2,657 thoughts on “Elon Musk Thinks Evolution is Bullshit.

  1. Alan Fox: I’m not sure whether I’d want to remain in a simulation, were I to be convinced such was the case.

    of course

    If we are in a simulation self deception is a survival strategy

    peace

  2. Alan Fox:

    I’m not sure whether I’d want to remain in a simulation, were I to be convinced such was the case.

    Philosophy has been there and done that.

    (Well, almost: in the philosophy experiment, there is a real reality to return to. Plus the virtual reality is probably different from your current life, if yours is anything like mine and most other people’s).

  3. keiths: assuming the existence of God doesn’t preclude the existence of Boltzmann brains. Maybe God likes Boltzmann brains, or maybe he doesn’t care one way or the other.

    That’s why one must assume a particular God. One who favors creatures made in his own image. IOW the Christian God.

    peace

  4. BruceS: (1) the universe started in a low entropy state but will eventually arrive in a finite time to a heat death state which will last forever.
    (2) Physical brains can evolve and exist before then as perhaps can BBs. Only BBs can exist after heat death.

    The argument is that subjective experience is “infinitely more likely” to be a BB, since the time in which it could occur is infinite.

    I think (1) and (2) are both OK. But again, it’s not obvious to me that the conclusion follows. That subjective experiences are infinitely more likely to result from a BB would, again, seen to follow only with a ceteris paribus clause. I have to run, but I’ll try to think of an example that clearly shows what I take to be the problem here.

  5. fifthmonarchyman: That’s why one must assume a particular God. One who favors creatures made in his own image. IOW the Christian God.

    peace

    I just KNEW the authors of the Bible were considering thermodynamics when they wrote that own image biz!

  6. walto:
    We do know, however, that many of them are mutually exclusive.

    […]Since we don’t know the probability of any of them, but we do know that each is inconsistent with an infinite number of other ones, why not infer that each is infinitely low?

    But wouldn’t your reasoning also apply to Prob (I roll 6 with fair die) is inconsistent with Prob(I roll n with that die) for all n not equal to 6?

    That is, as we obviously DO know those things, your premises are incorrect. QED

    So SEP’s article on skepticism is just philosophical thumb-twiddling? *

    For some reason, your statement reminds me of another philosopher whose name I just cannot recall. Is it Sir Earl? Or Swirl? Something like that.

    ——————
    *Yes, I aware of have set up Petrushka’s or Neil’s possible comments.

  7. keiths: Then you can refute the Boddy, Carroll and Pollack paper? Somehow I doubt it.

    I’m not in a position to refute or confirm the paper that is what the scientific process is for.

    I would note that the paper appears to assume that it is necessary for a mind to be “in time” to be viable entity. This would refute your notion that a timeless deity could interact with a temporal universe.

    peace

  8. walto: I just KNEW the authors of the Bible were considering thermodynamics when they wrote that own image biz!

    God is omniscient so of course he took thermodynamics into consideration.

    peace

  9. Alan Fox: Should we be worried about thé logical possibility of being in a simulation or Boltzmann brain? Is there some contingency planning we need to be doing?

    If you are a BB or a simulation different behavior is warranted. For example I would not be as morally concerned about the welfare of others if they were not real. I don’t feel guilty about shooting the zombies in a video game

    peace

  10. As I’ve noted in previous posts, a lot of the discussion assumes sentences like “I see a tree” mean the same thing in all the metaphysical possibilities.

    But why should that be the case, assuming meaning is associated with reference to an external world (possibly through a Fregean sense)?

    In some possibilities, I would say the sentence is meaningless because there is effectively no world that could be referred to. I put the BB situation there since the world excluding the BB is in thermodynamic equilibrium. I also put the supernatural case of the demon there.

    If there is a referable world, it seems to me that the meaning of words has to be adjusted to fit the ontology. In that case, all entities would have equal warrant to uttering “I know I see a tree”.

  11. walto: Since we don’t know the probability of any of them, but we do know that each is inconsistent with an infinite number of other ones, why not infer that each is infinitely low? If we did we COULD say that the likelihood of being deceived by Descartes’ demon is less than .000000001, no?

    If we don’t know the likelihood we can’t say that the likelihood is infinitely low.
    On the other hand we do know the likelihood of some of the scenarios mental illness for example.

    Many of the scenarios are indeed compatible. We could be a brain in a vat in a simulation imagined by a BB.

    I think perhaps you are asking the wrong question.

    Instead of asking about the likelihood of each of the scenarios we should ask what is the likelihood that our perceptions are reliable given different sets of presuppositions.

    I think that is a much easier calculation

    peace

  12. BruceS: But wouldn’t your reasoning also apply to Prob (I roll 6 with fair die) is inconsistent with Prob(I roll n with that die) for all n not equal to 6?

    That is, as we obviously DO know those things, your premises are incorrect. QED

    So SEP’s article on skepticism is just philosophical thumb-twiddling? *

    I don’t see the connection with the die example–can you explain?

    Re skepticism. I don’t think the discussions are exactly ‘idle’: but it seems to me that any good epistemology must be consistent with it being false, or nothing makes any sense at all. Strawson (pere) is good on that topic.

    I don’t know who you’re referring to in your last graph.

  13. BruceS: In that case, all entities would have equal warrant to uttering “I know I see a tree”.

    I don’t understand that sentence.

  14. Keith’s

    I’ve just read the paper again and find it interesting. I expect I’ll need to read it again a couple of times to “get it”.

    It seems to rule out the spontaneous creation of both BB and the universe itself.

    So it does not really answer the paradox that says that BB are more likely than the spontaneous creation of the universe instead if I understand it says both are impossible.

    peace

  15. walto: It’s just a huge, irrelevant swamp.

    Swamp yes irrelevant I’m not so sure.

    Knowing that you can trust your perceptions would seem to be a valuable thing if nothing else for your long term psychological well being.

    As Alan Fox has indirectly pointed out it might be a matter of life and death

    peace

  16. walto,

    I want to revise my answer here. Trying to come up with an analogous example has given me a better understanding of this argument, I think. I think it DOES have some stuff that substitutes for the clause I thought was missing, viz.:

    1. The universe is a closed system;
    2. For all we know, the universe has existed for an infinite time prior to now;
    3. Infinite time series cannot involve infinite numbers of separate ‘beginnings’ of finite time series.

    With those added, I think the BB advocate indeed has us over a barrel. But I here defer to cosmologists. Doesn’t the currently prevailing theory deny 2 and 3?

  17. walto: Well, IMO it’s irrelevant precisely because we CAN trust our perceptions.

    This is where the rubber meets the road

    I agree it’s irrelevant if we can trust our perceptions.
    We can trust them if the Christian God exists.
    If he does not exist we need some (other) reason to trust them.

    It’s just that reason that seems to be lacking

    peace

  18. walto: Doesn’t the currently prevailing theory deny 2 and 3?

    The current theory assumes we can trust our perceptions. That is the point at issue

    peace

  19. fifthmonarchyman: This is where the rubber meets the road

    I agree it’s irrelevant if we can trust our perceptions.
    We can trust them if the Christian God exists.
    If he does not exist we need some (other) reason to trust them.

    It’s just that reason that seems to be lacking

    peace

    I think that is backwards. Until there is a reason not to trust what we perceive, we can act as though our perception is reliable. As to gods existence, when that can be perceived in some way rather than just imagined, I’d probably need to rethink my apatheism.

  20. walto:

    I want to revise my answer here. Trying to come up with an analogous example has given me a better understanding of this argument, I think. I think it DOES have some stuff that substitutes for the clause I thought was missing, viz.:

    1. The universe is a closed system;
    2. For all we know, the universe has existed for an infinite time prior to now;
    3. Infinite time series cannot involve infinite numbers of separate ‘beginnings’ of finite time series.

    With those added, I think the BB advocate indeed has us over a barrel. But I here defer to cosmologists. Doesn’t the currently prevailing theory deny 2 and 3?

    I’m not sure who this is addressed to, but I agree (2) is not the current consensus view, althought it was Boltzmann’s, I think, and one source of his original concern (another was no knowledge of evolution).

    Here is a more specific version of my argument.

    Let T = the length of time the universe will exist between the big bang and the start of the heat death.

    Now consider an urn and fill it with balls as follows.

    1. Put in a ball labelled “OB” for each non-overlapping time interval t during T in which a brain with my current thoughts exists. Probably there is just one such interval, but all that matters is that the number of OB balls must be finite (assuming t cannot be made arbitrarily small, which I think is justifiable).

    2. Now consider some interval T* starting at the heat death phase. Put a ball labelled “BB” in the urn for each for each non-overlapping interval t in T* such that there is at least one BB that has the same thoughts as me now in that interval . As T* grows without limit reflecting the fact that the heat death lasts forever, the number of BB balls will grow without limit.

    I say that the situation we are in is analogous to selecting a ball from such an urn. As T* grows without bound, the probability of selecting a BB ball grows arbitrarily close to 1.

    ETA: Since we are living at some specific time, maybe the above is missing steps for each of the two intervals T and T*. First we need to select a time in T and a time in T*, then create the urn with balls up to each time, then we compute the probability of a BB ball being selected from that urn. Something like that. I think I can complete that to fix to the argument, but first I’ll wait and see any thoughts on the scenario so far.

  21. walto:
    BruceS: In that case, all entities would have equal warrant to uttering “I know I see a tree”.
    Walto: I don’t understand that sentence.

    Yes, I was just about to clarify that.

    First, the meaning of the sentence will adjust itself to the utterers circumstances, assuming those circumstances justify claiming the sentence has a meaning. I think the sentence has meaning for ordinary object ontology, Putnam’s BIV ontology, simulation ontology, of the ones we have considered in the thread..

    Does that make sense so far?

    Assuming it does, then we can fix the ontology and apply your arguments about perception and knowledge to each one.

    I said “equal claim to knowledge” and not just “knows” because those arguments of yours themselves need to be assessed. But the meaning of the words of the arguments will again adjust to the ontology and so the results of the assessment will be the same for each ontology.

    I need to control my posting time intervals, so I am signing off for today

  22. Alan Fox: Until there is a reason not to trust what we perceive, we can act as though our perception is reliable.

    This thread is about the seemingly infinite array of reasons not to trust what we perceive so that ship has sailed.

    I suppose we could modify your statement to say you need “sufficient” reason to doubt your perceptions but again it’s likely that no amount of evidence would be sufficient to convince you that your perceptions are “generally” unreliable.

    So we are left with you trusting your perceptions based on very questionable blind faith because you don’t like the alternative. That position seems to me to be unstable and ultimately untenable.

    peace

  23. BruceS: The argument I am making is based solely on the actual world and its science. I assume it is scientifically correct that
    (1) the universe started in a low entropy state but will eventually arrive in a finite time to a heat death state which will last forever.

    I don’t make that assumption.

    It seems to me that it is an empirical question, and at present there is insufficient empirical evidence to settle it.

  24. BruceS: I’m not sure who this is addressed to, but I agree (2) is not the current consensus view, althought it was Boltzmann’s, I think, and one source of his original concern (another was no knowledge of evolution).

    Here is a more specific version of my argument.

    Let T = the length of time the universe will exist between the big bang and the start of the heat death.

    Now consider an urn and fill it with balls as follows.

    1.Put in a ball labelled “OB” for each non-overlapping time interval t during T in which a brain with my current thoughts exists.Probably there is just one such interval, but all that matters is that the number of OB balls must be finite (assuming t cannot be made arbitrarily small, which I think is justifiable).

    2.Now consider some interval T* starting at the heat death phase.Put a ball labelled “BB” in the urn for each for each non-overlapping interval t in T* such that there is at least one BB that has the same thoughts as me now in that interval .As T* grows without limit reflecting the fact that the heat death lasts forever, the number of BB balls will grow without limit.

    I say that the situation we are in is analogous to selecting a ball from such an urn. As T* grows without bound,the probability of selecting a BB ball grows arbitrarily close to 1.

    ETA:Since we are living at some specific time, maybe the above is missing steps for each of the twointervals T and T*.First we need to select a time inT and a time in T*, then create the urn with balls up to each time, then we compute the probability of a BB ball being selected from that urn.Something like that. I think I can complete that to fix to the argument,but first I’ll wait and see any thoughts on the scenario so far.

    I’m not really competent to opine on this, and maybe I just come out with the same response you attributed to someone else above, but my general sense is that all the info that we use to determine the likelihood of the premises in our argument for BB being true are now being used to deduce that those premises are actually false. I.e., I’d think that cosmological theory and other parts of physics–which we seem to be depending on when we make this argument– would seem to be inconsistent with us currently being in a heat death phase. So if the conclusion is correct, we have no reason for believing the premises.

  25. fifthmonarchyman: we are left with you trusting your perceptions based on very questionable blind faith because you don’t like the alternative.

    I don’t think that’s quite right. We trust our perceptions because no other theory (except maybe your whack one) is consistent with communication, science, common-sense, etc. If we’re brains in a vat, e.g., this conversation makes no sense. But you and I both know that it DOES make sense. Now we can explain this, as foundationalists do, by saying that perceptions are inherently warranted by their very nature (or perhaps come up with a deeper and perhaps beyond me theory that explains the connections between perceptual judgments, language, community, biology, etc. that is likely to be a more respectable–since not so hand-wavy–answer)–or we can start postulating Gods and Bibles and burning bushes and water walking (or skiing or whatever it is) and a vast amount of other assorted silliness that is entirely inconsistent with almost everything we know about the world.

    That’s the actual choice–sense or cuckoohood.

  26. fifthmonarchyman: This thread is about the seemingly infinite array of reasons not to trust what we perceive so that ship has sailed.

    Here’s the the problem FMM: A) the “seemingly infinite array of reasons” isn’t. In fact, the array of reasons not to trust the senses is quite finite. B) The array of reasons not to trust the the senses are not only independent and thus individual statistical possibilities, many of them are mutually exclusive. And while we might not be able to actually calculate the odds of our senses being unreliable, the fact that the odds are based on single optional possibilities makes them totally insignificant.

    Bottom line: for all intents and purposes, the odds are orders of magnitudes greater for our senses being reliable.

    So we are left with you trusting your perceptions based on very questionable blind faith because you don’t like the alternative. That position seems to me to be unstable and ultimately untenable.

    peace

    No, we’re left with trusting our senses because they are the only perceptual data input we have. The idea that our senses are not reliable is simply that: an idea. It’s an idea based solely on the awareness that no one can prove our senses are reliable. The idea is then expanded from there with back filled explanations and scenarios of unreliable sense realities, but none of that amounts to any actual base foundational evidence providing an actual reason to conclude our senses are unreliable. And in fact, even most of the scenarios – like BIV or BBs don’t actually indicate anything about the reliability of brains within the illusion, so really all musings about unreliable senses merely amounts to navel gazing. You might as well argue that all we are left with is a supposed reality created by unicorn farts. That would be just as silly, but far more entertaining at least.

  27. walto: We’ve been through this too many times to go over again.

    I agree,

    I just don’t have the energy. Can we put a pin in it and move on for now. This is an interesting conversation let’s not let it get bogged down by rehashing old arguments.

    You know where I stand I want to see how you handle the objections and arguments from the atheist side of the fence

    peace

  28. walto: We trust our perceptions because no other theory (except maybe your whack one) is consistent with communication, science, common-sense, etc.

    I see that as the problem in a nutshell. If you reject Christianity a priori you are left with no option but to trust your own unreliable perceptions.

    IOW all of communication, science, common-sense, etc. is leading you toward a conclusion that you are unwilling to embrace.

    that is the point

    peace

  29. Robin: The array of reasons not to trust the the senses are not only independent and thus individual statistical possibilities, many of them are mutually exclusive.

    some of them are exclusive some are not some are independent some are not.

    That’s the deal with having an infinite set. keep looking and you can find some of every shape and size.

    Robin: Bottom line: for all intents and purposes, the odds are orders of magnitudes greater for our senses being reliable.

    This is simply untrue the odds are 1 that our senses unreliable in almost all situations judging extent in the very small or very distant for example.

    There is only a question when it comes to a limited and fuzzy group of instances that keeps getting defined down as we learn more about ourselves and the universe.

    peace

  30. Robin: No, we’re left with trusting our senses because they are the only perceptual data input we have.

    Of course you know that this assumes revelation is impossible a prori.

    It’s blatant question begging

    peace

  31. fifthmonarchyman: I see that as the problem in a nutshell. If you reject Christianity a priori you are left with no option but to trust your own unreliable perceptions.

    I guess I’m in the same boat since I reject invisible pink unicorns a priori…

  32. Robin: I guess I’m in the same boat since I reject invisible pink unicorns a priori…

    Do invisible pink unicorns provide a reason to trust your perceptions? How exactly?

    By the way you are in precisely the same boat If you don’t have a cogent reason to trust your unreliable perceptions

    peace

  33. BruceS,

    I have nothing much to contribute to this discussion, but one statement made me sit up and take notice. You said:

    I’m not sure who this is addressed to, but I agree (2) is not the current consensus view, althought it was Boltzmann’s, I think, and one source of his original concern (another was no knowledge of evolution).

    Ludwig Boltzmann did not have a detailed knowledge of evolution. But he did have knowledge of it, and he was a great admirer of Charles Darwin. Peter Schuster, who has thought long and hard about thermodynamics and evolution, translates a statement of Boltzmann’s:

    If you ask me about my innermost conviction whether our century will be called the century of iron or the century of steam or electricity, I answer without hesitation: It will be called the century of the mechanical view of Nature, the century of Darwin.

    Ignorant of Darwin? No. Dismissive of Darwin? Hardly!

    Boltzmann was convinced that it would someday be possible to connect theory to thermodynamics. Schuster’s online PDF from which I drew this can be read here.

    PS: it makes the intriguing statement that Boltzmann had the beginnings of an evolutionary analysis of cognition.

  34. walto: I don’t think that’s quite right.We trust our perceptions because no other theory (except maybe your whack one) is consistent with communication, science, common-sense, etc. If we’re brains in a vat, e.g., this conversation makes no sense.But you and I both knowthat it DOES make sense.Now we can explain this, as foundationalists do, by saying that perceptions are inherently warranted by their very nature (or perhaps come up with a deeper and perhaps beyond me theory that explains the connections between perceptual judgments, language, community, biology, etc. that is likely to be a more respectable–since not so hand-wavy–answer)–or we can start postulating Gods and Bibles and burning bushes and water walking (or skiing or whatever it is) and a vast amount of other assorted silliness that is entirely inconsistent with almost everything we know about the world.

    That’s the actual choice–sense or cuckoohood.

    It’s the irrationality holding all of rationality together.

    It’s indispensable!

    Glen Davidson

  35. fifthmonarchyman: some of them are exclusive some are not some are independent some are not.

    None are compoundable. That’s the point.

    That’s the deal with having an infinite set. keep looking and you can find some of every shape and size.

    Again, it’s not infinite. Heck, over the course of this discussion only about five have been proposed. I’m pretty sure no one could come up with more than about a dozen total. Hardly a reliable sample to indict the senses.

    This is simply untrue the odds are 1 that our senses unreliable in almost all situations measuring the very small or very distant for example.

    Show your math. Oh…riiiight…there’s the rub.

    And how is this, “…very small and very distant” caveat even relevant to the point? If you’re going that route, why not say something even more ridiculous like, “well, the odds are 1 that our senses are unreliable in a sensory deprivation chamber.” Seriously, how does that even remotely lead to questioning the reliability of the senses within reasonable sensory ranges and environments?

    There is only a question when it comes to a limited and fuzzy group of instances that keeps getting defined down as we learn more about ourselves and the universe.

    peace

    Maybe “limited and fuzzy” to you, but it seems pretty broad and darn clear to me.

  36. walto: We trust our perceptions because no other theory (except maybe your whack one) is consistent with communication, science, common-sense, etc. If we’re brains in a vat, e.g., this conversation makes no sense. But you and I both know that it DOES make sense. Now we can explain this, as foundationalists do, by saying that perceptions are inherently warranted by their very nature

    The worry here is how perceptions can be “inherently warranted by their very nature”. That’s just as much a version of the Myth of the Given as the God that FMM appeals to in his presuppositionalism.

    (or perhaps come up with a deeper and perhaps beyond me theory that explains the connections between perceptual judgments, language, community, biology, etc. that is likely to be a more respectable–since not so hand-wavy–answer)

    I’m working on it!

    –or we can start postulating Gods and Bibles and burning bushes and water walking (or skiing or whatever it is) and a vast amount of other assorted silliness that is entirely inconsistent with almost everything we know about the world.

    There’s actually an interesting question here about whether the God required by the presuppositionalists to explain the possibility of knowledge has anything to do with the God of the Bible or any of the supernatural events reported there.

  37. fifthmonarchyman: Of course you know that this assumes revelation is impossible a prori.

    Actually it doesn’t since some omniscient god could in fact reveal things perfectly to people via their senses. Who’s to say?

    OTOH, as I don’t personally find the concept of revelation all that compelling, nor do I find claims of it all that credible, I’m not all that concerned with coming up with explanations that support the notion.

    It’s blatant question begging

    peace

    I do not think that term means what you think it means. But humor me: in what way are my premises relying on the assumption of my conclusion?

  38. fifthmonarchyman: This is simply untrue the odds are 1 that our senses unreliable in almost all situations judging extent in the very small or very distant for example.

    I don’t agree.

  39. fifthmonarchyman: Do invisible pink unicorns provide a reason to trust your perceptions?

    As much as gods do. They are equally omnipotent, but they have the added bonus of being able to do all things, even those that are logically impossible (by human standards of logic anyway) AND they can even do things that are against their nature. But…ehh…I reject them anyway because…you know…they’re invisible and never leave footprints or even shadows, so their entailments are assumed at best…

    How exactly?

    They are infinitely powerful plus one. They go to eleven! What more do you need?

    By the way you are in precisely the same boat If you don’t have a cogent reason to trust your unreliable perceptions

    peace

    Except that as has been shown, there’s very little – other than the possibility – to indicate our senses are unreliable. And I don’t see possibility as a compelling reason to assume that conclusion.

    But here’s the bigger kicker for me. I acknowledge the possibility of being in a simulation or BB or BIV or Matrix or whathaveyou, but none of those scenarios provide any reason to conclude that perception is unreliable within the scenarios themselves. And given the parameters of those scenarios, I don’t actually care if they imply that my senses are unreliable from a perspective outside the scenario. In other words, if I’m in an illusion and thus my senses cannot detect the “reality” that is outside the illusion (and thus are completely unreliable as far as being able to determine any truth of the reality outside of the illusion), such is totally irrelevant to me. Why? Because nothing about that possibility could realistically or rationally have any impact on my behavior within the illusion in any way. If there’s no reason to change my behavior on the possibility of an illusion, then that illusionary existence is reality for all intents and purposes and the sensation of the conditions within the illusion are totally reliable within the illusion. I’m good with that.

  40. Robin: . They are equally omnipotent, but they have the added bonus of being able to do all things, even those that are logically impossible (by human standards of logic anyway) AND they can even do things that are against their nature.…

    Plus, they’re way cuter and can sing.

  41. walto: Plus, they’re way cuter and can sing.

    …yeah…that too!

    Of course, they almost always sing in ranges that humans can’t hear, but it would be beautiful if we could hear it…because…you know…it’s beautiful by definition…

    …and they’re omnipotent plus one, so it’s beautiful if they want it to be beautiful. Always.

    …and it goes to 11!

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