Category Archives: Mathematics

Quora Answers 8/7/2015: Random Events and Causality

Why do you believe that random things do not follow cause and effect?

What do you think it means for something to be random?

Let us take the roll of a die. What do we mean when we say that the outcome is random?

Do we mean that the die does not follow cause and effect? No, of course not. At least, not if we are being rational.

We know that if we roll the die, that cause and effect is in play. The die does not move around according to some magical forces. It moves around due to a complicated chain of interactions with the air, the surface it is being rolled across and so forth.

We do not say that the die lands on, say, six, for no reason. No, there is a cause for it showing a six. But the series of events that caused that to happen is a complicated one and we have no way to predict the outcome.

Or, let us suppose that we are an insurer. We have no way to predict if a particular client is going to have a car accident. We acknowledge that if a customer does experience a car crash, there is a reason. There is some chain of cause and effect.

We know that the car crash has a cause. There was one or more event that logically led to the car crash.

Maybe the driver was distracted and he did not see the car coming towards him. Or maybe his brakes failed or whatever. But there is some causal link between one or more event and the car crash.

As an insurer, we do not know what will cause these car crashes in advance. But we can estimate how often on average our customers may crash their car. We may figure that, say, 1/100 customers will experience a car crash.

If we know a bit more about particular crashes, such as their past driving history, we may be able to estimate that that particular customer may have a 5/100 chance of having a car crash at some point.

What does this have to do with random events? Notice that when rolling the die or trying to estimate how often people crash cars, we are trying to estimate how often to expect certain results.

We have situations where it is hard to predict the results, but we do have mathematical methods of estimating how common certain outcomes might be.

When we say that something is random, we are saying that “We are unable to predict with certainty what outcome to expect. But we know it will be one of these known possible outcomes”.

In other words, randomness is an epistemological issue. Randomness simply indicates that are unable to be certain what the results are and can only guess what the outcomes might be and possibly how frequent certain outcomes might be.

But our inability to predict outcomes does not mean that there is no causality. Just because we cannot predict outcomes does not mean causality does not apply.

Something is random when we have no means of predicting the outcome with any certainty.

Now, in the statistical sense, something is random when we cannot predict out outcomes but we know that every possible outcome has an equal chance of occurring.

But we know that something is going to happen. But how does it happen? Is there any cause and effect? Yes. Just because we cannot predict what will happen does not mean that cause and effect does not apply.

Whatever outcome does occur is because something happens and the nature of the relevant entities means that that outcome had to happen. That is, cause and effect.

That is what causality refers to. That if these entities do this, then the natures of the entities mean that this other thing must happen. There is no alternative, the nature of the entities involved requires that outcome. There was no alternative.

Our inability to know what the outcome is in advance is not an argument against cause and effect.

This applies in the quantum world. There are no truly random events. Everything that happens in the quantum world is because that outcome is what had to happen when the quantum entities do whatever they are doing, there was no alternative.

Take two particles that interact and particle A causes particle B to fire off at that angle. That is what had to happen due to the nature of the two particles.

There is no sense in which there was another possible result.

What about the fact that in quantum mechanics things can lack definite properties?

That has never been established and never will be. To exist is to exist as an entity with a specific nature, there is no alternative. Nothing that exists has an undetermined nature or a contradictory nature.

Therefore this does not provide a rational objection to causality. Everything that exists has a specific nature and will do a certain thing under certain conditions. What it will do will depend on its specific nature.

There is no way around this. Everything will do what its nature requires it do and nothing else.

The fact that we cannot always predict what it will do is not an argument that it will not do that thing. It just means we can only guess what it will do and we should try to use probability to predict how often certain outcomes might occur.

You can find out more about that here.

You can check out the Quora question and some of the other answers here.

Interview with James Ellias

This is an interview with James Ellias, creator of the excellent “An Inductive Summary of Physics” series covering an inductive history of physics and other important philosophical topics.

We discuss the role of induction in physics and many other issues in the philosophy of physics. As well as taking a few questions from our listeners.

The questions asked in the interview include (please not the questions are not necceasirly listed in the order asked):

• Tell us more about the role of induction in physics.
• What would you add to or change about the theory of induction presented in the Logical Leap? Or what do you have to say about induction in general?
• Tell us about your video “There are two hierarchies of knowledge”.
• Alright, tell us about the role of mathematics in physics
• So, tell us the “Inductive Summary of Physics” project.
• Who are some of your favorite physicists?
• Tell us about some of your favorite sources of inspiration for your work? Which authors/speakers do you draw the most from/get the most inspiration from?
• Would you care to tell us any of your ideas about what really be going on with some of the lesser well known parts of modern physics? I am talking about things like quantum mechanics, what fields really are, what relativity is really describing and so on.
• Tell us about some of your experiences in academia? Is going into academia something you would recommend for those interested in physics? Why or why not?
• What do you think is wrong with modern physics? What are some of the root causes?
• In what ways is philosophy important to physics?
• Why do you think so many physicists dismiss philosophy?
• Tell us about some of the most ingenious experiments performed in physics.
• Talk about the difference between the historical approach and your inductive approach.
• What do you think about Lewis Littles’ Theory of Elementary Waves?

To find out the answers to these questions, you should tune into the interview… 🙂

You can find his YouTube channel here.

You can find his Inductive Summary of Physics channel here.

Statistical Fallacy List, Part Two

If you have worked with data, then I bet you have been guilty of one or more of some kind of statistical fallacy at some point. I know I have!

In this series, we will be looking at fallacies that often come up when analysing data or, allegedly, academic sources.

This is part two. You can find part one here.

A paradox? How is this a fallacy? I thought that we were talking about fallacies?

We are, but we must introduce this paradox first.

Simpson’s Paradox is a phenomenon where a trend appears in different groups of data but vanishes or reverses when those groups are combined.

The classic example of this is a study performed in Berkley University in the 1970s over the following data.

Note that the last row shows the total application success rates for both genders. If you look at this data alone, it might seem to suggest that the application success rate for men is higher than that of women.

This led to Berkeley being accused of sexism. But is it as simple as this suggests?

If we look at the data, we notice that 1,800 women applied for subject A. Only 168 men applied for that same subject.

Of those 1,800 women that applied for subject A, 15% of them were approved. While 14% of the men that applied for subject A were approved.

This is a slightly better result for women. When it comes to applications for subject A it seems that Berkeley was not being sexist.

Let us look at subject B now. For this subject, 50% of men that applied were approved and 51% of women were approved. Again, this is a slightly better result for women and it is hard to argue that Berkeley was sexist.

How then, to explain the fact that women seemed to have a lower overall success rate?

Let us consider that subject A seems to have a lower approval rate for both genders. It seems Subject A is a competitive subject with very low approval rates for both genders.

Now, out of 2,000 applications for women, 1800 of those were to subject A but only 270 of these were approved. That is, 13% of these applications were applications for subject A.

For men, out of 2,000 applications for men, 1200 of these were to subject A but only 168 of those were approved. That is, 8.4% of these applications were applications for subject A.

Note that 1800 out of 2,000 applications made by women were for subject A. That is 90% of applications. Whereas for men, only 60% of those applications were for subject A.

A significantly higher proportion of women were applying for subject A, the subject with a much lower approval rating. And most of those applications were going to be rejected.

So, it stands to reason that a higher number of women would have their applications rejected.

So, far from Berkeley being sexist, the real reason women had a lower application success rate is that they tended to make more applications to subjects with a lower application success rate.

Let us see what happened here. If we look at the data for subject A and B, we see that men and women have about the same chance of being rejected for each subject. With subject A having a much higher chance of rejection for both genders.

But if you combine the subject rejection rates for the genders, you get a 28% rejection rating for men and 19% for women.

This seems to suggest that women are rejected more often than men, even before you did this, this trend did not show itself.

This is Simpson’s Paradox at play. It is the statistical phenomenon where trends disappear or reverse when you combine data.

In this case, women had a slight advantage in application rates if you do not account for the proportions of women applying for subject A and add the acceptance rates per subject together for each gender.

If you do this, the trend reverses and women have a lower application success rate!

The fallacy would be failing to recognize why the trend seems to reverse and assigning some erroneous cause.

The reason we observe the lower application success rate for women is not sexism, but the fact that a higher proportion of women are applying for a more difficult subject.

When you see Simpson’s Paradox you should study the data and try to identify the cause for this paradoxical disappearance or reversal of trends. Not simply assume some erroneous cause.

Try to avoid the fallacy of misinterpreting trends in the data.

Let us take one more example before we move on.

Suppose we have two baseball players, Joe and Martin. During the years 2019 and 2020 we have the following data:

Note that in both 2019 and 2020, Martin had higher batting averages. However, when you combine these years, Joe has a higher batting average.

What gives? This is caused by the fact that Joe had a lower batting average for both of these years but a lot more time at-bat, meaning that when you combine the data he has a slightly higher batting average.

You could assume that the data was rigged or that maybe Martin was a better batter after all. But that would be a fallacy.

The real cause of the fact that the combined totals being better for Joe is more to do with the fact he spent more time at-bat.

If you see trends vanish or reverse when data is combined, always look more carefully at the data and see why this might be the case. You are likely to find that there is a perfectly logical reason this happens that has more to do with the data than anything else you might erroneously assume.

Vodcast Episode Two: Quantum Absurdities, Part One

Today we are going over quantum absurdities and showing how quantum physics is in fact highly absurd. This is part one of a two part series.

You may also listen to or download an audio only version above.

[Note: Please note that this transcript may not exactly match the audio. However, there should be no significant differences.]

Intro

Metaphysics of Physics is the crucial voice of reason in the philosophy of science, rarely found anywhere else in the world today.

We are equipped with the fundamental principles of a rational philosophy that gives us the edge, may make us misfits in the mainstream sciences but also attracts rational minds.

With this show, we are fighting for a more rational world, mostly by looking through the lens of the philosophy of science.

We raise awareness of issues within the philosophy of science and present alternative and rational approaches.

The irrationality of modern physics is the focus of this channel. We have covered topics such as:

The irrationality of Stephen Hawking. The universe and the Big Bang. The philosophy of Niels Bohr. The achievements of Isaac Newton.Optical illusions and the validity of the senses.

If you think that science is about explaining a knowable reality, then this is the channel for you.

If you want to learn more about the irrationality of modern physics, then you are in the right place.

I am your host Ashna. My husband, Dwayne Davies is the primary content creator and your guide through the hallowed halls of the philosophy of science.

We will discuss the problems in modern physics and more and how we can live in a more rational world!

Check out our website at metaphysicsofphysics.com.

The Show Itself

Hi everyone! Welcome to the second episode of the Metaphysics of Physics video podcast. Today we are going over quantum absurdities and showing how quantum physics is in fact highly absurd.

While this is not an exhaustive list, it covers many of the essential absurdities.

What is the purpose of this? Yes, the mathematics of quantum theory is incredibly useful and impressive. But we want to show that the physical interpretations of quantum mechanics make no sense.

This is part one of a two-part series.

Particle Wave Duality

Quantum physics asserts that particles can be described as both a wave and a particle.

It seems as though we must use sometimes the one theory and sometimes the other, while at times we may use either. We are faced with a new kind of difficulty. We have two contradictory pictures of reality; separately neither of them fully explains the phenomena of light, but together they do.

Albert Einstein

Until the early twentieth century, light was widely considered to be a wave, as demonstrated by Thomas Young.

But then Einstein showed that light seemed to have particle behavior! And Planck showed that light seemed to come in discrete packets.

So, was light a particle or a wave? Which was it? Later physicists alleged to show that light sometimes shows particle behavior and sometimes wave behavior.

This led them to conclude that light is somehow both a particle and a wave at the same time. And that it, somehow, sometimes behaves as a wave and sometimes behaves as a particle.

Does this make any sense? Well, of course not.

A wave is an abstract description. It describes the motion of something. It describes various relationships.

Take a sound wave. It is an abstract description of the movement of air that can be mathematically represented as a wave.

Or take a water wave. When we say “wave” in this context, we are describing water arranged in a certain pattern.

The pattern of rise and fall with peaks and troughs.

The concept of a water wave describes the relationship of positions between water molecules that makes this pattern.

In common speech, it is often said that a “water wave” or the like refers to the water molecules. This is the noun form of “wave” that describes something arranged like this (something that is waving).

We are using wave in its verb form, as a description of motion or behavior, or a description of some kind of relationship.

A wave is a behavior that a physical entity does. Water may move in a wave motion. Air molecules move in a wave pattern and we experience this as sound.

A wave is the behavior of physical entities. It is not a form of physical entity.

Saying that light is a wave is saying “Light is the movement or behavior of something”. It does not tell us what it is that is waving.

It is like if I held up a ball and asked what it is and you said “That is a bounce”.

You have told me something that the ball does but not what the ball actually is. Bouncing is what the ball does, it is not what the ball is.

Physics is the science of explaining the nature of the fundamental physical constituents of the universe. You want to explain what those things are and how they interact.

Saying “light is a wave, an abstract description of behavior” does not further that in any way and evades the question of what is doing the waving.

We do not even have to get into the issue that something cannot be a wave and a particle at the same time. Because a wave is a description of behavior while a particle is a description of what something is, its form.

The idea of particle-wave duality reifies an abstraction and attempts to reduce physical entities to an abstraction.

It also evades the Law of Identity that says that things are what they are. Something is either a particle or not. It is not a particle, a form of matter and also a wave, an abstraction.

Contradictions do not exist. If you think you see a contradiction in reality then check your premises, because one or more of them are wrong.

Indeterminacy

It is said that until they are observed, particles do not have a definite state. Instead, they exist in a state of “superposition”.

That is, they exist in multiple different, mutually exclusive states all at once. And then when an observation takes place, they take on definite values for their properties.

A property is merely an aspect of somethings existence. But any property of any particle can only exist in one state at a time. That particle’s property can only take one value at a time.

That is just another way of saying something is what it is and that it has a nature and its properties are determined by its nature. Its properties are simply an aspect of its nature and cannot be any different than what they are.

This implies that properties must have single, definite values, as determined by the nature of the entities in question.

Saying that particles exist in a superposition of states is equivalent to saying that those properties have no values and do not exist.

It is denying that a particle is what it is and instead treats it as some kind of Platonic combination of possibilities.

This reifies the idea that a particle can have different possible states and pretends that these possible states are all somehow real, independent of the particle and its nature.

Statistical Fallacy List, Part One

If you have worked with data, then I bet you have been guilty of one or more of some kind of statistical fallacy at some point. I know I have!

In this series, we will be looking at fallacies that often come up when analyzing data or, allegedly, academic sources.

Biased Sample

This fallacy arises when you do not take a representative sample from a population.

What does this mean? What is a sample and what do I mean by a population?

In statistics, a population is a set of all the things one is gathering statistics on. It is the collection of all the things you are interested in studying and getting data on.

For instance, if you are getting statistics on the height of males in the US, then the population is all the males in the US. If you are studying the lifespan of fruit flies, then your population is all fruit flies.

A sample is a subset of a population that is chosen as representative of the population in general.

Usually one cannot get data on the entire population. One is not able to measure the height of every male in the US or the lifespan of every fruit fly in existence.

If one is doing a poll on political views, then one is unlikely to be able to ask everyone in the population what their political views are.

So, one must take a sample of the population. They have to select a subset that is assumed to be an accurate representation of the population.

So, if one is interested in the height of men in the US, one picks a bunch of men and infers things about the height of men in the US from this subset of men.

Or, if you are interested in studying political views, you pick a sample of people in the population and ask them about their views.

The sample must be a fairly accurate representation of the population. The sample must be chosen so that it is valid to analyze the sample and use information about the sample to form conclusions about the population as a whole.

The subject of sample selection is complex and we will not go into it here.

Suffice to say that a proper sample must be taken so that the sample is sufficiently representative of the population.

What this fallacy deals with is the situation when the chosen sample is biased and does not accurately represent the population.

This often happens intentionally when people choose a sample so that it seems to prove their assertions about the population.

For instance, suppose I want to show that Scientology is a growing religion. However, I mostly survey people with known associations with Scientology. This creates a bias in my results that does not accurately represent the population as a whole.

Suppose that I want to sample the height of men in the US. Then I probably do not want to sample only men that are over 7 feet tall. This will not give me an accurate picture of the average height of men in the US!

If I want to get an idea of the attitude towards Communism in the US, then I probably do not want to sample only Communists or only those opposed to Communism!

In other words, I do not want to choose my sample so that it misrepresents conclusions about the population.

The problem is that I run the risk of results that are not representative of the population. My results indicate trends that are a result of the way I selected my sample and are not truly indicative of the population.

I need to select my samples to accurately represent the population and not cherry-pick a sample that seems to make the point I want to make.

Gamblers’ Fallacy

This is named after the fallacy typically held by gamblers. As well as many other people engaging in games of chance and the like.

Suppose that you are betting on the roll of two six-sided dice. You notice that the dealer has rolled 10 a lot in the last few rounds. You, therefore, assume that he is less likely to roll a ten the next time he rolls the dice.

This is however not the case. For statistically independent events, it does not matter what happens in that past, any outcome always has the same probability of occurring.

Events are statistically independent when every possible event has a certain probability that is not affected by what has happened before.

That is to say, the outcome is not affected by previous outcomes.

Therefore, it does not matter if you roll ten on a dice ten times in a row. The chances of rolling ten on two six-sided dice are always 1/12, even if you just rolled ten one hundred times in a row.

Past events, good or bad do not affect the odds of statistically independent events.

A typical example would be when you assume that because you have had a streak of bad luck, that you are due for some good luck. Say you play Lotto and you fail to win anything for ten years but assume that after all this time that you are bound to win something one day soon!

This is not the case; you are no more likely to win Lotto now than ever before.

Or suppose you believe that since you had three girls in a row, this time you will most likely get a boy. No, you are just as likely to get a fourth girl as you are your first boy. The odds of getting a boy or girl are still 50/50.

Or you assume that because you have been rejected for five jobs in a row that today you are more likely to get one. No, you are just as likely to get it as you were as if the five rejections had never happened. All else being the same of course. And assuming you leave everything to dumb luck instead of improving your chances by upskilling.

Streaks of good or bad luck are meaningless and do not affect the outcomes of future events.

Physicists vs Philosophy and Reality.

We shall examine the article by Goldhill further in future articles. But for now, here is that opening:

It’s often assumed that physics and philosophy are at opposite ends of the academic spectrum. In fact, they’re close…

Olivia Goldhill

It is rather refreshing that the author admits that philosophy has any relevance to physics at all. Since most physicists would disagree with this.

I would say that many in physics are outright hostile towards philosophy!

Let me provide a few quotes to amply make this point.

Philosophy used to be a field that had content, but then ‘natural philosophy’ became physics, and physics has only continued to make inroads. Every time there’s a leap in physics, it encroaches on these areas that philosophers have carefully sequestered away to themselves, and so then you have this natural resentment on the part of philosophers.

Lawrence Krauss

What about another one from the late Stephen Hawking (we discuss him in our second podcast episode here)?

Philosophy is dead. Philosophy has not kept up with modern developments in science, particularly physics. Scientists have become the bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge.

Stephen Hawking

What about one heard repeated by Steven Weinberg but often attributed to Feynman?

The philosophy of science is just about as useful to scientists as ornithology is to birds.

Weinberg/Feynman

What about one from the famous Max Born?

“I have tried to read philosophers of all ages and have found many illuminating ideas but no steady progress toward deeper knowledge and understanding. Science, however, gives me the feeling of steady progress

Max Born

You get the idea. Many in physics are deeply hostile to philosophy. At best they think that philosophy has no relevance to what they do. At worst they believe that it contradicts their view of the world.

Because they do not understand the role of philosophy, they are often hostile to it.

Why? Well, for several reasons.

One of those would be that rational philosophies demonstrate that many tenents of modern physics cannot be right. For instance, Aristotle’s metaphysics and epistemology blast a lot of their fallacies apart.

For instance, Aristotle’s philosophy makes it clear that particle-wave duality is nonsense. Something cannot be two mutually exclusive things at once.

The most certain of all basic principles is that contradictory propositions are not true simultaneously.

Aristotle, Metaphysics

It also makes it clear that Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle is also nonsense. Everything that exists has identity, it has a definite nature. Not a vague, indefinite nature as alleged by this principle.

Now “why a thing is itself” is a meaningless inquiry (for—to give meaning to the question ‘why’—the fact or the existence of the thing must already be evident—e.g., that the moon is eclipsed—but the fact that a thing is itself is the single reason and the single cause to be given in answer to all such questions as why the man is man, or the musician musical, unless one were to answer, ‘because each thing is inseparable from itself, and its being one just meant this.’ This, however, is common to all things and is a short and easy way with the question.)

Aristotle, Metaphysics

But physicists have accepted anti-Aristotelian, anti-reality ideas. Therefore, they feel that they must rebel against the very ideas that brought the world out of the Middle Ages. The very ideas which made advanced science, including physics possible.

They are rebelling against the Aristotelian revival that made all this possible. The very knowledge that made it possible to get to the point where they know enough about atoms and space to make the kinds of irrational conclusions they have been making for over one hundred years!

Philosophy and physics are deeply intertwined.

Our view of metaphysics tells us what kind of world we think we live in. One in which objects have primacy or one in which consciousness and magic are primary.

Our epistemology includes our view of whether we live in a knowable world. And how we can know anything or if we think knowledge is even possible.

Physicists are, of course, influenced by philosophy. They believe that reality is inflicted with a kind of vagueness, in as far as it lacks a definite nature.

They believe that our senses are unable to perceive reality as it is, ala Kant.

Like Plato, they reify mathematics as somehow being more fundamental than physical objects, ala Plato.

So then, physicists are influenced by philosophy. Why then do they deny that philosophy influences them?

Because they do not understand the role of philosophy. They see it as intrusion on the business of science. Which they see as doing experiments and analyzing the results.

However, physics is not simply performing experiments and coming to whatever conclusions you wish. It is about explaining how the physical world works.

This requires one to be able to analyze the evidence of the senses and infer how the physical world works. It requires one to perform experiments and to be able to infer the mechanisms of nature from the results of said experiments. Without the conclusions contradicting basis metaphysical axioms such as “A is A”.

This is where one’s philosophy comes into play.

When looking at the results of these experiments, one’s view of the fundamental nature of reality, of metaphysics will come into play.

Their metaphysics tells them that things are not what they are, that they do not possess identity and that things can exist as something with a contradictory nature.

And this will seep into their physics. They will tend to interpret reality in this way and come to bizarre conclusions. The kind of bizarre conclusions modern physicists like to arrive at.

If they believe that reality is not knowable, then this will seep into their physics. They will pretend that some things cannot be known and thus do not need to be rationally explained. Or even explained at all.

They will evade explanations or offer non-explanations in their place.

Much as modern physics does when it pretends that the following is an explanation of gravity:

Einstein’s law of gravitation controls a geometrical quantity curvature in contrast to Newton’s law which controls a mechanical quantity of force.

Arthur Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World (1928) p. 133.

Or when it pretends that “electrons are a probability cloud” explains the unusual behavior of electrons.

A proper philosophy helps avoid these kinds of non-explanations. Irrational philosophies tend to make them inevitable.

Which is why modern physics is in the mess it is in. Good luck pointing that out given philosophy is allegedly useless!

It is rather like the man dying of thirst complaining that water is bad for him.

No, he needs water! And physics needs philosophy. Even if physicists lost in their desert of irrationality like to pretend otherwise…

The Primitive Non-Argument Against Reality, Part One

Today we are looking at this article, “The Evolutionary Argument Against Reality”.

In the words of the article:

The cognitive scientist Donald Hoffman uses evolutionary game theory to show that our perceptions of an independent reality must be illusions.

We shall see this is impossible. This is a gross misuse of mathematics. And is based on distorted view of natural selection.

We will get started with the first paragraph of the article.

As we go about our daily lives, we tend to assume that our perceptions — sights, sounds, textures, tastes — are an accurate portrayal of the real world.

We do not need to “assume” that. Our sensory organs passively perceive reality as it is. They have no means of distorting reality and showing us things as they are not.

Our visual cortex and other parts of our brain process the input of the senses. But they do not distort that input. They simply present the input of our senses to our consciousness. They do not fabricate or distort their inputs.

Everything we experience is an accurate portrayal of the real world, according to our mode of perception. There are different modes of perception. But that does not mean our senses are subjective or that we do not see reality as it is.

For example, we see things in color. Other organisms do not. Does that mean the senses of those organisms are invalid? Or that they do not see reality as it is?

No. It simply means that those other organisms have a different mode of perception. They observe the same facts of reality. But their senses present those facts differently.

Different modes of perception are not an argument for the subjectivity of those modes of perception. They simply mean that different organisms perceive the same facts of reality in different ways.

Nor does it prove that there is any distortion occurring. Different modes of perception are not kinds of sensory distortion.

Sure, when we stop and think about it — or when we find ourselves fooled by a perceptual illusion — we realize with a jolt that what we perceive is never the world directly, but rather our brain’s best guess at what that world is like, a kind of internal simulation of an external reality.

No. Our senses are not some kind of distorting lens that gives us a false view of reality.

Nor is what we perceive “our brain’s best guess at what the world is like”. It is an accurate representation of reality according to our mode of perception.

Indeed, we do not perceive everything that exists. We only perceive those things that are detectable by our senses. We will return to this a little later.

Episode sixteen of the podcast covers the topic of optical illusions.

In short, optical illusions are not an argument against the validity of the senses. When we observe an optical illusion, our senses are giving us valid data.

Neither our senses nor our brains are distorting the data. We are seeing things as they are. When we see bent straws in water, that is not our senses tricking us. That is how we observe light rays bent by water.

But if we want to better understand what we are observing, we must think and “see past” the illusion. We must understand that we need to process what we are seeing, which is real.

We need to more closely understand how it is consistent with reality. And then abstract away that optical illusion so that we can understand things better.

The world presented to us by our perceptions is nothing like reality. What’s more, he says, we have evolution itself to thank for this magnificent illusion, as it maximizes evolutionary fitness by driving truth to extinction.

This obviously cannot be true. As we have seen, there is no false dichotomy between the world as we see it and as it is. We see what is. There is no alternative. We cannot see things as they are not.

Furthermore, evolution could not make any of this true. Evolution is a process whereby the gene pools of populations change. According to changes in the environment and other factors.

Living organisms undergo countless genetic changes in every generation. You have several such genetic mutations. Although most of them do not impact your life in any noticeable way.

Those mutations that are harmful to the survival of an organism tend to be less likely to be passed down to future generations.  Survival can be  tough enough as it is. Those with a genetic disadvantage are less likely to survive to have offspring.

Natural selection is the process by which genetic changes that are beneficial to survival tend to be passed on. It favors those changes which help increase the chances of survival. While tending to weed out many of the changes that would negatively impact survival chances.

Suppose an organism was less able to perceive the world as it is. That would make it harder for that organism to deal with reality. And thus, seriously impact its chances of survival.

Such unfortunate specimens are very unlikely to have offspring. Let alone offspring that survive to have offspring.

There is no way that being unable to see reality as it is could maximize evolutionary fitness. Only those with the greatest chances of survival maximize their evolutionary fitness. Not those with pathetic to zero chances of survival.

As for evolution driving truth to extinction, that is utter nonsense. The truth is what the facts are.

Natural selection is an extremely brutal and merciless process. Those changes which objectively enhance an organism’s chances of survival are likely to be passed on.

Those which are not in line with the brutal reality of nature tend not to be passed on. Life in the wild is hard and those changes which are not in accordance with the objective needs of the organism are less likely to be passed on.

In a sense, this makes natural selection and evolution itself, heavily subservient to the truth. To the objective requirements of an organism’s survival. Not something which somehow obliterates truth.

Spacetime is NOT Swirling around a Dead Star

Today we are going to examine an article which claims that spacetime is swirling around a dead star. The article can be found here.

As many long-time followers of Metaphysics of Physics will know, we take issue with certain aspects of modern physics (for instance we talk about that here). That includes many of the central assertions of General Relativity(GR).

Key among these is the assertion that space and time are mathematical dimensions which are also somehow an aspect of physical reality. That they are somehow unified into some mathematical abstraction known as “spacetime”.

But space and time or spacetime are not things. Which is how GR and this article treats them. If it did not the whole premise and conclusion of this “thing” called spacetime swirling around a dead star falls apart. And this is exactly what happens when we define space and time as valid concepts.

Space and time are abstractions. And abstractions do not swirl or twist or dance around anything!

And spacetime is an invalid abstraction in as far as it is treated as anything other than a mathematical technique.

What is Space?

Space is a concept which indicates relationships between positions. Meaning?

Suppose that we consider one of the rooms in our house, say the living room. The living room is that part of the house between the four walls of the living room and between those four walls is some “space”.

The “space” within that room simply indicates relationships between the positions of those four walls. One wall is over here, another wall is over there and the other two are other there and there. In between is all this space. The space essentially refers to the separation between objects. This “space” then forms some area or volume in which you can find things.

The space in this room is simply a sum of places. Space is simply the relationships between boundaries of some kind of container or some otherwise defined set of bounding objects.

So, for instance, you can walk into the living room and say “Well, we have these walls. They are in different positions. There are other positions in between them.” And the sum of those other positions is the “space” inside the room.

(You can find more in episode twenty-one of the podcast, where this section was derived from).

What is Time?

Time measures motion or change. For instance, it takes two motions or changes and identifies a relationship between them.

For instance, suppose we are talking about how old I am. What fact of reality does my age refer to?

Well, we take two events, my birth and the writing of this article. And identify the fact that there is a certain relationship between these two. My birth happened during a particular revolution of the Earth around the Sun. This moment is occurring within a different revolution of the Earth around the Sun.

While I write this, 37 such revolutions have happened. And so I have thus identified a relationship between my birth and the writing of this article.

I could do something similar with myself starting a race and ending it. Except, presumably I would use a second to measure the relationship between the start and end of this event; a second as measured by the motion of a second hand around a clock or by a digital equivalent.

Or suppose I wish to measure how long it takes me for me to grow larger muscles and be able to work my way from bench pressing 100  to 125 pounds. And suppose I track the time using the date on my phone.

What am I measuring here? Relationships between my strength levels, a change in such over time.

(You can find out more about time in this subscription article).

We will go into what space and time are only far enough to see that they are abstractions. They are measurements of relationships.

What are Dimensions?

A dimension is a mathematical concept that indicates mathematical relationships. It is a technical concept that indicates how many independent parameters there are. In geometry, it indicates a set of coordinate axes required to specify any point.

The details are not important for this discussion. What is important is that dimensions are a mathematical concept that establishes mathematical relationships.

But physics treats dimensions as physical aspects of the universe. They treat the universe as if it was a thing that was somehow built up out of the dimensions. But space and time are not physical things, they are not aspects of the universe. They are relational concepts, they deal with abstractions.

But relativity supposedly proves that space is a set of dimensions!

Does it? Show me the proof that shows this. Space is an abstraction, nothing in physics justifies treating it as though it is a physical thing that is somehow subject to bending or distortions as a physical object might be. The same is true about time.

The reason modern physicists do this is that they are reifying mathematical abstractions. They do not understand that mathematics is a science of method for measuring reality. They do not understand that the equations of Relativity do not describe physical objects.

What the equations describe are relationships. The equations need to be given a reasonable physical interpretation. Which is where rational metaphysics comes in. However  they refuse to engage in rational philosophy, instead choosing to interpret it in any way which is mathematically consistent. Without regard to logic, reason, that is, rational metaphysics.

What then to make of things getting shorter or longer based on relative speed? That objects get longer or shorter for other reasons. It does not justify the reification of  space.

Vodcast Episode One: The Cause of Modern Physics is Philosophy

Today we are going over quotes that help to show that the cause of the irrationality in modern physics is philosophy.

You may also listen to or download an audio only version above.

[Note: Please note that this transcript may not exactly match the audio. However, there should be no significant differences.]

Intro

Metaphysics of Physics is the crucial voice of reason in the philosophy of science, rarely found anywhere else in the world today.

We are equipped with the fundamental principles of a rational philosophy that gives us the edge, may make us misfits in the mainstream sciences but also attracts rational minds.

With this show, we are fighting for a more rational world, mostly by looking through the lens of the philosophy of science.

We raise awareness of issues within the philosophy of science and present alternative and rational approaches.

The irrationality of modern physics is the focus of this channel. We have covered topics such as:

The irrationality of Stephen Hawking.The universe and the Big Bang. The philosophy of Niels Bohr. The achievements of Isaac Newton.Optical illusions and the validity of the senses.

If you think that science is about explaining a knowable reality, then this is the channel for you.

If you want to learn more about the irrationality of modern physics, then you are in the right place.

I am your host Ashna. My husband, Dwayne Davies is the primary content creator and your guide through the hallowed halls of the philosophy of science.

We will discuss the problems in modern physics and more and how we can live in a more rational world!

Check out our website at metaphysicsofphysics.com.

The Show Itself

Hi everyone! Welcome to the first of the Metaphysics of Physics video podcast. Today we are going over quotes that help to show that the cause of the irrationality in modern physics is philosophy.

If you are a long-time fan of Metaphysics of Physics, then you will know that modern physics is full of crazy absurdities. Such as things being particles and waves at the same time. And things not being real unless they are observed. Or the tendency to treat obvious concepts such as that of “dimension” or “time” as though they were physical things. Or that the universe is made from mathematics!

Why do educated people take such nonsense seriously? Is it because reality is as weird as physicists like to believe? And do we just have to accept this?

No! If you examine all these kinds of claims, you will not find any evidence that supports them. All these claims are simply baseless, nonsensical interpretations of experiments and/or mathematical equations. There is never a shred of evidence that supports any of these interpretations.

Ah, but what about all the alleged experimental evidence. Yes, what about it? In no case can it reasonably be interpreted as supporting any such anti-reality position. No experiment ever performed will ever show that reality is not real or that it is unknowable.

If reality was not real, the results of experiments would not be real and they would demonstrate nothing. If reality was unknowable, then you could never learn that by performing experiments that could not reveal that.

Or in other words: you cannot use reality to demonstrate that there is no reality. You cannot claim knowledge that proves that knowledge is impossible.

Why then do physicists take any of this seriously? It is because of the ideas that physicists have accepted either passively or actively. It is because of the philosophies that those in physics have blindly accepted or have actively embraced. Philosophies which lead them to interpret reality through the twisted lenses of those very philosophies which are hostile to reality and knowledge.

What kind of philosophies might these be? The kind that asserts that what we call reality is an illusion and that we might as well give up trying to understand how it works. Instead, they claim that we should confine ourselves to studying only mathematical appearances. As that is all they believe we shall ever know about.

Today we are going to explore some quotes from physicists. We will start with Niels Bohr and his contemporaries. They started physics down the road of abandoning reality in favor of mathematical appearances. And then we shall turn to more recent physicists who evidently agree with Bohr and his peers.

We shall see that the absurdities of modern physics should come as no surprise. The people inflicting modern physics with these absurdities are simply being consistent with the philosophy of Bohr and the like. The philosophy which dominates science today and which is shaped by the Neo-Kantian philosophies that have dominated our culture for over a hundred years.

Without any further ado, let us look at some of these quotes. And then discuss what kind of philosophical premises motivated them.

“Everything we call real is made of things that cannot be regarded as real.” – Niels Bohr

Bohr believed that we could never know reality as it is. We can merely develop a pragmatic abstract description consistent with what we observe. Which is merely an illusion, not things as they are.

If we cannot know reality, then one might ask “towards what purpose?” do we have science? Creating science-fiction?

That seems rather pointless to me. But pragmatists would assert that there is some use in describing illusions. If they help us live better lives as we navigate our way around all these illusions.

“Isolated material particles are abstractions, their properties being definable and observable only through their interaction with other systems.” – Niels Bohr.

We are to view things such as an “electron” or a “proton” as abstract descriptions. We should not think that we know anything about what they are. No, we are merely creating abstract descriptions. And then identifying relationships between these abstractions.

After all, if we cannot know reality as it is, and all we have are illusions to work with, then should we not at least try to find out how these illusions are connected? At least then we can learn to live in this world of illusions.

“I consider those developments in physics during the last decades which have shown how problematical such concepts as “objective” and “subjective” are, a great liberation of thought.” – Niels Bohr.

Here Bohr exposes his pragmatism. He does not consider it worthwhile to discuss whether the abstractions he holds so dear are “objective” or “subjective”. He is merely concerned with whether they might prove pragmatically useful.

If we cannot know reality, then what use is it to say whether something is objective or subjective? We can never know. We can only know whether abstractions are useful.

A reasonable person might say that abstractions are only useful if they are objective.

Bohr believed that we cannot know whether something is objective or not, so considers it pointless to consider such things.

“We must be clear that when it comes to atoms, language can be used only as in poetry. The poet, too, is not nearly so concerned with describing facts as with creating images and establishing mental connections.” – Niels Bohr

Bohr enjoyed the fact that so much of the quantum physics he was developing made no sense. He reveled in its frequent contradictions and insisted that different aspects of the same thing could be in a kind of conflict (but were complementary) with each other. Of course, he urged his peers to accept such conflicts!

He was like one of those deranged poets who enjoys constructing rhymes that make no sense. But who nonetheless insists that his poetry is of great depth and significance.

Except he was not merely some poet filling his victim’s ears with an insult to the Muses. He was detaching physics from reality while insisting that physics does not need it. While insisting that instead it needs beautiful descriptions of contradictions!

“There is no quantum world. There is only an abstract quantum physical description. It is wrong to think that the task of physics is to find out how nature is. Physics concerns what we can say about Nature.” – Niels Bohr

That sums it all up. According to Bohr, the point of physics is not to learn about the fundamental nature of the physical world. What then is the point of physics?

According to Bohr, it is about whatever we want to say about reality. Without concerning ourselves with things like objectivity, logic or the true nature of things. It is all about “poetry” and the relationships between meaningless abstractions with no connection to an unknowable reality.

Of course, physics is about explaining the real physical world. But according to Bohr we can not know the real world, let alone explain it!

You can read more about the philosophy of Bohr in episode seven of the podcast. There we cover his philosophy in some depth.

Bohr and his disciples had an enormous influence on physics and later physicists. But he was not the only person to assert such things.

For instance, we have this quote from Werner Heisenberg:

Introduction

Today we are starting a new series where we take seven quotes from my database of irrational quotes, briefly examine what they mean and what is so terrible about each of the quotes.

Without any further ado, let us look at our first seven quotes. We have several quotes from the physicists Heisenberg and Schrodinger. As well as quotes from the philosopher David Hume and one from the Quran.

Scare Quotes of Note

“Quantum theory provides us with a striking illustration of the fact that we can fully understand a connection though we can only speak of it in images and parables.” — Werner Heisenberg

According to Heisenberg, quantum theory does not tell us of things as they are. The purpose of physics, to allow us to understand the nature of things as they are and to explain how the physical world works on a fundamental level.

What does he mean by images and parables? He means that we can construct mental pictures but those pictures do not describe things as they are. We can construct descriptions of things like atoms, but these descriptions are not true.

Like a parable, they tell a story, one that is not necessarily true. In this case we are just telling ourselves stories for the purposes of describing the quantum world.

That does not sound much like physics to me!

“Not only is the Universe stranger than we think, it is stranger than we can think.” — Werner Heisenberg

When he says that the universe is “stranger than we think” he is likely referring mostly to quantum mechanics. Which is certainly very strange and also very false.

“[S]tranger than we can think”? What does he mean by this? He means that not only is the world as strange as quantum mechanics claims but perhaps even stranger! Heisenberg did not believe that we could know reality. He thought we could know only what was exposed to our senses. Which according to him, was not really reality.

He also thought it was so strange, so illogical that it would always remain as an unknowable mystery.

No. Reality is certainly not this strange. Despite what quantum physicists assert to the contrary.

“We have no other notion of cause and effect, but that of certain objects, which have always conjoin’d together, and which in all past instances have been found inseparable.” — David Hume

Hume was an extreme skeptic. He was the sort of person who would question whether just because your car battery died and your car stopped, that there necessarily had to be any casual connection between these two events. No matter whether or not you could actually show that there was a causal connection.

There are many, many people like this today and many of them are getting this directly or indirectly from Hume and other philosophers.

According to Hume, just because your observe A leading to B, you cannot assume that causes B. Well, yes, you should not blindly assume that. It is true that just because A happens and then B happens, that you can assume that A causes B. Perhaps B occurring after A was simply a coincidence and B has no real relation to A. After all,correlation is not causation

However, that does not mean that you cannot show that in some cases A and B must be casually connected. It is simple to show that if you take the battery out of your car, that will cause it not to work anymore.

All you have to do is show the nature of a car engine and show the relationship between the nature of the engine and the battery. Then you can show that yes, removing the battery is casually connected to the car stopping.

Therefore you can in fact prove that A will always lead to B. You simply show that if A occurs, it is in the nature of the entities involved that B happens. It would contradict the nature of the entities involved if B did not happen! Therefore A and B are certainly casually connected.

We do not have to blindly assume a causal connection, we can show that in certain instances, such a connection must be necessity exist!

“I insist upon the view that ‘all is waves’.” — Erwin Schrodinger

How can all be waves? Everything is a wave?

Let us remind ourselves what a wave is. A wave is an abstract mathematical description of relationships. Things wave, but things are not waves.

Saying that matter is a wave is like saying that “an electron is the periodic motion of something”. What? How can an electron be periodic motion? An electron might move in a periodic manner, but an electron is not itself made up of motion!

A wave is something that matter does, not something that matter is.

So why on Earth should we insist that all is waves?

We discuss this issue in this episode of the podcast.

“String theory at its finest is, or should be, a new branch of geometry. …I, myself, believe rather strongly that the proper setting for string theory will prove to be a suitable elaboration of the geometrical ideas upon which Einstein based general relativity.” — Edward Witten

String theory is supposed to be a “unified theory of physics” which serves to unify quantum mechanics and relativity. It is supposed to provide a unified, fundamental and integrated theory of physics from which most, all or at least many other ideas in physics can be derived.

Such a theory should provide a physical explanation for the physical world by describing the nature of physical objects and their interactions. A geometrical theory certainly does not do this. Geometry describes mathematical relationships, it does not describe the fundamental nature of physical objects and their interactions.

While it is fine to use geometry in physics, the end goal of physics should not be to describe a geometrical theory. Mathematics is not the end goal of physics. Physicists have for more than one hundred years pretended as though it is. That does not make it so.

“The laws of physics and chemistry are statistical throughout.” — Erwin Schrodinger

Are they now? Let us ask ourselves what the proper place of statistics is in physics.

We know that there are some phenomena that we do not understand very well. We do not yet understand them well enough to be able to accurately predict how they work. Nor do we have mathematical equations that we can use to accurately predict their behavior.

But suppose we are able to construct a statistical model that gives us the probabilities for certain kinds of behaviors. We might not understand the phenomena very well nor be able to predict the outcome with much certainty, but we can at least use statistics to estimate he chances of certain outcomes.

A good example of this would be most of quantum mechanics. We know so little about the quantum world that we have to resort to probabilities and other statistical methods. We tell ourselves that is all we can do, but that nonsense is a story for another day.

The truth is that if we adopt rational epistemology and if we decide we can learn more about the quantum world, we will and we may not have to rely on statistical methods.

“I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them.” — Quran (8:12)

There are many people that like to pretend that the Quran does not advocate violence. They believe that anyone claiming that Islam is a violent ideology is simply misunderstanding the teachings of Islam.

So, then is this quote directly from the Quran not representative of Islam? It is from its most holy book, so one cannot dismiss it merely as the a misrepresentation of the religion.

Perhaps this passage is an anomaly and there are few passages like this? Nope! There are many other passages such as this which openly call for Muslims to violently murder non-believers. Such violence is a central aspect of the faith and the standard response demanded when in regards to infidels!

So much for Islam not being a religion of extreme violence. Such violence is an inextricable part of the faith!

You can find over 100 such verses of violence here.