What qualifies as science?

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by Jozen-Bo, Apr 25, 2017.

  1. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Nah, nah, throwing out a bunch of expressions of what you believe I am saying is not constructive criticism.

    Values "are". Everything has a value. Difference.
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  3. NotEinstein Valued Senior Member

    I'm telling you you are using terms wrongly (according to the mainstream definition of them) without clearly indicating that. My constructive criticism is me telling you not to do that.

    But you are completely ignoring the constructive criticism, deciding to focus on "proving yourself right".

    Nope, mathematical values aren't real.

    Then give me the value of a water molecule.

    Waves are real, wavelengths are not. Another difference.
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  5. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    I am defending my perspective of the fundamentals of universal values and functions. The symbolic language science uses to identify these values and functions is called Mathematics. Just as mathematics are used in every aspect of life.
    Here you go again! Did I say "mathematical" values? I purposely avoided the use of the term "mathematical", so as not to confuse you with your (IMO, narrow) perspective of the term mathematical as a purely human term to identify numbers and equations, rather than as symbolic representations of natural values and functions, the language of mathematics.
    Why should I have to know the value of a water molecule? The question is rather; does a water molecule in a specific environment have a value or not? You tell me.
    I find it really odd that you overlook the word length in the name is wave-length. Are you telling me that lengths are not measurable and cannot be symbolically quantified as having a specific value? Lambda?

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    It always seems to come down to a semantic squabble about the fundamental meaning of the term "mathematical". The symbols are human inventions to describe universal values and functions which existed since the beginning. Humans did not invent universal values and functions, they are universal imperatives and implications. We identified these values and functions with a symbolic language. In English speaking countries we call that symbolic language Mathematics. In China they call it by a different name, but the symbolic mathematical representations are the same and consistent throughout the scientific world.

    A rose is a rose by any other name. All roses are flowers, but not all flowers are roses. But fundamentally it is a flower of a flowering plant, just like all other flowers are products of flowering plants. I see that as a mathematical equation. However flowering plants also have abstract mathematical inequality of values, i.e. specific properties such as growth rate, height at maturity, fragrance, nutrient requirement, etc. These are all measurable properties and can be symbolized mathematically.

    You want to see the shape of 4/3 ? It's a beautiful pattern. Antonsen also addresses the mathematics of sounds. All by all a pretty neat presentation (I noticed several scientists in the audience);
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2017
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  7. NotEinstein Valued Senior Member

    I noticed.

    The word "identify" is a bit vague. If you mean describe, then I fully agree, but I have a feeling you mean "more" than just that?

    That does not give any credence to the claim that mathematics are somehow fundamental to nature.

    Using the definition of "value" I gave, there are only mathematical values. All right then, give your definition of values, explicitly contrasting mathematical values vs values in general.

    Also called "mainstream science".

    Not perspective, definition.

    Mathematics is a human invention, so yes, obviously it is.

    Please give your definition of "natural values".

    You claim values are real things. You claim a water molecule has values. Then point them out.

    Fine; answer that question then.

    I asked you that question because my answer (obviously) is that is hasn't; values aren't real. What is your answer to the question I asked you?

    We can measure distances. Lengths are just an abstraction on top of that. So we can't measure lengths in that strict sense. But sloppy language enters here too. Most people (including scientists) will be talking about measuring the length.

    The length can be quantified, yes.

    I wouldn't call a fundamental definition difference a mere "semantic squabble".

    You say that values and functions exist in the real world. If you are talking about mathematical values and functions, that's a Pythagorean view. If you are using different meaning of the words values and functions, you are not using the definition as used in science. Please give your definitions, and in the future, note your usage of these different definitions.

    It can be modeled by one.

    No. You can't suddenly switch to using the word "property" without giving a definition of it, and also saying that mathematics is symbolic. You flip-flopped; this sentence reads as if the property is real, and the value is just a symbolic description of it.

    Please give a definition of the word "property" (as you used it above), and contrast it with your definition of the word "value".

    Utter nonsense: mathematical values don't have shapes.

    From this video: "Second of all, I think it[mathematics]'s about representing these patterns with a language." So mathematics is a descriptive thing, not prescriptive.

    "When we throw something up in the air, it falls down. Why? We're not sure but we can represent this with mathematics in a pattern." Seems like Antonsen doesn't consider mathematics as fundamental, but as a descriptive language!

    Also note how he's saying line constructs (can) contain a pattern. In other words, the pattern is abstract, it's something we see in the construct. So patterns are not real; they are abstract.
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2017
  8. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    I think this explains what I meant;
    I never said that human symbolisms are fundamental to nature. I said, "a form of what we call mathematical functions and interactions", regardless of an observer (IOW, Determinism). You are still stuck on the human aspect of mathematics.
    Right, you are stuck on the human symbolic representations of mathematical values.
    But looking at your statement in its entirety, you are actually agreeing with me. Everything in the universe has a value, whether we can represent it or not.
    In what way am I disputing "mainstream science"? And please don't give me the lecture about semantics again. Please try to understand the thrust of my posits, instead of dismissing them for using "incorrect language".
    Semantics again.
    Good, we agree.
    But does that rule out the fact that the universe seems to use a form of mathematical function, not some miraculous form of coincidence. How else could humans symbolize these function with our mathematics?
    Cause and Effect, Determinism, Probability, are forms of mathematical functions regardless how we represent them symbolically, IMO.
    The Cardinality inherent of a thing or set.
    IOW, its natural value.
    H2O has a cardinality of 3. If you want to go deeper, then you can find the cardinality of Hydrogen and Oxygen in the table of elements, such as atomic weight, number of electrons, etc.
    see above.
    see above. I (as layman) just don't know all these values, but a chemist could.
    Then what is the problem with what I said?
    Again we agree, good.
    See above.
    I have, with copious references and links.
    Isn't a "model" a mathematical representation?
    The value we use to describe the property is symbolic. The property exists whether we give it a value or not.
    See above.
    The Antonsen clip showed several examples of how a value (4/3) can be represented in several ways, including a shape or image.

    And if we turn the equation around, the question becomes, do shapes have mathematical values? The answer to that is clearly, yes. Perspective!
    Again, IMO that is a deliberate misquote. Antonsen is talking about representing patterns with a language (mathematics).
    Leibniz died in 1716 before Newton invented the word "gravity" to describe the causality of falling bodies.
    Thus Leibniz graphically represented the phenomenon of falling bodies without knowing what caused it.
    Antonsen placed himself in Leibniz time. IOW he spoke from Leibniz' perspective...
    a) He said patterns (in his example a parabola) can "emerge" from linear constructs.
    b) I would call that a form of mathematical potential, rather than being just an abstraction.
  9. NotEinstein Valued Senior Member

    Ah good, we both agree that mathematics is purely a description thing (in the context of physics/reality).

    So mathematical objects are not real, just the things the represent are? I can agree to that.

    Well, since mathematics is just a human invention (and you seem to agree with that, judging from what I just read), is there any other aspect to it?

    You just established that mathematics is a symbolic language describing real things. However, the phrase "human symbolic representations of mathematical values" doesn't make any sense in that light. "human symbolic representations": right, those are our mathematical values. But how can mathematical values be representations of themselves? That makes no sense to me!

    I strongly disagree with this (even if it's just the wording). Everything in the universe has properties, which we can describe by using (mathematical) values.

    Your terminology does not conform to mainstream science. For example, you say that wavelengths can interact. This is non-sense when using the mainstream science definitions of the word.

    You do understand that your choice of wording is the discussion here, right? I'm still trying to figure out if it's just sloppy word-choices, or whether it's part of a differing philosophical view.

    There is a big different between "perspective" and "definition". I suggest you look up both words and compare them.

    Perfect, so it necessarily follows that mathematical values are too. Good!

    Keyword: seems.
    Of course it's possible that the universe can be perfectly described by maths. That still doesn't mean the universe is formed by maths, or "uses" maths itself. A perfect model of reality is not the same as the reality it describes.

    Please define "mathematical functions" as you used it in this sentence.
    Since you just agreed with me mathematics is a human invention, this sentence seems to state that you believe cause and effect, determinism, and probability are also purely human inventions?

    So, the "natural value" of something is just "how many" of it there are? How the heck does that work with wavelengths?

    So you're counting atoms? When water is in its liquid state, does this count include the H2O's that are bound through hydrogen-bridges?

    Aha, so you can "select" the level at which you count.
    Including "atomic weight" seems a bit weird to me, as a water-molecule does not contain "seventeen weight". You can count the "units of weight", but then you're counting properties, not particles. Can these sets also be made of the properties of particles, then?

    If I understand your terminology, the answer is: yes. For example, the potential energy of a molecule depends on its (gravitational) environment. The density of gasses depends on the pressure in the environment, and the temperature, etc.
    Of course, the question as you actually asked it "does a water molecule in a specific environment have a value or not?" is trivially true; I'm just interpreting you meant an environment-dependent value.

    If you are referring to the sentence: "I find it really odd that you overlook the word length in the name is wave-length. Are you telling me that lengths are not measurable"; I was just giving clarification as to the sloppy language often used in science.
    If you are referring to the "wavelengths interact" bit: that's "too much" sloppy language, making it plain wrong. "Measuring length" is a sloppy short-hand, paving over a subtlety. "Wavelength interact" is paving over fundamental differences between terms, resulting in a statement so short-hand it's wrong.

    Not necessarily mathematical, but in the context of this discussion: yes.

    And we're done! You have just stated full agreement with the mainstream scientific view of the world!

    I am now concluding that you do in fact not hold a Pythagorean view, but are using terminology in such a non-standard and sloppy way as to seem like you do, leading to (just see our discussion) a lot of confusion.

    In other words, I was right in my post #320 that (using the mainstream scientific definitions of the words involved) you were in fact referring to waves with certain wavelengths, not wavelengths. However, you are right in that quote as well, when using your definitions of the words involved!

    For completeness sake, I will continue responding to the rest of your post.

    Keyword: represented

    I would have balked at this, but now I know what you mean to say. Shapes do not have inherent, unambiguous mathematical values, but depending on how you look at them (perspective), you can extract/derive mathematical values. You can see certain values in them. This I can agree with fully.

    If I misquoted Antonsen (I don't think I did): I apologize. I think you mean I quote-mined him.
    Actually, we both agree that Antonsen is saying mathematics is not fundamental to patterns; it's just a way of describing and representing them.

    Both used mathematics as a way to describe what they saw. They didn't say "maths is causing this".

    Only abstract things can emerge from other abstract things, so yes, I agree.

    I would have balked at the usage of "mathematical potential", but now I can "translate" it into more mainstream scientific wording.
    Yes, I agree. It's quite awesome to see how, by taking some simple steps and (in this case) lines, you can make some very complicated shapes.
  10. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    So what is it that gives mathematics its advantage? Why do physicists fill those black/white boards of theirs with torrents of symbolic gibberish? What do they think those strings of symbols have to do with physical reality?

    Here's how I interpret what physicists are doing:

    If the squiggles on their board don't conform to observations of reality, why shouldn't physicists admit what they didn't fully and correctly understand the formal structure of reality that they were hoping to model? Sure, they might even entertain the possibility that the language and formalism that they adopt from the mathematicians isn't yet up to the task.

    But the idea that physical reality has no formal structure, or that whatever structure it has isn't something that mathematics can capture even in principle, would be too strong a conclusion.

    Mathematics isn't just a self-contained intellectual game, a play of meaningless symbols. It can be, but it obviously has real life applications too. The question is why that is. What does reality have to be like so that mathematics can successfully describe it?

    Don't we say similar things about mass or electric charge? They are qualities, properties, or something. Metaphysically it isn't clear what physical properties are. (There are problems of interpreting theories in classical physics too, not just in QM where the problems are more obvious.) There's a big literature on it. My point is that mass and electric charge certainly seem to be quantifiable and different quantities of mass or charge do seem to have different physical effects. A bigger mass is going to be associated with a bigger gravitational field and masses in its vicinity will exhibit different dynamical behavior.

    Physicists reduce all that to functions up there on their black/white boards and use it to make predictions about trajectories near massive objects and whatnot. But how can they do that unless their model (expressed in a formal language that humans created, it's true) is isomorphic somehow with how physical reality actually behaves?

    Different quantities of mass or electrical charge certainly seem to be associated with real physical differences in how things behave. The quantification does seem to capture something true about reality, even if we express it in a number system we invented.

    That's the mathematical Platonist way of looking at it.

    In my A, mathematics would just seem to be strings of symbols. How can a string of symbols be descriptive of something without sharing something in common with what's being described? Philosophers have long struggled with this one. The linguistic proposition "The cat is on the mat" seems to include two objects (however generically) 'cat' and 'mat'. It also represents a relationship 'is on'. We typically want to say that what makes the proposition true is that some factual situation obtains in reality, namely that some entity 'cat' is in the proper relationship 'is on' another entity 'mat'. So a formal isomorphism seems to be shared between the linguistic expression and the facts of reality. (Bertrand Russell was a big advocate of that view, I believe.)

    The cat actually being on the mat might have various consequences.

    I think that Write4U has a defensible point though he seems to me to overstate it. I don't think that it's wrong to think of 'quantity of mass' or whatever the quantifiable physical property is, as part of the contents of reality. More mass behaves differently than less mass out there in real life, so the 'more' or 'less' seems to be something more than just an artifact of our formal system.
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2017
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  11. NotEinstein Valued Senior Member

    I didn't snip it in my quoting, and the "It's a preferred choice due to its proven practicality"-part is my response to it. The advantage is that mathematics has been more useful historically.

    Because it (seems to) give the right answers.

    It is a pretty accurate description of it. In other words, it seems to hold quite a lot of predictive power.

    They (should) do, but often they don't mention it explicitly. It's just to cumbersome. And IMO too subtle; there are already enough anti-scientific people out there; no need to add more by constantly footnoting every statement by "we might be wrong".

    I don't think most do? I'm not sure where you got this from. It's more that we can't be certain that maths is (or fully corresponds to) that structure, and it would be wrong to assume it.

    Yes, but is it the properties interacting, or the things that have those properties?
    And would you call these properties "values"?


    Quite so!

    I find "reduce" a potentially problematic word choice here. I'm going to interpret it as "model", or "describe".
    It's called a "prediction", not a "demand of reality". They don't know for certain their answer will manifest in reality. If they do claim that, they are wrong. To the best of our (my?) knowledge, at this moment, we have no reason to believe that a mathematical model will never be isomorphic with reality, but there's no proof that it is. Only the huge mountain of absence of evidence.

    Quantities are not mathematical values. I of course agree that "Different quantities of mass or electrical charge certainly seem to be associated with real physical changes", but it's the quantities (amounts? properties?) doing that, not the number three or any other mathematical value.

    I've been calling it after the Pythagorean school of mathematics, but a quick search suggests it could also be mathematical Platonic. Thank you for pointing this out to me (and sorry for not catching on earlier).

    It isn't excluded that they do, but even if that's true, why couldn't maths get a lot of things right while being wrong? For example, Newtonian gravity got a lot of things right, but turned out to the incorrect (not worthless, just not the whole story!).

    I must admit my inadequacy when it comes to deeper philosophical matters, but isn't there a clear distinction between the word "cat" and the entity "cat", the same way there is a distinction between the value of "8 kilograms" and the property "8 kilograms"?

    I probably misunderstood your B; you're referring to the mathematical Platonist way, right?

    I'm not arguing that his/her position is wrong; a Pythagorean or mathematical Platonist view of the world is fine! However, when communicating, it would serve the clearity to either mention this explicitly upfront, and use words with their proper definitions.
    By using words that one defines with a completely different meaning that the mainstream accepted one, without stating that one does this, one massively confuses the discussion.

    I fully agree with this, but this doesn't mean the "mathematical value" of said quantity is also part of the contents of reality.

    Fully agreed.
  12. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Thanks Yazata, for trying to understand my perspective, rather than cherry-picking it apart.
    And I shall take your advise to keep it as uncomplicated as possible in future.
    If we drop the word "mathematical" from your post, would you then agree that "a value" (or values) of said quantity is in fact part of reality and that these values usually interact in a specific and often constant manner and that mathematics (if done correctly) seems to be able to represent these values and interactions with remarkable accuracy?

    This will be my last post in this thread as apparently I am not able to present this fundamental idea in sufficiently clear scientific language to NE.
    But then I am not trying to write a formal thesis for peer review.
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2017
  13. NotEinstein Valued Senior Member

    What is a value if it's not a mathematical one? (Not counting moral values, obviously.)

    You've give your definition of "value": are you using that definition of the word here?

    You could start by giving the definitions of the words you use when they do not correspond to the mainstream, typical usage. That alone would drastically improve the clarity of what you write.
  14. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    I never disagreed with any of that. My position is that the reverse is true also, i.e. If by observation we can mathematically quantify or qualify something, then it must have quantitative or qualitative properties (values) to begin with. Can we agree on that?
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2017
  15. NotEinstein Valued Senior Member

    Yes, as long as you don't use the word "values" there without given its definition (or at the very least indicating you are using a non-standard one). Kinda like how you shouldn't say that wavelengths interact; you should say waves with certain wavelengths interact.
  16. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Just ran across this:

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    Can we throw David Bohm's "Wholeness and the Implicate Order" into this mix also?
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2017
  17. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    (Shakes head in desperation) Are there certain wavelengths without waves?
  18. NotEinstein Valued Senior Member

    Assuming we're talking about a model of a wave (so not a physical one): no. A wavelength by definition needs a wave. But, non sequitur. The wavelengths aren't interacting, but the waves are.

    You've found an entire article using sloppy language! Look, I'm willing to admit this sloppy usage of language might be common enough and that it's just that I've never come across it before, but why can't you admit that it's waves interacting, not wavelengths? And I noticed you've chosen to ignore the part about "values"?
  19. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    # 391
  20. origin In a democracy you deserve the leaders you elect. Valued Senior Member

    The problem is that you have used wave, wavelength and even wave equation interchangeably, which sounds terrible.
    Surfers do not ride wave equations. Surfers do not ride wavelengths. Surfers ride waves.

    NotEinstein is trying to help you. You don't sound very sharp using words incorrectly.
  21. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    If all you are doing is arguing for the reality of physical quantities, then I agree with you 100%. It's just foolishness to suggest that wavelengths of light don't have physical reality. It might be true that 'wavelengths' are a feature of our wave notion of light, but there's the fact that it maps very well onto reality, since differences in wavelength have real physical effects. Different varieties of chlorophyll absorb different wavelengths. When people talk about 'light wavelengths' they aren't just talking about some artifact of our man-made model of light, they are talking about the physical reality that we are using our model to understand, they are talking about light.

    If that wasn't true, then physics textbooks would be little more than bullshit.


    But... if you are arguing for the truth of some ontology in which the physical world consists entirely of mathematics, then I remain very skeptical and hugely unconvinced.


    When I said that you seemed to me to overstate a defensible position, I meant that you sometimes seem to equate those two. But the latter is much further than I feel comfortable going at the moment. I would agree that there is some (rather mysterious) formal aspect to reality that our human mathematics appears isomorphic to and models very well (that's hugely mysterious too). But I don't think that mathematical structures are all that reality is. There's more to reality, there's something that determines which mathematical forms are physically actualized and which aren't. (I'm more hylomorphic, I guess, and cling to the idea of matter.)

    The relationship between mathematics and physical reality is both interesting and important. But it's hard to pursue it intelligently in a thread that's become little more than an ego-contest.

    It's like the word 'dog'. It's a word in the English language, equivalent more of less to 'perro' or 'Hund'. But when we say 'dog', we aren't typically speaking about words in the English language, we are talking about those furry animals over there. Just because the word 'dog' was created by human beings and exists in a human-constructed linguistic system doesn't mean that it can't refer beyond that system or name things that aren't linguistic entities.

    I respect you Write4U. You've obviously read Tegmark (something I haven't done but probably should), and are trying to think about the implications. Sciforums needs more people who read and then think about what they've read.
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2017
  22. NotEinstein Valued Senior Member

    For me, it's not so much about sounding sharp, it's more about successful communication. If you want the other person to understand you (if not, why even join an online discussion forum?), either use terms the way they are commonly used, or define them upfront.
  23. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Surfers don't select any old wave, they select waves with the biggest and longest wavelengths, a mathematical decision.....

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