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

  1. BTW, I once heard that God was jealous about how cute invisible pink unicorns are and how well they can sing and scheduled a competition (with Ba’al playing the Simon Cowell role), but then at the last minute somebody pulled out, or the arena was taken because of a big game or something.

  2. Kantian Naturalist,

    I don’t think it involves a “given,” but it IS a form of foundationalism, and it’s hard to deny that it’s kind of a simplistic solution to the problem of knowledge. But as said earlier, I find “simple” congenial. (Know your limitations, and all that….)

  3. walto:
    BTW, I once heard that God was jealous about how cute invisible pink unicorns are and how well they can sing and scheduled a competition (with Ba’al playing the Simon Cowell role), but then at the last minute somebody pulled out, or the arena was taken because of a big game or something.

    Bada bing!

  4. walto:
    BTW, I once heard that God was jealous about how cute invisible pink unicorns are and how well they can sing and scheduled a competition (with Ba’al playing the Simon Cowell role), but then at the last minute somebody pulled out, or the arena was taken because of a big game or something.

    God was lucky.

    He’s cute, no doubt about that. He just suffers by comparison…

    Glen Davidson

  5. I agree. I had $50 bucks on the unicorns. (What pissed me off was that they were “pick-em”: I mean I couldn’t even get one freaking point. And we’re talking about The Almighty here!! Las Vegas sucks. Somebody tweeted something about a golden calf and the line went completely nuts.)

  6. walto:
    Kantian Naturalist,

    I don’t think it involves a “given,”but it IS a form of foundationalism, and it’s hard to deny that it’s kind of a simplistic solution to the problem of knowledge.But as said earlier, I find “simple” congenial. (Know your limitations, and all that….)

    I’m averse to unexplained explainers. Principle of sufficient reason and all that.

  7. GlenDavidson: Then you reject all possibility of knowing, since such unicorns are the very basis of epistemology.

    How so? Please be specific.
    I would venture to guess that you haven’t given it much thought.

    I would also venture to guess that the more qualified that pink unicorns are to serve as the basis of epistemology the more they will resemble the Christian God

    peace

  8. fifthmonarchyman: I would also venture to guess that the more qualified that pink unicorns are to serve as the basis of epistemology the more they will resemble the Christian God

    Well, yeah. Except for the (invisible) pinkness, the singing voices, the four legs and the horns. That kind of stuff.

    Oh, and the sparkles.

  9. Robin: And how is this, “…very small and very distant” caveat even relevant to the point?

    Because even assuming none of the scenarios we’ve been discussing are true our senses and cognitive faculties are only somewhat reliable in certain very limited circumstances that might be relevant to finding and killing game on the African savanna but aren’t very relevant to modern science and philosophy.

    Robin: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.

    If that’s true then they can choose to lie so you can’t trust what they reveal to you is true.

    Robin: They go to eleven! What more do you need?

    faithfulness and consistency for starters

    peace

  10. walto: Claiming they’re unreliable begs the question.

    What? we all know they are unreliable.

    If they were reliable optical illusions would be impossible and one witness would be sufficient to convict with no trial necessary.

    peace

  11. walto: Well, yeah. Except for the (invisible) pinkness, the singing voices, the four legs and the horns. That kind of stuff.

    Oh, and the sparkles.

    One of the reasons I like you is that you are not as quick to resort to mockery and instead are interested in actual dialogue with those you disagree with.

    Please don’t let yourself be dragged down by peer pressure

    quote:
    Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”
    (1Co 15:33)
    end quote:

    peace

  12. Patrick: You mean this kind of consistency?

    no,
    No I don’t mean the kind of consistency that is illustrated by juvenile gottcha lists

    I mean the kind of consistency that would allow an author to interpret himself and give him the same benefit of doubt that you would hope to receive for your own writings.

    I’ll say it again Patrick.

    If you ever want to have a fruitful discussion about this stuff you need to understand that God is not like the silly straw-man that you rejected as a small child

    peace

  13. Bruce,

    I was trying to separate the subjective experience associated with “seeing a tree”* from the various metaphysical possibilities in which that subjective experience would lead to the belief that “I am seeing a tree”. So it should have been “the subjective experience of seeing a tree” AND (disjunction of all metaphysical possibilities where the subjective experience could occur)

    The biggest source of confusion was that you and walto were including “perception is veridical” as one of the disjuncts, while KN and I were excluding it.

    KN and I were talking about this sort of formulation:

    I perceive a computer monitor in front of me; therefore I know that there is a computer monitor in front of me, unless <disjunction>.

    Including “perception is veridical” in the disjunction would render that formulation false.

  14. fifthmonarchyman: What? we all know they are unreliable.

    If they were reliable optical illusions would be impossible and one witness would be sufficient to convict with no trial necessary.

    peace

    If you mean by “unreliable”– not always correct, fine. But they have to be mostly reliable for us to even know they’re not always correct. So if you don’t want to equivocate with that term, we certainly do not “all know” that our senses are unreliable.

  15. fifthmonarchyman: One of the reasons I like you is that you are not as quick to resort to mockery and instead are interested in actual dialogue with those you disagree with.

    Please don’t let yourself be dragged down by peer pressure

    quote:
    Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”
    (1Co 15:33)end quote:

    peace

    I’m sorry–that was kind of mean. But it’s not peer pressure, it’s just when I have a funny line, I can’t resist spouting it. I don’t mean for it to be at your expense. I’m insensitive sometimes.

  16. keiths: I was trying to separate the subjective experience associated with “seeing a tree”* from the various metaphysical possibilities in which that subjective experience would lead to the belief that “I am seeing a tree”. So it should have been “the subjective experience of seeing a tree” AND (disjunction of all metaphysical possibilities where the subjective experience could occur)

    The biggest source of confusion was that you and walto were including “perception is veridical” as one of the disjuncts, while KN and I were excluding it.

    I was, anyhow. Bruce’s formulation above doesn’t require that if the first disjunct is true there are trees. Not sure about his earlier formulation.

  17. walto: Well, yeah.Except for the (invisible) pinkness, the singing voices, the four legs and the horns.That kind of stuff.

    Oh, and the sparkles.

    …and they go to 11!

  18. walto,

    I was, anyhow. Bruce’s formulation above doesn’t require that if the first disjunct is true there are trees.

    But “the subjective experience of seeing a tree” isn’t a disjunct. It’s being ANDed, not ORed, with the disjunction:

    So it should have been “the subjective experience of seeing a tree” AND (disjunction of all metaphysical possibilities where the subjective experience could occur)

  19. fifthmonarchyman: Because even assuming none of the scenarios we’ve been discussing are true our senses and cognitive faculties are only somewhat reliable in certain very limited circumstances that might be relevant to finding and killing game on the African savannabut aren’t very relevant to modern science and philosophy.

    On the contrary, they are extremely reliable in those limited circumstances. If they weren’t, you would not know they had consistent limits.

    And THAT’S the bigger point – it’s not that our senses are ever unreliable (or can ever be shown to be so); it’s that they don’t allow for omniscience. Which is fine. If they did allow for omniscience (e.g., had no limits whatsoever), we’d think we knew everything instantly. Ironically, in THAT case, I’d be nearly 100% certain they’d be completely unreliable.

    If that’s true then they can choose to lie so you can’t trust what they reveal to you is true.

    True, but what difference does that make? It’s not like I have a choice but to believe them when they want me to. A) They’re too cute. B) They sing. C) They’re omnipotent (so really…it’s not like you or I have any free will to resist their wishes anyway). D) did I mention they’re the cutest? E) Oh…and they go to 11.

    faithfulness and consistency for starters

    peace

    Fehh…as if against omnipotent cuteness that goes to 11, that matters…

  20. fifthmonarchyman: What? we all know they are unreliable.

    If they were reliable optical illusions would be impossible and one witness would be sufficient to convict with no trial necessary.

    peace

    This is bass-ackwards FMM. If they weren’t reliable, optical illusions would not work consistently. In point of fact, the whole reason illusionists can do what they do is because one can learn how to exploit the reliable counter-intuitive aspects of perception. They may well not work the way we intuitively think they should, but this should definitely not be confused with inconsistency or unreliability.

  21. keiths,

    OK, but again, unlike my version, even if that conjunct is true there don’t have to be trees. I’d think that it’d be ok with your phenomenalist/indirect realist take on the matter.

    ETA: Although I guess the question might arise regarding whether one can even be wrong about those “phenomenological” or “sense-dataesque” assertions. That’s a story for another thread.

  22. Bruce:

    I think the issue of global skepticism is separate from assuming an ontology and then examining the natures of perception and of knowing in a world with that assumed ontology.

    Yes, I agree.

    I take KN’s latest comments and you as saying something similar, and I agree.

    Yes, I think he agrees with the separation, but he still sees the evidence as favoring direct realism, as when he says:

    Phenomenology strongly supports direct realism (at least one version), and embodied cognitive science also supports it. So all of our available epistemic resources support direct realism (of some sort) as being true of the actual world in which we live.

    Bruce:

    I don’t think Walt agrees with that separation, but I am not sure how he has addressed why.

    I think he understands the separation, but feels as a foundationalist that he is entitled to assume an ontology in which perception is basically veridical.

  23. That “separation” Bruce talks about seems to me inconsisent with Sellars’ view that ‘phenomenal talk’ is parasitic upon common sense talk. So I’m not sure why or how our resident Sellarsian would agree with it. I don’t myself, in any case. I think that sort of ‘neutral sense’ language is a fantasy.

  24. Bruce:

    Do you have any thoughts on my previous comment about there being analogous justification based on pragmatic reasoning for knowledge in these two scenarios:

    1. knowing scientific theory despite underdetermination if only empirical data is considered

    2. knowing the ontology despite underdetermination if only subjective experience is considered

    I don’t think that purely pragmatic considerations can ever justify classifying one theory as “known” or “true” over another that is empirically equal.

    That doesn’t mean that dispositive epistemic reasons can’t also have pragmatic implications, of course.

  25. Robin: This is bass-ackwards FMM. If they weren’t reliable, optical illusions would not work consistently. In point of fact, the whole reason illusionists can do what they do is because one can learn how to exploit the reliable counter-intuitive aspects of perception. They may well not work the way we intuitively think they should, but this should definitely not be confused with inconsistency or unreliability.

    Which is why I prefer the word regularity.

    What science seeks is regular phenomena.

  26. Alan:

    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?

    Bruce:

    For living our lives day to day? Of course not.

    But that approach to metaphysics would put a lot of philosophers in the unemployment line.

    By the way, on the simulation scenario, it could be claimed that we should be doing contingency planning to keep our world interesting for the entity running the simulation so we don’t get shut down. But then we have the issue of what could interest such a being. So back to philosophy.

    An earlier comment of mine to Alan:

    Alan,

    I do wonder why we need to worry, care, or even articulate it though.

    1. Some of us are curious about the world, even when the questions we ask have no obvious practical consequences or applications.

    2. Some of us like to separate truth from falsehood and justified beliefs from unjustified ones, and this desire extends to beliefs with no apparent practical import.

    3. There may be unanticipated benefits to considering these questions. For example, the awareness that we might be living in a simulation is stimulating physicists (e.g. Martin Savage) to think about how we might actually detect this (by observing the behavior of high-energy cosmic rays, in Savage’s case).

    Who knows what the long-term implications might be? If we’re living in a simulation, perhaps we can learn to hack it from the inside — for our benefit.

    There appear to be no consequences at all flowing from injecting this faux uncertainty…

    It’s real uncertainty, not faux uncertainty. If you disagree, you’re welcome to give us a definitive answer, along with your justification.

    …without the least reason not to pragmatically act as if the world around us is approximately as we perceive it.

    I’ve given reasons above.

  27. walto:

    keith, you’ve said that if the likelihood of these defeasors you’re concerned about were really low, then, in your view, we COULD know there are trees, wearing pants, etc.

    Right.

    But you actually have no idea what the likelihood of any of them is.

    Yes. Hence my Cartesian skepticism.

    We do know, however, that many of them are mutually exclusive. Here are a few:

    I’m dreaming.
    I’m in a vat.
    There’s a mind ray trained on me from Venus
    There’s a mind ray trained on me from Rigel 7.
    I’m a simulation.
    Professor X has me in his power.
    I’m a Boltzmann Brain.

    Those aren’t all mutually exclusive, but I agree with your general point: some defeaters are mutually exclusive.

    Obviously, this could be extended indefinitely. 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?

    That would be a bad inference. The fact that two options are mutually exclusive doesn’t mean that both are unlikely.

    If we did we COULD say that the likelihood of being deceived by Descartes’ demon is less than .000000001, no?

    No, for the reason I just gave.

    In closing, I’ll just say that I think your conclusion–that we can’t know there are trees, etc. should be seen as a reductio of your premises. One ought to simply modus tollens. That is, as we obviously DO know those things, your premises are incorrect. QED

    That’s a blatant example of assuming your conclusion.

  28. keiths:

    Besides, 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.

    fifth:

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

    One needn’t assume a God at all.

  29. keiths:

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

    fifth:

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

    Which is why you’re not in a position to say this:

    I think if we don’t assume the existence of God the evidence for boltzmann brains is persuasive.

    fifth:

    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.

    They assume that conscious observers have brains (or at least brain-equivalent physical structures). You are unwittingly arguing that the timeless, unembodied God has a physical brain. Oops.

  30. Bruce,

    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.

    I disagree, because it isn’t necessary to form a sentence like “I see a tree” in one’s mind in order to perceive a tree.

  31. Alan,

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

    There is a reason not to trust what we perceive — that’s the whole point of the argument for Cartesian skepticism.

  32. keiths: I’ve given reasons above.

    But they hardly relate to the issue of why one should worry about evidence-free and consequence-free speculation. Your curiosity reason is specious. Not wanting to waste time angsting over such scenarios does not imply lack of curiosity, just sensible time management.

  33. walto, to fifth:

    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.

    Not so. If you and fifth are brains-in-vats, the conversation still makes sense. A brain-in-a-vat can reason its way to being a Cartesian skeptic.

    Now we can explain this, as foundationalists do, by saying that perceptions are inherently warranted by their very nature…

    But you would need an argument to that effect. You haven’t pointed to anything in “the very nature” of perceptions that warrants an assumption of reliability.

    …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.

    The whole point of this discussion is that we can’t claim to know anything about the outside world unless we already know that our senses are basically reliable.

    In other words, you’re making a circular argument. You’re rejecting every possible Cartesian scenario based on its inconsistency with what you “know” about the world; yet knowing those things about the world depends on your already having rejected every possible Cartesian scenario.

  34. keiths: There is a reason not to trust what we perceive — that’s the whole point of the argument for Cartesian skepticism.

    And thé result of such an argument gets you precisely nowhere.

  35. Alan,

    Your curiosity reason is specious. Not wanting to waste time angsting over such scenarios does not imply lack of curiosity, just sensible time management.

    I’m not “angsting” over them. As Bruce points out, they don’t affect how we live our day-to-day lives. But I am curious about the ultimate nature of reality, the nature of knowledge, and the question of what we can and cannot know about the real world. You — not so much. The limits of your curiosity are not binding on the rest of us, fortunately.

    Keep in mind that a limited curiosity does have consequences. For example, you weren’t curious enough to think through your position on gods and testability, and so you ended up in a position that leads to the conclusion that testable Gods are real — surely not the conclusion that you, an atheist, were expecting to reach.

  36. keiths:

    There is a reason not to trust what we perceive — that’s the whole point of the argument for Cartesian skepticism.

    Alan:

    And thé result of such an argument gets you precisely nowhere.

    To the contrary, it gets you to an amazing and startling place: the realization that knowledge claims about the real world rest on a blind and unjustified faith in the veridicality of perception. You may think you are sitting in front of a computer monitor, but you don’t actually know that.

  37. keiths,

    That’s your spin. There has to be a connection between the imaginary “god” and whatever entailment is claimed for any test to be meaningful. Water into wine therefore Jésus or thé reverse are non sequiturs.

  38. keiths:

    A brain-in-a-vat can reason its way to being a Cartesian skeptic.

    Alan:

    And you know this how?

    I don’t know it. I know* it. 🙂

    How do I know* it? Physics.

    We know that an enskulled brain can reason its way to Cartesian skepticism. The same brain, if envatted in an environment that duplicates what it would have experienced when enskulled, will follow the same trajectory through state space.

  39. Alan,

    That’s your spin.

    No, it’s a direct consequence of your stated position.

    From my comment:

    He [Alan] asserts that

    Gods with entailments are testable.

    …and that

    Anything testable is real.

    It follows inexorably that

    Gods with entailments are real.

    Since Alan is an atheist, this conclusion must be disconcerting. 🙂

  40. keiths,

    No you don’t. It’s not beyond our current abilities to put a human head on life support. Communication might be possible, though God knows I hope it’s never tried. Brain in a vat? Science fiction.

  41. keiths:
    Bruce,

    I disagree, because it isn’t necessary to form a sentence like “I see a tree” in one’s mind in order to perceive a tree.

    But isn’t the argument is about knowledge which involves belief by definition?

    In any event, I understand* your position now.

    ———————————————————–
    * Unless I have incorrectly introspected my mental state OR I have understood something which is not your position OR my sentence is not truth-apt because it is expressing an emotional satisfaction with concluding the exchange at this point.

  42. keiths:

    The biggest source of confusion was that you and walto were including “perception is veridical” as one of the disjuncts, while KN and I were excluding it.

    I did not mean to do so. I only meant for the disjunction to list all of the metaphysical possibilities.

    I take your point as being we cannot reason our way to knowledge about the ontology of our world purely on the basis of subjective experience.

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