Thursday, November 26, 2015

Logical fallacies

Stephen Hawking
In the previous article I mentioned that advocates of materialistic scientism often fall in logical fallacies, but usually do not notice, probably because their knowledge of philosophy is not deep enough. Moreover, they often despise philosophy, not realizing that logic (which is a part of philosophy) aims to analyze the way we think, and that, without logic, science loses its supporting base. So, Stephen Hawking wrote at the beginning of his book, The Grand Design:
Philosophy is dead ... Scientists have become the bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge.
And starting there, he proceeds to make philosophy in a popular science book.
In my discussions with supporters of materialistic scientism, I’ve often had to tell my opponents that they are committing a logical fallacy. Generally they are reluctant to admit it, but when I explain it in detail, they finally do (I guess, because usually the discussion ends there). By this I do not mean to imply that I never fall in logical fallacies, because we are all human, but at least so far, no one has shown me any. Of course, it is possible that I have fallen in them and the person who was debating with me did not notice.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

On intelligence

In his book On intelligence Jeff Hawkins writes this:
Francis Crick wrote a book about brains called The astonishing hypothesis. The astonishing hypothesis was simply that the mind is the creation of the cells in the brain. There is nothing else, no magic, no special sauce, only neurons and a dance of information... In calling this a hypothesis, Crick was being politically correct. That the cells in our brain create the mind is a fact, not a hypothesis. We need to understand what these thirty billion cells do and how they do it.
Wonderful! On the one hand, he states that it is a fact, not a hypothesis, that the neurons of the brain create the mind. On the other, he accepts that we don’t know what they do, or how they do it. How does Hawkins know this for a fact, not a hypothesis? By infused knowledge? How was he able to detect that fact? Are there any arguments to support it? He gives none, he just asserts. Is this good science?

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Einstein’s mistake

When Einstein formulated in 1915 his theory of general relativity, he soon applied it to the entire universe, deriving the following cosmological equation:

It is curious that this equation is identical to the equation that would result from Newton’s theory of gravitation. There is only one difference: constant k represents, in Newton’s case, the total energy of the universe; in Einstein’s case, its curvature.
Each term of this equation contains a universal constant. Besides k, G is the gravitational constant; L is called the cosmological constant, whose interpretation is not clear. Einstein initially thought he could eliminate this term by making L = 0, which simplifies the equation and makes it analytically solvable. Then he discovered that the solution, in that case, was a universe in constant expansion. Since he believed that the universe had to be stationary, he decided to assign the constant a critical value L = Lc, to make it be so.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

More about the end of science

Science News, January 19, 2008
In a previous post I mentioned some inklings that seem to indicate that scientific development is decelerating. In this post I will focus on further evidence: the fact that most of the new discoveries being made in many sciences are almost always conditional. Rather than findings of fact, usually they just forecast possible findings that could be made in the future.
To show that this surmise may be true, I will consider a particular issue of the magazine Science News, one of the most prestigious among those engaged in high-level popular science. Specifically, I have taken the issue of January 19, 2008, which contains 18 news. Let us consider the titles or the first words, where I have enhanced those terms that indicate that the results of the investigation were provisional or tentative (unless you are really interested, you don’t have to read them all, you can skip to the last three paragraphs):