Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum


  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by Korthor

  1. All the Democratic candidates are for drawing down. McCain wants to keep the troops, Hagel wants to withdraw, and the others are waffling. Certainly any GOP nominee would have to come up with a firm Iraq policy by the time of the presidential debates. Unless things change, I find it unlikely that a candidate that didn't commit to significantly reducing commitments within the first six months of their presidency could win.
  2. Do you believe Fermat's Last Theorm to be true? I do, but I couldn't tell you why... few people could. It seems you are in the untenable position of: a. not believing FLT or b. claiming you understand it And if you understand the proof of FLT, then I'm the Admiral of the Ocean Sea!
  3. I laid out the problems in my original post. 1. How much deference should we give science? 2) Is accepting science we don't understand an abdication of reason? 3) To what extent can non-scientists intervene in scientific debates? To take another example besides global warming, what about monetary and fiscal policy. Objectivism has a clear position based on political philsosophy, but it also makes claims about the economic effects of those policies. Free market economists (e.g., Greenspan, Friedman) have written both popular and academic economics literature. While I can understand the former, the latter sometimes escapes me.... While I have a tentative answer to my questions... 1) a lot 2) no 3) little to not at all... I realize that my responses might be troubling to some. I was hoping someone might have some better answers.
  4. How does an amateur recognize "an identifiably invalid method"? Sure, there will be obvious cases of bad science, but those will be rare. I was thinking of cases (e.g., the global warming debate) where there is "good science" supporting both sides. In addition, I think you are over-estimating ability of amateurs to evaluate "emprical" claims. Often, even looking at "raw data" requires considerable expertise (e.g., could you recognize a particular virus if given a microscope?). Moreover, much of science is building models and theories based on this data, and evaluating the degree to which a particular model matches data is often a tricky thing. That's why scientists have disagreements. How about the empirical claim that there is anthropogenic warming... There are literally thousands of studies offering evidence for and against the claim. I could read the conclusions and try to formulate an opinion, which is in fact what some amateurs interested in the subject do. My question, however, is about whether or not these amatuers are kidding themselves. While they might understand some of the studies (e.g., temperature records), they certainly won't understand the methodology and data behind others. Moreover, they won't have a snowball's chance in hell of understanding the math behind the sophisticated computer models climatologists use to try to understand the interactions between a multitude of variables. Do you see the difficulty? Will you even acknowledge that this might be a problem? Amateurs who think they "understand" climatology have just read the "cliff notes" version of science. They might be able to talk about some of the broad strokes, but do they really know what they're talking about? P.S. I think the Bogdonoff affair proves my point. A minority of referees recognized it to be BS, but other didn't have sufficient expertise or were just being lazy. This seems a strong indication that there is something very pernicious about pretending to understand something that you don't fully understand.
  5. I saw an inteview with an ABC reporter last night who spent a lot of time recently in Iraq with Fallon. She said that the most remarkable thing is Fallon's difference in opinion and priority with his predecessors. He realizes that the patience of the American public is running out, so the "surge" has to work quickly or not at all. As a result, he is placing emphasis on short term projects (anything more than six months is too long term). She says she sensed skepticism amongst some of his subordinates that anything in Iraq could work both quickly and well. Despite the intense controversy and hot air swirling around the issue, I find the question of Iraq kind of moot. Unless something drastic happens, the US will be mostly out in two years and Iraq will be Shia dominated more or less Islamist tyranny with the trappings of democracy and slow motion civil war. Does anyone disagree?
  6. To what degree can amateurs have an opinion on science if they can't understand the science? I don't think you understand my question. I'm not saying that one can't learn science except as an act of faith. You learn science as a scientist. But what about when amateurs want to examine scientific conclusions. They can read the conclusions, learn a bit about the methodology, but once they enter into the details of the "science" there's a good chance they'll be lost. I believe in the scientific method, and I tend to think scientists know what they're talking about--peer review is a good system. My question isn't about my anger with Dragonmaci, but I find the fact that no one is willing to confront the problem troubling. There's a difference between pride and arrogance. Saying you "understand" a scientific concept when you know the conclusion and perhaps a bit about the reasoning (but not, for example, the difficult mathematical formulas) is like saying you "appreciated" a Hugo novel when you just read the cliff notes. I think there's something intellectually dishonest about it. Oh, and math isn't about "empricial" verification... people stopped thinking that once they realized they couldn't "square the circle." Mathemathical proof doesn't happen in a laboratory, but that doesn't mean it's arbitrary... it's extremely rigorous: every step has to follow from the one before. Sometimes they are so complex (e.g., the proof for Fermat's Last Theorm) that only a handful of people in the world can understand them. It would be ridiculous to claim that I "understand" the proof for FLT, but it would be equally ridiculous for me to be skeptical of the proof just because I can't understand it. In case anyone's confused, here's my question: To what degree can amateurs have an opinion on science if they can't understand the science?
  7. I'm not sure, but there are certainly no WalMarts in Chicago. I remember a few months ago there were negotiations between WalMart and the city, but they ultimately broke down. The Daleys are corrupt. I moved here from Louisiana... hardly a model for clean government. But I find the amount of corruption in Chicago and Illinois government shocking. Not a month goes by without a new scandal (our last governor, Ryan, is currently in jail) but no one seems to care.
  8. I don't think we should fall into the trap of thinking our alternative is between strict constructionism and judicial anarchy (Hear ye, hear ye, hear ye... Welcome to Thunderdome!). After all, liberal judges do give legal reasoning, and there are certainly schools of "normative" jurisprudence that would back up judicial enforcement of rights. More importantly, judicial review is one of the cornerstones of the American rule of law, so let's not pretend that decisions like Lawrence or Roe are coming out of nowhere. Ever since Marbury, the Courts have been reviewing the legislature and it hasn't collapsed American democracy or the law. Lest we forget, the Constitution is the highest law in the land. Thus, if a statute violates the Constitution then it is a priori invalid given that the authority of the statute comes from the Constitution. Arguable, Aleph O's notion of deference is contrary to the rule of law; at any rate, it certainly doesn't help it. Additionally, America will probably continue to wobble between freedom and collectivism for the indefinite future. Thus, applying the bad law vigorously in the hope that it will lead to some kind of "awakening" is a questionable proposition. After all, I want to have gay sex with euthanized fetuses now! Finally, we live in a republic--not a democracy. I like the fact that old guys in robes can over-rule old guys in suits--checks and balances are beautiful thing.
  9. It's been difficult, but so far we Chicagoans have managed to survive without WalMart. I know what you're thinking, "Life without WalMart, won't the survivors envy the dead?"... but there are still plenty of places to buy discount tube socks, and plenty of "Help Wanted" signs everywhere I look. Obviously what the government did was wrong, but I'm not going to cry myself to sleep over WalMart tonight... Much more disturbing is the Illinois governor's proosal for a new "receipts" tax (somewhat similar to Europe's VAT) that would represent the largest state tax increase in living memory.
  10. Although I generally like your posts DavidOdden, I will have to disagree with you. How can you know whether they are correctly applying the "underlying methodology" unless you can understand the science. And yes math is really, really important. The biggest misapprehension that laypeople have about science is their underestimation of the importance of math, and the math that scientists--especially physcists and mathemeticians--use is well beyond the ability of anyone to understand without quite a bit of study. I tried to post below some formulas for eliptic geometry that would have been relevant in my debate with Dragonmaci about non-Euclidean geometry, although the translation from the web to my post didn't work out so well. At any rate, you can find for yourself with a quick search of the web lots of "gibberish" which we'll have to take on "faith" is good science. My question was an honest one, although I think lots of us have such pride in our reason that we would rather evade this difficult question. I would certaintly be glad if someone had a more satisfying way to resolve the issue. So here are some formulas... In the projective model, the points of n-dimensional real projective space are used as points of the model. The points of n-dimensional projective space can be identified with lines through the origin in (n+1)-dimensional space, and can be represented non-uniquely by nonzero vectors in Rn+1, with the understanding that u and λu, for any non-zero scalar λ, represent the same point. Distance can be defined using the metric d(u, v) = \arccos \left(\frac{u \cdot v}{||u||\ ||v||}\right). This is homogeneous in each variable, with d(λu, μv) = d(u, v) if λ and μ are non-zero scalars, and so it defines a distance on the points of projective space. The two models represent different geometries; in the hyperspherical model, two distinct lines intersect exactly twice, at antipodal points, and in the projective model, lines intersect exactly once. By identifying antipodal points the hyperspherical model becomes a model for the same geometry as the projective model. A notable property of the projective model is that for even dimensions, such as the plane, the geometry is nonorientable. A model representing the same space as the hyperspherical model can be obtained by means of stereographic projection. Let En represent Rn ∪ {∞}, that is, n-dimensional real space extended by a single point at infinity. We may define a metric, the chordal metric, on En by \delta(u, v)=\frac{2 ||u-v||}{\sqrt{(1+||u||^2)(1+||v||^2)}}. where u and v are any two vectors in Rn and ||*|| is the usual Euclidean norm. We also define \delta(u, \infty)=\delta(\infty, u) = \frac{2}{\sqrt{1+||u||^2}}. The result is a metric space on En, which represents the distance along a chord of the corresponding points on the hyperspherical model, which it maps bijectively to by stereographic projection. To obtain a model of elliptic geometry, we define another metric d(u, v) = 2 \arcsin\left(\frac{\delta(u,v)}{2}\right). The result is a model of elliptic geometry.
  11. 1. So Aleph 0 is saying that it violates my rights if the Courts were to rule against precedent or the legislature? So the in Lawrence the Courts violated the "right" of the Texas people to outlaw gay sex? I think this explains everything that's wrong with conservatives who think they're Objectiists. Hey, as long as I know in advance the government will lock me up for sex, then I guess everything is on the up and up. 2. Although I've already said if a few times, Guliani's "pro-choice" position is completely irrelevant. If he appoints strict constructionists, they will rule against Roe.
  12. On a global warming post, I recently initiated a debate about whether or not amateurs are qualified to have an opinion on such controversies. I took up the position that we couldn’t. Ifairness to the other side, I would like to acknowledge the troublesome implications of my own arguments. 1) Modern mathematics, physics, biology, astrophysics, climatology, chemistry, etc. is extremely complex. While well-informed amateurs can read and understand the results of the studies in those fields, they can’t really understand the “science” behind the results. To take the most direct reason for such an inability, they can’t understand the math. The math behind most of the models, whether it is of climate change or of sunspot cycles or of the human genome, requires years of advanced study. Saying you understand the results is like saying a non-German speaker can understand the poetics of Goethe: While they can understand the broad-strokes, they can’t really enter into a debate about the details. But… 2) Does that mean we just have to accept what the scientists tell us? Does accepting science we don’t understand imply an abdication of reason? Does this turn science into a new religion? I can read science on global warming, non-Euclidian geometry, or string theory, but I don’t really understand the science and math behind the models, and I certainly don’t have the background to adjudicate between competing scientific claims. Similarly, this question led me to a somewhat mean-spirited and bitter debate with Dragonmaci about non-Euclidian geometry and Quantum Mechanics. I don’t really have the mathematical background for such a debate, but I took the position that amateurs shouldn’t object on epistemological grounds to scientists following the scientific method. I nonetheless felt somewhat disarmed by others who claimed I was substituting the “authority” of others for my own reason. What should be the rational response when confronted with a controversy that one’s own reason can’t adjudicate given one’s inability to understand the math behind the competing claims? (Although one could if one took the time to learn it) Given that most of us aren’t willing to devote years of our life to advanced scientific study, is there an alternative to just accepting what the scientists tell us? I would be particularly interested in hearing from people with an expertise in science, math, or the philosophy of science. P.S. Please don't tell me to learn more math. I will when I can, but the vast majority of us are in the position of having to make do with Calculus and introductory college science as the high-point of our scientific education. PPS. Please don't indict my definiton of "faith." I understand that belief with a rational basis isn't "faith," but that kind of gets to the heart of the issues. PPPS. Please forgive all the PS's, but I'm well aware of the contentiousness of some on this forum... That's why I love it!
  13. The fact that military tribunals are "objectively defined" is irrelevant to their constitutionality. It comes down to a question of "deference": how much should Congress and/or the Courts defer to the Executive on such matters. There are several options: A. The Exec can do what it wants to POWs/enemy combatants as part of its War Powers B. The Exec can create its own court system without due process of law as long as it gets consent of the Congress C. Special courts (e.g., courts martial) are OK as long as basic due process safeguards are protected D. Anyone on trial has the right to a civilian court. The Court seemed to come down for option B last summer, although their are still appealate courts who are thinking about option C. There is no "objective test" for determining between options A/B/C/D in the current constitutional context because the "war powers" of the executive, the supervisory power of the Courts, and the ability of Congress to control the judiciary were not will spelled out in 1789. Thus, courts have to make a determination concerning the degree of "deference" that the Courts owe to the Congress and Executive, Courts owe to Congress, and Courts owe to the executive. For example, if the courts chose option C or D they would be saying that judicial enforcement of due process trumps Congressional will. Is there an alternative to deference? The only one I can think of is explicit articulation concerning these controversies in the Constitution. Since that won't happen any time soon, I tend to favor protection of civil liberties: after all, in a world of non-objective law, shouldn't we err on the side of the individual against the government?
  14. If "balancing tests" are incompatible with objective law (which I've always suspected), is there any alternative for interpreting when the government can violate rights for emergency reasons. I can't think of any. Yeah! That means Objectivism is opposed to Gitmo, although some on this board advocated locking up all Muslims after 9/11. Or am I missing something? Is there an objective standard for judicial "deference" to the executive besides, "Hey executive, you can't create your own judicial system in the name of naitonal security."
  15. Yeah Kelo was the "takings" clause decision I was thinking of, although it wasn't an example of activist judges inventing new rights. Rather, the majority rules that it met the "rational basis" test for evaluating the scope of takings in the 5th Amendment. The law is full of these "balancing tests" and it is questionable whether they are compatible with objective law. But they aren't a creation of "activist" judges: all schools of jurisprudence have them, and it would certainly be difficult to do without them. For example, what if the government needs to violate rights in an emergency (e.g., War on Terror or WWII). The SCOTUS applies balancing tests like "compelling state interests" to determine if such rights violations are acceptable. Personally, I'm an avid civil libertarian who would rather have five more 9/11's than a single case of government sanctioned torture, but I realize that I would probably be in the minority. Those who believe these rights violations are "sometimes" acceptable would have difficulty finding a standard to define this "sometimes" without using a balancing test of some sort or another. And I'm fine with the SCOTUS finding new rights (like the right to abortion, or the right to have gay sex). If the legislature won't protect my rights to have gay sex with an aborted fetus, then more power to the courts!
  16. How can you "understand" the modern physics behind climate change without understanding non-Euclidean geometry? At best, you can parrot the results, but you can't really "understand" what the astrophysicsts are saying since their models requires knowledge of higher maths.
  17. Can you prove how 'parallelness" is relevant in hyperbolic space? Could you point me to a mathematician who denies that non-Euclidian geometry is internally consistent? Could you point me to a contradiction in any mainstream non-Euclidian geometry? You seem to think that Euclidean geometry describes reality, so anything that contradicts Euclidean geometry contradicts reality. I hate to break it to you, but EG doesn't accurately describe reality. And SPOILER ALERT there is no easter bunny... As I just pointed out, even your precious sunspot astrophysicists rely on these brave new maths to model the phenomena they're observing.
  18. One cannot understand sunspot cycles without underestanding modern theories of gravitation and magnetic fields, which in turn requires an understanding of special relativity, which in turn is based on hyperbolic geometry. It is specious in the extreme to defend a sunspot theory of warming while denying non-Euclidian geometry. It proves the point I initially made, which is that we should be skeptical of any amateur who makes claims about difficult scientific concepts. The very fact that DM parrots the results of astrophysicists while denying the math that lies at the foundations of their physics is the perfect demonstration of my argument.
  19. I might have gone a bit over the top, but I guess I was frustrated when I kept explaining in numerous ways why non-Euclidian geometry's modification of the 5th postulate made the idea of "parallel" not relevant and he kept saying "parallel lines don't intersect." When I informed him that every single mathematician on the face of the globe agrees with me, he claims they're all wrong. I'll take back my hostility, but not my conviction that DM is too ignorant to talk about math unless he points me to some contradiction in non-Euclidian geometry.
  20. One parting question: what mathematical training, if any, do you have? You don't really seem to even understand Euclid, and I got that in the tenth grade. I was under the impression that school was compulsory at least that far in New Zealand, but then maybe not... At any rate, I'll repeat my challenge: prove a contradiction in hyperbolic or elliptic geometry. If you do, then I'll take everything back because you probably are the most brilliant mathmatical mind since Riemann. Also, it's not "some" mathemeticians. ALL mathematicians believe non-Euclidian geometries to be internally consistent. But I will eagerly away DragonMaci's treatsie, "Why all Math is Wrong: Confessions of a New Zealand Douchebag."
  21. I feel annoyed, not defensive. People seem to keep jumping up and down yelling "parallel lines can't meet" over and over again. All I'm saying is that "parallelness" as you understand doesn't exist in non-Euclidian geometry. What does it mean to be "parallel"? The word only has any mathematical meaning in the context of Euclid's 5th postulate, which reads "For any line A and point Z not on line A, there is exactly one line that passes through Z but does not intersect A." Whatever you think you're saying when you say "paralllel," that's what "parallelness" means to a mathematician. Why should I care what a dictionary says? I thought the "consensus" view didn't matter. When talking about mathematical concepts we should use mathematical knowledge rather than typing in "parallel" into dictionary.com. Hyperbolic geometry, to take an example, substitutes an alternative postulate: "For any infinite straight line A and point Z not on it, there are many other infinitely extending straight lines that pass through Z and which do not intersect A." Elliptic geometry doesn't believe there is even a single line that passes through point Z but does not intersect line A. These aren't competing theories (like say evolution v. creationsim), but rather different systems describing different kinds of surfaces. For example, Euclidian geometry describes planes, ellipitic geometry describes how longtitudnal lines operate on the surface of spheres, and hyperbolic geometry describes the curvature of space in Einstein's theories of relativity. Hell there is even a branch of mathematics, topology, that brackets most of these geometric questions entirely. Once again, the fact that ya'll think you know what "parallelness" without any background in even Classical Euclidian geometry kind of proves my point that amateurs shouldn't be interpreting climate science. P.S. In case you're confused, non-Euclidians did create a new word, "ultraparallel." They never say "parallel lines meet," but rather offer an alternative postulate to Euclid's 5th. I already clarified that I might have slightly mispoke when I said "parallel lines meet" and have since clarified over and over again what I meant. If someone can point to a single contradiction in non-Euclidian geometry, then they should immediately contact the math world; they'll probably get the Field's Medal given that these maths have been accepted as internally consisten for 150 years.
  22. Yes Guliania has been pro-choice, but now he's entering the GOP primary so he has to wrap his lips around the throbbing member of the Christian right in order to get the nomination. That's why he's adopted the line about "strict constructionism." In a weird way, it is the inverse of the standard Christian Democratic line "I think abortion is immoral but don't believe it should be outlawed because of my constitutional principles." It allows him to effectively reverse his posiiton on abortion rights without seeming to wobble. It certainly has more credibility than Mit Romney's "I used to be pro-choice but now I want to be prez so I'm pro life! Look at me, I'm a Mormon and have only had one wife so you lunies on the Christian right can definitely trust me!" Regardless of Guliani's personal beliefs, he's is likely to nominate justices who are less willing to protect rights than the justices who would be nominated by a Democrat. Still, I would trust him more than the other GOP candidates.
  23. Given your inability to grasp even the most basic synopsis of higher math, I'm skeptical of your understanding of any kind of science. Since you this whole "paralllel' line thing seems to be blowing your mind, I'll try one last time to state what the mathemeticians say. Euclidian geometry believes in Euclid's 5th Postulate. That's where the concept "parallelness" comes from. Sure you can draw two parallel lines on a piece of paper and look the word up in your dictionary, but the word "paralllel" only has a mathematical meaning as part of a larger geometric system. To claim otherwise is like saying you can know what the word "mutated" meant without understanding its context in genetics. Sure, you can look up the word "mutant" in the dictionary and shoot down the "mutants" that are attacking your house in a post-Apocalyptic war zone, but you don't know what "mutant" means in scientific sense until you understand genetics. Non-Euclidian geometries don't accept Euclid's 5th postulate. That doesn't mean that there are multiple realities, but that Euclid did a poor job of understanding reality. "Parallelness" only has meaning on a plane. If you don't believe me, draw two parallel lines on a piece of paper. That's a plane. Now bend the paper so that the two parallel lines meet (the same thing happens with longtitudnal lines on a globe). That's why I brought up the point about space not being constituted by intersecitng planes. Einstein's theory of relativity claims that space is curved, which is why it relies on hyperbolic geometry. This doesn't violate the principle of "identity," but rather indicates that "parallelness" only applies in very limited contexts... i.e., planes. But the universe isn't a plane, so to say that there are other geometries doesn't violate identity or imply multiple realities. I suspect that you won't accept any of this, but this is modern math and physics. Are you saying all modern mathemeticians are wrong? If you can find me one math professor anywhere in the world who denies the validity of non-Euclidian geometries, then I'll fly down to New Zealand and personally lick your nut sack!
  24. Given that this discussion is about the 08 election, it is important to keep context ine mind. I think DavidOdden's claim that Guliani's promise of strict constructionist is "empty rhetoric" to be misleading. In the current context, we know exactly what that will mean; in general, a very limited reading of rights protections and in particular a probable reversal of important rights-affirming diecisions like Roe v. Wade and Lawrence v. Texas. In addtion, I started this thread exactly in order to try to convince people like "aleph 0" that there out to lunch when it comes to judicial interpretation. What's wrong with judges "legislating from the bench"? It's not like the legislature is doing a great job. While simply applying the law might be a good idea in the abstract, it is not an end to itself (see immigration and the Rule of Law for more on that debate). I don't care if liberal judges are "subjectivists." After all, Scalia and his goons are just subjectivists of a more subtle stripe. In the end, it's about rights, rights, rights... Anyone who claims otherwise needs to re-read their Objectivism, especially given Rand's rather explicit statements on the matter. P.S. Stare decisis is just the idea that judges should follow precedent. It is sometimes good strategically (without it, Roe would have probably been reversed in the Casey decision), but it is not and end in itself... although aleph 0 would probably think that it is.
  25. I think the idea that conservative justices would restore property rights specious. To add to DavidOdden's examples, didn't the SCOTUS also just affirm an extremely expansive reading of the "takings" clause? While their has been some hoolabaloo about the "New Federalism," decisions such as Lopez and Morrisson have struck down things like extra criminal penalties for gun posession near a school and civil remedies for victims of domestic violence... This is hardly the return of the Lochner court. Thus, while liberals might be marginally worse for property rights, conservatives will be way worse for other kinds of rights. My conclusion: more liberal judges are good.
  • Create New...