RE: Nothing beats science

From: Smigrodzki, Rafal (SmigrodzkiR@MSX.UPMC.EDU)
Date: Wed Oct 10 2001 - 12:05:17 MDT

Anders Sandberg wrote:

> As an empiricist and Popper fan, I would say: Nothing beats science yet.

J.R. Molloy replied:

As an objective observer and extropy fan, I would say: Science will measure
the degree that anything beats it, and if so, will happily applaud the

#### I wish my car's bumpers were large enough to fit both statements.

"Colin Hales" <> wrote:

An answer is a thousand questions
A question is a candle to a cavern

#### I really love these words.

Just to comment on Colin's thoughts about the fundamental uncertainty of our
knowledge about "facts":

We might ask what is the meaning of "knowing". How do I know that the color
of my keyboard is pale gray? When looking down from the computer screen I
can actually see it. Now, assuming the truth of the scientific method, and
the truth of the results of neuroscience research on color vision (which in
turn is built on a whole pyramid of beliefs about the world which seem to be
indispensable for survival from minute to minute and day to day), I know
that there is a very complicated cascade of events from light striking my
eyes to a perception of color. And, of course, the ability of my brain to
think about keyboards and other objects is again non-trivial. There are many
ways in which even these perceptual processes could go wrong (as verified by
other observers, if they exist), even more so for the higher abstractions
(personal identity, math, morality) built from them. So, more sophisticated
thinking actually deprives me of the naive confidence of childhood, where
what I saw simply was. And this is even without invoking the old "Are we
living in a simulation?" or "Only I exist" mindgames. Is there something
that I could be absolutely, unequivocally sure about?

There is one thought which is appears "true" to me no matter what actual or
only theoretically possible objections I raise. It could be verbalized as
"Something is". The exact nature of "something", or the real meaning of "is"
cannot be fathomed, and probably cannot be known with certainty, because to
know what "is" is, you have to know the meaning of time, the meaning of
timelessness, the relationship between mathematics and the observable
reality - in fact, to explain the meaning of "is" you have to be either
omniscient, or an impeached president.

So, yes, I agree with Colin that almost nothing is certain but, in a true
pancritical-realistic vein, it's fun to find out things, even if you never
know for sure what it is that you are finding out.

Rafal Smigrodzki, MD-PhD

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