Objective Truth

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Mind Over Matter, Feb 25, 2012.

  1. BeHereNow Registered Senior Member

    SCUTTLEBUTT 1631 - July 23, 2004

    Paris - European satellites have given confirmation to terrified mariners
    who describe seeing freak waves as tall as 10-storey buildings, the
    European Space Agency (ESA) said. "Rogue waves" have been the anecdotal
    cause behind scores of sinkings of vessels as large as container ships and
    supertankers over the past two decades. But evidence to support this has
    been sketchy, and many marine scientists have clung to statistical models
    that say monstrous deviations from the normal sea state only occur once
    every thousand years.
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  3. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member


    There are some fundamentally strange things about this conversation. First, it has taken on a life of its own, suggesting a straw man.

    Second, you are insisting that "science" or the "scientific method" is different than human experience. This is false. Science begins with observation. For a few milliseconds, the guy getting slammed by a rogue wave is having a scientific experience (albeit perhaps akin to a religious experience).

    Third, you are dithering between a claim that certain (unnamed) scientists denied the existence of rogue waves; vs the claim that they gave them too low a probability. This is faulty. Any non-zero probability means any rogue wave can occur at any time anywhere. (Assuming statistical independence).

    Fourth, I gave you several examples of scientific work invested in understanding rogue waves, and reports from the navy and from the lighthouse incident, in which it was evident that scientists were not at all denying their existence as you seem to think. Perhaps you mean some scientists, but who? Not the navy, not other oceanographers I mentioned.

    Fifth, your central thesis (refuting Arioch's point that the SM is the best method to acquire knowledge) is that personal knowledge can be better than scientifically acquired knowledge, because: the man hit by a rogue wave was not believed by somebody? I asked you if they were disputing that he was hit at all, or whether they disputed the cause (as a tsunami) and you said I was being obtuse. Here you are completely missing the point. The statistical analysis you are griping about, strictly a rough model of what might cause a rogue wave, based on some modeler's best guess about how to model the probability density function for random ocean waves colliding, in such a manner that they would add up to a huge summation of amplitudes, is only pointed at estimating the probability, nothing more. It says nothing about denial, in fact it proves the modeler is earnest in his belief that they can occur, and the non-zero result strongly supports that they do in fact occur. You are having some kind of problem with scale, or else you are just clinging to this bizarre notion that the "scientists" (whoever they are/were) were just giving sailors hell.

    Sixth, your entire thesis can be easily disproved by simple syllogism. Let's examine the two scenarios:

    Scenario I
    (1) a boat can be capsized by a monster wave
    (2) two and only two causes for a monster wave exist (a) tsunami and (b) a rogue wave
    (3) a man's boat was capsized by a monster wave
    (4) the man in the boat determined it was not a tsunami (?)
    (5) therefore, the man in the boat knows that rogue waves exist

    Scenario II
    (1) scientists know that, theoretically, the summation of random waves can produce a huge wave
    (2) scientists know that the ocean contains countless random waves
    (3) scientists deduce that, therefore, the probability of a rogue wave occurring is nonzero
    (4) therefore, scientists know rogue waves exist

    The question is: which is the superior method for gaining knowledge? Clearly Scenario II, for the following reasons:

    (1) the results are repeatable
    (2) no people or boats are harmed in the process

    I really don't get your thrust at all.

    Finally, you have some general criticism of computer modeling that make no sense. If I wrote my own simulation, and you wrote your own simulation, and mine said the odds are once in a million years, and yours said 10 times per day, what in the world does either simulation have to do with the fact that on a particular day a particular sailor in a particular boat got capsized by a particular rogue wave? And which wave struck him - the once in million year one, or the ten per day one? Your gripe against computer modeling seems to be a gripe against the definition of stochastic processes, or expected value or some other statistic, which makes no sense. None of this has anything to do with the original claim, that the scientific method is the best way to acquire knowledge. Computer simulations are generally not connected with the idea of acquiring knowledge, but, more often they may test for the possibility of an event occurring, and then try (according to the skill of the modeler) to assign a probability to the event and/or its distribution function. All of this has little or no bearing on the question of how best to acquire knowledge. Note, if Shackleton had either my simulation or yours, he would have known before going out into that good night that he might get slammed by a rogue wave. Again, science prevails, because it offers Shackleton (and everyone else) a glimpse into objective reality before they meet it head to head, up close and personal. Thus Shackleton (and everyone else) has access to superior methods to help them acquire knowledge.


    Also, your whole thesis seems to be rendered moot in light of the fact that scientists are currently tracking rogue waves by satellite. What more do you want? A tweet from them? That's probably coming in the next upgrade.

    Thanks to science.
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  5. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member

    The earlier models showed a non zero probability. The satellites show a non zero probability (plus actual confirmation). Shackleton experienced a non zero probability. So far so good.

    Now: did Shackleton demonstrate an expected value not equal to 10,000 years? No. Shackleton has no insight whatsoever into expected value. You see the problem in your logic?

    All that changed was: the value calculated for expected value (presumably) might (or will) change. This will give the scientific method a way to discover a better estimate of the expected value. Shackleton never gains any insight into expected value whatsoever.

    Therefore science is superior to personal experience in that it provides access to the objective truth about statistical phenomena, which are generally unavailable to the "personal experience".
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  7. ughaibu Registered Senior Member

    Science requires observation because it requires data, but that doesn't imply that observation is science. Science is the construction of theories that include models which predict the probabilities of making specified observations, given other specified observations. Clearly one can observe without doing science.
  8. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member

    In this case, if the only question is whether something exists, and the man clearly sees it, there isn't much science needed after that. He might need to get his eyes checked, but then he's thrown from the boat, so there's all kinds convincing corroboration that rapidly confirms his visual acuity.

    The second question, which BeHereNow is mixed up about, is what causes rogue waves (or how often do they occur), where scientists are supposedly studying this issue for decades using bad models. This has nothing to do with the victim, who's half dead at best when it's over. He doesn't care anything about where it came from or its odds of happening, he's just gagging and trying to stay afloat. It's why the scenario presented makes no sense. There's no connection between his observation and the thing a scientist would want to know about it. He knows it exists. Period. They already know it can exist. Period. Any other connection, trying to associate its mere existence with models of the ocean, statistics, etc., is not only moot, it's incongruous.

    There seems to be a fundamental misconception about random processes leading to the conclusion that there is some kind of connection. But it's wrong. The witnessing of an event and the prediction of it as a random process are equally valid means of acquiring knowledge of it. The waterlogged sailor can tell you no more than it was hell and then it was over in a flash. The scientist modeling it can give his odds that it happens at all, possibly a distribution function, maybe some other statistics, and maybe some expected height of the wave, etc. It's an apples and oranges comparison. But the scientific method for explaining these rogue waves is light years ahead of the sailor, who doesn't even have a clue about its statistics.

    And that's why the scientific method is the best way to acquire knowledge. Because it gives us glimpses of reality not otherwise available to us. And that's about as close to objective truth as anyone could ever hope to achieve.
  9. ughaibu Registered Senior Member

    As science is metaphysically neutral, it's difficult to see how it could be epistemically functional. So you'll need to make your argument, for the above assertion, more explicit.
    Other than observations, the only objects that science deals with are abstract, and I dont think there are any good reasons to adopt realism about abstract objects. So, initially, I reject the above claim.
    It sounds as if you're espousing a form of idealism. Is that so?
  10. ughaibu Registered Senior Member

    This claim seems to be false. Please specify the "law-like regularities" that you have in mind.
  11. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member

    Tell that to the guy in the boat who has 50 milliseconds to do or die. Epistemology is like the wave function (no pun intended). It will assume form in a pinch; reality does come up and bite you no matter how many ways you may imagine it fits some model. And my argument is that force equals mass times acceleration. A huge ship will split like a twig in a second. See photo below. BeHereNow is claiming that science denies the reality of this photo. Now analyze that issue epistemically.

    You are speaking from a theoretical position about the theory of knowing the principles abstracted in the theoretical sciences. I can appreciate the purity of that, but it invests too many levels of insulation between the wall of water and the hapless sailor. The wave function collapses, so to speak (and again no pun intended), and as it collapses, so collapse the layers that distance him from reality. All models of virtual states are selected out, and the particular one pops into existence, a fact confirmable if we only had him on an auscultation monitor, and possibly watching the output from his adrenal glands.

    Another relevant abstraction that is "born" in observation is the oft slighted principle that force equals the time rate of change of momentum (mass times velocity). If you have any doubt that this abstraction is divorced from realism, you need only slam a 28 ounce framing hammer onto your thumb to quickly become convinced. Or, alternatively, stand in front a oncoming Mack truck, or better yet, a train. Observation has consequences. The wave function collapses, and there you are, looking Medusa straight in the eye.

    You may indeed reject every idea I put forward. But even in deciding to reject, billions of synapses are firing in your brain, each the result of unfathomably concentrated collapses of local wave functions. Your decision to reject is born out of the thing you disavow. Ironic, perhaps, but nature gives us this gift of perception to choose what's best for survival.
    I'd hardly call close encounters with nature as idealizations. If anything, the theories that retrench and withdraw from the harsh light of observation seem emblematic of a tendency towards idealism. You may not like the wave function (or maybe don't care) but it likes you, and marries your neurons with or without your permission.

    When we get past the concept of observation, there's a warehouse full of real and practical matters we can contend with, having succumbed to the indignity of managing ourselves, our decisions, and our actions around core principles that are as solid as 28 ounces of steel at high velocity being persuaded to change momentum by the nerve and bone of your left thumb.

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    Last edited: Mar 16, 2012
  12. ughaibu Registered Senior Member

    You appear to be talking about observation, not about science.
  13. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member

    In that sentence I was expressing the sailor's observation as the collapse of uncertainty. Whatever happens to him during the rogue wave attack will force him through an application of the scientific method. For example, if he's on deck and he hears a crewman shout "Starboard wave!" and turns to see the upwelling, he will rapidly form a hypothesis: if this wave strikes us, the ship will capsize. He will immediately be forced by nature to advance to the hypothesis testing phase. Later, when the choppers pull him out of the water, just before he collapses from hypothermia, he will reach the conclusion that rogue waves can capsize large ships.

    One thing that distinguishes his observation from some other one ("I see a mermaid") is that the collapse of the wave function is our opportunity to take a glimpse at objective reality. The urgency with which he dismisses the mermaid hypothesis, when confronted by the capsizing hypothesis, demonstrates that he is on the scientific track.
  14. ughaibu Registered Senior Member

    This is a misrepresentation and trivialisation of science.
    1) you're talking about observations, not about science.
    2) you're importing your metaphysical stance, it is not implied by observation.
    3) science is metaphysically neutral, you need to impose your metaphysical views, not just about observations, but about models.
    Frankly, this is nonsense.
  15. BeHereNow Registered Senior Member

    I see your concern.

    Because so little is known about them, the exact conditions needed to predict them are, lacking.

    "Rogue waves" have been the anecdotal cause behind scores of sinkings of vessels as large as container ships and supertankers over the past two decades.
    But evidence to support this has been sketchy, and many marine scientists have clung to statistical models that say monstrous deviations from the normal sea state only occur once every thousand years.
    Testing this promise, ESA tasked two of its Earth-scanning satellites, ERS-1 and ERS-2, to monitor the oceans with their radar.
    The radars send back "imagettes" -- a picture of the sea surface in a rectangle measuring 10 by five kilometers (six by 2.5 miles) that is taken every 200 kms (120 miles).
    Around 30,000 separate "imagettes" were taken by the two satellites in a three-week project, MaxWave, that was carried out in 2001.
    Even though the research period was brief, the satellites identified more than 10 individual giant waves around the globe that measured more than 25 metres (81.25 feet) in height, ESA said in a press release.
    The waves exist "in higher numbers than anyone expected," said Wolfgang Rosenthal, senior scientist with the GKSS Research Centre in Geesthacht, Germany, who pored over the data.

    My position is that many natural laws are not understood, not fully described, but exist regardless.
    Having been studied in recent years, we see that they are much more regular that supposed when they were considered simply ‘tall tales’.

    From my prospective, regularity indicates laws exist, even if unknown.
    Some individuals might say if man can not state it, then no law exists.
    From this view 'laws' are a function of man, no statement from man, no law.
    I am one who says natural laws exist, even if unknown by man.

    I have seen lists of conditions that seem to be present for many verified occurences, further suggesting a casual connection.
    If this is critical, I can get back to you.
  16. ughaibu Registered Senior Member

    This is a statement of personal belief, it is not public "display [of] law-like regularities".
  17. BeHereNow Registered Senior Member

    I have no idea what that straw man might be, and do not how my replying to responses suggests that.

    Application of the SM is a human experience.
    Not all human experiences are applications of the SM.

    If you need further explanation, I will try to explain the obvious.

    All event have a nonzero probability.
    This is at the very heart of modern science.
    Invisible pink unicorns have a nonzero probability.
    This does not mean that the scientific community denies the reasonable existence of IPUs.

    I tried to make it clear, not that scientists flatly denied the existence of rogue waves, only that their existence was so unreasonable, that such accounts were ‘not true’.

    What ‘scientific work’ occurred at this light house, or the Naval vessel?
    What are the names of the scientists who did this work?
    What scientific tools or techniques were used for this ‘scientific work’?

    From your examples (I may have missed something), I see only anecdotal accounts, similar to accounts I referred to.
    From your reference, I see modern day (after the admission of rogue waves) explanations of events previous considered anecdotal, unreliable, and not any scientific evidence of rogue waves.

    The nonzero probability you refer to, was once in 10,000 years (or, by some accounts, once in 1000 years).

    The anecdotal accounts claimed multiple occurrences in one year.
    Clearly, scientists who support once in 1000 year probability deny the occurrence in frequencies approaching several in one year.
    Again I say, you are being obtuse.

    If a group of people say asteroids the size of a small state are hitting earth several times a year, scientists will deny this, based on ‘known’ frequency. They will agree such things are possible, but at a much rarer frequency.
    It was this way with rogue waves. Saying something has a nonzero probability is not the same as saying it happens many times a year.

    You have made the same error.
    Mariners and others claimed rogue waves with a frequency (not a single event as in your scenario) that scientists denied. They did not deny they could exist, they did deny they existed with the frequency of the anecdotal evidence reported.

    ~ ~ ~ ~

    You assume, against reason and logic, that Shackleton never discussed his experience with other mariners.

    You assume, for some unexplained reason, that mariners aboard his ship had not told him such things occurred on other ships they had been on.

    Shackelton had an expected value far beyond the once every 10,000, or 1000 year frequency as described by scientists.
    It defies common sense and logic to think that Shackleton did not receive validation of his experience from other persons who had experienced similar events.

    Do you see the problem in your logic?
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2012
  18. BeHereNow Registered Senior Member

    And is your reply more than a statement of personal belief?

    I will readily agree that you have a valid concern. I stated that point exactly.
    It is a matter of beliefs and intrepretations.

    Would you care to make the argument that there is no evidence of law like regularity?
  19. ughaibu Registered Senior Member

    I dont need an argument, I have pointed out that no law-like regularities have been displayed, it is therefore false to claim that rogue waves display law-like regularities. This means that rogue waves do not meet the criteria for which you originally introduced them into the discussion. However, I'll wait for Yazata to comment on the suitability, or otherwise, of rogue waves, as a response to his post.
  20. BeHereNow Registered Senior Member

    You gave the opionon that no law like regularities exist.

    You can state that such laws may not exist.

    On this, I will agree.

    My defense it that it is reasonable, rational, to assume such laws exist.
    I conclude many things to be true, simply because they are reasonable, and rational.
    It goes without sayiong sometimes I am mistaken.
  21. Mind Over Matter Registered Senior Member

    Objective truth is the belief that truth is not subject to opinion or belief; it simply is truth

    Subjective truth is the belief that truth is subject to opinion or belief; it is true because someone beliefs or thinks it is

    Absolute truth is the belief that there are truthes which are universal

    Relative truth is the belief that there are no universal truthes

    Singular truth is the belief that there is one absolute truth, from which comes all truthes

    Plural truth is the belief that there are many truthes and no one truth is the source of them

    False truth is an umbrella term for different beliefs: truth dose not exist, truth is in the mind only, truth can only be discovered scientifically, truth can only be discovered religiously, and truth cannot be known.
  22. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member

    Only if you require science to fit within a particular construct that leads to that conclusion. Suppose the man in the boat was Jacques Cousteau, and had set in search of the truth about reported rogue waves, and finds one, is capsized and nearly killed. Suppose he is then celebrated for his heroic daring, and documentaries are made, and now the objective truth, that rogue waves exist, becomes widely known. Would I be misrepresenting or trivializing science by citing his observation as an application of the scientific method? If not, how does this differ from the actual example I gave?

    see my discussion above.

    I was hoping to import my scientific stance, which relies on observation. I'm not sure how to resolve my intent with your evaluation.

    Ironically, I described at least three ways to treat observation itself. First is at a purely sentient level, the man on a boat seeing his life pass before him. Second is the external viewer, the lens on the satellite capturing the event through an aperture, the storage media, and the personnel and machines that process the images and build models and write studies. Third is the phenomenon of observation, which has been discovered (in physics) to mean something about the way objective truth reveals itself (i.e., reality tends to remain in an ambiguous state until observation selects only one state). All three are explainable as manifestations of the scientific method. First, the individual lives science, second, the scientific community institutes science , and third, reality follows science.

    It was not I who introduced modeling, it was BeHereNow, and it attached to a claim against science which I was opposing. Some of the nonsense you refer to probably originates with the posts I was responding to, which are inherently nonsensical.

    I can see by your statement that a lot of ideas can be rendered into nonsense merely by erecting gates and opening and closing them according to a given set of rules. Some of the rules I am relying on are drawn from science so my gates may be configured differently than yours.

    As for imposing metaphysics: while it is true that much of science does not need to concern itself with metaphysics, especially in the applied fields, there are a body of works that are foundational which do address metaphysical ideas such as causality, reality, existence and absolutes. I wouldn't rely on the characterization that science is metaphysically neutral to the extent that it would preclude these foundations from their place in science. In other words, you would seem to need to adjust your own definition of the neutrality of science to suit yourself. By way of example, decide whether the discovery of wave function collapse, and the science surrounding it, fits your own definition of neutrality. I'm open, so you choose. I will go with your definition. Either I'm dragging in metaphysics in which science is not neutral, or I'm merely dragging in science, and all's well. In either case, there's no issue. Maybe then you can make some sense out of this nonsense.
  23. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member

    You gave Shackleton v. Science in response to religion v. science.

    All of science involves the application of all human experience to explain the particular experience.

    Except for all events which have a zero probability. For example, what is the probability that a hand will reach through this screen and hand each of us a pot of gold with a note attached that says: "Shut up and I'll double your money." Some things are just flat impossible.

    I would enjoy following up on IPUs with you, but first we need to decide what "probability" means. Under probability theory, we understand that it only applies to random events. I'm not sure how "invisible pink unicorn" categorizes as "random event".

    Now we're getting somewhere. You only need to cross one more barrier, but I'm not sure if you're willing or able. You now need to clearly distinguish the characterization "rogue". Scientists were looking for a specific phenomenon in which the sum of all amplitudes of randomly propagating surface waves could reach a particular value (say 30 m). Shackleton had no such categorization or characterization in mind, just the harrowing experience of it. Shackleton did not care if it was a random sum, or a wave whipped up by a hurricane, or a tsunami. He merely experienced it. You need a way to overcome the fact that if Shackleton had said "I was hit by a monster wave" (which is close to his actual reamarks) most scientists probably would have assumed he was talking about a storm wave or a tsunami. So information is missing here, information needed to complete your thesis.
    The light house is cited as early evidence that such waves were already documented in the literature.
    Above I posted the picture of a ship struck by a rogue wave. You appear to be saying that scientists deny the evidence presented in the picture. That makes no sense. As for scientists working on rogue wave analysis, I can refer you to the following sources.

    You can start with Shackleton's own book. I find no discussion of any scientists discrediting him. Since there were scientists on board, it's hard to understand which scientists are claiming the existence of rogue waves and which are not:


    Here is a reference to the lighthouse I mentioned


    For scientific work regarding rogue waves







    OK now you can put the above source material in your pipe and smoke it.
    I'm waiting for you to establish what probability means.
    You still are outside of the domain of probability theory.
    I doubt you have any evidence of this. Shackleton and his crew report a frequency of zero. I still can't find any evidence that any scientist denied anything. So far I have a dozen or so sources, referencing others, and going back to the 19th century, in which scientists appear to be taking notice that these "freak waves" do in fact occur. Shackleton's science officers probably are the only scientists who we are going to find who have anything to say about Shackleton's experience, which they shared with him, and would have no reason to deny.
    You assume he never wrote a book about it.
    I make no such assumption. I'm quite certain a lively discussion went on among the scientists in his party concerning the wave, and whether or not it was from a gale or a tsunami, since they had no reason to suspect that amplitudes might randomly add in constructive coherence. I doubt seriously that they concluded it was the thing which has come to be known as a rogue wave, which is why I do not connect their ideation with the ideation of scientists at large who you say disputed him.
    This is incorrect. The fact of an occurrence does not affect the expected value. For example, shuffle a deck of cards. The probability of drawing any particular card is 1 out of 52 (1/52, or 1.923%). Each time you draw a card you are experiencing an event that has only 1.923% chance of occurring. Note how easy it is to alter the expected value. Take a red deck and a blue deck (to differentiate them into 104 distinct species) and shuffle them and repeat the test. Your odds of drawing each particular card is reduced to 0.9165%. Now take 10,000 cards numbered 1 to 10,000. Shuffle them and draw. The odds of drawing that particular card is 0.01%. Draw another. Still 0.01%. The draw of a specific card has no bearing on the odds.
    I think there was enough validation from among his crew. Again, you have not explained if Shackleton was concerned with categorizing the wave as a rogue wave, or a soliton from another source, such as a storm or seaquake. Without that information, the question of how other scientists may have estimated the odds, based on the specific probabilistics of rogue wave formation, is moot.
    So far I only see the problems in yours as I have noted.

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