Tuesday, April 10, 2012

PZ Myers is such a joke



Now, I wish that SyeTenB and Eric Hovind would say "gratuitous, vapid insult" when they say "ad hominem", but other than that, PZ Myers is clearly seen to be a total joke. What a ridiculous man, and on his own ground, at the Reason Rally, no less!

Nice hat, too.

29 comments:

Piltdown Superman said...

The "reason rally" itself was a joke. Reports show that it was simply an atheist pep rally (a strong point for Dawkins), but nothing about reason. Atheism is easy to diffuse when people know even a few basics about logical fallacies.

Ryan Anderson said...

Did you really refer to someone other than SyeTenB as a joke?

Not saying PZ Myers isn't, but wow...

Rhology said...

Help me out - what about SyeTenB leads you to say he is a joke?

sanscredo said...

Sye: How do you know your reasoning is valid?

PZ: We use reason to generate hypotheses. We then test those hypotheses against reality.

Sye: So you use reason to validate your reason? (I don't listen so good.)

PZ: You slimy MFer.

Eric: Ad-hominem! (I don't know what that means.)

Rhology said...

Actually, on 2nd thought, I do think PZ used an ad hominem once or twice, but you're partly right in that Sye sometimes classifies as ad hom that which is not.

You need to explain this, though.
Sye: So you use reason to validate your reason? (I don't listen so good.)

Seems to me that's exactly what PZ was saying but he doesn't want to admit it. that's kinda the point.
Care to explain how one can avoid using one's reason when "testing hypotheses against reality"? This oughta be good.

sanscredo said...

Hi Rhology,

PZ never said that he can avoid using reason when testing hypotheses. In fact, he said that reason plays an important role. He simply refused to accept Sye's assumption that "validating your reason" is something that is meaningful or necessary to do.

PZ is saying that we don't "validate our reason". We validate our conclusions, in that we test them against reality. We recognize that our reasoning is fallible and so conclusions that rely on large inferences from evidence are on shakier ground than those that require very little inference.

Sye (and I suppose you) think that to feel confident in our conclusions, we need to be confident in this monolithic thing called our "reasoning". But I suggest that we need to take things on a case-by-case basis. Each conclusion is as good as the evidence and logic that supports it.

For every proposition I hold, I should be able to provide you with the reasons why. And you can then argue with any of those reasons you think are invalid. But you can't dismiss my conclusions because of my failure to provide a proof of the infallibility of my overall reasoning. I never said my reasoning was infallible.

Rhology said...

Good.
So he's using reason to test whether reasoning is valid. Which is a vicious circle. Which is SyeTenB's point all along.


He simply refused to accept Sye's assumption that "validating your reason" is something that is meaningful or necessary to do.

Then I simply refuse to accept atheists' assumption that "validating God" is something that is meaningful or necessary to do.
There, that was easy! God exists!


We validate our conclusions, in that we test them against reality.

Using reasoning.


We recognize that our reasoning is fallible and so conclusions that rely on large inferences from evidence are on shakier ground than those that require very little inference.

Are you sure about that? Is your reasoning on this issue that you've expressed right here fallible? If so, how can you know whether it's true or not?


But I suggest that we need to take things on a case-by-case basis.

How do we take the question of whether our reasoning powers are generally reliable on a case-by-case basis?


For every proposition I hold, I should be able to provide you with the reasons why.

If you hold to the proposition "my reasoning powers are generally reliable", tell me the reasons why.

sanscredo said...

So he's using reason to test whether reasoning is valid.

You no listen so good either.

Then I simply refuse to accept atheists' assumption that "validating God" is something that is meaningful or necessary to do.

Well, okay. If you really feel that way. But for someone who doesn't think it's meaningful to "validate God" you sure spend a lot of time on apologetics.

Y'see...you actually care about me accepting the proposition "God exists". But I don't care about whether or not you think my "reasoning is generally reliable", because I don't even hold that proposition myself. That's the asymmetry.

How do we take the question of whether our reasoning powers are generally reliable on a case-by-case basis?

We can't. We consider the validity of propositions we hold to be true on a case-by-case basis.

If you hold to the proposition "my reasoning powers are generally reliable", tell me the reasons why.

I don't hold that proposition. I don't hold the proposition that they are generally unreliable either. It's not something I think about. It doesn't keep me up at night.

I just go about my day becoming increasingly confident in certain propositions because they reliably predict my observations. Dropping things seems to make them fall down. Hey look at that, it happened again. And again. Boy, this proposition sure is reliable.

I guess I'm an atheist because the proposition "God exists" doesn't seem to help me reliably predict anything.

We recognize that our reasoning is fallible and so conclusions that rely on large inferences from evidence are on shakier ground than those that require very little inference.

Are you sure about that?

Nope. If you have some evidence to contrary, I'm totally open to it.

Is your reasoning on this issue that you've expressed right here fallible?

Sure. I could be wrong. Do you think I'm wrong? If so, please let me know why so I can decide whether I need to revise my belief or not.

how can you know whether it's true or not?

If I started observing that I had to revise conclusions with simple inferences more frequently than those with complex inferences, then I would revise my belief about this issue. At that point, the simplicity of an inference would be a good predictor of the probability of it being overturned, so by definition this new proposition would be the reliable one.

sanscredo said...

So he's using reason to test whether reasoning is valid.

You no listen so good either.

Then I simply refuse to accept atheists' assumption that "validating God" is something that is meaningful or necessary to do.

Well, okay. If you really feel that way. But for someone who doesn't think it's meaningful to "validate God" you sure spend a lot of time on apologetics.

Y'see...you actually care about me accepting the proposition "God exists". But I don't care about whether or not you think my "reasoning is generally reliable", because I don't even hold that proposition myself. That's the asymmetry.

How do we take the question of whether our reasoning powers are generally reliable on a case-by-case basis?

We can't. We consider the validity of propositions we hold to be true on a case-by-case basis.

If you hold to the proposition "my reasoning powers are generally reliable", tell me the reasons why.

I don't hold that proposition. I don't hold the proposition that they are generally unreliable either. It's not something I think about. It doesn't keep me up at night.

I just go about my day becoming increasingly confident in certain propositions because they reliably predict my observations. Dropping things seems to make them fall down. Hey look at that, it happened again. And again. Boy, this proposition sure is reliable.

I guess I'm an atheist because the proposition "God exists" doesn't seem to help me reliably predict anything.

We recognize that our reasoning is fallible and so conclusions that rely on large inferences from evidence are on shakier ground than those that require very little inference.

Are you sure about that?

Nope. If you have some evidence to contrary, I'm totally open to it.

Is your reasoning on this issue that you've expressed right here fallible?

Sure. I could be wrong. Do you think I'm wrong? If so, please let me know why so I can decide whether I need to revise my belief or not.

how can you know whether it's true or not?

If I started observing that I had to revise conclusions with simple inferences more frequently than those with complex inferences, then I would revise my belief about this issue. At that point, the simplicity of an inference would be a good predictor of the probability of it being overturned, so by definition this new proposition would be the reliable one.

sanscredo said...

Oops. Sorry for the double-post.

Anonymous said...

This discussion is futile until Rhology defines exactly what he means by "reason" and "reasoning".

NAL said...

sanscredo,

When you log in, there's a trash can near you comments that allows you to delete duplicates.

Rhology said...

But for someone who doesn't think it's meaningful to "validate God" you sure spend a lot of time on apologetics.

You say that simply b/c you don't understand why I do so, but your misunderstanding has no bearing on me and shows no inconsistency.



you actually care about me accepting the proposition "God exists".

Yes, to some degree, b/c I have love for you and know that you are headed for judgment and wrath b/c of your sin and unbelief.



But I don't care about whether or not you think my "reasoning is generally reliable", because I don't even hold that proposition myself.

So should I think that your reasoning was reliable when you wrote that sentence that you don't consider your reasoning to be generally reliable?



We consider the validity of propositions we hold to be true on a case-by-case basis.

It sounds like you use your reason to do that.
How do you check whether your reason is reliable on a case-by-case basis? Wouldn't that require your reason to be reliable to run that test? And thus beg the question?



I don't hold that proposition (that my reasoning powers are generally reliable). I don't hold the proposition that they are generally unreliable either. It's not something I think about. It doesn't keep me up at night.

So it sounds like you have no idea whether your reasoning is reliable. It SHOULD keep you up at night. I know it doesn't b/c you are full of faith and hate Jesus, who could rescue you from this dilemma. But you hate the rescue.



I just go about my day becoming increasingly confident in certain propositions

How can you become increasingly confident if you don't know your reasoning is reliable?



Dropping things seems to make them fall down. Hey look at that, it happened again

YOU THINK it happened again. You're trusting your raesoning to make sense of what you think you observe and of what you think you remember.
YOu're certainly not dealing with this topic with any serious consideration. It's kind of sad to watch you flounder around.



I guess I'm an atheist because the proposition "God exists" doesn't seem to help me reliably predict anything.

A BEAR!1



Is your reasoning on this issue that you've expressed right here fallible?

Sure. I could be wrong. Do you think I'm wrong? If so, please let me know why so I can decide whether I need to revise my belief or not.


If your reasoning is fallible on this, why did you choose to believe one issue and not the other side?
Don't say "evidence" b/c I'm just going to ask you the same question over and over.

Rhology said...

I'm using "reason" in the sense of "the deliverances of the cognitive faculties" basically.

sanscredo said...

Hi Rhology. Thanks for responding.

I see two big disagreements between us. I'll start with the more minor of the two.

The first problem seems to be that you think it is useful to consider "reliability of reasoning" as this homogeneous, monolithic thing, whereas I do not. Basically, the common problem we face is that we come to various conclusions through reasoning and we want to know whether we can rely on those particular conclusions or not. I submit that knowing that our "reasoning is generally reliable" does not help us solve this problem.

Consider proposition X, which I hold. Let's assume that my reasoning is generally reliable, but imperfect. Could I still be wrong about X? Sure! Now instead, let's assume that my reasoning is generally unreliable, but sometimes correct. Could I still be correct about X? Sure! To evaluate X, we have to analyze the particular reasons I provide for X, not my cognitive faculties in general.

But I think that the larger issue is that you see a difference between "truth" and a reliable, predictable model of future observations. Essentially, you think that one could have a model of the world that makes precise, repeatable predictions about the behaviors of every phenomenon in the universe, free of contrary evidence, and yet that model is "false". Maybe the whole thing is just a big, powerful, internally-consistent lie--like we're in the Matrix or something.

My response is that there could be no justification for caring about such a thing. If it is impossible to encounter observations inconsistent with our model, then in what sense could we say we care about them? And if it is even theoretically possible to encounter inconsistent observations (i.e. take the red pill) then this notion of truth beyond predicted observation becomes vacuous.

So what does "reliable" mean beyond predictive and consistent with observation? And why should my humble recognition of my own rational limitations compel me to discard the incredibly useful and consistent predictive model I have for the force of gravity on objects?

Rhology said...

I submit that knowing that our "reasoning is generally reliable" does not help us solve this problem.

1) Do you think your reasoning was reliable when you submitted that suggestion?
2) The alternative is that our reasoning is NOT generally reliable. Why would I think that you have just communicated something intelligible, or that I have any reason to think that I properly interpreted it?


Now instead, let's assume that my reasoning is generally unreliable, but sometimes correct. Could I still be correct about X? Sure!

Could you get lucky and win the lottery? Sure!


To evaluate X, we have to analyze the particular reasons I provide for X, not my cognitive faculties in general.

You're not getting this. How is it that you rely on generally-unreliable reasoning to verify that your reasoning about some other issue was correct?
Let's say that "generally unreliable" means 49% success rate.
Let's say that you propose a thought experiment by which you will test your thought T1 by using 5 other thoughts (T2, T3, T4, T5, T6).
The probability that you'll come to a correct conclusion decreases the more you think. (0.49)^5 < 0.49

Right?

So...where are you going with this?


Maybe the whole thing is just a big, powerful, internally-consistent lie--like we're in the Matrix or something.

My worldview provides a way to know that is not the case.
Yours does not.
That's only one reason why my worldview is vastly superior.


My response is that there could be no justification for caring about such a thing

Only if someone cares about the truth.


And why should my humble recognition of my own rational limitations compel me to discard the incredibly useful and consistent predictive model I have for the force of gravity on objects?

B/c it could be totally false?

sanscredo said...

Why would I think that you have just communicated something intelligible, or that I have any reason to think that I properly interpreted it?

You have a lifetime of experience listening to the words people produce, interpreting them and receiving feedback about whether your interpreted them correctly. Instead of encountering unintelligible chaos, you have encountered structure. As a result, you have built a predictive model of that structure and used it to achieve your communication goals. Although your model is imperfect and misunderstandings happen, there is little doubt that information does get exchanged.

The probability that you'll come to a correct conclusion decreases the more you think. (0.49)^5 < 0.49.

According to your model of cognition, even if your reasoning is generally reliable, say 99.9% of the time, it's still the case that the probability that you're correct decreases the more you think. (0.999)^5 < 0.999. In fact, if you think enough, the probability will fall below 50%.

Luckily, your model is wrong for at least two reasons. First, the reliability of our reasoning processes is not uniform. Deduction is generally more reliable than induction. Distinguishing a car from a butterfly is more reliable than recognizing someone's gender at 200 yards. Etc. Secondly, conjunctive reliability is not multiplicative. I won't get all mathy on you and talk information theory, but two noisy processes that are correlated and complementary can be combined to produce a signal that is more reliable than either alone.

And so I still fail to see why I should be at all shaken by the fact that I have no proof that my "reasoning is generally reliable".

my worldview is vastly superior.

Congratulations on your victory.

Rhology said...

You have a lifetime of experience listening to the words people produce, interpreting them and receiving feedback

Which memories, interpretations, and receptions I must doubt b/c my cognitive faculties are generally unreliable.



Instead of encountering unintelligible chaos, you have encountered structure

How can any of us know that if our cognitive faculties are generally unreliable? How do you know you saw it right? Interped it right? Remember it right?



According to your model of cognition, even if your reasoning is generally reliable, say 99.9% of the time, it's still the case that the probability that you're correct decreases the more you think. (0.999)^5 < 0.999. In fact, if you think enough, the probability will fall below 50%.

This is YOUR model of cognition, not mine.
So what's your answer?



Luckily, your model is wrong for at least two reasons.

You mean YOUR model is wrong.
And yes, I agree.


First, the reliability of our reasoning processes is not uniform.

And I suppose you know that b/c your cognitive faculties are reliable when they informed you that the reliability of our reasoning processes is not uniform. This sounds an awful lot like special pleading.



Deduction is generally more reliable than induction.

How can any of us know that if our cognitive faculties are generally unreliable? How do you know you saw it right? Interped it right? Remember it right?


I won't get all mathy on you and talk information theory, but two noisy processes that are correlated and complementary can be combined to produce a signal that is more reliable than either alone.

How can any of us know that if our cognitive faculties are generally unreliable? How do you know you saw it right? Interped it right? Remember it right?


And so I still fail to see why I should be at all shaken by the fact that I have no proof that my "reasoning is generally reliable".

You have incredibly strong faith. That's probably why.



Congratulations on your victory.

Not mine, but Jesus'.

sanscredo said...

How can any of us know that if our cognitive faculties are generally unreliable?

Here's a better question: why should any of us care?

Whether our cognitive faculties are reliable 49% of the time or 99.9% of the time, we still can't use that statistic to become confident in a particular proposition P. Even if God declares that the human mind is right 99.9% of the time, P could still be in the 0.1%.

While we're on the topic, does that bible tell us that our cognitive faculties are closer to 51% correct or 99.9% correct? I can't find the verse.

How do you know you saw it right? Interped it right? Remember it right?

I do it the same way that you do. I know that I can't just trust my judgment blindly because even if I'm right 99.9% of the time, I could still be wrong this time. So, I construct a falsifiable prediction for my interpretation and run an experiment. For example, if I can't tell if I'm seeing a hologram or a solid object, I reach out to touch it and see if I encounter resistance.

How do you know if *you* interpreted something correctly? How can you be sure it's not the 0.1% throwing you off? Maybe in that particular moment, the grasp of sin is particularly strong and you're being misled. How do you know if you're in that situation or not at any given time? Is your method for doing this perfect or only "generally reliable"?

embreeology said...

Sancredo: We validate our conclusions, in that we test them against reality.

Rhology: Using reasoning.

No, we use our senses to observe the results of our reasoning. Our reasoning provides a plan, a platform, or a methodology by which we can issue a prediction. Essentially, it's our reasoning that issues a hypothesis.

(Example, our reasoning hypothesizes that: "If I wait until the sign says WALK, then look both ways to ensure there is no oncoming traffic, and stay within the designated sidewalk lane, I will safely traverse the road without being hit.")

We then test this against reality by following ensuring that all of the parameters are satisfied and then we make our attempt at crossing the street.

Once safely across, (an entirely different set of reasoning/hypothesis testing nested within the original experiment) which we establish through our senses of sight, touch, and hearing, or some combination of those, we then fail to reject our hypothesis. At this time, our reasoning is still not confirmed, but it is strengthened.

KEY POINT: I think you are failing to see here that senses are not the same as reasoning. You seem to be under the impression that reasoning = senses. This is simply not the case. A person could have their senses intact and still use invalid or faulty reasoning. Likewise, a persons senses could be hindered, altered, or non-functioning, but they could still use sound reasoning.

Rhology said...

Right now you're reasoning about your reasoning. Did you come to these conclusions via your reasoning?

embreeology said...

"Right now you're reasoning about your reasoning. Did you come to these conclusions via your reasoning?"

Yes I am reasoning about my reasoning. I'm using reason to engage in a discussion. This discussion happens to be about reasoning, very good.

That said, reasoning about one's reasoning is not the same as using reasoning to validate one's reasoning. Nice try, though.

And yes, I did come to these CONCLUSIONS via my REASONING. Bingo, I think you're finally starting to get it. Reasoning came first, then conclusions. I'm glad we finally agree.

Rhology said...

Of course reasoning precedes conclusions.


That said, reasoning about one's reasoning is not the same as using reasoning to validate one's reasoning.

What is the difference?
And do you not reason about the observations your senses take in?

Rhology said...

Oops, I meant this:
And do you not reason about the observations you think your senses take in?

embreeology said...

"do you not reason about the observations you think your senses take in?"

You:
1. Reasoning
2. Testing
3. Observation
a. Rejects the reasoning.
b. Fails to reject the reasoning.

The observation is how you weigh the reasoning, not the reasoning itself. Furthermore, as you can see under observation, the reasoning is NEVER validated! If your reasoning is NEVER validated, you CANNOT possibly validate your reasoning at all, much less by using reasoning. The claim of a vicious circle is ended. I will consider this question asked and answered.

Rhology said...

"Weighing reasoning" = reasoning about reasoning.



you CANNOT possibly validate your reasoning at all, much less by using reasoning.

A rational person would be very concerned about this fact, that reasoning cannot be validated. It would make me, for one, very upset that there is no way to know truth, even the truth of that statement. Absurdity ensues.


The claim of a vicious circle is ended. I will consider this question asked and answered.

Not that you know that's true. You're welcome to your opinion but as you've already said, you can't know things, and you can't validate your reasoning about this issue.
Your worldview is a mess.

embreeology said...

"Weighing reasoning" = reasoning about reasoning.

Why do you insist on ignoring the "testing" and "observation aspects? The question is asked and answered. I'll not touch on it any more.

-----o

"A rational person would be very concerned about this fact, that reasoning cannot be validated."

Since when? I presume that you've flown before. When you fly, do you know with 100% certainty that you're going to land safely? When you get into your car, do you know with 100% certainty that a drunk driver isn't going to come careening through a red light just as you are passing through the intersection? You do not, and yet you don't spiral downwards into a depth of despair and absurdity at the notion. Be upset if you must, but your claim that absurdity ensues is completely baseless.

-----o

No, I don't know it's true, but I would suspect that any reasonable and unbiased reader will understand that, one more time:

1. Reasoning---->Hypothesis---->Testing---->Observation

This is not even a circle, let alone viciously circular.

2. Circular reasoning takes the form:

a is true because a is true. In this case, it would be to say reasoning is true because reasoning is true. This is circular. We don't even say reasoning is true, so we can't POSSIBLY be saying that it's true because reasoning is true.

-----o

You're fading fast and it's quickly frustrating me. I'm not going to explain it to you any more. Here's the thing, I listened to you on the podcast and I thought that, though I disagreed with you, you were ganged up on a bit. Not really by the hosts themselves, but by some of the people they had participating, namely the one drunk and incoherent one on the show. Anyway, I thought that for the most part (excepting the dog on a leash comment), you were courteous and professional. That's why I decided to try and discuss things with you.

Now, however, it's becoming apparent that you're intentionally being dishonest. This is unfortunate. If you're so hung up that you have to resort to dishonesty, that's your prerogative. Don't waste our time by dragging this into a dishonest downward spiral just to frustrate me until I leave, just so you can say you won. Honestly, if that's what you want to do is say you won, I'll leave now and let you proclaim victory. I have more important things to do. My interest here is to engage in discussion with honesty.

Good luck with all you do.

Rhology said...

When you fly, do you know with 100% certainty that you're going to land safely?

No. Yet flying is not fundamental to how I know anything.


When you get into your car, do you know with 100% certainty that a drunk driver isn't going to come careening through a red light just as you are passing through the intersection?

No. Yet driving is not fundamental to how I know anything.


Be upset if you must, but your claim that absurdity ensues is completely baseless.

Do you know that for sure?
You don't.
You can't even know whether your life is absurd. That means you can't know if ANYthing is absurd, if anything matters at all. You're not thinking this all the way through. It shows that you can't be consistent with your stated beliefs.
If you don't believe what you say you believe, why should I or anyone else?




Reasoning---->Hypothesis---->Testing---->Observation

One reasons to a hypothesis.
One reasons about how to test.
One reasons about the observations he thinks he's had.



You're fading fast and it's quickly frustrating me.

Not that you know that.


namely the one drunk and incoherent one on the show.

True, though Alex B didn't do well at all, and he was the best of the bunch in that encounter. The Australian never grasped what I was saying, not even a little, and Kat the American did nothing but spout irrelevancies.


. Anyway, I thought that for the most part (excepting the dog on a leash comment), you were courteous and professional.

Well, thank you. I appreciate it.


Now, however, it's becoming apparent that you're intentionally being dishonest.

Actually, you haven't understood the argument either, and so you're going the same route that the FF podcasters went.

embreeology said...

I think we may have been able to round a small corner today on Twitter. I'm glad for that.