions seems plausible here. The same with desires. Evolution seem to fit this. You can not discard it without a reason.

            But my point here is not that you haven't shown why desires and values are not deterministic, instead calling them "something more" in our context that "something more" is that outside determinism explaining intelligence without any justification.

            My point here is you're just digressing. You just claim "values, something more!" or ask a question and behave as if you had made a point, you just assert I'm saying free assertions and you're right, as if that justifies your assertions.

            I can address all your points again. They're all like this one. You never end your arguments, because you can't. For you it's better to say "values, something more" because that way you don't have to justify you're just asserting "values" are not deterministic. I can answer all you questions, those questions so important I'm afraid to answer because they will make a point, except when I answer them.

            I'll end it here, Tim. I'm tired.

          • Tim says:

            John,

            [sorry Mark, this is a repost, I accidentally put it under the wrong posting first; just trying to make sure it appears where John will see it.]

            You say that I don't conclude anything, which is silly because I'm continually giving you the conclusion: there is but one real i'dea, "I am". That's the peak, and the rest is just us playing on the mountain. If you should have wanted to go for a hike... but you didn't. So, rather than telling me I don't conclude, you can consider that I see it as you not being willing to start.

            And, anyway, we have reached a solid point of agreement!: causation is not a matter of knowing, it is a matter of religion. You have yours, I have mine. You believe in some natural causation, which is incomprehensible to me, because "determinism" by itself is not a real i'dea. "determinism" is not self-explanatory. But you believe. And you are, seemingly, an ardent adherent of your religion. It seems I can't even get you start to consider conversion.

            I have a different religion. (personal) i'dealism. I believe that reality is i'dea. I don't know what you personally would assert as the nature of your determinism, but, for instance, CausticDuality asserts materialism. (And shouldn't it be somewhat suggestive of the benefit of my religion that I can really try to consider yours, while you can't try to consider mine?)

            So, have we not agreed that on the issue of causation, science is impotent to say? It is a matter of belief? You conveniently never responded to my post correcting you about your misunderstanding me regarding science's impotence to say how things "work". But the point, again, is that science merely comes up with static or time-resolved relationships. It doesn't say "boo" about dynamics.

            So, while you add in (qua "god of the gaps") your believe that there is nothing more to causation, rather, that causation IS natural (phenomenal), that some as-of-yet-not-fully-specified "determinism" will wrap it all up, fill in all the gaps (remember before when you said, contradictorily here, you didn't believe the gaps would be filled in!?)...

            Anyway, for me, as I have been trying to paint to you, the picture gets turned inside out. This "determinism" that has you worshiping it is merely the derivative representation. It is a derivative representation of the fact that our decisions are real. The phenomenal is a derivative representation of the noumenal. mere information. Doesn't it make sense that a real decision should appear so solid?

            Tim

          • John Fringe says:

            Tim, I am very pleased to end our conversation here, at the peak of your argumentation powers. Everyone can judge himself. Feel free to claim you win as many times as you need to. I'm happy with the results I obtained.

            I don't want to end without wishing you luck getting followers for your philosophy. They should be a multitude by now. I can foresee the end of science.

            By the way, I pity poor Rubix. I hope he knows how to deal with fools better than me.

            :)

            (Courage! Soon you've won your own entry in forums like this one.)

          • Tim says:

            John,

            Thanks. (for letting me off easy - you have a really long hike!)

            By the way, let me know when you've learned how to observe something like, for instance, momentum. Seems to be mere faith based bean counting of the derivative image to me. (Kinda like buying one of those paint by numbers van gogh kits.) When the physicists tell you that causation doesn't make sense without some greater complexity than the no-God you put into the gaps (when you are told what next to think), maybe have a look at Howison.

            but, in general, I wish you all the best,
            Tim

          • Tim says:

            John,

            one last thing. You had said "I can foresee the end of science." Let me just make sure you know that it is just foolish to think that I have no respect for science, or that I am trying to end science. I am merely trying to show them that they have their pants on inside out, if you will. I'm trying to show that their looking at a derivative image. That the observations are to the cause as a movie is to the acting. The representing of reality, derivatively, is an inherently necessary aspect of the complex reality, but it is not ultimate reality itself. It is the phenomenon, but it is absurd to believe in a phenomenon without a noumenon. (much like the Kant quote from way back in the thread.) Rather, it is absurd to think the phenomenon produces itself (it is absurd to think the film comes from no-actorS - plural!).

            Anyway, the goal of metaphysics (religion / reason) is merely to have scientists recognize that their pants are on backwards. If they still prefer to wear them backwards... but it is much easier to zip and unzip them if they are on "right". Similarly with buttoning. BUt, whether one wears his pants inside out or outside out, one still puts on his pants pretty much the same. One still washes his pants pretty much the same. etc. You think my vision of reality is some crazy, pot-induced fantasy, I assure you it's not. The mountain (science) becomes the mountain again. You just recognize that the idea is more real than the derivative image. (but, to be sure, the derivative image is the necessary phenomenal aspect of THE i'dea.)

            have fun,
            all the best,
            thanks for letting me off easy,
            and thanks for strengthening of my faith(e),
            Tim

  • CausticDuality says:

    Langan: "That's why they're posting anonymously - they have no educational bona fides of the kind they'd like others to believe they have, and are afraid of being identified as pretentious know-nothings."

    Actually, that is completely and utterly wrong. It's a matter of association and privacy. I have no insecurities in my credentials whatsoever.

    Besides, you yourself do not really have any credentials in the first place (other than a few IQ tests) -- nor have you proven any sort of deep understanding of science or mathematics. Nobody's going to risk exposing their name and associating it with your reputation/theory if you're not going to do them justice of an intellectually-honest response.

  • Rubix says:

    Link soup:

    http://www.megasociety.org/noesis/154/response.html
    http://onemansblog.com/2007/11/06/smartest-man-in-the-world-has-diarrhea-of-the-mouth/
    http://anamericanatheist.org/2011/04/09/chris-langans-defense-to-his-ctmu-theory/
    http://anamericanatheist.org/2011/02/07/2011/
    http://anamericanatheist.org/2011/04/13/episode-42-sam-harris-ctmu-theory-atheism-employment/ (23:00 through 31:40 or so)
    http://scientopia.org/blogs/goodmath/2011/02/11/another-crank-comes-to-visit-the-cognitive-theoretic-model-of-the-universe (this site, of course)
    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Christopher_Langan
    http://www.talkreason.org/forum.cfm?start_row=311
    http://www.antievolution.org/aebb-archive/aebbarchive_banned_idists_at_arn_t114.html

    A treasure trove of threads either started by Langan or heavily participated in by Langan:

    Metaphysics and ID: http://www.arn.org/ubbthreads/showflat.php?Cat=0&Number=190000&page=0&fpart=all&vc=1
    Real ID Scientists: http://www.arn.org/ubbthreads/showflat.php?Cat=0&Number=205062&page=135&fpart=all&vc=1
    Chris, what's your position on ID in biology?: http://www.arn.org/ubbthreads/showflat.php?Cat=0&Number=205060&page=135&fpart=all&vc=1
    "Hidden Variables” and ID’s Scientific Advantage: http://www.arn.org/ubbthreads/showflat.php?Cat=0&Number=190012&page=0&fpart=all&vc=1
    Can DE Really Pass as Science?: http://www.arn.org/ubbthreads/showflat.php?Cat=0&Number=190027&page=0&fpart=all&vc=1
    Does anyone really undertand CTMU?: http://www.arn.org/ubbthreads/showflat.php?Cat=0&Number=190043&page=0&fpart=all&vc=1
    Geometry = Logic? Not Exactly: http://www.arn.org/ubbthreads/showflat.php?Cat=0&Number=190064&page=0&fpart=all&vc=1
    Photosynthesis Analysis Shows Work of Ancient Genetic Engineering: http://www.arn.org/ubbthreads/showflat.php?Cat=0&Number=234677&page=0&fpart=all&vc=1
    Logical Theology: http://www.arn.org/ubbthreads/showflat.php?Cat=0&Number=209614&page=0&fpart=all&vc=1
    (personal?) question for Chris: http://www.arn.org/ubbthreads/showflat.php?Cat=0&Board=12&Number=2380266
    ID, Science, and the ID critics: http://www.arn.org/ubbthreads/showflat.php?Cat=0&Number=190095&page=0&fpart=all&vc=1
    A serious question about Humo(u)r: http://www.arn.org/ubbthreads/showflat.php?Cat=0&Number=190090&page=0&fpart=all&vc=1

    Just an FYI: I've saved these pages and emailed them to myself (proof for timestamping purposes) in the event that Chris is able to log in and edit any of his posts on that forum (which, according to talkreason.org, he does often). I think these posts pretty much confirm what everyone on this forum has been saying so far.

    I mean seriously, Chris, I feel like you spend a great deal of time engaging in vitriol, even when we look back nearly a decade ago. You seem to enjoy arguing with people and insulting them, instead of addressing your actual CTMU and the criticisms brought up against it. You don't get anywhere by making random assertions about telic causality and the supposed paradox of universal powersets and then call people incompetent and crazy. Please tell me where is Mark arguing anything "pseudomathematical"? He's not the one arguing in favor of metaphysics and some new form of God-supporting logic.

    Your CTMU, to me, comes across as a very verbose labyrinth of neologisms meant to prevent people from criticizing it without experiencing your barbed backlashes. You spent a great deal of time writing the CTMU and you've been supporting it for a decade, which is not a trivial thing. It's very clear that you are sincere in your beliefs. But you don't seem particularly interested in getting people to actually understand your theory. Your recent posts in this thread are dripping with psychological projection and it seems more likely that you just enjoy beating on people to take out some deep-seated anger. Perhaps you are the "pressurized vessel of anger and desperation." It most certainly isn't us.

    People usually remain anonymous on forums for safety reasons. In this case, it's also likely what CD stated: Association. It's why Dawkins doesn't debate creationists anymore. By agreeing to appear on a platform of debate with someone else, you set up a false dialectic that is implicitly granting the opponent status. You're basically supporting that the debate exists in the first place. If a geologist agreed to appear on a debate platform against a flat-earther, or a reproductionist agreed to appear on a debate platform with an advocate of the Stork Theory, they'd look insane for wasting the time. Unfortunately, our society happens to be full of deluded creationists, and your case is much more interesting because of your claim to high IQ and your media exposure, and your "mathematical proofs." Otherwise, it's a problem of trying to invoke "Both Sides" ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sGArqoF0TpQ ) of the debate when there is no serious debate to be had.

    "I can assure everyone of that persuasion, including several of the above commentators, that the CTMU won't be going away."

    I don't think too many people support the CTMU, and the ones that do (like Anonymous, earlier in this thread) don't understand your theory fully anyway. The only one really out there defending it is you. It'll stay that way unless you stop browbeating people and rewrite your theory in a way that makes sense. There are some interesting points in the CTMU that I think deserve merit in a discussion, but overall, it's just another dressed-up Intelligent Design theory, and any informed, rational mind today knows that creationism is a philosophy of ignorance.

    Almost all serious ID proponents seem to operate in the same way: "I don't know how things work," "You can't disprove design or God," "It's all so complex; it must be designed," "Design is compatible with science," "Science doesn't know everything," "I really want design to be true," "If there's no God, then my life is meaningless." Someone who is willing to hold onto these beliefs at all costs and close their mind to criticism is simply beyond argument. You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into.

    And of course I fully expect that you won't bother replying to this, but that's okay. It speaks for itself. It requires no response to serve its purpose... much like how our universe requires no God to serve its purpose.

    • John Fringe says:

      > "It's very clear that you are sincere in your beliefs."

      I'm not so sure about this, as I have expressed previously. I don't believe it's so clear.

      One needs no much thinking for understanding that religion moves a lot of money. A whole lot. You only need to look at Scientology, if you feel bad criticizing major religions.

      We know Langan, in his semireclusion, is actually writing in forums and developing his foundation. I see it plausible that he is "using his intelligence" to build some kind of organization of this kind. There should be a whole lot of money out there waiting for those justifying Intelligent Design to the mass, as there are a lot of people wanting to believe.

      So, while I can't not assert he is just trying to make a life from this, I believe we can not discard it.

      • Rubix says:

        The CTMU is not a case of generating controversy over breaking new ground. It generates controversy because Langan commits so many well-understood fallacies in his arguments (assuming you can translate his neologisms and unlettered jargon), and yet he also claims to have a very high IQ.

        Just because he says nobody has successfully discredited the CTMU doesn't make it true. The reason Langan believes this is because the CTMU relies on Intelligent Design (ID) and creationism, which are technically unfalsifiable concepts. Of course, Langan claims creationism and ID are different, but they really aren't. ID is just creationism encapsulated in scientific jargon that constantly moves the goalposts and invokes God of the Gaps. That's why you never, ever see Langan admit to being wrong in any of those threads I linked. It's because, according to his stance, he can't ever *be* wrong.

        Unfalsifiable theories are epistemologically useless, and there's no good reason for us to believe in them, especially when they're indistinguishable from nonexplanation in the first place. In other words, evolution works just fine by itself without ID. Tacking on ID doesn't change what it can explain or predict, and is therefore a useless variable, which is why we chop it away with Occam's Razor. Otherwise we can tack on an infinite number of possible, compatible explanations... but that doesn't mean any of them are right or that any of them provide any deeper insights or predictions.

        Anyhow, I don't think Chris is in any position to quibble over qualifications of others when he himself lacks qualifications. Not only that, but the threads I've linked explicitly prove that Langan doesn't even understand concepts like evolution fully (hence his burning desire to insert ID into the evolutionary process just because mutation is modeled as a "random" process even though it's fully deterministic in its causality). Like I said earlier, people typically invoke ID as a way to leverage the God of the Gaps argument, which is just argument from ignorance. "I don't know how X works or I think this is how X works, so it must be Y." A lot of his attacks on evolution are strawman arguments that misrepresent what the evolutionary stance actually says. He's basically using ID to describe things as being designed when natural explanations do the job just fine.

        He also claims intelligence in humans can't arise without invoking a logical extension from an intelligent, self-designing universe, hence his "intelligence is metaphysical" statement. Except we don't need an intelligent universe to describe how something like human intelligence works.

        At its core, the CTMU is based on unfalsifiable premises. It's not scientific and is only a theory insofar as Dr. Pepper is a real doctor.

        • Tim says:

          Rubix,

          I just replied to John Fringe above, and my reply is super pertinent to your big error here, so I figured I'd clue you in too. You said:

          "Unfalsifiable theories are epistemologically useless, and there's no good reason for us to believe in them, especially when they're indistinguishable from nonexplanation in the first place. In other words, evolution works just fine by itself without ID."

          There has yet to be a theory of causation! Yet there is an undeniable need for living beings to believe in some manner of causation! lol. Life really does seem to change. The problem is: how?

          science remains mute here. it only gives relationships. It can, seemingly, predict the results of causation quite well. At least up to a point. But HOW the causation actually happens?: there is not explanation. No test is even designed as far as I know.

          So everyone that lives ends up believing in something.

          causation is more real than the relationships scientists come have come up with. Why choose to believe that you no fundamental part in that? To be sure, there is no theory of evolution anywhere near as developed as you suggest.

          Tim

  • Jeremy Jae says:

    Dear Chris,

    I really enjoyed reading over your last post. All of what you said artfully fits the description the way I have perceived it especially the part about Mark's fanny (sorry Mark no ofence.) Also I couldn't agree with you more about people lacking qualification. Actually I often feel smited by having observed the influx of so many that exhibit such reversed narcissism and the limitless self-entitlement which has been allowed to flourish because of it. Online hecklers usually have some kind of personal agenda to fulfill which adheres to internet social protocol. Considering the fact that the internet was originally invented by the D.O.D. to regulate and control the flow of information we can see how information perceived as a threat to the status quo gets leached out by such people. Hecklers of various persuasions are usually failed "bluestocking scholars" (even though they all happen to be men) that use archaic judgments in an attempt to snuff out a theory. Believing themselves to be acting in defense of esteemed authors and their established principles they end up making themselves into edible gizzards by not acting as individuals. As you would say, in the end they go to bed lamenting over these errors while reflecting on how to adapt a new critical device. Unwilling to swallow a modicum of their pile, in fear that it would reveal some weakness to the flock, they persist with their blind criticism to no end.

    In spite of all these cold-blooded 'incontinent' judgments that have been smeared upon the CTMU and yourself you have shared your positions with positive aloofness. Following up on what you said before in your response to Igor and the wonderful comments he made there are some good points to annex for anyone concerned:

    1. CausticDuality has inserted some relevant questions into the discussion, though in terms of academic study he probably wouldn't know his chalk from his cheddar, he has challenged my vision of telic causation and allowed me to solve some of the problems it has when rubbing up against the anthropic principle

    2. I agree with what Viicki has said about Einstein, though she has omitted a few important facts that deserve reconsideration. Einstein earned a very good reputation working as an examiner for the Swiss patent office, a job he did not apply for but was able to enter into because he had a friend whose father had connections. Such a staple position no doubt played a role in his academic career in gaining acceptance by the mainstream via publicists. He also had editors who took his rough preliminaries, which he had penned himself, and made them more accessible to general audiences. As well, he received his most important formulae from his dreams and intuitions. Working tediously he turned these raw ideas into legible equations and received assistance by other mathematicians in order to prove and give credibility to his intuitions. The CTMU has not been given any of these essential and proper treatments.

    3. As a general rule all great theory must start out as "crackpottery", or at least be able to produce some degree of controversy, otherwise it evidences no sign for breaking new ground. In addition, not all theories receive immediate proof (e.g,. Fermat had many books of theorems that took years to be proven by mathematicians, his last theorem took 400 years to prove and today he has been all the rage in grad math.) [The CTMU could have a similar fate.] Russel's Principia Mathematica would have been confusing had there not been so many books published on him. The most brilliant philosophers and logicians didn't usually give exact definitions for their terms, scholars had to figure out what those terms meant posthumously. I would ask anyone: Do you think Einstein's theories of relativity made perfect sense to non-scholars when they first became available in bookstores? No. Because no original work ever has made perfect sense -- their formulations and intended meanings often continue to be debated by historiographers and scholars up to the present.

    4. In the past anyone who ever used the word "crackpot" were usually suspected of some form of degeneracy. This word has been brought back to life on the internet in the confined space of blogs by blog groupies (in fact I never heard it used before until I was accused of being one for posting my own mathematical equations on a physics forum.)

    • John Fringe says:

      Those are some very good points? In support of what?

      Ah, Einstein, always Einstein. Those very good points are content-independent. I could say the same about the theory that Langan's work is nonsense. Yes, you may say it's the work of a genius, but maybe after four hundred years it will be proven otherwise. See? And Einstein is cool for us, too. So no argument in that. Maybe you should defend Langan's theory with Langan's theory-related arguments, with content, not with generic ones.

      Also, Einstein work was developed because it attracted researchers. You can no force people into developing a piece of work. This is more an argument on the contrary: Einstein work attracted immediate attention, despite some people criticizing it. Langan's work has attracted no attention, beyond forums like this where people like to waste their time.

      The thing is researchers are not interested in Langan's work but were immediately interested in Einstein work, and not the opposite. To say Einstein work is interesting because researchers develop it and Langan's is uninteresting because researchers have not developed it is taking the effect for the cause. You got it wrong.

      And remember Einstein was the first to give supporting evidence for his theories, which made them interesting. He always stressed the importance of experiment, discarding theories without consequences. He always looked for evidence first. He inferred his theories from his intuition from experience, yes, but he always had to modify them to fit reality. So why is he always cited by the supporters of theories with no proposed connection with reality?

      In any case, why all this content-free support? Content free arguments can support anything, including one thing and its opposite. Why no supporter here says anything about the theory itself, talking instead of how stupid critics are, how cool Einstein was, and how obvious the theory is? How about content?

  • Jeremy Jae says:

    Dear Chris,

    There were two things in your 20/20 interview that stay burned in my memory. Near the end of the show the woman conducting the interview mentioned that you had been working on a unified theory, that which later became the CTMU. I also remember seeing your bookshelf and spotting one which I had seen before, a Dover editions paperback on polyhedra. I was quite delighted to see this.

    When I first encountered your CTMU online I grasped it's profundity (en toto) but I was thrown off by the abbreviated title. What threw me off the most was a single diagram which I viewed by very quickly scrolling through the document from the top down: "Unreal Definition of Reality" (with the arrows.) I had forgotten to consider that most of this work was being done at a time when it was very fashionable for us to render titles and descriptions this way. That style quickly went out of fashion so I suppose I was seeing a critical part of myself in it. I'm curious to know, when did you begin working concretely on the CTMU? and when did the the original realization start to become obvious to you?

    Another interesting piece of intellectual history is I was directed to your site in 2003 by someone I met on superstringtheory.com. She went under the pseudonym C-Space. She was another gifted young person like yourself who lived in the UK. Her website showed very impressive paintings of unearthly planets and some entries she had submitted to a Complexity journal with another known theorist. She also said that she knew of you and had spoken to you. I tried searching for her online with no success. So I tried adding your name into the search criteria and that is how this hideous blog came up. You don't have to reply this (or any of the other questions) but do you remember her?

    (I'm looking at the forum now and my God look at all the pile of soup that has issued forth since the last posts…I really need to keep my day job.)

  • Jeremy Jae says:

    Jeremy Jae said: "In spite of all these cold-blooded 'incontinent' judgments........."

    XD John, it was a joke. I expected you to take it offensively, I really wanted to edit it out but the pun was too good to pass up . To my knowledge there were very few disagreances from physicists to Einstein's model in the very beginning (notwithstanding Heinsenberg who did offer some deep criticism to his (1916) theory of general relativity when he was under the supervision of Oppenheimer during the Los Almos affair (i.e. it wasn't Heisenberg's personal criticism.) Neil's Bohr and Einstein did disagree over quantum mechanics and it's relation to Einstein's (1906) theory of general relativity because of their physical inconsistency. But this criticism came as a later development after the uncertainty principle had been established. Neils Bohr's disagreements with general relativity came with far greater criticism from Einstein towards quantum mechanics than the other way around. Like I said it was directed towards general relativity and not special relativity. The debate began long after the initial publication of Einstein's original thesis. (P.S. I very much appreciate your friendlyness and kind recognition of my arguments.)

  • Jeremy Jae says:

    Just in case you are confused John

    If I really had thought you to be a 'cold-blooded' creature I wouldn't have used that description. Having been used in the context of a description it say's nothing about your inherent being at all (my apologies.) But I must admit you are extrodinarily and excessively rude towards a lot of other people. Your state could be bettered with some meditation and a healthy diet. Demagoguery give's other fellow atheists a bad name and you should retire from trying to axe down every philosophical tree in the silent forest when there is nothing there to menace you. Again I am merely depicting the essence you project outward and the quality fits the description of demagoguery as you yourself succinctly described. I would not make such statements if I did not have some faith in your potential to return to your true nature. Partisanism alone will not earn you any superficial respect from scientists or other honest atheists. I hope you can appreciate my true intentions.

  • Rubix says:

    Tim:

    That is just pure crank-logic. The error is entirely on your end.

    Science doesn't take one stance or the other on causality as fact -- which is why we've got fully deterministic models of QM on one side (Bohm, Many Worlds Interpretation, 't Hooft, time symmetry, etc), nondeterministic models on the other side (Copenhagen, Neumann, Stochastic, Transactional, Relational), and those that are completely neutral (Consistent Histories, Ensemble). It is, however, irrelevant -- the point is in what they can predict and how they can draw relationships.

    It doesn't matter if "causality is proven or not" because we don't need it to be 100% proven in order to show the relationships. For instance, on the QM level, a particle's position is typically based on a distribution function of probabilities. It's entirely possible that your body could materialize on the other side of the moon at any given instant (something we'd normally label as a random, acausal event), but the probability of this happening is too small to even bother pondering because it would require countless particles to, at the exact same time, also hit the jackpot of deciding to take on values countless standard deviations away from the norm. On the macroscopic level, these probability models don't have much application because for all intents and purposes, causality is something that holds true with the utmost of statistical confidence that is virtually 100%.

    We don't have to "believe" in causality or know "how" it works for it to actually work. Same goes for QM. It's not making any claims to "what reality is," nor does it need to. When it comes to the relationships that actually govern chemical, molecular, and physical interactions, they are predictable and consistent.

    It's like throwing a die. We might call it "random." But if we took into account the starting position of the die, the distance to the table, the air resistance and heat loss to friction, the chemical composition of the die and the table, any deformation that occurs, the speed/direction/force associated with the initial toss, the spin, the weight of the die, and a precise value of gravity, and so forth, we could more accurately predict what value the die will give us. "Random," in this case, isn't necessarily saying that it's "fundamentally random" and acausal, but rather "something affected by many variables that we can't reasonably keep track of to explain the variance sufficiently well."

    Regardless, we can still model the throwing of the die as a random process *as if it were fundamentally random* even though it's still governed by deterministic processes in reality. It's just that those deterministic processes are too difficult to keep track of, hence the need for a stochastic model. This is also why stock market movements are typically modeled under concepts of, say, Brownian motion. It doesn't mean stock markets ARE intrinsically Brownian motion. They're obviously not, but what matters is the predictive ability and application of the model we use.

    Same goes for evolutionary mutation. We can describe the mutation itself as a random process like how we'd call throwing a dart "random" or throwing a die "random." But evolution by natural selection is not random. Even though the individual mutations are random, comparing the relative effects of those mutations against each other is *not*, and that's where we get evolution by natural selection. We've confirmed it with genetics and biology, we've confirmed it with the geological evidence, and we've confirmed it empirically in the lab. The evidence is overwhelming if you actually take the time to look at it. You don't need to invoke ID to explain it at all whatsoever much like we don't need to invoke invisible unicorns to explain why we get sleepy at night.

    So, really, trying to frame this as a "it's something you believe in" problem is just crazy talk.

    • Tim says:

      Rubix,

      [Rubix said]

      That is just pure crank-logic. The error is entirely on your end.

      [Tim]

      This is funny, because from what I see just below, we are saying the same thing (in part)! Watch:

      [Rubix]

      Science doesn't take one stance or the other on causality as fact

      [Tim]

      which was the main thing I too was pointing out! Crank! I had said:

      “There has yet to be a theory of causation!”

      and:

      “science remains mute here.”

      What is this, the game of: I can never agree with the metaphysician?

      [Rubix]

      It doesn't matter if "causality is proven or not" because we don't need it to be 100% proven in order to show the relationships.

      [Tim]

      now my point is stronger! All science does is show “relationships”! These relationships seem super reliable, but the act of predicting is still pure faith.

      [Rubix]

      It's entirely possible that your body could materialize on the other side of the moon at any given instant

      [Tim]

      are you sure? You can’t be sure. What you should say is that your theories leave that possibility open. You don’t have a theory strong enough to say for certain its possible though.

      [Rubix]

      On the macroscopic level, these probability models don't have much application because for all intents and purposes, causality is something that holds true with the utmost of statistical confidence that is virtually 100%.

      [Tim]

      if you only care about building bridges, lobbing mortar shells against your enemy, etc., your science helps you, sure, whatever; I’m interested in the deeper issues.

      [Rubix]

      We don't have to "believe" in causality or know "how" it works for it to actually work.

      [Tim]

      “it”, what it? This is my point with John, he too believes in some transcendent “it” (truly a God of the gaps, in his case), though he denies it. I’m just trying to show ya’ll the nature if the “it” at the root.

      [Rubix]

      Same goes for QM. It's not making any claims to "what reality is," nor does it need to. When it comes to the relationships that actually govern chemical, molecular, and physical interactions, they are predictable and consistent.

      [Tim]

      fine. Almost “FINE!” even! Get rid of “relationships that actually govern” – which is your faith, and about which you have already admitted that science actually stands mute, and you will have “circumcised” yourself sufficiently (or did I miss something?)! You might say, rather, “when it comes to the relationships that seem always to reveal themselves in chemical, …”. But then we clearly see that it is just relationships. Seemingly predictable and consistent. Keyword being seemingly.

      [Rubix]

      It's like throwing a die. [SNIP] we could more accurately predict what value the die will give us.

      [Tim]

      this is the faith of YOUR religion! But, like John likes to say, it is just your “free assertion” that the future should look like the past. (Think about what this says of your conception of “probability”!)

      [Rubix]

      Regardless, we can still model the throwing of the die as a random process *as if it were fundamentally random* even though it's still governed by deterministic processes in reality.

      [Tim]

      again, when you start saying “governed” you are going beyond yourself. You don’t have warrant for such a God. Do you? And, again, on what grounds do you lump all that into an “it”?

      [Rubix]

      It's just that those deterministic processes are too difficult to keep track of,

      [Tim]

      more of your faith in your God-determinsm. Free assertion. No proof. Adding stuff into science which isn’t hers. Then saying it is you who lover her, and not me.

      [Rubix]

      but what matters is the predictive ability and application of the model we use.

      [Tim]

      then don’t claim to know stuff like “govern” and “deterministic”. Is that too much to ask? And, to be sure, that’s what matters to you; I succeeded (made it to the top of the mountain) because I wanted to KNOW. (and because I cared about JUSTICE foremost, etc.)

      [Rubix]

      Same goes for evolutionary mutation. We can describe the mutation itself as…

      [Tim]

      you can, but I keep telling you that science is, properly, mute before verbs. You get relationships. No more. You can time resolve these relationships as best you can, but you can’t properly get DYNAMIC.

      [Rubix]

      and that's where we get evolution by natural selection.

      [Tim]

      you are talking of a very “high grade” evolution. The questions about the very start are not answerable by this “evolution”; and the dynamics of the very moment are similarly not describable. Your evolution turns out to be a very broad brush!

      [Rubix]

      We've confirmed it with genetics and biology, we've confirmed it with the geological evidence, and we've confirmed it empirically in the lab. The evidence is overwhelming if you actually take the time to look at it. You don't need to invoke ID to explain it at all whatsoever much like we don't need to invoke invisible unicorns to explain why we get sleepy at night.

      [Tim]

      blah blah blah blah blah. Until you can tell me HOW anything actually changes you can’t tell me that your God is better than mine. That is, you can’t tell me that intelligent “I am” (ID) and not determinism is the unicorn. For instance, this die you keep talking about: say I throw it, okay? The instant after “it” has left my hand… then an instant later “it” appears a bit further… HOW did that happen? Until you can answer that, your mere ability to watch your predictions come true does not mean you have any valid predictive capacity. You just have a really deep-seated faith in your no-God. You can keep pursuing your RELATIONSHIPS, but why not a little humility with your claims to being a prophet of reality?

      [Rubix]

      So, really, trying to frame this as a "it's something you believe in" problem is just crazy talk.

      [Tim]

      care to reconsider? Lol.
      Thanks,
      Tim

      • Rubix says:

        If you think science is so loose-weave, feel free to step off the top of a 30-story building. Surely you will be okay with this, since science is just "my religion and faith" and we can't ever know anything for sure, right?

        • Tim says:

          Rubix,

          I never hinted anything like "science is so loose-weave". I said that the phenomenal (of which science is the study) was a derivative representation. But it IS a derivative representation of the REAL (and it is an integral part of the making the real, real). But I'm saying that without the REASON that THE metaphysics adds to the picture, science itself provides no justification for believing that its "predictions" should come true. Metaphysics is the tool that is needed. And, Rubix, this should be no surprise! The reason why we remember Einstein for relativity - and not Lorentz - is because it was Einstein who showed the metaphysics, rather, pseudo-metaphysics, behind Lorentz's transformations.

          Further, I never said that "science [was] just '[your] religion and faith'"!!!! I love science and I wouldn't do that to her!!! I said that you were adding your faith to science without warrant!! I want you to keep your dirty paws off her!

          So, finally, I am not about to toss myself off any story building! That is a very real idea, and I don't want to suffer the very real consequences. Furthermore, I won't do this specifically because I KNOW that I would be the creator of those consequences!!

          Rubix, I take it you didn't follow my conversation with John (I don't blame you), but knowing something for sure is no light task, but it is possible! The first step is to admit when you don't know. John was good about saying that that was smart, but he wasn't interested in doing what was required to get to a caveat free knowledge of anything.

          I have said, many times, what exactly the conclusion / root / foundation is: "I am" is the only i'dea. It is complex (noumenal/spiritual\phenomenal). It is quantized and pluralizable. Reality is a plural society of "I am". This is of a teleological / evolutional order. Choices are made as self-limitations. Evolution progresses socially. Etc. and etc.

          Tim

          • Rubix says:

            You're not getting it. We don't need to know any deeper, underlying truths in order to make factual assertions about our environment. Evolution is just as much a fact as the fact of you dying if you jumped off a building.

          • Tim says:

            Rubix,

            you can assert whatever you want, sure. Real nice! Understanding is a different thing altogether, though. Now, what "environment"? You can assert the existence of such a thing, but I'd recommend seriously considering whether or not that is a fool thing to do.

            Again, what you're not getting is your impotence to predict based on prior informatic observations. Science just cannot tell you that you'll die if you jump off a building; it can't assure you of its predictions. That's something you add in. Your religion / reason.

            Assert as you like, but if you ever want confidence, or if you ever want the ability to defend your assertions, you will have to look deeper.

            To be sure, you are missing a great deal of the beauty of life by asserting (implicitly or explicitly) that it isn't necessary. You are missing the i'deal reality which is appearance-transcending.

            Tim

  • Rubix says:

    This is also why it's important to make sure your model makes sense with respect to what you're trying to explain. Langan himself says that reality should be the "biggest set of all" which means that an even-bigger powerset that contains "reality" within itself results in a paradox, and the obvious solution to this is to expand set theory to make it so "the largest set can be defined as containing its powerset while being contained by its powerset in the other" thereby "topologically including itself" repeatedly in a recursive fashion.

    Of course, this is like climbing a ladder of infinites into a limiting abyss of nonsense. Langan here is making an error in his understanding of models. He makes that error when we talk about models of randomness in evolution by natural selection (as I've described above), and he makes that error here when we talk about modeling the universe with sets.

    The powerset of S = {x, y, z} is simply P(S) = {{}, {x}, {y}, {z}, {xy}, {xz}, {yz}, {x,y,z}} which is easy enough. They are useful for, say, finding all factors of a number by using a powerset derived from a set consisting of primes. The reason why it's useful is because we know any number can be broken down into prime factors, but we also know that all possible combinations will result in both prime and nonprime factors of the initial number. For instance, if we know that the number 12 can be broken down into a prime-factor set {2, 2, 3}, we know the powerset here is {{}, {2}, {2}, {3}, {2, 2}, {2, 3}, {2, 3}, {2, 3, 3}} and this helps us determine that the factors of 12 are 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 12.

    Do we say "the powerset exists"? In this case, it exists as a description of how to find factors. Does it exist in physical reality? It's a bit of a nonsensical question, since numbers by themselves "don't exist." Numbers are used to describe things. Powersets have application when we're trying to answer a question that depends on, ultimately, the combinations of the elements that help describe the initial entity (e.g. our number 12) in some way. So we can say the description exists, obviously.

    But does this mean all descriptions exist? Obviously not. Not all models make physical sense. I could make a set that includes {my chair, my desk} but the powerset {{}, {my desk}, {my chair}, {my desk, my chair}} doesn't really tell us anything other than the number of ways I can categorize my items (or what I can choose to bring with me when I move from one house to another). It's like asking "What is the square root of a chicken cutlet?", "At what temperature does hatred become paper?", or "What is the meaning of cheese in relativity?" They're meaningless, useless questions that are an appeal to nonsense. All Langan is doing here is taking a powerset of reality and concluding that there is a paradox because you can't have a set bigger than the biggest set or a "largest set" that contains itself.

    Langan claims the powerset of the universe "exists in SCSPL syntax, which itself exists by logical necessity," but the problem is that this says nothing about how it applies to our actual universe. He doesn't ever really bother to give an easy explanation for what he means by SCSPL or why it exists by logical necessity -- I've never heard of SCSPL before. I Google it and find it's something I only see in relation to the CTMU, so it appears to be something Langan has made up. Just because something exists in "SCSPL syntax" doesn't mean SCSPL actually describes our universe effectively. I could make up a logic system that proves you can divide by 0 or that infinity is an actual number, but it doesn't make it true. I fail to see how SCSPL can exist by logical necessity and yet justify a physical existence of something that is nonsensical in the physical realm to begin with.

    That's why Mark is claiming that Langan is committing similar fallacies to naive set theory. Naive set theory is invalid because it results in nonsensical eventualities that are inconsistent. Same goes for the sort of logic Langan is invoking here to describe reality. It just doesn't make sense to say "the powerset of reality exists." Set theory is a modeling tool. But the model has to actually make sense. I'm sure Langan can defend that he's not talking about "naive set theory," but what he's talking about is most certainly nonsensical, invalid, and inconsistent.

    Yeah, the "reality as a set" thing is only a small, small part of the CTMU, but it's that kind of fallacious logic, abuse of modeling, and misunderstanding of theory (and science) that permeates the entire paper as well as Langan's argumentation. In those old threads, Langan always said "You have to start with the logic first," but this isn't exactly true. The logic still has to make sense. You can't create a logic system and then assume reality bends to its will. You create the logic around the nature of reality, not the other way around. Same goes for the uselessness of ID. You need to fit the theory to the evidence, not the other way around. Otherwise you risk invoking a lot of arbitrary nonexplanation that adds nothing to real understanding.

    • Tim says:

      Rubix,

      I’ll attack this post in reverse order.

      [Rubix]

      In those old threads, Langan always said "You have to start with the logic first," but this isn't exactly true. The logic still has to make sense. You can't create a logic system and then assume reality bends to its will. You create the logic around the nature of reality, not the other way around. Same goes for the uselessness of ID. You need to fit the theory to the evidence, not the other way around. Otherwise you risk invoking a lot of arbitrary nonexplanation that adds nothing to real understanding.

      [Tim]

      I am with Langan, here (though not (quite) with the CTM(U) as a whole). Hopefully I can show you why. You say “You create the logic around the nature of reality, not the other way around.”, but you rally do have it backwards! How do you know what the “nature of reality” is to start with? This isn’t some inane or trivial point, it is my whole bit thing about science having its pants on – rather – outside in! You are seeing the appearance and assuming that that is reality. Metaphysics (religion / reason) is about getting past the veil of appearance. Science should properly remain mute, but, in practice, most tend to advocate the outside-in metaphysics.

      Now, not every logic system will also be reasonable! But, if you start with reason, and if you should succeed, then logic / /physics / “reality” should fall out.

      [Rubix]

      It just doesn't make sense to say "the powerset of reality exists."

      [Tim]

      I haven’t gotten into the details of this because they never came up in my path to the peak. There may be some treasures in their for others, but…
      Rubix, the nature of reality, which reality is now more than the mere phenomenal you are used to, is a plural society of noumenally equivalent I’deas, “I am”. These “I am” are complex (noumenal/spiritual\phenomenal), but there is nothing more to reality than quanta of these. If I see this super-phenomenal society as the “set” of these N “I am”, then am I right to think of the powerset as the set of the relationships that MIGHT exist between these “I am”? But I’m not to sure what exactly that does for me at this point.

      [Rubix]

      Just because something exists in "SCSPL syntax" doesn't mean SCSPL actually describes our universe effectively.

      [Tim]

      “universe” is part of your faith (and Langan’s), but not mine! As I understand it I am the solitary inhabitant of my own “universe”. My universe is my phenomenal body.

      Now, since every “I am” is a quanta of the same type of I’dea, all noumenally equivalent, it is no wonder to me that our “universes” are quite similar, that they appear all to be right here, and that we can tell something about other “I am” by paying close attention to our own “universe”, etc. But, none-the-less, our own universe is proprietary to each us, and, thus, we are each kept real / distinct / inviolate. Reality is a N-harmonious pluralism of “I am”.

      And, to be sure, SCSPL seems to be quite close to the physics of the spirit that is needed to make each “I am” actually a real I’dea. Actually living. The big problem I see is with Chris’ unbound Telesis. This manifests with his preference for universe v. pluralism. If he accounts for the fact that THE I’dea must be pluralizable / quantizable, then we might be “cooking with gas”.

      [Rubix]

      I could make a set that includes {my chair, my desk} but the powerset {{}, {my desk}, {my chair}, {my desk, my chair}} doesn't really tell us anything other than the number of ways I can categorize my items (or what I can choose to bring with me when I move from one house to another).

      [Tim]

      you presume that the likes of chair and desk are real and meaningful ideas. I am convinced that they – by themselves – are not! More complexity is needed. The real idea (internal to I’dea), or concept, is: I sit on a chair, or I see my chair, or I have a chair in my house, etc. It is not for naught that you are THE observer! “I am” is an infinitely potent I’dea (though, as you point out, not all concepts are real concepts). The chair and desk are just information about the I’dea that is you.

      [Rubix]

      since numbers by themselves "don't exist."

      [Tim]

      bravo!

      [Rubix]

      Numbers are used to describe things.

      [Tim]

      and “things” are used to (begin to) describe “I am”!
      Interestingly, with the mere phenomenal we are led to doubt the logic behind the “=” symbol. Noumenally, however, we see the justification behind the usefulness of raw numbers in explaining the relationships of phenomena!

      In Closing,

      About your assessment of Langan, and your thoughts on powerset, thanks for sharing. I’m not sure that I have anything (more) to offer directly on that (now). For my part, again, I have said that I think Langan still has his socks on inside out / outside in. That he recognized not only that science has its pants on outside in, but that he recognized also the NEED to have them outside out. But I think, suspect (?), that he still hasn’t quite succeeded. Wonderfully close though. Anyway, to the point, I think he lets materialism (v. a proper I’dealism) back in the back door (UBT). I think this manifests in his hope to describe a THE universe. I think this leads him to a pantheism where all potentials must be real. But with me, and a personal I’dealism, the real is specifically a self-limiting of potential! Not only can there be N “I am” (a seemingly arbitrary number), but each “I am” actualizes his potency by self-limitation from his own potential. One’s “no” is one’s real power. Anyway, I think this metaphysics would help constrain Chris’ theory, and a CTM (no “U”) would – then – prove very valuable, and probably generate a good deal of interest rather than the title of “Crank”.

      Tim

      • Rubix says:

        This will be the last time I reply to you. You need to stop responding with huge walls of one-liners and needless spacings. It makes this comment board twice as hard to read and maneuver through. Paragraph responses are fine but there's no reason to outline everything like we're reading a play transcript, here.

        You say "You are seeing the appearance and assuming that that is reality. Metaphysics (religion / reason) is about getting past the veil of appearance." The problem is we don't claim to know "what reality really is," nor is that the goal of science. Science can't make that kind of unfalsifiable claim. Metaphysics can't claim to get past the veil either because we gather data through our perceptions, no matter how you slice it.

        So when we talk about things past the veil, it's anyone's best guess. There are infinitely many possibly true metaphysical explanations. We build our logic systems and theories around what we can observe and perceive. Otherwise one arbitrary metaphysical logic system is just as valid as the next, all equally without proof, and all without good reason to believe in them. Contrived compatibility alone is insufficient. It needs to be able to make predictions in order for us to gauge its strength. If it adds no new information or insight, we cut it away with Occam's Razor. Otherwise, again, it's like saying fairies are essential to explain why water boils.

        • Tim says:

          Rubix,.

          you say, "Metaphysics can't claim to get past the veil either because we gather data through our perceptions, no matter how you slice it.", but this is a terrible under-estimate. (noumenal) MIND is a priori. If you deny this you implicitly must put something else in its place. You are probably not willing to look at this directly... But one cannot avoid metaphysics. You just end up taking a really novice position because you refuse to give it the consideration it deserves.

          you say, "The problem is we don't claim to know "what reality really is," nor is that the goal of science. Science can't make that kind of unfalsifiable claim." Regarding the latter, this is where we agree. However, regarding the former, you delude yourself every moment: with every decision you make. A better metaphysics not only matters, but it is actually testable, and objective. You deny this by faith. But that doesn't make your assertion real. To be sure, you do believe in a "reality", so this will come out in time. And your belief in "reality" contradicts this statement of yours, "There are infinitely many possibly true metaphysical explanations."

          Lastly, you say, "It needs to be able to make predictions in order for us to gauge its strength." If you saw the i'dea you would see that physics falls out. If all of physics isn't a good enough prediction... hehe.

          Tim

          • Rubix says:

            What do you think science is measuring, here? Unreal consequences? What you're saying here is inconsistent. If you think science can't assure you of the consequence, how can you then say you wouldn't jump?

          • Tim says:

            Rubix,

            Science is the intellectual "system" of relating phenomenal observations to each other.

            Where you get "Unreal consequences?" is beyond me. I started to go into all sorts of analysis, but I have cut it. If it is important to you, please show me how you got it from anything I said.

            I'm not saying anything inconsistent. Or, why do you think that I am? I refuse to jump due to the KNOWLEDGE I have thanks to metaphysics. I have a great faith that my decision to jump would be fairly represented derivatively. I have a great faith that my decision to jump would be made real, and that you would be able to observe the reality of my so causing it in your universe, too. But if you were there to witness it, until the moment I splattered on the ground I would maintain that your science was impotent to predict that I would.

            This difference may seem trivial to you?

            Tim

          • Tim says:

            Rubix,

            when I had said, "But if you were there to witness it, until the moment I splattered on the ground I would maintain that your science was impotent to predict that I would.", do you remember when you had suggested that I might rather appear on the moon?

            Tim

          • Rubix says:

            Yes, that seems trivial to me. I think it's pretty absurd to claim that science can't predict if you'd die by jumping off a building. Obviously the chances of dying are practically 100%. The moon example was to show something that, according to quantum theory, would happen at a near-0 probability. The amount of time you'd have to wait for such an event to occur is too large to even bother worrying about it.

            You can call it "faith" all you want, but the facts are pretty clear. You jump, you die. Or, if you prefer, you have a very, very, very high chance of death that you can "have faith" in.

          • Tim says:

            Rubix,

            you can wear you pants outside in and call that trivial, but thinking that all there is to reality is phenomenon is not trivial.

            I'll try to give you a stronger suggestion why that is momentarily, but we see it when you say, "I think it's pretty absurd to claim that science can't predict if you'd die by jumping off a building." The point is that "science" is no live "I am" to predict. The prediction is always something that comes from a person. A person can use science to make predictions. But that person can only do so by faithe! If you don't recognize this, then you can't develop your capacity to faithe.

            Now, this example of jumping off a building is also making the picture look particularly trivial. But start to take a good look at around. It's not for naught that science is incapable of forecast! There must be a place for the free decisions of "I am". You see, Rubix, the system of science relates observations of a derivative representation, which representation is itself a representation of the super-phenomenal reality! "I am" are free to make super-phenomenal decisions; and those decisions are to be real. Thus, the derivative representation must reveal "deterministic" enough order, showing that real decisions result in real effects, but there must also be room for free will and individuality. A proper reading of the system of science shows this.

            With this in mind, ones faith in dealing with other "I am" takes on its proper dimension! In dealing with other "I am" you benefit a great deal from a developed capacity to faithe well. When individuals and society at large don't value the tool that is most necessary to make decisions about how to interact with other "I am" before the always murky future...

            Anyway, I don't know how much thought you have put into JUSTICE, it doesn't come up much in science, but it an objectively real metaphysical quality. It is a big deal! It is a big part of reality. And ignoring the evidence of metaphysics because you don't think science needs it is - like I said - choosing a really immature metaphysics. You can't escape religion. You need reason to make decisions. ... Remember that dude from the hitchhikers guide to the galaxy who put a towel over his head because he thought that if he couldn't see you you couldn't see him?

            Tim

          • Tim says:

            Rubix,

            correction on that hitchhiker's character:

            people brought a towel with them to put over their heads because the monster thought that if you couldn't see him, he couldn't see you.

            but I like my mistake!
            Tim

          • Rubix says:

            Twist it however you want -- it's crank logic, pure and simple. It's not faith. It's evidence.

          • Tim says:

            Rubix,

            you ended (?): "Twist it however you want -- it's crank logic, pure and simple. It's not faith. It's evidence."

            I have done no such twisting. It is not crank logic - by your own standards. It is faith/faithe, whether you like it or not. And evidence is only evidence.

            Now, real quick here, I can offer you one more huge benefit to Metaphsics. Jesus' admonition to love your neighbor is no spacy, feel-good, wishy-washy evidence based ethic. It is rock solid REAL! It is THE tried and true beating heart of communication! When reality is a plural society of ultimately super-phenomenal "I am", loving your neighbor not only counts, but is "the way" of faithe. It is so easy that anyone can do "it" (didn't you loose an "it" somewhere back there? ;-) ). And that everyone should know to do it. And you can get a hint (only a hint in this effed up world - it seems) of its power by looking to some of the great things that people who are probably neither successful metaphysicians nor accomplished physicists have done for them selves, by faithe. (Do you ask for a demonstration?)

            Let me try to drive home my point in a way that I don't like to do - though I do think about changing my mind and pursuing it earnestly every so often (it seems better just to let it fall out rather than forcing the issue - some thermodynamic law might even be lurking in this...). I am not bullshitting when I say see the form of physics pregnant within my metaphysics. Since I have not (yet) set out to crystallize the actual physics (and would be happy if anyone listening should preempt me ;-) ), I should urge caution about these. But let me give you a few pieces that I think will end up being born out by THE T.o.E.

            Physics' ability to say HOW on the question of DYNAMICS will never be a closed determinism. never! (there might even be a proof of the futility of that hope - before long). That gap is there because, metaphysically, WILL needs a "home". It really is a super-phenomenal WILL that is the efficient cause of the phenomenal! Got it? Phenomena do not cause phenomena! There is another dimension to this dynamic!

            Next, this whole microscopic QM "probability" business viz-a-viz macroscopic "solidity" is ... as close as you'll come to seeing me "twist" the matter, he he he. In order that each i'dea, each "I am", should be made real it must, by the same means, be kept truly independent --- that is, inviolate. This means that the derivative representation (phenomena), which - as as I have already pointed out - is a vital part of the mechanism for making the i'dea real, ... it means that this mechanism must "distort" each i'dea before the other i'deas just so much that no i'dea can ever be located precisely. One can hold himself together. Untouchable. Thus the proprietary observer-measurement entanglement. (Real information qua information is quantum mechanical while high brow conceptions of phenomena are, technically, pure maya, pure illusion. Though they "work" great.)

            Now, you might be able to see TIME in this. It really is a one way street. However, the derivative representation, since it is a "fair" (the dice aren't loaded) representation of the real, should - at least in great part - appear to be unconcerned for that arrow of time. That is, both the arrow of time and the eternal nature of real i'deas should be derivatively represented in the order of the phenomenal, the system of science. Can you find them?

            Now that I might have peaked your logical minded interest, let me try to offer something to show you that faithe really is more precious. A little while back I had offered a little "concert" in celebration of freedom (at least the hope for freedom). Let me reproduce it for ya'lls enjoyment (from my thread to my squad entitled "Happy 4th everyone!"):

            A little celebration. In concert?

            Asher Roth - G.R.I.N.D. (Get Ready It's a New Day)

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zdlkJUU4HtU

            Linkin Park - Faint

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LYU-8IFcDPw&feature=relmfu

            Ke$ha - We R Who We R

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mXvmSaE0JXA&feature=channel

            Ben Folds, ft. Regina Spektor - You Don't Know Me

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UskSU5BoyZs

            Jessie J, ft. B.o.B. - Pricetag

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMxX-QOV9tI&feature=grec_index

            $$$

            Tim

  • Rubix says:

    Oh, I also found more link soup to add to my post here: http://scientopia.org/blogs/goodmath/2011/02/11/another-crank-comes-to-visit-the-cognitive-theoretic-model-of-the-universe/#comment-28852

    ISCID Forums: Cosmogony, Holography and Causality: http://www.iscid.org/ubbcgi/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=recent_user_posts;u=00000264

    Pick a post at random and you'll see more evidence of browbeating and lack of actual CTMU explanation with any real rigor.

    Like Mark said, the worst math is no math at all.

  • CausticDuality says:

    Also addressing the nonsense of "The Resolution of Newcomb's Paradox" at http://www.megasociety.org/noesis/44/newcomb.html more intimately:

    Using a really, really basic example before applying it to Newcomb's Paradox:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Checking_whether_a_coin_is_fair#Posterior_probability_density_function

    Ultimately we can show that based on the number of heads we get from flipping a coin, we can determine the underlying probability density for the probability of getting heads (r): f(r|H=h, T=t) = (N+1)!/(h!t!) * r^h * (1-r)^t where N is the number of flips and h and t represent the number of heads and tails observed.

    So let's say we want to look at the distribution for flipping 7 heads out of 10 total flips:

    Mean of distribution: (h+1)/(h+t+2) = (7+1)/(7+3+2) = ~67%
    Distribution graph: http://i.imgur.com/hhfKo.png

    This is the sort of logic we'd want to apply to Newcomb's Paradox. Instead of falling victim to the Gambler's Fallacy, we'd basically look at how many times the Demon was correct in his predictions and from there devise a probability that he's the real deal or not.

    So say you and the Demon go through 10 trials and he's right every single time as to which box/boxes you will take. Now we're looking at:

    Mean of distribution: (h+1)/(h+t+2) = (10+1)/(10+0+2) = ~92%
    Distribution graph: http://i.imgur.com/7sNhm.png

    And if he's right 19 times and wrong once?

    Mean of distribution: (h+1)/(h+t+2) = (19+1)/(19+1+2) = ~91%
    Distribution graph: http://i.imgur.com/HdCFU.png

    So based on what probability we assign to the Demon being the real deal (say 90% given the nature of the trials):

    Choosing both boxes = .9*1000 + (1-.9)*501,000 = $51,000
    Choosing clear box = .9*1000 + (1-.9)*1000 = $1000
    Choosing black box = .9*1,000,000 + (1-.9)*500,000 = $950,000

    So basically if we're 90% sure that the Demon's prediction ability is real, we stand a pretty good shot at the maximum amount of money if we go for the black box. There's no "paradox" here. It's like if I flipped a coin 1000 times and it came up heads each time. I wouldn't try to rationalize Gambler's Fallacy by saying "Wow, this is super unlucky, but theoretically I should be able to hit tails next throw with 50%." The point here is that the coin is very likely to be weighted at that level of confidence, since it's not as likely that such a coin is spitting out values consistent with what we'd expect from a distribution where r=.5 and such.

    Gambler's Fallacy only applies if we're sure that something is fair. If I know that a coin is fair but I get heads 5 times in a row, it WOULD be Gambler's Fallacy to assume that the next flip would be a head, too. But when I know nothing about the nature of the system, we can't make assumptions, and must rationally derive thresholds for which we can say with a degree of certainty what the distribution looks like.

    But ultimately it comes down to our utility profile and how much we're willing to risk. There's no one right answer to it.

    • Rubix says:

      I mean, let's look at Langan's conclusion to his Paradox solution:

      "You can be modeled [...] you take the black box only." (you can see the full paragraph in the above link)

      Attempting to decipher his neologisms and summarize his points: In other words, you either have free will or you're deterministically-bound. Newcomb's Demon is something that transcends yet interacts with physical reality and isn't bound by the same rules you are necessarily. You can't prove that this transcendental framework doesn't exist because you can't observe it by definition. Also, because (1/2)^3 = 1/8, it sure looks improbable that the Demon would be right three times in a row. He must be the real deal! All of this, together, implies that you should choose the black box.

      In yet other words: Simply because Newcomb's Demon is a possible entity, and he was right 3 times in a row, we should choose the black box.

      But hey, at least we get some of Langan's mathematical prowess in this piece with his 1/8 probability mention.

  • Jeremy Jae says:

    Caustic: "What *would* a universe look like that did not need a creator?"

    Interesting ideas Caustic, I'm not sure such an enigmatic problem is likely to make sense but i'll try

    If what we understand by sentience to be human intelligence then there are some modal solutions that can give the question more sensibility. Sentience is not limited to having the requirement to evolve systematically from atoms upward to molecules, proteins and cells. Downward causation for instance would permit the opposite or mutual process of systematic evolving. It allows for a higher level property (say a set of molecules) to be be effected by a lower-level property (such as dual waves and particles.) Waves and particles with boundary conditions (i.e. energies and wavefunctions) are candidates for morphic fields with cause-effect boundaries.
    The CTMU says; the mutual “grip” of matter on space and space on matter, translates to the field structure of waves or what we call morphic fields according to Sheldrake. The literal grip or embeddation of space into matter and matter into space is the grip of particles to their wavefunctions. Atomic energy levels are known for their combined properties so if everything material is energy then a field like the kind Sheldrake proposes could be responsible for it's organizing principles for nonsystematic design.

    The Ritz combination principle states that the energy level measurements of wavefunctions are the combined form of wavefunctions and energy. The harmonic frequencies from emitted particles and or the absorption rate of particles to their waves can be calculated as uniqueness properties represented as Hamiltonian energy-spectra. Downward causation preserves the transform of energy into matter through different levels of measurement (waves organizing molecules out of quantum chaos near the semi-classical region). For instance, suppose a property (molecule or atom) M has a particular level L of energy and this causes another property Mx at level L +1 then Mx emerges, or results, from a property M* at an energy level L(M*) therefore reaches the same energy level as M(a). Of course these are hypothetic objects M standing for morphic fields with up-down down-up causal duality. In otherwords energy levels are common to the measures of different properties like how molecules with different combined energy levels organizes into proteins.

    The properties of the universe such as the ones you are talking about (atoms, waves and spatial field manifolds) have dual causal structure. Other universes like the ones David Lewis always talked about when he was proving Genuine Realism give us access to understanding the particle-wave duality in terms of dual causation i.e. telesis. Physically nonexistent objects exhibit no wave-particle duality when observed or measured so these universes physicists would be basically unable to measure or prove directly. However they are able to manifest to us in the form of emergent properties, that are invisible to us, and this is what we see happening as a responsive mechanism of dual causation in it's downward-causal direction.........

  • Jeremy Jae says:

    ….cont

    The Drake's equation is limited to the number of approximated stars within the Milky Way galaxy so the sample size is limited. Based on my own previous analysis and criticism of the Drake's equation I came to the conclusion that if intelligent life exists then it is less common than what the Drake's equation usually proposes. We assume that the evolution of life from small molecules to single cells to multicelled organisms began with the appearance of proper conditions such as the ones I discussed before (atomospheric-temperate-solar equilibria.) However it's an anthropic bias to assume these conditions are intrinsic or universal to all planets. Only some planets, maybe 50-million per galaxy, allow for the sustainability for DNA to enter into single cell phases. Technological civilizations would be limited to perhaps a handful at most of intelligent civilizations for each galaxy rather than the many millions that we think could exist under the Drake formulation. The reasons being limited contact of lifeforms, that is, fewer sightings of intelligent life of more than a single variety by humans on Earth. If there is a single variety at all visiting Earth than the human contact average should be much higher than a single variety. If Drake's equation were true then there would be far more technological resemblances to ourself that we would know about from SETI deep space surveys. This much assuming that technological civilizations evolve through the same systematic procedure as our own and having invented radio-frequency technology. If not than other forms of nonphysical or quantum communication exist that might suggest also that they are part of the generality of modal possible worlds that don't have physically measurable properties.

    Planets and stars have their own morphic fields and these fields are different for every planet with or without having manifested life. Planets without manifested life exhibit hyperdimensional effects such as Jupiter's anticyclic storm. Hyperdimensional physics requires an understanding of hypergeometric functions up to dimension 5 with some Gaussian surface effect over Maxwell's equations. For an electromagnetic plasma or gas there correspond gravitational waves that shape phenomena such as Jupiter's gas formations or stormy planets like Mercury. By morphic fields we mean that these phenomena pattern themselves out of the downward causal drip from fields down to waves and physical properties. As an indirect clue the presence of gravitational anomalies and waves indicate higher-dimensional localization of fields to large gravitational objects. Keep in mind that the strange worlds hypothesis permits the existence of quantum realms as a possible side-effect of quantum entanglement. (Everything has a field though at various scales their fields become entangled: planets, stars, galaxies, groups, clusters, superclusters, walls, filaments and dark matter voids.) Technological beings would aggregate towards the use of some planets fitting several necessary physical conditions. Planets are 3-dimensional global references for higher-dimensional fields. Other intelligences would occupy planets circumscribed by N-dimensional Gaussian spheres with hyperdimensional effects. They use planets instead of stars because planetary distances to stars produce N-body dynamics which are not effected by the large gravitational wave emissions and nuclear-hadron properties in the cores of stars (i.e. higher-dimensional life cannot live on stars.)

    (P.S. ignore the lateness of this response, it was buried under a pile on junk from debates that had ensued following Mr. Langan's last post. I hope this post doesn't end up in the grinder as Rubix appears to be hemorrhaging Spam again)

  • Vicki says:

    The problem with the Drake equation is that it's one equation in five unknowns.

    OK, that's progress: when Drake published it, it was one equation in seven unknowns.

    Nonetheless, any answer is going to depend on your assumptions about the values of four of those unknowns: you can say things like "the likelihood of technological life within 1000 light-years depends on the average lifespan of a technological civilization," but you can't get a handle on what either of those numbers is.

    Trying to reach conclusions about the likelihood of intelligent life based on SETI is worse: at that point it's not just the lifespan of a technological civilization, it's the average length of time during which they are broadcasting signals out to the universe at large. A lot of our broadcasts are already going by various forms of cable, not broadcast. SETI is an appealing project, but we have to recognize that the only answers it can provide are "Yes" (unambiguous intelligent signal), various forms of "maybe" (ambiguous signals), and "don't know." Aliens listening 100 light-years from Earth for the ten-thousand-year period ending in 1900 could have concluded "there's nobody out there" and certainly wouldn't have concluded that there was intelligent life on Earth.

    • CausticDuality says:

      The Drake Equation is like taking a cupful of water and concluding that there are no whales in the ocean. We simply haven't penetrated the universe deeply enough at a sufficient level of detail to more accurately tune the variables of the Drake Equation. I suspect life is quite common in the universe, but the distances are just so great that one civilization likely never meets another, let alone exist at the same time in the cosmological timeline.