What is the Threshold of Intolerable Miraculousness?

Discussion in 'The Cesspool' started by Eugene Shubert, May 19, 2017.

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  1. Ted Grant II Registered Senior Member

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    All terms were invented by somebody, so that in itself is not a problem.
    I was once criticized (on another forum) for inventing the name "Nullist" for someone who has an empty belief (about anything), like a rock or a new born baby.
    In computing, there is such a thing as a NULL character. It occupies a space, but there is nothing in the space, not even a "blank".
    I like the concept and used it to make up the name Nullist.
    They said, that's not a proper name. You made that up !

    However, I agree that the term "threshold of intolerable improbability" is not useful, except as a device for stimulating thought.
     
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  3. Ted Grant II Registered Senior Member

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    Which gives, yet anther definition of the word.
    We can make up anything we like in fiction.
    In the non-fictional real world, there are no definitions.
    There are just facts.
     
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  5. danshawen Valued Senior Member

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    Not everything is as deterministic as a fact. You learn this in many fields, and physics is only one of those. God may not play dice, but he allows it.
     
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  7. Ted Grant II Registered Senior Member

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    It seems to me that you are substituting the word "miracle" for the phrase "something fantastically improbable". You could have used any word or even a symbol. So all we have to do is substitute back into your sentence the phrase or (similar depending on the grammar), in order to remove any connotations associated with the word. Thus we obtain...

    "Suppose that we have a biased coin that, if flipped, would almost always land tails-side up with a mathematical probability of (1-p); otherwise, it would land heads-side up with a mathematical probability of p. By the threshold of intolerable improbability, I mean the largest* mathematical probability p such that if we flipped our biased coin just once and it lands heads-side up, then there's nothing fantastically improbable about that at all, but if we flipped that coin a second time and it lands heads-side up for a second time in a row, then we know that we have violated a known law of physics ".

    Now we don't need the definition and all is clear, except, perhaps you mean smallest here * and I'm not sure which law of physics you mean.
    I assume p is a very small number, say 1/1000 which makes (1-p) = 999/1000

    So your biased coin lands tails-side up 999 times in 1000, and heads up 1 time in a 1000.
    Suppose you get a head followed by another head, the likelihood of two heads in a row is the product of the individual probabilities, i.e. 1/1000 x 1/1000 = 1/1000000
    which is, one has to agree, a much smaller number than 1/1000 and in therefore the outcome is very rare, but not impossible.
    However, if a billion pairs of biased coins were flipped, a pair of heads would be quite likely and nobody would consider that event a violation of a law of physics.
    Similarly, if you won the lottery, it wouldn't be a violation of any law, it would be just be an unlikely, but hopefully, welcome event.
    Suppose you didn't buy a ticket, but won the lottery anyway. Would you call that a miracle or a mistake ?

    Many years ago, I received a pay packet from my employer, that included an extra amount called "back pay".
    I wasn't expecting it and was very pleased. It almost doubled my pay for that week.
    A week or so later, a wages clerk phoned me and apologized for the error.
    The payment was supposed to go to another employee who had recently been promoted.
    I was asked to agree to a pay cut the following week to correct the error. I was not so pleased.
    This was a unique event in my life, but I wouldn't call it a miracle.
     
  8. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    OK. I think you would be the ideal debating partner for Eugene - I simply don't have the patience or tenacity.

    Good luck.
     
  9. Michael 345 Valued Senior Member

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    Arrrh but facts have names which define them

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  10. Ted Grant II Registered Senior Member

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    Interesting. Does he play Chess ?
     
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  11. Ted Grant II Registered Senior Member

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    OK, fair enough and thanks for the information. I hope you find satisfaction elsewhere.

    Godless.
     
  12. Michael 345 Valued Senior Member

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    I would of siced him onto another

    But then I'm evil

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  13. Ted Grant II Registered Senior Member

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    Do you mean facts have names and the names are defined by reference to the facts ?
    In other words, names are labels for facts.
    A name of a fact is handy because we can just use the name in propositions instead of long winded descriptions all the time.
    Is that what you mean or something else ?
     
  14. Ted Grant II Registered Senior Member

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    At interesting point. Perhaps you could provide a couple of examples ?
     
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  15. Ted Grant II Registered Senior Member

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    That cat looks evil.
     
  16. danshawen Valued Senior Member

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    Most definitely. Chess is modeled after a tribal or feudal caste society. Society in turn is an artifact of the mammalian neocortex, which is what distinguishes most people with functioning ones from lizards, snakes, psychopaths, and adolescents.
     
  17. danshawen Valued Senior Member

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    Truth itself is an example. Truth is a value, not an absolute, even in mathematics, and an example there is easy.

    Math is a symbolic language which we only value for its utility, because, like most values we have, it is knowledge which helps us survive.

    Say you have five friends and ten apples. You use and value division here because it helps us distribute them evenly. But knowing this does not capture all of the truth about distributing the apples. Several could have worms. One could be poisoned. The truth that mathematics assists us to manage is almost never the whole truth, merely a tool for manipulating finite bits of it, like any other symbolic tool used by finite minds to manage whatever they can for their own survival.

    More facts from your senses are ignored by you each second you are alive than are processed. Do you have enough air and/or water? Where is your next meal coming from? Was that a cobra or a scorpion I just saw crawl or slither under my bed?

    Knowledge or facts that help you survive are the only ones that are valued. Fear, particularly of the unknown or something that is not already a fact, is not really a value that is very useful for survival. Superstition is no match for knowledge, any more than fake news or conspiracy theories are. The NRA knows you will be more likely to hoard guns, ammo, and food if you fear your neighbors. Don't pretend it's because anyone has presented you with facts bearing on your safety. Fear at its absolute worst application, making money from the gullible. Works in general elections too, usually.

    Everyone is not entitled to their own facts? Don't make me demonstrate the folly of that particular misconception. Whether they are entitled or not is never someone else's call.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2017
  18. Michael 345 Valued Senior Member

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    Me on a good day

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  19. Eugene Shubert Registered Senior Member

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  20. Eugene Shubert Registered Senior Member

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    Except for the intolerable improbability of an oak tree existing now having a human descendant with precisely your DNA as it exists at this very moment. Yet you have unabashedly confessed to believing in the existence of a respectable argument to prove you have an ancestor whose descendants eventually evolved into yellow bananas.
    http://www.sciforums.com/threads/do...ns-four-postulates.159338/page-2#post-3453655

    Therefore, you really do believe that there's a threshold of intolerable improbability.
     
  21. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    Your ignorance is not an argument.
     
  22. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    Not everything is deterministic but that doesn't mean that everything isn't based on fact. It sounds like you want to use quantum physics to justify "woo"?
     
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  23. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    As I say, there is no such "threshold". There is merely a continuum of decreasingly likely sequences of events.

    If you pick sufficiently absurdly unlikely scenarios, people will naturally say they won't happen. For example, if you were ask me if you could expect to be struck on the head by a flying lavatory seat if you went trekking across the Gobi desert, I would probably answer "no".

    But, just to please you, the reason I say we are thought to share a common ancestor with a banana is because there is evidence for it.

    Whereas there is neither evidence, nor any prediction of science, that suggests an oak tree's descendants might become a human being. In fact, science predicts this will not take place, because the biochemistry of the oak tree has become differentiated, in ways that involve losing a lot of what would be required.

    That's what we do in science, you see. We don't just futz about with rhetoric about probability concepts. We rely on evidence and on predictions from our models. So long as these give consistent results, we stick with them. And when they don't, we adapt them.
     
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